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Star Trek: Enterprise – Azati Prime (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This August, we’re doing the third season. Check back daily for the latest review.

If you can end on a high note, the audience will forgive a lot.

The third season of Star Trek: Enterprise is one of the boldest and most ambitious seasons of Star Trek ever produced; it is certainly the most adventurous season of the franchise to air outside of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. However, on an episode-to-episode basis, the quality is quite variable. There are great episodes (Impulse, Twilight), underrated episodes (North Star, Exile), fun episodes (Stratagem), and experimental episodes (Harbinger), but there are also a lot of episodes that are more interesting in theory than in practice.

Explosive finalé...

Explosive finalé…

It becomes increasingly obvious over the course of the season that the writing staff did not plan the year-long arc far enough in advance and that the show struggles to figure out where it wants to go after the initial burst of speed wears off. There are even a couple of outright stinkers that rank with the worst that the franchise ever produced. However, there is a lot to be said for an ending. The third season of Enterprise hits a few speed bumps along the way, but it manages to rally for an impressive and largely satisfying conclusion.

Azati Prime begins the march towards the end of the season. It was the first episode to be filmed after the Christmas break, suggesting that it was the work of a revitalised writing staff and an energised production team. More than that, it was broadcast as the last episode before a six-week break in the broadcast schedule, suggesting that everybody involved knew exactly the kind of hit that they had on their hands. It injects an incredible energy into a show that might be racing towards its own apocalypse.

Future's end...

Future’s end…

As a rule, a good ending sticks with the audience. So many films are defined in the popular consciousness by their endings; films like The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense are the most obvious examples. The final scene or image of a story is important; it is the part of the story that is most immediately in the audience’s mind as they begin their evaluation and examination of the story in question. If the audience leave a movie picking their jaws up off the floor, they won’t be too bothered with the awkward set-up or the clumsy exposition.

This is just as true when it comes to television. Various shows are elevated or denegrated based primarily on the quality of their resolution. Shows like Battlestar Galactica, Lost, The X-Files and Heroes all lost a lot of goodwill over conclusions that were broadly deemed to be unsatisfactory. In fact, it has been suggested that the recent resurrections of shows like The X-Files and Heroes are an attempt to provide them with clean endings that might serve to repair their reputations and help to cement their legacy and longevity.

Flying along...

Flying along…

Azati Prime kicks of a six-episode stretch that carries Enterprise to the end of the third season, resolving the Xindi plot and providing all the requisite closure and excitement that a story like this needs. Starting with Azati Prime, the show gives itself over to serialisation; save for a quick breather with right in the middle of the run. There is a lot of momentum here that pushes the Xindi arc into its third and final act. The pieces are being manoeuvred into place so that the end game can begin.

After spending two-thirds of the season dancing around the confrontation, Azati Prime allows Archer and his crew to directly confort the Xindi and face the threat posed to Earth. The show has thrown the Enterprise crew into conflict with the Xindi on a number of occasions, but this is different. This is not a glancing blow or an act of indirect sabotage. Enterprise does not escape the fire fight unscathed, Degra does not have his memory wiped, Archer does not escape unseen. The events of Azati Prime very clearly represent the crossing of the Rubicon.

Sparks of creativity...

Sparks of creativity…

What is remarkable about Azati Prime is the speed at which it moves, covering a remarkable amount of ground in a fairly short amount of time. After the show has spent so long moving in circles, it is a breath of fresh air. Not only does Azati Prime feature the Enterprise arriving at the site of the weapon’s construction, it features a recon mission and a suicide run, with Archer making a one-way trip to the weapon only to end up captured and face-to-face with both Dolim and Degra. There is a lot of ground covered.

Working from a story by Brannon Braga and Rick Berman, Manny Coto once again demonstrates the qualities that would make him an ideal candidate to run the writers’ room in the fourth and final season. The script is clean and efficient, packed to the brim without ever feeling over-stuffed. In many ways, the structure and pacing of Azati Prime calls to mind the best of the arc-based storytelling employed by Deep Space Nine. A lot of plot, but interspaced with nice character beats for those involved to reinforce the humanity of it all.

Tears of a Vulcan...

Tears of a Vulcan…

(Perhaps the most telling aspect of all this is the fact that Azati Prime and Damage actually find some room for Mayweather. More than Phlox or Sato, Mayweather is largely ignored by the third season of the show. There are reasons for this, of course, but it is nice that Azati Prime and Damage remember that Mayweather exists long enough to give him two nice character beats. His attempt to volunteer for the suicide mission is logical, and his conversation with Hoshi about getting home is surprisingly touching.)

