Category Archives: 2004

“Babel One”/ “United”/ “The Aenar”

I'd like to speak about the menu. "Pork chops" hits a little too close to home Captain.
“I’d like to speak about the menu. ‘Pork chops’ hits a little too close to home, Captain.”

Babel One: Enterprise is escorting some Tellarites through Andorian space to a conference where Earth will mediate a dispute between the two races on the planet Babel. Along the way, the ship comes upon escape pods from Shran’s vessel, which apparently was attacked by a Tellarite ship and was destroyed, resulting in the death of most of Shran’s crew. Shran’s out for revenge, but Archer is skeptical that the Tellarites would attack on the eve of the Babel meeting. It’s then learned that the power signature of the ship that attacked Shran’s wasn’t Tellarite and most closely resembles readings Enterprise encountered in the Romulan minefield two years earlier. Enterprise is then attacked by a vessel that looks Andorian, but has the same Romulan power signature. Apparently, the Romulans have developed a ship that can project the image of others and is trying to destabilize the region. That ship has mechanical issues, and Tucker and Reed are able to board it to find some answers. Meanwhile, Shran and Talas, (seen in “Proving Ground”) attack the Tellarite delegation, and Talas is seriously wounded. The episode ends as the Romulan ship warps away — with Tucker and Reed still aboard — and the reveal that the Romulans controlling the ship are doing so remotely, from their homeworld.

United: Tucker and Reed are still stuck on the Romulan ship and eventually figure out it’s run by remote. Meanwhile, Archer is trying to build a coalition of Vulcan, Andorian and Tellarite ships to build a detection grid to find the marauder, with Enterprise — representing the only race on good terms with the others — as the command ship. Shran agrees to participate, but after Talas dies, he demands the right of vengeance (in hand-to-hand combat) against the Tellarite who killed her. In a very TOS moment, Archer takes the Tellarite’s place — knowing it’s the only way to maintain the alliance — and finds a very clever (too much so, really) loophole that allows him to incapacitate Shran without killing him. Archer’s armada eventually finds the marauder and get Tucker and Reed off of it, while the other ships pursue the marauder. The Romulan ship gets away, but not before the feuding groups unite against a common enemy. Then, Shran, Archer and the Tellarites begin talking on their way to the summit on Babel. The episode ends with the Romulans who have been running the remote ship revealing its pilot — an odd, white-skinned Andorian.

The Aenar: Turns out that white-skinned Andorian was a member of the Aenar, a sub-species of the Andorians, who are blind telepaths. Enterprise (with Shran along) heads to Andoria to find out why an Aenar would cooperate with the Romulans, and learn that one of them went missing months earlier (presumably, kidnapped by Romulans). Back on the ship, Tucker builds an interface similar to the one on the marauder to try to interfere with the Aenar pilot. After T’Pol uses it and is hurt — Tucker messed up because he was worried about T’Pol’s safety — the job falls to Jhamel (Alexandra Lydon) an Aenar female — and brother of the Romulans’ pilot — who came back with Archer and Shran. Eventually, there’s a battle, where Enterprise must take on two drone ships. Jhamel gets her brother to stop the attack and the drone ships are destroyed (with the Romulans killing Jhamel’s brother). The threat ended, Enterprise heads back to Earth — and Tucker asks Archer for a transfer to the Enterprise’s new sister ship, as it’s become too much for him to be around T’Pol.

They can do a lot with this "simple impulse" power source they've got on board.
“They can do a lot with this ‘simple impulse’ power source they’ve got on board.”

Why it’s important

This three-parter might be the most consequential of Enterprise’s final season. A quick summary of what happens:

— We see how humans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites start forming their alliance. Turns out Romulan efforts to destabilize the region caused the four species to unify against the threat, a unification that ultimately leads to the Federation. Plus, we see how and why humanity takes on a leading role, even if it’s the least advanced of the races.

— We see Andoria and learn more about the Andorians, including their sub-species, the Aenar. We also see the continuing bond forming between Archer and Shran.

