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The Trek Nation - Exile

Exile

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at October 16, 2003 - 2:57 AM GMT

See Also: 'Exile' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Sato hears a voice calling her by her first name and sees a shadowy alien. Reed finds no evidence of any presence, but T'Pol has found evidence of a second sphere creating anomalies less than four light years away. While Sato is helping to translate the Xindi database, she hears the alien voice again and has a vision of being in a structure high on a mountain. Phlox tells her that her vision is probably a reaction to stress. But as she helps him feed his animals he transforms into the stranger, who says that his telepathy needs a unique mind like hers to process and that he can help with Enterprise's mission to find the Xindi.

Archer is wary, but since the alien, Tarquin, is only three light years away, he diverts the ship to his planet. In person Tarquin looks much less human, with tentacles extending from his face, but he says that if Enterprise will loan him an object imprinted by the Xindi, he will be able to help find them. When Reed asks why he lives alone on the planet, Tarquin explains that his people fear his telepathy and have exiled him. He is willing to keep looking for the Xindi while Enterprise looks for the nearby sphere, but he wants Sato to stay with him. Though Archer is reluctant to leave her, she asks to stay.

Tarquin has read Sato's mind thoroughly and knows about her love of languages, her isolated childhood and her favorite foods. He shows her how he can use his telepathy over long distances with the help of equipment given him by his relatives when he was exiled and lets her try it, allowing her to see a Xindi first-hand, though she does not know it. But when she learns that he has had four previous life companions and wants her to become the fifth, she avoids him and remains in her room reading.

After anomalies incapacitate Enterprise, Archer and Tucker modify a shuttlepod with Trellium-D to try to locate the sphere. They are successful, but their sensors are damaged and they are forced to destroy one of the shuttle's thrusters when it fires while they are on the surface of the sphere, nearly stranding them. Returning to the ship, they learn from T'Pol that there are about fifty spheres generating gravometric energy, possibly for the express purpose of creating the Expanse. The ship goes back to Tarquin's planet to retrieve Sato, but the alien shuts all power on Enterprise to try to force her to stay with him.

Tarquin tries appearing to Sato as Archer, suggesting that she stay for the good of their mission, but she quickly realizes that this "Archer" knows her too well and is really the telepath. Then he threatens to kill her crewmates if she won't stay, but she grabs his communication device and threatens to smash it, which will leave him completely isolated on his planet once she is gone. He frees Enterprise and allows her to leave. Later he uses his device to appear in her quarters, saying that he does not want to see her harmed on this mission in case she changes her mind about staying with him. He gives her the coordinates of a colony where the Xindi are building part of the weapon to be used against Earth.


Analysis: Linda Park and Rick Berman both described this episode as a Beauty and the Beast storyline, which made me quite fearful as I loathe that tale, particularly in its Disney incarnation. I am delighted to report that Hoshi Sato comes across as a much stronger character than Belle, however, and that my entire family enjoyed both storylines of "Exile", despite some snorting at the great shuttlepod skid.

Superficially "Exile" reminds me of Voyager's "Alter Ego", in which a lonely alien made herself appear as a hologram on the ship to lure Tuvok to her ship as a companion. But Tarquin is a much more interesting character than Marena, a pathetic lonely woman looking for love. A victim of ancient prejudice, he is also cursed with a relatively long humanoid life span, doomed to spend centuries imprisoned in a castle and experiencing life only vicariously. He reminds me a bit of Miriam Blaylock, Catherine Deneuve's tragic vampiric character from The Hunger, with his collection of beloved corpses, as well as Flint from "Requiem for Methuselah."

I am tempted to wonder about the things this episode doesn't deal with — how his replicators work, how much equipment he owns, why he's never used his powers to get the specs to build a rocket, why he didn't ask Enterprise for help getting off his rock instead of trying to make Sato stay — but they're not what "Exile" is about. I won't ask why Sato spends all her time sitting around in lingerie, nor whether she packed it or Tarquin provided it; it's irrelevant to the plot, and there's really no indication that Tarquin is interested in her sexually, for if he's pulled her preferences out of her memory, he doesn't bother to mention them to her, and let's be serious: if I were a telepath that's one of the first things I'd want to know about a potential life mate, and something I'd likely mention pretty early on as a reason for bonding.

