Friday, February 4, 2011

This Time, The Romulans Have REALLY Returned: "The Enemy!"

The Good: Good adversaries, good acting, good pacing, good character development
The Bad: Weak plot stretched into an hour show
The Basics: A surprisingly rewatchable episode, "The Enemy" pits Worf in a moral dilemma and Geordi in a struggle for survival.

In the uninspired first season finale to Star Trek The Next Generation, "The Neutral Zone" (reviewed here!), the Romulans make a reappearance and explicitly announce that they have returned. Yipee. Now, almost two years later, they actually do.

In "The Enemy," the Enterprise arrives at the stormy planet Galorndon Core, where they have received a distress call. This planet is on the Federation side of the Neutral Zone and as it turns out, the downed craft is a Romulan scoutship. One Romulan is recovered from the surface and, in the process, Geordi is lost in an electromagnetic storm. The Romulan on the Enterprise is dying and Worf has necessary ribosomes to save him, but he's refusing as his parents were killed by Romulans. Geordi, meanwhile, discovers another Romulan, Bochra, on the surface of Galorndon Core, who is dying. The two must work together to survive.

"The Enemy" succeeds largely because it takes a fairly weak plot and populates it with interesting character work. That is, the "lost on a planet" and "save a dying enemy" plots are both not enough to fill the time and combining them barely adds more. Fortunately, a lot of the time is not spent belaboring the actual situations, but working their way out of them with character.

To that end, the Worf plot, one worth exploring, is often under-rated in favor of the Geordi plot. But the name "The Enemy" tends to refer to the Worf plot, as Geordi and Bochra quickly become allies to survive. In a simplistic way, this episode is a simple metaphor for cooperation: Geordi and Bochra work together and survive, Worf and the dying Romulan refuse one another and one does not survive (guess which one). Fortunately the episode "reads" as more interesting than that.

Levar Burton gives a wonderful performance as Geordi, making the wounded, lost officer convincing on what we rationally know is a soundstage. Burton infuses a desperate quality to Geordi's body language and voice that is difficult in a character that is unable to use his eyes to convey information.

Michael Dorn, as well, shines as Worf, bringing the Klingon to life with resentment and anger that is more than simply the words on the page to a script. It's too bad there were never acting awards given to those on Star Trek The Next Generation; Dorn and Burton ought to have been nominated for this episode.

In fact, the acting carries this episode further than the plot does. And the actors are playing characters in compelling struggles and that is enough to bring us back to this episode again and again.

"The Enemy" does not make explicit a lot of the Romulan/Federation backstory, making it difficult for non-fans of Star Trek The Next Generation. Nevertheless, the essential character conflicts and struggles are enough to make it interesting to those unfamiliar with Star Trek.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Third Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the third season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek episode reviews, please visit this index page by clicking here for the listing of reviews!

© 2011, 2008, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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