Star Trek: Enterprise: Dead Stop
February 18, 2019 2:26 AM - Season 2, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Enterprise stops for repairs, which goes about as well as can be expected.

Memory Alpha has some interesting details:

Background information
Production history
> Working title: "Slip Two"

Story and script
> In the audio commentary for this episode, Mike Sussman and Phyllis Strong reveal that this episode was an attempt to diverge from previous episodes of Star Trek in which a ship is critically damaged in one episode, but miraculously repaired in the next, with no mention of repair work.

Production
> Roxann Dawson not only directed this episode, but also performed as the voice of the automated station. According to the audio commentary by the episode's writers, several actors auditioned for this voice part but Dawson read it best.
> This episode is considered a bottle show.

Costumes and props
> The automated repair station's medical re-generator was a modified reuse of the exocomp from TNG: "The Quality of Life".
> The prop in the middle of the diagnostic room was a re-use of the artificial intelligence from the episode VOY: "Think Tank". The model itself was previously re-used in the episodes "Flesh and Blood" and "The Voyager Conspiracy".
> The access tunnel hatch seems to be nothing more than a white furnace filter, designed and marketed by 3M.

Awards
> This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series in 2003. The nominees were Robert Bonchune, Arthur Codron, Pierre Drolet, Steve Fong, Koji Kuramura, Sean Scott, John Teska, Greg Rainoff, and Mitch Suskin.

Continuity
> The plot of this episode continues from "Minefield", with Enterprise seeking repairs after being damaged in that episode, as well as Reed still recuperating from the injuries suffered during the encounter. This is one of relatively few episodes outside of the Xindi arc to carry on directly from the previous episode without being a two-parter.
> Trip Tucker makes reference to scratching the hull in an inspection pod. This is reference to the pilot episode "Broken Bow", where he does indeed scratch the hull. "Broken Bow" took place about a year before this episode, and the time reference is correct.
> This episode shows taken-for-granted Federation technologies, such as the food replicator and medical regenerator, before Starfleet has devised them for themselves.
> This was the second time Roxann Dawson voiced a spacecraft. Previously, she voiced the Cardassian computer in VOY: "Dreadnought", although in that case it was specifically stated that B'Elanna Torres, also played by Dawson, had reprogrammed Dreadnought's original computer voice to her own, out of frustration with the original voice.
> Ensign Mayweather has a model of the Nomad probe, in its initial configuration, in his quarters. The probe originally appeared in TOS: "The Changeling".
> According to Phlox's autopsy report, Mayweather weighed 72 kilograms, which equals 158.73 pounds.
> Tarkaleans are referenced the first time on Star Trek: Enterprise in this episode. Tellarites are mentioned the third time following "Civilization" and "Carbon Creek," though it is the first time we hear a Tellarite. Species previously seen in other Star Trek series and films make their first and only appearance in Enterprise, namely Ellora, Xepolite, Cardassian, and Vaadwaur.

Log entries
"Captain's starlog, supplemental. It's been almost four days since the incident in the Romulan minefield. Repair teams have been working around the clock. Nerves are definitely frayed."

Memorable quotes
"We've answered enough calls for help over the past year – it's time someone returned the favor."
- Archer

"It can't be ethical to cause a patient this much pain."
"It's unethical to harm a patient; I can inflict as much pain as I like."
- Reed and Phlox

"These repairs are one hell of a bargain at only two hundred liters of warp plasma, don't you think?"
- Archer, to T'Pol

"We're explorers. Where's your spirit of adventure?"
"I left it in a Romulan minefield."
- Tucker, asking a reluctant Reed to join him in getting a look at the automated repair station's computer

"Computer, begin recording. Subject's name: Ensign Travis Mayweather, Human male. Weight: 72 kilograms. Age: 26 Earth years. Far too young to be on this table."
- Phlox, beginning a postmortem on Mayweather's "corpse"

