Friday, August 2, 2013

Mayweather Gets An Episode For No Particular Reason In “Horizon.”

The Good: Moments of character development, Special effects are fine.
The Bad: Terrible acting! Banal plot.
The Basics: Ensign Mayweather’s second season episode is the entirely unremarkable “Horizon.”

The secondary characters in the Star Trek franchise have had it tough since the original Star Trek. Because Star Trek was dominated by Kirk and Spock (with an occasional story that focused on McCoy), the subsequent series’ had a tendency not to focus on any more than three characters in a significant way in a season. In all of the Star Trek spinoffs there were at least two characters who were generally neglected and kept as supporting characters. Gates McFadden once noted at a convention that there would never be a Dr. Crusher movie. Similarly, Harry Kim on Star Trek: Voyager was lucky to get two episodes in a season that focused on him. On Enterprise, the series is dominated by Archer, T’Pol and Tucker and characters like Ensign Travis Mayweather are very much pushed to the back burner.

Yet, the producers made a passing effort to develop all of the characters and in the second season, the Mayweather episode is “Horizon.” It is easy to see why actor Anthony Montgomery would be excited by “Horizon.” The episode gives him the chance to shine, but unfortunately “Horizon” is a fairly uninspired episode and it gives very little room for Mayweather to shine. While the episode has decent character conflict for Mayweather, in the form of competing with his brother, the situation seems generic and the episode has a very weak plot.

Opening with Mayweather sitting on the ceiling in the Enterprise’s “sweet spot” (a null gravity area in a turbolift shaft) when he is recalled to the Bridge. The Enterprise is being diverted to explore a geological fireworks display some thirty light years behind the ship. Mayweather realizes that the detour will take the ship near to his family’s cargo ship, the Horizon. While T’Pol struggles with socializing when Tucker bugs her into coming to movie night, which is now every night on Enterprise, Mayweather learns that his father has died and his homecoming to the Horizon is going to be a bittersweet one.

Mayweather instantly butts heads with his brother, Paul, who is now the acting captain of the Horizon. Paul is jealous of Travis’s StarFleet position, though some of the other members of the crew are curious about Mayweather’s exploring the galaxy. When Travis makes upgrades to the Horizon, Paul has a fit, which comes after the Horizon is attacked by pirates. While Travis rejects giving in to the bullying pirates, he struggles to save the Horizon from Paul’s inexperience and the menace represented by the pirates.

“Horizon” is seriously marred by some of the worst acting of the series. The episode feels like it must have been about ten minutes short, so Bakula and Anthony Montgomery make painfully long and inorganic pauses between key portions of their clauses in sentences. The staggered way they speak is painful to listen to and the episode feels . . . amateurish as a result. Guest actress Joan Pringle shines so brightly as Mayweather’s mother largely because she speaks like a normal human being.

The character conflict with Mayweather is a pretty generic one. Much like Luke Skywalker at the end of Return Of The Jedi (reviewed here!) never plausibly seems like he might go over to the Dark Side, the viewer never honestly believes that Travis Mayweather will leave Enterprise for the Horizon. Far worse for the viewer is the T’Pol b-plot. T’Pol goes from being bratty about movie night to being something of a punchline, making jokes that reference Frankenstein.

That same b-plot, with the Enterprise hanging out watching a planetary fireworks display is nothing more than a cheap excuse to show off the special effects. The special effects department does a decent job in “Horizon” with both the space battle and the spatial phenomenon, but they are good CG effects supporting an otherwise mundane plot with a painfully generic plot (it’s like “Prodigal Daughter” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine without the engaging murder/conspiracy).

Ultimately, Travis Mayweather and Anthony Montgomery deserved something better than the one-shot “Horizon.” It feels like exactly what it is: a desperate attempt to use one of the oft-neglected characters from the show.

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