Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Enterprise

"Terra Prime"

***

Air date: 5/13/2005
Teleplay by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens & Manny Coto
Story by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens & Andre Bormanis
Directed by Marvin V. Rush

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Earth men talk about uniting worlds, but your own planet is deeply divided. Perhaps you're not ready to host this conference." — Andorian ambassador

In brief: Like part one, the underlying storyline is sound, but the execution is a little on the clunky side.

John Frederick Paxton blames Starfleet for Earth's relationships with alien species, so in his ultimatum demanding all non-humans to leave Earth, he makes Starfleet Command his first target. He'll blow it up if his demands are not met on deadline.

Elsewhere on Earth and far away at the Vulcan and Andorian embassies, Terra Prime members are protesting, in what is part of a larger coordinated effort. Soval makes an interesting point: "The fact that Paxton has the support of so many of your people is ... troubling." And the Andorian ambassador is similarly concerned: "Earth men talk about uniting worlds, but your own planet is deeply divided. Perhaps you're not ready to host this conference."

To me, this notion is at the core of "Demons" and "Terra Prime." Archer, Starfleet, and the government powers-that-be want the conference to go forward. But what do the people want? Is public opinion really so fragmented? Is this simply a matter of a vocal minority? If there is this dramatic divide on Earth, is Earth ready to move forward and become something bigger than itself?

All good questions that the episode poses, although it admittedly doesn't deal with them in a whole lot of detail. The story is more about stopping Paxton from carrying out his doomsday scenario, and, when successful, looking ahead to addressing these tough questions in the future.

To that end, "Terra Prime" is successful up to a point. It has moments of thoughtful dialog and debate. It also has moments of clunky action execution. Like "Demons" before it, this episode can never really overcome cliches or convention to qualify as great Trek.

In an effort to approach Paxton's ship on Mars without being detected, the Enterprise hides behind a comet and deploys a shuttlepod with an armed boarding party to follow the comet as it crashes to the surface. Perhaps I'm misinformed, but wouldn't a comet impact of this magnitude be disastrous? At the very least, shouldn't the shuttlepod be vaporized in the blast? (Perhaps not. I'm no expert, so maybe I shouldn't question the science.) In the episode's best touch, the shuttlepod flies over a fenced-in piece of history on the Mars surface: "Carl Sagan Memorial Station" reads the inscription on the stone, which sits next to NASA's Mars rover.

Meanwhile, T'Pol and Trip, who were captured during their investigation in "Demons," face off in a war of wills against Paxton. Paxton calls the baby and everything she represents a threat to humanity, saying humanity will be destroyed as alien species are brought into the genome. For Paxton, anything "impure" represents the road to annihilation. He is, of course, a narrow-minded fool, and T'Pol explains the opposing point of view with a statement that is sublime in its succinctness: "Life is change."

But I was never quite sure why Paxton had this child cloned in the first place. Apparently it was meant to be the poster child for the destruction of humanity, but as such a poster child, it seems awfully ineffective. Why create something you hope to prevent, unless its creation compellingly demonstrates your point of view? (This child doesn't.) Furthermore, why use DNA from Trip and T'Pol (acquired, by the way, by a Terra Prime agent hiding on the Enterprise)? Was Terra Prime using them as an example because they'd had a sexual relationship in the past? It's a point the episode never makes; it's not even revealed that Terra Prime knew about the relationship. So is this instead supposed to be an ironic coincidence?

Speaking of Terra Prime agents, it turns out that Gannett isn't actually an agent of Terra Prime, but rather an agent of Starfleet Intelligence sent to find the real agent aboard the Enterprise. So at least Travis wasn't played as a total pawn in the previous episode. Gannett has an exchange with Travis here that would qualify as characterization, but again (and alas), Anthony Montgomery's performance is so hopelessly wooden that the scene sinks.

On the bridge of the Enterprise, Hoshi is in charge of Plan B, which is to destroy the verteron array if the away team doesn't take control of it before the deadline expires. It's trial by fire, and in a situation reminiscent of "The Doomsday Machine," Hoshi must contend with an authority figure who's practically salivating to take control of the situation from her as things go down to the wire.

