Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It’s Always The Visiting Scientist . . . “Daedalus” Is Obvious, But Not Unpleasant.

The Good: David Cobbs’s performance, Special effects
The Bad: Leslie Silva telegraphs her performance, Somewhat obvious plot
The Basics: “Daedalus” is a familiar-feeling Star Trek plot with a lack of emotional resonance because the pretenses of the episode are only introduced here.

Serialized television works best when it can build long arcs and develop characters over many years. Star Trek: Enterprise was only occasionally serialized, but elements of the show were designed for a larger sense of symmetry in the Star Trek franchise. By the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise, elements of the show made more of an attempt to synch up with the rest of the series. The transporters, for example, have been used more in the fourth season by the time “Daedalus” comes up than in pretty much the rest of the series before the fourth season!

“Daedalus” is a transporter episode that could have been so much more . . . if only the important character aspects had been teased in prior episodes. Captain Archer has mentioned his father many times in the course of Star Trek: Enterprise and the hero worship he had for his father, who helped develop the warp engine, was illustrated in “Broken Bow” (reviewed here!). What was not illustrated in “Broken Bow,” or ever before, was the relationship between Archer’s father and the Erickson family. As a result, we have only “Daedalus” to insist there was a significant relationship between Henry Archer and Dr. Emory Erickson and an important friendship between Jonathan Archer and Quinn Erickson.

When the inventor of the transporter, Dr. Emory Erickson, visits the Enterprise, he hopes to present a revolutionary new technology. Erickson has a prototype of a submolecular transporter. While Tucker has a case of hero worship of Erickson, he becomes suspicious when Erickson will not turn over schematics to the device. Erickson insists on making the modifications to the Enterprise on his own. Erickson’s daughter, Danica, reconnects with Archer and she seems angry and uncomfortable.

With the Enterprise underpowered for the experiments in the Barrens, a distortion appears in the Armory, killing one of the crew. Conversations between Emory and his daughter insinuate the truth; that Erickson is working to find his lost son, and Archer’s old friend, Quinn. Tucker and Erickson use the experimental transporter to beam a probe father than one had ever been beamed before. Tucker quickly realizes that Erickson is diverting power for something else and he brings the issue to Archer’s attention, which leads the crew to expose Erickson’s true agenda. Captain Archer joins Erickson’s attempts to restore Quinn to normal space.

Outside the fundamental set-up issue with “Daedalus” which tries to get the viewer invested by retconning a series of relationships that have never before been mentioned, the episode suffers because it has a familiar quality to Star Trek fans. “Daedalus” is essentially “The Ultimate Computer” (reviewed here!) or “New Ground” (reviewed here!) blended with the technical issues of “The Visitor” (reviewed here!). The result is less-than thrilling.

In fact, the long build-up is diluted with scenes that only serve the show in the larger sense – Tucker tries to draw T’Pol out following the events of “Kir’Shara” (reviewed here!). While that is good for the series, it feels very much like filler in “Daedalus.” T’Pol’s arc in the episode is not uninteresting, but it is somewhat ridiculous; T’Pol begins to truly study what it means to be a new Vulcan. She is essentially beginning a new quest to strip herself of all emotion. She does this, though, after she has a medical condition that makes it neurologically impossible for her to raise her emotional defenses. While the episode deals with the mind-meld effects T’Pol suffered from “Stigma” (reviewed here!), it neglects the idea that T’Pol spent the third season as a drug-riddled woman who the Doctor had declared would probably never recover her neurological ability to raise her emotional defenses.

What saves the episode is the performance by Bill Cobbs. Cobbs makes the viewer actually care about Emory Erickson. He is able to convey an impressive emotional depth for the character and make his sense of loss seem very real and palpable. Cobbs is a master and he keeps an otherwise unremarkable episode from sinking to be one of the dregs of the entire series.

The three biggest gaffes in “Daedalus:”
3. Given the amazing technology Erickson creates in the episode, it seems utterly inconceivable that a transporter problem like the one in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (reviewed here!) could have occurred,
2. Given the plot of this episode, “Realm Of Fear” (reviewed here!) should not have been at all surprising. In fact, the Enterprise should have recognized the problem almost instantly and actually believed Barclay,
1. Archer and Erickson refer to Zephram Cochrane as if he is known to be dead, instead of lost as part of a great mystery as he was in “Metamorphosis” (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 Bill Cobbs, please visit my reviews of:
Oz The Great And Powerful
Night At The Museum


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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