Star Trek 724: Demons

724. Demons

WHY WE LIKE IT: Sci-fi icon Peter Weller!

WHY WE DON'T: The Travis-Gannet subplot.

REVIEW: Entering the very last stretch of the show, Archer's efforts have led up to a conference on Earth where hopefully, an alliance charter can be drafted. Xenophobia still runs rampant on Earth, however, and a terrorist organization called Terra Prime attempts to sabotage the negotiations and rid the solar system of alien influence forever. Enterprise's last villains will be humanity itself, needing to grow out of its infancy and into a productive player in interstellar affairs.

The movement's voice is supplied by Peter Weller as John Frederick Paxton, whose diatribes are convincingly inspirational. If we'd never met friendly aliens and didn't already buy into Star Trek's integrationist philosophy, we could easily be on his side (if not for, you know, the murders). Paxton thinks he's doing the right thing, though we'll call him misguided if his choice of heroes is any indication (Colonel Green finally makes a modern appearance on a viewscreen). His plan is a strange one: He's cloned a baby from the stolen cells of Trip and T'Pol and created a human-Vulcan hybrid. He plans to show it as an "abomination" and a symbol of the oncoming assimilation of humanity. Though it's questionable to point at a cute baby and say "this is the enemy", Paxton's discourse should still resonate with modern audiences, some of which are members of minorities, others members of majorities "under siege" by immigrating minorities, all struggling to keep their cultural identities.

It's the baby, of course, that gets the crew well involved in the story. Great moment when Archer, just passed up for credit in an earlier conference scene, reminds the Earth government that he's owed a favor or two (or INFINITY!!!). However, the parents don't count on the fact that they're interstellar heroes who've had their mugs on tv since at least the Xindi attack. They're quickly captured by Paxton's men, putting some of our guys on the inside. The action goes from Earth to the Moon to Mars, giving us a nice tour of the Inner Solar System, with Paxton's mining base turning into a cool ship that rebases itself on the Red Planet near the climax. His plan is revealed: Unless all aliens leave immediately, he'll use Mars' comet deflection system (a massive energy beam canon used to bring comets to Mars for terraforming purposes) to destroy prime targets all over the system.

The thread I've been loath to talk about is Travis' hot and cold (mostly cold) relationship with the journalist Gannet. Though I don't begrudge Travis what little character development he's allowed (especially this season), this never quite works. We don't really know what happened between them for Travis to give her such a cold shoulder, nor is the rekindling of their love affair emotionally believable. Their dialogue is entirely too steeped in melodrama. When she is revealed to be a possible Terra Prime spy, well, that's just par for the course, but I can't make myself care. The truth revealed in the next episode is even less interesting. My only use for this chunk of the episode is Archer's face when Gannet asks for a lawyer. Not something he ever had to worry about with aliens! Another faction in the mix is Section 31, which Reed calls upon for information. Are they at all behind this? The truth will make you wonder why they even introduced it in Enterprise (answer: back in Affliction, they didn't know they'd be canceled).

LESSON: Travis doesn't WANT subplots.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Despite Travis' waste of time, Demons has a lot going for it. It's an important piece in the Road to the Federation arc, Peter Weller eats up the screen, and we're well geared for Enterprise's last hurray.


Austin Gorton said...

"Though I don't begrudge Travis what little character development he's allowed..."

Oh, but I do. Shut up, Travis :)


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