— We learn more about the Tellarites, though not much. Basically, they’re argumentative.

— We learn that the Vulcans have started becoming the mystics we see in TOS and beyond as a result of the previous three-parter. It’s interesting that with the dissolution of the Vulcan High Command, many Vulcans apparently left their positions on Vulcan combat ships. That makes a great deal of sense going forward, as we see Vulcans on Starfleet ships, but only sparingly. In other words, the Vulcans are still players in galactic affairs but are generally more inward-facing.

— While we didn’t get into much of the interaction on Romulus in the above recap, we do see a lot of it. None of it is particularly groundbreaking, as we all know the Romulans are sneaky and duplicitous and that they’re related to the Vulcans. My guess is the main Romulan here, Admiral Valdore (Brian Thompson) was being set up to be a recurring character. But, of course, Enterprise didn’t last much longer.

Shran?! Thee has chosen the kal-if-fee?!!!
“Shran?! Thee has chosen the kal-if-fee?!!!”

What doesn’t hold up

Part three is the weakest of the episodes, which was a problem in the mini-arcs of season four. Lots of build up, weaker payoff.

I’ve also always been slightly put off by the idea that only humans could have the patience/adaptability to deal with the other species and to get them to unite together. This is a major thread of the fourth season, and Archer actually tells Shran and the Tellarites that they should start acting more like humans. It’s pretty freaking arrogant, frankly. Granted, the other species seem pretty headstrong, but the generalizations about them — Andorians are arrogant, Tellarites are combative — are just that, generalizations.

It makes humanity’s role seem really important, but only if you accept the conceit that the aliens we’ve encountered are one-dimensional — or, at least, the ones that would be part of the Federation. This might be a big reason why I prefer the third season to the fourth. The Xindi end up being so much more layered and interesting than the Andorians or Tellarites. It’s also why the Vulcan three-parter is the strongest of the arcs, as the Vulcans (thankfully) get good and compelling texture.

Lastly, I don’t quite buy that Archer could end the struggle with Shran by incapacitating him. The idea is that Shran is so impressed that Archer respected his culture that he would put aside his anger against the Tellarites. Sorry, but that’s goofy. It would have made more sense to cut out the “fight to the death!” and have Shran come to his senses because of the Romulan threat.

I want off the ship Captain. It's not likely to have another seaso... uh voyage... yeah another voyage after this one. At not in this timeline/universe.
“I want off the ship, Captain. It’s not likely to have another seaso… uh, voyage… yeah another voyage, after this one. And not in this timeline/universe.”

Final thoughts

I haven’t really gotten into the Tucker-T’Pol stuff that started in the third season and continued into the fourth. There are parts of it I really liked, but the will-they/won’t-they gets extremely repetitive (especially, knowing what we know of the series finale). The best part about it was that it opened up the T’Pol character, making her more interesting than she was in the first two seasons. Of course, it’s too bad that the main female character on the show had to have a love interest to become more interesting. Sigh.

We’ll talk more about the Tucker transfer in subsequent episodes, as I’m not crazy about the way the characters handled it (particularly the writing and acting for Archer). But more on that to come.

Coming later this week …

Fan service at its greatest (and most absurd) heights. We’re getting canceled? Better explain why Klingons didn’t have forehead ridges in TOS!



“The Forge”/ “Awakening”/ “Kir’Shara”

Live long and prosper? How?! More like, find some shade and chill out, eh T'Pol?
“Live long and prosper? How?! More like, find some shade and chill out, eh, T’Pol?”

The Forge: A bombing occurs at Earth’s new embassy on Vulcan, killing (among others) Admiral Forest (Vaughn Armstrong), Enterprise’s friend and handler back home for the first three seasons. Vulcan’s big boss, Administrator V’Las (Robert Foxworth) tells Archer the bombing was the work of a group of extremists called the Syrannites, who follow a supposedly perverted form of the teachings of Surak (the Vulcan messiah, seen in “The Savage Curtain” and referenced elsewhere). T’Pol learns that her mother (whom we met in “Home”) is among the Syrannites, who live in isolation. Archer and T’Pol go on a dangerous desert journey to find them, and encounter a Vulcan wanderer, who is quickly killed in a sandstorm but seems to mind meld with Archer before he does. Back on Enterprise, Phlox, with the help of a VERY cooperative Ambassador Soval (from the pilot and many other episodes), determines that the evidence pointing to the Syrannites was planted by one of V’Las’ men, but the crew has no way of informing Archer, who, along with T’Pol, have been taken prisoner (because Archer) by the Syrannites.

