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Storm Front, Part I


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 77
Original Airdate: 10/8/2004

Writer(s): Manny Coto
Director(s): Allan Kroeker

Guest Stars
Golden Brooks as Alicia
Jack Gwaltney as Vosk
John Fleck as Silik
Joe Maruzzo as Sal
Tom Wright as Ghrath
Matt Winston as Daniels
Christopher Neame as German General
Steven R. Schirripa as Carmine
J. Paul Boehmer as SS Agent
John Harnagel as Joe Prazki
Sonny Surowiec as German Soldier

Stardate: Unknown

Synopsis
With the crew still reeling from Archer's supposed death while halting the launch of the Xindi Superweapon, T'Pol and the others determine that they now have somehow time traveled to the year 1944 during World War II. However, they also realize that discrepancies loom for the WWII they know and the current catastrophes taking place on Earth, particularly in the particularly in the U.S., which seems to have been invaded by Nazis.

The captain is assaulted by Secret Service agents, including the sinister Ghrath - whom Archer suspects is an alien. Unbeknownst to Archer at the time, Ghrath is a subordinate of Vosk's, an alien of Ghrath's same race and a leader in league with the Nazis. Vosk is clearly troubled by Archer's appearance. With help from insurgents named Sal and Carmine, Archer is rescued from the agents, and taken to the apartment of Alicia, an African-American woman who soon realizes that Archer may be from another time and place. She convinces her friends Sal and Carmine to help Archer, as he tries piecing together this mysterious new situation. Archer incredulously realizes that Nazis have taken over the White House and nearly the entire Eastern seaboard during a disastrous new version of World War II.

On board Enterprise, the crew faces visitors of their own. First off, time traveler Daniels appears in horrific shape, giving details that the Temporal Cold War has become an all-out conflict with dozens of agents stationed throughout the timeline to wipe out others in a fight for complete dominance. He warns T'Pol and the others that they must stop "him..." but doesn't give any names before he collapses.

While Trip works to repair Shuttlepod One, he is assaulted by the Suliban Silik, who escapes in the vessel. Believing that the "him..." Daniels mentioned must by Silik, T'Pol sends Trip and Mayweather after him, which takes them to a U.S. locale near New York where Shuttlepod One has crashed.

Meanwhile, Vosk is intent on helping the Nazis force their reach - and their concentration camps - even further. Clearly, Vosk - who says he is in total agreement with the Nazis that their race must be "pure - is receiving assistance from the Nazis in his own way and has convinced the Germans that they are all helping each other. Still, he is mysteriously obsessed with finding Archer, whom he regards as a threat to his mission.

Vosk's command to find Archer is successful as Ghrath tracks him down. During a fateful encounter with Archer, Ghrath reveals that his race is trapped and the Germans are helping them construct a conduit so they can return home. Ghrath also confuses Archer by referring to him as a "temporal agent". Sal, trying to save Archer from Ghrath, kills him, convinced he is a Nazi who will only bring harm. Despite Archer's disappointment in seeing his information source muted, he absconds with a communicator that Ghrath had been holding. Shortly afterward, the menacing Vosk also finds Archer. But Archer - using Ghrath's communicator to call for a transport from a stunned Enterprise - escapes from him. Archer, with Alicia in tow, is transported back aboard where a relieved and crew welcomes him home.

On Enterprise, Archer meets with Daniels, who is near death. Daniels explains that Vosk leads the most dangerous faction of the Cold War who is violently opposed to the Temporal Accords. When almost captured once before, Vosk had unfortunately developed a form of stealth time travel to escape into the past. This particular World War II time juncture provides the only point where Vosk can be stopped. When Archer reveals information he learned from Ghrath - that Vosk's faction is building a conduit - Daniels urges him to destroy it. Daniels knows the conduit's destruction will be the only way to stop Vosk from destroying all other races.

And just as Archer is getting this information - and Daniels trails off to his death - Vosk kidnaps Trip and Mayweather on Earth. With them in his grasp, Vosk hopes to get - and kill - the one impediment to his grand plan: Archer.
Review
All summer long, the Alien-Nazi ending of the Xindi arc last season bothered me. And judging from the comments made by a plethora of fans online, I wasn't alone. But always a Star Trek optimist, I eagerly awaited the beginning of Season #4 with high hopes for what it would bring.

So as I watched the first of a two-part mini-arc that would finally close the door on the Xindi arc as well as the temporal cold war, I couldn't help but fell that the producers of Enterprise were trying to tidy up all the loose ends they created during the first 2 seasons of the show.

The Xindi were done, now an explanation for the continuing temporal cold war was quickly explained courtesy of a dying Daniels and the whole storyline was clearly heading towards a speedy conclusion. That's all well and good, and the idea (now) of going back to 1940's Earth to change the flow of power to the Nazi regime seemed interesting (if not overdone).

But the real problem here is that we, the viewers, aren't given a chance to catch our collective breaths. We spent a season battling the Xindi only to jump right into another major conflict. It's simply too much, too soon. Accordingly, it's really hard to fully embrace this story line which does warrant some attention.

I basically felt anxious to get it over with so we could move on to the rest of the season, and that's perhaps not fair, but I suspect similar to the feelings of other fans.

But enough soap-boxing - on its own, "Storm Front, Part I" does an adequate job of reflecting the impact of a Nazi/German army invading the U.S. It's no surprise that the aliens who are assisting the Nazi's have their own agenda, and by the close of the episode, you're not certain if the Nazi's would utilize some of the power of the aliens, or just fall prey to them.

It's a good episode overall, with solid acting despite some clichéd mobster and Nazi roles. This may grow to be a better episode when viewed outside the context of the Xindi arc, improving with age as it were. Time will tell.

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Storm Front, Part II


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 78
Original Airdate: 10/15/2004

Writer(s): Manny Coto
Director(s): David Straiton

Guest Stars
Golden Brooks as Alicia
Jack Gwaltney as Vosk
John Fleck as Silik
Matt Winston as Daniels
Christopher Neame as German General
Steven R. Schirripa as Carmine
Mark Elliot Silverberg as Kraul
David Pease as Alien Technician
Burr Middleton as Newsreel Narrator

Stardate: Unknown

Synopsis
As the Nazi invasion of the U.S. continues in an altered 1944, Archer and his crew map out their strategy to stop Vosk from building a time machine that will take him back to his own time and inflame the Temporal Cold War, wreaking havoc upon the timeline. Having befriended American resistance fighters intent on battling the Nazis, Archer has a ready-made force on the ground to help with his cause.

But first, he is intent on bringing Tucker and Mayweather back on board Enterprise. Vosk hails Archer, offering the chance for a rendezvous to retrieve the two men, although the alien most certainly will expect some sort of recompense. Indeed, at the meeting, Vosk clearly needs the technology aboard Enterprise to accelerate his task in building the time machine. But Archer has no intention of helping him, though Vosk insists that he is changing the timeline for the better ... despite Daniels' ardent claims otherwise. Back on board Enterprise with Tucker and Mayweather, Archer and Phlox learn that Trip isn't actually himself: the Suliban Silik has taken on his identity. Upon his exposure, Silik reveals that he has left Vosk's compound with a disk that contains schematics and other information about the time machine. Determined now to retrieve Trip - who is trapped inside the compound - and armed with the new data, Archer heads back to Earth accompanied by Silik, who shapeshifts into human form. T'Pol is left in command with orders to take out the compound as soon as Archer deactivates the shields and he gives her the go-ahead from the surface.

With the help of resistance fighters Alicia and Carmine, Archer and Silik head into Vosk's compound to deactivate the machine which is soon to be completed. Meanwhile, Alicia, Carmine and their cohorts fend off Nazi soldiers working on behalf of Vosk. However, as Archer and Silik make inroads to the machine's shields, soldiers descend on them. In the ensuing battle, Silik is wounded and dies. Just as Archer bids a farewell to him, the real Trip appears, having earlier freed himself from incarceration.

As German planes hover to protect the facility on Vosk's orders, Archer and Trip are transported back to Enterprise. Once there, Enterprise must do battle against the planes above the Manhattan skyline. Just as Vosk is about to enter a time portal, Enterprise fires upon his compound and destroys it, annihilating Vosk in the process.

Once Vosk's plan is foiled, Daniels - alive once again - appears to Archer, showing him that the timeline is resetting itself, and that all the damage Vosk caused never happened.

Within moments, finally, Archer and his crew are back to their own time, on their way home after saving Earth from the Xindi superweapon.
Review
The end of the Storm Front mini-arc has some nice highlights including the reuniting of Archer and the crew. So much was going on in Part 1 that we often forgot that Archer and the crew were both working under the assumption that they were alone in this time period.

As I mentioned in the review of Part 1, I felt the producers were trying to 'clean up' the story lines they created early in Enterprise's run - most notably the temporal cold war. And now, we see that this episode will truly be the end to that on-going sub-plot.

The problem here is that the way the end comes about has been done to death. The aliens try and build a portal to get back to their own time, the portal collapses when they try and enter it, and everything magically returns to normal.

Too many plot holes, too old a story - and it asks the viewer to suspend far to much disbelief in order to accept what's going on. True this is science fiction, but Star Trek has always provided reasonable explanations for most of the technology behind the story. Here, it's just "destroy the portal, and its like nothing ever happened"

That type of 'scenario' worked in the past, but it falls flat here. The only saving grace is that Archer and the crew see the end of this episode by finally going home after an all-to-long Earth-saving mission.

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Home


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 79
Original Airdate: 10/22/2004

Writer(s): Michael Sussman
Director(s): Allan Kroeker

Guest Stars
Joanna Cassidy as T'Les
Michael Reilly Burke as Koss
Ada Maris as Captain Erika Hernandez
Gary Graham as Soval
Vaughn Armstrong as Admiral Forrest
Joe Chrest as Bar Patron #1
Jim Fitzpatrick as Commander Williams
Jack Donner as Vulcan Priest

Stardate: Unknown

Synopsis
The Enterprise crew returns home to a massive heroes' reception after their year-long mission in the Delphic Expanse. As they each tend to settling back in, Archer is particularly anguished over choices he had to make to save humankind from the Xindi's diabolical plot - and losing 27 crew members to the cause. He also becomes reacquainted with Erika Hernandez, an old classmate from command school who will soon be captain of the Enterprise's nearly completed sister ship, the Columbia NX-02. Then during a debriefing with the Command Council - including Admiral Forrest, Ambassador Soval and Erika at Starfleet Headquarters - Archer is angered over Soval's accusations that the crew did not do all they could to save some Vulcans during one of the exploits in the Expanse. A resultant outburst from Archer forces Admiral Forrest to order the captain to take a vacation for some much-needed rest.

Archer heads to a secluded mountain to get away from the constant adulation, and to try to find peace of mind. But soon after he arrives, Erika unexpectedly shows up, ready to offer him companionship and solace. While Archer isn't initially happy to see her, she prompts him to open up and express his hurt and anger over the travails and ordeals he and his crew suffered during the past year. He realizes that it will take time to come to terms with his experiences. He and Erika return to San Francisco and the Council reconvenes to finish the debriefing. When they do, Soval deems Archer's actions during the mission necessary, if morally dubious. And, in a rare gesture, Soval even thanks Archer for having done such a great service for both humans and Vulcans.

Meanwhile, T'Pol decides to visit her mother, T'Les, on Vulcan, and invites Trip to join her. When they arrive, T'Les is hardly thrilled to find T'Pol with a human companion, especially given that T'Pol had been engaged in a family-arranged bonding, which she had broken off three years earlier to stay aboard Enterprise. Despite her initial disdain towards Trip, T'Les can't help but eventually like him. And, despite neither T'Pol nor Trip telling her so, T'Les is quite certain the two are in love with each other. Further, she correctly surmises they haven't even told each other their true feelings yet either.

However, trouble looms for Trip and T'Pol being together when Koss, T'Pol's ex-fiancé, learns that T'Pol has returned. Koss comes to T'Les' house to visit T'Pol, and pushes aside her assertions that their engagement is over. He also makes a startling revelation: T'Les' mother didn't resign from her cherished academic post. T'Les was actually forced out apparently as retribution for T'Pol's involvement in the destruction of the P'Jem monastery. Koss also promises that - with his family's influence - he can have T'Les reinstated ... if T'Pol marries him.

Torn, and though curious about her current relationship with Trip, T'Pol decides to marry Koss. When a heartbroken Trip hears the news, T'Les encourages him to tell T'Pol his true feelings shortly before the marriage is to occur. But, as the wedding ceremony begins, Trip continues to keep his feelings to himself.

As for the other crew members, Reed and Mayweather have to defend Phlox in public when xenophobic sentiment is running feverishly high. An altercation in a San Francisco bar is broken up by Phlox himself, however, when he demonstrates a talent previously unknown to the humans - the ability to puff up his face like a blowfish.
Review
"Home" is a good enough episode for the most part, but it suffers from an ailment that many later-day Star Trek series seemed to go through at one time or another - telling too many stories in a single episode.

The dual story line of Archer recanting his objectives and his decisions during the Xindi conflict are interesting, as is his soul-searching endeavor or sorts.

The notion of Dr. Phlox confronting prejudice on Earth is more filler than anything else.

And the real story of the episode, that of T'Pol and Tucker traveling to Vulcan is where the emphasis of the show should have remained.

Clearly the Archer story line has some merit, but not enough to fill an entire episode. The Phlox story was just a waste of time. But the drama and moving ending to the T'Pol/Tucker/Vulcan story line is what should have filled the entire episode.

We begin to see how moved Tucker is by T'Pol and, finally, what Tucker means to her. We are reintroduced to the Vulcan tradition of 'planned marriages' that we saw in TOS's "Amok Time".

There are components of true Star Trek in that story line that should have been further exploited, instead it was shortened so we could see Phlox & company have a barroom brawl.

Missed opportunities, I'm afraid. What could have been an absolutely stand out, just gives us a taste of such.

The taste was good enough for now, but I'm getting hungry for more.

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Borderland


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 80
Original Airdate: 10/29/2004

Writer(s): Ken LaZebnik
Director(s): David Livingston

Guest Stars
Brent Spiner as Dr. Arik Soong
Alec Newman as Malik
Abby Brammell as Persis
Joel West as Raakin
Big Show as Orion Slaver #1
Dave Power as Pierce
J.G. Hertzler as Klingon Captain
Dayo Ade as Klingon Tactical Officer
Gary Kasper as Orion Slaver #2
Bobbi Sue Luther as Orion Slave Woman
Thom Williams as Klingon Soldier #1

Stardate: May 17, 2154

Synopsis
A troop of superhumans invades a Klingon bird-of-prey, decimates the crew, and takes over their ship. With Klingons threatening retaliation, Captain Archer and his Enterprise crew are called upon to find the missing ship and bring the culprits back. Launching his mission takes him to an imprisoned brilliant scientist, Dr. Arik Soong. Soong "fathered" genetically-altered, strikingly attractive humans, called "Augments," who possess remarkable strength, agility and intelligence. They're nearly indestructible, and are deemed responsible for the Klingon massacre.

Soong has been jailed for stealing the embryos that became Augments, raising them on a planet in the Trialas System until he was captured a decade ago. Soong claims that he has no idea why the Augments would have taken possession of a Klingon ship, but does convince Archer that he can make them surrender without a fight. Plus, Soong is familiar with the area the Augments are in - the Borderland - a volatile region between the Klingon Empire and the Orion Syndicate that is a magnet for danger. Despite the crew's skepticism, an electronically shackled Soong joins the mission.

As Enterprise enters the Borderland, Soong does seem initially helpful, particularly when the crew soon encounters trouble. During an attack by an Orion Interceptor, T'Pol and eight crew members are beamed from Enterprise into a teeming slave market. Held by hulking Orions, T'Pol and the other slaves are outfitted with restrictive neurolytic restraints - capable of causing painful convulsions - while they await being auctioned off. Desperate to get T'Pol and the others back, Archer enlists Soong's help in being admitted into the Orion Slave Market as the two seek out the kidnapped Enterprise members. Unfortunately, T'Pol has already been auctioned off to an Orion, but Archer succeeds in bidding high enough for all the other members of his crew. When the would-be slaves are beamed back to Enterprise, Trip analyzes a purloined neurolytic restraint so that he can send a code to Archer and Soong that would free T'Pol from her restraint.

As Archer and Soong then punch up the code that frees T'Pol, bedlam breaks loose in the slave market as others are unexpectedly freed as well. However, Soong takes this golden opportunity to make his own getaway, and he and Archer wage a battle against each other in the chaotic slave market. Fortunately, Archer prevails, but he realizes that Soong lured Enterprise into this Orion ordeal precisely to plan his own escape. After Archer and Soong are beamed back aboard Enterprise, Archer demands that Soong lead him to the Augments, but a jailed Soong refuses. He pities Archer for not understanding the potential and supremacy of his genetically engineered Augments.

Meanwhile, aboard the apprehended bird-of-prey, a power struggle has taken over the Augments as their number two leader, Malik seeks to emerge victorious over Raakin, the group's leader up until now. As they are all in complete and utter devotion to their missing "father" - Dr. Soong - Malik feels Raakin has been leading the Augments astray. However, Malik's lover Persis feigns her devotion for Raakin, helping Malik unleash his plan to dominate the group. As Malik succeeds in rallying the other Augments to follow his command, he and Persis lure Raakin into a trap where he is killed by Malik.

Shortly afterward - with Malik at the helm - the Augments' bird-of-prey damages and hails Enterprise, seeking to dock. Malik comes aboard, disgusted that their beloved Soong has been relegated to the brig. Nearly choking Archer to death while Reed and some MACOs stand by helpless, the overpowering Malik demands that Soong be released. When Soong is, he and the Augments are euphorically reunited. Soong then tells Malik to spare Archer and his crew; Soong and the Augments will be too far away from Archer and a damaged Enterprise to be found and caught. Then, on board the bird-of-prey with his Augments, Soong ominously announces that they are going to build a new world together and must now get the thousands of Augment "brothers and sisters" waiting to be born.
Review
When I heard that Brent Spiner, who played Data on TNG, would be guest starring on Enterprise for a series of episodes (I'm not calling them arcs anymore...), I was thrilled to see such an accomplished Trek actor coming onboard for an adventure or two. When I then learned that he would be portraying Dr. Arik Soong, the great-grandfather of Data's creator Noonian Soong, I was captivated to see what they would do with the story line to link Enterprise to The Next Generation.

