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Star Trek: Enterprise – Terra Prime (Review)

This May, we’re taking a look at the fourth (and final) season of Star Trek: Enterprise. Check back daily for the latest review.

It all began with Spock.

The character of Spock was the only character to survive the transition between the two Star Trek pilots produced in the sixties. Leonard Nimoy first appeared as science officer Spock in The Cage, opposite Majel Barrett and Jeffrey Hunter. When the studio vetoed the original pilot, Gene Roddenberry was forced to jettison a lot of the cast and characters before setting to work on a second pilot. Spock survived serving (along with the sets and props) as a bridge between The Cage and Where No Man Has Gone Before.

Baby on board.

Baby on board.

Spock is an iconic part of American culture. He is instantly recognisable in a way that very few elements of the franchise can claim to be. He lingers in the collective memory. Leonard Nimoy has repeatedly been favoured over William Shatner as an ambassador of the brand. Nimoy reprised the role of Spock opposite Patrick Stewart in Unification, Part I more than two whole years before Shatner would cross paths with Jean-Luc Picard as James T. Kirk in Star Trek: Generations. Nimoy appeared in a key role in Star Trek; Shatner declined a cameo.

Star Trek: Enterprise was never going to feature a guest appearance from Leonard Nimoy. However, Spock as clearly haunted the fourth season as the embodiment of the franchise spirit. The Vulcan-human hybrid at the centre of Demons and Terra Prime makes little sense in basic plot terms, Elizabeth serves as a harbinger that might summon Spock. And, in doing so, Elizabeth might yet summon the future. It began with Spock, it ends with Spock. At least for now.

Infinite diversity in finite combinations...

Infinite diversity in finite combinations…

The notion of a Vulcan-human hybrid drifts across the run of the fourth season. T’Les awkwardly broached the topic with T’Pol in Home, suggesting that it was highly unlikely that a human and Vulcan would be able to conceive a child. Although framed somewhat awkwardly in the context of the episode itself, it served a key metaphorical purpose for the fourth season as a whole. Across the fourth season, it was repeatedly suggested that the future was a delicate and fragile thing that could easily be destroyed or lost.

This was also the case with the Federation, which was repeatedly suggested as something that had to be cultivated and crafted. It was not something that could be taken for granted. Episodes like Babel One and United suggested that the utopian ideals of the Federation represented a challenge to the status quo. Episodes like In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I and In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II hinted that the idea of that sort of optimistic future could even be considered subversive in the present political climate.

Baby steps.

Baby steps.

Nevertheless, the fourth season of Enterprise seems to treat Spock as a messianic figure within the larger franchise. The arrival of Spock (as a concept, if not a character) signals the moment at which Star Trek becomes Star Trek. The fourth season hints at that in a number of ways. The merging Archer with Surak through the katra in Awakening serves as a metaphorical union between Earth and Vulcan, an abstrast representation of the union that would produce Spock.

In Demons and Terra Prime, Spock finds expression through Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the daughter of Trip and T’Pol, engineered by John Frederick Paxton using DNA samples stolen from Phlox’s sickbay. In terms of plot, Elizabeth has a very tenuous reason for existing. This seems like a lot of effort for Paxton to prove a very simple point philosophical point. Given that Paxton is pointing a giant weapon at San Francisco, the baby feels like overkill. Particularly since it seems perfect reasonable for humans to cooperate with species, even if they cannot reproduce with them.

"What can I say? I might live on a moonbase, but I'm a shipper at heart."

“What can I say? I might live on a moonbase, but I’m a shipper at heart.”

However, Elizabeth serves a number of purposes beyond the basic plot of the episode. On the level specifically concerned with Enterprise itself, Elizabeth serves as an extension of the soap opera plotting that has been playing out with Trip and T’Pol across the fourth season. She allows the two characters to confront their feelings for one another, even if the decision to send Trip (and particularly T’Pol!) undercover into a racist stronghold makes little or no sense from Archer’s perspective. Clearly he has never seen Change of Heart.

Even beyond furthering that romantic plot thread, Elizabeth is symbolic. When Paxton visits her in Demons, he reflects on “what she represents.” Elizabeth is an embodiment of the franchise’s utopian ideals in much the same way that the conference on Earth harks forward to the founding of the Federation. Elizabeth is proof that mankind can mingle and union with other species, that perhaps other people from different cultures are not as different as they might initially seem. Elizabeth is, to borrow a cliché often employed in discussions around children, the future.

