[ENT] Jammer's Review: "Oasis"
- Warning: This review contains significant spoilers. If you haven't seen
the episode yet, beware.
In brief: Pleasant but too familiar.
Plot description: The Enterprise crew contacts the marooned crew of a
downed vessel and begins suspecting the survivors are hiding a secret.
Airdate: 4/3/2002 (USA)
Teleplay by Stephen Beck
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Stephen Beck
Directed by Jim Charleston
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: **1/2
"Twenty-two years, captain. I've lived here for 22 years. And that ship
down there may seem like nothing more than spare parts to you, but to me,
it's home. I don't want to leave. I'm happy here. Comfortable." -- Ezral
Part of me enjoyed the easygoing dialog and sensibilities of "Oasis,"
which is for the most part a quiet, well-acted outing that scores lots of
points for being amicable. But then logic takes over where emotions taper
off, and I see before me a story that is very obviously derivative and
predictable -- a Trek story that borrows generously from Trek stories that
The cynic in me that wants to say "been here, done this" is beaten into
quasi-acceptance by the sentimental optimist, who notes that even if this
story isn't new, some of it works on an emotional plane. Which side of me
wins this debate? Neither, because "Oasis" is quite simply too average for
either side to get worked up about.
Probably not very useful is the episode's idea of playing much of the show
as a mystery, particularly given how painfully conventional the solution
ends up being. In this day and age, where major story twists are
benchmarked by those found in movies like, say, "The Sixth Sense" or
"Fight Club," "Oasis" finds little of value when playing the mystery card.
The mystery is the question of a marooned crew on a crashed vessel. Before
visiting this crew, Archer is handed an ominous warning by a passing
trader (Tom Bergeron) who recently came in contact with them: "The, um ...
crew objected," he says, before adding, mysteriously, "There wasn't
The Enterprise away team lands on the planet to find what initially
appears to be a deserted ship, before finding the crew hiding out in a
room that apparently protects them from being detected by sensor sweeps.
This crew says they've been stranded here for three years after crashing,
unable to repair their ship. Archer offers to help, and in the process of
making repairs, Trip and T'Pol come across some strange facts that
indicate this crew isn't being completely forthcoming about their
situation, hence the episode's air of mystery: What is this crew hiding
and why? The big "shocker" comes in the form of a long-dead corpse in an
escape pod orbiting the planet. It's the corpse of one of the crew members
Trip has seen alive and well on the planet surface. How can that be? Are
they ghosts? (Cue ominous music.)
The answer is predictable, conventional, and familiar: The crew is made up
of holograms, save two survivors: Ezral (Rene Auberjonois) and his
daughter Liana (Annie Werscing, whose character sometimes bears an uncanny
resemblance to Kes from the early seasons of Voyager). They alone survived
the crash some 20-plus years ago, when Liana was still a very young child.
Ezral, unable to repair the ship to leave the planet, designed the
holographic crew to become her -- and his -- extended family. Similar
plots/themes include DS9's comparable "Shadowplay" and TNG's superior "The
That's about all there is to the less-than-surprising plot, but what I
liked about this episode was its presentation. Trip and Liana strike up a
sweet, understated chemistry that reveals Trip as quite the gentleman.
Such a gentleman, in fact, that I wanted to slap T'Pol around for being a
needless thorn in Trip's side. She's all over his case for being friendly
with Liana, and reminds him of how he got pregnant in "Unexpected" --
something which I'd like to point out to T'Pol was hardly Trip's fault
(unless he missed the lesson at Starfleet Academy that said, "For human
males to avoid getting pregnant by Xyrillian females, you must be sure not
to put your hands in a box of granules while sitting in a holographic
Probably the best thing about the mystery was revealing it at the end of
the third act and thus leaving the fourth act in the hands of a good deal
of heartfelt dialog and human choices. Ezral turns out to be a real person
instead of just a vessel for the plot. He had to make a choice -- saving
his daughter's life in the heat of a crisis -- that indirectly caused the
deaths of most of his ship's crew, his wife included. Now he just wants
what's best for his daughter, and for years that has meant raising her
with this virtual family -- but now we suspect she's ready to move on to
real life while he's content to live in this virtual past. The always-
reliable Rene Auberjonois brings a wonderful authenticity to Ezral's
regrets, pains, and fears in a way that really makes a difference. Where
this story could've fallen victim to its own familiarity, the actors make
Beyond that I have little to say. "Oasis" is ultimately a simple tale of
human choices and with a little bit of good character study. It's a credit
to the actors -- especially Auberjonois -- that we're invited to care.
It's somewhat unfortunate that such well-delivered tones of pleasantness
and classic Trekkian attitudes must play themselves out in a plot that's
so obviously routine. Three acts of pedestrian "mystery" and one act of
sincere sentiment add up to an episode that I wasn't sorry to be watching,
but also wouldn't be breaking down any doors to see again.
Copyright 2002 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...