Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Enterprise

"Storm Front, Part II"

**1/2

Air date: 10/15/2004
Written by Manny Coto
Directed by David Straiton

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The building's about to blow up."
"Gotcha."

— Archer and Trip

In brief: Watchable, nonsensical, predictable. At least it purports to be the end of the timeline wars.

The bad news is that "Storm Front, Part II" inherits so much nonsensical time-travel baggage from previous episodes (including last week's "Storm Front, Part I") that the premise is all but indefensible.

The good news is that this episode appears to end — once and for all — the Temporal Cold War and all its related, incoherent BS. Personally, I'm in favor of the end of the TCW in "Storm Front, Part II."

If the first two paragraphs of this review seem familiar, it's not because I copied and pasted them (naw); it's because this week's installment of the Jammer Review has become the latest front in the Temporal Cold War, and temporal agents have subjected you to a time loop. As you can see, history has been altered, because this review is now different. (Actually, it might as well be the same, since I'm going to say many of the same things.)

But, you see, now I'm confused, because if the Temporal Cold War never happened, what about all those episodes where the Enterprise was involved in Daniels' temporal shenanigans? Did they also not happen? Or did they kind of happen in a reality that everyone remembers but no one cares about?

And, for that matter, what about the Xindi? Were they ever really a part of the TCW? After Earth was attacked, Silik gave Archer information about the Xindi, implying that they were somehow manipulated by people who were involved. And yet the sphere-builders didn't seem to be a part of the TCW, and rather seemed to represent only their own independent interests.

In essence, "Storm Front" represents about the only thing the writers could really do with the TCW — namely, throw their arms up in defeat and admit that it made no sense and never would or could. That they have slyly packaged that sentiment inside a story that rewrites World War II and pretends to make sense is admirable, I guess. Obviously, we know better, but at least you can still fill an hour of television time with something that is halfway entertaining.

"Storm Front, Part II" — a very average outing — works and fails along all the same lines as "Part I." Since everything was more or less explained last week in the setup, this week's installment pretty much just goes through all the motions we knew would have to happen in order to arrive at a payoff — although "payoff" is too strong a word for the overall experience of "Storm Front."

About the only remaining question is what Silik is up to and why. It turns out that Silik's faction of the TCW also intends to stop Vosk, since Vosk is a madman who sees time-travel as just another technology to employ in improving the universe, to his own ends, no doubt. (In a war as convoluted as the Temporal Cold War, it stands to reason that Silik would eventually end up on our side for at least one episode.)

My thinking is that if the timeline is something that can be changed at will at any point, then reality is meaningless. That's a dangerous storytelling through line, because it leaves us in the middle of nowhere. Besides, how could Vosk maintain any control over such a mess? I would think that at some point he would end up accidentally erasing himself with his own meddling. Of course, reckless sci-fi like this means that there are no answers. In this case, there probably aren't any questions, either.

Well, there are questions of scripting logic, which are pointless to scrutinize but I'll try anyway. Why, for example, wouldn't Silik try to team up with the crew of the Enterprise from the outset? He always has so much information, so why wouldn't he know that the Enterprise was sent to stop Vosk? For that matter, wasn't it awfully convenient the way he was able to stow away on the Enterprise?

In this episode, Silik has complete shapeshifting abilities, allowing him to look like anybody. There's a point where he assumes Trip's identity and then gets aboard the Enterprise when Archer negotiates the release of "Trip" and Mayweather from Vosk. The whole business involving the data disc Silik retrieves is a somewhat flimsy device that takes Silik down to Earth, only for him to return to the Enterprise under a subterfuge that obviously wouldn't last five minutes. Just how did he intend to carry out his mission? He's able to do the highly unlikely, and yet still inept.

In a story that is all plot and virtually no characterization, the one interesting character moment comes when Archer throws Silik against the wall in the brig, and Silik tells him, "You've changed, captain." Indeed. It's a notion worth its own episode.

Silik and Archer subsequently team up to infiltrate Vosk's facility so they can disable the shield generator and the Enterprise can swoop down and destroy the building. Of course, no infiltration would be complete without bringing in the American resistance fighters established in part one to keep the Germans busy. Ensuing are a lot of lackluster shootouts between the Americans and the Germans, which is often laughable in its depiction of German ineptitude (they can't hit the broad side of a barn even with machine guns). I'm pretty sure the only non-German casualty in all the shooting is Silik. The Germans can't even hit Carmine when he's standing in the middle of an alley with no cover. (If people are going to get hit with bullets, can't we at least get some body squibs?)

