Not All Critics Affected By 'Observer Effect'

By Michelle
January 30, 2005 - 10:00 PM

See Also: 'Observer Effect' Episode Guide

Online reviews for "Observer Effect" tended to be more positive than those for "Daedalus" the previous week, praising the character work in this second "bottle show", with some critics happy to see the Organians drop in while others felt that they were used to tell a rather trite story. Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens were praised for their dialogue but often not for the derivative storyline and frustrating ending.

  • The Star Trek LCARS Episode Database's John Patuto said that he was not one to look a gift TOS connection in the mouth, but he had trouble seeing the resemblance between the Organians in "Observer Effect" and those in the original series episode "Errand of Mercy." He appreicated the plot concerns with how an alien species' moral compass might differ from that of humans in seeking out new life and new civilizations, and was impressed with the ensemble performances and some of the dialogue, though he did ask, "Why is it that all advanced races are always portrayed without compassion?"

  • David J. Nixon of Sci Fi Universe appreciated this "bottle episode" far more than "Daedalus" the week before, praising the central roles given to Sato and Mayweather and the interesting camera work as the aliens in familiar shapes move through the ship. He liked Archer's and Phlox's "mini little dissertations on the actions and prerogative of the Organians", which some other reviewers praised as well while others found heavy-handed. "A definite 4 out of 5," he concluded.

  • An 8 was the overall rating from TrekWeb's O. Deus, who was less enthusiastic about the screenplay than Mike Vejar's direction. Despite a derivative plot he felt that the "eerie" concept of alien possession was taken to a new level, particularly as we see familiar yet neglected cast members playing characters taken over by new personalities. Despite a lack of originality and a rushed ending, he felt it conveyed an original series sensibility.

  • Entil of Entil'zha also rated the episode an 8/10, praising it for character development where he felt "Daedalus" failed. He wondered why no previous species left a warning beacon or if the Organians removed any that were left, which would cast a different light onto the question of whether humans are unique in their compassion. However, he wrote, "This is an example of an episode with flaws that manages to rise above the errors." He appreciated the nods to the Prime Directive and the original series, and felt the creepiness and theme of observation were quite effective.

  • Xenoclone's Chris said that the episode "packs a lot of emotion and depth into an otherwise familiar story", but felt it failed where many of this season's episodes have dropped the ball: the ending, though "the episode's less-fulfilling and unoriginal resolution is made up for by solid direction and good acting."

  • "Another solid bottle episode, but with an underlying premise that's beginning to get on my nerves," wrote Monkee of Monkee's Place. She gave the episode an 8.5/10, down half a point from last week's "Daedalus", enjoying the backstories and details of the quarantine but wondering why no one was observing two deathly ill crewmembers when one broke free, which might explain why Phlox was looking at his sleeping patients later to find them awake. "Sanctimonious Speeches Save the Day", she proclaimed, but "too many Star Trek episodes suggest that humans are inherently superior to everyone else they encounter in their travels. It's ludicrous!"

  • Ian J. Slater of The Great Link rated the episode only a three out of five, saying that while it was cleverly written, it "fell back on the time-honored and overused plot device of Deus ex Machina to revive supposedly 'dead' crewmen." He called the acting top-notch and enjoyed seeing how this crew reacted in a powerless position, but he found that the execution of the familiar "aliens observing or testing humans" storyline stuck to expected formula.

  • The other reviewer at The Great Link, Michael Marek, gave the episode a five out of five - the second week in a row he has given the series his top rating. He felt that the writers had reinvented the god-like alien formula, focusing on character development and the ethical question of noninvolvement versus assistance - mercy, if you will, as the Organians would later show by disarming Starfleet and the Klingons. "It is a creative story, well told, with interesting character development, and a social message," he wrote. "That is what I look for in good Star Trek.

  • Save Enterprise's Dr. Phlox rated the episode a 8, stating that the Reeves-Stevenses had created "an interesting and solid sci-fi story" despite a "not very original" premise. He found the character development and screen time for Sato and Mayweather seemed like too little, too late, but was very pleased to see that despite the ostensible end to the T'Pol/Tucker relationship, she still has feelings for him.

  • Michael Sheridan of Tail Slate rated "Observer Effect" four popcorns out of four, calling it "great Star Trek" and saying the Reeves-Stevenses should be given partial credit for the show's resurgence. He found the acting strong and the dialogue compelling from the teaser forward.

  • TrekPulse's Guy Gardener awarded the episode a 17 out of 5 (!), calling it "damn near as perfect as Star Trek can get...all style, little cheese, love the techno babble, they avoided saying noncoporial." He found the cast's use of the Organians' mannerisms to be excellent and was delighted to see the all the actors utilized.

  • Television Without Pity's Keckler has recapped "Observer Effect", expressing relief that "Daniels did not actually rear his piss-ant time-traveling head" and snarking that Archer is hardly in a position to lecture anyone about compassion.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.