Star Trek: Enterprise

"Silent Enemy"

2.5 stars

Air date: 1/16/2002
Written by Andre Bormanis
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"You looking forward to seeing Earth?"
"Sure. I just didn't think I'd be seeing it so soon."
"This time we won't be leaving before we're ready."
"Are your ears a little pointier than usual?"

— Archer and Tucker

In brief: Quite average. Moments of mild interest alternating with moments worth shrugging at.

"Silent Enemy" might as well be called "The MacGuffin Enemy," because that's what the enemy here is — a big MacGuffin. A MacGuffin is, of course, simply a device that could be anything or anyone, as long as it serves its purpose of propelling the characters into action through the story. The silent aliens here are an excellent example of a MacGuffin because they're, well, silent. By definition, there's no depth to them because they never say anything. Archer talks to them, but they're not listening.

Eventually, they attack with no reason or warning, and after firing a few shots and damaging the Enterprise, they scurry off. Later they come back and attack again. They strike without provocation or any known motivation. This very silent enemy serves as a device to make Captain Archer realize that the Enterprise simply cannot adequately defend itself, which is a prudent realization considering recent encounters with better-armed foes like those in "Civilization" or "Fortunate Son." I for one am glad to see the matter directly acknowledged with dialog.

One of the show's key moments is when Archer realizes that it's time for the Enterprise to turn around and head back to Jupiter Station, where the ship's weapons systems can be finished. Phase cannons were supposed to be installed before the Enterprise was launched, but apparently there was no time once the events of "Broken Bow" forced a quick departure of the ship.

But hold on a second. Wasn't the ship finished and ready to go — and in fact being held back by the Vulcans — for some time before the incident at Broken Bow, Oklahoma, even happened? It would seem the writers are revising originally implied intentions for the benefit of the story at hand · which, I concede, is a necessary thing in developing a television series. It just needs to be done carefully. I suppose this is just careful enough.

Trip tells Archer that his engineering crew has the skill and manpower to install the phase cannons themselves. Archer permits the attempted in-house upgrade but still plans on heading for home for fine-tuning. Archer's attitude is a sensible one — if we're going to be out here we should get it right — which seems like a bit of a different attitude compared to what he might've done a few months back. Perhaps he's been learning the value of caution. Which is good; I like that.

Of course, one logical question becomes just why Trip's engineering teams haven't been chipping away at the task of bringing the phase cannons online for weeks if not months already. They've been out here long enough to know what kinds of dangers they're up against. To suddenly realize here, "Uh-oh, we're really outgunned!" and finally starting to make upgrades only when seriously threatened seems awfully shortsighted, especially since the upgrades aren't presented as a jury-rigged solution but rather a plan all along.

The issue of whether turning around is necessary is made moot by the fact that the silent enemy has a faster ship and pursues the Enterprise regardless of its retreat, attacking it again. They damage one of the warp nacelles, making it impossible for the Enterprise to run, and they board the ship (the aliens are portrayed through an intriguing CG design) for reasons that seem to extend beyond simple curiosity and come across with more sinister overtones. Archer chases them off with a phase-pistol blast, but it seems more like they leave voluntarily than because they feel threatened.

I sort of liked the presentation of this mysterious, silent enemy — in technique anyway. They have a very "alien" sense to them in the way they pounce and then inexplicably retreat. On the other hand, it's impossible to make anything of them; they are, in the end, MacGuffins with no hint of insight or meaning provided by the writers. That may be the point, but the writers also make no sense of their bizarre hit-and-run tactics. Their attack methods seem to be providing a convenient way for the writers to artificially regulate the story's pace. Did this bother me a lot? Not really, but I also didn't find the whole series of exercises all that interesting.

The story's underlying message becomes one of old-fashioned persistence and hard work in the face of a challenging situation. Trip has his engineers working around the clock to get the phase-cannons working in preparation for the next assault. This leads to some scenes that I liked, such as the discussion between Archer and Trip about taking risks, which is then reflected in the interaction between Trip and Reed on how big a risk cutting technological corners can be.

And speaking of Malcolm Reed, "Silent Enemy" finally tries to look at this guy in terms of character development. He's so far been very limited in what we know about him, and, indeed, Archer says exactly that to Trip, after realizing that nobody really knows much about Malcolm. The line almost plays like a shrewd acknowledgement on the part of the writers, as if to say, "We don't know anything about this guy either and it's time to tackle him."

Alas, the writers think of nothing remotely approaching deep significance for him. Archer assigns Hoshi to find out what Reed's favorite food is so they can surprise him for his birthday — not exactly the most compelling or hard-hitting idea ever hatched. Hoshi finds this assignment more difficult than initially thought, because Reed is something of a keep-to-himself loner — pleasant but not at all outgoing, and a hard worker. Hoshi talks to Malcolm's parents on Earth, and to his old academy friends — and finds out little that's useful because he isn't the type to have strongly voiced preferences.

