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Tag Archives: Brannon Braga

Just When You Thought Voyager Couldn’t Sink Any Lower

Just when you thought Voyager couldn’t sink any lower after wonders like Tuvix, Scorpion and Random Thoughts, Voyager manages to take on…Rape victims and defend some of the most helpless members of our society Rapists (and arms dealers)

Rape is a horrible crime and a issue of significant societal concern and Star Trek explores such issues and comes up with answers.  Here for instance Voyager has discovered what we need to do to deal with rape, get rid of the rape counselors. Those bad people are always accusing innocent arms dealers of rape and then forcing them to overload their weapons generators.

You see on their own rape victims would be quite happy to go on living life normally but those bad rape counselors stir them all up, make them feel (gasp !) angry about being raped. Or at least this is what Retrospect is saying about the issue.

Of course there is an issue of false recovered memories which has to do with false memories of childhood sexual abuse implanted by unscrupulous therapists. Voyager takes this and transfers it to a standard analogy for a rape case and uses it to discredit rape victims.

As part of its moral mission to promote murder, genocide and might is right, Voyager now lends its hand to help discredit the most vulnerable victims of all who are already blamed for the crime, and actually writes an episode where the victim is guilty of the crime.

If the motto of Fair Trade was Say No to Drugs, the motto of Retrospect is Say No to Rape Victims Rights. You have to wonder if this was a deliberate publicity on Voyager’s part meant to get some groups to boycott Voyager. Unfortunately for Voyager’s deranged and morally challenged producers, no one actually watches Voyager.

But on the bright side, Voyager should now gain more of a prison audience for more reasons than one. After all every show can parade a woman in a catsuit around, not every show can show that woman being raped and proceed to take the side of the rapist.

Congratulations Rapists, child molesters and sex offenders of every kind, though all the world may hate you and despise you…you still have friends in Jeri Taylor, Brannon Braga and Kenneth Biller and as long as Voyager is on the air there will be a voice promoting your point of view.

Enterprise Vox Sola and the Doom at the End of the Galaxy

These are the adventures of the Starship Enterprise (no, not that one. The
other one before it you never heard of. The sensual one), its continuing
mission to sensually blunder around not particularly strange or interesting
worlds, to antagonize sensual new life and new civilizations and to
sensually go where three decades of Star Trek and just about every other
science fiction show on the planet have gone before.

Teaser – Angry aliens are sensually hurrying away from the Enterprise crew

Hoshi: Wait, why are you leaving us?

Alien #1: We can’t take it anymore.

Trip: What’s the matter?

Alien #1: This is the worst show I’ve ever been on! Your stories have star trek enterprise vox sola
no point, your characters are boring and, your plots are cliched and our
appearances completely throwaway with no lasting effects!

Hoshi: I can’t understand a single word they’re saying. It’s as if
they’re speaking entirely in some different language.

Alien #1: And that awful theme song, is this supposed to be the
Karate Kid or a 21st century Science Fiction series anyway? How can you
stand it?

Trip: Are you sure there’s nothing we could do to convince you to

Alien #1: Hire some freaking writers!

Archer: Some people are just never satisfied. Well let’s go wander
around the galaxy again and see what happens.

Act 1 – Giant CGI Plot Cliche sneaks sensually on board as two redshirts
stand under a conduit.

Redshirt #1: Oh no looks like the conduit is broken. Go inside that
haunted hous…I mean conduit and fix it.

Redshirt #2: Didn’t we do this exact same scene in First Contact?

Redshirt #1: Yes and next week we’ll do it again on CSI and Law and
Order. Just be glad these are speaking parts.

Giant Plot Cliche: Need Brains! Brains!

Two minutes later both redshirts have been swallowed by the Giant
CGI Plot Cliche

Redshirt #1: Is thus stuff what I think it is?

Act 2 – Meanwhile in Archer’s quarters. Archer is staring blankly at his
computer screen. Trip enters.

Archer: Oh My God! It’s full of stars!

Trip: Hey I know what’ll cheer you up, half-naked men playing with a

Archer: Ah, the good old days. No decisions. No aliens. Just some
water and a ball. Things were so simple back and then and sensual too.

Trip: So why did you get into space travel again?

Archer: Because those damned Vulcans screwed my father!