You've got to be kidding...

You’ve got to be kidding…

Indeed, the production team approached Elizabeth as a symbolic representation of Star Trek. In Before Her Time, Garfield Reeve-Stevens talks about how the fate of the child was determined:

We had the sense that, ‘okay, we’re probably coming to an end.’ I know we had a discussion about Terra Prime and this idea that Trip and T’Pol were going to have a cloned child. And Manny was sort of thinking that, ‘Well, if the series is going to be picked up, the child will live because that’s going to be a great storyline. And if its not going to be picked up, the child will die. We were at that level of discussion. And then we all got the call, ‘Could you come in?’ And we all went to Brannon’s office and he gave us the official word.

Elizabeth ultimately dies in the same way that Enterprise did, before her time and before she had an opportunity to properly mature into whatever she was meant to be.

"You will always be a child of two worlds..."

“You will always be a child of two worlds…”

As such, it is telling the final scene of Terra Prime is given over to Elizabeth rather than to Archer’s big speech to the assembled delegates. The two parter is nominally about an important conference on Earth that brings together the Vulcans and the Andorians (and the Tellarites and the Rigelians and the Denobulans) as part of a move towards diplomatic unity that will inevitably give birth to the Federation. It is this conference that Paxton hopes (and fails) to disrupt. However, the final scene of the two-parter is a smaller sequence with Trip and T’Pol.

To be fair, at least part of this decision is purely practical; Scott Bakula is a very charming performer, but he is not an actor best suited to dramatic speeches. mirror!Archer’s dramatic speeches in In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I and In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II worked because Bakula consciously played them as heightened camp. However, Bakula’s naturalistic performance style will never lend itself to soliloquy as effectively as that of William Shatner or Patrick Stewart or Avery Brooks. (Just look at the climax of Shockwave, Part II.)

"Reed my lips, we're through."

“Reed my lips, we’re through.”

However, at least part of the decision to position the death of Elizabeth as the end of Terra Prime is an acknowledgement of her importance. Although Elizabeth dies, Trip is quick to assure T’Pol that this is not really the end. “Human DNA and Vulcan DNA,” Trip explains. “Phlox says there’s no medical reason why they can’t combine So if a Vulcan and a human ever decided to have a child, it’d probably be okay. And that’s sort of comforting.” The real promise at the end of Terra Prime is not the birth of the Federation. It is the birth of Spock.

Again, there is a palpable throughline that runs from the fourth season through into the JJ Abrams movies. When JJ Abrams decided to effectively “reboot” the entire franchise, he made a point to include Leonard Nimoy. As Spock, Leonard Nimoy served as an ambassador from one generation to the next. It is fitting that Spock’s canonical appearances following Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country position the character as “Ambassador Spock.” Spock is very much the spirit of the franchise, in a way that the Federation cannot be.

"Who put Fox News on the viewer?"

“Who put Fox News on the viewer?”

The scripting of Demons and Terra Prime strengthens the connections between Enterprise and the rest of the franchise by positioning Trip and T’Pol akin to John the Baptist for the messianic Spock. The structuring of the episode seems to suggest that this is just as (if not more) important than charting the politics or the manoeuvring of the foundation of the Federation. It is a very powerful sentiment, one that has become even more affecting after the passing of Leonard Nimoy. Even when he is not present, he is still an essential part of the franchise.

Spock was there at the beginning. He is there, in spirit, at the end. In a very clear way, Enterprise ends with Demons and Terra Prime. It is the last episode of the season to be overseen by executive producer Manny Coto, who would hand the reins back to creators Rick Berman and Brannon Braga for These Are the Voyages… That episode would stand quite removed from the season (and the wider show), insulated by a six year gap and the focus on two cast members from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Cracking under the pressure...

