Saturday, May 17, 2014

Finale 1.0, Star Trek: Enterprise Almost Ends On “Terra Prime!”

The Good: Adequate acting, Pacing, Engaging plot progression
The Bad: Lighter on character development, Plot conceit of the Vulcan/Human hybrid
The Basics: The villainous Paxton prepares to destroy StarFleet Headquarters with his xenophobic organization “Terra Prime” in the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Leading up to a series finale, usually there are a number of threads that need to be cut to give viewers real closure. In the case of Star Trek: Enterprise, the series began a short arc in “Demons” (reviewed here!) that would help lead to the founding of the Federation within the series and present a story that menaced that founding. The concept was simple; Earth has been plagued by a rise of xenophobia in the year the Enterprise was stuck in The Expanse. “Terra Prime” does surprisingly little in the way of plot/character thread cutting, leaving a lot of burden on the final episode to bring any closure for viewers.

In order to truly appreciate “Terra Prime,” the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, one should see “Demons.” Aspects like the Array upon which much of the episode’s action takes place are introduced in “Demons.” Most of “Terra Prime” is a rescue operation and a reaction to a terrorist attack in the prior episode. That does not make the episode bad, but it does make it less accessible on its own.

When Paxton’s array destroys the colony on Mars, Nathan Samuel’s plans for the Federation seem to be scrapped. With the Vulcans and Andorians fearful of Paxton’s ultimatum to wipe out all alien life in the Earth system, the pressures to leave the Sol system intensifies. Archer works to find T’Pol and Tucker, who are held hostage by Paxton. Aboard the Array, Paxton extorts Tucker to improve the targeting array on the station. Reed turns to Harris to get information on how to destroy the Array while the Enterprise crew works to use a comet to get close to Mars and the Array.

With Mayweather refusing to believe the imprisoned Brooks, Reed, Mayweather, Archer and Phlox head to a comet that will otherwise destroy a Mars colony. T’Pol diagnoses Paxton with a disease treated through alien medicine and she works to keep her cloned daughter alive, despite a medical condition that she cannot diagnose. With Archer’s team infiltrating the Array, Archer squares off with Paxton in a desperate attempt to save StarFleet Headquarters. With enemies aboard the Enterprise, the chances of peace in the galaxy are menaced.

Writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens once again illustrate a keen knowledge of the Star Trek universe in “Terra Prime.” The pair, which penned a number of Star Trek novels that wonderfully tie together the disparate elements of the Star Trek universe, have a keen appreciation for the minutae of the Star Trek Universe. In “Terra Prime,” Nathan Samuels’s presence on the bridge while Sato is in command is a wonderful foreshadowing of every obnoxious ambassador to plague the Bridge in Star Trek!

The concept behind the terrorist organization Terra Prime is not a bad one, especially when Josiah describes his reason for joining the xenophobes – the idea that the Vulcans could have prevented World War III and did not. Unfortunately, the whole concept of the Vulcan/Human cloned child as a threat to the future of Earth is a pretty ridiculous conceit.

That said, the existence of Elizabeth, as the baby comes to be known, is a good opportunity for Tucker and T’Pol to bond. Given how much the relationship between T’Pol and Tucker has played out in the fourth season like a soap opera, it is refreshing to see the two bonding over a legitimate crisis together. The tragic element of the story is a compelling one and offers Connor Trinneer a good opportunity to perform. His final scene in the episode is wonderfully presented and the sadness he conveys is heart-wrenching. In that same scene Jolene Blalock finally lives up to all the potential playing a Vulcan character as she presents dispassion perfectly.

Unfortunately, that’s the most character development in “Terra Prime.” While trying to flesh out Sato, who is briefly given command, and Mayweather, who has to confront an ex-lover in prison, the episode falls flat. Mayweather’s adversary has no reasonable cause to trust that Mayweather is not the xenophobe that she is supposedly there to root out, making her a terrible intelligence agent.

Star Trek: Enterprise is not known for being overly quotable, but the final speech that Archer gives in front of the nascent Federation Council is a good one and it makes the episode, until the scene that follows it, feel like a true series finale to Star Trek Enterprise.

The biggest gaffe in “Terra Prime” is that the environmental suits worn in the episode are dramatically more advanced than those from “The Tholian Web” (reviewed here!) or the rest of the series.

[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 Harry Groener, please visit my reviews of:
About Schmidt
Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 3
"Sacred Ground" - Star Trek: Voyager
“Tin Man” - Star Trek: The Next Generation


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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