It’s been a long road, folks. As is our practice when wrapping up a series, we’re going to write up our thoughts on the episodes of Enterprise we didn’t review that are noteworthy — both for being great and terrible.
As Enterprise was a shorter series than other second-generation Trek — and as we reviewed a lot of episodes in the third and fourth seasons — the following will be shorter than our previous wrap ups.
Episodes you should also watch (listed chronologically)
“Shuttlepod One” — Trip and Reed are marooned and could possibly die on a busted shuttle in deep space. It wasn’t a new concept, but Connor Trinnear and Dominic Keating brought their A games and channeled Bashir/O’Brien from DS9.
“Cogenitor” — The crew learns the tragic consequences of imposing human values on alien cultures. Great work by Scott Bakula and Trinnear.
“Regeneration” — Some Borg frozen in the ice on Earth since “Star Trek: First Contact” get unfrozen and start wreaking havoc. It leaves a glaring plot hole — how did this all happen without Picard and Co. knowing about it in “Q Who?” — but it’s basically worth it. One of the early examples of how Enterprise worked as a prequel series.
“Twilight” — One of the highlights of season three’s Xindi arc that was wiped away by a time travel reset. Still, a great “what-if” scenario that showed the consequences of Enterprise failing in its mission to save Earth. Arguably the best-acted episode of the series and right up there among Enterprise’s best overall.
“Similtude” — Trip is mortally wounded and Phlox creates a clone to harvest some tissue to save him. The clone will only live a few days and Archer must explain why he was created and why he’ll have to die, as Trip is too important to lose as Enterprise tries to stop the Xindi. It’s one of Enterprise’s stronger gray-area episodes.
Episodes you should avoid (ranked from bad to absolute worst)
5. “Unexpected” — An alien gets Trip pregnant. Next.
4. “Acquisition” — The crew must fight off a takeover by some unnamed aliens (the Ferengi). It’s stupid and trivial and uses the Ferengi (per usual) poorly. A bad misfire early in the series as far as callbacks go, especially when you consider the guest-star thunder. It’s sort of the reverse image of “Regeneration”.
3. “Extinction” — Right when things were picking up with the Xindi arc, this stinker gets thrown in. Archer and others go to a planet where they start turning into other creatures. It’s just extremely hard to watch. Apparently, LeVar Burton was embarrassed by his role as director. The only redeeming quality is that the effects on Archer and Co. aren’t immediately forgotten.
2. “Precious Cargo” — Honestly, I watched it once and hated it so much that I haven’t watched it again. Something about Trip and a beautiful woman. Blah.
1. “A Night in Sickbay” — Simply awful. Right up there among Trek’s least watchable episodes. Archer is painted as a huffy moron and the aliens he must appease have rituals that are extremely stupid and far-fetched. And since when did Porthos (Archer’s dog) go on away missions?
Some final thoughts on Enterprise
One of the more fascinating things about this series is the idea that it was conceived and half the first season was shot before 9/11, even though it didn’t premier until late September 2001. In other words, was Enterprise a victim of bad timing?
I’d say there’s certainly something to that, given the success of grittier shows in the aughts (which Enterprise chose to emulate starting in the third season). But more significantly, I think the creators latched onto the cutesy stuff about humans being in deep space for the first time — e.g., Mayweather and Trip floating upside down in “Broken Bow” — instead of looking for new ways to tell stories. Too much of the first two seasons could have been on Voyager or even TNG, aside from a detail or two. It’s noteworthy that most of the best episodes in seasons one and two — “Shuttlepod One”, “Dear Doctor” and “Shockwave, Part I” — were episodes that either could only have been done on Enterprise or successfully incorporated the concept of a nascent Starfleet into the writing.
By the time the creators shook things up in season three, I think a lot of viewers had moved on. That season — which I prefer to the good season four — also took a while to get going, so if anyone had gone back to Enterprise in fall 2003, they might not have stuck around.
It’s a shame, because a lot of what Enterprise tried to do in seasons three and four was good and ambitious. But poor timing and some bad execution — at a time when being a Star Trek series was no longer enough to ensure ratings simply because it was a Star Trek series — doomed the show.
Coming later this week …
A look back on our favorite episodes across the franchise and then, the end.
… or is it?