Star Trek: Enterprise


2.5 stars

Air date: 10/29/2004
Written by Ken LaZebnik
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Jonathan Archer. What brings you here? They naming the prison after you?" — Soong

In brief: Reasonably diverting, but it seems more like an easily discarded prologue than necessary storytelling.

Sometimes I get painted into a corner with my star ratings, which seems to be the case with "Borderland," an episode I liked more than either of the "Storm Front" installments but which nevertheless feels sort of ... unnecessary. The episode is the first part of a three-episode storyline, and when it comes down to it, much of what happens here is incidental rather than crucial.

That's not really a huge problem so much as an observation. This is a safe, brisk-paced, not-bad hour of Star Trek that invokes some fun classic-Trek references. But your brain is not going to break a sweat. Given the ethical/controversial underpinnings of the story — centuries-later consequences from the Eugenics Wars — that's kind of too bad. (But, yes, I know: There are still two more episodes in this arc to sort that out.)

A small band of genetically enhanced humans takes over a Klingon ship. They have fight moves that might give Jackie Chan second thoughts, and they easily overpower the Klingon crew. As it happens, I watched TOS's "Space Seed" on DVD just last week, and these guys put Khan's fighting abilities to shame. (Stunt coordination and editing have come a long way. Then again, they'd better have, seeing as it's been nearly four decades.) The most puzzling aspect of this sequence is why J.G. Hertzler is cast as the commander of the Klingon ship in what is a complete throwaway role; he's killed before the opening titles.

This deadly hijacking is an outrage that makes the Klingons Real Mad, to the point that, apparently, This Means War between Starfleet and the Klingon Empire. Archer is ordered to take the Enterprise and find the genetically enhanced humans (called "Augments") and bring them back to Earth. Why such an isolated criminal incident is impetus for the Klingons threatening all-out war is not a plot point that I really understand ... nor is why Starfleet thinks they can avert such a war merely by recapturing the Augments.

Archer enlists the help of Dr. Arik Soong (Brent Spiner), a brilliant biologist who has been incarcerated for the past 10 years because he stole 19 Augment embryos from cold storage at a top-secret Starfleet research facility where he worked. The facility holds a stockpile of embryos left over from the Eugenics Wars.

Soong saw the 19 stolen embryos through to birth, and then raised the children as his own until about the age of 10, around when he was caught and sent to prison. The children escaped and have been in hiding, until now — grown up, hijacking ships, and turning pretty much into terrorists with delusions of grandeur.

Soong knows the territory of space where he believes his "children" might be roaming: a region where the Klingons regularly butt heads with the Orion Syndicate and their slave trade. The area is called the "Borderland," which sounds suspiciously like "Neutral Zone." The Enterprise has barely entered the Borderland when they are attacked by Orion slavers and nine members the Enterprise crew are kidnapped from the ship and promptly put up for slave auction on a nearby merchant world.

With Soong as his guide, Archer beams down to retrieve the missing crew members. This leads to one of the show's most intriguing scenes, where we see an Orion slave auction. Rather than going for the obviousness of barbaric shouts and grunts and noise, the creators depict the auction in an almost geeky, worker-bee sort of way: There's the sight of dozens of slave buyers punching buttons on their data pads, while an electronic screen runs up tallies. It's one of the quirkier things I've seen on this series in a while.

Indeed, I like the whole notion of the slave trade being played for its quirks and goofiness rather than more harrowing qualities. In a scene where T'Pol goes up for auction, a massive Orion played by WWE star Big Show lifts her up like a slab of beef for all the crowd to see. He then shakes her up a bit, satisfied with the price she has brought in. Later, all the doors on the prisoner cages become unlocked, resulting in a chaotic uprising. Soong attempts to escape in the confusion, which ends with a clever action gag involving his magnetic handcuffs and the on/off remote that Archer uses to control them.

Much of which, you see, is irrelevant to the big picture involving Soong and the Augments. Fans will like the Orion Syndicate references, but those looking for story might be ready to get on with more substantive fare.

The Augments themselves are something of a frustration, because the writers are mostly content to have them engage in the usual clichés of characters who are indignant because of their superiority. Here are people who are stronger, faster, smarter, and they know it. I'm not so sure about the smarter part — at least not when it comes to common sense and assessing human nature. I guess unlimited hubris is an inevitable byproduct of genetic superiority. It's hard to get a feel for what the Augments think about their situation, because the background of Soong's teachings and philosophy are not completely clear, and the story is content to let the pack follow one predator.

