Friday, January 3, 2014

Oi! Yet ANOTHER Time Travel Episode Of Star Trek: Enterprise Mars “E2!”

The Good: Performances are fine, Special effects, Moments of character
The Bad: Entirely derivative plot, Derivative character elements, Make-up is mediocre
The Basics: “E2” puts the Enterprise in contact with its own descendants in an episode that is far too familiar for fans of the larger Star Trek franchise.

From the moment the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “E2” (“E Squared”) begins with an ancient T’Pol at an undetermined point in the future, it is hard for fans of the show not to feel like the writers and producers had no idea how to tell a coherent story. While the show tightened up quite a bit with its serialized plotline with “The Forgotten” (reviewed here!) and “E2” continues the important plot threads begun in that episode, the narrative divergence with a future timeline (yet another alternate timeline within the Expanse!) is more of an annoyance than a clever technique.

“E2” plays a lot like “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (reviewed here!) and “Children Of Time” (reviewed here!). In fact, the episode has all of the main characters wrestling with the exact conflicts the crew of the Defiant had in “Children Of Time.” The future Odo is swapped with a future T’Pol, but otherwise much of the character story is identical to “Children Of Time,” further diminishing the episode right off the bat.

As the Enterprise approaches a nebula that will bring them to the Xindi Council in time to make a meeting Degra has invited them to, they become wary of a half-dozen Kavalan ships laying in wait for them. Degra and Jannar work to convince the Xindi Primate leader that Archer must be allowed to address the Council when a duplicate of the NX-01 Enterprise appears and insists that Archer reverse course. Lorien, the captain of the alternate Enterprise, and his first officer, Karyn Archer, come aboard when the Enterprise is safe and warns Archer that if they enter the corridor, the ship will be pushed back in time almost one hundred twenty years. After Phlox determines the crewmembers are who they claim to be, T’Pol becomes convinced when Lorien is revealed to be the son of her and Tucker.

As Lorien and Tucker retrofit the Enterprise’s engines so the ship can go Warp 6 for brief intervals, Tucker learns that he died at a relatively young age. Archer tours the older Enterprise where he learns about the races the ship encountered. His granddaughter brings him to meet T’Pol, T’Pol gives Archer a PADD to give to herself while Reed wrestles with the idea that his family line ends on Enterprise. Willing to betray Captain Archer and his Enterprise, Lorien plans to take a vital engine component in order to make it to the rendezvous with Degra and complete the Enterprise’s mission of saving Earth.

“E2” might not be so bad if it were not for just how much it stole from “Children Of Time.” “Children Of Time” is notable for the fact that the episode had Odo (albeit the future Odo) finally revealing his feeling to Kira; “E2” progresses the Tucker/T’Pol relationship in virtually the same way. While the episode references Archer’s being tortured by the Xindi and being asked how many StarFleet ships are in the Expanse, the idea that the alternate Enterprise is the reason for the questions makes little sense. Of course the Xindi would want to know how many StarFleet ships are in the Expanse! They would not ask repeatedly just because they sensed another StarFleet ship there.

What makes less sense is the idea that with the head start the alternate Enterprise has that they could not stop the first Xindi probe from being launched. T’Pol knows the exact colony that manufactured the first probe (thanks to the Xindi Arboreal in “The Shipment,” reviewed here!); why the Enterprise did not simply disrupt the supply chain long before the probe was ever built makes no sense. The vague explanation that Lorien gives for the failure of his mission is utterly insufficient to please fans.

The special effects in “E2” are good, save the make-up effects. The aged version of T’Pol is hardly one of Michael Westmore’s best executions. Jolene Blalock’s performance is little more than slumping over in the make-up and rasping out her lines. Blalock’s more impressive acting comes in the reaction shots to herself. While T’Pol’s age has never been revealed, her older self seems disproportionately older for a Vulcan than she ought to.

Ultimately, “E2” is overly familiar for fans of the Star Trek franchise and what might have been novel to Enterprise fans is thoroughly banal to those with a larger appreciation for the franchise.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Third Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the penultimate season here!

For other works with David Andrews, please visit my reviews of:
Dear John
Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines
Fight Club
A Nightmare On Elm Street


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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