"It might comfort you to know, he felt very little pain – an isolytic shock instantly impairs the…(the doctor starts to lose concentration when he looks at his PADD) the nervous… (looks up at the biobed scan) that's odd… they're dead! All of them!"
- Phlox, comforting a distraught Sato during Mayweather's autopsy, only to realize her grief might be premature

"It's ironic, in a way. The station can duplicate a dead Human body in all its exquisite detail, yet a living, simple one-celled organism is beyond its capability."
- Phlox, describing the station's bio-replicator

"The station's got us by the thrusters."
- Tucker, as Enterprise is trying to get away from the repair station

"But what about all those other people?"
"According to T'Pol's scans, most of them had been there for… years. The damage to their brains was irreversible."
- Mayweather, concerned for the other lifeforms kidnapped by the station, and Phlox

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: It’s possible for your ship, captain or Away Team to take lasting damage in Star Trek Online, potentially causing a variety of penalties until you use spare parts or medical supplies to correct the problems, or stop at a spacedock. In the distant past, I'm given to understand this was an important part of gameplay, but I'm not sure I've ever actually received a crew injury. Starship ones happen from time to time, but the supplies are cheap and plentiful anymore.

Unrelatedly, catfish are available in-game, but only in sandwich form.

* Vulcans Are Superior: Averted.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: Averted.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: The station has tech that would be competitive in the TNG-era.

Poster’s Log:
* Again with the TNG-era tech.
At this point, it doesn’t feel like there’s any reason for Earth to innovate their way to the technology we saw in prior shows. They could just buy it. Hell, the Ferengi we saw before could’ve made a killing if they’d skipped the cartoon loot sacks and just sold Starfleet advanced technology at inflated prices.

* The idea behind this episode is interesting, but I dunno if I like where it went.
On the one hand, I like that it occurred to someone in the writer’s room that it was silly to normally have Trek ships be blown to hell in one episode and fine the next. On the other hand, I’m not sure ‘there was a magic repair station that tried to eat someone’s brain’ is a satisfying departure from the formula.

* Again with Trip and Reed screwing up.
Granted, this time it worked out, but having them break into the station before anybody realized stuff was amiss was pretty immature, even for those two.

* The ‘Mayweather’s Brain’ subplot had some stuff going for it.
Phlox figuring out Mayweather’s corpse was replicated made sense despite the technobabble, so points for that. The room with the bodies was also pretty visually cool. It makes sense that this episode got nominated for visual effects, and I'm impressed they managed to do it with a bottle episode. Lots of good prop reuse here.

That said, I’m a little surprised that anybody would even obliquely reference a brain getting stolen in an episode of Star Trek, considering what happened the first time, and the fact that the station's rationale for it isn't even that different.

Overall, I’m pretty meh on this one. It’s nice they were trying something here, but I’m pretty frustrated with the replicators and the continued ‘Trip and Reed are two out of three Stooges’ stuff. I do think Roxann Dawson did a good job directing though, so that’s cool.
posted by mordax (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm a little more sanguine about the episode, although I'll freely admit that I'm still grading on an easy curve, given that there was nothing patently offensive or egregiously stupid going on here. True, the episode is based on a very, ah, venerable trope: the too-good-to-be-true bargain/miracle, almost in the league of the Monkey's Paw[TVTropes]. But it doesn't really count as an idiot plot, given that the idea of an automated repair station that takes items in trade makes a certain amount of sense, even if it seems like an incredible bargain. (I found it ironic/fitting that part of the station's furnishings were recycled from the VOY episode "Think Tank", given that it's a very similar plot--suspiciously-convenient benefactor turns out to have ulterior motives involving the abduction of a crew member--although there's arguably prior art in TOS' "Shore Leave", with its miraculous recreational facilities turning out to bite them in the ass, as well as "Spock's Brain.") The thing that helped sell the episode for me was the verbal interface for the station with its bland repetition of its last request/prompt when it didn't get the response that it was expecting or demanding, like an unhelpful automated help system. (I'm going through something very similar right now, having bought a year of Amazon Prime for an elderly aunt who insists that I should have something like a gift card code that she needs to put in, even though I never got one; it's really tough to find a live person that she can talk to in order to solve the problem.)

