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Old July 25 2013, 07:48 AM   #193
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Re: The ENT and Melakon

2:08 - The Communicator

TV Blurb: Reed and Archer are arrested by the locals after misplacing a communicator during a visit to a pre-warp civilization. Teleplay by Andre Bormanis; Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga. Directed by James Contner.

I don't remember seeing this one during first broadcast, so this probably aired around the time I started to miss episodes (not by choice). I've read reviews here and elsewhere that seem to really hate this episode. There are problems with it, but after about a half dozen viewings this week, I find some interesting things in it.

Part of the problem is the story is a rehash of things we've already seen done in the series and elsewhere. Archer and a member of his landing party get captured by aliens, interrogated, tortured, and finally rescued in the last few minutes. In some ways, the story is the same as DS9: Little Green Men played straight. Then they add on an ending with an exciting firefight and escape just like all the other exciting firefights and escapes seen in any movie with a helicopter.

As often happens with ENT, there's good work with character relationship scenes though the story feels like something we've seen before with names and events shuffled around.
The planet and its inhabitants aren't even given a name this time around, though they seem to be on a technological level with early 20th century Earth before WWII. Unfortunately, like other aliens who have captured the crew, this militaristic government is portrayed as sadistic bastards during interrogations. Yes, Archer gets punched around again. And just for good measure, Reed gets punched too.

There are several good Reed moments, reminding us of his sense of military tradition. Besides insisting he deserves punishment for his carelessness, when facing impending execution he shows his usual stiff-upper-lip shtick with the usual "I'm not afraid, sir."

There's a good scene featuring only the guest cast, as they test a confiscated phase pistol, registering shock and awe at the power of particle weapons.

Nice moment: Archer's silent reaction when Malcolm has a desire for Epsom salts to soothe his aching feet.

Oddly, the transporter isn't used for the covert cultural survey, and isn't suggested as a possible way to retrieve the lost communicator. This might be due to a transporter episode scheduled a few weeks later.

The "surgical alterations" to disguise the crew peel off as if they were applied with liquid latex rather than sutures.

And in case anyone misses the point of the entire story, T'Pol delivers the moral message at the end.

Next: "Singularity"
Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard: For duty and humanity! --Men in Black (1934)
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