Category Archives: Federation

“Star Trek Beyond”

Glad to see my "no more running in the hallways" general order is being followed.
Glad to see my “no more running in the hallways” general order is being followed.

It’s three years or so since we’ve seen the reboot crew. The Enterprise is in the middle of its 5-year mission, and Kirk feels somewhat lost, almost “episodic.” The young captain has quietly applied to be an admiral with a desk job and Spock is applying to be an ambassador to help his beleaguered people. The ship puts in at the new and quite impressive Starbase Yorktown, and is then called away to an uncharted planet obscured by a nebula. Once there, the ship is savagely attacked by a swarm of ships that first destroys the ship’s nacelles (!) and then, cuts the saucer from the star drive (!!). The saucer eventually crashes on the planet with most of the surviving crew captured — leaving only Kirk and Chekov (in one group), McCoy and Spock (in another) and Scotty free. The perpetrator is Krall (Idris Elba) a nasty-looking dude who seems to have strong opinions about the Federation’s ideals and expansion. Scotty meets Jaylah, (Sofia Boutella) a youngish woman in hiding on the planet after escaping from Krall’s forces. She takes Scotty to an old Federation ship, the U.S.S. Franklin, thought lost more than a century earlier, that’s apparently abandoned on the planet. Eventually, Kirk and Chekov and later McCoy and Spock meet up with Scotty, and the group uses the Franklin’s transporters and Kirk on a motorcycle (because, of course) to rescue the crew. Turns out Krall attacked the Enterprise to steal an artifact the ship was carrying — Krall was tapping into Starfleet’s computers for a while — that can unleash a nasty weapon native to the planet. Krall escapes during the rescue attempt and his swarm heads for Yorktown. The Enterprise crew is able to get the derelict Franklin to work (hmmm) and disrupts the swarm’s signal with a radio signal — playing “Sabotage” in a nice callback to the 2009 reboot — but Krall is able to get into Yorktown. Around this time, Kirk figures out that Krall is actually the former captain of the Franklin, Balthazar Edison, marooned on the planet and embittered by his lack of rescue. He apparently discovered some ancient secrets there to prolonging his life and then, set upon his plan. He gets into Yorktown’s air system, where Kirk eventually stops him — releasing him into space before he releases the ancient weapon. With Yorktown saved, the crew celebrates — and Kirk and Spock decide to stick around for construction of their new ship … the Enterprise-A.

We get it, it's a comment about the rise of drone warfare in the 21st century.
We get it, it’s a comment about the rise of drone warfare in the 21st century.

Why it’s important

Well, first and foremost, the Enterprise crew prevents a really nasty villain with an even nastier weapon from killing millions at Yorktown and then from (probably) going onto attack the rest of the Federation. It also indicates the growth of the Federation, by the fact that Krall is so enraged by its activities. Beyond that, one Enterprise is destroyed and another is being built, and Kirk and Spock decide to stick together — even though neither of them knew the other had plans to break up the band.

We also get a little more knowledge about the Federation’s early days. Apparently, more ships were launched after Archer’s Enterprise, and former MACOs (who featured prominently in Enterprise’s last two seasons) became part of Starfleet, with Edison rising to become a ship’s captain. It’s interesting that in dialog with Kirk, Edison mentions the Romulans and the Xindi — who had not been referenced in the other two reboot films or (of course) the Trek produced prior to the early 2000s. It was a good nod at continuity, that humanity’s apparent peace-making with the Xindi and (maybe?) the Romulans actually irked Balthazar and led, in part, to his becoming Krall.

And, of course, the film covers the death of Prime Spock to coincide with the 2015 death of Leonard Nimoy.

Explosions, jumping, motorcyles... and it's still a good Trek film?!
Explosions, jumping, motorcyles … and it’s still a good Trek film?!

