Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Long Way To Go To Recover The Franchise: “Storm Front, Part 2”

The Good: Finally resolves the Temporal Cold War
The Bad: Ridiculous special effects surrounding the Suliban, Painfully predictable, No character development
The Basics: With acting that is mediocre at best, “Storm Front, Part 2” finally resolves the Temporal War plot that had marred Star Trek: Enterprise from the very beginning.

Sometimes something is so poorly constructed that it must be burned down before new construction can begin. In the case of Star Trek: Enterprise, the show was created with so many flaws for a prequel that it quickly isolated the long-time Star Trek fans. Following the climax of the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise, the show’s ratings were sagging and the executive producers and UPN were in a desperate position: the franchise was in peril and executive producer Brannon Braga was out and Manny Coto was in. There is some sense of irony to the replacement; just as Braga got rid of Jeri Taylor’s creation, Kes, when he took her place as an Executive Producer of Star Trek: Voyager, Coto decided to undo Braga’s creation – the Temporal Cold War – when he took Braga’s place on Star Trek: Enterprise. “Storm Front, Part 2” is where Coto resets the Star Trek franchise and while it is a necessary episode on the plot front, it is hardly a good episode of television.

Following immediately on the end of the first part of “Storm Front” (reviewed here!), “Storm Front, Part 2” seeks to resolve both the immediate plot – an invasion of Earth in the early 20th Century that has evolved into an alliance between an alien race and the Nazis – and the overall Temporal Cold War plot. Given that the first part of “Storm Front” put both Temporal Agents Daniels and the Suliban Silik in play, it is unsurprising to Star Trek: Enterprise viewers that the series is moving toward the end of the time-travel mess that the prequel had created.

With the Nazis and U.S. government working together in an alternate 1944, Vosk’s influence over the Nazis begins to slip and he devolves into threatening the Nazis. Aboard the Enterprise, Archer learns that Mayweather and Tucker have been captured by the Nazis. While the captured officers are visited by Silik, Vosk arranges a trade with Archer. Presenting his side of the Temporal Cold War story, Vosk insists he just wants to get home and he offers to undo the damage to the time line to Earth. While Vosk works to complete the conduit that will return him to his own time, Archer discovers that Tucker did not return to Enterprise and he captures Silik, whom he interrogates.

Allying against Vosk, Silik and Archer return to Earth where Alicia Travers stands up to Carmine to help them recover Tucker and destroy the conduit. Vosk believes the conduit is ready to return him to the future and as he prepares to activate it, the allied forces strike at Vosk’s headquarters.

“Storm Front, Part 2” is a very plot-centered episode, but to Manny Coto’s credit, he makes more than a passing effort to make Vosk into a true Star Trek villain. Vosk declares that he is just stranded and he just wants to get home. He also tries to make a fairly reasonable deal with Archer – trading Archer’s help for a restoration of the timeline. While Archer has no real reason to trust Vosk, the attempt to negotiate actually flies in the face of what the treacherous Silik says about Vosk. Given that Silik is seen doing yet another act of deception in “Storm Front, Part 2,” that Archer chooses to trust him over Vosk is absolutely baffling.

Vosk is a strangely well-rounded villain for a one-shot adversary and in many ways, he outshines Silik. It’s a shame that John Fleck’s exit from the series as Silik is handled in such a mundane way. Then again, despite Fleck’s performance, Silik was never a particularly compelling character (he was, at best, a pawn for the mysterious humanoid in the Temporal Cold War). Fleck is outshone in “Storm Front, Part 2” by Golden Brooks, who plays Alicia Travers. Brooks, who might be best known for her role on Girlfriends plays Travers in an entirely different way than she played Maya, which is the hallmark of a wonderful actress.

Unfortunately, like the first part, “Storm Front, Part 2” is heavy with guest stars and a plot that is so cramped (in this case more with fight scenes than technobabble) that none of the main characters have a chance to grow or truly develop. Instead, Archer barely reflects on the damage to his ship and the timeline and T’Pol barely reacts to seeing the man she loves returned to the Enterprise.

Ultimately, “Storm Front, Part 2” does what it is supposed to, but it does not do it in a particularly compelling or well-executed way, making it a “necessary evil” episode that is unfortunately presented. Fortunately for fans of the Star Trek franchise, the season is all uphill from Manny Coto’s epilogue to Braga’s term as Executive Producer of Star Trek: Enterprise.

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

For other works with John Fleck, be sure to visit my reviews of:
True Blood - Season 6
Weeds - Season 6
"The Expanse" - Star Trek: Enterprise
"Shockwave, Part 2" - Star Trek: Enterprise
"Shockwave, Part 1" - Star Trek: Enterprise
"Cold Front" - Star Trek: Enterprise
"Broken Bow" - Star Trek: Enterprise
"Alice" - Star Trek: Voyager
"Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“The Search, Part 1” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“The Homecoming” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Babylon 5 - “The Gathering”
Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Mind’s Eye”


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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