Here it is folks, the final day of Star Trek Week!
Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT), or simply Enterprise as it was known for the first two years, was the series that many fans blame for killing Star Trek. It premiered the same year Voyager ended and by that point it was felt that Star Trek in general needed a break. Waiting a few years to make people hungry for Star Trek again would not have been a bad thing in my opinion. That said, I always enjoyed ENT and was disappointed that it wasn’t given seven seasons like its brethren. That’s right, Enterprise was the first series since the original that did not last seven seasons.
The premiere episode, Broken Bow, debuted on September 26, 2001 to big ratings but for the next four years those ratings would slide down and never recover. In fact, during the later part of season three, word spread that this could be the last season of the show. Similar to what happened in 1968 with TOS, fans bombarded UPN and Paramount with letters begging for the series to be renewed, and as in 1968…it worked…for one more season. Star Trek: Enterprise would last four seasons with a total of 98 episodes. Its last episode, These Are the Voyages…aired on May 13, 2005 and would signal the end of Star Trek. For the first time since 1987…there would be no Star Trek series in production.
1. Broken Bow
“First contact with Klingons; the Enterprise (NX-01) is launched. Archer finds himself in the middle of a Temporal Cold War.”
Star Trek has never had much luck when it comes to first episodes. The series premiere’s of TNG, DS9, and VOY, while getting better each time, would never be included amongst their best episodes. Enterprise, no matter what you thought of it, surely had the strongest premiere of of them all. The story of the Enterprise crew coming together for their first adventure was a riveting one.
One of the aspects about Enterprise that I enjoy, and others seem to hate, is that right from the get go…they don’t have a clue as to what’s going on. They’re on the first warp five ship ever built and they’re going further out into the galaxy than any human has before. They don’t know what’s out there, they’re not really prepared for what’s out there, and when they find what’s out there, half the the time they don’t know how to handle it. It’s a nice change of pace from the technologically superior Starfleet in most of the other series. Theme song still sucked though.
Trek Trivia – This was the first Star Trek series not to have a physical model of the main ship built. All visual effects on Enterprise would be CGI.
2. The Andorian Incident
“Archer, Trip, and T’Pol are taken hostage by Andorians in the Vulcan monastery of P’Jem.”
The Andorians make their return to Star Trek in this episode, with a very cool updated makeup which featured animatronic antennae that moved according to their mood. The ongoing distrust between the Andorians and Vulcans is revealed here and would be an ongoing story point for the remainder of the series.
Trek Trivia – This is the first Star Trek episode to feature the Andorians in almost thirty years.
3. Cold Front
“Archer finds out a crewman on Enterprise is helping to fight the Temporal Cold War against Silik and some of the Suliban.”
The Temporal Cold War was an aspect of Enterprise that not a lot of people liked. I actually enjoyed that part of the series (I’m easy to please aren’t I?) so I find episodes like this to be a lot of fun. The Temporal Cold War involved factions from different centuries in the future each attempting to manipulate history for their own benefit. It was never really made entirely clear what all these people were hoping to achieve because it ended up being written out of the show in season four when it became clear that the audience wasn’t into it.
I will admit that the Temporal Cold War could have been handled better but it added a bit of ongoing mystery to Star Trek akin to The X-Files mythology. Each time we would learn something new, or find out what we did know was a lie.
Trek Triva – For some reason this episode takes place a week AFTER the next episode.
4. Dead Stop
“Heavily damaged by a Romulan mine, Enterprise is repaired by an unmanned and automatic repair station with a mind of its own.”
Probably one of my favourite ENT episodes due to its subtle creep factor. This episode followed one in which the ship was severely damaged due to wandering through a Romulan minefield. The previous episode didn’t end on a “to be continued” or anything; it was all wrapped up, so it was a pleasant surprise to find Enterprise still showing the damage it had incurred. This may well be the first Star Trek episode to show damage to the ship that had been sustained the episode prior. I love that, one of the few aspects which Enterprise did better than its siblings.
Trek Trivia – Roxann Dawson, who played B’Elanna Torres on Voyager, directed this episode as well as providing the voice of the automated station.
5. The Expanse
“An alien probe attacks Earth, killing 7 million people. Enterprise heads home for refitting before being sent into the Delphic Expanse in pursuit of the attackers.”
The Expanse, the final episode of season two, kicked off the Xindi arc. It would last throughout the entire third season, a first for Star Trek. This episode, and the season to follow, would establish Enterprise as being of the post 9/11 era. The devastating surprise attack brings to mind images of that horrible day. It’s interesting that the writers decided to go down this road, as it seems very…un-Star Trek. But I suppose that’s just it; Enterprise wasn’t Star Trek, at least not yet.
During The Original Series and beyond, humans were the perfect ideal. They had reached a state in which there was no hate, no racism, and plenty of compassion. The humans of Enterprise’s era aren’t quite there yet, they’re more similar to us I suppose. The Expanse makes its biggest impact, not through its action, but through the reactions the characters have to the attack. Trip, the usually easy going engineer, loses his sister in the attack. His response is one of anger and he thirsts for revenge. Such a human reaction in TOS, TNG, DS9, or VOY would probably feel majorly out of place, but here it feels right.
