Star Trek: Enterprise: Dawn
April 21, 2019 11:21 PM - Season 2, Episode 13 - Subscribe

Trip continues to earn his nickname, with another solo jaunt from Enterprise.

Memory Alpha doesn’t really have much to say about this one:

Background information
> Brad Greenquist previously played Krit in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Who Mourns for Morn?". Gregg Henry starred in Star Trek: Insurrection as Gallatin.
> This episode establishes that transporting a patient with "acute cellular breakdown" may be fatal.
> Trip Tucker recalls seeing the Great Plume of Agosoria to Zho'Kaan ("Cold Front"), as well as spending a night with a princess ("Precious Cargo"), getting pregnant ("Unexpected") and riding in a Suliban cell ship ("Broken Bow" and "The Communicator"). In the final draft script, he also remembered encountering "Andorians, Klingons, Hudaks, Arkonians" (the penultimate name subsequently being reused as the name of an individual in later second season installment "The Breach") and admitted some things he personally wished.
> This episode is similar to the TNG episodes "Darmok" and "The Enemy". In "Darmok" Captain Picard is trapped on a planet with an alien that he cannot communicate with and they must work together to survive. In "The Enemy", La Forge is trapped on a hostile planet and with a Romulan whom he must work with to survive. This episode also bears similarities to VOY: "Gravity" in which Tuvok and Paris are trapped on a planet and must befriend an alien to survive.

Memorable quotes
"I'm no good until I've had my coffee."
- Tucker

"Kushka!"
"Kushka to you too!"
- Zho'Kaan and Tucker

"I guess we won't be adding the Arkonians to our list of friends."
"The encounter was less volatile than I expected." (Archer laughs) "You managed to establish better relations in a single day than the Vulcans have in a century."
"Let's hope it stays that way!"
- Archer and T'Pol, after their encounter with Captain Khata'n Zshaar on board Enterprise

"Trip, when I fired at your vessel... I'm grateful I didn't destroy it."
"That makes two of us!"
- Zho'Kaan and Tucker, in sick bay after their rescue

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: If I had a nickel for every generic rocky planet I beamed to in there...
* Vulcans Are Superior: Averted. See below.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: The shuttle’s engines are gummed up by the moon’s atmosphere. The NX-01’s sensors are useless again. Trip’s radio doesn’t work in the presence of rocks.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: Played with. Zho’Kann has a nifty healing trick, but he’s more susceptible to heat. The Arkonians can swiftly modify a shuttle for the moon’s atmosphere, but do not seem to have transporters (see below).

Poster’s Log:
I guess it doesn’t get more old school Trek than having a sweaty guy fistfight a lizard man on a barren, rocky soundstage planet.

Past that, I have some thoughts:
* They’re doing a better job with the Bad Vulcans stuff lately.
Both Catwalk and Dawn feature T’Pol lying about the Vulcans having a problem, then coming clean later on. This sort of subtle ‘the Vulcans are all about their pride and never showing weakness’ thing tracks better to me than a lot of earlier plots, because it actually fits what we’ve seen of them in other shows. Like, Spock was dishonest about the pon farr back when because it was embarrassing. This behavior from T’Pol makes more sense to me than stuff like ‘installed a listening post underneath the monastery at P’Jem.’ It also feels like a reasonable place to show friction between humans and Vulcans, and even offers a reason why Archer might not leap at the Vulcan database at every opportunity, because there’s a better reason to mistrust the official Vulcan line if they’re routinely covering stuff up.

* It’s interesting that they keep picking Trip for these storylines.
In the old days, this would’ve been a job for the captain, as would the absolutely dire Precious Cargo. It’s interesting to me that they keep focusing on Trip over Archer, especially since the network wanted Archer to be New Kirk.

As we progress in the rewatch, I can’t help but wonder what was going on backstage to put the focus on Trineer over Bakula. (I don’t really care one way or the other - I like Trip slightly better than Archer due to the lack of nepotism/daddy issues, but it’s weird to me given how this plays with the Trek formula.)

* The framing is terrible.
Sending the chief engineer on a test flight alone is stupid. Doing it in a system where the Enterprise’s sensors can’t find it if it gets lost is gross negligence.

I’ve been mulling this over a lot, and I think it’s partly a result of ENT’s increased continuity. In all prior Trek shows, Trip would’ve gone with a redshirt who would’ve died in the crash. ENT has been more sensitive about this since Novakovich in Strange New World, (partly due to Scott Bakula pointing out that it didn’t work dramatically), and the NX-01 has a crew just over 80 people, with few opportunities to replace anybody who dies. So I think they’re skipping the ‘redshirt conveniently dies’ trope, but didn’t bother to replace it with something else. (Shades of Jack’s Ten Percent Theory striking again.)

* This is some well-worn ground.
Call me old fashioned, but I dunno that anybody really did Enemy Mine better than Enemy Mine.

* We finally get a legitimate reason not to use a transporter.
I appreciated them remembering to discard the transporter. Doctor Phlox’s explanation is sensible, only takes a couple minutes, and gives them an excuse to do things the hard way.

I will admit I immediately wondered why they couldn’t just raise the temp in the transporter room to like 100+ degrees, (and this cements the Arkonians as not having transporters IMO, as they’d build them with that kind of consideration). I also wondered why they couldn’t beam down survival gear: a shade, water, etc. However, this is still more or less what I’ve been asking for, and I’m willing to take an imperfect version over the whole matter being ignored completely.

