Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Oasis”

“Oasis”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Stephen Beck
Directed by Jim Charleston
Season 1, Episode 20
Production episode 020
Original air date: April 3, 2002
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. A trader named D’Marr is having dinner with Archer, T’Pol, and Tucker, having traded with them for some stuff. They also need some engineering equipment, and D’Marr doesn’t have that, but turns them on to a ship with no life forms that crashed on a planet. D’Marr himself didn’t salvage the ship because it’s haunted.

Archer and his crew ain’t afraid’a no ghosts, so they head to the planet. They read no life-forms, and take a shuttle down, including Archer, T’Pol, Tucker, and a very apprehensive Mayweather. (Archer teases him about this becoming another of his ghost stories.)

As they explore the ship, T’Pol and Tucker see someone moving about, despite still not picking up any life signs. Eventually, they track the person down to a hold where there are dozens of people waiting for them, armed. There’s also a ton of vegetation, none of which registered on sensors—turns out there’s a dampening field.

The people are from Kantare. The captain, Kuulan, and the chief engineer, Ezral, explain that they were attacked and crash-landed three years earlier. The dampening field is to stay hidden from their attackers. Tucker offers to repair the ship; the Kantares are reluctant at first, but eventually agree.

Tucker is aided in repairs by Ezral’s daughter, Liana. They enjoy each other’s company, which leads to T’Pol giving Tucker shit about the last time he was on an alien ship and got close to a female member of the ship’s crew

Screenshot: CBS

When Tucker says he needs some stuff from Enterprise, Liana asks to go back with him to check out the ship. Her mother objects, as does Ezral, but she goes anyhow. Tucker shows her around, introducing her to ice cream, among other things.

While Tucker is giving her the grand tour, Reed reports some inconsistencies. There’s no evidence of weapons damage on the Kantare ship, and the stuff they’re growing in their airponics bay isn’t enough to sustain the number of people they met. Sato decrypts and translates the data module they salvaged before meeting up with the Kantares, and that reveals that the ship wasn’t attacked, they had engine failure and crashed.

The kicker: it was twenty-two years ago, not three.

The ship’s escape pods were ejected, and one is still in orbit. They pull it on board to reveal the desiccated corpse of Shilat—who is one of the people they met on the ship.

T’Pol, while working on the computer, discovers the truth as well, but is imprisoned at gunpoint before she can contact Enterprise.

Tucker confronts Liana, but she refuses to confirm or deny anything, insisting that she be returned to the planet. When the shuttlepod lands, Archer learns that T’Pol is a prisoner, and the Kantares insist that Tucker finish the repairs and Archer return to Enterprise. They agree, but Archer assembles a rescue team to return to the ship. Firefights break out, but to the Enterprise crew’s shock, the phase pistol beams pass harmlessly right through the Kantares.

Screenshot: CBS

Liana finally tells Tucker the truth: Ezral and Liana were the only survivors of the crash, and Liana was just a little kid. The rest of the people on board are holographic re-creations of the dead crew. Armed with this knowledge, Tucker is able to disable the holograms, leaving only the Enterprise crew, Ezral, and Liana on board.

Ezral comes clean. The ship encountered an ion storm. Ezral left his post to save Liana’s life, and that led to the catastrophic damage that killed the crew. Eventually, he figured out a way to bring the crew back, after a fashion, but he’s hiding on the planet, not because of fear as he originally said, but out of guilt.

Tucker and Archer convince Ezral to let Tucker truly repair the ship and allow them to go home, finally. Ezral says he really just needs components from Enterprise, and his holographic crew can do the rest. They get on that, and Tucker and Liana kiss goodbye.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Tucker recognizes some of the technology on the Kantares ship as being similar to that of the Xyrillians, the first hint that there are holograms on board, since those aliens from “Unexpected” had the same holographic technology…

I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. T’Pol rather nastily brings up the events of “Unexpected” to Tucker, who exasperatedly asks if she’s going to hammer on that for the rest of their lives.

Florida Man. Florida Man Falls For Another Alien Woman But Doesn’t Get Pregnant This Time.

