Star Trek: Enterprise: Shockwave (both halves, inc S1 E26)
January 28, 2019 9:28 AM - Season 2, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Enterprise's visit to a mining colony is over before it starts.

So I’m combining the two episodes into a single post. Up side: I can talk about the episode. Down side, there’s a lot of infodump here. Here’s the Memory Alpha stuff:

Background information
Part One:

> This episode marks the end of the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise. The installment had the working title "Untitled Season Finale" (evidenced by the episode's script).
> Enterprise was the first Star Trek series to end on a cliff-hanger at the end of its first season. There was some discussion, between Executive Producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, about whether Enterprise's first season finale would be a cliffhanger. On 16 January 2002, Berman stated that the odds of it being so were "most likely." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 137, p. 85)
> According to the unauthorized reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 370), the scene of the ruined city which simultaneously ends both this episode and Enterprise's first season was "deliberately evocative" of the World Trade Center site, following the September 11 attacks.
> For a short time, the writers of this episode contemplated revealing the identity of the mysterious Humanoid Figure herein. In the interim between the first and second seasons, Brannon Braga stated, "It just seemed too soon and it didn't service the story." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 29)
> In an interview conducted shortly before the filming of this season finale, Mayweather actor Anthony Montgomery stated about the episode, "When I read the finale, I got chills." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 19)
> This episode continues T'Pol's disbelief in time travel based on the Vulcan Science Directorate's conclusions (as previously seen in "Cold Front").
> In the scene where Archer and Reed are exploring the holographic device in Daniels' quarters, various future Federation starships can be seen, including the Defiant-class, Intrepid-class, Excelsior-class, and the Nova-class.
> Shortly before the airing of this episode, Brannon Braga summed up the reactions to it among the creators of Enterprise, saying, "We're very happy with [it] […] It's very sentimental and exciting." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 29) On the same day as the creative staff was due to lock the episode, Rick Berman concurred with Braga's sentiments by referring to the outing as "undoubtedly one of the best two or three episodes of the season." He went on to rave, "I think it will blow people away. It has some amazing things that happen in it. I am very proud of it." Berman also promised that the first season was going to "end on an exciting note." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 11) In retrospect, Braga commented, "'Shockwave' was pretty good. That turned out good. I love the idea that there's a crew member that was embedded there. You know, that's very spy kind of stuff. I thought it turned out great. And I loved the visuals […] And I thought it came at around the right time. I'm like, 'Okay, this Temporal Cold War thing's working.'" ("To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise, Part III: First Flight", ENT Season 1 Blu-ray special features)
> The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode and the concluding part of its two-parter as being, together, one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: Enterprise.
> The "Ultimate Guide" in Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 70 rated this episode 3 out of 5 arrowhead insignia.
> The book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 370) comments about this episode, "A few of the running stories collide in an episode with both [Temporal] Cold War and Vulcan plots. The crew's reactions to the tragedy at the beginning of the episode really lay the foundation for a story that feels significant."

Part Two:

> This episode is the season premiere of the second season of Star Trek: Enterprise.
In the 31st century library, Archer picks up a book bearing the name of the Romulan Star Empire. This marks the first mention of the race on the series. The Enterprise crew ends up making first contact with the Romulans in the episode "Minefield". However, they do not establish visual contact, preserving the timeline established in TOS: "Balance of Terror".
> This episode marks the beginning of T'Pol's dissension from the Vulcan High Command as she openly criticizes the hypocrisy they have been displaying towards Humans.
> The first re-airing of this episode featured additional scenes that were featured in the trailer, including shots of Suliban soldiers searching Enterprise and Tucker pushing one of Silik's officers in defiance.
> The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode and the previous part of its two-parter as being, together, one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: Enterprise.