Trip: Oh right. Say there’s a Giant CGI Plot Cliche in the cargo
bay. Want to go and get swallowed by it?

Archer: Can’t be any worse than the Andorians, the Tandarans or any
of the other many, many aliens who’ve captured me before and will go on
capturing me week after week after week.

Act 3 – Cargo bay is coated with pale slime as the CGI Plot Cliche covers
the two redshirts.

Archer: Hmm that slime looks potentially dangerous. Let’s go wander
right next to it and see what happens.

Trip: I’m with you. At least this time I’m not in my underwear.

Giant CGI Plot Cliche: Need Brains! Brains!

Five Minutes Later Archer and Trip are also swallowed up by the
Giant CGI Plot Cliche.

Archer: My God, how could this have happened and who could have seen
it coming?

Trip: We did take every possible precaution, none. I’m as baffled
as you are.

Giant CGI Plot Cliche: Where are the Brains I was promised?

Act 4 – The rest of the crew stand around watching the Giant CGI Plot Cliche
on the monitors.

Dr. Phlox: I’ve determined that this creature has formed neural
links to its victims and is transforming them into one giant entity.

Mayweather: Oh My God! It’s draining Captain Archer of all his
personality! We have to do something before it’s too late.

Giant CGI Plot Cliche: So Hungry! All Crust and No Filling! Need

In the Cargo Bay, Archer, Trip and Redshirt #2 are delirious.

Archer: So one time in water polo I had this ball and…

Trip: Would you shut up about your water polo already!

Archer: But it was the highlight of my career and it taught me
everything I needed to know about commanding a Starship. Get captured early
and often, wander around with no purpose or direction and treat everything
as either self-righteous cause or a joke.

Trip: That explains a lot.

Redshirt #1: Whee I have more lines!

Giant CGI Plot Cliche: Oh My, this was a big mistake. I had the
chanche to crawl onto a Vulcan ship, but no I had to go for the flashy
nacelles. So Hungry! Need Brains!

Back on the Command Bridge

T’Pol: I have determined what course of action we shall pursue. Reed,
first throw together a hastily conceived rescue attempt that will only serve
to antagonize the creature. Afterwards you can trump all of human science by
developing the force field on your own in a few hours. Then Hoshi, you and I
will work together on an improbable method of communicating with the
creature during which we will clash and then bond and learn to work together
and in the process of which put our cultural differences aside to work as a

Dr. Phlox: No need for any of that, the creature is growing thinner.
It appears to be starving to death.

Mayweather: Why in the world would that be?

Dr. Phlox: Well you see the creature feeds off neural energy and when
it can’t get enough neural energy from brain activity it begins starving to

Hoshi: So you’re saying that because the Captain’s brain is
incompatible with the creature’s biological makeup, the creature is starving
to death.

Dr. Phlox: No, I meant that the creature’s food supply is practically
non-existant in its chosen victim. But you can believe whatever makes you
feel better.

Mayweather: Oh by the way I located the aliens who infected us so they
can give us the coordinates to take the poor creature home.

Reed: Ahem, shouldn’t we consider perhaps killing it?

Hoshi: No it’s just a poor misunderstood alien brainsucking leech!

Alien #1: Before we give you the coordinates, we demand an apology.

Mayweather: An apology for what?

Alien #1: For this episode, for starters.

Montgomery: Very well, on behalf of Viacom, Paramount, UPN, Rick
Berman, Brannon Braga and all the cast and crew, I sincerely apologize for
this episode!

Alien #1: Now apologize for Fusion! Apologize! We demand an apology!

Montgomery: Never!

Act 5 – The creature is put in a box and released out on a planet’s surface
where it immediately attaches itself to an earthworm.

Giant CGI Plot Cliche: Ah finally, Brains! BRAINS! I can feel the
Sweet nectar of intelligence running through me. Finally I can put this
nightmare behind me.

Act 0 – A man with heavy eyebrows steps out from behind the camera against a
background of stars. The stars are dim and clearly most of the galaxy is
dead or dying.

