Star Trek: Enterprise
Air date: 9/24/2003
Written by Andre Bormanis
Directed by LeVar Burton
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"You never say please. You never say thank you."
"Please don't be an idiot. Thank you."
— Bayliss and Pembleton
In brief: I think not.
When Archer, Reed, and Sato get transformed into savages and start jumping around like the guys from the Tim Burton version of Planet of the Apes, there's only one course of action: Remind yourself that at least a new Law & Order will be on later tonight.
As it happens, this episode coincides with the renaming of this series, which now includes the franchise branding. The new name is apparently Star Trek: Voyager.
"Extinction" plays like a bad Voyager episode. There's nothing about this episode that couldn't or wouldn't have happened (or, rather, can't or won't happen in the future 24th century; wink, nudge!) in the Delta Quadrant, as opposed to the Delphic Expanse. More to the point, this is an episode that borrows so much from the Voyager bag-o-tricks that it more resembles bad-tier Voyager than bad-tier Enterprise. Three episodes into season three, coming off the impressive and focused "Anomaly," this is not what I had in mind. Writer Andre Bormanis, one of the few Voyager veterans who came to Enterprise, plunders the archives of his previous series. Unfortunately, he plunders mostly unsuccessful material.
Most notably, we have Fun With DNA™, a trademark I get to dust off after years of non-use (an archive search shows that season four of Voyager was the last time). Voyager practically reinvented Fun With DNA by way of the infamous "Threshold," and DNA trickery persisted in episodes well after that one.
The trick assumes that a person's DNA can be "rewritten," like a hard drive, or perhaps a rewritable CD, and that can thus transform them into something else — often anything else. Another infamous example is TNG's "Genesis," in which the entire crew devolved into creatures (or, as the episode so brilliantly put it, "de-evolved"). In "Extinction," an away team shuttles down to a jungle planet and is infected by a virus that rewrites their DNA and turns them into aliens. For all dramatic purposes of the show's first half, however, the virus "de-evolves" them: Archer, Reed, and Sato become instinct-driven savages who run around in a confused frenzy. T'Pol, however, is not severely affected by the virus because she has Plot-Driven Vulcan Immunity, which, of course, is the key to the eventual cure that will ultimately reverse this unfortunate condition. (Curing someone's rewritten DNA is apparently like formatting a hard drive and then restoring the original person from backup DNA, replete with their original memories, etc., etc.)
As you can probably guess, I never bought into the whole Fun With DNA thing, and I'm not going to start now. DNA is not magic. If your DNA is being rewritten, I don't expect you to survive the process, especially as new bones grow under your face. I also find it amusing that the episode initially attributes radically altered biology to the Weird Properties of the Delphic Expanse (as if Voyager ever needed Weird Properties to have Fun With DNA).
The problem with this episode isn't simply that the sci-fi is more "fi" than "sci"; the bigger problem is that the episode's alien oddities are too clunky and boring for too long. Call it a bias, but I just don't find much entertainment value in watching savages run around while T'Pol tries to get through to them. Once the Universal Translator allows them all to communicate, we then must sit through tedious scenes where T'Pol gradually tries to gain their trust. These scenes and their lame dialog are DOA. Basically, the mutated away team wants to go to a place called Urquat. But not before cracking open eggs filled with grubs and fighting over them. (The goofy savagery coexists with their ability to think on a higher plane, and it has no consistent foundation. It's random, disjointed, and silly, with dialog in one scene and then animal instincts taking over in the next.)
About here is where a decontamination vessel (from a stock Voyager-type alien race) arrives. The decon commander (Roger Cross), informs Trip aboard the Enterprise that the planet has been under strict quarantine for decades because of this nasty virus, which aims to biologically mutate people into Loque'eque, the race that created the virus centuries ago. Why did they create it? Because the Loque'eque went sterile and had no other way of reproducing. Ain't science grand: They can create a virus capable of mutating multiple alien species into Loque'eque, and yet they can't find the cure to their own sterility. In a word: Doubtful. The only other question, which the episode has no answer for (because it doesn't ask it): Where are the Loque'eque now?
The quote of the week is Trip's, about the planet's quarantine status: "It wasn't very well marked." My thoughts exactly. If this is such a dangerous world holding such a dangerous virus capable of wiping out entire populations in favor of its own, why is it not surrounded by armies of blockades to prohibit curious folks like our gallant Enterprise crew from taking shuttles down to the surface? (Or, even better, why not destroy the planet or make it uninhabitable so the quarantine is unnecessary?)
From a structural standpoint, the episode also blows its central mystery by showing us certain cards at the wrong time. Consider: Mutant Archer feels drawn to a place called Urquat. So the story's central would-be mystery is finding out what Urquat, in fact, actually is. But it doesn't remain a mystery for long, because on the other end of the plot we're given the full explanation from the decon commander about how the virus makes those who are infected feel drawn to the Loque'eque's home city of Urquat. With ill-timed over-explanation, the show destroys all mystery surrounding both Mutant Archer's dream sequence (one of few good scenes of any interest) and the scene later on where the mutated away team finds the ruins of Urquat. What might possibly have been interesting and puzzling is instead painfully obvious because we're supplied all the answers from the outset. Most of the last half of the hour, consequently, becomes completely predictable.
We get the usual conflicts between the decon commander, who wants to incinerate the away team ("We're going to contain this outbreak!"), and Tucker, who needs Phlox to find a cure before the alien decon vessel opens fire on the Enterprise. Will Phlox find a cure in time? I'm on the edge of my seat here...
