Monday, February 6, 2017

Episode Review - Exile (Enterprise, Season 3)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – As the search for the Xindi home world continues Hoshi is contacted by a telepathic alien named Tarquin. Tarquin has information that Archer could use, and his only request is that Ensign Sato remains with him while he acquires it. While Archer and the crew of Enterprise explore the possibility of a second sphere, Hoshi stays with Tarquin in an attempt to learn more about the mysterious alien and discover what she can about the Xindi and their plans. Soon, she discovers that Tarquin has an ulterior motive and she is faced with the choice of rejoining her crew on their dangerous mission or staying with him for the rest of her life. Meanwhile, T’Pol makes a startling discovery about the spheres that they have been discovering in the Delphic expanse.

Score: 6/10 – This episode, occurring early in the Xindi-arc third season, does fairly well as a stand-alone episode. Since this entire season is based on a single, far-reaching storyline, it is difficult to watch the episodes out of order, but this is one that can be viewed without knowing too much about what has happened before. Having said that, it fits in well with the overall Xindi arc as it provides the crew a valuable piece of the puzzle. I have one major complaint about this episode, and that is the offer of Tarquin to Hoshi Sato. He offers her companionship, a sense of belonging that he feels she has never had yet in her life. Tarquin is lonely, having been exiled by his own species because of his telepathic powers, and is also at least four centuries old with little sign of him getting too old any time soon. His motivation for having Hoshi stay with him is apparent. For some reason, Hoshi has a particular mind that attracts Tarquin to her, although in more platonic than romantic ways. What he offers Hoshi, however, is not anything that she would remotely find appealing. There is no inner conflict evident in her decision. She tells him she won’t stay, and never wavers in her desire. Tarquin comes across as the geeky social outcast who is love-struck for the cheerleader captain, but has absolutely nothing to offer that would make her want to go out with him. He tries twice to have her change her mind. One, an obvious ruse to make it seem like Archer wants her to stay, and a half-hearted attempt to hold the lives of her crew hostage, for which Hoshi easily appeals to his sense of decency. There is just nothing that makes the likelihood of Hoshi remaining with him remotely possible, so the potential suspense in the story is quickly deflated. I also was disappointed in the idea that Hoshi had a special mind was glossed over too easily. It would have been nice to see it explored a bit more. Otherwise, the story flows well, and it is nice to see Hoshi get some attention. Tarquin is an interesting character, and his makeup is quite extravagant. There are some fun moments with Archer and Tucker landing on the sphere they discover, and there is finally some hope that they will meet the Xindi soon.

Relevance - 1 point. This being my first review of the third season of Enterprise makes this category a bit tricky. As the entire season revolves around one large story, almost every episode has relevance to the story. It would be easy to assign each episode a two or three due to this, so I am looking at relevance for this season in a slightly different manner. Because they make a major discovery about the spheres (there are at least 50 of these mysterious orbs), this becomes relevant. We also get a smidge of hope in finding a Xindi colony where a part of the super weapon is being built, but other than that this episode can be skipped and a viewer can get the main info from the token “Previously on Enterprise” sequence that opens almost every episode this season.

Continuity - 3 points. Although I criticized the lack of motivation or temptation for Hoshi to remain with Tarquin, the way she reacts completely fits with the character, so a point is scored here. Universe and story continuity also score points as nothing goes contrary to anything pre-established.

Character Development – 1 point. Hoshi gets the focus of the main story, which is rare and always welcome. The disappointing thing is that we really do not learn much about her, nor does she develop much as a character.

Social Commentary – 1 point. The desire to not be alone, or to belong with meaning is likely the main theme in this story. Tarquin, due to his exile, seeks companionship, even knowing that his companions are likely to die long before he does. Yet with this longing, he is looking for very particular individuals to share his existence with. During his encounter with Hoshi, he makes it clear that it is her mind that draws him to her. His attraction is never hinted at as being sexual in nature, which deepens his motivation. He is willing to do almost anything to gain that special connection with someone. On the other hand, Hoshi cannot find it within herself to make such a sacrifice, preferring the friendship of her crewmates than a life of shared exile. While the desire to belong is strong, the case would have been stronger if the temptation for Hoshi to stay was real and existent. Instead, it weakens the message when she has very little reason to stay. Without any inner conflict, Tarquin comes across as a telepathically obsessed stalker.

Cool Stuff – 1 point. The scene where Tarquin shows Hoshi how to use his telepathic device that allows to see, among other things, a reptilian Xindi is quite cool. Beyond that, nothing much else stands out.

Rank – Lieutenant (13 points). A so-so episode that could have been more, but in the first third of the Xindi arc, could get easily overlooked. Still, it is nice to see Hoshi front and center to the plot. If you are wanting to watch the entire season then the story fits well, but if you only want the highlights, this will likely not make the cut.

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