Star Trek: Enterprise


3 stars.

Air date: 5/6/2005
Written by Manny Coto
Directed by LeVar Burton

"You're behind this." — Detective Charles Tucker III

Review Text

In brief: A good Trekkian allegory, although the storytelling is awfully rigid.

"Demons" tells a pretty good story in an exceptionally average way. The ideas are here, but the juice is lacking. As I look over my notes, I see that they outline a pretty decent — but not great — story. "Demons" at least has the temerity to have a point, unlike "Bound" or "In a Mirror, Darkly."

I guess the real problem is that, as Enterprise winds to a close and Star Trek is about to go away, I don't have many strong feelings about this episode at all. Maybe it's just my typical end-of-season malaise. It happens. If Star Trek is out of gas, then so am I.

Which is maybe sort of unfair to "Demons." After all, here's a story that's about Earth and its internal problems, which is a relevant thing to consider before Earth can become a part of an interplanetary alliance. There's a conference being held on Earth in which the Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites have all arrived to work on a historic alliance. The Enterprise crew looks on and applauds, but Trip grumbles over the fact that Minister Groener (Nathan Samuels) has all but taken full credit for the conference and has left Enterprise out of the story. "I'm sure history will reflect our contribution," Archer says. "Not if he's the one who's writing it," Trip responds. Perhaps the exchange is a reference to the fact that Enterprise, as a prequel series, was not known by any of its sequels.

But away from the negotiation table, trouble is brewing. A radical isolationist movement called Terra Prime is plotting ... something. It involves their custody of a six-month-old Vulcan/human child and a hotbed of radical plotting at the Orpheus Mining Facility on the moon, which is owned by John Frederick Paxton (Peter Weller), leader of the Terra Prime movement. The plot thickens when a Terra Prime member abandons the movement, is shot dead by her own people, but not before revealing the existence of the child to Archer — and the fact that it's the offspring of Trip and T'Pol.

Archer immediately opens an investigation. Meanwhile, Trip and T'Pol are baffled: T'Pol has never been pregnant, so how can this be their child? The mystery of the child and Terra Prime prompts Archer to send Reed back to Agent Harris (Eric Pierpoint) to get Section 31's leads. Is this a good idea? After all, it's Archer who forced Reed to choose one side or the other in "Divergence." Now Archer sends him back to Harris, who seems likely to strong-arm Reed back into the agency. This might've been an interesting setup to a thread if the show were coming back for a fifth season.

Archer has his own shrewd methods for getting information; he subtly blackmails Minister Samuels with exposure (Samuels had briefly and misguidedly joined Terra Prime at age 18) if he doesn't open up more investigative avenues. Subsequently, Archer sends Trip and T'Pol to the moon to investigate leads at the mining colony.

The episode's wild card is a reporter named Gannett (Johanna Watts), who is an old girlfriend of Travis. She wants an inside scoop about the Enterprise, and she also wants to get with Travis again. Travis is less enthusiastic; their relationship obviously didn't end on the best note. I've bemoaned for years the lack of characterization for Travis, and this episode seems to at least make an effort to give him something to do.

But let it also be said that the episode is very obvious in following the rule that no guest character can be inconsequential to the main plot. Is Gannett just a reporter looking for a story? Please. Eventually, Travis and Gannett are making out in a shuttlepod. Subsequently, Travis gets laid and pumped for information. These scenes might've worked better if the actors weren't so wooden about them, but the actors seemingly exist only in a plot and not in the moment. I didn't buy any emotional history between these two. What I did buy is that they are a function of a bigger puzzle. It comes as no surprise that by the end of the episode Gannett is in the brig, charged with being a Terra Prime spy.

The best aspect of the show is the idea of isolationists and the allegorical themes. The enemy in the story is Earth's own xenophobia (particularly since the Xindi attack). Even before the attack, Terra Prime believed Earth to be humanity's domain, and humanity's alone. Like many radical groups, Terra Prime simply believes what they are doing is right. Paxton has a moment where he reflects upon the "misunderstood" Colonel Green, made famous in the aftermath of World War III because Green "euthanized" millions who suffered from radiation poisoning. Paxton views it as an act of mercy that spared generations from genetic defects. Green is generally remembered as a butcher, and Paxton wonders if he will have a similar legacy.