Cracking under the pressure…

As far as executive producer Manny Coto is concerned, the show ended with Demons and Terra Prime forming a two-part conclusion to his storythreads and ideas:

I really liked those episodes. My heart was really in that because I felt it was a fitting end for the series. The show ended up coming back to Earth and to our solar system, and the idea was that humanity still had one hurdle to go through, and that was a part of humanity was not accepting of aliens and aliens on our world, because some people felt we were being corrupted. We had to exorcise our last vestige of xenophobia. I thought it was a really fitting end for Enterprise because one of the basic tenets of Star Trek is Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. This was a way to address that idea, that we’d not quite reached there yet. You had a character played by Peter Weller who wanted aliens to leave the Earth and was against comingling with aliens. And we ended with a wonderful speech by Captain Archer and a wonderful performance by Scott Bakula in front of the nascent Federation, which kind of laid down the idea for Star Trek. It basically said that despite the myriad species we’re all the same and we all share the same heart. I remember being there on that day for the shooting of that. We knew at that point that this was the last season, so it was particularly touching to know that this was a fitting finale, as I saw it, for the show.

It is sweet sentiment, and a fitting place to wrap up the show. Demons and Terra Prime bring Enterprise back to Earth, arguably dealing with themes and ideas that should have been incorporated into the show from Broken Bow.

"Play it again, Samuels..."

“Play it again, Samuels…”

There is a very clear sense that this is the end. One of the interesting aspects of television cancellation is the way that it tends to ripple backwards through production. Due to the time that it takes to produce an episode of television, a cancellation announcement cuts across various episodes for various members of the production team and the audience. For example, when the cancellation was announced in February 2005, the audience was in the middle of the United trilogy, the cast were shooting In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II and the writers were prepping Terra Prime.

As a result, there will always be a bit of a dissonance in relation to cancellation, because various aspects of the production of different episodes are impacted at different times. However, the production team did have some inkling that the show was to be cancelled. Perhaps, aware of the fact that the show was on borrowed time from Storm Front, Part I, they had been preparing for the eventuality before news filtered down. Perhaps this was just a story that lent itself to these hints of finality. Either way, Demons was easily tweaked to form a pseudo-finale.

"Don't let the cancellation Mar(s) the experience."

“Don’t let the cancellation Mar(s) the experience.”

On the episode’s audio commentary, Garfield Reeve-Stevens explains that the script was structured to provide at least some sense of closure for the characters:

At this point, when we started working on the script, we knew the show was being cancelled. We’d had that announcement. So, it was really strong in us, the sense of trying to give grace notes and sum up some of the characters.

Enterprise was never an ensemble show. It could be argued that it had never been designed as an ensemble show, with the first season focusing on the triumvirate. However, the fourth season did try to share the love somewhat.

"Hey, I was promised I'd get the big end of series heroic sacrifice!"

“Hey, I was promised I’d get the big end of series heroic sacrifice!”

So Demons goes out of its way to emphasise how much the characters have grown, even if some of these developments do not feel entirely earned. Reed gets a nice final scene with Harris, during which his former handler acknowledges that Reed has evolved considerably. When Reed suggests literally flying in under the radar, Harris reflects, “So, the student has surpassed the teacher.” At the end of the conversation, Reed closes the book on their relationship. “I imagine this’ll be the last time we meet.”

It is a big moment. Or it would be, if Reed and Harris had an established history together. As it stands, Harris was only introduced in Affliction and Divergence. Before that point, the audience had no idea that Reed was a “student” of Section 31. Because In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I and In a Mirror, Darkly Part II unfolded in an alternate universe, Bound is the only episode to feature Malcolm Reed between the introduction and final appearance of Harris. The relationship has been barely established, meaning that its conclusion lacks emotional depth.

"Keep it together, Reed. Don't let 'im see you cry."

“Keep it together, Reed. Don’t let ‘im see you cry.”

Demons and Terra Prime do make an effort to include the full ensemble. Enterprise has never really been an ensemble show. Since Broken Bow, the focus has consistently been on the triumvirate of Archer, T’Pol and Trip. The other characters have had to compete for space. Reed and Phlox have done reasonably well for themselves, with John Billingsley hold his own and Keating (and the writers) turning Reed’s lack of defining attributes into a mystery rather than an issue. However, Mayweather and Hoshi have not been as well served.

To be fair to the fourth season, the production team recognised this problem. Despite the fact that there were fewer stories in the season, and thus less room for an obligatory “Hoshi story” or “Mayweather story”, the production team worked hard to include beats for those characters within the larger “epic” stories. Although still woefully underdeveloped, Mayweather got more to do in the fourth season than ever before; whether searching for a bomb with Reed in The Forge, playing host to an Organian in Observer Effect, or discussing Andorian custom in United.

