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Marco P.
Mon, May 16, 2011, 2:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: The Forge

Wow! What a great Trek outing! As puts it, the first step in a mission to "completely undo all the fu**ed up stuff done to Vulcans so far this series".

During "Home" (S4E03) we had a brief glimpse of the true potential of Vulcan society portrayal in ENT. but "The Forge" represents its full realization. Finally Vulcans are truly given depth, background, politics, culture, as well as an interesting history replete with ideological ramifications. They act & perform like three-dimensional characters!

The most interesting character portrayed is Soval. Long after T'Pol, he represents the first Vulcan ready to truly embrace Human-Vulcan cooperation and his willingness to put his career (even *status* as Vulcan) on the line, in order to helo his deceased friend Admiral Forrest (and then later Jonathan Archer) is both surprising and very refreshing. Vulcans are truly no longer the suspicious beings holding humans back in their technological advancement and spatial exploration.

I think a big key to this episode's success are the multiple parallels drawn from our own Earth society: factions with different political/theological idelogy, conspiracies, differing interpretation of religious texts. The multiple nods to Trek continuity are just the icing on an already large and tasty cake.

A few nitpicking points and other comments, in no particular order:
• In one of the episode's opening scenes, THANK GOD the crew is playing basketball. If I see one more waterpolo footage I think I'll shoot myself.
• Why are Reed and Mayweather investigating the Embassy bombing?? What have Enterprise's PILOT and CHIEF OF SECURITY got to do with it? Shouldn't this be handled by a local StarFleet commission?
• Why didn't Reed/Mayweather beam off the bomb?!? For fear it might detonate? Contrary to episodes in other Trek series (where they specifically state some bombs are rigged to explode the minute a transporter beam attempts to dematerialize them), nobody said that would happen this time!
• Also and on more general terms, isn't it awfully convenient bombs on TV never blow instantly? They always start beeping increasingly faster giving the protagonists a chance to get away.
•T'Pol has been looking increasingly attractive this season. Within less than 6 episodes they have succeeded what ENT has failed to do over the course of 3 entire seasons: make T'Pol look sexy! All it took was an elegant white dress and slightly longer hair.
• Reviving a coma patient with extensive injuries (at the cost of possibly worsening) raised a big alarm medical ethics alarm bell in me. Fortunately they went with the mind-meld approach.

At any rate the overall feeling remains largely positive. "Worthy of a Trek prequel series" indeed.
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Marco P.
Mon, May 16, 2011, 8:56am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: The Augments

Have to agree, the Augments trilogy didn't come to the best of resolutions. Khan's people deserved more.

In my comment of the previous episode I faulted Soong for being short-sighted. He displays similar behaviour here when instead of trying to *convince* Malik & Co. what they're doing is wrong/immoral/has an alternative, he lets things degenerate to a mutiny and then counter-plots to stop Malik *physically* (enlisting Persis's and Enterprise's help). Too little too late, which makes the ultimate (expected) morale of "the teacher has failed" a little harder to swallow for me. Like I said before, perhaps this teacher didn't try hard enough.

As for Malik, I can only echo Jammer's comments: for someone superiorly intelligent his decisions are rather perplexing. Yet consider the scene where Soong and Malik discuss the doctor's choice to alter the genetic code of the next generation of embryos, suppressing "aggression" and "violent behaviour". Perhaps the writers wanted to emphasize that in *spite* of his superior intelligence, Malik is genetically predisposed to act violently: he cannot help himself, even it means long-term ramifications his intelligence did not consider and which are ultimately self-defeating. If that is the case, the intent can be commended but the final result isn't very effective. Emotion as a reason for irrational behaviour (as in the case of Khan) works a lot better than DNA.

I also agree as far as the rest of the Augments (Persis excluded) are concerned: lemmings blindly following their leader without offering any kind of debate? Bit poor.

Some other notes, more of a technical nature:
• How the hell did that grappler trick on the Klingon ship work??? "Shearing forces"? I really don't buy it.
• Couldn't Archer have beamed the Augments aboard Enterprise before the Klingon ship detonated?? Malik did it!

