Star Trek: Enterprise: Daedalus   Rewatch 
March 15, 2020 10:20 AM - Season 4, Episode 10 - Subscribe

The inventor of Earth's transporter comes aboard Enterprise for an experiment. But there's a ghost in the machine...

Truth is, Memory Alpha is a fundamentally flawed concept. It'll never work – not now, not a thousand years from now:

- Manny Coto (executive producer of Star Trek: Enterprise) believes this episode to be one of the weakest of Enterprise's final season: "I wasn't pleased with the way the script turned out or with the final production. It was just a flawed episode." Fellow Executive Producer Brannon Braga also criticized this installment, calling it "kind of a dreadful episode." He went on to say, "All I remember is it just turned out terribly."

- In a bit of irony, many of the misgivings critics had regarding potential side effects of the original transporter, as described by Erickson during a conversation, came true throughout Star Trek lore (psychosis, copies, etc.).

- This episode has a resemblance to the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Jetrel", wherein Ma'Bor Jetrel deceives the crew of the USS Voyager into using their transporter in his attempt to revive the Talaxians that dissolved from the metreon cascade that he created. There is also an echo of Dr. Richard Daystrom in TOS: "The Ultimate Computer" as Erickson mentions that, after inventing the transporter, his life consisted of endless attempts to recapture his former glory.

- Long-range transportation appears to be achievable, as a Delta Quadrant species, Sikarians, have a similar technology, as established in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Prime Factors". Dominion transporter technology has been shown to be capable of transporting a person over distances of up to three light years as seen in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Covenant". In Star Trek [2009], transwarp beaming enables persons to be transported among the planets of a star system (such as from Titan to the Narada, which was orbiting Earth at the time). There were also long-range alien transports in the Star Trek: The Original Series episodes "Assignment: Earth" and "The Gamesters of Triskelion".

"I've waited so long for this moment. Planned for it. What if something goes wrong? What if I fail?"
"On the day before I entered flight training, I asked my father pretty much the same thing."
"What did he say?"
"Don't fail."

- Emory Erickson and Captain Archer

Poster's Log:

One of the few singleton episodes in this season, and indeed one of the weakest, although prevented from being the worst by the finale. I appreciate the sentiment behind it, in the spirit of the show using this season in part to mitigate the weaknesses and mistakes of seasons past, and one of the problems of the show is that, despite its attempts to be The Right Stuff in the 22nd century, space travel doesn't really seem that dangerous. (Tom Wolfe's original book does a good job of evoking that danger, with at least one very gory scene, the recurrent theme of the government representative arriving at a test pilot's house to give bad news to the family, and Gus Grissom's near-drowning.) In fact, as is pointed out in the hapless Ensign Burrows' MA entry, he and two other people later this season are the only NX-01 fatalities not part of the Xindi/Expanse arc. So, since the transporter is still relatively new, and we've already seen one near-death from it, let's remind ourselves that transporters still aren't goof-proof (although, honestly, they never will be).

The real flaw with this episode, though, is at the core of its basic premise: why does Emory Erickson feel the need to sneak around? His fame and influence are not just evident but commented upon in the episode, and if Quinn could have been brought back alive, it would not only be a great thing for the Ericksons but for science in general. As it is, his secrecy and intransigence gets a guy killed, in a crew that hasn't had any fatalities outside of the Expanse, and he still tries to keep on keepin' on. That's not great. (Neither is Archer falling back on his tried and true debating tactics when discussing the issue with Trip, which are a) yelling and b) pulling rank.) That's probably always that question with this sort of episode, where someone tricks our heroes into doing something that they might have done anyway; the Bynars (TNG's "11001001" didn't ask permission because they were afraid of being turned down, and Michael Eddington (DS9's "Blaze of Glory") didn't because of his massive mad-on for Starfleet and his own unquenchable thirst to be the hero of his own story. Here, we just don't know.

And it's really a shame, because Bill Cobbs is one more addition to the incredible roster of Trek guest actors, ditto Leslie Silva; Danica Erickson's musings about whether or not Quinn was conscious, and what that must have been like for him, was one of the few things in the episode that worked. So was Erickson's butting heads with Trip, who was simultaneously adulating and resentful over having to give up control over his ship.

Poster's Log, supplemental: I've mentioned this before on a few threads hither and yon, but the transporter was originally part of Star Trek only because the effect was cheaper to film (at least in the 1960s) than shuttlecraft landings; however, the show didn't waste any time in using it as a plot device, as the fourth episode of TOS, "The Enemy Within", had Kirk split into two people.
posted by Halloween Jack (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Interesting that we get a random one-and-done episode at this point in the run. When was the last self-contained episode? Probably one of the random ones during the Xindi storyline that I complained about.

Huh, I hadn't thought this one would be considered bad. I kind of enjoyed it, to be honest. It felt more like a real Trek story than maybe we've seen this entire series. Up to the classic story beats like "We meet new people, they seem nice for the first couple of scenes. Cut to a scene of just the new people talking which means we're about to find out they're actually the bad guys this week." And, as you mentioned, this story has been done countless times already.
posted by General Malaise at 3:41 PM on March 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Long-range transportation appears to be achievable, as a Delta Quadrant species, Sikarians, have a similar technology, as established in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Prime Factors".

This same technology comes up again in Star Trek: Picard, too, where we learn that the Borg eventually got around to assimilating it.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:14 AM on March 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Long range transportation reminds me of Into Darkness and then I get angry.

I thought this episode was all right, though not very inspired. I didn't think it was "dreadful".

It was funny seeing Tucker try to take the moral high ground about the death of a loved one, as if it's something he handled great, when in fact he was in an emotional tailspin and frothing at the mouth to murder every Xindi he saw.

Also I understand T'Pol saying that reading the Kir'Shara made her connect even more with her Vulcan-ness is so that we can think of TOS Vulcans as still legit. But it's just an offhand commitment to species = culture, that is le sigh.
posted by fleacircus at 7:00 PM on March 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

You might recognize Cobbs as Moses, the clock guy in The Hudsucker Proxy.

The reference to the "Barrens" made me raise an eyebrow. By fandom-stellar-cartography standards, 100 light-years is an awfully big area to have no stars in. Must be above or below the galactic disc, 'cuz otherwise I feel like we'd have heard of it in a prior series. Especially since the neighborhood in ENT is presumably tighter than in, say, DS9.

And, as you mentioned, this story has been done countless times already.

Yeah, I might've liked this episode better if it had a less predictable ending. Maybe Quinn survives long enough to explain that the transporter actually does copy the person and destroy the original consciousness, and that going through the transporter not only ends your own subjective life, but condemns each pre-beaming version of you to eternally-conscious nothingness or something.

The rapid camera zooms on Cobbs during the climactic scene were dopey in a '60s kind of way, and not a good kind of '60s kind of way. Bakula's acting here was locked-in, though. And I liked the private conversation between Archer and Emory after Quinn dies—a more satisfying resolution of interpersonal conflict with the antagonist than we often get in these sorts of episodes.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:43 PM on March 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

« Older Movie: Erin Brockovich...   |  Movie: Species II... Newer »

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