This is not unpleasant in any way, and I'm glad the writers tried to take a look at where this guy came from — but it's just too lightweight, essentially telling us there's nothing interesting to find in Reed's past. I suppose the intention here is to reveal Reed as an everyman, a worker. But we don't actually learn much about him, and when shoehorned between more pressing scenes involving the mysterious alien attacks and the weapon upgrades, Reed's story quickly loses urgency and relevance. I found myself asking why in the world Hoshi was assigned to such a trivial research project with everything else that was going on.

The "everything else" here is of more focus and ultimately hinges on a slightly botched weapons test that's akin to firing a gun and being shocked by the severity of the recoil. I liked Archer's steely resolve in not being intimidated by aliens who refuse to negotiate and insist on mind games. He tells them in no uncertain terms that the Enterprise will stand and fight if need be, and armed with the new cannons, the ship is more prepared to back up Archer's determination with action.

The ending finds itself in a bit of a tricky situation involving how powerful the writers can permit these cannons to be. During the initial test, the powerful discharge was a malfunction that resulted in damage to the ship. When working properly as designed, these cannons are still not powerful enough to penetrate the enemy's energy shields, so Trip and Reed must find a way to overload them without damaging ship systems. I like the idea of an improvised solution, but the solution here is one of those dreaded technobabble contrivances that is heavy on meaningless jargon and lacking in real drama. A better ending might've figured out a way for the crew to get their big bang, but at an actual cost rather than with free magic.

In the final analysis, I'm giving a thumbs-sideways to this episode, because there's nothing really about it that jumps out about it one way or the other. It held my attention and addressed the important issue of weapons upgrades. It took a character and dealt with him, even though there was little in terms of depth and the biggest question turned out to be, "What's his favorite food?" (The answer is pineapple for those keeping score.) I'm glad to see the supporting characters getting mixed into the Enterprise balance, but I think we need to ask much tougher questions than that.

Footnote: "Silent Enemy" was scored by Velton Ray Bunch, a new composer to the Trek franchise who previously did work for the Bakula-starring series Quantum Leap. I haven't formed an opinion of his style as of yet, but some new blood on the composing tier is probably a good thing. Enterprise also continues to employ long-standing TV Trek composers Dennis McCarthy, Jay Chattaway, David Bell, and Paul Baillargeon.

Next week: Phlox looks to be getting the spotlight with a pre-Prime Directive issue.

Previous episode: Cold Front
Next episode: Dear Doctor

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50 comments on this post

davidw
Sat, Apr 18, 2009, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
"which seems like a bit of a different attitude compared to what he might've done a few months back. Perhaps he's been learning the value of caution. Which is good; I like that."

I liked this episode precisely because for the first time in Trek we actually have a character evolving and growing reasonably relating to his new found fascinating environment. Archer changes from happy go lucky Starship captain to angst ridden commander. Unfortunately for the rest of the series, we get more and more of this, until Archer gets real bitter and starts torturing people (the 'Bush' effect). But it's incredible to risk the central character, and I don't think it has been done like this before. Certainly Kirk and Picard were nearly always the same from start to finish. Sisko found a bit of religion and Janeway apparently got a bit more tough. But it is definitely unusual.
Jon
Tue, Aug 11, 2009, 4:21pm (UTC -5)
Well, "macguffin" (however you spell it) or not, the aliens stood out in this episode. I have to correct one comment that you made; you see, the aliens *were* listening, chillingly proven in their 'cut and paste' use of Archer's own statement to declare that Enterprise is defenseless, and that they should surrender.
karatasiospa
Sat, Dec 12, 2009, 3:18am (UTC -5)
Well at least at this episode there were some real aliens that means aliens that were alien and not some humanoids with a slightly different nose. And their goals were also really alien that means not understandable and so it felt a little Trek. I think that the Reed b story was trivial and uninteresting. It would be better if the alien story was the only one.
JakE TaYLoR # 7
Fri, Jun 25, 2010, 3:13am (UTC -5)
Overall one of the more enjoyable viewing of Enterprise for me, just starting at season 1 on CBS.com. I felt the Reed backstory to be uninteresting, but was fascinated by the aliens enough to hold interest in the story. I find it odd that they are dropping the communication ECHO relays since i don't understand the purpose of them. It seems like Archer chats real time w Admiral Forrest all the time. Something thats always bugged me. GR mentioned not to treat space as small. I didn't understand the technobabble about why the cannons didn't overload the systems again, but who would? I hope to see more of these aliens in the future, and am glad they aren't just another bumpy forhead humanoid. I give it 2 and a half popcorns!
Marco P.
Thu, Sep 9, 2010, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
Jammer wrote: "It would seem the writers are revising originally implied intentions for the benefit of the story at hand · which, I concede, is a necessary thing in developing a television series. It just needs to be done carefully. I suppose this is just careful enough."

Disagree with you there. If anything, this is further evidence that no clear technological, sociological, or even character setting has been developed for this series prior to its launch. The writers are basically winging it, changing key pieces of information as we go along to suit the weekly script, and even when they make the effort to (supposedly) build the background of a main character the result feels... hollow (Reed in this episode being an example). So Malcolm Reed likes to keep to himself and pineapple. Great. I suppose some people are like that. So? Why should I care? What makes Reed in any way interesting enough that the viewer would care to know a little bit more about his background? Other than, you know, "We don't know anything about this guy (...) and it's time to tackle him."

