Star Trek: Enterprise: Horizon
June 9, 2019 8:42 PM - Season 2, Episode 20 - Subscribe

Travis learns that while you can go home again, it may involve recriminations and space pirates.

Background information
> Shortly prior to the filming of first season finale "Shockwave", Mayweather actor Anthony Montgomery gave an interview in which he expressed an interest in seeing both the sweet spot make a return appearance – after debuting in Star Trek: Enterprise's pilot episode, "Broken Bow" – and Mayweather's parents appear in the series, most of which occurs in this episode. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 19)
> During Mayweather's conversation with Nora in his old quarters on board the Horizon, a copy of Chicago Gangs can be seen on a bookshelf in the background. This was an homage meant to reference TOS: "A Piece of the Action", in which a book with a similar title, Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, was left on a planet by crew members of the Horizon.
> Nicole Forester previously played a dabo girl (in Julian Bashir's mind) in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Distant Voices".
> Mayweather and Reed's conversation about allowing families to live aboard Starfleet starships, and Reed's subsequent comment that a ship's psychologist would be necessary retroactively predicts Star Trek: The Next Generation and the USS Enterprise-D, which showed both regular family life aboard a Starfleet vessel and the role of a ship's counselor in detail.
> The bridge of the Horizon was built using a redressed Enterprise bridge set.
> Mayweather states that Enterprise has traveled 150 light years and seen twenty-two inhabited worlds in eighteen months.
> This episode marks the second instance of T'Pol breaking the Vulcan taboo of refusing to touch food with one's hands; she partakes in popcorn during movie night. She previously broke that taboo during the events of "Shadows of P'Jem".
> The tables in the Horizon's mess hall are actually from the USS Voyager's mess.
> In Mayweather's old room on the Horizon, a model of the Phoenix can be seen in the background.
> The music was composed by Mark McKenzie.

Memorable quotes
"Well, they'd better post a psychologist on board because I'd need one if my parents were roaming the corridors."
- Reed, on Mayweather's idea of putting families on starships

"We're going to be showing the three greatest horror movies ever made: Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Son of Frankenstein. We might even throw in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."
- Tucker, to T'Pol on his selections for movie night

"I promise you'll like it. Reanimated life forms, science run amok. They're right up your alley."
- Tucker, to T'Pol on the film's subject matter

"You come here a lot?"
"Every now and then."
- Archer finds a distraught Mayweather in the "sweet spot" of Enterprise after he learns of his father's death

"He wrote the shortest recommendation. Just one sentence. He said he'd never met a more natural stick-and-rudder man in his life and I'd be a fool if I didn't choose you."
- Archer, explaining the letter he got from Mayweather's father strongly recommending his son for the helmsman position on Enterprise

"It might be a good idea for you to go, too. It might be fun, and a little fraternizing couldn't hurt."
"I don't understand how sitting silently in a darkened room constitutes fraternizing."
- Captain Archer and T'Pol, regarding Tucker's invitation to movie night

"This Dr. Frankenstein, his technique is not dissimilar to a practice on B'Saari II."
- Phlox, to Commander Tucker

"We can stop the film if it's disturbing your conversation."
- T'Pol to Phlox

"Captain, I'm reading bio-signs on the planet. To quote Dr. Frankenstein, "It's alive.""
- T'Pol to Captain Archer

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: I've already talked about freighters in other threads, so the main thing here is that a player's Bridge Officers cannot wear off-duty clothing in a desperate bid by the devs to reduce server-side rendering costs and subsequent lag. So no civilian attire for Travis in the MMO.
* Vulcans Are Superior: T'Pol's read of Frankenstein is very on-point. She should've started that book club.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: None, but the Horizon’s general difficulties are a recurring theme, especially as they pertain to the cargo pods.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: Not applicable.

Poster’s Log:
I found this to be a pretty decent outing.

