Star Trek: Enterprise: Oasis   Rewatch 
December 16, 2018 11:16 PM - Season 1, Episode 20 - Subscribe

Wherein we learn that Trip doesn’t know why it’s called ‘rocky road.’

Memory Alpha answers the obvious question of ‘did Rene Auberjonois point out this was pretty similar to a prior episode of DS9?’

Extended scenes
For this episode, there are two extended scenes that can be found on the ENT Season 1 DVD. A note preceding each scene states, "The color portion of the following was lifted from the show – the black & white portion was retained in the final version."

- Oasis deleted scene 8
As in the aired version of the episode, Tucker and T'Pol explore the crashed ship, using flashlights to see in the darkness of the alien environment. When T'Pol becomes certain that she has just heard something, Tucker suspects she is imagining things due to her fear of the situation but the Vulcan insists that nothing frightens her. In the extended version of the scene, T'Pol continues the discussion by claiming that "fear is a primitive emotion". Certain that something must evoke that particular response in her, Tucker wonders whether T'Pol is scared by heights or spiders, to which she finally reveals that, when previously recalled from Enterprise by the High Command, she discovered the crew was preparing a "going-away" party and found the idea "somewhat frightening".

- Oasis deleted scene 21
The aired section of this scene includes Tucker and T'Pol finding the "crew" of the crashed ship, several of whom are armed with hand weapons aimed at the Enterprise officers. The extended portion then progresses with T'Pol asking the people she sees before her whether the ship is theirs, to which they do not respond. She consequently takes out her communicator, provoking a curious look from Ezral, and activates the device, asking the alien group whether they can understand her. When they still do not react, Tucker nevertheless announces his suspicions that the group is surprised to see the visitors and probably think they are scavengers. After Tucker admits that their suspicions are correct but that he and T'Pol thought the ship had been abandoned except for ghosts, the armed members of the group lower their weapons.

Background information
> The final draft script of this episode was issued on 25 March 2002.
> Rene Auberjonois (Ezral) is better known as Constable Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Colonel West in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Rudolph Willrich also guest-starred in DS9 as the Bolian Starfleet Academy Commandant in "Paradise Lost".
> The premise of this episode is very similar to DS9: "Shadowplay". Rene Auberjonois saw the similarities (Odo and Jadzia Dax had played the roles played by the Enterprise crew in this episode) and told Scott Bakula that DS9 had done a similar episode. Auberjonois commented, "That was not really a putdown, but when you've done that many years of writing stories, there will be recurring themes." [1]
> Ezral and Liana are also very similar to the characters of Prospero and Miranda from William Shakespeare's The Tempest and the characters of Dr. Edward Morbius and Altaira Morbius in the 1956 film Forbidden Planet, which was largely based on The Tempest (Forbidden Planet, in turn, was also a source of inspiration for TOS: "The Cage"). They also share similarities with Flint and Rayna Kapec from TOS: "Requiem for Methuselah".
> When questioning Ezral about what he would do if Liana was ever to get hurt, Tucker sardonically suggested that he might program a holographic doctor to treat her. This is an allusion to the concept of the Emergency Medical Hologram, and specifically The Doctor of Star Trek: Voyager.
> Archer asks Travis Mayweather if this is turning into one of his famous ghost stories. Mayweather previously told ghost stories in "Strange New World".
> While talking with Trip Tucker, T'Pol references his escapade with the female Xyrillian engineer seen in "Unexpected".
> Brannon Braga referred to this installment of Enterprise, in 2012, as a "terrible episode." ("To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise, Part III: First Flight", ENT Season 1 Blu-ray special features)
> Star Trek Magazine's "Ultimate Guide" rated this episode 3 out of 5 arrowhead insignia. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 79)
> The unofficial reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 367) comments about this episode, "An old-fashioned story, one that could have (and, to some extent, already had) appeared in any previous incarnation of Star Trek. Rene Auberjonois is good, but his presence only emphasizes that this is nothing new."

Memorable quotes
"I thought Cajun food was hot!"
- Tucker, after trying Hajjlaran spice

"No power signatures. It appears to be deserted."
"But are your sensors calibrated for ghosts?"
- T'Pol and Tucker

"Vulcans don't imagine things."
- T'Pol

"What, don't you get frightened every once in a while?"
"Not by anything?"
"Too bad. Nothing like a good scare."
- Tucker and T'Pol, while on the Kantare ship

"Why do I feel like it's feeding time at the zoo?"
- Tucker, to Liana while she watches him eat

"I've made all the friends I need."
- Ezral, to Tucker

"Maybe you can tell me how I'm being guarded by a dead man."
- Tucker, to Liana

"What if she gets hurt? What do you do then? Program a… holographic doctor?"
- Tucker, to Ezral

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: It’s pretty simple to use staff an entire Away team (apart from your own character) with holograms. They don’t require EV suits and can’t suffer long term injuries, but ironically, their appearances cannot be customized at this time.
* Vulcans Are Superior: Vulcans are too cool for ghost stories.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: As it turns out, the sensors really weren’t calibrated for ghosts.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: A derelict wreck on some nothing planet in the middle of nowhere had holographic technology the Federation will not develop until the TNG era.

