Saturday, May 10, 2014

Opening The Final Arc: “Demons” Starts The End Of Star Trek: Enterprise.

The Good: Decent acting, Good effects, Plot progression
The Bad: Very light on character!
The Basics: “Demons” finds the Enterprise back at Earth, where a xenophobic organization is planning to undermine the burgeoning Federation.

As Star Trek: Enterprise moved toward its inevitable end, the writers of the series tried to bring the show into focus and make a concrete goal for the show. Just as one of the explicit goals of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was to have the Bajorans join the Federation (though the plot fell by the wayside in everything but the novelization of the final episode!), the prequel series to Star Trek was largely building to the founding of the Federation. Given that the usual seven year arc of a Star Trek series was cut dramatically when Star Trek: Enterprise underperformed, the full development of the Federation in the wake of the Romulan War could not be shown. Thus, the final three-episode arc of the fourth season had to do all it could to lay the framework of the Federation and end the journey of the NX-01 Enterprise.

The final arc started with “Demons” and outside an oblique reference to the original Star Trek in the form of Colonel Green – who was referenced as a historical figure in “The Savage Curtain” (reviewed here!) – the episode works hard to establish its own story and history. This is not an arc that relies at all on knowledge of the Star Trek franchise and that makes it much easier to accept.

In a secret facility on the moon, a man notes that a baby (who appears Vulcan) represents the potential for disaster to the goals of their mysterious organization. On Earth, at a conference where Nathan Samuels announces the ambitious goal of a permanent alliance between the Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites, and humans, the Enterprise crew feels their place in history is being neglected. When a woman barges into the conference and dies, she brings evidence with her of a Vulcan/human hybrid . . . who is the genetic daughter of T’Pol and Tucker. When Samuels tells Archer that xenophobia on Earth has grown in the wake of the Xindi attack, Archer has Reed contact Harris. Harris lets Reed know that the xenophobic organization Terra Prime is behind killing Susan and that Samuels was once a part of it.

While a reporter friend of Montgomery’s returns to his life and comes aboard the Enterprise to interview him, Tucker and T’Pol head toward the mining base on the moon to find more information on their alleged daughter. But when Gannet Brooks is exposed as a Terra Prime spy and Tucker is trapped by Terra Prime members on the Orpheus base, it appears that the peace between various alien races is going to be undermined.

While “Demons” happens decades before the birth of Spock, it contains a Vulcan/Human hybrid. Ostensibly, the child is just bait, but the story is murky enough to create an entity that should not exist in the Star Trek mythos. That said, “Demons” does a good job of telling its own story that is unique to this franchise without undermining all that came before it (and after). The concept of Terra Prime was alluded to briefly in “Home” (reviewed here!) when Phlox was attacked on Earth, but fleshing it out makes for a pretty compelling story.

What “Demons” is light on is character development. The story hinges on T’Pol and Tucker being instantly attached to their mystery baby (whose origins remain a mystery) and Tucker spends most of the episode believing T’Pol has lied to him when she tells him she was never pregnant with his child. But the disbelief in T’Pol is poorly presented, as is T’Pol’s faith-based assertion that she feels from the first moment she heard about the baby that it truly is her daughter with Tucker. “Demons” is so concerned with weaving the initial plot threads for the final arc that it fails to make any sort of compelling character journey. Indeed, the character who has the best chance to expand upon who they have been is Travis Mayweather. As Brooks interviews Mayweather, an entire retcon character arc is created for a relationship between the two that helped Mayweather reach for the stars. This contradicts Mayweather’s earlier characterization in that he never was in one place long enough to make friends or relationships outside his freighter family, but it gives Anthony Montgomery his final substantive scenes of the series.

“Demons” features a number of notable guest performers. Harry Groener returns to the Star Trek franchise, this time as Nathan Samuels and the role has potential to be more than just a Mayor-esque politician character and Groener plays him entirely humorlessly. Peter Weller opens and closes the episode as the menacing John Frederick Paxton, a disciple of Colonel Green’s philosophies. Weller’s performance is fine, but it makes it impossible for fans of the franchise to believe his character of Admiral Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness (reviewed here!) is anything but a villain. Weller has the same bearing in both roles.

Ultimately, “Demons” is a fine beginning to the final arc and as Star Trek Enterprise stands on its own two feet at its climax, the foundation is solidly set by this episode.

The biggest gaffe in “Demons” is the reference to a Verteron array. Verteron particles were discovered in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and were referenced as the previously unknown particles that allowed the wormhole to be stable. As a result, “Demons” should not have a device that uses the particle, which would not be discovered for another two hundred years!

[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 Patrick Fischler, please check out my reviews of:
One For The Money
Red State
Lost - Season 5
Something’s Gotta Give
Mulholland Drive


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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