To steal an expression from Jammer, I was expecting a lot more "meat and potatoes".
Cloudane
Thu, Apr 21, 2011, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
The opening with the drop of the subspace repeater reminds me just how far CG had come at this point. It's pretty ironic that the series set the earliest is also the most technically advanced in terms of SFX. Needing these repeaters is also a nice little touch to remind us that this is the early days and things aren't as easy as they are in the 24th century.

As for the plots, with the aliens being so completely faceless I found the Reed story more interesting :/ To be fair, when it comes to these characters at the moment, every little scrap of information we can get is worthwhile, and it was kind of a cute story I guess.

I was still expecting him to say "Pineapple.... I... HATE pineapple". That would've been funnier :)
Michael
Sat, Oct 29, 2011, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
A super episode: Dynamic, unpredictable, different.

Too bad about the Reed B-story. Why do they insist on assimilating everyone into a Dr. Phil collective!? I would be seriously cheesed off if my colleagues at work started digging thru my personal life in order to throw me a surprise party. And to violate doctor-patient confidentiality is beyond unforgivable; it's criminal. Let Reed be Reed, for gossakes. Marco has the right idea: Who gives a s!@# about Reed's background, culinary tastes or relationship with his family?? You want that, watch Gilmore Girls. I hope Enterprise doesn't fall into the trap Voyager did, which drove me insane. "The Barge," anyone? *barf*

Good to see Archer de-wussifying himself and deciding to install some badass cannons on the ship as well as actually using them. The way he was going, I would have expected him to order the crew to paint a rainbow across the hull and shoot ticker tape at his enemies instead.
Joseph B
Sun, Aug 5, 2012, 8:19am (UTC -5)
I actually *really enjoyed* this ep! In particular, I loved the "alieness" of the aliens. There was some "technobabble" regarding the phase cannons, but it wasn't overdone.

The ship got an upgrade, Malcolm got an upside-down Pineapple cake, the aliens found out that humans actually are resourceful (Or *did* they? Part of the charm of the ep is that we couldn't figure out what the heck made the aliens "tick".) ... Heck, a solid "Three Stars" from me!
duhknees
Tue, Aug 7, 2012, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
I watched the series when it was new and am going through again. I am actually impressed with how on the mark these are, or should I say on the arc. Writers are definitely preparing us for events and relationships down the road, much more than was done for Voyager. Oh, and I would be quite flattered if someone went to this much trouble to find out my favorite food.
Annie
Sun, Nov 4, 2012, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
I quite liked this episode, even the B story. It's nice to have a character who's introverted and yet not an asshole.

A few LOL moments with Reed's family: Archer's "As you probably know, your son's birthday is coming up." The dialogue in this show is sometimes really terrible. And when Reed's sweet sister asked Hoshi if she could talk to her brother and Hoshi told her no! Haha. Still a solid and enjoyable episode, with some good exposition and development.
Michael gives dry BJs
Thu, May 30, 2013, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
Bad even by Voyerprise standards.
Gary pleace
Mon, Nov 4, 2013, 6:09pm (UTC -5)
The scenes involving the alien boarding of Enterprise featured memorable suspense building cues. With all due respect to Mr McCarthy and co., most of the music on tv Trek in general seems formulaic and interchangeable and ultimately forgettable. Is the score for this episode available anywhere?
CeeBee
Fri, May 30, 2014, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
I liked the episode. It wasn't the best combination to let Hoshi keep on sleuthing while Enterprise was in such a dire situation, but Archer is prone to make such bad decisions. Too bad he didn't refer to Fortunate Son and that he had learned its lesson. Now you get the impression that boomers are not allowed to use violence against pirates, yet Archer can against similar hostile aliens. My guess is the writers have already forgotten that episode.
But it had suspense, real aliens and a feeling of being alone and far out. No need to have the Vulcans at two days away. Just be out there without any help at all. Finding your own solutions. Again, rather a fun episode IMO.
Trent
Tue, Jan 13, 2015, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode. Finally, really ALIEN ALIENS.

I liked how our inability to KNOW the aliens was mirrored to our inability to KNOW Reed.
eastwest101
Sun, Feb 8, 2015, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
Agree with Trent and Gary pleace - very well executed scenes with the boarding of Enterprise - again - despite its problems sometimes with scripts and story telling - ENT does still look really good.
Ally
Sun, May 31, 2015, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
If a bad guy is required to talk to be menacing, you must have *hated* the classic film Dual, arguably one of the most suspenseful pieces ever written, where the villain never utters a single word throughout the film.