Rod Serling: Flash forwards FIVE BILLION YEARS. Earth’s star is a
faint glowing red ball and the homeworld of man is a wasteland on which no
living being has walked upon in a long time. The Federation is long
forgotten. Starfleet’s starships are dust and the human race has joined the
dinosaurs in that great theme park we call extinction. Not a single of
Rembrandt’s paintings or Michelangelo’s sculptures or Rod Stewart’s songs
have survived. Every accomplishment of man from the iron knife to the
transporter is vanished. All except for ONE.

Camera pans down to show the same planet covered now with Giant CGI
Plot Cliche creatures. From space the planet appears as a series of
geometrically perfect dots filled with water.

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #1: Hello Captain Archer.

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #2: Hello to you too, Captain Archer.

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #1: Do you wish to play water polo, Captain

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #2: Of course Captain Archer. Say do you know
where Water Polo comes from?

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #1: I never thought about it Captain Archer,
let’s go ask Captain Archer. He’ll know.

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #3: Hello, Captain Archer and Captain Archer.
What can I do for you?

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #2: We were just wondering where Water Polo
comes from?

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #3: Ah yes, the age old question. Many
theologists speculate that at one time our distant ancestor came into
contact with a being known only as CAPTAIN ARCHER. It absorbed this Captain
Archer’s mind but could not divest itself of this identity because by
ingesting Archer, it had also ingested Archer’s stupidity has deprived it of
the ability to think and so it became Captain Archer and all its asexually
budded children after it were also called Captain Archer and that is why
today we are all called Captain Archer.

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #1: This is certainly interesting but what does
it have to do with Water Polo?

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #3: Well there are further speculations that
this Captain Archer being was rather stupid and the only contents in its
mind referred to Water Polo and thus this was the only knowledge we possess.
Perhaps had this Captain Archer’s mind contained great works of literature
or technical information we might have built a great civilization that could
have taken us off this world so that some form of life might survive the
death of the milky way galaxy.

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #2: So instead we built our civilization around
Water Polo and turned our whole planet into a bunch of Water Polo pools and
we play Water Polo all day, thus dooming the last civilization in the galaxy
to extinction!

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #3: Exactly, this Captain Archer being formed
us too well in his own stupid image!

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #1: So Captain Archer, still want to go play
water polo!

Giant CGI Plot Cliche #2: Why not, we don’t know how to do anything
else. Do we?

Camera turns sharply to show Rod Serling standing to the side and
trying to smoke a hypospray, with Brannon Braga by his side

Rod Serling: There is an ancient Chinese saying, a civilization built
on water will endure, but one built on Water Polo will not survive. Thus
ends the last civilization in the galaxy and along with it dies the last
work of man and also the very thing that killed it. Water Polo.

Ironic isn’t it?

Brannon Braga: Ironic perhaps, but sensual…most definitely. So, so
very sensual! I think I’m going to play some…Water Polo too.

Braga runs off chasing the Giant CGI Plot Cliche creatures who run
away from him shrieking in terror.

Rod Serling: And now I think I’m going to be sick…in the Twilight

Star Trek Enterprise episode review – Zero Hour

Synopsis: Archer tackles the weapon, T’Pol tackles the Spheres and Enterprise tackles a rewrite of Planet of the Apes

Review: Zero Hour most obviously refers to the countdown to the Weapon’s attack on Earth. Of course it’s also a sly reference to the final twist of the episode which plunges an already teetering storyline into sheer lunacy.

star trek enterprise zero hour For the most part Zero Hour’s strongest scenes are those that rest on the tension leading up to the actual attack on the Weapon. Archer exploiting Hoshi to carry out his mission pushes his character further into the wolfish ruthlessly desperate mode he’s been in all season. Dr. Phlox facing death also makes for a touching if somewhat overly sentimental scene.

After that the episode begins its steep decline into cliche and then incoherence. First we have T’Pol and Trip’s attack on the Sphere which leads to some really bad skin for the crew. Undoubtedly TPTB thought that the idea of having everyone on the ship turn into a walking commercial for skin care products would be dramatic but instead if just makes what should have been a tense situation look silly as you wonder if Lubiderm isn’t paying Enterprise for product placement.