Memorable quotes (from both)
"Anyone tries to badmouth Captain Archer in front of me is gonna get an earful… in any language they want."
- Sato

"You know, this has gotta be the first time a Vulcan has ever attempted to cheer up a Human."
- Archer, to T'Pol

"Can't you ever give a straight answer?"
"Depends on the question."
- Archer and Daniels

"Remember, no cheese."
- Archer, to Sato

"We brought you here to protect the timeline. Heh, we did quite a job."
- Daniels, to Archer on a ruined Earth in the 31st century

"I know you don't think much of Archer, ambassador, but he is not in the habit of kidnapping Vulcans!"
- Williams, to Soval when he suggests Archer is holding T'Pol against her will

(Looking at a book) "The Romulan Star Empire? What's that?"
"Maybe you shouldn't be reading that."
- Archer and Daniels

"Science Vulcan Directorate has determined that time travel is… not fair."
- A very groggy T'Pol speaking to the "ghost" of Jonathan Archer

"I still don't believe in time travel."
"The hell you don't."
- T'Pol and Archer

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: These abound, but to keep it to just a few: getting your ship to open fire near your position on the ground is a classic Engineering special ability. Grenades are rare on the actual show, but an extremely common tool in the MMO. Finally, the D’Kyr is the basis for a cash shop ship.
* Vulcans Are Superior: The Vulcans are too smart to fall for any time travel nonsense.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: None, but see below.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: Enterprise is up against the Suliban, who have access to technology from centuries in the future.

Poster’s Log:
So, ENT S1 ends on a pretty nonsensical note.

* The transporter is conspicuously absent in the opening, and it’s especially bad this time.

So the crew planned a visit to a mining colony that could literally be destroyed with no survivors if their exhaust leaked, and they took a shuttle down anyway. They didn’t let the miners bring a vehicle up. They didn’t beam down. If they gave a reason for this at any point, I missed it, and I did a quick search of the transcripts after the fact to be sure.

It’s true the Suliban were behind the destruction of the colony. It’s also true the Suliban had the resources to make sure something went horribly wrong for Enterprise at some point. However, if they had simply beamed down to the colony, the Suliban would’ve needed to pick a different catastrophe, and spared these particular lives.

I found that all pretty frustrating, along with the lack of discussion of it in any of the after action stuff.

* The Great Man theory of history rears its head again.

This isn’t the first time that Star Trek has posited that a single individual can turn the course of history. One of the most acclaimed and popular TOS outings of all time went there too, and it’s a well-worn genre trope.

On the other hand, it’s pretty hard to buy the particular argument we see here. Archer’s captaining to date has ranged from ‘wholly incompetent’ to ‘acceptable.’ More than that, they really lean into this: Earth isn’t merely not the seat of the Federation, they’re literally still using paper books instead of running time portals. It’s a stretch that Earth wouldn’t just try again in twenty years with a different crew, and at the very least have moved beyond paper by Daniels’ time even if there was no Federation as we currently understand it.

* The Temporal Cold War still doesn’t make any sense.

- It still doesn’t make sense that Future Guy can’t physically travel to the past, when Kirk was able to do it deliberately.
- Daniels’ resurrection needs a smidge more explanation in the episode itself. Just “yeah hey they recovered me from an alternate timeline” or something.
- Daniels bringing Archer to his own past seems like a silly place to hide someone.
- Daniels bringing Archer to the distant future seems like a dumb move, and the episode even points out how much it didn’t work.

The whole thing is one of those plots where it gets dumber the more I think about it.

* The Suliban are too powerful a foe at this point.

The Suliban have thirty ships to throw at Earth’s single one, and that's just this time. All of them have access to enhanced tech from the future. They have cloaking. They have genetically enhanced super-soldiers that can shape shift. They have foreknowledge about history. They’re based pretty close to Earth.

They are overwhelmingly more powerful than our protagonists, which requires any plot where they lose to involve the venerable Idiot Ball, (warning: TVTropes, do not click), like we see here where Enterprise simply warps away and... that’s all, folks.

* Archer being the only one to be much affected by the loss of the colony was hard to believe.

Archer’s reaction to thousands of dead people was, to the show’s credit, pretty believable. He was sad. He was ready to turn the ship around and go home. He was ready to step aside because the buck stopped with him. I thought that was all plausible enough.

Nobody else crying, breaking down, etc. was a lot harder to believe. That was a massive tragedy, and as far as anybody knew for a large segment of it, it was their fault. I would’ve expected a lot more people freaking out over the colony’s destruction, and I would’ve expected more resolve to defeat the Suliban at the end of it, plus the acknowledgment that even with proof it wasn’t Archer’s fault, it was still the result of a third party getting dragged into one of Earth’s military conflicts, which is still a big deal diplomatically.

