Star Trek: Enterprise
"Storm Front, Part II"
Air date: 10/15/2004
Written by Manny Coto
Directed by David Straiton
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"The building's about to blow up."
— 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.