Monday, February 24, 2014

Inverse Into Darkness: “The Augments” Closes The Arc Well!

The Good: Decent acting, Moments of character, Plot moves along well
The Bad: Some continuity issues, Somewhat predictable plot development/twists
The Basics: The Star Trek: Enterprise arc featuring “The Augments” ends with the enemy attacking the Klingons to precipitate a war that will bring them breathing room.

With there being so much disappointment from fans over last year’s Star Trek Into Darkness (reviewed here!), one of the surprises was how few complaints came up relative to Star Trek: Enterprise. Combining a plotline with Augments and Klingons was something that had already happened in Star Trek: Enterprise. “The Augments” is an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise that would have been unaltered by the timeline change in Star Trek Into Darkness and thus should have been referenced, at the very least.

There is no way to discuss “The Augments” without revealing details from “Borderland” (reviewed here!) and “Cold Station 12” (reviewed here!), as “The Augments” is the third part of the story arc. The episode also makes an explicit reference to Kahn Noonien Singh and the Botany Bay from “Space Seed” (reviewed here!), which opens a small can of worms for fans; in “Cold Station 12” Archer has explicit genetic records of individual Augments, but Soong says records were destroyed. It seems pretty ridiculous that records of individual heritage would survive, but records pertaining to the creation and launch of a ship would be so thoroughly destroyed.

With the controls in Cold Station 12 about to go offline, releasing deadly pathogens throughout, and the Augments escaped in their stolen Klingon Bird Of Prey, Archer finds himself in a dire situation. Blowing himself out into space so that the transporter can be used before the pathogens are released, Archer is wounded but escapes Cold Station 12. Catching up to the Augments, Soong keeps the Enterprise at bay by dropping the Denobulan shuttle it stole into the atmosphere of a nearby planet, forcing them to rescue the Denobulans. As Soong works to modify the genes of the Augment fetuses, Malik becomes much more aggressive.

When Malik menaces a nearby Klingon colony with the biological plagues he took from Cold Station 12, Soong is effectively deposed. Archer bluffs his way into Klingon space in order to pursue the Augments. Aided by Persis, Soong escapes the Klingon ship and when he is recovered by the Enterprise, he lets Archer know about the plagues stolen by Malik. As the Enterprise pursues Malik’s ship, Malik turns on Persis, killing her for her betrayal.

“The Augments” has Trip and T’Pol actually wrestling with the consequences of T’Pol marrying in “Home” (reviewed here!). Tucker reluctantly admits he is proud of T’Pol and seeing him swallow his feelings is somewhat hearbreaking. T’Pol, for her part, presents a more logical front than she did during pretty much the entire third season. The return of a dispassionate Vulcan plays well against the emotionalism that Malik presents as the episode’s primary adversary.

The episode has some charm in it with Archer bluffing the Klingon vessel. Archer thinks on his feet in the way viewers expect a StarFleet Captain to. As well, Arik Soong finally illustrates well the humanity he is alluded to having. Soong is desperate to undo the negative perception of Augments while at the same time pursuing the research of the geneticists who precipitated the Eugenics Wars. In “The Augments,” Dr. Soong lives up to his potential as an ethical scientist who does not want to cause unnecessary loss of life. Moreover, here he finally tries to rewrite the bad genetic code left over from the Eugenics Wars. That plays well to the character and the continuity.

The acting in “The Augments” is universally good. Brent Spiner shines as Dr. Soong and he brings a little more depth to a guest character. Spiner manages to infuse an undertone of desperation into many of Soong’s lines and that makes the character seem more like a misguided man trying to make good than a legitimate villain. At the other end of the spectrum is Alec Newman as Malik. Newman is almost constantly angry, which fits that character wonderfully. Malik is the natural successor to Khan and Newman plays him like a young version of that villain, which plays perfectly for the character.

Despite the decent aspects, “The Augments” is still pretty light on character development. The episode is more plot-based and struggling to resolve the prior two episodes than it is concerned with growing any of the characters from Star Trek: Enterprise. The episode is entertaining (the nod to Khan’s death near the end of the episode is fun for the fans!), but it lacks resonance in that it is devoid of larger themes to make the episode mean anything to anyone who was not already a fan of the series.

The three biggest gaffes in “The Augments:”
3. Fooling the Klingons with a phony warp signature is a technique not developed until Star Trek: The Next Generation,
2. Dr. Soong takes the Augments toward the Briar Patch, which was in Star Trek: Insurrection (reviewed here!). Given that the Son’a are a force in the Dominion War and how far away the war front is from the core of Federation space, the Briar Patch should not be anywhere near as close to Earth or Klingon Space as it is in “The Augments,”
1. Dr. Soong was aboard a Klingon Bird Of Prey and its wreckage could easily have been salvaged and returned to StarFleet space. As a result, there is absolutely no good reason why StarFleet would not have recovered it or employed Soong to provide them with the tactical information he gleaned from the vessel and thus know how to read Klingon controls long before Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (reviewed here!).

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

For other works with Richard Riehle, please visit my reviews of:
Girl Meets Boy
Aaah! Zombies!!
Office Space
"Spirit Folk" - Star Trek: Voyager
"Fair Haven" - Star Trek: Voyager
“Becoming, Part I” - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
“The Inner Light” - Star Trek: The Next Generation


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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