The Great Star Trek Enterprise Rewatch: Observer Effect

Enterprise has a problem. Trip and Hoshi have been infected with an alien pathogen, and Phlox has only hours to find a cure before it becomes deadly. But what the crew doesn’t know is that two aliens are inhabiting Malcolm and Travis in order to see how the humans react to this difficult situation.

In itself, Observer Effect is a reasonable episode. It takes some solid Star Trek elements – mysterious and deadly illness, non-corporeal observer aliens – and weaves together a rather TOS-like story. But then it has to go and ruin it somewhat by inserting an unnecessary franchise nod in the hopes of keeping our attention.

There is absolutely no need for the aliens in this episode to be the Organians. From TOS onwards, the galaxy has been swarming with superior, non-corporeal life – what different would one more species make? If anything, it would make more sense for the observers to be the Metrons from Arena. Of course, regardless of which aliens it turned out to be, it was also an excuse for a lazy “magic powers fix everything” ending. Surely we deserve better than that?

Franchise Nods

  • The Organians are of course the same aliens who enforce peace between the Federation and the Klingons in the 23rd century, as seen in Errand of Mercy.
  • The Organians mention that they have observed the Cardassians.

Notes and Observations

  • According to Hoshi, “maths is just another language”. Whilst true in a general sense, most people study either maths or languages, and don’t have the brilliance or mental capacity to be a savant at both.
  • Hoshi explains that her skill with languages is more about spotting heuristics than memorising specific vocabularies.
  • Hoshi was apparently kicked out of Starfleet Academy after breaking a superior’s arm when he tried to shut down a poker game. This feels very random and out of character for her.
  • It’s amazing that a completely alien silicon-based infection could have any effect at all on the human body – or that it is able to jump between species and be deadly to them all.

Summary – Observer Effect: A reasonable episode, at least until the magic reset button.

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