Good boy, Porthos! When Liana asks if everyone on the Enterprise is human, Tucker mentions the three non-humans: T’Pol, Phlox, and Porthos. It takes him a bit to properly explain to her what a dog is, however…

The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined… According to T’Pol, Vulcans don’t tell ghost stories. Tucker finds this massively disappointing.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Tucker and Liana hit it off almost instantly and smooch at the end of the episode.

Screenshot: CBS

More on this later: Tucker snidely points out that he or Liana might get hurt, and then what? “Program a holographic doctor?” Of course, Starfleet will eventually have holographic doctors, as introduced with Voyager’s EMH in “Caretaker,” and also seen in DS9’s “Doctor Bashir, I Presume?” and the movie First Contact, and also on Picard.

I’ve got faith…

“I’ve made all the friends I need.”

–Ezral, whose words are more literal than Tucker realizes when he says it to him.

Welcome aboard. The big guest is the late great Rene Auberjonois. Having previously played Colonel West in The Undiscovered Country and starred on DS9 as Odo, he returns in this episode as Ezral. Rudolph Willrich—who previously played a Betazoid in TNG’s “Ménàge à Troi” and a Bolian in DS9’s “Paradise Lost“—plays Kuulan. Claudette Sutherland plays Liana’s mother, while Tom Bergeron plays D’Marr. Bergeron will return in the fourth season’s “Demons” as a Coridanite ambassador.

And we’ve got a most unusual Robert Knepper moment! I had totally forgotten that Annie Wersching’s first TV role was as Liana. Wersching—probably best known for her two-season role on 24 as Agent Walker—is currently appearing on season two of Picard as the Borg Queen.

Trivial matters: There are several references to Tucker’s adventures aboard a Xyrillian ship in “Unexpected.”

Mayweather was telling ghost stories to the landing party in “Strange New World.”

Screenshot: CBS

It’s been a long road… “Maybe you can tell me how I’m being guarded by a dead man.” This episode shares a lot of DNA with other Trek episodes. The most obvious is “Shadowplay,” especially given the prominent role Rene Auberjonois plays in both that DS9 episode as well as this Enterprise episode, but there’s also hints of “The Cage” and “Requiem for Methuselah” on the original series, as well as Discovery’s “Su’Kal.”

Plus, of course, there’s the obvious influence of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest

For all that it’s derivative, though, it’s actually quite an enjoyable episode. The teaser sets things up nicely, though “teaser” continues to be a misnomer. This writing staff’s obsession with treating commercial breaks as just a place to momentarily pause the story without any kind of dramatic tension is, looking back, likely one of the reasons why Enterprise is the only Star Trek spinoff so far that has failed in the marketplace. Still and all, I love the idea of Enterprise being out there and trading both goods and rumors, and I also love that the spicy food they ate was really spicy (and T’Pol avoided it completely).

The mystery of what happened to the Kantares unfolds rather nicely, and yes, it’s the exact same plot twist as “Shadowplay,” but it plays out very well. The chemistry between Connor Trinneer and Annie Wersching is very sweet, I love T’Pol giving Tucker shit about the events of “Unexpected,” and I like that Reed is the one who figures things out at first thanks to his tactical smarts. I would’ve liked more done with Mayweather’s apprehension regarding the “ghosts,” but that’s going to be a running theme on this show, sadly.

And the fact that it’s not original doesn’t bother me, mainly because it’s a riff on The Tempest. William Shakespare’s plays weren’t hardly original at all: either they were riffs on history or they were stories that were already familiar to the audience. Because originality is far less important than the execution of the idea. (Though, ironically, The Tempest was one of Shakespeare’s few wholly original plays…)

Now to be fair, “Oasis” ain’t Shakespeare. But it is a good little science-fiction mystery with—not surprisingly—a strong, heartfelt, tragic performance by Auberjonois as Prospero—er, that is, Ezral.

Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido will be at Fan Expo Philadelphia this coming weekend at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. He will be at Bard’s Tower selling and signing his books alongside fellow authors Claudia Gray, Dan Wells, and Brian Anderson and comics creators Wendy & Richard Pini. Other Trek folks who’ll be there include actors William Shatner, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, John deLancie, Chris Sarandon, Ron Perlman, and Carlos Ferro (Carlos will also be at Bard’s Tower with Keith).

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