Thursday, January 18, 2018

Episode Review - Unexpected (Enterprise, Season 1)

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

Overview – The Enterprise is suddenly affected by a series of unexplained malfunctions, including loss of gravity. As they search for the cause of the problems, they discover a cloaked ship trailing the Enterprise. When they contact the ship, they meet the Xyrillians, an advanced alien species. They are using the plasma exhaust to help them power their ship so they can return home. Tucker agrees to go over to their ship to help them make repairs. While he is there, he befriends Ah’len, a female Xyrillian engineer, who shows him some of their technologies. During his encounter, Ah’len showed Tucker a game which connected them telepathically. After the Xyrillian ship was repaired, Tucker returns to Enterprise, having enjoyed his visit. Shortly after the Xyrillians leave, Tucker notices a strange growth on his arm. Phlox examines Tucker and announces that Tucker is pregnant. The Enterprise then tries to find their new friends to figure out what happened. When they find the Xyrillians following a Klingon ship, they must convince the Klingons to assist them without destroying their new friends.

Score: 7/10 – This episode is a nice way of giving the viewers an in-depth look at Tucker, plus give us some entertaining moments. As I re-read the overview I just wrote, I have to admit that I really do not do the episode justice. On paper, it looks like a bad comedy plotline, but it actually works very well. The story flows fairly well and while it may not be terribly ground-breaking it is a fun story. From the introduction we are given some moments that we often thought about in Star Trek. In this case, we not only see how they shower, but what happens when the gravity cuts out. It’s interesting to see a holodeck, and we cannot help but wonder if this is the inspiration for the holodecks we see in TNG or Discovery. There are some funny moments, although some of the jokes written in seem a bit stale and cliché (thinking specifically of the “When in Fellebia” line from Phlox and the Klingon captain, when on the Xyrillian holodeck looking at his homeworld, exclaims “I can see my house from here”). The concept of having Tucker be the one who gets pregnant (OK, technically he is a host to the developing embryo) is an interesting twist, especially since nothing sexual happens between him and Ah’len, or at least that is what it seems at the beginning. Connor Trineer does a great job at making the most out of pregnant Trip, showing typical mood swings common in pregnant women from a man’s perspective. The story doesn’t have a whole lot of real risk or threat to it, and when it is resolved it doesn’t seem to have a big send off, but the viewer is left with a sense of satisfaction of having been entertained.

Relevance – 3 points. One point scored for the reference to Archer’s experience on the Klingon home world during the pilot episode. They use his experience to convince the Klingons to cooperate with them. Of course, the pregnancy will be brought up again by T’Pol later in the season, adding fuel to the fire between these two characters. There is also the part in the mind reading sequence that has Trip retelling how Archer saved his life in the Omega training mission. This story was established in the previous episode, “Strange New World”.

Continuity – 3 points. Character continuity works here. Trip is his usual laid-back self, but when the situation starts to develop, his reaction is spot on. I also liked how T’Pol, as is typical for her early Season 1 self, is highly skeptical that Trip didn’t intentionally get romantically involved with Ah’len. Of course, there is also Phlox who is curious but unshaken by this medical anomaly. Storyline works out as well. Universe continuity is also kept intact here.

Character Development – 2 points. Naturally, this is a good Tucker episode, and it is the first one that really focuses on him in the series. Having said that, it really doesn’t do much to advance his character, but it is important to give him a solid introduction to the fans. Nobody else is heavily featured in the episode, and that’s OK. I did feel that Trip’s character became much more rounded out with this story, and it showcased Connor Trineer’s abilities as an actor.

Social Commentary – 1 point. Don’t put your hands in an alien bead game without wearing gloves. OK, seriously, there is not much to say in this episode, other than the importance of getting to know a different culture through experience and keeping an open-mind. Even though the story is fun, there is not much that it offers us as a glimpse into our own world.

Cool Stuff – 2 points. A point for finally (on television, at least) showing us what happens when the gravity goes out on the ship. I am also giving a point for the Xyrillians here. They have a sleek look and the episode shows us a great look into their culture. We learn a lot about them quickly, and it’s fascinating.

Rank – Captain (18 points). A fun story that takes a potentially hokey topic and turns it into a fun romp. A cool new alien species with some neat technology and some humorous moments. 

If you would like to check out my other episode reviews for Enterprise, simply click here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

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