If only it didn't all feel so forced. Of course the decon commander is utterly against the possibility of the Enterprise looking for a cure; after all, a cure obviously doesn't exist since his people haven't found one in all the decades of dealing with the virus. And, of course, our brilliant doctor can find the cure in a few hours flat, despite having never encountered the virus before. But of course even these few hours will be too long for the decon commander to wait, because we must have our dose of forced conflict/action rather than allow the characters to listen to each other and exercise a reasonable level of patience and restraint. The cure is found and administered just in time to prevent a major incident, allowing Archer to walk onto the bridge with perfect timing. Too perfect, if you ask me.
I have a serious problem with the ending. Archer orders Phlox to save a sample of the virus, on the rationale that it is all that remains of the extinct Loque'eque that created it. Archer's logic goes something like this: The Xindi intend to destroy humanity, but while we're in the expanse looking for them, we're going to be Better Than That by not destroying all that remains of the Loque'eque, i.e., the virus that could repopulate them.
Um, excuse me?
With all due respect to your Evolved Human Sensibilities, captain, are you on freakin' crack? (1) This is not a remnant of an alien culture, it's an extremely dangerous contagion responsible for infecting tens of millions of people who had to be destroyed to prevent the total annihilation of another society. The virus might as well be the biological equivalent of a Borg scourge, assimilating everything it comes in contact with, destroying whatever existed before. (2) No character here so much as questions the morality of a race that created a virus to, yes, save their society, but at the cost of genocide to others.
And Archer wants to put it in cold storage?
I'm sorry. There comes a point where common sense must wake up and smell the coffee. This is a misguided ending to a misfire of a show.
"Extinction" on UPN, by the way, was brought to us in part by Nextel, who was at least kind enough to supply us a hilarious commercial depicting a 30-second performance of Romeo and Juliet. This is a concept, and execution, far more entertaining than anything in "Extinction" itself.
Next week: Beautiful Alien Sex Slave!
Previous episode: Anomaly
Next episode: Rajiin
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.
83 comments on this post
Fri, Jul 11, 2008, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 1, 2008, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 21, 2008, 11:55am (UTC -5)
But this episode is just...boring!
Sat, Jan 17, 2009, 3:37am (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 19, 2010, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
I was about to say that Enterprise had hit a new low, but then I remembered that the first season included a Ferengi episode. Oh, well.
Mon, Mar 21, 2011, 7:42am (UTC -5)
So, in the end, he saves the contagion but in Season 2 destroys the wisps?
Thu, Mar 31, 2011, 7:37am (UTC -5)
I am not a fan of the premise as a whole - it seems implausible and hokey. It reminds me of too many other Star Trek episodes I also didn't like.
It also suffers from the same problems as many Voyager episodes - all of the aliens they meet are hostile, are unwilling to walk, etc. Why is this so damn common for? And why do they show species we've never seen before? Just how many freaking species are there in Star Trek?
Anyway, it might have been interesting from a story point of view for to have the crew discover that it was the aliens that originally destroyed their race who created the virus in the first place... and so that "virus" was that race's last form of justice against their conquerors. At least it would have made the creators of the virus to be morally justified in creating it.
As it stands, taking over other people's freewill is a pretty evil thing to do, even if it does save your species from extinction. What does that say about the species that created the virus in the first place? Maybe they deserved to be extinct because they had a history of violating the rights of other species as a general rule.
I don't agree with Archer's moral reasons for keeping the virus either. If he had destroyed the virus, he wouldn't have caused the extinction of a species - somebody else was already responsible for that.
Honestly, if you value the right to life and freewill at all, you would destroy the virus immediately. After all, you took those actions under self-defense. That virus is trying to change you into something through the use of FORCE - the only way to respond to force is by using force. End of story. You can't "reason" with the virus.
As someone else had said, it would have been better if Phlox destroyed it anyway, giving the above arguments for his decision.
Ultimately, the episode was just slow and boring. The clashes with the alien race was predictable drivel like that reminded me a lot of Voyager, which is NOT a good thing.
Sun, Apr 10, 2011, 12:39am (UTC -5)
For that matter, "Extinction" could be matched thematically (if not in terms of quality) with other Trek episodes: TNG's "The Inner Light" and "Masks," DS9's "Dramatis Personae," VOY's "Remember" and "Favorite Son" all share the motif of another culture imposing itself on our heroes. TNG's "Condundrum" might also fit into this category, as could ENT's "Unexpected. Oddly, this theme was not explored much in TOS; rather, the opposite was more often the case, when Earth culture overwhelmed others in "A Piece of the Action" or "Patterns of Force" (and, more abstractly, in TNG's "I, Borg").
I agree with Ken's point that the race was already extinct; their culture could only survive by destroying others (although why they would make their virus so easily communicable, I don't know). However, there is another perfectly logical reason to keep the virus in storage: as a weapon against the Xindi! As I make my way through ENT on DVD, I'll watch to see if this virus returns. However, from reading Jammer's reviews at the time, I don't recall the point being raised.
Fri, Apr 15, 2011, 7:21am (UTC -5)
Surprise surprise, Archer's moral compass is kaputt. "Dear Doctor" anyone?
Tue, Nov 8, 2011, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
However, it also feels like it was more than just the writers. In my opinion, the reason Archer was giving for keeping it around was just him rationalizing the thing, be it consciously or subconsciously.
And actually, that in my eyes makes it much more of a dark Star Trek episode than the recent episodes have been, in which we weren't shown dark Star Trek, but what the Vulcans were afraid we would be.
