Category Archives: Star Trek: Enterprise

REVIEW: Star Trek Enterprise “Cold Station 12”

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).


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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”

 

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REVIEW: Star Trek Enterprise “Borderland”

In the first of a trilogy Tony Wilkins reviews the Augment story arc from the final season of Enterprise.


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It is safe to say that by the end of Season 3 of Enterprise Trekkies everywhere had become polarized by the show. They either loved it or hated it. Now I will confess I struggled to keep up with the episodes being aired here in the UK because it was the only Trek not to appear on the BBC instead appearing on Channel 4 which is notorious for never keeping a regular timeslot for shows like this. They did the same with Angel and Babylon 5 and it hurt ratings accordingly. This coupled with my general lack of enthusiasm from some of the episodes I had watched and my total boredom over the Temporal Cold War arc meant that Enterprise fell off my radar with my Trek times instead being covered by repeats of DS9 and TNG. In all honesty Enterprise was not the first of my beloved Trek that I lost interest in as there were many episodes of Voyager’s last series that I missed because that seemed to have run out of steam for me as well.

Anyway, skip forward about six years after Enterprise died (almost unnoticed by myself) and I find Season 4 on sale in a bargain DVD price bin and so I thought Why not. Having endured the God awful first episode with it’s only saving grace being the end of that Temporal Cold War arc, my hopes were not high for how much I would enjoy this series. Then I hit “Borderland”. Boy did my opinion change.

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“Borderland” continues to tell the story of the Augments such as Khan and the subsequent Eugenics Wars; a topic frequently discussed by Trekkies everywhere. DS9 had touched on the topic with Bashir and his group of misfits but that was in a 24th century context and didn’t really address the past. Now in a way my loss of interest when this first aired was an advantage as by the time i got the DVDs I had no idea about the story and more importantly no idea who was the main guest star. So from the moment the teaser starts and we see the two Augments kill an entire crew of Klingons in spectacular fashion I knew that if anything was going to change my mind about Enterprise it would be this. After the much loathed opening credits we then see the man himself Brent Spiner as Arik Soong. I was admittedly dubious about this at first as I wondered if I was only going to see Data the whole time but to Spiner’s credit I knew this was another character altogether after only a few lines of dialogue. Brent Spiner and Scott Bakula (Captain Archer) had wonderful screen presence in this episode. Watching the two of them working off one another was a real treat and I admit from the moment they left Soong’s cell I was intrigued. I was glued to my screen and nothing was going to get me away from it.

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From there on however the episode concentrates more on rescuing crewmembers taken prisoner by the Orions for being sold as slaves. At first I was a little annoyed by this as it distracted from the far more interesting story of going after the Augments but as the episode played out I realized it was necessary in order to give us time aboard the captured Bird-of-prey to get to know our Augments. So what do I think of them? The only thing I didn’t like was their costumes. They looked like they had been pulled off a Mad Max movie and I kept thinking that if they are as smart as they are supposed to be then surely one of them could sow. That was my only complaint though. Other than that I thought they were brilliant and while clearly an homage to Khan and his crew from “Star Trek II” they had their own dynamic which I liked. Malik was a true megalomaniac in the style of Khan himself although with a tad more recklessness. It’s clear that Alec Newman had a lot of fun playing him. Abby Brammell is insanely beautiful and deadly as Persis but at the same time she does have that vulnerable side to her and we will see more of that in later episodes involving Soong. At this point I should mention the ship which I think looked both mean and accurate for being a predecessor of the Bird-of-prey we first saw in “Star Trek III”. I would have preferred a more smoother D7-esque design to help establish a design lineage but that is nitpicking.

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I know I said earlier that I wasn’t that happy about the Orion slave rescue story but it was fun to watch. The Orions are old school favorites and their appearance in this episode is the first of a massive assault by the Enterprise writers in Season 4 to get the show to feel more like Star Trek (oh if only they had done that in Season 1). The rescue is comical at times particularly how Archer stops Soong from escaping. I did like how Soong was portrayed by the writers and Spiner. I genuinely felt like Soong was familiar with the Orions and not just saying so. I am not a wrestling fan but I guess I should mention that ‘Big Show’ appeared as one of the Orions picking up Jolene Blalock’s relatively tiny frame when she was on sale. To be honest he was a lot of fun to watch and really threw himself in to it.

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After the rescue they finally meet up with the Augments and Archer comes face to face with Malik. I have always loved Star Trek when there are two actors working off one another debating a good topic. That’s what Star Trek is about; philosophy. To prove this one of my favorite episodes of Trek ever is the DS9 episode “Duet” where Kira is interrogating a Cardassian war criminal. It was beautiful. In this episode we had two great scenes like this first with Archer and Soong and now with Archer and Malik. It is topped by Malik with the great line;

To quote one of your philosophers, Nietzsche: “Mankind is something to be surpassed”

The episode of course ends with Soong being rescued by his ‘children’ and the threat of all out war with the Klingons now seeming unavoidable. If that wasn’t bad enough then we find out Soong’s plan is to recover the rest of his ‘children’ at Cold Station 12. It was such a dark note to end on and I loved it. This really was the episode that revived my interest in Enterprise. It had action, drama, a familiar face and some philosophy rolled into a well paced episode. One final note; when I watched “Star Trek Into Darkness” for the first time I couldn’t help but feel like this followed on from the Augment episodes. Now that can’t be bad since in the new timeline only Enterprise remains canon because it happened before Nero destroyed the Kelvin.