What doesn’t hold up

Having seen the film just once (obviously, in the theater) it’s possible that we’ll miss something. The film’s biggest conceit is probably that the 100-year-old Franklin would be so easily repaired and space worthy to get Kirk and Co. to Yorktown in time. I guess you could argue that Jaylah and (briefly) Scotty had been repairing it, but that’s still a stretch. Also, just how close was the nebula that contained the planet to Yorktown? It must have been somewhat far away never to have been explored — but it appears that the Franklin gets there on impulse.

The business around the artifact is problematic, too. Keep in mind that it was the gift Kirk tried to give to the weird gremlin aliens at the beginning of the film. What if he had succeeded? Did Krall begin his plan only after he knew it failed and that the artifact was being stored in the Enterprise’s vault? Was he just lucky that the Enterprise was putting in at a nearby starbase? It seems like Krall’s efforts would have taken some time-consuming planning.

They seriously couldn't find a planet to build all this on?
They seriously couldn’t find a planet to build all this on?

Final thoughts

I really, really liked this movie. It might not stand up to subsequent viewings, but it seems like the TOS crew’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” or the TNG crew’s “Star Trek: First Contact”.

“Beyond” abandons a lot of the bad action-movie cliches from the previous two films (notably lens flares and unnecessary running through corridors — though the ridiculous number of costume changes continued). But I think I was most impressed by the way the film showed character’s growth and even their aging. “Into Darkness” portrayed the crew as still young and inexperienced, which worked in the first reboot but felt stale in the second. In “Beyond”, by starting the film with soul-searching by Kirk — an interesting choice, given Kirk in TOS didn’t soul-search unless his career was threatened — we see the an emotional undercurrent that ties the film together. Kirk in the reboots is more self-reflective at a younger age than prime Kirk was.

It also was nice to see the creators give everyone something to do this time around. “Into Darkness” largely ignored several characters, notably McCoy. Here, we see the trope of breaking characters into sub-groups to see how they’ll interact (Spock and McCoy, Kirk and Chekov, etc.). And while that is a trope, it works.

Last thought: I was sort of hoping that Edison, in his final scene with Kirk, would regain his humanity and help save Yorktown — rather than using a piece of glass to stab Kirk. That said, it wasn’t a horrible choice, and going the other way could have been overly schmaltzy.

We’ll see how “Beyond” ages upon subsequent viewings. But at this point, the creators should be given props for putting a really good movie that has the requisite action while also staying true to the spirit of TOS.


Coming … later?

“Star Trek: Discovery” is slated to debut in 2017. We might be back — but we haven’t really decided. Until then, thanks for reading — and peace and long life.

“Star Trek Into Darkness”

I want Harrison found. Even if we have to build some sort of half-man, half-robot cop to bring him in... dead or alive. We'll call it a Coporobot or a Robocop...
“I want Harrison found. Even if we have to build some sort of half-man, half-robot cop to bring him in … dead or alive. We’ll call it a Coporobot …”

Kirk’s being all Kirk and violating the Prime Directive (some things are constant, despite reboots). Starfleet gets pissed and demotes him to commander and gives the Enterprise back to Pike. At about the same time, a Starfleet installation in London is bombed, thanks to a shady-looking character who seems well-suited to solving 19th-century mysteries (Benedict Cumberbatch). Turns out the bombing was a ploy (or something) to get all of Starfleet’s top dogs in one place so the shady-looking character (identified as Commander John Harrison) can attack the meeting room. Pike and others are killed, Kirk eventually thwarts the attack but Harrison escapes. Harrison apparently used Scotty’s transwarp beaming technique (seen in the previous movie) to get to the Klingon homeworld. Kirk convinces Starfleet Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) to give him back the Enterprise to pursue Harrison, and Marcus gives Kirk some super-duper torpedoes to attack Harrison’s position on Kronos. Spock objects to the out-and-out assassination, and Kirk eventually decides to try to apprehend Harrison instead. After a short battle with some Klingons, in which Harrison kicks some major ass, he learns about the number of torpedoes the Enterprise is carrying and surrenders.