Thu, Aug 16, 2012, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
As soon as the away team started to transform I immediately, and literally picture a big red "RESET" button on the TV screen that they were going to press at the very end.
The main characters always have to live, so when you do episodes like this where we know what the ending will look like, it's important for it to have interesting dialogue. However, this episode was so boring.
First off, I agree with Jammer. I don't buy into the "DNA-Rewrite". First off, you wouldn't survive. Secondly, even if it were possible, it would not happen so quickly. Thirdly, if it was to happen so quickly they would need to eat like crazy to generate the energy for their bodies to do all that transforming,
I found the ending where Archer magically storms on the bridge when just 40 seconds ago he was a weird alien to be totally bogus. I usually only roll my eyes at the T'Pol Hot Bod[TM] scenes, but this one managed to get one from me.
Also, Archer wouldn't let Phlox destroy the "last remains" of the alien race. I simply don't get it, is there not a whole %$^#ing planet of virus still left? What does one vial matter?
I really thought Archer was going to tell Phlox to save the virus so he could use it on the Xindi if negotiations didn't work, but that would have been too evil for any Trek captain to save a genocidal biological weapon for the purpose of using it. However, if you want to keep a genocidal biological weapon on your ship for the hell of it, that makes perfect sense!
1.5 stars was generous. I give it 1-star tops.
Thu, Aug 23, 2012, 3:46pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 23, 2012, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
This season is starting to look like "for hardened fans / completionists only". Hopefully it improved.
It was entertaining for a bit but got very old and very silly. Classic "hard headed aliens" too bone-headed to sort out a cure instead of frying everything. Surely a scrapped Voyager episode.
Tue, Dec 11, 2012, 6:01am (UTC -5)
Imagining TNG suffering from this garbage was searing my mental eyeballs.
Voyager it would actually be funny, as in comedic, and it wouldn't be hard to pull off. Imagine Ape-Tuvok and Ape-Neelix interacting on instinct only, or Ape-B'lanna trying to whack something while Ape-Paris follows her around eating her ticks is *funny*.
This... this starts out just cringeworthy. It gets... tolerable, but Voyager would have been better.
Tue, Dec 11, 2012, 6:06am (UTC -5)
When I said "TNG suffering from this garbage", I hadn't realized "Genesis" *is* sort of this. Same concept, (mostly), on an even stupider premise (Crusher accidentally unleashes a tweaky medicine involving Barkley), and it's one of my favorite episodes!
Probably because TNG executed it well. There was suspense, concern, *threat*! (Worf is trying to eat everybody and it works!)
Imagining the excellent execution of "Genesis" combined with the mystery of Urquat could be *beautiful!*
But, of course not. We get... yick.
Mon, Dec 31, 2012, 1:22am (UTC -5)
0.5 stars for the inflatable jaw gland things.
Tue, Jan 1, 2013, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
Instead, it's just the usual "I won't commit genocide except when I do" junk. The virus didn't even give people any kind of genetic memory or contain a cultural database or anything.
If/when humanity goes extinct, I would hope that if someone created a virus so virulent that it can destroy entire cultures just so it can turn them all into lost and confused humans, that the alien cultures would be enlightened enough to say "well, cool, we've put the human genome into our database, now let's get rid of this despicable bio weapon for good".
Wed, Apr 17, 2013, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 9, 2013, 11:36am (UTC -5)
It's the first indication that something about this damned Xindi Arc might mean something "Trek" to the series and the franchise at large.
If memory serves, the only previous episode of the series to do this was "Dear Doctor"--every other prequel element had to do with technology or cosmic geography.
Considering what the humans have just been through with the Xindi attack, it's a good sign that, even without having got to Picard's "evolved sensibility", there are glimmers of hope for the human race scraping its way to greatness.
Sun, May 19, 2013, 10:08am (UTC -5)
Tue, May 28, 2013, 11:12pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 26, 2013, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 26, 2013, 11:59am (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 26, 2013, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 3, 2014, 1:41am (UTC -5)
I will say it was interesting seeing regulars, Bakula in particular, playing aliens. I liked the visual look of the Loque'eque too.
And yes, that ending. WHAT. Is Archer hoping to find people to willingly infect themselves or something? I hadn't previously thought of the analogy to the Borg, but it's fitting. And don't these clowns believe in a natural order or somesuch? In season one's "Dear Doctor," Archer refuses to share warp technology with the Valakians, out of an apparent belief that It's Their Time to die out. So why would the Loque'eque get different treatment?
And didn't the episode state that the Loque'eque had been repopulated anyway? I recall Tucker asking why the virus was still present on the planet when the Loque'eque's numbers had been replenished. And indeed, where are they?
Messy episode. Not entirely without points of interest, so I'm in agreement with the 1.5 rating.
Tue, Jan 28, 2014, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
LOL, that was exactly what I was thinking after watching it, before I logged on. Such a disappointment! I really enjoyed the first two episodes and then we got this clunker. :(
Nebula Nox said, "Wow... aren't the actors embarrassed?"
I was embarrassed for them.
Fri, Jul 4, 2014, 3:26am (UTC -5)
What confused me was that the city was once advanced, with gardens and fountains and clothed beings congregating... Obviously advanced if they made this DNA Magic Virus. So why then are the transformed humans grunting and grabbing and acting like lower primates, with battles over who is Alpha getting the bigger grub nut? It's a head-scratcher.
