Note: This review contains significant spoilers.
In brief: An aimless, unsatisfying wrap-up to this inconclusive
Plot description: Archer and Shran attempt to recruit an individual from a
telepathic Andorian subspecies in order to combat an enemy ship piloted by
Star Trek: Enterprise - "The Aenar"
Airdate: 2/11/2005 (USA)
Teleplay by Andre Bormanis
Story by Manny Coto
Directed by Mike Vejar
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: **
"It's never been all that hard to figure out what I'm thinking." -- Shran
Earlier this season, we had the Augments trilogy and the Vulcan trilogy. Now
comes the conclusion to ... uh, *this* trilogy, whatever you want to call
it. "The Aenar" is a messy epilogue in a three-parter whose most significant
story arc was wrapped up in last week's "United." Watching the rather
aimless "Aenar," I wasn't sure what this episode was supposed to be about,
and by extension, the trilogy itself lacks a concrete through-line.
I think the main problem is that the show focuses fairly heavily on the
Romulans and their meddling in the affairs of others, but we never really
get the sense that this show is actually *about* the Romulans. The Romulans
are more like arbitrary placeholders to drive the plot. We learn very little
about them; they're sketchy people doing bad things for half-baked reasons.
And if you stop and think about their genius plot, you're left amazed by the
sheer stupidity of it all.
Most disappointing is the fact there's not much to suggest that this episode
contributes to the prequel agenda that has been the selling point of this
season. Unlike the Vulcan trilogy, which told a mostly coherent prequel
story, we're left in a vacuum here wondering if we're going to see the
Romulans again. If so, I'd hope for something more substantial. If not, then
that's the way it goes and I guess the notion of Romulans sneaking around is
all Enterprise intends to give us. Either way, "Aenar" has mostly wasted our
Not that "The Aenar" is all bad. It's never unwatchable and it has its
moments. There is a scene, for example, where the Romulan admiral, a former
senator, explains how he was cashiered from the senate for questioning the
Romulan "precept of unlimited expansion." It would seem that reasonable
people who question authority are quashed. Too bad this scene is never
It turns out the pilot of the Romulan drone is actually an Aenar, one of an
Andorian subspecies who are blind and have strong telepathic abilities. The
Romulans' remote-controlled drone is designed to respond directly to the
telepathic signals sent by this Aenar, a man named Gareb (Scott Rinker),
whom the Romulans abducted from Andoria about a year ago.
Shran explains that the Aenar were considered mythical for centuries until
they were officially discovered "50 years ago." Even so, very few Andorians
have ever met an Aenar, who are staunch pacifists, very secretive, and live
only among themselves. Oh, and they can also read minds.
Frankly, much of this strikes me as quickly concocted Civilization Lite.
These two species have lived on the same planet forever and only a few
decades ago realized that the other even exists. But the story gives us
little reason to believe these are real cultures that live on a real world.
The Enterprise travels to Andoria to recruit their own Aenar to tap into the
signal and stop the drone. But once there, we don't even see Andorian
Andoria is represented by empty ice-tunnels which, according to Shran,
"branch off for thousands of kilometers." (The cities are all underground,
with access from these tunnels.) You'd think there'd be a better way than
walking to traverse thousands of kilometers of treacherous ice tunnels. I
for one hope they brought a map. In any case, it strikes me as great fortune
that Archer and Shran happen upon the Aenar as quickly as they do. Even
greater fortune that it happens so quickly after Shran has accidentally
impaled himself through the leg.
I suppose the notion of expanding this series' canvas of societies with the
Aenar is commendable. Still, I wasn't all that riveted by them. The main
selling point here is the decent characterization between the
always-suspicious Shran and the innocent and well-intended Aenar named
Jhamel (Alexandra Lydon), who, as it happens, is the sister of Gareb, the
Aenar who was abducted by the Romulans. This gives her and her alone the
motivation to break from her people's pacifist ideals to attempt to stop the
Not that I understood how this was physically supposed to happen. You see,
Trip has rigged up a remote-control chair/device on the Enterprise --
similar to the one the Romulans have -- which I guess has all the right
frequencies and encryption codes needed to break in and interfere with the
Romulans' remote-control system. One would think a remote-controlled war
drone wouldn't be so easy to tap into, but then one would be wrong.
Whatever; that's one of the overall problems with this episode -- too much
meaningless tech and mechanical plot and not nearly enough emotion or
relevance. I should care about Jhamel's plight to help her brother, but I
don't. It's a perfunctory "human" tack-on to a remote-controlled plot filled
with technobabble and explosions. The climax, where Jhamel is able to
contact Gareb by telepathy and get him to turn the drones against each
other, is overly simplistic -- underwhelming at best, hokey at worst. Gareb
expresses guilt over the people the Romulans forced him to kill, which made
me wonder why he didn't just make the drones return to Romulus and start
strafing the city. Oh, never mind; he's a pacifist. (Truthfully, he's just a
weak pawn of the plot.)
Meanwhile, I'm asking myself: Why would the Romulans even design
remote-controlled war drones that require a telepathic pilot, of all things?
Couldn't they just design remote ships that, you know, used keys or a mouse
or a joystick or something, *anything*, but telepathy? Even more silly: (1)
These drones require an Aenar to pilot; (2) The Romulans were apparently so
shortsighted as to kidnap only one Aenar to fly them; (3) the Romulan
admiral forces the Romulan scientist to push the pilot to the limits of
brain damage, saying his health is "of no consequence"; so (4) I guess when
he dies, their brilliant plan is to mothball the drones.
Really, this whole thing is more often than not a Swiss-cheese plot. Just
what are the Romulans actually trying to do, anyway? Cause general chaos as
a prelude to an invasion? The story never says. It's just a vague
pseudo-threat -- the Romulans out here stirring up trouble for trouble's
sake. Not exactly enlightening, particularly in prequel terms, and it's to
the detriment of the first two episodes in this trilogy, which were sold
mostly on their setup and mystery, which now has not been lived up to.
The show's best scene comes at the end, when Trip asks to be transferred to
the Columbia, and Archer reluctantly grants that transfer. It's a payoff
that was set up in several scenes earlier in the episode, centering on the
simple fact that Trip realizes he's in (unrequited) love with T'Pol, and
finds that it's affecting his work. This Archer/Trip scene is a quiet one
that explores actual characters and the relationships and personnel
realities of a starship. I like that Trip can't confess the reason for his
request to Archer, and that Archer doesn't force him to.
As for much of the rest of this episode, I'll quote Archer: "Looks like we
went all the way to Andoria for nothing."
Next week: Klingons, medical mysteries, and shadowy intelligence agencies.
Copyright 2005, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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