I thought the final scene, foreshadowing the creation of Data, was a nice touch however.
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Marco P.
Sat, May 14, 2011, 1:17pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: Borderland


I should say that despite not always agreeing with with what you write, I always find your reviews interesting and insightful Jammer. I know of course that you wrote the reviews immediately after the episodes aired, I do keep this fact well in mind. In fact whenever I write & add my own comments it is generally right after watching the episode myself: it gives me a similar, immediate "gut" reaction to what I've just seen on screen, just like I were watching the series back when it aired in 2004.

The reason of my surprise on your ratings is not that you didn't acknowledge the work of Manny Coto, but rather you didn't emphasize strongly enough (IMHO) the incredibly sharp contrast in quality between seasons 1-3 and season 4. Like I already wrote in a previous comment, I think it is really night & day. Also I don't think I can be accused of prejudice or to have followed the pre-agreed narrative you refer to, because unlike fans watching the series at the time (for which B&B leaving creative control to Coto must have been hyped & discussed quite extensively over the break between seasons), I only found out about it *after* reading it here on this website. So my reactions, for "Storm Front Parts 1 & 2" at the very least, should in theory be fairly objective.

That being said, and all knowledge about B&B-Coto taken aside, I think the episodes speak for themselves. From the points of view of dialogue, storytelling, and script quality it is simply much much MUCH better television.

So no, I don't think I'd put a halo on Manny Coto and proclaim him the saviour of Enterprise just yet. I do believe in fact that he penned a few stinkers of season 3, so I reserve judgment until the season (and series) wraps up. But I *do* consider the first 5 episodes of this season so largely superior to anything we have seen so far, it should merit a much greater acknowledgement than you've given.

Obviously ultimately, it's all just a matter of opinion.
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Marco P.
Sat, May 14, 2011, 12:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: Cold Station 12

Addendum: the last paragraph in my previous comment obviously refers to Malik.
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Marco P.
Sat, May 14, 2011, 12:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: Cold Station 12

Funny, I felt this one was a bit inferior to its "Borderland" prequel, yet you gave it 3.5 stars Jammer. I find 3 stars to be more appropriate. The reason why is there a number of elements in this episode that bother me. Little things, but they do add up in the end.

Take for example the moment when, while devising the plan to board the space station, Malik suggests to knock out the station's life support, wait a few hours, and enter the station unopposed. Dr.Soong immediately rejects the idea saying "no one is to die". He does not give an explanation to Malik, thereby planting the seed of the latter's doubts (and presumably later, rebellion) towards "Father".

This moment I think symbolizes this episode's weakness, and by extrapolation that of the Augments trilogy. I feel a person of the intelligence of Dr.Soong, who has no qualms to resort to illegal means for what he considers a "greater good" but obviously cares about the value of human life (as we have seen), here missed an opportunity for guidance/teaching. Instead of imparting the notion of not-killing-because-killing's-bad (not explicitly stated but implied), I wish Soong would have instead opted for the "don't-come-down-to-their-level" and "protect them" approach.

Consider for instance a race of genetically superior organisms who, knowing of their status vis-à-vis their creators, decide to rise above them not on the physical but on the intellectual level. A situation where the children become the parents, taking care of the latter because the former no longer "know any better". A very idealistic notion granted, but one Soong could have at least *attempted* to impart, especially given the lessons to be learned from the Eugenics wars. If then the Augments' megalomaniac behaviour (exemplified by Malik, his quote of Nietzsche's "Mankind is something to be surpassed" included) would *still* have continued, one could have deduced to be because of their inherent genetic makeup. Soong would still have failed in his teachings, but at least he'd have, to my mind, tried harder. It would have made the ultimate moral & lesson of the story, genetic engineering for the purpose of augmenting is too dangerous/controversial, even more poignant.

Also I found the way Udar/Smike is instantly ready to trust Archer's evidence (the datapad with his real parents, Dr.Soong's background) a bit convenient for plot devices. After years of indoctrination from Soong I'd have expected he'd be somewhat more resistant. One could argue being abandoned by his brothers might have played a role in his readiness to listen, but the on-screen portrayal does not emphasize this fact.

