Star Trek: Enterprise
Air date: 4/3/2002
Teleplay by Stephen Beck
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Stephen Beck
Directed by Jim Charleston
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Twenty-two years, captain. I've lived here for 22 years. And that ship down there may seem like nothing more than spare parts to you, but to me, it's home. I don't want to leave. I'm happy here. Comfortable." — Ezral
In brief: Pleasant but too familiar.
Part of me enjoyed the easygoing dialog and sensibilities of "Oasis," which is for the most part a quiet, well-acted outing that scores lots of points for being amicable. But then logic takes over where emotions taper off, and I see before me a story that is very obviously derivative and predictable — a Trek story that borrows generously from Trek stories that came before.
The cynic in me that wants to say "been here, done this" is beaten into quasi-acceptance by the sentimental optimist, who notes that even if this story isn't new, some of it works on an emotional plane. Which side of me wins this debate? Neither, because "Oasis" is quite simply too average for either side to get worked up about.
Probably not very useful is the episode's idea of playing much of the show as a mystery, particularly given how painfully conventional the solution ends up being. In this day and age, where major story twists are benchmarked by those found in movies like, say, The Sixth Sense or Fight Club, "Oasis" finds little of value when playing the mystery card.
The mystery is the question of a marooned crew on a crashed vessel. Before visiting this crew, Archer is handed an ominous warning by a passing trader (Tom Bergeron) who recently came in contact with them: "The, um ... crew objected," he says, before adding, mysteriously, "There wasn't anything alive."
The Enterprise away team lands on the planet to find what initially appears to be a deserted ship, before finding the crew hiding out in a room that apparently protects them from being detected by sensor sweeps. This crew says they've been stranded here for three years after crashing, unable to repair their ship. Archer offers to help, and in the process of making repairs, Trip and T'Pol come across some strange facts that indicate this crew isn't being completely forthcoming about their situation, hence the episode's air of mystery: What is this crew hiding and why? The big "shocker" comes in the form of a long-dead corpse in an escape pod orbiting the planet. It's the corpse of one of the crew members Trip has seen alive and well on the planet surface. How can that be? Are they ghosts? (Cue ominous music.)
The answer is predictable, conventional, and familiar: The crew is made up of holograms, save two survivors: Ezral (Rene Auberjonois) and his daughter Liana (Annie Werscing, whose character sometimes bears an uncanny resemblance to Kes from the early seasons of Voyager). They alone survived the crash some 20-plus years ago, when Liana was still a very young child. Ezral, unable to repair the ship to leave the planet, designed the holographic crew to become her — and his — extended family. Similar plots/themes include DS9's comparable "Shadowplay" and TNG's superior "The Survivors."
That's about all there is to the less-than-surprising plot, but what I liked about this episode was its presentation. Trip and Liana strike up a sweet, understated chemistry that reveals Trip as quite the gentleman. Such a gentleman, in fact, that I wanted to slap T'Pol around for being a needless thorn in Trip's side. She's all over his case for being friendly with Liana, and reminds him of how he got pregnant in "Unexpected" — something which I'd like to point out to T'Pol was hardly Trip's fault (unless he missed the lesson at Starfleet Academy that said, "For human males to avoid getting pregnant by Xyrillian females, you must be sure not to put your hands in a box of granules while sitting in a holographic boat").
Probably the best thing about the mystery was revealing it at the end of the third act and thus leaving the fourth act in the hands of a good deal of heartfelt dialog and human choices. Ezral turns out to be a real person instead of just a vessel for the plot. He had to make a choice — saving his daughter's life in the heat of a crisis — that indirectly caused the deaths of most of his ship's crew, his wife included. Now he just wants what's best for his daughter, and for years that has meant raising her with this virtual family — but now we suspect she's ready to move on to real life while he's content to live in this virtual past. The always-reliable Rene Auberjonois brings a wonderful authenticity to Ezral's regrets, pains, and fears in a way that really makes a difference. Where this story could've fallen victim to its own familiarity, the actors make it watchable.
Beyond that I have little to say. "Oasis" is ultimately a simple tale of human choices and with a little bit of good character study. It's a credit to the actors — especially Auberjonois — that we're invited to care. It's somewhat unfortunate that such well-delivered tones of pleasantness and classic Trekkian attitudes must play themselves out in a plot that's so obviously routine. Three acts of pedestrian "mystery" and one act of sincere sentiment add up to an episode that I wasn't sorry to be watching, but also wouldn't be breaking down any doors to see again.
