Star Trek 686: Exile

686. Exile

FORMULA: Sub Rosa + Anomaly

WHY WE LIKE IT: Anomaly effects. Hoshi, like always.

WHY WE DON'T: The more-or-less obvious gothic "romance".

REVIEW: After zombies, how about a haunted house episode? Or as it turns out, a gothic romance complete with a lonely monster in a candle-filled castle looking for a lovely companion. This chunk of Enterprise reminds me of the Hinchcliffe-Holmes era of Doctor Who, appropriating gothic horror tropes for its science-fiction plots. Well, as long as the lovely companion is Hoshi, I can't complain too much. As likable as ever through this, she also knows how to protect herself. Though Tarquin's chosen victim, she doesn't consider herself a victim and isn't rescued by the crew. She makes it out by her own actions.

It begins like most Hoshi episodes begin, with everyone thinking she's just being neurotic. Maybe she's cried wolf once too many times. But her hallucinations are real - she's being contacted by a telepathic stalker. He promises to help Enterprise find the Xindi with his psychic powers, but of course, it's a ploy to kidnap Hoshi. Some of these bits have some real flair, the hallucinations appropriately unsettling and the lighting sometimes inspired. Finding the graves of former companions clinches it, so Hoshi stops trusting him entirely.

Meanwhile, Enterprise discovers another sphere which may hold the key to mapping the Expanse's anomalies. Cue some more fun anomaly effects, more damaging this time, and different enough that it doesn't feel like a repeat. This B-plot is written with the same structural aesthetic as the previous episode, with nothing easy, and constant obstacles in Enterprise's way. They at least think of insulating one of their shuttlepods with trellium-D, a good back-up, and must fly it to the sphere. The sensors still get fried by the approach, forcing a EV suit sequence. During repairs, a thruster malfunctions, the pod gets thrown for a loop and must be shot down. A fun bit played with some levity, but still a memorable moment. Though I should think the information gathered would be enough to steer reasonably clear of anomalies in the future, it's still not perfect and infers the existence of some 50 spheres in the Expanse. The mystery deepens.

As for Hoshi's side-trip to Tarquin's mountainous planet (I really like the variety of environments shown on Enterprise), it seems to be a dead end until he reconsiders, contacts her again and gives her coordinates for a Xindi colony involved in building the superweapon. As far as tragic villains go, Tarquin isn't so bad at any rate. I appreciate the restraint the episode shows by making him creepy, but not lascivious or violent.

LESSON: Nothing I hadn't already learned from Dracula, the Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc. etc.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Hoshi's charm as a character has a lot to do with the episode's success, because the gothic romance angle really isn't the most innovative. I was frankly more interested by the B-plot.


De said...

This was a pretty nutty episode. The Dark Shadows castle, down to the candelabras, didn't strike me as very alien. Hell, I'm surprised Sylvia and Korob from "Catspaw" didn't come out at some point.


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