Part one: The Enterprise apparently destroys an entire mining colony — killing thousands of people — in an accident involving a shuttlepod. The crew is horrified, and then is recalled to Earth where the Vulcans are using the incident to convince Starfleet to delay the ship’s mission for 10 or 20 years. A guilt-stricken Archer initially accepts the decision, but then our buddy Daniels (who didn’t actually die in “Cold Front”) shows up and tells him someone in the temporal cold war faked the whole thing. He gives Archer a way to get evidence of the scheme, which was perpetrated by Silik (from “Broken Bow” and “Cold Front”). Archer’s plan is successful and he brings proof of the con back to the ship, but the Enterprise is then pursued and trapped by Silik’s forces. Archer agrees to surrender himself and then, finds himself 900 years in the future on a post-apocalyptic Earth with Daniels. Silik’s forces then capture the Enterprise.
Part two: Archer and Daniels visit a library on a wrecked Earth and learn that Archer’s disappearance from the timeline disrupted things, apparently causing Earth to basically be destroyed and something called the “Federation” to never exist. The two work to find a way to communicate back in time (hmmm) with the limited resources they have while Silik — who has lost contact with his unnamed boss from the future — interrogates T’Pol for Archer’s location. Eventually, Archer gets a message to T’Pol and puts in motion a plan wherein the crew lets Silik find a piece of equipment that Silik uses to try to establish contact with his boss, who’s gone missing (apparently, the result of Archer’s disappearance). Somehow, the equipment along with Silik’s allows Archer to get back to the 22nd century and reset the timeline. Still armed with evidence of what happened at the mining colony, Archer — with help from T’Pol — convinces Starfleet to continue the mission, despite the Vulcans’ objections.
Why it’s important
Given what happens in this show’s fourth season, it’s difficult to know whether what happened with Daniels, Silik, et. al was wiped away. But, some of what we learned in the temporal cold war episodes is key for Enterprises’s place in the Trek mythos.
Here, we learn that Archer was a key figure in the establishment of the Federation, and that his disappearance would be disastrous for the fate of humanity and (apparently) other societies, as well. Also, the developing friendship between Archer and T’Pol is important as the series progresses, as it’s unlikely Archer would have been successful in preventing the second Xindi attack on Earth without her (among other things).
And, of course, Archer and T’Pol come together here to allow Enterprise to continue its mission.
What doesn’t hold up
Part one is a very solid episode, among Enterprise’s best. Part two is a very mixed bag, mostly because the creators painted themselves into a corner. It’s just too hard to swallow that Archer and Daniels, with no more technology than Archer’s communicator, could make contact with T’Pol 900 years earlier and a great physical distance away. And, hell, they’re pretty lucky that when they contacted her, it wasn’t during her interrogation by Silik. Speaking of which, it’s remarkable that Silik would do exactly what Archer and Daniels would have predicted with the piece of equipment from Daniels’ quarters.
Frankly, I’m not sure why Silik would have left any of the Enterprise crew — other than maybe T’Pol and Trip for the purposes of information — alive or, at least, conscious. Without Reed, Phlox, Sato and Mayweather, it’s unlikely that the big plan would have worked. And it’s hard to swallow that Trip could so successfully fake a reactor breach and then quickly correct it. The Suliban don’t come across as particularly capable in part two.
Essentially, the only way to let Archer and Co. emerge victorious was to produce a hard-to-swallow scheme.
As stated above, this episode is important for the continued development of the rapport between Archer and T’Pol. By the end of the second season, T’Pol is willing to give up her career to try to help Archer save humanity — something that would have been hard to imagine when the series began. To the show’s credit, the relationship between the two of them grew over time, with some notable milestones. It was one of the strengths of the series.
Coming next week …
As our old buddy Worf would say (with trademark disdain): Romulans.