Star Trek: Enterprise: Canamar   Rewatch 
May 20, 2019 2:16 AM - Season 2, Episode 17 - Subscribe

Archer and Trip are mistaken for smugglers.

Memory Alpha has some interesting details about props this time:

Background information
> This episode originally developed from the initial ending of "Judgment", which involved Enterprise attempting to intercept a prison ship which Archer was aboard and rescue him from that vessel. "As we were breaking that, Brannon [Braga] really liked that part of the story, so much so that he decided it was all one episode," remembered David A. Goodman, "and he and John Shiban worked that out, and Chris Black – all worked on that story, and it became 'Canamar', later in the season." ("Judgment" podcast/audio commentary)
> The remote control for the prisoner cuffs is a reuse of the Bajoran tricorder. The Enolian hand phaser is a reuse of the EM-33 plasma pistol. Kuroda's uniform, and that of the other Enolians, is a reuse of the Miradorn costumes. The Enolian guards' uniform is a reuse of the Mokra costume. The rank pin worn on the Enolian official's collar is a modified version of the Red Squad pin.
> The little jiggly-things hanging from Zoumas' face are artificial fishing lures.
> Tojal was previously mentioned in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Destiny", where Quark served it to Ulani Belor and Gilora Rejal, who did not care for it.
> The cockpit of the prison ship is a reuse of the Class 2 shuttle from Star Trek: Voyager.
> This was the first of two second season episodes featuring music scored by Brian Tyler. The second was "Regeneration".
> This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for its prosthetic makeup effects.
> Melvaran mud fleas were later mentioned in the 2009 film Star Trek.

Memorable quotes
"I'd stay quiet if I were you. The guards don't like questions."
- Kuroda Lor-ehn, to Archer after he receives a shock

"You ever fly a warp ship before? It's harder than you think."
"He's right."
"You hit the wrong control, you could overload the plasma manifolds or shut down the antimatter containment field. We'd all end up a cloud of ionized gas."
"You're a pilot?"
"A damn good one. I'm a smuggler, remember?"
- Archer, backed up by Tucker, offers his services to Kuroda

"Is this really necessary? I just saved your skin and you still don't trust me." (The Nausicaan prisoner continues replacing Tucker's restraints.) "Do you know how much power flows through those plasma circuits?"
"How much?"
"A lot. I could have been electrocuted. God, the least you could do is say 'thanks'."
(sardonically) "Thanks."
"That was nice. It reminds me of the time I was on..."
"Shut up."
-Tucker, Zoumas, and the Nausicaan prisoner

"We can't wait for Enterprise. We've got to try to take control. Think you can handle him?"
"Yeah, piece of cake."
- Archer and Tucker, referring to the Nausicaan prisoner

"Captain, my superiors will want a report on what happened..."
"I'll give you one right now. Kuroda's dead, the other eleven prisoners are under guard. As you're aware, my engineer and I were falsely arrested. We almost wound up in Canamar! Makes me wonder how many others don't belong there. You wanted a report? You've got one."
- An Enolian official speaks with Archer after he and Tucker are released from custody (last lines)

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: Eject Warp Plasma is a classic maneuver in the game, which works almost exactly like it does here: you need a trained Engineering Bridge Officer to perform the move, and it leaves a damaging hazard behind your vessel. Additionally, Contraband is a hot commodity in-game, because it offers a roundabout method of farming cash shop currency without spending real money.
* Vulcans Are Superior: Not applicable.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: Not applicable.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: Does not appear to be the case. Enolian tech doesn’t seem better or worse than Starfleet. (The Enolian liaison isn’t surprised by their transporters, etc.)

Poster’s Log:
Superficially, Canamar is another pretty bog standard semi-competent ENT entry: there’s some action that kinda works, there’s a plot that sorta checks. I can buy that someone thought Trip and Archer were smugglers and rounded them up, but I have a harder time believing nobody would impound their armed shuttlecraft, (if only to search it for said contraband). Also, the ease with which two prisoners got control of the transport was laughable. I would’ve had better ideas about security in grade school.

