Star Trek: Enterprise Review – “Borderland”

Apparently Brent Spiner’s guesting on Enterprise. Who knew? Maybe they should’ve marketed this a little better?

Borderland

Cast & Crew

Director: David Livingston

Written By: Ken LaZebnik

Starring
Scott Bakula as Captain
Jonathan Archer
Connor Trinneer as Chief
Engineer Charles "Trip" Tucker III
Jolene Blalock as Sub-commander
T’Pol
Dominic Keating as Lt.
Malcolm Reed
Anthony Montgomery
as Ensign Travis Mayweather
Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi
Sato
John Billingsley
as Dr. Phlox

Guest Cast
Brent Spiner as Dr. Arik Soong
Alec Newman as Malik
Abby Brammell as Persis
Joel West as Raakin
Big Show as Orion Slaver #1
Dave Power as Pierce
J.G. Hertzler as Klingon Captain
Dayo Ade as Klingon Tactical Officer
Gary Kasper as Orion Slaver #2
Bobbi Sue Luther as Orion Slave Woman
Thom Williams as Klingon Soldier #1

Episode Information

Originally Aired: October 29, 2004
Season: Four
Episode: Four
Production: 080

What Happened

After a dangerous group of genetically engineered humans called “Augments” escapes from their secluded planet intent on causing all-out war between Earth and the Klingons, the Enterprise crew is called into action and Archer enlists the help of criminal genius Dr. Arik Soong, the scientist responsible for creating the Augments.

While searching for the Augments in the Borderland — the volatile region between the Klingon Empire and the Orion Syndicate — Enterprise crosses paths with a band of ruthless Orion slave traders, who kidnap T’Pol and eight other crew members off the ship so they can be sold at auction, forcing Archer to enact a risky rescue mission with Dr. Soong’s help.

Review

Well here we go: The first of supposedly many 3-part arcs for season four. And out of the gate, I like it! Good acting, an engaging plot and something that we care about: The beginings of the Federation/Klingon Cold (or not-so-Cold) War. Thank you Manny.

High Point

Soong’s introduction in prison. It establishes his character perfectly, it’s deliciously written, and just fun to watch.

Low Point

Is it me or are the Augments nothing more than pissed-off, overdressed underwear models? I guess that’s fitting, most of Khan’s crew in Star Trek II were Chippendale dancers.

The Scores

Originality: Sure it’s borrowing from the Star Trek past, but isn’t that what we’ve been wanting all along? 3 out of 6.

Effects: A very good showing. I like the retro Bird of Prey, even if it doesn’t jog with continuity. 4 out of 6.

Story: Well done, something we as Trek fans actually care about, setting down the details of Trek canon. 5 out of 6.

Acting: Sure, the Augments are weak, but Spiner rocks! He oozes smarm and evil so well. Makes one ask: “Silik who?” 5 out of 6.

Emotional Response: It was great to Spiner back in Star Trek, but you’re genuinely interested in the outcome of this arc. There was also some unintentional humor from my laughing at the opening credits. “What kind of person uses the stage name ‘Big Show?’ Followed ten minutes later with: “Oh. Yeah you can call yourself anything you want.” 5 out of 6.

Production: I liked the auction set. It was alien and still completely recognizable. 4 out of 6

Overall: Please let this be the start of something better. Please!!! 5 out of 6.

Total: 31 out of 42

Next Week on Enterprise (November 5, 2004)

Cold Station 12

Reunited with his genetically engineered creations called Augments, criminal scientist Dr. Arik Soong and his “children” break into the medical outpost where Soong once worked, to steal the embryos of hundreds more potential Augments with plans to build a superhuman army. They will go so far as to release the deadly pathogens stored at the facility, Cold Station 12, if the staff, headed by Dr. Jeremy Lucas, dares impede Soong’s plan. Meanwhile, Archer and his crew search for clues to Dr. Soong’s whereabouts on Trialas IV, the planet where he raised the Augments, leading them to find one of the doctor’s less perfect children who was abandoned by his siblings. More from StarTrek.com

Additional Notes and Comments

If you’re interested in what’s in TheAngryMob’s review queue, check out my What’s Coming page.