The first of a 3-episode span, "Borderland" sets the stage for one of the more enjoyable Enterprise storylines to date. We all knew that Dr. Noonian Soong was heavily involved in cybernetics, hence the creation of Data, so it was interesting and proper to see Dr. Arik Soong, a criminal genius, heavily involved in genetics.

The 'Augments' that he created were basically an improved-upon version of Khan Noonien Singh's own band of genetically enhanced supermen.

What we're treated to here is what Executive Producer Manny Coto promised he'd do - reintroducing older aspects of Trek to bring the timeline together, and to whet the appetites of Trek fans.

The problem here is that he's introducing too much at once. You have the Data's creator, The Augments who are linked to Khan, you have the Orion Syndicate and the slave girls that they peddle (albeit that was an visually enticing scene) and you also have the building of the ongoing conflict between the Federation and the Klingons.

All strong story lines, but each is slightly diminished when forced upon one another in a single episode.

Still, this is the type of storyline that captures the true essence of Star Trek and Enterprise, and it's good to see that the show is heading in the right direction, even if it hits a few bumps along the way.

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Cold Station 12


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 81
Original Airdate: 11/5/2004

Writer(s): Michael Bryant
Director(s): Mike Vejar

Guest Stars
Brent Spiner as Dr. Arik Soong
Alec Newman as Malik
Abby Brammell as Persis
Richard Riehle as Jeremy Lucas
Kaj-Erik Eriksen as Smike
Kris Iyer as Deputy Director
Adam Grimes as Lokesh
Amy Wieczorek as Female Pilot
Jordan Orr as Young Malik
Kevin Foster as Security Guard #1

Stardate: May 17, 2154

Synopsis
Captain Archer and his crew discover that Dr. Arik Soong and his army of superhumans, the Augments, are bent on "awakening" thousands of genetically-altered embryos. That mission would render humanity extinct, as the Augments would take over mankind. Trying to find where Soong has taken the bird-of-prey which the Augments commandeered, Archer takes Enterprise to Trialas, where the Augments were "raised" years ago by Soong. There, Archer and Trip uncover Soong's plan, and realize that the embryos are on a medical research facility - which also stockpiles highly virulent diseases for research - called Cold Station 12. Soong is clearly making plans to incubate the embryos to be "born". While looking through the settlement where Soong raised the Augments - but left them a decade ago after being captured - the crew also finds Smike, a less-than-perfect Augment who has been left behind.

Certain that Smike can help him further unfurl Soong's plan, Archer ingratiates himself and eventually convinces him to join Enterprise's mission in stopping the Augments. As Enterprise heads to Cold Station 12, Soong and the Augments have indeed arrived, taking C-12 workers hostage and furiously trying to procure the embryos which are currently locked away. Soong and the Augments' self-proclaimed leader Malik bear down on the facility's medical director, Dr. Jeremy Lucas, a Denobulan and good friend of Dr. Phlox. At first, Lucas insists that he doesn't have the access code to free the embryos from their stasis chamber, but the Augments - with their superior abilities - soon learn otherwise, and threaten Lucas' life if he doesn't divulge the information they need.

Soon after, Enterprise comes near Cold Station, but Soong pledges to kill Lucas if the ship doesn't turn around. Though Archer initially accedes to Soong's command, he has another plan in mind. Mayweather then arranges to transport Archer, Reed, Trip, Phlox, Smike and MACOs onto Cold Station to thwart Soong's efforts. But shortly after they arrive on Cold Station, they are quickly overcome by the far-stronger Augments, who are completely impermeable to attacks of any kind. Soon brought to Soong - and reunited with his nemesis once again - Archer promises to prevail. And, in fact, when T'Pol hails the Station, Archer - though held captive - orders her to proceed with launching a destruct code, that Starfleet has given them, which will decimate Cold Station 12.

Though T'Pol carries out the order, the Augments are able to block the code. T'Pol then scurries to find other means to destroy Cold Station 12. Yet, as she does, Augments still in the commandeered bird-of-prey block Enterprise's every move.

Then, as Malik and other Augments realize Lucas' connection to Phlox, they threaten to kill the Enterprise doctor with a deadly pathogen on board the Station if Lucas won't give up the access code to release the embryos. Fearing for his friend's life, Lucas discloses the information they need. Soong is awestruck as he is reunited with the thousands of embryos.

Afterward, as Malik leads Archer and the others to a containment cell, he tells them that Soong and the Augments will be leaving shortly with the embryos. When they do, Malik says that they will also release a pathogen that will kill those left on Cold Station 12. And as his bravado reaches a fever pitch, Malik even kills Smike to prove his superiority. Helplessly, T'Pol and the others aboard Enterprise watch as the Augments' bird-of-prey looms nearby and Soong, Malik and the Augments - via a medical shuttle from C-12 - go aboard it with their released embryos in tow.

Left behind on C-12, Archer and the others now must determine a way off the station - or somehow stop the deadly pathogen's release - before they succumb to its fatal effects.
Review
Part 2 of the 3-episode span (it's not an Arc!) is the tightest of the three. Arik Soong is reunited with his 'children' and the group hatch a plan of survival that marks the beginning of the end for the Augments.

As we saw with Khan, and as is highlighted perfectly in this episode, superior ability breeds superior ambition. The Augments are not satisfied with just hiding somewhere to live out their lives. They want to explore and conquer and not have to watch their backs for the Federation all the time. Despite is criminal record, Arik Soong shows the parental compassion and intellect that he knows will help keep the Augments, his children, safe.

It's exciting to see Soong slowly lose his grip on the Augments. At first, they all rejoiced when they were reunited. Now, behind Malik, they begin to question his direction as they begin to see is human failings. Spiner nicely reflects his disbelief at the cruelty and disobedience of his children as the episode goes along. You know he's losing his grip, as does he, which makes this an entertaining episode to witness.

Additionally, the Augments, particularly Malik and Persis, were very well portrayed in this episode. It's easy to play a 'super human' in an over-the-top fashion, but the Alec Newman (Malik) and Abby Brammell (Persis) showed how to played them with restrain, making them far more believable.

A solid episode all around, and the best thus far of the early fourth season.

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The Augments


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 82
Original Airdate: 11/12/2004

Writer(s): Michael Sussman
Director(s): LeVar Burton

Guest Stars
Brent Spiner as Dr. Arik Soong
Alec Newman as Malik
Abby Brammell as Persis
Richard Riehle as Jeremy Lucas
Mark Rolston as Captain Magh
Adam Grimes as Lokesh
Kristen Ariza as Augment #1
Dayna Devon as Engineer
J.D. Hall as Klingon Com Voice

Stardate: May 27, 2154

Synopsis
Trapped on Cold Station 12 with soon-to-be-released deadly pathogens, Captain Jonathan Archer barely manages to divert them before being transported back aboard Enterprise in the nick of time, narrowly escaping death. Now more than ever, Archer is driven to track down Dr. Arik Soong and the Augments in their hijacked Klingon bird-of-prey as they seek refuge in an isolated locale to "raise" Thousands of just-begotten Augment embryos.

Aboard the bird-of-prey, Malik - who considers himself the Augments' true leader now - continually questions Soong's leadership. And Soong is shocked to learn that - instead of having their ship take them to a safe haven - Malik has designs on a far more diabolical plan. With pathogens he has purloined from Cold Station 12, Malik wants to unleash them aboard torpedoes aimed at the Klingons' Qu'vat colony. With the Klingons blaming humans on that ensuing tragedy, Malik knows a war would undoubtedly result which would keep Klingons and Starfleet embittered and embattled as the Augments rise to power. Conversely, Malik is upset to discover that Soong has decided to manipulate the DNA of the embryos to make them less violent. Malik realizes that Soong must have also fixed "mistakes" in his generation of Augments as well.

On Enterprise, Archer and his crew make headway in determining how to track down Soong and the Augments. But when Archer makes contact with them, Soong orders an attack, and their two ships engage in battle. Yet just as Archer feels that stopping Soong and his "offspring" is imminent, Soong waylays them by stranding a female Denobulan in a shuttle that he knows Archer will rescue. Even so, Archer pledges that he will see Soong again soon.

After their unexpected detour, Archer enlists the crew's expertise in pinpointing Soong's bird-of-prey once again. But trouble is brewing for Soong aboard his ship. Malik has corralled the other lead Augments - including Soong's favorite, Persis - in removing Soong from command and imprisoning him aboard the ship. Soong is hardly surprised, but also realizes that he must stop Malik's deadly plan: it will only prove what others say about the Augments and all the Augments will be killed as a result.

Persis helps Soong escape in a shuttlepod and he calls on his only option: a surprised Archer. Archer isn't convinced that the duplicitous Soong is actually on his side, even with his scenario that Malik has planned to attack a Klingon colony. But Soong is able to prove his case with evidence on the stolen pathogens. With that information, Archer has Soong work with the Enterprise crew on once again finding the Augments' ship and intercepting their fatal torpedoes.

Having discovered that Soong has escaped, Malik - who has sussed out Persis as his traitor and killed her - takes command of the bird-of-prey to attack the Klingon colony. Soon, he is engaged in trying to accomplish his deadly mission before Enterprise catches up with him. But the two are soon in battle as Enterprise succeeds in halting the torpedoes' course, and the Augments sustain massive injuries. However, this accomplishment only seems to embolden Malik further as he prepares to continue an assault on Enterprise. At that point, Soong pleads with Malik to stop and save his brethren. Shortly thereafter an explosion rips through the bird-of-prey, decimating it. However, Malik has escaped the ruin by transporting himself onto Enterprise, where he is bent on killing Soong, and proceeds to strangle him. Archer then saves Soong by shooting and killing Malik.

While Archer has afforded Soong some leniencay since he helped save the Klingon colony, the doctor must still return to jail, as Archer accompanies him to the Starfleet Detention Center. Despite Soong's last research ending so disastrously, he decides to commence other studies - this time concentrating on artificial lifeforms.
Review
Everything comes to a head in the conclusion of the Arik Soong 3-part episode saga. Soong and the Augments have, once again, escaped Archer and the Enterprise, and now they have a chance to find a place to live out their lives in peace.

But that just won't do for Malik as he plans to begin a Federation/Klingon conflict that will keep both governments busy for decades, leaving the Augments to live out their lives as they see fit. This is a strong final episode, but one that really isn't filled with any true surprises.

The conflict between Soong and the Augments finally reaches an end as Malik has Soong imprisoned, only to be 'rescued' by Persis. It's a fitting moment when Persis, who always believed in her 'father' helps to free him, ultimately paying for that action with her life.

Call it a stroke of luck that the Enterprise just happens to locate Soong's escape pod which brings the finale of the episode together with Archer and crew rushing to stop the Augments before they commit genocide on a Klingon world.

The 3-episode Soong story line had a strong build up, but unfortunately the ultimate conflict between the Enterprise and the Augments or, more precisely Soong and the Augments is a bit of a let down. Nothing really out of the ordinary happens; Archer stops the Augments in the nick of time, Malik somehow transports himself to the Enterprise in a last-ditched effort to stop Archer/Soong, only to have a cartoon-like hole blown through his chest by Archer, and Soong is returned to prison where he has an epiphany about cybernetics.

A solid 3-episode story that's a bit of a let down in the end, due to some hokiness, but still some of the best Enterprise episodes to date nonetheless. Thank you, Mr. Spiner...

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The Forge


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 83
Original Airdate: 11/19/2004

Writer(s): Judith Reeves-Stevens & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Director(s): Michael Grossman

Guest Stars
Robert Foxworth as V'Las
Vaughn Armstrong as Admiral Forrest
Gary Graham as Soval
Michael Reilly Burke as Koss
Michael Nouri as Arev
Larc Spies as Stel

Stardate: Unknown

Synopsis
A tragic incident shakes human-Vulcan relations to the core when a bomb is set off in a protected area of the United Earth Embassy that claims 43 lives, including that of Admiral Forrest. The bomb detonated just before the High Command may have been announcing its intent to conduct joint missions with Starfleet. In the throes of the blast, Forrest actually saved the life of an extremely grateful Soval. As Enterprise is called to Vulcan after the tragedy, Soval comes aboard the ship with the head of the Vulcan High Command, Administrator V'Las, and his security chief, Stel. With the embassy officially on Earth soil, Captain Jonathan Archer is to handle the official investigation. The initial research from the bomb fragments that Mayweather and Reed extricate finds the DNA fingerprint of a Vulcan, T'Pau. She is a member of the Syrrannites, a zealous Vulcan sect that believes in - among other Vulcan taboos - the practice of mind-melding. Syrrannites follow a corrupted form of the teachings of Surak, the father of Vulcan logic who is considered the most important Vulcan who ever lived. A wanted man named Syrran is the sect's current leader. With a Syrrannite now suspected, V'Las announces that Vulcans will take over the investigation.

Despite the frosty relations Soval has weathered with Archer, he tells the captain that they must team up to find the culprit - so that one day Vulcans and humans really can work together on a joint mission.

T'Pol's in-name-only husband Koss then arrives on board to give T'Pol an IDIC pendant from her mother, T'Les, which - to T'Pol - is mysterious and portends trouble for her mother. But more surprising, Koss tells T'Pol that her mother is a Syrrannite. T'Pol then finds that the IDIC actually projects a holographic relief map that Syrrannites - currently afraid of persecution - are following. Archer knows that by using this map they can find T'Pol's mother, and T'Pau. However, their journey will take them across a horrific swath of Vulcan desert known as "The Forge," and once there, all communications will be impossible. As Archer leaves the ship for the inhospitable territory, he warns Trip not to trust the Vulcans aboard as the crew tends to a sick bay full of injured bomb victims.

Then, Trip and Phlox make a fateful discovery when they determine that the DNA on the bomb fragment has been forged. They realize that T'Pol and Archer - whom they cannot even reach right now - may be after the wrong culprit. Determined to find out the true criminal, Trip reviews security tapes from those admitted to the embassy the morning of the tragedy and pinpoints one possible suspect. He realizes that one of the injured in sickbay was the guard who would have seen, admitted, recognized - and known - the culprit. But Phlox warns that the guard is in a coma. Still, Trip is certain that they must have some recourse in finding out more from the man, and suggests to Soval the possibility of a mind-meld. Initially, Soval is aghast at the prospects but soon realizes he has no choice if they hope to find out more about how this tragedy could have happened. Soval performs the mind-meld himself and - to his surprise - realizes that Stel planted the bomb. Confronting Stel and V'Las, Soval hopes to get Stel to admit his wrongdoing and then be brought up on charges with the High Command. But once V'Las and Stel realize that Soval obtained the information that would convict them through a mind-meld, the pair realize they have gotten away with murder. Yet despite the repercussions he may endure, Soval is committed to telling the High Command what he knows - and how V'Las wants to blame the bomb tragedy on the Syrrannites.

As T'Pol and Archer travel through the inhospitable Forge, they meet up with a stranger who claims his name is Arev. He treats Archer with disdain and is hesitant to believe that he and T'Pol are interested in finding out more about the Syrrannite way of life. Arev - who does not reveal his true identity as Syrran - is reticent to bond further with T'Pol and Archer until he gets a better read on their motives. But, as the three are holed up in Syrran's cave during a sandfire storm, Syrran sees T'Pol's IDIC pendant. He realizes that he knows all about T'Pol, and her missions on Enterprise. He tells her that T'Les is safe with the others in the T'Karath Sanctuary and that - after the sandfire storm dies down - he will take them both there. Further, he speaks reverently of Surak and how one Syrrannite actually holds Surak's "katra" - the essence of his mind. Anyone who performs a mind-meld with this certain Syrrannite also touches the mind of Surak. Then, an explosion rips through the cave, and Syrran is gravely injured. As Archer tries to help the dying Vulcan, Syrran performs a mind meld on an unwitting Archer. In the process, Archer - unbeknownst to him - gathers all the information he needs to take he and T'Pol to the Sanctuary - and actually now posseses Surak's "katra" as well.

Confused over Archer's seeming omniscience, T'Pol and he arrive at the Sanctuary. Immediately they are attacked, and Archer is threatened with a knife to his neck; the Syrrannites have no idea that he holds the mind - and persona - of their revered leader.
Review
From the beginning of Enterprise, something always bothered me about the show - the Vulcans. With the exception of Jolene Blalock's portrayal of T'Pol which seems relatively consistent with how Vulcans should 'act' based on prior 'Treks', the rest of the Vulcan representatives seemed almost anything but logical. As the episodes progressed and the seasons ended, more and more about the actions of the Vulcans just didn't make sense.

And now we begin to see why with another 3-story saga that focuses on the Vulcan society and how it finally embraced logic as a life-direction. It's not that Vulcans weren't fully logical up to this point, but clearly they had other motives in life that seemed, well, illogical.

Executive Producer Manny Coto clearly wanted to throw in as many old Trek references into this episode as possible. Frankly, I think he overdid it. What with the IDIC symbol, the Selat, Surak, the Katra, T'Pau (who apparently doesn't have the strong dialect that she reflects in "Amok Time"), one wonders what version of Trek we're watching.

Don't get me wrong - I love it when references are made to past, er, well, future Treks, but let's not overdo it, shall we?

That little quip aside, I found "The Forge" a moving episode with some interesting directions and, finally, some focus on a single story line. I knew there was more to the Vulcans than met the eye, and now it seems we're going to learn a whole lot more about how they came to be as we all knew they pre-Enterprise.

The fun's just beginning.

