One of the benefits of Star Trek, take you pick of any franchise, when you deal with a bad episode (“Precious Cargo”), you get a good episode. Well, at least, a fun one. Or, as some haters would say, a “decent” one. “The Catwalk” is essentially two different story ideas wrapped into one. Almost as if there wasn’t enough of a story for either idea, so switch it up by the third act.
The unevenness of the second season make “The Catwalk” more welcome. Primarily if “Precious Cargo” gave you a lot of eye rolls. It isn’t on the level of “Vanishing Point”, but it does create a bit of adventure. One of the major issues with the story is that the crew of the Enterprise must take refuge in the catwalk between the warp nacelles. This is to shield them from a storm that will kill everyone. They are warned about it by a band of aliens that claim to “seek refugee” from the storm, as well.
If you’ve watched Star Trek (again, any franchise) enough, you know all is not what it seems. However, those refugees are nearly forgotten through the next two acts of the episode. They are only brought up again when Archer discovers that they have been boarded. By aliens that aren’t affected by the storm. Also, they are looking for those refugees.
The episode would’ve been better if they had been two separate stories. The biggest reason is that the threat of the boarding party doesn’t build up enough to make them an actual threat. Had we focused on the crew dealing with the confine space would’ve been a nice bottle episode. Maybe a weakness in the ship could’ve endangered the crew.
Secondly, just dealt with the alien refugees like any other episode. Ask to seek asylum, then have the searchers get aggressive with Archer for their return. Yes, that is something we see a lot of. But, when you think about it, there are only an infinite amount of original episodes to be told. Star Trek: Enterprise isn’t above rehashing some stories from other incarnations.
Shownotes for “The Catwalk”:
Missing Production #665
“The Catwalk” – (Memory Alpha)
There are a few moment during the first half that were good moments to expand on. That nuanced moment between Archer and T’Pol when they occupied the same area. He decided to watch his water polo match, which annoys T’Pol. Then you have T’Pol annoying Archer while attempting to work while he tries to sleep. Plus, we meet Chef. Somewhat. It reminded me of an old Naked Gun joke of the guy we never saw his head. However, Adam points out that it was Riker all along.
The other bit is dealing with the crew in a confine space. No privacy. Close quarters. However, the claustrophobia bit seemed a bit much. I mean, they are on a starship that is already confided. The fact that Reed is losing his shit a bit about showers. Hoshi trying to deal with the small quarter. Then you add a small factor to bring everyone together. An invasion seemed like a bit of overkill.
In the end, “The Catwalk” is more entertaining that last week’s episode. However, it lacks a bit of the depth than “Vanishing Point”. Yet, we can see Enterprise is attempting to stretch its legs and tell some more character developing stories, rather than tropes. Also, that add-on of T’Pol being invited to movie night seemed so attached as an afterthought. It would’ve been nice to see her try during their downtime. I guess we can’t have everything.