Paxton ultimately is exposed as a hypocrite using alien medical treatments to keep himself alive. (You'd think someone in all these years would've recognized Paxton's condition if T'Pol can figure it out after observing two seconds of his hands shaking.) What is it about individuals who think they know what's right for everyone else and yet they themselves live in hypocrisy? In real life, these people make my skin crawl. In "Terra Prime," the plot machinations are moving too fast to permit that.

The action showdown that averts the crisis is clumsily handled. First we have Trip conveniently MacGyvering his way out of a holding cell. And then we have a wrestle for domination of the control room, where Archer simply has to stun Paxton and everything would be over, but instead he hesitates, permitting the window behind him to shatter because of the air pressure, etc., allowing Paxton to make one last move, etc. Amusingly, the verteron array actually ends up firing — hitting nothing because Trip reprogrammed it, but making Archer look rather incompetent as action heroes go. (And didn't the dialog say that the air pressure on Mars due to terraforming was essentially Earth-like? Why, then, would the window explode?) Then there's the business regarding the Terra Prime agent aboard the Enterprise, which exists only to tidy up loose ends of the plot.

So, no, "Terra Prime" is not sold on its action or Archer's would-be heroics. It's sold on its concept of humanity striving to be better, and on Archer's attempt to not only see this alliance through, but to see it through for the right reasons. The uncertainty sparked by the events of Paxton's plan puts the talks on hold (no doubt to give room for the series finale), but the story itself is hopeful that things will get back on track. Archer has a speech near the end that is nice, traditional, old-fashioned Star Trek, and it even includes the cliche of the Gradual Applause Crescendo. Given the way "These Are the Voyages" ends, this moment in "Terra Prime" is much more satisfying as a send-off for the Enterprise crew.

The eventual death of Trip and T'Pol's child (due to an errant cloning process) is tragic — perhaps unnecessarily so. But it's well played, and reveals depth to the bond between Trip and T'Pol — a depth that has rarely been demonstrated in the year-plus since their relationship began. It bodes well for their future. Too bad I've seen the finale and know what their future is. But, for this moment, it works.

Next: Riker. Troi. The holodeck. Oh, yeah, and the NX-01 crew, too.

Previous episode: Demons
Next episode: These Are the Voyages...

Season Index

20 comments on this review

stallion - Tue, Sep 25, 2007 - 11:28pm (USA Central)
Two years after Enterprise got canceled I saw Demon and this episode and it converted me into Enterprise. My favorite part was Archer giving his speech, Phlox telling Archer he never expected to be apart of a another family, the ending scene and so on. I keep hearing a lot of fans say that season four put Enterprise in the right direction. I loved this Episode so much that it made me buy season four on DVD, than three, two, and one and it made me a fan. Just like all Trek Series Enterprise had it bad episodes but for me it was mostly great. The show reminded me why I love Star Trek. I loved episodes like Dear Doctor, Shuttlepod One, Cogenitor, Dead Stop, Damage, Forgotten and etcs. I think people are hard on this show and it's shame it didn't finish it run.
stallion - Tue, Sep 25, 2007 - 11:32pm (USA Central)
I also want to add that one reason I didn't watch Enterprise during it run was because I was a little bit burned out of Star Trek. I watched Voyager and DSN reguarly and at the sametime watched the reruns of TOS and TNG for the first time. I did watch Enterprise and most of the episodes I happen to watch was good. It was nice to know that after all these years Trek was still producing great episodes. So I was burned out on Trek and at the sametime it was my last year of High school and I wanted to enjoy it.
Stef - Wed, Jan 30, 2008 - 4:54am (USA Central)
Just being super-ultra-pedantic: T'Pol didn't notice Paxton's hand shaking. She scanned him with her medical scanner (tricorder mark 1?) when she was scanning her baby. Paxton turns his back to leave and she quickly scanned him, discovering his disease.

I was disappointed that with the number of black people in authority, no one tried the "you'll be next" tactic. Combined with Paxton's disease and the cloning of the baby (which none of Paxton's people seemed to know about), some kind of turncoat behaviour from Paxton's followers would have been far more entertaining.