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Awakening


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 84
Original Airdate: 11/26/2004

Writer(s): Andre Bormanis
Director(s): Roxann Dawson

Guest Stars
Robert Foxworth as V'Las
Gary Graham as Soval
John Rubinstein as Kuvak
Bruce Gray as Surak
Kara Zediker as T'Pau
Joanna Cassidy as T'Les

Stardate: Unknown

Synopsis
As Captain Jonathan Archer and T'Pol reach the Syrrannite compound after crossing the treacherous Forge expanse, they are immediately treated like traitors. But as T'Pol's mom T'Les comes forward, the Syrrannite de facto leader T'Pau backs off a bit, especially after she realizes a dangerous exchange has taken place. Before he died, the Syrrannites revered leader Syrran mind-melded with Archer, giving the captain his "katra." The Syrrannites regard the "katra" as the living spirit of Surak, a man who died 2,000 years ago and is considered the greatest Vulcan who ever lived. Archer, who has been feeling strangely since Syrran mind-melded with him, is having visions of Surak, and realizes that the notions of katra must be true. Further, while T'Pau tries to extract the katra from Archer through another type of mind-meld, Surak resists, staying firmly planted in Archer's consciousness. Surak has decided that Archer should have this katra; Vulcans cannot possibly understand the severity of dangers they currently face. In trying to protect Vulcans, Surak believes that Archer is his best recourse in saving his race.

Meanwhile, V'Las is determined to lead the Vulcan High Command on a mission to bombard the Syrrannite camp. Despite Soval's findings otherwise, V'Las has convinced his colleagues that the Syrrannites are responsible for the embassy bombing that claimed Vulcan and human lives.

With those machinations playing out, Soval has been denounced by V'Las and the Vulcan High Command for the mind-melding he previously conducted aboard Enterprise. Certain that the High Command is headed in the wrong direction by targeting the Syrrannites for the embassy bombing, Soval decides to align himself with the Enterprise crew. And he is intent on helping Trip retrieve Archer and T'Pol from the Syrrannite compound. With Soval's being aboard a secret, V'Las informs Trip that Enterprise must now leave their airspace. But Trip ignores the order, and instead continues his plan to send Mayweather and Reed on a shuttlepod to rescue Archer and T'Pol. Unbeknownst to Trip and the others, V'Las doesn't want Enterprise in Vulcan airspace because the crew will witness the devastation he will be unleashing on the Syrrannites.

As Mayweather and Reed depart for The Forge - with a finite window of time for the rescue - V'Las strikes the shuttlepod, forcing the duo to return to Enterprise. Back on Enterprise, Trip confronts an angry V'Las. Trip is insistent that he must save Archer and T'Pol, but an unmoved V'Las then attacks Enterprise, pummeling the ship. On Soval's advice, Trip realizes they need another course of action; with V'Las unrelenting, the crew will never be able to help Archer and T'Pol if they don't survive the Vulcans' force so they leave.

Then later, just as V'Las bombards the Syrrannite compound, Archer - with Surak's guidance - tells T'Pau that he can direct her to the "Kir'Shara," a mysterious artifact that was extremely important to Surak. While no one is certain of the artifact's specific meaning, Syrran apparently brought the Syrrannites to this area to find it. T'Pol and T'Pau follow Archer into a cave, where he discovers the Kir'Shara. However, upon their return to the compound, T'Pol makes a grim discovery: her mother is dying from the torturous Vulcan attack. V'Las has made certain that his ambush would leave no survivors.

As T'Pol contends with the tragedy and she, T'Pau and Archer try to escape the continuing decimation, Soval relays a terrifying scenario to Trip. He finally reveals the secret he had been keeping: the High Command wanted to pin the embassy bombing on the Syrrannites because they are considered pacifists. Loyal to Surak's teachings and resistant to violence, the Syrrannites would have resisted the High Command's current plan to attack Andoria. Despite the fact that Vulcan and Andoria signed a peace treaty, Vulcan intelligence claims that the Andorians are developing a Xindi-type weapon. Armed with that precept, V'Las has persuaded the High Command to launch a pre-emptive strike, which Trip - and Soval - know will start an interstellar war that could impact Earth as well.

Now, more than ever, as V'Las' adversary and for the greater good, Trip sets a course for Andoria...
Review
The 2nd of the 3-episode installment concerning a Vulcan uprising is an important and interesting episode that perhaps raises more questions than it answers. Good thing there's another episode to go before this Vulcan mini-series comes to a close.

We begin to see even more how corrupt the Vulcan High Council has become, and how they'll essentially stop at nothing to 'cover up' what they've done regarding the human embassy - and what they're about to do concerning the invasion of Andoria.

All the while, we're treated to Katra-induced hallucinations (or are they?) that Archer goes through. His 'meeting' with Surak is very interesting, but how many times are we going to hear/see Archer say something along the lines of "You've got the wrong man."

This time, I agree with him as it becomes puzzling that Surak's Katra would want to remain inside a human instead of another Vulcan (T'Pau). But, again, perhaps that'll all make sense in the next, final episode.

On its own, "Awakening" is very well done with some stunningly beautiful and sweeping images of Vulcan, the likes we have not seen before.

The acting, although a little forced and emotional by Kara Zediker's portrayal of T'Pau, is generally sound and believable. This is a middle story that, on its own holds up well, but sandwiched in between the beginning and the end should prove wonderful.

But we'll have to wait until next week to see if this all comes to fruition, so stay tuned...

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Kir'Shara


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 85
Original Airdate: 12/3/2004

Writer(s): Michael Sussman
Director(s): David Livingston

Guest Stars
Robert Foxworth as V'Las
Jeffrey Combs as Shran
John Rubinstein as Kuvak
Gary Graham as Soval
Michael Reilly Burke as Koss
Kara Zediker as T'Pau
Todd Stashwick as Talok
Jack Donner as Vulcan Priest
Melodee M. Spevack as Andorian Com Voice

Stardate: Unknown

Synopsis
The Vulcans having decimated the Syrrannite compound, Archer - with T'Pol and T'Pau - is driven on bringing the Kir'Shara relic to the Vulcan High Command. V'Las has succeeded in convincing his fellow High Command members that the Andorians will be using Xindi technology to obliterate the Vulcans - although they have a peace accord in place - and is plotting the attack. Because the future-knowing Surak is literally in his mind, Archer knows that time is of the essence; he must bring the Kir'Shara to the High Command before the Vulcans go to war with the Andorians. Unfortunately for Archer and his traveling companions, V'Las is going to extremes to thwart any interference they may cause in carrying out his battle strategy. Further, their showing up and professing the pacifistic views of the Vulcan Syrrannite faction would nullify his framing them for the embassy bombing. To that end, he has sent his henchman Talok to find Archer, T'Pol and T'Pau and "eradicate" them.

Meanwhile, Trip is intent on halting an Andorian-Vulcan face-off that would surely spell doom for Earth as well. Working with Soval, the two uncover the Vulcan strategy and then take their information to Andorian Commander Shran. Shran is initially uncertain that Soval has Andoria's best interests in mind and goes so far as to beam the Vulcan aboard the Andorian ship for rounds of emotional torment. But finally, when Trip discovers that the missing Soval is in the hands of Shran, he intercedes, convincing Shran that Soval is indeed thwarting his own race's plans for the good of all.

Talok and his crew find Archer, T'Pol and T'Pau, and a battle ensues. While T'Pau leads Archer - and the invaluable Kir'Shara - to safety, T'Pol is captured, to Archer's chagrin. While Talok tries to find the still-at-large Archer and T'Pau, T'Pol is taken to the High Command.

Continuing their trek to the High Command as well, Archer and T'Pau arrive just as V'Las is relishing the beginning battle between the Vulcans and the Andorians. However, Shran has led the Andorians - with Trip and Enterprise's help - to surprise and combat the Vulcan ships. Heavy battle starts but V'Las faces resistance to his plans from fellow High Command members when Archer arrives, claiming he has the Kir'Shara. To prove it, Archer - instinctively working a series of controls on the artifact - unleashes holographic images of Vulcan text and graphics. The Kir'Shara's obvious power and meaning astonishes the High Command members - who now turn against V'Las.

As Archer explains that T'Pau was framed for the embassy bombing, the High Command members realize that - through her work in bringing the Kir'Shara to them - the Vulcans' true path is now revealed.

With that revelation, and as Enterprise and the Andorian ship are doing their best to ward off the Vulcans, the Vulcan ships are called off and a war is averted. Afterward, Archer realizes that Vulcan and Earth are headed into a new era as the High Command is dissolved. Archer also, fortunately, is able to mind-meld with a Vulcan monk, who relieves him of the katra so that Surak is no longer inside his mind.

And while V'Las is relieved of his duty and an investigation is launched into his role in the embassy bombing, he and Talok seem to be in the midst of still continuing more nefarious plans.
Review
"Kir'Shara" is a clear sign that the improvement of Enterprise through its intrepid fourth season is continuing to gain steam. This is the type of wrap-up episode any and all arcs (there's that word again!) should end with, albeit the ending here was a bit rushed. But more on that in a moment.

As mentioned in the reviews of "The Forge" and "Awakening", the Vulcans have just seemed 'off' for most of Enterprise's run, with no apparent reason. While that skewed direction seemed to be explained with this latest trilogy, the one Vulcan that continued to mystify was V'Las. With his emotions boiling to the surface with controlled fury, one really had to wonder what his motives were. Was Bendii Syndrome taking control of him? Was he working for someone? How delicious a treat it was to see in the end that the V'Las was actually working with the, or was in fact, a Romulan. Now THAT'S a twist ending that's nice to see. Never mind the alien Nazi's.

But V'Las' rampant behavior aside, "Kir'Shara" was a stand-out episode as it made exceptional use of action sequences, tight drama, suspenseful moments and, finally, some solid acting all around. Kara Zediker as T'Pau finally acted LIKE T'Pau and a Vulcan. The mind meld she initiated with T'Pol was touching and very well done. And Jeffrey Combs as Shran has never been better, especially as he battled with his own conscience over the torture of Soval. Shran has become somewhat of a "Q" for Enterprise, with his witty commentary, his tracking of how many favors Archer owes him, and his fierce dedication to his species. Enterprise can only get better with more appearances of this exceptional character.

Finally Gary Graham as Soval proved himself a worthy Vulcan actor in the most unusual of circumstances - during the torture sequence to surface his emotions. The way Soval tried to reel it all in, only to recite the properly analogous fable of Nirak, putting Shran as the fool, was expertly played by Graham. In the past, I never saw him portraying a Vulcan with any conviction. That opinion has now changed.

We also continue to see Manny Coto's influence and affection for the Original Series with mention of "The Needs of the Many" line from Archer, which was a nicely placed comedic relief, as well as the Vulcan Nerve Pinch. As long as he doesn't overdo it as was the case with "The Forge", I'll be the first to thank him and appreciate his producing abilities by bringing elements of Star Trek back TO Star Trek. And I hope everyone caught the quick cameo by Jack Donner as the Vulcan Priest who relieved Archer of Surak's katra. Mr. Donner played the Romulan Sub-Commander in the Original Series episode "The Enterprise Incident". He was also a Vulcan priest in the earlier fourth season Enterprise episode "Home."

Despite this praise, "Kir'Shara" isn't without its problems, albeit they're minor for the most part. First, I'm not comfortable with the fact that Syran knew of the impending invasion. I loved how T'Pol continued to question Archer about this, but then she seemed to just give up one question too soon. Second, I did think the ending was a bit rushed. Koss decently ending his marriage with T'Pol was a nice touch, but I would have like to learn much more about Surak's writings, even if only another minute was spent on it, it would have been a minute well worth the film, er, digital tape.

All in all, "Kir'Shara" was a solid representation of Star Trek, and a great way to end the first part of the fourth season. This is the type of episode that will continue to whet the appetite of the viewing audience.

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Daedalus


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 86
Original Airdate: 1/14/2005

Writer(s): Ken LaZebnik & Michael Bryant
Director(s): David Straiton

Guest Stars
Bill Cobbs as Emory Erickson
Leslie Silva as Danica Erickson
Donovan Knowles as Quinn Erickson
Noel Manzano as Ensign Burrows

Stardate: Unknown

Synopsis
Captain Archer is delighted to welcome his mentor, Emory Erickson who invented the transporter, along with his daughter, Danica, aboard Enterprise to conduct experiments in sub-quantum teleportation. Erickson seems to be progressing nicely in his work, until the ship enters the blackest and most dangerous area in space known as The Barrens, and a member of Starfleet is brutally killed by an amorphous shape.

When it becomes evident to Archer that Erickson lied about the true nature of his mission, Erickson confesses that his objective is to materialize his son Quinn, who was lost in a transporter-malfunction 15 years ago. Although furious with his friend for lying to him and for putting his crew in danger, Archer lends Erickson his support and allows him to carry out his dangerous mission.

With Trip's reluctant engineering assistance, Erickson is able to make contact with his son. But joy quickly turns to horror when Quinn's body materializes in a deteriorated state, and completing the transport process will surely kill him. Archer urges his friend to finally let his son go, but Erickson protests, needing to hold his son one last time to say goodbye. Stoically, Erickson completes the teleportation process and soon cradles his son's lifeless body. T'Pol, who has not yet come to terms with the recent death of her mother, is clearly affected by the touching goodbye of a father to his son.
Review
Since the beginning, when it was announced that a prequel Star Trek series would follow after the triumphant end of Voyager, I had high hopes that we would begin to see the origins of the 'Star Trek' universe. The chance to see how the Federation and Star Fleet were formed; to experience the true first contacts with alien species that we've all been accustomed to; to witness the testing of new technology that's nearly taken for granted in all later-day Trek series. These events, and more, clearly could have given Enterprise the means to travel where no Star Trek series had gone before.

Sadly, however, Enterprise hasn't fully exploited this positioning. True, we've now begun to see some information regarding the formation of the Federation, and meeting up with the Klingons and Andorians for the first time has been interesting and fun. But for the most part, Enterprise doesn't continually remind us that the stories take place LONG before the time of Kirk & Spock, to say nothing about how far removed they are from the Next Generation/Deep Space Nine/Voyager era. But that has been one gripe of mine since the beginning.

So, when I heard about the premise of Daedalus, and how it would focus on the creator of the Transporter, I was energized (pun intended) at the thought of finally seeing a piece of Star Trek history unfold in an Enterprise episode. Alas, Daedalus doesn't quite go into the 'explanation' of the creation of the transporter as I had hoped. Instead, the episode sets up an interesting mystery from a resulting transporter accident fifteen years earlier.

Under the guise of testing out a new sub quantum-powered transporter system that could beam someone an unlimited distance, the inventor of the original Transporter, Emory Erickson and his daughter Danica beam aboard the Enterprise to test this new technology. Immediately we're treated to the knowledge that Archer has known the Erickson's for years as they are close family friends and Trip, like a kid in a candy store, is thrilled at meeting one of his childhood heroes. Both of these relationships go a long way in setting up the conflicts that are to come later in the story.

But before those conflicts materialize, the story nicely paces itself to help build up a genuine feeling of suspense. First, we're treated to the premise of the test and how Erickson has improved on the Transporter to, one day, make "Starfleet obsolete". With the anticipation of that test, a hinting of the true nature of the Erickson's arrival on Enterprise begins to form as Emory and Danica talk privately in their quarters.

Just as the viewer begins to become suspicious of the goings-on here, so does Trip who, despite practically memorializing Erickson, realizes that the inventor is clearly hiding something. So when, rather suddenly, an anomaly appears and kills a crewman, I found myself guessing as to what was truly going on. As the nature of the story finally unfolded, and we learned that Erickson was attempting to save his son who was "killed" in a transporter accident fifteen years prior, the episode switches gears, changing from a mystery to a rescue operation. It's this type of expert writing and perfectly blended sequences that have made Enterprise more of a stand-out series this season.

However, this is also the part of the episode that I began to take some exception to. Archer's unwavering insistence that the test turned rescue mission continue seemed a little out of character. Yet Trip's badgering of Archer, realizing and appreciating the real possibility of danger in remaining in "The Barrens" helped to offset this a bit. Still, even as Erickson pointed out, Archer's first duty is (and should have been) to his ship. Having the Captain blow his stack didn't really seem necessary, even though the point here was that the Enterprise simply couldn't turn its back on a stranded person, despite the risks. But was Archer acting out of a sense of duty to that stranded person, or a sense of family towards the Erickson's? The answer is really that clear. What is clear, however, is how Trip didn't allow his deep admiration of Emory to misguide him. I thought that quite a fitting display of what type of officer Trip has become.

The side-story that was also being presented in Daedalus, that of T'Pol immersing herself in the Kir'Shara was a nice way of continuing the events that were witnessed in the 'Vulcan Trilogy'. Finally seeing T'Pol realize what it means to be a Vulcan, yet holding on to her feelings for Trip was nicely executed way of apparently ending the relationship between the two. Jolene Blalock's performance as T'Pol steadily improves as she becomes a more convincing Vulcan each week.

Conversely, Emory Erickson, who was played by season veteran actor Bill Cobbs, lacked any real emotion. Perhaps that was the 'scientist' in him, or perhaps it was just a bit too dry of a performance by Mr. Cobbs. But as the final sequences of the episode presented themselves, the true emotion and built up anguish and guilt finally overcame Erickson in a rather touching moment. It's here that we realize that Erickson is like any other father - doing anything and everything possible to safeguard his child.

His son, Quinn, wasn't dead. He was stranded in a void, and he had to be rescued, no matter what the cost. In the end, though the results were tragic, Emory got what he came for - his son, and a sense of renewal. Daedalus is the type of episode that one should reflect on. The story was nicely told, the suspense was certainly well paced, but the underlining message is the true key here. The bond between a parent and child is stronger than anything in the universe and there is no limit to the lengths a parent will go to to insure that bond continues.

Proof positive that Star Trek is held together not by its fantastic action sequences, special effects or green alien women, but by thought provoking stories. Daedalus will not go down as the all-time best Enterprise episode, but it will certainly be remembered for the story it told about how the power that comes from the love between a parent and his child.