The predator, by the way, is Malik (Alec Newman), a Khan-like figure, power-drunk, but lacking the Khan-like charisma. There's a power struggle going on between Malik and Raakin (Joel West), who is the leader at the beginning of the episode but most definitely not by the end. In between them is Persis (Abby Brammell), who seems to support one, and then the other; she has a skill for manipulation and deception. Alas, these dynamics aren't interesting enough to transcend the overall shallowness of these characters.

Fortunately, we do have Soong, who ends up escaping with the Augments on the Klingon ship. Soong — well played by Spiner as a mix of canny instincts, human sympathy (he does, after all, have a sincere love for his children), and a mildly smug sense of humor — keeps this storyline alive.

Hopefully we'll get a better idea of what makes him and the Augments tick before this is all over.

Next week: Soong and his children attempt to release the rest of the Augments.

Previous episode: Home
Next episode: Cold Station 12

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

57 comments on this post

Fri, Oct 3, 2008, 9:39am (UTC -6)
I do agree. The slave trade scenes of the Orion Syndicate really stand out. These scenes are just hilarious
Wed, Dec 2, 2009, 1:14am (UTC -6)
Spiner alone makes this 3 stars. The storytelling really perked up in season 4, and I'm surprised this is not reflected in your ratings/reviews.
Sun, Dec 6, 2009, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
I'm tempted to swear at you, I'm a very immature person, Mr. Epsicokhan.
Sun, Jan 10, 2010, 11:14pm (UTC -6)
I feel so sad for Brent Spiner.His bankaccount is running dry so he obviously had to play in this abomination of gene's star trek.

Cant wait for someone like Russel T. Davies to step in and save star trek,like he revived and saved dokter who(revived and saved are capital understatements here).About time we see some gays in space anyway ;)

We already had two cowboys,a femalish knowitall,a shakespearian powerhouse and a black supernarrator.
The next captain should be a welsh gay.

And a little less american and a little more european could do the franchise some good.
Jacob Tee Taylor Seven
Tue, Aug 3, 2010, 1:01am (UTC -6)
Nice change of pace from the Xindi arc which drug out over a year and prolly lost more viewers than gained any.

I dont know why the skipped the Space Nazi eps. They also skipped the e2 eps.

The Giant aka Big Show aka Paul Wight as an "Orion" space alien is super funny the way he picks up 'Topol' like a doll. The look on her face is priceless. Over all enjoyable story, but weird that these green Orion fellows just take people for the hell of it. Get on to Cold Station nunmber 12!
Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 4:54pm (UTC -6)
This whole trilogy was ruined for me by the actor that played Malik...he just worked on my last nerve, playing the role as a bratty kid, I couldn't see him as remotely menacing but rather just petulant.
Marco P.
Sat, May 14, 2011, 8:48am (UTC -6)
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.
Sat, May 14, 2011, 12:11pm (UTC -6)
My reactions to these episodes were done in real time as the episodes aired and took into consideration all the factors I'd always taken into consideration in the past. All I could do was write what I thought and felt when I saw the episodes. I'm not sure why you're surprised at my reactions; I've supplied all my reasons in the reviews themselves.

Honestly, I've long thought the conventional wisdom that Manny Coto came in and saved Enterprise because he was a fan to the original show and liked continuity, was an overstated meme. Continuity and respect for the canon material as a part of making a prequel series is important, yes, and I thought many things Coto did were good. But continuity is not the end-all-be-all, and nor did Berman & Braga ignore the canon material themselves.

I think that Berman & Braga have long been made into the villains of the post-TNG era, and while I don't excuse their mistakes, I think there has long been a tendency to prejudge the episodes based solely on who the showrunners were. Coto represented the very definition of the halo effect for many people.

I like to think I was being objective in trying to review the episodes, and not going along with the general pre-agreed narrative that Coto was here and so now Enterprise was suddenly great. (In some ways it was better, but in other ways I was not impressed, as you will see as the season continues.) At the same time, I give Coto credit where it's due.
Marco P.
Sat, May 14, 2011, 1:17pm (UTC -6)

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.
Mon, Sep 26, 2011, 9:32am (UTC -6)
One of my fav trilogies on Enterprise(4th season was the first I saw) and I think Malik isn't like Khan because unlike Singh, he never visited Earth. As for Brent Spiner, I quote Geordi La Forge:"My hero."
Sat, Oct 15, 2011, 9:20pm (UTC -6)
I think the story ideas of Season 4 were much better, (and much more along the lines of what the show should have been, given it's chronological setting, using already established alien races), but the actual episode to episode presentations weren't necessarily better than in previous seasons (though they generally were). For example, the entire notion of the Xindi arc of Season 3 I found absolutely ridiculous. Introducing a race that had such an impact but that was never mentioned in the earlier (but later chronologically) series was just a bad idea. We're led to believe they'll eventually be Federation members, but we've never seen a trace of them in the "future".

