Star Trek: Enterprise – Season 2, Episode 3 – “Minefield” – An Exploration of Reed as we Introduce the Romulans

Minefield (episode) | Memory Alpha | Fandom

   “Minefield” is in early season 2 of “Enterprise.” This was an enjoyable episode that is largely based around Malcolm Reed and what motivates him. This episode also introduces a classic “Star Trek” antagonist who I’ll go into further below. Overall, I enjoyed this episode and recommend it to anyone who likes “Enterprise.”

The episode was directed by James Contner and written by John Shiban.

When Enterprise is damaged in a cloaked mindfield, Malcolm must disarm a mine that has attached itself to the ship while the crew must tend for the wounded and make first contact with the forces who control the minefield.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Crew Working Together – This is an episode where all the crew are working together. We have an injured Hoshi translating the communications from the mysterious threat, we have Reed preparing to detach the area where the mine is, Travis navigating through the minefield, Archer saving Reed when he is trapped by the mine and T’Pol commanding the ship as Phlox treats the wounded. Everyone is involved and it lends strength to the story.

Malcolm Reed – In this episode we learn that Reed was raised in a military family and because of that was always taught to keep distance in relationships on the ship. Archer is anti-thetical to this and over the course of the episode they come to understand one another. It is really well done as Reed is ready to die as one of his relatives did for the safety of the crew and ship. Dominic Keating is fantastic in this role.

First Contact With the Romulans – I really like that this mysterious threat are the Romulans who think that Archer was there to sabotage them. This fits the Romulan paranoia and how ruthless they are as they don’t get why the crew doesn’t just let Reed die as it is what they would do. We never see them on screen but their beautiful green ships show up to threaten Enterprise over the course of the episode.

The Cons:

Captain Archer – Archer is really annoying in this. He doesn’t care that Malcolm is uncomfortable when they are eating together and clearly has trouble empathizing with perspectives outside of his own. He is the weakest part of this episode as someone who came off as more understanding would have had the peace with Reed at the end feel more believable. Bakula is a good actor so my guess it is writing and direction that make him come off as so dismissive. Him also being the one to go save Reed was very stupid as he is the Captain of the ship.

This was a great introduction to the Romulans and really shows how well the crew can function together in a crisis. The weak link is really only Archer and I blame that more on the writing. “Enterprise” is my least favorite of the “Star Trek” shows but I think it still has a lot of good and enjoyable stories within it. This is one of those stories and shows what can happen when you have the crew working together to solve problems.

Final Score: 7.5 / 10 Enjoyed the story and would have rated it higher with better writing for Archer.

Star Trek: Picard – Season 1, Episode 10 – “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” – The Legacy of Data

Star Trek: Picard': S01.E10. “Et in Arcadia Ego: Part 2”

     “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” gives us satisfying end to the first season of “Picard.” This is an episode that is long and has to accomplish a lot, which it manages to do. We get the resolution to multiple plot lines and have some good use of fanservice near the end. This is an episode that sets up the future of the show and captures the inherit optimism about the future that is so intrinsic to “Star Trek.” Without getting into spoilers, it was great and flawed and a satisfying ending for the season.

The episode was directed by Akiva Goldsman with teleplay by Michael Chabon who co-wrote the story with Akiva Goldsman.

Part 2 picks up where we left off, with Picard trapped by the Soong Synthetics, Raffi and Rios repairing the ship and Seven and Elnor taking care of the Ex-Borg. The Romulan fleet is on the way as Sutra and Soji build the tower to summon in the ancient and powerful synthetics for protection.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Narek Teams Up with the Crew – After Sutra freed him last episode we see him team up with Rios, Elnor and Raffi giving us one of the best lines in the episode, “I choose to live.” It great and shows that even though he is an enemy he thinks the grew is the best bet from stopping the arrival of the powerful synths and stopping Sutra and Soji. The dynamic is wonderful and we see him recount the legend of the last time the Synths came and wiped out everything. It sets the stakes and you get why he chose to ally.

Seven of Nine – Seven of Nine is taking care of the xBs for most of the episode until “Narissa” arrives leading to them fighting and Seven getting the chance to avenge Hugh for his death. She has a great dynamic with Elnor where he mentions he would miss her if she died and how she is a mother figure to him. By the end of the episode she is part of the main crew and might have a romantic relationship with Raffi. During the time where Picard might be gone for good she mentions how Picard pulled her back into the past she thought she’d left behind and Rios says Picard caused that same change in him. It looks like she is main crew by the end of the episode and I hope we get more of her Season 2.

