Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Enterprise

"Marauders"

**

Air date: 10/30/2002
Teleplay by David Wilcox
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by Mike Vejar

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

T'Pol: "Short of killing the Klingons, any action we take will only make the situation worse."
Jammer: "Looks like you just solved the puzzle. Kill the Klingons at once."

In brief: Milk toast.

While watching "Marauders," I saw during one of the commercial breaks an ad for an upcoming action movie called Half Past Dead, set inside a prison and starring Steven Seagal and Ja Rule. Much to my amazement (and dismay), the end of the commercial informed me that Half Past Dead is rated PG-13. Yes, PG-13. And I'm thinking, has the bloodthirsty testosterone-driven violent American action genre been so watered down for mainstream marketing reasons that now Steven Seagal films are rated PG-13? What has our world come to?

It is of some irony or coincidence or appropriateness or something (or not) that this commercial airs during "Marauders," the epitome of milquetoast Star Trek action, where the last act is devoted almost completely to an extended action sequence where Our Heroes must ward off the threat of the Evildoers, and yet not one person — friend or foe — is killed or even seriously injured. Given that this is, after all, the Star Trek universe and its Evolved Sensibilities we're talking about, I'm willing to grant that this is somewhat appropriate. Certainly more appropriate than a Steven Seagal film released to the masses as PG-13.

My point? I guess that "Marauders" is so devoid of anything worth getting worked up about — for good or ill — that I'd rather get worked up over the fact that Steven Seagal now stars in movies that are rated PG-13 (it's not bad enough that Seagal films are generally garbage; now they're watered-down garbage). Perhaps "Marauders" is your cup of tea and perhaps it's not, but I found it to be a very tame and unimaginative recycling of a very familiar story. (A recent version of this story is the Disney/Pixar film A Bug's Life, more entertaining than this.) Yes, the location shooting and production design here is impressive. Yes, Mike Vejar is a good director. But all the surface gloss and competency in the world cannot make up for story developments that make me shrug and say, "So?"

The plot is about as bare-boned as they come. Colony of miners produces refined deuterium. Colony sells deuterium to passersby. Colony, unfortunately, is being bullied by group of Klingon marauders, who use intimidation and violence to hoard all the miners' output production, leaving them empty-handed. Colony has tried to fight back, but Klingons are too strong and mean. Enter the Enterprise and Captain Archer, who, once he learns about this situation, wants to help.

There's certainly nothing wrong with that story sketch as a starting point. It's classic Trek material, albeit very middle-of-the-road stuff. Unfortunately, there's nothing really right about this story either. The script's approach is to give us the facts and assume we care about them, without giving us anything dramatic or interesting to invite us to care. I guess that's the problem — not that I disliked this episode but rather that I was so disinterested. Archer's humanistic desire to help people (who are initially too afraid to accept his position of standing up to the Klingons) is an admirable (if obvious) character trait. But the episode has no real depth or questions to consider. It's painfully straightforward. "I've never liked bullies," Archer tells Trip at one point. End of story. Philosophizing goes no deeper than that. Okay, there's also, "Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day; teach him to fish, and he eats for a lifetime." Whoa. Deep.

Archer's plan is to teach the colonists how to defend themselves in the few days before the Klingons return to raid the colony. T'Pol holds an introductory martial-arts class, showing how to avoid a Klingon wielding a bat'leth. (There's one amusing moment when T'Pol asks a reluctant Mayweather to help her demonstrate an attack. T'Pol: "You won't hurt me." Mayweather: "It's not you that I'm worried about.") Reed and Sato offer sessions for target practice with firearms. A clever plan is hatched to relocate buildings so the deuterium field will be exposed and can be set ablaze. Trip befriends a boy (Jesse James Rutherford, a sub-par performance) whose father was killed in an earlier skirmish with the Klingon bullies. Archer reassures the colony leader (Larry Ceder, performance par for course), who quietly despairs at his own ineffectiveness. These scenes represent a series of facts mostly free of underlying tension or suspense, scarcely more interesting than as I've just described them. Hence the episode's unfortunate lack of an emotional spark.

The Big Battle in the show's closing act is a bizarre and ultimately borderline-humorous compromise between elaborate action staging and attitudes of unmistakable non-violence. Despite the fact the Klingons are trying to kill Our Heroes, every effort is made for Our Heroes not to resort to killing any of the Klingons. The good guys punch, kick, throw rocks, shoot guns without hitting anyone, and use other non-lethal tactics (included is a scene that shows how T'Pol also fills the role of Action Hero Chick With Spin-Kick Moves), and ultimately they lure the Klingons into a trap where a fire ring appears around them. The big payoff involving the fire ring is overplayed to the point of goofiness; the Klingons' moment of realization is hammered at with the precision of a sledgehammer, making our heroes look not nearly so clever as the villains are clueless.

