Star Trek: Enterprise

“The Crossing”

2 stars.

Air date: 4/2/2003
Teleplay by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston

"You claim to be an explorer, captain. Open your mind to new possibilities." — Alien entity through Trip, explaining what the makers of this series refuse to make possible

Review Text

In brief: Early promise that quickly gives way to an overbaked stew of routine silliness.

Here's an episode that begins as epic, great-looking sci-fi, and continues through its first act as a story hinting at developing an interesting look at a truly different type of life form (for the crew, although not for Trek viewers) as well as looking back at human existence from their viewpoint. Promising material. But then it becomes a downhill slide, with a hostile invasion-of-the-body-snatchers plot that takes over, and eventually we end up just recycling lame-brained Trek clichés and assorted oddities.

"The Crossing" is another Enterprise failure, one that starts with the promise of awe but then quickly takes the path of routine rehashes. About the awe factor: Let's start with that first act. It's a winner. The Enterprise is swallowed up by a huge ship that promptly reconfigures its internal atmosphere to suit our crew's breathing needs (although why this is necessary is not clear, since our explorers never get out of their EVA suits once leaving the Enterprise). The ship's interior is a huge open room with cold, metallic surfaces and complex designs. Visually, this is great stuff — the sort of grand sights we imagine when we think of visual science fiction. Kudos to the CGI designers and the FX wizards who make this an eye-pleasing and convincing scene.

While he's down here on the floor of the big room of this impressive vessel, an entity that resembles a cloud of gas and light permeates Trip's EVA suit and enters his head. It then leaves, apparently taking Trip's consciousness right out of his body and replacing it with a different, alien consciousness. After a moment, it returns Trip's mind to him. For Trip, the experience is beyond description; he literally left his body and existed without corporeal form.

That is an intriguing sci-fi concept that has possibilities. Indeed, the episode even hints at some philosophical discussion when the entity again enters Trip's body and then speaks through him, telling Archer in a curious and wondrous tone, "You're very interesting — trapped in bodies that need maintenance." It takes pleasure in the simple experience of sampling a dozen items from the mess hall's menu. "You eat ... food," it exclaims.

But the thing about sci-fi concepts is that after you have a concept you need to do something with it. The approach of the makers of Enterprise, however, is to reduce a grand idea to the most mundane and cliché-ridden alien-takeover premise possible. The Trip-alien says to Archer: "You claim to be an explorer, captain. Open your mind to new possibilities." I was nodding in agreement at this point, wondering why Archer couldn't see the opportunity here to learn something new rather than constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. But the thing is, of course there's another shoe to drop; Archer knows better than anyone that he is on a show called Enterprise, which is usually about fending off tangible threats instead of exploring new realms, whether physical or philosophical.

On TNG, this concept probably would have been used to develop some sort of understanding about human nature or other realms of existence (I'm reminded of the leap of imagination in a seemingly but not actually threatening episode like "The Nth Degree"). But on Enterprise it's a plot device to bring about obvious action that we've seen time and time again. What we have here is the most potentially interesting sci-fi concept this season employed merely to propel a ship-takeover plot. Why bother?

Once this plot is set into motion, the crew is quick to discover that these alien entities want control of their bodies for selfish reasons. There's a sequence where an alien takes control of Lt. Reed and then embarks on a corporeal mission whose main priority is apparently getting laid. He engages in odd conversation with a female crewman on the turbolift ("You are female," he observes helpfully). When that encounter doesn't pan out he shows up at T'Pol's quarters, leading to a shameless and completely goofy scene that lies somewhere between laughable and tacky, pandering to those in the audience who want nothing more than to see Jolene Blalock's Hot Bod™. We've got T'Pol in tight underwear as the camera pushes her breasts through the plane of our television screens. The Reed-alien makes campy sexual overtures by way of the kind of bad dialog that makes you laugh in disbelief. Talk about limited imagination: Non-corporeal beings take human form not to gain insight or understanding, but to get into someone's pants.

Meanwhile, more crew members have their bodies snatched and Archer faces a complete takeover of his ship. He starts locking affected crew members in their quarters. Then Mayweather discovers that the alien entities can't pass through the shielding in the catwalk, so Archer has the entire crew reassigned to the catwalk, a plot idea that feels awfully redundant considering that in December we had a whole show called "The Catwalk" where the crew took refuge up there.

There's also use of T'Pol's special Vulcan mental disciplines, which makes it possible for her to be inhabited by one of the alien entities without being controlled by it. This permits her to learn the aliens' true motives for taking over the ship, which is that their own ship is ceasing to function, which means they will die if they don't take control of a new ship.

The crew's solution to the predicament is another one of those protracted mechanical tasks where nothing dramatic is happening on the screen and it feels more like a way to fill time. Phlox figures out a way to knock out all the infected crew members and drive out the alien entities. This involves him exposing the crew to a mixture of gas that he rigs up by rearranging things behind a panel in an obscure corner of the ship, while Archer has to talk him through which levers to pull and which valves to open. This is narrative quicksand. It's arbitrary prop manipulation captured on film — the "Minefield" bomb-dissection approach to filmmaking without the benefit of that show's character development. And the walk-through dialog is bafflingly extraneous. After Archer tells Phlox to remove a panel, Phlox then asks him what to do with it. Archer says to do whatever he wants with it — like set it on the floor. And I'm asking myself, is this exchange even necessary in the slightest?

I also was confused as to where the affected crew members' conscious minds went when the aliens were in their bodies. It's established that they are removed. Were they just floating around the ship? And when the entities were driven out, just what would motivate them to return the crew's minds to them? Such details are not really worth questioning, I suppose, but the plot is on arbitrary, shaky ground and thus comes off as unconvincing.

