Star Trek Short Treks: Ephraim and Dot

"Live long and prosper."

By nature I love brevity: A ton of fun, and I love the idea of Star Trek for all ages. Keep it up!

'Ephraim and Dot' is remarkably simple and tightly compact. The five minutes of runtime complete a basic story arc with character growth, aided by a few elements that serve to instantly ground the audience in the story without requiring any further explanation. Both characters have simple motivations: Ephraim to protect her eggs, and Dot to protect the ship from the intruder. And, like all great cartoon characters, they are both designed to be adorable and entertaining, yet well contrasted with each other. Ephraim is big, Dot is small. Ephraim is an organic creature, Dot is a robot. And Ephraim is the outsider to the story's world, if you will, while Dot is the insider. The contrast serves not only to make them very distinct from each other in the short time the episode has, but also to set them against each other even before the first point of conflict.

This is the first animated Star Trek since the short-lived and little-remembered Star Trek: The Animated Series. Animation has come a very long way since then, and this short is gorgeous. New director Michael Giacchino infuses every second with a dynamic energy that is sure to keep even the youngest audiences amused for its brief runtime. However, the idea of a cartoon Star Trek that is not only enjoyable for children but specifically designed for them is quite new to Trek canon, and Trekkies/Trekkers do not often respond well to 'new.' This is Trek as it has never been before, and because of it this short will probably be received poorly by fans. It's a shame, because this is a very well made cartoon.

The story is grounded in Trek themes and ideals. Dot begins the short following its programming to expel the intruder, and in the end defies that to do the right thing. There is a long tradition of robots in Star Trek defying their programming, making moral decisions, and even showing humanity, and it's nice to see this continue even as it's simplified for the younger audience.

This short plays with canon like a cat with a ball of string, untangling it and retangling it and throwing its different threads all over the place. From the out-of-order and fairly loose presentation of the TOS timeline to the deflector dish completely failing at its job to the incorrect labeling of the ship at the end as the NCC-1701-A, 'Ephraim and Dot' does not adhere strictly to what's been established already. But it also contains a sequence in which Ephraim is sucked into a pipe much smaller than she is, and the pipe bulges out as she travels through it. Why? Because it's a cartoon, presenting what's going on in a cartoon manner.

Besides, the opening and closing narration seems to suggest this is something made to entertain children in the Star Trek universe, whose history textbooks have taught them about the exploits of the Enterprise, so any mistakes therein can easily be written off as mistakes made by the in-universe creators. Like the tribbles commercial at the end of 'The Trouble with Edward,' this episode is not meant to be taken as a literal depiction of exactly what occurred. It is meant to be an entertaining cartoon romp for kids, set against the nostalgic backdrop of TOS. Maybe, just maybe - and hear me out on this, it should be interpreted as it was meant to be interpreted.

Pensees:

-You won't recognize it, but the voice narrating is that of Kirk Thatcher, who you'll remember as the punk on the bus that Spock nerve-pinches in Star Trek IV.

-I loved the decision to make the final danger the destruction of the Enterprise from Star Trek III. It gave it some weight and consequence even for the adults who have already guessed exactly what's going to happen.

-The use of the TOS battle theme was just hilarious. I guess you can expect good music from something directed by the great Michael Giacchino.

6 out of 6 adorable little baby tardigrades.

--
CoramDeo is a big fan, but not a real big fan - that's cruel.

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