Star Trek: Enterprise: Borderland   Rewatch 
February 2, 2020 9:02 PM - Season 4, Episode 4 - Subscribe

What do you mean, you didn't study the Eugenics Wars in history in school? You know what they say about those who forget history...

What brings you here? They naming Memory Alpha after you?

- J.G. Hertzler makes his last Star Trek appearance here as the Klingon captain. At this point, he had been a Star Trek guest star for twelve years ("Emissary" was filmed in 1992), with his best-known character being General/Chancellor Martok in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

- Big Show is the second WWE wrestler to guest star on Star Trek: Enterprise, and the third to appear on Star Trek overall. (The Rock guest starred in VOY: "Tsunkatse" and Tommy "Tiny" Lister, Jr. guest starred as Klaang in ENT: "Broken Bow".)

- While Brent Spiner had played several characters other than Data to this point, this was his first Star Trek appearance in which he did not also play Data. Nevertheless, Spiner here continues the tradition begun in TNG: "Datalore" and "Brothers" of playing characters that might be thought of as part of Data's family. Consequently, this is Spiner's first Star Trek appearance without Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard) and Jonathan Frakes (Commander/Captain William T. Riker).

- This episode confirms MACOs are still stationed on Enterprise, even though the Xindi mission has ended. This remains so for the duration of the series.

- This episode marks the first appearance of the Orions since TAS: "The Pirates of Orion" in 1974 and their first appearance in live action since TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy" in 1969.

"What kind of people are these?"
"I'd say they're not unlike some of your ancestors, judging from your accent."
"Well, if I remember my history, these Augments you love so much had plenty of slaves."
"They were more like subjects."
"Ah… they were just treated like slaves."

- Tucker and Arik Soong

"You've got spirit. I might just keep you for myself."

- The Orion slaver, apprehending T'Pol

"I'm not for sale."

- T'Pol's retort, after freeing herself by kicking him in the crotch

"To quote one of your philosophers, Nietzsche: 'Mankind is something to be surpassed.' "

- Malik, to Archer

Poster's Log:

This is how I learn to do less verbose posts: I get near the end of a typically-long-winded entry, then somehow manage to erase everything, apparently irretrievably, by reloading the page. Eh, I'll just stick to the bullet points on the second go-round and catch up in the comments if it's really worth saying:

- This is the first of several multi-episode arcs in S4, and I thought that the choice of genetic augmentation as a subject was a good one. It'll have repercussions further down the road. It's also a better take on the subject than, say, Star Trek Into Darkness. (What isn't, right? But anyway.) It may be a bit of a tell that these Augments can't keep from killing each other even in a relatively small group that grew up with each other.

- Brent Spiner is in fine form for someone who may be "related" to Data but is about as far from Data as someone who isn't Lore can be. Loved his conversations with Archer and Phlox, who, as we know, has had some ethical problems of his own.

- The slave market scene avoided being purely exploitative by virtue of showing a bit more of what a real slave market would have been like--people crammed into cages, tortured and mocked by their captors--and also by letting T'Pol be the heroine for once and comfort the terrified male ensign. (And, as we'll see later in the season, the situation vis-a-vis the Orion men and women is a bit more complicated than they let on.) Still kind of a sleazy cheesecake shot of the Orion woman, but hey, baby steps.

- PLSup.: I've been playing a lot of Star Trek Online lately, and boy, am I disappointed that I have to pay for a T6 ship or grind the special event missions to get one. I guess they know when you're hooked, huh? Oh, and I just did a mission in the Trialas system. Small galaxy, huh?

Yup, this is the executive version.
posted by Halloween Jack (14 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I get near the end of a typically-long-winded entry, then somehow manage to erase everything, apparently irretrievably, by reloading the page.

Google Docs, my friend! Submit to the ubiquity of The Cloud! Become one with Landru!

It may be a bit of a tell that these Augments can't keep from killing each other even in a relatively small group that grew up with each other.

Yeah, this subtextual Khan callback is possibly the most interesting thing about the Augments as seen in this episode. That and how their outfits got like that, and why superhumans would tolerate them.

Loved his conversations with Archer and Phlox, who, as we know, has had some ethical problems of his own.

That may contribute to Phlox's testiness here. Agreed, their scene together was great.

The slave market scene avoided being purely exploitative by virtue of showing a bit more of what a real slave market would have been like--people crammed into cages, tortured and mocked by their captors--and also by letting T'Pol be the heroine for once and comfort the terrified male ensign. (And, as we'll see later in the season, the situation vis-a-vis the Orion men and women is a bit more complicated than they let on.) Still kind of a sleazy cheesecake shot of the Orion woman, but hey, baby steps.