Awakening: Soval is stripped of his title by for subverting the High Command and using a mind meld to gather information on the bombing. V’Las has also eliminated any linkage between himself and the bomber, and Soval decides to help Tucker in his investigation. Meanwhile, Archer and T’Pol meet up with Syrannite leader T’Pau (Kara Zediker, reprising a character seen way back in “Amok Time”) and T’Pol’s mother T’Les (Joanna Cassidy). Archer begins to see visions, apparently of Surak, thanks to the mind meld in the previous episode. Granted permission to look around some ancient ruins by the Syrannites, Archer finds the Kir’Shara, an artifact that will show that the Syrannites interpretation of Surak’s teaching is correct. But T’Les is killed as V’Las begins bombing the Syrannite compound. The episode ends as Tucker sets course for Andoria — after Soval has informed him that V’Las is planning a major offensive against the Andorians.

Kir’Shara: Archer, T’Pol and T’Pau have escaped with the Kir’Shara and must try to get it to the Vulcan capitol. Tucker and Soval make contact with the Andorians, specifically Commander Shran, who is part of a small fleet hiding in a nebula between Vulcan and Andoria, anticipating an attack. Shran doesn’t initially believe Soval but buys the story after Soval won’t break under torture. Back on Vulcan, T’Pol has been captured, but Archer and T’Pau make their way to the capitol, eventually getting to V’Las’ chambers and showing the Vulcan leaders the Kir’Shara, preventing the Vulcan fleet from a full out attack against the Andorians (Tucker has delayed the battle). Surak’s katra is taken from Archer, there’s some indication the High Command will be disbanded and V’Las is discredited. But the episode ends with V’Las meeting with a shadowy character, apparently a Romulan, discussing how their plan failed.

Would thee likest to joinest my Shakespeare company?
“Would thee likest to joinest my Shakespeare company?”

Why it’s important

One of the key gripes about early Enterprise was that it painted Vulcans as officious at best and almost villainous at worst. Archer and Co. were often at odds with Soval and other Vulcans, making it a major thread of the first two seasons and beyond. Particularly concerning was the duplicitous nature of the Vulcans when interacting with the Andorians.

This three-parter sort of set things right. The “true” teachings of Surak would apparently go on to have a profound impact on Vulcans to make them more in line with what we saw in TOS and beyond (i.e. logical AND honorable). That T’Pau goes on to become leader of the Vulcans — and even shows up more than a century later in TOS — is more proof that the Syrannites’ way was embraced by the entire Vulcan society. Put another way: All Vulcans we see in other series and movies are Syrannites.

This is also another moment where humanity (through Enterprise) became more tied to other species, eventually leading to the Federation. It’s interesting here that Tucker takes point on that with the Andorians and Soval while Archer and T’Pol follow a parallel track on Vulcan. Archer’s place in history, if it wasn’t already, gets further cemented here.

What doesn’t hold up

V’Las’ timing has never made a lot of sense. Apparently, he decided to take out what he views as an extremist faction (the Syrannites) and mount an offensive against Andoria all around the time Earth’s embassy was set to open. As the bombing was orchestrated by V’Las to implicate the Syrannites, why not wait a few weeks or months before attacking Andoria? At the very least, Starfleet wouldn’t have been around to intervene. It’s not as if the Syrannite threat gave V’Las more power to attack the Andorians.