That said, accepting that the Xindi arc was what they went with, and after sifting though the excruciata of the cartoon villainy of the Spherebuilders and of Dolum, there were a handful of well-told stories in Season 3, particularly towards the end.
Sat, Jun 30, 2012, 8:04pm (UTC -6)
So superior people are defined as being stronger. I always guessed they were smarter, let alone dumber.

And what about a slave market just around the block. I thought people capable of building ships that can generate a level of energy to travel the stars wouldn't be in need to travel light years to buy untrained manual laborers or people as food. They simply make all of that on their home worlds, with their sophisticated automatons and machines, never running out of energy.

Not to mention the chance that those Orions are blasted to smithereens by a joint venture of those species not accepting that their citizens are being kidnapped. Even today a kidnap is front page news.

But nevertheless a nice episode with much better continuity.
Mon, Aug 6, 2012, 6:16pm (UTC -6)
You know everyone keeps talking about "can't wait for Star Trek to be returned to it's former glory"...what former glory? What are you insane people talking about? I think so many people have built up the old Star Trek to be something legendary that it is not. Mid-late TNG and late DS9 were the only Star Trek worth talking about, and Enterprise does a damn fine job at doing entertaining Sci-Fi. TV evolves and changes, stop living in the past it wasn't as "perfect" as you remember it being.
Tue, Sep 18, 2012, 3:17pm (UTC -6)
1.5 stars. The super genetic twenty somethings were unconvincing and uninteresting. Why did they have torn clothes and lots of leather straps and what not? I guess Mad Max style clothing is required in the Boderland though tough cities in the U.S. usually feature well dressed baddies, at least their cloths don't have 20% holiness. So the slave market was neat with lots of money in the set and make up plus Big Show was, well, big! But I felt bad for Blalock being held up twice like she was. I don't care about the "accuracy" of it or that Orion slavers are bad. I immediately pitied her for the indignity of having do go through that. Not to mention the pathetic cliche kick in the crotch and tacky quip right before she beamed out. Also, I love Data but Brent Spiner always seems to play the same non-Data character: swarmy, sarcastic, sneering, nasty. He's not a subtle or varied bad guy. I guess it's better than Daniels but still he's no Combs that's for sure. But I'll take Spiner evilly hamming up any day over the ridiculous super twenty somethings and their holy clothing.
Fri, Dec 7, 2012, 5:14pm (UTC -6)
Hah, to be fair, Brock has a point.
TOS had some great moments but was cheesy
TNG had probably the biggest percentage of True Classics and the best captain, but definitely had its incredibly weak and sometimes completely bats**t moments especially early on.
DS9... alright, that was awesome. But then it was also quite different and some would argue a little less Trek (though I felt it clung onto Trek values better than, say, S3 Archer)
Voy... LOL. (actually in hindsight it was very entertaining and lighthearted, but shhhhh, I'm supposed to hate it, don't tell anyone I secretly love it in retrospect)


Pretty good. After such an abrupt end to the episode before I was kind of taken aback that it didn't continue on from exactly where it left off, but no matter.
Nice to see Spiner - I thought at that point he'd Thoroughly Had Enough (hence his exit in Nemesis, and from reading his Twitter in the past I've had the impression he half regretted any involvement in Star Trek. But he IS kind of a troll, hehe)
Glad that Hertzler only got a moment, to be honest. Don't get me wrong he's absolutely brilliant, but two familiar actors-from-the-future in the same show for too long would've been too much.

The Orions were fun. Good to see the green babes from TOS again, and the ogre guards :P

No huge complaints really.

I can understand the star rating system biting back. It only has 5 (10 if you include half-star) ratings! 1-10 works better for me.
On the star system though... hmmm.... 3 seems to work for me.
Fri, Dec 7, 2012, 5:17pm (UTC -6)
9 for half-star ratings (including 0) sorry. That's why I didn't get a high grade in maths!
Sat, Dec 8, 2012, 1:37pm (UTC -6)
That moment when you watch this episode on DVD then switch on Sky Atlantic the next day and the same episode is on!
Sun, Jan 6, 2013, 3:04am (UTC -6)
So T'Pol finally gets an official position in Starfleet … and they still have her dressed in her tight pink non-regulation outfit.

Ah well. I guess every Trek series just *has* to have a sex icon character that doesn't dress like everyone else.
Wed, Jan 9, 2013, 10:49pm (UTC -6)
I feel like this is the first Star Trek episode we've seen in a long time. It feels like it belongs in the Star Trek universe, and isn't just boring a few species to make us think it's a little familiar, like Vulcans and Andorians during the Xindi arc - which was about as foreign as you can get without actually going to the Delta Quadrant.

