Whilst tracking down a lead from the Xindi database, Archer leads a landing party down to a jungle planet. But things take an unexpected turn when a virus transforms Archer, Hoshi and Malcolm into primitive alien life forms.
Before we examine Extinction more closely, let’s take a moment to remember the other Star Trek episodes where characters were similarly transformed.
- In Identity Crisis, Geordi and some former colleagues are transformed into aliens, as a delayed effect of an away mission they had all gone on years previously.
- In Genesis, “Barclay’s Protomorphosis Syndrome” transformed everyone into random animals.
- In Threshold, Paris and Janeway “super evolve” into horny lizards.
- In Ashes to Ashes, Lyndsay Ballard is reanimated and transformed into an alien, as part of their procreation process.
As you can see, Extinction is hardly filling a gap in Star Trek storylines. Instead, it’s pushing into an already crowded niche, and not even managing to keep up with the pack. There’s the trope aspect, with T’Pol being largely unaffected because Vulcans, androids and holograms rarely succumb to space ailments. Then there’s the awful and pointless CGI of Archer’s internal organs mutating – why bother? And finally, we have to watch Scott Bakula and the rest doing Acting as they grunt, growl and crouch to show us that they really have become more primitive.
By the time we get to the end, and see Archer discovering that the amazing city he dreamt of has long since fallen into ruins, we care less about the fact that his dream has died, than about the impending conclusion of this laboured story. Dr Phlox finding a cure in about five minutes would normally be cause to call out lazy storytelling, but here we’re just happy for it to be over.
Point of Note
- This episode marks the first time the crew learns about the arboreal Xindi species.
Summary – Extinction: Episodes like this are the reason Enterprise itself went extinct.