I found this ep to be very good, with the exception of the B-story, which really dragged the rest of it down, but I find that happens quite often. It's a rare dual plot episode where both stories are equally good.
NCC-1701-Z
Wed, Jun 17, 2015, 11:12am (UTC -5)
I liked the episode, but from a realistic perspective it would have improved the episode to show Hoshi being forced to put off her "find Reed's favorite food" mission in the wake of the alien attacks. It seemed too unrealistic to me that Archer would have wanted her to keep on such a relatively trivial task after the first attack. For an analogous situation, imagine the captain of a US aircraft carrier at Midway doing this shortly after a bombing run on the Japanese fleet. Something tells me there wouldn't have been sufficient time beforehand to research favorite foods and make the dish, especially with wartime rationing going on. Not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea.

My ideal ending would have had them defeat the aliens, but leave the senior staff unable to hold more than a cursory birthday celebration for Reed due to the damage caused by the attacks as well as the phasers - er, I mean phase cannons overloading. Reed understands the situation but appreciates the gesture, helping to break the ice between him and the senior staff members. The episode as presented wrapped everything a bit too much in a neat little bow for my liking.

I did like the alien design - very creepy. A bit too MacGuffin at points, but it got the job done.

Still one of ENT's better offerings of season 1, and one I would watch again. 3 stars.
Diamond Dave
Wed, Mar 30, 2016, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
I liked this, even if it doesn't offer anything too deep at all. Just like the unresolved ending last time out, we're left here with no real clue as to who the aliens were and what their intentions were. Of course, in reality they're just a device to move the plot forward, but I enjoyed the fact that Archer has moved on from his gung-ho enthusiasm and realised that the Enterprise is actually a fairly small fish in a very big pond. It does show some interesting character development.

Elsewhere the shootiebangs were extremely impressive, and I rather enjoyed the Reed B-story. It's a brave and unusual writing move to give a major character no character at all, so fair play to them. 3 stars.
Ini
Mon, May 30, 2016, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Really Dr. Phlox, you showed a screenful of your patient's medical records to a person who had no business viewing them, while acknowledging it wasn't exactly the right thing to do? For.. pineapple cake?
Yanks
Thu, Jul 14, 2016, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
Great character building episode for Archer. Finally he realizes he frellin out-gunned and is putting his crew at risk. He's gotten lucky a couple times, I'm glad they showed him truly getting his ass kicked. I think it's very real that he would decide to take the ship back.

Real Aliens!!! Bravo! I think they looked pretty cool... I love that they wouldn't talk with them. Also love how they eventually communicated with the ship using their own words!!

I also like how the crew want to work to stay out there. I'll part with Jammer and say that they hadn't worked to upgrade their weapons because they weren't allowed to. It's not something that Archer would just order because of the risk involved. Circumstances pushed him into agreeing to give it a shot.

I thought the play between Malcolm and Trip was very realistic. Lets face it, the weapons officer is junior to the Chief Engineer for a reason.

I enjoyed the push to find out more about Malcolm. No problem with Hoshi doing the research, what else is she supposed to do? It doesn't need to be earth shattering stuff.... what did you want, someone boinking his girlfriend? .... we found out that he is a military brat that is pretty much a loner. ... more than we knew before. More to come in the future I'm sure.

I thought the cake at the end was a nice touch.

3 star episode for me.
mephyve
Tue, Sep 27, 2016, 8:41am (UTC -5)
This town isn't big enough for the both of us. (***.5)
Merit Coba
Fri, Jan 6, 2017, 7:23am (UTC -5)
I had to facepalm at this one. The idea that a ship crew, however skilled and talented they are, can do the same job as a specific team trained for a specific job is ludicrous. It isn't just about knowledge, but it is also about the means, experience and time. But this crew can not only do the same job, but faster and under less than ideal circumstances with lesser means.

Then the way they operate under pressure. When under pressure good teams generally draw together. But Malcolm cannot take pressure and snaps at an employee, which is a bad sign. But even more, when there are important decisions to make teams generally inform the top person, but neither Reed nor Malcolm consult Archer about their risk taking, which Archer should has agreed to.

Then Archer himself. He acts weird to say the least: he decides to turn back to Jupiter on a whim, giving the lack of weapons and the need to have an overhaul as an argument. Which makes sense. But actually, I thought it was a trick for the birthday party of Malcolm. But then he decides against it at the end because he claims that there is no reason now that the team has, without his permission at first, installed phase cannons .
But hold on. That alien ship worked your ship over and the backlash of the phase cannon shocked through the ship. And in earlier episode Enterprise was roughly handled several times. And how do you know if the phase cannons actually operate properly? And what about upgrading the weaponry so that the phase cannons can blast those aliens without the need to overload the power and endangering the Enterprise?