There are a couple scenes that work. As I've said, the early parts with Trip are worthwhile. And later on, I thought the Hoshi-alien's disturbingly calm call for help for her "broken leg" was eerily depicted; a close-up on Hoshi effectively conveys some subdued, suspicious menace. But more often the show is lost in muted half-hearted performances, like T'Pol's "trust me" appeal to Archer on risking herself to confront the entities — a scene that, as acted, completely lacks conviction.

I also was less than thrilled by the ending that blows up the alien ship and all the non-corporeal life forms. Given the level of the threat, I don't blame Archer for this course of action. But there's something depressing about the whole idea that the episode begins with such higher-minded would-be intentions, only to turn it into a lowbrow alien conspiracy and end with them being categorically destroyed. It's a cynical and unmoving arc.

I'm thinking that Enterprise needs to show us something new, reinvigorate itself with some energy and purpose, or return to its characters. This stretch of the season has been a string of unrelenting mediocrity that the creators would be well-advised to break themselves free of at once. Of course, I'm sure they're telling themselves that. Or at least I hope so. I hope they don't actually think "The Crossing" is exciting television.

Next week: Enterprise borrows the courtroom scene from Star Trek VI to give Archer a taste of justice, Klingon style.

Previous episode: Canamar
Next episode: Judgment

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Comment Section

67 comments on this post

    So the enterprise blows up another ship full of life forms. Great. Makes me proud to be human.

    The non-corporeal aliens were trying to save themselves, nothing more. It is below the morality of the Enterprise to destroy a ship fuoll of people who are just trying to live. They weren't evil.

    A better story would have showed how Archer helped them survive.

    Couldn't agree more with the review, except I would have given it one star. I had such high hopes coming out of the first act. Once it was resolved as a lame exorcism, aliens-try-to-commandeer-the-ship episode, I audibly groaned. We've seen this numerous times on TOS, TNG and probably DS9 and Voyager if I think about it.

    It could have gone to so many interesting places. What if the aliens were generally well-intentioned, and Archer (who's so reflexively paranoid and over-reactive at this point, it's become a joke) had agreed to carefully managed crossings for the sake of exploration? What if a few of the crew had enjoyed being non-corporeal (instead of just taking trips down memory lane -- a real failure in creativity and inspiration on the part of the writers here), and had wanted to switch places permanently with their non-corporeal partner?

    Ambiguity, complexity... a difficult ethical decision. What we get instead are the dregs of better episodes in a universe that grows less interesting by the day. There were also numerous plot holes and inconsistencies (e.g. how did the NC beings get to Enterprise when it was dead in space if they couldn't survive in space?) that were just plain sloppy. Sigh...

    Couldn't agree more with the review.

    Started out great! It was like a Final Fantasy scene, camera high, watching our people stroll through a surreal landscape with some pyreflies. This apparently hungry ship was just a group of pyreflies looking for bodies to inhibit and share some experiences - how lovely! How full of nice Trekkian potential, they likes of which we haven't seen for some time!

    Then they wasted it and just turned into more action crap.

    And then they blew the ship up, murdering them all. Disgusting. Far from Trekkian. Cynical. Horrible.


    I guess I'll have to be the one dissenting voice here. I enjoyed this episode quite a bit - actually, a lot more than I expected to. It was certainly a welcome change of pace from the usual aliens of the week, who look just like us except for some facial prosthetics. I liked the uncertainly about their intentions, the sense of helplessness on the crew's part and the sense of foreboding.

    I also must disagree with those who had a problem with Enterprise destroying their ship. Sure, they were "only trying to save themselves," but at someone else's expense. Don't forget, they attacked Enterprise, not the other way around. As far as I'm concerned, this was a simple matter of self-defense.

    Three stars.

    It seems that evolving is bad. You become non-corporeal and have to miss all that food and sex. That's about it.

    And what about Trip riding along Hopalong Cassidy being so real in his perception? Why can't they make whoopie in that fantasy world and being less frustrated than an infiltrated Reed? If it's so real, why do they have to pursue sex with a Vulcan lady if they can dream up every male or female stunner in that "virtual real" world of theirs?

    That T'Pol uses the ship like it's one giant catwalk. Do all Vulcan females walk and prostrate funny?

    I also wonder what they thought about being corporeal again when they entered a guy on duty not able to go to the toilet or a damsel having her period. Just saying.

    I usually like to be the devil's advocate, but I couldn't agree more with the review and the comments. It started so well and I so wanted Archer to be wrong ! I mean, he's the least likable - Sisko included, and that's saying a lot from me - captain of the whole franchise. Even the cheesy Kirk had more sense than Archer.
    So, when he's being so hostile instead of trying to communicate (in a nutshell, initiating a diplomatic first contact), it made me angry and once again, he didn't listen to T'Pol.

    What made me more angry was the writers turning a potentially wonderful story about the first non-corporeal beings Starfleet encounters to another hostile alien. To add more offense, Archer destroys them all.

    Kirk would have driven the aliens out of the crew's bodies, but then he would have found a way to work with them to fix their ship, rather than blowing it up.

    Kirk is always right. As for this ep, I give it 2.5 stars, the extra half star being for the scene where Hoshi attacks Phlox--it was actually disturbing.

    I just watched this episode for the first time and found it to be like TNG's "Power Play" without the...power play. There's no tense threat...nor sustained wonderment. There's no work to resolve things peaceably nor any curiosity on behalf of our intrepid "explorers".

    I own Star Trek Enterprise on DVD (for completist purposes). This episode is one of the reasons why its the only Trek series I, a rabid Trekkie, have had a hard time sitting through...and haven't watched all the episodes.

    The the crossing showed so much promise but only left me with heart break at it's failure...

    I was very surprised - and disappointed - that they blew up the ship at the end. I understand that this isn't TNG, but it doesn't seem in the spirit of Star Trek in general. I know Archer was acting in self defense and preventing them from taking over other species, but why couldn't the writers think of another way?