There’s also the matter of what Archer ends up knowing while he possesses Surak’s katra. In part three, he has very specific knowledge of V’Las’ plans, even though Surak had been dead for centuries. The implication is that Surak is ethereal, allowing him to know things from beyond the grave — or that Syran (the Vulcan who passed Surak’s katra on to Archer) knew about V’Las’ plan. Neither scenario makes much sense, especially when you consider that Archer didn’t need more motivation to bring the Kir’Shara to the Vulcan leaders (and that the audience didn’t need the exposition). He could have been trying to get the Kir’Shara to the capitol to supplant V’Las and to start the Vulcan awakening.

Then there’s Soval. Granted, there were some slight indications that he was starting to respect Archer and humans generally. But he goes to friend territory FAR too quickly here. I can buy that he would disagree with V’Las, but not that he’d go rogue and work with Tucker. I think the idea is that his friendship with and death of Forest played a role. But Soval basically acts as impulsively as he accused Archer of doing for three seasons. Hmmm.

Finally, it was cool of the creators to bring back T’Pau, as this episode explains why she was so revered when Kirk and McCoy met her in TOS. But T’Pau the first time we see her speaks like she’s from a Shakespeare revival festival, and doesn’t here. I suppose having her speak as she did in TOS would have been odd/hard to explain, but I still need to note it.

Let's continue this nefarious Romulan plan in Season 5...
“Let’s continue this nefarious Romulan plan in Season 5… Oh wait.”

Final thoughts

While the season’s first three-parter is classic Trek mythology, this three-parter is more significant in that it shows how the Federation is beginning to take shape and how Earth will be involved. It’s also executed better and doesn’t have the (ahem) logical problems of the Augments trilogy, even accounting for the weirdness with Soval.

The events here show that the Vulcan will become less active players in interstellar events, opening the door for the more neutral humans to build a coalition with the Vulcans, Andorians and (later) the Tellarites. That’s important, as Vulcans had sort of been the big players previously.

The Romulan appearance at the end of the episode is interesting, too, as it shows how the Romulans were working to undermine stability in our corner of the galaxy. That shows up later this season, but we never see the Romulan-Vulcan angle again on Enterprise, which is too bad. I’m guessing it would have happened had their been a fifth season.

Coming next week …

So, you say you want a coalition … well, y’know …

“Borderland”/ “Cold Station 12″/”The Augments”

Full impulse power! FULL POWER! DAMN YOU!
“Full impulse power! FULL POWER! DAMN YOU!”

Borderland: Some super-strong humans take over a Klingon bird of prey, and the Klingons start massing for war against Earth. Turns out the super-strong humans are genetically enhanced humans (Augments) that were originally made during World War III (think Khan). They were born only about 20 years or so before the events of this episode, when Dr. Arik Soong (Brent Spiner) stole the embryos from a research station and raised them as children on a remote planet. Enterprise, finishing up its repairs, is sent to the Borderland — an area between the Klingon Empire and the Orion Syndicate — to find the Augments, and Archer gets Soong (who had been imprisoned for several years without giving away the location of his children) to help. Enterprise runs into some Orions who kidnap about a dozen of the crew (including T’Pol) to be sold into slavery. Archer, with Soong’s help, rescues the crew members but Soong is able to contact the Augments, led by Malik (Alec Newman) as Enterprise flees the Orion planet. The Augments grab Soong and leave a disabled Enterprise behind.

Cold Station 12: Archer and Co. determine that Soong’s plan is to go to a remote research station where thousands more Augment embryos are being held. They run into Soong and the Augments there and Malik openly defies Soong and kills a member of the research team when the station’s leader and Phlox’s friend Dr. Jeremy Lucas (Richard Riehle) won’t provide the codes to unlock the embryos. Soong and the Augments eventually get the embryos and leave Archer and his away team (and the station crew), but not before Malik (unbeknownst to Soong) releases a deadly toxin into the station’s environmental system. The episode ends with Archer and Co. working to prevent the group’s exposure to the toxin.