I don't think this episode was amazing though, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. If Enterprise episodes were of this quality or better to start with, the show would never have been cancelled in the first place.

I agree that it doesn't make any sense at all for T'Pol to be wearing this outfit. It made a little sense for Seven to wear it on Voyager, but even there it's a stretch - especially when Seven is pretty much apart of the crew at the end of season 5.

I find that in general, the costume designers for this show try to take every opportunity to dress T'Pol in the most inappropriate and even trendy attire they can find. The tight, cut-off pants, for example, just don't belong in any century for this series - it's clearly a 21st century fad that was very relevant at the time the show aired. The look goes against everything we've known about Vulcans in every series, and Star Trek costumes have always looked different, a bit more squared, simple in design, mono-coloured, and professional in taste (for the most part), etc.

DS9 was the only show that really did it right - both Dax and Kira wore their regular uniforms. Even civilizations like Kassidy Yates wore fairly uneventful, down-to-earth clothes. It's hard to believe a Vulcan would outdo this, but T'Pol is all about the tight fashion.

Anyway, I mostly enjoyed the episode. Brent Spinner does a really fantastic job, and I love all of the new sets. The Orions look really, really good.

My only real complaint about the story itself is that not much really happened beyond some introductions of characters, but since this is a trilogy, I'm basically okay with that.

I do wish they had shown the bargaining with the Orion to disable the collars. It just happens off-screen, which I think was a bad decision. Something could have surely been cut to allow for that.
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 6:01pm (UTC -6)

Seriously, this I honestly don't know what Marco P. is talking about -- this is *not* better than Season 3, which gave us multiple stories and season-long plot elements converging on episodes like "Damage". Maybe that's coming in Season 4? I don't know. But so far the Augments look just as half-baked as the Xindi started out, except with an extra helping of cheese.

What I do know is that if you take Brent Spiner out of this episode, it's just schlock. All the Augments do is chew scenery and spout terrible dialogue, and poorly at that. They look and act like Andromeda rejects on a grade Z Syfy series.

We get Orion Slave Girl boobies, an unvoiced Vulcan Love Slave joke, and a bunch of stuff that superficially *looks* like TOS but doesn't really have much content.

The Orions don't make any sense -- why steal 9 crewmembers and leave the majority of the crew and the ship in functional order? It invites rescue attempts, declarations of war, and diplomatic nightmares. It's a gaping plothole, and the only reason it was done this way is that the reasonable alternative -- enslaving everyone and/or destroying or salvaging the ship -- isn't where they wanted to go with the plot.

I hate to harp on this, but it's a very BIG problem with the episode. If you have to make one of the major players of the episode behave completely illogically and nonsensically just so the plot will function, everyone is better served by thinking up a better plot.

The slave market is fun to look at but it didn't feel terribly real to me. Enterprise should be doing more with aliens like the Orions than just using them as window dressing. Instead, it's more "fun" than fundamental, failing to do anything meaningful with them.

Brent Spiner is great, and the ideas behind the episode -- setting up the Augments, having them steal a Klingon ship, and giving the crew more than the planet-of-the-week mission -- these are all worthwhile. I just wish it hadn't felt like mostly filler, or that the Augment stuff hadn't seemed quite so cheesy. There were lots of little moments that were nice -- Archer giving T'Pol the compass, the clever usages of the handcuffs, Phlox's retort to Soong. Here's hoping the big moments will start matching them.
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 11:03pm (UTC -6)
I second that the show was mostly filler. I also second that the notion that a plot hole exists with the Orion kidnapping crew members. I thought this to some extent when watching it too.

Oddly enough, the better an episode is, or when I really like aspects to it, I tend to ignore the faults and still enjoy the episode as a hole. It's only when the episode is just terrible do I nitpick the hell out of it.
Sat, Feb 16, 2013, 7:24am (UTC -6)
I couldn't agree more with Brock and Cloudane.
- TOS is praised (and it should be) because it was inventive and totally new for its era. It was used to make social, societal commentaries and mythos allegories. The women - save Uhura - were mostly used as beautiful flower pots with very mini mini skirts or to be thrown into Kirk's arms.
- TNG had crappy first 2 seasons and last seasons, but has given us most of the classics. Also, it was also like a first new series, so it could invent as it went. However, besides Picard and Data, it wasn't good on character developements, nor continuity.
- DS9 was the best in continuity and characters and was good mostly due to outstanding recurring cast. But a lot of it wasn't very trekkian and I enjoyed more Garak, Dukat, Nog, Weyoun or Martok than the main characters.
- Voyager was good on characters (except for Kim, poor guy) but not in continuity and focused too much on two members (seven and doc).
- Enterprise being the sequel, filmed in a time where TV has radically changed, had a challenging task (being innovative after 4 shows). Even if the fans (me included) didn't like some very adolescent scenes, it was bound to be. Enterprise wasn't bad with continuity and characters (save Mayweather), even if the writers made us dislike the captain. For example: Troi is the same from start to finish and I don't know a lot about her. I know more about Hoshi who developped into a strong-willed yet still fragile (in a good way) character. And to be fair, the Xindi arc was just ONE year in earth history: for those who are hard about the cannon, well, tell yourselves that not every member of Starfleet would mention everything that took place centuries before. And all the ranting about the vulcans (half spoiler -->) is a lost cause because it will be explained why they were acting so strange.

