Enterprise: Cogenitor (S02E22)

If there’s one thing Enterprise has going for it, it’s the special effects budget.  Some episodes are so packed with gratuitous space-ey CGI that it’s almost like watching a Hollywood blockbuster.  And while Star Trek has always been about pushing the syndicated television special effects envelope, sometimes I’d rather have an interesting plot with cardboard walls and paper mache rocks than a contrived lesson that doubles as a sci-fi plot, even though supernovae are intricately rendered in glorious pixel-perfect detail.

This episode has three plots, two of which were throwaways and one, which was supposed to be the main one, was kind of interesting but predictable as all get out.  Basically we have an exploration of the prime directive, as Trip is convinced that he should interfere with a shipful of space visitors (very polite and cordial, this time) by teaching one of their subservient members how to read.  This, he knows, will upset the entire social order of their culture, but he does it because it’s the right thing to do.  The interesting aspect of the plot is that everyone tells Trip that he should not be doing this, and turns out, they were right all along.  Even Captain Archer goes to town on ol’ Trip, giving him a very impressive dressing-down that Picard would have been proud of.  I actually liked this twist on the ending, even though it was pretty obvious what was going to happen along the way there.

The problem with this episode was that of the two other plots, one was little more than Archer and his alien counterpart whizzing around for three days among the flares from an exploding “meganova” star.  In other words, lots of glitzy CGI augmented by Paramount interns shaking a shuttlepod prop.  The other subplot, involving Malcolm and a rather, uhm, promiscuous alien, is honest-to-goodness flat-out abandoned halfway through the show.  Berman and Braga…if you’re not going to go for it, just don’t go there to begin with.  I would have rather ditched this subplot altogether and seen a little more exposition with Trip and his new alien BFF.

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