Warning: This review contains significant spoilers. If you haven't seen the
episode yet, count your blessings.
In brief: Bad. Bad bad bad bad bad. Bad.
Plot description: The Enterprise comes to the aid of an alien vessel
transporting a woman in suspended animation, who turns out to be their
Enterprise: "Precious Cargo"
Airdate: 12/11/2002 (USA)
Teleplay by David A. Goodman
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: zero stars
"Careful, man, there's a beverage here!" -- The Dude, "The Big Lebowski"
If a casual viewer happened to tune in this week, they'd have but one
question: So, this is what passes for Star Trek these days?
I sincerely hope not. I hope the producers realized this was a dog and aired
it only because, faced with a deadline, they had no choice. I hope they can
one day look back and laugh at this atrocity. Laughing is not likely to
happen right now, however, as UPN and Enterprise continue to face woeful
days of sagging ratings and a questionable future. With an episode like
this, those lousy ratings are deserved. Have the producers no respect for
their audience's intelligence and, more important, the audience's desire to
"Precious Cargo" is nothing. Zero. Zilch. A test pattern. An empty vessel. A
hollow corpse. A lifeless mass. A limp body. A vapid hour. A lamentable
experience. A lousy outing. A table scrap. A scrap without meat. A piece of
garbage. A test of viewer endurance. Television detritus. Hoary insipidity.
A road to nowhere. A road from nowhere. Utter crap. Astounding banality.
Awful dreck. A dismal failure. An abomination. A self-parody. A bad
self-parody. An insult to the intellect. A slap to the face.
Did I mention it was bad?
At the risk of overstating my case, I'll just say that essentially, this
episode is one big, long, long, long, long cliche. This is certainly one the
longest hours of Trek ever made. And one of the dumbest. And most boring and
pointless. There is literally NOTHING here that inspires thinking. The
actors are deer trapped in the blinding headlights of the script, coming at
them at 60 mph. *Wham*. Yikes -- looks like this one's a DOA.
The plot rehashes elements of TOS's "Elaan of Troyius," which I'm sure was
already a rehash in 1968. "Precious Cargo" is a rehash without the benefit
of humor or satire. It plays its premise basically straight, as if it were
actually a legitimate story. It clearly is not. It's nothing more than an
assemblage of cliches.
The plot in a nutshell: Two aliens are transporting a woman in suspended
animation ("Precious Cargo" -- get it?). Their cover story is that they were
hired to transport her in this manner. The truth is that they actually
kidnapped her and are holding her for ransom. In a series of contrivances,
this woman emerges from her hibernation, Trip gets on board the alien vessel
and is knocked unconscious, and one alien takes off in the ship with Trip
and the woman. Trip and the woman must then team up in an effort to escape
the alien ship. The other alien is left behind on the Enterprise, where he
is subsequently interrogated in the episode's only scene that comes close to
working, but is still not nearly as clever or satisfying as it should be.
The woman is named Kaitaama and is played by Padma Lakshmi, who is very nice
to look at but delivers a terrible performance. It certainly doesn't help
that Kaitaama is a walking, talking cliche -- a typically ultra-haughty
princess who is appalled at her situation and even more appalled that she
might be rescued by a lowly peasant like Trip Tucker. The ongoing "banter"
between Trip and Kaitaama is downright painful to be subjected to. Like
Trip, we're trapped with Kaitaama for the whole episode, and she's
unbearable while also being unconvincing. I never for one moment felt like I
was watching actual people, but rather artificial constructions of a
hopelessly recycled, lame-brained plot.
There are scenes of Trip and Kaitaama crawling through air vents, cramming
into an escape pod (tight spaces, up close and personal; har har!), and
finally crash-landing and traipsing through a swamp. All of this goes on for
a very long time with very bad dialog and very obviously no dramatic reason
for existing whatsoever other than to fill an hour of a floundering
network's bandwidth. It's utterly perfunctory and pathetic and without
purpose or merit or life or entertainment value. Eventually Trip and
Kaitaama get in a shouting match before they then suddenly clinch/kiss, in
an oh-so-predictable scene that is so horrendous as to induce eye-rolling
and groans. Watching all of this is like witnessing actors sleepwalking
through an hour in a meditative trance, while production mechanically
soldiers on, pulling the machine's garbage-in-garbage-out lever.
What's perhaps worst about "Precious Cargo" is that it's awful without also
being funny. It's simply awful while being relentlessly boring. Okay, I did
laugh when Trip punched the bad guy/alien in the face about five times, and
then the alien actually looked straight at Trip and exclaimed, "Ha ha!" How
ridiculous. My laughter was one of incredulity. If the alien had a mustache,
he'd be twirling it while tying Kaitaama to railroad tracks.
The best thing about this episode was its ending. Not because the ending was
good (it wasn't), but because it meant the show was over. Just how bad was
this episode? Let me give you some details for the sake of perspective. I
taped it on Wednesday and watched it on Friday, and when I queued the tape
backward one hour, the counter on my VCR told me exactly how long was left
in the show until it was over. "0:00" meant the end. My VCR's countdown to
zero was the equivalent of Burgess Meredith in "Rocky," telling me to hang
in there and get through this fight.
Next week: The ship is taken over by aliens and Archer considers blowing it
up. Looks like the Cliche Patrol will be on duty again.
Copyright 2002 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
Star Trek: Hypertext - http://www.st-hypertext.com/
Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...