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[ENT] Jammer's Review: "Babel One"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Note: This review contains significant spoilers. In brief: An entertaining enough show, although there are plenty of standbys in use. Plot description: A
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 21, 2005
      Note: This review contains significant spoilers.

      In brief: An entertaining enough show, although there are plenty of standbys
      in use.

      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@...
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