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Strange New World

Review

Series : Enterprise Rating : 2
Disc No : 1.1 Episode : 4
First Aired : 10 Oct 2001 Stardate : Unknown
Director : David Livingston Year : 2151
Writers : Brannon Braga, Rick Berman Season : 1
Guest Cast :
Henri Lubatti as Crewman Ethan Novakovich
Kellie Waymire as Elizabeth Cutler
Rey Gallegos as Crewman
Moral :
Supprise : Just because the planet looks like earth doesn't mean it is like earth
YATI : Dr. Phlox talks of "tropolysine atoms" saying that they have an extra neutron which breaks down into a toxic substance inside the body. Presumably tropolysine is an element as yet unknown to us. If an atom gains an extra neutron it simply becomes an isotope of the same element. It might be unstable and undergo radioactive decay, thus damaging the body, but it shouldn't really be able to produce a poison by this method.
Great Moment : The crew stopping to take a photo was a nice touch, especially Archer thinking twice about putting his arm around T'Pol.
Body Count : Zero
Factoid : This episode features the first occurrence of a transporter accident.

We also learn from this episode that the M in M Class stands for Minshara, and that one in every 42,000 planets is M class.

We also learn that Enterprise has a crew of 82!

Another fun fact - this is the first episode in which T'Pol does a Vulcan neck pinch.

Mike Sussman recalled that he wrote this episode very early in the production of the series, noting that he wrote scenes of the Enterprise in orbit and thought "I wonder what the Enterprise looks like?"

In the original script, Crewman Novakovich was to die of his injuries and the effects of the pollen. Scott Bakula was concerned by the fact that a minor character was to be killed off without the death having any real impact on the other characters, essentially the "redshirt syndrome" the original series of Star Trek was famous for. The producers agreed, and the character was allowed to survive. In fact it would become notable that no Enterprise crewmember died during the whole of season 1.

Quote : "Where no dog has gone before." - Trip to Archer on Porthos heading for the nearest tree.

Plotline

Enterprise finally discovers a Minshara class planet, apparently uninhabited by any intelligent civilisation but abundant with life. Archer leads a landing party to explore, delighted to finally be able to get on with doing some research. The team spend the day investigating the area around the landing site, cataloguing life forms and generally having fun. Eventually the Captain and Reed head back to the ship, leaving the others behind to continue the work.

The team settle down for the night, making camp and telling ghost stories to amuse one another. However, a severe storm blows up and it becomes too dangerous to remain in the camp. They move to some nearby caves to take shelter there instead. However, strange things begin to happen. Novakovich thinks he sees movement in the rear of the cave, though nobody else can confirm this. When Reed goes back to the camp to rescue some food he thinks he sees humanoid lifeforms outside. Novakovich panics at the news and runs into the storm, evading pursuit. As he comes back to the cave, Tucker notices a creature which vanishes into the rock itself.

Meanwhile T'Pol has explored the rear of the caves, leaving Cutler behind. When Cutler gets nervous at being alone she goes after T'Pol, seeing her talking to alien lifeforms. Cutler rushes forward to find the aliens gone and T'Pol alone - except that the first officer denies that there ever were aliens there. Cutler tells the others that T'Pol is having secret meetings with aliens and lying about it, and the level of tension in the group rises considerably.

On Enterprise, Archer decides to evacuate the team by taking a shuttlepod down. However, the storm proves to be too strong and the craft almost crashes before being forced to return to the ship. The team are forced to stay in the caves for the night - but Archer is worried about Novakovich, who is still out in the storm. With no other choice, Archer resorts to the transporter to beam him up - but to their horror the man appears with twigs and rocks embedded in his body, his pattern scrambled and mixed with bits of the surroundings.

In treating him, Phlox discovers that he is suffering the effects of a form of pollen which the storm has swept across the area. The pollen causes severe emotional disturbance and paranoia, and is ultimately fatal.

On the surface the team become more and more affected by the pollen, turning on one another and gradually becoming violent. Tucker particularly becomes delusional, increasingly suspicious that T'Pol is selling Enterprise out to some hidden local civilisation to benefit the Vulcans. He refuses to believe Archer's explanation of what is happening, and refuses to administer an antidote to the pollen developed by Phlox and beamed down from the ship. Finally Archer decides to play into Tucker's delusion, telling him they are on a secret mission to make contact. The distraction is enough to get Tucker to lower his phase pistol, and T'Pol stuns him. She administers the antidote and the team recover as the storm passes.

Recovered, the landing party return to the ship and Enterprise continues on its way.

Analysis

Well, it's an okay episode but nothing really special. It's nice to see the ship finally get to a planet and do a little investigating, finally. And I like that they faced an "enemy" that is not a real enemy as such, but essentially the unknown itself. The idea of increasing paranoia is also an interesting one. But where it fails, I think, is that the episode never really sells it as something that could be anything other than some weird effect of the planet. Consider that at this point we don't really know or trust T'Pol too well ourselves... so there was ripe ground here to play up the idea that she actually could have been involved in something iffy. For instance, imagine if a Vulcan ship had arrived in orbit shortly after them, and just sat watching them - kind of like what will happen in Breaking The Ice, a few episodes from now. Then imagine that T'Pol had been seen talking to other Vulcans on the surface, not just these rock aliens. Then there would be the real possibility that something fishy actually was going on, because we the audience can easily believe that T'Pol really would think that Humans needed to be steered away from this strange alien species on the planet. Something like that might have made the episode a lot more interesting and involving for the audience, because it would play on the basis for T'Pol's character - who she is and why she is there. Alas, an opportunity missed.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 4,309 Last updated : 12 Apr 2013