Enterprise continues its first-season meanderings and finds a stellar cluster with a ship filled with friendly aliens about to watch “the great plume of Agasoria,” an occurrence that happens in the nursery only once every several years. Archer makes friends with the aliens and invites them to tour the ship, but one is our Suliban buddy Silik from “Broken Bow” (John Fleck) in disguise. Strangely, he secretly saves the ship from exploding. Meanwhile, Archer’s steward Daniels (Matt Winston) tells Archer he’s actually a temporal agent from 900 years in the future, sent to apprehend Silik. He needs Archer’s help (hmmm) to find him. Archer agrees and loops T’Pol and Trip in, but Silik apparently kills Daniels in the process. Silik nearly makes off with a piece of equipment from Daniels’ quarters, before Archer stops him. But Silik escapes.
Why it’s important
Really, this episode is important because it introduces Daniels and what seems to be a Federation presence in the “temporal cold war,” mentioned in the pilot. Silik’s return is of secondary importance, as he really becomes Enterprise’s recurring villain.
What doesn’t hold up
I’m truly confused by this episode — and I fear that the only way to explain it is to use a really hokey and annoying trope that sort of encompasses the entire temporal cold war. I call it the “that darn time travel!” explanation. Here’s why …
Apparently, Daniels was on the ship to stop Silik … who was on the ship to steal Daniels’ piece of equipment. But that’s completely cyclical. One of the events would have had to happen first. Otherwise, the only way to explain this episode is to shrug and say that “time travel is complicated” or some sort of nonsense that basically took hold with Trek and time travel in early DS9 and Voyager. Ugh.
Beyond that, the abilities and knowledge of Daniels and others from the future just don’t make a ton of sense. Silik’s limits make more sense, as he’s not actually from the future and only gets certain pieces of information. But Daniels is another story. That he’d need the Enterprise’s sensors to help find Silik is odd, borderline goofy.
The temporal cold war clearly was one of the creators’ first attempts to create a sustained storyline. It and the dealings with the Suliban were key throughout much of the series, especially in seasons one and two. But, it didn’t really work, as it was basically too convoluted and/or illogical. Daniels and Silik were actually well acted, but they didn’t amount to much.
And, yes, the temporal cold war appears to connect to the third-season Xindi arc (Silik’s “future guy” overseer actually tells Archer that the Xindi are coming after humanity). But that wasn’t anything all that important. Archer could have learned what was happening in many other ways and the forces we learn are manipulating the Xindi don’t seem like they’re in the same sort of conflict as Daniels, Silik and the rest.
Archer decides to take the Enterprise to an ancient Vulcan monastery along the ship’s course. He, T’Pol and Trip beam down and discover that the monks are being held hostage by a group of Andorians, a species humans have not yet encountered that often quarrels with the Vulcans (and whom Trek fans first met WAY back in “Journey to Babel” and were referenced only a few times in second-generation Trek). Andorian Commander Shran (Jeffrey Combs) tells Archer that he believes the monastery is a front for a Vulcan spy station. Archer and Co. must deal with the condescending Vulcans and the aggressive Andorians, and eventually learn that the monastery IS a spy station. Archer (and a stunned T’Pol) let Shran take evidence of the station back to his government — setting a course for more interactions with Shran and his people and continued tension with the Vulcans.
Why it’s important
This episode sets the stage for one of Enterprise’s lasting legacies — that humans would become part of a larger galactic community, in fact, leaders of one. Archer’s relationship with Shran, which begins here, is hugely important through the rest of the series.
We also learn here that the Vulcans and Andorians don’t like each other very much, and that they’ve been squabbling for two centuries. This is an interesting choice, given that we know — because of TOS — that Vulcans and Andorians would go on to be allies. However, the dialog in “Journey to Babel” that the delegates aboard Kirk’s Enterprise aren’t BFFs sort of fits with what we see here and later in this series.
And, of course, there’s more of the Vulcan condescension toward humans, a staple of early Enterprise.
What doesn’t hold up
One of the biggest gripes about Enterprise (evident here) is that for the first couple years, the series was kind of aimless. After the pilot and basically until the (literally) Earth-shattering season-two finale, much of the series is just Archer finding something along the ship’s course, going to see it and running into bad guys or anomalies. That’s not completely objectionable. But it’s too bad that the ship’s original mission wasn’t more targeted — i.e. exploring a nearby region. I know that the idea is that Starfleet is an exploratory organization. But the exploration on Enterprise seems like a lot of meandering, especially when 22nd-century Earth would have had the ability to at least study space from a distance and to provide some direction to Archer. It’s interesting that the years in which the series is stronger (seasons three and four) include very little exploration but have clearly defined missions. More about that in later reviews.