Best part of this episode was Trip in command of the bridge. This is about the point on original watch where I was wishing they'd shove Archer out an airlock and let Trip take command. At least he doesn't shout his lines. He's just a very good actor who has a solid handle on his character. Which is also why I enjoy the Trip/T'Pol intimacy scenes -- while the first such scene felt out of left field and would remain silly if it was by itself, it is part of an arc. I enjoy seeing the relationship develop.
Fri, Jul 4, 2014, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
The very first scene had Phlox talking about one of the Xindi species (species, not race -- ST always misuses the word) being evolved from an arboreal species. So that threw me, since this race seemed pretty arboreal, what with Malcolm scurrying up a tree. Was that intentional, for us to think these were Xindi, even though we'd seen all five Xindi species?
Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 8:03am (UTC -5)
As far as the "science" of the episode? It's a head scratcher for sure, but Picard can get mind raped (and live an entire adult life in the span of about 30 minutes) by a civilization that didn't have the necessary technology to move off a dying planet so I find it pretty easy to look past stuff like this.
Oh, another positive ... "T'Pol in white" is enough justification for me to watch this one time and time again :-)
Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 3:20am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 6, 2015, 4:26pm (UTC -5)
I was hoping that in the final scene Archer would order Phlox to retain the virus as a weapon to drop on the Xindi homeworld-no such luck-he must have been on freakin' crack after all.
Thu, Apr 23, 2015, 2:05am (UTC -5)
But oh my god, this show had to be the most painful show of the series to watch. That's saying a lot, considering the lack of writers on this series. Or I should say, the lack of writers that know how to write. Or think.
I'm not saying that watching this show was as painful as, say, being water boarded or some similar torture such as bamboo shoved under my fingernails. I have yet to experience these tribulations, but if I am ever forced to endure them, rest assured I will recall the hour I spent watching this episode, and compare.
If I do, I'll let you know which is worse, but I'm sure it'll be a close call.
I really expected one of the mutants to start asking "where is my precious?? " ala Gollom in the Lord Of The Rings. No disrespect to that bug eyed little creep, he's much more dignified than Starfleets finest with DNA issues.
And LeVar Burton directed this.
I'll forgive him, he had only so much to work with.
Thu, May 28, 2015, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
I'm sure they all had a good laugh; pity there weren't outtakes.
Fri, May 29, 2015, 8:44am (UTC -5)
Pretty laughable really, when those same folks have accepted Warp drive, replicators, transporters and sub-space communications as gospel for 50 years.
The acting in this episode was outstanding, especially Linda's. Much better than the TNG actors' performances in "Genesis".
The only beef I really have with this episode is it really doesn't fit with the season 3 Xindi arc, but that's to be expected. Every episode couldn't be about the Xindi.
Wed, Jun 17, 2015, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
I just feel like I'm slogging through season 3 to get to the well-thought-of season 4.
Mon, Jul 27, 2015, 7:58pm (UTC -5)
As others have mentioned, the only practical reason to preserve it would be to use it as a weapon; probably against the Xindi, since those smug, control freak Vulcans are pretty much immune. :)
It could be a very effective threat. Innoculate our friends and then infect enemies and only give them the antivirus if they submit to our demands.
Of course that seems way too immoral for Starfleet and even for me.
Tue, Sep 22, 2015, 7:49pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 11, 2015, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 28, 2015, 3:24am (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 11:38am (UTC -5)
Good things - the teaser intro was excellent, as were I thought the sound FX. But that's it - everything else fell into the cliched, the banal, or the outright boring. 1.5 stars.
Fri, Jul 29, 2016, 11:45am (UTC -5)
I wouldn't even mind episode's approach to genetics, if it stopped at transforming them and changing personality. Teaching them different language and giving them specific memories is just too much for me and I thought ketchup could give you cancer.
@Yanks Oh, come off it. Accepting some breaks from reality, especially when those breaks are a huge part of the setting, doesn't mean you should accept anything they throw at you. And people called bullshit on TNG's Genesis too.
Wed, Dec 14, 2016, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 3, 2017, 10:15am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
one moment trip is getting his feet rubbed, the next Archer is explaining about primate Xindi and their star coordinates. Where did he get this information from?
And didn't he already understand Xindi coordinates when he was given the directions to the Xindi homeworld in the previous episode? Are these episodea written in complete separation, with the writers of one not knowing what's in the next?!
Thu, Mar 2, 2017, 9:39am (UTC -5)
Yes, you missed it.
They downloaded info from the alien ship in 'Anomaly'.
"ARCHER: Look at this.
(A picture of an Arboreal comes on the screen.)
T'POL: Another species of Xindi?
ARCHER: According to Phlox, they probably evolved from some form of arboreal primate. I managed to piece together some of their starcharts. It took me half the night to figure out how they map co-ordinates, but I've been able to reconstruct the ship's course over the past few months. This is the last planet they visited before they were attacked by the marauders."
Not getting off of it, this is science FICTION. To question the "science" here is laughable when other equally suspect science throughout the franchise is just accepted.
Sat, Apr 15, 2017, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 26, 2017, 7:12am (UTC -5)
Bonk! Bonk! On the head, for whoever wrote that.
Mon, Jun 5, 2017, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
And not liking the opening music in S1 and S2, it even bothers me more in S3 with the beat added - are we preparing ourselves to watch Mr. Rogers or Star Trek?
Not having seen the other "Fun with DNA" episodes from other Trek series, I can't compare/contrast "Extinction" with its ancestors.
The plot is a bit hokey and it resolves itself conveniently in the end and just as the Enterprise is about to get blown to bits, Archer/Hoshi/Reed are cured and they convince the aggressors to back down -- a bit convenient.