One thing I liked in the episode was Vosk. As demented (and ridiculous) as his notion of unlimited timeline manipulation is, he brings a sort of calm rationality to explaining it. In the negotiation with Archer, Vosk is so convinced of his own righteousness that he thinks Archer might actually buy into his proposal. Jack Gwaltney is interesting as Vosk, who is a calm and confident villain who speaks precisely but with no uncertain menace beneath the surface (in one scene, he threatens to erase a Nazi general from history).

Archer and Silik are successful in shutting down the shield generator, but of course you knew that. Silik is shot and killed in the process. There are some nifty FX shots of the Enterprise flying over Manhattan (right between the Empire State and Chrysler buildings) and being shot by German fighter planes equipped with plasma cannons. Not quite as nifty is the destruction of Vosk's facility (at the Last Possible Moment, naturally), which showcases the latest in CGI artistry that also looks like an exploding Styrofoam cooler. I'm not sure that's what they had in mind.

"The timeline's resetting itself," Daniels helpfully informs Archer, in a line of dialog that actually uses the word "resetting" to invoke a Reset Plot. "It's almost ready," Daniels says. Just how "long" does it take for a timeline to reset itself and become "ready"? Do such terms apply? Never mind, because I'm with Archer: "I'll take your word for it."

Being the Timeline Inquisitor that I am, I must ask if Silik is really dead. Couldn't he be alive in some other time period? After all, Daniels, who died last week, is alive in the 29th century because of the reset timelines. Shouldn't this go for Silik? Is there some Timeline Law that says Silik must stay dead in a timeline that never existed simply because he wasn't from that timeline? Not that it matters, because the Timeline Laws are probably just Timeline Suggestions.

In a story free from all notions of cause and effect, the only net effect is that my brain hurts. I'm probably focusing too heavily on goofy logic. Let it be said that "Storm Front," while positively absurd, is workable as an exercise in predictable absurdity. More importantly, it marks the end of all this temporal nonsense, which is as crucial a quality as any. (Shadow Man or Future Guy or whatever he's called does not make an appearance here, so I guess we'll never find out who he was/is. I can live with that.) May the timeline no longer be this series' playground.

The final shot of the Enterprise's homecoming is nice. I just hope that next week we get a breather and a coda to these two big storylines being wrapped up in the course of three episodes. Now that we've seen the end of the Xindi and Temporal Cold War arcs, let's at least find out what it means to the characters who carried out the missions.

Next week: You are cordially invited to a Vulcan wedding.

Previous episode: Storm Front, Part I
Next episode: Home

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18 comments on this review

Omega333 - Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - 5:15am (USA Central)
I am reminded of a book I recently read called "All in an Instant".

Long story short, it takes place in a 'sea' of time where the ocean floor is our 3D earth and any wave causes untold changes to the futureward end of the sea.

Basically, there was a ton of mass changes and you go far enough into the future and try to anchor down on Earth and you basically go mad because there are millions of changes every second and you can't process it.

And you can't ever mold a society to your fitting, because anyone can go back half a second before and just undo everything...all the way back to man's beginning (which in the book is guarded by a group of people, so that man can't erase itself).

All in all it was a bit of a mindtrip, but fairly awesome.
Stef - Mon, Dec 10, 2007 - 3:31am (USA Central)
I rather liked the concept of Vosk tricking the Nazis the whole time. He was leading them on with promises of new technology and weapons, all the time he was diverting resources to the Conduit. If the Nazis had just ignored Vosk, they would have been a lot better off.

This is a bit like an Arthur C Clarke short-story called Superiority. Essentially 2 warring planets in the future. 1 planet is far more advanced, and there is no doubt they will win the war in the long run. But the war is taking its time, so they divert resources to build bigger better weapons to bring the war to an early close.

Meanwhile the enemy just continues pounding away and eventually wins. The story has lot more to it than that, and is quite amusing.
robgnow - Fri, Jul 18, 2008 - 4:46pm (USA Central)
Steff:

The rabbit and the hare?
Jeff - Wed, Apr 29, 2009 - 7:57am (USA Central)
I just watched "Storm Front" again last night and two things struck me for the first time. First, the closing shot of this episode certainly evokes the closing shot of VOY: "Endgame." At least ENT had a little bit of followup with the following episode. Why I never noticed it before, I'll never know.

