is "invaded" by three real life U.S.S. Enterprise
Features appearances by real-life U.S.S. Enterprise sailors
Aviation Electronic Technician First Class Robert Pickering,
Aviation Electrician's Mate Second Class Timothy Whittington and
Personnelman Third Class Sara Elizabeth Pizzo. (March 13, 2002
When Archer and Trip are invited to a desert-like planet by an
alien leader after they help fix his ship, they discover he is a
terrorist who has lured them onto his planet under false pretenses.
Meanwhile, T'Pol, while in command, faces a tough decision when she
cannot locate Archer and Trip in the desert.
Voigts' "A View From The Shuttlecraft" Enterprise Episode
Desert Crossing -
“The greatest harm can result from the best intentions.” This
rule, from Terry Goodkind’s novel “The Stone of Tears,” is one
brought forcefully home in this episode. Also, the path towards the
development of the Prime Directive is very evident.
It was nice to see Porthos yet again - he gave a great look of
disappointment - that dog is well trained. It was also nice to see
attention to detail. Yes, the cast remembered to shut off their
communication devices. Yes, we knew that Trip didn’t like deserts
before he and Archer went to the planet. And, yes, once again, some of
the crew gets to eat. The story hung together fairly well and the
music was adequate. February 12, 2152 - it’s nice to get a date for
referencing. The scene where Malcolm debunks the overblown story of
the Suliban escape is great. It points out how stories can be blown
out of proportion. It really brings home the notion that some sort of
non-interference policy has to be developed. Not too much new
introduced. I liked the story but it was not one of the most exciting.
Nor was it one of the most boring. I have noticed one thing - once in
a great while, unfortunately, Captain Archer’s line delivery sounds
like Captain Kirk’s - when he couldn’t remember his lines.
Great lines: “It’s a dry heat.” “It’s had its share of
surprises.” “Even if I were the warrior you thought I was, that’s
not why we’re out here.”
What does this rating mean?
Copyright 2001, C. A. Voigts. All rights reserved, but feel free to
ask... This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any
off-net compilation without due attribution and *express written
of the author*.
Laurie's No-Nonsense Review
Land of Laurie
Lynch's Enterprise Episode Review
WARNING: Every step of the "Desert Crossing" is fraught
with danger, as this review is with spoilers. Tread carefully.
In brief: Bring a pillow -- for some stretches you'll need it.
Enterprise Season 1, Episode 23
Teleplay by Andre Bormanis
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis
Directed by David Straiton
Brief summary: A mission of mercy leaves Trip and Archer caught in a
crossfire, with the only way out through a vast expanse of
If I had to use one word to sum up "Desert Crossing,"
that word might be "ponderous." It doesn't do anything
offensively bad or that seems actively out of character, but from a
dramatic standpoint it does something that's almost worse: it's
dull. Extremely dull.
In part, I suspect that too great an attempt was made to make the
episode seem relevant to current concerns. The idea of "we need
to watch what we do, because innocent help could be seen as taking
sides" is a perfectly good one, and one that has as much
applicability now as it ever has. I'm all for relevance, but in
general if you're going to do that you need to either make the
points with a lot of subtlety and grace, or at least have
good-to-magnificent storytelling backing it up. (I'm drawing a blank
on particularly subtle examples right at the moment, but
"sledgehammer points made via a fantastic story" would
include things like TNG's "Chain of Command, Part II" and
Neither subtlety nor superb storytelling were at hand here, alas.
The story itself was so thin that there wasn't much room for
subtlety. Archer decides to render aid in response to a distress
signal, and Zobral (the occupant of said ship) insists that he and
Trip come down for a visit. It turns out that, impressed by tales of
Archer's military prowess, Zobral wants their aid in the war against
oppression he's currently waging with the planetary government.
Again, a perfectly adequate idea, but the above paragraph sums up
almost every nuance of the show's entire first half -- which is not
something that kept me glued to my chair by any stretch. Instead,
every attempt was made to really bludgeon home the point that this
story can apply to current situations on Earth. Consider:
-- Let's see ... the planet's mostly desert, so let's give Zobral
and his men thick (and not entirely convincing) accents similar to
those in the Middle East. Check.
-- Hmm ... hey, let's make it so that Zobral's people once had to
wear clothing that set them apart from their fellows, similar to
what Jews in Nazi Germany or women in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan had
-- Let's even have Hoshi note how similar their dilemma is to
ones on Earth (though at least she cast in terms of where the
Vulcans decided to visit).
-- While Archer refuses to help, let's make him voice feelings at
the end that "I have the feeling his cause is worth fighting
for," so that all the viewers who identify with Zobral's cause
can feel as though aspersions haven't been cast on their own causes.