The A-plot concerning Mayweather’s visit home has a lot in common with Fortunate Son, which is a good thing. His interactions with his family rang relatively true for me: resentment, pettiness, love, nostalgia, hope, pride... this is all stuff that I felt was reasonably accurately portrayed, down to his brother couching his bitter rejection of Travis’ help in a ‘who will repair the upgrades if they go offline’ routine. The plot also avoids a normal Trek-ism of poor setup: Travis not hearing about his father’s death due to it being on civilian communication channels is sadly believable.

Good stuff there. I also liked the return of the sweet spot, and am not surprised to find out that Anthony Montgomery liked the concept too.

The B-plot is pretty light, but it has two good things going on:
- The crew are curious about something again, and approaching the mission correctly for a change. They’re happy to see the volcanoes, they manage not to crash into the volcanoes, they feel like a ship of exploration here. I liked that.

- T’Pol’s snark is in top form here, from ‘we can pause the movie if it’s interrupting your conversation,’ to her insightful review of Frankenstein and threat to have Sovall make it part of the Vulcan training for dealing with humans. This is her correct niche on the show, really: a Vulcan snarker to keep the humans honest.

In conclusion: this isn’t really a groundbreaking episode, but it’s solid. About the only thing that bugged me was the cutesy reference to families and psychologists on starships - they really needed to stay away from winks about the future. But when that's all I've got, it means things went pretty well.
posted by mordax (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also liked it for the reasons you describe. It's very solid and relatable character work. One of the touches that I liked about it is that Nora doesn't turn out to be an old flame or something, which it seems like would have been the case with any other character; it makes a lot of sense that two people who were raised together wouldn't be interested in each other romantically because of the Westermarck effect. If I have even a minor complaint, it's much the same one that I made in "Fortunate Son": I would have liked a bit of a deeper delve into this culture and their imminent disappearance; even if they upgrade their engines to Warp 5, that means that their crews may not want the shipboard life for their families, if they're not going to be away from planetary life for as long. (Unless, of course, they go for longer-haul runs; that raises the intriguing possibility that, just as Starfleet develops five-year missions and more self-reliant ships, there may still be multi-generational cargo ships in later centuries.)

As it's presented, this in part is a continuation of a pretty rich vein of fiction and mythology in which the proponent of an older type of technology resists, passively or actively, the advent of a new one that threatens their way of life. Sometimes it's presented as an actual contest (the legend of John Henry, and a favorite book of my childhood, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel); sometimes a fall-back solution when newer technology fails (the modern Battlestar Galactica, Charlie the Choo-Choo--a story-within-the-story in Stephen King's Dark Tower series which King later turned into a real book). Technological progress is usually seen as a positive, with occasional exceptions (M-5, and warp drive, although the supposedly destructive effects of the latter ended up being ignored).
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:01 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Memory Alpha episode link ;)

It seems like this is one of very few ENT episodes so far that wasn't preoccupied with appealing to non-Trek-fan channel-surfers in the hope of giving them a reason to linger on UPN: fistfights, laser-gunplay, mostly-nude massage, etc.

In fact, this felt—in a good way—like lots of TNG episodes, where character conflict (internal and external) and lots of talking outweighs time spent on "excitement" sequences.

Another way to say it is that this episode benefits from not trying to do too much. I didn't remember it well, but going into it, I feared that this Mayweather development episode* would be undercut by predictable and tedious Hostile Alien Aggressors. Of course, they can't completely prevent themselves from going to that well, but at least it was quick. And plausible, given the Earth Cargo Service stuff. Which reminds me: some good worldbuilding touches here.

* = Is this the ONLY "Mayweather episode"?

About the only thing that bugged me was the cutesy reference to families and psychologists on starships - they really needed to stay away from winks about the future.

Yeah, that stuff's really at risk of getting old, but at least the conversation was still amusing even if you didn't consider TNG. And IIRC, before too long, the show really tones down the winking references.

The other thing that bugged me was the pre-credits tease might have been the most pointless one ever. It communicates no content at all except "Oh, this is probably that one Mayweather episode." He might as well have been shaving or something.

that raises the intriguing possibility that, just as Starfleet develops five-year missions and more self-reliant ships, there may still be multi-generational cargo ships in later centuries.