So yeah. This had some decent action, but it basically made so little sense that it was hard for me to enjoy any part of it.
posted by mordax (10 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have seen this series multiple times and I could not tell you how, or even if, the whole temporal cold war thing resolves itself.
posted by runcibleshaw at 11:49 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I have seen this series multiple times and I could not tell you how, or even if, the whole temporal cold war thing resolves itself.

It does resolve, but not in a narratively well constructed way. It's more like the new showrunner in the last season said "We are done with this" and jettisoned the whole thing in a two-part episode that is never referenced again. This was not a bad decision, mind you.
posted by Servo5678 at 12:01 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


I vaguely recall the temporal cold war ending with space Nazis on earth? or is that the ending to the xindi crisis? God this series could drive a Trekkie to drink.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 1:10 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


The Space Nazi thing is accurate, yeah. (I remember that one clearly because the very best ground shield in Star Trek Online drops from a mission where you fight Head Space Nazi right before he goes back in time to that episode.)
posted by mordax at 1:11 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


I thought that the episode exemplified some of the best and the worst tendencies of ENT so far. Among the best bits of it is that we have a precipitating event that's genuinely shocking and consequential, and, even though Jonathan Archer is apparently The Most Important Man in History, it still takes his entire crew (well, the bridge crew, anyway) to first figure out what's going on with the Suliban (with some help from Daniels, of course), and then to get their ship back. It's great to see the team actually working as a team like this, and it's especially great to see Archer and T'Pol backing each other up, after having been at loggerheads for most of the season; especially great was the bit at the end, where after Archer does his Kirk Summation [TVTropes], T'Pol jumps in to give her two cents' worth, and makes some really valid points. Not that Soval makes very good points himself--many of the "armed conflicts" that Enterprise has been in have been either unprovoked attacks or attempts to steal their stuff. Do the Vulcans not have the exact same sort of incidents happen to them? (I'm going to be interested to see how Soval's opinions of humans evolves in future seasons, especially after the big revelation/change regarding Vulcan culture, philosophy and politics in S4.)

The problems with the episode? Let me break 'em out:

- I don't really buy that humans would have had a staffed mining operation on a planet with an atmosphere that volatile. I am super-dubious that the entire atmosphere would ignite via the tiniest spark from a minivan-sized shuttle, but not from, say, a meteorite. It also doesn't make sense that literally everything on the ground would burn up in seconds, or that there wouldn't be some sort of shelter system on the ground. Imagine there being a logging operation in the middle of a forest so flammable that one spark could ignite an inferno that would race across the forest at the speed of sound--and the loggers lived in thin tents. Yeah. It's not inconceivable that they could have another situation in which a bunch of people would die due to a rapid catastrophe--an orbital facility that produced antimatter, for example--but this particular one just doesn't pass the smell test.

- The TCW aspects would have probably made more sense if Berman and Braga had had more enthusiasm for the subplot, or even worked out some of the finer details, such as why Daniels didn't seem to be carrying one bit of tech on his person--even if he wanted to keep it secure from someone who might kill or injure him or take his stuff, surely that could be biometrically locked and set to self-destruct; that should have been the case with his super-holo-database thingy. As it was, you basically had him doing the equivalent of a person of our time trying to build a powerful radio with whatever a 12th-century man might be carrying on his person at any given time. (I don't have a problem necessarily with "Humanoid Figure" not being able to physically travel through time, as there might be any number of reasons why he or his people, if any, can't: that he or they might be in some sort of time prison or otherwise prevented from physical time travel, that the Time Cops may have been successful in suppressing knowledge of most forms of time travel for some time, or that Kirk & Co.'s method of time travel, which only requires a warp-capable ship and a star, may not be workable for any one else but that specific crew because (and I can't take credit for this theory) Spock is literally the only person in existence who can do the math to make it work.)

- Free-form sexism, still a problem on this show and, weirdly, even more superfluous/irrelevant here, as if it were added in at the last second: Trip acting super-skeptical over the idea of a matriarchy, T'Pol being tortured in her undies and being likewise clad during Archer's future-phone call (I understand that interrogation while naked or nearly so is one type of interrogation technique, but oddly, Malcolm wasn't subject to this), and Hoshi losing her shirt and undershirt while popping out of the Jeffries tube, in the best risible sex-comedy fashion.