The episode might end with a promise “To Be Continued…”, but it is not really a first part in the same way that – say – Shockwave, Part I was. This is not a big event two-parter. Despite the fact that Azati Prime closes on a very effective cliffhanger, the bulk of Damage is not concerned with the resolution of that cliffhanger. Indeed, all of the immediate problems presented over the course of Azati Prime are resolved in the first five or ten minutes of Damage to make room for larger and broader concerns.

Archer won't be beat...

Archer won’t be beat…

In that respect, Azati Prime feels more like a Deep Space Nine season finalé than a conventional Star Trek cliffhanger. The episode radically alters the status quo of the entire season. While the writers have worked hard to carry continuity across installments from the start of the season, Azati Prime is the episode that is structured as a game-changer. The Enterprise is no longer wandering in search of the Xindi; it has found them. Archer no longer has some vague “stop the weapon” objective; he has a concrete path to follow.

The damage done to the Enterprise at the climax of Azati Prime remains until Borderland at the start of the fourth season. The ship takes a serious beating, and is not repaired for more than seven months of broadcast time. This is a little detail that goes a long way. Voyager never looked this damaged for so long a time. After all, the ship had been horrifically damaged during the events of Caretaker, but was practically spotless by the time that Parallax aired. The damage done in Year of Hell or The Killing Game was reversed by the end of those two-parters.

Man on fire...

Man on fire…

Enterprise has adhered to similar internal logic. Whenever the ship has been damaged, it has been in perfect working condition almost immediately – with Minefield and Dead Stop proving a rare exception. According to Chris Black on the commentary for The Forgotten, some of the staff had resisted this impulse from the outset of the show:

My feeling was, it’s about time. I think that was something we’d talked about from the very beginning of show. When I first came on board and had my first interview with Rick and Brannon about what the show was supposed to be, and that it was supposed to be dangerous, the way that Rick pitched it to me was that it was going to be “The Right Stuff in out space.” And in The Right Stuff, guys were getting killed every other day; we went two seasons before we lost a crewmember. And I really felt that when you see the ship beaten up and when you see you guys with the dirt on your faces and your torn uniforms… I was just like, “Finally!” To me, it was always what the show was supposed to be about.

For a show about the first explorers venturing into space, the first two seasons of Enterprise were almost completely devoid of stakes or consequences. This was obvious from the point where Fight or Flight let Archer escape from a foolhardy tactical decision with no consequences and Strange New World refused to kill off Novakovich.

Everything falls to pieces...

Everything falls to pieces…

It seems quite likely that Battlestar Galactica might have been an influence here. Ronald D. Moore’s reimagining of the classic seventies science-fiction show had been broadcast in December 2003 to rave reviews. It seems quite likely that the production team would have seen it and responded to it upon returning from their Christmas break. After all, Mike Sussman’s inclusion of a battered fleet in Twilight was a shout-out to the script for the miniseries, and Brannon Braga had been Moore’s writing partner for an extended stretch of the franchise.

Certainly, the damage done to Enterprise towards the end of the third season recalls the “held together by duct tape and force of will” aesthetic of Battlestar Galactica. The production design of Battlestar Galactica was gritty, existing in stark contrast to the sterility associated with Star Trek. Whether by accident or by design, the choices made in the presentation of Enterprise towards the end of the third season invite comparisons to the other classic science-fiction franchise revitalisation taking place.

A sign of things to come...

A sign of things to come…

Somewhat ironically, Ronald D. Moore had argued that Star Trek: Voyager should have had a similar aesthetic. He recalls arguing as much during his own time on the Voyager writing staff:

When I was on my brief tenure on Voyager and I was starting to think in terms of what I wanted to do, I remember sitting with the writing staff and saying ‘I really think…that when Voyager gets damaged it should get damaged, we should stop repairing the ship, the ship should be broken down more and devolving a little bit more.’

It’s certainly a valid criticism, and one with which many Star Trek fans would agree. Even if it was influenced by Moore’s choices during the production of Battlestar Galactica, the decision to let the ship get (and stay) damaged represents a conscious evolution from Voyager.

"Damn dirty reptile!"

“Damn dirty reptile!”

