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Star Trek: Enterprise – These Are The Voyages… (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.

1994 was peak Star Trek.

Of course, the particulars are open to debate. There are credible arguments that could be made for the following year, when Paramount considered broadcasting Caretaker to be just about the only statement that UPN needed to make on it opening night. There are even plausible arguments that could be made about the year after that, when the franchise officially celebrated its thirtieth anniversary with a beloved movie, two anniversary episodes and a whole host of affection press coverage.

"So, I've been Netflixing Enterprise, and the final two seasons are REALLY good."

“So, I’ve been Netflixing Enterprise, and the final two seasons are REALLY good.”

Nevertheless, it all seems to come down to 1994. That was the year that Star Trek: The Next Generation came to an end. It was the only season of Star Trek overseen by Rick Berman to by nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the Prime-Time Emmy Awards. It was the point at which the original Star Trek cast were retired, with William Shatner officially passing the torch to Patrick Stewart before a bridge fell on him in Star Trek: Generations. At the same time, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was in its second season. Star Trek: Voyager was ready to launch.

More importantly, that season of television represented the turning point for the franchise’s ratings. While The Next Generation actually experienced its highest viewing figures during its fourth and fifth seasons, the end of The Next Generation with its seventh season signaled a gradual erosion of the franchise’s viewing base. There are lots of reasons for this that have nothing to do with quality and more to do with the realities of network television, but this simple fact helps to solidify the feeling that the final season of The Next Generation was something of a golden age.

An Enterprising couple.

An Enterprising couple.

It could legitimately be argued that the Berman era was haunted by the spectre of 1994 for the longest of times. Ironically enough for a show set on a space station, Deep Space Nine managed to chart its own course only to end up isolated from the franchise around it. While Deep Space Nine would end up an evolutionary dead-end for the franchise, the seven seasons of Voyager and the first two seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise would find the franchise trapped within a phantom version of 1994 that seemed to last forever.

Enterprise finally escaped the long cold shadow of The Next Generation with the broadcast of The Expanse at the end of its second season. The final two seasons of Enterprise would find the show experimenting and innovating with new narrative forms and new approaches to the franchise. The third season of Enterprise finally allowed Brannon Braga to follow through on his original pitch for Year of Hell, Part I and Year of Hell, Part II. The fourth season largely eschewed episodic plotting for multi-episode arcs excavating the canon.

"C'mon, you didn't think they'd let Enterprise finish without a holodeck episode, did you?"

“C’mon, you didn’t think they’d let Enterprise finish without a holodeck episode, did you?”

Perhaps that is why These Are the Voyages… is so shocking, beyond the myriad of minor complaints. These Are the Voyages… takes the franchise right back to 1994 as if the evolutionary leaps of the prior two seasons never took place. The episode invites the audience to wonder whether it might all be a dream, a fantasy playing out on the holodeck to help Riker pass the time. After all, the episode does not close in the twenty-second century with the decommissioning of Enterprise; the episode closes with Riker and Troi right back in 1994.

That is the true heartbreaking tragedy of These Are the Voyages… No matter how far the Berman era might come, it can never escape 1994.

Warp speed ahead...

Warp speed ahead…

It is impossible to overstate just how much everybody loved The Next Generation. Although history has not always been kind to the show, it was one of the defining television shows of the early nineties. Picard and Data may never have accrued the cultural cache of Kirk and Spock, but it seems highly likely that Patrick Stewart will always be recognised as Captain Jean-Luc Picard – no matter how many X-Men films he might headline. There is a reason that these characters were the only other Star Trek cast to get a movie franchise.

In recent years, fandom has tended to focus on Deep Space Nine as a more subversive and progressive spin-off. This is perfectly fair. Deep Space Nine is massively underrated and too frequently overlooked in discussions of the franchise. However, that distinction explains why The Next Generation was so important. The Next Generation was arguably the last Star Trek television show to make an appreciable impact on wider pop culture. It was not a fringe show or a cult hit. It was a massively successful television show on a level that none of the following shows could match.

Trust me, alcohol will make this a whole lot easier...

“Trust me, alcohol will make this a whole lot easier…”

There are a lot of reasons for this, but it is important to stress that The Next Generation was really good. A lot of people watched the show because it was clever and entertaining, featuring a likable ensemble. No matter what other factors contributed to its success, it is important to remember that The Next Generation was consistently very good and regularly brilliant. No series producing twenty-six episodes in a season can hit home-runs from start to finish, but The Next Generation enjoyed a relatively high batting average for a late eighties and early nineties television show.

However, there were other factors that contributed to its success. The decision to syndicate the show, rather than tying it to a network, had proven to be a very clever idea. It gave the show a great deal of freedom and a unique market strategy that did not shackle it to the fate of a single broadcast channel. The fates of Voyager and Enterprise were largely tied to the fate of UPN. As it turned out, UPN would not live much longer than Enterprise, and the network was arguably less mourned than its deeply troubled Star Trek show.

Synthehol ain't gonna cut it...

Synthehol ain’t gonna cut it…

However, Deep Space Nine was also syndicated and never enjoyed the same success as The Next Generation. While The Next Generation dramatically grew its audience in its first few years, Deep Space Nine watched its audience dwindle in its first few years. The reality was that The Next Generation had been spectacularly lucky with its timing. It arrived in the late eighties, when special effects were improving enough to make it viable, but before the explosion in nineties genre television flooded the airwaves with space shows. The Next Generation was novel.

The Next Generation had never had to fight for attention or compete for its audience in the same way that its siblings would. Deep Space Nine had to court viewers who might otherwise focus on shows like Babylon 5 or The X-Files or Sliders, to say nothing of the myriad of one-season wonders like V.R. 5 or Earth 2. Voyager and Enterprise had to compete for its audience among even more shows like Stargate SG-1, including those branded with Gene Roddenberry’s name like Earth: Final Conflict or Andromeda.

Let's face it, this isn't even like the tenth creepiest thing a Next Generation crew member has done on the holodeck.

Let’s face it, this isn’t even like the tenth creepiest thing a Next Generation crew member has done on the holodeck.

However, the franchise never evolved. Voyager spent seven years coasting off the success of The Next Generation. Again, this impulse is understandable. Conservatism is a logical response to a period of sustained success; why change something if it is clearly working? As a result, it seemed like the Berman era was trapped in amber. The seven seasons of Voyager can be read as conscious attempts to recapture the fading glory of those final few seasons of The Next Generation. However, seven years is a long time to be trapped in the amber.

It becomes even longer when the first two seasons of Enterprise are added to the mix. There was a sense that the Star Trek franchise never evolved beyond the end of The Next Generation, to the point that a significant run of second season episodes of Enterprise feel like reheated leftovers from earlier Star Trek shows. The Next Generation had breathed new life into the Star Trek franchise, but a refusal to look beyond The Next Generation would arguably kill it. In a way, then, it was entirely appropriate for the Berman era to come to an end by returning to 1994.

"Computer, end franchise."

“Computer, end franchise.”

These Are the Voyages… is hated, and understandably so. However, it it easy to see why the production team felt like it might have been a good idea at the time. Indeed, Rick Berman has gone so far as to claim that the episode wasn’t intended as a “goodbye” to the franchise and would have been season finale regardless of cancellation. Interestingly, Mike Sussman had originally pitched an idea that was reasonably similar to the finale as it was developed:

“My idea was pretty different from the direction they went,” Sussman says. “Suffice to say, my version wouldn’t have worked for a series finale at all! I wanted to find Picardo’s Doctor treating an apparently crazy mental patient in a holodeck version of the NX-01. This mental patient, who’d be played by Scott [Bakula], would be convinced that he was, in fact, Jonathan Archer, and he needed the Doctor’s help to get back to his own century. The story would touch on that classic theme about a doctor falling for one of his patient’s delusions. For every piece of evidence “Archer” would have that he’s telling the truth, you’d have a contradictory piece of evidence suggesting this guy was really just nuts. It would’ve been great to leave the audience wondering in the end ‘was that really Jonathan Archer trapped in the future, or just some crazy guy who read too many history books?'”