And indeed the entire Sphere attack storyline is mostly pointless. Enterprise’s Xindi arc would have been stronger if this attack had been accomplished episodes ago leaving Archer in command of Enterprise to pursue the weapon. It would have been appropriate and fitting as a conclusion to an arc that had Enterprise leaving earth to pursue the Weapon and returning home battered but unbowed to destroy it. Instead the audience’s attention is split between Archer’s pursuit of the weapon which is the compelling story and the sphere attack which isn’t.

Unlike the Weapon, the Spheres aren’t going anywhere so it’s not clear why T’Pol is so desperate to destroy them even at the risk of destroying Enterprise and killing the crew. Yes the anomalies will expand but all life in the Expanse, let alone Vulcan, as T’Pol seems to suggest is a long way from being threatened. The addition of the Sphere Builder’s attack is cliched and looks silly all the more so in the rose colored haze. Additionally the Sphere seems to call up Braga and Berman’s worst instincts giving us tons of technobabble solutions from Phlox’s magic anomaly resisting formula whose effectiveness he can apparently calculate to the second to the deflector pulse to the weapons frequencies. Watching T’Pol do her best Janeway impression as she nearly killed the crew to do something utterly pointless; really brought nostalgic tears for Voyager to my eyes.

The plot then only becomes more awkward as once the Weapon is destroyed the focus shifts away earth and to Enterprise sitting and waiting for Archer in the Expanse. And so we get an absurd scene in which Degra’s ship heads to the Expanse to meet up with Enterprise to tell Enterprise Archer is dead at which point they all head back over to Earth. Instead of the Acquatics simply delivering Enterprise to earth directly to meet Degra’s ship. Sometimes I complain about time being trimmed from Enterprise’s episodes and then I look at a complete inability to grasp the use of time on the part of the Enterprise producers and wonder why I even bother?

The attack on the Weapon itself is a bit too strongly suggestive of Insurrection or for that matter Generations, First Contact and Nemesis; all star trek enterprise zero hourof which involved fights between our heroes and the villains over a launch sequence or a set of controls. But what Rick Berman lacks in originality, Allan Kroeker does his best to make up for in some decent action sequences. The effectiveness of the various fights range between clumsy to suspenseful and Archer’s final coup de grace to Commander Dolim is not original but quite effective. The bloodstains on the wall and on Archer’s face are particularly effective touches.

Shran’s appearance might be a bit dubious plotwise but he is a great character and Coombs is a great actor so that the only regret is that putting his name in the opening credits killed any surprise at his appearance. Coombs of course rules every second of his screentime and his lines make for some of the coolest moments in the episode. It also is a good reference point to the revelation of a future Federation in which Andorians and humans work side by side.

All of this would have made for a decent enough episode. Not the greatest Star Trek episode of all time or anything near it but adequate enough. There is a clear decline between the writing quality of Countdown and Zero Hour. Brannon Braga and Rick Berman’s writing is simply not up to the task and once again we see heaps of Voyager style technobabble thrown in and the kind of amateurish plot awkwardness that characterized Voyager episodes. But Braga is unfortunately not satisfied with that.

As the second season finale set up the third season, the third season finale is apparently meant to set up the fourth. Of course the situation becomes all the more desperate since Enterprise’s ratings are doing quite poorly and the series has become increasingly unwanted by UPN which instead favors top quality programming like ‘America’s Top Bulimic.’ This makes it crucial for the Enterprise season finale to have a hook that will pull viewers back in. And so we get Braga’s Planet of the Apes style ending to the episode.

Of course the problem with the ending is that it’s silly. Not only does it seriously resemble Voyager episodes like Future’s End and The Killing Game spliced together but it completely defuses the conclusion of the entire season’s arc and its payoff in favor of a gimmicky conclusion that the audience is likely to treat the same way it did the similar ending of the remake of Planet of the Apes.

Storytelling requires continuity. It requires an understanding of the emotional journey and the parts of the narrative that make a story whole. Zero Hour is yet another demonstration that Rick Berman and Brannon Braga understand nothing of the kind. Zero Hour’s ending screams of unoriginality and desperation. Not to mention contempt for the same viewers who sat through a season of the Xindi arc expecting more of a payoff than Archer waking up in the Twilight Zone.

Star Trek Enterprise episode review – North Star

Synopsis: Proof positive that you don’t need a holodeck to do a holodeck episode.