Soylent Torpedos... are people!!!
Soylent torpedoes … are people!!!

Turns out, Harrison is actually Khan Noonien Singh (shocking no one) and, after Marcus discovered him (presumably on his sleeper ship) he helped Marcus design the torpedoes and stashed his 72 genetically engineered buddies inside them. Meanwhile, the Enterprise is having engine problems and is unable to leave Klingon space. Marcus shows up in what amounts to a Starfleet warship — apparently, developed in secret by Marcus with Khan’s help — and demands Kirk turn over Khan. Kirk, realizing that Marcus is operating without authorization, refuses and sets course for Earth to put Khan on trial. Marcus attacks, pulling the Enterprise out of warp, and Kirk and Khan board Marcus’ ship (with stowaway Scotty’s help) to prevent further attacks.

Chekov told me that if you put a Tribble on the wall in the first act it must bring the captain back to life by the third act.
“Chekov told me that if you put a Tribble on the wall in the first act it must bring the captain back to life by the third act.”

They stop Marcus (Khan kills him) but Khan takes control of Marcus’ ship, demanding that Spock turn over the torpedoes. He does so, but arms them — after removing Khan’s people — and Marcus’ ship crash lands on Earth. Meanwhile, Kirk sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise from burning up in Earth’s atmosphere. An enraged Spock (hmmm) pursues Khan and eventually stops him with Uhura’s help — and McCoy uses a blood transfusion from Khan to save Kirk (hmmm, again). Khan is put into stasis with the rest of his people and Kirk and Co. embark on a 5-year mission … to explore strange new worlds.

Why it’s important

Well, Kirk and Co. stave off a Starfleet takeover by Marcus (one that stems from his paranoia following the destruction of Vulcan) and stop Khan from doing … whatever he would have done had he freed his genetically engineered posse. Of course, Kirk goes from goat to hero again — echoing a theme from the previous movie — and his heroism eventually leads to the Enterprise being sent on the first of Starfleet’s 5-year missions.

Tonight's movie... Godfather Part III
“Tonight’s movie … ‘Godfather Part III’.”

What doesn’t hold up

Get comfortable.

In our review of the previous film, we noted that its biggest flaws stemmed from bad logic and action-movie cliches. Still, the 2009 movie was a good one, in our eyes.

The opposite is true for this movie. The action-movie cliches and bad logic overwhelm the good.

The first quarter of the movie is mostly OK. The fact that a “cold fusion device” freezes a volcano in the movie’s opening scene is kinda dumb, but whatever. The stuff with Kirk and Pike — further establishing their relationship in one of the highlights of the reboot — was good. Chris Pine and Bruce Greenwood bring their A games (though Kirk is cavalier even for Kirk considering he falsified reports). The problems start around the time Kirk gets the Enterprise back to hunt for Harrison/Khan.

The first issue, and probably the film’s worst, is how the Enterprise is hanging in Klingon space for the better part of a day without any sort of response. True, the Klingons attack Kirk’s party on the planet, but the fact that the Enterprise (and, then, Marcus’ ship) are there and we see nothing from the Klingons is just, well, laughable. For all the talk of hostilities with the Klingons gearing up, this is just a ridiculous oversight. Even if the Enterprise and Marcus’ ship hid effectively — there’s no dialogue indicating that they took special measures — wouldn’t the fact that humans clearly attacked the Klingon homeworld get the Klingons to declare war?

“It’s going to take a few seconds to get the coordinates from Mr. Sulu. Going to warp isn’t like dusting crops, boy …”

There’s also the matter of how warp is different in the rebooted films. Throughout prime Star Trek, warp was something that allowed ships to move fast, but not cross vast distances in mere moments. This was sort of an issue in the previous movie, but it really seems off here, when getting from Kronos to Earth seemingly takes minutes. Of all the creative choices in the reboots, this is my least favorite. It makes Trek more like Star Wars, and it’s not a choice that strengthens the films.