As far as the 24th-century tech thing goes, my take on it is completely different:
At this point, it doesn’t feel like there’s any reason for Earth to innovate their way to the technology we saw in prior shows. They could just buy it. Hell, the Ferengi we saw before could’ve made a killing if they’d skipped the cartoon loot sacks and just sold Starfleet advanced technology at inflated prices.
But has anyone even offered to sell them any of this stuff? The repair station certainly wasn't forthcoming, and I don't think that the Ferengi had particularly advanced tech, not if they're throwing unwrapped pieces of pie into those loot bags. (They took over the ship via a Trojan horse-type device that would have been laughable if not for the crew carrying the idiot ball; remember, this is a ship where the chief engineer went out looking for alien nookie, completely heedless of the trouble that he got into the last time he did so.) And it makes a lot more sense that different civilizations have different levels of technological development; look at how that worked out on our own planet, with the Aztecs having cities built on the grid plan and fairly advanced water/sewer systems before they came up with the wheel, which they used mostly for toys, or the Chinese using gunpowder for fireworks but not really weaponizing it. (Note: I have not researched these things and this "common knowledge" could be wrong.) The DS9 Technical Manual went into this a bit, with a scale for relative technological development; IIRC, it ranked the DS9 societies along the lines of Dominion > Federation > Cardassians (pre-Dominionized) > Bajorans. (It also noted that a sufficient difference would imply that the more advanced civilization would likely take over the less-developed one, if they were so inclined. If the writers were unaware of Iain M. Banks' Culture's Outside Context Problem, it's an uncannily-close duplication of the concept.) Again, this is an old Trek trope; "The Corbomite Maneuver" (the first filmed regular episode of Trek) is about the Enterprise encountering a technologically superior and hostile race, and "Errand of Mercy" has the crew assuming that the peaceful, primitive-agrarian Organians will be helpless to avoid conquest by the Klingons, until their last-reel reveal as Q-level beings. And we've already seen civilizations technologically superior to Earth in the series; the Vulcans are more advanced, but not hegemonic, neither are the Klingons (yet), and the Romulans haven't really made their big play yet, either.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:29 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


In a way, I feel like the TNG-era tech here works, partly because some mystery and ambiguity remains after the episode ends. And I'm pissed at myself that I didn't recognize Roxann Dawson's voice.

I re-watched this episode in the same sitting as my first watch of DISCO: "Saints of Imperfection", and they led me to grandiose philosophical musings about how I seem to judge a Trek "outing" (a series, a season, an arc, an episode, a movie, a novel, even a video game?) as a success or failure—what, in essence, my personal yay-or-nay standard might be.

What I landed on was "to what extent does this outing match up with, or at least meaningfully engage with, the Trek spirit"—where, by "Trek spirit," I mean not "slavish adherence to Roddenberry's philosophies" (let alone to particular nacelle shapes) but rather stuff like when Picard says "we work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity" (though I guess that really should have been "the various members of the Federation," heh)… stuff like overcoming fear, as in TOS: "Balance of Terror" or DS9: "It's Only a Paper Moon" or VOY: "The Thaw"… stuff like responsibility and integrity… stuff like exploring and seeking out and boldly going, too, I suppose.

So next I started trying to align the outings that I've always considered among the strongest with this "Trek spirit" notion, and it seems like they mostly fit. Stuff like VOY: "Distant Origin" and TNG: "Who Watches the Watchers" are obvious fits; the seemingly light and fluffy Voyage Home has, in my estimation, some deep themes regarding progress and confronting truly alien phenomena; you could oversimplify the entirety of DS9 as being about "successfully navigating a clash of cultures"… and DISCO: "An Obol for Charon" had, IMO, some moments of true depth in the Saru subplot w/r/t fear and boldly going.

