Monday, March 31, 2014

Birth Of The Federation: “United” Is One Of Star Trek: Enterprise’s Best!

The Good: Engaging plot, Good acting, Decent special effects, Shran’s character
The Bad: Light on main cast character development.
The Basics: As tensions run high between the Andorians and Tellarites, Archer steps in to try to unite both races to fight the impending Romulan threat.

Star Trek: Enterprise is a prequel that precedes the United Federation of Planets in the Star Trek universe. As a result, fans of the franchise were hoping the prequel would be leading to familiar Star Trek, like the use of phasers, transporters, and the founding of the political entity known as the Federation. In its fourth season, Star Trek: Enterprise finally moved to living up to that potential with its new creative team. Truly building the Federation was the subject of the season’s third three-part arc. It began in “Babel One” (reviewed here!) and continued in “United.”

“United” might well be one of the best middle acts in Star Trek: Enterprise and the Star Trek franchise. In addition to creating a steady foundation for the impending Romulan War (which based on previously-established time references), “United” is both entertaining and has a decent character story for a recurring character who has been consistently growing in influence in the series, Shran. In “Babel One,” his relationship with his subordinate, Talas, was revealed; in “United,” Shran exhibits profound loss.

The Romulan drone ship continues its assault through the sector, with Tucker and Reed aboard. Disguised as the Enterprise, the Romulan drone ship attacks a Rigellian starship. While the Rigellians call for Archer’s head, Archer tries to get Mayweather’s sensor grid up and running by enlisting the Andorian and Tellarite fleets. As the Romulan Admiral Valdore tries to convince his superiors that the drone plan is working perfectly, the political forces giving him orders threaten him with Remans. While Tucker and Reed try to take control of the drone ship, and Valdore manipulates the life support controls to manipulate them.

When Talas dies as a result of her phaser injuries, Shran is infuriated. After a tense encounter with the Tellarite ambassador, Shran challenges Gral to combat to honor Talas. While Reed and Tucker effectively disable the drone ship, Archer commits to standing in for the Tellarite Naarg in the combat to the death. In order to save the growing alliance, Archer prepares to sacrifice his life.

“United” is a decent overall episode and little scenes like Sato and Mayweather looking for a loophole to the combat give it charm and character. The fight between Shran and Archer has a somewhat predictable outcome; Star Trek captains are not easily killed and given that Archer is known to be integral to the founding of the Federation, it is unlikely that this was going to be the end of Archer. In the wake of the combat, Jeffrey Combs gives a wonderful physical performance.

“United” is basically half a chase episode (the Enterprise hunting down the Romulan drone ship) and half a diplomatic incident that has to be resolved. The two stories play off one another very well and David Livingston keeps the tension high and makes the episode look great.

One of the best episodes for showcasing the emotional range of actor Jeffrey Combs, there are no bad performances in “United.” In fact, the only real detraction to the episode is the fact that the most significant character struggle in the episode comes from the guest character. While Archer is given a nominal bit of growth, most of the time, he is simply being the usual heroic captain one expects from Star Trek captains.

The three biggest gaffes in “United:”
3. Babel is a codename for the peace planet in “Journey To Babel” (reviewed here!). Given how fleeting political secrets are, it seems unlikely that Babel would still be useful as a clandestine meeting place,
2. There’s no reason for the drone ship, which is unmanned, to have inertial dampeners to keep a crew inside alive. The radical maneuvers in the episode should have splattered Reed and Tucker all over a wall the first time the drone made an abrupt turn,
1. The Romulans are all wearing Star Trek: Nemesis (reviewed here!) costumes.

[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 Brian Thompson, please visit my reviews of:
The X-Files
“Surprise” / “Innocence” - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
“Welcome To The Hellmouth” / “The Harvest” - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
“To The Death” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“Rules Of Acquisition” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Generations
“A Matter Of Honor” - Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Terminator


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.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment