Star Trek 685: Impulse

685. Impulse

FORMULA: Miri + Meld + 28 Days Later

WHY WE LIKE IT: Exudes tons of style.

WHY WE DON'T: But very little content.

REVIEW: Impulse is the victory of style over substance, and yet it's totally engrossing. Basically, the issue of Vulcans going mad we were told about before the quest began is addressed, turning the show into a heart-pumping zombie movie in the style of 28 Days Later. Staccato camera work, anxious music and epileptic fit-inducing lighting all contribute to the viewer's unease, and are extremely efficient in giving us T'Pol's anxiety-filled point of view. The teaser is short but shocking, and I like the in media res structure of the episode, but it does undercut the ending a little as we jump to "suddenly, everything is ok". The zombie nightmare at the end is appreciated however.

The Vulcan zombies are monsters with no personality or dialogue, so the amazing coincidence that T'Pol once served aboard the Seleya and knows some of its crew is essentially wasted. There's no saving any of them, no real empathy to be had, and certainly nothing to be gained. What's really at stake is T'Pol's sanity, and once we discover that trellium-D is toxic to Vulcans, it's a foregone conclusion that Enterprise will not be able to shield itself from the spatial anomalies with it. In that sense, the title may refer to an implied slower speed for the ship as much as the Vulcans' violent impulses. And we'll have to watch T'Pol from now on whenever she's, say, on a shielded ship. No easy outs for the crew of Enterprise.

The subplot has Trip and Travis on a minor adventure designed to put the second shuttlepod out of commission, going into a very violent asteroid field to mine trellium. When an anomaly hits and sends their piece of rock careening deeper into the field, they make it out just in time, but without too much difficulty. Still, it's part of the structure of the episode, which makes everything difficult for Archer's party. Each of their goals is impeded by some obstacle, which, along with the directorial style, keeps the tension way up high.

LESSON: Cut off the head or destroy the brain.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: The Xindi arc progresses by way of a setback. The implications of this high octane, stylishly crazy episode drives up the danger for later stories.

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