"Dead Stop" almost lives up to this definition of the "Trek spirit." Characters are being inquisitive, trying to learn new things, and taking risks, but also being deliberative and cautious (I liked Archer throughout this one). I wasn't so keen on the way the script dismisses the remaining Neo-analogues that they left plugged into the station—maybe they can't be saved, but maybe taking some samples could lead to the culprits and prevent similar depradations?—but at least the story didn't utterly forget about them.

I'm hesitant to conclude whether ENT as a whole lives up to my "Trek spirit" notion because I don't remember enough of the remainder of the show, but season three is the Xindi arc, which IIRC felt a bit like it belonged in a different franchise. What I will say right now is, so far, I feel like what we've seen of DISCO is closer to it than what I recall of ENT, but of course DISCO has also been a rocky (albeit not especially long) road.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:31 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


I love this episode. It's good TV by any metric, and as CheesesofBrazil notes, the inquisitiveness of the crew really feels Star Trek-y in a way past episodes have splatted on. I have so many questions about the race or culture that built the station- and the replicating way it repairs itself is so Borg-y but different? The end of the Ep is so creepy too... The way the station takes payment in trade not latinum feels very Star Trek too- just because we have a great capitalist species in the Ferengi doesn't mean everyone would take the same currency in a vast galaxy, payment in trade makes much more sense. I just really like this one.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:35 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


the replicating way it repairs itself is so Borg-y but different?

It reminded me of the very end of the movie adaptation of Christine; in fact, it may have been the only part of the movie that the VOY episode "Alice" didn't rip offuh, pay homage to.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:37 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


The thing I most remember about this episode is that a former boss absolutely loved it, watched it multiple times per week, and always wanted to talk about it with me to the point that he recited the same conversation over and over as if it were a new topic. It was like he was on a recorded loop. I'm always happy to talk Trek, but I can't have the same conversation daily. I just can't. So I'm still kinda burned out on this episode. I like it, but I just can't talk about it anymore.
posted by Servo5678 at 2:57 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


This episode? Only this episode? Several times a week? That's weird. That's, like, SCP levels of weird.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:21 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


I know there's a joke in there about bringing a workplace to a dead stop.
posted by mordax at 10:07 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


This, as a whole, felt like what Enterprise kept trying to do in Season 1 and never quite consistently pulling off; it really feels like a prequel at every level. The brain-stealing echoes bits of TOS, the replication is straight from TNG, the crew's predicament is pure Enterprise, a direct reflection on past Treks -- why not have an episode where the crew is the ship that sends a distress call? It's very self-referential, but the 'self' is Trek generally.

Is it good? I loved the first half of it, and I can appreciate the second half of it, post-Merryweather twist, but didn't like where that brought the show's focus.

Let's imagine this cuts off before Merryweather's abduction: now, it's an episode that's not just recontextualizing Enterprise as the ship in distress, but it's further recasting the crew in the position of people being Prime Directive'd -- someone else, somewhere, somewhen, made the decision to assist stranded travelers but drew the line at sharing technology with them, and put in a bunch of defenses to ensure that no one could copy the stations replicators, etc. How does any of this work? No idea. Couldn't they use this tech to save lives? Why can't they get a copy of it? How does it feel to be on this side of the looking glass, in a different way than w/r/t the Vulcans? How does it feel for the Vulcans to be in this position? And so on. Imagine that Archer's suspicion is unfounded, in the same way that every alien species suspicion of the Federation is unfounded -- imagine that the station genuinely just exists to help people, and takes in barter because it needs some resources to keep itself sustained.

Rarely has Star Trek put a crew in quite that position: usually more advanced organizations are broadly comparable antagonists (the Dominion) or so far in advance of the Federation that there's no parallel (the Organians, Q, etc). Having the crew essentially being in the position of the cryo-frozen humans in TNG's S1E26 The Neutral Zone -- stunned at replicators; astounded at what is, to the viewer, basic technology within the scope of the show -- is good fun, and a novel reversal that lets us see the last twenty years of Trek through fresh eyes.