Pressing concerns.

Pressing concerns.

More to the point, In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I and In a Mirror, Darkly Part II seemed to have been written to acknowledge this issue. The two-parter seemed to imagine an alternate universe where Enterprise was an ensemble show and where Hoshi and Mayweather could finally come out on top. It is not unreasonable to suggest that mirror!Mayweather and mirror!Hoshi got more development in that two-part episode than their counterparts received in a full four seasons.

At the same time, Demons and Terra Prime make a point to give Hoshi and Mayweather things to do. Mayweather is given an ex-girlfriend who is suggested to be a Terra Prime operative only to be exposed as a member of Starfleet Intelligence. It is a strange plot, one that eats up a lot of time that might have been better spent on other developments. It also serves to demonstrate that Anthony Montgomery is not necessarily the strongest performer in the ensemble, despite being immensely likable in his own right.

I'm in a glass cell of emotion.

I’m in a glass cell of emotion.

Hoshi fares slightly better, left in charge of the ship while Archer stages his rescue mission in Terra Prime. Much like Reed’s big scene with Harris, it is not a moment that feels particularly earned. Hoshi has demonstrated little interest in the command track, to the point that she was the only officer without her own ship in Twilight. Still, it is a character beat that works quite well, with Hoshi standing up to Samuels when he attempts to commandeer the whip and proving willing to destroy the array with her friends on board if it will save lives.

However, it is not so much Hoshi’s time in command that sells the plot thread. It is the short interaction with Archer before the launch of the mission. “I remember when you used to jump every time the engines hiccupped,” Archer reflects. Hoshi responds, “I still do. I’m just better at hiding it.” One of the more interesting aspects of episodes like Broken Bow and Fight of Flight, which fell by the wayside in later seasons, was the almost paternal relationship between Archer and Hoshi. Terra Prime offers a nice pay-off to that.

"Trip, you know, you should probably sit the next dangerous mission out."

“Trip, you know, you should probably sit the next dangerous mission out.”

Although it never had an ensemble as broad or as deep as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the fourth season of Enterprise does cultivate a nice recurring cast of characters who seem more developed than they had been across the previous three seasons. Terra Prime even features a small appearance from Derek Magyar as Kelby, one of the rare members of the crew to recur across several episodes; it has been years since the show made an effort to have a bit player recur, dating back to Cutler and Rostov in the first two seasons.

While killing off Admiral Forrest in The Forge made it impossible to incorporate Vaughn Armstrong, Terra Prime also features a small appearance from Gary Graham as Soval, which helps to bring the show something of a full circle. Soval began as a critic of Archer and his mission in Broken Bow. His support for Archer at the end of Terra Prime feels like a well-earned character beat, reflecting his growth over the course of the Kir’Shara three-parter and demonstrating how much closer the show had come to the utopian ideal of the Federation.

Having Jeffrey Combs in Terra Prime or These Are the Voyages... shouldn't have been an "and/or" choice.

Having Jeffrey Combs in Terra Prime or These Are the Voyages… shouldn’t have been an “and/or” choice.

According to the audio commentary on the episode, Garfield and Judith Reeve-Stevens had considered incorporating Shran into the story before he was poached for These Are the Voyages…:

For a while, we were hoping to have Shran in here too, as a very uncomfortable diplomat, because he was a warrior.

And so you’ll see one of the diplomats come up here, that would have been Shran. Except that Shran was then used in These Are the Voyages…, so we wrote him out of this one and his lines were given to this actor.

It is a shame that the production team could not figure out a way to involve Jeffrey Combs in both Terra Prime and These Are the Voyages…, because seeing Shran transform from warrior to reluctant diplomat would be a nice character beat.

"And I Shran... I Shran so far away..."

“And I Shran… I Shran so far away…”

One of the more interesting and appropriate aspects of Demons and Terra Prime is the way that the story takes a number of classic Star Trek beats and turns them inwards. It is quite easy to imagine Demons and Terra Prime framed as episodes of the original Star Trek or The Next Generation focusing on some alien society encountered by Kirk or Picard, prompting our heroes to help them work through their internal bigotries as a metaphor for issues that affect the contemporary world.