Even beyond the use of the holodeck and an existing character, Sussman’s original pitch hints at the appeal of such a storytelling device. It affords Enterprise some retroactive validation, tying it back into the larger history of the franchise by having characters from a later era explicitly acknowledge it. Of course, presenting Archer as a potentially crazy person trapped in his own fantasy would tie back into the recurring insecurity around Enterprise‘s place in the canon.

Holo promises.

Holo promises.

After all, the fourth season of Enterprise has been somewhat preoccupied with the question of the show’s legacy. Enterprise had always been insecure about its relationship with the larger Star Trek canon, to the point that the first two seasons did not even include the words “Star Trek” in the opening credits and the Temporal Cold War seemed to loom above the show as a gigantic reset button that could erase the entire series from history if that should become necessary. However, that anxiety only became more pronounced during the fourth season.

In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I and In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II assured audiences that the exploits of Jonathan Archer had been preserved in the Federation database, even as mirror!Archer had an existential crisis about his own place in history. Demons suggested that Nathan Samuels was writing the crew out of history, only for Terra Prime to cede the floor to Archer so that he could deliver a stirring monologue about the core principles of the larger Star Trek franchise to rapturous applause.

Minor figures.

Minor figures.

That insecurity plays through These Are the Voyages… as well. The show opens with the minor characters reflecting on their own place in history, and Archer’s selfless refusal of the credit he is owed. “He’ll undoubtedly make every effort to take no credit,” Reed reflects. “Undoubtedly,” T’Pol concurs. Hoshi responds, “That’d be like Zefram Cochrane not taking credit for warp drive.” There is a sense that Enterprise is somewhat bitterly bemoaning its inevitable place as the forgotten and overlooked Star Trek spin-off.

There is a lot of that in These Are the Voyages…, which takes every opportunity to assure the audience that Archer is an essential part of the Star Trek canon. Because Enterprise was written after the shows to which it serves as a prequel, none of those shows actually feature any references to the events of Enterprise. The production team were able to retroactively fashion a reference from a stray line of dialogue in Yesterday’s Enterprise, but there was never a notion that there had been a historically significant character named “Archer.”

Riking distance.

ST: Riking distance.

Again, that is perfectly understandable. After all, the production designers building the Briefing Room on The Next Generation could never have known to include an extra ship on the wall just in case the writers decided to try and slot a later series into the gap that existed between the present day and the original Star Trek. However, with the dwindling ratings and the lingering question of legacy, this perceived lack of legitimacy was a source of growing concern for the show.

These Are the Voyages… seeks to retroactively fix this by allowing Riker and Troi to reflect on just how much this new addition to the canon has always meant to them. Complaining about Reed’s short stature, Riker reflects, “It’s just… you expect larger than life people to be larger than life.” There is some suggestion that the Enterprise itself has been preserved. “Have you spent any time on the NX-01?” Riker asks. “I think I went when I was a little girl,” Troi admits. “But I get all those museum ships mixed up.”

Of course, larger than life figures really need to watch their heads.

Of course, larger than life figures really need to watch their heads.

In theory, an episode like These Are the Voyages… should serve to tackle those fears head-on by focusing on characters from the chronologically later shows demonstrating the Enterprise and its characters were remembered and were a part of the canon. Brannon Braga argues that it was intended as a farewell to the franchise rather than to the show itself:

I do have some regrets about that final episode. It didn’t quite creatively align with the rest of the season. … The final episode was very controversial and I do have some regrets about it. What we were trying to do was send a valentine to all the Star Trek shows. Enterprise just happened to be the show on at the time and it turns out the episode was a failure. It had some great stuff in it and it was a cool concept, but it was languid. I don’t know if it fully delivered and it really pissed off the cast. It was a hybrid show. Rick [Berman] and I were involved in the franchise for years (Rick for 18 – me for 15). We felt like we wanted to send a valentine to the show, but I do concur it was not a complete success.

The backlash against the episode was almost immediate, and had only grown more pronounced in the intervening years. Rick Berman was defending the episode within months of the original broadcast, while Manny Coto was put in the awkward position of preemptively defending the episode without actually watching it. Jonathan Frakes was somewhat more candid in the years that followed, acknowledging that the episode “stinks.”

"I mean, our finale can't be that much worse than Voyager's can it?"

“I mean, our finale can’t be that much worse than Voyager‘s. Can it?”

As much as These Are the Voyages… might seem well-intentioned, it is hobbled by several glaring issues. The most obvious is the manner in which it makes Enterprise clearly secondary and subservient to The Next Generation. Of course, Enterprise is technically secondary to The Next Generation, serving as a spin-off from that massively successful show. However, this is not be the best place to emphasise this fact, for the production team to loudly and stubbornly remind the audience that Enterprise was a failure and The Next Generation was a success.

To be fair, Enterprise never really had the healthiest relationship with The Next Generation. The show was sold to audiences as a prequel to Star Trek, but it frequently felt like a sequel to Star Trek: First Contact. While the first and second season seemed reluctant to embrace the aesthetic and stylings of the original Star Trek, they took every opportunity to tie into The Next Generation. Protein synthesisers looked more like replicators than food slots. The design of the ship bore little resemblance to the work of Matt Jefferies.

That said, it is entirely possible that the second season of Enterprise is nothing more than Riker loosely adapting some of his own more memorable adventures for Archer and crew.

That said, it is entirely possible that the second season of Enterprise is nothing more than Riker loosely adapting some of his own more memorable adventures for Archer and crew.

That is before getting into individual episodes. Unexpected featured the forerunner of the holodeck. The Nausicaans appeared in Fortunate Son. The Ferengi appeared in Acquisition. The Borg returned in Regeneration. The second season featured premises lifted wholesale from The Next Generation; Dawn was Darmok, Precious Cargo was The Perfect Mate, Vanishing Point was Realm of Fear or Remember Me. It seems fair to suggest that the first two seasons of Enterprise had an awkwardly obsessive relationship with The Next Generation.

To be fair, the show had begun to come into its own in its third and fourth seasons, spreading its wings and escaping out from under the shadow of The Next Generation in much the same way that Deep Space Nine had. However, These Are the Voyages… seems to exist specifically to undo any of that development. Indeed, the episode seems to gloss over a lot of what happened in the last year of Enterprise, as if to suggest that the final season really wasn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.

"What's cookin' between you and Trip?"

“What’s cookin’ between you and Trip?”

There is a passing reference to the death of T’Les in Awakening and an acknowledgment of the relationship between Trip and T’Pol that began with Bound. However, there is also a firm rejection of that romance as an aberration in the grand scheme of things; it is made clear that Trip and T’Pol reset to factory defaults fairly quickly. The emphasis on the Coalition at the heart of These Are the Voyages… would seem like an organic development stemming from the events of Demons and Terra Prime, but the fourth seasons move towards the Federation are glossed over.

When Archer explains his friendship with Shran, he makes no reference to Shran’s help building the alliance in United or helping Archer to defeat the Romulan drone in The Aenar. Instead, he references the events of Zero Hour. He reminds T’Pol, “If Shran hadn’t helped us, I never would’ve gotten aboard the Xindi weapon. Have you forgotten that?” Given that Zero Hour was the last episode of the third season and the last episode of Enterprise to be written by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, the choice seems conspicuous.

