In the sixth episode of the fourth season of Enterprise, Dr. Soong goes up against his worst creation. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
I like where this arc ends up. It’s such a fucked up journey to that final scene, but the attention paid to Dr. Soong’s story is really the best part of all of this.
The same cannot be said of Malik, who is perhaps the clumsiest character in all of Enterprise. The conflict that we’re meant to gleam from all of this is about might and ethics. Dr. Soong believed so strongly in what Khan had started that he helped push the Augments into their current state. It’s not until this episode that I felt like I understood his intent. It’s not that he saw humans as so inferior that they deserved what happened to them. He just believed in the potential of genetic engineering, that it would make humans better, stronger, smarter, and more resilient. And from there, you can sort of see how a person ends up like Dr. Soong. It’s still deplorable, mind you, and I don’t want this to excuse the horrific things that are done in his quest to “liberate” the Augments.
But the liberation of the Augments comes at the expense of other people! It’s a variation on the theme of the sacrifice of one for the greater good of the many. In the last episode, an unnamed Doctor was the price paid. Here, Malik decides to make ALL OF HUMANITY AND ALL OF THE KLINGONS pay the price for their existence. Murdering tens of millions of Klingons was just the start! How many Klingons and humans would have died if a war had broken out between both sides, all while the real perpetrators escaped to build a force of nearly two-thousand genetically engineered terrors? It’s fucked up, yes, but it’s also cartoonish. I lost count of how many times Malik claimed that he had no choice after just being given another choice. His internal logic is at times all over the place or, when it’s convenient, it’s singular and focused. He can’t seem to understand anything but his survival, except then he boasts about being a perfect fighting force, but also everyone else is inferior to him, but also they should attack others immediately, but also they should go hide once they’re done with that. Then there’s his belief that by taking out the aggressive behavior of the Augments, they’ll become weaker, which is examined for precisely zero seconds. Like… no? Also, he asks Dr. Soong what gives him the right to genetically modify embryos… um. Malik, do you even know what you are?
He’s one note. He kills Persis because apparently all she ever was to him was a means to an end??? Which… I guess is consistent? But he’s just so ridiculously evil and gross and horrifying, and there’s literally nothing interesting about him by the time he’s killed by Archer. (IN A REALLY GORY SCENE, WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT.)
So, this was tense at times, but I so desperately wish that any of the other Augments were given characterization aside from Persis. At least she struggled with the love for her father and her complicity in Malik’s violence, but she’s killed because of what she did. IT’S SO BORING.
But that ending… goddamn it, it’s SO GOOD. Dr. Soong turning against his creations! Dr. Soong admitting that he was wrong about the Augments! I mean, I could have used more of that in the arc as a whole, but the hint of where he went from that point was such a cool nod to The Next Generation. Is it enough to save the completely un-subtle nature of this story? I don’t know. I liked it, it was an ambitious arc, but it’s also such a mess. Bless Brent Spiner, though. If anything, he’s the thread that holds this all together.
The video for “The Augments” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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