Category Archives: 2154


"Captain Archer, I represent a deposed Orion prince. If you can send me your bank account and pin number he can deposit..."
“Captain Archer, I represent a deposed Orion prince. If you can send me your bank account and pin number he can deposit…”

Orion trader Harrad-Sar (William Lucking) asks Archer to go into business with him (really). As part of the deal, the Orion trader gives Archer three Orion slave girls as gifts (ridiculously). Archer allows the slave girls aboard the ship (amazingly) and they start driving all the men wild (predictably) and give all the women headaches (stupidly). Turns out it’s all a plot by the Orion females to take over the ship and turn Archer over to the Orion Syndicate (laughably). Oh, and we learn that Orion females actually run Orion society (goofily). But Tucker — who’s still on Enterprise despite being chief engineer of another ship — is immune to the Orion females’ charm because … he really digs T’Pol’s chili (hard-to-swallowy). Tucker and T’Pol are able to foil the plot and Tucker, before the episode ends, tells her he’s going to stay on Enterprise, setting up a will-they-or-won’t-they thing for the rest of the series and beyond (pointlessly).

Why it’s important

We learn about the Orions. The enslaved females are really the ones running things. Everything else we seen has been a rouse.

Haven't you ever had some reaally goood "chili."
“Haven’t you ever had some reaally goood ‘chili.'”

What doesn’t hold up

We learn about the Orions. The enslaved females are really the ones running things. Everything else we seen has been a rouse.

Nope. Not a copy-and-paste issue, folks. This episode is significant for the same reason it, well, sucks. Or, at least, one of the reasons it sucks. The “drive men wild” part is pretty stupid and so is the “women get headaches.” Yuck.

I’m not saying that any species couldn’t be dominated by women. I’m saying that the twist here — considering that Orion females have ALWAYS been referred to as slaves — is far too cutesy and dumb. It’s almost like modern Trek trying to retcon ’60s Trek into being a little less sexist — in an episode that features more scantily clad women than just about any episode of this series. Irony is pretty ironic at times.

The only thing that could have worked in this episode is the Tucker/T’Pol stuff. But it’s just done much too flippantly. Considering the weight that their relationship had (and will have) at times, putting it into rom-com territory was a terrible decision. And how can Tucker get a transfer and a transfer back so easily? Bah.

Of course, Tucker’s short-lived replacement on Enterprise, Commander Kelby (Derek Magyar), is one of the weakest characters/plot devices in all of Star Trek. He’s about as competent as Cameron/the Enterprise B’s captain from “Generations,” despite holding a very high rank on Starfleet’s most important ship. In this episode, he’s basically conned by one of the Orion women into nearly KILLING EVERYONE — which doesn’t make sense, as the Orions were trying to capture Enterprise, not destroy it or kill themselves in the process.

I've never tried "chili" in that pos... uh configuration.
“I’ve never tried ‘chili’ in that pos… uh configuration.”

Final thoughts

File this one under the we-don’t-like-it-but-had-to-review-it category, right up there with “The Savage Curtain” and “The Assignment”. The Orions — and, particularly, the Orion slave girls — are iconic in Star Trek. Too bad more wasn’t done with that, as this is really a poor excuse for a callback. It’s fan service for fan service’s sake with extremely bad execution.

Coming later this week …

Mirror universe time!

“Affliction”/ “Divergence”

Are you sure you meant to capture me? Captain Archer is the normally the one held captive!
“Are you sure you meant to capture me? Captain Archer is normally the one held captive!”

Affliction: The Klingons kidnap Phlox after their experiment to make Klingon augments (using some embryos recovered from the Augments trilogy) creates a nasty plague on one of their colonies. As he investigates what happened, Reed is contacted by his former boss, a shadowy character named Harris (Eric Pierpoint) who dresses an awful lot like those weird Section 31 guys from DS9’s last couple seasons. Turns out Reed used to work for that “section” before joining the Enterprise and still must follow Harris’ orders — and Harris actually helped the Klingons kidnap Phlox to cure the plague and maintain a “stable Klingon Empire.” Archer finds out that Reed is interfering with Enterprise’s mission and throws him in the brig. Then, some weird, flat-foreheaded aliens board the ship and embed a computer virus. One of them is captured, and Archer learns he’s a Klingon who’s been infected with augment DNA. About this time, the computer virus starts forcing the ship to keep increasing speed or explode, and the episode ends with Enterprise accelerating the dangerous speed of warp 5.2.