Trek Trivia – This episode would mark the last appearance of Admiral Forrest (played by Vaughn Armstrong) until season four.
6. Proving Ground
“Xindi scientists test their new, planet-killing weapon in an asteroid field as Archer finds he has an ally in the Delphic Expanse.”
Another Andorian episode makes the list. A large part of the success of the Andorians on ENT was due to Jeffrey Combs as Shran. His character proved a wonderful foil to Captain Archer and it’s to Jeffrey Combs credit that, even though we like Shran, we’re never quite sure where his loyalties lie.
This episode, being smack in the middle of season three, is really just a small piece of the third season puzzle. Yet it manages to grab several ongoing threads from different story-lines and weave them together to create a single enjoyable episode.
Trek Trivia – Shran pretends to be a scout from the “Andorian Mining Consortium” which is a reference to the 1992 video game Star Trek: 25th Anniversary.
7. Azati Prime
“After finding the weapon on Azati Prime, Archer embarks on a suicide mission to destroy it. T’Pol suddenly goes into an emotional tailspin as Enterprise suffers a devastating attack by the reptilian Xindi.”
The season long Xindi arc really comes together with this episode. All the characters get a chance to shine as their ship and plans crumble around them. Space battles! Weeee!
Trek Trivia – This episode marks the last time that Enterprise is seen to be free of severe damage. It would not be seen in its intact form until the fourth episode of the fourth season.
8. Zero Hour
“The final showdown with the reptilian Xindi to stop the weapon from destroying Earth.”
One of the best season finales of the entire franchise in my opinion, it was able to build on the momentum that had been growing all season to produce an extremely thrilling, stylish, and action packed episode. Everything comes to a head in a large battle to save Earth from the fast approaching Xindi weapon.
However…as much as I love this episode…I have to admit that the final act seems to want to sabotage the rest of it. Now I won’t get into spoilers in case you haven’t caught up on this nine year old episode…wow…nine years old? Really?
Okay, screw spoilers, here we go. ALIEN NAZI’S! That’s right. After destroying the Xindi weapon, Captain Archer is thought to have perished. However, he was actually thrown back in time to the 1940’s during World War II. As he lays unconscious in a German hospital, an alien in a Nazi uniform steps forward to examine him. TO BE CONTINUED! That’s it. That’s the season finale. It’s quite honestly the strangest cliffhanger Star Trek has done and I really don’t understand why they did it. It’s completely separate from the tone of the season as well as having little to do with it story-wise. If they had just ended the episode ten minutes earlier we would have had a completely satisfying conclusion to a great year long story arc while still leaving unanswered questions to pick up next season.
Trek Trivia – In this episode we learn that T’pol is 65 years old.
“Dr. Arik Soong restores his relationship with his genetically-enhanced children.”
The writers of Enterprise realized that they had a good thing going last season with the Xindi arc, so during the forth season, instead of reverting to a season worth of stand alone episodes, they began a series of mini-arcs. Some three-part episodes, some two-part episodes, and a small handful of stand alone ones.
Borderland was the first of a three part arc that aired once they finished cleaning up the alien Nazi mess left over from last season. Brent Spiner, who we all know as Data, guest stars as Arik Soong, the great-grandfather of Noonian Soong, the scientist who would go on to create Data. He pretty much steals every scene he’s in and after seven seasons and four movies as the emotionless Data, it’s nice to see him get to stretch his stuff here.
Season four is when Enterprise started to fully embrace its prequel roots. It seems like this would have been something they would jumped on from day one, but aside from references like “one day they should make a prime directive derrr” we never really saw them go further with it. This episode features the Orions, a species not seen since TOS, and also adds an interesting element to the Eugenics Wars and the legacy of one Khan Noonien Singh. It would be the beginning of a season full of filled in back-stories, revelations of things to come, and a sense of fun that had been missing from the series during the exceedingly dark Xindi arc.
Trek Trivia – The character of Arik Soong marks the second member of Data’s “family” that Brent Spiner has portrayed.
10. Babel One
“Andorians threaten war on the Tellarites after apparently being attacked by a Tellarite vessel en route to trade talks.”
The first of a three episode arc, Babel One brings to mind one of my favourite TOS episodes “Journey to Babel”. This episode certainly has plenty in common yet forges its own path. Captain Archer is transporting a group of Tellarite ambassadors to the the titular planet in order for Starfleet to mediate a dispute between them and the Andorians, a first step which would lead to the formation of he Federation.
Had Enterprise been renewed for a fifth season, the origins of the Federation would have been one of the major arcs. It’s fun to see the first small steps taken here yet it’s also disappointing knowing we never get the rest of the story. The series definitely stepped up during its final two season but unfortunately it was too late. I would have loved to have seen where the final three seasons would have taken us.
Trek Trivia – It was a few days after this episode aired that the show was officially canceled by UPN.
I’m certain Star Trek won’t be gone from the small screen much longer. What form it will take or what era it takes place in I don’t know, but I do know it will be wonderful seeing Star Trek on the small screen once again.
Well that is it for Star Trek Week. Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed putting it all together. A big thank you to Memory Alpha for being a great source for all the bits of Trek Trivia!
Lets see what’s out there.