Star Trek: Enterprise: These Are the Voyages...   Rewatch 
May 24, 2020 3:32 PM - Season 4, Episode 22 - Subscribe

[series finale] OK, so it’s been a somewhat long road getting from there to here… where, precisely, have we gotten, and how, and why? A retrospective on the season, the series, and the end of the TNG Era of Trek.

Memory Alpha is going where its heart will take it: [Please note: some spoilers for the TNG episode "The Pegasus" in this section--if you're currently doing the TNG rewatch as a first watch, you may want to skip down a bit]

- This episode marked the end of a constant Star Trek series production run that started with the beginning of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987.

' The 22nd century events of this episode actually take place on the holodeck of the USS Enterprise-D in 2370, during the episode TNG: "The Pegasus".

- This is the only series finale in the Star Trek franchise where the actual ensemble crew of the series do not appear, but rather, their holographic copies. The only other Star Trek episode that technically does not feature any main character was VOY: "Living Witness".

- Rick Berman described this episode as a "valentine to the fans".

- This episode was reported to have been written as a possible finale for the show's third season, had the series not been renewed. According to Enterprise producer Mike Sussman, however, while the idea for this episode was conceived during that year, the episode was not written until season 4.

- According to Rick Berman, this episode would have been the fourth season finale even if the series had been picked up for a fifth season. He did state, however, that if the series had been renewed, Tucker would still have been killed off because the episode flashed forward in time and so when the show came back for the new season, Tucker would still have been alive. In later interviews, Berman said that if the show had been renewed, several story elements, including Tucker's death, would likely have been changed.

- An early draft of the script ended with Riker and Troi exiting the holodeck, followed by a shot of the Enterprise-D moving off into the asteroid field. Writer/Producer Mike Sussman suggested the final montage sequence as a way of honoring all three Starship Enterprise-based series: Star Trek, The Next Generation, and Enterprise. The montage also allowed the prequel series to end on a more appropriate image – Archer's ship soaring majestically toward a nebula.

- This episode marks the final contribution to the Star Trek franchise from Rick Berman.

- The ceremony witnessed at the end of the episode may not be the signing of the Federation Charter, as is commonly believed, but rather the signing of the charter ratifying the Coalition of Planets, which soon led to the formation of the United Federation of Planets. This is evidenced by Troi's remark to Riker that "this alliance will give birth to the Federation." Alternatively, Troi's remark may simply be referring to the contemporary, 24th century Federation, which is a far larger, more developed galactic union than the one being born & depicted here. From this point of view, Troi is fascinated by the fact that such a relatively small alliance grows into the Federation she knows.

- Riker's decision at the end of the episode is different from that seen in the episode "The Pegasus". In "These Are the Voyages...", Riker leaves the holodeck, full of resolve, to speak with Captain Picard about Pressman and the illegal cloaking device. In the original version of "The Pegasus", however, Riker only admits to what he and Pressman did after he is backed into a corner when the Enterprise is trapped inside an asteroid. It is possible, however, that the Pegasus was located before Riker could speak with Picard.Riker's decision at the end of the episode is different from that seen in the episode "The Pegasus". In "These Are the Voyages...", Riker leaves the holodeck, full of resolve, to speak with Captain Picard about Pressman and the illegal cloaking device. In the original version of "The Pegasus", however, Riker only admits to what he and Pressman did after he is backed into a corner when the Enterprise is trapped inside an asteroid. It is possible, however, that the Pegasus was located before Riker could speak with Picard.

- Principal photography lasted eight days, rather than the usual seven, concluding on 5 March 2005 – which also happened to be Jolene Blalock's thirtieth birthday. Blalock and Scott Bakula were the last of the principal cast to be released; the scene in which their characters embrace and Captain Archer climbs the steps to enter the auditorium to deliver his speech was the last scene to be filmed.

- At the 2016 Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, "These Are the Voyages..." was chosen by the fans as the worst episode from all of Star Trek.

"Thanks, pink skin."
- Talla

"You can all go straight to Hell!"
- Tucker to the alien criminals before he blows them up

Poster’s Log:

Well, then.

