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Star Trek: Enterprise – Kir’Shara (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.

The fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise is renowned for its focus upon continuity.

That is as true of the Kir’Shara trilogy as of any other episode. The script is saturated with references and nods to the rest of the franchise, tying together thirty-eight years of Vulcan continuity into a cohesive narrative structure. The Kir’Shara trilogy ties together everything from the Romulan schism in Balance of Terror to the symbolic importance of Mount Seleya in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock to the story behind the IDIC symbol that had first appeared in Is There in Truth No Beauty?

A short and not-so-prosperous future.

A short and not-so-prosperous future.

However, what is most striking the Kir’Shara trilogy is that the episode’s continuity really doesn’t fit in a very rigid way. Although the Kir’Shara trilogy is nominally about explaining how the secretive and distrustful Vulcans of Enterprise became the iconic and well-loved aliens associated with the rest of the franchise, offering an epic three-part story about Archer and T’Pol singlehandedly saving Vulcan society by putting them back in touch with the values espoused by the legendary Vulcan philosopher Surak. (Surak had appeared in The Savage Curtain.)

This makes for a very satisfying story within the larger narrative arc of Enterprise, demonstrating that Earth and Vulcan might be more compatable than Ambassador Soval would ever admit. It paves the way for stories like Babel One, United, Demons and Terra Prime. However, it also stands quite at odds with the larger continuity of the franchise, where the Vulcans have consistently been portrayed as secretive and superior. There is nothing wrong with that continuity contradiction, but it is interesting in the larger context of the fourth season.

Homecoming.

Homecoming.

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Awakening (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.

9/11 forever changed the world.

In doing so, it also changed popular culture. As part of that, it also changed Star Trek. When it comes to discussing the way that the franchise was shaped and moulded by 9/11, there are a number of easy points upon which to focus. The third season of Star Trek: Enterprise quite blatantly positions itself as an allegory for those terrorist attacks, with Archer directly responding to a terror attack upon Earth and seeking to hold those responsible to account. Star Trek Into Darkness evokes those attacks both in its imagery and its conspiracy theory subtext.

Fallout warning.

Fallout warning.

However, the influence is much stronger than any of that. JJ Abrams’ Star Trek touched on the themes of trauma and loss that inform a lot of post-9/11 culture by making both Kirk and Spock survivors of horrific and unprovoked destruction. Similarly, the cosmology of Enterprise had been shaped and defined by those attacks since at least Shadows of P’Jem, reflected in the hostile and paranoid universe suggested in episodes like The SeventhCease Fire and The Crossing or the destruction of the timeline in Shockwave, Part I and Shockwave, Part II.

The fourth season is no less shaped by the War on Terror than the third season had been, even if that influence is less overt. The chaotic asymmetrical warfare of Storm Front, Part I and Storm Front, Part II evoke the political quagmire of foreign intervention in the twenty-first century. Home explores responses to traumas both personal and cultural. However the Kir’Shara trilogy is most overt in its War on Terror imagery, paralleling Archer’s journey into the desert following a terror attack with the looming spectre of war.

Have we reached peak Vulcan?

Have we reached peak Vulcan?

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Outrageous Okona (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season (and a tiny bit of the second), episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

Well, I’m not sure if you can call two solid episodes in succession a “streak” or a “roll”, but Where Silence Has Lease and Elementary, Dear Data were two hours of television that demonstrated how far the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation had come since its rocky first season. However, it appears that the two very good episodes in a row did not represent a sudden change in direction and did not assure consistency. The Outrageous Okona is a bad episode, by just about any measure. It’s not necessarily as offensive as Angel One or Code of Honour, but it is quite painful to watch.

Unlike a lot of the bungled “message” shows in the first season that contained misjudged ideas or offensive elements, The Outrageous Okona is merely a terribly written and unfunny mess of an episode that simply gnaws at the viewer.

He works best Solo...

He works best Solo…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – When the Bough Breaks (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

When the Bough Breaks and Home Soil are an interesting two episodes of the first season of The Next Generation, if only because they seem to contrast each other so well. I’ve complained before about how the first season of The Next Generation had a great deal of trouble finding its own identity, and When The Bough Breaks feels like a conscious attempt to do a story in the style of the original Star Trek, even if most of the elements are fairly original.

In contrast, Home Soil starts with a premise that owes a considerable debt to a very specific episode of Star Trek, Devil in the Dark, but finds a way to approach it that emphasises the differences between the two shows. You can probably guess which one of the two episodes I preferred, and while When the Bough Breaks is never as bad as it could be (a story focusing on Wesley and other child actors?) it’s not necessarily good, either.

The lost world...

The lost world…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – 11001001 (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

Maybe it’s just because I’m delirious coming out of Angel One, an episode that managed to make Datalore look almost reasonable by comparison, but I quite like 11001001. Part of that comes down to the fact that it’s one of the few episodes in this troubled first season that manages to take the restrictions imposed on the show by Roddenberry and make them work. It helps that the aliens of the week – the Bynars – are among the more interesting creatures to appear on the show so far. And it finally makes for a nice Riker episode, finding a way to team up Riker and Picard, a duo that haven’t spent enough time together at this point in the series.

Base, the final frontier...

Base, the final frontier…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Angel One (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

Any time I worry that I might have been too kind on Datalore, watching Angel One tends to set me straight relatively quickly. Watching Angel One feels like somebody in the writers’ room said, “I really liked the racism in Code of Honour! Can we do that again, but with sexism?” It’s very difficult to imagine to imagine how the script got into production without somebody raising red flags about it. While a lot of the racism of Code of Honour arose from the decision to cast the Ligonian characters as black, sexism in hardwired into the DNA of Angel One, making it one of the most unfortunate scripts in a long line of unfortunate scripts.

I believe in Angel One... something crappy in every season of TNG...

I believe in Angel One… something crappy in every season of TNG…

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