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Observer Effect


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 87
Original Airdate: 1/21/2005

Writer(s): Judith Reeves-Stevens & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Director(s): Mike Vejar

Guest Stars
None

Stardate: Unknown

Synopsis
While playing a friendly game of chess, it becomes apparent that Reed and Mayweather have been inhabited by two members of an alien species who intend to observe how humans react when faced with an imminent tragedy.

While returning from a routine scavenger expedition on a mysterious planet, Trip collapses from a sudden pain in his lungs, forcing Hoshi to pilot the shuttlepod and make an emergency landing aboard Enterprise. Suddenly, Hoshi also becomes ill and Phlox delivers the devastating prognosis that Hoshi and Trip have been infected by an incurable virus that will leave them dead within hours, as well as anybody with whom they come into contact.

Hoping to ease their pain, Phlox injects Hoshi and Trip with a sedative, causing them to drift off into a deep sleep. Suddenly, Trip and Hoshi sit up in bed, inhabited by the aliens who now wish to experience the sensation of human illness. Phlox, stunned to see Hoshi and Trip awake and talking, gets the shock of his life when the aliens admit their presence in his patients. Phlox is soon silenced when the aliens erase his recent memory, as they have also done with Mayweather and Reed.

After the alien leaves Hoshi's body, she suddenly goes into cardiac arrest. Upon realizing that Phlox can't handle the defibrillator on his own, Archer throws off his gloves and lifts his bio-hazard helmet; thus exposing himself to the deadly virus.

Stoically, Archer accepts his dire fate and, and after placing T'Pol in command, goes to stay with Trip until the end. Trip, now inhabited by one of the aliens, sits up and confesses to a stunned Archer that he is an alien who has been occupying Trip's body in order to conduct research on humans. Archer is furious when the aliens admit to knowing about the deadly virus as well as having the power to cure those infected.

Archer begs the aliens to intervene and save Hoshi and Trip, but his ardent plea falls on deaf ears. Compassion wins out in the end when the aliens bring Hoshi and Trip back to life as a reward for Archer's heroism.
Review
Star Fleet's mantra of exploration talks to the seeking out of new life, and new civilization. What that really boils down to is how we, humans, would seek out new species. How we will interact with them. How we will learn about their culture, their beliefs, their habits, their strengths and weaknesses. As compassionate beings with a moral compass, it has always been clear that the approach Starfleet members would take towards first contact with another species would be one of friendship.

What we often forget is the fact that the universe is a very large place, with countless other species out there whose moral compass, or lack thereof, may point them in an entirely different direction. Such is the case with the Organians in "Observer Effect". While it's true that these are the very same Organians that first appeared in the original Star Trek episode "Errand of Mercy", they differ quite substantially from their later-day counterparts. And the fact that they are Organians, which isn't learned until the final act of the episode, really doesn't play a large role here. It's more of a Manny Coto-ized TOS eye candy than anything else, but I'm not one to look a gift TOS connection in the mouth.

As I did with "Daedalus", I had preconceptions about this episode which, once again, did not pan out. However this time, it was for the better. Based on the minimal information about "Observer Effect" and the trailer that aired last week, this seemed to be a rehashing of a Voyager episode entitled "Scientific Method". In some respects there are surface similarities between "Observer Effect" and "Scientific Method" as both episodes have unseen aliens influencing crew members for their own purposes. But where the Srivani were using the Voyager crew to help locate data to cure disorders within their race, the Organians were essentially putting the Enterprise crew through a rat maze test. This was done so the Organians could witness how humans would react to crew members being inflicted with a terminal virus - a test the Organians had been performing for countless hundreds of years on numerous species. It was their way of determining whether or not to make first contact with a species. Not quite the "open arms" policy of Star Fleet, is it?

There were a lot of nice aspects of Observer Effect, most notably the true ensemble performance that is lacking in most Enterprise episodes. Each main character has a significant role in here and we finally, after four season, begin to gain a better understanding and appreciation for Hoshi and Travis (albeit it's more Organian and less Travis, but I'm sure Anthony Montgomery didn't mind the beefier role). Who would have guessed that Hoshi would have had such a disobedient streak in her from her academy days. At first I thought this was doing a disservice to the established character, but it did seem to all fall into place as the episode progressed.

I also found the acting in Observer Effect to be spot-on for all the characters. Considering that as the Organians jumped from one pair of crewmembers to another, the actors effortlessly jumped in and out of character. All involved accomplished this very nicely by adding just the right amount of nuance to the Organians to set them apart from their host-characters. And Dominic Keating was simply superb as his Organian counterpart, especially as he stated rather matter-of-factly that "someone always dies".

Another admirable quality to Observer Effect is how it dealt with the obvious conclusion. We all knew that, in the end, Trip and Hoshi were not going to die. Yet instead of just asking the viewer to accept the possibility of that outcome, we're treated to somewhat of a race between Phlox's determination to locate a cure and the Travis/Organian's attempt to convince the Reed/Organian that humans are different and that this 'test' should be ended. Just the right amount of storyline emphasis is placed on both racing parties that you're never really sure until the end who would 'prevail'. Kudos to the Reeves-Stevens team for their expert and subtle story writing that made an obvious conclusion a real guessing game until the very end.

My only real complaint with this episode is focused on the Organians and their discussion with Archer towards the end of the episode. Archer's speech about compassion and the fact that the Organians need "to do more than just observe" was a strong and valid one. However throughout the entire episode, we saw that the Travis/Organian was already beginning to develop a sense of compassion as he recognized something special in the human species. The Organians are, after all, a highly advanced race. Why is it that all advanced races are always portrayed without compassion? But I digress. In my mind, I thought the ending should have presented a final argument between both Organians which eventually would have led to they're own realization that to better understand humans and compassion, they needed to perform an act of compassion themselves.

This would have been a much more satisfying ending instead of the typically predictable "humans are better and more advanced than anyone" message that seems to always find its way into episodes such as this. For once I'd love to see an alien species figure it out on their own without "us" getting in the way. But that's just me.

All in all, a very enjoyable episode and continuing proof that Enterprise just keeps getting better.

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Babel One


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 88
Original Airdate: 1/28/2005

Writer(s): Michael Sussman & Andre Bormanis
Director(s): David Straiton

Guest Stars
Jeffrey Combs as Shran
Lee Arenberg as Gral (Tellarite)
Brian Thompson as Valdore
J. Michael Flynn as Nijil
Molly Brink as Talas
Kevin Brief as Naarg

Stardate: November 12, 2154

Synopsis
The Enterprise crew welcomes aboard a group of Tellarites, including Ambassador Gral, to transport them to the neutral planet of Babel, where Earth mediators will try to settle a long-standing trade dispute between the Tellarites and the Andorians. After receiving fragments of a distress call, Enterprise alters course to provide assistance, and arrive to find that an Andorian vessel has been destroyed by what seems to be a Tellarite ship. Though furious with the Tellarites for compromising the conference, Archer has no choice but to bring the Andorian survivors, including Commander Shran, aboard Enterprise.

After Shran and his crew are rescued, Gral vehemently denies any involvement in the attacks. Suddenly, Enterprise is attacked by what appears to be an Andorian ship, but the attacking vessel quickly moves off and Enterprise lays in a pursuit course.

The alien who seems to be piloting the Andorian ship through a synaptic interface, alerts a Romulan scientist named Nijil and a Romulan officer named Valdore, that Enterprise is approaching.

The Enterprise crew locates the ship that attacked them, but the ship is motionless. Trip, Reed, and a few MACOs board the drifting ship to investigate, and are stunned to find it deserted. Panic ensues when the ship suddenly powers up and starts to fire upon Enterprise. Acting quickly, T'Pol is able to beam up the MACOs, but the transporter malfunctions before Trip and Reed can be rescued. As if a bad situation couldn't get any worse, damage to Reed's oxygen hose leaves Reed and Trip with a very limited supply of oxygen to be shared between them.

T'Pol soon learns that the ship that attacked Enterprise was a Romulan ship altered to look like an Andorian ship. Archer deduces that the Romulans want to start a war between the Andorians and Tellarites; thus halting a possible trade agreement between the two alien races.

While awaiting rescue on the mysterious ship, Reed tells Trip that T'Pol's marriage to Koss has been annulled. The moment is interrupt when the static ship starts rocking violently, knocking Trip and Reed off their feet. After struggling to make their way through the ship, Reed and Trip are mystified when they discover that the bridge is completely deserted as well.

Back aboard Enterprise, Shran and his paramour, Talas, seek revenge for the attack on their ship and execute a surprise ambush against Gral and the other Tellarites. After Talas is severely wounded in the scuffle, Archer stuns both sides when he announces he has evidence that will prove that the Tellarites did not attack Shran and his crew.
Review
For several seasons now, "Star Trek: Enterprise" has begun to lay the foundation for the Federation of Planets. As suspected and alluded to in past episodes, Archer and the crew of the Enterprise will play a large role in the formation of this gathering of species. As the Federation of Planets is the cornerstone of the Star Trek universe and philosophy, witnessing the creation of this alliance is something that I've been looking forward to for some time. One would think that a union of this magnitude, even in its infancy, would have been met with open arms for all those participating in this conglomeration of species. But as we learn in "Babel One", the first of a three-episode arc, there are those who stand to lose at the formation of just such an alliance.

"Babel One", which pays homage to the original Star Trek episode entitled "Journey to Babel" begins with a simple ferry mission for the Enterprise; transport a delegation of Tellarite ambassadors to the planet Babel for opening peace talks with their bitter enemies the Andorians. But the simple mission becomes anything but as Archer diverts the Enterprise in response to a distress call from an Andorian ship; one that just happens to be commanded by his "old friend" Shran.

With Shran's contention that his ship was attacked and destroyed by a Tellarite vessel, and with the Tellarite delegation on board the Enterprise, the stage is set for a powerful conflict with Archer firmly situated in the middle. It's at this point where the episode seems to be headed down a somewhat predictable path that's been utilized countless times in all incarnations of previous Trek series. Two warring factions, both convinced of their own innocence accuse the other of a provocation that led to some sort of attack. It's precisely because of this apparent predictable story line that I knew something else was clearly about to unfold.

Enter the mystery ship that first attacked and destroyed Shran's ship, then attacked and disabled the Enterprise. When Shran's ship was attacked, the mystery ship appeared to be of Tellarite construction. However when the Enterprise was attacked, the ship appeared to be Andorian. Learning later that both ships shared the same power signature and, as such, were likely one in the same (or of the same origin) was a stirring way of introducing the true story line of the episode - someone wanted to cause enough friction to insure that the conference on Babel wouldn't take place.

This season, Enterprise has done a superior job of establishing a story line slowly enough so as to keep the viewer guessing and captivated. "Babel One" is a prime example of this because of the transference of interest from the dueling Tellarites and Andorians to the puzzling and fascinating appearance of the Romulans and their remotely-controlled holo-ship. Questions abound has Archer and company try to determine the nature of the mystery ship, if it truly is a Romulan vessel and just why it was so intent on disrupting the peace talks of two species who inhabit an area of space that's far removed from Romulan territory.

As a viewer, I have my own questions and concerns which partially mirror those of Archer. But first and foremost, I'm forced to wonder how the Romulans came to possess such a seemingly advanced ship, one with neural-connectors and holo-projectors. This seems to be far more advanced that anything Romulans should have had in this time period. But since this is a three-part episode, and since I suspect time travel has a play in this arc, I'll leave that concern at the door for the moment.

The point, however, is that "Babel One" does keep you guessing and questioning and pondering the true nature of the story. If you're going to have an arc or a cliff hanger, you have to make sure that you begin to get the viewer to ask questions. "Babel One" accomplishes this in grand style as enough questions remain by the end of the episode to entice the viewer to tune in "next week." The fundamental formula of keeping the viewer engaged is one that Enterprise lacked prior to this season, but seems to be making up for now.

Of course, an enticing story alone can't insure an episode will be successful. Fortunately, the performances in "Babel One" were all magnificent. Scott Bakula, who seems to have gotten Archer back in character, portrayed a strong-willed, powerful captain; one that maintained control over his ship while the Tellarites and Andorians were battling it out. Jeffrey Combs once again put forth a multi-dimensional performance as Shran. The respect and sense of loss he showed for his fallen shipmates offset by his nearly uncontrollable anger towards the Tellarites allowed us to see more sides of this increasingly fascinating character. Credit Mr. Combs for truly breathing life into Shran. Also credit Lee Arenberg as the Tellarite Gral for expertly portraying a provoking, boorish and ultimately bizarre species.

The stage has been set for the foundation of the Federation. With the intriguing mystery of the Romulan ship, the urgency of recovering Trip and Reed from said ship, and a ever-growing tense situation on board the Enterprise, this is one arc that could really end up being among the finest storylines in all of Trek. Time will tell.

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United


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 89
Original Airdate: 2/4/2005

Writer(s): Manny Coto
Director(s): David Livingston

Guest Stars
Jeffrey Combs as Shran
Brian Thompson as Valdore
Lee Arenberg as Gral (Tellarite)
Molly Brink as Talas
J. Michael Flynn as Nijil
Kevin Brief as Naarg
Geno Silva as Vrax
Scott Rinker as Pilot

Stardate: Nov. 15, 2154

Synopsis
Nijil and Valdore continue to control the mysterious Romulan ship that has trapped Reed and Trip, masking it to look like Enterprise and using the ship to destroy a Rigellian vessel. After a Romulan Senator named Vrax chastises Nijil and Valdore for losing control of the ship, Nijil and Valdore vow to kill the humans onboard (Trip and Reed) in order to cover their tracks. Nijil and Valdore trap Trip inside the service junction and leak radiation coolant inside. Over a speaker, Valdore orders Trip to re-establish the damaged warp matrix on the ship or he will die. Reed works frantically to free Trip, but the situation is made worse when the ship engages Enterprise in an intense firefight.

Meanwhile, aboard the real Enterprise, T'Pol devises a plan that will require the cooperative use of 128 space ships in order to expose the real culprit behind the recent attacks. Archer realizes that to amass enough ships to carry out the plan he will need to unite the Andorians and Tellarites. Archer's attempt hits a snag when Talas dies from her wound and a devastated Shran, vowing to avenge her death, challenges Naarg to a duel to the death to be fought with an Ushaan-Tor, an ice-miner's tool.

Knowing that either a Tellarite or an Andorian death will forever halt peace talks in the region, Archer announces to Shran that he will fight him as Graal's replacement. Archer and Shran both fight valiantly, but Archer gets the upper hand and wins, sparing Shran's life.

Aboard the Romulan ship, which is under fire by Enterprise, Reed and Trip narrowly escape death by ejecting themselves from the spacecraft, and are transported back aboard Enterprise. Archer is pleased when the Andorians and the Tellarites agree to stay aboard the ship to hold their peace talks.

Back at the Romulan command center, Valdore makes his case to Nijil and Vrax: Jonathan Archer must die so the Romulans can carry out their goal of reunification with Vulcan.
Review
It would be easy to layer this review with sarcastic remarks directed towards UPN and, to a lesser extent, Paramount for their decision to cancel Enterprise after this season. It would be easy to, but I'll let the quality of "United" and the rest of the 4th season speak for itself.

Without question, "quality" is one of among many positive adjectives that can easily be applied to the second episode in the current three-episode arc which began last week with "Babel One". One of Enterprise's strengths this season has been its ability to maintain a sense of balance within each episode. In "United", two distinct, yet obviously related storylines were taking place. The first focused on the dilemma that Tucker and Reed found themselves in while abandoned onboard the marauder ship. The second storyline centered around Shran, his loss of Talas, and the honor-filled vengeance he was seeking against the Tellarite responsible for her death. "United" shows how two diverse storylines can be woven together masterfully to create a single, seamless fabric.

With Tucker and Reed, you're treated to action, adventure, mystery and intrigue as both attempt to understand the inner workings of the marauder. As the two Enterprise officers spelunk their way through the ship, the sense of urgency and danger become almost tangible. The camera angles and lighting were very effective in bringing a sense of realism to the ship and enveloping the viewer inside of it. The tension of this storyline was nicely balanced and offset by the building and enjoyable camaraderie between Tucker and Reed, something that seems to get more genuine with each passing episode this season. It was also refreshing to see the usually "by the books" Reed disobey a direct order so he could save Tucker's life. Tucker then jokingly indicating that he would put Reed on report for said disobedience was a nice way to round out their piece of this episode. Two united officers working together as one to accomplish their goals and get home safe. Very well done.

With Shran, we are once again treated to a masterful performance by Jeffrey Combs as he invites us to witness how emotional, how honorable and how vicious the Andorian can be. The interaction between Shran and Talas in sickbay was unquestionably Comb's finest moment on Enterprise. His range of emotions, from deep sadness at the prospect of losing his love to barely controlled rage at the thought avenging her death was absolutely flawless. Credit Molly Brink for also putting forth a heart wrenching scene that helped to bring out those dimensions in Shran's ever-evolving character. After her demise, however, the fragile pieces of Shran's persona are aptly replaced with a vengeful rage that all should fear, Human and Tellarite alike. The balance of emotions that Talas brought to Shran through her relationship with him would now leave the Andorian vulnerable in her death.

Tucker and Reed continue to balance their relationship to form a stronger bond.

Shran loses his balance as Talas perishes at the hand of a Tellarite.

All the while, there is an underlying, bonding aspect of this episode that brings everything into balance; Archer.

Recognizing that everyone must work together in order to capture the marauding ship, Archer acts as the perfect mediator between Shran and the Tellarite Ambassador Gral. The scene where all three are in the conference room trying to decide on how to work together was exceptional. Andorian arrogance ("I would rather co-habitat with a Klingon Targ..." butting up against Tellarite insults ("Your mating habits are not my concern...") was the perfect excuse for Archer to blow his lid. Instead the Captain's choice to let the two parties get the insults out of their systems was the true sign of a leader and one that garnered the humble respect of both Shran and Gral. Finally, Archer begins to act like a seasoned, professional, hero-inspiring Captain and mediator and, frankly, it's about time.