Previous episode: Acquisition
Next episode: Detained
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41 comments on this post
Fri, Oct 3, 2008, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 30, 2010, 6:07am (UTC -5)
1) Make it spooky
2) Make it watchable to hold our attention
This episode started out doing that, then dropped the ball halfway through. It wasn't as bad as the abysmal "Terra Nova", but almost.
Sun, Dec 5, 2010, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
Sun, May 1, 2011, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
But - I had the "mystery" pegged as holograms before the half-way point, specifically when they walk into the computer room with what I thought were quite holodeck-like glowy things tiled around the wall like shining beacons of hologram-ness. Others probably realised even earlier. Because of that, it suffered, I thought.
It wasn't bad though. The equivalent "Shadowplay" was very good so of course this carries some of that success with it. It's just a little too familiar and the mystery wasn't one, at least for me.
It was a bit obvious, but I liked "what if she gets sick, will you program some sort of holographic doctor?" :)
Sun, Apr 7, 2013, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
I watched a featurette on "Shuttlepod One", and had to laugh when Braga said how they'd become tired of space battles and wanted to do more character-driven shows. Shuttlepod One is a complete exception to a season where Enterprise and the characters have been firing phasers more often than not.
Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 3:42am (UTC -5)
More character-driven episodes would've been perfect! Especially since even by the end the most developed character is still the dog. I guess Braga and co had just become too jaded to press forward with such ideas at that point in Trek's history.
Fri, May 16, 2014, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
Second, they must have thought this too, because I'm sure there is a knowing joke when Trip asks
'What will you do if she gets hurt? Create a holographic doctor?'.
Put those two together, it might have been good.
Wed, Nov 12, 2014, 5:50am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 17, 2014, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
I'm watching Enterprise for the first time, so I don't know how it'll play out, but it seems clear what the writers had in mind for these two at this point.
Fri, Mar 20, 2015, 11:31pm (UTC -5)
Tue, May 5, 2015, 11:42am (UTC -5)
Mon, May 25, 2015, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
There was something sweet about the Liana/Tucker relationship, and the knowing nod to the holographic doctor raised a smile, but really this was no great shakes. 2 stars.
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
That in a nutshell is the problem with Enterprise season 1 and 2. You could see the effects of "franchise fatigue", or at least that veteran Trek writers and producers were running out of steam. Oasis really is Shadowplay in HD, with less cheesy sets.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 10:46am (UTC -5)
The first time I watched this the "reveal" was pretty cool.
"TUCKER: You got a lot to learn about making friends.
EZRAL: I've made all the friends I need."
The best part about this one is the Trip/Lianna interaction.
Jammer's got it about right, 2.5 star from me.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
There is another similar nod when Ezral says it is strange being in space again after so long (great in-story, but an obvious a nod to Rene's time on DS9 too, albeit only three years hence).
Very predictable overall, though watching it for only the second time recently, I did not remember how it resolved.
Mon, Sep 5, 2016, 2:41am (UTC -5)
That's not to say I disliked the episode, it was as you said, "pleasant".
Rene does a great job as always, though it's funny seeing him in a copy of an episode that he had a major role in. The story of Bakula thinking they were doing an original story and Rene telling him otherwise has me sighing... the franchise's burnout was not obvious to the show's own actors.
2.5 seems right for this one, though you gave Shadowplay the same rating and I would assume that one is the better of the two.
Wed, Sep 7, 2016, 10:40am (UTC -5)
Wed, Sep 28, 2016, 5:04am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 3, 2017, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
but I could be wrong.
(I mean another Star Trek show)
Fri, May 18, 2018, 9:24pm (UTC -5)
Auberjonois tells the heartfelt tale of how he thinks he let his ship down by going for his baby daughter and not dealing with a plasma leak. This final conversation with Archer was good -- the character has to face the fact that it's time to leave his ship/home. Also have to wonder if he's over protective of his daughter to her detriment, but the episode didn't really go there.
The other thing I question is Enterprise's naïveté in volunteering to help so much without getting straight answers. Is it just there to do charity? Trip obviously develops feelings for Liana so he gives her a tour of the ship and doesn't get any answers from her in return and is then forced at gunpoint to fix their systems -- how do these supposed professionals get themselves into these pickles? And good luck winning a phaser fight against holograms. Anyhow without their generosity/naïveté, there would be no story.
2.5 stars for "Oasis" -- Not much of a mystery in this one -- another fairly predictable outing but with some nice character moments. A good Trip episode, but it avoided anything poignant or controversial -- kind of played it safe. Even if it is not a bad episode, it's really only worth watching once.
