7/10/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Rogue Planet"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S01E18
Air Date: March 20, 2002
Written by: Chris Black
Directed by: Allan Kroeker

Premise
On a rogue planet where it is eternally night time, Archer has visions of a stunningly beautiful slug girl.

Review
While Archer is attempting to pose for a picture that Trip is taking, T'Pol mentions that they are about to run smack-dab into a rogue planet because space is so small that you could run into just about anything. This isn't the first rogue planet we've seen in Star Trek. The idea is that the planet has broken out of its orbit around a sun and gone adrift. One such planet belonged to my favorite non-canonical Q-in-training, Trelane, in the Original Series episode "The Squire of Gothos". This, however, is the first rogue planet that naturally supported diversified life due to a series of hot gas vents.
"Pumba, with you everything's gas."
They find no evidence of humanoid life, however, they do pick up a power signature from a starship. Obviously, we must investigate. Archer, T'Pol, Reed and Sato put on their exploration pants and shuttle on down to the planet. This is where we learn that both Archer and Reed had once been Eagle Scouts. And that Reed is a slightly more advanced Eagle Scout than Archer. Which kind of annoys Archer. Eventually they run into some humanoid aliens called the Eska. The Eska (who hide their presence with sensing cloaks) are hunters who have been visiting Dakala, the rogue planet, for nine generations to kill things. Curious to see the hunters in action, the team brings back some camping gear and buckles down for the night. (And it's always night on this planet, so they really have to buckle down.)

When Archer decides to stay up for a while and admire the beauty of the Dakalan oasis, that's when stuff gets real. He hears a woman's voice and goes to investigate. It's not Hoshi, it's definitely not T'Pol. He starts to think he might have imagined it, when off in the distance he sees a beautiful blonde woman with apple blossoms in her hair. But then he looks away for a moment... and she's gone.

Obviously he's crazy, right? That's what everyone thinks when he tells them about the encounter. He shouldn't have told them about the encounter. But the next day he goes out and finds her again. This time, however, he's able to hold an actual conversation with her. He learns that she's a telepathic shape-shifter. Incidentally, Odo, who also claimed a rogue planet as his home, was also a shape-shifter. What is it about rogue planets and shape-shifters?
Shape-shifter pride!
Later, one of the Eska gets injured by their quarry during the hunt and while examining him, Phlox finds some cellular residue that's trying to mutate. I think we can all see where this is going. The Eska are trying to hunt what they call the wraith who are clearly intelligent, sentient beings who have attempted to communicate with Archer. And that can't happen.

After announcing that he wants to level the playing field, Archer remembers how he knows the beautiful woman he had seen the wraith shift into. It was a woman from a poem he had heard in his childhood The Song of the Wondering Aengus which is about a man seeking an unattainable woman.

Well, eventually, Archer and the crew are able to use the Eska's own technology against them. They give the wraith the sensor cloaking technology and when the Eska go to hunt them, they are unable to discover where they are, thus allowing the wraith to attack with the element of surprise. Yay!

The woman with the apple blossoms in her hair finally has a last word with Archer to say thank you. And Archer returns the thanks, telling her that she had reminded him to always seek the unattainable. It looks like Archer is about to get the girl once more. But first, she changes back into her true form.
She's beautiful!
And she was never heard from again...

Overall Thoughts
It was pretty easy to see where they were going with this one. It seems more like a filler episode than anything worthy of a lot of praise. Still, it was attention-holding and the idea of a life-sustaining rogue planet is pretty intriguing. This isn't an episode you really have to watch, but I wouldn't begrudge you fancying it.