There’s also some goofiness about how Archer and Trip comport themselves on the planet. In particular, Archer letting Shran and his thugs beat him up so he could test his theory that the monastery is more than it appears — a process I won’t describe here, as it’s not that important — was pretty silly. Archer getting captured was to Enterprise what shuttle crashes were to Voyager. And there were other ways Archer could have tested his theory.
Also, just where was the monastery? It must be pretty close to Vulcan, given that the Andorians are said to be the Vulcans’ neighbors and the monastery is close enough to Andoria for surveillance. And yet, the monastery is on the Enterprise’s course and there’s no mention of how the ship is close to Vulcan. Hmmm.
This isn’t a bad episode, but it sort of fits into the “blah” category of Enterprise showings (and there were a lot of them, especially early in the series). It’s obvious why after a couple seasons the creators really mixed things up later in the series’ run.
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.
The gang — most of it, anyway — is back on Earth, 26 years since we last saw them. Janeway (unbelievably) is an admiral, Kim (inexplicably) is a captain, the Doctor (finally) has a name, Torres (curiously) is a liaison to the Klingon Empire and Paris (believably) writes holonovels. But Chakotay and Seven — who end up (surprisingly) married — are dead and Tuvok (sadly) has lost his marbles, but could have been cured if he hadn’t been away from the Alpha Quadrant for so long. So, Janeway steals some Klingon and Federation technology and goes back to present-day (2377) Voyager to try to get the ship home faster and maybe save everybody (cough, Chakotay, Seven and Tuvok, cough) who died after year seven of Voyager’s journey. Present Janeway is skeptical, but caves when Future Janeway tells her about Chakotay, Seven and Tuvok (with a passing reference to other crew members who would die). Unfortunately, Future Janeway’s plan involves using a Borg transwarp hub to get the crew home, and Present Janeway decides that destroying the hub — and possibly saving billions of lives — is more important. But, of course, the two Janeways put their heads together and (sigh) find a way to “have (their) cake and eat it, too” — by having Future Janeway sacrifice herself and get assimilated while carrying a pathogen to the Borg — enabling Voyager to get home while also destroying the hub. End series.
Why it’s important
Well, this episode wraps seven years of frustrating telev — I mean, seven years of Voyager’s trip in the Delta Quadrant. It also does some major, major damage to the Borg. So, what we see has some galaxy-shaking consequences. Or, rather, it likely will.
What doesn’t hold up
A friend of mine asked me what I planned to write for “Endgame”. He joked that he still has no idea how Voyager pulled off destroying the hub WHILE ALSO using it to escape. I’m not sure I get it, either — even if I put aside the fact that Future Janeway shouldn’t have existed if Voyager got home when it did in this episode. What concerns me more is how EXACTLY Future Janeway decides to play god in this episode. Let’s review:
As the episode begins, Voyager’s been back on Earth for 10 years after an additional 16 years in the Delta Quadrant (how the ship cut 14 years off the journey isn’t explained). The Federation is apparently in good shape and most of the crew seems fine (as noted above). There were some other unnamed casualties before Voyager got back, but Janeway’s biggest reasons for getting Voyager home sooner seem to be that Tuvok (her oldest friend), Chakotay (her first officer) and Seven (her de facto daughter) would be much better served by her actions here (or, at least, Janeway assumes they would be, which is a stretch). This, my friends, is really terrible and shows just how reckless and selfish Janeway became as the series dragged on. You could argue that this episode is similar to “Timeless”, in which Chakotay and Kim do something very similar. But in that episode, all of Voyager’s crew except Chakotay and Kim died 15 years earlier — meaning things were about as bad as they could get. Janeway’s actions here are a lot harder to swallow because they’re mostly about saving her besties (and also because she’s the alleged hero of the show). It’s disquieting that we don’t see the futures of the other 100-plus Voyager crew members who apparently made it back to Earth — but a strange focus on the main cast (despite Voyager’s small crew and inability to rotate in new redshirts) was always an oddity of this series.
Beyond that, it’s sad that the series ends without answering any questions about what will actually happen to the crew after their return, as the future we DO see is wiped away. How will the former Maquis fare? What about Seven? Will the Voyager crew have more adventures together, or will the crew break up? What about the forgotten Equinox crew members? And most importantly, what about all the questionable decisions Janeway has made over the years?
