Star Trek: Enterprise: Zero Hour   Rewatch 
January 5, 2020 12:39 PM - Season 3, Episode 24 - Subscribe

[Season finale] As the season, and its experimental season-long arc, wind to a close, we finally get the answer: was it worth it, or in the end, were the results... less than zero?

Memory Alpha was expecting fireworks, but the explosion of a planet-busting superweapon in orbit will suffice:

- In a special feature on the Season 4 DVD, Connor Trinneer says he believes that the producers deliberately created an ending so ambiguous that, had the series been canceled, the reaction to it ending that way would've been so negative as to make the network execs miserable – calling it a "wily move" on their part.

- This episode reveals the founding members of the United Federation of Planets are Humans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites.

- T'Pol finally reveals her age (65 – nearly 66) to Tucker, who initially wondered about it all the way back to "Carbon Creek".

- This episode marks the final appearance of the Sphere-Builders as well as the Xindi (though a few stray Reptilians pop up in a nightmare Archer has in the fourth season episode "Home").

- Following the destruction of the Xindi weapon, T'Pol makes a log entry as acting captain that incorrectly identifies the date as February 14, 2152 (rather than 2154).

- Whether intentionally or not, the day that the Xindi weapon is destroyed over Earth is Valentine's Day, the 45th day of the year, 2154.

"If they had made us the dominant species before the wars, our homeworld would still exist."
"And our avian brothers would still fill the skies."
"We should be grateful that the Guardians have finally come to their senses. Once Earth is destroyed, the Reptilians will take their rightful place at the head of a new Xindi Empire."

- Commander Dolim and one of his Xindi-Reptilian comrades, as they enjoy a tiny mammalian snack

"My mission is to save Earth, not your Federation."

- Archer, to Daniels

"You look nice like this – kinda like an old oil painting."

- Tucker, to T'Pol, after she had been worried about her skin

Poster's Log:

I'm putting this one up a bit early, as I have some stuff to do later today (i.e. a crapload of laundry). To answer the question that I put above the cut, I think that it was worth it, even if at least one of the lessons learned had dire implications for the franchise going forward, There's a bit in the MA article that I wanted to pull out and put here:
Rick Berman has compared this episode to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Final Chapter arc. He said it "was kind of like the end of Deep Space Nine, in a way. We had a lot of threads that needed to be tied up. We didn't have as many threads as we did with Deep Space Nine because we had so many characters on that show, and "What You Leave Behind" was also a series finale. But here it was a question of how to end the Xindi arc."
We've made some unflattering comparisons between DS9 and VOY/ENT in these rewatch posts, and I imagine that people who were bigger fans of the latter two shows got sick of seeing them, but they're pertinent to the discussions because of the bare, dismaying fact that the franchise seems to have decayed from what it had been, and technically still was, since DS9 and VOY overlapped for five years. Although some people have criticized "What You Leave Behind" because of the way that Sisko's ultimate fate seems disconnected from the Dominion War conclusion, even Berman acknowledges that it had a much bigger job than this episode. There are a few decent twists here--the small window that the Enterprise has before its crew literally falls apart, the decision of the Sphere Builders to take themselves aboard the ship to hinder them, Shran being the proverbial cavalry coming over the hill (although that's telegraphed by Jeffrey Combs appearing in the title credits)--but it's all pretty much just continuing events to their logical conclusion: one team is going after the sphere, the other one's going after the weapon, they each gotta do their thing, and they do their thing. But the fairly bumpy ride over the course of the season--the episodes that didn't really have to do with the arc and could have been in almost any Trek, or any space opera show in general; flirting with 24-ish ticking time bomb justifications for torture; being somewhat regressive in their treatments of female characters, with some exceptions--show how much difficulty they had in doing what the franchise had previously been able to accomplish with much better results. Maybe DS9 just got incredibly lucky with its murderers' row of writers and showrunners. Maybe it was just a matter of space opera fatigue in general. Probably it had a lot to do with the clock running out on UPN and there simply not being enough money. Most shows these days don't go with two-dozen-odd-episode seasons any more, and if S3 had been about half as long it would have been a lot tighter. It may have required the limited success of this approach, if not the ultimate failure of the show and the network itself, to change things, even though The Sopranos had already been cooking along for a few years.