I'm not saying I wouldn't have liked something better, but I don't really understand the hate. Maybe it's about expectations, some wanted the Romulan war and didn't get it. The best seasons were usually the fifth. Well, Enterprise didn't get the chance ;).

Back to the episode, I agree that it would have been more enjoyable with another actor to get a more charismatic Malik, but the seeds for the arc are planted. Let's wait for the conclusion.
Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
I'm watching Enterprise from beginning to end on Netflix for the first time (I'd only seen a few episodes on UPN when they aired). I've been watching about one a day, so obviously I don't have the time span between each episode that original fans had (i.e., I remember watching the first season just a little while back as opposed to years back), but I don't see what is so special or different about this particular episode.

I've never been a particularly big Brent Spiner fan (he's always seemed to play the same two characters, as another commenter put it, and gets far too much screen time to play them) but even if you take him out of this episode all that's left is something that feels like one of Voyager's less interesting kidnapping plots sped up.

I'd have much rather seen "Home" followed up with more much-needed character development.
Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 10:14pm (UTC -6)
Also, if anyone's reading this, thanks to Jammer for the entertaining, thought provoking reviews. Many of them far more fun to read than their respective Enterprise episode was to watch!
Nebula Nox
Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 11:29pm (UTC -6)
Loved the ogres on Orion...felt as if I were watching Shrek.
John G
Sun, May 25, 2014, 4:54pm (UTC -6)
A little surprised that T’Pol’s, uh, “uniform” has gotten so little notice. Seems a bit slapdash of Starfleet to let her wear her rank and service insignia on what appears to be civilian clothing.

Loved the bit with Big Show and T’Pol, though. I’d pay good money just to see the outtakes on that scene. :D

I agree that the augments were lame as hell — the two rival leaders were both not even B-movie level and the costumes ridiculous. Funnily enough for a while I thought Persis was played by German Olympic swimmer Franziska van Almsick…certainly a strong resemblance.

Still, overall a good outing. Great to have Spiner in there, with a little foreshadowing of Data’s “father”. In fact I was kinda wondering if the character *was* Data’s father Dr. Soong, who somehow managed to extend his own lifespan, but the production notes say he’s intended to be the latter Soong’s grandfather or great-grandfather. Nice way to get lots of continuity in there.
Mon, Jul 6, 2015, 3:34pm (UTC -6)
I thought that the Augments were pretty much by the numbers duplicates of Khan and his crew but the underlying concepts in this three parter make this a superior outing for the genetically engineered supermen when compared to the inferior treatment given in JJ Abrams' second Star Trek movie.
Fri, Oct 30, 2015, 2:04pm (UTC -6)
Maybe it's nostalgia for my childhood in the 80s but I LOVE the augments. Everything about Khan and that 80s aesthetic just screams home to me. So I realize that I may not be perfectly objective with regard to this episode. But as a matter of personal preference I can honestly say: Best. Episode. Ever. If all we ever saw in Enterprise was an Earth Ship dealing with Augments in the Borderlands and basically setting off the war with the Klingons, I'd be 100% satisfied. Pity this hadn't all been started in season one. We might have gotten somewhere.
Diamond Dave
Fri, May 13, 2016, 3:25pm (UTC -6)
I was never a fan of Brent Spiner's portrayals of Soong so for me that isn't exactly a plus point here. And for the rest we are clearly spreading material thinly to carry it over an arc - there's a heck of a lot of talking and exposition going on.

There are some nice nods to TOS, and the continuity aspect is fairly strong again, but the Augments are very much second best to Khan's similar crew and as rightly pointed out Malik comes over more as petulant teen than Khan-like mastermind. Didn't really do it for me - 2 stars.
Sat, Jul 9, 2016, 1:04am (UTC -6)
Agree with a lot of the posters here, some massive plot holes and logic fails that are almost impossible to surmount, saved a bit by the shock and novelty factor of seeing Brent Spiner play Dr Soong. The Augments stuff is mostly scenery chewing and quite a lot of brainless exposition and set-up for future episodes - although I personally thought the stuff with the Orion Syndicate somehow pulled it all off at a pure entertainment level and a nice nod to TOS - which is what Enterprise should have been doing in its first 3 seasons!