Secondly, just as an attempt to also make logic out of the illogical TCW arc, I have this question. If the timeline has fully reset, as Daniels says, and the TCW never happens, doesn't that mean Enterprise did explode with all hands aboard in "Cold Front?" If I remember correctly that power surge or whatever it was that was affecting the engines was not an act of sabotage. Which means if the TCW never happened, the crew never met Silik which means he would not have been aboard the Enterprise to prevent the ship from exploding which means 3 1/2 seasons worth of this series never would have happened. Earth's first Warp 5 vessel would have blown up just a few months into the mission. Which means no ship would have been able to prevent the Xindi superweapon 'cause Silik wouldn't have warned us and no ship would've been in the Delphic Expanse 'cause Columbia wasn't ready to launch until "Affliction" which would have been way too late.

Which means if Earth was to survive the TCW needed to happen and now I'm cross-eyed to quote Austin Powers. Maybe ENT takes place in an alternate ST universe and all the discrepancies no longer matter. I am curious to see of there will be any reference to ENT in the new ST film.

Anyways, just thought I'd share. Sorry this was so long.
Guillermo Crespi - Mon, Jan 24, 2011 - 7:30pm (USA Central)
I know it's been an awful lot of time since this episode originally aired, but I was re-reading this page and it was quite surprising to me that there's no mention of the teaser either in the review or the comments.

I never saw anything like that teaser coming, it was quite unique for a Star Trek episode, enormously enjoyable and very well made.
Marco P. - Thu, May 12, 2011 - 7:05pm (USA Central)
Well... the Temporal Cold War ends (or apparently, never took place) and surprisingly ST Enterprise gets another *GOOD* episode!!

Very much like Jammer (even though our points of view differ), most of the things I said in my comment of the previous episode can be applied here: we have a well-written script, meaningful dialogue, good acting, high-quality production values (minus the final blast... "exploding styrofoam cooler" indeed)... all adding to make a good Trek outing. One which resolves the Temporal Cold War BS in the most graceful way as humanly possible: the push of the Reset Button[TM] and the stop of this nonsense once and for all. More importantly, the episode doesn't try to explain it away with *more* nonsense-on-top-of-nonsense.

Some comments on certain things you said in you review Jammer: Silik's "You've changed, captain" line for example. Not only is the notion interesting but even more important is Archer's reply. "Not all for the better" he says, a witty, self-referential one-liner that would feel very out of touch if uttered in any of the three previous years (the pinnacle of writing ineptitude). With this line Archer acknowledges how much the events of season 3 transformed him, but more importantly I think he's also referring to the mistakes he's made, how he the dark no-nonsense Archer came to be formed. What the writers tried to impose on us over the course of 24 episodes the previous year (and which instead always made us look upon Archer as a moronic a**hole) is somewhat reconciled with a single line of dialogue.

Maybe I'm seeing into this too much, but it's funny how that line can give you the difference between a negative reaction/impression and a positive one.

I do agree on the largely ridiculous Germans-can't-aim-for-sh** action-sequences, but to be honest it's not the first time we've seen those (and not just during the general ST Enterprise era of mediocrity). Ridiculous? Yes. Surprising in a Trek context? Not really, it serves the plot albeit in a very convenient & contrived way (could have been improved by better staging though, no doubt).

As for Vosk's lines (the dialogues with Archer & the Nazi commander, the speech to his people), I thought they were all spot-on. Vosk oozes in solemnity and self-righteousness, he gets all the tones right and says things that stop a room talking (they put the Nazi commander right in his place!). Soon enough you realize just how evil/demented Vosk is, but it's a profile that fits perfectly with some of the other villains encountered in Trek lore. And while you do, you're not drawing palm to face cringing at what would be shi**y lines of dialogue had this been written by B&B. Tosk's dialogue isn't a masterpiece, but by comparison of seasons 1-2-3 it might as well be.

I think the reason you could not like the "Storm Front" two-parter more than a certain level Jammer, is that you were expecting a *rational* resolution to all this. You set the bar of your expectations too high. What I did instead, and this from the very beginning of part 1, is take the decision to separate Enterprise in two periods: on one side, the period where all this TCW bullsh** originated (Berman & Braga); on the other the moment where we finally had some good writing (Manny Coto). To me the situation can be equate to B&B dying and Coto having to inherit and take care of their inbred mutant offspring. What to do with the freak? Push a button and pretend it was never born.