TheAngrymob

33 replies on “Star Trek: Enterprise Review – “Borderland””

  1. y42 says:

    WWE?

    “What kind of person uses the stage name ‘Big Show?’ Followed ten minutes later with: “Oh. Yeah you can call yourself anything you want.”

    Didn’t see the ep, but I would guess the +=500 pounds pro wrestler from the WWE?

    I’d call him “Mr. Brig Show, sir” ;-)

    • Timeshredder says:

      Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

      It wasn’t great, but the writing has improved (not that “Adventures of Captain Archer and the Space Nazis” exactly set a high bar), Spiner does a great mad scientist, and it was a lot closer to what I was hoping for back in Season 1. I’ll watch warily for awhile. And though the “Augments” are being used as Underwear Model Villains, at least they’re villains with some underlying SF premise. (as opposed to, “this is SF ’cause we’re shooting at bad guys in funny make-up” villains).

      I do have a few questions, however:

      -Who are all of these forehead aliens buying at the Orion Market?

      -The 1990s Eugenics War notwithstanding, why is Trek‘s society so wildly opposed to genetic engineering?

      What 1990s Eugenics War?

      These, at least, aren’t B&B screwups, but long-standing unresolved Trek conundrums.

      • vanyel says:

        Re: Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

        And though the “Augments” are being used as Underwear Model Villains, at least they’re villains with some underlying SF premise.

        Hey, I got no problem with Underwear Model Villains ;-) And the main Augment troublemaker was played by Alec Newman (Paul Atreides), who I think does a pretty good job, in general.

        -The 1990s Eugenics War notwithstanding, why is Trek‘s society so wildly opposed to genetic engineering?

        I’d say the eugenics war is a pretty good reason all by itself, if you’re not one of the ones benefiting from having your genes tweaked. And I don’t believe you can twiddle genes after the fact and make major changes, as Trek (and too many others) have used in the past.

        What 1990s Eugenics War?

        It’s been too long since I’ve seen it, but I believe that it was referenced way back in the original Space Seed episode with Khan. Remember, when that was written, 1990 was a quarter century in the future. So now, we just have to accept it as “alternative history” if we want to continue in the established trek world.

        • Timeshredder says:

          Re: Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

          It’s been too long since I’ve seen it, but I believe that it was referenced way back in the original Space Seed episode with Khan. Remember, when that was written, 1990 was a quarter century in the future. So now, we just have to accept it as “alternative history” if we want to continue in the established trek world.

          I’m well aware that TOS referenced the Eugenics War in “Space Seed”– I’ve even offered my own tongue-in-cheek explanation for it elsewhere online. Other fans have suggested that this is an alternate history, or that it really happened in the 2096, just like the pre-TOS Klingons have forehead ridges. But later Treks have never really addressed the problem. Voyager even returned to the correct era, and it was our era, though a model of Khan’s ship appeared on a NASA worker’s desk. I wish they’d address this in the show.

          It remains a error/alternate history of the original series, in any case, since Khan would have been alive as an infant/child when “Space Seed” was broadcast. Clearly, we didn’t have that kind of genetic engineering available at that time.

          As for the Eugenics War’s influence on attitudes, according to “Borderlands,” humans even reject life-saving alterations. That does not square with the species I know. And while the memories of wars linger long…. Well, maybe you’re right there. Like, say, for another example, if a country got involved in an expensive, no-win war declared on dubious grounds once, they’d never do the same thing again, right?

          • valen1260 says:

            Re: Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

            Voyager even returned to the correct era, and it was our era, though a model of Khan’s ship appeared on a NASA worker’s desk. I wish they’d address this in the show.

            Blech! Those couple of episodes, despite introducing “29th Century Federation Timeships”, really made me hate “Voyager”. I knew that the 1990’s were supposed to be post-apocalyptic, and here was the Voyager crew chasing “Bill Gates” around in 1996 California sun with Sarah Silverman.