There’s also the issue of Khan’s people being in the torpedoes Marcus gives Kirk to use on Khan. Simply put, this doesn’t make any sense — unless Marcus was unaware, and it seems like he knew. Why not provide the Enterprise with the heavy-duty torpedoes without Khan’s people inside them? Without their presence, Khan likely wouldn’t have (temporarily) helped Kirk and foiled Marcus’ plan.

The script writer failed the Bechdel test 3 times before he reprogrammed the simulators to get this character into her underwear... sigh.
The script writer failed the Bechdel test three times before he reprogrammed the simulators to get this character into her underwear … sigh.

There’s also the matter of Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) a Starfleet officer (breaking from the previous timeline) and the admiral’s daughter who boards the Enterprise to (I guess?) stop the use of the torpedoes before they leave Earth. But, how would she even know about them — or about what her father was doing at that particular time? And how easy is it for just anyone (even an extremely attractive anyone) to get onto Starfleet’s most advanced ship without orders? Frankly, Carol Marcus’ presence seems needless and an excuse to have a hot blond in Kirk’s orbit who is also a callback to the original movies. The underwear scene, really, was completely unnecessary.

There are also some weird lines of dialog between Kirk and McCoy about Kirk apparently having health problems. This happens right after Pike’s death, so it at first seems that McCoy is checking out how his friend is dealing with the tragedy. But McCoy says that Kirk’s “vitals are all over the place” right after they board the Enterprise. Was something cut from the film? Was that foreshadowing for the next movie?

Also, the whole matter with Spock beaming to Earth to stop Khan makes very little sense. Even putting aside Spock’s over-the-top emotions, why wouldn’t he bring a security squad along? The day is saved when Uhura beams down and helps bring Khan in … but why didn’t Spock take more people to begin with?

There’s also the ridiculous lack of security allowing Scotty to infiltrate Marcus’ ship. Even if we figure Scotty is an engineering genius, there’s just no way that a secure installation (in the Terran System) would not notice his shuttle. Hell, how did Scotty get a shuttle in the first place?

Oh, and where the hell is the rest of Starfleet as Marcus’ ship attacks the Enterprise? This is an ongoing problem in Star Trek (as we’ve discussed) but it really stands out here. Even if you figure that Marcus has fooled or is controlling Starfleet, two massive ships attacking each other couldn’t go unnoticed. Granted, this isn’t just a problem with the rebooted movies, but it’s still a problem that could have been solved if the battle occurred in a more remote location before the two ships raced to Earth.

Finally, the bit about Khan’s blood having magical healing powers was just dumb — and if the powers were the result of his genetic enhancements, why didn’t McCoy just take a transfusion from one of the 72 other genetically enhanced people on the Enterprise?

I could keep going, but you get the idea.

Well, one more thing. The first movie’s reboot takes care a lot of the inconsistencies. But Khan, who was in power about 250 years before Nero’s ship destroyed the Kelvin, was not a British dude. He was Indian and had a very different personality than what we see here. Of course, Carol Marcus has become British in the J.J. verse, too …

I haven't been, and never will be... your friend.
“I haven’t been, and never will be … your friend.”

Final thoughts

If you couldn’t tell, I didn’t care much for this movie. Looking past the logical/goofiness problems above the fan service is just too much. Spock yelling “Khaaaaan!” in a nod toward “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” is the best example, because a more subtle recreation of Spock’s death in that movie (with Kirk dying this time) could have been done well. Instead, it’s heavy-handed and dumb.

There are some overly obvious moments, too, like Kirk just happening to notice McCoy injecting Khan’s blood into a dead Tribble (as a way to set up what happens later).