Mission accomplished.
David S. - Thu, Feb 2, 2012 - 5:39pm (USA Central)
I'm inclined to think that Shadow Man/Future Guy is no other than Rick Berman. He came to see the damage his time line manipulations wrought.
Zane314 - Tue, Sep 18, 2012 - 8:38am (USA Central)
Storm Front for me was 2.5 stars, I agree with Jammer. I skipped a lot of it since it was pretty stupid story-wise. But Vosk was great as a red-eyed, bat-faced, Nazi-helping, time traveler. Hmm, I wonder if his race is evil? (just kidding!) ENT really was over the top with a lot of the aliens being so super evil looking and almost always turning out to be evil. No surprises here. But Vosk acted well and convincingly despite a dumb story and a preposterous premise. I ended up skipping to to Vosk and his crew, they were good. As was Silik. Which leads me to what I think was the biggest Temporal Cold War mistake: casting Matt Winston as Daniels. Winston has a bland, featureless appearance, almost a bit feminine. And his voice and acting mannerisms matched his physical appearance. John Fleck was really good as Silik; he could bring life to silly lines and stories but Winston was just a pasty, boring, plain guy mouthing lines about non-nonsensical, overused time travel drivel. It reminds me of Highlander where Connery could say the dumbest lines and make them powerful and believable with his legendary voice and physical gravitas. Winston? Not much Connery in there. Or Fleck/Silik or Gwaltney/Vosk or MacDonald/Dolim or Andrew Robinson or Jeffrey Combs or Tony Todd (man, DS9 had some great semi-guest and guest stars!) or etc. Winston was miscast and could not cover up silly time travel stories with any kind of heft or believable acting. Well, it’s over, time for less time travel … I hope!
Tiarfe - Sun, Oct 28, 2012 - 9:31am (USA Central)
Another enjoyable episode for me. This also felt like a series finale.
Cloudane - Wed, Dec 5, 2012 - 3:04pm (USA Central)
I have a feeling the last few minutes was the original ending to the show before S4 got commissioned and the time travel nonsense shoehorned in. It just feels like it "flows" from just before things got goofy at the end of the last episode of S3. Though with the difference of Archer being present...

Would've been a nice way to end, but too much of a copy of Endgame anyway.

I feel Archer was speaking for all of us (especially if the writers heard the same feedback?) when he said along the lines of "please just leave us alone now, I'm tired of your time travel stuff". Amen. It's been a fun ride especially towards the end of S3, but yes... time for something new! Can we trek across stars nao? Seek out new life and new civilisations and all that jazz? Soon find out!
Ken - Wed, Jan 9, 2013 - 2:59pm (USA Central)
All I can say is that I am thankful I can forget all of this ever happened, because none of it matters anyway.

I don't understand why everyone is celebrating the Xindi mission though in the next episode. If the timelines are reset to their natural place, then shouldn't the entire 3rd season be removed from the story? Or did the Xindi attack actually happen in the cannon timeline as we know it? If it did, then why has nobody heard of it at all? Or are we still in an alternate timeline anyway?

And if having to stop Vosk was the solution all along, then why didn't we just do that from the start? Why didn't anyone try and stop Vosk and his race even in the 28th century, let alone in the 22nd or 20th centuries?

And if there's all of these factions in the Temporal Cold War, then why does stopping Vosk put an end to it? Don't they also have to stop the Future Guy too?

As many other people concluded, none of this makes any sense at all.
auralgami - Fri, Jan 11, 2013 - 5:34pm (USA Central)
I don't think it's "well-written" or "good". I wish I could go back and skip over these two unnecessary and and ultimately pointless episodes.

Rather than beat a temporally displaced horse, let's look at what *really* worked:

Column A:

- Billie Holiday and the subtext of accelerated integration
- Silik's "You've changed" and Archer's response
- the reactions to Archer being alive
- performances

Column B:

- the newsreel
- laser Stukas shooting the Enterprise
- flying over Manhattan

If you look at Column B, there are some enjoyable things that are mainly "ooh shiny". I don't have a problem with them.

If you look at Column A, you see the things that really matter. These are the things that give it depth, emotional resonance, or reasons to care about any of it.

Unfortunately, Column A is pretty slim for two hours of television. It also shows that these two episodes focused relentlessly on things that were pretty much by-the-numbers and pedestrian. Gun battles and fighting. SFX. Time travel hoohah. Captures and escapes. Aliens and Nazis arguing tediously over things that won't matter to anyone. Trip escaping from the Evil Alien Nazis and then doing absolutely *nothing* of consequence, despite seeing the Evil Alien Nazis on the verge of their Moment of Triumph. Another convenient communication blackout. Silik wasting most of his talents -- why didn't he go on ahead and kill all the guards while cloaked? -- and then dying pointlessly. As with the previous episode, it's little more than moving pieces to where the script needs them to be, full of arbitrary and unexplained conveniences and limitations.