It is a jumbled affair. I would give it a 2, for making no sense at all.
Merit Coba
Fri, Jan 6, 2017, 7:30am (UTC -5)
Error on my part:) it should read Trip and Malcolm.. not Reed and Malcolm
Gopher
Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
re: the B-plot, given how thoroughly Hoshi scoured the galaxy for information on what Reed likes to eat and came up with nothing, I would honestly expect more of a reaction. He's just like "My favorite... how did you know?" But... this is a guy who, apparently, has carefully and systematically avoided ever revealing this information to ANYONE. His own PARENTS do not know this information. I would almost believe a post-credits scene where he goes full-paranoia and pins hoshi to a wall DEMANDING to know her sources, lol. Of course, that's a bad idea, but how credible it would seem illustrates a big problem with the B-plot: it makes no sense. I mean, even if he never told them, c'mon, his parents are really shitty if they have never managed to figure out from observing him growing up ANYTHING AT ALL about his food preferences. It would be one thing if he turned out to really just not HAVE food preferences, but no... he specifically takes continual injections to allow him to eat pineapple... which he will never ask for, or admit he likes, or even allow any sign to slip that might reveal this to people close to him... it just doesn't add up.
Lupe
Tue, Apr 4, 2017, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
Archer: I just asked for a little off the top!

That was actually pretty funny. Though in a Leslie Nielsen in 'Airplane' 'the viewers get the joke but the characters don't' kind of style. Which is kinda weird for ST.

Oh, yeah; other things happened in this episode.

Though I'm always impressed by the thoughtfulness of Jammer's reviews, even when his opinion differ from mine, I'm a bit surprised he wasn't harder on the aliens. In many respects they seem to be a distillation of the inexplicably belligerent aliens of the week who turned up in so many VOY eps. I suppose in this case they did serve to get some (hopefully) important plot points addressed.

As to whether Enterprise was ready when she left Earth, to a large extent this is something that could only be determined with hindsight, so I don't have particular problems either that. Archer however, has a Janeway 'Caretaker' moment, feeling guilt over his actions in prematurely rushing the ship into its voyage in the first Ep. Fortunately that decision is a lot easier to address, and seems to have been resolved almost as soon as it was brought up. I did, though, enjoy Archer's realization that humanity's first serious voyage into unexplored galactic space may have been more than the exciting field trip he had anticipated.

And Reed REALLY likes pineapples. Seriously,, the guy takes regular injections so that he can eat something he's allergic to.

I' agree with Jammer's rating of this Ep, though I've found myself wondering to what degree I rate these eps in absolute terms, rather than relative to other ENT eps. Would I have given this 2.5 if it were a DS9 Ep?
Chuck
Fri, May 5, 2017, 10:34am (UTC -5)
Am I just drinking too much coffee during the yawner episodes, or did the alien ship in this ep look a lot like a redress of the Nausicaan vessel in "Fortunate Son"? I know the Trek series (plural) are notorious for reusing ships (they cost money; I don't blame 'em) but really??
skittles
Mon, Jul 17, 2017, 1:25am (UTC -5)
I liked this ep alot. The mysterious aliens, the mysterious food. :D

A lot of it was meant to be silly and was, yet at the same time showed the actual peril that the enterprise is in, in it's first voyage. 3 stars from me.
Humhum
Mon, Oct 16, 2017, 12:20am (UTC -5)
I was kind of disturbed that the doctor-patient relationship can be easily broken with some pheromones. Otherwise, pretty enjoyable. Although I'd wish there was something more to the aliens...
Nievesg
Tue, Oct 24, 2017, 7:57am (UTC -5)
I liked to see Reed &Trip making a good team (good point, as there's always so much tech involved on modern war). And specially, that whenever they skip a bit of the captain's orders, they're actually right (same as will happen again on the automatized repair station). This explains why they are senior officers: because they never disobey without a really good reason. Good touch.
Startrekwatcher
Wed, Nov 29, 2017, 5:03pm (UTC -5)
2 stars. The reed stuff was fluff. Could care less

The mysterious aliens were too mysterious
Trent
Thu, Nov 30, 2017, 8:15pm (UTC -5)
@Startrekwatcher: The Reed stuff was not fluff, and the mysteriousness of the aliens was precisely the point. Indeed, the three-way ontological structure of the episode is what made it interesting; humans probing aliens, aliens investing humans, humans investigating Reed.

Personally, I think this is one of the best depictions of an alien race in Trek. Ala 2001: A Space Odyssey, the aliens are deliberately kept at a distance. All we know about them is that they seemingly gather information by judging responses to minor attacks. Their boarding party - essentially boarding the Enterprise to gather information on human bodies - was also creepy and eeriely nonchalant, dated CGI aside.
courier
Tue, Jan 2, 2018, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Reed f'ed up. Even if he was mistaken about the circumstance, he still thinks Hoshi's making overtures and SHUTS IT DOWN :o
What a boob. No wonder he's involuntarily alone and unmarried in an alternate timeline, he was just asking for it.
Also, those alien boarders were creepy as hell, glad to see idic actually in effect for a change.
Rahul
Fri, May 4, 2018, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
Good episode with some real aliens for a change that act totally alien even if nothing much is learned about them, they're a plot device giving the crew a lot to think about and creating some good situations (reminds me a bit of TNG's "Q Who"). The B-plot with Reed's favorite food was OK -- he had been somewhat alien on the crew as the episode establishes nobody knew much about him.

The biggest thing here is Archer realizing his ship needs weapons and him coming to the realization he put lives at risk in leaving unprepared. But then he realizes the mission was worth the risk -- Archer has come some ways from the brash captain in "Broken Bow", which is encouraging for the series.

