"Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach" was very good.
SNW has been fine so far. It has been solidly hitting its Enterprise Season 1 marks, rehashing old Trek stories from "Fight or Flight" to "Starship Down" as it tries to find its own legs, in the great old Trek tradition of rehashing 'til you hash it. I recommend it to people who liked ENT S1 and otherwise figure we can wait and see.
But "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach" was really good. If I may be so bold: it was the first really good live-action Star Trek episode since "Terra Prime" (or at least since "Identity, Parts 1 and 2," if you swing that way).
True, "Suffering" was also a rehash, in a sense, because it was just Ursula K. LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas." But I think people may not immediately realize how hard it is to adapt "Omelas." It's like three pages long. It has no plot. The mystery, revelation, and horror are almost immediate. The underlying mechanics are totally unexplained. I've been trying off-and-on to adapt "Omelas" into a Star Trek episode since 2005 or something. It's extremely tough to figure out how to fill an hour with it, how to humanize the characters involved, how to make the payoff actually make some kind of sense. (SNW had a brilliant idea here that never occurred to me: they had it make only the tiniest bit of sense and left out all the details.)
This worked really well. Pike's involvement with the First Minister or whatever was pretty by-the-numbers (shades of "Civilization"), but made us sympathetic with her and her lovely little culture. The kidnapping plot and the unfolding layers of mystery drew us into their society slowly and in just the right order. The father character is not present in "Omelas" at all, and he adds a lot to this story. The unexpected tie-in with M'Benga's daughter was really rather inspired. They even allowed the First Minister Whatever to make an argument at the end. It was an incredibly bad and stupid argument, but it was probably the best argument she had, and the show let her make it without dismissing it out-of-hand (the way the other nuTrek live-action shows always seem to).
Pike, in particular, was great here. It's obvious how and why he was tempted, how and why he liked the girl and her society... but, in the end, he refuses to stand by. He does everything in his power short of declaring war and then, faced with a final temptation, recoils in justified horror and accepts that he would rather die than live like this. Pike's been fun all season long, but, here, he was a hero -- even though he couldn't save the kiddo.
Great episode, loved it, more like this please.
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