Friday, May 23, 2014

Finale 2.0, “These Are The Voyages . . .” Ends Star Trek: Enterprise And Star Trek: The Next Generation

The Good: Interesting retcon for Riker, Inside jokes, Moments of concept
The Bad: Nothing stellar on the plot or character front
The Basics: In a one-shot finale episode, “These Are The Voyages . . .” has an old Star Trek: The Next Generation episode revisited with Star Trek: Enterprise as a Holodeck program within in!

Cut short (or, for those of us who were not fans, finally going off the air after being dragged out for far too long), Star Trek: Enterprise had a surprisingly controversial finale. Instead of ending Star Trek: Enterprise on its own strength, with the logical end point for the series – the founding of the United Federation Of Planets - “These Are The Voyages . . .” (the series finale to Star Trek: Enterprise) concluded with an episode that devoted a decent chunk of time and more in the way of actual character development to Star Trek: The Next Generation! After years living in the shadow of the prior Star Trek series’s, Star Trek: Enterprise surrendered to the probability that no one would ever accept the show the way they fell in love with Star Trek: The Next Generation, the executive producers and writers hedged their bets and essentially created a “lost episode” of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

On the clever front, “These Are The Voyages . . .” occurs within the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Pegasus” (reviewed here!). In that episode, Commander Riker had to make a tough choice. To help him get the emotional strength to make his tough decision, Riker disappears (in this retcon episode) to the Holodeck. Revisiting the final mission of the NX-01 Enterprise, Riker begins to get the inner strength that we are supposed to believe he did not have before that. Go figure.

During the mission to recover the U.S.S. Pegasus, Commander William Riker is troubled. Having encountered Admiral Preston, his former commanding officer, and learned that he plans to continue pursuing illegal military operations with cloaking device technology, Riker finds his loyalties divided. To make the difficult decision as to whether or not to betray his former commander by outing the secret mission the Pegasus was on when it was lost, Riker takes Counselor Troi’s advice and visits the holodeck. There, Riker relives the final mission of the NX-01 Enterprise.

On its way to the signing ceremony for the United Federation Of Planets’s charter, the NX-01 Enterprise is diverted when Shran pops up. Presumed dead for the four years prior, Archer brings Shran aboard and he reveals that his daughter, whom Archer never knew existed, has been kidnapped. Calling in his favor with Archer, Shran and the Enterprise go to the Rigel System to make the trade. Getting his daughter back, Shran returns to the Enterprise. But the raiders who kidnapped Shran’s daughter catch up with the Enterprise and in their zeal to capture Shran, Tucker steps up to protect his captain and his captain’s Andorian ally.

“These Are The Voyages . . .” unfortunately undermines both Star Trek: Enterprise and the character of Commander William T. Riker. Riker has been known to make tough decisions prior to the seventh season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (which is when “The Pegasus” happens). So, the idea that the events of “The Pegasus” are so daunting that he needed to use a mission of the NX-01 Enterprise just to do the right thing is somewhat preposterous. More than that, the two halves of the episode do not really jive. Archer does not make any particularly tough or world-shattering decisions in his half of the plot. And Tucker, who dominates the character front of the Star Trek: Enterprise portion of the episode, makes a fast decision that is no more difficult or different from his other, prior decisions.

As a result, “These Are The Voyages . . .” glosses over most of the Enterprise crew on the character front. T’Pol and Tucker reference their defunct relationship but because the episode happens over five years after the prior episode, “Terra Prime” (reviewed here!), there is a real emotional disconnect in the characters. The idea that Shran has been presumed dead for years and that Archer so quickly accepts his return is an abrupt one. Shran pops back in and given that the Enterprise crew has had some experience with shapeshifters, that Archer just accepts his sudden appearance is as disconnected as the other elements of the story.

“These Are The Voyages . . .” tries to use all of the main cast of Star Trek: Enterprise, but they are glossed over very quickly. Riker taking on the role of Chef is an amusing in-joke (Chef is never actually seen in the series) which gives him access to all of the crewmembers, but with one or two lines each, there is no real depth to the character arc of the episode.

What “These Are The Voyages . . .” ends up being is an episode that brings real closure to the modern Star Trek era; reminding viewers why they loved the Star Trek franchise. It wasn’t Star Trek: Enterprise they loved and, ironically, the finale to the show illustrated that.

[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 Star Trek finales, please visit my reviews of:
“Turnabout Intruder” - Star Trek
“The Counter-Clock Incident” - Star Trek: The Animated Series
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
“All Good Things . . .” - Star Trek: The Next Generation
“What You Leave Behind” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“Endgame” - Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Nemesis


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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