The Star Trek Continues crew has come out with their sixth episode, Come Not Between the Dragons. STC as a production continues to battle it out with New Voyages for setting the bar on production quality, and this episode is no different in that respect. It’s a more intimate episode, with the action effectively only on board the Enterprise, which expresses the level of confidence that the writers are putting in their cast to carry the episodes rather than on extended SFX or away missions.
The episode opens with the Enterprise finding out that the USS Lexington has been scuttled, leaving the Federation with a mere handful of starships remaining. A few beats later and an apparent meteorite traveling at near light speed has impacted and breached the hull. As damage reports begin to come in, it becomes clear that the ship has been boarded, and Ensign Elize Taylor (player by Farscape’s Gigi Edgely) encounters the alien intruder in her quarters. As the crew struggles to communicate with the apparently-stone creature (think of a smaller by chunky version of Gorignak from Galaxy quest, with an amazing creature design & costume by) the creature begins to influence the emotions of the ship’s crew. Spock is the most impacted, going into a full rage, with the rest of the crew becoming violent and suspicious of everyone around them. From there the story unfolds as they try to deal with the invader before they kill each other.
Fans of the various original series will recall how it took a while for the show to find it’s groove, and solidly in the groove is where the cast and crew of STC currently resides. The episode is polished, well made, and has progressively more of the genuine feeling of a late 1st season/2nd season TOS episode. The acting is more balanced all around, and great guest stars like Gigi helps to up everyone’s game. The various name characters seem to be evolving into more of the various actor’s own takes on their characters rather than the more straightforward impersonations of the first episodes. It’s that comfortable in their own character’s skins evolution which continue to make the episodes feel more genuine (as it was with their prior episode 5: Divided We Stand).
Early on it was mentioned that the series is very much a group of fan’s homage to their love of the original series. Now it’s less of that homage, and more of making it their own and adding onto that original show’s legacy. A special commendation for this episode must go to Greg Dykstra (no relation to John Dykstra) and Distortions Unlimited for the making of the alien creatures in this episode. It’s easily the most original (and best) alien design of any of the independent Trek projects that have yet come along, and would have easily fit into the original TOS or TNG. Plus, I love any time that Trek has an alien that’s not just a facial prosthetic.
Watch an interview with Greg on the making of the monster below.
If there’s any particular weakness to this latest episode, it’s more in some of the writing and construction. The initial scene with the discussion of the Lexington, and the Federation only having 8 ships remaining would rather be a big deal, is never touched on again. The way it’s introduced into the episode, the viewer is always wondering if the aliens are somehow tied into it’s destruction, but it’s just left hanging after that first scene – and why one would scuttle a ship being hit by a plasma jet while studying an accretion disk? If it’s not being hit by enemies, and not already destroyed – rescue the crew and tow the ship to dock. The episode’s moral message also is a bit more contrived than one might have expected from STC’s writers (that the alien would be able to directly relate to Eliza’s childhood experiences and translate them to it’s own situation was the roughest part of the episode).
Yea, the “aliens control/affect the crew causing them to act atypically,” is an oft-used Trek trope, however this is very much TOS-Trek, so that as a storyline is not out of character. There’s a desire to see modern writing applied to STC episodes, but then that would probably change the tone and flavor too much off of what they’re trying to achieve. The episode isn’t the greatest, it’s not the most riveting, but it’s good. It’s solid. It feels like you’re watching one of those 2nd season episodes – not I, Mudd, A Piece of the Action, or Trouble with Tribbles – but rather more like By Any Other Name, or the Deadly Years; at the end of it you’ll find that you’ve enjoyed it, and are looking forward to where they go next.