    Wow, how utterly disappointing. Agree with Jammer, the opening scenes with that huge ship swallowing the Enterprise, were quite promising. And then it just went downhills. At the end, I was waiting for the conclusion - you know, actually communicating with the lifeforms, trying to find a way to save them, which is what both Kirk and Picard would have done - and then they just blew the whole ship up. Wow.

    My instincts tell me this episode would have been a lot more enjoyable if it didn't involve yet another alien crew taking over the ship. If the show had instead focused on first contact with a non-corporeal species, and created some more inventive form of conflict or character development instead, it would have been a much more enjoyable show. As is, it's predictable drivel.

    At least nobody was acting immature and childish in this episode, so that's something I guess. You can never to be sure when the next time that mature adults will be acting on screen in Season 2.

    My problem with the episode was only the ending. Why couldn't Archer just negotiate with the aliens and offer them to come in Enterprise and if they agree not to possess any crew member without a concrete agreement including length of time and alerting the crew of not commissioning the crew member to real work while the exchange was happening... Enterprise would then take the noncorporeal lifeforms to a planet where they could live in peace.

    I think the way they destroyed 300+ lifeforms without trying to negotiate with them was inconsistent with their value system.

    OK, even I have to admit that Archer--whom I generally like--is too immediately hostile in this episode. It doesn't get more excitingly sci fi than an encounter with an alien species that was at one time corporeal. Definitely a missed opportunity.

    Ah, another species destroyed by the self-righteous Enterprise crew as they speed along their merrily way. At this point in time they are most definitely more trouble than they're worth to the galaxy. It's a wonder Starfleet ever flourished the way they did. Kinda wish Q would have appeared in this and put humanity on trial at this point, but the guilty verdict would've been a foregone conclusion. "Rapid progress". Whatever.

    Totally agree with the crown on this one - a fantastic looking opening with heaps of promise but my hopes were dashed at the end....

    Surprised this got 2 stars, it's more like 1 star, after the damning review. Started out with promise, then just got boring full of cliches, and then ended with the surprise of killing all the aliens. I guess it would have been further cliche to have solved the problem for the aliens, but blowing them all up felt quite "un-Trek" in philosophy. I also kept wondering why a non-corporeal lifeform would travel in a corporeal ship. That didn't make any sense, but then the episode was just bad anyway.

    Opening comes on something like The Spy Who Loved Me, and the ending is a bit of a worry a week after Archer fights like mad to save a murderer, but in between there's some nice stuff.

    Early on it does indeed conjure a nice feeling of wonder, and some of the character performances are OK (although I prefer Tucker's chilled wonderment to Malcolm's predatory sex offender). At least it tried to offer something different, even if we ended up in another run of the mill actioner.

    That said, we did see Phlox headbutt Tucker, and in a vac suit no less. Gotta be worth something... 2.5 stars.

    Trip has been showcased as the protagonist in all but a few episodes this season. He has been the producers number one choice to the detriment of Travis and others. I have nothing against Trip but please let one of the other main characters highlight an episode for a change. As for the non-corporeal beings, I wonder if they happen to be of the same race as those on TOS "Day of the Dove".

    Yeah, this one has always been blah.

    I also think Archer was too quick to the "mad Archer" side.

    It's not a bad ep, but nothing special

    2.5 stars.

    I think I started searching for reviews because this episode really leaves a sour taste in your mouth at the end; it's very non-trekish. At this point in the series, Archer is becoming recognized as a diplomat and it just seems so out of character to blow up a ship full of non-corporeal beings that seem to be in a desperate situation of a failing starship. Also, I couldn't quite believe how easily they blew up the supposedly much more advanced and larger starship, given that they had to fire 2 torpedos just to deal with a scaffolding arm that pinned Enterprise to a repair station. It's just all too inconsistent.

    If they just changed the aliens motives to something much more sinister, like wanting human slaves, or the crossing over was converting Tuckers Mind into psyche food stuff for them, then the audience would feel a bit more justified with Archer gunning them down at the end.

    As it was, it feels almost like they needed to end the episode in a hurry and they wanted to end it with a bang, so the writers made choices which probably were more in alignment with TV broadcasting requirements rather than being true to the characters or the story.

    "If they just changed the aliens motives to something much more sinister, like wanting human slaves,...."

    That's pretty much what they wanted. All 82 onboard Enterprise would have been captive forever had they succeeded.

    I was really interested to see where they would take this idea of the non-corporeal aliens interacting with the corporeal humans, but where did they take it?

    To a very typical place, and what a shame.

    Can't we have one episode where the crew encounters something wonderful and mindblowing, and it turns out that the story is the wonder and the blown minds, and not the evil alien plots?

    I'm beginning to understand why this show lasted only four seasons.

    Broadly I agree with Jammer's argument, but I felt this was a superior episode to the previous kidnap yawnfest, and am surprised they received the same rating.

    The first act was certainly superior; the alien vessel looked GREAT, and though things went downhill from here (in fact from Archer's barking orders and purposefully rushing out in a shuttlepod to stand about aimlessly on the floor of the vessel for a couple of minutes) there were still positives. Three main actors got to extend their range a little, and the sequence where Phlox was working on the gas valves had some genuine tension.

    I'd like to know how a species that had been non-corporeal presumably for many Millenia had managed to build a ship half a kilometre wide which appeared to be functioning perfectly well despite their assertion to the contrary, but compared with the magnitude of many ENT plot holes this seemed forgivable.

    That nobody debated the necessity of destroying the entities seemed out of character, and I was surprised that two torpedoes blew the bejeezus out of that huge ship, but I'm not claiming this was a good episode, just a little above average of late.

    Good episode. Archer showed great judgment blasting those hostile critters to oblivion. The next ship to come along might have fallen victim. Too bad Picard didn't learn from this earlier captain. The Borg would have been wiped out and the Crystalline critter atomized. Millions would have been spared.