Sinking AND swimming.

Sinking AND swimming.

There is also a sense of arrested development. These Are the Voyages… takes place six years after the events of Demons and Terra Prime, serving as something as a coda to Enterprise and a book end to the larger franchise. However, nothing has meaningful has changed. There are a lot of superficial changes, but nothing meaningful. It seems like six years of growth can be reduced to the addition of some monitors to the bridge, an adjustment of T’Pol’s hairstyle and the inclusion of a name tag to the familiar jumpsuits.

It is worth pausing and stressing this point. These cosmetic and technological changes are what These Are the Voyages… would consider to represent growth and evolution. In many ways, this feels like a glaring example of the issues with the later stages of the Berman era, particularly the run of Voyager and the early seasons of Enterprise. The Star Trek franchise has a habit of mistaking technological and organisational advancement for meaningful growth and development, a tendency to fixate upon material changes at the expense of character evolution.

Wow, Riker wasn't being a jerk. Reed really is tiny.

Wow, Riker wasn’t being a jerk. Reed really is tiny.

This is a recurring theme across the entirety of the franchise, and is especially the case with Voyager and Enterprise. After all, Voyager was a show where technobabble was frequently treated as a dramatically satisfying resolution to the plot of the week. Although Enterprise was nominally the story of how mankind built the utopia at the heart of the Star Trek franchise, the show seemed to embrace technological determinism. The solution to famine and hunger could be found in the replicator protein resequencer, not in an evolution of the human mindset.

The third and fourth seasons had moved away from that approach, focusing less on the importance of Star Trek technology like the transporter or the holodeck in favour of more meaningful debates about how mankind was to build a better future. After all, the fourth season begun winding down with two two-parters that contrasted the fourth season’s version of Jonathan Archer with his earlier more xenophobic self. The stubborn self-righteous Archer of Broken Bow could be seen reflected in mirror!Archer and John Frederick Paxton.

Although, to be fair, the invention of circuit breakers was a pretty big deal within the Star Trek universe.

Although, to be fair, the invention of circuit breakers was a pretty big deal within the Star Trek universe.

These Are the Voyages… is not interested in ideas like that. Indeed, Archer and T’Pol even make a point to bicker like no time has passed since those strained moments in the early first season. When Shran requests assistance, T’Pol is reluctant to offer it. Archer offers a piece of his mind. “You don’t trust Andorians,” he remarks. “You never have. Thank God the Vulcan Council is a little more enlightened than you are. If they’re willing to forge an alliance with Andoria, the least you can do is give Shran the benefit of the doubt.”

Again, the script sort of couches this characterisation. Archer adds, “When we met ten years ago, I didn’t trust you. For that matter, I didn’t trust any Vulcans. You helped me get past that, remember?” However, These Are the Voyages… offers a glimpse of the more paranoid version of Archer from those early episodes, along with the more judgmental (and borderline racist) version of T’Pol. It is almost as if no time has passed since Strange New World or Breaking the Ice or Fusion.

"Let's be honest, Captain. If one of us was going to end up a wanted criminal, my money would've been on you."

“Let’s be honest, Captain. If one of us was going to end up a wanted criminal, my money would’ve been on you.”

(This is to say nothing of how the episode mischaracterises Shran. Shran is a character who has repeatedly and consistently been characterised as trustworthy and honourable; his sense of duty and debt was at the heart of Zero Hour, to pick one example. In the years since The Aenar, it is suggested that Shran made some “poor choices” and associated with “the wrong friends; people involved in questionable business ventures.” This is hard to reconcile with the character as fans know and love him.)

Of course, any issues with plot and characterisation in These Are the Voyages… can be excused as a mistake with the holodeck programme. After all, the historical record is inevitably imprecise and subject to error. However, these errors are not like the errors in Living Witness; they do not serve plot or theme. It would be one thing to include such errors in an episode about how Archer and his crew had been distorted or forgotten, but the entire point of the episode is very much the opposite. This is supposed to be an episode about how Enterprise is remembered.

"All good things... but then, I guess that's what you leave behind when you enter endgame. Life's really jsut a turnabout intruder, when it comes down to it."

“All good things… but then, I guess that’s what you leave behind when you enter endgame. Life’s really just a turnabout intruder, when it comes down to it.”

Even looking at These Are the Voyages… as a tribute to the larger franchise, it falls well short. This is not an episode about paying homage to Star Trek or Deep Space Nine or Voyager. There are a few fleeting references to the original Star Trek, with Riker explaining that T’Pol’s viewer was also a feature on Kirk’s Enterprise and audio snippet from Kirk’s iconic monologue at the very end of the episode, but it is largely ignored. Still, that is more celebration than Deep Space Nine or Voyager receive.

As far as These Are the Voyages… is concerned, Star Trek begins and ends with The Next Generation. The dialogue in the sequences set on Archer’s ship is packed with very specific homages to the first live action Star Trek spin off. “Never thought it would come to an end,” Trip reflects at one point. Reed responds, wryly, “All good things…” The next reference is a bit more galling, with Archer toasting, “Here’s to the next generation.” This is not an episode about closing out the franchise, it is an episode about remembering how awesome everything was in 1994.

"What, you mean it's not cool to just use the Briefing Room to go through personal slide shows?"

“What, you mean it’s not cool to just use the Briefing Room to go through personal slide shows?”

This is most obvious in the affection and energy that These Are the Voyages… demonstrate in recreating the sets and aesthetic of The Next Generation. The episode takes a great deal of pleasure in showcasing those classic sets. Was it really necessary for the episode to recreate Ten Forward and the Briefing Room and Troi’s Quarters? How about skilfully rendering Picard’s Enterprise in high-definition? Couldn’t that money have been spent better elsewhere? Certainly, the story does not demand that lavish expense.

There is a very clear sense that the Next Generation sequences enjoyed a higher budget and production standard than the Enterprise sequences. Much less effort is put into recreating the Rigel X set from Broken Bow, despite its thematic importance to the episode. That once thriving space port is shown to be almost completely empty while Ten Forward is packed with classic Next Generation aliens like the Ferengi and the Zakdorn. It feels like the bulk of the finale’s budget went to celebrating The Next Generation rather than closing Enterprise.

"And you're SURE we can't convince you to put back on the makeup, Brent?"

“And you’re SURE we can’t convince you to put back on the makeup, Brent?”

As a result, These Are the Voyages… is an episode that feels dismissive of everything that happened to the Star Trek franchise after 1994. There is a crushing irony in this fact, given that it was the franchise’s stubborn refusal to evolve past 1994 that would leave it feeling so stagnant and tired at the turn of the millennium. These Are the Voyages… feels at times like a cruel punchline, suggesting that lessons that Enterprise had eventually learned in its final two seasons were forgotten far too easily.

While These Are the Voyages… is just as dismissive of Deep Space Nine and Voyager, it is the treatment of the Enterprise cast and crew that is most upsetting. It might be tempting to look on These Are the Voyages… as a post-season episode, but the truth is that the cast are done a huge disservice by the script. It is interesting to wonder whether These Are the Voyages… might have been more honest to open with revamped credits in the style of In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I or In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I, perhaps even done in the style of The Next Generation.

"Boy, the recession has not been kind to this place."

“Boy, the recession has not been kind to this place.”

The result is that the cast of Enterprise feel like guest stars in their own finale. This caused no shortage of controversy at the time. Brannon Braga has reflected of the episode, “It was the only time Scott Bakula got pissed off at me.” Given that Scott Bakula is generally regarded as one of the most professional actors to work on the franchise, that is no small accomplishment. Jolene Blalock was typically candid in her assessment. “I assumed that the ending would be about our show and not a wrapup of the conglomerate… it was just insulting.”