And there are weird timing and editing issues. Kirk tells Chekov to “put on a red shirt” and take over for a relieved-of-duty Scotty — apparently there are no other engineers on board — and within a minute or two, Chekov is in engineering in a red shirt. There’s also an odd scene where Spock asks Kirk to accompany him to Kronos only to have Kirk TELL Spock he wants him along a few minutes later.

Granted, there’s a LOT of plot in this movie, so some things needed to be cut. Of course with all the unnecessary running by main characters — seriously, can’t someone grab a communicator instead of sprinting to the bridge? — the pacing already felt rushed. And with scenes created almost specifically to be used in video games (Kirk and Khan’s spacesuit trip to Marcus’ ship, Spock’s pursuit of Khan on floating thingys on Earth) the action-movie nature of “Into Darkness” supersedes it’s good parts.

Coming next time …

That dude from “The Wire” shows up as Trek returns to theaters.

“These Are the Voyages…”

"So I checked the fleet database and under the 'Forever Ensign' list and it's got 3 names: Yours, mine and someone named 'Harry Kim'"
“So, I checked the fleet database and under the ‘Forever Ensign’ list and it’s got three names: Yours, mine and someone named ‘Harry Kim.'”

It’s suddenly six years later, Enterprise is returning to Earth for a big summit setting up an alliance of planets (didn’t that just happen?) and Archer’s going to give a speech (that definitely just happened). Then, Will Riker says “freeze program” and it turns out he’s in the holodeck on the Enterprise-D, and it’s REALLY 2370. Riker’s using a historical holodeck program (at the suggestion of Deanna Troi) of the NX-01’s final mission to figure out what to do in a dilemma shown in “The Pegasus”. He resumes the program and Shran shows up asking Archer for a favor. The mechanics of it aren’t that interesting, but Archer helps Shran out with some nasty bad guys, who later catch up with Enterprise. At gunpoint, Tucker essentially sacrifices himself to save Archer. Then, Riker (posing as Enterprise’s oft-mentioned Chef) talks to Tucker (presumably, earlier in the program) and gets a key insight about coming clean to Picard. Then, Riker and Troi watch as Archer is about to give his famous speech, and Riker calls for “end program.”

Why it’s important

For the second consecutive episode, I’m unclear as to what we see established as far as Earth’s alliance with other planets — but whatever it is, it’s important. Archer’s man-of-destiny role, which was such a big part of the series, comes to full fruition here.

"Say the word Admiral..."
“Say the word, Admiral…”

What doesn’t hold up

Well, I hope you all have a few minutes.

First of all, let’s talk about the connection to “The Pegasus”. In that episode, Riker’s former captain (now an admiral) comes on board and orders Riker to continue helping with illegal experiments to build a Federation cloaking device. Riker can’t tell Picard because his old captain has him under orders. Riker eventually comes clean after seeing dead bodies on the titular (and previously assumed lost) vessel AND when use of the cloaking device will save the Enterprise-D from the Romulans. So, yes, Riker does the right thing, belatedly.

But if you watch this episode, you’d think Riker came around because his experience on the NX-01 helped him pick right from wrong — or that he was struck by Tucker’s loyalty to Archer. But that’s just not what happened.

Also, it’s odd that during the Enterprise-D’s mission, Riker would have so much time to spend on the holodeck. In the original episode, Riker actually spends time with Worf in another holodeck program (we see the after effects when Riker has to go to sickbay with a broken rib). Was Riker making Data pull all his shifts, or something? It’s not as if the Pegasus mission lasted more than a few days.

There’s also the matter of the decision to advance things on the NX-01 by six years.