    Like everyone here: The beginning of the episode was impressive and held such great promise.

    I found myself wondering how many takes it took Jolene Blalock and Dominic Keating to get through that scene without laughing at the stupid dialogue.

    All I can think about when watching episodes with beings like this is...where are these things in Kirk's and/or Picard's time? They obviously have to still be around.

    Disappointing episode -- a ball dropped after a pretty intriguing opening. Jammer's review pretty much nails it.

    The giant ship catching up and swallowing Enterprise and then shutting down all its power systems -- some great visual sci-fi here especially considering the massive ship is run by non-corporeal aliens. When Trip gets possessed and starts speaking in a different tone, I thought about "Return to Tomorrow" and I wondered if Archer would open his mind and try to help the aliens etc.

    But of course, the episode quickly degenerates into a hostile takeover theme and the execution and writing is pretty weak. So the various non-corporeal aliens like to experience different things...and the one that possesses Reed is a sexual predator. Enterprise likes to throw in some cheap sexual crap like this from time to time -- it's totally unnecessary.

    The episode should have spent more time on the aliens origin, purpose etc. Instead it becomes a mechanical exercise in flooding the ship with gas while a possessed Trip grapples with Phlox. This is ENT for you -- the key moment in so many episodes are physical battles it seems. The writers had to do better.

    Disappointed to see the giant ship destroyed in the end. Makes me wonder why Enterprise didn't fire upon it in the first place if it new it was going to be swallowed up -- Archer & co. would have no idea what could be in store for them if they were to be swallowed up.

    Barely 2 stars for "The Crossover" with the majority of the rating earned for the opening 10-15 mins. Usually body possession by superior non-corporeal beings comes with some philosophical lessons learned, but not in this case. Some fairly arbitrary things (like the Catwalk blocking the aliens, the gas to rid the bodies of the aliens) are thrown in, which give the episode its own twist on a very common theme -- however, that twist kind of sucked.

    2 stars

    Boring. A poor man’s “ Power play”

    I prefer “Sub Rosa” over this as a possession story as well

    I find this episode underrated by most of you commentators. It worked well for me, from beginning to end (yeah, including the end). And in a space voyage, things can turn up you can't solve in a traditional Trekish way, even when you are on a Star Trek series - as shown here. Actually, you can't moan over Trek being too predictable when you observe you have seen this before in x or y series before, and when they really try different, you start criticizing the authors for being incoherent with Trek behaviorism.
    I found the way the entities behaved inside the human bodies understandable, including all scenes you reckon to be ridiculous - especially the entity inside Malcolm seeking a sex partner by making 'awkward' proposals to female crew members. Of course it got to be 'awkward'. It is an entirely new experience to the entities and they find the outlook of physical intercourse apparently as fascinating as we do. Malcolm isn't exactly the ladies' man when being himself, so don't expect him to turn into Casanova with a lifeform inside him who has no idea how it is done effectively - as if all genuine human being knew it, alright!
    Someone mentions it is unbelievable how such entities could have constructed this huge ship (indeed great design and rendition), but it was said they have been once equipped with bodies in the way their victims are, but have developed further and became what they are now. This together with the info, that their ship is close to reaching the end of its functioning time span (the reason for looking for new places), explains how the ship was built (when they still were material) and why it is now old and on the edge of falling apart.
    Jammer once protested about the disregard Mayweather was receiving in the show (like when he was about to talk to Phlox about a strange alien ball game he was taking part in, just to get interrupted), and here the ensign contributes much to the solution of the dilemma by discovering the catwalk would be a safe place after closing the hatch, thus providing the rescue of the crew. Was not getting noticed here, though.
    The two torpedoes right into the opening mouth of the alien ship at the end were justified, because the entities just were starting to pull the Enterprise once more into the belly of their ship, and Archer had to avoid that and get away. The destructive effect of just two torpedoes could also be explained by the final stage of that huge ship being in decay, so it was more receptible to damage being dished out.
    Good effects and acting of 'possessed' crew members, Trip in the first place.
    Good deal of tension by Phlox on mission to get the entities away by disabling their hosts temporarily. The way he behaves with mechanical parts which are not part of his medical work space, including the criticized way of him asking what he got to do with a metal plate he had to remove to access the valves - all this is okay as to portray Phlox not doing what he is competent in and needing instructions for each and every step. He knows about the importance of this action and is careful not to do a wrong step which could doom the fate of them all. So who of you would not ask stupid questions being in his shoes? Just to make sure?
    So I have to close my comment by giving more appreciation to this episode than the others did. Three stars or maybe even three point five.

    I have no problem with the destruction of the ship at the end.

    When you're dealing with entities that "will not stop" or "will not rest" and will just harass the next visitor to them, that's really all you can do.

    In TNG's "Power Play", they were able to re-trap the entities on the planet and drop a warning buoy.

    That couldn't be done here...there was no trap, and the ship can move.

    This is actually a poor man’s “The Lights of Zetar” from third season TOS.

    Non-corporeals looking for bodies and killed with a dubious atmosphere trick. Here, Phlox briefly “kills” everybody to drive out the aliens, while in Zetar, high pressure is used.

    Though not regarded highly by most TOS fans, I actually do like “Zetar” a lot. The pressure treatment was ridiculous but the alien possessions are very creepy and the ep has solid acting and emotional punch as the possessed lady struggles to defeat the aliens.

    Sigh. I didn’t watch Enterprise much when it aired and so I’ve been randomly watching eps now. The opening act on this one had me thinking wow what did I miss, then of course it went badly south.