Finally in terms of casting, I have the echo the comment made by Jay in the review of the previous episode. Comparisons between Alec Newman and Ricardo Montalbán would be a little unfair (though appropriate), but his demeanor does indeed invoke petulance rather than superhuman menacing presence. A Khan he is not, that much is certain, but perhaps that serves as a praise for the episode itself. It generally takes a good script to distinguish poor actors from thespians, and it's a distinction Enterprise has made very difficult until only recently.
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Marco P.
Sat, May 14, 2011, 8:48am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: Borderland

I really have to second David's thoughts Jammer. I don't understand why your ratings don't reflect the vast improvements Enterprise went through since Season 4 began. We finally have a REAL show on our hands, intelligent storytelling, multiple nods to Trek continuity (that *aren't* a big B&B-style "fu** you" to the fans)... AND we also have Brent Spiner as a special guest star! What more do you want?

If you absolutely wanted to nitpick, Richard on firsttvdrama ( raises some fairly good points. Particularly one about the feasibility/practicality of randomly abducting people off their ships by the Orion syndicate: how they do this without pissing off every alien race they encounter is indeed a very good question. That said more than anything, most of Richard's issues are of a *technical* nature and I disagree when he claims this episode is full of plot holes. For the first time on this show in a VERY long while, plot holes (the few that are present) cannot be spotted a mile away, which in itself represents eons of progress compared to previous ENT seasons.

And yes, this episode is a prequel to a trilogy and isn't complete... but so what? It sets the necessary bases for what's to come, giving us just the necessary glimpse of the Augments' abilities and inner character, as well as Dr. Soong's. After 70+ episodes of crap, if this isn't good television I don't know what is.
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Marco P.
Fri, May 13, 2011, 11:08am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: Home

Dear God... was I just watching Star Trek Enterprise??? Because honestly this doesn't look like the same show! Between seasons 1 to 3 and the first 3 episodes of season 4 there is a NIGHT vs. DAY difference! I feel like I'm watching a *REAL* sci-fi drama for the very first time since I pressed PLAY on "Broken Bow".

I honestly and truthfully have nearly *nothing* negative to say about "Home"! There are 3 story arcs and they all are perfectly paced, acted, and executed. More importantly there is REAL character exploration in all three, albeit at different levels.

First we have Archer, facing his debriefing and yet another wave of Vulcan hostility. He snaps out at first, but it is an understandable emotional response, rooted in fact rather than a plot contrivance to create false antagonism between humans and Vulcans (like we often saw during Season 1). At the end of the episode the reconciliation between Soval and the captain rings true: not only have both had adequate time for reflection, but they are now capable of seeing the other's point of view. More importantly they both look like intelligent people rather than pig-headed idiots, and the viewer comes to same conclusion by himself (instead of being spoon-fed by poor dialogue).

In between, during the mountain-climbing trek Archer comes to face with his inner demons. It is one of the first few times where I've genuinely empathized with Archer, because he sees the choices he's had to make over the Xindi war and they don't represent the idealistic notion of a StarFleet captain, a notion he fully embraced once he started off on his journey in season 1 and one he doesn't see now by looking at himself in the mirror. He feels he has lost a bit of his humanity and perhaps he's right. At any rate this character exploration, which was virtually non-existent during any of the previous seasons, provides the vital structural fabric necessary for us to finally FEEL for Archer, empathize with him and understand what he's going through on the human level. By the same token, the romance with Erika (who provides the ex-girlfriend shoulder to cry on and offers Archer some of his humanity back) has the same "right" tone to it. Both actors pull off the scene admirably and this provides very strong evidence in support of Scott Bakula: any distaste/indifference we might have had for Archer in previous seasons was not the actor's fault, but rather how the character had been written.

Secondly, we have the T'Pol/Trip arc on Vulcan. For the very first time (and this perhaps why Jammer didn't buy it) we see these two interacting in ways that are neither cliché, openly saucy-and-sexy-for-viewer-ratings, or dumb. They act like *real* people. Yes, the root of their relationship and how they got together the first time... SUCKED (for lack of a better word). But I am drawing the same line here that I drew in my commentary of the "Storm Front Part II" episode. This line separates the period of Berman & Braga with that of Manny Coto, and if the latter wants to be successful it must treat events that took place in the former in a very particular way: it must focus on INTENDED effect (namely here, T'Pol & Trip *doing* it in a way that has emotional consequences) rather than the actual hash that was displayed on the TV screen due to inept writing.

