8/28/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Catwalk"

Vital Informtion
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S02E12
Air Date: December 18, 2002
Written by: Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong
Directed by: Mike Vejar

Premise
The Enterprise approaches a deadly neutronic storm, so instead of going up and around it, they decide they have to go through it.

Review
While the crew are busy planning a fun and exciting away mission to a new planet, they get a call from a small ship that warns them that a neutronic storm is on the way and that their ship will not survive unless they're allowed to dock on the Enterprise. Obviously Archer is obliged to help out, so the aliens are brought on board and plans are made to weather the storm. Phlox explains that the radiolytic isotopes with which the storm is saturated will likely kill the entire crew even if the Enterprise makes it through in tact, so Trip suggests that they move everyone to the most protected area of the ship: the catwalk inside the maintenance shafts of the warp nacelles.



There are a couple things that get me about this storm. As a plot device, sure, it's useful, but for one thing, Archer is informed by the aliens that the storm is traveling at high warp. I was unaware that warp speed could be a natural phenomenon. I mean, I'm not completely opposed to the idea, but isn't pretty established that natural phenomenon will never go past light speed? The second and most annoying thing is that when the storm comes it appears as a horizontal band across the screen. A horizontal band that is evidently impossible to rise above...
"Impossible! This storm ignores all the laws of three-dimensional space!"
But I'm getting ahead of myself.... The crew is given four hours to prepare for the oncoming storm. While the storm passes, the warp engines must be turned off so that the temperature in the catwalk is tolerable. Space will also be at a premium. Phlox argues to T'Pol that he will need a lot more space in order to save all the animals he has in sickbay. It's an emotional moment that'll touch the very soul. So emotional that even the Vulcan caves to his request. (Seriously, I'm starting to doubt where T'Pol was actually born.)

After that, people start settling in to the catwalk and the aliens reveal that they're not really who they said they were. They had told Archer that they are stellar cartographers, but one of them insists that they will have no way to help update Enterprise's starcharts when the storm passes. Meh... so the aliens aren't who they appear to be. Not so much a surprise. Call me when it becomes a threat.

Archer finally gives one of his famous cheesy speeches about being able to survive the storm and then the magic happens. Travis pilots the ship away from the storm front and then stops as the storm hits. Turbulence rocks the ship and they're tossed around worse than when Kirk's Enterprise is being hit by photon torpedoes.
"Activate the stabilizers! Someone shook the camera!"
The worst of the storm passes and it's all downhill from there.

For a few moments we get to know the crew a little more. The tight quarters allow for some social time in which some officers play a card game for rations, Archer helps a crewman with a crossword puzzle, Reed asks Phlox for a motion sickness treatment, and T'Pol and Archer annoy each other before going to bed. Even the aliens are up for a bit of annoyance as they start a grill right over a plasma manifold which really ticks off Trip. Ya know, because of the explody and all.

Finally, Trip is called to the temporary bridge and we get a new plot twist. Archer explains that the antimatter injectors have somehow come on, so now Trip as to go to engineering to figure it out. He suits up in a protective space suit and when he gets to engineering he finds something no one expected. Aliens walking around unprotected! But the radiolytic isotopes! They should be killing them!

When Trip gets back, Phlox scans their new alien friends to find that they are immune to radiolytic isotopes. So that's when they reveal that they are deserters from their home planet's government which likes to steal and plunder everything they can get. And now they've taken control of the Enterprise in an attempt to find these "fugitives".

Now the race is on to take back the ship before the alien militia turns the engines back on and fries everyone in the catwalk. They only have so many suits, obviously, so they can't bring everyone out, so they decide to trick the aliens by making them think that Archer is the only one there and alive while others go around the ship with the remaining suits and start to take back control. While Archer is distracting the leader, Reed and T'Pol go around and reroute control away from the bridge. They turn the engines back off and gain control of impulse engines.

Infuriated, the alien leader says the ship is his now. Pffft! When has that line ever worked?
Probably only once.
Travis activates the impulse engines and navigates toward an eddy of the storm that will tear the ship apart. And now it's a game of chicken. Who will abandon ship first before it hits the eddy? Turns out, the Militia is not as tough as they thought they were. Or else not as smart. They leave the ship and everyone lived happily ever after!

Afterwords, the whole crew seems to feel like they've gotten to know each other a little more. They settle down to another movie night playing an old western film... and T'Pol figures out the plot right away. The aliens apologize for the trouble they caused, but Archer says not to worry about it. They're obviously on the right side of things. Archer and T'Pol close the door to the catwalk and that's the end.

Overall Thoughts
I liked this one. It has some twists, turns, eddies and awesomeness. Definitely worth the time.