    I feel there was character development in this one... of Phlox. He's become my favorite character, and so much of that is his great demeanour. Cheery, not easily distressed... but also very cautious and sensible. His approach to possessed-Hoshi was great, and I wish other characters would show half his common sense. That she managed to effectively attack him at all seemed improbable in the circumstances, but he was still ready for that. Which just suits this long-lived, experienced character who has seen a great deal, and apparently comes from a nigh-unflappable race. Just great.

    And, speaking of character moments... when the entity left T'pol, that was two brilliant seconds, fantastically done. I have to give Jolene Blalock far more credit than I did when Enterprise first aired, and I gave up after the pilot. It's still not "Trek like I'm used to", but I'm learning to enjoy it for what it is (which is less ambitious, admittedly).

    I liked most of this, except the ending. It was not so much that they had an "us or them" attitude and smoked the ship, but rather that they are inconsistent, and random in who they kill and who they think deserves to live, deserves many second chances, or deserves help. The acting and production were good most of the episode, it was interesting to see the "possessed" crew act creepy.

    Trip holding up the slice of white bread and asking "Have you tried this?" is one of my favourite moments in Star Trek.

    Otherwise - yeah, fine but unremarkable. So, sure, two stars. Worth watching the white bread moment, though.

    It's funny that they wanted to get more use out of the catwalk set. It's like Archer told Mayweather "Travis, can you look through our old sets and see if any can be reused against this week's aliens?". It's a nice set though so I can't blame them.

    It was like several stories mashed together and much worse than its parts. Evil aliens taking over Enterprise is one story. Starfleet meeting non-corporeal aliens for the first time (it's not clear if T'Pol merely couldn't scan these lot or if the Vulcans had also not met any) is one story too. The possession aspect is like another story which could have gone fine with one or the other but the whole thing is muddy and weird. I noticed it had a lot of writers names at the start. Too many cooks?

    There's no moment where Archer thinks he was wrong to be so suspicious and hostile. I think it would have been a lot better for that. The way it was filmed, it's like he knew the ending, and that just isn't believable (not least because he only knew it like I now know the ending, he didn't change his actions, just his attitude!)

    It's not like every Enterprise episode is like this. Just in the last episode, he's risking his life and Trip's to save a ship of what may well be the worst kind of murderers - and risking his life several more times to try to rescue the one trying to kill them all, and him. Previously, we've seen it can be hard for him to adapt to weird and/or rude aliens, but he does, even if it takes some prodding from T'Pol. But there was none of that here. It's so odd. It would have been a great episode if they had been able to help them fix their ship (which it's implied was running on no maintenance for maybe thousands of years if not longer). But Archer didn't offer, when he offers to help every other alien with their ships, and they didn't ask, even though they got the ability to speak to the Enterprise crew. That's just one option - another is to find them a planet or even for some of them to stay on board permanently! But no, just "they're evil, kill them". Really boring.

    I thought they all put in good performances though. Reed's alien was ridiculous, but I liked amazed Trip and evil Hoshi. T'Pol was a bit weak talking to Archer, but great in the possession scene. I liked Phlox too, he was asking all those questions to show he's a doctor and this is not really in his job description - what the rest of the crew does is difficult and requires training and I think the actor conveyed that well as did the script.

    Ugh. IMO, this is one of Trek’s worst episodes. Stuff like “Spock’s Brain,” “Threshold,” and “Sub Rosa” may be bad, but at least it’s entertaining and you can have a good time laughing through it. After the first act, which had a great sense of wonder and eeriness, this was just dull, flat, and lifeless. I can pinpoint the exact moment it went bad; a creature appears in the launch bay, and Reed IMMEDIATELY starts shooting and ducking and dodging like he’s in a video game. WTF?? There was no indication before this scene that the aliens had hostile intent. This scene comes out of nowhere.

    Also, didn’t we see in “Marauders” that T’Pol is a butt-kicking martial-arts badass? The entire time Reed is in her quarters, they’re trying to play it like she’s in danger, and I’m thinking, “Seriously? Come on!” Based on what we saw in that episode, she could pin him to the floor in two seconds. It’s like Berman and Braga 1) forgot that moment or 2) chose to shove it under the rug for the sake of one scene.

    As for the infamous “Phlox turns valves to save the ship” scene… I couldn’t help thinking that those people got paid to write pages and pages of dialog like, “Turn the valve 90 degrees. Set the panel on the floor.” It is pure filler depicted in the most lifeless, soul-sucking way possible, with monotone music straight out of latter-day TNG.

    It’s a miracle that the actors mostly make it watchable. Connor Trinner is spot-on, both as the alien and as Trip in awe at his out-of-body experience. Poor Travis has nothing to do except look for Trip and get punched in the face; par for the course. This gets one star from me BECAUSE it starts out so well and goes so very wrong.

    So much for "to seek out new life and new civilizations."

    I agree with just about everyone here. This episode seems like a perfect encapsulation of the first two seasons of the show in general - a good premise with a lot of promise that is squandered and then turned absolute garbage.

    Blowing up the aliens' ship at the end is so antithetical to the Trek ethos. Really embarrassing stuff. I really hate when in more recent interviews Berman & Braga blame Trek fatigue over 17 years for the cancellation of Enterprise. No, I'm sorry. It's episodes like this that turned off and soured the fanbase, who never wanted to bother tuning back in when this was the schlock they were getting.

    I liked this episode. Yes, there could have been an alternative story about encountering new civilisations. But the story this episode had was pretty decent as a thriller.

    The ship looked like an Independence Day style ship that basically did a Bond style scoop up of the Enterprise. I thought it was interesting when some crew members were essentially compromised and they had to have Security confine them.

    Hoshi is hot. The scene with the compromised Hoshi trying to trick the Doctor was cool. I found it hilarious that the Doctor had to go to see the patient with a phaser/gun. Reminded me also of Voyager's doctor being the only immune last defence against hostile forces.