            To further complicate and confuse, that episode aired almost two years after “Past Tense”, which seemed to be at least more on track with post-apocalypse Earth than not.

          • babasyzygy says:

            Re: Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

            Clearly, we didn’t have that kind of genetic engineering available at that
            time.

            Remember, this was the height of the Cold War and there was a lot of
            speculation about what the Communists were doing, for example, just to win
            at the Olympics. I think the idea was that the genetic engineering and
            selective breeding
            were supposed to already be going on in secret in the USSR and China.

            • freemars says:

              Re: Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

              Clearly, we didn’t have that kind of genetic engineering available at that
              time.

              Remember, this was the height of the Cold War and there was a lot of
              speculation about what the Communists were doing, for example, just to win
              at the Olympics. I think the idea was that the genetic engineering and
              selective breeding
              were supposed to already be going on in secret in the USSR and China.

  2. GrimSean says:

    I just hope he comes back after the arc
    I think my personal high point of the episode was “Your crew needs a sense of humour” – it’s been too long since this show has done self-referental humour in a good way.

    I hope they continue using the Soong character – Spiner is just too much fun to watch in Trek.

  3. Trekkie says:

    Finally…
    …this was what I wanted when this series started. While surprised that there was such a thing as a bird of prey that far back it still had a great concept.

    One of the funniest things to me now really is comparing it to ST:TOS from the 60s. The augments are super ninja fighters where Kahn and his like ‘just hit hard’ or ‘breathed really hard ‘ and then ripped a door off its hinges. Just shows how much things have changed as far as ‘how people fight on TV’ since 1967 or so.

    Looking forward to part 2 and part 3 and how they handle it.

    The only thing I really was a little annoyed at is when you both have phasers trained on an ‘evil monstrosity’ of a genetically engineered being holding your captain by the neck and have a weapon that can stun something you shoot no matter what. But then that makes for bad story telling

    • valen1260 says:

      Re: Finally…

      The only thing I really was a little annoyed at is when you both have phasers trained on an ‘evil monstrosity’ of a genetically engineered being holding your captain by the neck and have a weapon that can stun something you shoot no matter what. But then that makes for bad story telling

      First of all, I don’t think anyone, even Augments, can dodge the faster-than-a-speeding-bullet shot from a phaser. That said, phasers didn’t seem to slow them when they boarded Enterprise. I can’t say what setting they were using, but if I were being boarded I’d shoot to kill, especially with no pansy Federation yet to mandate a stun setting.

  4. joe__gee says:

    Trying too hard with Soong’s character …
    Why did it seem to me like the writers were trying too hard with Soong’s character, to make him seem like a 22nd century Hannibal Lecter (the plexiglass-fronted cell with the artwork on the walls, the fiendishly clever repartee?) Anyways, to me Lector’s, sorry, Soong’s dialogue sounded forced, like a child trying to be clever. Don’t get me wrong — I like the character and I always enjoy Spiner’s acting, but the dialogue sounded a bit forced to my ears. Not everyone can write convincing, witty, slimy, bad guy dialogue. To sound authentic, whoever wrote this episode needs to stop trying to be smarter than his super-smart villains, to write his dialogue in a style he knows.

    Regarding the be-mulleted augments, I loved the action sequence at the beginning of the episode. Outside of WWE, you don’t usually see intense, fluid fighting like that on broadcast tv. Hey, we saw manly chicks in mullets wearing leather duking it out, and it’s not Xena. Janet Reno has a new show to videotape. :)

    Seriously, this is promising, and after last season I actually *do* care about some of the regular characters, so it’ll be interesting seeing how the series handles the beginnings of the Klingon war.

    *The Klingon War* could fill next season, if there is a next season.

    -Joe G.

    • valen1260 says:

      Re: Trying too hard with Soong’s character …

      Soong’s dialogue sounded forced, like a child trying to be clever. Don’t get me wrong — I like the character and I always enjoy Spiner’s acting, but the dialogue sounded a bit forced to my ears. Not everyone can write convincing, witty, slimy, bad guy dialogue. To sound authentic, whoever wrote this episode needs to stop trying to be smarter than his super-smart villains, to write his dialogue in a style he knows.

