Monday, April 14, 2014

“Divergence” Is Brought Down By Speed 3 Subplot!

The Good: Decent retcon plot for most of the episode, Special effects, Concept in the larger Star Trek continuity. Decent character development for Phlox.
The Bad: Opening plotline, Jolene Blalock’s performance, Questionable medical science
The Basics: What could have been great is constantly undermined in “Divergence” as Star Trek: Enterprise tries to reconcile the different appearances of Klingons in the franchise.

One of the enduring mysteries in the Star Trek franchise was how the Klingons went from being the Klingons as seen in Star Trek versus how they appeared in the rest of the Star Trek franchise. The jig was up for the writers writing their way out of the problem easily when “Blood Oath” (reviewed here!) aired on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. That episode featured three Klingons from the original Star Trek appearing in modern Klingon make-up. That meant whatever happened to the Klingons, it had to be something that would change. The malleable nature of the Klingons was further suggested with the theorizing by the Defiant officers in “Trials And Tribble-ations” (reviewed here!). That the change in the Klingon appearance would be something the prequel series was forced to deal with came when “Broken Bow” (reviewed here!) started the series out with the modern Klingon make-up. “Divergence” is where the split in the Klingon race is finally made explicit.

“Divergence” is the follow-up to “Affliction” (reviewed here!). It is impossible to discuss “Divergence” without revealing aspects of “Affliction.” “Divergence” is brought down by an opening act that is troublingly dull and forced by a minute subplot introduced in the final moments of “Affliction.” Basically, the opening to “Divergence” is a ridiculous remake of Speed and it guts the momentum of the episode from the outset.

With the Enterprise forced to stay above Warp 5, lest it explode, the Columbia is sent to rescue it. Putting the Enterprise within its warp field, Columbia makes a tether to the Enterprise over which Tucker travels. Aboard the Enterprise, Tucker takes command of Engineering and works with T’Pol to disable the Klingon subroutine infecting their computer. With Reed exposed to Archer as a traitor, Archer works to discover what Reed’s alternative orders are. Reed begrudgingly agrees to put Archer in touch with Harris.

With the Klingon attack fleet headed to Koval Colony to destroy it in order to stop the plague Phlox was kidnapped to cure, Phlox is feeling pressure to perform. He and Antaak come up with a reasonable (if devious) plan. Lying to General K’Vagh, they develop a treatment for the Augment virus sweeping through the Klingon Empire. Having developed four potential treatments, Phlox reluctantly experiments on live Klingons until he finds the treatment that will work. When Archer tries to rescue Phlox as the colony falls under Klingon attack, he becomes the test subject needed for Phlox to create an accelerated treatment for the virus.

The concept of “Divergence” is one that is problematically executed. The Section 31 plotline makes less sense than one might hope. That Klingons were trying to make their own Augments is a good idea; that they would stop because of the setback in “Affliction” and “Divergence” is less believable. The explanation is an interesting one and the relationship between the Klingons and Augments is a cool idea.

On the character front, “Divergence” is most intensely focused on Reed. Over the course of the episode, Lieutenant Reed commits to Archer over Harris and while there is no compelling reason for that, it shows some growth. That Reed has only been contacted by Harris once since Reed joined the Enterprise makes little sense as well, considering the Enterprise has been involved in such things as saving the Earth from the Xindi and one might suspect Section 31 would have had a vested interest in, for example, stopping the Andorians from getting the Xindi prototype in “Proving Ground” (reviewed here!).

T’Pol is glossed over for having an emotional attachment to Tucker in “Divergence,” but that makes no real sense. T’Pol has, by this point, committed absolutely to Surak’s philosophies of unemotionalism and so she should be much more adept at hiding her emotions. Jolene Blalock’s performance is annoyingly conflicted and decidedly un-Vulcan. The other major character moment comes from Dr. Phlox. Phlox basically uses biological weapons on Klingons, with Archer’s aid and that seems like a huge character detraction. That “Divergence” offers no time to reflect upon it is even worse.

Ultimately “Divergence” is one of those episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise where the writers were given a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to overcome and they did the best they could to rectify one of the problems of the franchise.

The two biggest gaffes in “Divergence:”
2. If the Klingons were altered by Augment DNA, it makes no sense that Augments would not still be fresh in the minds of the Enterprise crew in “Space Seed” (reviewed here!) and that people like Dax would not know the truth in “Trials And Tribble-ations,”
1. How the hell does Section 31 ever develop if one of its early, powerful, operatives is an ineffective and untrustworthy operative like Harris, who is outed so easily?!

[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 John Schuck, please visit my reviews of:
“Muse” - Star Trek: Voyager
“The Maquis, Part 2” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home


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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