    Perhaps not destroying the ship via a multi part episode banding together with "good guys" within these lifeforms would have been preferable to destroying their ship and killing them.

    Given the circumstances, the Enterprise acted in self defence and was justified in destroying them. They were after all trying to take the ship and the lives of all aboard.

    I don’t think Travis ever got possessed. Probably because his acting is so bad you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

    I too found this episode disappointing.

    1. I feel that Archer jumped way too quickly to hostility. He has shown more patience with Klingons and Andorians that actually wanted humans dead. Than he did with these beings that just wanted to survive. He made no effort to communicate diplomatically with these beings. They seemed to just be enemies to Archer right from the get go.

    2. Even though the beings did have an ulterior motive, the fact that no philosophical thought was given to how the Wisp's "possession" of the crew could have just been how they engage in "cultural exchange". One again, the trap of only thinking in human terms, kind of fails in any star trek setting when it comes to new experiences.

    3. The end. The fact that the episode ends in genocide of these beings with no reflection, no consequences, and no future ramifications is inexcusable. I understand this is very early in Starfleet history, before the Prime Directive, but they claimed to be beyond things like genocide.

    I would actually debate this being self defense. Because Archer offered no diplomacy. The idea of trying to help them fix their ship wasn't even explored. They just jumped right to "kill them all".

    TBH that alone should have justified Vulcan's concerns and ended the Enterprise's mission. But nope. They just end hundreds of lives and go on as they do. Inexcusable and a disgrace.

    “Berman & Braga blame Trek fatigue over 17 years for the cancellation of Enterprise. No, I'm sorry. It's episodes like this that turned off and soured the fanbase”

    Yup! Ding ding ding! I think the fatigue was mostly from B&B. Sure, I was rather bored with Voyager because it was reheated lightweight TNG. But I can go back now with some distance and enjoy most Voyager episodes. With Enterprise, very very few. Boring, dumb, blown high concepts. They could have gone so many places with the premise of this one.

    That’s really a good point too— personally, my first assumption with the failure of Enterprise was they created a bunch of boring characters with blah actors. The two exceptions were Trineer’s Tucker and Billingsly’s Phlox. And Phlox was annoying as a concept because he felt like reused Neelix, and it seemed exceedingly unlikely the ship would have an alien Doctor.

    I’m not at all a fan of Bakula’s Sam Becket in space, and the other regular characters are mostly forgettable, but maybe that’s because the stories were mostly crap.

    So far, Trip has gotten pregnant; got trapped in an alien's white web; he and Malcolm got robbed of their clothes and their shore leave by some shape-shifters; got stranded on a barren moon and nearly got fried in the heat; and here he got taken over by a bodiless alien. A guy who's dealt with that could probably use a holiday. Good thing he's already got the Hawaiian shirt.

    This episode performed the same problem that many shows have and that is a woman beating a man in a physical fight. I know people don't want to hear this, but the average man is stronger than the average woman! For this to happen so much is just denial of a basic fact. I am referring to the Hoshi alien claiming to have a broken leg to lure the doctor. Besides which, the aliens should have done the prudent thing and had the strongest captured human play that role. If one of the security people took the doctor by surprise, I think that would have made a lot more sense.

    Speaking of not making sense, I don't understand how Trip was still under the aliens' control. I thought it was established that whatever was in the catwalk, it shielded the humans from the aliens. How could he still be in their thrall?

    @Sean J Hagins

    "This episode performed the same problem that many shows have and that is a woman beating a man in a physical fight. I know people don't want to hear this, but the average man is stronger than the average woman! For this to happen so much is just denial of a basic fact. I am referring to the Hoshi alien claiming to have a broken leg to lure the doctor. Besides which, the aliens should have done the prudent thing and had the strongest captured human play that role. If one of the security people took the doctor by surprise, I think that would have made a lot more sense.

    Speaking of not making sense, I don't understand how Trip was still under the aliens' control. I thought it was established that whatever was in the catwalk, it shielded the humans from the aliens. How could he still be in their thrall?"

    Sean, glad to see you are enjoying the series. I personally love it.

    But the women use Captain Kirk's patented 2-hand punch!!! Agree, it's ridiculous at times... well, most of the time.

    My take on Trip was as long as the hatch was open, they could go through.

    A shame that an episode which starts by making you ponder the nature of noncorporeal existence just ends with a fist fight in the hallway. They even blow them up at the end! Some explorers!

    I for one am glad to see a more rough-and-tumble Archer, in this episode. Those alien lifeforms wanted to take over his crew. He blew them up. Diplomacy is all well and good, as long as there's a point to it. Those aliens clearly weren't interested in any compromises made.

    One thing that does bother me, how it only took one measly little torpedo, to blow up a ship that size, even from the inside (and it looked like it didn't even hit, it just detonated in empty space inside the ship). Especially when those pre-photon torpedos are generally super-weak, from what I've seen so far.

    This must be the most disappointing episode of Trek for me ever. The beginning was luminous and felt like really good TNG. What the frak happened? Where did the 'nice' alien(s) go? (...All killed by Archer. Archer continues to piss me off.)

    Here's my thought: maybe this was intended as a 2-parter, with the eager, helpful and wondrous aliens, really wanting a cultural exchange AKA the actual Crossing. This could have been up there with The Nth Degree, sharing a new kind of galactic exploration. Or maybe they are on that huge ship, searching for a suitable new home for their kind.

    In my scenario, if they wanted to go that way, there'd be a faction of aliens stealing the crew's physical bodies. We'd keep the scenes with Hoshi and Reed. Enterprise would have to work with the friendly aliens to restore everyone, we could hold onto the action sequences, use the Catwalk as shelter, etc as we saw. Have Phlox release the gas, yadda yadda, to get the 'bad' aliens back in their bottle (or some other astral equivalent) where they could not harm anyone again.

