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Old September 10 2011, 01:59 AM   #1549
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Location: Canada


On planet Atlantis VI, inside the Polaris mining company conference room, its administrative Director, some assistants and Brian Callahan frantically discuss the disappearance of some workers. A suddenly-intruding mob of angry workers intimidate the Director to contact Starfleet for help.
If you’ve followed my little series you’re aware I’ve removed the above and its preceding kidnapping sequence, for two reasons:
(1) Its uncomfortable similarity with another STAR TREK episode opening (‘’the DEVIL in the DARK’’)
(2) While dramatic, it is puzzling that the workers manage to force the DIRECTOR to call Starfleet, yet are bribed OFF-SCREEN into changing their minds. It makes the workers’ fear at the beginning seem completely unimportant and makes us wonder why we should care for the missing kidnap victims then, if their friends so easily abandon them.
Removing this sequence resolves a few important story problems...

Soon after, The USS EXETER arrives in response, only to be told of a false emergency call. Its Captain, John Garrovick transports down and meets the DIRECTOR. Brian Callahan, one of the DIRECTOR’s assistants and a former acquaintance of Garrovick’s, joins them. Garrovick and Cutty question Callahan, but get no clear answers from him either.
I have mentioned the need to merge the characters of Brian Callahan and the DIRECTOR into a single character, for these reasons:
(1) Throughout the episode, neither ever reacts differently from the other. Both lie to Garrovick, deceive the miners, try to escape and are soon after caught/killed trying to...
(2) Aside from the undeveloped and undefined past friendship with Garrovick, you would have to get two actors trying to basically play the same part.
(3) Neither does anything particularly evil during the episode, yet the audience is supposed to jeer them.

At the cargo shuttle docks Garrovick now interrogates Jenkins, the lone survivor, who tells of colleagues being abducted. Surprisingly, a regular occurrence...
My feeling is, Jenkins should still be the dock worker who sends the Priority Code One alert to Exeter out in deep space, but he should have done it covertly out of desperation and gotten thrown in jail for it. Also, just as Tri’tillya can be worked into a truly sympathetic voice for the amphibians’ side, so too could Jenkins become the audience p.o.v. for the workers, delivering the needed exposition to get us up to speed on the goings-on in Atlantis VI.

With Captain Garrovick back on his ship, Callahan manipulates Jenkins and offers him a bribe.
And a bribe is about the extent of Callahan/Director’s evildoings in this episode... Hardly the stuff of great villainy...What this episode needs is something more jarring.
In a previous post, I had likened the Director as a 23rd century Jerry Lundergaard from FARGO: partially successful, horribly dim-witted and hapless. It hit me that that wasn’t such a bad characterization.
Like Jerry, the Director tries to make a profit from both Starfleet and the Orions, never realizing his shenanigans might bite him on the ass. Or how dangerous dealing with the Orions might actually be...
Another thing I realized, despite what some Rick Berman ST episodes would have you think, Greed still does exist in the 23rd century. In a time where a tool such as the replicator can make homelessness and starvation obsolete, it still cannot abolish the simple feeling of coveting.
With the replicator, homelessness and wars fought over two starving tribes would be a thing of the past, but even such a miracle tool cannot do away with man’s need for ‘Bigger and Better’. Some men are satisfied with modest, such as Ben Sisko’s father and his small family restaurant. But some will always want a giant mansion with a dozen vehicles.
In the original Star Trek universe however, the characters who made greed their primary life ambition were usually near-caricatures, such as Harry Mudd and Cyrano Jones. Therefore, it makes sense to model the Director character on such an unusual personality type as Jerry Lundergaard’s.

Later on the docks, Callahan is startled that Cutty and his men are still on-planet and continuing their investigation.
The Director back at his conference room, tells his Orion client the Starfleet men are still about.
The Orion pirates’ involvement in this story is quite a conundrum. It is never quite explained why the Director didn’t just do business with Starfleet only in the first place. For what reason did he feel the need to sell to both sides? If the Orions promised him more riches than Starfleet could ever give him, then why agree to call Starfleet in the first place? Because his workers scared him into doing so?

