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Old March 25 2014, 06:13 AM   #1
t_smitts
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"Demons": My thoughts

Just rewatched "Demons", which I hadn't seen in a long time and figured I'd share what I thought of the first half of the show's last story arc. (In case you're wondering, it's late and I'll catch "Terra Prime" another night).

-Is it just me, or did Enterprise go back to Earth a lot during the 4th season? I just mention this, since it apparently took them over a month at Warp 5 to return to Earth in "The Expanse".

-Peter Weller can give Alan Rickman a run for his money, when it comes to a dry delivery. He's not quite the most memorable villain the show's ever had (Dolim, Silik, Valdore, and Garos from "Civilization" come to mind), but he's probably the closest to the real world. (Guys like him, as you know, find more of an audience after events that frighten people, which I suspect was still the mindset for some of the US around the time this episode was made). I'm pleased to say I didn't think of Admiral Marcus once while watching the episode, though I'd be interested to ask Weller what he thought was the difference between the two.

-I know the crew are supposed to be the heroes of the story, but I always thought it was more than a stretch that Trip and T'Pol are the ones sent to infiltrate the mining colony. If being the senior officers on Earth's first Warp 5 ship didn't make them famous, you can bet the Xindi mission did. And these are the people you send on a reconnaissance mission? That's like sending Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on some undercover mission after Apollo 11. I like that the episode itself seems to acknowledge how profoundly stupid that was by having Trip get outed by one of Paxton's goons at the rally.

-Spreaking of the rally, I know Terra Prime are supposed to be the badguys, but I can't help but feel the talking did bring up one valid issue: Did the Xindi ever offer any reparations, or even an apology for killing seven million people? I was actually thinking this after seeing a few season 3 episodes recently. Was Earth's government really just like "well the Xindi weapon's been destroyed and at least most of the Xindi races have decided not to kill us, so we're cool"?

-Patrick Fischler (who's one of those delightful go-to character actors who turn up on EVERY show at some point or another, including a recurring bit on "Lost", and even a role in the underrated Rockstar game "LA Noire") plays the unlucky Doctor whom Paxton arranges to be buried under a pile of rocks after questioning the Doc's commitment to the cause. Being killed off so quickly, I'm not really sure what purpose his character served other than to show that Terra Prime was so evil, they even kill their own people (which we kind of already knew from the dying woman who gave T'Pol the hair sample). I wish they'd done a bit more with him. Maybe have Trip and/or T'Pol appeal to his better nature and convince him to help them.

-I remember once reading a review somewhere talking about how "Bond villain-ish" it was to have the colony itself take off from the Moon, go to warp, and land on Mars (just how big was that thing supposed to be, anyway?) Having Trip talk about how dangerous jumping to warp inside a solar system supposedly is (like Dax did in "By Inferno's Light"), but Star Trek's always been spotty on that one. Didn't Enterprise herself almost immediately jump to warp after leaving drydock in "Broken Bow"? Heck, the opening credits of every single episode has the ship jumping to warp right next to Earth!

-The Coridanite make-up looks rather strange (though not as strange as hearing Tom Bergeron's voice coming out of the guy), and did no one stop to say "Wait a minute! This guy doesn't look a thing like the Coridan natives we saw before!" (And yes, I've heard the weak in-universe explanation in the books about it being a "ceremonial mask")

-I was rather indifferent about the character of Gannett. I suppose they wanted to finally throw Anthony Montgomery a bone by giving him a serious love interest. I didn't hate the character, I was just rather indifferent, as I said. I didn't even care when she got arrested. Meh.

-A bit more interesting was the introduction of Harry Groener as Minister Nathan Samuels (minister of what?). Again, I'm please to say I didn't think of the Mayor from "Buffy" wihile watching him here. It occurred to me that up to this point, we'd never seen or even heard about any of Earth's political leadership up to this point. We knew more about the 22nd century Klingon and Vulcan governments than Earth's. (Speaking of which, it might've been nice, in retrospect if we'd see Soval's counterpart, the Earth Ambassador to Vulcan, in "The Forge", though I suppose that really wasn't necessary for the story). We still know VERY little about how Earth's government is set up (and I get the impression the writers didn't really want to reveal too much). He's a nice nuanced character, concerned mainly about publicity (as many a career politician is), but not too adversarial to the crew.