While the third season of Enterprise exists in the context of the War on Terror, it also unfolds against a larger cultural canvas. While Deep Space Nine was a bold and innovative genre show, it existed quite separate from the rest of the Star Trek franchise. Voyager was already lagging behind the times when it adopted a strictly episodic approach to storytelling in January 1995. It refusal to modernise or evolve its storytelling sensibilities put Enterprise at a disadvantage when it debuted in September 2001.

Although the first season of Enterprise made some attempts at narrative experimentation and evolution, it did so with a sense of trepidation. The second season of the show fell back into the familiar episodic routine that defined Voyager‘s seven-year run. The threat of cancellation and the instruction to evolve or die forced the third season to get with the times. The show had to learn the art of serialisation and long-form storytelling, reflecting the changing televisual landscape of the new millennium.

This suicide mission is a wash...

This suicide mission is a wash…

Acknowledging that events from one episode should carry over to the next is a rudimentary part of long-form storytelling. Consequences cannot be avoided because the forty-five minutes allotted to the episode have elapsed and the credits are rolling. The audience should no longer be forced to assume that all of the damage done over the course of a single episode will be magically repaired off-screen and that our characters (and their ship) will be able to pick up where they left off the following week.

It is interesting to wonder whether the boom in serialised storytelling has any relationship to the trauma caused by 9/11. The nineties were a decade defined by a lack of continuity. Francis Fukuyama might have been exaggerating for rhetorical effect when he described the nineties as “the end of history”, but it was a decade that often felt listless and detached. There was no enemy to fight, no singular hurdle to overcome. There was merely a single extended “unipolar moment” when it seemed like America had emerged triumphant from the twentieth century.

Holding on in there...

Holding on in there…

As such, it makes sense that the standalone episode would be the ideal narrative form for television in the nineties. There was a familiar and safe status quo that provided a backdrop for a wide variety of stories and possibilities. With a prosperous and stable nation that was able to keep a reasonable distance from international conflicts, it seemed possible that things could remain that way forever. The nineties seemed to stretch on like a perpetual “now”, a world where the biggest challenges were existential and the biggest crises were spiritual.

Of course, it wasn’t really like that. In reality, the nineties were as turbulent as any decade. There were highs and lows, simmering tensions and bubbling anxieties. However, the prevailing mood was not one of fear or dread, but one of ennui and listlessness. With the events of 9/11, everything changed. It seemed like chaos was everywhere threatening to overwhelm the ordered structures that western liberal democracy had worked so hard to build. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it seemed like the prosperity and security of the nineties was shattered.

Last flight...

Last flight…

More than that, 9/11 and the War on Terror ushered in a narrative of cause-and-effect. There were complex interwoven webs of history that tied together all manner of actions and reactions. The causes of 9/11 could be traced backwards in time to the Cold War and beyond; the consequences stretched forward towards Afghanistan and Iraq. The serialised story was almost perfectly suited to this particular moment in history, when popular consciousness wanted to understand the laws of cause-and-effect, to see action and reaction ripple.

Of course, this is all a crass generalisation. There were serialised shows and stories long before 9/11. At the same time, the new millennium popularised the long-form story. It became more accessible and more credible; it became the default for any drama (or thriller or crime show) that wanted to be taken seriously. It could be argued that this was simply the result of a natural evolution; that the medium had reached a point where networks were ready to tell these sorts of stories in these sorts of formats. Still, it is an interesting correlation.

Acting on Impulse!

Acting on Impulse!

In keeping with this connection between serialised storytelling and twenty-first century life, the final stretch of the third season makes a point to consciously mirror Archer’s actions to those of the people he would condemn. This is most obvious in Damage, when Archer chooses to resort to the same sort of piracy he opposed in Anomaly. However, it also bleeds through into Azati Prime, where Archer mounts a suicide bombing in the hopes of stopping the weapon. Loading a shuttlepod full of explosives, Archer hopes to destroy the weapon before it can destroy Earth.

Of course, it is interesting to wonder what that suicide mission would actually accomplish. It would destroy the weapon, but it seems highly unlikely that Degra and his team do not have a copy of the plans to hand. It might take a little while to build a functioning replacement, but the Xindi would do so in the certainty that mankind were a violent and aggressive species intent on their destruction. It seems quite likely that Archer’s attack on Azati Prime would only delay the destruction of Earth, not prevent it.

