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July 22 2024


An archive of Star Trek News

Cold Station 12

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at November 6, 2004 - 4:56 AM GMT

See Also: 'Cold Station 12' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: In a flashback, Soong teaches a class of young Augments about the Eugenics Wars and warns them that they will always be feared by humans. When Malik asks if there are others like them, Soong says that someday they will find and wake them and set them free. Eleven years later, as the hijacked Klingon ship approaches Cold Station 12, Soong warns that the station's crew must not be harmed, but Malik does not understand why Soong would risk Augment lives to save a few ordinary humans. Meanwhile, on the planet where Soong raised the children before his arrest, Archer finds a handicapped Augment and figures out that the others have taken incubators to retrieve and gestate the other 1800 or so Augment embryos at CS-12.

Soong is furious when he learns that Malik killed Raakin though the Augment cries and claims it was an accident while Soong blames himself for not having been there to raise them. Later Malik expresses distrust of Soong to Persis, who insists that Malik is just jealous of Soong's leadership. While one group of Augments remains on the Klingon ship for defense, another hijacks a Denobulan scientific vessel to approach the station, where the Augments begin to torture Phlox's friend Dr. Lucas to try to get the codes to access the embryos. On Enterprise, Archer learns that the others called the impaired Augment Smike and tries to assure him that on Earth he will be educated and treated fairly, not persecuted. Because Phlox knows the station from having worked there, he takes him and Smike on the away team to try to stop Soong.

When Soong discovers the approach of Enterprise, he hails Archer and threatens to blow Lucas' head off, forcing Archer to try to sneak a team aboard by transporter instead of a direct approach. They manage to get onto the station but before they can complete their sabotage plans, they are discovered. Meanwhile Soong and Malik torture one of the other doctors on the station to try to make Lucas give them the codes they need, but Malik does not stop when Soong tells him to do so, and the other doctor dies. Discovering that Phlox and Lucas are old friends, Soong threatens to torture him as well, but Lucas agrees to give him the codes instead. When he informs Enterprise that he is holding Archer and the others, Archer shouts for T'Pol to carry out orders to destroy the station. Soong is shocked that Archer would rather kill everyone than allow the embryos to be born, but Archer says that having witnessed what the Augments are like, he thinks Starfleet's orders were correct.

But the auto-destruct fails and the Klingon ship attacks Enterprise, damaging one of the nacelles. Soong, however, is oblivious to the fight in space, for he is looking at the embryos, reflecting upon how difficult it was to choose just 19 when he left the first time. Meanwhile, Malik prepares to release pathogens all over the station and fights with the Enterprise crewmembers as they try to escape, killing Smike. As T'Pol has Enterprise fire a torpedo at the fleeing ship carrying the Augments and Soong, Archer races to CS-12's primary junction to try to stop the pathogens from killing everyone left.

Analysis: It's always difficult to evaluate the centerpiece of a trilogy without having seen the end; sometimes what seems incomplete and raw during the first viewing comes to seem like the pinnacle, as with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, whereas sometimes what seems to be leading to a fulfilling conclusion later comes to look like so much filler. Thus I am cautiously impressed with "Cold Station 12" - pleased in that the performances were up a notch, most of the things that irked me in "Borderland" had been toned down or were absent, and many of the things I appreciated were better-done in this sequel. On the other hand, sometimes what may have been meant as homage to previous series sometimes felt like recycling, and I truly don't have the stomach for the bloody murder we witnessed in this episode.

Let's start with Soong. I thought Spiner did a wonderful job in the last episode and was surprised at how many reviewers called him uninspired, over the top and various other negatives. He was even better in "Cold Station 12" which allowed him to show more subtlety, particularly in his relationships with Soong's "children." I actually felt sorry for him while he was blaming himself for Malik having grown up to be a murderer, even though it was Soong's own fault that those children were left as they were in the first place, and his reunion with Smike was really touching, quite heartfelt on both sides. On the flip side, he was chilling torturing Lucas, making him watch his colleague's infection with a deadly pathogen and blaming Lucas for refusing to stop it. That was a very difficult scene to watch -- reminiscent in some ways of Khan torturing crewmembers in the airlock in "Space Seed", but nothing on the original series was ever as bloody as this and I must admit to being shocked when the doctor died; my children were upset as well.