      I *HEART* Brent Spiner (Pierre was the funniest character in Dude Where’s My Car? and Puck/Owen are great in “Gargoyles”.), but he tends to lean too heavily on that atonal, condescending delivery. Perhaps he spent too many years playing an android with no emotion.

  5. vekeller says:

    Great Episode
    I was actually smiling while watching this episode. Much much better.

  6. nycgeoff says:

    News Flash! Bad Guys Take Over Ship!
    I guess I’m just out of step with everyone, but I really didn’t like this episode at all. As opposed to last year, it was obvious exactly what was going to happen every single moment of this episode. Every. Single. Moment.

    And please, please, whoever makes the next Star Trek franchise, please make the ship harder to commandeer. It’s now become the worst ST cliche. I mean, Archer was *expecting* that the bad guys would come onboard and that’s the best security he could devise?

    • GusherJizmac says:

      Re: News Flash! Bad Guys Take Over Ship!
      I agree. This episode was just “OK”. I mean, there was cool stuff in it, but it seems like the “3-part-story-arc” is only 3 parts becuase we wasted this whole episode getting the crew out of the orion slave camp. A better ending would’ve been to let Soong escape while in the campe and have Archer not be able to get everyone out. As it stands, nothing really was accomplished and the whole plot was paint by numbers, 100% predictable.

      Everyone on here is up in arms about continuity and time travel, but I have to say, the last season, especially towards the end, was some very exciting TV. At this point, I don’t really care what happens next week, because by episode 3, Soong will have either escaped or learned his lesson and Enterprise will be A-OK and on a course of excitement.

    • valen1260 says:

      Re: News Flash! Bad Guys Take Over Ship!

      it was obvious exactly what was going to happen every single moment of this episode. Every. Single. Moment.

      How long have you watched ST? With some exceptions in late-season DS9 (the Defiant blew up!), when is it not obvious?

      • y42 says:

        Re: News Flash! Bad Guys Take Over Ship!

        it was obvious exactly what was going to happen every single moment of this episode. Every. Single. Moment.

        How long have you watched ST? With some exceptions in late-season DS9 (the Defiant blew up!), when is it not obvious?

        Oh yeah, like you really expected those two klingon birds of prey to decloak on either side of the Romulan warbird.

        Checkmate!

        P.S. Picard rocks.

        • valen1260 says:

          Re: News Flash! Bad Guys Take Over Ship!

          Oh yeah, like you really expected those two klingon birds of prey to decloak on either side of the Romulan warbird.

          To what do you refer? Chances are, if they swooped in and saved the day, it was no surprise.

  7. shayward says:

    Coto Hates Continuity Too
    First off, the episode was okay. If this was the worst Enterprise had to offer then Enterprise would be great. I agree with the earlier comments about the dialog being not-so-great for Spiner, but he played the part well and I liked the way they introduced him.

    That said, we now have Commander T’Pol who is commissioned by Star Fleet when Spock was supposed to be the first. The war between the Klingons and Star Fleet continues but it was supported to be much later. Oh, and why on earth would Kirk wake up Khan’s crew after reading about Archer’s problems with the Augments? And where is the Romulan war?

    On the up side, the Orions were a welcome addition since we haven’t seen them very much and painting them as heartless slave traders was cool.

    Also good is the fact that this Dr. Soong created monsters that were “perfect”. His descendent’s first creation was also a monster (Lore) who was “perfect”. The latter Dr. Soong was forced to make Data “less perfect” than Lore.

    I’d give it a 65% pass. Still a C, but far better than the crap we ended up with last season.

    • babasyzygy says:

      Re: Coto Hates Continuity Too

      That said, we now have Commander T’Pol who is commissioned by Star Fleet
      when Spock was supposed to be the first.

      I’m willing to give them a pass on this one – it’s reasonable to consider Earth
      Starfleet to be a different institution than Federation Starfleet, even if all of
      the personel remained the same in the switchover. It would have to mean
      that no Vulcans served in the meantime – either by Starfleet’s choice or by the
      Vulcans’ choice.

