A planet in eternal darkness and a vision of something, or someone…. Originally broadcast on March 20, 2002 this is Rogue Planet.
Captain’s Log date undetermined:
After discovering a rogue planet that is somehow still able to sustain life, the Enterprise crew is fascinated to learn that there might be another starship on it’s surface. Unable to contact it, Archer, Reed, Hoshi and T’Pol head to the surface to find and initiate contact with the alien species. After a brief hostility, the groups realize they are not a threat to one another and behind to talk. Archer and his crew soon learn that the Eska come to tis planet to conduct a ritual hunt. Before long Reed is allowed to join the Eska on this hunt and the team prepares to stay for the night. Things get strange the first night, however, when Archer sees a strange woman in the forest who vanishes without a trace.
Waking his team at his discovery, it is soon clear that the woman was likely no more than a dream or a vision despite the fact that Archer swears it was real. The next morning they all go about their tasks with Archer and his team exploring thermal vents while Reed joins the hunt. Once again Archer encounters the beautiful woman who tells him that only ‘he’ can understand and that she is in danger. She vanishes as suddenly as she appears when T’Pol and Tucker catch up to the Captain.
The hunt itself is delayed when one of the Eska are hurt and is taken to Enterprise to be patched up. Archer, T’Pol and Tucker remain on the planet despite Damrus’ warnings and Archer finally comes clearn that he has seen the woman again. T’Pol is not convinced this woman is real and is reluctant to let Archer venture out alone in the woods. He goes anyhow and eventually runs in to the woman again. There he learns that she is not human, but a shapeshifter who is one of the species being hunted by the Eska. She asks him for help and he agrees to do what he can to stop the Eska from hunting them.
Returning to the camp, Archer confronts the Eska and informs them that they are hunting sentient beings. When they refuse to stop the hunt, Archer informs his crew of the ‘Wraith’s’ request for help and Phlox develops a method to mask the Wraiths from detection making it harder for the Eska to track and kill them. The Eska go on their hunt unaware of what Enterprise has done and subsequently fails their hunt much to their dismay.
In the end the Wraith thanks Archer for his kindness and Archer tells her that he knows why he recognizes her (she was what he saw when his mom read him a poem about a shapeshifting woman). The Woman leaves telling him to never stop seeking the unattainable and vanishes into the dark.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I love the subtlety of this episode. Taking a nod from the poem ‘The Song of the Wandering Aengus’ (which is referenced in this) as well as elements from The classic tale of The Crain Wife, we get a wonderful Archer-centric story that gives us, not only a great story, but some significant back ground for the Captain of the Enterprise.
Taking on what appears to be a simple hunting story, Rogue Planet gives this tale a twist when Archer finds himself in contact with one of the local species that picks him because he is ‘special’. Just why is he special? Well that is never really fully explained but it can be inferred that it is because he is truly an explorer with no ill will toward others of any kind. His mission is truly one of peace and understanding and so, when he stumbles onto a planet where a sudo-psychic shapeshifting species needs help, it is pretty logical that they would target him to be their defacto savior.
One thing that makes this even more fascinating is that this could tie directly into the Dominion species from DS9 and could also be one of the reasons why they hate humanity. During Deep Space Nine the Dominion members mention that they had been hunted by ‘solids’ in the past and were forced to hide from them. They soon fled and formed their own system of government and people society. It is not unreasonable to believe that these Wraiths could be early versions of the Shapeshifters, or an offshoot species who are being hunted for sport. While this is never confirmed or something that will really ever be, that is the fun of this series, so many connections and so many interesting possibilities.
Overall, this is one of the better episodes this season letting the series just be itself without forcing it to explain how things came to be. I love it when this series is just allowed to tell cool stories but I guess this is the curse of placing the series in the confides of being a prequel to an entire franchise. Sure, it’s easy to give some fanservice, but sometimes, you just need to tell a good story.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We learn that both Reed and Archer are Eagle Scouts indicating that, somehow, the Boy Scouts survived through WW3 and into the 22th century.
- We never encounter the Wraiths or the Eska again.
- We also learn that hunting fell out of popularity on Earth about 100 years prior to this series…however that doesn’t make much sense as this would have coincided with the third world war and the devastation of much of the planet. Seeing that food would be scarce, hunting would have been necessary to survive.
- You might recognize the actor playing the Wraith as Stephanie Niznik who would also play Ensign Perim in Star Trek Insurrection as well as Nina Feeney on Everwood.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Acquisition
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Late To The Game 6/2/2021
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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