Star Trek: Enterprise: Cold Station 12   Rewatch 
February 9, 2020 7:46 AM - Season 4, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Misguided geneticist Dr. Arik Soong begins to notice rebellious behavior among his children. Maybe he'll have better luck with the next 1,800.

Memory Alpha is a dish best served colllllld:

- On the surface of Trialas IV, where Soong raised the Augments, there was a large device composed of two long glowing red tubes. This device has been seen in many places on TNG, DS9, and VOY, including, most interestingly, in Doctor Noonian Soong's lab in TNG: "Datalore". It is also seen in the control room of Cold Station 12, but with blue lights rather than red. The device was first seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on the space laboratory Regula I. Aside from the Star Trek franchise, the device was also featured in Airplane II: The Sequel, where it was seen on the lunar base commanded by William Shatner's character, Buck Murdock.

- When this episode was aired in the United Kingdom, broadcaster Channel 4 edited out some of the more violent scenes, including the part where Doctor Lucas gets tortured, and the close-up of the scientist being killed by the virus.

- The lethal diseases mentioned as being stored in Cold Station 12 in this episode are references to various (fictional) diseases which have been mentioned on previous Star Trek series, including xenopolycythemia, Anchilles fever, synthococcus novae type A, Rigelian fever, and Telurian plague.


"That language is unbecoming of a man of science."

- Arik Soong, when Jeremy Lucas curses at him under his breath


"Whenever a group of people start believing they are better than everyone else, the results are always the same."

- Jonathan Archer, to Soong


Poster's Log:
A few pretty clumsy things in this one. I actually LOL'ed at the Photoshop job for Smike's biological father. The greenscreen for the big embryo-room shot was never good, but watching it in higher fidelity than I previously have made it almost Tim-and-Eric-esque. And what a strange spot for a cliffhanger: WILL Archer climb the ladder fast enough? It feels like ending on the embryo room shot would've been more narratively fitting, sad chromakey notwithstanding.

I also think that it's pretty late in the arc for the Augments' end goal to still be so hazy; I presume it's conquest, but a little more concreteness by this point would've been nice. OTOH, we never knew precisely what Khan planned to do with the Genesis device, either!

Along similar lines, the way Malik elects to dispose of Archer is dopey (I think it was Dave Barry who put it this way: "Ah, welcome, Mr. Bond. Allow me to tell you my entire evil plan and then put you in a death machine that doesn't work"), but as Malik is an Augment, it's plausible that his arrogance would overwhelm his common sense in the moment.

Anyway, it seems like the proceedings remain tighter overall—fewer cringey or outright dopey moments than previous seasons, which fits my memory of season 4. And this arc's script is doing a fine job of giving Soong (and the topic of genetic engineering) some complexity and making Malik enjoyably detestable. And of course it's always nice to see Richard Riehle, and to see Phlox given some substantive scenes.

I should also note that one thing I always respected about this arc is that it (or more specifically, Soong's in-joke in the next episode) answers the question that TNG left hanging out there: Why would the parents of Data's creator give him a name so obviously derived from Khan's? But I could see it happening in the Soong family if Arik's personality is any indication. (MA gives us the Doylist explanation: "Along with Khan Noonien Singh, Noonian Soong was named after a man named 'Kim Noonien Wang', whom Gene Roddenberry had known during World War II. Both names were tied together years later, when it was established on Star Trek: Enterprise that Soong's presumed ancestor Arik Soong (see below) attempted to recreate and perfect the same genetic engineering that had produced Khan. Noonien Soong himself was originally to have had the surname 'Wong', in further homage to Roddenberry's acquaintance.")
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (5 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The episode does suffer a little bit (although I really want to emphasize "a little bit"; referring back to the notional curve that I used in previous episodes, the S4 curve is considerably steeper) from middle-episode syndrome--you don't have the newness of the introduced plot points nor the satisfaction of resolution. And there were some unintentionally funny bits: the two-tubes gadget, Richard Riehle who will always remind me of the "Jump to Conclusions" guy from Office Space, and Smike, who looked enough like a blond Glenn Danzig that I speculated about the Augments possibly having a "Mother" figure so that Smike could go, "Mother, Tell your children not to walk my way..." (No one else got that? Nobody? OK, I'm used to it.) Plus, of course, the very TOSy nature of the lab/torture chamber where much of the high drama of the episode takes place.