I agree somewhat with Stallion, Enterprise is nowhere near as bad as people make out. (Bound being the obvious exception of course). When you consider the utter dross that Voyager regularly put out...
Jakob M. Mokoru - Mon, Dec 15, 2008 - 3:55am (USA Central)
Well - this episode is Enterprise as it should have been. A prequel series should do exactly this kind of things.

So it is an appropriate - although not great - ending to an fairly entertaining - although not great - series (for my part I do not consider These are the voyages... an ENT-episode).
RussS - Wed, Nov 17, 2010 - 7:46am (USA Central)
So the baby dies.

Why is this neccesary?

Star Trek Enterprise is about an optimistic future. The baby should have lived. The could have written it any way they want.

The last, absolute last thing I wanted to see after four years of finally getting used to (and liking) T'Pol was to watch her hold her own daughter in her arms and then have the baby die. Wow, what optimistic symbolism.

Idiots.


Carbetarian - Sat, Jan 8, 2011 - 10:31pm (USA Central)
This was a much better ending than the actual ending of this show. Unfortunately, "These Are The Voyages" was actually the first episode of this series I ever saw. Even before getting to know the NX-01 crew, I thought TATV was a terrible episode and a total kick in the face to both the cast of Enterprise and their fans. Now that I've seen pretty much the whole series, I can honestly say TATV is one of the most insulting episodes of Star Trek ever filmed. Granted, this show was never really great. But, it deserved much better than the ending that it got.

Call me an old romantic here, but I really wanted to see Trip and T'Pol live happily ever after with their baby. I actually cried during that last scene. The baby should have lived. That part of this ending was just incredibly sad and pointless. It would have been much more in line with the Archer's optimistic speech for the baby to live. Although, I give this episode credit for really making me care deeply about both Trip and T'Pol. I love that T'Pol named the baby after Trip's sister. It just breaks my heart that the baby had to die like that.

Archer's speech was great. I've never been a fan of Captain Archer in general. But, he really pulled that speech off well.

All in all, I find myself vaguely sad that Enterprise didn't get a fifth season. The first season was mediocre and boring. The second season was just awful. But, the third and fourth season finally showed a good amount of potential.

At any rate, I'd give this episode three and a half stars. I would have even gone for four stars if the baby had lived.

As a series I would rank the seasons like this:

Season one: two stars

Season two: one star

Season three: two stars for the first half of the season, three for the last half

Season four: three stars

For the series as a whole: two and a half stars
Grumpy - Tue, May 3, 2011 - 6:58pm (USA Central)
"...it's not even revealed that Terra Prime knew about the relationship. So is this instead supposed to be an ironic coincidence?"

One of Paxton's goons made some snide remark to Trip, which stood out because A) who would even know? and B) it really *was* a coincidence. Seems like the on-board spy just grabbed the first human and Vulcan DNA he could get his hands on (and it must've happened as soon as the ship returned from the Xindi mission, or else Elizabeth wouldn't be fully gestated). Which raises the further question, why get the DNA from Enterprise at all? There were plenty of humans and Vulcans closer at hand.

It must be said, the idea of terraforming Mars using comets steered by Trekkian tech is pretty cool.
Jay - Wed, Sep 21, 2011 - 4:37pm (USA Central)
It's hard to believe that in nearly a century since First Contact, no human and Vulcan pair ever fell in love and contemplated reproduction.
Paul - Wed, Nov 30, 2011 - 7:04pm (USA Central)
Aren't Trip and T'Pol fairly recognizable among humans -- considering their role in the Xindi mission? Would it make sense to send them undercover at all.
Steve - Sun, Apr 1, 2012 - 2:35am (USA Central)
wow, how accurate was that array? Hitting a moving starship thousands of miles away. And only at 2% of power.

Pity they didn't use that to target the Xindi weapon.

