7/24/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Desert Crossing"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S01E24
Air Date: May 8, 2002
Written by: AndrĂ© Bormanis
Directed by: David Straiton

Premise
Zobral, a friendly alien from a desert world, invites Archer and Trip to his planet for a game of space lacrosse with a little bit of revolution on the side.

Review
Archer just wants to get to Risa for some R&R. Can you blame him? But NOOOOOOOOOOO... just as he's making more plans, they get a distress signal. Hopefully it won't take long, right?

It doesn't take very long for Trip to fix Zobral's ship, and Zobral is insistent that he repay the favor. He invites Archer and Trip down to his home planet for a meal and a game of space lacrosse. Trip, understandably, isn't very excited about the idea of visiting a desert planet, but eventually Archer convinces him.

While they talk over a meal, Zobral is excited to learn that Earth is two thirds water. Archer then comments on his tapestry and Zobral says "it's yours!" Archer declines the tapestry saying he wouldn't have anywhere to hang it, so Zobral gives him this instead:
A hand-made sculpture from a Suliban trader. This is where things start to feel fishy. Zobral is apparently a friend to the Suliban. Now, obviously, we've established that not all Suliban are bad, but Zobral seems to be just a little too friendly... a little too inviting... and slightly demanding. Fortunately, we're not given very much time to dwell on this, because suddenly there comes a noise from outside. It's Space Lacrosse time!
I hope Zobral has a good medical plan for his followers.
The rules appear to be simple. Catch an energy ball with the lacrosse stick and try to get it through the hole where it dissipates into nothing. And then... somehow... find another ball... But there is one more very important rule:
New guys play shirtless.
Who said we needed the sexy, sexy decon chamber to show off Archer's pecs? At this point we now know the reason Kirk kept ripping up his shirts in fights: He was just trying to keep up with Archer.

But, of course, it can't be all fun and games, right? Eventually we have to introduce a conflict. Well, here it is. While Trip and Archer are busy playing Space Lacrosse, the official government of the desert planet contacts T'Pol back on the Enterprise and informs her that Zobral is a terrorist. Yes, this friendly alien who gives things away and offers meals, etc is no-good, dirty, rotten terrorist. T'Pol relays the message to Archer as soon as she can. And Archer decides it's best to get back to the Enterprise and figure out the situation before doing anything drastic.

In order not to offend Zobral, Archer makes up a story to tell him, but he doesn't buy it. Well, great; now they actually have to confront him on these terrorist allegations and the real reason they were invited to the planet. Zobral claims that he and his people were oppressed by the government and, after trying several different peaceful methods, had turned to terrorism as a last resort to make their voices heard. He says he'd heard of Archer from a Suliban who he had helped escape the detainment camp in "Detained." He had hoped that the same person who liberated the Suliban would liberate his own people.

Then some explosions happen.

The ruling forces start bombing Zobral's camp and Archer and Trip are forced into a bunker for a while. Then they get back out to see everything was destroyed. Zobral warns them that their shuttlepod would be detected, but that there is an abandoned camp a while out through the hot, torturous desert that they can take shelter in. So they take supplies from the shuttlepod and head out through the desert.

Zobral finds himself being contacted by T'Pol when he tries to escape the planet on his own ship. T'Pol convinces him to help her find Archer and Trip. See, he really is a nice guy in the inside. He's just been jaded by war. Back on the planet, Archer and Trip found the deserted camp and took shelter, but there's no drinkable water and they are suffering from heat exhaustion. They are left to sit and wait for death to take them.

Until Archer figures out that phase pistols on the stun setting can be used to start a fire! Yay! Now they can boil the water free of contaminants and drink and be happy! Right up until their camp starts getting bombed... Well, lucky for them, T'Pol and Zobral are on their way and the bombs lead them straight to Archer and Trip. They're saved, they go back to Enterprise, they part ways with Zobral and then say something about how it's a government's job, not a starship captain's to fight wars. And they all lived happily ever after and learned a valuable lesson about keeping to themselves.

Overall Thoughts
They really are starting to tie up some of these arcs in the final episodes of the season. This one is obviously another nod to the Prime Directive being formulated. T'Pol even says at one point that Archer is going to have to create some directives for handling first contact. This particular episode wasn't bad, so if you're interested in the Prime Directive, please watch it. But if that doesn't interest you, you may or may not want to skip it.