Saturday, October 19, 2013

Star Trek: Enterprise Does Beauty And The Beast With Death Stars In “Exile!”

The Good: Moments of character, Decent enough acting
The Bad: Some super-cheesy special effects, Predictable plot
The Basics: Hoshi Sato is kept as a captive when a lonely alien offers information on the Xindi and the Enterprise investigates the alien spheres in “Exile.”

The common wisdom in storytelling is that every story has already been told and now, magic in film and television comes by the familiar story being told in an imaginative new way. Unfortunately, in the Star Trek franchise, the last iteration of Trek, Star Trek: Enterprise, lost most of its originality and attempts at cleverness for the bulk of the series. One of the prime examples of how dull Enterprise was in terms of rewriting old words is “Exile.” “Exile” is basically Beauty And The Beast rewritten.

To be fair to “Exile,” the episode actually makes decent use of Hoshi Sato. Sato, like Mayweather, is one of the most neglected characters in Star Trek: Enterprise. In “Exile,” pretty much everything the viewer knows about Hoshi Sato is reiterated: she is nervous about space travel, she is a recluse, and she is a gifted linguist. Ironically, little is added to her character in “Exile” – save that her gifted nature was recognized at a young age by her parents and she was given special tutoring as a result and that she might have a secret crush on Mayweather (did they even have any scenes together in the prior two seasons?!) – but the viewer still feels like Sato is given a good run in the episode.

After Hoshi Sato hallucinates a being that can communicate with her, Phlox and Archer become concerned that Sato might be coming unhinged. As T’Pol locates a probable second sphere in the Expanse and the Enterprise diverts its course to confirm the sphere’s location and get specific readings, Sato is contacted again by the telepathic alien, who shows her images of his home planet. When the alien offers to help Sato find information on the Xindi, Archer redirects the Enterprise to find the planet Sato saw in her mind. On the planet, Archer, Sato, and Reed find the alien Tarquin.

Tarquin agrees to exchange information on the Xindi for Sato’s company if she’ll stay with him while the Enterprise moves on to explore the location of the second sphere. Tarquin begins to read Sato’s mind more and she quickly realizes he is terribly lonely. When Archer and Tucker use a shuttlepod to penetrate the barrier around the sphere, they are able to get more readings on the spheres and almost get stranded. Just as T’Pol realizes how dire the situation within the Expanse actually is, Sato comes to believe that Tarquin will not simply let her go when the Enterprise returns for her.

“Exile” is successful in that it intriguingly teases concepts that continue to resonate for the rest of the season. The moment Tarquin sees Dolim in his vision, the episode relies upon viewers having seen prior episodes, both to understand the significance of the alien and to recall the importance of the sphere from “Anomaly” (reviewed here!). The hunt for the Xindi, information on them and their facilities and capabilities is largely what the third season of Enterprise is about and the b-plot elements, the ones away from Hoshi Sato and the Beauty And The Beast-remake, actually make the unextraordinary episode feel fresher than it actually is.

Tarquin loses a lot of his pathos when director Roxann Dawson plays up his creepiness as opposed to the loneliness that supposedly drives the character. This is unfortunate because it telegraphs the reversal near the end when Sato is given a choice on whether to stay with Tarquin or return to the Enterprise. Despite Tarquin sharing a book that intellectually fascinates Sato, she and Tarquin have little chemistry because Tarquin is not direct or romantic in his advance on Sato, he’s creepy.

“Exile” is also hampered some by the special effects. While the make-up department did a good, though unimaginative, job on Tarquin (he looks an awful lot like a Xindi Reptile), the computer generated effects surrounding the shuttlepod are often miscolored or animated-looking.

Still, it is not enough to completely sink “Exile;” the episode is fair, but not superlative in any way. The episode is essential for the Star Trek Enterprise plot, but it is not remarkable; it is a somewhat creepy take on a classic story made worthwhile for the elements that ignore the main plot as opposed to the primary story it is trying to tell.

The three biggest gaffes in “Exile:”
3. Sato mentions “Medieval Klingon,” a language that seems to only exist in this episode and makes absolutely no sense for her to have knowledge of considering how poor the relations have been between the Klingons and humans and Vulcans,
2. This episode marks the first time that the Expanse is revealed to be an artificial construct. Unfortunately, it undermines literally dozens of other phenomenon, devices, and anomalies explored in the Star Trek universe, most notably the Dyson Sphere in “Relics” (reviewed here!) and V’Ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (reviewed here!). The size of those constructs was awed at by the respective Enterprise crews. Did not a single member of the Enterprise or Enterprise-D crew ever read about the Expanse?! ,
1. Considering how early this adventure is in Federation history, Tuvok and Kim should never have been bamboozled in “Alter Ego” (reviewed here!). Given how “Exile” is virtually a rewrite of that episode, Tuvok should have been onto the alien in “Alter Ego” almost instantly.

[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 directed by Roxann Dawson, please visit my reviews of:
“Riddles” - Star Trek: Voyager
“Workforce, Part 2” - Star Trek: Voyager
“The Andorian Incident” - Enterprise
“Vox Sola” - Enterprise
“Dead Stop” - Enterprise
“Dawn” - Enterprise
“Bounty” - Enterprise
“Eye Spy” - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.


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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