      Also, we haven’t yet seen the Klingon-Federation war, which is
      what we know about… the Federation doesn’t
      exist yet, after all, and we havne’t yet seen a war at all with the Klingons. B&B
      already spoiled the well by having a decent first
      contact, so perhaps there’s a reason that the Klingons will lose contact until
      after the founding of the Federation so that we can have another first contact
      and another war.

      Yeah, it’s stretching things a bit – but whereever possible I prefer to assume
      everything we’ve seen is consistent and then find reasons for
      apparent inconsistency. This approach is a long time-honored
      one in Trek fandom.

      • obiwan says:

        Re: Coto Hates Continuity Too

        I’m willing to give them a pass on this one – it’s reasonable to consider Earth
        Starfleet to be a different institution than Federation Starfleet

        Funny they call it “starfleet” when they don’t really have that much of a fleet. I wished they’d had called it UESPA (United Earth Space Probe Agency) as was mentioned several time on TOS when they hadn’t yet coined the term “starfleet”. And I wish they had lasers instead of phased whatchamacallits. And I wish they didn’t treat “hull polarization” (how dumb is that) as a shields equivalent. I wish they didn’t use so many of the cliched plot devices we’re used to in the previous incarnations. I wish they’d never made “Enterprise”. Sigh.

        • Timeshredder says:

          Re: Coto Hates Continuity Too

          I wish they didn’t use so many of the cliched plot devices we’re used to in the previous incarnations. I wish they’d never made “Enterprise”. Sigh.

          I try to overlook some things, but at this point, I will mostly have to overlook the first two seasons if I’m to enjoy this one.

          It will be interesting to hear the fans’ retroactive explanation for how the Orions could have a vast, long-standing interplanetary (consider all of the species we saw at the slave auction) community that has no qualms about buying kidnapped slaves– right next door to unprotected space-newby earth.

          • valen1260 says:

            Re: Coto Hates Continuity Too

            It will be interesting to hear the fans’ retroactive explanation for how the Orions could have a vast, long-standing interplanetary (consider all of the species we saw at the slave auction) community that has no qualms about buying kidnapped slaves– right next door to unprotected space-newby earth.

            Perhaps the Rangers are watching out for us. ;)

          • babasyzygy says:

            Re: Coto Hates Continuity Too

            It will be interesting to hear the fans’ retroactive explanation for how the
            Orions could have a vast, long-standing interplanetary (consider all of the
            species we saw at the slave auction) community that has no qualms about
            buying kidnapped slaves– right next door to unprotected space-newby
            earth.

            I don’t think that it is right next foor to Earth. Soong fled as far
            away from Earth as he could manage, into the Borderlands … Enterprise can
            make it relatively quickly only because it’s so much faster than previous
            ships.

            I would think that the distance, combined with the Vulcan’s technological
            superiority and their supposed (if not real) guardianship of Earth would have
            kept them at a distance,
            especially if there are better slave races nearer to the Orions. Vulcans seem
            to be rare slaves, otherwise T’Pol wouldn’t have fetched so much on the
            block. I’d bet they have a rep for not tolerating any capture of their people.

            I also think that the size of the Orion Syndicate’s direct holdings is highly
            questionable. The slave auction we saw could easily be from a single planet
            that ranges for its slaves.

            • Timeshredder says:

              Re: Coto Hates Continuity Too

              I also think that the size of the Orion Syndicate’s direct holdings is highly
              questionable. The slave auction we saw could easily be from a single planet
              that ranges for its slaves.

              Their actual holdings may be very small. But the community of aliens seen at the market obviously covers a wide territory, and it seems strange they wouldn’t have stopped by earth, whose inhabitants look pretty much like every other species there. Obviously, we have to overlook this, but it does seem odd.

              • babasyzygy says:

                Re: Coto Hates Continuity Too

                I also think that the size of the Orion Syndicate’s direct holdings is highly
                questionable. The slave auction we saw could easily be from a single planet
                that ranges for its slaves.