At any rate, limited as it was, I'm still chalking this up as a relative success. I'd especially single out Linda Park for some fine, subtle work as someone who is really not in any sort of shape to be doing what she does, but Starfleets up regardless. And, even though we knew that Archer wasn't dead (although it maybe wasn't super-clear, until the episode's end? And I think that The Fifty-Year Mission hints somewhere that Archer may not have come back, although I can't find it now), the scene with T'Pol and Porthos was very poignant.

Of course, then we get Space Nazis. Again. I won't jump the gun on discussing that two-parter, since it's in next season; I will say that they missed an opportunity by not making the attacking planes in San Francisco Japanese Zero fighters, a la The Man in the High Castle, because, you know, the title.

Poster's Log, supplemental: So, yeah, I wasn't going to make the above-the-cut reference to the book Less than Zero because its author is kind of a tool, but I will throw in this link to one of the more interesting artifacts of the movie: the end credits song, sung by Roy Orbison and written by Glenn Danzig as maybe the perfect Orbison pastiche.
posted by Halloween Jack (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was a fun, and nearly satisfying* conclusion of the Xindi arc. It's a shame we don't see them ever again.

* Okay the end was really bad. I don't really think we needed a cliffhanger involving time travel and space nazis again.

At first I thought the tension over Archer was okay, if a little overwrought (I just assumed he'd been teleported away by Shram). But now we don't even get closure to the arc because once again the crew has found themselves in the wrong time.

Also: when they didn't get a response from Starfleet, why didn't they notice the stars were in the wrong place?! They just had that storyline.

Anyways, it was a fun, tense, hour(ish), with plenty of action and fun to go around. Super dug the shot of Archer walking away from the explosion behind him like an actual action movie star.

(Although I do kind of wish they didn't split the crew up for the finale.)
posted by General Malaise at 2:57 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Coming back in to throw a couple of things out about the show as a whole at this juncture as we enter the final season:

I think this series could have been perfectly serviceable if:
a. No time travel
b. No T'Pol-Trip
c. More Mayweather
d. Go serial earlier

That's it. When it's decent, it's a perfectly good popcorn-eating excuse. The special effects are awful, but so were all of them in that decade. The cast is great, the ideas are great, heck, at this point, I even like Archer as a canonical captain. I like the early exploring episodes, but I really liked the tighter parts of this season. I hated when they filled in episodes to make the order. It's the same issue that Battlestar Galactica had by season 3: 23 episodes in a serial drama is way too many, and requires too many Hold and Stop Here episodes. But, really, it's the time travel that kills it. We didn't need it. Just watch as Jonathan Archer accidentally leads the way for the eventual and promised Federation of Planets.

And, for the love of whatever, based on this season, the Xindi (sans the Reptilians I guess) should have been part of the founding members.

P.S. I still think there should be a series set in the future during the war against the "Guardians." We got a peek thanks to the bad time travel thing, but why do they keep going backwards in time when going forwards would make so much more sense on account of production qualities getting better?
posted by General Malaise at 4:35 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Oh, one thing I meant to add (other than how Mayweather is basically the best character despite getting almost no lines), is how I wish they'd have spent more time developing the concept of the Prime Directive. I see there are hints here and there that eventually would lead to something like it, but we have not yet gotten the direct line that leads to "There really should be an overarching rule to dealing with alien species." Maybe we will in the last season, but that feels too late.
posted by General Malaise at 5:00 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Most shows these days don't go with two-dozen-odd-episode seasons any more, and if S3 had been about half as long it would have been a lot tighter.

I'm apt to complain about the short seasons of TV shows these days, but you're right, it helps trim the lard. And it's not like any of us have the time these days to commit to countless new shows if they're lard-heavy.

I'm still chalking this up as a relative success. I'd especially single out Linda Park for some fine, subtle work as someone who is really not in any sort of shape to be doing what she does, but Starfleets up regardless. [...] the scene with T'Pol and Porthos was very poignant.

Agreed! One might have expected the existence of strong character moments to kind of fall by the wayside in so pivotal a season ender, but they kept enough of them to maintain my interest. Good pacing overall too.