-Seeing Col. Green on screen and making Paxton a follower of his was a nice touch. I know the writers had wanted to do a Green story earlier, which evolved into Arik Soong. I wonder, had the show continued, whether they would've indeed done an episode set around Green, as originally planned. Remember, he idea of finding the 23rd Century Defiant apparently had been around as far back as season two's "Future Tense" (for those who don't know, that was supposed to be the ship from the future everyone was fighting over). Would've been nice to do yet another story around yet another "historical" character we saw in "The Savage Curtain", seeing as we've already had Surak and Kahless. (Come to think of it, it might've been cool to have Enterprise go to Tiburon and run into Zora too).

All in all, not bad for the first half of the show's quasi-finale (unless you count "the episode which shall not be named").

I may post my thoughts on "Terra Prime" in a day or two. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on "Demons"?
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Old March 25 2014, 01:00 PM   #2
Timo
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Re: "Demons": My thoughts

The "technicalities" above piqued my interest...

1) Most of the adventures after the 3rd season could have taken place very close to home. Since the heroes basically dissipated the Delphic Expanse, there would be plenty of exotic alien territory there fairly close to Earth. OTOH, "Observer Effect" and "Bound" appear to be the only episodes that even bother to suggest that the ship is exploring wilderness rather than serving Earth's interests in territory already well surveyed.

I can easily see why Starfleet wouldn't want to deploy NX-01 far away from home at this juncture, though!

2) Getting the Xindi to actually grovel would be difficult to pull off, as it appears their conventional warfleet is much more potent than Earth's... If anything, the Xindi might have made demands afterwards. Or then they just expected to annex Earth to their mighty star empire in a few decades anyway, and didn't bother with such things. Little did they know that Earth would soon have plenty of powerful friends.

3) Having a warp-capable mine would certainly make sense if the goal were to hunt for specific minerals from the Sol system, at economically viable concentrations, rather than settling for mining empty a single location. Plenty of flying to be done between various asteroids and moons, and it might be economically smart to minimize time-in-transit. This sort of reminds me of the Boomer ships getting their cargoes wherever they can, rather than running regular services - a typical mode of operations in a "primitive", "early" economic and technological setup down here on Earth's oceans. A "tramp mine" is an exotic but sensible scifi concept!

It would be fun to see for once a hero or a villain warn about the "risk" of insystem warping, and Mother Nature then actually arrange for a demonstration. Not every gamble should pay off, or the sense of danger just dissipates. We have no idea what the problem here is, though. Will ships spontaneously explode when their warp fields interfere with the subspace fields of good old Sol? Or is there a risk of hitting insystem debris?

4) The concept of undercover celebrities is a pretty silly one, but note that it's all S31's doing: Harris gets Reed to provoke Trip and T'Pol into it, while Archer and Samuels actually speak against such involvement earlier on. For all we know, Harris wanted celebrity casualties so that he could bring down Terra Prime with those.

As for general comments, I liked the concept of two parts of Earth-centered intrigue, despite the burden of so many multi-parters already. The concept of the hybrid kid was way too ill-defined and ill-founded to carry the "hero part" of the intrigue, though. Yet without such a gimmick, with just a right-wing movement doing radical threats and our heroes sorting it out, the story would have had zero dramatic impact. I just wish they could have come up with a better gimmick...

Timo Saloniemi
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Old March 25 2014, 08:24 PM   #3
gblews
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Re: "Demons": My thoughts

"Demons" was my favorite of the two part series finale. It is one of the most subtle and incisive of the Trek "message" shows. I'd put it up against any of the TNG or DS9 message episodes.
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