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The Augments
original airdate: 11-12-04

“The Augments” marks the end of Enterprise's first three part story line. While three weeks may be a little longer then the average narrative to resolve, it’s a stroll through the Promenade compared to what we sat through last season: a 23 week long story. "The Augments" plot had its merits as well as its penalties. And with season four promising a at least two more three part clump stories, Fanboys have to wonder if this is a worth while way to enjoy Star Trek.

Three part storylines force their audiences to be loyal viewers. If you missed the first episode of this trilogy, “Borderland,” you may have been asking: How did Data fly back in time and become human? For shows like Lost or 24 audiences have been trained to catch EVERY week. Or at least TiVo it. But Star Trek is rooted in TV history, meaning we expect it to be a bit old school. While the shows have changed, the formula hasn’t altered much. We’re still watching a space adventure.

Deep Space Nine was structured into a seven season narrative arc. But look how popular that was. The stories ran deep, but the audiences where thin. With Enterprise flying through troubled space all ready, shouldn’t they be looking to pick up new viewers every week, not every three weeks?

Of course, Enterprise has dared be different from any other Trek since episode one. The first seasons weren’t even labeled Star Trek. The continuity is thick and the characters are more “real.” So when a strong personality like Arik Soong hit the screen, he fit right in.

Brent Spiner graces the screen as an ancestor to the creator of Data. Unlike his great great great… grand child, Arik could be classified as an evil genius. He’s obsessed with bio-technology and the left-over weapons from the Eugenics war. Despite all of his ambitions, he harbors an actual deep love for his genetically created super children.

“Augments” features the climax of Arik’s relationship with his most devious child, Malik. So many times on TV we as an audience know what is going to happen. It’s hard to create honest suspense and not just stomp down the same old plot line paths. And Star Trek is notorious for rehashing old stories. Malik’s constant defiance of Arik’s orders is so believable you have to keep asking, what is he going to do about this? It’s like watching an episode of American Chopper. Instead of building bikes they’re fighting space wars.

Actually, a space war would’ve really spruced up this episode. Aside from Arik and Malik’s tug of war for power, there isn’t much else going on. Enterprise hunts down Arik and his stolen bird of prey in Klingon space. They find them and Arik drops a hostage in a planet’s atmosphere. Really, nothing else happens for 45 minutes.

Except Archer’s stunning radio performance as a Klingon Captain. Improvising a lie to a nearby Klingon ship smells of a trick they’d have pulled off in the first season. Nice to see Enterprise use some good old subterfuge. There’s also a fun and necessary reference to Botany Bay and Khan.

After the final space dogfight, Enterprise saves a Klingon world from Malik’s bio weapon. Arik is brought into custody. He’s realized the error of his ways. Genetic tampering is too dangerous and ethically wrong.

But just as Archer locks him back in his cell Arik’s brainstorms about Artificial Life. “I doubt I can finish the work myself…” Wink wink. Is this really necessary? Maybe one line would’ve been enough, but instead he goes on and on about how a few generations will have to work to master AI. He should’ve just said, “My great great great grandson will build an android named Data who will join Star Fleet.”

But aside from the wacky taffy ending; “Augments” and its trilogy have been a success. If Enterprise will be forced into dry dock after its fourth season then at least we have this fun memorable story line worthy of being called “Star Trek.”

The new three part story clump may just work after all. And no time like next week to test it out again again. Let’s see if a Vulcan three parter can hold up to the post Eugenics war…

Kevin Miller

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