When a deadly radioactive storm threatens Enterprise, the entire crew must take refuge for eight days in a small maintenance shaft. As they weather the storm, the crew discovers that alien intruders are trying to steal Enterprise - and may turn the crew's save haven into a death trap in the process. In order to stop the aliens and save the ship, Archer and his officers must battle against time ... and the deadly storm.
As Captain Archer prepares to lead a survey team to an uninhabited planet, Enterprise is suddenly hailed by a trio of aliens seeking refuge. The aliens warn Archer that a deadly neutronic wavefront is quickly approaching. After conferring with the crew, Archer surmises that everyone must take shelter somewhere protected in order to survive the storm's deadly radiation. Trip suggests one heavily-shielded place onboard that might suffice for the eight-day ordeal: the cramped quarters of the catwalk, the maintenance shaft that runs the length of each nacelle. Only one problem: the temperature in the catwalk can reach 300 degrees when the warp coils are online, so Trip will have to shut down the main reactor and set up a makeshift bridge in one of the catwalk compartments.
The crew and their alien visitors evacuate to the catwalk, and as the days wear on, tensions run high among them. The storm envelops the ship, making for frequent, sudden bouts of turbulence. Also, the alien trio doesn't do much to endear themselves to the Enterprise crew, and even endangers the crew by trying to cook their food near a plasma manifold. To make matters worse, Trip and Archer discover a problem in Engineering - the matter and antimatter injectors have come online, endangering the crew's safe haven in the catwalk. Trip cannot shut the injectors down from the catwalk, however - outfitted in an EV suit, he must make the trek to Engineering. The suit will only protect him for 22 minutes, so he has to work fast.
Once Trip reaches Engineering, he notices something even more peculiar - alien intruders, who appear to be interfering with the ship's systems. Trip manages to hide from them, and attempts to ascertain what they're doing aboard Enterprise. As he peers out a window, he notices an alien ship docked alongside Enterprise. He also manages to activate a monitor and witnesses the aliens on the bridge - oddly enough, they're the same species as the trio of aliens taking refuge in the catwalk. Trip returns to the catwalk and relays his findings. Phlox runs a scan on the alien visitors, deducing that the aliens are actually immune to the effects of radiation. Angered, Archer demands to know what's going on. The trio confesses that the aliens Trip saw are actually looking for them - they're considered fugitives. They explain to Archer that they were officers in the Takret Militia, but they escaped when they learned that the commanding officers were corrupt. The trio apologizes for lying to Archer, and tells him that these alien intruders have a history of seizing vessels like Enterprise and murdering the crews.
Reed reports that the alien intruders are trying to re-initialize the warp reactor, putting the crew in danger. Realizing that he must act quickly, Archer formulates a plan. He, T'Pol and Reed suit up and head down to the main area of the ship. While T'Pol and Reed work to shut down the warp reactor, Archer distracts the alien leader, claiming to be the only survivor onboard Enterprise. He demands they leave, or he'll destroy the ship. He then breaks contact, and orders Mayweather to change course, heading straight for a destructive plasma eddy. As T'Pol and Reed finally succeed in shutting the reactor down, the alien leader realizes that Archer is serious, having set Enterprise on a suicide course towards the plasma eddy. He and his men flee the ship, and Mayweather manages to steer clear of the eddy just in time.
Soon after, Mayweather maneuvers Enterprise out of the storm, and the crew is able to return to their quarters. The alien visitors, meanwhile, apologize for all the trouble they've caused, and head for the Gyrannan System. Relieved that the whole ordeal is over, Archer wishes them luck and bids them farewell.
Star Trek has done any number of episodes involving aliens trying to take over the ship. In part that's because it's a fairly economical way to do an action episode without having to leave the Enterprise. ENTERPRISE has done its share of such episodes and will undoubtedly do plenty more of them before its run is through and "Catwalk" is one of these. This time out the episode wisely focuses on the logistics of evacuating the crew into the nacelles and the dynamics of their interaction, rather...
So, here I am, returning after nearly seven weeks of reviewing hiatus to run my critical eye over "The Catwalk," which itself aired some six weeks ago. One might wonder why I waited so long to review this episode. There really isn't any particular reason; it just worked out this way in the big procrastination machine that is (my) life. With so long to think about this episode, one might expect I'd have something major worth waiting all this time to unload.
After the last few episodes - "Singularity", "Vanishing Point", and the illness-inducing "Precious Cargo", "The Catwalk" came as a great relief. There's no shortage of things I could point to and pick at, and in some cases I will... but for the most part, "The Catwalk" stuck with fairly bare-bones aims and achieved them fairly well.
For starters, while the premise involved a bit of the usual technobabble hand-waving - in this case, a "neutronic wavefront" bearing down on the ship - it was...
A neat spin on a bottle episode, 'Catwalk' creeps slowly in places and doesn't offer much in the way of dramatic tension - it offers up too many secrets in the previews and plays its hand early during the story - yet nice character moments keep it entertaining. Archer compares the tight quarters to a camping trip ('Row, row, row your boat...' The Final Frontier is on UPN this weekend!). And at times it does have that feel, though it also feels a bit like Run Silent, Run Deep and Deep Space...