[ENT] Jammer's Review: "Marauders"
- View SourceWarning: This review contains significant spoilers. If you haven't seen
the episode yet, beware.
In brief: Milk toast.
Plot description: Archer tries to help the residents of a mining colony
being bullied by Klingons marauders who take all the fuel the colonists
Airdate: 10/30/2002 (USA)
Teleplay by David Wilcox
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by Mike Vejar
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: **
T'Pol: "Short of killing the Klingons, any action we take will only make
the situation worse."
Jammer: "Looks like you just solved the puzzle. Kill the Klingons at
While watching "Marauders," I saw during one of the commercial breaks an
ad for an upcoming action movie called "Half Past Dead," set inside a
prison and starring Steven Segal and Ja Rule. Much to my amazement (and
dismay), the end of the commercial informed me that "Half Past Dead" is
rated PG-13. Yes, PG-13. And I'm thinking, has the bloodthirsty
testosterone-driven violent American action genre been so watered down for
mainstream marketing reasons that now *Steven Segal films* are rated
PG-13? What has our world come to?
It is of some irony or coincidence or appropriateness or something (or
not) that this commercial airs during "Marauders," the epitome of
milquetoast Star Trek action, where the last act is devoted almost
completely to an extended action sequence where Our Heroes must ward off
the threat of the Evildoers, and yet not one person -- friend or foe -- is
killed or even seriously injured. Given that this is, after all, the Star
Trek universe and its Evolved Sensibilities we're talking about, I'm
willing to grant that this is somewhat appropriate. Certainly more
appropriate than a Steven Segal film released to the masses as PG-13.
My point? I guess that "Marauders" is so devoid of anything worth getting
worked up about -- for good or ill -- that I'd rather get worked up over
the fact that Steven Segal now stars in movies that are rated PG-13 (it's
not bad enough that Segal films are generally garbage; now they're
watered-down garbage). Perhaps "Marauders" is your cup of tea and perhaps
it's not, but I found it to be a very tame and unimaginative recycling of
a very familiar story. (A recent version of this story is the Disney/Pixar
film "A Bug's Life," more entertaining than this.) Yes, the location
shooting and production design here is impressive. Yes, Mike Vejar is a
good director. But all the surface gloss and competency in the world
cannot make up for story developments that make me shrug and say, "So?"
The plot is about as bare-boned as they come. Colony of miners produces
refined deuterium. Colony sells deuterium to passersby. Colony,
unfortunately, is being bullied by group of Klingon marauders, who use
intimidation and violence to hoard all the miners' output production,
leaving them empty-handed. Colony has tried to fight back, but Klingons
are too strong and mean. Enter the Enterprise and Captain Archer, who,
once he learns about this situation, wants to help.
There's certainly nothing wrong with that story sketch as a starting
point. It's classic Trek material, albeit very middle-of-the-road stuff.
Unfortunately, there's nothing really right about this story either. The
script's approach is to give us the facts and assume we care about them,
without giving us anything dramatic or interesting to *invite* us to care.
I guess that's the problem -- not that I disliked this episode but rather
that I was so disinterested. Archer's humanistic desire to help people
(who are initially too afraid to accept his position of standing up to the
Klingons) is an admirable (if obvious) character trait. But the episode
has no real depth or questions to consider. It's painfully
straightforward. "I've never liked bullies," Archer tells Trip at one
point. End of story. Philosophizing goes no deeper than that. Okay,
there's also, "Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day; teach him to
fish, and he eats for a lifetime." Whoa. Deep.
Archer's plan is to teach the colonists how to defend themselves in the
few days before the Klingons return to raid the colony. T'Pol holds an
introductory martial-arts class, showing how to avoid a Klingon wielding a
bat'leth. (There's one amusing moment when T'Pol asks a reluctant
Mayweather to help her demonstrate an attack. T'Pol: "You won't hurt me."
Mayweather: "It's not you that I'm worried about.") Reed and Sato offer
sessions for target practice with firearms. A clever plan is hatched to
relocate buildings so the deuterium field will be exposed and can be set
ablaze. Trip befriends a boy (Jesse James Rutherford, a sub-par
performance) whose father was killed in an earlier skirmish with the
Klingon bullies. Archer reassures the colony leader (Larry Ceder,
performance par for course), who quietly despairs at his own
ineffectiveness. These scenes represent a series of facts mostly free of
underlying tension or suspense, scarcely more interesting than as I've
just described them. Hence the episode's unfortunate lack of an emotional
The Big Battle in the show's closing act is a bizarre and ultimately
borderline-humorous compromise between elaborate action staging and
attitudes of unmistakable non-violence. Despite the fact the Klingons are
trying to kill Our Heroes, every effort is made for Our Heroes not to
resort to killing any of the Klingons. The good guys punch, kick, throw
rocks, shoot guns without hitting anyone, and use other non-lethal tactics
(included is a scene that shows how T'Pol also fills the role of Action
Hero Chick With Spin-Kick Moves), and ultimately they lure the Klingons
into a trap where a fire ring appears around them. The big payoff
involving the fire ring is overplayed to the point of goofiness; the
Klingons' moment of realization is hammered at with the precision of a
sledgehammer, making our heroes look not nearly so clever as the villains
I dunno. "Marauders" is what it is -- a bloodless, light-as-a-feather
action show with handsome production values but absolutely and positively
no edge. It takes bland safeness to new heights; it doesn't come within a
hundred yards of anything daring, offensive, challenging, or otherwise
intriguing. If you're looking for a very simple hour of TV that pushes no
buttons or envelopes and inspires in you little thought or emotional
reaction, this will maybe get the job done. Plus, nobody gets hurt.
But then, you might also find yourself more riled by the notion of a PG-13
Steven Segal movie than anything that happens here.
Next week: A skeleton in T'Pol's closet?
Copyright 2002 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...