[ANDR] Jammer's Review: "Vox Sola"
- Warning: This review contains significant spoilers. If you haven't seen the
episode yet, beware.
In brief: Some nice moments and an ending that rings of genuine sci-fi, but
overall just a little too average.
Plot description: Ensign Sato attempts to communicate with a bizarre alien
lifeform after it boards the ship and traps several members of the crew in
Enterprise: "Vox Sola"
Airdate: 5/1/2002 (USA)
Teleplay by Fred Dekker
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Fred Dekker
Directed by Roxann Dawson
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: **1/2
"Are you staying for the movie tonight?"
"'Wages of Fear.' Classic French film. No, you'll like it. Things blow up."
"Hmm. Sounds fun."
-- Mayweather and Reed
"Vox Sola" begins with a shaky alien first contact that sets the stage for
an even bigger, shakier, more awe-inspiring alien first contact. This is not
a story sold on an original premise or even new takes on old ideas. Rather,
the truth here is in the details.
I sort of liked the details. This is an episode that goes to the core of the
"seek out new life" clause in the Trekkian mantra and seems to genuinely
believe in it. The question is whether this particularly journey is worth
Almost. I sort of liked this episode, but not quite enough to give it a
pass. In terms of fascinating content, there just isn't enough here. But I
enjoyed the story's payoff, which manages to generate enough wonder to
qualify as true sci-fi.
Something Is On the Ship. Our illustrious crew is not sure what, but it has
webs of gelatinous tendrils that are good for reaching out and grabbing
somebody. It starts by grabbing two engineers before the captain and Trip
wander down to investigate and are also snared. The rest of the episode is
an exercise in figuring out how to communicate with this lifeform and get
our people released.
It also serves as a reminder, as Phlox says to Reed in a brief and calm
argument I appreciated, that we're out here to explore and contact new life.
This weird gelatinous thing would seem to qualify as a perfect example, but
the crew is uncertain whether the creature is sentient. Meanwhile, the lives
of four crew members, including the captain and chief engineer, lie in
Quite simply, I have little to say about the way this mystery is solved. The
usual courses of investigation and tech are documented in competent ways
that, gladly, do not threaten to grow too tedious. Nor are they worth the
time of summarizing in a review.
On the character front we get Hoshi facing what is perceived as an early
failure in translating an alien language, resulting in their becoming
greatly offended and storming off the ship. For audience members paying
attention, this should trigger the Full Circle Alarm. Will Hoshi be tested
again in this new situation involving the strange lifeform's language, which
seems rooted in mathematics and musical tones? Hmmm.
Hoshi doesn't appreciate the boss nagging her, though. T'Pol seems to go out
of her way to remind Hoshi about the importance of having this second chance
go right, with a little bit of attitude buried in that Vulcan calm. Or
perhaps not. My take? T'Pol should be a little more forgiving, Hoshi should
ignore subtle digs, and this might all be more interesting if it didn't feel
quite so tired and forced anyway. (I liked the T'Pol/Hoshi interaction
better in "Sleeping Dogs.") On the other hand, I liked the unforced humor in
the dialog between Travis and Malcolm regarding a French film where "things
blow up." (Insert grin here.)
Alas, Anthony Montgomery is less effective in serious scenes, as when he
talks with the offended aliens over the viewscreen while on an empty bridge.
Montgomery, who every day seems more like the weak link in the Enterprise
cast, is far too wooden to make the scene work; the whole thing comes across
as stilted. Perhaps there's a reason he's been getting so little screen time
But never mind all the setup, which works only because of the cumulative
effect of watching the crew tackle the problem at hand. Where "Vox Sola"
comes together is in the payoff where Hoshi communicates with the lifeform.
It's a strange and well-conceived sequence that uses sound effects, slowly
building revelation, and Paul Baillargeon's surprisingly workable score to
create an inspired moment that works as true science fiction; it feels like
we're making contact with a truly alien presence rather than the usual
routine involving humanoids and the universal translator. I was reminded of
the communication at the end of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
Granted, the moment doesn't make for a fully satisfactory episode. This is
all pretty routine stuff -- exploration of the Star Trek ideal in the most
rudimentary, if reliable, of ways. The alien lifeform ends up as not much
more than something you think of the crew later documenting in a report
after the mission is complete: "Captain's log: This bizarre thing happened
today." But hopefully in the details of such a report, it would reveal
itself as a bit more interesting, and we'd see the curiosity of our space
Next week: Two episodes for the price of one.
Copyright 2002 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...