I will say that they missed an opportunity by not making the attacking planes in San Francisco Japanese Zero fighters, a la The Man in the High Castle, because, you know, the title.

GENIUS! But this show isn't playful enough to do that.
…In fact, it is easily the least playful of all Treks, isn't it? Maybe that's part of why I have never seemed to be able to get excited about it.

I wish they'd have spent more time developing the concept of the Prime Directive. I see there are hints here and there that eventually would lead to something like it, but we have not yet gotten the direct line that leads to "There really should be an overarching rule to dealing with alien species." Maybe we will in the last season, but that feels too late.

Yeah, there've been several hints, but to go so long with so little movement in that direction feels weird, and not just to us Trek "historians." IIRC continuity-related floundering like that was a major reason why the season 4 showrunners (themselves true Trekkers) leaned in hard on connecting with the TOS era.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:09 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


this show isn't playful enough to do that.
…In fact, it is easily the least playful of all Treks, isn't it? Maybe that's part of why I have never seemed to be able to get excited about it.


I don't think that they ever did a straight-up comedy episode, and the most playful that they got that I can recall is Archer's elaborate "atonement" ritual for Porthos urinating on the Kreetassans's tree.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:19 AM on January 9


Shran!

Phasers should just come standard with modulating frequencies.

You'd think Earth would have some defenses set up or something but I guess no.

This was a decent action-having ending, full of arbitrary obstacles and procedures. But that's fine. Going back to earlier seasons where, by God, they will show us Archer carefully turning five gizmos through 180°... it's amusing but it works.
posted by fleacircus at 5:57 AM on January 10


You'd think Earth would have some defenses set up or something but I guess no.

That's a definite flaw. We've seen that the Xindi have superior technology to Earth in many aspects, and it's possible that any sort of Earth defense fleet or space station would have been destroyed as quickly and easily as that research station, but it did seem weird that they didn't even try to put a defense in place.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:11 AM on January 10


Just teleporting in to check on Picard-thread plans. Guess that discussion really belongs in Talk. Swing by!
posted by mwhybark at 10:46 AM on January 10


I assume that somebody will be covering it, given the great amount of enthusiasm for it shown on the blue.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:04 AM on January 10


I'll check out Picard when CBS All Access finally fails and they sell the content to something else I'm already paying for.
posted by General Malaise at 11:52 AM on January 10


You'd think Earth would have some defenses set up or something but I guess no.

I'm not even sure they even hadthe time? I'm not sure how long it takes to build a Space Force Navy, but considering they've only got two starships built at this point, not sure how they could have built up anything resembling a defense in the time since Enterprise took off.
posted by General Malaise at 11:54 AM on January 10


I'm a little hazy on how much impulse or warp is used in-system (and tbh I think the writers are pretty hazy about it too). But like a flotilla of gunboats stuffed full of torpedoes ready to rush any invader seems like it's probably not that hard for an entire planet that has already built a merchant fleet. Of course this is all silly to talk about.
posted by fleacircus at 3:36 PM on January 10


They've got a bunch of starships in Starfleet; the NX-series is their cutting-edge, still-working-out-the-kinks experimental Warp 5 platform. It sort of made sense that the NX-01 was the only one sent into the Expanse, as they not only had to get there and around in it as quickly as possible, and the speed even comes into play at some point (when they're damaged badly). They could have sent some other ships in there that would have just taken more time to get there, but they may have gotten some inkling (from the test weapon, maybe) that all they'd be good for is cannon fodder for the somewhat-more-advanced Xindi ships. But that doesn't mean that they can't put some orbital defense platforms up around Earth, or have a few of those slower ships try to intercept the weapon. You could still maintain the tension by having the Xindi-Reptilian ship take those out instead of that research station, or simply say that there wasn't enough time to bring the ships around to attack the weapon--there were only a couple of minutes from the time that the weapon popped out of the vortex to when they could fire (in "Twilight", it takes seconds, but I think that there was a bit of dialogue that said that it would take longer because they didn't have all the arming codes). It could have been established with a couple of lines of dialogue if they wanted to save money on FX.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:22 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


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