Star Trek 650: Vox Sola

650. Vox Sola

FORMULA: Nothing Human + Silicon Avatar

WHY WE LIKE IT: The homeworld.

WHY WE DON'T: Gross practical effects.

REVIEW: After a botched first contact with the Kreetassans, a CG web creature latches on to Enterprise, invades it, and starts incorporating some of the crew into itself. Sadly, it turns out to be much ado about nothing in both cases. For example, the Kreetassans make a big deal of the crew "eating like they mate", which sounds horrendously foul, and Hoshi blames herself for the failure to properly communicate. When we meet them again, Hoshi's failure is alleviated by their learning English easily, and the misunderstanding turns out to be a simple cultural taboo. An anticlimactic apology and the subplot is resolved.

As for the plot with the creature, we never do find out conclusively why it does what it does, and once communicated with, why it lets go of everyone. You'd have thought the symbiotic relationship it develops with Archer, Trip, and others would have communicated something telepathically, but no. The music whenever we see the creature seems to try to convey its feeling, but it's still unclear. The mystery IS intriguing though, and it's nice to see all the departments working on a some kind of solution. Phlox has an alien autopsy, Reed builds the first working force field, and Hoshi and T'Pol find a way of communicating with the creature. At the end, there is a genuine moment of wonder as it responds with a voice not unlike a rubbed balloon's. And of course the home planet looks cool.

But a few words about the creature effects. As CGI, it's fine on so long as it doesn't interact with actual people. There are some nice pans and pushes into bulkheads that look nice, and it's certainly animated well. But when tentacles have to grab actual actors, the effects are mostly laughable, mostly because of the awkward poses those actors have to place themselves in. Too ambitious. As practical effects, the gooey white web is rude indeed. The animated strands getting tighter are well done, but they lay the slime on a bit thick, don't they? Let's just say it's an episode I wouldn't watch with my mother.

As for character bits, they still haven't sold me on water polo. There are two conflicts on show, the first being the standard ethical struggle between a doctor and a security officer. Phlox of course wins. What I'm really wondering about is where the conflict between Hoshi and T'Pol comes from? T'Pol is hard on Hoshi, but the antagonism she responds with seems out of place given an episode like Sleeping Dogs where the two actually connected. If the whole point was giving T'Pol a "feel good" speech about holding Hoshi to a high standard, bla bla bla, well, I could have done without the cheesiness.

LESSON: Water polo is a really interesting sport. No, really!

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Almost gave it lower for its anticlimactic plots, but there's something to recommend in the way they unfold, if not in how they are resolved.

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