Based solely on that, the episode is worth a shrug. Just another middling filler episode.

However, on a deeper level, Canamar is a reflection of something in ENT that really bothers me: time and again, we encounter overzealous, authoritarian law enforcement as the bad guys here, the protagonists recognize the injustice of the situation, and they fight it... just as long as they’re personally in danger. When they’re clear, they brush it off and move on with their lives even though they understand on some dim level that the problem is systemic, and that they are turning a blind eye to the problems they’ve met. I'm still bothered that they never even checked on the Suliban that they helped escape - they could've even offered those people asylum on Earth, but no one ever even broaches the subject.

In other spinoffs, it would be fair to blame this on the Prime Directive and complain about that instead, ENT is deliberately set before all that. I also feel like it’s been a plot point here more than elsewhere, but I haven’t actually gone to count it up.

Anyway, this episode bugged me, especially for Archer’s speech at the end: he wonders how many others were unfairly arrested, but not enough to actually raise a diplomatic fuss about it, or even call for someone else to follow up. To me, that says it's not a real complaint, he's just angry about what happened to him personally and believes it's a shot that might land with the guy he's venting at.
posted by mordax (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think that I may have literally rolled my eyes when I saw that this was going to be another The Crew Goes To Jail show--although technically it's a prison ship, it hews closely to the tropes already well-established on the show: prison guards in black, slop in a bowl for all meals, crap colored walls, bureaucrats who stall and put off T'Pol & Co. on the ship, fellow prisoners who may or may not be on the up and up. There are some flashes of originality: their being on a ship, and Kuroda's plan to destroy it; Zoumas spoiling Tucker's plan, thinking that he's doing them all a favor. But, as you say, there rarely if ever seems like a change in the status quo here, as far as we know. It's also both amusing and frustrating that this plot was basically calved off yet another jail episode ("Judgment"), with even another jail-prelude episode ("Bounty") yet to come this season. ENT likes jail episodes the way that TOS liked episodes set in dystopias run by supercomputers.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:24 AM on May 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

ENT likes jail episodes the way that TOS liked episodes set in dystopias run by supercomputers.

Thanks, I think this is the comparison I was searching for and did not think of when I was writing my notes. (It's especially relevant because Kirk always took the time to end those, whether the locals were happy about it or not. ENT being so much less interventionist continues to feel pretty off to me.)
posted by mordax at 10:02 AM on May 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Zoumas might have my favorite makeup of any one-and-done alien race in Star Trek. Those huge white nodules and those dangling fishing lures are both disgusting and entrancing, like a pimple popping video. It works great for his character. I want more of this species.

This episode is where the show starts leaning in on the idea that Archer is first and foremost a pilot, which is how they finally crack his character and differentiate him from any other captain. The Movie Blog I linked to a few weeks back makes the great point that Trek captains can be distinguished from one another by a secondary job or passion. Kirk is an adventurer, Picard is a diplomat, Janeway is a scientist, Sisko is a leader (well, the movie blog says that he's a builder, but I think his being a religious figure and inspiration to others is more crucial to his character than his being a builder). The show has been trying to make Archer a Kirklike adventurer, but Bakula is too much of an everyman for that to work. This episode is important because they lay the groundwork for Archer being an everyman pilot who somehow became a captain and is in over his head. This idea is explored in First Flight later this season and in Home in Season 4, and it's what finally makes him an interesting character.

I thought the fight at the end of this episode was unusually exciting for a Star Trek fight scene. The Movie Blog reveals that the episode was scored by a man (Brian Tyler) who only scored two episodes, and I think he's largely responsible. The music was great. But the scene was also well-shot, and the handcuffs were incorporated in a dynamic and clever way.