That seems likely, though I doubt many *humans* would still be choosing that lifestyle in the age of the Federation's dominance. (This episode and "Fortunate Son" definitely suggest that humans aren't quite post-scarcity yet, and given that replicators do not seem to be as advanced in the TOS era, maybe not even next century either.) But there are plenty of commodities of value that can't be replicated, and that would presumably give rise to quite lengthy trade routes indeed, based on the best and most consistent starcharts we have available to us.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:20 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


I didn't expect so much positivity here! I think of this episode as being pretty representative of Enterprise's uninteresting side.

I don't really understand the boomers. How far out from Earth have they gone? Have they already met a bunch of the alien species that Enterprise is encountering for the first time? They kinda put the damper on Enterprise exploring new and unheralded areas of space. I don't think they're very fleshed out... the world-building is pretty scanty. And since being a boomer is Mayweather's thing, he never had a foundation on which he could develop a character.

I can see arcs for all the other underdeveloped characters. The shows hints at future development for them. In a hypothetical season 5, they'd just have to finally let Reed come out of the closet, finally reveal Hoshi to be an esper, and continue to reveal Phlox to have some bizarre alien values that conflict with human values (we get some of that next episode). I have no idea what they could do with Mayweather. And I think it's because they never really understood how to fit the boomers into the Trek universe. They probably should've given him more of a Han Solo space pirate attitude, making him a little bit alien even among the humans raised on earth. But they went with an aw-shucks-gee-whiz Wesley attitude, and that is never interesting.
posted by painquale at 11:31 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


One of the touches that I liked about it is that Nora doesn't turn out to be an old flame or something, which it seems like would have been the case with any other character

Good point!

Memory Alpha episode link ;)

D'oh. I was so happy to get this done on time that I didn't proof enough, hahaha.

In fact, this felt—in a good way—like lots of TNG episodes, where character conflict (internal and external) and lots of talking outweighs time spent on "excitement" sequences.

Yeah, that's apt. There are maybe shades of Ben Sisko talking to his dad here.

I didn't expect so much positivity here! I think of this episode as being pretty representative of Enterprise's uninteresting side.

Expanding on that a little, having had a couple days to think it over: Star Trek has a serious lack of human civilians that are portrayed in a sympathetic light.

I talked about this a little bit back in Terra Nova I think, about how non-Federation colonies were generally doomed or lost or otherwise some kind of mistake or deathtrap. (Or they are literally still in the Stone Age, per VOY's inexcusably racist treatment of Native Americans.)

The end result can be a little creepy: judging by just Starfleet, humans have become a monoculture with exactly one set of values that they are willing to uphold even at the cost of the destruction of entire species and planets.

It's nice to be reminded that there are still civilians, still people with dissenting opinions, still people who don't want to put on a military uniform in the future, and see them depicted in a balanced and sympathetic way (even if Travis is right about the weapon upgrades in the end - I would've liked this story better if the conclusion had been more ambiguous). Just having people be allowed to criticize Starfleet without being bad guys is a little unusual, and I enjoy it. Not so much because Starfleet is bad, but because a proper utopia needs a space for people to disagree, and for people who aren't military.
posted by mordax at 1:24 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


I don't really understand the boomers. How far out from Earth have they gone? Have they already met a bunch of the alien species that Enterprise is encountering for the first time? They kinda put the damper on Enterprise exploring new and unheralded areas of space. I don't think they're very fleshed out... the world-building is pretty scanty. And since being a boomer is Mayweather's thing, he never had a foundation on which he could develop a character. [...] They probably should've given him more of a Han Solo space pirate attitude, making him a little bit alien even among the humans raised on earth. But they went with an aw-shucks-gee-whiz Wesley attitude, and that is never interesting.