Put simply, it was TERRIBLE that the main characters didn’t seem to have changed at all, other than hairstyles and uniforms. Sato and Mayweather were both STILL ensigns, for crying out loud! And apparently Tucker and T’Pol never did get together, which really makes all the third and fourth season stuff seem not just trivial but pointless. Honestly, based on the character development we see here — other than what happened to Shran — nothing interesting would have occurred on Enterprise (character-wise) for SIX MORE YEARS. Maybe the series needed to be canceled if the creators were so lacking in ideas. You could argue that the creators didn’t have enough time to show any Enterprise character developments. Of course, if they hadn’t devoted half the episode to Riker and Troi …

Then, there’s the matter of Starfleet wanting to decommission Enterprise. Consider that, 100 years later, we see Starfleet vessels in service for decades (Kirk’s first Enterprise was around, with refits, for 40 years!). Why would Starfleet — which had TWO warp-5 capable ships when the credits rolled in “Terra Prime” — want to moth ball a ship that still has to be relatively advanced?

Oh, and of course, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis looked about 10 years older than they did in “The Pegasus” … because they were 10 years older. The Enterprise-D sets mostly look good, though the observation lounge was off.

Before we move on, Tucker’s sacrifice — while noble — sure seemed odd. He survives for a few minutes while the bad guys who were farther away from the explosion died instantly? Also, why didn’t we see Reed or any MACOs in the area after the bad guys board the ship?

Lastly, the question has to be asked where Riker’s program came from. Was it some interpretation of the NX-01’s final mission? It’s hard to believe it could be 100 percent accurate, given the personal conversations and details. Hmmmm …

We're waiting for a fan theory that the entire run of Enterprise was just a holo-fanfic in the Enterprise-D's database.
We’re waiting for a fan theory that the entire run of Enterprise was just a holo-fanfic in the Enterprise-D’s database.

Final thoughts

Now, we get to the question about what the creators were thinking, and if it worked.

Generally, the answer is “no.” This episode doesn’t really serve as a finale for Enterprise. It’s really a finale to second-generation Trek. That wasn’t an awful idea and it was billed as a “Valentine” to the fans. But it’s too bad that Enterprise got short-changed. It almost feels like the creators sort of figured that Enterprise was a failed series and threw in a TNG connection to try to make everyone happy. The best moment was probably the final montage of the three Enterprises — but that could have been done even if the previous 43 minutes had been different.

Was Enterprise a failed series, though? Certainly, it got canceled. But the third season was quite daring and the fourth — while filled with too much fan service — was an improvement over seasons one and two and quite entertaining at times. As I’ve noted before, I’ll take daring and flawed over boring and flawed. That’s why I stand firm that Enterprise is a superior show to Voyager.

Big picture, Enterprise did feel like a series that never quite clicked, but it came close while dealing with a shifting dramatic TV landscape and general Trek fatigue. I would have enjoyed watching more seasons, but ratings are ratings, I guess.

"This won't make any sense to you T'Pol. But Al said after I make this speech I'll leap!"
“This won’t make any sense to you, T’Pol. But Al said after I make this speech I’ll leap!”

Coming next week …

We’ll be back with a few wrap-up articles, but this will be our final review — at least, for a while.

“Demons”/ “Terra Prime”

I knew there was something fishy with that "official DNA collector" who  wanted a sample of my blood and my credit card number!!?!
“I knew there was something fishy with that ‘official DNA collector’ who wanted a sample of my blood and my credit card number!!!”

Demons: Enterprise has returned to Earth — for like the 10th time in the fourth season — for a summit with all the aliens Archer has buddied up with (Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites, etc.) to form an alliance. But a woman with mortal wounds enters as the conference begins and gives T’Pol a strand of hair — which turns out to be from a human/Vulcan child created with T’Pol and Tucker’s DNA. The child was created by Terra Prime, an isolationist group who wants limited contact with alien races, who plans to use the child as a symbol of the evils of inter-species breeding. T’Pol and Tucker try to find the child and are quickly captured (duh) by Terra Prime’s leader, John Frederick Paxton (Peter Weller), who is based on the moon. The episode ends as Paxton takes control of some devices used to divert comets on Mars and aims them at Starfleet Headquarters — and broadcasts his threat to wipe it out if all aliens don’t leave the system.