But I do like the idea of a species trying to prevent extinction by creating a virus that will mutate other humanoids into their own kind -- that's a creative/interesting sci-fi concept for me, though it does require the usual suspension of disbelief. And Archer in the end wanting to preserve the virus in stasis also recognizes the species as being extinct.
I'd give this a weak 2 stars out of 4.
Wed, Jun 21, 2017, 4:38pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 19, 2017, 2:07am (UTC -5)
As for the uneven temperament of the creatures into which they transformed, it is a must that one engages in that wonderful thing called "willing suspension of disbelief." Considering all the fanciful and futuristic ideas portrayed in all the Star Trek series, one must admit that consistency and sense aren't really their strong suit. For example, why is it that when any non-English speaking species' language is translated by the UT their mouths move just like they're speaking English? Shouldn't there be a disconnect between the two? But I'll bet most people don't even think about that, or if they do, like me, they just accept that that's the way it is, because, it's a freaking TV show, NOT a portrayal of something real.
So when the Captain, et al, acted "goofy" after being transformed into the Loque'eque, I just filled in the blanks with my own speculation. I decided that their inconsistent behavior was due to a conflict between human DNA and Loque'eque DNA, as well as, the fact that the virus transformed them into a basic Loque'eque with superimposed memories. Imagine cloning a Neandrathal and overlaying his instinctive nature with modern memories and language skills. He would just be confused about how to act.
One of the most important things I've learned over the years as an original TOS fan is that in order to enjoy the show one must just accept and not look at it too closely. I was 12 when TOS first aired and I ate it up, just like it was truth incarnate. And I loved every minute of it. Every show of every series and movie of the Star Trek universe is heaven to me. Who TF cares if one thing or another is goofy or unbelievable? It's ALL unbelievable if you think about it too much.
Stop being such 'canon Nazis" and slip into that "willing suspension of disbelief" and you'll find that you will take much more pleasure in the watching.
Tue, Sep 12, 2017, 6:37am (UTC -5)
And who knows how some weird bioengineered alien virus works? Everyone complaining about how Archer's hair grew. lol. Why didn't they die because of it? How do they get memories? Why do the speak another language? Who knows? Who cares? Like Yanks said earlier, people buy into transporters and holodecks and sentient balls of light, and all sorts of other impossible things regularly, but some bizarre alien virus gets everyone all hot and bothered. How does a werewolf grow hair? Or not die from the transformation from shock? Why do they run around killing everyone? Who knows? Who cares? That's just how it works.
While not a very good episode, I thought it was a little better than most people seem to.
2 stars from me.
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 12:31am (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 12:38am (UTC -5)
Lots of strikes against this one
First it is essentially a standalone outing that halts the progress of both the Xindi arc and the sphere arc
Two it isn’t a very good standalone
Three it comes across to me as a poor man’s “Identity Crisis” and just three episodes into a season promising to right the ship yet is back to recycling better done Trek poorly like most of season two isn’t a good sign
Mon, Mar 26, 2018, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 12, 2018, 5:36am (UTC -5)
One crew member asks why the virus wasn’t programmed to stop when the alien population was replenished. Excuse me?! How the f*** is a virus going to do a census? The mutation happens absurdly fast and you CANNOT ENCODE AN ENTIRE LANGUAGE IN DNA! Oh well, I guess Enterprise has to bombard those new to Trek with the usual incoherent fantasy nonsense too.
Sat, Jul 14, 2018, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
Threshold just made me laugh: Paris and Janeway have lizard babies will forever be a bad joke in my house.
This one at least attempted some meaning and made some sense. I appreciated the ending and the moment Archer finds the ruins was played well.
Not the best episode but certainly not the worst
Sat, Jul 21, 2018, 10:41am (UTC -5)
As for the captain wanting to preserve the sample could be seen as he's affected by having been Loque'eque. Which would've been an interesting angle if the writers had intended it, which they didn't...
As for Phlox discovering a cure so fast, no problems with that. The other angry aliens hadn't access to any genes that could resist the transformation. Vulcan DNA was the key here (always the Vulcans aren't affected by anything theme).
Mon, Aug 13, 2018, 11:21am (UTC -5)
Yep, lame and very very flawed episode.
W Smith encapsulated several points I wanna touch on:
"Calling it a bad Voyager episode hits the nail on the head."
I don't know why it didn't occur to me immediately that that is a very succinct way to describe this episode. I am so not a fan of Voyager, with the exception of a few fairly well made episodes (probably featuring Roxann Dawson's decent acting or some rare halfway decent writing). But whenever I'm tempted to watch Voyager after the teaser (and they're often adept at trying to pique one's interest in watching past the teaser in order to see WTF is going on, they're very manipulative, with cheap tricks)— as I say, whenever I'm tempted to watch Voyager past the teaser, I pull myself away from any curiosity as to WTF was going on by just saying to myself "It's VOYAGER!" (like Jack Nicholson being told "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown"). So calling Enterprise "Extinction" a 'bad Voyager episode' is kind of spot on.
"The only upsides were a pretty good soundtrack…"
I noticed some of the very good music somewhere in the middle of this episode and guessed it was either Paul Baillargeon or Velton Ray Bunch. I still haven't been able to nail the difference between those two composers, not saying they're similar but I just haven't managed to distinguish, but often times I'll hear some really lush, wonderful, melodic and wonderfully harmonic music on ENTERPRISE and I'll know it's one or the other of them. This time I guessed correctly that it was Bunch. Velton Ray Bunch has not only done some of the very best Enterprise scores, he scored all of Quantum Leap as well.
"[The only upsides were…] and Park's acting (she was truly underutilized on the show)"
Linda Park's acting always impresses me well. She without seeming effort portrays a convincing and likeable character, both competent and a little 'civilian' at the beginning (jumping at the ship's warp drive quivers, etc.), and really channels the writers' decent characterizations quite well— as when [***SPOILERS if you haven't seen Season 4, Ep 11, "Observer Effect"***]
*SPOILERS* for OBSERVER EFFECT ep] as when she tells Trip, when they're in quarantine for a deadly virus, about her less than spotless Starfleet record, her having punched out some (superior?) officer who was being a jerk), or [***SPOILERS for Season 1 Ep. 25, "Two Days and Two Nights"***]
[*SPOILERS* for "Two Days and Two Nights", the 'vacation on Risa' ep] or her sweet little romance on Risa that she keeps to herself on the trip back (other than a self-winking, blasé linguistic joke about "learning some new conjugations").
☆☆☆☆END OF MILD SPOILER ZONE☆☆☆☆
Hoshi/Linda Park are a delight.
"Phlox should have destroyed the virus at the end."
Hell yeah. As so many have pointed out above. For so many reasons.
A lame episode, and it was both hilarious and somewhat painful to watch some very good actors having to do this really weird accent and all that, even if some of it was kind of a good achievement. Normally I would wonder about the director, but LeVar Burton has shown so many times that he's an excellent director, particularly with human interactions and such; I think you just couldn't really make flambé out of a bag of poop.
Just felt like venting these random thoughts.
I actually find a pretty good number of enjoyable, well-written eps in ENTERPRISE, including the early seasons. And I think the acting calibre is pretty good, particularly Bakula, Trinneer, and Park, actually Phlox really grew on me too, have no gripes about any of the actors. But this episode is certainly the nadir, or one of the lowest, of Enterprise eps.
And though I never loved the opening credits theme song at all, them adding a beat (purportedly in order to cater to fans' complaints about the theme music?) just made it even more insipid. It makes one appreciate the less annoying opening music when the syndicated airings recycle back to season one.
Just a few random thoughts there. This website, which I've bumped into a number of times when googling some Star Trek ep for others' take on it, is pretty fun to check into.
Sat, Oct 6, 2018, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
Why did Phlox say "Hey captain, I saved some of the virus in this test tube here in this little cubby.. Of course it should be destroyed like yesterday, but I didn't yet so you could tell me not to for a dumb reason.
Sun, Dec 9, 2018, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
They had passed a cure for the virus on to the other alien species who Archer believed would try to use to wipe out the virus on the planet. Archer believed the virus was created to preserve a species and their civilisation and that those people cease to exist the moment the virus is gone. Archer said they were on a mission to stop the Xindi from destroying humanity and he was damned if he was going to have a hand in destroying another race in the process. That was his reasoning for not destroying the virus. So there you go.
Thu, Mar 21, 2019, 12:03am (UTC -5)
Fri, May 3, 2019, 7:12pm (UTC -5)
Yes, "Threshold" and "Genesis" are two forefathers of this episode but this is much better given the idea of an extinct civilization's master plan to re-perpetuate its race. I liked the scene of morphed Archer looking over his ancient, damaged city. But despite Bakula's and Park's efforts to act like aliens, the overall effect was annoying and definitely a stretch.
It's also like a weaker VOY episode since we have the hard-headed aliens of the week cliche who won't be seen again on the series.
I also have to take issue with Archer wanting to store the pathogen, although the rationale @Jamie posits makes some sense. I would also say that the more pragmatic Season 3 Archer who just tortured an alien in "Anomaly" should probably want this pathogen destroyed.
In my first comment I said: "And not liking the opening music in S1 and S2, it even bothers me more in S3 with the beat added - are we preparing ourselves to watch Mr. Rogers or Star Trek?" I've long since done a 180 re. ENT's theme song and having gone thru the series 3 or 4 times, I'm a huge fan of "Faith of the Heart". (I've said that before in this forum).
1.5 stars for "Extinction" -- not a fan of messing-with-DNA episodes. This one isn't a total turkey but it's not good enough to even be called mediocre. Seems like a filler to make up the numbers, something DSC has avoided having to do since it's going with 14-15 episodes a season. If ENT did that with Season 3, "Extinction" would never have been produced.
Fri, Aug 16, 2019, 8:31pm (UTC -5)
It was uncomfortable watching reasonably talented actors run around like neanderthals in an utterly unnecessary episode. Apparently, designing a virus which can turn an alien into one of your people by literally rewriting their DNA and booting up a copy of your species' brainwaves is so easy a caveman can do it.
"Pretty laughable really, when those same folks have accepted Warp drive, replicators, transporters and sub-space communications as gospel for 50 years."
I don't think this is a sensible comparison. Warp drive and transporters are a founding conceit, without which we wouldn't have Star Trek. I mean, we *might*, but we'd have to sub in cryostasis ships/generation ships and shuttlepods. But I'm getting away from my real point which is:
Warp drive and transporters, while obviously not real, are somewhere on the very fringes of speculative science. We may never have those technologies -- they may, in fact be entirely impossible. *However*, we don't know that yet, and there are actual, real physicists who are entertaining the thoughts. Replicators are just a variation on transporters.
Subspace -- okay. There's no such real hypothetical that I'm aware of. Maybe you could say it's just another name for extra dimensions/bubble universe theory, which is also somewhere on the fringe of speculative science.
Point is, I (and apparently millions of Trek fans) are willing to suspend disbelief when the science seems at least somewhat plausible.
Rewriting DNA, and suddenly undergoing extreme physiological changes (altered bone structure, extreme hair growth within seconds, altered respiratory system [sudden gills],) is simply not plausible. Not even the fringes of biology (to the extent that I'm familiar) has *any* speculative science to support the idea that a virus/pathogen could literally turn you into a different species, write new data (language, memories, personhood etc) to your brain, radically re-engineer your respiratory, circulatory, and/or nervous systems, do so within minutes, AND somehow leave enough of your previous body/identity intact so as to return FULLY back to normal with the simple injection of an antidote?
That's not how biology works. That's not even how biology *could* work. If you make sudden, massive edits to a person's DNA, they get cancer and die.
Things like warp drive and transporters are a plausible --even if just on a fringe level-- conceit that allows Star Trek to exist. The completely asinine 'Extinction', 'Threshold', and 'Genesis' ideas on biology are the stuff of saturday morning cartoons (I should know, see my username).
I like saturday morning cartoons. But Star Trek isn't --and shouldn't!-- be a saturday morning cartoon. Not the live-action, mainline canon series, anyway.
Star Trek should ask sensible, compelling questions. Or even fringe-sensible, but still compelling questions. This asked neither. This is dreck.
Sat, Aug 17, 2019, 11:24am (UTC -5)
Is this more far fetched than say replicators? Why wouldn't it be possible to edit the DNA of an organism on a massive scale? And if you did do so (somehow) couldn't you literally change one thing into another in real time? Or have I missed something?
Thu, Aug 22, 2019, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
I noticed again that there is no bad enterprise episode without T'pol sexy time.
And how many outfits does she wear? I have seen five bad episodes now and she wore 5 outfits: striped black and white, white, grey, blue and pink. All of them have in common that they are very tight. And who wears belly free top when giving a massage to a crew mate?
For some reason I had to think about that firing weapons at warp speed makes no sense. Are phasers faster than warp 4-5. Whatever
Laugh out loud moment: When Reed (whose name I learned in this episode) runs around and just yells: tatatatata.
After that I somewhat enjoyed the episode because I accepted the silliness of it all. Watching these three run around like crazy neanderthals was pretty funny.
Mon, Sep 2, 2019, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
There are exceptions, but for a race to design a pathogen that could successfully infect species from another planet is... really improbable. By "successfully", I mean that it could rewrite the DNA of the infected individuals such that it doesn't end up killing them.
This would require knowledge and understanding of the target species' genome, which is exceedingly unlikely as in the case of this episode. It would require tailoring the pathogen specifically to the target genome so that it would have any chance of working as intended at all.
On top of that, the crew showed *very* significant physical changes. Changes in bone structure, almost instantaneous massive hair growth, gills, and I think that x-ray zoom into Archer's chest showed him spontaneously popping a second heart into existence?
Such drastic physical changes *might* be able to be encoded into a person's genome, but it would need to be done before the cells begin differentiating. Basically, this pathogen would need to have been injected into a very early fetus for any hope of working.
An adult human has more or less reached the end of the growth/development phase of life, so editing the DNA isn't going to result in sudden organ/bone/etc generation *unless* there's also a way to reset the host cells into a pluripotent state -- but that would also likely cause massive debilitating health issues.
On top of *that*, is the fact that the virus seemingly transmitted an alien consciousness into the team's brains, which I can't think of any sort of justification for.
Somehow, though, that's all a roundabout way of getting to my real issue with this epidode, and Berman/Braga era Trek in general:
The biological properties and functions of the pathogen in this episode are the *interesting* aspect of the show. And yet it's handwaved away, and treated as a means to an extremely uninteresting end. All that, so Archer could find the ruins of an ancient city? Meh.
If the episode actually focused on studying the virus itself -- if the hour was devoted to a detailed, analysis of how it does what it does, and if that analysis even *sounded* plausible enough, I might have liked the episode.
I mean, I can't overstate how significant this pathogen is to the Star Trek universe (you can turn a Klingon into a Vulcan? Hello!). A few decades of study by the Federation's top biologists should give you a cure to essentially any illness. Been exposed to Berthold Rays? Got Dorek Syndrome? Telurian Plague? Just take a hypospray of this stuff that can edit your DNA, and reset your cells back to normal! Doctors will be obsolete. McCoy will go into Anthropology.
A collective of cybernetic organisms comes knocking at Earth's door, hellbent on assimilating your population? Make giant bug-bombs of this stuff, and beam it onto their cubes! Massively edit their DNA to reject the cybernetic implants, and turn them all into tribbles! At the very least, reversing their own assimilation should be fairly trivial.
Alternatively, edit your own species' DNA to be assimilation-proof.
If the massive changes to the away team's bodies had killed them, or the treatment had killed them, or at the *very least*, left them with severe, debilitating medical conditions requiring them to resign from Starfleet, *that* would have been an episode worth watching.
You'd have a new captain (T'Pol, maybe?), security chief, and communications officer, so the show would have to deal with those ramifications, but that's what bothers me...
...The pathogen in this episode is a MAJOR discovery. Historic, even. The biology and physics behind its abilities are not trivial, and should be almost the sole focus of the episode.
The ramifications of the pathogen's very existence are crying out to be explored. The ability to change a person so fundamentally and completely into a completely different species, with a completely different personal identity is utterly terrifying.
But instead of focusing on the *actually compelling* aspects of this pathogen, it's used as nothing more than an infection-of-the-week to set in motion this utterly insipid, threadbare story about the ruins of an ancient city in a jungle.