In particular, Demons and Terra Prime recall those stories in which Kirk or Picard would visit a seemingly idyllic world only to discover something fundamentally rotten at the core of the society. The Hunted comes to mind, as does The Cloud Minders. The story is even populated with familiar archetypes. Paxton is the genocidal fascist, the quasi-Hitler who tends to serve as an antagonist in stories like this. Samuels is the weak-willed administrator who is technically allied with the heroes, but only serves to make their mission that much tougher.

Don't worry, JJ will make it look a lot cooler.

Don’t worry, JJ will make it look a lot cooler.

There is something appropriate about concluding Enterprise on such an archetypal Star Trek plot. So much of the fourth season has been dedicated to dovetailing the show back into the larger franchise that it seems entirely appropriate to bring the curtain down on the season with what is effectively a classic “planet of the week” plot. Of course, the brilliant twist is that Demons and Terra Prime are not about a random “planet of the week.” They are about Earth. They take a classic Star Trek story and play it out on Earth, because those stories have to start somewhere.

It is a very clever touch that capitalises on the idea of Enterprise as a prequel series. Of course Earth would be the first “planet of the week.” If the Star Trek franchise is to be about idealistic voyagers traveling through the cosmos bringing peace and prosperity with them, then the logical leaping-off point is Earth. Much like Demons and Terra Prime suggest that the Star Trek universe might finally be ready to begin because it is finally ready for Spock, the two-parter suggests that Earth has finally made peace with itself and can begin looking outwards.

"Don't worry, JJ will make me look a lot cooler."

“Don’t worry, JJ will make me look a lot cooler.”

In keeping with the sense that this is the end of Enterprise, Demons and Terra Prime return to the recurring theme of history and legacy that have been bubbling through the fourth season. As it faces cancellation, Enterprise worries about how it will be remembered both by the fanbase and by larger pop culture. There is a recurring sense that Enterprise is being positioned as a “secret history” locked off in a continuity lacuna, buried away and forgotten. Despite all the effort to tie it into “the canon”, it seems destined to be little more than a footnote.

At the start of Demons, the characters lament their fate. “I thought it was a fine speech,” Phlox remarks after Samuels cedes the floor. Travis responds, “Just missing a few names.” Reed deadpans, “You’d think this was all his idea.” Hoshi is diplomatic, “It’s not about who gets credit.” Trip complains, “He could’ve at least mentioned Enterprise.” T’Pol offers, “I’m sure history will reflect our contribution.” However, the question is left hanging in the air. Will Enterprise be remembered or forgotten? Will it be remembered as the show that killed the franchise?

"Yep, those are the guys, right there."

“Yep, those are the guys, right there.”

There is an irony to all this. Because Enterprise was conceived and developed long after the original Star Trek or The Next Generation, the franchise was never structured to include a prequel. There was never a sense that there was a great big mythic story that needed to be told, that there were legendary figures in the history of the Federation who were talked about in the same way that the characters on The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine talked about Kirk. Trying to cram a show into that space seemed an awkward fit.

From the outset, due to their late addition to the canon and the lack of foreshadowing or set-up on the early series, it seemed like the characters of Enterprise were meant to be forgotten. What could Archer have meaningfully accomplished if nobody talked about him? Even Picard seemed to be a living legend in his own time based on the events of The Best of Both Worlds, Part II. Why wasn’t a copy of Archer’s Enterprise hanging in Picard’s Briefing Room, alongside the aircraft carrier or the shuttle?

"I want YOU... to become a space racist."

“I want YOU… to become a space racist.”

Terra Prime attempts to offer the crew something of a happy ending. After hogging the spotlight at the start of Demons, Nathan Samuels very graciously cedes the floor to allow Archer his big moment. It is a nice gesture that makes a point of allowing the Enterprise crew a (brief) moment in the sun, and perhaps tacitly acknowledging that they are destined to be consigned to the margins of history. Indeed, Judith and Garfield Reeve-Stevens make a point to actually let Archer make his speech, which is more than can be said for These Are the Voyages…

Demons and Terra Prime feel bittersweet, for all that the episodes end with the promise that the Star Trek franchise will endure. Elizabeth’s death stands on for the death of Enterprise itself, a show that died in its crib. Samuels’ decision to give Archer the floor at the end of Terra Prime seems ironic given the stubborn refusal of These Are the Voyages… to afford its nominal star the same courtesy. The characters’ anxieties about being relegated to a historical footnote seem vindicated when These Are the Voyages… slots them between the scenes of Pegasus.