Terra Prime: With the summit in danger of collapsing, Archer leads a dangerous mission to get to Mars and stop Paxton. T’Pol and Tucker are still held captive and T’Pol learns the child is dying. Eventually, the good guys prevail, but the child (whom T’Pol names Elizabeth after Tucker’s sister who was killed in the Xindi attack) dies — apparently, a result of Vulcan/human incompatibility. Archer returns to the conference and gives a speech that results in rousing applause, with the idea that the alliance will still happen. The episode ends with T’Pol and Trip talking after learning that Paxton’s methods — and not genetic incompatibility — led to Elizabeth’s death.

"Sir, Robocop is on UPN." "On screen, Mr. Mayweather".
“Sir, ‘Robocop’ is on UPN.” “On screen, Mr. Mayweather.”

Why it’s important

It’s sort of hard to figure to what degree, but the groundwork laid here apparently leads to the Federation and the events in the next episode. So, even if the conference in this episode just paved the way, it’s extremely important.

Also, there’s a cool callback to Colonel Green, an historic bad dude mentioned way back in “The Savage Curtain”. Naturally, Paxton admires him.

What doesn’t hold up

Well, Paxton’s plan is really strange.

In addition to taking over the comet-deflecting thing, he genetically engineers the human/Vulcan hybrid to make a larger point about inter-species breeding. And, I guess, that could have been somewhat disturbing to some people.

But why bother making the kid a combination of Trip and T’Pol? It’s sort of alluded to that Paxton knows that the two of them had been intimate, but why not just make a hybrid child with any old Vulcan and human? There was just no advantage for Paxton if Trip and T’Pol are Elizabeth’s parents, and getting both of their DNA couldn’t have been easy.

Then, there’s the plan to find the child. First of all, sending T’Pol (a Vulcan) to a supposed hotbed of isolationist activity makes NO sense. But beyond that, Trip and T’Pol were global celebrities after the Xindi incident. That neither of them wore any sort of disguise was just ridiculous.

Ensigns bossing around other ensigns. Did Starfleet run out of Lt. Commanders?
Ensigns bossing around other ensigns. Did Starfleet run out of Lt. Commanders?

Final thoughts

There was a lot of subplotting that didn’t make it into our review, from the Mayweather/reporter love thing to the Terra Prime spy on Enterprise to Sato taking command of Enterprise while everyone else is on Mars to the Earth “minister” (Harry Groener) who previously had been in Terra Prime. The two-parter covers an awful lot of ground — and even despite the strangeness noted above, it works pretty well.

Some consider “Terra Prime” to be the “true” finale of Enterprise, as “These Are the Voyages …” was not well-received. More on that later this week.

Coming later this week …

Trek’s least favorite finale. And no, we’re not reviewing “Turnabout Intruder”.

“In a Mirror, Darkly”

I liked you better with the goatee.
“I liked you better with the goatee.”

Part one: We’re in the evil universe — the credits tell us so! — first seen in TOS and again in DS9. This time, though, there’s nobody from our universe who’s crossed over. Humanity still has an evil empire and it dominates the other Enterprise-era species. The ship’s captain is this universe’s version of Admiral Forest (Vaughn Armstrong), and Archer is first officer. Archer takes over the ship and sets course for Tholian space where a Starfleet vessel from about a century in the future has been found. The Tholians are tearing it apart, but Archer takes a team on board to save it. Turns out it’s the Defiant, a Constitution-class ship that disappeared in Tholian space in our regular universe in “The Tholian Web” on TOS. Archer is successful in saving the Defiant, but the Tholians destroy Enterprise (killing Forest) as part one ends.

Part two: Archer and Co. escape with the Defiant, but are stuck at impulse because a Gorn(!) slave master (employed by the Tholians and still on the ship) has stolen some equipment. Archer eventually tracks the parts down and heads to Terran territory to crush (crush!) a rebellion with 23rd century technology (technology!) led by Vulcans, Andorians and others and take hold of the empire. After putting down an insurgency led by T’Pol and goateed Soval on another Terran ship, Archer’s plan almost works. But Sato — his consort and Forest’s before — poisons and kills Archer and declares herself Empress Sato in orbit of Earth.