These aliens reminded me a bit of Species 8472 but it is weird to not know anything about them and having them just pop up and attack -- that much is a contrivance in that they're never heard of again. They seem to have been testing Enterprise perhaps as a prelude to invasion, but Archer gives them the whole "humans don't give up easily" and would probably be prepared to blow up the ship rather than let it fall into the aliens' hands.

But the team building and working together, while mechanical in nature, still gave us some good scenes between Trip/Reed. One thing about both these 2 is their dedication to the work and seeing things through their own lenses: Reed sees offense as the best defense but Trip sees the offense as too risky initially. Then he agrees to back Reed's risk assessment and ultimately Archer goes for it too.

The one good scene out of the B-plot was the scene when Hoshi tries to have dinner with Malcolm -- funny scene in its awkwardness. But that Archer would make this Hoshi's top priority?? Strange decision there. As for going to Reed's medical records, well...

2.5 stars for "Silent Enemy" -- good but not a great episode. The sense of peril for Enterprise was there and not knowing anything about the attacker's intentions, their CGI appearance were strong points as were the working relationships within the crew. Hoshi (good episode for her) and Phlox do have some camaraderie and Trip/Malcolm initially butt heads. Not sure we learned a whole lot more about Malcolm though.
Zakalwe
Thu, Aug 30, 2018, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
Argh! The B-story nearly wrecks this episode. The ingredients are there for an absolute classic albeit decidedly un-Trekkian slice of suspense/thriller sci-fi.

The episode pretty quickly reminded me of Spielberg's first film as director - The Duel. Now that film is a classic to which this episode really does not compare in terms of quality though there are similarities in terms of the antagonists. The Duel features a relentless, implacable and seemingly motiveless truck driver trying repeatedly to run the protagonist off the road, whom we never actually see throughout the whole film and who doesn’t utter a single line. I don’t know whether this villain lacked “depth” or was a 1970’s MacGuffin but I do know he was an all-time great screen villain (or, at least the truck was, since we never see the driver the antagonist of the film is effectively the vehicle itself).

So count me in with the people who think these were well conceived, truly “alien” aliens. There is little scarier than the fear of the unknown so having aliens without stated motivations, who don’t talk and who look so different to humans is a great starting point for a thrilling episode.

So why on Earth, when you have the nucleus of an episode based on scary, nasty, threatening aliens would you splice in a tonally-jarring B-plot about bloody Malcolm’s favourite sodding food, including interviews with his Hollywood-cliche-level posh English family? Silent Enemy would’ve been SO much better if they’d simply excised the B-plot and done nothing more, to say nothing of what it might have been had the writers then used that extra time to ratchet up the suspense and perhaps not telegraph the resolution (the BFG) quite so blatantly.

Despite all that, I still think there are enough redeeming features here to be able to recommend the episode.
NoPoet
Mon, Sep 10, 2018, 11:45am (UTC -5)
Having watched this again for the third or fourth time, this is a terrific episode ruined by an utterly witless and inane B-plot about Malcolm's eating habits!

Starfleet Command: "Captain Archer, you are two days behind on setting up communications with Earth. Please explain immediately."

Archer: "I had to take my senior communications specialist away from her main duties to find out what my tactical officer likes for dinner."

SC: "I'm sorry Captain, we don't seem to be reading you correctly. You did what?"

Archer: "I said Sato was tasked with contacting Lieutenant Reed's family and friends. The task took longer than expected as his own family don't know anything about him. We had to go through his private medical records to find out what he was allergic to."

SC: "You took a specialist away from her station for this? What kind of cretin are you?"

Archer: "I'm sorry you feel that way, sir. After all, it was Lieutenant Reed's birthday."

SC: "You do realise the Vulcans are listening to this? Next you'll be telling me your crew drink on duty!"
Gary
Wed, Nov 28, 2018, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
I'd be far more generous on the B-plot... it wasn't about Reed's food preference.

Look at that father; listen to how Reed has grown up not expressing preferences. Why? More than one possibility, but for one, that can happen when any stated preference is crushed, or even used as a point of attack. The disapproval of him following his own desire in entering starfleet couldn't have been plainer. This is someone with serious father issues, someone pursuing a career all about protecting ones' self (and blowing things up), and that informs our understanding of the character. I think it was great, and while not necessarily subtle, at least it didn't come right out and have Hoshi talk to the camera and explain it to us.
Adam
Tue, Apr 16, 2019, 8:12am (UTC -5)
It is unreal to me how many commenters here have no patience for character developing plots. Is it especially well handled? No, but the whole point of this franchise is not just space action, but CHARACTERS handling space action. Watching enterprise for the first Time no, I am really living for these little details, and I like how quickly enterprise is digging into them whether or not they are relevant to the plot.

