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The Augments
Date: May 27th, 2154
Original Airdate: November 12, 2004
By Karma

The Story
The episode begins with a recap of the events that took place over the past two episodes. The story itself begins with Archer successfully isolating the main lab facility from the rest of Cold Station 12, thereby protecting anyone in that room from the toxins that are about to released. Unfortunately, Archer, in the central core, is not protected, and there is no time for him to reach the lab.

Enterprise is unable to get a transport lock on the Captain due to interference from the core, so a desperate Archer orders T’Pol to blow open a hatch at the top of the core. Archer is sucked into space as the core decompresses, and is beamed aboard before he can lose too many brain cells.

Meanwhile, on the Augment's stolen bird-of-prey Arik Soong comments that Enterprise won't follow them into Klingon space. Malik counters that they won't follow because Archer is dead. This revelation prompts Soong to lose his temper, and he sends Malik off to effect repairs on something in engineering

Back on the Enterprise, in Sickbay, Lieutenant Reed reports that the bird-of-prey has passed into Klingon space and that, because of the presence of Klingon patrols in the area, they cannot follow them. He goes on to suggest that they could reconfigure their warp drive to emit a Klingon warp signature, allowing them to pursue the Augments. Archer orders it done.

We jump back to the bird-of-prey, where Soong is explaining his intentions to his 'children'. He intendeds to pass through Klingon space, and then make for a region he dubs the 'Briar Patch', where they will hide out until the stolen embryos have time to mature.

Malik, as he so often does whenever Soong suggests a course of action, objects. The humans will never stop hunting them, he argues. He then went on to discuss the possibility of searching for the Botany Bay and Khan Noonien Singh. Soong replies that the existence of the Botany Bay is merely a rumour.

Later, in his lab, Malik confronts Soong again. Soong explains that he is altering the genetic structure of the embryos to remove their innate aggression. He explains that because of the limitations of the technology available to the creators of the Augments there were mistakes. Malik retorts that maybe the Augments are supposed to be aggressive.

Enterprise, faster than the bird-of-prey, quickly catches up with the Augments and takes them under fire. After hearing from Archer, Soong comments that he sounds particularly confident for a dead man.

Outgunned by Enterprise, Soong orders the Denobulan pilot captured in "Cold Station 12" loaded into her shuttle, and has the shuttle tractored into the atmosphere of a nearby planet. He then contacts Archer and explains that the shuttle is safe for now – but won't stay that way. Enterprise is forced to stay and engage in a rescue mission while the bird-of-prey warps off.

While strolling the battle-damaged corridors of the bird-of-prey, Malik explains to Soong that while at Cold Station 12 he'd had several canisters of biotoxins transported aboard. He suggests modifying one of their torpedoes to deliver a toxin and then firing it into the atmosphere of a Klingon colony. The ensuing war between Earth and the Klingon Empire would keep both powers (well, one power and one whatever you'd call 22nd century Earth) from searching for the Augments while they incubate and raise the embryos in safety. Soong is understandably horrified by the suggestion that they commit mass murder to protect themselves, and will have nothing to do with the suggestion.

Unfortunately, Malik has other plans. Later he confronts Persis and explains that he's taking command because Soong has changed. Malik, Persis, and two other Augments challenge Soong in his lab, and after another argument, Malik orders him confined to his quarters.

Back on Enterprise, the crew detects a Klingon battlecruiser on an intercept course. With no other options available, Archer hails the cruiser, and, pretending to be a Klingon captain, explains that Enterprise is conveying the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council back to Qo’noS after negotiations with the Orions – specifically negotiations with some Orion slave girls. The ruse works, and the captain of the cruiser backs down.

While all this is going on, Persis visits Soong in his quarters, and explains that she only went along with Malik in order to keep him from killing her. She frees Soong, and, as Malik has stationed guards at all the key systems, takes him to an escape pod. Just before leaving, Soong cautions Persis to be careful, as Malik may suspect her of being involved in his escape.

It's not long before Enterprise detects the pod and brings it, and Soong, aboard. Soong soon finds himself back in the Brig, desperately trying to convince Archer, who believes that it’s either a trap, or that Soong is sacrificing himself to protect the Augments, that he has to stop them from attacking the Klingon colony. Eventually, he succeeds, and Archer orders Tucker and T'Pol, fresh from an intimate discussion – or at least a discussion as intimate as a Vulcan is wont to get – to work with him to find a way to track the bird-of-prey.

