Enterprise: Horizon (S02E20)

Recently I was discussing Enterprise with one of my friends.  I told her that the show felt too stilted, and often uninteresting, as if the creators had some sort of list for qualities a show should have and would check them off one by one as they completed an episode.  This episode more or less typifies my thoughts about the show in general, partially because its focus on Travis Mayweather’s home life/background story seems a bit too forced and contrived, and also because the subplot about T’pol and horror movies back on the Enterprise felt a little too tacked on. It seems as though Berman and Braga were sitting in a room one day and thought to themselves, “Hey, we don’t know much about our navigation fella. Let’s do a show on his family, or something.” And thus was the genesis of “Horizon.” Mayweather gets notified that his father, captain of the cargo transport vessel Horizon, is on his way to that big shipyard in the sky, and fortunately the Enterprise is heading in a direction that just so happens to take them near the ship. As soon as they arrive we find out that Travis’ dad has already passed away, his brother is now captain of the ship, and his mom, who acts just like the Oracle from the Matrix, keeps the ship running while passing out nuggets of wisdom and advice like a human PEZ dispenser.

Meanwhile, Tucker invites T’pol to watch the original black-and-white Frankenstein because he wants her to experience a horror movie. She resists at first, but once again we have the non-human character make all kinds of observations about human behavior while growing more human herself. Again, this subplot just doesn’t feel natural. It’s kind of interesting, but at the end of the day it seems like it arose out of the need for a subplot, not the desire to truly explore human emotions. Travis, as anyone could have predicted, is having trouble dealing with his father’s death. His brother doesn’t like his Starfleet sibling to come back and act like he knows what it’s like to be on a cargo ship again. Their mom plays the middle, they all get in a bad scrape, and by the end of the show we’ve all learned a valuable lesson about overcoming differences, putting aside old conflicts, and working together as a team. Awww.

It’s not that the episode was bad, it just wasn’t as good as it could have been. And that all stems from a lack of true characterization–most of the cast seems like they are merely inhabiting a role rather than playing true characters who live and work together on a starship. But we’ll keep plugging away and see how the rest of Season 2 plays out.

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