Friday, November 8, 2013

Trading Sex Appeal For Spare Organs, “Similitude” Is Anything But Heavy-handed.

The Good: Good acting, Good philosophy, Decent special effects
The Bad: Undermines character conflict and philosophy with incongruent characterizations, Derivative plot
The Basics: “Similitude” is a missed opportunity for Star Trek: Enterprise to rise to a strong medical ethics story as it fills out the episode with increased character details and forced conflict.

When it comes to television series’s, there is something to be said for how a show gets rid of characters. Killing off a main character is a tricky thing and the necessity of removing a main cast member usually seems to come from actors choosing to leave the series. In the Star Trek franchise, outside the original Star Trek, there has been a main cast casualty in each series. In the case of Star Trek: Enterprise, that casualty comes exceptionally late in the series, though “Similitude” would immediately have viewers believe otherwise.

“Similitude” tries to make a character death with meaning, though it is painfully similar to Star Trek Nemesis’s inclusion of B-4; Data’s sacrifice means less considering there is already another Soong-type android with his memories on the Enterprise. In true Star Trek fashion, there is an ethical dilemma and fans of the Star Trek franchise will recognize a number of similarities to “Ethics” (reviewed here!) as well as Star Trek: Nemesis (reviewed here!).

Opening with a funeral for Trip Tucker, the episode flashes back to two weeks prior when Tucker was giving T’Pol a foot massage. Tucker tells T’Pol about a warp field experiment he is planning on running and the next day, the Enterprise performs the test. The test is successful up until the warp core destabilizes and there is an explosion. In stabilizing the warp drive, Tucker is caught in an explosion and soon after, Archer informs T’Pol that Tucker is in a coma. As Phlox is concerned that Tucker will not awaken from the coma unaided, he proposes using one of his little lifeforms in Sickbay to create a Lyserian mimetic symbiont, a clone.

Despite T’Pol’s ethical reservations, Archer approves the procedure. After four days, Phlox lets the child, Sim, out of his care. Archer takes Sim to the cargo bay to fly around the radio-control test ship, which Sim crashes. Archer explains the situation (mostly) to Sim as Sim continues to rapidly grow, though subsequent interactions with T’Pol and Reed are met with indifference and excitement. While the Enterprise is trapped in an area of space where particulate matter is building up on the ship and Sim uses Tucker’s memories and experiences to create a risky method of getting the Enterprise out of its predicament. As crewmembers become invested in Sim, the ethical issues surrounding the way he is to be used to save Trip’s life come to the forefront.

“Similitude” features four performers playing Trip Tucker and Sim and they do fine. The young actor Adam Taylor Gordon plays the young version of Tucker in a surprisingly good manner. He has the character’s swagger and sense of eagerness that defines Tucker’s cocky nature.

The character struggle in “Similitude” is essentially between Archer, Sim, and T’Pol. Archer’s view is that he is all about saving Tucker. In fact, Archer is anything but compassionate to Sim, so he comes across as something of a jerk, as opposed to a man doing anything he can to save his best friend. Sim comes to a point where he starts debating his own existence and that plays well. Sim makes the strong argument for an inherent right to live and it is compelling. As for T’Pol, she quietly emotes a longing for Sim that she has not exhibited with Trip. The subtle emotionalism is present throughout the episode and there is some merit to that.

Unfortunately, it comes on the heels of yet another scene where Trip and T’Pol are being physically intimate (their body positions are suggestive, though they entirely clothed and the acts are not overtly sexual). But “Similitude” has an underlying sexual tension that feels especially cheap in an episode that could be nailing home strong points on the importance and value of life. Instead, the salacious and obvious way T’Pol and Trip and later T’Pol and Sim are thrown together undermines the magnitude of the philosophical argument.

On the plot front, there is a further derivative quality to “Similitude.” The revelation from Sim to T’Pol is virtually identical to how Odo spoiled his younger self’s interest to Kira in “Children Of Time” (reviewed here!). Beyond that, the spatial anomaly is one of the simpler ones in the franchise and the contradictions in style and substance do not result in an overly satisfying episode.

“Similitude” had potential and, especially devoid of any hype for the idea of killing Tucker, is one of the bigger missed opportunities of the season.

The three biggest gaffes in “Similitude:”
3. Given how many casualties there have been in the Star Trek universe, why has no one else ever used a Lyserian mimetic symbiont since?!,
2. Given the nature of the spatial anomaly in “Similitude,” the one in “Imaginary Friend” (reviewed here!) should have been nothing to deal with,
1. The idea of cloning for organs should not have been such an audacious idea in “Ethics” . . . two hundred years later, if Phlox was essentially doing the same thing in this episode!

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Third Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the penultimate season here!


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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