9/18/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Breach"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S02E21
Air Date: April 23, 2003
Written by: Chris Black & John Shiban
Directed by: Robert Duncan McNeill

Premise
Dr. Phlox faces his most deadly threat yet: centuries old racial prejudice.

Review
When Hoshi goes to deliver the mail to Phlox (because even electronic mail is hand delivered on Archer's Enterprise), Phlox introduces the communications officer to a tribble (YAAYY!) which he promptly feeds to a reptilian carnivore (WHAT!? D:). And there would be no more tribbles until The Original Series. Meanwhile, Phlox reads his mail and discovers that the Denobulan Science Academy wants Enterprise, the closest ship available (obviously), to pick up some Denobulan geologists that have been caught on a planet and given three days to evacuate due to a xenophobic regime change.

So when they get to the planet, they find several different alien ships departing and a general announcement from the new government is sent to every ship to leave the area immediately. One ship that hasn't gotten very far tries to request access back to the surface because their warp core is about to explode. The xenophobic government representative says basically "not my problem!" and leaves the ship's crew to die in the vacuum of space. Good thing Enterprise is there!

Before sending a team to pick up the Denobulan geologists, he saves the crew of the nearly exploding ship. on board that ship is an Antaran by the name of Hudak. And it turns out that Antarans don't really like Denobulans very much. So when Phlox offers to treat him from deadly wounds, he refuses, preferring to die than be treated by a Denobulan.

So, while Hudak expresses all his racial angst, Archer sends Reed, Mayweather and Trip down to the surface to find the Denobulan geologists inside a deep series of caves. And then they spend the next hour or so navigating through the caves and chatting about random stuff that has nothing to do with anything. And then Mayweather breaks his leg which is OK because him staying behind means we get to watch the Reed/Trip bromance bloom a little more while not having to endure Mayweather's... Mayweatherness.
"Go on without me! Let me die!" "...Okay!"
Meanwhile, back on the ship, Hudak tries to explain to Archer all the atrocities the Denobulans committed to his kind hundreds of years ago in a long-decided war. And Phlox explains that he's tried to live his life free of the racism of his family's past. Phlox raised his kids to believe that Antarans are just like any other species, not to be feared or reviled. But when he meets this particular Antaran, his patience wears thin. You see, it's very difficult to express acceptance while you're being hated. And I must say that John Bilingsly expresses Phlox's conflict very well in this episode. Usually Phlox is full of happiness and optimism, and this encounter pushes him to the limit. There is a genuine frustration in his line delivery that makes for a very effective performance. Bravo!

On the planet, Trip and Reed find the geologists and the geologists refuse to leave, but Trip yells at them because of all he's been through to find them and then they finally agree to come along... that's all. OH! Also, this is also where we find out that Denobulans are natural wall-climbers. They don't climb up cliff faces... they basically run up them.
That or there were a lot of radioactive spiders in that cave
Back to the main plot, Hudak finally sees the genuine goodness in Phlox and decides to trust him after all. He accepts the treatment which saves his life and allows him to go back to his home planet with a story to tell of his Denobulan savior. And it turns out that he's going back on the same transport as the three Denobulans who were saved from the caves, and he said he was OK with it. So I guess their story did have some tiny bit to do with something after all.

And they all lived happily ever after and learned a valuable lesson about racial tolerance.

Overall Thoughts
There was a tiny gem of awesome in this otherwise mediocre episode. John Bilingsly's performance was superb. Of course, it wouldn't have meant as much without the story leading up to it, but there was just so much unnecessary crap - so much rough surrounding the diamond - that it almost makes the episode not worth it. But if you want to see Mayweather break is leg and random Denobulans run up walls, give this episode a shot!