Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Enterprise

"Exile"

***

Air date: 10/15/2003
Written by Phyllis Strong
Directed by Roxann Dawson

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Son of a bitch!" — Trip, as the shuttlepod floats away

In brief: Quite respectable, although not transcendent.

"Exile" is a tale of two lonely people — one far lonelier than the other, although the other might be more lonely than she would ever admit to anyone, including herself. The concept reminded me somewhat of Voyager's third-season outing "Alter Ego," in which an alien taps into a holodeck character and through virtual reality becomes enamored with Tuvok. That episode might be more relatable to the real world, since the Internet has turned many of us into virtual conversationalists. "Exile" has more extreme (and ultimately less relatable, since it's clearly a fantasy) implications, because here an alien is able to tap directly into Ensign Sato's mind and read her thoughts.

With all due respect to my guilt-inducing three-star award to last week's all-execution, no-content "Impulse," the hour that is "Exile" is a much better, more rounded, more respectable three-star-rated episode, with actual storytelling and characters and advancement of the larger story arc ... and yet still only a three-star show. Funny how that works. This show is in no danger of transcending its material, although the material itself is clearly better than that in "Impulse."

I guess I have a soft spot for Hoshi. She's probably this series' most down-to-earth character, and seems like someone whom not only might you actually meet in the real world, but would want to. She's a real person with a real-world mix of vulnerability and strength (although she's certainly more brilliant than most when it comes to linguistics), and when there's a show focusing on her (all too rare, I would argue), you can be reasonably certain it will be a worthy character outing and not simply a testosterone-fest where people are thrown into holding cells and then freed in convoluted firefights. "Exile" plays like a throwback of sorts to kinder, gentler Trek, when manners could actually triumph over action sequences, rather than the other way around.

In "Exile," Hoshi is contacted by a telepathic alien who lives a life of seclusion on a desolate world. His mansion stands tall among a landscape of mountains and windy nothingness. The alien's name is Tarquin (Maury Sterling), who first appears on the Enterprise to Hoshi in her mind, leading to a series of familiar Hoshi-themed scenes pointing in the direction of That Darn Hoshi Is Imagining Things Again. These scenes remind us of similar scenes in "Vanishing Point" (a vastly underrated episode, in my opinion), where the only person convinced that something strange is happening here is the victim herself. These scenes are thankfully brief, and not overplayed, allowing us to quickly move forward with the story.

Meanwhile, sensors detect another storm of violent anomalies like the one encountered in "Anomaly," only stronger this time around. T'Pol runs a vector analysis of the distortion fields, or however the technical explanation goes (I draw the line at revisiting technical dialog), which indicates that the mysterious man-made sphere found in "Anomaly" — theorized as the source of the anomalies in that episode — might have a nearby sibling. This is an interesting discovery that plays as good continuity, and it should be noted that the jargon and computer graphics used to explain the discovery come across as straightforward, sensible, and refreshingly plausible. Captain Archer's response to T'Pol's discovery is a genuinely refreshing dose of understated excitement; he's able to show some enthusiasm in seeing a possible piece of the puzzle slide into place. It's nice to see his tone lightened when appropriate.

So the Enterprise briefly detours away from its new destination of this sphere to stop by Tarquin's planet. Tarquin has told Hoshi that he may be able to use his telepathic powers to help the Enterprise crew find the Xindi's homeworld (and, indeed, what he ultimately finds — a colony where part of The Weapon might be under construction — keeps the plot arc moving forward). Tarquin, however, has a very specific interest in Hoshi, and makes it a condition that she remain as his guest while he conducts his telepathic Google search. Meanwhile, the Enterprise ventures ahead to investigate the sphere.

At the crux of "Exile" is that Tarquin, who has been reading Hoshi's mind for several days, has come to know her quite intimately, leaving Hoshi at an extremely uncomfortable disadvantage. Tarquin knows things that she has never admitted to anyone. Furthermore, Tarquin is actually looking for a new companion; after years of loneliness (his previous companions have died of old age), and centuries of exile from a population that expels its telepathic minority, he has found Hoshi, whom he says has a "unique mind."

