Trek Trek: Tactical adjustment

I’m going to change my approach to this Trek Trek thing, since no one seems to care (at least until I’m through with Enterprise) and I don’t want a mutiny on my hands. Instead of saying, “This episode was kind of pointless” for a bunch of pointless episodes, I’ll only remark on the, uh, remarkable ones.

Fortunately, this latest batch includes several of those, believe it or not.

Cease Fire: The female Andorian soldier probably could have been played by Jane Lynch, and it’s a shame that she wasn’t. Otherwise, who cares?

Future Tense: It seems like everyone hates Enterprise‘s “temporal cold war” plotline, but I actually enjoyed this standalone piece. It ties in with previous episodes and includes a few continuity nods, and it plays with the side considerations of time travel in an interesting way. For once, the abrupt ending works — rather than coming off as an anticlimactic deus ex machine, it feels more like a logical outcome of dealing with time travel.

Canamar: This episode existed.

The Crossing: As did this one.

Judgment: And then we have this, which is quite easily the best episode of the series to date. At first blush, all I could think was, “Well, this is just an embarrassing rehash of Star Trek VI“; Archer goes to trial in a Klingon court for conspiracy against the Empire, and they pretty much use the same set as Star Trek VI‘s Klingon court. Archer even ends up being sentenced to life of hard labor on Rura Pente, for crying out loud. And yet, there’s much more to this episode than simply an anachronistic shoutout to one of the films. It drops the standard B-plot to focus entirely on Archer’s situation (which means that, unlike most episodes, the plot feels properly fleshed out for once), and the bulk of the story involves his relationship with his sympathetic Advocate, an elderly Klingon public defender who laments the Empire’s slide into warmongering and false honor. It’s one of the rare glimpses the franchise has offered into the Klingon race’s non-warrior aspect and frankly is a lot more interesting and dimensional than The Next Generation‘s generally one-dimensional explorations of Worf’s heritage. It’s not as good as John M. Ford’s The Final Reflection as an exploration of Klingon culture, but so far as actual Trek canon goes it’s right up at the top. A really interesting and well-written piece of Trek by any standard, hurt only by Enterprise‘s crippling fear of allowing a storyline to expand beyond the safe boundaries of a 40-minute episode.

Horizon: Likewise this episode. Ensign Mayweather visits his family on the interstellar freighter they inhabit and encounters friction, blah blah blah. It’s one of the few times Trek has really ever explored life in space outside of Starfleet’s top-of-the-line starships, and it’s a pity it only lasts 40 minutes, because the open-and-closed nature of Enterprise‘s writing makes it feel pat and insubstantial. If this storyline could have spanned several episodes — maybe allowing Mayweather to ply a life outside of Enterprise for half a season or so — we could have seen a real glimpse of the early Federation from the day-to-day perspective of civilians. But, no; Mayweather clashes with his brother for a few minutes, then they suddenly make up when the plot calls for it and go their separate ways in good spirits. Yawn. This really makes me long to see Trek return to television in a serial format reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica… except, you know, better.

8 thoughts on “Trek Trek: Tactical adjustment

  1. I actually enjoyed Enterprise. At least, more than Voyager and Deep Space Nine. I still think the original series and Next Generation are leagues above everything else, though. :D

    At some point, maybe I should track down a box set. I missed a decent number of episodes from this series, so maybe I just got lucky and caught most of the good ones.

  2. I can’t remember, but have you watched Deep Space Nine yet, Jeremy?

    It’s the most serialized and most “modern”-feeling of all the Star Treks, even if you have to slog through the first two seasons of wibbliness to get to the consistently good stuff.

  3. And yet, one of the best episodes of any Trek, period, is in the first season of DS9 (“Duet”). DS9 S1 (and 2) get a lot of grief, but really they aren’t bad, not like, say, the first couple of seasons of TNG.

  4. Yeah, the last season of the original show and the first few seasons of TNG were almost definitely the nadir of the franchise – I’ll take the fun stuff Enterprise was doing towards the end of its run over ‘Spock’s Brain’ or the terrible TNG clip show ‘Shades of Grey’ any day.

    ‘Duet’ was awesome until it was revealed that Garak was the Klingon deli owner all along.

  5. The best thing about the Klingon lawyer is that he is played by JG Hertzler, who played Martok on Deep Space Nine. And he was great there too!

  6. So, I picked up The Final Reflection. Are there any other Trek novels that you would recommend?

    • John M. Ford’s other book, How Much for Just the Planet, is great. I also really like Strangers from the Sky. Basically, the few novels that break the standard Trek mold are worth reading.

Comments are closed.