I’ve found this first season of Enterprise, therefore, to be pretty satisfying, except for how T’Pol is written.
Artymiss
Sun, May 26, 2019, 12:49pm (UTC -5)
@Gary is right. We learn a lot about Malcolm in this episode and what we learn is really quite distressing. His father is vile (his mother not much better) and poor Malcolm has clearly had a cold, critical, repressive upbringing at the hands of this narcissistic, bullying couple who didn't even let him have a favourite food. He has spent his life as a 'disappointment' to his hideous father. Now he only communicates the bare minimum to them and who can blame him, but it's still sad. This has spilt over into all of his relationships, he keeps himself to himself and prefers to focus on work. His horror and embarrassment when he thinks Hoshi is making 'overtures' to him tells us a lot about him too. I like his childlike delight (and he is delighted, this is how some English people express delight, in a relatively low key way) at the end that his Enterprise colleagues have bothered to find out what his favourite food is. They are his new family. I've always enjoyed the focus on character development in Enterprise, unlike other commentators who just express impatience with it (for reasons best known to themselves).
Jason R.
Wed, Jul 10, 2019, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
I kind of liked this episode, even the B plot involving Malcolm's favourite food.

I did very much enjoy the aliens, who were just such grade A bastards. It made their comeuppance all the more delicious.

My favourite part was when they shoot them point blank with the phase pistols and it doesn't even make them flinch.

What this episode does very well is convey the sense that we really are little fish in a very big pond. It seems like pretty much everyone can kick poor Enterprise's ass - which is a really refreshing change from previous series. Going back even to TOS Federation starships were almost always forces to be reckoned with. In Enterprise the galaxy's equivalent of a wondering hobo with a knife is more than a match for our heroes.

It gives the sense that space is wild, dangerous and unlike in subsequent series - we're not altogether ready.
bobbington mcbob
Sun, Nov 24, 2019, 11:49am (UTC -5)
This is my second run through of ENT and I have to say I am finding it a real blast so far. Plenty of first contact scenes to give me trek tingles, loads of cute and funny moments, likeable characters and some pretty meaningful threats.

Being British I could relate a lot to Malcolm in this one. Though my family are nowhere near as cold fish as Malcolm's folks, I have known a good many brits who are like that from the upper classes.

I really enjoy seeing the development of the tech and the slow morph into TOS. The sets are gorgeous and as an engineer I like to just pause the action and check out the gauges and screens, which feel so much more interesting than LCARS.

Don't know if anyone noticed, but just after the scary alien vessel started venting drive plasma and scuttled off.... they played the Deep Space Nine theme! SUPER TINGLES!
HC
Wed, Feb 5, 2020, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
Pretty good! A unique alien threat causes Archer to rethink his gung-ho attitude and (hopefully) become a better leader for it. I'd also like to echo when many have said in here by saying that the 'unknown' quality to the aliens is precisely what makes them interesting. It's the drama on the ship, the idea of when a certain risks are necessary and why such choices should be made, that makes this one work. Could have done without the superfluous B plot (lol @ 'liking pineapple' being the writers idea of fleshing out Malcolm), but otherwise a solid outing.
RS
Sat, May 9, 2020, 12:24am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode, thoroughly. The aliens were creepy, the growing working relationship between Trip and Malcolm was gratifying to watch, and Hoshi's persistence to find out what food Malcom favored provided an entertaining counterpoint to the suspense created by the "silent enemy." I've been a Trek fan since the first TOS episode in 1966. I'm just rediscovering Enterprise since I didn't watch many episodes back during it's original run, although what I did see made me a fan of Trip/Conner Trineer. I enjoy the series. I still find most TNG episodes boring or silly, starting with "Encounter at Fairpoint" that I saw in 1987. Voyager is about the same, although both series have their great episodes and characters. I just don't understand the hate directed at Enterprise by so many. I am so sorry the series didn't continue after season 4, and like so many resent and choose to ignore that Riker and the broken holodeck story. Anyway, back to my original statement, this was a good episode and I'm sorry too many of you don't appreciate it.
Cody B
Sun, May 24, 2020, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
This was easily my favorite episode so far. It’s a slower paced episode but it’s very good in a subtle way. Just seeing the crew try to upgrade the weapons and Hoshi trying to figure out what to make for Malcolm’s birthday dinner. After speaking to every single person that knows him, turns out that the doctor can help by letting her know Malcolm takes shots in order to not have reactions to Bromine, most commonly found in pineapple. And lo and behold Malcolm loves his Hoshi made pineapple birthday cake! Also the Enterprise theme song is starting to slap. I thought it was cheesy at first but now?

🎶I HAVE FAITH 🎵
(I have faith)
FAITH OF THE HEEEEART 🕺
Focksbot
Tue, Jul 21, 2020, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
@Artymiss "I like his childlike delight (and he is delighted, this is how some English people express delight, in a relatively low key way) at the end that his Enterprise colleagues have bothered to find out what his favourite food is."

I wanted to comment on this episode just to say the same thing. So far, I'm finding Enterprise's approach to characterisation a refreshing change from the way it was done in the previous series, because it's a lot more subtle. You tend to get brief moments like this, rather than entire episodes where the point is hammered home relentlessly, ending in a contrived moment of growth.

