Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nothing So Compelling On Liberating Sex Slaves, Why “Rajiin” Flops!

The Good: In-Enterprise continuity, Hints of character growth
The Bad: Soap operatic Trip/T’Pol moments, Some super-cheesy special effects, Moments of stiff performance, Utterly obvious casting.
The Basics: The hot blonde of the week turns out to be bad news for the crew of the Enterprise in “Rajiin.”

The third season of Star Trek: Enterprise is notable in that it had a heavily serialized structure. As the season progressed, elements carried over from episode to episode and there were frequent teasers that utilized the mysterious Xindi Council. By the time “Rajiin” came up, the executive producers seemed confident that the continuous elements of the story – like Archer still bearing the effects of being mutated in “Extinction” (reviewed here!) – could be included because those watching the show were becoming more regular about their viewership.

“Rajiin” illustrates that the search for information – the Enterprise crew has been desperately hunting information about the Xindi – goes both ways. But while the continuity might be fairly good, the specific details are less than thrilling. While Nikita Ager ably plays the alien Rajiin, there is an unfortunately obvious quality to her casting. She is the stereotypical Hollywood blonde sex symbol and her appearance in “Rajiin” makes Archer seem like quite the tool (he was attracted to a virtually identical blonde in “Rogue Planet,” reviewed here!). In addition to the obvious casting, “Rajiin” suffers because it does not make a larger statement; it is very plot-based and thematically limited.

The Xindi Council reluctantly agrees to give the Xindi scientist Degra more time to build his planet-destroying weapon in the wake of the destruction of his laboratory. Despite the council being divided, the researcher is given more time without a mysterious other option being exercised. Aboard Enterprise, Tucker is worried about how the late night visits to T’Pol’s quarters appear to others aboard the ship. At the same time, Archer continues to recover from his mutation infection and he goes in search of a source of Trellium-D needed to insulate Enterprise from the spatial anomalies in the Expanse. On the bazaar barge the Away Team visits, Archer tries to get information on the Xindi and there he encounters a merchant selling sex slaves, including Rajiin. Rajiin escapes the merchant trying to sell her and flees to Archer’s side. After a short fight, the Away Team escapes with Rajiin to the Enterprise.

Rajiin begins going through the Enterprise crew, apparently possessing both the ability to scan (with a biological ability) life forms and exert influence over crewmembers using telepathic abilities. But, after incapacitating T’Pol and Tucker, Rajiin is exposed and she attempts to flee the ship using the transporter. Far from helpless, Rajiin is revealed to be a cold-blooded operative and her apparent allegiance to the Xindi Reptiles makes Archer instantly suspicious.

“Rajiin” works in the larger story arc of the Xindi to show just how determined the Xindi are. Just as Archer has become unhinged in some ways trying to find information about the Xindi, the Xindi are desperately gathering data on humans. “Rajiin” reveals that the M.A.C.O.S. are not indestructible and that the different factions of the Xindi are pursuing different agendas. In addition to the planet-destroying weapon, it seems the Xindi are eager to start work on a biological weapon. In that regard, the agendas defined in the episode – where Rajiin is being used to acquire biological information on humans – makes perfect sense (they would not have had access to human DNA before now).

The episode also shows that some of the Xindi factions are able and willing to work together. The Xindi Insectoids and Reptiles are seen working together in the breakout of Rajiin. In the process, though, the special effects department creates one of the crappiest special effects of the series. The Insectoids shoot barbs by the hundred that look like mini disruptor blasts and the effect is utterly ridiculous.

The only real character development in “Rajiin” comes in the form of Degra. The Xindi scientist, played by Randy Oglesby, clearly expresses misgivings about the Xindi mission using his body language (more than his lines). While the other Xindi want to progress on two fronts – planet-killer and the bioweapon – Degra is not sold on the idea of genocide and that plays out well for the character with its roots being evident in this episode.

“Rajiin” otherwise seems more like a teenager’s wet dream than a substantive episode of Star Trek. Archer falls for the hot blonde, hot blonde bewitches the only two other female cast members, including a pretty sensual massage with Jolene Blalock’s T’Pol featuring a lot of gasping and near-cupping of the breasts. It’s not all that exciting, but director Michael Vejar seems determined to make the psychic rape scene seem more like a sexual fantasy than the violation that it is (which is troubling).

None of the performances are particularly exceptional and Linda Park steps on one of her lines pretty bad (one assumes Vejar wrote the stumble off as an issue with the character being mind-controlled but given the fluidity of her dialogue before and after, it just comes across as sloppy. Even Scott Bakula’s more primal performance – Archer is still suffering effects from his species change in the prior episode and Bakula makes the acting choice to have Archer jerk around a bit more than usual in early scenes in “Rajiin” – do not land all that effectively in this episode.

Ultimately, the net effect of “Rajiin” is that the viewers learn of a second Xindi weapon and that the three men who wrote the episode had a pretty banal sense of the erotic to bring to the Star Trek franchise.

The gaffes in “Rajiin” is . . . Given how easily Dr. Phlox treats T’Pol’s injuries, there is no reason Dr. McCoy shouldn’t have been able to inoculate against the Elasian tears in “Elaan Of Troius” (reviewed here!) and the Lethian Telepathic Attacks should not be nearly as hard to treat in “Distant Voices” (reviewed here!).

[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 works with Scott MacDonald, please visit the reviews of:
“The Xindi” - Star Trek: Enterprise
Babylon 5: A Call To Arms
“Hippocratic Oath” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“Caretaker” - Star Trek: Voyager
“Captive Pursuit” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“Face Of The Enemy” - Star Trek: The Next Generation


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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