Review: There’s no denying that “North Star” looks great. David Straiton‘s direction is amazing with a desaturated look, tilted camera star trek enterprise north star angles and affectations that STAR TREK episodes usually don’t go for, it all culminating in the spectacular final shootout. But like some of the holodeck episodes on TNG or VOYAGER, with scenarios mimicking noir detective stories or black and white pulp sci-fi TV adventures, the producers have loosened their grip and allowed the director some creative freedom. And it paid off. Unfortunately it’s also the only thing that worked.

STAR TREK has done westerns before but they worked by either employing broad comedy as a takeoff on the cliches of the West as in TNG’s “A Fistful of Data”‘s or as social relevance employed to test human progress in TOS’s “Specter of the Gun” (it’s notable by the way that both of these were holodeck episodes, though “Specter” actually took place in the holodeck of the mind.) “North Star,” though, seems to want to take both routes at the same time and manages to do neither, which is what often happens when you try to combine incompatible objectives. “North Star” would have been better off going straight for the comic angle we see early as a tribute to the genre and then writing the whole thing off as an imaginary event or a fantasy or some such thing. Or, if the producers wanted social relevance, the material needed to be updated to the 22nd century as with ENT’s own “Marauders” or at the very least they should have done something more than unimaginatively pile every single western cliche in the book on top of one another and borrow a premise from one of VOY’s worst episodes, “The 37’s,” to justify it all and expect people to care about the moral issues involved.

When movies were first being made and the film industry was in a similar state to Internet companies in the late 90’s, westerns were shoveled out the door at a frenzied rate. Today the western is all but dead on film, on television, and even at the bookstore because you can’t simply keep reusing the same cliches over and over again without even the most apathetic and mind-numbed viewer getting sick of the whole thing. But that’s exactly what “North Star” does and unlike “A Fistful of Data”‘s (written by Brannon Braga by the way), it expects that by replacing Native Americans with aliens who actually look more similar to the humans than movie “Indians” ever did, the audience will forgive the banality. Of course it doesn’t work anymore than STAR TREK: INSURRECTION did when it tried the same exact thing, replacing Native Americans with more Caucasians and almost-indistinguishable-from-humans alien characters. Even without the western setting, the whole ‘persecuted minority’ plot is threadbare and a faded retread of far better STAR TREK episodes.

Good westerns reexamine history and the place of the characters in it. Western comedies play off all the old cliches for comic effect. Bad star trek enterprise north star westerns pile on the tripe into a formulaic framework that was old long ago. “North Star” is a bad western beginning with its premise. Apparently humans are such good workers that lots of alien races are willing to travel all across the galaxy just to ship off a bunch of humans to do slave labor for them. Inevitably, like zombies in a mad scientist’s laboratory, the humans rebel and overthrow the aliens making you wonder why the aliens didn’t just save themselves the bother and build androids or return to the negotiating table with the representatives of their striking alien unions.

The premise then becomes even more absurd since apparently for centuries, despite overthrowing an alien race with transporters and phasers, they haven’t made an ounce of progress in all that time. Not technological progress and not even any kind of social progress. But the west couldn’t exist as an isolated phenomenon. It was a consequence of social and political and technological trends occurring elsewhere in the United States. Even “The 37’s” assumed that the descendants of the human slaves would reach technological parity with their captors but “North Star” asks us to believe that the result would be a static society duplicating the west in every feature. None of this would be a problem if the whole scenario wasn’t real or if it was all being played for laughs but by introducing the Scags and playing out emotional scenes that ask us to care about what’s happening here, the episode requires that we believe in what’s happening with more conviction than bad poker bluff. And once the episode asks the audience for emotional investment, it has to deliver a credible plot and premise, which “North Star” fails to do.

There’s no question that at times the episode is fun to watch, particularly the final shootout, which is directed and edited with all the bravado star trek enterprise north star and gusto of a spaghetti western. But it doesn’t work as a purely fun episode because instead of being played for laughs, we instead get burdened with the tedious and preachy ‘Scag’ storyline that Bakula and Bergl take as seriously in their performances as if every word of dialogue and every plot twist wasn’t as old as D.W. Griffith. It certainly doesn’t work as a socially-relevant episode because the entire premise is absurd.

