8/23/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Vanishing Point"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S02E10
Air Date: November 27, 2002
Written by: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by: David Straiton

Premise
Not understanding a thing about transporter technology, Hoshi begins to believe that her first experience with it is making her turn invisible.

Review
Hoshi and Trip are checking out some carvings and paintings in an alien cavern while a storm rolls in. Archer and T'Pol decide that it's too dangerous for them to stay on the planet, but the shuttlepod is in the middle of the storm, so they have to use the transporter. Trip goes first and arrives in tact. Hoshi is next as the storm starts really picking up. The familiar beaming noise sounds... and that's when crap hits the fan.

Everything seems fine at first, but when Hoshi goes to her quarters (completely skipping the Sexy, Sexy Decon Chamber, by the way) and takes a shower, she notices that her reflection in the mirror fades away momentarily. Then she gets into the shower and sees drops of water pass right through her hand. She is fading into non-existence! Someone has gone back in time with a Delorean and taken her mother to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance!
Before she knows it, her hand will turn into a mannequin hand!
She takes a breath and relaxes, probably deciding it's all in her mind. Because after she gets out of the shower, it's time to eat. In the mess hall, she hears some crew members joking about a guy name Cyrus Ramsey who used the transporter and was never seen again. It's a ghost story in which sometimes you can see his molecules try to reform when you look hard enough.
It probably looked a lot like this.
Hoshi says she's never heard of Cyrus Ramsey, but the rest of the crew say he's pretty famous. It's kinda like how Kirk or Picard might say they'd never heard of Archer. (That's right. I went there.) After that, Hoshi goes to visit Phlox insisting that her molecules hadn't been put back together correctly. There's a mole in the wrong spot and she just feels a little "off." People don't seem to be responding to her, she seems to be going invisible, etc. Phlox suggests that she just gets some rest. There's nothing wrong with her.

But on the way back to her room, she finds that other crew members aren't responding to her at all. It's like she really is invisible. And when a crisis happens with Trip getting abducted by aliens that weren't even supposed to exist on the planet below while he attempted to recover the shuttlepod, she shows up hours late, is unable to translate the alien language, and is replaced by a rookie. This is when I started to believe that she was feeling useless and lonely and that the Enterprise somehow found itself over a Hellmouth.
That's right! I'm full of 'em today! I think there's one more up my sleeve...
Really at this point I was grasping at anything to explain what was going on because it couldn't be a transporter issue. They later point out that perhaps her molecules were separating from each other, but if that were true than she would have appeared larger as well as transparent. And depending on the complexity of the force pulling on her, her entire body would lose cohesion and pretty much fall apart. The only thing she can really do is manipulate a small light in Archer's room to signal an S-O-S while he calls back home to inform her father that she's gone.

And then the random aliens arrived. Hoshi spots two of them messing around with some inner compartment inside the ship. She deduces that they are planting bombs and that they got aboard using their own portable transporters. She is unable to tell anyone, obviously, because she is Invisible Girl, so she goes off and tries to save the ship on her own.
But first a game of Space-Simon.
Eventually she ends up jumping onto one of the alien's portable transporter pads and she is whisked away to the Enterprise's transporter room where she meets Reed who explains that she has been trapped in the pattern buffer for about 8.5 seconds because of the storms on the planet surface. Turns out everything she experienced was all just a hallucination formed in her mind probably within the last second of her molecular pattern readjusting. It was all just a dream.
I lied. I had two more.
P.S. - Cyrus Ramsey was never real either.

Overall Thoughts
Magnificent! This episode had me wondering and engaged and sympathetic and analytic and all-around geeking out! Usually when you end a story with "it was all just a dream" I feel sort of cheated, but in this case, it's an awesome study of what happens to the mind when it's trapped inside a transporter pattern buffer. It really makes me wonder what kind of adventures Scotty went through... (If you don't understand that reference... well... that's a review for another time.)