Enemy mining operation.

Enemy mining operation.

In a way, Demons and Terra Prime feel like an appropriate ending for the show, a conclusion that is most pointedly not a victory lap or a celebration. This is not All Good Things…, assuring viewers that the adventure will continue and that the journey continues. This is not What You Believe Behind, a story about how the crew have accomplished everything that they were meant to do together and now must go their separate ways. Demons and Terra Prime feel like the beginning of something, only to be re-purposed to serve as the end.

That is the perfect place to leave Enterprise, the show that was very clearly intended to signal a new beginning for the Berman era only to serve as its end. Demons and Terra Prime acknowledge that Enterprise was deeply flawed from its inception, that it was a fundamentally broken show. This is a two-parter about the crew confronting a decay that has taken root at home, baked into the very foundation of the franchise. It is not a story about heroes who will be remembered, but those who dance between the raindrops of history.

Carrying on.

Carrying on.

Enterprise came into its own in its final two seasons, two seasons that do deserve some measure of critical rehabilitation and which demonstrated the potential of both the premise and the production team. However, there was no denying that the first two seasons of the show had been massively disappointing, a demonstration of how little Star Trek had evolved in the nine years following the end of The Next Generation. For reasons both internal and external to the production, Enterprise had been creatively hobbled.

Again, it is interesting to wonder whether Enterprise could ever have been saved, whether it could have attracted the audience and attention necessary to keep a show alive in the ruthless landscape of early twenty-first century television. As easy as it is to blame the production team for being overly conservative in those early seasons or to blame the network for imposing unworkable creative limitations, the truth is that Enterprise has entered the world shackled to a network that was going through its own process of change and living on its own borrowed time.

"We have to stop meeting like this."

“We have to stop meeting like this.”

Even if Enterprise had somehow managed to emerge as Battlestar Galactica, even if it had been the best of the Star Trek spin-offs, even if it had somehow united a fractured fanbase, it seems unlikely that the show would ever have survived beyond this point – and certainly not beyond the looming merger of UPN with the WB. However, the show would certainly be better remembered. Its legacy would be secure. After all, Firefly lingered in the cultural memory despite failing to make it to a single full season.

There is symbolic value in having Enterprise return home in an episode called Demons to confront a problem that has nestled itself right at the heart of the franchise. Much like mirror!Archer, Paxton is presented as a man not too far removed from the earliest iterations of Jonathan Archer. Paxton is a paranoid xenophobe who believes that mankind must prove itself capable of “going it alone”, complete with daddy issues. In fact, those daddy issues form the bulk of the dialogue between Archer and Paxton at the climax of Terra Prime.

Talk about an Archer foe.

Talk about an Archer foe.

In its own way, this confrontation demonstrates how far Enterprise had come. Broken Bow presented Archer as a hero for his willingness to stick it to the Vulcans, for his reluctance to trust his Vulcan science officer and for his stubborn insistence that mankind could handle its own damn problems without the assistance of outsiders. In late September 2001, Jonathan Archer was cast as a heroic archetype for the era of President George W. Bush. This version of Archer arrived at a time when President George W. Bush’s approval ratings were skyrocketing.

Four years later, at the end of Enterprise and at the end of President George W. Bush’s first term, the attributes that had once seemed heroic now seemed ill-judged. That rugged stereotypical machismo had led the United States into two on-going land wars in the Middle-East that still simmered. Although the public had embraced “mission accomplished”, they were more skeptical of “plan for victory.” Bush had won a second term, but his approval ratings were in sharp decline, dropping below fifty percent.

Cheap shot.

Cheap shot.

As such, Paxton is very much a reflection on those changes, a demonstration of the cultural shift that had taken place in the intervening years. The attributes that had made Archer a hero in Broken Bow are heightened to make Paxton a villain in Demons and Terra Prime. (The two even share a first name, as if to emphasise the parallels.) Like the horrors of the mirror universe in In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I and In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II, Paxton is not an external threat. He represents something festering at the heart of the show. He is Enterprise‘s shadow self.

Much like Elizabeth, is seems like Enterprise was doomed and flawed from its inception. But that does not mean the entire journey has been a waste. Demons and Terra Prime demonstrate that Enterprise has come a long way. Even if the series ended right back where it started, the view has changed dramatically.