Perhaps we're supposed to draw parallels with Archer, who after all took the alien out of the airlock before he died, but this was definitely one of those over-the-line moments, and manipulative, I suspect; often in genre TV when the writers want an excuse to kill off a character who has some sympathetic qualities, they have him do something like this. The belated attempt to stop the murder doesn't really mitigate anything where Soong is concerned, though the death is technically on Malik's hands; I think it's already obvious that the latter is doing to die horribly in the concluding segment, given that he murdered Rakiin and has now lied to Soong about the circumstances. It's evident that he's the man Soong made him, even if Soong wouldn't go quite so far in killing his own.

We finally get to meet Phlox's good friend Dr. Lucas, but unfortunately there's so much else going on in the episode that there's little time for any real characterization, just a show of defiance in the form of a lot of cursing. We don't get to see him and Phlox together for long enough really to feel their bond, thus it seems almost forced when Lucas breaks and exchages the codes for Phlox's life. There's an awful lot of negotiating with terrorists in this episode on both sides, with Archer allowing himself to be delayed by a threat to Lucas from Soong and later Lucas risking unleashing the Augments on the galaxy to save his friend; only T'Pol does not hesitate, though she's clearly not happy, giving the order to destroy the station and kill Archer in the process. Maybe she's gotten better at that with practice.

One wonders how the Augments have gotten so good at what they do. No matter what kind of natural abilities they may have had, and no matter how many Teach Yourself Bat'leth tapes Soong may have left behind with them, it seems unrealistic that they know formal martial arts - or, for that matter, methodologies of torture. These are essentially ten year olds with grownup bodies; they've had no adult influence for more than a decade and before that it all came from one man who was father and teacher all in one, in no way a peer. I still loathe Persis for letting Malik and Soong determine what's best for her and the others instead of insisting on her own voice; perhaps we can blame Soong for the patriarchal mindset, but the other female Augments we see are silently flying the Klingon ship, even more passive. One of the nice things about the original series; "Miri", in which a planet of children were left to grow up on their own, was that without any adults to imprint patterns of behavior on the kids, there wasn't much gender stereotyping.

It's a curious question how much we're supposed to assume is built into the designer genes and how much comes from the way these children were raised. Despite Phlox and Archer's discussion of instincts out of sync with intellect, I'm inclined to believe that what's wrong with Malik has to do with his beliefs, not his super-powers. Soong raised the children to believe in their own superiority and in the threat others posed to them; he didn't preach an obligation to help mankind, but that the strongest would lead. I would really like the final part of this arc to address that topic, because the genetics debate has largely been shunted aside in favor of action thus far in the arc. Archer mentions that the embryos were not destroyed because of ethical debates, but we don't get any details on what was argued, pro or con; and I suspect that in the end, some terrible fate will befall the remaining embryos, taking further decisions about what should happen to them out of Starfleet's hands.

Already one potential loose end, Smike, would seem to have been dismissed. Archer seemed certain that the boy could return to Earth, get an education, be accepted into society - I don't think he said those things just to manipulate him - but one doubts he really has the authority to be making such assurances, and to think that, like the altered freaks on Deep Space Nine, any surviving Augments would either have to hide the truth of their origins or end up institutionalized. There are a number of other scientific ethical quandaries touched upon - the danger of keeping pathogens in labs that could be attacked by terrorists, the dilemma of how to make children more accepting of those who can't quite keep up with the best and the brightest.

Not even the original series would have struggled with all the issues stirred up by such a storyline, but many would at least have been brought up verbally, debated by the main characters. Enterprise's main characters spent more time in fight sequences and trying to work out a plan for containing the conflict. So while I think that there is much that is good in "Cold Station 12", I will like it best if it leads into a conclusion that tries to focus some of the modern-day problems the story parallels - that is, in short, like original Trek not just in broad outline but in theme.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.

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