And then, no, it's bog-standard Actually Evil Aliens, who are exactly sophisticated enough to replicate a dead body right down to its microbiome and dna, sufficient to fool a medical doctor doing an autopsy, but can't replicate a living brain so as to sustain its own processing power. And exists...to steal brains? Or...???

It's a very nicely constructed plot that works really well so long as its moving step by step forward, but if you start at the beginning and work backwards a lot of those steps don't actually make any sense, once the curtain is pulled back. I enjoyed it a lot, even when it wasn't making perfect sense, which has been true of a few of these Season 2 episodes, so the bigger-picture takeaway (for me, at least) is 'Season 2 is where the show hits its stride.'

(Lest it seem like I'm dunking on this overmuch, there are plenty of Star Trek episodes that come to mind as not really holding up to much scrutiny in the 'making sense' department, and so: I don't hold that to be an absolute requirement for every ep.)
posted by cjelli at 5:50 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Let's imagine this cuts off before Merryweather's abduction: now, it's an episode that's not just recontextualizing Enterprise as the ship in distress, but it's further recasting the crew in the position of people being Prime Directive'd -- someone else, somewhere, somewhen, made the decision to assist stranded travelers but drew the line at sharing technology with them, and put in a bunch of defenses to ensure that no one could copy the stations replicators, etc. How does any of this work? No idea. Couldn't they use this tech to save lives? Why can't they get a copy of it? How does it feel to be on this side of the looking glass, in a different way than w/r/t the Vulcans? How does it feel for the Vulcans to be in this position?

Nice job articulating something that I felt while watching it but didn't quite consciously realize. I do recall half-musing something like "Wouldn't it be neat if they actually DID manage to interact with the station's creators, and it got super awkward because they have A Directive of Some Sort—but alas, I remember this episode just enough to know that doesn't happen."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:37 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I don't think that the station exists to steal brains. I think that it exists to do exactly what it does; I don't believe that it has any ulterior motives a la Kurros' Think Tank crew in the Delta Quadrant. My theory is that some Good Samaritan race built it and gave it some pretty simple parameters in terms of what it would do, what it might consider adequate compensation for doing so, and what it might do to maintain itself, gather information about the ships that stopped by to expand its knowledge of science and technology, and maybe even change how it performed some basic functions in order to better serve its customers.

And so, eventually, it found itself in a situation where it simply didn't have adequate processing power to do repairs and medicine on a very-badly-damaged ship with a very-badly-hurt crew, and in effect was working out a real-life version of the Trolley Problem, and came to the conclusion that taking one crewmember to enhance its capabilities was justified in that it would save the ship and the lives of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of crew members. And there you go. It could even justify its actions WRT Enterprise in that, given the number of hazards that the crew had already encountered in its voyage, it was unlikely that they'd ever make it back to Jupiter Station, unless another Enterprise-class ship managed to track them down and repair or rescue them. It's a softer version of Nomad (whose model, ironically, is in Mayweather's quarters) or V'ger: upgraded beyond its original parameters, but still dedicated to performing its function by any means necessary.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:50 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


And so, eventually, it found itself in a situation where it simply didn't have adequate processing power to do repairs and medicine on a very-badly-damaged ship with a very-badly-hurt crew, and in effect was working out a real-life version of the Trolley Problem,

This is great! I would have loved if the episode went there on-screen, with Archer & co. perhaps debating the computer, rather than the ~explosions~ ending as depicted.
posted by cjelli at 7:06 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


I like cjelli's and Halloween Jack's versions of this episode better; it started great and then just couldn't find a way to finish that was satisfying. In general, I'm never very satisfied with Trek when the solution is "blow shit up", rather than trying to find a solution based on insight, discovery, or creative problem solving; having Trip argue with the station about whether or not the repairs would be up to spec and drowning it in regulations and bureaucracy until it gave in and let Mayweather go would have been more satisfying I think.

I was afraid for a time that the reveal of the episode would be that this was a station created by the Borg, left to drift here and gain data and information about the technology and species of the Alpha Quadrant and assimilation processes; given the show's predilection for wanting to somehow touch base with all the fan favourites rather than develop new territory, it seemed like a real possibility.