"Note to self: stop wiring consoles with C4."

“Note to self: stop wiring consoles with C4.”

Archer’s attack on the weapon effectively amounts to a terrorist act. It is not an example of conventional warfare. Although the target is technically a military installation, not all of his victims would be directly involved in the plot against Earth. Given the shape and purpose of the weapon, it feels appropriate to point out that there were likely a lot of innocent people working on the Death Star when Luke blew it up. Archer’s plan is loaded with 9/11 iconography. He is a pilot who plans to turn his craft into a weapon by crashing it into his target.

(In a nice touch, this represents the ultimate perversion of Archer as a character. Azati Prime and Damage push Archer as far away from the core ideals of the Star Trek franchise as possible. Archer was, after all, trained as a test pilot. The strongest Archer-centric episodes of the second season – Canamar and First Flight emphasised this. In Azati Prime, he hopes to use those skills to mount a terrorist strike without any warning or attempt at diplomacy. It seems like Archer is more lost at this point in the third season than he has ever been before.)

"Hey, it's been about half a season since I've had a good beating..."

“Hey, it’s been about half a season since I’ve had a good beating…”

Care is taken to parallel Archer’s plan with that of the Xindi. Archer is captured during his attempted suicide run. During his interrogation by Dolim, the two discuss the Xindi suicide attack upon Earth in The Expanse. In that episode, a reptile!Xindi attacked Earth from out of nowhere. That tragedy prompted Archer’s journey into the expanse. As such, it created a cycle of violence that Archer is enabling. It seems likely that Archer’s suicide bombing would have prompted a similar reaction from the Xindi.

Dolim praises the reptile!Xindi who murdered seven million people in the pre-emptive strike against Earth. “His name will go down in history,” he boasts. “It will be spoken with reverence, a testament to the superiority of the cold-blooded.” Although he probably would not phrase it in such a manner, it’s not too difficult to imagine Trip revering Archer’s memory in a similar manner had the mission been successful. Bringing up that dead reptile!Xindi in the context of Archer’s own failed suicide mission draws a clear parallel.

We could be (pri)mates...

We could be (pri)mates…

When The Expanse hinted that the third season of the show would explore the War on Terror, there was a great deal of anxiety among certain sections of fandom; there was a concern that Enterprise might transform into jingoistic flag-waving patriotism about brave soldiers travelling to foreign lands so that they might kill the enemy before the enemy could kill them. This would have represented a clear departure from the utopian vision of the franchise; given the heated political context of the time, it was perceived as a bigger risk than the Dominion War had been.

Although its storytelling might be a little clumsier, and its characterisation might be a bit blunter, there is a fair case to be made that the third season of Enterprise is arguably more optimistic and idealistic than the Dominion War. Certainly, it has a more hopeful ending, built around the idea that it is possible for fundamentally reasonable people to reach an understanding with one another. There is, of course, an obligatory action-packed climax, but the central themes of the finalé embrace the franchise’s utopianism rather than deconstruct or critique it.

Pod people...

Pod people…

Part of that comes from a willingness to draw parallels between Archer and his opponents. This becomes more apparent in Damage, but there is a very clear sense that both Archer and Degra are capable of doing truly horrific things for what they deem to be the greater good. Archer runs the risk of turning into the very enemy that he faces, losing sight of his humanity. It is arguably a cliché in stories about this like situations like this, but it feels entirely appropriate in context.

The third season of Enterprise threatens to break the character of Jonathan Archer, to turn him into a character who simply cannot serve as the lead actor in a Star Trek show. Benjamin Sisko did truly horrific things during the Dominion War, but he was generally insulated from his actions in a way that Archer is not. Sisko does not murder Vreenak with his own hands in In the Pale Moonlight; he does not explicitly tell Worf to murder Gowran in Tacking Into the Wind. In contrast, Archer tortures his prisoner with his own hands and leads a pirate boarding party.

"Let's make sure that history never forgets... the name Enterprise."

“Let’s make sure that history never forgets… the name Enterprise.”

In a way, Archer is very much on trial in this final stretch of the third season. In a very practical sense, the network was urging Rick Berman and Brannon Braga to kill the character off at the end of the season so that he might be replaced. While Manny Coto admitted some interest in the idea, Brannon Braga rejected the instruction. Nevertheless, the final arc of the season does build towards that point. The show seems to invite the audience to wonder whether Archer is too far gone to be redeemed; whether he must make a blood sacrifice.