10 Responses

  1. “Meanwhile, the supporting characters are virtual non-factors. … Travis? Apparently he had a girlfriend once upon a time. That’s not just television, that’s compellevision.” – Jammer

  2. This is all alternate history, anyway. If Iraq had not fallen apart, the administration would have moved on to Iran.

  3. “It is a nice gesture that makes a point of allowing the Enterprise crew a (brief) moment in the sun”

    This is as good a time as any to quote Gene Siskel. “I’d rather watch these same actors having lunch.”

    The cast seem like cool people off-camera. (Even Montgomery.) They were sandbagged.

    • Montgomery seems genuinely charming in person. He has such an energy talking about what he’s doing that it’s a shame he was wasted on the obligatory helm’s man role. He’s not the strongest actor, but charisma can go a long way if you let it. (I would have loved more sequences like the ghost story sequence from Strange New World, which played to his strengths more than any heavy dramatic beats in stories like Fortunate Son or Horizon.)

  4. This two parter is pretty good in that it actually takes advantage of Enterprise’s setting. The story wouldn’t have worked in TOS or TNG or even DS9, given how Earth is presented, it just wouldn’t make sense without some serious mental gymnastics. However, it works very well in Enterprise because of the setting, and it feels like an appropriate prequel to the franchise. That rare time Enterprise shined.

    And yeah this should have been the final episode, not “These Are The Voyages”

  5. Darren, it was so incredibly odd and disconcerting watching “Demons” and “Terra Prime” in 2017. I think is almost impossible to see these two episodes with John Frederick Paxton and not be reminded of a certain someone else. Paxton is a wealthy businessman, charismatic and virulently xenophobic, a man who draws inspiration from dictators and militarism, a demagogue who has stirred up the resentments of the poorly-educated, economically downtrodden members of society, forming them into a dangerous political movement that scapegoats outsiders for all of society’s ills.

    Oh, well, at least Paxton is much more eloquent than Trump, and he certainly doesn’t waste most of his time either tweeting or golfing.

    If the utopia of Star Trek seemed far-away in 2005, it feels like an impossibility in 2017. Trump is eroding the institutions of democracy and destabilizing global affairs. The environment is literally on the cusp of collapse, with numerous powerful institutions willfully turning a blind eye to this danger because they are more concerned with their short-term profits. Economic inequality has reached appalling levels. Right now it feels like the most likely outcomes are worldwide conflict or a vast environmental disaster.

    I just hope that, as in the fictional Star Trek universe, this darkness eventually dissipates and in the end leads to something better.

    • I rewatched these episodes last year, when it still seemed like Trump couldn’t possibly win. Even then, it was a reminder of how far mankind had to go.

      I suspect that Trump’s victory is a large part of what’s made me so frustrated with the milquetoast middle-of-the-roads politics of much of the Berman era, a reminder that the Star Trek franchise is a show that is more interested in its utopia than in how exactly mankind is supposed to get there. The Star Trek franchise, like everyone and everything else, needs to be willing to stand up and make decisions that will offend bigots rather than allowing them the comfort of going unchallenged. If nothing else, I’ll always appreciate Beyond for finally giving us a gay character, even if that scene didn’t go far enough. I’m already very happy with Discovery for featuring a gay character and a black female lead. Even if it is flawed (and I suspect it will be) that alone is reason to be glad of its existence.

      BONUS TRUMP COMPARISON: Paxton is also an avowed daddy’s boy who never really made anything meaningful of his inheritance.

  6. As a long time Star Trek fan, I was not one of those who disliked “Enterprise”, per se. However, at the time of its’ original release, I only watched the first two season of the show (dropping out after the 1st episode of season 3.) Thanks to the miracle of CBS All Access, I decided to binge the rest of the series and was glad that I did. It is interesting to me that some of the stories lines in the final two seasons could easily be interpreted as commentaries on current events in the year 2020 (e.g., the xenophobia of Trump in “Demons” and “Terra Prime” and even the Coronavirus in “Affliction” and “Divergence” ).

    Anyway, I discovered this site as I was looking for some kind of recaps to read on “Enterprise”. Darren, just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your reviews. It really helped with my enjoyment of seasons 3 & 4. Thanks!

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