Well, at least next episode is "Carbon Creek", one of my favorite of the series... at least that's how I remember it. We'll see.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:24 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


P.S. Also, this particular showrunning team has gone to the "We have to get our ship back from boarders" well many times, both in this series (notably "Acquisition", which also had their second-favorite plot, "They took our stuff, guys") and in VOY. It's getting a little threadbare, my dudes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:25 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Free-form sexism, still a problem on this show and, weirdly, even more superfluous/irrelevant here, as if it were added in at the last second

D'oh. I meant to mention that, slipped my mind in the intervening time. Thank you for calling it out.
posted by mordax at 5:49 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Archer seemed overall a little more competent in this episode than he has been.

But apart from some good character interaction and relationship development (as noted by Jack), this one had too strong a VOY flavor for me, what with the rushed pacing, the Super-Catastrophic Cliffhanger with No Actual Emotional Heft Because We Know Time Travel's Involved, all the logical leaps, and of course the shipjacking. The most strikingly non-VOY-ish ingredient was the sexism being more blatant than VOY tended to get, so, not an improvement.

I'm starting to feel like the resident curmudgeon for this show! Season 4 can't come soon enough :)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:11 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


This was a tense, high-stakes episode that emphasized how all the different members of the crew handle stress and crises differently -- and then the time-travel came in and all the tension goes away until Future Crisis, which is handled like a way lower-stakes affair than the earlier atmospheric incident.

I would submit that if your show includes a time-travel accident that obliterates all of human civilization (and possibly Federation civilizations in general besides), that should be your emotional high-water mark. Probably. I mean, it seems like it should be a big deal, but the show really undersells it versus everything else in these two eps.

As a whole, I didn't like this very much, although the opening...half? of Part 1 is actually quite strong in isolation, and shows how far the cast & production crew have come since the beginning of the season. The second half of part 1 has a lot of issues, and part 2 didn't really deliver on the cliffhanger promise; the blatant sexism didn't help make that any more fun, either.

It's really hard to not think of how this could have gone differently, which is always a bit unfair -- there are generally reasons that it went the way it did that aren't in any single persons control to have changed (a lesson the show itself has not learned). What if this had dropped the time-travel aspect and just been a straight procedural 'we need to find out what went wrong or Enterprise will be recalled'? What if this had dropped the Daniels bits from what's shown (but left in as things that happened) and left us having to (1) accept Archer's statements in part 1 on faith, and (2) not actually knowing where he went at the end of ep 2? Generally, I think the show in Season 1 has done a bad job finding where interesting conflicts are, and this is a good example.

This isn’t the first time that Star Trek has posited that a single individual can turn the course of history. One of the most acclaimed and popular TOS outings of all time went there too, and it’s a well-worn genre trope. On the other hand, it’s pretty hard to buy the particular argument we see here. Archer’s captaining to date has ranged from ‘wholly incompetent’ to ‘acceptable.’

The worst is that the show itself raises this issue and then...well:
ARCHER: I don't get it. What could I have done that could have been so important?
DANIELS: It wasn't just you, it was events you helped set in motion.
That's some real "I'm not hitting you, the sword I'm holding is hitting you" logic -- 'it wasn't just you, it was all the things you caused!' Well, right: that's just restating his question as an answer. The City on the Edge of Forever this was not, not least because instead of using the narrative device of time-travel to tell a story about our present world and how it could have been different and why people's actions matter, it's using it to tell a story about a hypothetical future world that Enterprise as a series has been constantly retconning. In order to enjoy the show, viewers already need to do a bit of acceptance that things are different than they used to be -- the Ferengi show up a century early; the Klingons look different; and so on. To frame one of the show's central assumptions -- that the history before TOS unfolded a bit differently than we might imagine, for what are mostly meta-textual production-related reasons -- as a galactic horror when it happens in-universe is a pretty big ask.
posted by cjelli at 7:05 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


I have only watched Part I at this point, and while it started off great - the "accident" being nicely catastrophic (though not very plausible; surely there would be some better safety precautions), but I was really put off by Archer's reaction. I mean, I expect believing yourself responsible for that level of disaster would drain you of your confidence and so forth, but how he behaved about this in front of his crew was a lapse in leadership that I really found off-putting.

Then he gets the cheat codes to the video game, and we're off to the Deus Ex Machina of time travel to save the day. I'll watch part II shortly, but I kinda expect I know how it goes from here.
posted by nubs at 11:10 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


« Older The Little Drummer Girl: Full ...   |  Podcast: My Brother, My Brothe... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments