The journey to Risa continues…only there is yet another detour… Originally broadcast on May 8, 2002 this is Desert Crossing.
Captain’s Log Date Feb 12, 2152
No sooner does Enterprise get back on course for Risa that it receives a distress call from a man named Zobral who has been stranded in space. For their help, Zobral invites them to his desert home planet to participate in a Geskana match and will not take no for an answer. They soon arrive and begin playing in the Geskana match but, while they are playing, Enterprise is contacted by one of the planets cities with a message that Zobral is in fact a terrorist leader.
Zobral defends himself when Archer questions the man’s integrity informing the Captain that Zobral’s people are being persecuted and he needs Archer’s help. It seems Archer’s reputation for being a just man has preceded him but, before Archer can make a decision, their camp is attacked. Despite disagreeing on if they should help Zobral or not, and unable to use the shuttle for fear of being detected, Archer and Tucker begin a walk across the desert to escape the attack.
As Tucker and Archer work their way across the desert fighting heat exhaustion, avoiding patrols and looking for some place to get water, Enterprise teams up with a now escaped Zobral and begin searching for their missing crewmembers. Enterprise sends a shuttle to the surface to rescue their missing crew and, after some close calls manage to find them and bring them back relatively unharmed.
In the end, Archer tells Zobral that Enterprise could not have gotten involved despite the issues his planet is having and that he wishes his people luck in their struggles. Enterprise leaves continuing toward Risa with Archer feeling that this matter could have been one worth fighting for.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Three words….CLANCY FREAKIN BROWN. To be honest, the moment I heard his voice I was sold. It really didn’t matter how bad this episode could have been, the fact that Clancy Brown was in it, it could have been an entire episode of that dude reading the phone book and I would have been thrilled. If you don’t know who Clancy Brown is, stop reading this right this second and check out his IMDB page right now. Seriously. This guy has been everything from the voice of Lex Luthor to the Kurgan himself in Highlander. He ranks among the most prolific actors in history and still makes it a point to show up in just about everything.
Anyhow, my adoration for Clancy Brown aside, this is actually a really good episode that shows how the idea of the Prime Directive is starting to take root, Enterprise’s reputation is growing and showing how close both Tucker and Archer are as friends. Lets start with the first part, The Prime Directive.
As of this moment in the series, the Prime Directive has yet to officially be written. This episode builds on some of the past events showing how hard it is to stay true to this way of thinking that Archer and his crew have begun to develop. While it is fairly clear that Zobral and his people are being persecuted, if Zobral is to be believed, for Archer to side with this rebel leader would be to also pull the entirety of the newly founded Starfleet in with them. This is clearly not something Archer wants to do so he has to weigh the options as to what is right and what is proper. Does he get involved in a planets ‘personal’ issues or does he let them handle things on their own? The answer isn’t a simple one but one that Archer has to decide on his own.
One of the things that compromises this is that Archer, and the Enterprise itself, is beginning to gain a bit of a reputation in the galaxy for being just and honorable people. Largely due to Archer’s rescue of the Suliban captives on Tandar Prime, his ‘legend’ is beginning to grow and seemingly get more and more outlandish with each telling. In a way, this both gives an explanation as to how the Federation gained it’s reputation for being the ‘kind and just’ group it would become while also explaining how someone like Kirk could have become a legend himself. Many legends are based on facts that get a little exaggerated over time, 80 refugees rescued becomes a thousand and a few guards become an army. This, of course, leads to some misunderstanding but then again, Archer could use some good vibes with the insane missions he and his crew find themselves in.
Finally, while the relationship between Tucker and Archer has been discussed and touched on in several episodes, this is the first time we really get a chance to see them in a serious survival situation together. At some point in their past they faced some serious situations including participating in survival training in the Australian Outback. Their biggest moment came when Archer saved Trip Tucker on Titan when the Engineer’s EV suit froze up. Since that moment Tucker has been a dedicated friend and follower of Archer, one that would give up his very life to save him. During their survival situation in this story, we also see just how dedicated Archer is to his own people, never willing to give up on them no matter the situation. While this series might just be getting on it’s feet there is no doubt that Archer is one of Starfleet’s finest Captains, one that could have easily gone toe to toe with Kirk or any of the others in every way.
Overall, Desert Crossing is a great episode that touches on Survival, friendship and the early implications of the Prime Directive. It’s a solid story and one that is only made better with the inclusion of Clancy freakin Brown.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- Sadly, we never see Zobral or his people again.
- This is Enterprises second attempt to get to Risa, will they make it?
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: Two Days and Two Nights
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Late To The Game 6/16/2021
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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