Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Rocky Start To The Reboot: “Storm Front” Opens The Fourth Season Of Star Trek: Enterprise!

The Good: Generally decent acting, Good costumes
The Bad: Lacking in character development,
The Basics: Stuck in an alternate timeline, Archer and the crew of the Enterprise tries to survive the destruction of the Expanse and a dramatically different Earth than they recall.

With the inevitable end of the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise with “Zero Hour” (reviewed here!), the long-serialized plot of Star Trek: Enterprise was resolved and left the show looking for a reboot. The fourth season was going to be a time of reboot and given where “Zero Hour” ended, the show was in a pretty deep pit that writer and new executive producer had to dig himself out of. The season premiere was the two-part “Storm Front” and given how so much of the fourth season was to be devoted to realigning the series with the rest of the Star Trek franchise, Manny Coto had three years of bad episodes to undo. To do that, he had to end the Temporal Cold War concept.

Unfortunately, the season premiere, “Storm Front” has so much to undo. Perhaps as a testament to how messed up the Temporal Cold War plotline was, “Storm Front” was forced to continue the Temporal Cold War with a previously-unseen alien race (though it was seen at the climax of the third season). The story is clearly an attempt to put a rest to the Temporal Cold War concept by putting the Enterprise crew in the middle of a time-altered storyline that will force some form of temporal realignment in a way that fixes issues that precede their arrival in the episode. Unfortunately, that means that whatever resolution “Storm Front” is going to bring about will have an external component that has nothing to do with the protagonists of the show. That makes for unfortunately uncompelling television.

With Trip and Mayweather being shot at by spitfires over San Francisco, the crew of Enterprise is left utterly bewildered. Archer wakes up to find himself in the custody of Nazis who think he is an American. At the Nazi headquarters, two aliens realize that Archer is a time-traveler and become concerned because he has been rescued by the Allies. Aboard the Enterprise, Mayweather realizes that the ship has returned to the past, but not the one they remember as there are attacks in Virginia that never occurred in World War II.

When a badly mutated and wounded Daniels appears in Sickbay, Phlox discovers the Temporal Agent is aged and de-aged irregularly, giving him less than a day to live. With Archer learning he is in 1944 Brooklyn, the aliens working with the Nazis try to convince the Nazis to build their futuristic weapons to solidify their advantage over the Allies. When Daniels reveals that the Temporal Cold War has erupted into a full-fledged conflict throughout time and space, the crew of the Enterprise believes it has no home to return to. While trying to repair the Enterprise, Tucker encounters Silik, who steals a shuttlepod. On Earth, Archer works to track down the aliens who are aiding the Nazis.

“Storm Front” has a distinct lack of character development. Captain Archer has spent the past year in a stressful situation day to day, is seriously wounded and yet he ends up in an entirely different place and time without any sense that he is shaken or truly affected by the events that preceded it. In fact, Archer’s presentation in “Storm Front” is very much a reflection of Scott Bakula’s performance. Bakula came back from his hiatus from Star Trek: Enterprise relaxed and refreshed. Unfortunately, that made Archer’s surprisingly laid-back and controlled manner in “Storm Front” seem utterly unrealistic.

In a similar way, Jolene Blalock is not only undone by the make-up (everyone on Enterprise was healed remarkably quickly from their near-complete disintegration in “Zero Hour”); she hardly seems as emotionally conflicted as T’Pol as she did in the prior season’s finale.

“Storm Front” is also loaded up with guest actors and guest characters that keep the focus more on the overall plot than on anything remotely akin to character development. The return of Silik and Daniels and the new enemy, Vosk, create yet another complicated time-travel/alternate universe scenario. Fortunately, given how muddied the plot is – Daniels declares that Vosk is the real enemy in the time war and that his people in the Federation in the future has been utterly defeated – the only way to restore the timeline is to completely undo the Temporal Cold War.

The episode is a long build-up to set up the goal of the second part. In fact, it is so convoluted that it is unclear why Alicia Travers dislikes Archer until the beginning of the next episode! Ultimately, the goal of “Storm Front” is an admirable (if belated and somewhat pointless) one, but it is executed in a mediocre way.

The biggest gaffe in “Storm Front:” Yet another previously unseen alien race is seen that should have had no real ability to reach Earth in the time period in which they are present. Vosk’s race is an uncompelling enemy because viewers have never seen him before and they have no viable belief that his race can succeed in rewriting the time line.

[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 in which Tom Wright appears, please visit my reviews of:
World Trade Center
“Tuvix” - Star Trek: Voyager


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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