This is Star Trek pulling its punches. It introduces a (frankly universe-breaking) concept/situation, and then goes on to completely sidestep and ignore everything that made the opening concept compelling, in favor of telling a generic, safe, non-compelling story.
As for the replicators, I'm not going to say they're more plausible per se, however...
...I would say we have enough established science on biology to set some upper limits on what a virus should be capable of.
I'd say that we don't have enough established science on quantum physics (which I tend to associate transporters/replicators with) to set any meaningful limits on what such a device should be capable of.
In other words, I think we know enough by now to know that this virus is nearly impossible.
I think we *don't* know enough yet to know that a replicator is impossible.
That might be a weak argument, but it's easier (for me, at least) to suspend my disbelief on a topic when it has less data screaming in my face "this isn't plausible!!!"
Tue, Oct 1, 2019, 12:28am (UTC -5)
The virus should absolutely be preserved and studied.
1. Phlox developed a fast-acting cure which renders the threat of the virus very low.
2. This virus does things which are far beyond the reaches of current Human biotech, studying it (even though of course they aren't going to) could leap that tech ahead decades if not centuries.
3. The virus retains at the very least, the genetic code of a now extinct species (discounting their language and cultural dreams). That's something that should be preserved even if it can only be preserved in a virus.
Sat, May 16, 2020, 10:41pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 25, 2020, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 17, 2020, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 28, 2020, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
Glad to see they have diversified her wardrobe, though. Now, in addition to a gray skintight unitard, she also has a red one and a white one.
In terms of acting, Phlox is clearly the best acted and most interesting character. Mayweather is the worst. I read an interview with the actor who played Mayweather in which he complained that he hadn't been given any backstory for Mayweather. I thought, are you kidding?? That's YOUR JOB! I mean, I'm not an actor but I know this from years of reading and listening to interviews with actors!!
Mon, Sep 28, 2020, 7:06pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 5:19am (UTC -5)
I was trying to think of what this season so far reminds me of, and it is an old show called Quest for Iscandar. It was a cartoon from the late 70s I think about a spaceship crew from Earth that has adventures whilst trying to get to an alien planet of people who want to destroy earth.
This particular adventure actually reminds me very much of a Star Trek novel called "Windows on a Lost World". I don't have a lot of time to read secularly, so I list to audiobooks. This one takes place in TOS timeline (and is narrated by Walter Koenig (Checkov)). Rather than a virus, these doorways on an alien planet turn Checkov, and a few others into a crab-like species that lived there long ago (and actually had a great empire)
At first I thought Archer, Reed, and Hoshi just became animals, but they had a language and had some intelligence (but still were savage). This reminds me of that-I wonder if they took inspiration from it?
Still, it is an odd, but interesting episode
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 5:53am (UTC -5)
I totally agree. I watch Star Trek for entertainment. So many people are on here saying, "that's impossible" "that's far-fetched", etc
Well it's ALL impossible! None of this is real! As long as the plot doesn't contradict itself or established "rules" of the show, I can definitely suspend my belief
Sun, Jan 31, 2021, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 31, 2021, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
On the special features they mention that they held some standalone episodes in reserve because there were concerns about audience reaction to the serialized Xindi storyline.
Episodes like Northstar, Carpenter Street, and Exile would have worked better if they had appeared in other seasons. "Carpenter Street" would have been an ok season two TCW episode featuring the Suliban instead of the Reptilians. "Northstar" would have been fun in season one. "Exile" might have worked in season four if Manny Coto and the Reeves-Stevens had overseen it.
Fri, Sep 3, 2021, 12:46am (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 24, 2021, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 13, 2022, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 18, 2022, 10:52am (UTC -5)
I like the basic idea of a long extinct race reviving itself via forced mutation. The execution is obviously terrible.
I think it would have been interesting if they had handled things a bit differently. The Enterprise shows in the last days of a war between Planets A and invaders/colonists from B. Planet B is engaging in global genocide and the natives of Planet A are on the brink of extinction. Archer and crew intervene and try to find a peaceful solution. They fail, and the last of the natives are killed. But not before they colonists from Planet B are infected with a strange new virus...
You could do the usual Trek "fun with dna" stuff with the crew if you wanted or you could pose a moral question like "Should Phlox try to cure the conquerors?" but I'd probably just leave it at the "bad guys get it in the end" ending.
Thu, Mar 2, 2023, 12:46am (UTC -5)
The rest is simple:
T'pol goes to a forested planet wearing her blinding white jumpsuit.
On this planet, three members of the crew instantly change into creatures that behave like macaques. It seems the change occurs for the sole purpose of making it impossible for T'pol, who doesn't change into a macaque (except for her cheekbones) to make herself understood.
The three 'macaques' make lots of clicking noises and carry on incessantly while eating larvae and threatening each other and especially T'pol. As soon as T'pol gets her hands on the Universal Translator to aid communication, the 'macaques' refuse to make a sound. Go to commercial.
This scenario reminded me of the famous Warner Brothers cartoon with the vaudevillian frog found inside the cornerstone of a building that's been demolished. It's immortal, and in private it bursts out singing the Michigan Rag to its discoverer, but is silent whenever it is placed in the public eye. The discoverer, who had hoped to strike it rich by taking the singing frog on the road, becomes apoplectic and seals the frog up into another cornerstone. A new person discovers the frog centuries later and we know that this will only repeat the cycle of pain.
The resemblance of the cartoon to the final scene in this episode is really uncanny. :)
Tue, Apr 4, 2023, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
At least T’Pol looked hot!
Submit a comment
◄ Season Index