Archer taking the place of the Tellarite Naarg in the honor-bound Andorian "fight to the death" with a clear ulterior motive shows how he's finally begun to think ahead and become proactive instead of always reacting to the latest set of events. Further ending the battle with Shran so as to restore his honor was the right - and more difficult - path to choose. Let's face it, as Captain, he could have simply forbid the conflict from taking place. Instead, understanding Shran's need for closure coupled with recognizing the opportunity of convincingly winning over the Andorian's trust and respect, Archer chooses the more dangerous path.

This is why Enterprise has finally hit its stride in season #4. It doesn't resort to simple, common, and far too obvious solutions to the problems the crew encounter week over week. Instead, through some expert writing which finally compliments the talents of the cast, we have stories that end with twists and leave us wanting for more. That was missing in the Enterprise of the past. That was missing from the season-long Xindi arc last year.

But, as was the case with the Vulcan trilogy and the Soong arc earlier in the season, Enterprise is finally whetting the appetites of the viewers and holding on to their attention. "Babel One" started it last week by hinting at the direction this arc would take, giving us a glimpse of what was to come, keeping us engaged. "United" continues that intensity by doing much of the same and revealing in the very last shot that there truly is more going on here than what we've been led to believe.

Engaging storylines. One's that keep you questioning, and guessing and thinking.

That's entertainment.

That's Star Trek.

And yes, that's Enterprise.

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The Aenar


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 90
Original Airdate: 2/11/2005

Writer(s): Manny Coto
Director(s): Mike Vejar

Guest Stars
Jeffrey Combs as Shran
Brian Thompson as Valdore
Alexandra Lydon as Jhamel
Alicia Adams as Lissan
J. Michael Flynn as Nijil
Geno Silva as Vrax
Scott Rinker as Gareb

Stardate: Unknown

Synopsis
In the Romulan command center, Senator Vrax admonishes Valdore for the defeat of the drone ship. Vrax is also angry that the Andorians and Tellarites have formed an alliance. Valdore tells Vrax it is all merely a setback. Valdore plans to deal with the humans who brought the Andorians and Tellarites together - he has a second drone armed and ready and is prepared to use the two ships to find Enterprise and destroy it.

Onboard Enterprise, T'Pol brings the crew and Shran up to date: the mysterious drone they encountered is operated by "telepresence," meaning the vessel is controlled by a pilot from a remote location. T'Pol believes that the Enterprise crew can construct their own telepresence unit to disrupt the signal controlling the drone. Later on, Shran tells Archer that Andorian scientists have identified the brainwave pattern of the drone pilot: it is a member of an Andorian subspecies called the Aenar, blind, extremely reclusive ice-dwellers.

Archer and Shran embark on a perilous journey through the freezing climates of Andoria to the Aenar compound. When Shran is hurt, the Aenar come to their aid. They tell Archer that the Aenar controlling the drone ship could be Gareb, one of their people who disappeared about a year ago. Archer and Shran want one of the Aenar to come back with them and control the telepresence unit being built on Enterprise, but the pacifist species refuses this request, believing that no good can come from violence. At least one of the Aenar feels differently - Jhamel, Gareb's sister. She wants to help her brother and agrees to return to Enterprise with Archer and Shran.

Meanwhile, Trip, T'Pol and Phlox work on constructing Enterprise's own telepresence unit. Trip wants to be the one to test it, but T'Pol notes that this would not be effective, as Trip is not telepathic. T'Pol volunteers to test it herself instead. Trip protests, but T'Pol holds firm. During the test, T'Pol seems to be having problems breathing. As her synaptic response becomes more and more erratic, Trip orders Phlox to end the test.

Archer and Shran return to Enterprise with Jhamel in tow. The young Aenar tests the telepresence unit - she has more success than T'Pol, but still experiences considerable synaptic problems and is clearly exhausted afterwards. Phlox determines that Jhamel will recover, but insists that it is too dangerous to try the device again. Shran, meanwhile, is clearly impressed with Jhamel's courage.

Later, Enterprise finally engages the drone ships. Down in Sickbay, a still-recovering Jhamel senses Gareb's presence and insists that Phlox allow her to try the telepresence unit again.

As Enterprise endures heavy damage from the two drones, Jhamel uses the telepresence unit to contact Gareb. She tells him that she's on the ship he's attacking. Gareb is devastated - he thought Jhamel and the other Aenar were all dead, and can't believe how many people he's killed by controlling the drone ships. Jhamel reminds him that the Romulans forced him and tells him that he has to stop the killing. Using every ounce of his will, Gareb attacks one drone with the other. As one of the drones explodes, Valdore, furious at the failure of his mission, shoots Gareb. Enterprise targets the other drone and destroys it. Down in sickbay, Jhamel feels her brother die. As Shran helps her out of the telepresence unit, she collapses into his arms.

Later, Shran and Jhamel prepare to return to Andoria. Shran notes that he probably won't be getting another ship any time soon, and tells Archer they may not see each other for a while. As he departs Enterprise, he tells Archer to stay out of trouble.

Meanwhile, Trip has realized that his feelings for T'Pol have been affecting his work on Enterprise. He asks Archer for a transfer to Columbia. Archer is confused by his old friend's request, but reluctantly grants it anyway.

Review
There's no question that Enterprise has had its share of ups and down through its four years of episodes. Yet despite this roller-coaster ride of a series, the fourth - and final - season has consistently been filled with superb storylines, interesting arcs, excellent acting and thought provoking issues. Unfortunately "The Aenar", the final episode in the Andorian/Tellarite Conflict Arc, didn't quite live up to the expectations that were established during the first two parts of this trilogy ("Babel One" and "United").

That's not to say there wasn't a lot to like about tonight's episode; there was. The problem is that where there was superb balance between plots and sub-plots in "Babel One" and, most notably "United", "The Aenar" seemed to lose a grasp on that balance, left some sizeable plot holes open and, in the end, fell flat.

The continuation and further revelation that the Romulans were attempting to cause a disruption of the peace between the Andorians and Tellarites was an interesting concept and, unquestionably, a precursor to the eventual Earth/Romulan wars. This was a subject that has long whetted the appetites of many Star Trek fans. But as enjoyable as that plot line was, it was hindered by the fact that it never fully explained how and why the Romulans came to acquire such advanced technology in the remotely controlled, holographically enhanced marauder ships. Shran's dismissive comment about the Andorian's experimentation in the technology aside, this issue should have been addressed further so as to better fit with the overall technological timeline of the Star Trek universe. Further, with the mythical nature surrounding the Aenarian people, just how did the Romulans come to know about their existence and their enhanced telepathic capabilities?

The Trip-T'Pol factor, that has been building for several seasons now, started off on a very touching note in this episode. The conversation between the enamored engineer and the stoic Vulcan about thoughts that occurred when both faced near-death situations was heart wrenching. Trip's attempt to let T'Pol know exactly how he felt about her, and how important she had become in his life was as moving as T'Pol's unemotional response was devastating. This was without a doubt one of the most powerful Trip/T'Pol scenes to date. The problem, however, was how Trip's personality changed throughout the rest of the episode as he tended to his wounded heart. There has never been a doubt as to Trip's feelings for T'Pol, but he also never, EVER, let it interfere with his duties to the ship and his captain. Now all of a sudden, he's messing up at his job, he seems almost on the verge of tears and, remarkably, he asks for - and receives - a transfer. I don't doubt the power of love, but this goes against the fabric of Trip's personality. He may have a passionate streak in him, but this is more reflective of a school-boy crush than anything else. Very disappointing and puzzling.

The power of love was a recurring theme in "The Aenar" and it excelled in the sister/brother relationship between Jhamel and Gareb. I'm torn between this section of the episode because it truly was moving and touching to see how Jhamel wanted to rescue her brother, knowing deep down inside that by rescuing him, she would have to lead him to his death. This was a poignant moment in the episode but, at the same time, a bit of a let down as catalyst to the end of the Romulan marauder ships. Where "Babel One" and "United" built up the tension and suspense throughout each episode, leaving the viewer wanting for more by the time the credits rolled, "The Aenar" felt noticeably less satisfying at the end. The conflict was over, but it should have been more of an ominous ending; perhaps with Archer realizing that this was only the beginning of Earth's run in with the Romulans.

I'm reminded of the "Next Generation" season-one episode called The Neutral Zone where Picard and company run into the Romulans for the first time. The episode ended with the Romulan's warning Picard that "We are back." Tonight's episode would have faired much better if a similar message, one perhaps of "We are here" came across. That alone would have made the ending far more satisfying as well as open-ended.

I can't end this review without once again commenting on the performance of the regular cast and guest stars. Without sounding like a broken Andorian record, Jeffrey Combs once again expertly portrayed the multi-faceted Shran. "The Aenar" showed how the sting of Shran's recent loss of Talas didn't stop him from being compassionate and protective of Jhamel. Shran's personality has become deeper and more complex with each appearance this season, and that is largely due to how Combs instills emotions in his Andorian alter-ego.

Alexandra Lydon's performance of Jhamel was wrought with contained emotions and fierce dedication to her brother. She showed how the Aenar were almost a mix between blue-skinned Andorians and unemotional Vulcans. An interesting merger, if you will, and one very well portrayed by Ms. Lydon. Finally, Bakula's performance as Archer was top notch and even Connor Trinneer's performance as the love struck, albeit sappy engineer was genuinely well done.

Enterprise continues to impress this season but, unfortunately, "The Aenar" wasn't one of its finest showings.

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Affliction


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 91
Original Airdate: 2/18/2005

Writer(s): Manny Coto
Director(s): Michael Grossman

Guest Stars
Ada Maris as Captain Erika Hernandez
John Schuck as Antaak
James Avery as General K'Vagh
Eric Pierpoint as Harris
Terrell Tilford as Marab
Kate McNeil as Lt. Collins
Seth MacFarlane as Ensign Rivers
Marc Worden as Klingon Prisoner
Brad Greenquist as Alien #1
Derek Magyar as Kelby

Stardate: November 27, 2154

Synopsis
Enterprise has returned to Earth for the launch of the Columbia. While Trip prepares for his transfer, Hoshi and Phlox enjoy dinner in San Francisco. Things turn sour, however, when Phlox is kidnapped by mysterious aliens and taken to a Klingon laboratory on the colony world of Qu'Vat. Dr. Antaak and General K'Vagh inform him that a virus is spreading through the Klingon Empire - they need Phlox's help to devise a cure.

On Enterprise, T'Pol mindmelds with Hoshi, hoping that the ensign will remember something about Phlox's kidnappers. The duo manages to deduce that the kidnappers were speaking Rigelian, so Enterprise takes off after a recently departed Rigelian vessel.

On the Columbia, Trip has dinner with his new captain, Erika Hernandez. Erika is surprised that Trip accepted a transfer, and Trip simply says that he was getting too close to some of his Enterprise crewmates - sometimes it's easier to work with people who are merely colleagues. Back on Enterprise, T'Pol has a strange meditation session in which she sees and interacts with Trip. On Columbia, Trip appears to have the same vision.

Meanwhile, Reed is approached by a mysterious man named Harris, who has an assignment for him. Reed balks, since the assignment will mean deceiving Archer, but Harris insists it may be the only way to save Phlox.

Archer and the crew eventually find the Rigelian vessel, but it's been destroyed and there are no survivors. Suddenly, Enterprise is attacked by a small, mysterious vessel. A group of fierce, human-like aliens board the ship and interfere with Enterprise's systems. One of their boarding party, Marab, is hit by MACO fire and is left behind as the rest of the aliens flee. Archer wants to follow the strange ship, but Enterprise's systems appear to be disabled. In Sickbay, Archer asks Marab why his people attacked Enterprise. Strangely enough, Marab responds in Klingon - and according to his bio-signature, he is Klingon. The crew isn't sure what to make of this, but in the meantime, Archer asks T'Pol and Hoshi to reconstruct data recovered from the Rigelian ship.

On Qu'Vat, the Klingons bring Phlox a Klingon specimen for dissection - the "specimen," however, is still alive. Phlox notices that the specimen 's skin appears to be peeling, his forehead ridges smoothing out. Despite the doctor's protests, K'Vagh kills the ailing Klingon, giving Phlox something to study. As Phlox works, he discovers something disturbing - his specimen has Augment DNA.

Phlox realizes the Klingons were attempting to create Klingon Augments. Unfortunately, there were some unanticipated side effects, and the Augments' forehead ridges began to dissolve. Antaak says that it seemed for a while as if the experiment was successful - the Klingon Augments looked human, but were still very Klingon in nature. Then their neural pathways began to degrade and they died in agony. One of the Klingon test subjects happened to be suffering from the Levodian flu - the Augment genes modified the virus and it became airborne, resulting in the current plague.

Back on Enterprise, Archer has discovered that Reed lied to him. Reed erased important information pertaining to the Rigelian ship and claimed the ship was destroyed by Orion weapons. T'Pol, however, tells Archer it was actually destroyed by Klingons. When Reed refuses to tell the captain what's really going on, a furious Archer confines him to the brig.

On Qu'Vat, Phlox and Antaak are running out of time. K'Vagh tells them they must devise a cure in five days. Phlox insists this is impossible, so Antaak proposes an alternate solution: successfully create Klingon Augments and figure out a way for them to survive. The Augments could be used as leverage and the High Council would be forced to give Antaak and Phlox more time to find a cure. Phlox, however, refuses to assist in this experiment.

Meanwhile, Enterprise is experiencing difficulties, having been sabotaged by Marab and the other altered Klingons . The only way to keep the warp reactor from breaching is to increase speed. Desperate, Archer orders Mayweather to take the ship to warp 5.2 - faster than Enterprise has ever gone before.


Review
Webster's dictionary defines "Canon" as "a rule or especially body of rules or principles generally established as valid and fundamental in a field or art or philosophy...". Among fans, Star Trek canon is a subject that is often debated, defined and chastised. Admittedly with a universe as vast as that created by the five series and ten movies of Star Trek, established canon can be stretched quite thin at times.

But perhaps no other topic of canon has been more passionately debated as that of the Klingon species. Back in 1979, during the opening sequence of Star Trek: The Motion Picture when the 'new' Klingons were revealed, fans the world over began their attempt to explain this transformation from the largely human-looking Klingons during the original run of Star Trek, to these vastly different, more alien-looking Klingons. An early Star Trek novel, Timetrap had a very interesting take on the situation, suggesting that the Klingon species was made up of both types of "Klingons" and that, over time, the "human looking" variety was virtually shunned out of existence.

Then, of course, there was the episode of Deep Space Nine,
Trials and Tribble-ations
, that came oh-so-close to finally providing an "official" explanation to this topic, only to tease us with Worf's insistence that the subject is not to be discussed.

Finally, however, the fourth season of Enterprise behind the creativity of Manny Coto is now taking on this piece of canon with a viable, or at least official, explanation that has been over 25 years in the making. In Affliction, we're not only treated to a simple explanation, but are witnesses to the actual events that led to the transformation of the species. At least, we will be by the end of this arc. But I digress.

As Affliction is the first part of this two part drama, it's important for it to establish the parameters of the underlining plot. It pulls this off nicely by slowly knitting together three sub-plots that begin to unveil the complexities of the Klingon situation. The first sub-plot concerns the abduction of Dr. Phlox by the Klingons. Their hope is that he may be able to help them cure a rampant virus that is spreading throughout the Klingon empire. It's wonderful to see John Billingsley flex his acting muscles behind what will likely be one of his most challenging roles. His disgustful reaction at being abducted balanced against his desire to medically treat any and all who need his services is perfectly portrayed. Compliments should also be directed towards long-time Klingon actor John Schuck as Antaak. Mr. Shuck, since his days portraying the Klingon Ambassador in the later TOS-related feature films, has a genuine knack of nailing the Klingon persona. His take on the Klingon doctor Antaak is no exception to his portfolio of Star Trek appearances. Of course, as has often been the case this season, the twists and turns and linkages of all of the storylines is truly delicious in this sub-plot as we learn of the connection between Dr. Soong's Augments and the Klingon virus. Season #4 may not be a season-long arc as we had last year, but that doesn't mean you can't craft a season where episodes have a sense of balance and continuity among them. This is how Star Trek and Star Trek canon is meant to be treated. And while this sub-plot is the plot of the episode, it clearly isn't the only thing of interest going on around the other principle characters of the show.

The second sub-plot centers once again around Trip, his feelings (or denial thereof) for T'Pol and his transfer to the Columbia. I have to admit, I enjoyed watching Trip, aptly portrayed by Connor Trinneer, effortlessly jump into his gig as Chief Engineer aboard the Columbia. After the distasteful way he was acting in last week's episode, The Aenar, it was good to see that our Engineer is back to his old self, even if he is serving aboard another ship (for the time being). However this time around, we're shown how Trip's departure from Enterprise has begun to affect T'Pol. Her daydream of Trip during her daily meditation, which apparently was simultaneously shared with the Commander (who was light years away at the time) seemed as troublesome to me as it was to T'Pol. Perhaps that was the point, but I'm still not clear of the significance, if any, of that moment on the rest of the storyline. I was also impressed on the way Jolene Blalock handled T'Pol's first attempt at a Mind Meld, with Ensign Sato having the honors of being her first victim, er, recipient. Blalock's initial, hurried attempt poignantly reflected the strain her character was under at attempting such a personal maneuver. With the failure of the first attempt, the subtly difference on how she approached attempt number two was nicely portrayed and genuinely powerful. Nicely done, Ms. Blalock.