    Then Trip could have worked together with his alien (reminding me of the movie The Host) to fix the ailing ship, and send them on their way to the next galaxy. Perhaps looking for the place Picard's crew went to in *Where No One Has Gone Before*. Seems like that could be perfect for their new home.

    Honestly, there must have been more in mind. And the whole "Trip being back in Florida" thing should have been explored further, and with the other crew members. Where did Trip's nice alien go? They were even released from the big ship when asked. This whole thing was dropped. Big pieces of plot must have been cut for this travesty to make any sense. As a coherent episode of Trek, it fail morally in a way that makes me mad. Anyone know what happened behind the scenes?

    I’ll give the episode credit for one thing: Enterprise is swallowed by a huge ship and three characters leave the ship in spacesuits to explore the situation. They detect that a breathable atmosphere and pleasant temperature has formed around them.

    Amazingly, they don’t promptly remove their helmets.

    Couldn't agree more with this review and the prevailing sentiment. As soon as the aliens were revealed to be hostile after all, and thus Archer was totally justified in being suspicious of their motives after all, I was yelling at my TV. What a waste of a good premise.

    All season, Enterprise has been taking the path of least resistance, throwing high concept after high concept at the wall and seeing if something sticks. It hasn't pushed for greatness; it hasn't done anything unexpected or unpredictable or even *interesting*. It feels like a continuation of Voyager from season 5 onwards - which is perfectly understandable given that Berman and Braga took the lead at that point, but not in any way a compliment. Voyager was well established after four years, and its run from seasons 5-7 was competent and entertaining for the most part. But here, with Enterprise only a season and a half in, it feels like a squandering of the premise on episodes that could have been done with any of the Trek casts. I don't want "good solid entertainment" from Enterprise: I want something new, something different. Otherwise they might as well have just made two more seasons of Voyager.

    Why does everyone keep saying genocide? It was self defense. The ship was pursuing them again. Also, the ship got destroyed only because it had opened its bay doors.

    Archer also seems justified in not being all a-wonder about cultural exchange with a species which (a) had devoured their ship and (b) had the capability to body snatch and was using it without permission.

    The only logical weak-point according to me was the following: how could they be sure that after CO2 removed the wisps, the original "souls" would, could or had enough time to return. They should have used the following theory, which would have made the episode better: even though the wisps are non-corporeal beings, humans cannot actually leave their own bodies. What the humans are experiencing are wisp-induced hallucinations while trapped in their own bodies. I would have proposed this as the actual explanation, if the human wisps had not been clearly shown as leaving and entering the bodies. Oh well.

    = = = =

    MINOR SPOILERS FOR A DIFFERENT SHOW. Has anyone seen "Behind Her Eyes"? The premise seems lifted straight from this Enterprise episode, including the color-coded wisps. They do come up with a much better mystery using this premise, though.

    Too many instances of idiocy where obvious alien body snatching is occurring but the other crew members just don't seem to realize it. The most pivotal being Tucker escaping the catwalk knocking ppl over and Mayweather continuing to try to convince him that "it's not safe out there sir" instead of stopping the clearly alien-invaded Tucker from opening the hatch exposing the whole crew.

    This is a sign of lazy writing. Instead of having the aliens at least understand they need to be more discrete and less "alien-ish" or some story point that has the crew not able to realize a body-snatching situation, they just make the crew act stupidly.

    Too much of this kind of stuff in Enterprise and Voyager for my taste. The viewer shouldn't be that much smarter than the crew. Possibly one of the reasons I hold those two series in the bottom tier of the 5

    Hmm, I haven't finished watching the ep yet, but reading Jammer's review, I'm a bit disappointed in the left turn it takes into the mundane body-snatcher plot.

    Regarding the exchange between Archer and Phlox about the access panel: I wonder if the writers were trying to be funny here. I.e. they wanted to establish just how much Phlox *really* isn't a maintenance worker by having him ask goofy questions like this. Apparently all that was missing was a "Dammit John, I'm a Doctor, not an environmental-control technician" line.

    Another thing that struck me during the early acts of the episode was, "What does God need with a starship?" Not to say that these non-corporeal being are godlike. But it's very strange that they cruise around in a giant Independence-Day-like flying saucer, given that they 1) are non-corporeal, 2) live in subspace (implying FTL travel may be natural or easy for them without engines), and 3) are shown very clearly as being able to survive in the vacuum of space. The interior of the alien craft added a lot of atmosphere, but wasn't very well thought through from a plot standpoint.

    Excellent review. It made me realize that so many Trek episodes (in all series) involve hostile takeover of ship, kidnapping of crew, wrongful imprisonment of crew, invading the body/mind of crew, and with Irrational Forehead Aliens TM so often being the antagonist. The "seek out new life" and exploration themes get sidelined so often.

    This episode is a perfect example. They could have really explored the non-corporeal being "fish out of water" plot a lot further. They could have also explored what the humans experience when their "souls" get swapped, such as flashbacks to their backgrounds to develop their characters deeper. It's sad that they had to revert to invasion of the body snatchers.

    I was also pleasantly surprised when the government official was apologetic and helpful. Probably the only species in the galaxy that didn't abruptly hang up the phone.

    Can someone please tell me whether the aliens here were ORIGINAL or fairly..fairly UNIQUE..or were they too similar to the Paxans from TNGs Clues or to the Lights of Zetar aliens as someone mentioned..or were they just different enough I hope?