OTOH, by the time Soong's scheme is exposed, I realized "This could have involved any unaligned facility in the Borderlands—was there any story reason to have it be a slave market?" That there isn't one, combined with the cheesecake factor, is disconcerting.

Still, you're right that it could have been much, much worse. Had the same scenes been composed prior to the Berman Interregnum, I'm certain we would've gotten Decon Gel: Orion Slave Market Edition, which might not have been distinguishable from a mud-wrestling scene or a wet T-shirt contest or some such shit.

I'd like to call out for praise, though, the overall more Trek-ish feel of the proceedings right out of the gate. I liked the briefing, the engagement with Philosophically-Challenging Sci-Fi Ideas, the fact that Archer uses his  flip phone  communicator rather than the wall panel… Little things that signal a lot to the Trekkie audience, which by now may have been the only audience still watching.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:59 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Hammy villains are always fun and this episode has a few. I love the writing of the very snotty augments, dressed in their edgy mall goth clothes, with let's face it an edgy mall goth outlook on life—plus they are also uber jocks, and also uber nerds. Augments are everything 💯 but prep.

Spiner is a great at mustache twirling, and the Orions are pulpy exoticism but I can enjoy that, I'm not proud.

Of course it's very weird that the augments "belong to" Earth. I don't like Trek's galaxy of ethnoplanets which I've probably spelled out in a dozen previous comments. I know that it's the Klingon perception that Human=Earth that matters in this case, but the humans all swallow that perception pretty easily. It'd be nice if there was a bridge character whose role was to be somewhat aghast at how shitty the galaxy is. "There's space slavery?? That's fucked up!"

Like, a big problem with Enterprise is that it should probably be about the formation of the Federation, but instead it's about these first experiences of exploration, except.. Archer is a shitty diplomat, there *ARE* no diplomats, and so it's kind of like a lot of nothing because the exploration is weird, it's "we're the first humans to visit this well-known place." S3 comes along and creates a big fat 9/11 arc that is just completely utterly disposable, and all it can come out of it with is the laughable idea that grumpy idiot Jonathan Archer is destined to be crucial in the formation of the Federation, don't ask us how. TOS was besotted with Great Man theory too, but I think it would have possibly picked someone with spiritual or cultural oomph. ENT picks Archer because it's cynical and authoritarian.
posted by fleacircus at 8:11 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


One of the things that got deleted was a comparison between this slave market and the one in "Raijin", which was much more in the mode of a lingerie fashion show or an upscale bordello. T'Pol's would-be purchaser in this one is a literal male chauvinist pig, which is kind of another example of Trek offloading humanity's least desirable qualities onto aliens, as is the whole thing with the Orions, but then we also get Soong pointing out to Trip (and Trip's retort about the "subjects" of Khan's people) that humanity isn't that far away from their own slave trade. This is heightened by the Orions anxious to retrieve "their property"--ads offering rewards for the return of escaped slaves were common in antebellum America.

Couple of other points:

- The existence of Cold Station 12, where the remaining Augment embryos are being kept, is reminiscent of the Centers for Disease Control (and their Russian counterpart) having the last remaining samples of live smallpox virus... y'know, just in case. Putting viable human (albeit genetically-engineered) embryos in that category neatly straddles the difference between considering the Augments to be a sort of biohazard, and thornier ethical questions regarding the potential or actual personhood of viable but undeveloped embryos.

- The Augments' fashion sense, in addition to corresponding nicely to Khan's supermen in TWOK having a cool space pirate look, is about halfway between hair metal and synth-pop in the 80s music fashion axis; another way of looking at it is that they're about halfway between Merritt Butrick and Judson Scott.

- fleacircus' point above reminds us of just how embryonic (in another sense of the term) Earth's capability to deal with other civilizations is, not just in a military sense (another nice touch about this episode is showing the crew in their civilian clothes during the briefing; they didn't even have time to change, because the Columbia is still being built) but in any sort of diplomatic sense. Arguably, Earth's best emissary now is Hoshi Sato, who has to understand, to some degree, how aliens think in order to figure out their languages. The Vulcan diplomatic corps may be snotty and overly defensive, but at least they have one.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:24 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah I loved seeing them in their civvies!
posted by fleacircus at 8:49 AM on February 3




I watched this a couple weeks ago and had some things to say about it, but I forgot them all. And now going over it again in my memory, it seems everything I can think of has already been mentioned for the most part. Shrug.

I liked the sequences leading our intrepid crew back to the skies. Was quite reminiscent of the TOS movies that would start on earth, then [something happens] and now everybody has to get to Enterprise and go take care of business.

Interesting to cast Spiner in this one. He's great at the role, but it's remarkably distracting. Has a major cast member ever played a different character on another of the series before or since?

