Thursday, April 18, 2013

Enterprise Does “Shadowplay” For “Oasis.”

The Good: Special effects, Most of the acting
The Bad: Entirely derivative plot, Huge continuity issues, Main characters do not develop at all
The Basics: When the Enterprise encounters a cargo ship on a planet without any life signs, the viewer gets bored with something they have (likely) already seen before.

Long before I saw the Enterprise episode “Oasis,” I knew I was not at all excited about it. Rene Auberjonois, who was a regular in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, appeared in the episode “Shadowplay” (reviewed here!) and appears in “Oasis” spoke at length about his role in “Oasis” at conventions at the time the episode aired. While he spoiled the episode for me, I’ll try not to spoil it for my readers.

“Oasis” is a mess, in addition to being entirely derivative of “Shadowplay.” Given that the only thing I can find positive to say about the episode is that the special effects are good and actor Rene Auberjonois does a great job as Ezral. Auberjonois, like so many of the seasoned Trek actors comes with a professionalism and effortless quality that makes the regular cast of Enterprise seems stiffer by contrast. Because this episode is such a mess and because I cannot muster up much enthusiasm for it, I thought that today I would just go with the top ten problems with the episode after describing what “Oasis” is.

The Enterprise meets with D’Marr, an alien who they trader with for the relatively light commodity of coffee. Archer trades for information on the location on a nearby downed cargo ship where D’Marr went to scavenge parts, but discovered life forms on the ship who did not emit life signs before he arrived. Archer, Mayweather, Trip, and T’Pol take the Shuttlepod down to the surface of the planet where they have detected the ship’s rare metal signature and they begin to investigate. There, they find people who they cannot detect with their Tricorders. They meet the hostile Captain Kuulan, his chief engineer Ezral, and Ezral’s daughter Liana.

Liana and Trip hit it off and, despite T’Pol teasing Tucker about how he seems likely to hook up with her, Trip convinces Liana to come with him back to the Enterprise. When T’Pol discovers the secret behind the crew’s inability to detect any lifeforms, it puts her and Trip in mortal danger as the Away Team works to repair the cargo ship.

The ten biggest issues with “Oasis” (in, mostly chronological order) are:
10. Anthony Montgomery’s performance in describing his anxieties about the downed ship is exceptionally stiff,
9. T’Pol expresses a lack of understanding of fear and human enjoyment of experiencing fear through ghost stories, despite the fact that she was on the mission – in “Strange New World” (reviewed here!) – where Trip and Mayweather tell ghost stories right in front of her,
8. The alien trader’s name is D’Marr, pronounced exactly the same as Damar. Jeeze, how lazy is that?! Why not just name him Spock?! Damar was, of course, the Cardassian hero in the final arc of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,
7. One of the first big inconsistencies in the story the crash survivors give is their claim they crashed three years prior, but they soon learn crashed twenty-two years prior. Liana pretty much freaks out at that, though the explanation could have easily been explained with “our years must be much longer than your years,”
6. T’Pol teases Trip Tucker,
5. The escape pod in orbit only appears after it is plot-convenient,
4. Trip Tucker begins repairing the alien ship based upon his experiences on the Xyrillian ship from “Unexpected” (reviewed here!). This makes for one of two immense problems with “Oasis.” Either he is grossly unable to repair the system or the moment he begins repairing it and discovers the optronic relays, the “surprise” about the nature of the crash victims should be entirely eliminated,
3. The physics of the aliens makes no sense. If they do not understand their true nature, they cannot make themselves immaterial to let phase pistol beams pass through them. If they do understand their nature (which is not evident by the episode’s resolution), then they should have no issue with trying to repair the ship . . . or the whole concept the Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager fights for ought to have been raised hundreds of years prior,
2. Trip has met three women by this point in the series. Why would T’Pol (who is one of those three women) assume that Trip can’t keep it in his pants when there was only one woman who he had a sexual relationship with and that was not consensual? Trip actually expressed a sense of discomfort over how many Reed was with, which implies that he is not the redneck womanizing hick one might initially think him to be. T’Pol, who is supposed to follow logic, is reacting with a prejudice that is not at all logical,
and 1. Archer and the Enterprise crew seem to think it is odd that the crash survivors did not send a distress call. Enterprise is the only StarFleet ship this far out in space; there are no ships to come rescue them if anything goes wrong. A distress call from Enterprise would be utterly and completely pointless. How can they not understand that an alien race, that they have never heard of or seen, that is far away from home, would not see any point in sending a distress call?! It would be like the first Earth mission to Mars sending a distress call; it’s not like we could suddenly build another space ship to go rescue it!

And, what the hell, as a bonus, Archer is so unhelpful in the resolution to this episode. He pledges to help Ezral get off the planet, but refuses to commit to helping him get home. It’s not like being out on his own worked out particularly well last time! “Oasis” is just pretty bad . . . on its own merits, not even in comparison to the episode it is derivative of.

The three biggest gaffes in “Oasis:”
3. After encountering yet another holographic system, it seems ridiculous that it took two hundred years before the Federation developed Holodecks,
2. Given how “Oasis” progresses, it makes Captain Janeway seem like a real behind-the-time racist the way she resists the Doctor’s entreaties for his own freedom in (especially) the seventh season of Star Trek: Voyager (reviewed here!),
1. Given how “Oasis” develops, the fact that Jadzia Dax would be at all surprised in “Shadowplay” is utterly nonsensical.

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