236[ENT] Jammer's Review: "Babel One"
- Feb 21, 2005Note: This review contains significant spoilers.
In brief: An entertaining enough show, although there are plenty of standbys
Plot description: A series of surprise attacks in a volatile region of space
threatens to derail negotiations between the Andorians and Tellarites, which
the Enterprise is mediating.
Star Trek: Enterprise - "Babel One"
Airdate: 1/28/2005 (USA)
Written by Mike Sussman & Andre Bormanis
Directed by David Straiton
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: ***
"Do you think we're moving too fast?" -- Archer
"Babel One" is one of those shows that benefits from ending on a good note.
The theory goes, the last feeling the audience has is the most important
one, because it will reflect upon the episode as a whole. Based on that
theory, this episode works. The twist ending is successfully executed, isn't
obvious before it's revealed, and maintains plausible logic. Because, after
all, the Romulans are sneaky and deceptive and what they're doing here
strikes me as their sort of tactic.
The rest of the episode is passable, but nothing for you to write home about
(that's my job). You know the drill: Two warring societies must meet to
settle their differences as our main characters play the role of
peacekeepers/mediators. (When I pitched to Voyager in what,
incomprehensibly, was five whole years ago, Bryan Fuller told me that one of
my pitches fell too much into the general category of the "two warring
societies" storyline. Obviously, if they have a category for it that they
use to weed out pitches, this is not a new story.)
In the case of "Babel One," the warring people are the Andorians and the
Tellarites. The Enterprise is transporting the Tellarite ambassador (Lee
Arenberg) to the neutral world of Babel for negotiations over a trade
dispute with the Andorians. Exacerbating the situation is the rampant
distrust both species have for each other. The distrust is in no small part
caused by ships each side has lost in recent years, presumably at the hands
of the other.
The latest ship to be destroyed is Shran's, which was apparently attacked by
a Tellarite vessel. Only Shran and 19 of his crew survived the assault; they
are rescued by the Enterprise en route to the negotiations. Obviously, Shran
is in no mood to deal with the Tellarites on board Archer's ship. ("Keep
them away from us, or there *will* be bloodshed," he warns Archer.)
There's a lot of distrust and yelling. Perhaps too much. The Andorians and
the Tellarites are both obstinate to the extreme, and Archer has the
thankless role of playing referee.
Better is a scene where Archer and Shran share a drink, and Shran talks
about his ship and crew. Shran's character is that of a hardened soldier,
and the loss of his ship is a cause for wounded pride. I liked that. He also
confesses his feelings for his subordinate officer Talas (Molly Brink), one
of the ship's survivors who recently had became Shran's lover. She made the
first move, Shran says, and his options were to either take her up on the
offer or throw her in the brig. Call it Andorian pragmatism. "I hope you
made the right decision," Archer quietly says.
The attacks in this region of space have caused strong friction between the
Andorians and Tellarites, since both sides seem to be attacking each other,
but there's a mystery brewing with clues: Why is the same power signature
present at more than one attack site? Why does this contradict the visual
evidence from the recorded logs of the attacks, which confirm that the
Andorians and Tellarites are attacking each other? And why does an Andorian
ship open fire on the Enterprise and refuse to acknowledge Shran's orders to
stand down, before scurrying off?
One annoying aspect of the show -- or more specifically, UPN's marketing
campaign -- is that we know the answers to these questions before the show
even begins, because the trailers had given it away seven days before. This
has the unfortunate effect of making the first 30 minutes of the plot
extremely obvious to us, forcing us to watch in frustration while the
characters put the pieces together. Fortunately, it doesn't take them too
long to add things up, and T'Pol even quickly hypothesizes that the ship
responsible -- a rogue marauder -- is based on the same technology as the
minefield encountered two years ago in "Minefield" -- the Romulans.
Archer realizes the delicate nature of the situation, as well as the
opportunity he has available here. There's a historic chance to form an
alliance, as well as indications that the Romulans -- if they are indeed
responsible -- are determined to see that such an alliance is *not* formed.
I liked the moment where Archer pauses to muse over Starfleet's role in this
mess, asking T'Pol, "Do you think we're moving too fast?" T'Pol tells him
that Starfleet is in a unique position as a neutral party to forge
relationships where the Vulcans -- distrusted by the Andorians -- would be
unable to help.
By Archer's good fortune, the Romulan marauder, which has the ability to
disguise itself as any other ship by using a holographic skin and false
signatures, breaks down dead in space, giving the Enterprise crew a chance
to beam aboard and investigate. Reed and Trip are left behind below decks on
the marauder when the Romulans are able to make repairs and escape. Trip and
Reed continue their investigation on the marauder while Archer resumes his
efforts to bring together Shran and the Tellarite ambassador so they can all
pursue the marauder.
But before Archer can show his new evidence regarding the marauder, Shran
and Talas break out of their quarters and go after the Tellarites. This
leads to the usual action scenes and shootouts involving the MACOs, etc.,
and the tense standoffs, etc., as Shran demands answers from the Tellarites
while holding his gun on them. Archer tries to squelch the situation, and is
mostly successful in regaining Shran's trust, but not before Talas is
wounded by a Tellarite with an itchy trigger finger.
Meanwhile, Trip and Reed make their way to the bridge of the Romulan
marauder, and find themselves face to face with ... an empty bridge,
controlled by remote. In what proves to be one of the season's more
memorable moments, there's a cool pull-back reveal shot that shows the
Romulans at their command stations, which turns out to be in a tower in the
capital city on distant Romulus. It's a neat twist. I admit I didn't see it
coming, and yet the logic holds. The show finds a way to do something
unexpected and yet sensible given the fact that Trek history mandates that
the Romulans are not to be seen by anyone in this century. If the rest of
the episode had been this inventive, it might've been a great one. As it is,
we have a decent story willing to employ standbys, up to a point.
Next week: Before there can be an alliance, there must first be a fight to
the death, naturally.
Copyright 2005, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...