(This may not be "relevant" per se, but I think it's a
case of the episode trying desperately to cover its own ass. I
Now, there are a couple of bright spots here and there. One of
them was guest star Clancy Brown: while Zobral himself was more or
less a walking stereotype and his speech pattern wasn't 100%
convincing, Brown himself dove into the role headfirst -- Zobral did
at least seem to have buckets of personal charisma, which is exactly
what someone in his role would need to survive. (Of course, since
longtime SF fans might recognize him as Rawhide from "The
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai," I'll admit I kept wondering
when a Lectroid was going to pop out from behind a dune and take
Zobral down. :-) )
The other, more substantial bright spot was the reason Zobral had
for picking Archer, namely that the events of "Detained" a
few episodes back have given him a reputation. As with all
reputations, the tale of the prison break has already been blown out
of proportion, but the simple fact that word of Archer's actions has
gotten out farther than Archer himself has is something that could
be grist for any number of episodes. Would I expect every single
encounter to have someone recognize Archer or the Enterprise? No, of
course not -- but the idea that some have, and that some are more
willing to listen and others less so as a result is one I applaud.
(I'd note that this only works if the powers that be decide to stick
with it, though: Voyager as a series spent part of its second season
building up the ship's reputation as "a ship of death,"
and then all of that seemed to evaporate when the plot required it.
If that happens here as well, I'll be annoyed.)
Mixed in with those bright spots, however, is an awful lot of
tedium. After Zobral's appeal becomes open, the Terathans attack his
encampment. Archer and Trip, tucked away in a bunker for their own
safety, eventually realize that they're at just as much risk inside
that bunker and leave. The shuttlepod isn't safe, so they decide to
set out across the desert, hoping to find shelter in an abandoned
encampment to the east.
What follows is basically "Archer and Trip teach us about
desert survival," with Archer doing what he should and Trip
showing what happens if you don't. Trip gets heat exhaustion. Trip
feels freezing. Trip turns down water. Trip has hallucinations. In
three words or less, "ho hum." If this was meant to put
the characters in a new light, then anything illuminated by that
light was lost on me, as I didn't get much insight into Trip and
Archer here -- and pretty much every cliche in the book about desert
travel was put to use here in the bargain. (Okay, so Trip didn't see
a mirage of money and scantily clad women and go off hooting a la
Daffy Duck. Pity -- that one could've been fun.) Unless this was
meant to be educational ("see, kids! be sure YOU bring enough
water if you're stranded in the desert!"), I'm left with the
sense that it did nothing but take up time.
There's really not that much left to say. Of the regulars, only
Archer and Trip got any truly significant time, though T'Pol got to
point out that soon Archer will have to develop his own directives
for dealing with planetary conflicts and to guilt-trip Zobral into
assisting with the search using the "your enemy thinks we're on
your side, therefore you're responsible for us" argument.
Again, "ho-hum" was my primary response. (The bit about
Archer having to develop his own directive was a horribly hamhanded
way of alluding to the Prime Directive, incidentally: earlier
episodes have done it better. Had T'Pol left off by noting that
Vulcan has some and they've proven useful, that would've been
plenty.) The story was pretty much paper- thin. Most of what we got
here were equally strong doses of desert scenes and 21st-century
moralizing, and neither proved gripping.
Some other notes:
-- The game ("geskana," I think) that Zobral's men
played on the planet was all well and good, if in part an excuse to
deliver topless shots of two of the male leads. In the middle of it,
though, there was one oddity: after he's knocked down, one of the
shots of Trip getting up appears to be on video when everything else
is film. I wonder why that happened.
-- I was glad to see the temperature given as "41
degrees," with Celsius not only present, but simply assumed. Of
course, given that science advisor Andre Bormanis wrote this, if
*that* were off I'd really start to wonder. :-)
-- Maybe it's just me, but "What's your point?" does
not sound like a phrase that the very Vulcan and proper T'Pol would
use, even to Hoshi.
-- For those keeping track of the calendar, "Desert
Crossing" seems to pick up only a few days after "Fallen
Hero" ends. Given that they still haven't made it to Risa, that
That pretty much covers it, I think. As the second hour of a
two-hour "event," I suspect that "Desert
Crossing" won't quite have the viewership that "Fallen
Hero" did -- and given the relative quality of the two, I can
only consider that a good thing.
So, to wrap up:
Writing: I agree with the moral and find Enterprise's growing
reputation of interest, but there's an awful lot of nothing covering
it all up. Directing: Sluggish -- some of that's the writing, I'm
sure, but the directing didn't punch it up any. Acting: More or less
Overall: 4 -- one of the weakest of the season. Better luck next
Risa at last.
Tim Lynch (Castilleja School, Science Department)
"I wouldn't be a very good host if I allowed you to
Copyright 2002, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free
This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net
compilation without due attribution and *express written consent of
the author*. Walnut Creek and other CD-ROM distributors, take note.
Where to Watch - Local channels
VHS, Laserdisc and DVD availability.
Scott Bakula as Captain
Connor Trinneer as
Chief Engineer Charles
Jolene Blalock as Sub-commander
Dominic Keating as
Lt. Malcolm Reed
as Ensign Travis
Linda Park as Ensign
as Dr. Phlox
Clancy Brown as Zobral
Charles Dennis as Trelit
Brandon Karrer as Alien Man
Directed by: David Straiton
Teleplay by: Andre Bormanis
Story by: Rick Berman & Brannon
Braga & Andre Bormanis