Saturday, April 13, 2013

Redneck Star Trek: “Rogue Planet” Has Hunters, Blondes And Guy Humor.

The Good: Special effects, Most of the acting
The Bad: Character details that make very little sense, Dull plot
The Basics: The Enterprise episode “Rogue Planet” is a very “guy”-centered episode that does not fit into the rest of the Star Trek franchise in any notable way.

As Enterprise tried to differentiate itself from the other series’ in the Star Trek franchise, it started to go after other demographics in very weird ways. After doing things like having Trip Tucker explaining football to a Vulcan in “Fusion” (reviewed here!), Enterprise continued to court “guy guys” with “Rogue Planet.” Unlike prior episodes of Star Trek (in its various incarnations) where hunters have always been strict adversaries of the StarFleet heroes of the show, in “Rogue Planet,” there are hunters and they are not, in the strictest sense, bad guys.

Instead, in “Rogue Planet,” the hunters are manly men and there is almost no wrestling with the moral consequences of their hunting. Moreover, the episode is fleshed out with Archer pursuing an elusive blonde woman in sleepwear. The guys jibe each other with guy jokes, the star of the show chases a Hollywood beautiful blonde, and the hunters go after dangerous prey. This is not Trek for geeks or intellectuals; it’s a special effects-driven, tense episode with wry humor and pointless sex appeal.

Cruising along, Trip Tucker tries to get Archer to relax and get a good picture of him for a painter back on Earth. They are interrupted when the Enterprise detects a planet that has broken out of its orbit with its star. There, they discover a small ship has set down, but refuses to respond to their hails. Taking Shuttlepod One down, Sato, Reed, Archer, Trip and T’Pol discover the Eska on the planet, hunting what they have called rare prey, though they claim it is not sentient. After Sato returns to Enterprise, the Enterprise personnel camp out.

In the middle of the night, Archer hears a woman calling his name and pursues the blonde woman who is calling him out into the woods. While he is not able to catch her, he insists to the hunting trio that she was real, not an illusion. The hunters go out hunting again, with Reed, and one is attacked by the creature they are hunting. The creature the Eska are actually after is a shape-shifting creature called a Wraith and soon Archer learns that the illusive blonde is one of them who has dug into his memories in order to appeal to him for survival.

“Rogue Planet” features two new races to the Star Trek universe and it continues the trend of presenting shapeshifters in a way that makes it somewhat odd that in Star Trek shapeshifters would still be a novelty. The Eska are played by Keith Szarabajka, Eric Pierpoint, and Collin O’Farrell and none of their characters are especially distinctive. These are pretty generic hunters who just want to go out, shoot things, and test their manhood.

The generic female character is played by Stephanie Niznik and she certainly looks the part. However, Archer’s explanation for her is somewhat ridiculous. Archer had a childhood yearning for something unobtainable and he envisioned the woman he sees on the rogue planet; but the recurrence of that makes no sense, after all, he spends his days searching the galaxy for the previously unobtainable. In trying to make an explanation for the vision, the writers come up with something that makes no rational sense.

As for the main characters, the biggest bit of characterization comes from Reed and Archer talking about being Eagle Scouts. There is no actual character development in the episode, just one little bit of additional information about the characters and there is little of significance that comes from it.

The acting in “Rogue Planet” is fine, with all of the performers interacting with the virtual characters fine. Even so, none of the performances are particularly incredible. As is her frequent habit, Jolene Blalock smirks her way through T’Pol’s ironic lines.

Ultimately, “Rogue Planet” is a bottle episode that is utterly inconsequential and hard to get excited about one way or another.

[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 works with Keith Szarabajka, please visit my reviews of:
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
The Dark Knight
Angel - Season Three
"Repression" - Star Trek: Voyager


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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