This begs the question: Isn't Tarquin's telepathic invasion of Hoshi's privacy ... well, just plain creepy? Let me tell you: If someone were reading my thoughts at will and knew things that I'd never confessed to anyone, I'd feel extremely violated, even if it was by a really attractive person who said she wanted to sleep with me (which, by the way, Tarquin is not). Much has been made of this story's "Beauty and the Beast" parallel, but that's not really much of an issue here (aside from Tarquin's seclusion and the fact that he has a nice dining room setup).

It is perhaps a measure of the story's civility, performances, and direction that we accept Tarquin's telepathic invasions at the level that Hoshi does — one of mild, rather than massive, discomfort.

Tarquin, as performed by Sterling, comes across as a well-intended but desperate man in need of a cure to his loneliness. Despite Michael Westmore's intentionally extreme makeup design, we never see Tarquin in anything but emotionally human terms — which is the point here. Given his powers and his predicament, Tarquin is as restrained and benign as he probably can be under the circumstances — and while he becomes aggressive in his attempts to persuade Hoshi to stay with him, he never pushes so far as to turn completely unsympathetic. Hopelessly unrealistic, yes — but not unsympathetic. (Although, the way he threatens the Enterprise at the end is probably pushing us to the limits of our sympathy; I could've done without the jeopardy notion altogether.)

What's also interesting here is that the episode gets into Hoshi's own personal feelings, which Tarquin cites in his efforts to convince her that he has something to offer her. It would seem that Hoshi is somewhat self-isolated; she doesn't feel that she's truly understood by many people and as a result is somewhat closed-off. Linda Park turns in a good performance in an episode where Hoshi listens far more than she's required to take action. She is patient and careful with Tarquin even in the face of what must be sheer awkwardness — sort of like being on a date with someone you are desperately waiting for the right opportunity to feed the line, "Let's just be friends."

It's perhaps worth noting, however, that the episode doesn't venture as far as it could've and perhaps should've. For all of Tarquin's dialog about Hoshi's repressed feelings, Hoshi herself is mostly silent on the subject. I'd have welcomed a reflective coda aboard the ship where Hoshi talks about all this, but we don't get it; the episode would rather scratch the surface of Hoshi's character without venturing too deep into her feelings. It's a bit of a shame. But even though we don't reach quite a satisfactory conclusion, the interaction between Hoshi and Tarquin works because of solid performances. Scenes like the dinner-table scene between Hoshi and this alien-looking but human-seeming person are the types of conceptual scenes that Star Trek is known for.

The B-story also works, and turns out to be of significant story-arc interest. Tucker equips a shuttlepod with Trellium shielding, permitting Archer and Tucker to investigate the sphere in a region where the unprotected Enterprise cannot venture. A mishap disables the shuttle's sensors and forces them to land on the sphere to make quick repairs.

This prompts an admittedly irrelevant but nevertheless great scene that's kind of brilliant in a Three Stooges kind of way. Trying to fix the sensors, Trip inadvertently triggers a thruster on the landed shuttlepod, which then begins to lift away from the surface of the sphere as Trip and Archer look on with surprise. They must then shoot down the shuttle by knocking out the thruster with a phaser beam. My thinking was: This is something I haven't seen before. It's a thoroughly fresh and amusing take on the uh-oh situation, warranting the best yet invocation of the Tuckerian exclamation, "Son of a bitch!" — which pretty much says exactly what needs to be said, and in the best way one could've said it.

T'Pol's subsequent analysis of the shuttle data indicates that these spheres are a part of a vast network of at least 50 spheres throughout the expanse. This conclusion in turn leads to the inevitable and sensible theory that perhaps the entire Delphic Expanse was artificially created by these things. And since this is the prequel to a Star Trek where the Delphic Expanse apparently does not exist, one could conclude that this series will at some point document how the spheres are turned off and the expanse is effectively dismantled. That, I must say, is a pretty neat story idea, with clues set up nicely here and in "Anomaly." Now all they have to do is execute it.

"Exile" represents a good balance between standalone storytelling and advancement of the ongoing story arc. Both story threads work on their own and within the larger context. If "Extinction" was an example of how not to plot this season of Enterprise, then "Exile" is an example of being on the right track.

Next week: A rerun of "The Xindi," and thus a week for me to slack off already.