With that in mind it is fully conceivable the two characters developed a true emotional attachment to one another over season 3, and it is one that has a worthy resolution here with a backdrop of finely-tuned themes of arranged-marriage and Vulcan society/family obligations. T'Pol's mother, which during former seasons I have no doubt would have served as a hollow character, a mere tool advance the plot... instead looks and acts like a REAL person here. My only regret is the way the story was wrapped up, namely not the "love-conquers-all" ending I was expecting. Perhaps it's a good thing, and perhaps the show should be commended for avoiding an obvious RomCom cliché. Still, I couldn't help but "Aww" when the wedding does go through (I guess I'm a romantic).

Lastly, we have the Earth post-Xindi war trauma/bigotry theme featuring Phlox (which also provides Reed, Mayweather, and Hoshi with some screen time). I will admit the barroom brawl feels very contrived and expected, and intelligent humans *should* make the distinction between Xindi and other obviously non-hostile aliens. That said, there is no evidence to attest to the intelligence of the bar patron picking the fight (quite the contrary in fact). So despite feeling expected, the whole scene does not have the otherwise "fake" feel I felt in similar outings of seasons 1-2.

As for the whole puffer-fish reaction by Phlox, it provided a WTF moment of pure jubilation for me. Not only is it funny, but it has the effect of defusing the "serious" tone of the situation immediately and perfectly. I cannot believe I'm saying this in an Enterprise context but I thought it was a moment of PURE GENIUS by the writers, nearly surpassed later by one of Phlox's lines during his dialogue with Hoshi. "My osmotic eel is under the weather" has to be the BEST excuse to get out of a date in the entire history of dates.

So in summary, this episodes features THREE simultaneous storylines and ALL THREE are worthy to receive full marks. when is the last time it happened on this show? I'll tell you when: NEVER.

4 Stars.

P.S. Grumpy, why are you taking Archer's words so literally? That's just what a captain *has* to say when delivering an eulogy, every member of his crew is essential to the ship's effort. Whether each casualty *individually* provided a tactical advantage isn't really the point.
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Marco P.
Thu, May 12, 2011, 7:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: Storm Front, Part II

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.
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Marco P.
Thu, May 12, 2011, 10:20am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: Storm Front, Part I

Believe or not... I LIKED this one!!!!!!!!

Unbelievable as it may, if one makes total abstraction of the CORE of this episode which contains the utter ridiculousness that is the Temporal Cold War (in all its convoluted mess requiring at last a resolution), "Storm Front, Part I" is actually a well-executed, well-acted Star Trek outing. Worthy I'd say of any of the Star Trek series.

Yes, keep scratching your eyes but it's true. Get rid of Daniels and all his lines of dialogue, the mysterious re-appearance of Silik, and any further reference to the Cold War BS (do keep some time-travel elements in, because you have to explain how the crew finds itself in the middle of WWII) and all the ingredients are here:
• a well-written script,
• meaningful dialogue (minus one or two corny lines, but that's per usual Star Trek standards),
• a hint of social relevance (albeit very diluted),
• good acting (when captain Archer returns to the bridge for the first time I even saw a glimpse of emotion in T'Pol's eyes, one I actually *believed*)
• ever-present high-quality production values

I am surprised you're giving this one just 2.5 stars Jammer. You have been way more forgiving of much worse material in your reviews before. For my part, I consider the inheritance of the Temporal Cold War a crux writer Manny Coto dealt with admirably.

So what if, as you say, "all this temporal nonsense has gotten so out of hand they simply have to wipe the slate clean in one bold, contrived stroke"? It is actually the most graceful thing to do, because nothing they could ever imagine to *rationally* explain everything would sound "logical" to anyone. Swipe it under the rug and pretend it never happened (kinda like this series, but I digress and don't want to be negative today; I actually *did* like this episode -here's to hoping part 2 will be just as good).
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Marco P.
Wed, May 11, 2011, 6:38am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: Zero Hour

Good grief... where to begin?

