Mark Watches ‘Enterprise’: S04E04 – Borderland

In the fourth episode of the fourth season of Enterprise, one person saves this whole thing. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For talk of slavery

I have more interesting in the possibility that’s given to us at the end of “Borderland” than for the actual execution of this story. It was brilliant of Enterprise to give us an ancestor of Dr. Noonien Soong (given the timeline, it has to be someone further down the line, right?), and Brent Spiner is EASILY the best part of all of this. He’s just so fun here!

But it’s hard to care about characters who have had so much development and drama off the screen. The Augments might have been interesting to explore in more detail, but we meet them right as Malik has orchestrated the takeover of a Klingon ship. Before this, they lived an entire life on… a planet? Somewhere? What was it like there? We don’t actually know! Apparently, it was a terrible experience, but no one ever tells us why that is. The worldbuilding is TERRIBLE here, and it doesn’t help that we’re expected to care about the power struggle between Malik and Raakin without knowing anything about them, except that they’re the only two white men in this group who are somehow, coincidentally, the only two possible leaders in this group. I didn’t like either of them, and I actually thought Persis was the one that was being hinted at as the actual person aiming to lead the Augments.

So, the personal politics of these characters weren’t interesting to me at all, which is unfortunate because that took up so much time in “Borderland.” They are brief flashes of brilliance early on in the episode, though, so I held out hope. I loved the crew taking a quiet moment to appreciate that they were getting the opportunity to go out on another mission together! And if they hadn’t been interrupted twice by the Orion Syndicate, T’Pol and Tucker might have actually finished having a conversation about what T’Pol’s life had been like after her marriage. I STILL NEED THIS CONVERSATION TO HAPPEN.

Then there’s Dr. Soong. Oh, Brent Spiner, YOU ARE SO MUCH FUN HERE. He plays Soong with a wackiness that’s infectious, and he’s the kind of antagonist who dominates a scene every time. I could excuse most of the silly politics given to us – there is literally not a drop of nuance to this script – because it allowed Spiner to grin while giving us a character who truly believed that he was better than everyone else. That arrogance manifests in scarier ways, of course, since it’s clear Dr. Soong and the Augments (great band name) don’t care about anyone but themselves. That element of this story is what leads into the second part, after it’s revealed that Dr. Soong DELIBERATELY guided Enterprise into the Orion Syndicate’s space, allowed people to be captured as SLAVES, and then notified the Augments so they could rescue him. He’s awful – undeniably so! – and yet he remains the most intriguing part of the episode.

I wish this was more interesting, but I hope there’s a better story in this next part. I mean, I get more Brent Spiner, so that’s a positive thing! Hopefully, he doesn’t lecture another person about slavery, though. Yeah, Star Trek, can we not do that? Like, how you gonna have Soong make reference to Tucker’s accent as a way to comment on America’s participation in chattel slavery, yet have a slave auction full of white people in the very same episode? Let’s not.

The video for “Borderland” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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