Instead we get a neat combination of magical castle where Hoshi can have anything she wants to eat and scary high-security prison where she can't run if she tried because there's no place to go. Just like the Beast in the Disney film, Tarquin lures her with his book collection, and he sits around in a smoking jacket, offering to teach her new things. Much as Archer did when he first saw Daniels' 29th-century database, she is overwhelmed with information, some of which looks like a bad science fiction disaster movie preview (I was half-expecting to see the Moon breaking out of Earth's orbit à la Space: 1999) and some of which is familiar to us but not to her, most notably the reptilian Xindi who appears briefly. She refuses his offer to let her try again, suspecting that she is distracting him from finding the Xindi, which she is; but Tarquin has no real intention of finding the Xindi anyway, as we already suspect even if she's giving him the benefit of the doubt, and it's a pity she doesn't see what else her mind can pick up with such enhancements.

I'm not sure how I feel about Hoshi the wonder-translator who was considered so gifted as a child that she had private tutors, let alone Hoshi the latent telepath who's the first person in ages to have picked up Tarquin's signals. I tend to like my Trek humans to be men not supermen, women not superwomen, and from the way Tarquin describes her talents, Sato sounds almost like the genetically enhanced sociopaths of Deep Space Nine, unable to avoid isolation even when she is surrounded by people like the ones on Enterprise, though she can perform translation feats even Data might not have been able to manage.

Despite Tarquin's accusations, and despite the fact that Sato doesn't dispute them, she appears to be quite attached to her shipmates; she has nice scenes discussing her fears with Reed and Phlox at the start of the episode, and she wants to say goodbye to Mayweather so badly at the end that faux-Archer reveals himself by mentioning Travis' name. We also learn that she was very attached to her grandfather, that she's good at telling little white lies, and that she enjoys feeling vital to the crew (as evidenced by her scenes with both the real Archer requesting to visit Tarquin and the fake Archer agreeing to stay). The writers do a great job with character continuity recalling how she was fearful of life on Enterprise at the beginning; it's also a nice reminder of how much stronger she is now, how much she's grown. We need to see this Hoshi a lot more often.

There are numerous other nice continuity efforts, from the B-plot about the anomaly-generating spheres to the isolated use of Trellium-D on a shuttlepod far away from T'Pol. I'd love to know more about the spheres' gravitational field, because the way the shuttle lifts off and then skids to a halt inches from Archer and Tucker, rather than bouncing right back up again, makes little sense to my minimal scientific understanding of gravity. It's easy to pick on this episode on a superficial level...at various moments, different members of my family were whispering "If you build it, he will come" from Field of Dreams when the alien first began speaking to Sato, comparing the spheres to Death Stars from Star Wars and comparing Tarquin's communication device to a palantir from Lord of the Rings. ("He has a light bulb!" my younger son exclaimed when the crystal ball was first unveiled, while my husband exclaimed, "It's Sauron!" while she was looking inside.)

Visually I was very reminded of Disney castles built into hillsides, and the fireplaces and candelabras are evidently meant to evoke a gothic castle despite the presence of high-tech equipment. Yes, there are derivative elements, but they work well here as archetypes and I found the mood-setting very effective. Kudos to Roxann Dawson, who played Torres in similar isolated situations and directed a great performance from Linda Park. She's wonderful as Sato informing Tarquin that he's misinterpreted her needs and desires, even though he can read her mind; she's even better telling off the fake Archer and threatening Tarquin when he holds the lives of her crewmates in the balance.

So the mystery of the Expanse and why we've never heard of it on later Treks seems to be that it's not there anymore, because someone or something will disable or destroy the spheres that bring it into being. Xindi? Suliban? Dark Future Guy? Someone we don't know about yet? More information will be forthcoming later, apparently, and the slow building of suspense on this matter is working quite well.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.