With the elephant in the room I guess: the ending.

To be quite honest, I'm only mildly surprised at the last 60 seconds. Dealing with Berman & Braga I've kinda developed a defense mechanism, and that's "always expect the worst". So naturally, after Archer "died" I immediately started thinking of ways the writers would bring him back (likely involving themes as original & diverse as time-travel, alternate universes, or de-phasing). But I'll admit: I sure wasn't expecting THIS.

What to make of it? I'll tell you what NOT to make of it: "commending" B&B for not giving us a traditional ending. Are you serious Jammer?!? Inept writers take another gigantic dump on Star Trek fandom with... what? Time-traveling alien Nazis? And... you want to *commend* them? Honestly, I fail to even see the purpose of something like this in rational terms. Was it done to enhance the ratings? Make viewers come back for Season 4? Or is purely the WOW factor (and boy... how "wowed" are WE?).

Jammer mentioned this season's mission was to have its cake and eat it too. Here's What *I* take home from the finale: B&B loaded the cake with so many ingredients (including the space-Nazi "cherry" on top) because amidst the low-ratings desolation they are desperately trying to hide the fact this cake tastes like sh**. And we are the morons eating it. Not for much longer fortunately.

As for the rest of the episode, what to add on Jammer's already eloquent exposé? "Style over substance, action over useful dialogue, technobabble over puzzle-solving" summarizes it pretty nicely. It is nothing more than a race-against-time B action movie (yes, even the action scenes are sub-par IMHO), where "the ticking clocks have ticking clocks" (in not one but TWO -imagine our luck- simultaneous storylines) and in which all the characters seem more interested at going through the motions than showing us any real emotion or interesting dialogue.

Ultimately, the only reason I will return to ST Enterprise for Season 4 is firstly, *curiosity* (what train-wreck of a script did B&B conjure up this time) and secondly, a sense of *completion* (I'm doing a Star Trek marathon). Much like the Enterprise characters, I'm only going through the motions at this point though and cannot wait for the moment it's actually over. I just can't believe I'm gonna have to sit through another 24 episodes before that takes place.
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Marco P.
Tue, May 10, 2011, 5:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: The Council

2 stars.

I like "The Council" for all the reasons cited by Jammer. I hate it for all those cited by sfdebris ( The well-executed suspense & visual pyrotechnics just aren't enough to fully redeem the episode's nonsense, stupid dialogue, and plot holes.

(My consolation is that every time I look at a Reptilian, I can't help but stare in awe at just how cool their costume & make-up looks)
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Marco P.
Tue, May 10, 2011, 10:21am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: E2

Here's an idea: instead of waiting 100 years to actually try and destroy the Xindi probe, why didn't Lorian & the Enterprise-2 establish first contact with the Xindi. Make peaceful relations... earn their trust... form an alliance? Avoid the necessity of a Xindi superweapon altogether?

I knew it couldn't last. In terms of greatness, I guess three consecutive episodes is the maximum we could ever expect from Enterprise. Leave it to a re-hashed time-travel storyline to break a good streak and bring us back to facepalming mediocrity.

Forget about "contaminating the timeline". What I really wish is for someone to back into the past to 2001, prevent this shambles of a series from ever being produced. The world would have been spared the aberration; Trek fans would still have their self-respect.
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Marco P.
Tue, May 10, 2011, 8:17am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: The Forgotten

THREE good episodes in a row???? This must be some kind of a record for this show. I am almost speechless.