So I agree that there's a lot of bog standard Trekness in this episode, but there's enough notable stuff in it to like a lot (The make-up! The score! The cool fight! The development of Archer!) for it to get a big thumbs-up from me.
posted by painquale at 10:23 PM on May 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

I like that Movie Blog link; "the second season of the show was a holdover from some much earlier period of television production" is a very succinct and accurate summation of the show's problems. And I'd agree that Sisko is a builder; his role as Emissary in Bajoran society was one that it took him a long time to become comfortable with, and arguably wasn't even the reason why the Prophets helped make him, in part--that would have been their war against Kosst Amojan and the Pah Wraiths. What Sisko actually did in terms of what Starfleet wanted him to do was make or remake things: the Defiant and transforming the station from a semi-derelict orbital ore processing facility into a weapons platform capable of defending the wormhole. To the extent that he was a leader, it was in selecting, guiding, and motivating engineering teams, and probably one of the best things that he ever did (well, as far as Starfleet was concerned) was getting Miles O'Brien out from behind that transporter console and doing what he did best. It makes perfect sense that he's a baseball enthusiast, since his role on the Niners was just that--formation, motivation, and coordination. (He cooks just for fun, although he may have picked up the essence of small-team leadership from his father, who actually runs a restaurant.)

Anyway, yeah, I agree that Archer is primarily a pilot; that ties in with the show's attempts at evoking The Right Stuff, with the Vulcans standing in for the bureaucrats getting in the way of the pilots being able to do awesome pilot stuff. (At this stage, Starfleet--mostly in the form of Admiral Forrest--doesn't do much beyond commiserate with Archer about those darn Vulcans, thus making them the most benevolent, or at least harmless, bureaucracy in human history.) The tension of an inherently lone-wolf, Maverick-ish pilot having to act as a first-contact diplomat isn't necessarily a bad idea; in the original book of The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe does a very good job of highlighting the tensions of the original Mercury Seven, mostly drawn from the ranks of the highly-independent, high-performance test pilot corps, suddenly having to act the role of Captains America in the early space race. But, as the blog notes, that's hampered by the character being written inconsistently.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:54 AM on May 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is the first episode where I felt like Trip as comic relief actually worked; a large part of that is likely due to Zoumas (played physically by Sean Whalen (though his lines were dubbed), who is one of those character guys who seems to show up in a lot of things - including Twister and Waterworld). I also liked that the Nausicaan was depicted as more than just a thug; there's a sense of humour along with him actually showing concern for Kuroda (played by Mark Rolston, perhaps most immediately recognizable to many SF fans as Drake from Aliens, though again - a character guy who has done a lot of things.)

In short, in what was a middling, run of the mill episode, they managed to find some good character beats, and the discussion of this episode maybe helping to establish Archer as his own character separate from other captains (the water polo, shockingly, is not enough) is interesting.
posted by nubs at 8:22 AM on May 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth, I'm pleased some of you liked this better than I did. I will also concede a couple of points:

* The fight between Archer and Kuroda was pretty good for Trek.
* The humor did actually work for a change. I agree that Zoumas, Trip and the Nausicaan were all actually funny this time. (Banter is so much easier to land than farce.)

I think if this had not been another ENT cliche roundup, (especially one displaying privilege in a way I personally find dismal), I probably would've rated it a lot higher too.

Glad a good time was had by some. :)
posted by mordax at 6:20 PM on May 21, 2019

I'm not sure I'd call it a good time; it was an adequate time, which is a bar Enterprise doesn't often reach for me. And I think you have some valid criticisms here; I was thinking durin this episode that there has been a repeated portrayal of abusive governments on display, and that one could almost make a theme out of it and then an argument for an overarching system that could enforce some common rules and standards. Some type of collective body, perhaps a council or a federation of some type...

It sure would be interesting to see them start building an argument for that.
posted by nubs at 7:06 PM on May 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

And I'd agree that Sisko is a builder.

