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The Trek Nation - Dead Stop

Dead Stop

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at October 10, 2002 - 8:47 AM GMT

See Also: 'Dead Stop' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Four days after leaving the Romulan minefield, Tucker estimates at least three months for repairs...if Enterprise can find a way to get to Jupiter Station, which is a decade away at the current top speed. Archer asks Sato to send out a general distress call, answered by a Tellarite freighter that directs the ship to a nearby repair station. The automated station scans the ship, adjusts to the life signs on Enterprise and invites the crew to relax in its recreation facility while it repairs the entire ship in 36 hours -- for the small price of 200 liters of warp plasma.

The repair station seems too good to be true, which vaguely bothers Archer. Matter replicators there can produce perfect pan-fried catfish. Its devices repair year-old hull damage and even fix the wound to Reed's leg from the mine. Reed and Tucker determine to see the computer that makes these miracles possible and sneak through off-limits conduits, setting off alarms and getting themselves beamed in disgrace onto Enterprise's bridge. Archer is furious, but becomes distracted when he learns that Mayweather has walked into an off-limits area under repair and been hit by a power surge. Phlox says, "He's dead, Captain."

But during a postmortem examination, Phlox discovers that Mayweather is not dead -- or, at least, that the body in sickbay is a replica, not the real Mayweather, who had live vaccine in his body that's dead in this corpse. Archer asks Reed to sneak back into the conduits with him while Tucker stalls on payment by insisting that the automated repairs are inadequate. With T'Pol's help, Archer breaks into the computer core and discovers that the station is powered by the biological activity of living beings. He finds Mayweather and gets him back on board Enterprise as the station's defenses attack the ship, but Reed has rigged a fuse in the warp plasma delivered as payment and blows it up. The ship escapes when the station explodes, though it later repairs itself.


Analysis: "Dead Stop" is one of Enterprise's strongest episodes, despite a typical haunted house plot with a twist ending that's expected even if the nature of the twist is not. There's superb continuity, not only on major issues like the damage to the ship and Reed's leg but on smaller details like Archer's ongoing breakfasts with the crew and Mayweather's joking with Sato. The spare, too-clean, too-bright automated station contrasts nicely with the dim and dented ship, creating a sense of futuristic, mechanized menace. It's always scary when someone finds out too much about you. I admire the balance achieved between the false alien friendliness of a catfish dinner and the kind of knowing-too-well that people crave -- Phlox trying to protect Sato, Archer yelling at Reed for insubordination after he demanded more discipline a few days earlier.

Though it's easy to share Archer's concerns about the repair job being too good to be true, it's very hard to get a handle on exactly what's not right with the station. I expected perhaps nanobots invading the ship's systems, crewmembers dying from the replicated food, the discovery that some nefarious alien was rebuilding Enterprise to very different specifications, but not The Matrix (with visual echoes of Voyager's "Caretaker" as well). It's unfortunate that the revelation came too late in the episode for any explanations of how the automated station carries out its gruesome business -- on the one hand, it's almost creepier not to know whether there are robots or some other mechanical devices to hook the organics up to the computer, but on the other, this is supposed to be science fiction, so the mood's not necessarily as important as the technology. I'd also like to know how the station reproduced Archer's voice and left no comm record.

The medical talk from Phlox is wonderful in that regard -- it makes sense to the layman yet sounds authentic, it has the right balance of emotional involvement and scientific detachment, and the comment to Reed that Phlox swore to do no harm but he can cause as much pain as he wants makes a great character moment. So too are Trip's rant about lame duranium pins, T'Pol's deadpan reaction to the captain's explanation of gremlins, Archer's instinct to bash in a panel housing the alien computer console coolly insisting that it can't give him any information. Hoshi's tearful scene doesn't entirely ring true -- the setup seems forced, the camera invasive -- but considering that Mayweather himself gets almost no development yet again, at least she tells us something about him.

Archer becomes quite irritable in this episode, which is something of a pleasant change. He's edgy about the automated station -- perhaps because it's recommended by the unknown Tellarites, whom we know to be belligerent, but he doesn't -- then takes Trip and Malcolm's heads off for investigating the very weirdness that's troubling him as well. Lovely moment too when he insists that Reed is a grownup who can take responsibility for his own disobedience. He's a bit testy about all the things Tucker hasn't managed to repair and veritably lock-jawed while waiting to see if the station will blow up -- which, in a rare display of sci-fi restraint, it doesn't, not really.

T'Pol has a rather nice scene reminding Archer that the station's builders might have been altruistic and made decisions based on connecting with other species rather than tryig to gain wealth or power. How ironic that Archer, who's from a species that prides itself on rising above such pettiness, is the only one with serious concerns about the sincerity of their unexpected benefactors. Are we supposed to assume that although Mayweather could be revived, T'Pol's analysis of the bio-signs of the other comatose aliens suggested that they couldn't? Because otherwise, Archer may have killed all those people, even if it was necessary to save his own crew. Kirk and Picard would have had moments of angst about that.

Several really neat camera angles and visual effects nearly lose their luster during the terrible moment when Reed and Tucker remove what looks like an air conditioning filter to crawl up a conduit. But for compensation, we get a great long tracking shot within the corridor and very neat images of the space station grappling arm. Since we've already had to see Hoshi lose her shirt and T'Pol strip behind a sheet, it's nice to know the beefcake gets equal time -- Reed has very nice thighs, and Mayweather may not say much but he looks fine without his shirt on. It's too bad he doesn't get to try the catfish, or whatever else he might enjoy; we know lots of little details about Archer, Tucker, Reed and Sato that we don't about him.

Hey, no red-shirt in this episode like the previews suggested. Next week's previews did not leave me with a good feeling -- especially since UPN isn't saving the sex for sweeps month. Ah well, every other Trek series has had a "Naked Time" of sorts by its second season, so if it's time, it's time.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews Enterprise episodes for the Trek Nation, as well as Andromeda episodes for SlipstreamWeb. She is also a staff writer at Green Man Review. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.