Sun, Jun 24, 2018, 6:36am (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 4, 2018, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
It started out pretty intriguing and spooky but the way it played out was a real disappointment. It had its moments but not enough to make me care one way or the other
Tue, Sep 18, 2018, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
"You know you said it gets better in the third series? I hope so, cos it's absolute diarrhea!" He then mimed pooing his pants along with sound effects.
He thought the opening to the episode was excellent but it became very boring when they actually met the colonists. We also raised the point that this is a repeat of Trip's storyline where he met the female alien in an early episode.
This sums up his opinion of Enterprise as a whole really. It started off extremely well and gradually got bogged down with non-stories.
I'm watching Stargate Atlantis again side by side with Enterprise and the contrast between the two shows is stunning. ENT is slow, staid, with very likeable characters but no direction or urgency. People sort of stand there delivering lines. SGA is vibrant, action-packed, with terrific writing and even better acting. You feel the intensity, the peril, and as a bonus side effect the overarching storyline keeps moving. Every new enemy in the Stargate universe is introduced with an amazing flourish and the background music is always spot-on. In ENT, we don't really have an enemy, or a plot.
Sun, Dec 16, 2018, 6:15am (UTC -5)
Overall, it`s one of the better Ent episodes in season one with a 3.5/4.
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 13, 2019, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 27, 2020, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 2, 2020, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 24, 2020, 9:15pm (UTC -5)
You know, I found Liana to be quite attractive here. It was Annie Wersching's first acting job. I don't mean this in a mean way, but it is uncanny how people can be made up. Every other single photo of her that I've seen, she looks TOTALLY different and not attractive at all! I think it is the hair, mannerisms, and I'm not sure what else. I mean she even looks different in the facial features than she does everywhere else.
Tue, Nov 24, 2020, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
I guess the only negative to it in continuity is the fact that the Enterprise crew could fix the computer with its holographic creations. I mean holograms in Starfleet only make an appearance 200 years later. I used this analogy earlier, but it's like a 19th century steam locomotive mechanic fixing a 21st century jet engine.
But that nitpick aside, I really liked the episode! I see T'Pol seems jealous of Trip! Hehe-that was amusing
Sun, Feb 7, 2021, 7:25am (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 8, 2021, 12:24pm (UTC -5)
Sean - I think the references to the Xyrillians in this episode was intended to explain why Trip can repair their systems. T'Pol needles him on it in the context of not falling in love with strange alien women, and I think that the "twist" - that they're holograms - was intended to have been foreshadowed by that reference too, as the last time Enterprise encountered sophisticated holography was back in "Unexpected" with the Xyrillians too.
And I spotted Annie Wersching straight away as I'd just finished watching her on Runaways. Not sure on what photos you're seeing, but she was very attractive in that series.
Thu, Sep 23, 2021, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 4, 2022, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 19, 2022, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 27, 2022, 10:05am (UTC -5)
It feels like Shakespeare's The Tempest mixed with the twist from DS9's Shadowplay.
Still, not a bad episode. But as Jammer say's it's a little too familiar.
I would have sworn that the actor playing the alien trader D'Marr was played by John Glover, but, no, Memory Alpha says it actually Tom Bergeron. The similarity of voices and mannerisms is uncanny.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 11:57pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 16, 2023, 2:41am (UTC -5)
It's not like Trek is known for having previous main case members show up on later shows playing different roles. Guest cast, yes, but having Rene show up as a character that is so obviously recognisable as the same actor? I'm flabbergasted that they had him on.
I could have seen them putting him on in a full-prosthetic alien like a Klingon or a Ferengi, even though his voice would be a dead giveaway - which was just one of the problems with the previous episode (Acquisition) - the clear familiarity of voice of Jeffrey Combs, Clint Howard and Ethan Phillips (and even the appearance of Clint) was enough to take me out of the situation entirely.
Similarly, how can I look at a group of aliens, with Rene being one of them and take them seriously as unfamiliar aliens? It's like when you are watching an episode of Law & Order, and you recognise and actor and immediately know that character is going to have some important role in the story even though they seem insignificant at first (they are probably the killer) - having Rene just sitting there as "just one of the aliens" immediately draws attention, where some random actor would not have. There are enough talented people in Hollywood that I know they could have gotten a quality actor to play the pat. The fact that Phillips was just in the previous episode clearly suggests they were going for either the "Trek nepotism" or the "stunt casting" to try to appeal to fans. I don't think either instance benefited the episodes.
Mon, Jan 30, 2023, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 1, 2023, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
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