A Klingon is running through a cornfield. He’s pursued by some weird aliens with apparent shape-shifting abilities. After the the Klingon kills the aliens, a human farmer shoots him with some sort of gun. Turns out this all happened more than 200 years since last we saw Trek (when Voyager was last seen being illogical and goofy) and more than a century before Kirk was knocking boots with hot alien females. There’s no Federation yet, but Starfleet is close to launching its first deep-space mission on the starship Enterprise (NX-01), captained by Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula). Archer is called to a meeting where Starfleet brass and their Vulcan advisers are discussing the the injured Klingon. Archer uses the opportunity to return the Klingon, Klaang (Tommy Lister) to his homeworld to launch Enterprise ahead of schedule, despite the Vulcans’ objections. In exchange for some Vulcan star charts, Archer takes on Vulcan T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) as his science officer. En route, the ship is boarded by more of the weird aliens (the Suliban, we learn) and Klaang is captured. Unwilling to give up, Archer takes some information passed on from Klaang (pre-capture) and heads to Rigel X. There, he learns that the Suliban, Klaang and others are part of a “temporal cold war,” and that the Suliban are trying to destabilize the Klingon Empire. Eventually, using information from Rigel, the Enterprise finds where the Suliban are keeping Klaang, rescue him and — after a short battle — take him to Kronos. With its first mission accomplished, Starfleet tells Archer that the Enterprise should keep going and begin its historic mission.
Why it’s important
Well, as this is humanity’s first step toward what we would see in the previous series and movies, it’s a huge, huge part of the Tapestry. It largely explains how humanity got from its first use of warp technology and encounter with the Vulcans in “Star Trek: First Contact” to its first step toward a new frontier (to quote another Trek captain).
It’s interesting, too, that we see humanity’s first dealings with Klingons (which will have huge, huge consequences) and the introduction of the Suliban, the main bad guy for this series over its first two seasons (notably Silik and his weird shadowy overseer, too). Plus, we see the strained relationship between humans and Vulcans, which is one of the major underpinnings of this series.
What doesn’t hold up
Enterprise did a nice job of trying to appear less technologically advanced than TOS while not forcing viewers to look at 1960s-era sets and effects. That said, there were obvious items where the creators were too lax — notably that Kirk and Spock were so puzzled by cloaking technology in “Balance of Terror” when Archer and Co. see it here and throughout the series.
Beyond that, it’s a little surprising just how close Kronos apparently is to Earth. Archer says it’s a four-day journey at maximum warp, which, at this point in time, is warp 5. So, in other words, a Klingon ship traveling at high warp could get to Earth in LESS than four days, possibly much less? Somehow, that seems off.
And, of course, there’s the big-picture question as to why we’ve never heard of this Enterprise before, or Archer, or the Suliban, etc. I sort of hate head cannon, but I always thought the easiest explanation was that some time travel in previous Trek (the events of “Star Trek: First Contact”, perhaps?) changed what would have been the history as it stood in TOS and after — and a similar method was used in J.J. Abrams reboot. Of course, the real answer is a lot easier: The idea for the prequel wasn’t around before 2000-01, so writing a mention of Archer et. al into any Trek filmed BEFORE then was impossible.
This is a pretty solid pilot with some nice nods toward continuity (despite the conceit mentioned above). It’s interesting to see humans who are less refined and not the galactic leaders that they would be in other series.
It’s worth noting that Enterprise, as a prequel could be arguably the most Tapestry-worthy series of them all. With respect to not reviewing every episode or every other episode, we’ll be extremely strict about our criteria and review episodes in bunches where appropriate (especially in the more serialized seasons three and four).
Coming next week …
Archer can’t get “My Blue Heaven” out of his head.