But this is kind of Rembrandt-couldn't-draw-feet type of criticism, and the episode does its middle-episode stuff quite well, especially showing the fraying nature of Soong's relationship with his children, with Malik, especially, edging into you're-not-my-real-dad territory, and Soong starting to realize the basic problem with his little experiments, aside from their megalomania and lethal competitiveness, of course: they have no real culture of their own, with an attendant set of morals and ethics, but are still rejecting that of quote-endquote inferior humans. Spiner does a great job of showing Soong working through this in quieter moments. The Augments are maybe not quite as good with this, mostly because Ricardo Montalban casts a very long shadow, but I liked Malik's actor's crocodile tears when he's confessing his killing of Raakin last episode. And Riehle does do a good job as the finally-seen Jeremy Lucas, as does Billingsley, of course. (Phlox has come under a lot of criticism in this rewatch, and deservedly so, but that's really about the writing, not the actor, IMO.) And, as ridiculously Bondesque as the death trap is, it does set up a pretty cool action moment next episode.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:17 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


middle-episode syndrome--you don't have the newness of the introduced plot points nor the satisfaction of resolution.

It's kind of strange how middle installments of film trilogies are so often the best one, and yet for TV trilogies, not so much.

Smike, who looked enough like a blond Glenn Danzig

Hah! You'd think the other Augments would like him more on that basis, then, given their vague "metal" look. Maybe they look at him and see who I saw: Tim Heidecker in a silly wig.

Plus, of course, the very TOSy nature of the lab/torture chamber where much of the high drama of the episode takes place.

I didn't consciously notice that at the time, but I did feel like there was something atypical about that set. I just chalked it up to the not-murky lighting, which is atypical for this show. But yeah, it does feel TOS. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that that was a deliberate design choice.

Phlox has come under a lot of criticism in this rewatch, and deservedly so, but that's really about the writing, not the actor, IMO.

YES. In fact, when I finished my first run through all of ENT, I watched a weird indie movie that prominently featured him. It was…not good, but I mildly enjoyed seeing him in a different sort of role.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:40 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I've been trying to think of anything interesting to say about this one, but ultimately, other than what has already been mentioned, I found it imminently forgettable. I also thought the pacing was weird and off, and expected the cliffhanger ending to happen far earlier in the episode (and I can't even remember at what point it was!), only for it to go on for another 15 or so minutes and leave it...there? Jeez, I don't know; this story is a pretty good one for ENT, but this episode wasn't very good.

Phlox has come under a lot of criticism in this rewatch, and deservedly so, but that's really about the writing, not the actor, IMO.

Billingsley is one of my favorite Trek actors and I will fight anyone. I saw him in something completely different lately (I think a random 90s-2000s era procedural or something) and was totally charmed. So yeah, he's a charming and good enough actor to carry what is really not a well written role.

A few pretty clumsy things in this one. I actually LOL'ed at the Photoshop job for Smike's biological father

I also LOLed — first at the device then at the atrocious PS job on that.

That green screen scene was equally atrocious.
posted by General Malaise at 12:05 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Yeah the green screen was very bad. It also seemed pointless, like the room they showed was not at all impressive. Could they really have not created a physical set that would have served just fine if not look ten times better?

My SO fell asleep during this one, it's hard to say much more about it. It was fine but probably needed a more central new character to complicate the situation significantly instead of very passive Smike and Dr. Lucas.
posted by fleacircus at 11:18 PM on February 10


Last season on The Orville there was an episode featuring both Billingsley and Robert Picardo. Billingsley played against type (I don't wanna spoil anything) and was really good.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:34 PM on February 15


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