Compare what's done with Reed here to how Riker's relationship with his father is handled in whichever episode it was - Frakes is forced to spend much of the episode looking like someone just slapped him in the face, and ends up pouring out his soul over the course of a bonkers space judo match.

Also, Reed gets the job done, but not without conflict and frayed nerves right up until the end. I feel like if this was a Next Gen episode, he'd have spent the first three quarters angsting about being undervalued, then go and talk to Guinan for five minutes before pulling it all together to save the day in the final five minutes.

Overall, to my mind, Enterprise is still holding its own as a different kind of Star Trek show. I'm much more impressed with it than I was with either season of Discovery.
Stu
Sat, Jul 25, 2020, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
Agreed, Enterprise is much more enjoyable than discovery.

I thought this episode was great fun, and I was thinking the mysterious aliens were perhaps the Romulans upto a point.

As with a lot of the best episodes of Enterprise, it showed the evolution of a classic part of Trek-lore, in this case the phasers.

Funniest scene was when Hoshi sat down with Reed and pushed it that far that he thought she was trying to hook up with him and get him back to her quarters.

it’s what Trek is all about some threat to ship wrapped around some character building of one or more of the main cast. I was alright with that episode, a solid 3 stars.
Mark
Thu, Aug 13, 2020, 10:37pm (UTC -5)
There's such a thing as letting a joke or game go too far. Malcolm genuinely believed that Hoshi was making a pass at him. At this point, Hoshi probably should have told him the truth, so he would understand that her actions were not romantic in nature. Then, hopefully, it could have been something like...
HOSHI: "Now that that's settled, what's your favorite food?"
MALCOLM: "I'm really into pineapple."
HOSHI: "OK, pineapple upside down cake then. And can you act surprised?"
MALCOLM: "No problem."

No misunderstandings, no violations of medical confidentiality, and Archer is none the wiser.
Triniray
Fri, Nov 13, 2020, 11:12am (UTC -5)
I am on my second watch of this series, and I am even more delighted the second time around. I have been scoring them higher than Jammer's ratings - such is my satisfaction with it.

I still can't get over the fact that it ended after 4 seasons, and with that awful debacle with Riker reminiscing. Enterprise deserved better.
Sean J Hagins
Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 1:12am (UTC -5)
A fun little episode. While I do not celebrate birthdays, I do appreciate learning a bit more about Reed. He's not just some "crazy Brit that likes to blow stuff up", but he apparently has issues at home with his father, and some backstory there.

Also, the aliens were chillingly bullying! A good episode with a good "how are our heroes going to get out of this one" vibe.

I also like how technology is being portrayed. The phasers are very experimental. And the power boost was kind of learned by accident on the fly. Sad to say, but in real life, a lot of technology is acquired during wartime as well. And just as in this case, I don't think the development of such powerful phasers would have happened if the crew wasn't desperate.

I also like the fact that the signaling buoys were destroyed. I mean that Archer actually was going to ask the Vulcans for help, but couldn't. It shows that he was willing to humble himself and ask for assistance rather than pridefully going his own way-a character builder! Again, I know a lot of people here don't like Archer, but I feel that he *(and Starfleet) are new to all of this, and they are learning as they go.

I have no problem with the aliens here never being heard from again. It was obvious that they were bullies that wanted to steal some kind of bodily fluid from humans, and when they saw how inventive and quick-learning Enterprise was, they stayed far away!

Again, it has to be hard to make a believable prequel when real life effects on TV are so much better than the original, and I think they handled it well. As a contrast, think the Star Wars movies. Now, I like the non-Disney films, but if there is one thing the prequels fell in for me was showing a regression in technology. *(Now I know it is different in that the Star Trek prequel series is about a Starfleet that is barely off the ground, whilst Star Wars seems to have had space travel for thousands of years, but still tech used in the clone wars seems better than the Galactic Civil War)
Bob (a different one)
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
The A plot is a good idea. The B plot is one of the worst in Trek history. Not even Reed's parents give a shit about his favorite food, so why the hell should we? I wish the A plot had been integrated into Shuttlepod One or something.
Shrantastic
Sat, Apr 17, 2021, 3:22am (UTC -5)
Yeah, I'd probably give it 2 1/2 stars. I'd seen it twice before, but this time some things bugged me. Archer was too friendly at the beginning with the alien ship, even the second time it came around, not even polarizing hull plating; I felt he should've been more cautious. It made me think of Wrath of Khan when Enterprise meets Reliant, which stays silent, and Saavik says they should take precautions. Then there's turning around to go to Jupiter Station. If it was The Next Generation, they would've had a longer briefing room scene to discuss the threat and whether they could build the phase cannons on their own without going back to Earth--I would've liked to have seen that scene longer, and it would've built more suspense around the threat and mystery of the aliens. Then Archer expresses remorse for launching early without all systems operative--I doubt if Kirk would've been that "down". So it's the writers, the script. About the "B" story, it was good but it should've been shorter. I also agree with Jammer about how the aliens' hit-and-run tactics were bizarre--they didn't really make sense. However, the episode is saved mainly by its second half and some great scenes.

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