crew encounters a squid-like creature .
A strange, symbiotic alien creature boards the Enterprise
capturing a few of the crew members, including Archer and Trip, and
cocoons them in its web feeding off their bodies to survive. With
the captured crewmembers' lives in jeopardy, Hoshi, under T'Pol's
command, faces her biggest challenge by trying to find a way to
communicate with the lifeform in order to return it to its home
Voigts' "A View From The Shuttlecraft" Enterprise Episode
Vox Sola - spoilers involved.
An ensemble story - the whole cast gets involved, though Hoshi gets
some more character development and gets to save the day this time.
I liked the idea of seeing the members of the crew having some down
time. Watching a movie, watching sports, etc. We now know Captain
Archer played water polo at Stanford University. Of course, some of
them get to eat again. And is that beer that Archer and Trip are
enjoying? Wonder how that gets brewed - somehow beer from a protein
resequencer just doesn’t sound very good. It was also great to see
other members of the crew.
A few things bothered me. Where was the Trip from “Shuttlepod
One?” He was willing to fight for life then. Was the organism
projecting its own fear into Trip or did the writer just mess up on
this one? And the “chin up, Trip” speech from Archer was a little
- no, a lot - clichéd. I was almost expecting Archer to tell them to
win one for the Gipper.
Scenes I liked: The female bonding scene between Hoshi and T’Pol.
Though Hoshi’s self doubt came back with a vengeance for a bit (and
my, but she seemed awfully defensive), she overcame it nicely. The
doctor exerting his authority in sick bay was nice. And Malcolm seems
to be developing into the Scotty of the weapons and defense systems.
And Mayweather’s scene on the bridge was very nicely done - just the
right mixture of confidence and unease. I do feel sorry for the actors
who had to “hang around” so much in this show. I hope it was far
less uncomfortable than it looked. I also enjoyed the various types of
mood music used in the show. What I would call the “creature theme”
was almost a “Schindler’s List” type of music - the violin was
Great Line: “You’ll like it. Things blow up.”
What does this rating mean?
C. A. Voigts starfleetlibrary.com
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
consent of the author*.
Laurie's No-Nonsense Review
I have to say, this is one of the best episodes I've seen to date.
Honestly, there are but a handful that were actually good this season
and this was among them, perhaps even at the top of the list after the
creepy scary upside down dead people one. There's nothing like a good
old something-scary-is-on-our-ship scenario.
The show started off with a bunch of aliens storming back to their
ship (through an airlock that reminded me of that really cool one from
DS9) with the Enterprise crew following, desperately trying to figure
out how to communicate with them so they could see what they'd done to
offend them. No luck. As the aliens pulled away, We saw this
transparent, weird blobby stretchy thing move from their ship to the
Enterprise, then crawl inside it. Creepy!
As it crawled through the ship, it started looking more like
Kleenex, wiith these flowy sort of tendrils. Some unfortunate slacker
crewman who wanted to leave the disabled lighting system in a cargo
bay to the "night shift" became the first victim. (No
slackers in Starfleet!) The non-slacker chick who'd ordered him there
went in to find him and then reported to Captain Archer that there was
a life form in the cargo bay and then went silent. D'oh! By the time
Archer & his team got there, the Kleenex had changed into some
kind of sticky, gluey marshmallow and had enveloped both crewmen.
Tendrils came out and grabbed Archer & Trip, and sucked them into
the giant white sticky web. Reed got out, just barely, and managed to
get a broken piece off of one of the tendrils by slamming the door on
it -- not very futuristic, but that's okay -- and took the still
moving piece to Sickbay.
The people caught in the web were groaning and panting a lot, so I
assume that the webby thing was squeezing them, but they never quite
spelled it out. I guess it was building its cocoon around it, they
were definitely getting progressively more enveloped as time went on.
Then it started linking their nervous systems together, and then their
minds too so they all knew everything about Archer's favorite sport,
water polo. No, really. It was water polo. I swear. I'd prefer no
sports talk at all on Enterprise, but I guess if it's going to be
something, it can be something stupid like water polo.
The crew tried firing on the thing and it only hurt the people
trapped in it. T'Pol teamed up with Hoshi to figure out how to
communicate with it, once Dr. Phlox confirmed that it was intelligent.
Reed invented the very first force field so they could get in there.
Mayweather -- still getting to participate and speak, hooray! --
tracked down the previously offended aliens to see what they knew.
(They'd spent the time since they left learning English, and were able
to deliver not only the coordinates for the cocoon-thing's home, but
the explanation for the grievous offence: the Starfleet gang actually
ate their food in front of people! Gross!)
In the end, they were able to talk to the thingy, and it freed the
crew, and they took it home, where it intertwined itself back into the
giant Kleenex-y thing it was really a part of. The loose tendril from
Sickbay got to go home too. And off they went.
This was a really fun one! Great story, great use of extras in the
crew, great use of the regular crew who all pulled together to save
the day. I really like the whole briefing room thing they do on
Voyager & Next Gen & original Trek where the Captain gathers
everyone to get their opinion on the current crisis, and this was the
closest Enterprise has come to that kind of vibe. AND it was creepy
and scary AND the moral of the story was to communicate instead of
just killing. Well done.