Captain Riker and Starfleet – Captain Riker arrives with a Starfleet armada to protect Picard’s first contact with the Synth civilization. It is an awesome moment as he calls out Commodore Oh for her betrayal and says he wants her to fight. Given his inspiration in Kirk, it was a very Kirk like taunt and I loved their face down. I was expecting one of Picard’s allies to arrive and it made sense that it was Riker given he was still a Reserve Captain in Starfleet.

Picard and Soji – What saves the day in the end is Picard’s relationship with Soji and a Picard speech. It is here that he stalls the Romulans until the fleet arrives and uses the last of his strength to stand up for Soji and her people. It is very well done as we see courage win out over fear and as Picard dies he knows he saved Soji and her people.

Peaceful Resolution – We have a standoff between the Romulan and Federation fleet and I was worried that we’d get a big battle “Discovery” Season 2 style…thankfully we didn’t. Diplomacy is what defined “The Next Generation” and the final episode captured this beautifully. This also leads things open as Oh was in charge of Starfleet Intelligence so she knows all their secrets and may have future plans because of it. This resolution leaves things open in all the best ways as this new society can now develop further under Federation protection.

Data’s Legacy – One of the last scenes is when Picard’s consciousness is downloaded into a realm where Data’s also is. They talk and Data asks Picard to die as he knows mortality is a huge part of what defines humanity. It is a powerful scene and I loved their last interactions together as Picard finally gets to say good-bye to his friend and to honor his final wish. In this Synth civilization we see Data’s legacy live on and with the choices made by one of his children, Soji…they have a future.

Tying Things Back to Episode 1 – The show began with Picard and Data playing cards as “Blue Skies” played and ended with them having the conversation and closure Picard always wanted as Data finally got to die as his life ends to Isa Briones, his daughter singing “Blue Skies.” It was poetic and one thing I liked as the theme of mortality was one of the consistent themes for Picard through the series.

The Cons:

What Happened to Narek? – Narek is captured by Synths and we have to learn in interviews that Starfleet pics him up as prisoner. It would have been good to see that given Picard was around to make first contact with this Synth Civilization.

Copy and Paste Starfleet Armada – The new ships from Starfleet look really cool…they also were clearly all copy pasted. This was a shame as a diverse fleet could have gave us a good idea of the Federation military in this era. Instead we got the lazy copy and paste of the new flagship a hundred times. Come on CBS, you have money and can do better than this.

The Synth Threat – The Synth threat is still out there. Soji may have destroyed the tower but any member of her species could rebuild it. We also know that the powerful synths know about the cry for help and could take the long way around or build something like the beacon potentially on their end. If we had a fight this episode I was hoping it would be with the new threat and with it us hopefully learning more about them…instead they are in the wings as a potential threat for later.

I thought this was a great final that really made up for how weak “Part 1” was. We finally see a noble Federation ready to defend new life and new civilizations. We have a problem that is solved by diplomacy rather than violence and we get some wonderful character moments and fanservice to end the season. Overall, I would recommend “Picard” to any fan of “Star Trek.” It is clearly it’s own thing and I appreciate what it has added to the lore. I look forward to any future seasons.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10

Final Score for “Part 1 and 2” together: 8.3 / 10

Star Trek: Picard – Season 1, Episode 9 – “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1” – New Societies and Potential

Image result for Sutra and Soji

   “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1” is the weakest episode in “Picard thus far. We are introduced to some cool new characters and dilemmas, but not enough questions are answered. I still enjoyed the experience of this episode and the callbacks to classic Trek. If you have been watching thus far, you should watch this episode though. This episode is very much a “Part 1” of 2 and it needs the second part to complete the story.

The episode was Akiva Goldsman with teleplay by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman who wrote the story with Akiva Goldsman.

The story picks up with the crew arriving on Soji’s homeworld of Coppelius. From here they must make first contact as the Romulan fleet approaches.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Synth Society – The Synth society has designed giant plants that can defend their world, explores their different interests and is a planet of twins since that is how Soji and Dahj were created. The society feels like a culture out of “The Original Series” or “The Next Generation” and it works perfectly. They aren’t a big society and feel like an ancient Greek society in many ways. They are ruled by a council and because their culture is so young are easily influenced by others…which Sutra uses to her advantage.

