Tony Wilkins continues his review of probably the best story arc of “Star Trek: Enterprise”, that of the Augments, with part 2. WARNING: This will contain spoilers (it’s about time I put one of these in the intro).
“Cold Station 12” has the unenviable task of being the middle segment of the arc. There have always been risks with three-parters and more often than not it is a week middle episode. In the case of the Augment arc however this is largely irrelevant as the first episode concentrated so much on the Orion rescue story that it effectively had a stand alone feel to it. It is safe to say therefore that “Cold Station 12” is really where the Augment story arc truly begins with no more side stories. True we needed the introduction of our newest characters in “Borderland” but know we can get on with it.
So let’s break it down. The episode is named after the facility where the embryos for the Augments were stored after the Eugenics Wars (presumably they were moved there from a facility on Earth after Zefram Cochrane’s warp flight). It is Soong’s plan to steal the rest of them and raise them elsewhere but in order to do that he must penetrate the station’s defenses. The station is now under the command of Jeremy Lucas, the man we have seen Phlox writing to in several episodes. Lucas holds out from revealing the security codes until Enterprise can arrive but despite Enterprise’s interference Soong escapes with the embryos.
This episode is really the story of Soong learning what his ‘children’ have become without his guidance. You can’t help but feel for him at times as you watch the fatherly pride he had in “Borderland” start to break down as he sees the truth. It begins with him learning that Malik has killed his brother who was the former leader of the Augments but Malik lies about how it happened and while Soong suspects this he refuses to face that truth. As they take the station he starts to learn the cruel side of Malik and the Augments and this is topped by the discovery of ‘Smike’ – the Augment who was not good enough to stay part of the group back on the planet. This was one of the best aspects of this episode as Soong goes from being an unlikeable character to one that plays on your sympathies. Soong’s journey in this episode is crucial to a point that will arise in the final episode.
In my review of “Borderland” I said that Star Trek Into Darkness felt like it was linked to the Augment arc in some way. Nowhere is this more clear than in a scene early on in this episode where Soong is discussing ways of getting in to Cold Station 12 with his ‘children’ and Malik recommends destroying the life support system and waiting for everyone to suffocate so they can walk in (in space suits presumably) unopposed. Now when I see this scene I can hear Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan Singh saying,
“I shall walk over your cold corpses”
It is uncanny how both Khan and Malik had a similar plan and while I know it wasn’t a deliberate link I do like that it is there.
This was an above average violent episode for Star Trek. Whereas in most episodes characters get a punch and have a slight cut on their faces in this we see Lucas get a real beating with numerous cuts and bruises while suffering severe pain from internal injuries. If that wasn’t enough we also get a scientist getting killed in horrific fashion by one of the diseases stored there. It’s worth mentioning that a lot of this was cut out for airing in the UK so there were censors worried about it in what is still considered a family show. I would not say that the violence was gratuitous but was the right amount to serve its purpose of forcing Lucas to reveal the codes and to help further divide Malik and Soong.
The action sequences in the asteroid field between the Bird-of-prey and Enterprise were stunning to watch and I would go as far as to say they are one of the best looking of the entire series. Sadly they are short in length as the bulk of the action happens on Cold Station 12. One continuing criticism I have of Star Trek Enterprise as a series is that Scott Bakula can’t do tough in my honest opinion. So everytime he appears to be sacrificing himself I just don’t believe it like I would if it was any of the other four captains. I hate saying it because I was a huge fan of Scott Bakula during his Quantum Leap days but he was not suited to the role of a Star Trek captain. He just doesn’t carry the authority of Patrick Stewart or Avery Brooks.
This episode had some wonderful scenes to it. Of particular note for me was the scene in which Captain Archer discusses Denobulan uses of genetic engineering and how it has benefited their race. We can see already how we get from Earth’s total ban on genetic engineering in the 22nd century to how in the 24th century Federation policy is that it is to be used to correct birth defects and tackle diseases thanks to Denobulan influence. The same happens with the Vulcan’s non-interference directive becoming the prime directive.
This was a good episode with a lot of drama. It really was Brent Spiner’s episode and it’s to his credit that this one worked so well. Watching all three episodes back to back you really see why Soong decides to make the decisions he will make in part 3 and Malik’s growing rebelliousness is an obvious portent for the future. In truth it was obvious from the start as you ask “Will Augments so disgusted by ‘normal’ people really follow someone who isn’t an Augment forever?”