After the Captain’s disappearance, Commander Harris meets planetside with the Director and Callahan. Harris argues for action in rescuing her Captain, while the Director vehemently denies any trouble or wrongdoing. He proves most uncooperative.
With her Captain missing and the Exeter show with a lack of command-level main characters, wouldn’t it make more sense to keep Harris on board the Exeter, speaking with the Director through communications technology only?Also, there seems to be too much back-and-forth arguing in this episode. An overabundance of characters saying this, saying that, you’re wrong and I’m not... The episode would be much better served by having the characters actually doing something, such as discovering evidence of the Director’s wrongdoings, of the Orions’ implication...

Finally out of the water, Garrovick and Tri’tillya ascend on the deck of the mining installation. They cross paths with Jenkins the miner, who pleads prior ignorance of the amphibians’ existence, but admits the workers used unsafe methods to harvest the much-needed Scurvium. Jenkins breaks away, and Garrovick pursues him only to come across a group of agitated workers who panic at the sight of the female amphibian.
Jenkins was the first, and supposedly ONLY worker on Atlantis VI who witnessed any of the amphibians. So why the panic from the workers as they see Tri’tillya? In a universe filled with klingons, Vulcans, Tellarites and Gorns, why wouldn’t they think Tri’tillya was a Starfleet officer , rather than alien aggressor?

Inside the conference room, the Director communicates with his Orion client who is very displeased, to the point of open threats.
That’s twice now we have the Director making a surface-to-space communication with a secreted Orion ship in deep space. With all that alien invasion situation going on, wouldn’t the Exeter be monitoring ALL outgoing broadcasts?

Surrounded by angry workers, Garrovick pulls out his phaser weapon and points it threateningly at them. Suddenly one of the miners manages to injure the female, distracting the Captain long enough for them to mob him. He fires his phaser and they scatter.
I wrote ‘fired’ his phaser, but the script actually said ‘ignited the workers’!! A bit of an overreaction on Garrovick’s part, to be sure, when a simple stun blast would have been just as efficient...

A horde of amphibians climb up to the dock and confront the humans. Before more violence can happen, an armed squad of Exeter security men materialize to re-enact a 23rd-century Mexican stand-off.
All are then surprised by the roar of a large cargo shuttle as it blasts- off towards the sky.
Attempting to escape in a second shuttle, Callahan is captured by an angry Garrovick, and brought up to the Exeter bridge as a prisoner.
a very FX-heavy scene, as you would need a large shuttle bay, a space shuttle, shuttle ignition flames, and phaser fire destroying the shuttle...

Garrovick orders a pursuit after the escaping cargo shuttle. Soon after, the Exeter is intercepted by reinforcements, two Orion pirate ships. The pirate ships’ weaponry is insufficient against a starship , and both are quickly destroyed.
Some of this seems lifted from the climax of ‘’Journey to Babel’’, as the Enterprise does battle with a high-speed Orion pirate ship...

Unnoticed during the battle, Callahan sneaks off the bridge and makes his way mostly unnoticed towards the ship’s hangar bay.
This bit makes security chief Cutty appear totally incompetent as he let himself get distracted, letting his prisoner not only escape his custody (why he wasn’t sent to the brig as soon as he got aboard the Exeter is unclear), get off the bridge unnoticed by a roomful of trained officers, make his way aboard a unfamiliar ship for an undetermined time, finally steal a shuttle craft and without any apparent skills manage to fly it out of the shuttle bay...
Someone’s gonna get a shellackin’ tonight!!

Exeter chases after the cargo shuttle once more, heading into an asteroid belt. After a short pursuit, the shuttle crashes against an asteroid.
This ending is simply bizarre, rather than what it should be: thrilling...

Then, Callahan manages to abscond with one of Exeter’s shuttlecraft, but is quickly recaptured and returned.
If there had been a clear betrayal on Callahan’s part towards the Captain, his easy capture and defeat might actually be emotionally satisfying. It’s not. One of the many reasons why the characters of Callahan and the Director need to merge, and to have the fused amalgam do something actually despicable during the episode...
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