You can see some sort of attempt here in this S4 of Enterprise at improvement after the debacle of the wrap-up of S3 and start of S4....
Marshal Dunnik
Wed, Sep 21, 2016, 11:04pm (UTC -6)
When Malik confronts Raakin face to face I hoped that the latter would grab the former's knife and stab him mid-speech, just for a change of pace from the usual cliches.

Always a pleasure to watch Brent Spiner but I can't help but see his performance as a note-for-note rehash of Lore in TNG's Descent.

And why does Archer allow such a dangerous and unpredictable potential enemy within choking range? Because the plot says so.

I keep hearing that the fourth season, which I never managed to get around seeing back in the day, was the best and a sign of good things to come but so far, so meh. Storm Front was just stupid, Home may as well been called "Family", and this one, as Jammer rightfully notes, seems to be a rehash of Space Seed (and TWOK) without the charisma of Ricardo Montablan. But one can hardly expect gravitas and screen presences from a young actor who was seemingly cast solely for his boy band bad boy looks and martial arts ability.
Sat, Jun 24, 2017, 11:36am (UTC -6)
Back to the abyss; that is; abysmal story arc. So boring not even Data can save it.
Mon, Jul 24, 2017, 5:49pm (UTC -6)
Again, a decent hour of Trek but nothing special really. In reading Jammer's review, I now realize "Borderland" is the 1st of a 3-parter -- that helps somewhat in that there seemed like a fair amount of effort spent on the dynamics among the Augments, which wasn't anything noteworthy for me -- laying groundwork for subsequent episodes, I suppose. Anyhow, the gang in "Space Seed" was much better even without the power struggle for leadership. There's just no comparison between Malik and Khan. Malik is like a teenage brat.

Having Spiner is a plus -- a welcome and familiar face, good actor. Some of the weaknesses in prior ENT episodes have been stiff guest actors. You just knew Soong would try some kind of escape on the Orion planet. The interaction between Soong/Archer was good.

As for the whole Orion slavery thing, I'm not sure what role that might have to play in a 3-parter. Here it is just an interesting diversion -- good to see Big Show put to use (he must get the odd part now and then because of his size). I thought the whole Orion slavery thing belonged more to something from Star Wars than Star Trek. And how were the Orion ships able to transport T'Pol etc. with the Enterprise's shields up? I'll put that down to special Orion technology.

So ENT S4 has a small story arc about genetically engineered humans led by a mad scientist. The whole eugenics thing has been done before -- I can see it now, the Enterprise and the Klingon ship get into some kind of battle, maybe throw in some personal vendettas, maybe one of the Augments develops a conscience, etc.

If it wasn't for Spiner being along for the ride, I'd give "Borderland" 2 stars. Instead, it just gets to 2.5 stars for me. At the margins, I'd say it's the weakest of the first 4 S4 episodes but it's the 1st part of a 3-parter so...
Sat, Aug 5, 2017, 2:56pm (UTC -6)
After the early discussion of Soong's previous escape attempts, his attempt at Orion during a "prison break" was hardly a surprise. I wish Archer & Co., instead of stupidly giving Soong another chance to escape, had factored his likely behavior into a larger strategy of drawing the Augments to the Enterprise. Sure, the kidnapping of the crew members was unexpected, and the captain needed Soong's authorization to beam down, but showing some strategy would've given depth to the Enterprise crew and helped unify the two story lines.

As for the sexism, where to begin? Persis the seductress sidekick, T'Pol objectified to the point of absurdity, those skilled Orion slave women... This episode is classic Trek. (Despite all of Voyager's weaknesses, it's always a comfort to see Torres in charge of engineering and Janeway in command of the ship.)

Thank you, Jammer, for your thoughtful reviews! This is my first time watching Enterprise, so I appreciate the protracted "water cooler" conversation here.
Fri, Aug 18, 2017, 10:57am (UTC -6)
Grim. I enjoyed the previous episode and was hoping for more of the same. Instead we get The Augments who look like they escaped from some dreadful pop video from the 1980s. I loved Data but it always seemed to me that when Brent Spiner escaped the confine's of portraying Data he got totally carried away and hammed it up outrageously, he does it here. Unfortunately.

I have reached the point now where I'm only continuing to watch Enterprise in the, probably vain, hopes of 1) seeing Porthos again and 2) seeing Phlox do his astonishing and all kinds of fabulous puffer fish face...
The Man
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 8:13pm (UTC -6)
Sorry @Diamond Dave you are completely wrong, Brent Spiner does a great job portraying Soong and just chews up the scenery. He is outstanding.
Tue, Aug 29, 2017, 7:51am (UTC -6)
I agree 'The Man'. Brent was outstanding here.
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 7:52pm (UTC -6)

'And how were the Orion ships able to transport T'Pol etc. with the Enterprise's shields up?'