Sutra – Sutra is are Lore type and Isa Briones does a fantastic job as her. She hates organics because of them killing her sister (Rios’s Captain specifically). The only thing I found strange is she learned how to mind meld? This was strange and struck me more as a plot reason to establish the overwordly big bad other dimensional synths. I hope she shows up more in the future as she is a great character and you can see the reasons she hates.

Altan Soong – Brent Spiner is playing Noonian Soong’s unknown son who has never been mentioned before. He is a fascinating character and was Maddox’s partner who created this Synthetic Civilization. He designed the bodies while Maddox designed the bodies. He is very much the mad scientist who goes along with whatever his children want to do, and it works as his father also cared far more about his creations than others.

Seven, Elnor and the Ex-Borg – Seven, Elnor and the xBs are the B-plot and honestly they really work for what time they have. We get more time with Elnor and Seven and their budding mother and son relationship and Picard drops by and we see them all connect, and Picard release Elnor given he knows he’s dying after the close call at the beginning of this episode.

Soji – Soji is conflicted in this episode and it works. She was nearly killed by Romulans, the humans she met don’t entirely trust her and if the episode delved deeper into it…Starfleet covered up the murder of her sister. All of this leads to someone Sutra can easily manipulate, much like the time Lore manipulated Data. This worked for me, Soji was easily one of the strongest parts of this episode.

The Cons:

The Romulans Were Right – I’m putting this as a con as Picard’s entire argument in this episode is that Starfleet will listen to him and protect them when we saw Starfleet kill their Ambassador they had sent years prior and no one in Starfleet is listening to Picard. For this reason the Synths are ready to bring about the end of the organics and it makes sense from their point of view, but it also proves the Romulans right. They bring back the “Reapers” from “Mass Effect” and the universe starts over. Also, given the experience with Synthetics in the “Trek” universe this is par for the course, which is why this is a con. I just hope there ends up being a good explanation why I’m wrong.

Pacing – This episode felt all over the place. We are introduced to many characters and not given much of an explanation as well as re-introduced to Picard dying, which hasn’t been touched upon for a long time. This episode needed more time to both develop the world and the new relationships. If they had done this it would have solved the pacing where at times it felt rushed or slow.

This episode was all over the board in pacing. We are re-introduced to the fact that Picard is dying, the xB’s are briefly touched upon and we are introduced to a new society and introduced to the ancient Synth threat that inspires the Zhat Vash to fight. This episode had to do a lot and I wish it had answered more questions. I wanted to know more about Altan Soong for one thing as he gave me immediate Lore vibes when he talked to Picard.

7 / 10. This episode is setup and needed to explain more. It should have been longer. I enjoyed it, but it is the weakest episode of this series.

Star Trek: Picard – Season 1, Episode 8 – “Broken Pieces” – When the Past Returns

Image result for Broken Pieces Picard

      “Broken Pieces” is one of the best episodes in “Picard” thus far. We get information on what inspires are baddies, the crew of the La Sirena gets development and we get some of the best character development for Seven of Nine. This episode is full of a lot of moving character pieces and has to give us a fair amount of lore and it manages to achieve it amazingly. If you’ve been watching the show up to this point, chances are you will at the very least, enjoy this episode.

The episode was directed by Maja Vrvilo and written by Michael Chabon.

The story follows Soji’s arrival on the La Sirena, triggering memories in Captain Rios, leading to an investigation by Raffi into his past. Seven also arrives on “The Artifact” searching for Hugh.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Elnor – Elnor gives us one of the purest perspectives on “Star Trek.” Due to being raised in a culture where emotion is always shown and expressed fully his hugging Seven when she saves him at the beginning was perfection. He is also there to bring her back too when he asks her if she’ll assimilate him when she’s connected to the Collective and controlling them. It is well done and I like the dynamic he has with her.

Raffi – Raffi’s arc involves investigating Rios’s backstory and discovering why he reacted so painfully to seeing Soji. It is done really well as we see her talk to all the Holograms, that each have Rios’s face and puts together what happened on his ship. Michelle Hurd does a fantastic job and I liked seeing her and Rios together, she’s clearly the First Officer in this mission and helping Rios put the pieces of himself back together was handled beautifully.

