Star Trek 667: Dawn

667. Dawn

FORMULA: Enemy Mine

WHY WE LIKE IT: A well-realized alien. Trip finally competent.

WHY WE DON'T: Stolen wholesale from a movie.

REVIEW: The only thing really going against this episode may not affect some viewers. If you've never seen Enemy Mine with Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr., then it's all new to you. Or it might instead remind you of episodes like The Enemy or Darmok, and sure, there's a little of The Ascent in there. But by and large, this is exactly like Enemy Mine: Downed enemy pilots, one human, the other rather more alien than we're used to, must learn to communicate, trust each other, and wait for rescue. The only difference is that for episodic television, time has been compressed and a deadline added.

Though it crosses the line, in my opinion, between homage and plagiarism, I can't deny Dawn's qualities, imported from elsewhere though they may be. Trip, for example, has never been so competent. Usually used as a clown, in Dawn he manages to successfully and believably deal with the Arkonian survivor. Fighting him (in one of the better choreographed fights in all of Trek), befriending him, and ultimately saving his life. Some highlights include using his log playback to lure the alien away from camp, and repeatedly throwing away the gun to show his intentions. Because of the language barrier, we get a lot of Trip talking to himself, but the character's comic take on things keeps it interesting rather than tedious.

I won't pretend the Arkonians are as interesting as the Enemy Mine alien played by Gossett Jr., but the portrayal is still well beyond what we usually get on Star Trek. His body language is well suited to his reptilian look, and his delivery of English words funny without being silly. It's just too bad the "translated" Arkonians dealing with Archer have none of that flavour. The various reversals of fortune on the planet gives both Trip and Zoh'Kaan their proper due as "heroes", both fighters, but both noble and honorable. Too bad we never saw these (admittedly insular) aliens again. I guess our friendship with the Vulcans was just too much for them.

LESSON: Theft is the greatest form of flattery. See you in court.

REWATCHABILITY - High Medium: It's the best Trip episode yet, possibly ever, so I won't really begrudge it the fact its roots are showing.

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