For a conflict that has involved so much airtime and so many players, it's completely baffling who is fighting for what or why. There's really no stake for viewers in any of it, because we know that it will all be magically undone anyway. And if you think about what Vosk tells Archer for even a second, it makes no sense. I can only commend the actor for keeping a straight face as his character is trying to recruit Archer to his side against Daniels because Daniels' side is a bunch of meddlers. This is coming from the Evil Alien Nazi who is rewriting the history of Archer's planet and promises to put it all back later when he's won the Time War, pinky swear. It's the episode's most unintentionally amusing moment.

Something that sums up everything wrong? The goodbye scene between Alicia and Archer. Predictably issued in the middle of a terribly unconvincing gun battle, it's totally uninvolving because this Alicia will never exist. There's nothing poignant about it, and Archer is a lump. The scene is completely perfunctory and emotional deadweight, included only because it ticks off the checkbox. This is City on the Edge of Boredom.
John TY - Mon, Jan 14, 2013 - 7:36am (USA Central)
Rubbish start to the final season.

Agreed we all wanted the end of the TCW; I just wish it had happened off camera.

I couldn't give a rat's about any of it. Voyager meets Doctor Who.

Forgettable.

1.5-2 stars.
ian - Wed, Mar 20, 2013 - 1:59pm (USA Central)
hnm yeah the time travel thing is lame... just filling up space... filler episode..

i do love daneils though... enterprise j!!!!!

love future tech, i hope they make a series about the 31st century. great stuff

hmnm yeah looks like the xindi will be removed from the timeline no conflict now makes all of season 3 a bit pointless....

and what the hell happened to captine archer.. hes a disgrace to star fleet.... growing life forms for parts, stealing aliens warp cores... where have the ethics gone? jane way would never have done this... and she went through the year of hell.. although that never technically happened either at least t was only two episodes. (good plot though).

yeah i dont think any starfleet captian would act the way acher acted shocking !!!
Patrick - Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - 3:57pm (USA Central)
So...if this episode undoes the Temporal Cold War, does that mean any episode of Star Trek: Enterprise that involved the TCW didn't happen? And if that's true, does that include "Broken Bow", the pilot episode?

We need Dulmer and Lucsly now more than ever.
Lt. Yarko - Sun, Jun 23, 2013 - 10:49am (USA Central)
Wow. How can anyone think the writing in this episode was good? This two parter was a total mess. I give it 1 star for the great shots of enterprise over old New York City and for other special effects related to the Nazis coming to America. Everything else was trash.
Jack - Thu, Nov 28, 2013 - 10:48am (USA Central)
Reed determines a different history where Russia never went communist, and therefore Hitler focuses entirely on the West, but in Part I, it is mentioned that the Russians are trying to retake Moscow from the Germans.
Paul - Mon, Feb 10, 2014 - 11:43am (USA Central)
So, here's the big question from this two-parter and "Zero Hour": No Earth ships responded when the Xindi weapon emerged from the vortex -- but there's a small fleet when the Enterprise returns at the end of this episode. WTF?

Think about this: The weapon emerges and one of the Earth's orbital station is there AND Shran is there. So, it's not as if everybody emerged from the vortex in 1944.

Even with the goofy rules/non-rules of the TCW, the orbital station's presence means that the ships exiting the vortex didn't emerge in some alternate timeline. So does the presence of Shran and his ship.

It makes it look like Starfleet wasn't on high alert after 7 million people were killed a year earlier. And it's also totally inconsistent with what we see after the timeline is "reset" in the two-parter.

Also, why didn't Reed or someone on Degra's ship try to signal Earth after the weapon was destroyed? I'm sure that would have been something Starfleet HQ would have liked to know. And if there was the orbital station, odds are Reed would have found Earth below.

(Note that a similar problem happens in BOBW. The Borg cube and the Enterprise are in orbit of Earth, but no one from Earth seems to contact the Enterprise! Granted, the planet's defense might have been crushed by the Wolf 359 attack, but presumably someone was still at Starfleet Command.)

BTW, Reed could have contacted Earth and the events of "Storm Front" could have still happened. He could have given the all clear, returned in the vortex to meet up with Enterprise and THEN the crew could have found the alternate 1944. Or, he could have tried to give the all clear and found nothing down there. Then, he would have rushed back to Enterprise and said, "Earth is saved, but it's not our Earth."

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