When Hoshi starts feeling as if she’s being watched by a mysterious man, it takes a lot to convince Phlox, Archer and T’Pol that she isn’t just imagining things. In fact, Hoshi has been contacted by an exiled telepath who claims to have information that could help Enterprise. But in return for sharing that information, he wants to Hoshi to pay him a visit in person.
Let’s go ahead and put it out in the open straight away – Exile is basically a rip-off of Beauty and the Beast. Tarquin is the beast, an ungly, exiled alien who lives alone on an entire planet, desperately lonely and lacking even Disney’s enchanted household goods for company. He even has a special item that must be never be broken, just as Disney’s Beast had his magical rose.
Enter Hoshi, the smart and beautiful young woman who essentially has little choice but to go and stay with this man. We know from the start that Tarquin isn’t going to let her leave easily, but as with so many heroines before her, we have to watch her step into a situation that will not be easy to escape.
After I watched the episode, I tried to think of ways in which it could be less clichéd. For starters, the writers could have ditched the gender stereotypes – either flipping them or going with a same sex pairing. In many ways, Tarquin’s gender is irrelevant anyway – he just needs to be an incredibly lonely and isolated person.
But who other than Hoshi could step into the role of the Enterprise side of the pairing? Whilst this role does seem perfect for Hoshi, it’s almost too perfect, to the point of retreading tired ground. Oh look, Hoshi is paranoid about something and everyone thinks she’s imagining it, just like in Vanishing Point. She’s often quiet and reserved, so she must be secretly lonely. Guess what, Tarquin, lots of people can feel lonely when surrounded by people. It doesn’t mean they’re a tragic heroine who is unable to form deep relationships.
But Hoshi does have a sensitivity to her character that makes it plausible that you might want her as a companion. I can’t imagine Archer and T’Pol fitting this story at all, and whilst Trip might have been suitable last season, he’s now too grumpy and agitated for this type of storyline. Phlox would be so annoying that by the second day, Tarquin would be begging Enterprise to take him back, whilst Reed would either be perving over Playboy magazine or droning on about weapons.
What about Travis, then? At first, it seems implausible. How could the audience or Tarquin ever believe that Travis could ever be persuaded to stay in one place? After all, he’s spent his enture life exploring space, and his preferred hobbies are all extreme sports. He’d surely get bored with Tarquin’s mansion in about five minutes.
But on second thought, I think it could work. Tarquin could play on Travis’s grief at the loss of his father, and persuade him to stay. Life is fleeting and space is dangerous, but here it’s safe, and we can build something together. Travis could learn to enjoy gardening, farming, music, even building vehicles. The episode as written teaches us absolutely nothing new about Hoshi. But this alternate version could add some much needed depth to Travis.
I should also touch on the B-story, in which T’Pol’s analysis reveals that there is a second sphere in the Expanse, and that it may be the interactions between the spheres which cause the anomalies. This storyline feels far more Star Trek in nature than the main plot, and will also become increasingly important later on.
Points of Note
- Presumably all of Tarquin’s needs are catered for by a replicator that he has either learnt to fix, or which is rated to function for centuries.
- Does every exiled telepath from Tarquin’s race get a planet to themselves?
- Tarquin has had centuries to study the device that extends the range of his telepathy, and yet it seems he wouldn’t know how to fix or replace it. He can replicate pizza just using Hoshi’s memory, but he hasn’t learnt the inner workings of one his most important tools?
- Was Tarquin exiled as a child or an adult? I guess we don’t even know when his telepathic abilities manifested.
Summary – Exile: Tale as old as time…