Category Archives: 2154

“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.

“Azati Prime”/ “Damage”/ “The Forgotten”

I aced "Advanced Tactics For Getting Captured 302" at the Academy.
“I aced Advanced Tactics For Getting Captured 302 at the Academy.”

Azati Prime: Enterprise arrives at Azati Prime and uses a shuttle captured from the Xindi insectoids to infiltrate the system and find the weapon. Then, Archer decides to return to the weapon with explosives to destroy it, but is informed by Daniels (first seen in “Cold Front”) that he must not sacrifice himself and that the Xindi have been told by aliens from the future that humanity is a mortal threat. Archer decides to try to blow up the weapon anyway — it’s too close to being completed — but is captured (Archer gotta be Archer, right?). He uses the opportunity to try to sway Degra (who doesn’t remember anything from “Stratagem”) and then learns that the Xindi reptilians have discovered where Enterprise is hiding and have sent ships to attack. The episode ends with Archer being taken to a detention center and Enterprise nearly destroyed from a brutal assault.

Damage: With the ship very nearly destroyed, the reptilian attack is called off by Degra and his supporters on the council. T’Pol and the crew commence repairs and Archer is sent back to Enterprise in a small Xindi vessel — all arranged by Degra and Co. As Archer and T’Pol assess the damage and count up dead crew members, they realize that the warp coil is fried — and that they need another one to get to their next meeting with Degra. An alien ship comes along asking for assistance with repairs from anomalies — and Archer asks if he can trade for the warp coil. The alien captain (played by old buddy Casey Biggs) says no … so Archer crosses an ethical line and decides to steal the warp coil (!). The mission is a success (and Archer leaves the aliens food to help them survive until they return home on impulse power) and Enterprise heads to the meeting with Degra.

The Forgotten: Enterprise is still in tatters and 18 crew members are dead. The ship meets up with Degra and his supporters and Archer makes the case that the Xindi are being manipulated into destroying humanity, showing evidence from previous episodes, including “Harbinger”. Degra comes around and decides to start helping Enterprise, even going so far as to assist with repairs (despite having to work around Trip and his anti-Xindi feelings). Degra also orders the destruction of a reptilian vessel that happens upon the meeting, ensuring that Degra’s fate is now directly tied with humanity’s.

We stole the warp core like you asked. But we did NOT wear the eye patches you gave us.
“We stole the warp core like you asked. But we did NOT wear the eye patches you gave us.”

Why it’s important

A lot happens in these episodes, as noted above. Most of the significance is self-explanatory — the events are obviously key in saving Earth. The T’Pol subplot (she’s been injecting a Delphic Expanse substance into her bloodstream for months to tap into her emotions and must beat an addiction and long-term effects) is a key development for the character. It likely prompted the relationship with Trip (a big domino for the series) and made the character more interesting than the passive Vulcan we saw for most of the first two seasons (though she had started to lighten up previously).

What doesn’t hold up

It’s hard to swallow that the Xindi wouldn’t have stopped the stolen insectoid shuttle earlier. Even if it was one of their ships, wouldn’t there be identification protocols indicating that shuttle shouldn’t have been anywhere near Azati Prime? This is likely why they locked down the weapon after the initial recognizance by Trip and Mayweather, but still.

There’s also the 180 from the end of “Azati Prime” to the beginning of “Damage”. Essentially, one more shot from the reptilians could have ended everything — and Degra and his supporters were able to call the attack off JUST in time. It’s odd that they could do that when the reptilians were moving in for the kill in the previous episode and didn’t seem to answer to the other members of the Xindi council.

I’m also kind of amazed that alien technology always works so well together. That warp technology developed so similarly on so many different worlds is hard to believe. It’s a necessary conceit for “Damage”, but it’s too bad that the characters didn’t talk more about how Archer’s gamble assumed that the aliens’ warp coil could work with Enterprise’s systems.

Do we have any marshmallows to roast?
“Do we have any marshmallows to roast?”

Final thoughts

Criticisms aside, this is a truly great stretch of episodes.

Consider that Enterprise, through two seasons, was considered dull, and even dated. Second-generation Trek had been on the air for 15 years at that point, and was showing its age. Even if you’re a Voyager defender, few would argue that it reached the heights of TNG or the daring of DS9, and as good as DS9 was, it was never as popular as TNG. Enterprise took a big risk in season three — but it sort of had to. And, thanks to what happened starting around “Proving Ground” (coupled with some good tie-ins from the first half of the season) the Xindi arc became a success.

And, yes, it likely shocked some fans that the hero of a Trek series would essentially commit piracy (among other things). But putting Archer in such a situation was likely necessary if the creators wanted to avoid the dullness of seasons one and two. His dialogue with Mayweather in “Azati Prime” about how he had to fly the mission to destroy the weapon because he had to take questionable actions in the expanse — and his lines to Trip and T’Pol in “Damage” — show that while Archer had to walk a line and occasionally move across it, he didn’t lose his humanity. It is too bad that we didn’t see him come to terms with what he’d done or face consequences, but more on that later.

Also, consider that Archer ends up working for a peaceful solution even after he’s captured in “Azati Prime” and even after he sees that at least some of the Xindi can’t be reasoned with. Granted, some Xindi end up going rogue, but the events of this season almost seem to pave the way for Archer (and humanity’s) enlightenment. It’s been a long road, after all.

Coming next week …

We wrap season three.