In the twentieth episode of the first season of Enterprise, NOPE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Let this stand as yet more evidence that I am trash for this trope, because IT GETS ME EVERY TIME. This isn’t even the first time we’ve gotten the whole “abandoned spaceship” trope on this show AND YET HERE WE ARE. Maybe it was the invocation of the whole “ghost story” thing that made “Oasis” so much fun at first, but it’s the highly emotional undercurrent to this script that delivers in the end. I could probably do without the whole Tucker romance bit, but I’ve also had an overload of that over the past three years while watching Star Trek. It happens so much that I can’t imagine that Enterprise will find a way to do the whole romance-of-the-week bit without it feeling repetitive or stale.
Anyway, I don’t feel the need to explain why that’s not my favorite thing in the world, given that I’ve done it so much. Let’s instead focus on the strength of “Oasis.” I’d say there are two of them! The script combines a fantastic mystery with a devastating story of survival and protection, all of it centered around Liana, a curious young women who is drawn to Tucker because… well, that’s the secret, isn’t it? This isn’t a case of her father, Ezral (played brilliantly by Rene Auberjonois!!!!), deceiving her as to the nature of her reality. She always knew that the people around her were holographic creations of her father and that they’d crash-landed on this barren planet many, many years prior. Tucker’s arrival on her ship creates interest. There’s a rather brilliant line where she asks Tucker what happens if you tell a lie so frequently that you believe it. And that’s her reality. With so few interactions with anyone from the outside world, it became easy for her to slip into the fantasy world that Ezral had created. Wouldn’t you have to??? How else could you possibly survive in such a lonely place?
But that’s not how this seems at first. I’m realizing now how intentional the whole “haunted” vibe was. Ezral programmed those holograms to defend his ship by CREEPING PEOPLE OUT. Given that they could appear at any location at any time, that meant they were perfect for making invaders feel like they weren’t alone on a ship without any readable life forms. Hell, even the Enterprise crew fell for it. (And me. Oh god, IT WAS SO CREEPY.) Didn’t it feel so real??? That’s another reason the mystery of “Oasis” was so satisfying. A good mystery gives the audience a great number of pieces – enough to keep their interest, enough to make them feel like they could solve everything – yet makes it so that it feels like it doesn’t all fit together. The rapid movement was confusing; how could these people appear at will? Then there was the crew’s strange behavior about being helped; then there was the reluctance of anyone to actually leave the planet. Of course, once the Enterprise crew discovered that Kuulan was lying about the story of their crash, another wrinkle appeared. AND THEN THERE WAS THE DEAD CREWMEMBER IN THE ESCAPE POD. How were there two of him??? EVERYTHING HURT, THIS MADE NO SENSE TO ME. I thought that maybe the crew aged super fast if they left the ship? Or maybe they were clones?
The truth was so much sadder to me. Unable to repair the ship for TWO YEARS, Ezral instead devoted efforts to giving his young daughter an entire community with which she could be around. I don’t recall Ezral telling us when he first told Liana the truth about the holograms, but I got the sense that she had known for quite some time. Regardless, being aware of this state of fantasy doesn’t mean that she didn’t momentarily forget about it. And that’s where Enterprise’s presence has the most meaning. Most especially when Liana came aboard the ship, she got a chance to glimpse a life that wasn’t the slightest bit a fantasy. It was real. There was no chance of a computer core burning out and abandoning her. At the same time, Ezral feared that this would pull her away from him… again. I saw him as overprotective, something that was necessary in the early years, but which had blossomed in to a behavior that stopped being appropriate. She had to be allowed to make decisions for herself!
At least that’s the future that’s offered in the end of “Oasis.” Ezral is ready to let go, even if that means that Liana will leave him for… well, for any reason she wants. I could tell it was a brutal decision for him to make, but now she’ll get to have control of her own life.
The video for “Oasis” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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