Finally, and perhaps most intriguing, is the baffling story behind the treason-like behavior of Lt. Reed. It would appear that Mr. Reed has some past organizational ties that supercedes his duty and obligations to the Enterprise and Captain Archer. I must admit, this story line, while certainly related to the overall plot, has me the most captivated at the moment. Is/was Reed part of an organization akin to Section 31? Or has his allegiance to Starfleet merely been a ruse all of these years? I can't wait to find out how this one pans out. I was very impressed at how Dominic Keating portrayed a seriously conflicted and torn Lt. Reed. The anguish on his face, and the feelings he was going through as he was forced to lie, or at least withhold the truth, from Archer was absolutely contagious. There is no question that the acting on all fronts this season has improved by leaps and bounds and Mr. Keating is among the very best.

The way these three sub-plots work so effectively apart, and yet so well together, forming the initial fabric of this mini-arc is the stuff of science fiction - no, story-telling magic. This isn't genre driven, this is entertainment driven and Affliction has me pulled in so many directions right now that I hardly know which way is up. Mr. Coto proves that he can not only produce and lead Enterprise to its finest season yet, but that he can also craft an engaging and entertaining story line that doesn't feel stale or blatantly obvious. I don't know where this arc is going, but I can't wait for it to reveal its secrets.

It simply doesn't get any better than this.

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Divergence


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 92
Original Airdate: 2/25/2005

Writer(s): Judith Reeves-Stevens & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Director(s): Dave Barrett

Guest Stars
Terrell Tilford as Marab
John Schuck as Antaak
James Avery as General K'Vagh
Ada Maris as Captain Erika Hernandez
Eric Pierpoint as Harris
Kristin Bauer as Laneth
Wayne Grace as Krell
Matt Jenkins as Tactical Officer

Stardate: Unknown

Synopsis
In Enterprise's brig, Archer briefs Reed on the situation: the Klingons altered the ship's engineering subroutines and if Enterprise drops below warp 5, the reactor will explode. Archer has a plan to bring Trip aboard from Columbia, but he needs Reed's help.

Enterprise and Columbia, both flying at breakneck speed, get into formation. Reed deploys a cable from Launch Bay 2, which Trip uses to maneuver from one ship to the other. Once onboard, Trip sets his plan into action, shutting down Enterprise's warp reactor and purging the subroutines. Enterprise moves inside Columbia's warp field in order to maintain speed. The plan is risky, but it's a success - Enterprise is back in working order.

On Qu'Vat, Antaak approaches Phlox, who is barely conscious after being badly beaten. After reviewing Phlox's research, Antaak believes the doctor has discovered a weakness in the virus that's causing the plague among Klingons. There may be a way to stop the genetic effects of the virus in the early stages, meaning there will be changes in the affected Klingons' appearances, but no further developments, such as enhanced strength and speed. This means that Phlox and Antaak should be able to cure the virus, but it will not result in the Klingon Augments K'Vagh wants. Antaak suggests that he and Phlox simply keep that part a secret from K'Vagh. Realizing that this may be the only way to find a cure, Phlox agrees.

Meanwhile, the metagenic Klingons who boarded Enterprise report to K'Vagh. Their leader, Laneth, tells K'Vagh that Enterprise was destroyed and Marab - who is K'Vagh's son - was killed by humans. K'Vagh storms into the lab and asks Phlox and Antaak for an update. Phlox says that he is close to perfecting the Augment genome - but he needs more time.

On Enterprise, Archer has discovered Reed's communications with the mysterious Harris and orders Reed to send Harris a message. Later, Harris contacts Archer. He tells the captain that Phlox must complete his assignment and find a cure. If Archer tries to interfere, the after effects will have grave implications for entire worlds. Reed apologizes to Archer for his deceit, revealing that he became a part of covert operations when he was just an ensign, and thought his involvement was over. The lieutenant decides that his loyalties lie with Archer: he tells the captain that Starfleet Intelligence believes the Klingons have a genetic research facility on Qu'Vat Colony.

On Qu'Vat, Phlox works furiously, racing against time. Under K'Vagh's orders, he infects K'Vagh, Antaak, and two Klingon guards with different strains of the virus to figure out which one holds the cure. Suddenly, Archer and Marab burst into the lab. Archer and K'Vagh argue, but Phlox interrupts: he only needs a little more time to find a cure for the plague. K'Vagh is angry that Phlox lied about working on the Augment genome, but Phlox points out that finding a cure is the only way to keep Marab from dying.

Unfortunately, Phlox is running out of time faster than he bargained for: Fleet Admiral Krell and his ships are approaching, and they're prepared to wipe out Qu'Vat colony. Enterprise and Columbia do their best to hold the Klingon ships off while Phlox continues to work. Phlox notes that there is a way to speed up the process - he needs a human host to replicate antibodies and finish the antivirus. Archer volunteers.

The plan works and, as Archer screams in pain, his forehead rippling, Phlox collects a sample of the cure. He then has Antaak transport a potent sample of the metagenic virus to Krell's ship - if Krell powers down his weapons, Phlox will give him the cure. Krell deems this a cowardly attack, but in the end, he has no choice but to stand down. The Klingon High Council agrees to distribute the cure throughout the Empire.

Onboard Enterprise, Phlox examines Antaak. After being infected with the virus, the Klingon doctor's forehead ridges have completely disappeared - he has become a metagenic Klingon. Antaak is a bit disturbed and notes that millions of Klingons will have to live with this cosmetic change, which will be passed down to their children. Ever hopeful, Phlox tells him that it may be possible, in the future, to reverse the effects. Moved by his new friend's help, Antaak thanks Phlox.

Meanwhile, Harris contacts Reed once more. The lieutenant is firm, however - he bluntly tells Harris to never contact him again. Reed says that from now on, he only answers to one commanding officer - Jonathan Archer.
Review
Divergence marks the close of a two-part episode that, in all rights, should be considered a historic event in the annals of Star Trek lore. The question and decades-old debate over the origins of the transformation of Klingons from the smooth-headed TOS variants to the later day cranial-ridge variety has now be answered in one of the finest conclusions to any multi-episode Star Trek (et al) offering.

What began with Affliction, with its multiple, exciting plots regarding the Klingon attempt at creating augments, the apparently treasonous actions of Reed and the on-going romantic tension between Trip and T'Pol was expertly brought to fruition with Divergence. The one binding factor between these three storylines, and the highlight behind this episode, was character interaction.

With the Phlox and the Klingon "healer" Antaak duo, it was interesting to see the bond between the two characters steadily strengthen over the course of the episode. Beginning with the shame on Antaak's part for the behavior of his species towards Phlox, to the realization that the two were finally close to a cure, these two doctors in arms formed a genuine friendship born of their difficult and shared predicaments. This newly forged physician alliance culminated in the concoction of a ruse to convince the Klingon General that they were close to perfecting the Klingon augments, all the while focusing solely on finding the cure for the deadly virus. It was impressive to see how honorable Antaak was in his duties as a Klingon healer. When he spoke of the importance of finding a cure and saving millions of his people being far more important than his own safety should their ruse be discovered, he did quite a service to all Klingons. Honor isn't just a word, it's a choice; a direction; a lifestyle. Antaak, through the continued convincing acting of John Schuck, showed how "honor" was the foundation of his existence.

I can't leave this section of the episode behind without once again tipping my hat to John Billingsley's performance as Phlox. This two-part episode was without question one of his deepest roles during Enterprise's four seasons, and he was clearly having fun with it. The ending scene where he deviously infected the attacking Klingons with the very virus they were looking to cure was a crowd-pleasing moment. Phlox, through Billingsley, showed that he was not a doctor to be taken lightly with. His chest-thumping, captain-like performance was a joy to behold. Who would of thunk it, a Denobulan doctor putting a Klingon Commander in his place. In the end, what can you say. Phlox is the man! er, Denobulan!

Where Phlox and Antaak had a growing bond forming between the two of them, Archer and Reed were slowly tearing their bond apart. It was clear that Archer was besides himself with anger and genuine pain over the betrayal of Reed. Of course the lieutenant was also being torn apart from the inside-out at the actions and inactions he had taken over the course of this incident. As I mentioned in my review of Affliction, I wasn't sure how this conflict between Archer and Reed was going to end, leaving me with a sense of trepidation as I watched this episode unfold. From the lows of seeing Reed thrown back into the brig after helping to bring Trip on board during a risky ship-to-ship warp-speed tether transfer (say that fast five times!) to the highs when he finally came clean with the Captain about his affiliation with the covert group of Star Fleet, this was a story line that was expertly told, beautifully acted and hauntingly moving. And while the overall episode obviously focused more on the Klingon situation at hand, it was great to see that the closing scene was that of Reed forcibly telling Harris not to contact him again. The conflict inside of Reed had ended and his pride and dedication to the Enterprise, her crew and its Captain was secured.

Finally comes the ongoing romantic connection between Trip and T'Pol. I must say I was pleased to see Trip acting more like himself during these past two episodes, with T'Pol taking up more of the slack in the "heart-broken, emotionally saddened" department. Credit Jolene Blalock for once again nicely walking the thin line between Vulcan stoicism and romantically charged emotions. You get the sense that one, or both, are finally going to give in and admit their true feelings for the another. Or perhaps Enterprise will end its run without this question firmly being answered. In either case, the tension between Trip and T'Pol and the way they've been interacting with one another, with a real ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend air about them is becoming quite a treat to behold.

Character interaction. Phlox and Antaak and the bond they formed. Reed and Archer and the bond they nearly lost. Trip and T'Pol and the bond they're still trying to figure out.

Excellent story telling.

Gripping tension.

And a viable solution to one of the first Star Trek canon-specific arguments that fans have had for over a quarter of a century.

This wasn't simply one of the best Enterprise offerings ever, it was one of the best Star Trek stories ever told.

I can't wait to see what's in store for us next...

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Bound


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 93
Original Airdate: 4/15/2005

Writer(s): Manny Coto
Director(s): Allan Kroeker

Guest Stars
William Lucking as Harrad-Sar
Cyia Batten as Navaar
Derek Magyar as Kelby
Crystal Allen as D'Nesh
Menina Fortunato as Maras
Christopher Jewett as Crewman #1
Duncan K. Fraser as Crewman #2

Stardate: December 27, 2154

Synopsis
En route to a potential site for the first in a series of Starbases, Enterprise is hailed by an Orion ship. The ship's commander, Harrad-Sar, has a proposal to make: he claims to know of a planet with large deposits of magnesite and says he will give Archer the coordinates in exchange for a share of the profits. He also agrees to open a dialogue between Starfleet and the Orion Syndicate. To celebrate their new partnership, Harrad-Sar presents Archer with a gift: three Orion slave girls.

Soon, the Enterprise crew begins experiencing difficulties: the men seem preoccupied, aggressive, and delusional, while the women suffer from headaches and listlessness. Even Archer isn't immune - he finds himself falling under the spell of the lead Orion slave woman, Navaar, and begins acting in an uncharacteristically irrational manner. Also affected is Enterprise's chief engineer, Kelby, who resents the fact that Trip hasn't returned to Columbia yet. Kelby soon finds himself intimately involved with one of the Orion women, D'Nesh, who convinces him to sabotage the ship's engines and attack Trip.

Phlox determines that the Orion women have exposed the ship to a very potent pheromone - the only crewmembers who don't seem to be affected are Trip and T'Pol. T'Pol deduces that she is immune because of her Vulcan physiology. When Vulcans mate, she notes, a psychic bond is formed - feelings, thoughts and images can be shared. This, then, is why Trip is immune - and explains the strange, shared daydreams both he and T'Pol have been having.

After discovering that the Orion women have been communicating with Harrad-Sar, Archer confines them to the decon chamber. As Trip and T'Pol rush to fix the ship's engines, Harrad-Sar tracks down Enterprise and confronts Archer. The Orion Syndicate, he says, wants Archer's head - and they don't care whether or not it's attached to his body.

As Harrad-Sar launches an attack on Enterprise, he reveals something to Archer: he is merely a "slave" to the situation. Archer realizes the truth: it is the Orion men, not the women, who are the slaves. Harrad-Sar's ship attaches a powerful grappler to Enterprise, and begins towing it. Meanwhile, the three Orion women escape from decon and head up to the bridge. Archer tries to resist their advances, but the Orions are affecting his judgment -- they convince him to arrest T'Pol, who is working furiously to free Enterprise from Harrad-Sar's grappler. Before T'Pol can be taken away, however, Trip emerges on the bridge and takes Archer down with a phase-pistol. With Archer out of the way, T'Pol takes out Harrad-Sar's engines and weapons, freeing Enterprise. Defeated, the Orion women return to their ship.

As the crew recovers from the effects of the pheromones, Trip finally gets T'Pol to admit that she wants him to stay on the ship. After the two share a tender kiss, Trip tells her that he's asked for a transfer back to Enterprise.

Review
Intoxication-induced delusion is a malady that has appeared numerous times in the various incarnations of Star Trek. Whether that intoxication was fueled by an unknown virus as in TOS's The Naked Time and/or TNG's The Naked Now, an addictive "video game" as in TNG's The Game or, yes, even women as in the classic Mudd's Women, the result was often the same; the fallacies of the human condition were amplified, the ship was put at risk by a disgruntled crewman, dangerous peril abounds, and an unaffected hero - or heroin - comes to save the day. Bound seems to follow this Star Trek cookie-cutter pattern to a T, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, while there are clear parallels to Treks of the past with Bound, there's enough intrigue, appeal and delicious twists to make this a rather enjoyable episode. When I began watching the episode, I was thinking about how it closely mirrored, at least initially, Mudd's Women. Both episodes had three breath-taking women come aboard the Enterprise; women who seemed to turn the male crewmembers to quivering, sex-crazed adolescents. Both episodes had strong male counterparts who "controlled" the women and seemed eager to push them to the unsuspecting Enterprise crew. And, frankly, both episodes seemed to be playing up to the male fans of Star Trek with little more than eye candy. But as was the case with the aforementioned Mudd's Women, where the ultimate story line revealed that inner-beauty was far more powerful - and desirable - than the illusion of outer-beauty, Bound turned out several equally compelling, if not somewhat tired, messages.

The first centers around the bounding stronghold love can have on two people. While I'm not the biggest fan of the Trip/T'Pol relationship, I do recognize that the synergy between the two characters has been growing and becoming more interesting and complex all season long. To that end, I've been curious about the daydreams both Trip and T'Pol had been experiencing about one another since the episode Affliction. T'Pol's explanation about the episodes - a side-effect of their mating from last season - though bland, hinted at the connection, born of love, that the two have for one another. So, though somewhat clichéd, the love Trip and T'Pol have for one another protected them from the outside forces of evil (namely the Orion Women) to ultimately save the day.

The second message, one that dates back to the very origins of Star Trek itself, is simply this: Don't judge a book by its cover. Since the TOS episodes The Cage and Whom Gods Destroy, and even more recently in Borderland, we've all had a preconception about Orion Slave Women. That preconception was that, though they were beautiful and seemingly irresistible to men, they were, ultimately, slaves. You know, hence the label Orion Slave Women... Ah, but enter the twist that was nearly 40 years in the making. The women aren't the slaves, it's the men. And while some Trek purists may balk at the idea of the Orion Slave Women having the upper hand in the Syndicate, I think it makes perfect sense and, had another season of Enterprise been produced, could have led to some very interesting stories.

So despite the somewhat hackneyed messages in Bound of 'Love Conquers All' and 'Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover', we have a rather enjoyable, if not predictable, episode to watch. The storyline was subtle enough to keep one guessing as to the true nature of the deception at hand. The acting by the regular cast was effortless and believable, if not a little over the top (once again) with Bakula's interpretation of being "under the influence". And, as has often been the case, the true glory of the episode comes from the guest cast of characters. William Lucking as the Orion Pirate Harrad-Sar was a feast to behold. The malevolence, and yet charismatic personality of the character represented the perfect persona of a space pirate. In this small role, Lucking, no stranger to Star Trek as he previously appeared as the Bajoran Furel in The Darkness and the Light and Ties of Blood and Water, has done for the Orion species what Jeffrey Combs has done for the Andorians - he truly brought them to life. And lest we forget the exceptionally sensuous and alluring performances by Cyia Batten as Navaar, Crystal Allen as D'Nesh and Menina Fortunato as Maras; the three Orion Slave Women. Though they started as merely dancing green "lovelies" as a certain Enterprise chief engineer may have referred to them, they showed that true allure comes from the eyes, and these three actors clearly knew how to make eye contact with their acting counterparts - and with the camera. There's no question that their tempting ambiance reached well into the viewing audience.

Bound, a rare stand-alone episode, on the surface may been seen as pandering to the general male populace in, perhaps, an attempt to inflate ratings - and testosterone levels. But as with most Star Trek episodes, the story within is where the real entertainment lies. Look past some of the superficial aspects of this episode and you'll find them too.


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In a Mirror, Darkly


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 94
Original Airdate: 4/22/2005

Writer(s): Michael Sussman
Director(s): James L. Conway

Guest Stars
Vaughn Armstrong as Captain Maxwell Forrest
Franc Ross as Grizzled Human

Stardate: January 13, 2155

Synopsis
In the Mirror Universe, an amoral, imperialistic version of the Enterprise crew is led by Captain Forrest and his treacherous first officer, Archer. Archer has proposed that the ship head into Tholian space, where a mysterious vessel has been captured. Archer believes the ship may contain the technology that would be valuable to the Terran Empire. Forrest, however, thinks Archer is merely trying to seize power, and dismisses the idea.

A determined Archer has another plan up his sleeve, however - with help from Major Reed and Sergeant Mayweather, he stages a mutiny, taking control of the ship and imprisoning Forrest in the brig. Archer promotes Commander T'Pol to first officer, appoints Mayweather his personal guard, and takes up with Forrest's lover, Hoshi.

As Enterprise approaches Tholian space, the crew captures a Tholian pilot. Phlox takes great pleasure in torturing the creature, who finally gives Archer the information he wants: the exact location of the mysterious vessel.

