ENT S02E12 The Catwalk (3.5 out of 5 stars). An actual problem for the crew to solve (instead of a morbid fantasy or silly sex dream). A deadly wavefront is approaching and as they can’t outrun it, the crew needs to shelter in the ship’s nacelles. I note that “can’t outrun it” means that this “wavefront” is approaching at something like 350 times the speed of light. Hell of a wavefront. As usual, the only people tasked with solving the problem are the seven whose names are in the opening titles (Travis is on latrine duty). Mike Vejar creates some nicely claustrophobic images as the ship is shut down, but the people in trouble are just their jobs, as usual – when Starfleet’s finest aren’t bitching and whining about the food like little kids.

ENT S02E13 Dawn (3 out of 5 stars). On paper, Archer makes a decent fist of building an alliance with today’s lumpy-faced aggressor who’s trying to get these damned kids off his lawn. But I can’t help thinking than a little of Picard or Janeway’s charm would have gone a long way. Bakula, so effortlessly easygoing in Quantum Leap, seems to imagine that being a captain means always being angry and plays even this scene as if he’s giving his opposite number a telling-off. Trip makes a better job of making a new friend on his first day at big school, despite the fact that it seems as if other spacefaring species can’t make or don’t want universal translators. If you liked Darmok (or The Enemy – or Arena!), you’ll hate this.

ENT S02E14 Stigma (3.5 out of 5 stars). Mind-melds it seems are not merely out of fashion on Vulcan, as we learned in Fusion, but actually spread disease, and T’Pol is a sufferer – again as a result of events in Fusion. Far from applying logic to the situation and realising that increasing the sum of knowledge about a disease, how so ever transmitted, can only be of benefit, they act like blinkered and prejudiced humans in what I assume is meant to be an AIDS metaphor. As usual, it’s John Billingsley and Jolene Blalock’s sensitive playing that makes this work at all – I’m furiously uninterested in the subplot with Phlox’s second wife flirting with Trip. Once more, Trip’s choice of movies is resolutely 20th century. Bakula is still stuck in angry headmaster mode. Travis and Malcolm are both virtually MIA.

ENT S02E15 Cease Fire (3 out of 5 stars). More ret-conning of the Star Trek’s most celebrated alien species. This show is so keen to create friction between humans and their more experienced galactic tour guides that the curious and enlightened Vulcans – who brokered risky peace deals with both Romulans and Klingons in past iterations of the show – are now presented as obsessively secretive, warlike, suspicious, bigoted, prideful and petty. The one thing they are never portrayed as is logical (T’Pol aside). One could be forgiven for thinking that Berman and Braga had never actually watched Star Trek. Once again, the Andorians come off as far more reasonable and pleasant. The once subtle and complex P’Jem storyline is now all colouring inside the lines, and repetitive combat sequences, sad to say. And once again Jolene Blalock is the MVP of the episode, while Travis, Malcolm and Hoshi get almost nothing to do and Trip only gets to complain. This episode even manages to waste Suzie Plakson!

ENT S02E16 Future Tense (3.5 out of 5 stars). In a galaxy awash with humanoid-looking aliens, it takes T’Pol a few seconds’ visual inspection to conclude that the Norman Bates’s mother-looking dude on the derelict craft that the Enterprise happens upon is definitively human. Is she a walking tricorder now? (She’s also wrong, as Phlox later determines.) In any case, the Acne lads want the ship back so this is a Temporal Cold War story. Those often feel higher-stakes and have an energy that other episodes lack, but it can also feel like our characters are making a guest appearance on someone else’s show. This time, the focus is mainly kept on the Enterprise, which suddenly finds itself the prettiest girl at the party, thanks to the contents of launch bay two. This is much more exciting stuff than we’re used to, with some great race-against-time/thrilling-escape-from-death material, but nothing that our crew tries has any effect, so once again, they’re reduced to helpless patsies and a promising story turns out not to have an ending.

The commitment to including only seven crew members in any operation becomes actively ludicrous here. Needing to solve an engineering problem, Chief Engineer Tucker selects the ship’s Chief Tactical Officer to assist him, resulting in no tactical officer on the bridge in a combat situation during which it’s up to communications officer Hoshi trying to lock alien meddlers out of the computer system. Later when Malcolm wants help monkeying with a torpedo, it’s the motherfucking Captain who lends a hand. Where’s the rest of the crew??

Trekaday #114: Star Trek Nemesis
Trekaday #116: Canamar, The Crossing, Judgment, Horizon, The Breach