I dunno. "Marauders" is what it is — a bloodless, light-as-a-feather action show with handsome production values but absolutely and positively no edge. It takes bland safeness to new heights; it doesn't come within a hundred yards of anything daring, offensive, challenging, or otherwise intriguing. If you're looking for a very simple hour of TV that pushes no buttons or envelopes and inspires in you little thought or emotional reaction, this will maybe get the job done. Plus, nobody gets hurt.

But then, you might also find yourself more riled by the notion of a PG-13 Steven Seagal movie than anything that happens here.

Next week: A skeleton in T'Pol's closet?

Previous episode: A Night in Sickbay
Next episode: The Seventh

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22 comments on this review

robgnow - Wed, Jul 9, 2008 - 6:37pm (USA Central)
The 'Enterprise' crew also never mention to the colonists what to do when the Klingons come back with 50 of their closest friends or how to defend themselves against being shot at from orbit. Remember, these are Klingons?! Does anyone think they'll not see this "defeat" as some sort of slap in the face to their honor and a burning desire to get that honor back?
Rachael - Tue, Jun 30, 2009 - 1:30am (USA Central)
I just saw this episode for the first time the other night, and wow, did you nail it. I was actually kind of excited for the climax when the Enterprise crew were teaching the colonists how to shoot and defend themselves - I (foolishly) was expecting a badass, shoot-em-up showdown in which the Klingons summarily got their asses handed to them. That's what would've happened in DS9, anyway. And even later-season TNG. Hell, even season 3 Enterprise.

But no, what I got was a ridiculous exercise in "showing up" the bullies without, miraculously, harming them. And the bullies - KLINGONS! - just shake their fists and leave? Without so much as a bloody nose? I call BS. Honestly, Star Trek was at its worst when it resorted to ham-handed moralistic preaching, of which this episode is an indirect, though apt, example.

David - Sun, Aug 9, 2009 - 5:28pm (USA Central)
I thought this was an outstanding episode, one of the very best of the season. A nice reworking of a classic Western plot, with the Star Trek sensibility of protecting yourself and defeating a violent threat using intelligence instead of brute force. I was characterize "Marauders" as a litmus test for the entire series. If you like it, chances are you'll enjoy "Enterprise." If you think you're smarter than the writers and get your jollies out of nit-picking, then you might as well stop watching now.
Kev - Mon, Sep 14, 2009 - 8:53am (USA Central)
Compare this episode to AR-558 or Rocks and Shoals on DS9. Were UPN having a "We cant show excess violence on TV" year when Enterprise was in thes 1st and second season? Its like this episode was made for infants.
Joe Menta - Tue, Nov 10, 2009 - 9:18am (USA Central)
Well, at least Topol look cute in her white jumper.
Elliot Wilson - Wed, Feb 17, 2010 - 1:30pm (USA Central)

"If you think you're smarter than the writers and get your jollies out of nit-picking, then you might as well stop watching now."

Are you calling us IDIOTS? Hey, it's the WRITERS who are SUPPOSED to write up a GOOD STORY. I have not seen this so I cannot make an objective summary either way, but writers are only HUMAN who make MISTAKES. You make them sound all-powerful. To quote Gul Dukat with a little alteration:

"And [Almighty] David hands down another judgment!"
Elliot Wilson - Wed, Feb 17, 2010 - 1:32pm (USA Central)

BTW, Jammer, I gotta comment: I love you adding your own remarks to the established quotes at the beginning of some episodes. "Acquisition" had my lolling, this one has me in stitches. Keep it up, man!
Shawn Phelps - Sat, Jun 5, 2010 - 3:58pm (USA Central)
This might not be the best episode of Enterprise but it is by far one of the best episodes of The A-Team since, oh the mid 80's. What else would you call a show with an elaborate plan, lots of explosions and spring boarded stuntmen and least we forget the shots fired but no one gets hit that was a staple of every A-Team show. If only Captain had said "I love it when a plan comes together" it would have been a near perfect homage.
Terry - Sat, Oct 9, 2010 - 5:15pm (USA Central)
I have yet to see Series 4 of Enterprise, but I think it's a pretty safe bet to say this is the worst episode of an otherwise very good show.

I just didn't get the whole business of shifting the settlement a few hundred yards so that they could ignite the deuterium and thereby trap the Klingons. What sort of plan is that? How much could go wrong? All that effort just to humiliate a bunch of Klingons!

