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Star Trek: Enterprise – Dead Stop (Review)

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

Dead Stop is an interesting beast.

One of the stronger episodes from the second season of Star Trek: Enterprise, Dead Stop follows on directly from the events of the previous episode without serving as a direct continuation. It is very rare to see this approach taken on Star Trek, and it’s the perfect example of the sort of episode-to-episode connections that were lacking during the show’s first two seasons. Dead Stop is not a direct follow-on to Minefield, but it is fascinated with the fallout from that episode.

A model ship...

A model ship…

And yet, despite this, Dead Stop is also based around one of the most generic premises imaginable – a sentient space station with a sinister agenda. With a few choice edits, the premise could easily be adapted for Star Trek: The Next Generation or Star Trek: Voyager. Indeed, it’s not too difficult to imagine Kirk and Spock dealing with the rogue space station at some point during their five year mission. It is a story that could – in broad strokes – even work for a television anthology series.

The beauty of Dead Stop is the way that it blends these two conflicting elements together, to construct a show that feels like it showcases the best parts of Enterprise while working from a core story that could be told across the franchise.

Piecing it together...

Piecing it together…

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Fortunate Son (Review)

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

Fortunate Son is a solid premise ruined by an overly simplistic execution.

One of the more interesting aspects of Star Trek: Enterprise is a chance to return to the pioneering spirit of the original Star Trek. It’s an excuse to imagine what the early years of humanity’s exploration of space must have looked like. More than any other spin-off except Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, this show lends itself to world-building and expansion. What does space look like before the Federation was established? How was it regulated before a gigantic conglomeration of space-faring races decided to impose their own laws and rules upon the spaceways?

Well, that sucked the air out of the room...

Well, that sucked the air out of the room…

Broken Bow made a big deal about how the Enterprise was the first human ship capable of travelling at warp five. In essence, it is the beginning of the Star Trek franchise as fans know it. The speed that engine brings and the distance the ship can cover serve as a gateway to the wider Star Trek universe. So, logically, if Enterprise is the first step in that direction, the ship must be emerging into a universe that looks radically different – a culture that is very distinct from that depicted on the other Star Trek spin-offs. With slower engines, fewer ships, less known about the universe, this should be an entirely different world.

Fortunate Son touches on this idea a little bit, throwing Archer into conflict with the crew of a long-haul space freighter over intergalactic piracy. The problem with the episode is that it feels very much like Archer is arguing from a position grounded in the Star Trek franchise as it is yet to develop, rather than the current status quo. In his debates with Ryan, Archer gets to be right for two contrived reasons: Ryan is written as an idiot; and Archer’s philosophy applies to the status quo of over five hundred other episodes.

Beaten to the punch...

Beaten to the punch…

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