After all, the third season is very much about trying to break cycles of violence. The show suggests that Archer has been tainted by everything he has had to do over the course of the season. When Mayweather asks why Archer volunteered himself for the suicide mission, Archer explains, “An hour ago I gave the command to kill three Xindi in cold blood. A month ago I had Phlox create a living being in order to use some of it’s tissue, then I watched him put it to death.” He does not mention the other terrible things he has done.

Flying in the face of reason...

Flying in the face of reason…

The third season of Enterprise operates according to its own harsh internal morality; it demonstrates the fruitlessness of violence as a means of discourse by demonstrating that violence becomes the only possible response to violence. Archer tortured a prisoner in Anomaly; Archer is tortured in turn by Dolim in Azati Prime and Hoshi will be tortured by Dolim in Countdown. Archer was the victim of piracy in Anomaly, he will become a pirate himself over the course of Damage.

This internal logic can be swift. Early in Azati Prime, Archer gives the order to murder three Xindi manning an observation post that would have given away their position. By the end of the episode, Archer’s own ship is caught in a vicious fire-fight that takes a heavy toll on Archer’s own crew. During the fire-fight, in a sequence that JJ Abrams would appropriate for Star Trek, the episode shows three crewmembers being swept out through a hole in the hull. Violence begets violence; death begets death. (Damage would reveal far more than three people died.)

Hanging on in there...

Hanging on in there…

The third season very legitimately and very sincerely questions whether Archer can be redeemed. The show is unambiguous about what Archer has done; he is no longer the square-jawed all-American hero who was introduced in Broken Bow. During the first season, the show bent over backwards to avoid having Archer face the consequences of (or even learn from) his mistakes. In contrast, the third season suggests that even justifiable actions can come with a truly horrific cost. It is impossible to avoid your debts forever, they always come back around.

The show seems to be asking whether Archer can be redeemed; it is not sure of the answer. The crew was always going to save Earth; but the writers make it seem entirely possible that Archer might not make it home. It is easy enough to imagine a version of Zero Hour where Archer does not get off the Xindi weapon in time, and dies in a massive explosion to save the planet. It would be a grim conclusion to the season, and it is a testament to just how precarious the show was (and how introspective the writers are) that it seems like a real possibility.

Blast from the past...

Blast from the past…

The third season has been preoccupied with the question of whether the Star Trek franchise as a whole can be redeemed; whether the show can find its way back towards relevance in a topsy-turvy world where cancellation was becoming a very real possibility and it seemed that the show was increasingly out of touch with current political and social realities.  The third season has presented a myriad of horrific alternate futures demonstrating the cost of failure. Azati Prime takes that recurring motif and finally builds it into the arc of the season.

Archer and T’Pol lived through a nightmarish future in Twilight, while Archer staged an apocalyptic future for Degra in Stratagem. The crew will encounter their own descendants in . Throughout the show, much emphasise has been put on the importance of children. When Degra feels anxious about the horror that he is about to unleash, his colleague attempts to reassure him that it is necessary to preserve the future. “What we do is for them, for our children’s future. Remember that.”

Dark Archer.

Dark Archer.

Daniels appears to advise Archer that the entire future rests upon his response to this crisis. The Sphere Builders are not just threatening Earth, they are attacking the foundations of the entire Star Trek franchise. Standing on an observation deck on the Enterprise-J, Daniels explains the stakes to Archer. “This species has technology which allows them to examine alternate timelines. They’ve seen this future and they want to change the outcome.” If Archer fails, Earth is destroyed; but so is Star Trek.

The Temporal Cold War began as a metaphor for the outside forces tugging at Enterprise. With Shockwave, Part I, it transformed into a more concrete anxiety about the future of the franchise. Through Daniels, the writers were able to literalise all their worries about what the future might hold. As such, Daniels warns Archer that his responsibility is not just to protect Earth; Archer must uphold the values of the franchise as a whole. “You have to make the Xindi understand that humanity isn’t the enemy,” he urges. “Contact them. Make peace.”

Bloody, but not beaten. Except literally. In which case, yes, beaten.

Bloody, but not beaten. Except literally. In which case, yes, beaten.