To be fair, some of the cast are more even-handed in their assessment. Dominic Keating has admitted, “It wasn’t just our four years. They’d done a lot more stuff prior to us. So I thought it was fair enough.” John Billingsley agrees, somewhat, “I also think they were on some level trying to find a way to say goodbye, or at least goodbye for now, to the entire franchise, and to that extent I could understand what the thought process was in wanting to bring in some of the Next Gen characters.”

Troi-ing too hard.

Troi-ing too hard.

Rick Berman has acknowledged that he did not anticipate the overwhelming negative response to the episode, and that he would never have written it had he know how fans would respond:

I would have never done it if I had known how people were going to react. We were informed with not a whole lot of time that this was our last season. We knew that this was going to be the last episode of Star Trek for perhaps quite some time – and here we are, almost six years later. So it was the last episode for quite a length of time. It was a very difficult choice, how to end it. The studio wanted it to be a one-hour episode. We wanted it to be special. We wanted it to be something that would be memorable. This idea, which Brannon and I came up with – and I take full responsibility – pissed a lot of people off, and we certainly didn’t mean it to. Our thought was to take this crew and see them through the eyes of a future generation, see them through the eyes of the people who we first got involved in Star Trek with 18 years before, with Picard and Riker and Data, etc., and to see the history of how Archer and his crew went from where we had them to where, eventually, the Federation was formed, in some kind of a magical holographic history lesson.

It seemed like a great idea. A lot of people were furious about it. The actors, most of them, were very unhappy. In retrospect it was a bad idea. When it was conceived it was with our heart completely in the right place. We wanted to pay the greatest homage and honor to the characters of Enterprise that we possibly could, but because Jonathan (Frakes) and Marina (Sirtis) were the two people we brought in, and they were the ones looking back, it was perceived as “You’re ending our series with a TNG episode.” I understand how people felt that way. Too many people felt that way for them to be wrong. Brannon and I felt terrible that we’d let a lot of people down. It backfired, but our hearts were definitely in the right place. It just was not accepted in the way we thought it would be.

To be fair to Berman, the basic concept is flawed without being inherently toxic. It is easy to imagine a version of the episode that might have worked. In fact, Living Witness provides a much better execution of the premise.

MACO-ing the most of it.

MACO-ing the most of it.

The fatal problems with These Are the Voyages… all lie in the execution rather than the core concept. Most obviously, the entire episode is seeded with a palpable bitterness and resentfulness. These Are the Voyages… might have been written as a joyous celebration of the franchise, but the entire tone of the episode is spiteful. There is a sense of lingering anger about the cancellation and the treatment of the show, a clear feeling that the production team feel betrayed and disappointed that filters through into the episode.

This is not to suggest that Berman and Braga consciously channelled their own frustrations into the script, but it bleeds from the script. Both of the executive producers have discussed their own emotional responses to the decline and cancellation of the show, with both Berman and Braga arguing that the show never really got a fair shake. After all, Enterprise was eagerly rushed into production by UPN only to find itself treated like an unwanted stepchild following a change of management late in its first season. Fandom had been vocal and hostile to the show.

Letting (T)rip...

Letting (T)rip…

There are several details of These Are the Voyages… that feel positively spiteful. The most obvious is the death of Trip. Trip was very much the breakout character on Enterprise, owing to the magnetic performance of Connor Trinneer that somehow managed to remain charming through dreck like Unexpected or Acquisition. Trip was the heart and soul of Enterprise. Braga has admitted, “Trip was always my favorite character on the show and I wanted to… I just wanted to kill him.” He cannot explain why, but the decision itself feels mean-spirited.

Of course, Trip’s death is symbolic. Trip is the most “Enterprise” of the Enterprise characters. He is the character who most skilfully evokes the show’s aesthetic, for better or worse. Phlox and T’Pol would fit in on any of the other spin-offs. Reed would work on Deep Space Nine. Hoshi and Mayweather could be forgotten characters on Voyager. Jonathan Archer could even substitute in for any of the other four captains at various points in his run. Trip is the only character who feels unique to Enterprise.

Good ol' boy.

Good ol’ boy.

To be honest, this is not necessarily a good thing. Enterprise was a flawed show, and Trip embodied that as well. Trip was the kind of character who drove stories like the paranoid fantasy of Strange New World or the retrograde sexist comedy of Unexpected. However, Trip also embodied the best of Enterprise. The show’s disarming bumbling charm and wide-eyed innocence, the sense that everything was being improvised in its finest moments, that there was a genuine curiousity about the larger universe. So, if Enterprise were to die, Trip could die with it.

Still, the death is vacuous and meaningless. Again, there is a sense that this serves a thematic point. Certainly, many of the production team would argue that the cancellation of Enterprise was vacuous and meaningless, less of a reflection on the show itself than the network broadcasting it. However, there is something very contrived about the whole scenario. Trip dies in a suicide plot to kill a bunch of raiders, but the character has improvised his way out of worse situations before. The sacrifice feels trite, forced by the script rather than happening organically.

Go Tuck yourself.

Go Tuck yourself.

Connor Trinneer has gone on record confessing that he was somewhat flattered at the death of Charles Tucker in These Are the Voyages…:

“I can’t say I was disappointed at how Trip ended.  I really took it as a compliment that half of that episode centred around the death of my character. Whether I was making lemonade out of lemons, I don’t know,” he says with a rueful smile, “but I took it as a compliment.”

That is a fair point, but it does little to deflect the criticisms of the death as arbitrary and mean-spirited. It feels like the production team taking out their own frustrations.

Things went South pretty fast...

Things went South pretty fast…

The death of Trip is particularly jarring because it doesn’t affect the episode at all. Archer and T’Pol have a conversation about it on the way back to Earth, but that seems to be the end of it. Archer and T’Pol get a very sweet moment before he goes on stage and Phlox wishes him the best of luck, but nobody acknowledges the death. Similarly, when the junior officers wait for Archer to appear on stage, they converse as if absolutely nothing has happened. Reed, Hoshi and Mayweather chat as if there’s nothing hanging over the ceremony.

This is particularly notable because Trip was the only member of the regular cast to die over the entirety of the ten-year mission, and he died at the last possible moment. Trip’s death should have an appreciable impact on how things unfold. It should be acknowledged in dialogue about what happens next, or in preparation for this family to break up and go their separate ways. Even if that were not the case, it should hang in the air unspoken. Instead, These Are the Voyages… struggles to find the right tone for these sequences.

"You wanna stick around for the ending?" "Nah."

“You wanna stick around for the ending?”

That said, the episode is mean-spirited in a number of other ways. Most obviously, the episode is structured to lead up to Archer’s big speech in front of the new Coalition. The teaser features the characters joking about it, while Archer repeatedly acknowledges that he is uncomfortably giving that big speech. The episode moves past the death of Trip in order to get to that ceremony and that speech. Riker and Troi eavesdrop on Reed, Hoshi and Mayweather in the cheap seats. Archer walks out on stage.

“I guess we’re through here,” Troi states. “I guess we are,” Riker responds. “Computer, end programme.” The holodeck programme cuts off. The end credits appear. The television programme ends. For all the energy spent building up to Archer’s big speech, the audience never gets to hear it. It never will. Again, as with the death of Trip, it feels like a metaphor for the cancellation of the show; it is a reminder that people don’t always get closure and that things don’t always end in the way that everybody wants. However, it is also staggeringly mean-spirited.

"All right. This is Archer's time to shine!"

“All right. This is Archer’s time to shi–!”

