Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Mean Green Mother from Outer Space

I'm dreading tonight's season finale of Enterprise. I almost wish that the show had been cancelled at the end of this season; a few years without an active Star Trek series would probably do the franchise good. And then we could have the Starfleet Academy series we keep getting promised, with crusty old Professor O'Brien. But, alas, it's been saved, and it doesn't really deserve it after season 3. Season 2 ended brilliantly, with Earth suffering a 9/11-style attack from the mysterious race of the Xindi; Six million dead and half of Florida obliterated. (I still can't decide if that's meant to be 'clever', in a Michael Mooresque "Bush carried the state in 2000, so they deserve it" fit of pique, or was just a random creative decision.) Finally, I thought; it's getting quasi-relevant again, as better writers than I have noted that every series has been analogous to contemporary geopolitics, in its own way. The fuzzy-thinking utopians that comprise an unfortunate portion of the fan base needed a good waking up; the UN isn't the Federation (which seems to be curiously undemocratic, for that matter, for what claims to be an interplanetary government), and there are evil and unreasonable people in this (world|galaxy) who want to fucking kill us, regardless of anything our (country|planet) has ever done to them. Archer and Trip, as the most senior human officers on the NX-01, were written with a lot of very justified rage in the first few episodes this year, as they set out to find the Xindi. Of course, as it happens to have turned out, the Xindi are mostly all just misunderstood and friendly, and have been misled by a small segment of their society who have in turn been misled by trans-dimensional superbeings (!). This is fairly insulting; if you're going to set up a 9/11 analogy, this was the equivalent of suggesting that, oh, only the really crazy Islamofascists hated us. Y'know, the scary ones, who probably didn't make up more than a fifth of Al-Qaeda. The way this was portrayed was fairly ham-handed too; improbably, the Xindi are comprised of five wildly divergent subspecies - where the most human-looking ones are, well, most human and reasonable, and the most alien-looking ones range in temperament from disinterest to scenery-chewing hatred for Earth and all humans. Why, thank you, Mr. Berman; now I know that the factions of groups or societies which want to kill us are those that look most alien, and make no effort to blend in; they not only look different from 'us,' but will loudly proclaim their hatred for all to hear in every scene. Gotcha. Good to know. At best, this was a rather silly and obvious metaphor for factionalism; I consider it weak. So, it's come down to this, where the Enterprise crew has teamed up with the Xindi-Sloths and Xindi-Humanoids against the increasingly Khan Noonien Singh-like Commander Dolum of the Xindi-Reptilians. (Last week's episode even featured a direct crib from Wrath of Khan - using a brain parasite on a captive to induce suggestibility. Sheezus. Try and make the ripoffs a bit less obvious, huh?) He is Khan, more or less, just not human, and with a jones for killing the entire population of Earth instead of just Kirk. That's lame, considering the elaborate setup. He's such a cartoonish and unsatisfying villain he's practically Ming the Merciless at this point. But I'll watch. Of course I'll watch. It's Star Trek. I have too much residual goodwill left over from DS9 and TOS to give up on the franchise yet - but that goodwill has been running out since the fourth season of Voyager.

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