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original airdate: 01-14-2005

We’ve seen the reruns, and watched backlogged episodes of Stargate and Farscape. Let’s get into some new stuff. It’s time to get back on board with the first deep space crew of Star Fleet. It’s Enterprise time!

Enterprise kicked off 2005 with “Daedalus,” which was originally scheduled for late 2004. It’s the first episode of the season, and really since the second season, that isn’t connected to multi-episode series. And by the looks of things, there will only be one more of these before we return to the three part stories. But for right now, it’s just a good old fashioned 60 minute space adventure!

“Daedalus” puts a face on the inventor of the transporter. That face is Bill Cobb’s (as Emory Erickson). First of all it’s nice to see that not all of the major contributions to the future of technology are developed by white men. Star Trek boasts a multi-racial Earth, where every nation has come together, and yet we still see the white men getting all the press. And really, isn’t it interesting that the inventor of the transporter is a black man and his NAME has never even been mentioned before this episode?

Setting down the sociological debate one could also wonder why the two biggest inventions in the Star Trek universe were each invented by one person. Zefram Cochrane is solely recognized as the first human to develop the warp drive. And now Emory Erickson is the transporter man. Aren’t there any teams of scientists working in the future?

But meeting the inventor of the transporter is more dramatic then meeting a team of inventors. Erickson, and his daughter, convenience Star Fleet to let them use Enterprise as a testing station for his new technology; sub-quantum teleportation. Supposedly it would allow people to beam from planet to planet, ridding Star Fleet of those pesky star ships.

When Gene Roddenberry was first developing Star Trek: The Next Generation, he briefly entertained the idea that in the next generation they would be beyond star ships and transporters would allow them to bounce all over the galaxy. Of course he came to realize that Star Trek without a star ship would be like Peter Pan without Wendy. You need your leading lady.

And just as brief as Roddenberry’s idea of galactic transports lived in his head, they are quickly dismissed here, too. Which is a good thing, since Captain Kirk needs to fly in a star ship and not a transporter.

The crew learns Erickson’s visit to the test site is to gather his son, who has been lost for the past 15 years after a transporter accident. And if you didn’t see that one coming you weren’t watching the TV. Occasionally, Enterprise marches so strongly down the general lines that it stomps through the path cut so deeply by science fiction writers that viewers can practically write the episode in their head before the second commercial break (IE “The Hatchery”).

It’s rather disappointing to invest your time into an entire episode when there is no mystery. No surprise. So much for a 60 minute space adventure. Now it’s 60 minutes of I wonder “What is on next?”

A more troubling question is, “What is wrong with Archer?” The captain gets into a shouting match with Trip, his engineer and best friend. He views Erickson as a second father and Quinn as sort of a brother (a fact that was never mentioned before). Naturally Archer would like to see Quinn released from his transporter purgatory. However, his motives are never explained. He threatens Trip with an insubordination charge and then orders him to further put the ship at risk of blowing up. Maybe Archer is sick of watching people he’s close to die. Maybe Archer sees a piece of his father in Quinn. Maybe he’s pissed at Trip. Maybe anything, but Archer’s behavior is never explained.

Enterprise sure does love continuity. MAYBE his emotional outbursts are the seeds of a deeper problem to grow in the months ahead. Maybe.

Whatever his motivation, the Enterprise is in serious danger. Quinn’s ghostly form kills a crew member early in the episode. This is something of an anomaly for Enterprise. Star Trek is infamous for sending Kirk, Spock and Ensign Red Shirt down to some planet, where Red Shirt is killed in a matter of minutes. The subsequent spin offs also used this convention to heighten the danger of the staring characters. However, on Enterprise, usually Red Shirt crewmen are sent to sickbay and not the morgue. Naturally, during the end of the third season, when a third of the crew had been killed in the Xindi strike there were lots of deaths, but that grew into a nice plot thread (dealing with great loss).

So “Daedalus” turned out to be unique on many levels. It’s episode in a mini-series and it’s not very Enterprise.

Like the original Daedalus, who flew from danger with his son Icarus, let us fly away from this unusual episode and into the safety of next week… when a silicon virus attacks the crew…

Kevin Miller

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