Previous episode: Impulse
Next episode: The Shipment

Season Index

17 comments on this review

robgnow - Fri, Jul 11, 2008 - 9:19pm (USA Central)
The only thing that irritated me about this episode (as well as so many others) is the lack of Mayweather doing anything. As the pilot, don't you think HE should have piloted the shuttle on such a dangerous mission? I don't know how Anthony Montgomery managed to stay with the series for 4 years with the utter nothing he was given to do. I can only think the paycheck was awfully nice.
robynow - Thu, Jan 7, 2010 - 1:39am (USA Central)
@robgnow

He didnt get paid and all footage of him is of the time he thought he was gonna get paid.

He resigned when it was clear he was never getting any payment.

Thats why he has nothing to do,there simply isnt enough material and they had to strecht the little they had for over 4 years.
Nick M - Fri, Jul 16, 2010 - 12:28pm (USA Central)
Jammer,

I liked this episode because Linda Park is the sexiest woman in all the Star Trek series. Just one man's opinion. :-)
Jeremy Short - Mon, Aug 1, 2011 - 6:19pm (USA Central)
The shuttle pod starting to take off on its own and leaving Trip and Archer on the sphere was brilliant. It's the sort of thing I would likely do if I lived in the Star Trek world.
Brock - Sun, Aug 5, 2012 - 3:26am (USA Central)
"...because Linda Park is the sexiest woman in all the Star Trek series"

She looks like a 12 yo girl...eh, whatever floats your boat I guess. Seven of Nine for me, that's a woman (and Jeri Ryan is an awesome actress).

This episode was throwing off a very strong Beauty and the Beast vibe (each term being relative of course) and it worked for me. I always find it such a disturbing idea if someone could read my thoughts. 99.9% of the things people conjure up in their brains wouldn't be appropriate to be known publicly. Heck sometimes the things I think even scare me and I say to myself "Where the hell did that come from?!"
Zane314 - Mon, Sep 10, 2012 - 2:44pm (USA Central)
I very much enjoyed this episode, I’d go 3.5 stars for Exile. Since Hoshi is my fave it’s no surprise but the story, execution, and the guest star were all very good. Phlox is my 2nd fave on Enterprise so his scene as Tarquin with Hoshi in sick bay was tops for me! I liked that Tarquin was actually pretty dang ugly which precluded any typical physical attraction between him and Hoshi - he was all about company and love. The Dracula-style castle and sets were excellent - Enterprise really nails that stuff well most of the time. Seeing more about Hoshi’s background was cool and I think Linda Park again pulled off a very believable performance; she just seems very natural. I didn’t mind the b-story at all and the effects were neat. Sure, that sphere wouldn’t normally make enough gravity to pull the shuttle pod back the way it did but come on, this is the Expanse! It’s crazy physics in there. It was obvious that something was up with Tarquin but they played it out well. Maury Sterlin did an excellent job communicating his loneliness and slowly revealing his true intent. I thought Hoshi’s show down with him worked well and it was nice to see a conflict resolved without the typical pew-pew action sequence in Act 4. My only regret about the episode is the very last scene with Hoshi reporting to Archer about the info Tarquin just gave her. It was all about the data and moving on to the next episode. I’d rather had something more character oriented like in Battlestar Galactica; e.g. Hoshi comes in with a distance look on her face, hands the pad to Archer, doesn’t answer Archer’s questions, walks back to her quarters and picks up the alien book and fade to black. Put more focus on Hoshi and what she just experienced instead of “here’s the data, next episode please!” But this isn’t BSG though for Enterprise it was a darn good, character focused episode.
Tiarfe - Sun, Oct 21, 2012 - 10:44pm (USA Central)
I also kept thinking Beauty and the Beast. Hoshi is a natural beauty and so is Travis. I am glad Hoshi got another story but I am very annoyed when there are only a glimpse or two of Travis.

One of the reasons my enjoyment of Voyager dropped was because of Seven. Her character was great as well as her acting but the catsuit had to go. Then Enterprise does the same thing with T'Pol catsuit which became more colorful as if the grey wasn't attention grabbing enough. The show became the Seven of Nine show and Enterprise seems to be the T'Pol show.

I don't blame the actors. I am not sure what the writers, directors, and producers were thinking with this show.

