2:04 - Dead Stop
TV Blurb: An automated repair station offers super service at low, low prices but doesn't explain terms and conditions of the deal. Written by Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong. Directed by Roxann Dawson.
Imagine HAL9000 running a gasoline filling station, and you can figure this one out. The story resembles those movies where a family stops at some little gas station in the backwoods country, but the locals are hiding a dark secret. Except there aren't any toothless inbred families with shotguns this time.
The story moves at a reasonable pace from Point A to Point B, and there are some impressive visual effects with the robo-garage going about its business. I felt there were some problems with character motivation, as Trip and Malcolm decide to see for themselves the inner workings of the station, though at that point there is no reason for them to do so except idle curiosity. Coincidentally, the station is actually up to a nefarious purpose when they start crawling around in air ducts, but nobody realizes it at the time.
Anthony Montgomery gets something to do as Travis, and gets some screen time, but for most of that he's flat on his back with his eyes closed. Travis repeatedly gets the short end of the stick on the series. He's supposed to be an athletic guy, but he's almost always the first person forced out of action due to whatever threat of the week exists.
The reveal of the data processing center seems a bit incongruous to what we see of the brightly lit, sterile areas of the station. Considering what the processing center is used for, it really should be as sterile as the rest of the complex, and not some dingy dark hole that looks like it's in a basement.
Director Roxann Dawson does double duty as the automated station's voice, which was probably convenient during shooting since she could throw the lines out to the actors herself.
The episode is entertaining, but that's about it. I've liked writers Sussman & Strong's work better on other episodes.
Next: "A Night in Sickbay"
(I can already hear the groans)