The Enterprise NX-01 doesn't have shields. It has hull plating. As far as I know there is nothing preventing them or anyone else from transporting to and from the ship.

I don't like the augments so far. Liked the slave market. Soong is ok.

2 stars.
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 8:34pm (UTC -6)

Yes, brain cramp on my part to have forgotten. Thanks for pointing it out.

Guess it also goes to show how vulnerable the NX-01 was out there.
Just another fan
Thu, Oct 12, 2017, 2:09am (UTC -6)
I'm watching the series on Netflix. When it was on television, I caught maybe one or two of the beginning episodes and then didn't stick with it. I felt like I had outgrown Star Trek.

But now in 2017, here I am returning to Star Trek. So many series on television and online have turned very dark and depressing. I find that I miss it. And Bakula, Trineer and others have grown on me.

As for this episode, whoever had to follow after Ricardo Montalban had big shoes to fill. So I feel sorry for Alex Newman here. I didn't think his performance was bad, but sometimes an original cannot be improved. Not as bad as having Britney Spears cover the Rolling Stones' I Can't Get No Satisfaction, but along those lines.

The fight sequences on Enterprise aren't always convincing, but they were here. And the Orion scenes were fun. But it bothers me that they have robbed T'Pol of the strength she should have as a Vulcan. She should be stronger than human beings at the very least.

And watching Brent Spiner was a joy. It's true that he has played similar roles over the years, but I remember his performances as Lore and Dr. Soong, and I would argue that his performance in this story is better and more subtle than his past performances--less sneering and more range and genuine emotion. And he's been given a complex character to play. It was like watching him come home.
Sat, Jun 2, 2018, 4:00am (UTC -6)
Worst costume!
There were many stupid looking aliens in SciFi incl. Star Trek but these ripped shirts of each of these augments look so ridiculous it i s distracting. What happened to those shirts? Why did they never get replaced. Why did they never rip entirely or do they never put them off, never wash? Or is it just really bad augment fashion taste?
Thu, Oct 4, 2018, 4:41pm (UTC -6)
3 stars

Yes it’s nothing more than an action laden gratuitous TOS fare detour but it Sure was fun seeing Orions
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 4:12pm (UTC -6)
It has Brent Spiner. It has two meaty story lines which are fun, quirky, with action and introduce the Augments. And Brent Spiner is in it. Solid 3 stars, maybe even 3,5.
Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 6:43am (UTC -6)
The Borderland was a good idea showing that in this day & age that anything goes including piracy and slave trade giving the region a much needed sense of being in the wild frontier with its lawlessness. Every species is out for themselves trying to stake their claims to the quadrant and establish themselves as the major power. The Federatin isn’t yet around to establish order and every species is vying for territory.

It makes sense that two formidable groups like the Klingons and Orions would mark territory leading to this no man’s land. Some of the best things Coto did for the show was to build up the universe in which the crew occupy by fleshing out the 22nd century Alpha Quadrant both in terms of power players and geopolitical landscapes.

I enjoyed it when the crew would visit an alien world whether in Broken Bow or Rajiin, for instance. And while not quite as exotic as either of those, I did find the slave market with its mix of aliens including a Tellarite different and welcoming. Like in Broken Bow the crew are learning how other alien races conduct themselves and is an eye opening experience. A human starship and human presence doesn’t carry the influence it will one day. Right now they are just another alien species afforded no more respect or concern than any other—their ships will be attacked, their people kidnapped especially when they have no shields to prevent transporting

T'Pol had a nice moment that further highlighted the qualities I most appreciated in her when amidst her own disorientation she manages to reassure the young ensign and later I liked how he attempted to return the favor by protecting her when the Orion came to take her away. I like it when the crew watch out for each other it just gives me that warm fuzzy feeling.

And it was really cool to see an Orion female in a modern series as well as the well designed Orion males. Fun stuff

The great escape was fun and so perfectly Soong to take advantage of the mayhem to make a run for it.