I’ll cut right to the chase: as said last week, “Demons”/”Terra Prime” would have been a fine episode to end the series with, as this ultimate installment amply makes clear. One of the big clues about the problems of this episode is that Rick Berman apparently can’t make up his mind about whether Trip--you know, basically the deuteragonist of the series--would have been killed off or not if the series had gone on to further seasons; knowing ahead of time that a character is going to die by the series’ end is a relatively bold choice, and not just the series as a whole but this finale is short on really bold choices. I remain highly skeptical as to whether “These Are the Voyages...” would have been produced at all; it comes off as nothing more or less than Berman and Braga’s attempt to tie ENT more closely with TNG, the show that began this era of Trek and whose success they tried to emulate with this series and VOY, failing both times. The people who were actually putting together this season, Manny Coto and Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (incidentally, Judith’s bright red hair is very noticeable behind the crew at the signing ceremony; Garfield is next to her in a Starfleet uniform), were quite fond of cliffhangers, and I think that they would have come up with one for the next season. It’s fun, if a little bittersweet, to speculate about what that might have been, but before we get to that we should, if you will pardon the term, dispose of this episode. In brief: yes, it did pretty much suck. But why, and how bad?

The plot of the show, setting aside the clumsy framing device for a bit (but we’ll get back to that, oh yes we will) is set near the signing of the charter of the Coalition of Planets Coalition Thingymubob Not-Quite-The-Federation-Yet-I-Guess-But-We’re-Getting-There-Hold-Yer-Horses or something. (It just occurred to me that, even though no one is really retiring yet, there is a certain aspect of the “three days before retirement” trope going on here.) But they’ve got one more mission to do, because… because… oh jeez, you gotta be kidding me… because they were saving Shran for this episode to make him a fucking crook, running with some half-assed Reservoir Dogs IN SPAAAAACE bullshit crew? Are you shitting me, show? Really? The goons are chasing after some damn McGuffin that looks like it fell out of a Bejeweled game, the crew forgets that they have a transporter, and oh it’s just super-dumb. And gets dumber, with The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight somehow catching them with a Warp 2 ship, boarding the NX-01 one more time, and the MACOs are apparently on a mandatory on-site retreat. And the best that the ship’s engineer can do for these assholes for whom three hots and a cot would be a massive QoL improvement is to blow himself up along with them.

And then everyone is sad, although somewhat muted about it. It’s not totally awful; we have some idea of what the rest of the crew will be doing, the Chef conversations aren’t bad, and the part where T’Pol, who used to be barely tolerant of human funk, smells Trip’s uniform to catch the last trace of him after he dies, rings true. (Although we never do find out why they broke up.) But these are meager scraps for the swan song of even an abbreviated run. Whatever Berman claims about wanting to do it anyway, it reeks of nothing finer or more profound than “well, let’s just get it over with.”

The other aspect that really ruins this episode is the framing device, in which this all happened on the holodeck of the 1701-D, around the time of the events of “The Pegasus”, TNG S7E12. We see Riker in the teaser, pretending to be a bridge crew, and he pops in and out of the main plot, appearing as a MACO and, most prominently, as Chef, the little red-haired girl of ENT. He’s trying to figure out what to do about Admiral Pressman asking him to do something really pretty bad, and so he’s running through this historical event on the holodeck and talking to his once and future squeeze Troi about it. Again, this is an interesting angle to approach the main story from--the comparisons to the VOY episode “Living Witness” (a good episode, although not without its own problems) is apt--and, in surer or less burnt-out hands, might have worked. But it really doesn’t, in part because of continuity problems (some noted in the MA excerpts above, others also listed in the MA article itself), and some because, frankly, making the connection to a much better episode was kind of a mistake. “The Pegasus” was one of S7’s better episodes, bringing in an adversary (Pressman) who isn’t just yet another crazy, corrupt or flat-out evil admiral but one who seems to have been working for the yet-to-be-revealed-for-several-years Section 31; it runs the risk of making Riker look bad in the home stretch, and instead reveals him to be deeply wounded to have betrayed his captain and the high ideals of Starfleet and the Federation. So, that’s bad enough, but the really big problem with this framing device is this:

The last episode of the series, the one that was supposed to sum up everything about the show and what it ultimately meant, never really happened. It’s just a historical recreation.