No fear! The inevitable traces of imperfection are still present, but there's also a lot to smile about in this episode (well, actually "The Forgotten" exudes more of a *sad* mood, but you get my point). I guess I'll start with the negative (in bullet form so as not to delve on it):

• Archer's speech, while a welcome novelty at last (the captain finally acknowledges the casualties) could have been done a lot better (see Adama's speeches on Battlestar Galactica for some REAL inspiration).
• The same can be said about Tucker's letter. Too short IMHO, although it did move me.
• When T'Pol tries to comfort Trip, why didn't she hug him or something? If she has now access to all these emotions, the writers should have embraced the opportunity. Instead they have her simply put her hand on Trip's shoulder sympathetically.
• How the Reptilian ship found Degra & Archer's rendezvous point is conveniently ignored.
• More importantly and all things considered, this episode's MAIN event isn't Archer's speech, repairs to the Enterprise, T'Pol's feelings, or Tucker's letter. It's the fact Degra has gone past the POINT OF NO RETURN!!! He attacked and destroyed a Reptilian ship! This essentially means *civil war* (that is, unless you buy the fact the ship was destroyed quickly enough, before it had a chance to alert to other Reptilian ships). This is a momentous occasion, one that Degra should have acknowledged with a lot more gravitas and solemnity.

All that aside, I agree with everything Jammer wrote. A very good outing.

I will disagree on one point though: "Has the season perhaps turned the corner"? No. Only time will tell. Optimism in this series is a luxury I cannot afford, lest it bite me in the ass (as it repeatedly has in the past) later.
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Marco P.
Mon, May 9, 2011, 8:25am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: Damage

I disagree with Jammer about the plausibility of Archer's release. It makes no tactical military sense whatsoever, not even with the "hidden-message-within-the-aquatic-pod-giving-Archer-a-rendezvous" subplot. When you hold captive the captain of the ship sent to destroy your superweapon, you don't just release him back into the wild. Not unless you're stupid (or have been written as such by incompetent script writers).

I also disagree with Jammer comparing this episode to DS9's "In the Pale Moonlight". In DS9 until that episode, Sisko had been written (and portrayed by Avery Brooks) as a very moral, upright, StarFleet leader (much like his Kirk, Picard, and Janeway counterparts). It is that strong moral fiber which provides the sharp contrast with what he is willing to do (and ultimately ends up doing), and is the vital ingredient making "In the Pale Moonlight" so poignant. With Archer however, we are dealing with someone whose behaviour has continuously ranged from the utterly stupid to the severely unethical. "It probably won't be the last" Archer says, but he forgets it isn't the first either. So is it significant a StarFleet captain is reduced to piracy because he has no other choice? Yes. Is it significant for Archer? Not really, despite what the writers would have us believe.

These problems aside, I will admit the rest of the episode is pretty well done. Trellium-D drug-addiction is certainly an interesting take on T'Pol's recent erratic behaviour, one which (I *hope*) will have consequences in subsequent episodes. Also interesting is how the damage (in all its forms) sustained by the Enterprise ship and its crew is portrayed. Like I stated in my comment about the previous episode "Azati Prime", Star Trek has always had the constant of great production values. "Damage"'s depiction of mayhem and damage fallout (producers "trashing all the sets and covering everyone with grime, cuts, and bruises" as Jammer puts it) is no exception.

Finally, I'm not too convinced with the appearance of "SHE" (the Sphere builder), but it is interesting to see a schism forming between members of the Xindi council, which at the very least (one hopes) is bound to give further background information on the supposed Xindi "enemy". An enemy which, at least in part, seems to be soon destined to become allies.

At any rate, much like last episode, I am sufficiently intrigued to WANT to see what's next. So not a 4-star outing for me, but well above average ST Enterprise mediocrity.
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Marco P.
Mon, May 9, 2011, 6:43am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: Azati Prime

Well, this was entertaining.

I will say this on Enterprise: no matter how bad the writing, how ridiculous the story, how moronic the characters, there will always be one constant redeeming quality throughout the show, much like any other Trek series: great production values.

As Jammer said, we have the terrific visual of the underwater construction site, but I will add two more things that really impressed me (no no, really!) in this episode: the absolutely stunning makeup work of the Reptilian commander (which, I was glad to find out, was portrayed by the same actor who did Tosk on DS9) and of course, the very spectacular end-sequence where we see Enterprise being pummeled near to death by Xindi ships. These three items would almost make me forget the usual share of nonsense we're being fed in this episode.

Alas, nonsense there is. Starting with the increasingly-annoying-and-terminally-incomprehensible Temporal Cold War BS. Every time I see Daniels appear I think to myself "UGH! HIM again???". Jammer says: "who cares" and indeed it is tough to feel any other way.