Soong is proven prophetic when Malik confronts Persis about their father's escape. Persis tries to foist suspicion onto someone else – Lokesh, specifically. But Malik will have nothing of it. The 'discussion' quickly degenerates into an argument, and from there to violence. Malik proves too much for Persis, and ends up stabbing her with a Klingon d'k'tagh.

Enterprise, meanwhile, is approached by another Klingon battlecruiser, a D5 this time. Archer prepares to attempt another round of subterfuge, but all is for naught. The first words from the Klingon captain are an order for the Earth vessel to surrender.

The two ships spar, but the outclassed Enterprise is forced to drop out of warp. As the Klingons approach, Archer orders the grapples fired at the cruiser's nacelle. Once attached, Enterprise goes to impulse, the strain proves too much for the cruiser to handle, as their nacelle is crippled, preventing them from forming a stable warp field.

Enterprise continues on her way, her crew desperate to reach the colony before the Augments can unleash their weapon.

That same weapon is the object of discussion aboard the bird-of-prey as Lokesh explains to Malik that while the warhead is ready, he needs time to configure and test the guidance system. There's no time for that, however, as the Augments detect Enterprise closing. Malik orders his speed increased in hopes of reaching the target before Enterprise can enter weapons range. It clearly doesn't occur to Malik that Enterprise won't stop chasing them even if he successfully detonates the weapon.

The bird-of-prey fires, and there are a few tense seconds as we wait to see if a pair of torpedoes fired from Enterprise can intercept the bioweapon in time. They can, and the Klingon torpedo is destroyed.

Before Enterprise can turn her attention to the Augments, they attack, striking the Armory, disabling hull plating, torpedo launchers, and forward pulse cannons. At a loss, Archer orders the aft phase cannon targeted on the enemy Bridge. Before the order to fire can be given, Soong interrupts, pointing out that the nature of the Klingon hull armour makes that a futile endeavour. Instead, he explains, they should target slightly aft of the Bridge, a weakness in the design that would allow them to thoroughly disable to bird-of-prey.

The attack is successful, and the bird-of-prey is crippled.

On board the same, Malik engages in his Khan impression, and crawls across the floor of the shattered Bridge, finally reaching a console where he set up an overload in the ship’s warp drive. He is hailed by Soong, who begs him to reconsider, but Malik refuses, seemingly dying in the explosion that consumed the bird-of-prey.

Some time later, Archer is escorting a stunned Soong through the ship. Soong remarks that they aren't heading in the right direction to reach the Brig, and Archer replies that the former is being taken to crew quarters.

Before they can get any further, however, Malik drops from the ceiling, incapacitating both Archer and Soong's MACO escort, before turning on his father, who he sees as having betrayed the Augments. Fortunately for Soong, Archer recovers his senses in time to blast a hole in Malik’s belly, killing him.

We fast forward to Enterprise orbiting Earth. Archer's starlog explains that the destruction of the bird-of-prey seems to have satisfied the Klingons and they no longer appear to be bent on destroying Earth.

The episode ends with Archer escorting Soong to his cell, which has been cleaned of the papers that adorned the walls the last time we saw it. Soong laments that 'they' could at least let him finish his work before taking it away to destroy. Archer explains that his notes haven’t been destroyed. They're being stored. Maybe someday, he adds, they'll be used for the benefit of mankind. Soong is skeptical, and comments that he might have been going about things the wrong way. It’s impossible to perfect humanity, he explains, adding that he thinks he might turn to cybernetics instead.

The episode ends with Soong sitting at his desk, taking the first steps towards the technology that would one day yield The Next Generation's Lieutenant Commander Data.

Analysis
On the whole, "The Augments" is a disappointing episode. It suffers from the common curse of multi-part Star Trek adventures: a strong start with a weak finish.

In fairness, "The Augments" isn't a weak episode. It's actually quite enjoyable, and is definitely above average for Enterprise. Unfortunately, both "Borderland" and especially "Cold Station 12" were significantly above above average.

There are some memorable moments, the discussion of the rumours – that we know to be true – surrounding genetic superman Khan Noonien Singh; the sparring between Tucker and Soong in the situation room; Archer's explanation of the Klingon Chancellor's 'negotiation' habits; and finally, Soong's change in profession.

Speaking of that change, I had expected some sort of reference to the eventual achievements of Soong's descendants, and, in line with the way Enterprise has previously handled references to the Prime Directive, I expected it to be tacky. Surprisingly, it was not. It was well-handled. A large part of the credit for that, I'm sure, belongs to Brent Spiner's delivery, which was outstanding, but Mike Sussman (who I still maintain should have been given control of the show) deserves to be acknowledged for writing the lines.

The verbal sparring between Tucker and Soong emphasizes a point I brought up in my review of "Cold Station 12". Specifically the disparity between the acting of the guest stars and that of the regular cast. Trineer, who along with John Billingsley, is the finest actor on Enterprise is able to hold his own quite well with Spiner, while the rest of the cast simply looks cardboard.

Speaking of cardboard…has anyone else noticed that Mayweather doesn't even talk anymore? Previously they at least let him say "aye, sir", or some variation thereof, when given an order. Now he doesn’t even do that. He just looks serious and presses a few buttons. It's getting ridiculous. If the writers aren't going to use the character as something more than a glorified prop then they should just kill him and put us all out of our misery.

On the upside, unlike "Cold Station 12", "The Augments" manages to avoid the gaping holes in the backstory. Save one. Cold Station 12 seems to be awfully close to Klingon space. Surely Starfleet would have carried out at least a cursory survey before building the top secret facility that housed thousands of deadly pathogens and hundreds of murderously aggressive genetically engineered supermen. You’d think that they would have noticed something as large as the Klingon Empire.

Soong's reference to the 'Briar Patch' might fall into this category. It depends on whether or not it is the same Briar Patch from the feature film Star Trek: Insurrection. If it is, it's simultaneously a nice nod, and a comment that is difficult to come to terms with. Soong explains that it is on the far side of Klingon space. That being the case, how did the Enterprise-E end up there in Insurrection? Insofar as we can tell, the far side of Klingon space either puts it in Romulan territory or out in unclaimed space. The later must be the case, since I cannot see Starfleet casually ordering their flagship to violate Romulan space, regardless of the state of relations between the Federation and the Star Empire. But neither can I see the Klingons allowing Starfleet free reign to traverse their territory.

The high point of the episode was undoubtedly Persis' death. We had already seen the progression of Malik's villainy, from killing to gain something (Raakin, in "Borderland"), to killing for no good reason (Smike, in "Cold Station 12"). With his murder of Persis the fall of Malik is complete. It seems that, perhaps, Enterprise is determined to turn into a somewhat more mature show, which couldn’t hurt – and would perhaps explain the appearance of viewer discretion disclaimers after each commercial break in my broadcast.

The triumph of the entire arc is in the development of Dr. Arik Soong. In my review of "Cold Station 12" I called him the first Trek villain since Gul Dukat to have any real depth. I realize now that Soong, unlike Dukat, isn't even a villain. He is simply a good man with ideas out of step with conventional wisdom, who was forced to go to great lengths to see those ideas come to fruition. The development of Soong's character is without a doubt the most subtle and well-written material to come out of Star Trek since the end of Deep Space Nine.

In the end, "The Augments" is probably a better episode than I’m giving it credit for. The acting from the guest stars, especially Spiner and Alec Newman, is top notch, the writing was generally good, and the effects were great. Perhaps in future viewings the episode will grow on me.

Grade: 7.5/10 (B)

Click on the below thumbnails for the full image.

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Cast:
Scott Bakula as Jonathan Archer
John Billingsley as Dr. Phlox
Jolene Blalock as T'Pol
Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed
Anthony Montgomery as Travis Mayweather
Linda Park as Hoshi Sato
Connor Trinneer as Charles Tucker

Guest Cast:
Brent Spiner as Dr. Arik Soong
Alec Newman as Malik
Abby Brammell as Persis
Richard Riehle as Jeremy Lucas
Mark Rolston as Captain Magh
Adam Grimes as Lokesh
Kristen Ariza as Augment #1
Dayna Devon as Engineer
J.D. Hall as Klingon Com Voice

Creative Staff:
Director:  LeVar Burton
Written By: Michael Sussman

 

 

 

 

 

 

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