Friday, March 9, 2018

Enterprise 1x4 "Strange New World"

rating: ***

the story: An away team becomes stranded on a planet and begins to grow paranoid.

what it's all about: In hindsight, "Strange New World" would probably have made a better first regular episode for the series.  It addresses the tension of having T'Pol among the crew and demonstrates the limits of the crew's technology, featuring a scenario where the transporter is necessary but problematic, and allows characters to talk freely so we get to know them outside their shipboard functions. 

It's one thing to have a setup where humans are resentful of Vulcans, but another to internalize it, and this is basically the one episode where the series allows anyone to question T'Pol herself, even if there's an elaborate excuse for it.  With everyone's trust being warn away by an infection, Trip gives full vent to his biggest fears concerning her, that T'Pol is only there to further hold back Starfleet's mission.

The campfire scene, before that, when Mayweather's telling a ghost story and we meet Cutler for the first time, is an early defining moment for the series.  This never happens in any series previously.  There'd never been a feeling of such informality allowed in a Starfleet crew, and it's another keen reminder of the fact that we're watching people who have none of the history we've come to rely on, that they're closer to our time than they are to Kirk's.  There's also a nice bit of symmetry there, too, from another campfire scene, one of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier's best moments, in which old friends are merely enjoying each other's company.  If there's one regret for this series, it's that there wasn't another campfire moment in its final season.  Would've been fitting.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - A crew handicapped by its reluctance to use a transporter!
  • series - A personable early approach to the crew.
  • character - Trip and T'Pol in an early bump in the road for their relationship.
  • essential - That's a missed opportunity.  If it had been written as a Trip and T'Pol episode, rather than one that features them in one particular moment, it would have greater lasting impact.
notable guest-stars:
Kellie Waymire (Cutler)

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