Laurie's No-Nonsense Review
Everyone had a little something to do in this show, which makes
me happy. Well. . .almost everyone. As usual, Ensign Mayweather got
the short end of the dialogue stick, and became unconscious almost
As the ship moved towards a singularity, the crew started behaving
strangely. It kicked off with Ensign Mayweather's headache, and seemed
to really take off once Trip got the assignment of fixing Archer's
command chair, because it was uncomfortable. Slowly everyone started
becoming obsessed with their latest projects. Trip added a console and
a cup holder to the chair, measured Archer from head to toe, and
couldn't stop making adjustments. ("I'm gonna build you a throne!")
Reed invented an entirely new tactical system, complete with loud
alarms, restricted areas, and a new rule that security personnel
should walk around armed. Hoshi, who'd agreed to take over the kitchen
for a day to make a traditional Japanese meal for everyone, was so
upset with the imperfection of the food that she wouldn't serve it to
anybody. Archer got so wrapped up in writing a preface for a book
about his dad that he made it twenty pages long and kept wanting to
read it to everybody. Dr. Phlox was so fascinated by Mayweather's
headache that he wouldn't let him return to duty. He knocked him out,
and prepped him for brain surgery. T'Pol remained unaffected, and
nobody would listen to her when she tried to tell them something was
wrong. Archer actually yelled at her when she tried, and pushed her
out of his cabin!
Things started getting dangerous in Sickbay, until T'Pol just
managed to stop Phlox from opening up Mayweather's brain with a nicely
executed neck pinch. I'm glad they haven't forgotten about it, I'd
love to see more of those Vulcan touches. Aren't Vulcans supposed to
be stronger than everybody else? I'd like to see T'Pol demonstrate
some of that, it might take the edge off all the posing and pouting.
All right, she did a good job in this episode, I'll leave her alone
for a change.
Thanks to Phlox's research, she discovered that the crew was being
affected by radiation from the singularity, and wouldn't survive long
enough to go back the way they came. She plotted a course out, but
desperately needed someone to help her pilot the ship while she made
course corrections, so she woke up a disgruntled Captain Archer. Just
as it looked like they were about to be smashed to bits by giant
asteroids (or something), Reed's tactical system proved its worth by
having put all the weapons online as soon as the shields went up. The
day was saved, the crew recovered, and everybody stopped yelling at
each other. And Reed, who was actually doing something useful despite
having taken it a little too far, was allowed to develop his tactical
alert system, with the recommendation by Archer that it become
standard Starfleet procedure. Trip figured out that all he had to do
to the Captain's chair was lower it by a quarter of a centimeter.
All in all, a decent show. Everyone got to act a little crazy, Reed
& Trip even went to blows and had to be separated by Archer, and T'Pol
received more reassurance that Vulcans are superior to humans. Still,
if I were the Captain I would have held on to the tactical alert AND
the cup holder.
But one more time. . .can they please mix up the extras a little?
Once again, they're all white guys. It's such an easy thing to do,
casting team. Please?
Land of Laurie
Lynch's Enterprise Episode Review
WARNING: If you're single-minded in your quest to avoid spoilers,
then skip this review of ENT's "Singularity."
In brief: Some nicely menacing moments, but could've used a
Enterprise Season 2, Episode 9
Written by Chris Black
Directed by Patrick Norris
Brief summary: Radiation from a nearby black hole affects the crew's
behavior in some unexpected ways.
Very early in the original series' run, an episode called "The
Time" was made. In it, while orbiting a planet showing extreme
gravitational shifts, the crew is infected by a water-borne
which releases most of their inhibitions. Some people got very silly,
some rather obsessively morose, and some inadvertently menacing.
In the end, we knew a great deal more about some of the lead
characters (particularly Kirk and Spock).
Sound familiar? It should, as "Singularity" follows much
arc. Granted, there were some "updates" to bring it more in
contemporary thinking: radiation becomes both the cause of the
behavior and the major threat, and the effects aren't quite as simple
releasing inhibitions. The shows have such similar cores, however,
that it's folly not to at least look at the two side by side a bit.