In truth the miners were in a no win situation. The Klingons could return at any time. They'd have been better off hitching a ride aboard Enterprise to another planet. A very silly episode.

Enterprise is at its best when it is following a story arc. Having said that some of the 'one offs' are very good.
Marco P. - Wed, Dec 1, 2010 - 10:17am (USA Central)
Crap, crap, and more crap. The potential for a "Seven Samurai" or "Magnificent Seven" mini-version was present here. Yet once again, because of the usual suspects (B&B), all is shoved down the toilet in favor of... THIS.

As per usual Jammer, I find one of your lines used to describe the current episode appropriate to label the entire series.

This week's winner: "devoid of anything worth getting worked up about".

Someone before mentioned DS9's "Rocks and Shoals". Sigh. Now THAT was good television.
JohnG - Fri, Feb 11, 2011 - 12:00pm (USA Central)
Moving the settlement down the road, to set a trap, shows that Captain Archer must have "Blazing Saddles" in his DVD collection. I'm surprised he didn't send the Klingons an exploding CandyGram.
Cloudane - Fri, Jul 22, 2011 - 5:41pm (USA Central)
Dull as Hell. I preferred the previous episode, it had flaws but at least it didn't have me looking at websites and otherwise distracting myself from the show due to boredom! And it had Porthos.

One good thing: T'Pol's moves. Smooth.

If Archer later faces consequences for interfering, fantastic. But heh, who am I kidding!
Captain Jim - Fri, Aug 3, 2012 - 10:38pm (USA Central)
Eh, it wasn't anything special, but it was nowhere near as bad as some of you make out. Certainly much better than last week's episode.
duhknees - Wed, Aug 15, 2012 - 1:59pm (USA Central)
So so. I think when the writers pull complete story lines from other sources, they ought to at least allow a character to say, "Hey, I watched this movie once where they moved a whole town ...." I mean, it's not a very esoteric allusion, so why not acknowledge it? Also, please use Travis! He is too much of a hunk to waste!
Rosario - Wed, Nov 14, 2012 - 11:20pm (USA Central)
How an episode so dull and bland gets more than 10 comments is beyond me. Spot on review except the last paragraph (You and I seem to want different things from our television). The final battle was embarassing. Everyone moving 50 meters to the left... who writes this and thinks it's good? Even in the Three Amigoes they kill El Guapo and his men and it doesn't get any more hokey than that. Speaking of Three Amigoes, Malcolm looks eerily like Martin Short.
John the younger - Tue, Dec 11, 2012 - 8:24am (USA Central)
"by far one of the best episodes of The A-Team since, oh the mid 80's"

That.
mark - Tue, Feb 12, 2013 - 7:10pm (USA Central)
"Bloodless" is the perfect description for this episode on every level. Considering the Klingons murdered a bunch of these colonists before, it seems absurd that our heroes decided to avoid killing them, or even really injuring them at all. Seeing the Enterprise crew fighting to the death against Klingon soldiers could have been interesting; this was not.
Patrick - Sun, Apr 7, 2013 - 10:45am (USA Central)
Joss Whedon's Firefly aired the during the second season of Enterprise. One of the un-aired episodes (released later on) was "Heart of Gold" which features a story similar to "Marauders", but told in a compelling fashion with action, suspense, drama, and dialogue that does more than just advance the plot.

The two respective episodes epitomize the two respective shows. Unfortunately, the mediocre series ran for 4 whole seasons, while the brilliant one ran for less than half a season (and a follow-up big screen movie).

"Marauders" is Star Trek Enterprise in a nutshell: prosaic and uninspired.
Lt. Yarko - Mon, May 13, 2013 - 1:08am (USA Central)
After the Klingons beamed up I was truly expecting them to beam right back down directly behind the good guys and force them to fight. That would have been a great ending!
Buck - Mon, May 12, 2014 - 11:54pm (USA Central)
Hit and miss, but I like the allegory of the pre-Federation supplying and training the local fighters. It plays as a a good prequel to the TOS Cold War themes between the Fed and Klingons.
Jack - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 5:08pm (USA Central)
Trip gave some kid the schematics to a Warp 5 vessel. Shouldn't that be kind of classified?
Yanks - Tue, Oct 7, 2014 - 11:15am (USA Central)
@ Jack,

"Trip gave some kid the schematics to a Warp 5 vessel. Shouldn't that be kind of classified?"

Funny, I never once thought Trip would give away something classified.

I just knew that Trip gave the kid some floor plans to his star ship with no classified info included.

But then again, I'm not looking to berate Enterprise.

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