My only really negative note is that Captain Archer still calls the
log his "star-log". Very Buck Rogers.
Land of Laurie
Lynch's Enterprise Episode Review
WARNING: Don't leave yourself alone and vulnerable to "Vox
In brief: The final act and a half is pretty good, but you've got
to wade through a lot first.
Enterprise Season 1, Episode 21
Teleplay by Fred Dekker
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Fred Dekker
Directed by Roxann Dawson
Brief summary: An exceptionally alien life-form appears on board
Enterprise and seizes several members of the crew, forcing Hoshi to
push her communication skills to their limit.
The day after "Vox Sola" aired, one of my students (who
watches Enterprise occasionally, but not religiously) asked me before
class, "So, is Enterprise trying to be the X-Files now, or
what?" I doubt I'm the only one who thinks she has a point. While
the ending of "Vox Sola" got away from this tendency a bit,
Enterprise has had more than its share lately of dark places lit only
by flashlights, creepy things that go bump, and other "monster at
the end of this episode" moments, and much of "Vox Sola"
merely reinforced that feeling. (Keep in mind, though, that I'm
writing this as someone who never got into "The X-Files" all
that much, especially in the last few years.)
The story begins with the end of a fairly disastrous first contact:
the Kreetassans are mortally offended by something (though it's not
clear what) and leave in a huff. As they leave, however, something
else sneaks onto the Enterprise -- what it is isn't clear, but it
seems somewhat gelatinous and quite living. (It also smacks of CGI for
CGI's sake, but I'll leave that be for now.) The life-form, growing as
it moves through the ship, wends its way through conduits and between
decks until it reaches Cargo Bay 2, where it sets up housekeeping.
Engineering crewman Toasty ... er ... Rostov goes to investigate a
power loss and is seized by the creature, and his colleague Expendable
("Kelly" for short) is then seized in turn when she goes to
investigate why Rostov hasn't come back. Before she vanishes, though,
she manages to signal Archer, who now knows something's awry.
Now, there's nothing wrong with a good monster-of-the-week story:
early seasons of both X-Files and Buffy, for instance, had lots of
them, many of which worked quite well. X-Files, however, pulled that
off by focusing on atmosphere and mood (usually fairly well), and
Buffy either used the monster as a metaphor, played the threat
tongue-in-cheek, or both. Enterprise is trying to play it pretty
straight, which is fine -- but it's just so determinedly in earnest
that the effect tends to backfire. Did anyone find all the "creep
around in the dark" scenes in "Rogue Planet"
atmospheric, for example? I certainly didn't -- and neither did I find
this monster especially monstrous. As I said earlier, I was always
entirely too aware that I was watching an effect (whether it be CGI or
Silly String), and I got no sense of menace at all. In fact, I at
least thought the "Archer, Trip, and Expendable Security Guy get
grabbed" was more humorous than anything else -- the creature's
taking of the security officer on the stairs was just exceptionally
"Okay," you might say, "but a lot of times you'll
have character moments that can make up for a lot of that." True
-- a lot of times you do. Here ... we did to a fault, but not quite to
the level they'd have to be. Trip decides to cheer up Archer by
surprising him with a video of the Stanford/Texas water polo finals
("fresh out of the subspace mailbag"), and Hoshi generally
broods about her failure to interpret the Kreetassans well enough to
save everyone from committing ... whatever their offense was. (At this
point, they're not even sure what they did.) The Hoshi stuff felt a
bit flat to me, as it felt like it was present only to telegraph
something later, but the Archer/Trip interplay felt more natural. (As
someone who's taught at two different schools with solid and popular
water polo programs, I was also pleased to see water polo get a little
good press. :-) ) What really saved the first half of the episode,
inasmuch as anything did, was the direction, or perhaps more
specifically the editing choices. Roxann Dawson kept the scenes very
short, for the most part, and gave some interesting enough cuts and
transitions that the viewer was at least kept moving rather than
sitting in one scene.
For a while, then, things go more or less by the book. Phlox's
examinations turn up two quick points. One, the creature has a highly
developed nervous system and may be an intelligent being; and two, its
autonomic functions are gradually merging with those of the people
it's taken, so that eventually the crew will be nothing more than
extensions of the life-form. Thus, time is of the essence -- and when
it becomes clear that attempts to kill the creature would probably
kill the hostages as well, the only choice is for Hoshi to try to
figure out how to communicate with the creature while Reed tries to
perfect the force-field he's been working on in order to stop it from
spreading any further.
Midway through the third act, however, the show suddenly produced a
couple of beautiful character moments that surprised me to no end.