Unfortunately, "Singularity" falls short in that
comparison -- and the
fundamental reason why is that while it captures a lot of "The
Time" superficially, it lacks much real depth. After "The
Time," we found out a great deal about Kirk and Spock -- Spock's
constant state of war with his own impulses, for instance, and Kirk's
obsessive attachment to his ship. Both were fundamental parts of that
character's nature, both informed some of the character's actions
in the series, and neither was something we could have found out
remotely as easily were the characters not laid so bare by outside
What did we find out about our heroes from "Singularity"?
get obsessive when an outside influence forces them to be single-
minded. With a few exceptions (Reed in particular), that's about it.
The obsessions were often used as comic relief (Trip's work with
Archer's chair, for instance, and Hoshi's obsession with her recipe)
and occasionally crossed over into more menacing venues (Phlox
most of the time, Archer occasionally), but there wasn't much there to
illuminate the characters. It's not as pointless as, say, DS9's
"Dramatis Personae," which saw everyone basically playing
assigned to them and not much else, but it feels like a lot of missed
For instance, there didn't seem to be much logic about what
became single-minded about. From the look of it, most people began
to dwell on whatever was uppermost in their mind when they were
first affected -- but since different people were affected at
times and there was no clear triggering moment, it's maddeningly
vague. (I'm all for ambiguity when it's intentional and thought-
provoking, but not when it's simply the result of sketchy motivation.)
That said, there were times when the episode was genuinely creepy,
at least disquieting. The teaser, for instance, did a great job of
grabbing attention -- not only are we treated to the sight of everyone
but T'Pol unconscious and T'Pol's own warning that they're likely to
be dead soon, but it's also one of the shortest teasers on record. It
made its point, got us wondering "what the heck is going
got out of the way and let us stew. I appreciate that.
That impact, unfortunately, gets blunted by the necessity of going
back and setting up the premise. As a result, we see a lot of
seemingly trivial scenes -- yes, they're important in the context of
showing everyone examining his or her own trivial matter, but they're
still trivial scenes which aren't going to sustain that same level of
interest the teaser created. Archer wants Trip to look at his chair.
Chef is ill (and apparently has no backup), so Hoshi wants to fill in
for him. Archer's trying to write the preface to a biography of his
father. Reed's working on a security protocol (being the one person
who understands his job, it seems). Phlox worries that Travis's
headache might be more than it appears. To swipe shamelessly from
"The King and I": Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
The most interesting object of obsession, I think, is Reed's idea
creating some sort of "tactical alert" that will bring
such as weapons and shie...er...hull plating up to power when needed.
I'll admit that I think Reed's turning out to be a little too
given that he's installed the first Starfleet phase cannon (with
help), created Starfleet's first stable force field, and now
brought about the first Starfleet red alert (or "Reed
given the dialogue), but the idea behind this alert is a good one. (In
fact, it's a sufficiently good one that I really have to wonder why it
hasn't existed up to this point. Don't Navy ships, for example, have
something akin to Red Alert *now*? I know, I know, Starfleet's not
military. It's still a good idea.
As all the various obsessions begin to grow -- Trip tells T'Pol in
uncertain terms that the captain's comfort is a life-and-death
component of the ship, Hoshi makes her old family recipe over and
over so that she can get it "just right," and so forth --
the mood of the
show really bounces back and forth. Given that we know where it's
going given T'Pol's log, the tone should be far more menacing than it
is -- even those obsessions that appear humorous, like Trip's or
Hoshi's, should be tinged with a sense of its later effects. Instead,
felt as if I was being asked to alternatively listen up and lighten up
rapid succession, and it was too jarring -- it's as if someone spliced
together your typical Adam Sandler film with "Das Boot."
again, if it means drowning Sandler I suppose I could deal with that
When the episode picks a paranoid atmosphere and hangs around
with it, it succeeds more often than not. Archer's reaction in his
quarters to T'Pol's suggestion that he leave is a good case: as
Bakula proves that he does quiet scenes much better than he does
histrionics. Archer simply stands, towers over T'Pol for a moment,
mutters, "I'm busy," and goes back to work.
Phlox's behavior in sickbay is another good case, if a bit more
obvious. The dark side of Phlox's interest in seeing what makes
humanity tick, it seems, is that he's more than willing to observe the
ticking process on a cellular level, chopping out what interests him
need be. I imagine pretty much everyone saw the "at least let me
you an analgesic!" feint for what it was well before Travis
but Phlox's reaction to T'Pol is another good one: "Please remove
your hand. I won't ask you again," he says while quietly bringing
scalpel to bear. Brr.
