Star Trek 716: Babel One

716. Babel One

FORMULA: Journey to Babel + Cease Fire + Dreadnought

WHY WE LIKE IT: Road to the Federation continues.

WHY WE DON'T: Over-directed.

REVIEW: Our next arc fully introduces the Tellarites, not as a token guest-stars, but as the Near Space partners we know they should become. Earth, ever the neutral party, has agreed to ferry them to Babel for a trade conference with the Andorians, but getting between the two powers' feud may be more dangerous than it's worth. With the Tellarites comes comedy, and Archer gets to send a few amusing insults their way. Hey, it's how they roll. Once Enterprise has to take on some Andorians though, the laughing stops.

The episode in fact began with Shran's ship being attacked by a Tellarite's. He was also going to Babel (if Shran wasn't such a great character, the coincidence would be annoying). A mission of mercy has Enterprise pick him up with a handful of survivors. The ship becomes a powder keg as neither side can trust the other. An Andorian ship attacks Enterprise, but the crew pieces the puzzle together: There's only one ship with the ability to holographically disguise itself as any other. As the audience comes to find out, these are Romulans trying to destabilize the region for fear of an alliance burgeoning there (indeed, we know what happens once the Federation is born). More of what was happening in the Forge arc. On their next attack, Malcolm and Trip beam over to find an empty ship. As the "marauder" warps away and they struggle to reach the bridge (not easy when gravity and atmosphere aren't really needed), the twist is revealed: That too will be empty. The ship is being remote driven from Romulus! I guess it's a clever way to keep continuity intact. Humanity cannot lay eyes on a Romulan until TOS.

Meanwhile, things become violent aboard Enterprise when Shran and his lover Talas make a break for it. Talas sexually harasses the Maco guarding them and the next thing you know, the Andorians have the Tellarites at gunpoint. Archer tries to defuse the situation, but a gun still goes off, and the Tellarite ambassador's aide shoots Talas superficially. The level of mistrust is so high you won't believe these races can ever become allies, and for the moment, makes Archer's job very difficult.

It's a great set-up that feels properly important, but I have to give thumbs down to the direction. David Straiton uses way too many camera tricks and the resulting mess is an unpleasant assault on the eyes. Staccato effects, unmotivated crash zooms, fish eye lenses and odd angles make this look like a potpourri of his other work. Unfortunately, it's more Daedalus than North Star.

LESSON: Andorian females don't take no for an answer.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Despite the ghastly camera work, the Road to the Federation stuff holds great interest, and it's possible Shran can do no wrong.

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