Which, and I’m sure you saw this coming, is sort of a blessing in disguise. In fact, beta canon pounced on it:
An Enterprise novel, Last Full Measure (written by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin) reveals that Trip Tucker did not actually die in this episode. The authors used the fact that the only appearances of the Enterprise characters in this episode were in historical hologram form to claim that the program Riker views is a fabrication. The true events of what really took place and what happened to Tucker are revealed in another Enterprise novel, The Good That Men Do (also written by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin). The book has an aged Nog revealing to Jake Sisko, that because of the collapse of Section 31 in the early 25th century, information about the true events of the founding of the Coalition has only now been revealed and it shows that what has been generally known is actually a cover-up of the true events. Several events of "These Are the Voyages..." are depicted as happening only months after "Terra Prime." The two old friends also note a laundry list of inconsistencies in the original holo program, many of which were pointed out by Enterprise fans immediately after viewing. Among the more obvious ones are the ship's lack of transfers or promotions during the intervening years; no deaths, transfers, or ship modifications during the Romulan war, which is never mentioned; the criminals/pirates with a warp 2 capable ship that somehow catches up with the warp 5 Enterprise; and the complete lack of MACOs or security officers challenging the pirates as they stalk the corridors of the ship with impunity.
This is of course a retcon, although not without precedent in the franchise. “Trials and Tribble-ations” showed that the 24th-century Starfleet crew were unfamiliar with many aspects of the 23rd century, from their technology to the smooth-browed Klingons. It’s even more likely that there could be significant errors in the records from before the creation of the Federation. And, given the general jankiness of the episode, that’s kind of a relief, although also adding to the frustration of the inadequacy of the episode; as Johnny Rotten said at the end of the (original) Sex Pistols’ last concert, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” (If you're getting a sense of deja vu at that quote, it may be because I used it before in the write-up of "Endgame", the last VOY episode, and it still fits; this is the second finale in a row that Berman and Braga have failed to stick the landing for, and I can't conjure up a scrap of pity for the fact that Berman has left the franchise entirely and Braga only did a little-noticed comic book before doing the same. They had their chance.)

But, in the long view, it’s not really surprising, as this is ultimately a Berman & Braga joint, and they had been showing signs of burnout for a long time, maybe even before the series itself began. This is from Berman’s MA entry, regarding the beginning of ENT’s predecessor, Star Trek: Voyager:
"I again asked them for a little breathing room, that maybe it wasn't a good idea to slap a new show on the air in what was going to be the third season of Deep Space Nine. Maybe we needed to separate them a little bit. It was very clear to me they wanted another show... In a very polite and abstract way I was told that if I refused to do it, they respected that, but that they'd find someone else who would..."
And that was more than a decade before this episode. Brannon Braga didn’t have a particularly good time of it either; all of his writing staff either quit or had been fired by the end of the first season. (That would include Andre and Maria Jaquemetton, who went on to become award-winning writers and producers on Mad Men.) They were probably overpromoted--Berman was a capable producer and Braga a talented writer who probably shouldn’t have been a creative personnel or showrunner, respectively--but ultimately I’d put the blame on UPN, the would-be next Fox upstart network that no longer exists. I’ve mentioned how they tried to leverage their control over the Trek franchise into an entire network before, and this thing is already turning into a pretty long post, even for me, but it’s worth bringing up one more time, especially as the cancellation of the show closely followed the network’s demise. The show could have been continued, either by CBS (now the official owner of the franchise) or the CW (the official successor both to UPN and the WB, and no, I have no idea how that works)--after all, UPN finished the run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer after several seasons on the WB--but, probably because it never achieved anywhere near TNG’s ratings, they didn’t. The handling of the shows ensured that they managed to alienate longtime fans of the franchise (I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t watch the last two seasons of this show until years afterwards) without bringing in enough viewers to keep their little network going.