In Engineering, Trip and T'Pol work to install a Suliban cloaking device on Enterprise. Something goes wrong, however, and a power overload damages the cloak. Archer realizes it was sabotage, and Reed determines that the saboteur was Trip. Reed tortures Trip using the sadistic agony booth, but the engineer offers no further information. Later, Archer has another realization: the target of the sabotage wasn't the cloak - it was the ship's internal sensors. In fact, the actual culprit was T'Pol, who mind-melded with Trip and tricked him into performing the sabotage.

T'Pol frees Forrest from the brig and the duo takes control of the bridge. Archer, however, has a surprise for them: he's encrypted the ship's controls, and they won't be released until Enterprise has reached its destination in Tholian space. Forrest is furious, but there's not much he can do - especially when he is ordered to investigate the captured ship.

Archer briefs the senior staff on the ship: it is believed that the vessel came from a parallel universe via an interphasic rift. What's more, the ship isn't just from another reality - it's also from another time, about 100 years in the future.

Once Trip gets the cloaking device working, Enterprise heads for the coordinates of the future ship. The ship, which bears the name and registry U.S.S. Defiant, NCC-1764, is being kept inside a Tholian spacedock facility. Forrest sends an assault team, led by Archer, onboard. He tells T'Pol to accompany the team - and to make sure Archer doesn't come back alive. The team boards the ship, which is littered with dead human bodies. Still, they manage to bring the Defiant's systems online.

Onboard Enterprise, the Tholian prisoner wakes up and starts making a racket . Phlox kills it, but Enterprise's problems aren't over: several Tholian ships are approaching. Using continuous streams of energy, the Tholian vessels form a complex web that completely surrounds Enterprise. As the web closes in on the ship, Forrest tries to fight back, but to no avail. Desperate, he orders everyone to abandon ship. From the bridge of the Defiant, Archer and his team watch in shock as Enterprise explodes with Forrest onboard.

Review
Ask any fan of the original Star Trek what their top 5 episodes of that series are and, invariably, Mirror, Mirror will be among those chosen. That second-season classic episode had all the ingredients for exceptional entertainment: solid acting, superb story line, great action and a look into the dark side of Star Trek. Of course when something works, people will repeat it as we saw with several episodes of Deep Space Nine. This time around, Enterprise, behind classic-trek fan Manny Coto, takes a stab at the mirror universe and throws in a splash of The Tholian Web to boot.

In part one of the two-part In a Mirror, Darkly, we take a look at the Enterprise and how it is run in that same mirror universe that we first witnessed with Mirror, Mirror. One of the most appealing aspects of the classic Star Trek episode was witnessing how the mirror crew counterparts acted and reacted throughout the story. As mentioned above, it was a view into the dark side of Star Trek; one that revealed as many things as it left questions for.

That same appeal exists with In a Mirror, Darkly as the characters we've grown to know and love over four season of Enterprise are turned completely upside-down. Take Archer for example. In the mirror universe, he isn't the captain of the Enterprise. Instead, the deceased Admiral Forrest from the 'normal' universe is captaining the starship on its continuing missions of conquest for the Empire. Archer, before engineering a mutiny, is second in command and has quite an over-the-top attitude. Then there is the engaging and enticing Hoshi Sato who not only acts as the communications officer for the ship, but also is known as the Captain's Woman (a la Lt. Marlena Moreau from Mirror, Mirror). Linda Park's seductive appearance and acting in this role shows how capable an actor she is - and further proves how underutilized she was throughout Enterprise's run. I always suspected Reed had a dark streak in him, and that persona is exemplified in his mirror universe counterpart. His thirst for inflicting pain on others appears to be second only to his fierce dedication to whichever man - or woman - happens to be in charge.

Trip and T'Pol in the mirror universe also have a connection, however it appears to be more physical than anything else, and T'Pol clearly has the upper hand. Jolene Blalock's performance, with mid-riff exposed and all, was passable at best. She appeared bored and aloof, even for a Vulcan, for most of the episode. Fortunately, Connor Trinneer had some standout scenes that made us feel the pain this engineer has gone through, exposures to delta rays and all. However my favorite mirror counterpart had to be Phlox, as the "evil scientist" inside of him was finally let loose. What a grizzly scene presented itself inside of sickbay, with half-completed dissections of various alien animals awaiting Phlox's attention. I've long been a fan of John Billingsley acting abilities and he clearly didn't disappoint in this episode.

There's no question that the crew characterizations from the mirror universe were a pleasure to behold. The premise of the episode, and its execution - right down to the alternate and violent opening credits sequence - was also spot-on. The storyline moved along quickly, the direction was tight, the action intense, and the effects a pleasure to behold. But despite all this positive flow, I did find some issues with the episode that isn't likely to resolve itself come the conclusion of this two-part story.

First, allow me to put on my continuity hat on for a moment. When I first learned about the general premise of this episode, I questioned how the Defiant from Kirk's era would somehow find itself not only 100 or so years in the past, but also in the mirror universe. The explanation of it moving into the mirror universe was fine - and not really necessary after the events from The Tholian Web. But the dismissive approach to "explaining" how it got into the past was just that - dismissive. Mr. Coto: I applaud you for injecting so many aspects of The Original Series into Enterprise, however I do take exception when you start throwing episode after episode into a virtual blender and letting the results spill out all over the place. Some viable explanation was warranted for we continuity "freaks" and you simply ignored the issue. Ok, continuity hat off.

No, wait. It's back on as my second gripe can also be considered a continuity issue. The Tholian web that is built around the cloaked Enterprise (don't even get me started ON the cloaking device) was a beautiful effect, as it was in the Original Series, but let's face it - it was also far more advanced than the TOS counterpart - which should have had 100 years of further development behind it. While I completely understand and accept that the writers of Enterprise have to use some level of creative license, they also have to exercise some restraint as well. For the Tholians to entrap the Enterprise in a mere couple of minutes with their web as compared to the hours it took in the original TOS episode smacks in the face of the fans. Many will dismiss this, many will not. But it makes me stand up and cringe when I see such an obvious disregard of continuity and established Star Trek "fact".

Ok, now the hat is off.

I loved the characterizations. I truly enjoyed the story line (thus far) when it didn't compromise the continuity aspect. The effects were superb, the acting top-notch, the direction concise and yet fluid. And of course, I was thrilled with the exploration of the Defiant, particularly her bridge. It felt somewhat like coming home in a way, much like it did when Scotty entered the bridge of the Enterprise in TNG's Relics. All in all, the first part of In a Mirror, Darkly was a pleasure to watch and promises to be even more exciting as it concludes next week. My only contemplation now is whether or not the entire series of Enterprise should have been placed in the mirror universe - seems a lot more exciting there.

Until next week...

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In a Mirror, Darkly Part II


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 95
Original Airdate: 4/29/2005

Writer(s): Manny Coto
Director(s): Marvin V. Rush

Guest Stars
Gary Graham as Soval
Gregory Itzin as Admiral Black
Derek Magyar as Kelby
John Mahon as Admiral Gardner
Pat Healy as Alien

Stardate: January 18, 2155

Synopsis
Moment after watching Enterprise's fiery explosion, Archer and his team are attempting to escape on the Defiant. The Tholian ships try to trap them with their deadly web, but Archer and crew manage to get the Defiant's systems working and use the ship to fight their way out. They also bring the escape pods from Enterprise onboard.

Archer and Hoshi peruse the ship's computer for information on their parallel universe counterparts. Archer is shocked to find no mention of the Empire - only something called "The United Federation of Planets." He's also disturbed to learn that his alternate universe counterpart is a starship captain and revered explorer.

The crew eventually discovers that they are not alone on the Defiant - a strange, reptilian creature known as a Gorn is hiding onboard, and he seems intent on sabotaging the ship. Archer goes after the Gorn and the two engage in an intense physical scuffle. Archer manages to get the upper hand by changing the gravity in that particular section of the ship and shoots the alien.

Later, the Defiant saves an imperial starship, the Avenger, from a rebel attack. Admiral Black, who is in command of the Avenger, is shocked to see Archer at the helm of this futuristic, alternate Earth vessel. Black tells Archer he will recommend him for a command as soon as possible, but Archer is impatient. Tormented by mocking visions of his more accomplished parallel universe counterpart, Archer becomes enraged. He's determined not to let Black take the Defiant from him. His megalomania and paranoia building, Archer shoots and kills Black. He then brings the Avenger's crew under his command and tells them that he plans to seize control of the Empire.

At least one person isn't sure of this plan, however . T'Pol believes that Archer will use the Defiant's advanced weapons to completely wipe out the rebellion, including thousands of Vulcans. She approaches Avenger crewmember Soval with a plan of her own - she wants to steal the data on Defiant's engines and tactical systems, give it to the rebels and destroy the ship. The duo manages to recruit Phlox and other non-Terrans to their cause.

T'Pol is found out and taken prisoner, but Soval manages to get control of the Avenger while Phlox sabotages the Defiant. It's all for naught, however - Phlox is taken down before he can complete his sabotage and the Defiant destroys the Avenger.

Later, onboard the Defiant, Archer and Hoshi celebrate. Archer plans to erase the ship's historical database, to prevent information getting out on the alternate universe. As Archer toasts his imminent reign as Emperor, he suddenly finds himself gasping for breath. He realizes that Hoshi has poisoned him. As Archer takes his final breaths, Hoshi reveals her co-conspirator: Mayweather. The two kiss passionately while Archer dies.

Now in command of the Defiant, Hoshi orders all to surrender to Empress Sato - the new ruler of the Terran Empire.

Review
Through the many reviews I've penned on Enterprise, a common thread has typically appeared within those words; a pet peeve if you will. That "thread" is one of continuity. Indeed, my primary issues with In a Mirror, Darkly Part I all centered around continuity, or the lack thereof from the establish Star Trek universe. However what surprised me the most about the conclusion to this 2-part saga was how well continuity was repaired, and how elegant it was presented.

In what can be seen as a truly nostalgic ride for TOS fans, In a Mirror, Darkly Part II paid such respectable homage to the original Star Trek series that it almost felt like coming home. Forgoing the story line for a moment, I'd like to touch upon some of those highlights within the episode.

First and foremost would have to be the presentation of the Defiant. From its CGI rendered exterior which captured the true look and feel of the TOS-era Constitution-class starship, to the magnificent attention to detail of the interior, to the background sound-effects of the working systems and weapons fire, this was truly a treat to behold. I recall from watching the Deep Space Nine episode Trials and Tribble-ations that the Enterprise seemed slightly out of sorts. It was thrilling to see the original Enterprise recreated, but something about it seemed "off" and I could never quite put my finger on it. There's no such feeling with the Defiant, however. It appears exactly as it should - the proper dimensions, the proper fluid movement, the right color and hull sheen - everything exactly as it should be.

But I was most impressed with the interior design of the Defiant. Sections of the ship that never appeared in the original series were exactly as one would have pictured them. The décor was the same, the displays were the same, the conduits, Jeffries tubes, station controls - even the red engineering grating that surrounded the power couplings were exactly the same as they appeared nearly 40 years ago on the original series. That, my friends, isn't just a coincidence. That's paying respect to and recognizing your roots. It took four years for the producers to figure that out, but in the end, I'm glad they finally came around.

The TOS thrill ride didn't end there because a second treat - the re-introduction of the Gorn - was also a pleasure to behold. Now, I have to admit, I really wasn't sure what to expect when I learned that a Gorn would be making an appearance on this episode. Would the producers attempt to 'build' a new Gorn suit for some lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) actor to adorn, or would they go the CGI route? Though it was no doubt the topic of some discussion during the pre-production phase of this episode, in the end, CGI won out with respectable results. Though the Gorn took on more of a Velociraptor appearance, the familiar 'uniform' and the grumbled voice was unmistakably Gorn.

So while In a Mirror, Darkly Part II was busy paying homage to TOS, it was also telling an exciting and twist-filled story. From Archer's maniacal scheme to become Emperor, amidst his delusional confrontations with his conscience, to T'Pol's plot to "save" the empire by defeating Archer and the Defiant, this was the type of non-stop entertainment and suspenseful story writing that has highlighted the final season of the series. Further, this 2-part episode bravely avoided any safe avenues in portraying the true brutality of the mirror universe. The savagery of the Federation counterparts was clearly hinted at in the original Mirror, Mirror, but never fully exploited, and the Deep Space Nine episodes that touched upon the Mirror universe also didn't reflect the level of malevolence that the members of the Empire contain.

That made it all the more interesting to see how T'Pol had affection for the Federation after scanning the record tapes of the Defiant. In fact her conversation with Phlox about how Vulcans and Denobulans are treated as equals in the Federation was somewhat of precursor to Kirk's comments to the mirror Spock about the illogic of waste in the Empire. Though genuinely malicious in nature, it's clear that some members of the Empire are striving for a more peaceful and cooperative existence. The true Star Trek message apparently transcends mirror universes as well.

This look into the darker side of Star Trek was obviously a step outside of the norm for the producers and that's what made it so exciting. It wasn't your standard cookie-cutter episode with somewhat predictable circumstances and outcomes. It was a new perspective on a familiar environment. It opened the door for many questions and possible future story lines, be they on the small screen, big screen, or print. It's what Enterprise was truly supposed to be all about - not the evil empire aspects of this episode, but the new perspective - something that it seems to have finally captured...unfortunately at the point where it may already be too late...

I guess there's nothing more to be said other than:

All Hail Empress Sato. Long Live the Empress


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Demons


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 96
Original Airdate: 5/6/2005

Writer(s): Manny Coto
Director(s): LeVar Burton

Guest Stars
Johanna Watts as Gannet Brooks
Harry Groener as Nathan Samuels
Peter Weller as John Frederick Paxton
Peter Mensah as Greaves
Patrick Fischler as Mercer
Adam Clark as Josiah
Eric Pierpoint as Harris
Christine Romeo as Khouri
Tom Bergeron as Coridan Ambassador
Steven Rankin as Colonel Green

Stardate: January 19, 2155

Synopsis
The Enterprise crew is back on Earth for an historic conference - humans, Vulcans, Andorians and other species have gathered together to form a coalition of planets. The conference is interrupted, however, when a disheveled woman bursts in and collapses to the ground. Before she dies, she presses a vial containing human hair into T'Pol's hand. Upon analyzing the hair, Phlox comes to a puzzling conclusion: it appears to belong to the offspring of Trip and T'Pol. T'Pol has never been pregnant, but she senses that what Phlox says is true: she and Trip have a daughter out there.

Hoping to get more information, Archer has Reed contact the mysterious covert operative Harris. Harris tells Reed that the woman who interrupted the conference, Susan Khouri, was a member of the underground xenophobic movement Terra Prime. Terra Prime's goal is to stop all human contact with alien species - they believe alien interference is corrupting humanity's way of life. Harris thinks Khouri was trying to leave the movement - and that her defection may have had something to do with Trip and T'Pol's child. He adds that Terra Prime is planning something, and the child may be involved somehow. If the Enterprise crew can find the child, they'll have the answers.

Thanks to clues from Susan Khouri's autopsy, the crew concludes that there may be a Terra Prime base in the mining colony of Orpheus, which is located on the moon. Trip and T'Pol go on an undercover mission to the colony, disguised as miners. Trip manages to infiltrate a Terra Prime meeting, but his cover is blown and he's taken prisoner. T'Pol is also captured, and the duo is brought before John Frederick Paxton, the leader of Terra Prime. Paxton, who is obviously passionate about his cause, is disgusted by Starfleet's attempts at friendly alien-human relations. He's determined to return Earth to its "rightful owners" - humanity.

On Enterprise, Mayweather has re-connected with an old flame, reporter Gannet Brooks. The two become romantically involved, but then Gannet is exposed as a spy for Terra Prime and thrown in the brig.

Meanwhile, Paxton orders the launch of the mining facility, which has been rigged to act as a very large ship. As Trip and T'Pol hang on for dear life, the facility lifts off the ground and goes to warp. With Enterprise in hot pursuit, the mining facility lands on Mars, near the planet's verteron array.

Paxton sends a subspace message on all frequencies. He declares that he's taken control of the Mars verteron array and can fire on any ship or facility in the system. As an example, Paxton fires on Earth's moon, gouging a large crater. Paxton says he won't use the weapon again, provided all non-humans leave the system immediately. Warming up to his zealous speech Paxton intones, "Terra Prime, forever..."

Review
It's an interesting happenstance that an episode such as Demons would be aired during the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Hitler's Death camps, commonly referred to as the Holocaust Remembrance Day. The xenophobic condition of the Nazi regime is rather analogous to the chauvinistic attitude that John Frederick Paxton, apparent leader of the "Terra Prime" movement, has taken upon himself to instill on humanity. The parallels of Paxton to Hitler are disturbing to witness which makes Demons a difficult episode to enjoy from an entertainment point of view, but the message this episode begins to send in its first of two parts is unquestionably classic Trek.

In fact I found it interesting that the producers chose to show Paxton admiring a former Hitler-like tyrant in the form of Colonel Green who was, as many know, first discussed during the TOS episode The Savage Curtain. Though the "misunderstood tyrant" rhetoric is somewhat clichéd, it was another noble way of connecting and securing the established time line of the Trek universe. But before I go off on another one of my "continuity" tangents, let's focus on the episode at hand.

There are essentially three converging storylines that take place in Demons. The first deals with the rather puzzling mystery of the baby Vulcan girl that Paxton has in his possession. Confirmed by genetic tests to be the offspring of T'Pol and Tucker, though T'Pol insists she was never pregnant, it's clear that this Human/Vulcan "hybrid" will be the center of the on-going story. T'Pol's connection to the baby, and clarification of such to Tucker by the simple explanation of "I'm a Vulcan" was quite Spock-like and one of the few light-hearted moments of the story. Both Blalock and Trinneer convincingly portrayed a real sense of urgency in discovering the location of their daughter. The mutual bond they formed during their search for the child was one of the most sincere and perfectly subtle nuances of their on-going "relationship."

