Reviews Ex Deus
Overall episode score: 8.0
FX and Production Values: 8.0
ENTERPRISE does Beauty and the Beast with a lonely old alien telepath.
"Exile" may remind some viewers of the second season ENTERPRISE episode
"Vanishing Point." "Exile" features Hoshi experiencing
strange hallucinatory images that cause her to doubt reality and become
isolated and cut off from the crew. However, where "Vanishing Point" was a 43
minute waste of time that all turned out to be a dream, "Exile" features what
may be ENTERPRISE's best guest star of the entire series. Indeed 'Tarquin' is
in many ways reminiscent of an Original Series tragic character like
Methuselah or Kodos the Executioner; driven and brooding and doomed by his
destiny. Those types of characters and indeed complex characters of any kind
have become increasingly rare on STAR TREK and vanishingly rare on
this show, so Tarquin is a breath of fresh air in an all too often stale
Season three has so far been in danger of neglecting the development of the
ensemble cast in favor of focusing excessively on Archer, Trip and T'Pol. "Exile"
helps balance that out not only with character development for Hoshi that in
part helps explain her linguistic abilities, but also a nice scene for Phlox
that serves to develop his character specifically, and Denobulans in general.
The general track of Hoshi's development has involved her learning to
overcome her fears as in "Fight or Flight" or" Sleeping Dogs" or "Vanishing
Point." "Exile" is less about Hoshi dealing with a narrowly targeted phobia
like claustrophobia or fear of transporters than dealing with an opportunity
to retreat into an isolated life.
Meanwhile "Exile" also follows up on "Anomaly"'s mysterious sphere that turns
out to be part of a network of such spheres radiating gravitational
anomalies thus causing the Expanse to exist. The artificial nature of the
Expanse may then help explain why we never heard about it in any other STAR TREK series. The exploration of the sphere manages to weave together what
the ENTERPRISE crew has learned about the Expanse from Trellium-D and the
Vulcan reaction to it, to the Xindi charts and the spheres themselves. The
spacewalk also offers the opportunity for comedy, which for once
isn't broadly overacted by Trinneer. The scenes of Archer and Trip trying to
shoot down the shuttle also make for some nice visuals, particularly as they
shoot up at the shuttle. The actual shuttle crashing back down to the
surface of the sphere has the unrealistic feel of a 3D object with no
actual mass moved around in Lightwave rather than the real world. however. A problem
the colliding asteroids in last week's Impulse also suffered from.
Overall, though, it's the interaction between Hoshi and Tarquin and the
performances of the two actors that make the episode. Phyllis Strong's
script by contrast is rather weak and leans on classic cliches from bad
novels right down to the echoing manor and the host who warns his guest not
to go outside and the graves right outside the door. Even Roxann Dawson's
usually strong direction is muddled and having Hoshi constantly changing
into new outfits to indicate the passage of time was clearly a bad idea.
Still, she and the actors got the character scenes right. It would have been
all too easy for Park to fall into a victim mode but instead she remains
strong and defiant. It would have also been all too easy to write off
Tarquin as a cliche, a lonely telepathic voyeur-kidnapper but instead he
retains a tragic dignity as he appeals for an understanding that he knows
will never come, and even if it comes, will never last. To the end Tarquin is
neither evil nor good, he's simply an exile who like Hoshi is isolated by
his own uniqueness and abilities.
The crystal ball falls a bit on the absurd side along with Strong's
other cliches. It is rather odd that Hoshi would use the crystal ball to
see scenes of space battles the Enterprise fought years ago instead of
seeing what is happening now. The idea of objects retaining psychic
impressions from their owners is also pretty silly. Heavily influenced by
some questionable research about human psychic abilities, science fiction
widely adopted psychic abilities as being scientifically legitimate; though
in fact they're extremely questionable to say the least. While BABYLON 5 had
a backstory explaining its human psychic abilities, STAR TREK has generally
portrayed psychic abilities as an alien ability. This conveniently avoids
questions of credibility raised by belief in psychic phenomena and the
general fraudulence of those phenomena.
Still, it's one thing when those powers are portrayed as being able to make
telepathic contact which could at least be somewhat plausible given an alien
biology. On the other hand, psychic resonance is definitely on the kookier side of
the spectrum and pretty difficult to justify without resorting to Theosophy
or some other lunatic philosophy of that kind. Furthermore, Hoshi's ability
to use the crystal combined with Tarquin's repeated references to her
uniqueness would almost seem to suggest that the writers are setting her up
for some sort of psychic ability. Of course actual mind reading skills would
probably be the only thing that could explain her ability to learn a
completely alien language in days or even hours. Though it still wouldn't
explain how she learned to read an entire alien book in an entirely unknown
alien language a short time after she first laid eyes on it without help or
a Rosetta Stone of any kind. That's pretty difficult to justify even with
psychic powers, let alone without them. The producers have been giving Hoshi
superhuman abilities for some time now and while "Exile" does at least begin
to try and justify those abilities, what's being portrayed is still far in
excess of what is possible or plausible.
Tarquin's final appearance is almost unexpected and despite the rather
different tones of the episode's two storylines, Archer and Trip's outer space
adventure and Hoshi's quiet battle of wills in Tarquin's manor, the episode
manages to come together again as Archer and T'Pol finally get a lead on the
weapon even as they begin to realize the extent of what they are facing
Rerun of the S3 premiere.
How do you rate the episode on a scale of 1 to 10?
About the Author
O. Deus has been a TrekWeb visitor since the site's 1996 inception. Along with being an ardent poster, he is a freelance journalist based in New York City. Deus has written reviews and columns for TrekWeb for over two years.
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