Zhat Vash Inspiration – In this episode we see what inspires the Zhat Vash as “Narissa” meets with her Aunt, the Ex-Borg Ramdha who Soji talked to. It is here we see that an ancient civilization left a warning that creating synthetic life will eventually lead to the end of all organics. This is why the Zhat Vash are so driven in their quest. It gave dimension to “Narissa” seeing her with her aunt and her wishing that her ship had been assimilated instead. This was development that was badly needed. It was also in the flashback we see Oh is the leader or one of the leaders of the Zhat Vash and that the Romulans are responsible for hacking the synths and the attack on Mars.

Captain Rios’s Backstory – Captain Rios’s backstory is powerful. We learn that Starfleet security ordered his Captain to kill the Synth diplomats. He does all this and kills himself too. Captain Vandermeer was like Rios’s father and what his Captain did to innocents was too much for him to take. He buried this trauma and it is only in Raffi’s investigation and learning the truth for herself that leads to him opening up. Santiago Cabrera really shows how amazing of an actor he is in this…from playing the different Holographic versions of himself, and in his opening up about the trauma from his past.

Soji and the Synths – This episode gives us the issue fear versus trust and Soji is at the center of it. We see it in Raffi questioning Picard’s trust of her and also in Soji’s taking over of the ship until Captain Rios stops her. In this we see the potential danger that is posed but also the potential for peace that is there as Soji gives us a unique perspective. She’s been betrayed by organics but has also found allies and friends too. She represents the same potential in her people.

Seven of Nine and the Borg – This episode sees Seven of Nine take control of the Borg cube in order to fight the Romulans. In this we see her questioning even doing this as she questions she might enjoy being part of the Collective too much and not want to give up those she’s assimilated. When she does become “Queen” of the Cube it is powerful and we see her speak with one voice. In the end she comes out of it as either her individuality was too strong or the Borg on that Collective see her having a future role but that can only be achieved later. “Annika still has more to do” are the Collective’s parting words to her. It is chilling and I think sets up that their next evolution might be through some role Seven is to play later.

The Cons:

Starfleet Resistance – When Picard reveals to Admiral Clancy all he has figured out she says she will be sending a fleet to Deep Space 12. This help is still offered with so much resistance to Picard that it felt ungenuine. My thoughts hearing it were that Oh was going to use this opportunity to use Starfleet against the Synths as they had been used against them before when Rios’s Captain killed the Synth diplomats on his old ship. More scenes with Clancy could have solved this and seeing things from the Starfleet perspective as we did before with the Oh reveal in the early episodes.

Agnes’s explanation – Agnes killed Maddox because she saw hell coming and Oh apparently put up a mind block? I felt this was a cop out so that she wouldn’t have to take full responsibility for what happened. I’m still rooting for her character having some sort of redemption but getting away from having her take responsibility via Oh’s actions is not the way to do it.

This is my favorite episode besides “Absolute Candor” and the Pilot in “Picard.” We get amazing character development, the lore gets deeper and the action doesn’t stop moving. This story stands strong on it’s own and I can’t wait to see how the different plot threads payoff in the end. The Romulans are one of my favorite races in “Star Trek” and I’m a huge fan of Borg stories when they are handled with respect. This episode gave both of these groups the exploration I’d been wanting from “Star Trek” for a long time. I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 1, Episode 14 – “Balance of Terror” – Seeing Yourself in Your Enemy

Romulan_commander_and_Centurian

  We continue Leonard Nimoy Week with my favorite episode so far of “Star Trek: The Original Series.” The episode is “Balance of Terror” and is the episode that got me into the “Original Series” in the first place, as the first time I’d seen it I hadn’t been impressed. In this we learn about the Vulcans, Romulans and Humanity’s past and present…and Nimoy’s performance as Spock is a major part of it.

   “Balance of Terror,” was directed by Vincent McEveety and written by Paul Schneider.

     The story begins with outposts going silent along the Romulan Neutral Zone, where Humanity and Romulans had once fought a war with Nuclear Weapons and have never seen one another as they communicated the treaty. As one of the last ouposts is attacked the Enterprise Crew glimpse the Romulans and one of them suspects Spock as the enemy. From here the crew must stop the Romulan Warbird before it returns to Romulus as it’s victories could re-ignite the war.

