In the twenty-second episode of the first season of Enterprise, EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE except when Hoshi and T’Pol talk. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For body horror and claustrophobia.
True story: I DIDN’T REALIZE RENEE GOLDSBERRY DID SO MUCH TELEVISION. Apparently, I’ve just not seen anything that she was in until this episode??? I do wish she’d been used more instead of remaining unconscious for the majority of her screen time, but it’s probably the only complaint I have about “Vox Sola.” This episode manages to be creepy, gross, terrifying, and full of a number of great character moments. It’s a dense story, but I never felt like there was an imbalance in focus. We get Hoshi’s development on top of the bonding between Archer and Tucker, as well as the creation of the first working force field in Star Trek. ALL IN ONE EPISODE.
I thought this would be a lot more simple because the threat that the crew faced felt simple. A creature that looks like a spiderweb (NO THANK YOU) infiltrates the ship and begins to capture the crew. It then begins to assimilate them into itself, so much so that the end result would be that this creature would be made up of all of them. SO YEAH, THIS IS HORRIFYING AND REALLY GROSS AND A SENTIENT SPIDERWEB IS WAY UP THERE IN TERMS OF NIGHTMARE FUEL.
Yet what makes “Vox Sola” so compelling is that this really isn’t about the horror element. It’s a part of the story, but watching how these characters react to the horror is way more interesting. First of all: HOSHI. She’s gotten such a cool arc over the course of this season, since she’s the one who struggles most with her position on Enterprise. Does she really belong there? Is she talented enough to justify her presence? Why do her mistakes always feel so much bigger than others’ do? Part of that is due to perspective and her own insecurities. Hoshi is her own biggest critic, but it doesn’t help that T’Pol seems to constantly hover over her, pointing out mistakes and flaws, and generally coming off as condescending and all-knowing.
EXCEPT THAT IT IS ACTUALLY T’POL’S WAY OF SHOWING HER RESPECT AND ADMIRATION FOR HOSHI AND SHE TELLS HER AND WOW I SHIP THEM SO HARD. I mean, what? Who said that? Look, in terms of characterization, I find nothing more compelling than these two in this show, and getting to see yet another moment of them bonding and working together was a breath of fresh air. They aren’t pitted against one another for competition. Instead, it’s Hoshi’s linguistic skills, paired with T’Pol’s understanding of advanced mathematics, that allows them to communicate with the web creature. AND HOW WEIRD AND COOL IS THAT SEQUENCE??? I love that the show went for such an odd method of communication, as well as also developing a creature that was so unlike anything we’d seen in Star Trek.
Even if I enjoyed that dynamic more than anything else, the script still included a lot of entertaining moments with other characters. There’s the confirmation of Archer’s past with water polo, which blooms into a new element of his relationship with Tucker. Without that, we wouldn’t have gotten those awesome (and gross) sequences where Archer helps Tucker survive the bewildering effects of the web by talking him through sports metaphors. It’s… it’s like the bro-est bonding and survival sequence, but you know what? It works. Really well. And amidst all of this conflict, both external and intensely personal, Malcolm Reed develops a working force field!!! I’d forgotten how much I take those for granted on Star Trek, so I wonder if we’ll be seeing the application of them in future episodes. WHO KNOWS.
Anyway, I loved this episode. Creepy and emotional, it also gave us that stunning final shot of THE WHOLE PLANET BEING ONE CREATURE. Well, at least as far as we could see. UGH, THIS WAS SO GREAT.
The video for “Vox Sola” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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