Would they have come up with decent-enough storylines to keep the lights on for three more years? Hard to say. Coto was apparently looking at revving up the Earth-Romulus War and moving closer to the honest-to-gosh real Federation. I have seen renderings of an upgraded NX-01 that tacked an engineering hull onto the bottom of the ship, bringing it closer to the classic Enterprise configuration. The Reeves-Stevenses have, in their many beta canon books, shown that they could see possibilities in both existing and speculative canon for different stories. And there’s a lot that could have been done with longer arcs.

On the other hand, to be even more fair, there may have been nothing that they could have done in the long run to keep the lights on; television may have simply been Trekked out, at least for a while. When TNG went on the air, it had slim to nil real competition, but numerous other people quickly noticed that there was money to be made in the syndicated space opera game. Apparently the early years of TNG were just as rocky as those of this series, if not more so--no one was as loathsome as Leonard Maizlish was supposed to have been--but aspiring SF writers and other creatives had really nowhere else to go. Eventually, though, scriptwriters could take a potential story to Babylon 5, Lexx, Farscape, Firefly, Andromeda (one of the late Gene Roddenberry’s ideas), the rebooted Battlestar Galactica (showran by the disgruntled former Trek writer Ron Moore), etc. Single-episode stories suffered from all the story ideas having been done before, again and again--the plethora of ship-boarding and jail-breaking stories in ENT testify to that--and, although they tried to shift gears to longer story and character arcs, they didn’t do so soon enough, or weren’t allowed to, whichever. The franchise ended up laying fallow for five years, following which they went first with a continuity reboot (where I originally thought that ENT might have been going with the Temporal Cold War) in the JJTrek/Kelvin timeline movies, and then with a prequel that did, in fact, go with longer story and character arcs, not to mention a radically different approach. Neither, of course, was without its problems or critics, but at least it wasn’t all the same old shit, different ship. (Even the eventual continuation of TNG, Picard, ended up being quite different from the TNG reunion envisioned by many fans, again with not a small amount of criticism.)

So, maybe the fact that it went out with a whimper and not a bang is perfectly fitting. Even TOS only made it through 60% of its original mission; if the TNG era were a single ship, it would have been out there roaming around for the better part of two decades, gradually losing its sense of purpose, and direly in need of a real refit and not just a light coat of paint. Docking and taking a break was probably the best thing for it.

Or they could have done more Porthos-centered episodes.

Anyways (and I hope that you made it this far), thanks of course to CheesesOfBrazil, the heart of the Ghostbusters and still posting in the TNG rewatch. And, last but certainly not least, mordax, who started this rewatch. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, fair winds and following seas.
posted by Halloween Jack (15 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, what a great post. I feel bad that my plan all weekend was to just post the following and leave it at that:

Well, at least Jeffrey Combs was a delight.

But, I guess I should try and draft something a little more thoughtful.

Like described, this episode was an absolute mess. First, the framing, second the plot itself, not to mention the continuity errors and just being a sad, sad testament to the show itself.

I get the framing, or at least somewhat. It could have worked for some random mid-season episode! But for the finale? Absolutely not. Jesus, in the words of the AVGN, "What were they thinking!?!"
"Okay, we're going to see the grand big event of the signing of the 'Coalition' charter through the eyes of Riker and Troi."

"Wait, and not through the eyes of our protagonists, who we've been following for four seasons?"


"Will we actually get to see the grand big event of the signing of the 'Coalition'?"

"LOL no."
Something that bothered me not mentioned above: We spend the entire episode watching Archer try to put together his big speech. Everybody talks about it, he jokes about it. Then, we never see the speech, even though Troi mentions having memorized it. Okay, whatever. I mean, Sorkin's Studio 60 was all about how the show was funny and yet the show was never funny—even good writers fall into that trap. But still.

Big ups to Jeffrey Combs for once again elevating some remarkably bad writing in this episode. His scenes were basically the only watchable ones, even if his plot was both unnecessary and bad.

I did think it was cute to "see" Chef, but it just didn't work for me. Did we ever hear from anybody in the past four years that Chef was an ear for the entire cast to talk their problems through? Did anybody ever even mention having a personal relationship with them?

