Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Vanishing Point”

“Vanishing Point”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by David Straiton
Season 2, Episode 10
Production episode 036
Original air date: November 27, 2002
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. Tucker and Sato are checking out ruins on a planet, but a diamagnetic storm is moving in faster than expected, so they have to risk taking the transporter. Tucker beams up first at Sato’s insistence, as she doesn’t want to beam up until she knows Tucker made it through safely.

Sato feels out of sorts after her first time through the transporter, and Archer gives her the rest of the day off. She’s the subject of some good-natured teasing in the mess hall, with Reed, Tucker, and Mayweather telling her the story of Cyrus Ramsey, who was lost in an early transporter test and who is now the subject of dozens of ghost stories. Sato has never heard of Ramsey, and is sorry to have heard of him now.

Phlox examines her and assures her that she’s fine, even though her birthmark appears to have migrated during transport. Archer tells Sato that they’re going to retrieve the shuttlepod in the morning. Sato declines the offer to join that landing party.

Screenshot: CBS

The next morning, Sato is awakened by T’Pol, who informs her that she’s overslept by three hours. Tucker and Mayweather were taken hostage by aliens on the planet when they went to get the other pod. Sato is confused, as the planet was uninhabited. Archer says it’s fine that she was late, but they need her now to translate the aliens’ language. When she struggles with it, Archer relieves her. Later, she finds out that Baird figured it out, using a very simple technique that Sato herself should have been able to manage—and which, in Sato’s professional opinion, Baird should never have been able to manage.

While showering, Sato sees herself go transparent in the mirror, and then water goes right through her during the shower. People seem to be ignoring her or not noticing her, with T’Pol ignoring repeated requests to sit with her, but T’Pol herself looking up and inviting Sato to join her, as if only just noticing she was there. T’Pol calmly informs her that the hostage situation has been resolved and that Sato has been temporarily relieved of duty, with Baird taking her shifts.

Sato also has trouble operating the turbolift controls, and at one point she thinks she hears Tucker’s and Reed’s voices. (That will probably be important later…)

Screenshot: CBS

Sato goes to the gym and works out with Tucker. The latter insists that he feels perfectly fine after the transport. He leaves her alone to work out, but then her hands pass right through the equipment. In the mirror, her reflection vanishes completely.

Later, T’Pol and Tucker enter the gym, but they can’t see Sato. She is considered missing, and nobody on board can see or hear her. Phlox reports to Archer and T’Pol (and, unbeknownst to him, to a sad Sato) that her cellular membranes were deteriorating. It was so minute when he first examined her after transport that he missed it, but that’s probably what happened to her.

Archer has a very awkward conversation with Sato’s father, as he struggles to explain what happened. As she walks despondently through the ship, Sato sees two aliens planting a bomb on the ship. But she can’t get anyone to see or hear her. She finds she can manipulate a couple of lights in Archer’s quarters, but her attempt to communicate with him via Morse Code fails.

Screenshot: CBS

She manages to turn off the aliens’ bombs, but the aliens just turn it back on again. She hears Tucker’s and Reed’s voices again, and then suddenly she finds herself on the transporter platform again.

It was all a hallucination while she was stuck in the matter stream for eight seconds. Reed had trouble reintegrating her at first, and she had that entire scenario play out in her head until she rematerialized. She mentions that she’s grateful she didn’t turn out like Cyrus Ramsey, and everyone looks at her all confused, having no idea who that is.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently a diamagnetic storm is way way way worse than an ordinary storm. So stay out of those…

The gazelle speech. The imaginary version of Archer has real trouble making a condolence call to Sato’s Dad.

I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. The imaginary version of T’Pol is incredibly mean.

Florida Man. Florida Man Regrets Beaming Up First.

Optimism, Captain! The imaginary version of Phlox is pretty much the same as the real one: affable and full of fun stories and generally nifty.

Screenshot: CBS

More on this later… Sato’s transporter-phobia will later be seen in other characters (with way less justification), including Leonard McCoy, Katherine Pulaski, and Reginald Barclay. Sato’s complaints about having her molecules scrambled are similar in nature, if not in tone, to those of McCoy’s in particular, while her having hallucinations while in the matter stream is similar to what happens to Barclay in TNG’s “Realm of Fear.”

I’ve got faith… “Starfleet said it’s safe. That’s good enough for me!”

Tucker being all glass-half-full and trusting military standards…

Welcome aboard. Keone Young plays Sato’s old man. Young previous appeared on DS9’s “If Wishes were Horses” as an alien posing as baseball player Buck Bokai. The two aliens are played by Gary Riotto and Ric Sarabia, while Baird is played by Morgan H. Margolis. Margolis previously played a Vaskan on Voyager’s “Living Witness.”

Trivial matters: While the Cyrus Ramsey story turns out to have all been in Sato’s head, something similar will be established to have happened to Quinn Erickson in “Daedelus.”

It’s been a long road… “New forms of transport take a while to get used to.” I kept waiting for something interesting to happen in this episode, but by the time it did, it turned out to be an even bigger letdown.

Screenshot: CBS

So we spend an inordinate amount of time with Sato being incredibly sulky. Linda Park is a very expressive actor, but watching her be whiny and moany for an hour is her least compelling mode, and it’s all we get. (I found myself longing for batshit Sato from last episode, bellowing for carrots.)

Then we get the alien threat, and I’m thinking finally, we’re getting something interesting here, the ship’s in danger, they probably are accidentally responsible for Sato’s condition, and she’ll save the day and all that—but no, it all turned out to be a lengthy hallucination. Which means that nothing actually happened in this episode after the teaser.

In Archer’s case this is a blessing, because holy crap, that was the worst condolence call in the history of condolence calls. Prior to finding out it was all imaginary, I was thinking that it’s a very good thing nobody’s died for real, because when someone does, the families of same are not gonna be happy with how they find out…

Oddly, the thing that annoyed me most was the name Cyrus Ramsey. Hoshi Sato is from Japan. She was teaching in Argentina when we first met her. Yet her subconscious comes up with an aggressively white-guy name for this person who had a transporter accident. Mostly because this script was by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, the co-creators and by far the most prolific writers on this show, and if Enterprise has shown us nothing else, it’s that their world is mostly populated by white guys.

That, I admit, is a personal bugaboo, but I mainly mention it because the rest of the episode was so incredibly uninteresting and then not even something that really happened in the fictional setting, that I find myself nitpicking the nomenclature.

Warp factor rating: 2

Keith R.A. DeCandido is writing a Resident Evil comic book miniseries that serves as a prequel to the animated Netflix series Infinite Darkness. Entitled The Beginning, the cover for the first issue was recently revealed on Keith’s blog. That inaugural issue should go on sale soon.

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