PAGES 1 to 9 (Pre-credits sequence)
On planet Atlantis VI, 3 apprehensive offshore miners meet at night, and are attacked by 3 amphibian natives. After a very short battle the latter abscond with 2 of the miners. Cut to indoors, where frightened and angry workers coerce their uncooperative mining installation administrators into summoning Starfleet for help. Cut to the starship Exeter bridge for an extended sequence where crew members discuss the Captain’s slimmer waistline and B’Fuselek’s eating habits, before answering a distress call to Atlantis VI.
At first glance, it is necessary to apply the scissors to this sequence as 8 and 1/4 script pages, with action and dialogue estimated between 10 and 15 minutes of footage, is much too long for what is usually a 4 minute sequence. Before we do that, some observations:
(1) As previously mentioned, should all minor characters be white anglo-saxon types? Yes, the original series often forgot themselves with a majority of american-sounding names, but a bit of ethnic diversity for this series couldn’t hurt.
(2) Jenkins and the 2 other miners discussing their fellow workers’ disappearance, and the lack of investigation by the powers that be. It’s puzzling no one considers bad weather, clumsiness, suicide, alcohol or even a shark-like predator as possible reasons some men have vanished from an offshore installation. It’s mentioned later in the script this wasn’t a daily occurrence, more like every two weeks or so.
(3) 3 amphibians surprise the 3 workers, appear to overpower them easily then go back into the water with only two of the workers. As a director I’d have a hard time staging this: why only take 2 of the 3 men with them as the amphibians flee, especially if they are stronger. I would reduce the number to 2 amphibians.
(4) These kidnappings as such make little sense: in DEVIL IN THE DARK, the Horta used its natural abilities to kill many workers, leaving gruesome evidence for the survivors to see. In the ATLANTIS INVADERS, all the kidnap victims are merely taken prisoner. So why was Starfleet summoned? Doesn’t the colony have a local military force trained to deal with potential dangers or invasion threats? It would seem pretty foolish out in deep space to depend on rescue that could take days to arrive and not have any soldiers or weapons that would provide at least SOME form of protection.
(5) The colony DIRECTOR acts very foolishly for a man of his position. He is forcefully convinced to contact Starfleet, not realizing a starship would investigate. They arrive and he blurts out that nothing is going on, then when confronted by Starfleet personnel he claims nothing is wrong, all is under control, no breach of procedure exists, that they must leave. It’s almost as if the character of Jerry Lundergaard from FARGO had crossed over into the Star Trek universe. He even dies in a moronic way, almost of his own doing.
(6) Jenkins the only eyewitness claims that because the amphibians were humanoid that they must be alien, thus an invasion force. Not a very efficient one since they only manage to snatch one or two people on a bi-weekly basis. I am assuming since The TRESSARIAN INTERSECTION had the Gorns and post- THE THOLIAN WEB Tholians, that that episode and The ATLANTIS INVADERS occur sometime during the latter half of Star Trek’s third season or the fourth (Star Trek: Phase II). Therefore it would have been interesting to have these characters enumerating some of the suspected hostile alien races (Klingons, Romulans, etc).
Honestly, I would remove the above sequences entirely from the script and begin the episode immediately on the Exeter’s bridge. The reasons are two-fold: satisfying your main actors, and cost-cutting.
This episode is clearly meant to center on Jimm Johnson as John Garrovick, but in this third draft with all the action and additional characters, there is barely anything for Commander Harris and B’fuselek to do. I would expand on the bridge sequence for the whole segment, and end it with B’fuselek receiving Atlantis VI’s Priority One distress call, with Cutty explaining out loud that Priority One means a hostile invasion. The Red Alert klaxon sounds as Garrovick addresses the crew, building dramatic tension and music which fades right into the opening theme.
The previous minutes if featuring the crew, would address many plot points that come up later:
(1) Taking a page from the movies: ‘’Show, don’t tell!’’, instead of Cutty going on and on about Garrovick looking more fit, and that many crewmembers follow his lead, show it visually by having him standing all buff doing his duties, with the female ensigns obviously showing interest (of course Harris would be bemused by this), while the male crew members display envy and annoyance. Since Garrovick isn’t as narcissistic as Kirk, he would of course be oblivious to all the females’ glances and dismiss his leaner outlook as more of a medical necessity. From this you can build up to his unexpected romance with Tri’tillya.
(2) Garrovick and B’fuselek’s fish discussion is interesting, if a bit overdone (catfish, Red Snapper Fish, Salmon Fish, Scrod Fish...). It could be a really great opportunity to demonstrate just how alien B’fuselek is compared to his human crewmates (before I go on, I must admit to quitting on ENTERPRISE the TV show within a third of the first season, so am unfamiliar on all exploration of the Andorian race within that show). While Spock is the rigid know-it-all from high school, B’Fuselek seems more like the creepy bug-collecting geek type. Add to that the fact that as explained in the first two STARSHIP EXETER episodes, that Andorians live underground, so why not have an Andorian’s diet consist of roots, bugs and squishy larvae? Just as North Americans consume a lot of beef and pork products, while the hindus worship the cow, Jews tend to eat kosher or Asians having dog, turtle or shark as part of their menu.
(3) It would also be a good opportunity to explore the tension between Commander Harris and Cutty that comes to a near-mutiny later in the episode. Without a previously-established undercurrent of envy, jealousy, or simple dislike, Cutty just comes across as a hot-headed misogynist when he forgets all military protocol and openly defies a superior officer. It also doesn’t help his cause as all of his concern is for the missing Garrovick, but he displays none for his own security officer, Freeborn, who later dies tragically.
Harris’ stoicism and Vulcan-like demeanor could just be a shell designed to protect her as she attempts to climb the ladder towards her first command, still an old boys club in what should be a more open-minded 23rd century (as suggested by Janice Lester in TURNABOUT INTRUDER).