It's a shame this show ended like this. My memory of having watched it years ago was that it was a fun show with a good cast that was actually better than it was given credit. Sure, it's not DS9 or TNG, but it was definitely watchable and at times pretty fun. And the season Xindi arc was a move towards a better show. And, really, this rewatch, for the most part, confirmed that. Really, what shines the most from this rewatch, as critical as I and we have been, is how good the cast is when they're given the writing and space to do the work.

But also, while watching the Expanse, it just strikes how much better this show should have been. Fewer early 2000s tropes (did we need a space 9/11?), way fewer nazis, and maybe just more survival in the unknown ahem expanse of space. And way less of the icky dude-shit that overwhelmed the first few seasons (and really didn't go completely away).

But, it's Trek. I haven't been keeping up with the TNG rewatch, but on BBC America the series' marathons just reset to the first season this week, and, well. Trek is Trek: sometimes it nails it (usually when it pushes itself out of its comfort zone—DS9), but usually it's just some hacky space writing that shows the cards of the era in which it's written. This show did push itself at times, and when it did, it usually succeeded. But, usually it didn't, and it mired itself into some bad plots, awful writing and general clumsiness.

But the cast is great! Somehow, the writing is so bad, but they did a general good job at character development, and the cast did a good job making up for a lot of the writers' faults. It's a shame they made Mayweather so fucking doe-eyed and naive, but hey, he worked with it. I hold that Trip, while the same exact fucking person as Paris from VOY, is a much better personification of the type. T'Pol was a better version of Tuvak, and now I'm starting to think they're all basically the same characters but better realized on ENT (although Janeway is a very different captain than Archer).

Thanks, HJ, COB and mordax for taking the lead on this. It was remarkably fun, and just trying to come up with random thoughts on these episodes has been enough work that I can't think highly enough of the work you have all put in with these posts. And to the folks also commenting throughout: We may have not come up with the volume of comments that the TNG rewatch is getting, but the discussion throughout has been thoughtful, respectful and remarkably substantive.

I am here for a Porthos spinoff.
posted by General Malaise at 4:12 PM on May 24, 2020 [6 favorites]

Oh right, meant to LOL at this:

- Rick Berman described this episode as a "valentine to the fans".

- At the 2016 Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, "These Are the Voyages..." was chosen by the fans as the worst episode from all of Star Trek.
posted by General Malaise at 4:55 PM on May 24, 2020 [6 favorites]

I still can't believe they did Trip like that. This 'valentine' still makes me angry. Fucking space gangsters?!

Agree the cast was great! Wish the show rose to their level more often.
posted by rodlymight at 4:58 PM on May 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

I still can't believe they did Trip like that. This 'valentine' still makes me angry. Fucking space gangsters?!

Is this where I mention they spent more time and emotional effort mourning Fake Trip than Real Trip?
posted by General Malaise at 5:33 PM on May 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

That's such a great observation. "Meh, we already had the funeral, sort of."

I feel compelled to emphasize--briefly, because I wasn't in the main post--that a) I do think that the cast was fine and deserved better material, and b) the fourth season was really good (the third season tried, and even if it wasn't always successful at least they weren't doing the same old shit), and I have faith (of the heart?) that a full seven years would be remembered more for the back half of it, just as the other TNG-era Treks got off to shaky starts and improved immensely. Unfortunately, that's not what we got.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:32 PM on May 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

First off: my thanks as well to all! I feared the ENT threads would peter out like, well, Berman-era Trek itself did, just me and Jack talking to the wall. It's been great hearing from everybody. And special thanks to Jack, of course. Your steadfastness in the face of some real rough slogging truly demonstrates your faith of the heart [on preview: DAMMIT you stole my line].

At some point in this episode, one of the ENT main cast says something about "what all this has meant"—"this" referring textually to their mission since first leaving Earth, but I wondered if it also maybe referred metatextually to the series itself.