Ladies and gentlemen... Enterprise's only official red shirt!
Ladies and gentlemen… Enterprise’s only official red shirt!

Why it’s important

Well, this one was borderline for us. It’s another example of Fan Service Gone Wild — and the information about the mirror universe here doesn’t really play into what we see later. But we do see more here about some key races from TOS (the Tholians and the Gorn) and it ties into two episodes of TOS and “Star Trek: First Contact”.

And, hell, like Enterprise as a series was in early 2005, we’re nearing the end of our run — and we just wanted to review this one as there’s a lot to talk about.

Peak Fan Service™: Archer, in a Kirk wrap-around tunic, fighting a Gorn.
Peak Fan Service™: Archer, in a Kirk wrap-around tunic, fighting a Gorn.

What doesn’t hold up

The hardest thing to swallow is that humans apparently got their hands on 23rd-century technology in the 22nd century but only had 23rd-century technology in “Mirror, Mirror” … which occurred in the 23rd century. Apparently, the Terran Empire in Kirk’s time wasn’t just corrupt and on track to collapse. It was technologically stagnant — provided Kirk’s Enterprise wasn’t the Terran Empire equivalent of a garbage scow.

Also, T’Pol and Soval in part two are just WAY too emotional. There are also plenty of other small things — like the Enterprise firing while cloaked in part one or the ridiculous uniforms worn by Starfleet crew women. And the Gorn looks NOTHING like what we see in “Arena”. But my biggest problem is what the creators do with mirror-Archer in part two.

In part one, he’s a conniving guy who’s finally got his shot to make it big. In part two, he’s a whiny, off-the-hinge nut job! Scott Bakula’s performance “Great men are CONQUERERS!” was just way, way, way over the top.

On the shooting script it literally said "See script for Ridley Scott's Alien"
On the shooting script it literally said, “See script for Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien'”.

Final thoughts

Despite Bakula going too far with the scenery chewing — he really likes saying technology! —  there’s a lot of good stuff here. Giving Sato something to do (for once) was great, even if it was the evil version of her. And many of the evil versions were fun takes. I particularly liked the radiation-scarred Tucker.

There is an interesting line that I wanted to address. At one point, evil Archer and evil Sato, on board the Defiant, look at the bios of their good-universe selves. Interestingly, good-universe Archer is said to be the “greatest explorer of the 22nd century.” Frankly, this is pretty silly.

By this stage of Enterprise, Archer hasn’t distinguished himself as an explorer. Really, he was more of a statesman and a diplomat — or even a soldier. There are even meta lines about this in the third and fourth seasons that are clear indications the creators knew and understood this. Granted, Archer’s exploratory accomplishments could come after the series ends …

It also was very cool to see a Gorn and a Tholian (no one said the season of fan service didn’t have its charms). And the recreation of the Defiant, of course, was exceptionally well done. Archer wearing a Kirk-style wraparound — which William Shatner wore in the original series at times to disguise his weight fluctuations — was great.

I’ve heard some fans say this is Enterprise’s peak, and I’ll grant that the two-parter is a lot of fun (even if part two sort of goes off the hinge). But I’d say the end of the Xindi arc or the Vulcan three-parter were better. Enterprise, despite all its flaws, was a strong enough show where events that actually happened to our normal characters were more compelling than events that happened in alternative universes or reset timelines. Voyager, OTOH …

And if we’re talking about universes or reset timelines, I frankly like “Twilight” from Enterprise’s third season better. We’ll get to that in our series wrap up in a couple weeks.

Are you not amused?!
“I said ‘It’s green!’ Are you not amused?!”

Coming next week …

Our last two reviews of Enterprise. It’s been a long road …