Anyways, the episode ends with the station ominously repairing itself, a little stinger that I'm sure the show will never revisit. This also could have been an opportunity to demonstrate the need for better communication and information sharing - the Enterprise just discovered something rather important about this place, but there's no mechanism in place for them to share that with the Tellarites who told them about it, as an example. With luck, I guess it winds up in the Vulcan database - if it wasn't already, because nobody checks that damn thing.

Anyways, an episode that started strong and lost steam, but still felt far more Trek like than a lot of S1, so it was still a step forward.
posted by nubs at 8:26 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


I was afraid for a time that the reveal of the episode would be that this was a station created by the Borg [...] given the show's predilection for wanting to somehow touch base with all the fan favourites rather than develop new territory, it seemed like a real possibility.

I have bad news from later in the season (spoilers)…
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:34 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


This episode? Only this episode? Several times a week?

Only this episode. And this was before Netflix had Star Trek reruns. He bought the episode on iTunes so he’d always have it available. I’d tell him about other episodes he’d probably enjoy, but he wasn’t interested. He only wanted “Dead Stop”.
posted by Servo5678 at 10:04 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Got a little more time this morning, so:

But has anyone even offered to sell them any of this stuff?

On the one hand, true. On the other, that doesn't make a lot of sense to me either.

For me, a lot of this is the inevitable comparison to its contemporary Stargate SG-1. Right now, Earth doesn't have a code of conduct to prevent them from trying to obtain advanced technology. They run into it on a weekly basis. They're mostly not curious - Trip and Reed's effort to learn more about the station is half-assed and unsanctioned instead of something done on purpose on the sly. Compare this to the explicit mission of 'go forth and find stuff to help Earth,' and Enterprise's entire mission feels weird and pointless.

We'll also be revisiting this theme next week, wherein I'll be complaining some more about it.

I'm hesitant to conclude whether ENT as a whole lives up to my "Trek spirit" notion because I don't remember enough of the remainder of the show, but season three is the Xindi arc, which IIRC felt a bit like it belonged in a different franchise. What I will say right now is, so far, I feel like what we've seen of DISCO is closer to it than what I recall of ENT, but of course DISCO has also been a rocky (albeit not especially long) road.

That was a thoughtful series of observations.

My take is similar, although for me the defining element of Trekness or Trekkitude is a willingness to overcome adversity by understanding and tolerance over violence. ENT does consistently manage this, but often grudgingly: like VOY, the humans are pretty narrow minded about cultural values, more interested in talking about themselves than learning about the people they meet out in space. So to me, it meets the definition, but it feels like a pretty minimal offering. I suppose that mirrors my reaction when it was airing.

DSC has its problems, (still has awful pacing, IMO), but it seems to embrace this notion a lot more enthusiastically. Like, ENT feels like it's doing it because that's the formula, while DSC seems to do it because they want to?

I don't think that the station exists to steal brains.

This was also my takeaway.

I have bad news from later in the season (spoilers)…

I guess the one consolation there is that Regeneration is pretty good, IIRC. (I've seen that more recently than the rest of these - did a full 'watch all the Borg episodes of Star Trek' thing to help evaluate VOY's use/misuse of them.)
posted by mordax at 9:04 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


One detail bugged me: that room with all the comatose people in it, plugged into the repair computer: that room would've stank. There should've been some indication of that, at least from T'Pol, whose sense of smell as a Vulcan has been established to be more sensitive than a human's.

I noticed the furnace filter too. Maybe Californian props people didn't realize how many northerners would immediately spot such a thing.
posted by zadcat at 8:41 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I laughed out loud at the furnace filter.

Just chiming in months later because I just finally got to this episode last night, and I definitely finished the episode thinking they were Borg or I guess proto-Borg. Shrug.
posted by General Malaise at 8:50 AM on April 4


« Older Movie: Thugs of Hindostan...   |  Movie: How I Ended This Summer... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments