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[ENT] Jammer's Review: "Oasis"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Warning: This review contains significant spoilers. If you haven t seen the episode yet, beware. In brief: Pleasant but too familiar. Plot description: The
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 18 4:15 PM
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      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.

      -----
      Enterprise: "Oasis"

      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
      came before.

      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
      anything alive."

      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
      Survivors."

      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
      boat").

      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
      it watchable.

      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@...
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