Also, there is Archer. The "hero" captain who decides he must take command of the suicide mission himself, and then ends up being taken prisoner and beaten for GAZILLIONTH time in the series. It also shows weaknesses in the script on the part of the Reptilians, because despite their very cool makeup and supposedly ruthless attitude, their torture techniques are limited to using Archer as a punching bag. I would have really liked to see them get creative with futuristic tools (after all Archer deserves it).

In any case, despite all the negatives this was an episode I enjoyed. It has entertainment, good visuals, a sense of jeopardy. Even though it probably sets us for the inevitable Reset Buttom[TM], I'll enjoy the ride while it lasts (YES, the cliffhanger actually made me want to see what's next, which is hardly what ANY episode so far in the series managed to do; that's saying a lot).
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Marco P.
Sun, May 8, 2011, 1:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: Hatchery

Jammer wrote: "Why not have a real story where it's Starfleet versus the MACOs, with a real cause arising from real issues and real opposing views and having real consequences? You know, a premise that makes us think about what is happening and where something is genuinely at stake? Is that so much to ask for?"

Battlestar Galactica: 1
ST Enterprise: 0
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Marco P.
Sun, May 8, 2011, 9:38am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: Doctor's Orders

This was one of the first episodes of ST Enterprise I came across, back when it was airing for the first time in the mid-2000s. I wasn't exactly "mesmerized", and could already notice some of the show's flaws. Nevertheless I did actually like what I was seeing and my second viewing (several years later, now that I'm watching the series beginning to end) confirmed my first impressions. "Doctor's Orders" isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but IMHO it IS one of the better episodes of Season 3.

Yes, it is a complete rip-off of VOY's "One" which was probably the superior version. In fact if you wanted to be overly negative about "Doctor's Orders", in the eternal words of "instead of being a psychological thriller where you don't know whether the enemies are real or imagined and discover the frightened girl hiding under Seven's hard Borg exterior, Phlox strolls around the ship naked and nearly shoots Archer's dog". When looked upon from that angle, nicely put.

That said, there's many positive elements in this episode and Jammer already pointed out most of them. For one thing the misdirection, so criticized as "obvious" by some of the readers actually worked for me. After all T'Pol is Vulcan, her physiology might logically be unaffected by the anomaly. To the question "why wasn't Phlox checking on her?" one might answer he didn't need to, since according to his mind she was already up and about. One would figure someone is stasis just needs occasional monitoring and only for safety reasons, not sustenance.

As for Jammer's question: why did Phlox pick the reserved Vulcan as an hallucination in order to feel less lonely? Presumably because the hallucination needed some way to be reconciled with his scientific mind. A Vulcan unaffected by the anomalies could be a lot easier to swallow (both for Phlox AND us viewers) than a talkative human.

On a completely unrelated note, any episode where we get to see a lot of Porthos action is already better than most. He is after all this show's best character (one the writers CANNOT make into a complete moron).
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Marco P.
Sat, May 7, 2011, 8:52am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: Harbinger

This episode deserves 1 star.

I'm sorry Jammer, but even if the harbinger/alien plot supposedly pans out later in the series, a viewer watching this for the first time will just ask himself "WTF just happened?!". Viewers don't have the gift of foresight: an episode should not be judged based on its place within the season or series, but rather individually or at least, in continuity with the episodes' normal order.

That is, in itself this episode is a very poor outing because on the one hand it leaves us confused (as far as the alien story is concerned: zero answers or information provided), on the other only *mildly* amused by the B and C storylines. Pissing contests and cheap soap opera sex, THAT's the meat what we're getting here.

How about some characters worth giving a damn for? Some REAL characterization for Hayes or Amanda (whose background is only skimmed and for the case of Amanda, rapidly discarded when she's no longer needed)? A romantic relationship that actually HAS consequences (perhaps within the command structure, or at least in future interactions between characters, instead of conveniently swept under the carpet -Reset Button[TM])?

Zero psychological believability indeed.