While the writers clearly wanted to make a point about how Enterprise had been denied the ending that they wanted, and that they felt it deserved, that is no excuse. These Are the Voyages… consciously builds towards a moment that Enterprise has signposted as the most significant moment in the show’s history, its organic end point. More than that, These Are the Voyages… repeatedly stresses the importance of Archer’s speech. Berman and Braga were perfectly capable of delivering on that promise, making their decision to undercut that moment feel vindictive.

There is a strong current of bitterness running through These Are the Voyages…, of thinly-veiled anger and contempt. After Trip dies, Archer visits T’Pol in her quarters. “When I took command ten years ago, I saw myself as an explorer,” he confesses. “I thought all the risks would be worth it because, just beyond the next planet, just beyond the next star, there would be something magnificent, something noble. And now Trip is dead, and I have to give a speech about how worthwhile it’s all been.”

"I'm the Captain, I can button my own damn shirt!"

“I’m the Captain, I can button my own damn shirt!”

It is an incredibly vindictive moment, one that feels like it was written in a fit of pique. It would be one thing if Archer’s big speech rejected all that bitterness and cynicism, but the episode does not allow for that possibility. Instead, Archer’s last big character moment is to mount a philosophical objection to the very idea of Star Trek, to suggest that the universe is full of horror rather than wonder and that mankind likely has no business looking to the stars for something majestic or beautiful. Archer sounds resentful of what the Star Trek universe has taken from him.

Again, this is entirely understandable. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga had given well over a decade of each of their lives to the franchise, and had seen all of that time and energy discarded by a network that would not last much longer either. The duo had given everything to Star Trek, only to find themselves hated in the fan press and cut off at the knees by a new management that understood nothing of the franchise. Watching fifteen-odd years of time and effort slip away is a harrowing experience. Some cynicism and frustration is natural.

That ain't the smell of success...

That ain’t the smell of success…

At the same time, These Are the Voyages… needs to exist as more than just a place for Berman and Braga to vent their (understandable) frustrations about how they and the franchise have been treated. It is an episode that represented the end of Star Trek to that point. There was no new television series planned. Star Trek: Nemesis had killed the movie franchise. Even outside of the franchise, the world was embroiled in an unending existential conflict without any victory conditions. The future looked bleaker than ever for Star Trek fans.

These Are the Voyages… could not afford to indulge in that cynicism. More than that, the cynicism felt somewhat passive-aggressive. While Berman and Braga have both argued that they wrote These Are the Voyages… for the fans, and there is certainly a lot of evidence to support that position, it feels like Enterprise is using its last episode to lash out at everyone who ever dismissed or belittled it. These Are the Voyages… is an angry jab directed at the network that crippled the show, but it also feels like a swipe at a fandom that the writers felt never gave the show a chance.

"Maybe the NEXT leap."

“Ah, well. Maybe the NEXT leap…”

It is worth contrasting Archer’s big character moments in Demons and Terra Prime to his big moments in These Are the Voyages… In many ways, Demons and Terra Prime are just as mournful and funereal as These Are the Voyages… Elizabeth serves as a metaphor for the show itself in Demons and Terra Prime, much like the Trip does in These Are the Voyages… Archer makes a big speech at the end of Terra Prime, much like he does with These Are the Voyages… However, while Demons and Terra Prime temper their cynicism, These Are the Voyages… embraces it.

That is to say nothing of the difficulties cause by trying to insert the events of These Are the Voyages… into those of Pegasus, which leads to a weird fusion not unlike the eponymous Oberth-class ship inside the asteroid in the episode in question. The absolute best case scenario is that These Are the Voyages… feels like a collection of deleted scenes from from Pegasus, a sequence or story thread that was deleted from original narrative because it was too unimportant. This seems like a paradoxical approach to take to an episode about how important Archer was.

Riker, doing his best interphasic cloak impression.

Riker, doing his best interphasic cloak impression.

However, These Are the Voyages… is not the absolute best case scenario; not by a long stretch. Brannon Braga has a history of attempting these postmodern narrative experiments to mixed results. The entirety of Flashback was designed to fit snugly inside Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, but there was no way to integrate the two stories without a whole mess of continuity issues and incongruities. With Flashback, this seemed to be something resembling the point; Flashback was a story about memory and nostalgia.

The difficulties integrating These Are the Voyages… with Pegasus cannot be so readily excused. The most obvious issues have little to do with the particulars of continuity and more to do with the general aesthetic. During the events of Pegasus, the Enterprise was under a great deal of pressure and Riker was in the middle of a personal crisis. It seems hard to believe that Riker could nip off to the holodeck with such frequency in the middle of all of that. It certainly robs the plot of Pegasus of any real urgency.

Riker usually went back to his copy of Bound, but unfortunately he'd down whatever the holodeck equivalent of wearing down the video casette is on that one.

When stressed, Riker usually went back to his copy of Bound, but unfortunately he’d done whatever the holodeck equivalent of wearing down the video cassette is on that one.

(In some ways, it recalls the issues with the characterisation of Janeway during the early seasons of Voyager. In theory, Voyager was a ship lost far from home that needed a strong leader to hold the crew together. If Voyager were to survive its trip through the Delta Quadrant, it needed a commanding officer who was committed to building a sense of family among the crew. In that context, Janeway’s decision to retreat the holodeck alone in episodes like Cathexis or Learning Curve or Persistence of Vision seemed to reflect poorly on her as a commander.)

More than that, it is hard to reconcile the character arcs of Pegasus with those of These Are the Voyages… Riker is faced with an impossible moral decision in Pegasus, and that weight bears down on him. These Are the Voyages acknowledges this weight in a few short sequences, like in the Briefing Room, but it is hard to reconcile that moral weight with the fun that Riker has on the holodeck. Riker jokes and laughs with Archer’s senior staff, which is very charming. However, it does jar with the tension evident in Riker’s behavior in Pegasus.

"And I didn't even have to kill Geordi to sit in this chair..."

“And I didn’t even have to kill Geordi to sit in this chair…”

There is also the fact that These Are the Voyages… requires Riker to confess everything to Troi. These conversations are jarring for a number of reasons. On a superficial level, the exposition is really clunky. Why does the audience care about Admiral Preston if they don’t get to meet him? There is no sense of threat or scale, because it’s really just two characters talking about an episode that aired over a decade earlier. While In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I and In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II were anchored in continuity, at least they had some energy driving them.

However, on a fundamental storytelling level, having Riker confess everything to Troi before explaining everything to Picard severely undercuts the ending of Pegasus. While Troi swears herself to secrecy, just having Riker speak that secret out loud to another character robs his confession in Pegasus of any real weight or substance. More than that, it raises all sorts of questions about why Troi doesn’t tell Picard immediately – or at least tell Riker that he has to tell Picard. Doctor-patient confidentiality is a factor, but Riker’s secret actively endangers the crew.

"I think I can see my professional ethics in this thing."

“I think I can see my professional ethics in this thing.”

Even then, These Are the Voyages… has Riker consciously decide to tell Picard everything about the illegal experiments on the Pegasus. However, the climax of Pegasus suggests that Riker’s confession was not premeditated, but forced by circumstances. There is no space in the episode Pegasus for Riker to have made that decision while on the holodeck. Riker goes from supporting Pressman to informing Picard over the course of the episode’s climax, while the Enterprise is trapped inside an asteroid.

All of these plotting concerns come before any of the more minor continuity issues like the fact that Picard’s log in Pegasus and Riker’s log in These Are the Voyages… have the same stardate but very clearly occur at different points in the story. It is perhaps too much to complain about the differences in the costuming and make-up applied to Frakes and Sirtis, even if it is slightly jarring to see the Next Generation cast shot on high definition video rather than film stock.