And while not crucial to the story, the slave market/Orion detour was an entertaining diversion on the way to the real heart of the story with the Augments which continued in the next two installments. While they didn't really get much attention what screen time they did have allowed a glimpse into the players especially Malik and they certainly projected very well the same superiority and danger about them as Khan's genetic supermen except that these are younger and not quite as sharp. Manny's method of bringing the Augments into the 22nd century was clever and not the least bit contrived like it could have been. It makes a lot of sense there might have been embryos left over after the Eugenics War.
Sat, May 30, 2020, 8:25pm (UTC -6)
@artymiss You're entitled to your own opinion even though it is completely wrong. Brent Spiner is a fantastic actor and he did a great job here.
Sun, May 31, 2020, 11:31am (UTC -6)
The Enterprise is a badly run ship.
Cody B
Fri, Jul 31, 2020, 5:15pm (UTC -6)
Love this. Finally we are done with Xindi and Temoral Cold War, we have classic Trek lore, we have Brent Spiner, and we have Khan-esque augmented aliens. All coming together for a very fun episode. 3.5 stars all the way and glad to see more of the same next few episodes
Gail NYC
Mon, Nov 2, 2020, 6:52pm (UTC -6)
Agreed, Cody B. Tremendously enjoyable. Finally, some humor! This show takes itself way too seriously for my taste, so I was thrilled to see a little levity injected. Very fun.
Eric in RI
Tue, Feb 9, 2021, 7:16pm (UTC -6)
Just rewatched this episode moments ago. The entire augment story could have been derailed if Malcolm had just stunned Malik and Archer together.
Frake's Nightmare
Mon, May 3, 2021, 4:23pm (UTC -6)
Shame they hadn't been augmented with some sewing genes. Have they been wearing the same clothes for 10 years?
Wed, May 5, 2021, 3:00pm (UTC -6)
Really good episode. Good acting by Spiner. Interesting concept also.

Persis (Abby Brammell), damn she looked good. Really good. Personally I would have welcomed her back to Earth with open arms.

A certain part of me wondered though, if the Augments could be persuaded to stop attacking Klingon ships, what precisely is the problem with them now that they have already been created? There doesn't seem to be a stated desire on their part to conquer Earth.
Paul Allen
Mon, Jul 19, 2021, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
Archer is a freakin' genius. How else would you describe a captain who would dock his ship, with a gang of augmented murderers who got their ship, by taking out an entire crew of Klingons. I mean, there is no way that they're going to use that docking connection to invade and assault your ship.
Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 8:53pm (UTC -6)
What an absolute WASTE of JG Hertzler. i was expecting that at the end, he would be tied up on the klingon ship and maybe in the continuation (which i havent watched yet), archer or crew would find him and theres about ten different story opportunities there, but nope.... the episode is over and no Hertzler. WHAT AN ABSOLUTE WASTE!!! NOT COOL! 👎
Wed, Feb 23, 2022, 7:47pm (UTC -6)
14:42 Phlox says “It's your responsibility as a scientist to learn from past mistakes”. Why is this significant to me?

A little background about myself, I suffer from a very severe unexplained progressive physical illness. It all started gradually back in 2000 when I was 16 years old. I am now totally bed bound by it and have carers visit me everyday. What does modern medicine do with people with illnesses that we don't know about or don't have the technology to scan/test for? Declare that the patient has a psychological issue not a physical one. This isn't a new phenomenon, it's been happening since the 19th century. In the 1950's before MRI scanners were invented, Patients with Multiple Sclerosis were told that they had hysterical paralyses and were treated awfully as a result. Fast forward to 2022 and things are not much better for those who have had their physical symptoms psychologized. I have been severely neglected by society and as a result my condition was made permanently worse. It makes me angry that the medical profession have not learned from the mistakes of the past. I and millions of others have suffered a great deal due to people who should be men and women of science not learning from the past and not practising evidence based medicine.
Sun, Aug 14, 2022, 7:09pm (UTC -6)
I'm surprised no-one yet commented on the following bit of "fan-service" the writers wove-in to this episode's script:

Archer enters the bridge at 10m 57s, and admires the new Captain's Chair that features controls at the end of the armrests. Tripp tells him: "I don't have time to go over all the details… just, ah, try not to hit *that* button!"

That's a clear call-back to the infamous (and ridiculous) "research pod jettison button" on Kirk's Captain's Chair, from the mediocre TOS episode "Court Martial". Press that thing too early, and Ben Finney gets sent out to space!
Wed, Sep 6, 2023, 12:14am (UTC -6)
Totally useless episode. Is obviously not enough material in this space seed remake. Spiner is just a terrible actor.
Sat, Sep 30, 2023, 6:43pm (UTC -6)
Always good to take a little Brent Break!
Awesome to see Brent Spiner in this series!
Man, Archer needs to beef up security protocols. His mission is to bring the Augments back to earth. The Augments do him a favour and dock with Enterprise. Perfect, it’s Miller Time! But then he lets one unarmed guy stroll in and take over his ship and get away with Soong to boot? Good grief!

Submit a comment

I agree to the terms of use

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2023 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. Terms of use.