And don't get me started on Reed's supposed "security detail" in need of training. As Steve already noted, who does his team consist of? Trip, Travis, T'Pol, and Hoshi????? Why? Just to give these actors some screen time??? Why not show the REAL security team instead, the one which takes action should sh*t happen on board (like aliens boarding Enterprise) during which all the above mentioned characters are at their post (Trip in Engineering, Travis at the helm, etc. etc.). Just utterly ridiculous.

When Archer reads Reed & Hayes the riot act, he should have appropriately added" "...and the ship's captain is an incompetent idiot, much like the writers of this show".
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Marco P.
Fri, May 6, 2011, 3:37am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: Stratagem

This episode made me think of TNG's "Frame of Mind", in which Riker thinks he is losing his mind when reality keeps shifting between an alien hospital and the Enterprise, where he is rehearsing a play. Bit similar here: fake reality setting used to extract information from the victim.

Also aren't surprised by thee Mission: Impossible reference, the episode has indeed a very "MI" feel to it. If the writer took indeed inspiration from "Submarine", it would alas also reinforce the trend of Enterprise's lack of originality. Inspiration is one thing, copying is another. It isn't the first time this happens (recall "Cogenitor" being ripped off from Alien Nation's "Three to Tango").

Anyways, my rating for this episode went through 4 phases:

1) 0-15 mins: 3 stars.
Escape ship setting, we still don't know it's a fake ship and that the whole thing's a stratagem (though from the title, we can guess). Also, Archer reveals "Earth's been destroyed" so we know it isn't a real story. Still, could be another "alternate reality" episode or indeed a ruse, but I enjoyed it until the writers removed any doubt.

2) 15-40 mins: 2 stars.
After the first big reveal (it's a fake ship and Archer's tricking Degra), my rating dropped. A much better choice? Keep the viewer guessing. Then again they needed this part for the filler material, give Dagra some background info and do some characterization. Appreciated, but not completely successful. Not enough time is spent investigating his feelings after killing 7 million people on Earth, nor is the subject why the Xindi want to destroy Earth ever broached with Archer. The latter's already been pointed out in the responses before mine, but what I will add is an explanation as to WHY: because the answer (a guy from the future told them the Humans would destroy Earth) is just stupid. So for the episode's benefit, better ignore it completely.

3) 40-41 mins: 3 stars
After the second reveal (they duped Dagra again by making him believe they traveled to the Red giant super-fast, but actually not) I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps due to low expectations from the writers' part, I'll admit: I didn't see the second ruse coming, and it played nicely. Of course this being ST Enterprise and the writers being idiots, this feeling didn't last very long. Less than a minute actually.

4) 41-end: 1 star
So, here's the situation: Archer & the Enterprise have managed to capture the guy in charge of the whole superweapon project. Instead of keeping him captive to delay the project further, all the while trying to extract more information from him (interrogation-by-airlock, yes that seems to work) what do they do? They wipe his memory (an exact science right? I mean, no chance the wipe doesn't work 100% and Degra + friends eventually remember bits & pieces of their ordeal.. nooo. Phlox can't do truth serums, but wipe out memory engrams to exactly 3 days (TWICE!) is a piece of cake) AND stick him back in his ship, free to continue his work. WHY? To make sure the Xindi don't know Enterprise now knows the location of the superweapon? Here's a better idea: kill Degra and make it look like an accident. Cynical? Hey I'm only applying Archer logic here: whatever happened to "do whatever it takes"???

So once again, the Enterprise writers take what could have been REALLY great and make a mess of it. Tease you with a carrot, hit you with a stick. Blah.
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Marco P.
Fri, May 6, 2011, 1:35am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: Proving Ground

Wholeheartedly agree with Jammer & Carbetarian. THANK GOD for Jeffrey Combs. He is the real standout here, and this despite still obvious traces of the writers' incompetence. He redeems the episode in and all by himself.

Sadly, I must also agree with Jammer's commentary on WHY this one is a good episode and how we can appreciate the Archer/Shran interaction. Indeed
hollowness of the Xindi is a big problem (one of the many) in Season 3, which really makes me wish the Andorians really stole the Doomsday device (a finalized version would be even better). I'd have taken a Terran-Andorian story arc over a Terran-Xindi one any day, if it meant seeing more of J.Combs.
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