The Augments: Archer is successful in saving the lives of everyone on the station and Enterprise continues pursuit of Soong and the Augments. When Soong rebuffs Malik’s rather vicious suggestion to keep Enterprise from pursuing them — and after Malik objects to Soong’s plan to make the embryos less vicious — Malik gets the crew to unite against Soong. But one Augment, Persis (Abby Brammell) gets Soong to an escape pod. Soong meets up with Enterprise and helps Archer disable the bird of prey. Malik then appears to destroy the ship and (presumably) the embryos. But he actually made it to Enterprise, where he nearly kills Soong, before Archer shoots and kills Malik. Back on Earth, Soong returns to prison and tells Archer that perfecting humanity is no longer his focus — but that artificial intelligence has intriguing possibilities. The episode ends with Soong working in his cell, work that he believes will take a generation or two to complete. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.

 He tortured those people. But none of those people would tell him anything. He went wild. He slit their throats. He wanted to tear the place apart, but he was late.
“He tortured those people. But none of those people would tell him anything. He went wild. He slit their throats. He wanted to tear the place apart, but he was late.”

Why it’s important

Well, this is where the season of fan service truly begins. More on that in a moment, but here’s where this episode is important:

— It ties into the Khan plots from TOS, even naming Khan and the ship Kirk’s Enterprise discovers in “Space Seed”.

— We get our first real look at the Orions, other than the Orion slave girls from “The Cage” and “Whom Gods Destroy” and a showing in The Animated Series.

— We get more background on why humans and Klingons don’t like each other too much by the time TOS rolls around. This is a slow burn that dates back to “Broken Bow” but didn’t result in too much direct conflict between the two races.

— We see the beginnings of Dr. Noonien Soong, the creator of Data. It’s not explicitly stated, but casting Brent Spiner as Arik Soong and (obviously) the last name makes it pretty obvious for any Trek fan. “Noonien” of course is also part of Khan’s full name, Khan Noonien Singh.

What doesn’t hold up

To make everything work, the creators had to twist and and tug some previous items from Enterprise to fit.

One of the weirdest things about this three-parter is that it basically paints Soong as having gone farther into space than any human previously. The creators don’t explain how Soong was able to get to an area near the Borderland. I suppose he could have booked passage on an alien ship from Earth, but that severely undercuts the theme of the first two seasons that Enterprise was “making history with every light year.”

Beyond that, there are humans on Cold Station 12, which is pretty far from Earth by all indications. In that instance, I suppose the researchers could have been transported to the station — and we know Dr. Lucas was on Denobula, based on previous episodes. But, again, it makes it seem like Starfleet’s first warp-five ship was merely the first ORGANIZED effort by humanity to go far beyond Earth’s solar system. And, sure, we knew about Earth cargo ships in previous seasons, but even they seemed to stay somewhat closer to home.

Still, it sounds like Soong boldly went as much as any human in the 22nd century.

Also, the Augments are just too one-dimensional, at least, in a global sense. Of the 19 we see, only four have any real personalities, and one of them (Malik) is too villainous. The real problem, though, is that so many of them act like red shirts. Shouldn’t many of the Augments do more than fall in line? I know that you could say the same about Khan and his followers, but Khan had been ruler of a good part of Earth.

Oh, and how did the Augments get the ship they used to reach the bird of prey?

There are also some weird aesthetic choices in this episode. For one thing, the bed Malik and Persis sleep on seems very un-Klingon (blankets, pillows, etc.). And the Augments’ clothing looks entirely too stylized. The idea is that they’re wearing frayed rags. But they certainly are stylish frayed rags.

Sure I've studied for years to be a geneticist. But how hard can artificial intelligence and cybernetics be to pick up. In a jail cell.
“Sure, I’ve studied for years to be a geneticist. But how hard can artificial intelligence and cybernetics be to pick up? In a jail cell.”

Final thoughts

Some fans might disagree, but I think season four of Enterprise goes too far to tie in items from previous Treks. I mostly like this three-parter, but it’s essentially an excuse to bring Brent Spiner to Enterprise and to give fans the big moment at the end where we realize what we’ve seen leads to Data.

