9/10/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Canamar"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S02E17
Air Date: February 26th, 2003
Written by: John Shiban
Directed by: Allan Kroeker

Premise
Archer makes friends with a prisoner in order to lie, cheat and steal his way out of a prison transport.

Review
We open this episode with a rather ominous shot of Shuttlepod One completely empty with T'Pol attempting to contact Archer and Trip who are supposed to be on it. The last time Archer was wrongfully imprisoned, it was with Travis "All the Personality of a Shovel" Mayweather. On the other hand, he also got to reunite with Al in that episode, so it kind of evened out. When they bring the shuttlepod back into the ship and give it an examination they find the some blood left behind from Archer and Trip which leads them to believe that, wherever they went, they did not go quietly.

Archer and Trip find themselves on a prisoner transport which they discover is on its way to Canamar, a penal colony with the reputation to lock up first and ask questions later. Archer is sitting next to an alien that doesn't talk much and Trip is sitting next to the most annoying alien ever. Archer attempts to explain himself to a guard, but apparently "I'm innocent" isn't the best thing to say while on a prison transport. Also, behind Trip is a surly Naussican who doesn't really feel like putting up with the most annoying alien ever or Trip.
"This one time at band camp..."
Back on the Enterprise, T'Pol contacts the government that Archer and Trip had been visiting and find out that they were now on a prison transport after a patrol believed that they had found contraband on Archer and Trip's shuttlepod and accused them of smuggling. Welp... that went over well. The alien government dude tells them where to find Canamar, and the Enterprise is on its way to find its captain. But not before T'Pol insists that the government dude comes along to ensure no further mistakes happen.

Back on the transport, word gets out that Archer and Trip really are innocent, and the guards undo their shackles. And that's when Kuroda attacks. Kuroda is from the same species that ran the penal colony and the prison transport. He's a prisoner that actually deserved to be there. He had served seven years at Canamar before he escaped and had sub-dermal implants installed that allowed him to short out the fancy-schmancy high-tech hand cuffs. When he does this, he takes out the guard and releases the Naussican. Now they're friends!
Well, that's when the Naussican makes a mistake and takes out the pilot. Kuroda doesn't know how to pilot the ship and, obviously, neither does the meat-headed Naussican. So now Archer, who decides to play along and act like a real smuggler, is their only hope. Kuroda releases Archer from his handcuffs, and Archer tries to get him to release Trip, but Kuroda's a smart cookie. There will be no plotting between the Starfleet officers - they will remain as far apart as possible. Archer really proves his usefulness, however, when he disables some patrol ships by igniting a plasma cloud released from the prison ship. This serves a dual purpose of both letting the prison ship free and alerting the government to their position.

This is all well and good, but the Enterprise was going to meet up with them at Canamar and now they've changed course. To make matters worse, the alien government found out about it and is on orders to destroy the vessel once they find it because of how dangerous Kuroda is. So the alien dude who's on the Enterprise suggests that they find the ship before the government does.

Well, the prison ship is on its way to a rendezvous with some villainous friends and that's when Kuroda reveals his brilliant plan to board his friend's ship and set the prison ship on a decaying orbit around a planet which would then kill all the prisoners and leave no evidence of himself behind. They would think he's dead and he would be Scott-free. Obviously, Archer isn't really into this idea, so he tries to set a plan in motion. He gets Trip to take out the Naussican, but he's unable to take out Kuroda. FAILURE!

But it's ok, because when they dock with Kuroda's "friends" it turns out to actually be a security party from the Enterprise. Reed to the rescue!! Also weapons fire and exciting plot twists and prisoners being transferred to the other ship and the prison ship entering atmosphere and everything blowing up and going wrong and Kuroda getting knocked out, but coming to when everyone is out and Archer trying to save him!! OMG!

I have given this show a lot of crap for not having the balls to kill off aliens or red-shirts. So this episode gets some major props. When Kuroda wakes up and Archer tries to convince him to come with, Kuroda says he'd rather die than go back to Canamar. He sits in the pilot seat and goes down with the ship while Archer saves himself. The writers are able to kill off Kuroda without Archer going out of character. Archer even gets extremely pissed about the loss of life when he yells at the government dude this line when the government dude asks for a report: "I'll give you one right now: Kuroda's dead, the other eleven prisoners are under guard. As you're aware, my Engineer and I were falsely arrested. We almost wound up in Canamar. Makes me wonder how many others don't belong there. You wanted a report? You've got one." Somehow I picture Kirk delivering that line with a little more conviction, but it was a darn good line at the end of an especially shiny diamond in the rough.

Overall Thoughts
Lovely episode! Excitement, deception, development, etc. Even the balls to kill someone off. This has been the best episode of the season... so far.