While working on his force field, Reed needs to find out how much
feedback the creature can take, and intends to experiment on the
sample in sickbay -- but Phlox stands up to him, saying that he wants
to help, but not by torturing an intelligent being. "Correct me
if I'm wrong," he notes, "but isn't our mission to better
understand unique forms of life?" Reed will have none of it, but
Phlox has jurisdiction in his own sickbay and his rules win out. The
main reason I liked that moment (other than the fact that I think it's
letting two of the better actors in the cast face off) is that both
characters are in large part correct: my own sympathies are with Phlox
(as I think they're meant to be), but Reed's motives are good and his
logic sound: the two are just starting from somewhat different
premises. That sort of situation provokes more thought after the fact,
and as a result makes for better drama.
Then, in the very next scene, T'Pol ruffles Hoshi's feathers one
time too many, and Hoshi finally snaps back, suggesting that T'Pol has
been checking up on her from day 1, presumably with the assumption
that she's not fit to be on board. T'Pol, however, says that it's just
the opposite: that she would consider the loss of Hoshi a great loss
to the crew, and that she holds Hoshi to a high standard "because
I know you are capable of achieving it." Now, television's
riddled with stories of teachers and mentors who do just that and are
initially misunderstood, but this scene clicked surprisingly well. In
part, that could be because I'm a teacher myself, but I think it's
more because T'Pol has rarely been put in the role of mentor or guide,
and this scene has made me start to rethink how she fits into the
command structure. I like the idea of having T'Pol shepherd Hoshi
along a bit - - it strikes me as something that can strengthen both
The combination of those two scenes seemed to take the episode
around a corner, because the remainder was far more palatable than the
early scenes. Yes, there were still too many scenes of the
"hostages" just hanging around, and yes, the plot itself
held few surprises -- but the "conversation" between Hoshi
and the lifeform evoked much more of a sense of wonder in me than many
scenes of its type. (Considering that the sounds weren't that
different from whalesong, I'm not entirely sure why I felt that way,
but I did nonetheless.) Hoshi's "hold on!" is finally one of
interest rather than of desperation, Reed's sidelong glance at Hoshi
during the conversation said "I can't believe I'm hearing
this" far better than dialogue actually would, and the final trip
to drop the alien off on its home planet had a definite sense of
"we're in a neat place and are trying to take it all in without
That sense of wonder may be due in part to the music: Paul
Baillargeon did a great job scoring the final act here. Even the
"hanging hostages" scene was a bit better than the early
ones, because of that one lone violin standing out against the
background music, sounding somewhat mournful. Very evocative.
So "Vox Sola" doesn't fall into the all-too-frequent
pothole of a great setup marred by a disappointing ending, but rather
the reverse: it's got a great ending, but took so long and meandering
a path to get there that it may well lose people along the way. A
Some other musings:
-- While it made sense for Hoshi to ask for help, I wish we hadn't
had the line about "this is more like a calculus equation than a
language." For one thing, many linguists I'm acquainted with have
pretty good mathematical intuitions as well -- and for another, it
makes Hoshi sound math-phobic. She may well be, but I'd rather not
have the only "normal" woman on the show embody that
particular stereotype: the Barbie quote of "math class is
hard" still rankles too much. (If you teach math or science to
adolescents, you tend to notice these things -- particularly if you're
at an all-girls school, as I am now.)
-- Oh, yeah ... I've pretty much skipped over the entire bit with
the Kreetassans and Travis having to apologize for eating in public.
Okay, sure, everyone's customs are different, etc. etc. ... but the
scene was a bit forgettable (even if it did give Vaughn Armstrong yet
another Trek role).
-- In some ways, I shouldn't have been surprised to see the
"T'Pol is mentoring Hoshi" bit here. The only other show
that hinted at it was "Sleeping Dogs," which was written by
Fred Dekker, co-writer of this episode.
-- Early on, Hoshi notes that context is very important to the
Kreetassan tongue, that the same word pronounced differently can mean
different things. I'm a bit surprised that she found that so
frustrating -- am I remembering right that, for example, Mandarin
Chinese operates in very similar fashion? (Perhaps Kreetassan just
does it to a greater degree than any Terran language.)
-- It looks like the crew go check out a movie every week. Fine
with me, so long as we don't see them watching trailers for
"Nemesis" as product placement next fall. :-)
That seems to do it. If you turned "Vox Sola" off halfway
through, I'm not sure I'd blame you -- but I'd also advise you to go
back and check the latter half out, as it's far superior. We've still
had a substantial drought of really strong episodes of late (nothing
since "Shuttlepod One," really), but this had some saving
graces when push came to shove.
So, summing up:
Writing: The plot held few surprises, but some of the later
character moments were golden. Directing: I'd have trimmed the
"Archer hangs around" scenes even further, personally, but
again the last act was a big help. Acting: Not a lot of standout work,
but no complaints either.
Overall: A 6 or so; had the second half resembled the first, it'd
have been far lower.
Two episodes, and two reviews.
Tim Lynch (Castilleja School, Science Department)
"I'm willing to help you, Mr. Reed, but not if it means
torturing this organism. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't our
mission to try to better understand unique forms of life?" --
-- Copyright 2002, Timothy W. Lynch. 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 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
as Kreetassan Captain
Joseph Will as Rostov
Renee Goldsberry as Kelly
Directed by: Roxann Dawson
Teleplay by: Fred Dekker: Rick Berman &