So that leaves “North Star” as a flashy and good-looking episode without the substance it pretends to have. It’s too serious to be funny and too funny to be serious.

Next week: Can Trip come back from the dead just like Spock and Jesus did?

Star Trek Enterprise episode review – Precious Cargo

Summary: Trip stumbles on a scheme to kidnap an alien monarch-to-be and escapes with her into the overgrown depths of an overused plot.

In doing my reviews I often try to list past precedents for episodes but “Precious Cargo”‘s plot is so old and has been used so many times, as recently as Madonna’s latest flop, that there’s simply no point in such an overview. Indeed the entire uptight rich girl meets working class guy where they end up isolated on a tropical island and struggling to survive before acting on their attraction to each other is such a hoary cliche that it ought to have spider webs around it and moss growing on its underside. In fanfic, plot devices that rely on two characters getting together under such circumstances are strictly bottom of the barrel and writing guidelines warn against them. Apparently the same writing guidelines though don’t apply to Enterprise executive producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga who came up with this story.

Not that any of this is sufficient grounds for criticizing the episode. Just because a plot has been done a hundred thousand times before doesn’t mean that something interesting can’t be done with it on the one hundred thousandth and first try. Great Enterprise episodes like “Shuttlepod One” and “Dead Stop,” for example, relied on formulas that are just as overused and predate Western civilization. The real question is whether this time around something interesting is being done with the plot, whether there’s a twist ending or at least some growth for the characters or a sense that the preceding hour has not been a waste of time.

“Precious Cargo,” though, doesn’t bother with any of that but unspools the same plot at its most cliched. First, two aliens arrive on board Enterprise in Westmore’s patented evil alien makeup. As if that wasn’t subtle enough, they twitch, leer and lie insincerely. They do everything but carry signs reading ‘We’re evil.’ For anyone expecting twists and turns that might challenge our expectations or create any ripples in the viewing experience, there are none. It’s all just one long forty-minute flat line. From the moment we see the woman inside the stasis pod, the rest of the episode is as predictable as it gets. With the right co-star, Connor Trineer’s usual routine might at least have been a little entertaining but Padma Lakshmi’s line delivery is hopelessly flat and artificial and between the two of them there is about as much chemistry as there was between Paris and Torres.

What few good moments “Precious Cargo” has surprisingly come from a story involving Archer and T’Pol trying to coerce information out of

star trek enterprise Precious Cargo

I give it two weeks

one of the kidnappers. Not only is it is a nice routine reminiscent of a Kirk and Spock moment, but it’s only the part of the episode that has any life to it. David Livingston does his best with this episode from a stylish opening that has Trip playing the harmonica while the alien ship arrives to the scenes in the cramped escape pod. But the flaws in the episode are not his fault and probably not even the fault of David Goodman who produced the actual teleplay. After all, there’s a limited amount of originality that anyone can bring to a story like this. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga need to trust the writers they’ve hired enough to come up with their own stories, otherwise the entire process of bringing in new blood will have been a waste of time if the new writers are kept on to write the same stories that were being turned out ten and fifteen years ago. Seeing Berman and Braga’s name on so many episodes leads us to the conclusion that either Enterprise’s writers can’t come up with suitable episode ideas at story meetings or that they’re not being allowed to.

It’s hard to say whether “Precious Cargo” is the result of UPN programming chief Dawn Ostroff’s threat to make Enterprise ‘sexier’ but if so it can be considered a dismal failure in that department. It also flops as a comedy because Lakshmi doesn’t have the timing or the line delivery to keep pace with Trineer and aside from the cliched situational friction, there’s not much that’s funny here besides Archer and T’Pol’s interrogation scene. As action and suspense it never gets off the ground. The aliens have a Warp 2 ship and they’re basically slightly brighter versions of Pakleds and never manage to present any real threat or challenge. The result is a hybrid episode that fails in all three departments. While “Cargo” is never actually as awful as “Vox Sola” or “A Night in Sickbay,” it’s simply mediocre at a time when Enterprise needs most to attract a regular audience and can’t afford to suffer from more lazy writing and recycled plots. Enterprise might be able to afford to do such episodes in its sixth or seventh season, but not in its second when it still has a chance of maintaining and extending its audience.

Next week: Aliens try to take over Enterprise. Again.

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