Yeah. There's a lot of overlap between builder and leader, but I can see 'builder' being the better descriptor. I forgot that Sisko had a background in engineering and saved the day plenty of times by tinkering around with isolinear chips or whatever. On a starship populated entirely with captains, he'd be the engineer. (That's a fun thought. Kirk runs security, Sisko is in engineering, Janeway is the science officer, Archer is at the helm. Picard has to stay in some command capacity, of course. We need a comms captain and a doctor captain.)

I think what got me to prefer 'leader' is imagining what he'd be doing if not running Deep Space 9. I don't think he'd be happy pottering away on model ships. If he didn't luck into a plum job on DS9, he'd be leading a group of rebels or revolutionaries or the Maquis and would turn into one of those rogue captains that Picard would have to go and deal with.
posted by painquale at 10:15 PM on May 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Some type of collective body, perhaps a council or a federation of some type...

It sure would be interesting to see them start building an argument for that.

Okay, you got me: I laughed out loud. The idea of the Federation being formed to keep Jonathan Archer from being thrown in jail every other week is sublime.
posted by mordax at 12:06 AM on May 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think that I may have literally rolled my eyes when I saw that this was going to be another The Crew Goes To Jail show

Yeah, when we saw the summary on Netflix, Mrs. CoB (who as far as I know does not lurk here) said "Oh good, another 'been-there-done-that' story."

But I do think they took it to slightly different and more interesting places. Kuroda was unpredictable; Trip got in some more good comic facial reactions; the music was indeed noticeably more cinematic than the standard "wahhhhh, wah-wah-WAAAAHHH-wuhhh" thing they've been using since DS9; and the action was not just better than ENT average, but better than Trek average. (Well, that average has been skewed a bit by DISCO, but you know what I mean.)

The idea of the Federation being formed to keep Jonathan Archer from being thrown in jail every other week is sublime.

"Have you been incarcerated multiple times during a Starfleet tour of duty? Do your thuggish forehead-alien captors regularly rough you up in a bloody yet photogenic fashion? Have your subordinates proven to be totally incompetent at negotiating your release? Then call the Law Offices of Vulcan, Tellar, Andor, and Earth."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:50 AM on May 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Better Call T'Pol!
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:10 PM on May 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

Sometimes you need a Vulcan advocate, and sometimes you need a Vulcan advocate.
posted by nubs at 2:56 PM on May 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

I really don't know what that means, but I feel ok about being incoherent about the Vulcans in an Enterprise thread
posted by nubs at 3:35 PM on May 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


In the interstellar justice system, false imprisonment of clueless Starfleet officers is highly illogical. In the Alpha Quadrant, the dedicated advocates who appeal these unjust sentences are members of an elite squad known as the Starfleet Victims Unit.
posted by mordax at 12:54 AM on May 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

posted by Halloween Jack at 4:46 AM on May 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think this episode is where it's clear the show lost its way in the second season. I like Enterprise a lot and think it's a great improvement over Voyager, but you could have swapped out Trip and Archer for Harry Kim and Tom Paris in this episode and it would have worked exactly the same. Credit where credit's due, though--they realized this and shook things up massively in the next season, as opposed to Voyager which just kept remaking better TNG episodes for seven years.
posted by Automocar at 7:10 AM on May 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I like Enterprise a lot and think it's a great improvement over Voyager

Yeah. I do agree that the major difference between ENT and VOY is that ENT eventually got its shit together, while VOY remained the same show from start to finish. (And also that ENT did eventually become legitimately good in its own right, a feat VOY could never consistently accomplish.)
posted by mordax at 10:43 AM on May 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

Zoumas is hilarious. This episode was better executed that many or even most of the ones seen so far.

Pilot is a pretty boring character trait but it gives Archer something to do that is, kind of curiously, subordinate, someone who takes orders on where to go. But this is good for Bakula.

I was thinking about Bakula's casting earlier and I decided he's pretty close to Kevin Costner, who was also, for some reason, miscast in heroic roles. But Costner was perfectly cast in Bull Durham, and Bakula is probably even more ideally a baseball catcher, not a quarterback like in Necessary Roughness.
posted by fleacircus at 3:07 AM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

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