* The back half works for me on a dramatic/emotional note.
Trip’s dogged, relentless determination to keeping Zho’Kann alive is very much in the spirit of Star Trek. To me, that elevates the whole story considerably. As I’ve often pointed out, what keeps me in Star Trek no matter how silly it gets is its belief in the value of diplomacy and understanding over brutality.

Dawn sticks to that, and so it sticks the landing, despite a shaky start and any number of dumb things about the plot. It seems like a much more sincere effort than a number of their stories.
posted by mordax (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I also wondered why they couldn’t beam down survival gear: a shade, water, etc.

Right?! They went to all the trouble to establish that the transporter is basically perceived as 100% safe for non-biological material—and then forgot that it can do that? Why not maintain plausibility AND ramp up tension by having them beam down a shelter, only for its roof to be sheared off by burning-cyclonic winds (why yes, I have been playing No Man's Sky, why do you ask) because any shelter modest enough for one man to erect could very plausibly be of limited structural strength?

Just kidding, I know why: that might've put the episode over-budget, and plus we've been in this writers' room long enough, dammit; some of us have kids to get home to.

That aside, it's an average episode for the franchise and a well-above-average one for ENT so far, and I agree with your chief reason why, mordax:

Trip’s dogged, relentless determination to keeping Zho’Kann alive is very much in the spirit of Star Trek. To me, that elevates the whole story considerably. As I’ve often pointed out, what keeps me in Star Trek no matter how silly it gets is its belief in the value of diplomacy and understanding over brutality.

I'd add, too, that the script took the time to really characterize Zho'Kann much further than one might expect a non-English-speaking character to be characterized.

One other strength: really good design on that Arkonian ship.

Call me old fashioned, but I dunno that anybody really did Enemy Mine better than Enemy Mine.

I mean… yes, it is far too well-worn ground, but what about "Darmok"? Disclaimer: I have not actually seen Enemy Mine, or if I did, I forgot everything about it except its premise.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:29 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Nothing really to add except yes, they remembered what was really important about the franchise. A lot of the nitpicks can be No-Prized away: maybe the stuff that was making scanning so difficult and required them to climb up high with the transmitter (shades of DS9's "The Ascent", which had the interesting twist that it was because Odo and Quark knew each other, and could communicate perfectly well, that they didn't get along), along with making the shuttles glitch, made it difficult to beam down supplies to a narrow ledge without beaming it into either of them or the transmitter; maybe Shuttlepod One did have adequate emergency supplies, but they got damaged in the crash; maybe the transporter is still finicky enough that they don't want to surround it with space heaters or something. Ultimately, although it's nice when they think of details like that, the more important thing is, as noted, working out something with the Arkonians instead of writing them off as another Asshole Alien race, of which this show has already had a plenitude. Even if they did get that from Enemy Mine, which I don't think I've seen since it came out--holy crap--34 years ago? Is that possible? Anyway, yeah.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:50 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I was all like, why didn't they go sit in the shade?
posted by zadcat at 7:54 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I mean… yes, it is far too well-worn ground, but what about "Darmok"?

The guy in Darmok also saw Enemy Mine, and thought it was how humans made friends. (Really, the meta aspect is why Darmok worked so well for me, IIRC.)

I'd add, too, that the script took the time to really characterize Zho'Kann much further than one might expect a non-English-speaking character to be characterized.

Also true.

A lot of the nitpicks can be No-Prized away

Yeah, those are fair points.

I was all like, why didn't they go sit in the shade?

To be fair, at least Zho'Kann appeared to be in shade for the last section of the episode.
posted by mordax at 8:23 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


This was a pretty good episode. If I had to show someone a few good episodes so they could get the gist of the second season without having to watch all the dreck, I'd probably include this one. It doesn't break any new ground, but it's solid, and I find the scenery of the alien planet pretty memorable. It has a charming TOS look.

It certainly doesn't live up to Darmok. That episode's amazing because of the invented language. (Remove that and there's really nothing special about it.) This episode swaps linguistic differences for physical differences. I really like they they make a show of how bodily different the Arkonians are: they don't have sweat glands, they drink different liquids, they are sensitive to different temperatures, and they have that cool spit, which was a great and surprising effect. I like when Star Trek occasionally has a Cardassian sunning itself on a rock and you're reminded that they're lizard people and not just weird-looking humans with different cultural priorities. The writers don't do anything with this idea that takes the episode archetype into vastly new places... I wish they leaned into it a little harder. Still, giving Trip and his counterpart different survival needs and abilities was a good concept.

It's around this time I started liking Trip. I really disliked his petulant folksiness in the first season. I think they started writing more episodes for him because he was the first of the characters (besides Phlox, maybe) who they finally cracked.

This episode and the previous one were pretty strong and suggested that the season might be on an upswing. Well... nope. We now have six weeks until we get to something good.
posted by painquale at 1:37 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


This episode was solid; there is nothing groundbreaking here, but it took a simple story and told it well. Most importantly, it grabbed onto the core concepts of Trek as I see them: seeking understanding, cooperation, problem solving, and working to communicate (which has a long history in Trek, from episodes like "Arena" to "Darmok" to "Attached" (where there are challenges from too much communication) to "Ascent" and probably a ton of others I am forgetting).

One thing that Phlox would have been all over is the healing properties of the alien spit. Can't believe it didn't come up again; that's a freaking medical marvel for Starfleet to learn more about and should be the part of the rationale for Starfleet to continue to try to develop relations with the Arkonians.

Anyways, it sounds like we're in for some bumpy weeks ahead, so I'll try to hold onto this one.
posted by nubs at 7:47 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Marginally on-topic: Trip as Florida Man, Part II.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:46 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


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