December 19, 2012

Free Enterprise #21: "Vox Sola"

After a first contact mission goes disastrously wrong, the Enterprise is infiltrated by a mysterious web-like alien intelligence. As it begins to consume the crew and take over the ship, Hoshi must work against the clock to find some way of communicating with the creature before it's too late.

"Vox Sola" is a very traditional Star Trek episode, and I adore it for that. There's something very classically "Trek" about encountering an inexplicable alien menace and - rather than attempt to kill it or blow it out of the nearest airlock - attempt to make meaningful communication with it. When the series started I had my doubts about Lt Hoshi's presence on the ship: if they all have universal translators, why employ a human translator at the same time? This episode, and a few others before it, absolutely justifies her presence on the ship, and Linda Park does a great job.

The alien creature is a wonderful idea: a sort of sticky white web thing that slowly absorbs the crew members it ensnares and links their nervous systems to its own. Hurt the creature and you hurt your crewmates. Kill the creature, and you murder the Captain.

There's also a great moral debate between Lt Reed, who wants to bombard a separated section of the creature with radiation to find its weak points, and Dr Phlox, whose hippocratic oath forbids such torture. It's nice to see the Doctor take such a strong moral line. I kind of wish he had been on the USS Voyager in that episode where Janeway and the Doctor murdered Tuvix.

This is simply an enjoyable stand-alone episode of Star Trek combining a neat sci-fi conceit, some drama and character development, and quite a large dose of wit and humour. It gets my stamp of approval, giving Season 1 of Enterprise 13 good episodes out of 21, or a cumulative score of 62%.

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