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Monday, May 16, 2005
Enterprise Wrap-Up
Terra Prime
"Terra Prime" is a rarity on Star Trek--the second half of a two-parter than is better than the first.

Last week, we got a lot of exposition and set-up and this week, we get the pay-off on it. And it did pay off in a nice way. Certainly, I'd have to say this was the strongest outing by the Reeves-Stevens teams since they burst onto the Enterprise writing scene with "The Forge." And since we all know how much I loved "The Forge" that is high praise. "Terra Prime" was a nice bridge from the initial conflict with the Vulcans about humanity's readiness to explore the stars to eventually becoming a big mover and shaker in the Federation. I really feel kind of ripped off a bit that just as we were getting to episodes that delivered on the promise of Enterprise it gets cancelled. But, I guess there are always the novels to continue the story and fill in the gaps. (If anything, Pocket has shown over the past couple of years a willingness and abilty to begin filling in the gaps left by the Star Trek shows and to even continue the on-screen adventures with great success (the less that stellar Voyager re-launch not withstanding))

There were so many tie-ins to the orignal series here. One that I particularily enjoyed was the homage to every commodore or Starfleet official who'd come on board the ship and you'd wonder--just how the hell did they get into any position of authority? Because they so often were incompetent or short-sighted and would have to be taken down a peg or two by Kirk or whoever was in command of the ship at the time. We see that here with Sato going up toe to toe with Samuels over Archer's orders. I found myself reminded of Ambasssador Robert Fox and Commodore Matt Decker from the original series. (Indeed, I even heard Kirk telling Spock to take command on his "personal authority as captain of the Enterprise" when Sato refused to back down). And, just like original series, in the end the crew is proven to be right.

Meanwhile, it's intereting to see Paxton's plan backfire on him. He creates a Vulcan/human hybrid in order to splinter support for the peace conference, but instead winds up creating a rallying cry. Seeing how far Archer and company will go to save not only the conference but Elizabeth, the delegates realize the potential of being united and at peace. It's interesting as a Star Trek fan, we know how some of this will turn out--for example, we know that even by Kirk's time there will still be lingering issues and even that Corridon won't be admitted to the Federation until "Journey to Babel." But to see the seeds of it sewn here was nicely done.

And it could have been so melodramatic. One thing that struck me was how Phlox's tearful talk with Archer about losing Elizabeth could have been an MST3K worthy moment, but instead rang absolutely true. I give a lot of that credit to John Billingsley who has brought a depth to this role over the years that may not have always been there in the scripts. But give him good material--like here--and the man just hits it out of the park.

I do feel as though the show did back pedal a bit with the ending in relation to Elizabeth. Hearing Tripp say--oh yeah, it was an effect of the cloning that killed Elizabeth and that a Vulcan/human baby could exist sometime....the didn't achieve the resonance it needed. It felt more like someone went--oh yeah, that Spock guy was half-human and we'll violate the hell out of continuity if we end it like this. Now, I appreciate any attempt to gel continuity, don't get me wrong. But it felt like Enterprise was trying too hard here to bridge the continuity gap.

Of course, if that's my only real, major, huge complaint from an episode, then I'm pretty satisfied...

These Are the Voyages...
A lot of ink was spilled about this episode before it aired. Berman and Braga said it was to be a "valentine" to the fans, Jolene Blalock was extremely critical and the fan community seemed to be ready to love it or condemn it before it ever aired (which was the problem with Enteprise fro the start...too many lined up to hate it before it ever saw the light of day). With so much ink being spilled about the final episode, it was hard to stay far away from SPOILERs for the story and the plotine. But I did my best, though I knew far more than I wanted to going in to the episode. I tried not to let it cloud my judgement of the episode.

That said--it's not as good as Berman and Braga wanted it to be and it's not the horrific affront to all of fandom that Blalock and some seem to think it is.

Certainly, it was a stronger finale then "The Turnabout Intruder" back in 1969. But this final episode comes no where even close to the the ranks of "What You Leave Behind" or "All Good Things..."

Certainly it had its moments. I will admit that the fan-boy part of me loved the final montage of the "Space, the final frontier..." featuring Picard, Kirk and Archer. But please, for the love of heaven, counldn't we have had a shot of the Enterprise from the orignal series or the movies and not the CGI ship we got here? I love CGI, but to me, the Enterprise (Kirk's that is) will always look best as the model we saw for so many years. CGI looks too perfect and pristine and that is just not how I see the original Enterprise.

OK, that said...

What I found interesting about this story was we moved forward in time six years and nothing had changed. No promotions, no one leaving the ship, etc. Last week we had Mayweather contemplating settling down on leaving the ship but he's still at the helm this week, six years later. Also, we never hear any indication that T'Pol or Tripp have moved forward, backwards or sideways with their relationship. Or how Elizabeth either helped them grow closer together or drove them farther apart. Nope, no hints of that here.

Instead, we get Riker struggling with a big decision. Now while I've dismissed a lot of Jolene Blalock's criticism of the episode being "absolute crap" I will give her that this one was NOT in any significant way about the Enterprise crew. It was everyone has wacky fun interacting with Riker. And while I like Riker and I think it was interesting to see how he went back to see how a tough decision was made about violating trust, I just didn't feel like this was an episode that begged to be told as a series finale to Enterprise. I liked seeing the creation of the Federation and the first steps toward peace between the Andorians and the Vulcans. I wanted to see the opening cermonies, to hear Archer's speech, etc. I wanted to see T'Pol meet Tripp's parents after his death. I wanted to see and hear the crew going their seprate ways. I wanted to see that this 10 year mission had changed them and maybe, just maybe that is why Starfleet went with five year missions during Kirk's time.

I wanted to see all of that and got none of it. As a Star Trek fan, I know the outcome of this decision for Riker and Troi. I don't know the outcome of some things in the Enterprise timeline and I was far more interested in that. And I'd bet that TNG fans who tuned back in to see Riker and Troi would have been a bit disappointed by the storyline. And Enterprise fans would be disappointing because the cast is little more than supporting characters and sound boards for Riker's decision instead of possibly resolving some things from the four-year run of Enterprise. In a lot of ways, this one reminds of the 1996 Doctor Who movie on FOX that tried to throw in every thing and the kitchen sink to appeal to everyone and wound up pleasing no one. In both cases, there were glimmers of potential in each, but it wasn't realized in the final product.

And that's the real shame here. That in the final outing of Star Trek for what could be forever or even just a really long time, we got a lackluster ending. It had potential to be great but it squandered it. And after a long season in which the series lived up to its potential--heck, an hour before it was more than living up to it--to see the series end on this rather pedestrian note was a disappointment.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 5/16/2005 08:31:00 AM | |
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