646. Rogue Planet
FORMULA: Prey + The Man Trap + Space 1999 + Solaris----I mean, Demon, sorry
WHY WE LIKE IT: Walking with the Alien Beasts.
WHY WE DON'T: Derivative.
REVIEW: A rogue planet cast in perpetual night is an interesting environment for the Enterprise crew to ignore, and thanks to the geothermic vents explanation, just this side of possible (if not plausible). The CG animals found on the surface are pretty well realized, and the dark exteriors are made more dynamic with neon (or black light?) effects. Reed turns out to be an outdoorsman, something he shares with Archer. Nice little competition between the two scouts too.
The away team meets hunters who come to the Rogue as part of their tradition, but it's not as strong a portrayal of culturally-driven hunters as the Hirogen or the Tosk Hunters. The Eska are a lot like us, basically. And we're not quite like us enough. Hunting isn't everyone's cup of tea (it certainly isn't mine), but Archer and crew are represented as already having the TNG era's loating for "blood sports". This is one instance where they failed to bring the Enterprise crew closer to present day viewers, although Reed might be a closet hunter. He doesn't say it, but you can see it.
The moral dilemma(TM) comes almost inevitably when the planet goes Solaris and Archer meets a mysterious woman in the woods. Turns out she's a shape-shifting "wraith" come to ask for Archer's help against these ritual hunters. Hunting sentient beings is obviously a no-no, and Archer will go the full yardage in helping protect the native giant slugs. The twist, I guess, is that the familiar woman is one he imagined long ago upon hearing a poem by Yeats. An interesting wrinkle, and I like my Starfleet captains to be true Renaissance Men, but the revelation doesn't have a whole lot of punch. In fact, the entire episode lacks punch. It's slow-moving until the wraith attack and we have to sit through too many scenes of the hunters making fun of Archer (despite their knowing the truth of the matter).
LESSON: Rogue, not Rouge.
REWATCHABILITY - Very Medium: Watchable, but just a little dull.