We know that Janeway is (pfft) promoted to admiral by the time “Star Trek: Nemesis” rolls around, so I guess Starfleet shrugged all of her questionable behavior. Overall, not getting more is really disappointing, as a strong finale — hell, a 5-minute montage showing where each of the main characters really end up — would have done wonders for this series. The only character who got a decent sendoff was Neelix, who ends up on a Talaxian colony in the Delta Quadrant a couple episodes before “Endgame”. Amazingly, one of Voyager’s most-lampooned characters gets the best exit.
Let’s also talk about the Chakotay/Seven pairing. Was it rushed? Well, yes. Was it completely unbearable? I don’t think so. I would have preferred that it happened a few episodes earlier, considering the weight it apparently would go on to have, but I didn’t hate inserting it here — even though it appears it mostly happened because Robert Beltran essentially dared Brannon Braga to do it.
Oh, and one more thing actually. I’m sure it will surprise no one that the “Borg resistance” from “Unimatrix Zero” led to absolutely nothing. Because Voyager.
Last, last thing: Did Admiral Janeway give the Borg information about technology that would provide them with an advantage in the future? She equips Voyager with new shielding and weapons — and the Borg are (of course) well known for their ability to adapt. Voyager (and DS9) played pretty fast and loose with the logic of time travel, but if Voyager made it back using the advanced technology, doesn’t that mean that the Borg would have retained knowledge of it? Even if that’s not the case, Admiral Janeway’s actions are reckless, as her plan could have easily failed and the Borg would have learned and possibly assimilated those transphasic torpedoes and the weird armor. Because it’s always good to hand advanced technology to a foe intent on assimilating the galaxy.
Again, the creators made Janeway far too reckless and selfish here.
On a positive note, the episode does appropriately show the birth of Torres and Paris’ child. Quietly, their relationship was a strength of the series, so at least it was wrapped up effectively. It’s too bad, though, that Admiral Paris didn’t really acknowledge Tom on the viewscreen after Voyager returns home.
There’s also the matter of Voyager’s finale being an awful lot like TNG’s — an alternate future, a main character becoming a writer, a key character dying and another with mental issues, fighting with the Klingons and a rescue by a Starfleet ship by a sympathetic yet skeptical commander, etc. This is a criticism often thrown at “Endgame”, and there’s validity to it. But I think that’s about the least of this episode’s failings.
We’ll get into a larger assessment of Voyager in our next review. The 10-second version is that it was a show with a good cast and some great moments that ultimately ignored its premise and ventured into comic-book territory late in its run. Even Enterprise — which had many failings — was a better show, in the eyes of this reviewer.
The Doctor has written a holonovel that hits a little too close to home for the Voyager crew. All the names are changed, but it basically depicts the crew as being jerks and oppressive to the Doctor. A publisher back in the Alpha Quadrant is all about distributing the holonovel but balks at the idea that the Doctor wants to make some alterations (after the crew convinces him his work could paint them in a negative light). Ironically, the publisher uses the fact that the Doctor is a hologram to refuse the changes, initiating a subspace hearing over holographic rights with the Voyager crew arguing for the Doctor. The magistrate eventually rules in the Doctor’s favor — but balks at making a bigger-picture ruling about holographic rights. The episode ends by showing dozens of EMHs like the Doctor doing menial mining work back in the Alpha Quadrant.
Why it’s important
To Voyager’s credit, this episode furthers the holographic rights storyline last seen in “Flesh and Blood”. As Voyager ended as a series not long after this episode, we don’t get to see what happened with that thread — but props to the creators for exploring it. The door was first opened in “Life Line”, when Zimmerman (the EMH creator) said the failed EMH-1s were sent to do grunt work after Starfleet deemed them unsuitable.
What doesn’t hold up
I’m not sure I buy that the Doctor would be SO tone deaf that he wouldn’t think the crew would be offended by his initial depiction — even if names and appearances were very lightly changed. Otherwise, this is a pretty solid episode.
This is a highlight of Voyager’s last couple seasons — perhaps not surprisingly as it focuses on the Doctor, the show’s best character. There are some genuinely great moments, like when Paris effectively guilts the Doctor into seeing the error of his ways (Paris and the Doctor were consistently one of the show’s better pairings). And, really, it was nice to see the crew rally around the Doctor, despite his actions.
Coming next week …
That’s all she wrote for Voyager.
What if a site focused on the really important Star Trek episodes, explained how they were important and how they tied together — while tossing in a healthy dose of snark?