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Star Trek: Enterprise – Observer Effect (Review)

This May, we’re taking a look at the fourth (and final) season of Star Trek: Enterprise. Check back daily for the latest review.

Much as with Daedalus, there is a weirdly mournful tone to Observer Effect.

The basic plot of the episode follows two Organian characters hopping from body to body while watching Archer and his crew confront a deadly virus that infected Trip and Hoshi during a routine planetary investigation. The closing line of the teaser even features organian!Reed promising “somebody always dies.” Sure enough, that turns out to be true. Both Trip and Hoshi “die” over the course of the episode, while Archer himself is sentenced to certain death. These deaths are ultimately reversed, but they set a tone for the episode.

Trip gets it in the neck.

Trip gets it in the neck.

Observer Effect seems to be a tacit acknowledgement that Star Trek: Enterprise is effectively dead in the water, that the show is now limping towards the end of the fourth season where it might be retired permanently. Two weeks after Observer Effect aired, UPN would announce that Enterprise was cancelled. There would be no last-minute reprieve for the show. Although Observer Effect had been written months before the decision was made, the production team knew that the writing was on the wall.

However, what is most interesting about Observer Effect is not so much the fascination with the inevitable death of Enterprise, but the episode’s fascination with those watching (and commentating upon) the spectacle from the sidelines.

They like to watch.

They like to watch.

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