    1. Waste of an interesting idea. Would have been MUCH more interesting to explore first contact.

    2. As someone else pointed out, all that was missing was a "Dammit John, I'm a doctor, not an environmental tech"

    3. I got no problem with Archer blowing up the ship. He tried negotiating. They repeatedly lied to him. They were set on murdering his crew (I loved the above comment: "maybe if they were making slaves of the humans" -- like murder isn't a sufficient cause). Then, their remaining crew was going to repeat that with the next ship of corporeals. Archer not only saved his crew (his primary responsibility), but also the next ship that came along. (And some claim Archer committed "genocide". How do you know? Was that the only members of their species? Someone suggested the similarity to the Lights of Zetar)
    When Picard has the most powerful starship in the quadrant, and the Federation is the biggest kid on the block, you can afford to negotiate. When you're a no-name species and your ship is constantly out-gunned, you fight like hell when you have to.

    4. Interesting that, as another reviewer pointed out, if ENT rehashes old plot lines, it's boring. But, when they put the ship in a most un-Trekkian situation ("we're *way* outclassed and outgunned, we've tricked the aliens, but we've got about 20 seconds before we're right back where we started") and the crew takes the only logical action, it's "despicable" and un-Trek-like.
    Reminds me of "The Corbomite Maneuver", except there the alien was essentially friendly. And Kirk had a way out after tricking Balok -- Archer doesn't.

    Still.... 2 stars for blowing a promising premise....

    I have mixed feelings about this, especially in its execution and denouement, as many do, but perhaps not for the same reasons entirely.

    I stopped counting the times Archer ended up being detained at this point – and then whoops - it comes up yet again. This was an opportunity for aliens not to be seen as victims or villains, but no.

    There was such a missed opportunity here – the corporeal beings could have become attached to their new experiences, or have been suffering, or afraid to leave a body once. The menacing aliens trope, Enterprise fights to a conclusion just seemed tired.

    The Phlox / T'pol relationship is my favourite is the series, and I wish the two of them had found more screen time to figure it out. And if they were going to go through all of this after T'pol became the "let's not get aggressive" advocate, maybe the writers should have, hmmm, had it make more sense, given her wild late turnaround. She's supposed to be logical, if anything. A logical mind would have run her mind through the possibilities.

    And it was all I could do not to hear that dramatic music of Power Play.

    If ever an episode cried out for a main character awakening from a dream at the end, this was certainly That episode.

    Unable to digest psychologically the final moments of this otherwise watchable story, I seek solace in the notion that it didn't actually ever happen. Archer awakens from his dream horrified, and seeks out T'pol and Phlox to gather in some sage advice, so that he may avoid such an outcome in future encounters.

    "The Phlox / T'pol relationship is my favourite in the series, and I wish the two of them had found more screen time to figure it out."

    Agreed. Scenes with them are generally worthwhile. :)

    What? They just killed all the aliens??

    What about all the usual self-righteous handwringing and virtue-signaling about not harming a sentient life form that’s only trying to survive etc?

    Janeway to the bridge!!

    They destroyed their ship, probably stolen from other corporeals. These parasites will probably keep on living in non corporeal form, probably stranded in space for the rest of time.
    Trekkian ethos is not about refusing to kill, but refusing to seriously consider not killing.
    Enterprize takes place a century before Kirk and 2 centuries before Picard. And only a century after the latest world war. Its about humanity's first steps. Turn off a little the volume of your morality tunes.....


    Regarding #4, I personally have a strong dislike for prequels, in large part because they get cutesy with depicting major and beloved characters/races/etc from later on that somehow were forgotten.

    But this episode could have flourished if it brought in the Zetars, precisely because they weren't beloved at all in The Lights of Zetar and their story was underdeveloped.

    And it dovetails perfectly with this: here the Zetarians could have taken that ship with a good faith attempt without meaning to kill the corporeal crew. Ultimately it didn't work, then they try something with Archer's crew and that doesn't work either.

    They try this again and again, becoming increasingly unhinged, until they eventually encounter Kirk's Enterprise, Memory Alpha, etc, and it's just a complete bloodbath.

    Almost every episode has me yearning for how Picard would have handled the situation. Perhaps this episode more than any other. Picard would have demanded they find some sort of understanding about the aliens. He would have taken every possible step to have meaningful communication with them, try to empathize with them and find mutual understanding, even make an attempt to help them without sacrificing his own crew. This is what Star Trek is to me. A hopeful look at how beings can find understanding even when they are desperately at odds with each other. These repeated stories of aggression, ignorance, and destruction that ENT gives us may be a somewhat truthful depiction of humanity's child-like first forays into the wilderness of space, but it then becomes like any other action based show - unoriginal and not part of the unique perspective that drew everyone to Star Trek in the first place.

    People are complaining that the aliens get killed at the end (spoiler, but it's been said multiple times already by others).

    But why so sure?

    Since the aliens are non-corporeal, it's probable that the destruction of the ship did them no harm. An explosion is a physical process, with consequences only for physical things.

    Now yes, it's a mystery how consciousness could exist without a body, but Trek loves its mind-body dualism.

    And it's a mystery why the beings need a ship at all, given they can fly through space by themselves. Maybe the ship can go faster than they can by themselves, but it's not explained, nor is it clear how beings without a body could even affect matter so as to make a physical ship. How would they hold the spanners? This is just lazy conceptualisation.

    But we shouldn't assume they get killed.

    @mellie agon

    My recollection is that it’s heavily implied that these aliens are in some way dependent on their ship and their ship is breaking down which constitutes a dire situation for them. So I’d assume that destroying their vessel would have pretty negative consequences, perhaps even a fate worse than death. I’m not sure if it’s already been suggested, but maybe these aliens become the Zetars from TOS’ Lights of Zetar? In any event, I think the bigger problem with this episode is that Archer and co don’t try very hard to communicate with these non corporeal aliens. Instead Archer just barks at them to get the fuck out, even after learning that they’re in some state of need. That lack of at least some effort at finding a mutual accommodation is what struck me as very un-Trekkian.

    Exterminatus is the only viable option where filthy, mind controlling xenos are concerned 🙂

    @Mellie Agon After her attempted possession, T'Pol plainly states, "They can't survive in space."

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