Paxton sees interbreeding between humans and aliens as an unhealthy corruption of DNA. He and Terra Prime are essentially the 22nd-century equivalent of white supremacists or racial purists. (There are black actors portraying prominent lieutenants in Terra Prime, and I wonder if that irony was a deliberate casting choice.) Terra Prime also uses the sort of anti-government rhetoric that's similar to that of current-day extremists.

Paxton's lunar mining facility doubles as a spaceship, which he pilots to Mars and uses to take control of its verteron array, normally used to deflect asteroids and comets throughout the solar system. From this station he can fire on any ship or facility in the system. He makes an ultimatum: Either all non-humans in the system leave, or Paxton will use the verteron array as a weapon. (Shouldn't this thing have been under much heavier guard?)

What I like about "Demons" is that the villain is ourselves — at least, a subset of ourselves via a particular way of thinking. What I find lacking is the somewhat mechanical advancement of the plot. It's too routine to be exciting, and too pat to be believable. Paxton is a villain of ideology, yes, but not a particularly interesting one. He doesn't rise above adequacy. Peter Weller's voice suggests plentiful arrogance, but more as a stylized presence than as a real demagogue. This is an episode that always feels scripted, even though the script itself is pretty good.

Next week: Two finales for the price of two.

Previous episode: In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II
Next episode: Terra Prime

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38 comments on this post

    "Trip grumbles over the fact that Minister Groener (Nathan Samuels) has all but taken full credit"

    Actually it's Minister Nathan Samuels, played by Harry Groener.

    I enjoyed this one a lot more than Jammer did, apparently. The speech at the end is like a quick summation of an anti-Star Trek philosophy. "Terra Prime...forever" could have sounded like schlock in the hands of a lesser actor, but as delivered by Peter Weller, I found it genuinely unsettling.

    I thought this two parter was an good end to the series (I don't consider These are the Voyages to be the finale to ENT) and Peter Weller was an excellent guest star. But I did notice that Travis did get some good character development,i think he actually got more in this two parter then during the remaining 96 episodes of this series, including Fortunate Son and Horizon.

    Poor Travis... Let's review the most important contributions he made to this show:

    • getting cloned, and subsequently killed

    • accidentally screwing a spy

    I mean, yeah, he flew the ship and stuff too; and he also had those two cargo ship episodes. But, basically, the above two points are all I will remember about Travis when I finish this show out.

    Well, those two points, and how great this man looks without a shirt. I feel like we've seen most of the main cast in underwear or less at this point. Travis definitely gets my vote for "crew member who never should have been issued a shirt in the first place". He wins the award for best half naked male crew member, for sure. In fact, if Travis walked around without a shirt in every scene, it might have compensated for his total lack of actual character.

    Here are a few things I think might have improved Enterprise as a whole:

    • As previously mentioned, Travis without a shirt at all times

    • Porthos becomes a bridge officer

    • Shran in every episode

    • OR Jeffrey Combs just kills Archer in another Ushaan related incident and takes over the role of Captain of the Enterprise altogether. In fact, if that were to happen, I'd be willing to drop the first two requests completely.

    But anyway, in all seriousness, I really liked this episode. It had a good sense of Trek history, and Peter Weller is great as the bad guy.

    It's almost *ALMOST* a shame this show got canceled when it did. I thought season three got quite entertaining by the end, and season four has honestly been much better than the first two seasons. I wouldn't say this is particularly great trek. But, season four has been very competent and (for the most part) fun trek. I would even venture to say that season four has been far more consistent as a whole than season three. Although, I do think the brightest spots in season three did shine slightly brighter than the brightest spots in season four.

    I would have liked to see more of what the writing team tried to do with this season. The prequel concept was finally starting to feel like something that at least had a direction, even if it didn't always make the mark.

    If they had made a fifth season, they should have told the story of how the Moon emancipated itself from Earth's gravity. When they fire at it with the verteron array, it's at an impossible angle in relation to Earth in the background.

    Something about a clean, hot, scrawny Vulcan girl posing as a miner makes ZERO sense. Phlox could have at least given her temporary human ears...or at least a wig to cover them!