                Their actual holdings may be very small. But the community of aliens
                seen at the market obviously covers a wide territory, and it seems strange
                they wouldn’t have stopped by earth, whose inhabitants look pretty much like
                every other species there. Obviously, we have to overlook this, but it does
                seem odd.

                Well, almost all Star Trek aliens looks pretty much like any other alien species
                (“they all look alike to me”, natch).
                Except for anomalies like Species 8675309.

                I’ve always had the impression that the “Orion Syndicate” was basically an
                organized crime alliance that had a single species (the Orions) at the top but
                interfaced with a lot of difference races’ mobs. I suspect that they don’t do as
                much raiding themselves very far outside their immediate realm as they
                provide markets for others to sell into.

                So, I’d expect Earth organized crime to start preying upon humans once ships
                are more widely available, and selling them into the Orions’ market, more
                than Earth would worry about direct Orion raids.

                • valen1260 says:

                  Re: Coto Hates Continuity Too

                  Well, almost all Star Trek aliens looks pretty much like any other alien species

                  Roddenberry didn’t want the actors’ faces obscured by makeup.

                  Except for anomalies like Species 8675309.

                  A loophole: no actor, no face to obscure. ;)

        • babasyzygy says:

          Re: Coto Hates Continuity Too

          And I wish they had lasers instead of phased whatchamacallits. And I wish
          they didn’t treat “hull polarization” (how dumb is that) as a shields equivalent.

          But they don’t. One of the most important aspects of Shields are that you
          can’t transport through them, while you can transport through a polarized
          hull.

  8. scharkalvin says:

    Dr. Arik Soong
    Wasn’t he the scientist who designed and built Data? (or am
    I getting my names mixed up?) Anyway, It was a great episode, hopefully the first of many. Don’t think the time-line will ever get repaired, but it’s been broken many times since TOS, guess we’ll just have to live with it.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: Dr. Arik Soong

      Wasn’t he the scientist who designed and built Data? (or am

      Noonian Soong created Data. Arik may be an ancestor. And of course, the most famous “augment” in Trek history was Khan Noonian Singh, though I don’t believe any clear connection has ever been established.

      • drazaelb says:

        Re: Dr. Arik Soong

        Noonian Soong created Data. Arik may be an ancestor.
        And of course, the most famous “augment” in Trek
        history was Khan Noonian Singh, though I don’t believe any clear
        connection has ever been established.

        My guess is that Arik Soong, megalomaniac and genetic
        engineering super-genius, will find himself on the verge of defeat
        and decide to clone himself in order to preserve his legacy. He’ll
        put the embryo in cold storage for safe keeping until a later
        date, and name it Noonian in honor of Khan Noonian Singh.
        This will explain why the two Drs. Soong look so much alike.

        But it’s just a guess.

        • Timeshredder says:

          Re: Dr. Arik Soong

          My guess is that Arik Soong, megalomaniac and genetic
          engineering super-genius, will find himself on the verge of defeat and decide to clone himself in order to preserve his legacy. He’ll put the embryo in cold storage for safe keeping until a later date, and name it Noonian in honor of Khan Noonian Singh.
          This will explain why the two Drs. Soong look so much alike.

          That’s such a perfectly plausible solution, and so entirely respectful of continuity, that I think there’s absolutely no chance of it actually matching what Berman and Braga intend.

          • Cmdr Ridenour says:

            Re: Dr. Arik Soong
            What I want to know is how in the HELL! did Kirk beat Kahn. This is totally unacceptable to me, I don’t care how much of a bad ass Kirk is. Let’s be real damn it, Kahn is five times stronger than Kirk, and is at least 1/2 times more in shape than Kirk. Kahn in un-doubtedbly a better fighter due to his genetic superiority and his experience in hand to hand!! I hate this, I hate it! The producers could have created a different ending to Kahn’s defeat like this:

            Kahn kicks the sh*t out of Kirk. Spock then steps in and barely beats Kahn (which is believeable right?).

            Stop making Kirk the constant hero damn it!

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