Trying to finish out the series since I made it this far.
Cloudane - Sat, Nov 24, 2012 - 7:02pm (USA Central)
Wow, he uh... really comes across as quite a creep. I can understand his loneliness, poor guy, and the desperation that comes with it but he definitely needs to find less.. creepy ways if he wants to entice someone to be his life-long companion!

His place reminded me of Trelane's in TOS.

Nice to see Hoshi get a story (and I was kind of hoping she might retain some telepathy, give her something interesting to do apart from translate) and wonderful to learn so much about her... it's really helped to flesh her out. But unfortunately Travis remains a complete unknown apart from his cargo freighter history.

An entertaining hour, and also liking that there's some progress with the arc.
John the younger - Tue, Jan 1, 2013 - 7:47am (USA Central)
The problem with the kind of story arc progression we're getting so far this season is that it's more neat than deep. It's like slowly placing pieces of a puzzle rather than actually developing anything or progressing characters.

With the A story, I like what they were going for with lonely alien and Hoshi but it just falls flat for me.

I love that mind-reader dude cannot figure out the right things to say to Hoshi. If you could read someone's mind you'd think you'd know what they want to hear and mount a more persuasive argument. The story gives Hoshi and no reason to stay on the planet with this guy, relegating the drama to Voyager-like irrelevance.

Also nice how Hoshi realises pretty early on that this dude is creepy and may be interested in her yet decides to throw on a skimpy dress and heels.

2 stars.
CJ - Fri, Jan 4, 2013 - 11:55pm (USA Central)
I think his mind-reading abilities weren't nearly 100%. That's why she didn't feel extremely violated and why he didn't know all the right things to say to her.

What was up with her choice of outfits? She knows this guy fancies her. She's has to spend the night at his house for work. It's weird that she would bring sexy outfits and nightclothes. The situation was uncomfortable to begin with, but she escalated it. I can't understand why she got out of uniform.
Lt. Yarko - Sun, May 19, 2013 - 4:29pm (USA Central)
Not a bad episode.

>> I don't blame the actors. I am not sure what the writers, directors, and producers were thinking with this show.

>> I can't understand why she got out of uniform.

The producers were clearly selling sex on this show (and the later Voyager) which was just dumb. But even the original series had sexy girls, you say? Yes. And that was dumb too. Clearly, this approach didn't help either series.

>> She looks like a 12 yo girl

Not.
Sintek - Thu, May 30, 2013 - 12:20pm (USA Central)
Lonely guy with a creepy interest in asian women? That's a Star Trek fan alright, although the alien is better looking and smelling.
T'Paul - Thu, Aug 22, 2013 - 3:42pm (USA Central)
Hahaha sintek...

This ep didn't do much for me either...
Nancy - Mon, Sep 16, 2013 - 6:51pm (USA Central)
The episode wasn't that interesting, but my mind was blown when I realized that handsome Maury Sterling was not only the human "projection" but also the guy underneath all that makeup. Quite a difference!

And I guess this is as good a place as any to say that I hate the new version of the theme. As the show gets darker, the theme gets peppier? Mmmkay.
Jack - Tue, Nov 26, 2013 - 12:12pm (USA Central)
It's not hard to find distinction between two three star episodes...one might be a 2.8 and the other a 3.2.
NoPoet - Fri, Dec 13, 2013 - 4:51am (USA Central)
Do people not realise that Mayweather got relegated to an extra because HE CAN'T ACT?? Look at the cheesy pudding of a scene where he appealed to the freighter commander in that Season 1 ep. He delivered it with the dramatic flair of a Chockablock narrator. In fact, every time he speaks you can hear the Chockablock theme playing. His best performance was in Dead Stop when he was dead. Why do people talk about his character like he was some kind of cosmic key who would have fixed the show?

Anyway: Linda Park is a much better actor, her character has shown minor signs of development and there just seems to be more that the writers can do with her. I agree that Tarquin is presented in a creepy way and there is no way Archer would have let Hoshi stay with him, nor would Hoshi have any reason to do so, especially not if she had to do it with her legs out.

That said, yet again this is an episode which builds a good atmosphere, it's just a shame Tarquin came across so badly as it made the events of the episode seem forced.

Captain Jim - Fri, Jan 31, 2014 - 9:59pm (USA Central)
Good episode. I was also reminded quite a bit of Beauty and the Beast, particularly at the beginning. As the episode moved along, it ultimately went in another direction.

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