    For someone so sensitive to the comic book camp of the alternate universe episodes, you seem to have a lot of tolerance for all the campiness on display here. Come on, Peter Weller is basically a Bond villian with a Super Weapon that allows him to destroy any target on Earth (et al) with the touch of a button. I was waiting for him to touch his pinky to the corner of his mouth and say, "unless you pay me... ONE MILLION DOLLARS!"

    And somebody besides Dr. Evil should have known that the asteroid diversion device could also serve as the Ultimate Weapon of Total Universal Destruction. Yes, they probably should have posted a guard or two. Little bit of a security hole there.

    And, I'm sorry, but this episode proves there is no way to make the Travis character interesting. I don't know why, and I guess we'll never know why, but Travis sucks the life out of every scene he's in. One of the few things that rang true in this episode was that the reporter was only using him. There's no way she could possibly have found him interesting.

    Thats' one impressive weapon they have there. Such a shame it wasn't around to destroy the Xindi probe. Could have been useful...

    Whoa, Travis got a story. Kinda. One problem, I didn't care about it because we still don't really know him!

    A chilling look at how history repeats itself with one Hitler after another. Here's hoping the future doesn't really pan out that way, and reaches the Star Trek ideals more peacefully.

    Loving the excuses to hop around the moon and Mars. Really makes the show seem like a prequel (finally, just before it ends!)

    Sure, T'Pol has never been pregnant, but Trip has...

    LOVED Peter Weller as the baddie bad guy.

    i really enjoyed this episode, until I realized: Why was there the need for a vulcan-human hybrid?? I mean, honestly?? Did I miss it? Was there a point?

    @Jons: See my comment on the next episode for an explanation. Basically the summary is that the Terra Prime people planned to use the baby to show that Vulcans and humans were incompatible, because they knew the baby would not survive, and humiliate Starfleet officers (one of which is Vulcan) in the process.

    It was strange that Trip and T'Pol fretted about the mining vessel going to warp inside the system, since just a few episodes prior when Columbia launched it went to warp the moment it cleared the dock.

    I did not like this episode at all. If you know the mining colony is a hotbed of anti-alien-ism, why sent in T'Pol with NOTHING to cover her ears???

    I like Peter Weller, but I didn't like him seemed to me he was talking in a monotone the whole time...

    And, unfortunately, Travis gets a 'love interest'. I was really hoping he'd be revealed to be gay. With a body like his, he should be.:)

    Well, at least we get to see him shirtless in bed. I totally echo Carbetarian's comments from above!

    Oh dear-the moonbase spaceship was straight out of Thunderbirds,Peter Weller is auditioning for the role of Admiral Marcus and I wholeheartedly agree with the stupidity of sending T'Pol to infiltrate a gang of desperate xenophobes without a disguise.

    Babylon 5 developed the concept of an isolationist movement -Homeguard and Night Watch over two seasons and succeeded in presenting an uncomfortably xenophobic movement without descending into grand guignol.

    This is inferior fare.

    Phew, good thing that Mars was on the same side of the Sun as Earth when Terra Prime launched their scheme, otherwise they would've looked mighty silly, threatening them with a space laser from the wrong side of the solar system...

    I don't know if I'm getting jaded on this final leg but I found this to be deathly dull. There's a good moment when Trip/T'Pol's baby is revealed but that doesn't really get followed up much, the Travis storyline is welcome mainly because it gives the character something to do but actually isn't very involving, and I found the Peter Weller elements to be little more than a Bond villain rip off with a heck of a lot of explanatory exposition.

    In truth, I liked the idea of this episode a lot more than the actual delivery. 2 stars.

    A much more substantial episode than "In a Mirror, Darkly" but kind of a let down as well. The idea of a radical isolationist movement on Earth after the Xindi attack is a good one but it just seems like a small handful of people. Ultimately it comes across as a James Bond villain with a laser and special base -- not the effect Trek wanted to achieve.

    The whole Trip/T'Pol baby is confusing. So how did it come about? I guess "Terra Prime" will give us the answers, hopefully.

    As for the Travis character getting some love here, I think it falls pretty flat. It's clear he's being used and only at the end does it prove to have some link to the A-plot (i.e. it's not just a complete B-plot). I just don't think the actor for Travis is a very good one -- very stiff.