"Don't worry, I'm sure they'll cut this together seamlessly."

“Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll cut this together seamlessly.”

Truth be told, it seems that the Next Generation segments of These Are the Voyages… might have worked better built around another story. Perhaps they could unfold while Riker was relieved of duty in Chain of Command, Part II. Perhaps they could take place during a previously unseen adventure. Perhaps they could even have taken place on the Enterprise E just before Nemesis, with Riker and Troi contemplating the end of their own time on the Enterprise and their own hopes about the future.

Then again, this seems to be the entire point of the exercise. These Are the Voyages… is not really an episode about Star Trek in 1994. The episode cannot possibly take place within the framework of Pegasus, the episode that was broadcast in January 1994. Instead, These Are the Voyages… is an episode about the memory of Star Trek in 1994. It is an episode that unfolds within a half-remembered version of Pegasus, one filtered through the eleven long years that followed.

"Crisis? What crisis? That's always time for cosplay!"

“Crisis? What crisis? There’s always time for cosplay!”

These Are the Voyages… is an episode harking back to the peak of the franchise, at the expense of everything that has happened since. In doing so, it constructs an elaborate but unconvincing fantasy of what that “golden age” might have looked like. Enterprise cannot magically make Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis ten years younger, and it does the duo a disservice to have them go through this unconvincing illusion. It is sad to throw away a decade of work and development in pursuit of idealised past, but it is tragic to discover that the past can never be reclaimed.

These Are the Voyages… is a disaster of an episode that would be a mess in any other circumstance, but which is unforgivable as the last broadcast hour of the Berman era as a whole. This is the episode that draws the curtain down on eighteen years of Star Trek. Unfortunately, it seems to also want to set fire to the whole enterprise.

43 Responses

  1. I am curious as to which finale you think is worse, Endgame, Turnabout Intruder, or this one. It is ad to think that only two of the finales, What you leave behind and All good Things were good, and even What you leave behind was flawed.

    • I defer to Chuck Sonnenberg. Janeway battling Borg every step of the way to thwart their menace and get her crew home; Sisko bringing final victory in their war against the Dominion and ending the Pah’wraith threat against the Bajorans; and Picard preserving the very existence of humanity and likely every other sapient species in this entire quadrant.

      And now, Archer shall get into a SMALL FIREFIGHT WITH SOME CRIMINALS ON A CATWALK *cue Joe Esposito*

      • And Trip shall sacrifice himself because… reasons!

        It’s not a particularly graceful final mission for anyone.

    • It’s really not a great choice, is it?

      I think Turnabout Intruder is the worst. Oddly enough, of the three you mention, I probably like TATV the most. Endgame was just so lifeless. However misjudged (and passive-aggressive) TATV might seem, it is trying to do something.

      • I actually think Turnabout Intruder is sufficently bizarre to lift it above the other candidates. It is just such an odd choice; I’ve seen countless variations on the genderswap/mindswap premise and Turnabout Intruder is the only one not to play it for (intentional) comedy and/or romantic comedy (in fact I’ve seen at least romantic comedies where a boyfriend and girlfriend swap minds – including the original 1940 Turnabout.)

      • That’s a fair point. I’ll be revisiting it in July, but I remember thinking the bizarreness was not enough to save something that was already pretty retrograde by the start of the sixties.

  2. >Deep Space Nine is massively overrated and too frequently overlooked in discussions of the franchise.

    Overrated AND overlooked? Man, DS9 has become all things to all men!

    >Instead, Archer’s last big character moment is to mount a philosophical objection to the very idea of Star Trek, to suggest that the universe is full of horror rather than wonder and that mankind likely has no business looking to the stars for something majestic or beautiful. Archer sounds resentful of what the Star Trek universe has taken from him.

    In that sense, this episode could be seen as a companion to one of the final episodes of Voyager – Friendship One – which similarly cast doubt on the value of exploration in its final scene where Janeway pondered if good intentions could justify one person’s death.

    • Ha! Good spot on the typo! Corrected!

      That’s a fair point about Friendship One. The later Star Trek shows could be really cynical when nobody was looking. DS9 could occasionally be bleak, but it rarely as casually cynical about the core ideas of the franchise. (Indeed, as much as Cardassia suffers, there is still a sense that something worthwhile might rise from the rubble. Not that it justifies the suffering and loss, but even an attempted genocide is not an argument to completely abandon space exploration or alien contact.)

      • I think Friendship One would have been a decent episode in Enterprise explaining why the “Prime Directive” exists and is so rigid, as flawed as a concept the Prime Directive is from the get-go.

  3. Ironic that the people who wrote the least flattering versions of the Enterprise characters, to the point where the finale was someone else taking away the spotlight… were the creators of said characters themselves.

    • This troupe of actors couldn’t live up to the example set by TNG. It smacked of frustration.

      Supposedly Bakula barked angrily over the phone when he got the script, and I get it. He was reluctant to doing it in the first place, and Braga kissed his ass and assured him he’d be “the first” Captain, the greatest ever.

      The whole enterprise was rotten from top to bottom. This is on par with Corman producing a F4 movie just so Stan Lee could retain the rights.

      • I didn’t hear about Bakula getting angry down the phone, though I do believe he (justifiably) bollocked Braga about it.

        I actually really like Bakula, because there’s a sense of a guy who didn’t really want this role, but who took it because he was asked, and who really became this sort of reasonable father figure to the ensemble. Everyone on the cast raves about him, second only to the TNG cast gushing about Patrick Stewart. (Apparently the dynamics on the DS9 cast were more cliquish, which makes sense with a cast that size. And the problems on the Voyager set are legendary.) And he also makes a point in interviews to single out members of the production team and the studio for keeping the show going, which seems very gracious and suggests he really was looking out for the show.

      • “Everyone on the cast raves about him, second only to the TNG cast gushing about Patrick Stewart. (Apparently the dynamics on the DS9 cast were more cliquish, which makes sense with a cast that size. And the problems on the Voyager set are legendary.) And he also makes a point in interviews to single out members of the production team and the studio for keeping the show going, which seems very gracious and suggests he really was looking out for the show.”

        Can you elaborate on all these? I’ve never heard of any of this

      • Well, Patrick Stewart is generally treated as a father figure to the Next Generation cast. I think Gates McFadden references him have huge fights with the production team over Angel One when several members of the cast objected. (I think it’s in the Angel One review.) When Diana Muldaur was drafted in during the second season, she singled out Patrick Stewart and Michael Dorn as the castmembers who were nice to her. (I think that’s in one of the S2 reviews. I suspect Unnatural Selection?)

        Michael Dorn has talked about the DS9 cast being more of a professional experience than the familial one he enjoyed on TNG. When the cast are interviewed at conventions about staying in touch with one another, they tend to explain that they stay in touch with particular actors rather than the whole ensemble. Auberjonois and Visitor, for example. Brooks and Lofton. El Fadil and Robinson. I believe the Ferengi actors remained quite close.

        On Voyager, there are lots of stories. The Chakotay/Seven relationship resulting from a dare between Beltran and Braga. Garrett Wang being unreliable, but also unfireable. Kate Mulgrew making life incredibly unpleasant for Jeri Ryan. Mulgrew threatening to quite before sheepishly retracting her threat. Beltran lambasting the show in the press.

    • That’s a very fair point. Which is a shame, because they did some solid character work in episodes like Shuttlepod One.

  4. “I had to stop and think what Berman and Braga were thinking of when they wrote the episode, but I have a feeling it was after a late night filled with snickering and one of them saying, “The galaxy’s not getting any of our bourbon”.” -Todd Douglass Jr.