Poster’s Log:
I have less than usual to say about this one. On the one hand, it was... fine? ENT managed to go a whole hour without making me write any angry notes for one of these reviews. I feel like it’s been some time since they managed that. (About the only thing here that stood out was T’Pol’s attitude about Liana and Tucker - her being jealous is foreshadowing, but it also feels like one more indignity foisted on the character and actress. Small compared to everything else that’s gone on recently though.)

On the other hand, it was a very predictable retread of at least one prior episode of Star Trek, and I’m amused it didn’t occur to anybody working on the show until Rene Auberjonois pointed it out, especially given that they did cram a VOY joke in there.

Anyway.... yeah, I guess this one mostly got a big shrug from me.
posted by mordax (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I guess this one mostly got a big shrug from me.

Which for season 1 of Enterprise is a goddamn relief. I swear I remember that this show got (somewhat) better, but I forgot just HOW BAD the first season was. But this was a fun watch, if only because its... not bad, and as you mention, not infuriating. Also love Rene Auberjonois in just about anything, and one of the fun bits of Enterprise, even in the bad episodes is spotting the actor whose been in Trek before.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:46 PM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yeah, there's not really any flagrant incompetence (in the characters or behind the scenes) evident here as far as I can tell, unless you count the really very similar story to DS9: "Shadowplay." Arguably, this was better, thanks to some strong performances. I wouldn't go so far as to say I got invested in the fates of the Forehead Aliens of the Week, but I…didn't NOT care, I guess?

her being jealous is foreshadowing, but it also feels like one more indignity foisted on the character and actress.

I wish I could remember what it was that her character saw in him. I'm not even sure that they established it. We'll see, I suppose.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:55 AM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, there's not really any flagrant incompetence (in the characters or behind the scenes) evident here as far as I can tell, unless you count the really very similar story to DS9: "Shadowplay."

Beyond that, the idea of the "stranded colonist/wreck survivor" using aliens and/or advanced technology to (a) hide the truth and (b) create some approximation of "normal" is a very well used story in the history of Star Trek, going all the way back to the original TOS pilot "The Cage".

I think that's why this episode actually feels like an ok episode. It's nothing new, but by using well-traveled ground, there's no major problems either. It
posted by nubs at 8:20 AM on December 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

One thing that seeing and thinking about this episode has done is make me want to rewatch "Shadowplay" again. I'd not thought much about that episode--it never seemed to make anyone's short list of great DS9 episodes, and it seemed like it was all about the reveal of the Big Twist--but the FanFare crew seemed to like it (this was before I joined the rewatch), and it also seems to have been an early example (along with TNG's Moriarty episodes) of the idea that holodeck characters had the potential to be more than just RPG NPCs that were particularly well-written.

As for this episode itself, it's not much of a much, but I'm down with the idea that it's kind of a relief that it's not just another S1 not-so-hot mess. I've never actually read or seen The Tempest (and am still sort of kicking myself for not having made the effort to see Patrick Stewart in it in the nineties), but I'm vaguely familiar with the story, and dads being protective (or over-protective) of their daughters is a familiar theme in fiction. (TOS' "The Conscience of the King", which is actually about a traveling troupe of Shakespearean actors--although they don't quote or perform The Tempest, but Hamlet and Macbeth--ends up flipping the trope around.) Auberjonois certainly has the acting chops to make the pretty-obvious deception pay off, and I also liked Annie Wersching as Liana, and especially liked that she didn't turn out to be just another holo-illusion.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:35 AM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

One of the recurring themes in the course of Enterprise's production that keeps sticking out to me is the struggle over the show's identity vis-à-vis competing notions of what is Star Trek's core identity, and how to ground that identity in a different and earlier era than the other shows. Last week, we had 'Star Trek is about familiar aliens you know and love;' this week, we have 'Star Trek is about posing questions in the guise of sci-fi problems.' That second approach works (and has worked, over the whole of this season) a lot better, not least because repeating narrative themes is something all Star Treks have done to a degree

I think the reason that this approach works is because that is the core identity in Star Trek for many of the fans; it has often used it's platform to take a social question, and through the lens of sci-fi, analyze it (other sci -fi does this as well, of course, but what I think Star Trek often does well is pose multiple viewpoints on the question - sometimes leaving us with no answer). It doesn't always work - see "Dear Doctor" for an example of when it doesn't work well at all - but it is what I want/expect from Star Trek. Here we have a father grappling with an age-old question about allowing their child to leave the safety of the nest (somewhat under-explored is Dad's grief and regret and how this move will make him confront those). It's a solid question to engage with, even if it's been done before.

Thinking about last week's episode in comparison - well, there's no real fundamental question to grapple with. This is also ok - there are episodes of Star Trek that don't have really big questions at their core, that are just fun adventure type stories, and those can work too. Where I think the issue arises for last week is that (a) I don't think the Ferengi are really "well-loved" guest aliens; (b) there's no sense of stakes; we know that the crew will outwit the Ferengi, the episode should be using the time to teach us something new and interesting about our characters.
posted by nubs at 10:47 AM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Very-lightly-related tangent: Tumblr meme about Vulcans having emotions
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:58 AM on December 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

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