The other success would be Reed, who's getting some of the more
consistent characterization of the season. Since "Minefield"
clear that Reed disagrees with many of Archer's security decisions
("Minefield," hell -- I think we saw it as early as
"Terra Nova" or
"The Andorian Incident"), it's only fitting that one of
would be in beefing up security as much as possible within Archer's
guidelines. The success of Reed's story here is that he gets
something to do that's really relevant to his character: both his
interest in the tactical alert and his sheer paranoia when left to his
devices seemed entirely plausible and good fodder for future stories.
(He got so obsessive that he just teetered on the edge of turning into
"Red Dwarf"'s Rimmer, but fortunately hung back a bit.)
On the other hand, it seems that the powers that be have
relegated Trip to the status of "goofy comic relief." If
learning that being acting captain is uncomfortable or having an arm
turned invisible by a Suliban cloaking device, he's trying to create
UberChair. Once is okay -- three episodes in a row is threatening to
disembowel the character, and certainly doing a disservice to Connor
Trinneer, who's capable of much more. The only time Trip got
interesting here was during his little face-off with Reed on the
but that was way too short-lived.
From a plot standpoint, T'Pol eventually figures out that the
is radiation from a black hole they're heading for (lovely things,
radiation anomalies), and that the only route which is fast enough to
save the crew's life is extremely difficult to navigate. Thus, she
manages to revive Archer and have him pilot the ship -- and with a
little help from Reed's new alert system, they escape safely.
The last act was mostly okay so far as it went, but felt pretty ...
"standard" is the best word that comes to mind. All the
objections could be raised -- apparently there are no qualified pilots
on board other than Travis, for instance, despite the fact that Travis
can't be on the bridge 24 hours a day -- but this was one of those
situations where you almost have to say "okay, let's just run
I'll admit that Archer's demeanor desperately asked for a quick cameo
from Leslie Nielsen telling Archer "I just wanted to say good
we're all counting on you" a la "Airplane," and further
that the "wait,
Reed's new alert just saved us!" surprise was anything but, but
scene as a whole was certainly okay.
Two character notes come to mind in that last act, however. First,
seemed entirely too easy to snap Archer out of his obsession. He's
easily distracted during the final act, but not once does he mention
beloved preface. If it's that easy, why not wake a few others as well
so you don't have to work multiple stations? Second, and more
interestingly, I'm not sure I buy T'Pol's claims of immunity at all.
One could make a serious argument that T'Pol simply got obsessed
about the trinary system's radiation, and that her obsession simply
happened to be a fruitful one by blind luck. I don't know that leaving
this ambiguous is so bad, but I do wonder if the ambiguity's
Some other musings:
-- When Travis first goes to Phlox, Phlox mentions that he's been
wanting to check on Travis anyway after his experiences from
Stop." Very nice.
-- T'Pol implies that black holes are very rare in trinary systems.
doubt they're any rarer than trinary systems themselves: certainly
black holes are very commonly found in *binary* systems, and
there's not much reason for trinaries to act differently. This isn't
on the level of a nitpick ... just a comment.
-- As usual, as soon as the ship clears the radiation field all the
disappear instantly and permanently. Sigh.
-- Most of T'Pol's narration works fine, but the line about
appeared to be immune, I discovered the captain was not" is
unnecessary. Let us see that for ourselves, guys.
-- Archer: "You're lucky you're a decent engineer, because you
obviously don't know anything about writing." Trip: "I'm not
only one." Me: "You just handed me way too easy a shot. It's
fun when it's *this* easy."
That should about do it. "Singularity" had a few
which stand out as solid -- but fundamentally, it's one of those shows
that could've been far more compelling and interesting than it was. It
didn't have enough fun dialogue to succeed in most of its humor, and
had sufficient humor that it kept tripping up the tension. It got
Naked Time" right on a basic surface level, but there wasn't
spark to keep up a sustained flame.
Time to sum up, then:
Writing: A bit too split-personality: by trying to be funny and
menacing, it never wholly succeeded at either.
Direction: Some nice sickbay moments (and one or two with Reed or
Archer), but basically "okay."
Acting: Solid work from Keating and Billingsley, mostly okay from
everyone else. Pity Connor Trinneer.
OVERALL: 6.5. Not bad, but not stellar.
Where there's a spatial anomaly, there almost has to be a
accident the next week...
Tim Lynch (Castilleja School, Science
"The headache's gone. What'd you do?"
"Very little. Fortunately."
-- Travis and Phlox
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
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