Star Trek 675: The Breach

675. The Breach

FORMULA: Jetrel + Chain of Command Part I

WHY WE LIKE IT: Phlox.

WHY WE DON'T: The tribble reference.

REVIEW: The Breach starts with a stupid appearance by a tribble, which draws attention to itself and hardly makes sense. I mean, Phlox goes to the trouble of telling us how hard they are to get, being illegal on most worlds, only to feed it to one of his pets. Plainly, it's only there as a reference to past Trek history, just a silly inside joke. The geekier among us will in fact start noticing more and more such references as the season wraps up, like the previous Horizon's mention of a cargo ship called Constellation. Sometimes they work, and sometimes like here, they're just a little too cheeky for their own good. The good news is, it's the only bad thing about The Breach.

The episode's main story deal with Phlox having to treat a resistant Antaran before he dies of a fatal condition. The problem is that their two species were at war 300 years ago, after which they demonized each other to the point of preventing reconciliation. In fact, the Denobulans seem to have been the aggressor species, and are described as Nazis who conducted a Holocaust on the Antarans. Though Phlox was brought up to hate the Antarans, he just never took to it and was determined to not pass on that hate to his own children. Only one seems to have bought into the hate doctrine, and is spoken of in terms of the Neo-Nazi movement. (It's interesting to note that Phlox is unique among Star Trek cast members in having many fully grown children, none of them aboard the ship. This type of relationship has never been explored in the format before.)

That it works as well as it does is a testament to John Billingsley's performance. If he doesn't subscribe to the philosophy of hate, he nonetheless has trouble dealing with the Antaran's feelings towards him. It's only when he fesses up to his entire story (both good and bad) that he convinces the Antaran to give him a chance. It puts both men's assumed moral superiority to the test. There might be a drop of conqueror's guilt in there somewhere as well, something the Antaran doesn't let him get away with. The episode ends optimistically, which is very Star Trek. I mean that as a compliment.

Since the plot is mostly talking heads, some action is assured by a runaround inside some deep caves while the clock is ticking. A planet's new owners wants everyone gone soon or they're gonna start firing. Travis' spelunking skills from Two Days and Two Nights make a return appearance as he, Travis and Malcolm go down some pretty deep shafts to get some Denobulan geologists out in time. The cave sets manage a scale we rarely see, and the big pitfall is well realized as the gang slide down a long ways and Travis breaks a leg. The Denobulan scientists are your run-of-the-mill pig-headed poindexters, but we do discover the Spider-Man abilities of the common Denobulan. They're ever full of surprises.

LESSON: Tribbles are hard to find, but delicious!

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Though the spelunking doesn't amount to much except keeping the momentum up, Phlox's ethical dilemma is engrossing.

5 comments:

De said...

The only part I didn't like about this episode was Travis looking like a dumbass. He's the spelunking expert but he's the one who winds up injured. Kinda lame.

Siskoid said...

I agree. It cuts him out of the action, but he does save their lives at a great personal cost first. So there is that.

Jeffrey said...

I've come to equate Travis with the first season of Troi. The writers never did figure out a hook for the character, and so kept shuffling him off to the sidelines.

Nick said...

Doesn't Tuvok have fully grown children...?

Siskoid said...

I don't know how old they were, but they never figured much in the stories. Partly because Voyager was out of contact, and partly because of Vulcan unemotionalism.

 

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