I love that the Augments bought their wardrobes at Hot Topic in 2001 and are still wearing them 150 years later.

I guess, as with the first two episodes of the season, everybody's just cool with the transporters now?
posted by General Malaise at 11:58 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


I liked the sequences leading our intrepid crew back to the skies. Was quite reminiscent of the TOS movies that would start on earth, then [something happens] and now everybody has to get to Enterprise and go take care of business.

That reminds me of another thing I consciously observed with appreciation: the leaving-spacedock Glory Shots, which were all of like four seconds long but that's an eternity by the general pacing of this show.

Interesting to cast Spiner in this one. He's great at the role, but it's remarkably distracting. Has a major cast member ever played a different character on another of the series before or since?

Well, there's Dorn as Worf's great-granddad or whatever in The Undiscovered Country, but it's a small role and it really only confused the truly Trek-clueless. There's Rene Auberjonois (RIP) as Colonel West in the same film, but that's two scenes and he's not in his Odo head. Ethan Phillips was a holo-bouncer in First Contact but again, no alien makeup and a very small role.

The only other one that comes to mind is Frakes as Tom Riker in DS9: "Defiant", but that character was established in TNG so it probably doesn't count.

I agree it's distracting, and IMO his performance is only subtly not just Lore, but I also totally get using Spiner in that role, both for internal, um, lore purposes and for drawing viewers.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:29 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Was quite reminiscent of the TOS movies that would start on earth, then [something happens] and now everybody has to get to Enterprise and go take care of business.

Whatever else you think of TMP, you gotta love the Disco Doc.

Has a major cast member ever played a different character on another of the series before or since?

Majel Barrett, who, in addition to being the original Number One (played by Rebecca Romijn in DSC), was first Christine Chapel in TOS and then Lwaxana Troi in TNG and DS9. Whether Chapel counts as a major character is up to personal judgment; she had 25 appearances in TOS, 9 in TAS, and two in the films (TMP and the one with the whales); Lwaxana had nine, between TNG and DS9. (Of course, she also did VA for the ship's computer for most of the franchise's history, and, pertinent to this episode, did the test footage for the Orion dancer in "The Cage"; the story is that the footage was returned showing her with natural (Caucasian) skin tone, because the film processor figured that the green hue was some flaw in the film stock and "corrected" it.) Robert Picardo played the EMH's creator, Lewis Zimmerman, both on VOY and in the DS9 episode where it's revealed that Bashir was genetically modified (hey, another tie-in!). One of the things that I liked about his portrayal of Zimmerman is that, when he and the EMH are on the screen together, it's clear that the EMH is just a little bit taller. Finally, all of the DS9 main cast, and many of the recurring characters, appeared in "Far Beyond the Stars", some for their only appearance on the show without alien makeup or prosthetics.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:46 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Wow, that was an impressive research dump. I should have remembered Majel Barrett, being Roddenberry's wife and all. But she also wasn't core cast like Spiner, and the other castings of the core casts (who are not in their character makeup, so I guess this means of those already mentioned: Frakes and Dorn?) can be waved away by either being family or a twin.
posted by General Malaise at 3:53 PM on February 3


Has a major cast member ever played a different character on another of the series before or since?

René Auberjonois played Ezral in the Enterprise first season episode Oasis which has similarities to Deep Space Nine's Shadowplay (which could be classified as an Odo/Dax episode) in that two characters live with a bunch of holograms in the case of Oasis and one character lives entirely with holograms in Shadowplay (leaving aside Dax and Odo's visit).

For some reason Alec Newmann (Malik) always throws me off as I'm familiar with him from Spooks, BBC documentary narration and of course the nice try but no Dune and Children of Dune miniseries.
posted by juiceCake at 6:46 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Has a major cast member ever played a different character on another of the series before or since?

Shatner probably beat everyone to the punch at this: not only had he played a double in some form in two of the first seven episodes (as well again near the end and in one movie). But I assume you're not counting things like mirror universe counterparts, android duplicates and the like; in that case, it may still be the Shat out in front with his very nuanced portrayal of Janice Lester.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:14 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Ironically timed: "Star Trek actors who played multiple characters"

You guys, we…we forgot Jeffrey Combs. *hangs head in shame*
Though DS9 always called him a Special Guest Star, in all actuality he was pretty much a main cast member, and Shran was a significant recurring role in ENT.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:14 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Of course that piece doesn't mention Brent Spiner.
posted by General Malaise at 10:33 AM on February 7


But yeah, I think Jeffrey Combs is the one that fits the criteria best.
posted by General Malaise at 10:34 AM on February 7


« Older Mushi-Shi: The Green Throne...   |  BoJack Horseman: Intermediate ... Newer »

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