And that got me thinking: what is the most unique and fundamental concept, the "essence," of each show? What concept "defines" each show, in the sense that a higher-than-coincidental number of its episodes reflect it? What is, to phrase it maybe too simply, each show trying to be? TOS's is perhaps most accurately described in Roddenberry's own words, "Wagon Train to the Stars." TNG's is…let's call it "highfalutin sci-fi," i.e. exploring sci-fi ideas and stories through an ambitious, philosophical kind of lens. DS9's essence, I think, is examining the franchise itself, or less metatextually, exploring the tensions that exist within the Federation and between it and other societies. VOY's is the fact that these characters become a family. DISCO's is evidently the fact that Burnham Must Suffer. And PIC's might simply be "what does it really mean to be human/alive/sapient," but I feel like there's something in there about responsibility too.

Anyway, by that rubric, I really don't have a clue what ENT's "essence" is. It would be too narrow to say "growing pains," "societal adolescence," or "humans fuck stuff up a lot," and in any case none of those quite constitute visibly consistent through-lines. Mayyyybe "growing pains"—which would be metatextually weird considering that Trek by this time was, as Jack put it above, a doddering rustbucket.

Now, that lack of essence may well be due to the fact (confessed by Berman and Braga themselves in The Fifty-Year Mission, and referenced above by Jack) that ENT came into existence as basically a contractual obligation. *I* think that in Coto and Sussman's hands, ENT could possibly have found its "essence" given a few more years plus a less-inherently-doomed season 4, but since we don't know what that "essence" was or would have been, I guess we'll never know.

Now, judging this one on its own merits—even with all the continuity blunders and the weirdness of an all-holodeck episode as a finale, the thing that's always particularly gotten under my skin about this episode is how the very concept comes off as frankly a little defensive. Like, "look, our show matters, here it is being paid attention to by future characters that we know you care about."

And then everyone is sad, although somewhat muted about it. It’s not totally awful; we have some idea of what the rest of the crew will be doing, the Chef conversations aren’t bad, and the part where T’Pol, who used to be barely tolerant of human funk, smells Trip’s uniform to catch the last trace of him after he dies, rings true.

Yeah, the only things in this episode that made me feel anything were a couple of these quieter character moments, like Archer and T'Pol's conversation just after Trip dies. It was the only hint of "finale" resonance that was so palpable in "All Good Things...", "What You Leave Behind," "Endgame," and even the season finales of DISCO and PIC.

I get the framing, or at least somewhat. It could have worked for some random mid-season episode!

Agreed about that—I even remarked to Mrs. CoB that this would have been a decent season OPENER, or the finale of any season other than the show's last one.

One last link before bedtime: In defense of Star Trek: Enterprise from The Mary Sue. It seems to interpret this episode a bit differently, and I probably have counterarguments to almost every paragraph, but at minimum it's some food for thought. I may have more to say about it.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:44 PM on May 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I noticed this go up, and thought, what the hell, technically this is a TNG episode, why not? This in full awareness of the bad rep of the episode. Additionally I wanted to drop in to speak admiringly of mordax’ brave engagement with this series and to note, again, my sadness at his entirely understandable decision to move on.

Um, you know, I thought the episode was alright. The ENT plot made no sense whatsoever, but that’s OK with me because I noped out on ENT sometime in s01 in this rewatch and at about the same time on initial BC, although ENT holds the distinction of being the only concurrent-broadcast Trek show I executed actual paid journalistic coverage of. I totally get that the episode gets dissed because it undercuts the creative work of the actors and writers on ENT, and it’s surely some poster-child level Trekbro BS from the Bro & Bro themselves. But I kinda liked it anyway.

I thought it was quite amusing to cast a noticeably stout Jonathan Frakes as the pop-up Chef.

Other thoughts: hm, shot in 2005, where did all those 1701-D standing sets come from? The main feature sets were the conference room and 10-Forward, although I suppose the 10-Forward panning shot might have been recycled. I’m pretty sure we see Patrick Stewart’s double in the shot. Amusing to hear Data again here.