    All this being said, I didn’t hate the finale.
    I actually agree with Berman; the Enterprise-D provides continuity and closure. Maybe it’s because I’m 31. Sat through some truly shit finales in my time. People today will probably watch TATV and wonder what the fuss is all about.

    Like you say, there were too many monsters lurking under the floorboards of the episode. When Riker comes parading in, I get flashbacks of Alec Baldwin snatching away the coffee (coffee’s for closers). The Captain is sidelined to the point of irrelevance. The romance with T’Pol is as awkward as ever. And I’m floored at the lack of chemistry between her and Archer in this final inning.

    But apart from that, this is standard Enterprise fare. Great fanservice bookended with a lot of tedium.

    • Ha! I like the Alec Baldwin analogy. That’s actually very apt. And Riker’s not just stealing Archer’s coffee; Archer at least gets the luxury of finishing the stale lukewarm cup in his hand. Sisko and Janeway are left standing by the watercooler.

      • At the risk of seeming sycophantic, let me also say that this is the best Star Trek review I’ve read in some time. Even-handed and even moving at times.

        I also love the captions… you seem to be the type of person who is funnier when they’re angry.

      • Ha! Thanks for the kind words!

        I’m quite happy with how my ENT reviews turned out. I think they benefited from me starting them last. I need to rewrite some of my TOS S1 and TNG S1 reviews, to be honest. I cringe when I read them back.

  5. An excellent, if depressing review.

    It might be because I was less of a fan of the Next Generation than most – I prefer DS9 and find the hyper professionalism of the Enterprise-D crew a little daunting – but I’m not sure they were a cast of characters well suited to make the leap into movies. I can’t praise the talents of the cast enough but I think movies work better with more rough edges – witness the constant bickering between McCoy and Spock and the way both bounced off Kirk. The best of the Trek films (Wrath of Khan and Undiscovered Country) ran with the flaws in the in Kirk’s psyche. Conversely the only good Next Generation (First Contact) is forced to rely on a bit of a narrative cheat by running with an emotional point that had already been resolved in the series proper (Picards lingering feelings about the Borg). Obviously there are many reasons why the Next Generation films ran out of steam but I think part of it was due to the characters not quite working on the big screen.

    Conversely I think an Enterprise movie could have been fascinating.

    • It might have been interesting to do a Romulan War movie or a sweeping Star Trek epic with the Enterprise crew, but I’m imagining how upset fandom might be with the prospect of a Star Trek “war” movie, based only on the responses to the Abrams films.

      I also prefer DS9 to TNG, and I’d agree with your assessment about the movies. I think the TNG crew work best as a hyper-professional workplace you can drop into or out of at your leisure. There is something to be said for most of the show being a “day in the life of the most competent Starfleet crew.” In fact, I can kind of imagine a reality show set on board the Enterprise, interspacing footage from particular episodes with talking heads commentary from the crew. (“So, it turned out the girl’s imaginary friend was real. How was I to know? You know, you think you’ve seen everything.” “That’s – what? – the third time that the holodeck has tried to kill us all. I really need to sit down with Captain Picard and come up with a set of guidelines for holodeck usage.”)

      TNG did do big “event” episodes like The Best of Both Worlds, but more often than not, it felt like these were just highly competent people good at their jobs meeting the challenges that job involves. Which makes for good television on a weekly basis, but doesn’t really work in the framework of a series of feature films where “every story is a major event! escalate!”

      I mean, even the Shatner era movies understood the event-driven nature of storytelling better than the TNG films, starting after the ship had been decommissioned and building most of the successful ones around “big” blockbuster events. (Khan is back! Kirk meets his son! Spock dies! Kirk steals the Enterprise to rescue Spock! Kirk saves Earth while turning himself over for trial! It’s the last mission of the Enterprise to bring peace in our time!)

      Oddly enough, I think DS9 did “epic” better than TNG, even if a lot of the series could be argued to be the space between the epic moments.

  6. I’ve occasionally commented that someone must have jokingly bet Berman and Braga that there was no way they could ever make a Trek series finale that was more hated & derided than “Turnabout Intruder,” only to react in shock & horror when they took that challenge seriously and churned out “These Are The Voyages…”

    • Ha.

      That said… I’m not sure I’d rank it worse than The Turnabout Intruder. Which, I hasten to add, should not be misconstrued as a defense of These Are the Voyages…

  7. The original idea for this episode apparently was to have the EMH from Voyager (played by Robert Picardo of course) back on Earth treating an apparently crazy man played by Scott Bakula who thinks hes Jonathon Archer trapped in the 24th century, and the plot would center around whether he is crazy or actually telling the truth. Not sure if that should make me grateful for what we got, though it seems fitting to mix the two worst Star Trek shows (Voyager and Enterprise) together rather than try to sully a good Next Generation episode. Oh well, I hope the next series is better.

    • As do I.

      Although I’m very optimistic about Discovery. Short of just rehiring the writers’ room from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – which I’d love but would also be a terrible idea – it has the best possible pedigree for a modern Star Trek show.

      That said, I think the final two years of Enterprise were better than most would give it credit for.

      • Agreed. I made a famous YouTuber angry awhile back for saying Enterprise is better than Voyager for that reason, lol

  8. Thank you so much for these deep, well-sourced reviews. I just finished watching Enterprise for the first time and I have to say – though much of the first and second seasons were difficult if not painful to watch, the latter half of the Xindi arc is maybe the most compelling stretch of Trek this side of the Dominion War.

    I really wish this show had gotten at least a fifth season. With the upward trajectory of the show in the third and fourth seasons, a fifth (and final) season would have given the show a chance to go out on its own terms.

    Heck, this episode may have even been watchable if it had not been the series finale. Riker watching A mission of NX-01 (not the last one) would have been at least mildly interesting. As it stands, this was an interesting premise, exceedingly poorly executed.

    • Thanks Flynn!

      I figured that there was a gap in the market for in-depth Enterprise reviews. The other shows have largely been digested and discussed to death, but Enterprise was really new-ish ground that slipped in under the radar. A lot of my other Star Trek reviews are covering well-worn ground, but I really hope that I added something to the debate around Enterprise. (I’m very proud of the researching and sourcing that I did, for example.)

  9. I confess, I’ve never seen this episode as it was meant to be seen. I had stopped watching Enterprise during its broadcast. I came across this episode on Youtube, which was The Pegasus and These Are The Voyages stitched together into one mega-episode. At the time, I didn’t know this was Enterprise’s finale, I only slowly pieced that together an hour in, because the ENT cast were so secondary to their own scenes, this felt like a lead into a finale episode, like it was building up to something.

    “More than that, it is hard to reconcile the character arcs of Pegasus with those of These Are the Voyages… Riker is faced with an impossible moral decision in Pegasus, and that weight bears down on him. These Are the Voyages acknowledges this weight in a few short sequences, like in the Briefing Room, but it is hard to reconcile that moral weight with the fun that Riker has on the holodeck. Riker jokes and laughs with Archer’s senior staff, which is very charming. However, it does jar with the tension evident in Riker’s behavior in Pegasus.”