The second storyline focuses on the charting of a new agreement, which would band different species and planets together in a joint intergalactic community of sorts. This is, of course, the precursor to the forming of the Federation, which has been hinted at over most of the season. The issue of Minister Samuel's egocentric views of the formation of this alliance wasn't particularly interesting and really didn't add much to the overall plot, though his uncovered earlier ties to the Terra Prime movement may prove interesting in next week's conclusion. Harry Groener was rather dry and dull in his performance as the Minister; a far cry from the moving performance he gave as Tam Elbrun in TNG's Tin Man fifteen years earlier.

Finally, what I found as the least appealing aspect of the episode was the third plot line concerning Travis and his long lost fling of a girlfriend (or is she a spy?) Gannet Brooks. It's nice to see more screen time devoted to the underused Mayweather character, but there wasn't anything of interest here aside from the slightly ironic representation of an inter-racial couple in an episode that clearly centers around racial intolerance. I didn't find myself caring about Travis or his relationship with this woman during their time together and, frankly, I found it a little transparent that something would connect her to the Terra Prime movement. Convenient, isn't it, that a Terra Prime operative would happen to intimately know someone aboard the Enterprise? Ok, I'm assuming she's Terra Prime at this point, but I doubt she'll turn out to be anything more interesting.

With many two-part episodes, including the recent "Mirror..." saga, you can usually get a sense of direction that the ultimate story line is going to take by the closing act of the first episode. Very rarely are we treated to any real surprises by the time the second episode rolls around (though Empress Sato is still ringing in my head). But with tonight's Demons, we are left with many unanswered questions and certainly numerous directions that the story can take. This is, of course, the perfect way to end a two-part episode and it has me somewhat cautiously looking forward to the conclusion next week. As a stand-alone episode, Demons lacked the proper pacing and drama to keep one of the edge of his or her seat, so it will be interesting to see how this final (?) two-part episode of televised Star Trek plays out.

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Terra Prime


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 97
Original Airdate: 5/13/2005

Writer(s): Judith Reeves-Stevens & Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Andre Bormanis
Director(s): Marvin V. Rush

Guest Stars
Peter Weller as John Frederick Paxton
Harry Groener as Nathan Samuels
Gary Graham as Soval
Eric Pierpoint as Harris
Adam Clark as Josiah
Peter Mensah as Greaves
Johanna Watts as Gannet Brooks
Derek Magyar as Kelby
Joel Swetow as Thoris
Josh Holt as Ensign Masaro
Amy Rohren as Tactical Officer

Stardate: January 22nd, 2155

Synopsis
As Paxton continues to deliver his xenophobic address, Enterprise's crew and the delegates assembled at Starfleet Command watch the broadcast in horror. Paxton shows an image of a half-Vulcan, half-human child - Trip and T'Pol's baby - as an example of how humanity's genetic pool will be diluted if alien-human relations continue. He notes that for the next 24 hours, he will guarantee safe passage for all aliens leaving the system. If any non-humans remain in the system after the deadline, Paxton will not hesitate to use the verteron array, and he will starts by blowing up Starfleet Command. As the Enterprise crew works furiously to block Paxton's transmission, they suddenly find their ship being targeted by the array. They manage to bid a hasty escape just as Enterprise is about to be destroyed.

At Starfleet Command, Earth dignitary Nathan Samuels is attempting to hold the conference together. Samuels tells Archer that he must destroy the array. Archer, however, is reluctant, especially since Paxton is still holding Trip and T'Pol hostage. He proposes that he take a small team into the mining facility to stop Paxton and Terra Prime. Using a shuttlepod, Archer and his team hitch a ride on the tail of a comet so that they will be able to reach the array undetected. It's rough-going and the shuttlepod appears to be malfunctioning, but they make it to the surface in one piece.

Meanwhile, Paxton has allowed Trip and T'Pol to see their baby. T'Pol deduces that the child is a binary clone created from their DNA. Paxton notes that he acquired the DNA thanks to a Terra Prime spy aboard Enterprise. Paxton then forces Trip to refine the array's targeting system. Trip tries to sabotage it, but he's found out - still, he refuses to help Paxton turn the array into a deadly weapon.

Later, T'Pol confronts Paxton. Using her bio-scanner, she's come to two conclusions. First of all, her daughter is very ill and requires medical attention. Second, Paxton is suffering from Taggart's Syndrome and is using Rigelian gene therapy to treat himself. The very thing that Paxton's so afraid of - alien knowledge - is the only thing keeping him alive.

On Enterprise, Hoshi is in command, prepared to destroy the array if Archer's mission is unsuccessful. Samuels thinks the time has come to fire on the array, but Hoshi holds firm - she has to give Archer more time. For their part, Archer's team has made it into the mining facility and reunited with Trip. The team bursts in to the control room, just as Hoshi's about to open fire on the array. Relieved, Hoshi stands down.

The team attempts to shut down the array, but an explosive fire fight erupts between Paxton's followers and the Enterprise crew. With Trip knocked out and nearly unconscious, it's up to Archer to fight off Paxton and stop the array. Paxton, however, has locked the sequence - Archer can't prevent the array from firing. At the very last minute, Trip regains consciousness and manages to adjust the targeting system. The array fires into the ocean, resulting in nothing more than a harmless cloud of steam.

With Paxton in custody, Enterprise returns to Earth. The actions of Paxton and Terra Prime, however, continue to have consequences. Samuels notes that the groundbreaking interspecies conference is all but over. Additionally, Trip and T'Pol's daughter, who they've named Elizabeth, is dying. Phlox determines that their human and Vulcan DNA are not compatible.

Meanwhile, Mayweather and Reed realize that the malfunctioning shuttlepod they took on the Mars mission was sabotaged. The culprit , a young engineer named Masaro, is the Terra Prime spy onboard Enterprise. Tragically, Masaro kills himself once he's found out.

Later, at Starfleet Command, Samuels asks his fellow delegates to move ahead with the planned interspecies alliance, despite the actions of Terra Prime. As the crew of Enterprise looks on, Archer delivers a rousing speech, urging all of the species in attendance to work together to explore the stars. Soval, the Vulcan ambassador who once disapproved of Archer and Enterprise's mission, is the first to start clapping. Soon, the delegates are on their feet, giving Archer a standing ovation.

Back on Enterprise, Mayweather makes peace with Gannet, who is actually working for Starfleet Intelligence - her mission was to find the real Terra Prime spy on the ship. Ever the gentleman, Mayweather offers to give her a shuttlepod ride home. Meanwhile, T'Pol and Trip mourn the death of their daughter. Trip tells T'Pol that Phlox discovered something: there was a flaw in the cloning techniques Paxton's doctors used. There's no medical reason why a human and a Vulcan wouldn't be able to produce a healthy child . Tearfully, Trip notes that he finds this new information comforting. Obviously moved, T'Pol wordlessly reaches over and grasps his hand.

Review
In the conclusion of my review of last week's episode Demons, I noted that there were "...many unanswered questions and certainly numerous directions that the story [could] take". I also commented on the rather lethargic pacing of the story line and lack of any real suspenseful drama. Fortunately, with the conclusion of the story in Terra Prime, the pace, action, suspense and urgency of the episode makes up for whatever deficiencies were present last week. Yet this was far from a perfect episode as it fell flat in many areas.

The Good?

The rescue attempt of T'Pol and Tucker, which was vastly complicated by the mission to destroy the array before Paxton's deadline expired, was inspired, Western-science fiction writing at its finest. Hitching a ride on a comet (well, behind a comet to be exact) to get on to the Mars surface without being detected by Paxton's posse may have been a little hokie, but it was fun and it made sense against the overall story line. Of course, the obligatory shoot-out with the bad guys continued along the Western theme, but was surprisingly more suspenseful as "Archer's charge to save the day" faltered when the weapon discharged and San Francisco's bay was struck. Fortunately, of course, Trip realigned the array so it didn't impact in the city itself, leaving him to be the hero. Not as clichéd as it could have been, and nicely contrasted against the slower pacing of Demons.

What I also enjoyed was Archer's speech at the end of the episode and how he, and the crew of the Enterprise, were given their just rewards. This was a nice way to close up the two-part episode, especially since it essentially began with Minister Nathan Samuels taking all the credit for man's exploration into space. Archer's speech was rather fitting as he discussed how our generation always posed the question "Are We Alone" while his generation had the privilege of knowing the answer to that question. His declaration that exploration begins within each of us and that it is "...woven in the threads that bind all of us..." his perhaps his most perceptive speech of the series, and one of Bakula's finest moments.

The Bad?

Well, perhaps not that bad, but not good either, are two nagging issues that I had. First pertains to the fact that Paxton has been kept alive thanks to alien technology. It may be a little passé, but one would expect a tyrant the likes of Paxton to have a real reason to despise aliens; perhaps their being responsible for the death of a loved one, or something along those lines. It may have been obvious, but it would have been more believable from a character development point of view. Instead we learn that, apparently since he was at least 20, he's been kept alive thanks to alien medical knowledge. One would think he'd be a proponent of expanding humanity into the stars to "seek out new life, and new civilizations..." since that type of exploration allowed him to live. T'Pol's hypocritical rhetoric aside, this just smacked of poor and unbelievable character development for me.

The second issue centers around baby Elizabeth herself. I was touched last week at T'Pol's and Trip's reaction to their 'daughter'. The genuine emotion they revealed was moving, and that certainly continued those feelings into Terra Prime. In fact there's no question that some of the best acting of the season occurred when Trinneer and Blalock reflected the wrenching struggle their two characters were going through as Elizabeth's condition was deteriorating and her eventual death was staring them in the face. No, my issue doesn't center on those scenes, it's more focused on the real need for the Elizabeth storyline in the first place. Paxton clearly had a hand in her 'creation', but for what purpose? Did he expect to use Elizabeth as a means of rallying Earth against aliens? Was that necessary, really? The entire "Terra Prime" movement was made out to be a long-lasting stand against alien life forms cementing themselves on the Earth. His long-winded, self-glorifying speeches seemed to be enough to convince many to heed his advise. So then, what was the point of Elizabeth? And what, specifically, was the significance T'Pol and Trip being the biological parents? One would think Paxton would have had easier access to Vulcan and, obviously human DNA on Earth than to have to engineer a theft aboard the Enterprise. It just didn't fly for me, though an episode centering on Elizabeth herself outside of the "Terra Prime" movement may have made for an interesting story.

The Ugly?

The Travis Mayweather/Gannet Brooks storyline was just filler in Demons, and it did little more in Terra Prime. Though the realization that Brooks was actually working for Starfleet Intelligence made a little more sense, not notifying Captain Archer of this fact made no sense at all. Regardless of her having to maintain some level of anonymity, it's simply unbelievable to think that she would be assigned to check out Enterprise without Archer being informed. The only reason not to inform Archer is if S.I. suspected that he might be part of the Terra Prime movement. And if that were truly the case, then I'm sure they would have done something else about it - and at a much sooner date. Of course, why would an explorer on a Starship be part of a movement to extricate alien species from Earth? Once again, very poor plot development that's hard to simply ignore.

So we have a tale of three episodes with Terra Prime. The Good with the Western-style rescue mission and Archer's sentimental but moving speech. The Bad with the contradicting development of Paxton's background and the lack of any real direction with Baby Elizabeth sub-story. The Ugly with Mayweather and Brooks banter than made less sense than anything else. Ultimately, Terra Prime does answer the questions that Demons presented, but in hindsight, I find myself wishing that some of those questions were never asked in the first place.


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These Are the Voyages...


Series: Star Trek: Enterprise - (2001-2005)
Season: 4
Episode #: 98
Original Airdate: 5/13/2005

Writer(s): Rick Berman and Brannon Braga
Director(s): Allan Kroeker

Guest Stars
Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi
Jonathan Frakes as William Thomas Riker
Jeffrey Combs as Shran
Jonathan Schmock as Alien
Solomon Burke, Jr. as Ensign
Jef Ayres as Med Tech
Jasmine Anthony as Talla

Stardate: 47457.1

Synopsis
In the future, long after the era of Captain Archer and his crew, Commander Riker watches a holodeck re-creation of a key moment in Federation history. Riker is hoping the events of this time will help him make some important decisions of his own.

It's ten years after the Enterprise NX-01 embarked on its mission and the crew is heading back to Earth for the decommission of Enterprise and the signing of the Federation charter. Archer is hard at work on a speech for this special moment, but he is interrupted by a hail from his old friend Shran. Shran, who is no longer with the Andorian Imperial Guard, tells Archer he needs Enterprise's help - his daughter has been kidnapped by some shady former associates. T'Pol doesn't trust the Andorian and thinks aiding him will make Enterprise late for the signing of the charter. Archer, however, is determined to help Shran.

Enterprise's crew mounts a daring rescue mission, and manages to escape from Shran's alien enemies with his daughter in tow. During the mission, Trip nearly dies, but Archer saves him at the last minute. As they continue on their way to Earth, the crew takes a moment to reflect on the last 10 years. Everyone's a little emotional - even T'Pol, who tells Trip that she will miss him once they go their separate ways.

The peaceful journey is shattered, however, when Shran's former associates track down Enterprise and board the ship. They demand that Archer take them to Shran, but the captain refuses. The aliens are about to kill Archer, so Trip, thinking fast, tells them that he will take them to Shran. When Archer protests, the aliens knock him out. Trip leads the aliens into what appears to be a harmless utility closet - he tells them it's simply a com station and he's going to get Shran to come to them. Trip tells them he just needs to connect a couple of things, but when he brings a pair of conduits together, a massive explosion erupts, taking out both Trip and the aliens. Trip is critically wounded - despite Phlox's best efforts, he dies.

Later, T'Pol and Archer reflect on Trip's death as they pack away his things. Archer notes that when he took command 10 years ago, he saw himself as an explorer, excited about new discoveries and convinced that the risks of space travel were worth it. Now, his friend is dead and he has to write a speech about how worthwhile their mission has been. T'Pol gently points out that Trip would be the first to say it's been worthwhile.

On Earth, Archer prepares to give his speech to an auditorium packed with dignitaries from other worlds. As he gets ready to go out and address the crowd, T'Pol tells him that he looks quite heroic. Overcome with emotion, Archer envelops her in a tight embrace before heading out to make his speech.

With that, Riker ends his holodeck program, feeling that his time spent with the crew of the NX-01 has been more than worthwhile.

Review
When it was announced that "Enterprise" would be canceled after only its fourth season on the air, speculation immediately began over how the producers would 'end' the show. I'm sure few, if any; fans would have surmised that the series would end its run in the realm of the NCC-1701-D's holodeck. But in many ways, this was a rather fitting tribute to not only "Enterprise", but the entirety of Star Trek as well. And with all due respect to the cast and crew of "Enterprise", it isn't - and never has been - just about one series. It's about the collective entirety that Gene Roddenberry began nearly 40 years ago. That being said, These Are The Voyages... is a somber view of what is to come in the lives of the characters that we have come to know and love over the past four years, as well as a glimpse into what some would call the true beginnings of the Star Trek universe with the formation of the Federation.

The episode was set during the 'Next Generation' episode The Pegasus and had Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis reprising their roles and Commander William T. Riker and Counselor Deeana Troi. The basic plot of Riker seeking out refuge and answers to his own dilemma in the holodeck by witnessing the events of the NX-01's final voyage was perhaps a little too gimmicky. Yet at the same time it brought a real sense of validity to the exploits of Archer and his crew; one that was obviously worthy of attention in the 24th century. There was clearly a warm and comfortable, yet melancholy sense at seeing the NCC-1701-D again in all of her glory. Revisiting 10-Forward, or the grid-like holodeck or even walking down the familiar corridors one last time was certainly a treat as well as a stark reminder that the on-screen stories of the Next Generation are truly over.

But despite the backdrop of the TNG era, or the NCC-1701-D Enterprise, this was still an episode that centered on the 'Enterprise' crew and her 22nd century adventures. To that end, I found the storyline involving Shran's daughter's abduction rather intriguing. Since the events of this story actual took place ten years after the launch of the NX-10, some six years have passed since the events of Terra Prime. This allowed for some rushed background into Shran's dilemma and his coming out of "hiding" to seek out Archer who, of course, "owed" him one last favor. It's a real shame that we won't continue to witness the friendly, and yet mutually respectful, banter between Archer in Shran in the future. Their "exploits" together made for some of the best 'Enterprise' episodes. And true to his form, Jeffrey Combs expertly represented Shran one last time.

Unfortunately, the story took a poor turn for me with the truly senseless death of one of the most enjoyable characters aboard the NX-01; Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker. This marks the second time the producers and/or powers that be decided to add some shock value to Star Trek with the death of a main character. The first time was the death of Data in Star Trek: Nemesis. Though he was saving Picard in the act, the loss of Data seemed too analogous to the death of Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and, as such, felt forced. So was the case with Trip's death in "These Are The Voyages..." Though meant to be a reflection on his dedication towards Captain Archer, the entire scene seemed grossly out of character for Tucker. Further, it somewhat cheapened the entire plot surrounding Riker and his need for replaying this pivotal point in the NX-01's history. It wasn't a heroic death, it was senseless and the "shock" value the writers and producers were going for simply failed.

I found it also puzzling that an editing decision was made that had Riker talking to Tucker after his death scene. The rest of Riker's interactions with the crew of the NX-01 seemed to be taking place chronologically, so why go from one scene where Trip is killed off to the next where he's alive and well. Poor editing choice here, folks.

Finally, I was a little exasperated that the holodeck simulation ended before Archer's grand speech, where he was to speak to the ultimate good of space exploration and the forming of a federation of planets. End Program came far too soon and will leave many speculating on the contents of Archer's speech for some time to come.

Despite some of the poor judgment calls made on this episode, it was still a nice homage to a fine series; one that ended well before its time. The closing scene, with the vocalizing of the infamous "Space...The Final Frontier..." speech by Patrick Stewart, William Shatner and, finally, Scott Bakula on the back-drop of their respective Enterprise's was a sad, and hopefully short-lived, end to a tremendous universe that is fast becoming less science fiction and more science reality.

Until Series 6...

Thank you.

-John


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