Finally with regard to the episode proper, and this was a little weird to realize: ever since the show premiered I have had this nagging sense of familiarity with regard to Jolene Blalock, and was never able to pin it down. In this episode I realized why. She bears a pronounced resemblance to a high school romantic partner of mine, a woman of Persian and Northern European descent, who, I must admit, lacked both pointed ears and slanted eyebrows.

I more closely followed these rewatch posts when mordax was contributing because I deeply appreciated his criticality, his willingness to call bullshit on the show, not simply in terms of dumb story but also in foolish use of imperialist and colonialist plot elements, something that he, I yhink rightly, came to see as inherent to Trek. In shows prior to this, these elements came from the Western entertainment genre and were often, not always, subject to in-script interrogation and ironic detournement. To the detriment of Enterprise, the boo-yah climate of American TV after 9/11 largely emasculated that approach, and as such, negated much of the series’ fundamental appeal to me, personally. If the show had been helmed by more courageous people than the Bros, it might have fared better. It’s even reasonable to speculate what might have been - imagine a weird tribute to Sergio Leone westerns instead of Gunsmoke or Have Gun, Will Travel in space. Tumbleweeds under the holodeck arch at this point.

mordax, where ever you are, thank you for your time writing about Trek with us here. Your perspective was deeply appreciated and incalculably valuable.

Thanks to everyone else on this rewatch too - one of the points I have gathered is that I should dabble in the 4th season further and not just stick to the (excellent) Mirror Universe episodes.
posted by mwhybark at 8:33 PM on May 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

See you over in 10-Forward for the next, what, few years! Tea, Earl Grey, hot.
posted by mwhybark at 8:34 PM on May 24, 2020

Poor Trip, sacrificed stupidly on the altar of Archer's Great Man arc.

Archer being elevated above the crew felt pretty grody to me, as the final writing of Berman and Braga. It seems more like a subconscious "love letter" to themselves saying goodbye to the fans. "It is with my fondest regards I imagine myself ascending into my rightful place in history while you sit watching from afar, as if you were unimportant. I know you're all cognizant of my importance and worried I will be too humble in my speech, but fear not; I didn't bother writing it."

And Trip, you really trust Archer, like when you tried to free that slave who killed themselves because Archer wouldn't let you?

T'Pol fixing Archer's collar the last gasp of the show's not-very-interesting confusion about whether T'Pol is meant to be Archer's wife or Trip's gf. To me the lack of second in command chair seems very telling about the conception of this show, but they try to turn around and say actually it's Picard who is fussy about chairs not Archer, as a way to launder their own caring very much about it. This whole show is: where is T'Pol's chair?

However, all in all, I didn't hate this episode too much. It's kinda bad and misbegotten, but so is a lot of ENT. It was what it was, I can't blame this episode much more than all the other ones.

Thank you, long suffering posters, for putting together all the detailed and thoughtful posts. This is the first time I've really eaten at the Trekkie table in my life. It was fun. TBH it doesn't feel like it was that long of a road.
posted by fleacircus at 12:37 AM on May 25, 2020 [3 favorites]

I didn't hate this one and I think it's insane to call it the worst Trek ever in a universe where The Alternative Factor exists (So... much... grappling...) but I'd agree it was a bit of a fumble. I think it made some sense for Berman and Braga to do something retro to acknowledge that Trek as we knew it was coming to an end, and it wasn't a bad idea to bring in the TNG characters. Even making this all a holodeck story that Will Riker was observing, I think that could work. As an Enterprise finale maybe it wasn't great thinking, but as a Star Trek franchise finale I think it makes more sense.

But it was just awkward to try and fold it into an existing TNG episode, especially when Frakes and Sirtis had visibly aged since that era. (That's not meant as a knock on them. They were still fine-looking actors, but it just felt like a real stretch that we were supposed to believe it was the early 90s again.) I think that Berman and Braga were not untalented, they were responsible for a lot of the Trek people loved, but by the time Enterprise finished their exhaustion was painfully obvious. They really limped across that finish line. Braga has gone on to do some genuinely neat, very Trek-y stuff on The Orville, so I think he's redeemed himself with some Trekkies at least.