    In the Frankenstein TNG-ENT episode I watched, it actually flows better then you’d think. Don’t forget Riker clowns around with that Picard Doll during Picard Day, but wow, the tone was all over the place, going from Captain Picard Day, to Holodeck surprise! To Romulan intrigue, to a Hostage Rescue from petty criminals, to a Federation Cloaking Device to Trip Dying Pointlessly, to betrayal of the Federation ideal, to founding the Federation itself. It felt like one of those so bad, its good movies where it’s clear there was no direction given. The plot just floats like a feather on the wind, and you can feel the whiplash of emotions. The only common thread to connect these two episodes seems to be past regrets. (Seriously, what were Archer and Trip thinking when a boarding party was on their ship? “I must confront these criminals unarmed and helpless! That’ll solve the situation!”) The Archer is crazy ending might have been a slap in the face to ENT fans while it was on the air, but I think it’d be a fun finale now, after we’ve assimilated just how crazy Archer has acted over the years. An ending like St. Elsewhere just might be able have fun while letting the show explain away all the colossal plot holes.

    It’s interesting to see Riker mull over his decision more with Troi, but him having to go on Enterprise’s last lame mission to soul search seems completely at odds with his character. Riker wasn’t this slow to act, he learned from Best of Both Worlds to not get hung up on past decisions, and to act in the here and now. There’s a real problem with the writing of the characters, B&B seem to have gotten all of them wrong, Archer, T’Pol, even Data act like their from season 1 of their respective shows.

    “The production team were able to retroactively fashion a reference from a stray line of dialogue in Yesterday’s Enterprise, but there was never a notion that there had been a historically significant character named “Archer.”

    Let’s not forget Commander Archer from Voyager. The actress who played her was a Cylon in BSG (and in the VOY episode she was in, she was actually a member of Species 8472), and SFdebris was able to come up with a fun theory that she was actually descended from Johnathan Archer.

    • Interesting. I had figured the two episodes simply wouldn’t work stitched together, but it might be worth seeking that cut out to prove it one way or the other.

      Also, good point with Commander Archer. Although I’ll admit it’s been years since I saw the episode. Was she a copy of a real person or an original creation? I seem to remember that she was played by Kate Vernon?

      • At the end of the day, the stitched together cut is just a longer version of the Pegasus, the episode’s strengths lies in that story-line. I’m not sure if such a cut is readily available anymore, Youtube has changed much from the days when any Star Trek episode could be found on it.

        As with Commander Archer, yes she was played by Kate Vernon. I don’t think the episode “In The Flesh” confirmed it one way or the other that Archer was based off a real Starfleet officer, but I’d say there’s a high probability she was real because Boothby was impersonated as well. Plus, Commander Archer had a detailed backstory involving her parents being in Starfleet, which makes me think 8472 just copied real people because making up a backstory for a race they’re still learning about sounds too difficult.

  10. Btw, apparently a lot of people got the idea this episode implies that the entire series was a holodeck historical program being played by Riker, but I can’t find any line indicating this. Is this just confused viewers reading too much into the episode? I’m pretty sure it’s just the events in the episode. Or maybe it’s wishful hyper trekkie nerds who want to erase Enterprise? Kind of tough given the Abrams films make so many references to Enterprise.

    • Yep, that’s the irony of the Abrams films. For all that fans would happily erase Enterprise from the timeline, the events of Star Trek mean that everything BUT Enterprise has been erased. Which I find kinda funny, as somebody who doesn’t worry about such things.

  11. The Writing is everything and the writing on Enterprise was uniformly bad, uninspired and mundane. This is absolutely unforgivable for a such and incredibly successful series. What the hell happened??? Did they get tired?? If so, simply turn it over to some have passion for it – and get lost. A very sad turn of events for something special that did not need to go done in heap of poop.

    • To be fair, I think that the production team did find their energy in the third and fourth seasons, which are more inspired than any season of Voyager, I’d contend. (A low bar, to be sure.)

      • I was unjustly harsh. Yes, it did improve to be sure. Thank you for that.
        I liked Voyager though. Some episodes were very well done. For me, rewatchable.
        Surprisingly, most ST series have kept up the quality.
        Looking forward to the new one.

      • In my opinion, Season 4 of Voyager, with Scorpion, Year of Hell, The Killing Game, and Raven was a Star Trek season firing on all cylinders, and easily contends with any season of TNG or DS9, through just how epic in scale some of the episodes achieved. ENT however, never seemed to rise above VOY in quality, until its own season 4, and even then, it only rose above a bad VOY season, cause how could we forget how it all started off with Time Traveling Space Nazis. They even reused the Nazi from the Killing Game. ENT could never escape from feeling like reheated leftovers that was forgotten at the back of the fridge.

        I’ll admit, the introduction of the long form storytelling was attempting to keep the show fresh, but I’ve discovered through other shows that’s not necessarily a good thing. In this interesting review I discovered, it goes on to dissect Moffat as a show runner, and how the seeds of long-form storytelling have greatly diminished shows like Doctor Who and Sherlock.

        Instead off offering a complete independent story at the end of an episode as was the original appeal of the Sherlock Books, the show had everything connected back to Moriarty, everything had to tie back to him, including Irene. In Doctor Who, while under the Russell T Davies era, episodes would at least try to conclude with some form of character growth as the story reached it’s conclusion. You can see this clearly in episodes like Dalek or The Empty Child. In the Moffat era, character growth is often implied to be coming in a future episode, which leaves entire episodes feeling empty, since nothing was achieved. Honestly, that review does a great job in showcasing how in the Moffat era would have long-running plots, and seemingly lead no where, just for the sake of having a long-running plot. I’m not saying ENT was guilty of this, I’m just saying that having long-running plots running through seasons was not automatically better then episodic shows, and yes, VOY was hilariously bad with continuity, but I don’t think it’s episodic nature was a flaw.

  12. If Berman and Braga felt this show was robbed of the ending it deserved, maybe they should have defiantly given it that ending instead of writing an episode passive-aggressively complaining about it! This episode was so absurd it sparked my interest in the subsequent Enterprise novels, and I almost never read tie-in books.

    I just felt so bad for the cast watching this, especially Jolene Blalock and Scott Bakula, knowing they didn’t like having these two randos crash their party. My girlfriend was incensed we didn’t get to see Archer’s speech.

    It’s a sad ending to an underrated show. Too bad the producers themselves didn’t seem to care to celebrate it’s value.

    • Yep. As sympathetic as I am to their anger and frustration, there’s no getting around that this was an incredibly petty and vindictive conclusion to the series.

  13. Besides Archer, T’Paul was name of the city where Tuvok’s daughter was born.

    “along with the more judgmental (and borderline racist) version of T’Pol”

    Really? If anything, I found Archer accusing T’Pol’s distrust of Shran to be just her being a racist just him being a dumb asshole.

    One thing you hadn’t pointed out, is that not only does Riker’s larping doesn’t really fit the tension and drama of the original episode, nor does his decision to straight up tell Picard what is going on, said program also has very little relevancy to his actual problem. Riker is torn between his loyalty to Starfleet and former captain and his current captain and what is right, in an interstellar incident. Trip just disobeys Archer in order to save his life-something Riker has done repeatedly, which is even mentioned in The Pegasus. It feels a lot like the Enterprise bits are also an already existing episode of the show being awkwardly connected to something else.

    Honestly, this just about sums the first two season of Enterprise: Weak by the numbers adventure with charmless jackass as the hero, building up to the Trek universe we know being little more than a minor sub-plot and connection to the rest of the franchise amounting to empty fanservice.

  14. I’ve thought many of these same things myself, but this really clarified just how bad the problem was. Berman and Braga were obviously under a lot of pressure and it really affected their work. It’s a shame, though in retrospect Enterprise makes for a fascinating time capsule of that era of Star Trek production.

    If B&B had really wanted to express the themes they claimed they wanted to, they should have inverted the story: make an overtly and intentionally bitter Archer the main character and put him through time travel shenanigans where he sees or interacts with the TNG era, thus gaining hope for the future and inspiring him at the end of the episode to make that big speech. As-is it just doesn’t work.

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