Divergence: Enterprise meets up with sister ship Columbia — which just left space dock thanks to new chief engineer Trip Tucker, who requested a transfer in “The Aenar” — to try a risky plan get rid of the Klingon computer virus. It involves Tucker, on a tether(!) and in a spacesuit, going aboard Enterprise (with Reed’s help) to merge the two ship’s warp fields long enough to cold start Enterprise’s engines and purge the virus. It works, naturally, and then the two ships head to the Klingon colony where Phlox is being held. Phlox has made progress on the disease, but the Klingon leaders want their own augments, and not a cure. Phlox and Klingon Dr. Antaak (reliable voice John Schuck) work secretly to find a cure, which they eventually develop despite some battles in space with Klingon ships. The day is saved, Reed is brought back into the fold — with a final rebuke to Harris — but the next few generations of Klingons will (ahem) likely have flat foreheads. Or something.

You're telling me Section 31's been buying these same uniforms for hundreds of years?!
You’re telling me Section 31’s been buying these same uniforms for hundreds of years?!

Why it’s important

This, of course, was the creators’ way of addressing one of the biggest inconsistencies comparing TOS with the rest of Star Trek. Beginning in “Errand of Mercy”, the Klingons we see are essentially humans with facial hair, big eyebrows and (sometimes) dark face makeup. That changed in “Star Trek — The Motion Picture”, where the Klingons suddenly got facial ridges. More on this below …

Also, we see the launch of Starfleet’s second warp 5 ship, Columbia, in this two-parter. It’s the last we see of that ship or Captain Hernandez (Ada Maris), which is too bad, as Starfleet having more of a presence in deep space was interesting — and Hernandez was a strong character in the limited times we saw her (she first appeared in “Home”).

What doesn’t hold up

This is where the season of fan service went off the rails for Enterprise.

Did the creators REALLY need to address the Klingon forehead point? Sure, it probably had been the source of more fan fiction than any other inconsistency, but I’ve got to believe the creators could have used what were two of Enterprise’s final hours on something more interesting. Anyway, the explanation doesn’t even truly hold up, as it doesn’t explain why Klingons Kor, Kang and Koloth appeared in TOS without bumpy foreheads and showed up in DS9 with them. It also doesn’t explain why DS9’s Bashir — medical genius and product of genetic engineering himself — wouldn’t know about what happens in this incident (he shows that he doesn’t in “Trials and Tribble-ations”). I suppose you could say on the second point that what happened here was classified?

I’m also highly doubtful that Columbia could have caught up with Enterprise in time to make a bit of difference. Keep in mind that, in part one, Columbia hasn’t been able to leave space dock, in orbit of Earth. It goes to warp at the end of part one and, then, very suddenly, is close enough to Klingon territory to meet up with Enterprise. Sorry, but that’s ridiculous. Keep in mind that in “Broken Bow” getting to Kronos was going to take several days and the events on Columbia in part one appear to be happening concurrently with the events on Enterprise. Even if they weren’t, it’s sure lucky that Columbia just happened to set a course that made catching up with Enterprise easy.

Then there’s the business of transferring Tucker to Enterprise from Columbia while both ships are at warp. While it was a somewhat interesting concept, it wasn’t as cool as the creators hoped it would be. And I have a hard time buying that Tucker is SUCH a good engineer that no one else could have cold-started the Enterprise in a minute.

When's the episode that explains why they all got haircuts and started wearing gold sashes?
When’s the episode that explains why they all got haircuts and started wearing gold sashes?

Final thoughts

Aren’t Archer’s actions rather cavalier in this episode? After he learns that Phlox has been kidnapped by the Klingons, he has no problem violating their territory. While it’s great that Archer is loyal to his people, his actions could have started a war — something he was dead set on avoiding the last time we dealt with genetically engineered individuals. Without being too blunt, was Phlox’s life really worth it? Keep in mind that Archer sets out to save Phlox BEFORE he knows about the plague.

And, of course, there’s the whole matter of Tucker leaving Enterprise. While some of it’s handled well, I’ve always felt the creators missed an opportunity to have a better parting moment between Archer and Tucker. Keep in mind that these guys are best friends and all Archer says about Tucker’s departure is that he was “one helluva chief engineer” in a log entry. Weird.

More to come on Tucker’s rather goofy transfer …

“They are Klingons! And it is a long story!”

Coming next week …

It’s apparently green to be easy.


“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.