The Pros: The Romulans – The Romulans are awesome and this was the episode that made them a favorite to me. They are honor bound, clever, hierarchical and driven to be the best in all things. They are also extremely passionate showing that they left Vulcan because they rejected the Philosophy of Vulcans and went their own way. They are independent and powerful. They are my favorite Empire and Species in “Star Trek,” and it’s a shame they have yet to have a good movie where they are the great antagonists they deserve, like they were this episode.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is really great in this episode, especially in regards to the ship combat where we are shown what each ship is seeing and from it how they are balanced. Both have strengths and weaknesses and those play a part in how the Commanders strategize against one another.

The Newlyweds – There is a couple getting married at the beginning of the episode, and the husband dies in the battle against the Romulans. You feel it too as they have chemistry with one another and we are given time to know them over the course of the episode. He was a good red shirt…and his death establishes just how deady the Romulans are.

The Battle – This is related to the cinematography but both ships are limited in the same way the ships were in “Wrath of Khan.” The Romulans only have impulse power but can cloak, they have one powerful shot but it doesn’t have the extended range federation lazers do, and the Enterprise has speed that the Warbird lacks. This makes for a great battle especially since it has costs in the end with Centurion dying first and later the crew of the Romulan Warbird and of course the husband of the newlyweds on the Enterprise.

Lieutenant Stiles – This guy is the hothead who hates Spock for looking like the enemy as his family was killed in the Earth-Romulan War and he sees this as his chance for revenge. In the end he changes though when Spock saves his life making him realize how small minded he had been.

Centurion – Centurion is the Romulan Commander’s mentor and similar in role to how Bones is Kirk. They are old friends and it seems like their families know each other. They discuss what was done and the risk of war as well as the benefits and fallbacks of what was accomplished.

Spock – Leonard Nimoy is great in this role as he takes on Stiles bigotry by educating Stiles that he is right to fear as the Vulcans were once warlike and similar to humans. He also saves Stiles life and justifies it as the logical thing to do showing that even when he was heroic he was humble and reserved to Stiles who was always arrogant and angry. He is Stiles’s teacher this episode and also helps Kirk in the battle against the Romulan, and sadly due to one of Spock’s mistakes nearly costs them the ship too. We see in this just how imperfect he is, though he is a great person and officer. I chose this episode for Leonard Nimoy Week for a reason.

Captain Kirk – This episode has some of  William Shatner’s best acting range. We see the sympathetic happy man who is about to be the overseer of a wedding, we see the good when he stands up to Stiles’s prejudice with, “Leave any bigotry in your quarters; there’s no room for it on the bridge.” we see the conflicted soldier facing off against an equal adversary, we see his goodness when he offers to save the Romulan survivors before the ship is destroyed and when he mourns the loss of life. This is really a fantastic Kirk episode.

The Romulan Commander – This guy deserves his own section and is on par with Kirk as the focus of this episode and rightfully so. In this man we see a man who is driven by duty to commit wrongs (destroying the outposts) when he wants nothing more than to return home. Everything he does is so they won’t be defeated but that they will arrive back to Romulus safely. Sadly it is duty that does him in though he realized how similar Kirk and he were and mourns the friendship that could have existed in another world and time.  “I regret that we meet in this way. You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend,” So glad that Mark Lenard played Sarek later in the series and in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The guy is an amazing actor and was a huge part of why this episode was unforgettable.

The Message – There are a few messages this episode. One is the wrongness of prejudice (the Stiles and Spock arc) and the other is that even enemies may find just how similar they are and that war happens when that is forgotten and they only exist as the enemy. It is powerful and we see in the Romulan Commander and Kirk a friendship that might have been as both as seasoned commanders who rule by more than duty and see the bigger picture of all that is at stake in how they act in the Galaxy.

    This is my favorite episode of “Star Trek: The Original Series,” and to any person into sci. fi., is the episode I usually recommend. Leonard Nimoy is fantastic at Spock and we come to know the Romulans through him when he reveals the Vulcan’s Colonial past and the wrongness of prejudice in how Stiles treats him. We also see the price of conflict and war with the death of the husband on the Enterprise and the death of the Romulan crew of the Warbird. This is “Star Trek” at it’s best and is a must see for anyone who is a Trekkie and loves the show.

Final Score: 10 / 10.