A reminder: Abrams' 2009 movie included a joke about Porthos being trapped between dimensions forever, a very specific piss in the chops to the little cluster of die-hard Trekkies who actually cared about Captain Archer's doggie. It was a moment that said, in no uncertain terms, If you love Trek enough to get this joke, fuuuuuuck you. I can't say I was a fan of Enterprise exactly, but compared to the Abrams era it was a goddamned masterpiece. Anything you wanna say about Enterprise being a leer-y bro show, Abrams did it nine thousand times worse, with lens flares.

As much as I disagreed with Mordax, I do miss the guy. He was the kind of scrappy Metafilter just doesn't welcome anymore. (So am I, but I've learned to smile and make nice, mostly.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:14 AM on May 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

I can't say I was a fan of Enterprise exactly, but compared to the Abrams era it was a goddamned masterpiece. Anything you wanna say about Enterprise being a leer-y bro show, Abrams did it nine thousand times worse, with lens flares.

Oh my goodness yes. I was pondering the question of "worst Trek episode ever" last night—"TATV..." isn't even close, IMO, though it miiight make the top ten—but while I found it tough to choose between, say, "Tattoo" and "Code of Honor," I did decide resolutely that if we allow movies to count as "episodes," then it's Into Darkness.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:57 AM on May 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

Yeah let's be honest this isn't even the worst episode of Enterprise, and might not even be the worst episode of this season. It was a "valentine" that ended up being a "fuck you" by trying to make one last episode of TNG. Imagine if the last episode of Voyager had been about the Enterprise E showing up to escort Voyager back to the Alpha Quadrant, with no mention of what Voyager did when they got home (note this is only slightly worse than the actual Voyager finale).

It sucks to see the characters this show built up sidelined for characters from a show that's been off the air for over a decade, and shown in a format that's not even "real" per se, but that doesn't make it a bad episode, just a bad decision. This episode would have worked much better as a mid-season excursion, especially if the inaccurateness of 24th century records was lampshaded in the episode rather than left as plotholes to be fanwanked in some later-written novels.

Enterprise was conceived to depict how the Federation and its ideals get founded and frankly the show totally fails to do that. I feel like if they were making this show today with this much screen time guaranteed they could make a tightly plotted cohesive vision for the founding of the Federation. Maybe in 2001 when Star Trek felt overplayed this was just too ambitious an idea to tackle.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:47 AM on May 25, 2020 [5 favorites]

As it happens, the finale celebrates its 15th anniversary this week. Hollywood Reporter looks back on how it all went wrong.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:28 AM on May 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

One last comment: I went ahead and got the novel The Good That Men Do, as mentioned in my post above, and it was pretty good. Trip's fate is a bit of a stretch, probability-wise--this is even called out in the text--but it's a heck of a lot better than what he got in this episode, and it has implications for the future (there are a lot of books in this series, so they may deal with it in some of those). Bonus: Old(er) Jake and Nog in a variation of a scene from the DS9 episode "The Visitor" that takes place in the prime continuity.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:19 AM on May 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Roddenberry tangent—after never having watched it before I've been digging into Andromeda in the last few days, having found it available on (free to watch with ads via web, Roku, some cable providers, etc.) and since it's mentioned in the OP, I needed somewhere to ask the question 2020-hindsight-vision demands of me—what in the hell were they thinking doing writing in slaver eugenicist infanticiding genocidaire Space Nazi “Nietzscheans”, and just having them as an alternative lifestyle or something, one among many species? In one of the early episodes they fail to stop someone from committing genocide. And it's not even one of the Nietzscheans, just a regular human, whose reaction is basically “Well sometimes you just have to commit genocide, y'know?”

And then there's this episode where a woman rapes a man, except they don't call it rape and all is forgiven because she had a super-duper important reason, raping him was basically necessary for the plot... Anyway, on most counts I'm finding it superior to the average of its genre from around the turn of the century, but man does that still leave a low bar for moral sophistication of the plot and worldbuilding. I'm not familiar enough with Fanfare really to know if that makes it a better or worse match for a series of posts.
posted by XMLicious at 2:22 AM on November 28, 2020

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