Har har.
Milica - Sat, Jul 7, 2012 - 4:01am (USA Central)
The Trip/T'Pol final scene was truly heartbreaking and made me cry. The writers are cruel.
Vylora - Mon, Sep 3, 2012 - 2:48am (USA Central)
I have to admit...the final scene in this episode was absolutely heartbreaking.
Yanks - Wed, Dec 5, 2012 - 9:16am (USA Central)
This episode is the Enterprise series finale for me; I cannot and will not recognize the abortion that is named “These are the Voyages”.
This episode embodies everything Trek represents. It is a heart tugging story about diversity and self exploration. You have the background of T’Pol, whom had professed her feelings for Trip and Trip sharing those feelings and staying away. Then the two of them, Vulcan and Human, brought together because the epitome of a "anti IDIC human" like Paxton, using the fire of xenophobia to further his Arian-centric goals, created Elizabeth for the sole purpose of isolating humanity from the newly found diverse community of aliens. A helpless, completely unaware, innocent little Elizabeth, with no understanding of her importance or control of her fate, ends up being the magnet that led to Paxton's demise and the reunification or Trip and T'Pol. T'Pol's very simple line while holding her emotions at bay as Trip struggles to contain his, holding the Vulcan IDIC given to her by her mother… “She was important” symbolizes the very heart of Trek - Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination. Then we are treated to Archer’s finest moment as he addresses the council and speaks not only to the exploration of space, but to inner exploration and tolerance and pleads for all to join together in a most noble cause.
Cloudane - Sun, Dec 23, 2012 - 12:36pm (USA Central)
I however haven't seen the finale next, and it probably would've been better without implied spoilers. Oh well.

I agree with the numerous comments about the baby dying. They even named her Elizabeth, which I thought was a wonderful (and emotional) suggestion from T'Pol and way for her name to live on. Now poor Trip gets to lose another Elizabeth. Depressing, heartbreaking (made me cry too), and pointlessly so :( I would almost say, since the writers had become cynical, maybe it was indeed time to end.

However, I loved the speech. I'd have been happy for that to have been the ending.

Well.... one more to go o.o
Yoon - Fri, Mar 15, 2013 - 7:10am (USA Central)
It seems Trip and T'Pol forgot about their vulcan son who became the captain of the Enterprise after the ship was thrown back in time 100 years during the end of the Xindi mission.

You'd think they would mention something about this daughter being their second child, etc. And Trip sobbing at the good news from Phlox that the humans and vulcans can breed... shouldn't they already know this?
Patrick - Fri, Mar 15, 2013 - 11:22am (USA Central)
They should also know its possible for humans and Vulcans can breed from the dead future pilot in "Future Tense".

CONTINUITY!!!!
Nebula Nox - Fri, Apr 26, 2013 - 6:05pm (USA Central)
I'm crying...
Latex Zebra - Wed, May 29, 2013 - 10:50am (USA Central)
Good to see Peter Weller didn't get typecast as a Trek villian as a result of these episodes.
Yanks - Fri, Aug 9, 2013 - 1:20pm (USA Central)
^^ LOL...
Necro - Sun, Mar 23, 2014 - 12:32pm (USA Central)
While I do agree there were several continuity errors, such as the pilot in "Future Tense" (which was pretty much a mixed bag of alien DNA so I guess Paxton was a little correct), and of course Trip and T'pol's son, this episode was well done.

The speech was totally what a captain of Trek would be like and it's totally what Trek is all about. I even felt a little moved. I really enjoyed the look on Soval's face during that scene.

The death of Liz really moved me and the final scene with Trip and T'pol totally broke me. You know T'pol is nearly losing herself as Trip has already done. The holding hands I take as a promise they will try for another child (their 3rd! writers) in their futures.

This was what I have waited for in Enterprise for a long, long while. I have just the final episode remaining.

Submit a comment

Above, type the last name of the captain on Star Trek: TNG
Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

Season Index

Copyright © 1994-2014, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of any review or article on this site is prohibited. Star Trek (in all its myriad forms), Battlestar Galactica, and Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc., NBC Universal, and Tribune Entertainment, respectively. This site is in no way affiliated with or authorized by any of those companies. | Copyright & Disclaimer