It isn’t perfect. Even with Azati Prime, the show goes out of its way to reduce Dolim and the reptile!Xindi to two-dimensional pulp antagonists. Dolim can’t even congratulate Degra without mentioning how excited he is about the looming genocide. “It’s too early to speak of accomplishments,” he remarks. “I’ll reserve my gratitude for when the humans have been annihilated.” It is a shame that reptile!Xindi don’t really have hair, because Dolim really wants a moustache to twirl. Still, those robes are suitably evil.

In fact, blowing up an entire planet is not enough of a thrill for our villain of the season. “Even after Earth is destroyed, there will be residual presence in the system,” he muses. “I intend to hunt down and eradicate every refugee caravan, every colony, every last outpost they have.” He does not mention if he plans to search “every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse” for the human scum. Still, it is nice to see a reptile!Xindi who takes pride in his work.

"Apologies for the delay. My henchmen are just fashioning an overly elaborate deathtrap."

“Apologies for the delay. My henchmen are just fashioning an overly elaborate deathtrap.”

As ever, this decision to cast the reptile!Xindi as two-dimensional heavies feels like something of a misstep. It obviously allows for the inevitably climactic action sequences that the arc requires, but it feels unnecessarily broad and generic. It would be possible to have the same climax without turning Dolim into a full-on supervillain. If Dolim were presented as sincere in his belief that the other Xindi needed protection or the greater good of his action, it might play better. Instead it feels like the presentation of the reptile!Xindi undercuts the moral of the season.

Still, Azati Prime kicks off the final leg of the third season. What a leg it is.

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5 Responses

  1. Great review, as always. A few thoughts on serialization though. I think actually what really pushed it into the mainstream of TV was technology. Back in the 60s, or even the 90s, TV shows aired once or twice a week and then would be hard to find. Roddenberry himself argued against too much continuity for fear that fans would be lost. Even an avid DS9 fan like me who recorded every episode missed a few and wouldn’t get to see them until the 2000s. As VHS tape recorders, TIVOs, and eventually online streaming became more popular, there was less of a risk that loyal viewers would miss a show.

    Also, the risk of cancellation prevented a lot of long-running storytelling on TV. Star Trek was big enough that Deep Space Nine could get 7 seasons, even if its ratings weren’t stellar. Babylon 5 tried serialized storytelling but it got cancelled early (then resurrected).

    HBO actually deserves credit here because it had a new business model that compensated for lower viewership by having customers pay extra for good, serialized storytelling. That then set a new standard for storytelling on TV (coincidentally, Sopranos came out only a few years before 9/11).

    • Thanks Arnold!

      It’s funny, I’m actually covering the arrival of The Sopranos in my X-Files reviews. The last batch was the sixth season, which overlaps with the debut of The Sopranos and (arguably not coincidentally) the decline of the series. Although I’m kinda looking forward to finishing my big television rewatches, it’s fun to get a sense of television as a fluid landscape where changes ripple across networks and genres and seasons in ways that weren’t always easily predictable.

  2. The comments have really stepped up in quality, so let me be less glib than usual.

    I really liked this review. You touched on some of these points in the comments, but it coalesced into one of your best. A few things:

    Your point about endings is spot-on. The shots of fighter planes zooming over Kirk (or Obama?) as he gave his plea for tolerance in the face of implacable, unprovoked attacks really left me scratching my head in Into Darkness. I was on board with the film until that point. Afterward I just left the theater tired, and bitter.

    I love a good meta reading. Your idea of the Spheres attacking the franchise from the past is great. Obviously this was the intent behind Future Guy, but he was a toothless adversary, on par with Vosk in “Wolfenstein 3D”…err, the “Storm Front” two-parter.

    Interesting how Star Trek has thrice now flirted with killing off the Captain. Four times if you count Kirk’s despair and sacrifice in Into Darkness.

    • Thanks, Ed!

      I’m quite happy with how these reviews turned out, although I’m a little sad that unforeseen circumstances mean that my S4 stuff will be pushed to early 2016. (Don’t worry, it’s not bad news; hopefully.) As compared tot he wasteland that is the first two thirds of S2, S3 is great fun to engage with. It is the most exciting season of Star Trek since DS9 went off the air.

      Reviewing a serialised show can be quite tough, because I mention Archer’s looming almost!death a couple of times between now and Zero Hour as it fits with the larger context of what’s happening in the season before I actually address the almost!death itself in the season finalé. Episodic reviews feel more linear! But there’s a great discussion about it on the blu ray, where Coto is very interested in the idea, but Braga is dead set against it.

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