Strongly agree with all of this, painquale—and the "good worldbuilding touches" here that I alluded to would seem, when factoring in the dearth of Mayweather development to come, to be too little too late.

Like, even what we do get in this episode would suggest that Mayweather should be a little rougher around the edges w/r/t the tasks of his job, maybe not to a Solo degree but certainly in that direction. They did establish early that Mayweather has exotic spacer lore that he likes to share, though he seems to get fewer opportunities to do so than he should (that role being mainly assigned to T'Pol). But given what we learn here about boomer life, he should've been like, I dunno, the duct-tape-and-chewing-gum occasional sidekick/foil for Trip? Anyway, doing that would've helped clarify the boomer stuff.

Which actually reminds me of another thing I thought was effective here: the set redressing. In some scenes I could almost smell the…metal? grease? outgassing? whatever that industrial smell is. Like the "lived-in" visual design of Star Wars but with less of the sweat/poop smell that for some reason I always imagine it would have. OT: Really curious what the new Disney SW theme park areas smell like. I'll be going within the year B)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:42 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


I didn't expect so much positivity here! I think of this episode as being pretty representative of Enterprise's uninteresting side.


A Trek episode that focuses in on the personal side of what they do? One that looks at the implications of being an outsider from a different culture, even different cultures within humanity, means? Man, sign me up for that. This is part of what I love about Trek. That being said, there could have been more of Mayweather being a bit at odds with Starfleet culture as part of his character from the outset, as noted.

But we have Mayweather as an outsider amongst his family, and Phlox and T'Pol as outsiders on Enterprise. It provides a chance for Starfleet to be seen and portrayed from a different lens than usual. Good Trek gives us different perspectives.

Some random notes:
-love the fact that the big yellow barrels in the cargo bay where Mayweather meets his brother have stickers on them that label them as "cargo"

-didn't really like the pressure Tucker put on T'Pol about movie night; that being said, T'Pol had some wonderful snark (and is, of course, bang on about the "monster").

-would love some more examination of the culture of the boomers - where, exactly, do they haul cargo to and from? Paul is "acting captain", which implies there is some type of process for choosing who the captain is - how is that done? Why isn't their Mom a choice?
posted by nubs at 8:55 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


I was wondering how Horizon got so far out onto the frontier. If it had been traveling straight away from Earth for 40 years at Warp 1.5, it would only be a 135 light years away, or a little over the distance Enterprise could travel in a year. And odds are that by following trade routes it would have traveled 1/2 or even 1/4 the distance.

It just feels like once again Enterprise got tripped up on the scale of the universe.
posted by happyroach at 11:20 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Oh, and one other note:

-they couldn't do better than "wrote Frankenstein, was the wife of a poet" to describe Mary Shelley? She writer of other novels as well, with a political edge, and I've certainly seen Frankenstein described as possibly the first work of science fiction by some. So maybe she was a bit more than "the wife of a poet".

(I know I shouldn't expect better, but still).
posted by nubs at 11:39 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]


I'd say that they may have been making the point that Percy Shelley would not be as well-remembered or -regarded in the next century as Mary Shelley, "Ozymandias" (ironically) not withstanding.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:55 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


But given what we learn here about boomer life, he should've been like, I dunno, the duct-tape-and-chewing-gum occasional sidekick/foil for Trip? Anyway, doing that would've helped clarify the boomer stuff.

I would definitely have appreciated that, especially if it gave us less Reed/Trip. (But also just on the merits.)

-love the fact that the big yellow barrels in the cargo bay where Mayweather meets his brother have stickers on them that label them as "cargo"

Hahaha. Missed that.

didn't really like the pressure Tucker put on T'Pol about movie night

A recurring theme on the show that I find very offputting, yeah. Archer and Trip are particularly bad about personal boundaries, just... all the time.

It just feels like once again Enterprise got tripped up on the scale of the universe.

Once, long ago, VOY got a single math detail right. It's the only time I can remember a number making sense since I've been doing these rewatches.
posted by mordax at 1:19 PM on June 13


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