Why is that a problem? Well, it’s reminiscent of the Star Wars prequels, in which so much is explained that a lot of it ends up being goofy (Anakin Skywalker building C-3p0, etc.). Worse, the fan service becomes the strength of the outing, as opposed to the plot itself.

That said, this three-parter isn’t the worst example of over-the-top fan service in Enterprise’s fourth season. It’s probably not even the second-worst. We’ll get to those, in time. One thing about fan service is that it’s often consequential in a big-picture kind of way, so we’ll end up reviewing a lot of Enterprise’s fourth season.

Coming later this week …

The best of Enterprise’s final episodes — an effective and compelling three-parter that is also heavy on fan service.

“Storm Front”

It's OK Scott Bakula. We're all sick and tired of the Temporal Cold War story line.
“It’s OK, Scott Bakula. We’re all sick and tired of the Temporal Cold War.”

Part one: Enterprise is in orbit of Earth, but in the 1940s. Archer is alive and on the planet (unbeknownst to the crew) and is quickly rescued by American resistance fighters who assault a Nazi convoy … in New York state. We quickly learn that history’s been changed and that a faction from the Temporal Cold War is working with the Nazis, who have taken over most of the East Coast. A dying Daniels shows up and tells Enterprise what’s going on, and then Silik shows up and steals a shuttle and heads to the surface. Trip and Mayweather follow to try to capture him, and are then captured by Nazis. Meanwhile, Archer works with the resistance and meets one of the aliens, and uses that alien’s communicator to contact Enterprise and return to the ship. The episode ends as alien leader Vosk (Jack Gwaltney) inspects a time conduit he is building with the help of the Nazis.

Part two: The Nazis are growing impatient with Vosk’s dedicating resources to the time conduit and not the war. After interrogating Trip and Mayweather, Vosk contacts Archer and tries to get him to help his cause. Archer refuses and then rescues Mayweather and Trip from the Nazis — but quickly learns that Trip is actually Silik in disguise. Archer and Silik then beam to the surface to stop Vosk and rescue Trip (with the help of the American resistance fighters) before the conduit is destroyed, but Silik is killed in the process. Then, Archer meets Daniels (who died earlier in the episode) in a weird timey reset thing who tells him the timelines have been restored and that the Temporal Cold War is (finally and mercifully) over. Enterprise returns to its own time, with Earth out of danger.

Beam my hipster friend Silik and I down to the craft cocktail and slow food festival.
“Beam my hipster friend Silik and I down to the craft cocktail and slow food festival.”

Why it’s important

Although it’s a reset, I assume that Archer and Co. remember what happened in these two episodes, and in all the previous Temporal Cold War outings. As a result, they saved Earth twice in the span of a year (hell, in the span of about a week!). It is interesting, though, that in subsequent episodes mentioning the crew’s heroism, only the Xindi mission is referenced. Hmmm …

Enterprise was in Brooklyn, and blowing it up, before it was cool.
Enterprise was in Brooklyn, and blowing it up, before it was cool.

What doesn’t hold up

Following up on that point, did the the destruction of the time conduit end the Temporal Cold War to the point where it never happened in the first place? That seems hard to believe, but it’s certainly possible — though it would mean that there’s no explanation for Archer’s return to the ship after the Xindi weapon was destroyed among a myriad of other things in Enterprise’s first three seasons. Considering that the sphere builders were apparently involved with the TCW and that Archer and Co. remember all of season three …

There’s also the matter of how and when Daniels threw Archer and Enterprise back in time. For Archer, it must have happened right as the Xindi weapon exploded, and for Enterprise, when it arrived back in the Terran System — as we see interactions with the Xindi (presumably) in the 22nd century in the closing acts of “Zero Hour”.

Final thoughts

We had to include these episodes, because they’re consequential. But they’re not really good. Science fiction relies too much on Nazis, and the Temporal Cold War stuff just never made much sense. Scott Bakula’s line delivery in the final scene with Daniels almost makes it sound like he (Bakula) was tired of the plot line. That Daniels could die twice in the course of three seasons and end up being resurrected both times is nonsense that undercuts the drama. It’s worth noting that the best two seasons of Enterprise involved the least amount of TCW/Daniels, presuming you don’t include the entire Xindi arc under that umbrella.

As we’ve noted before, the creators of second-generation Trek kind of threw out the rule book when it came to time travel around the time Voyager started airing. Cause didn’t need to precipitate effect, etc. As a result, when time travel became common on Enterprise, it was bound to very little logic.

Moving on, we won’t review “Home”, the follow-up episode that covers the crew returning to Earth where they’re (rightly) greeted as heroes. From a character perspective, it’s important (sort of the equivalent of TNG’s “Family”) so it’s worth watching if you’re a fan. It’s also vintage Enterprise, in that it tried some interesting things but failed on execution. Notably, Archer’s mental anguish over his actions in the Expanse is WAY over the top (even to the point where he questions Starfleet’s existence!) and the T’Pol/Trip drama over T’Pol’s forced marriage wasn’t well done. The most important part of the episode might be the foreshadowing of xenophobia on Earth since the Xindi attacks.

It’s also interesting that Archer’s more questionable actions from season three are not addressed by his superiors or the Vulcans, at least, on screen.

Coming later this week …

Brent Spiner comes to Enterprise as the season of fan service begins.

“The Council”/ “Countdown”/ “Zero Hour”

Hey, while I've got you here... What does a god need with a starship?
“Hey, while I’ve got you here … What does a god need with a starship?”

The Council: Degra takes Archer to the Xindi council, first seen way back in “The Xindi”. With Degra’s help, Archer’s task is to convince the council that humanity is not a threat and that the trans-dimensional aliens — whom we learn the Xindi revere as religious figures, called the Guardians — are lying about humanity and manipulating the Xindi. The Xindi humanoids and arboreals are with Degra, but the insectoids and reptilians aren’t and the aquatics are undecided. Then, the reptilians — led by Commander Dolim (Scott MacDonald), the reptilian we’ve seen for months — surprisingly agree to delay the weapon’s launch. Archer and Co. begin to breath a sigh of relief, but then Dolim kills Degra — the reptilians’ earlier vote was a ruse and Dolim knows about Degra’s role in the destruction of a reptilian vessel — and steals the weapon (along with the insectoids) and kidnaps Sato. They then flee, presumably for Earth.

Countdown: The Xindi council has fractured, and Dolim and the insectoids are trying to get the weapon’s activation codes using a tortured Sato’s linguistic skills. To stop the reptilians, Archer convinces the aquatics to help by telling them that Enterprise can destroy the spheres and prevent the expanse from turning into a trans-dimensional wasteland. A short battle ensues, but Dolim is able to jump into a subspace vortex with the weapon and head for Earth (after Enterprise recovers Sato). With few options left, Archer, Reed, Sato and some MACOs take Degra’s ship (it’s fast) into the vortex to pursue the weapon while T’Pol and Trip lead Enterprise in its efforts to destroy the spheres.

Zero Hour: Archer and Co. catch up with the weapon in orbit of Earth and are assisted by Shran and his ship in taking out the escort Xindi vessels. Meanwhile, T’Pol and Trip finalize their plan to destroy the spheres and head toward sphere 41, a key to knocking out the network. But the sphere builders have taken notice, and can interfere with the ship’s efforts while it’s in the area around the sphere. After being told by Daniels not to lead the mission, Archer boards the sphere with Reed, Sato and some MACOs and start its self-destruct process. But Archer must go one-on-one with Dolim to complete the task, and is apparently lost in the process as the weapon explodes over Earth. Reed and Sato escape and return to Enterprise  — where T’Pol and Trip have successfully destroyed the spheres and ending the Guardian threat — and inform the crew that the mission succeeded, but that Archer is dead. The ship returns to Earth, but is disturbed to find they’ve been thrown back in time to the 1940s (!) in the middle of World War II. The episode ends with a badly wounded Archer in a Nazi hospital that contains an odd-looking alien with red, glowing eyes.

Are you sure you didn't mean to kidnap Archer. He's really good at getting captured. Let me go get him for you...
“Are you sure you didn’t mean to kidnap Archer? He’s really good at getting captured. Let me go get him for you…”

Why it’s important

Archer’s efforts to find a peaceful solution are pure Star Trek, and it’s clear that his efforts here — even though they’re undermined by Dolim and the insectoids — are important in setting the peace-first approach that we see throughout the rest of the franchise.

And, of course, the success of the mission to stop the Xindi from destroying Earth is hugely, hugely important (duh) but Enterprise’s parallel efforts to stop the Guardians is important, too. If those efforts hadn’t been successful, more conflicts with would have happened, apparently, for hundreds of years (at least, according to Daniels).

We’ll explore how and why Enterprise ended up in the 1940s in our next review. But the events about that in “Zero Hour” end up being significant.

Prepare to wipe this "Pale Blue Dot" out of existence!
“Prepare to wipe this ‘Pale Blue Dot’ out of existence!”

What doesn’t hold up

One of the key premises of the end of the Xindi arc is that the weapon can only be activated with codes from three of the five Xindi species. This is why Dolim kidnaps Sato — because he needs her to crack at least one code not belonging to the reptilians and insectoids. But, why wouldn’t the weapon require all five codes? If the idea is to unify the Xindi people …

That said “The Council” and “Countdown” are pretty solid episodes — and “Zero Hour” mostly works, though there are a few problems.

My biggest gripe is that we see no Earth vessels when the weapon pops up in the Terran system. Shouldn’t there be a fleet of Earth ships ready to defend the planet, on guard after the first Xindi incident? Remember that a year earlier, Earth vessels helped defend Enterprise against a Klingon attack upon Archer’s return to Earth. Keep in mind that the Xindi destroy a science station (identified by Archer) in orbit of the planet, and that Shran shows up — meaning that the battle in Earth’s orbit didn’t take place in the 1940s. This is a constant problem in Trek, with all apologies to the Mars defense perimeter. And why didn’t Archer try to contact Starfleet after Degra’s ship reached Earth — or why didn’t Reed reach out after the weapon was destroyed?

Then, there’s the time travel at the end. Aside from the WTF moment with the alien right before the credits, do we know when Enterprise traveled back in time? Did the Xindi ship that brought Enterprise back to Earth ALSO travel back in time? And doesn’t the ability to bring the entire ship back 200 years seriously increase what we know of Daniels’ abilities?

And at Captain, Number 7, Jonathan Archerrrrrrr!
And at Captain, Number 7, Jonathan Archerrrrrrr!

Final thoughts

Putting aside the final developments of “Zero Hour” until our next review, I’m a big fan of the last 10 episodes of this season, and I give the creators credit for tying in the disparate elements from earlier episodes fairly well. It would have been nice for the creators to address why the Xindi conducted their first attack on Earth — which in the long-term, didn’t accomplish anything that the final attack wouldn’t have and merely alerted humanity to the threat. There are ways it could have been justified. Perhaps the reptilians had gone rogue or a subset of Xindi who opposed the bigger attack thought it was the best way to alert humanity?

It’s also too bad that what we see here is essentially the last we see of the Xindi. We know from Daniels that the Xindi and humanity will some day work together, and the unnamed humanoid Xindi who takes over as Archer’s main contact after Degra is killed alludes to forging a relationship. But we don’t see the Xindi again (other than in a dream sequence) after “Zero Hour”. Formalizing relations with them would have been an interesting topic for Enterprise’s final season — or a fifth season that never came to be.

Of course, it’s been speculated — by Connor Trinnear, among others — that the creators ended the episode as they did to make fans angrier at UPN had the show been canceled after the third season (which was a possibility). That’s interesting, but can you imagine if the very last thing we saw in second-generation Trek was an unknown alien with red glowing eyes in a NAZI uniform?

Coming next week …

Space Nazis!

Enterprise made Space Nazis cool long before Iron Sky.
Enterprise made Space Nazis cool long before Iron Sky.