    2.5 stars is my rating here -- some interesting moving parts to a decent underlying story but it doesn't get particularly captivating. The Travis/Gannett part was forgettable and the part with Paxton on the moon base was borderline laughable for me (too Bond-villain like). What is redeeming about this episode is its link to what the UFP would become, trying to get a few interplanetary alliances forged and overcoming some of the resistance.

    Why would a a mining facility have warp drive? How far ahead did he plan this?

    I for one was happy to see the historical tie-in to "Colonel Green", a shout-out to The Savage Curtain aka Abe Lincoln in Space.

    Reporter: Smile
    Mayweather: ...
    Reporter: I never could get you to smile for the camera.

    And that, folks, is what we call "leaning on the 4th wall". A direct explanation to the audience why the very wooden Anthony Montgomery was never given much to do in this series.


    Sadly that's true. Evidenced by the amount of work he's had since the end of 'Enterprise'. I'm assuming he's improved as an actor because he's been on General Hospital for quite a nice run.

    I met Anthony and was very impressed by the young man. Glad to see him get some success.

    I saw this episode a million years ago, and again just recently..same question now as then: can somebody please just tell me where the baby came from? I heard the word 'clone', but from where? How would someone get samples of T'Pol's and Reed's dna if that was the method?
    Thank you..

    Ugh Max nailed it: the moment that stupid moon base lifted off all I could think was bond villain. Just incredibly tedious.

    Meanwhile the instant they said the baby was Trip and T'Pol's I instantly thought of E2 and the fact that Trip and T'Pol already *know* they had a baby together. Soooooo.... is that not even worth mentioning? Even in passing?

    And yes, the First Minister is Mayor Wilkins III. Could he possibly maybe be a teensy bit *EVIL*? I am waiting with baited breath to find out the answer. Hell now that I think of it Wilkins did become a true demon at the end of Buffy Season 3. And the episode is called *demon*. Co-incidence? Is this going to end with the First Minister turning into a 100 foot snake?

    Anthony Montgomery would have been better cast as an android. His face lacks expression and he appears dead behind the eyes. His movements and gestures are suitably robotic in nature. His delivery of lines has all the emotional expression of a talking toaster.

    I would imagine other members of the cast enjoy working with him as their relative talents are greatly amplified in direct comparison.

    everyone seems to think Tpol somehow secretly got pregnant and stashed the baby in the solar system.

    Hasn't anyone noticed that she has been halfway across the galaxy in the expanse for quite a while?

    Hello, I run a wack job anti-alien bunch called Terra Prime.
    Oh really, where do you live ?
    Well most of us live on the moon.

    When Phlox first said "I can't explain it, but the baby is Trip and T'Pol's child", my first thought was that this has happened before - last season, in fact at roughly the same point in the season, with "E2". They never did find out what happened to them. So (a) there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for this child, and (b) they've gone through this "omg I can't believe I had a kid with *you*" thing before!

    And did Trip and T'Pol really think they could go undercover at this mining facility when they're widely known as the heroes who saved Earth from the Xindi? If there's anyone who would know their faces, it'd be a group of radical humanity-first xenophobes!

    I enjoyed the various callbacks (forwards?) to TOS - Colonel Green, the United Earth Space Probe Agency - but overall the episode is very by-the-numbers. To be honest, that's almost my estimation of the whole season. Manny Coto did his best to give the series a new purpose and the two or three episode arcs worked very well for telling more detailed stories, but I kind of wish the new purpose was more than just "hang around Earth and clean up inconsistencies between Enterprise and TOS". If a season 5 had come about, I would have liked to have seen the ship go back to its mission of exploration, perhaps with Shran or Hernandez as more regular companions to Enterprise on its mission.

    When Josiah was making that speech in the mines, I was studying Trips facial expressions closely because here is a guy who did lose his sister in that Xindi attack. Maybe he had about 5% empathy with Terra Prime.
    But that giant frickin space laser....sure let's leave it without any security. No-one will want to use it in anger. Would it have been that much effort to have some takeover action?

    I find it interesting that in "Demons" (and so far in "Terra Prime", which I'm 25 minutes through), everyone acts like Starfleet is 100% to blame for contacting potentially hostile alien species and telling them the whereabouts of Earth. No one has mentioned the fact that the Xindi acted pre-emptively to strike Earth based on a warning from the future, despite no prior contact with humanity. They would have done that regardless of whether humanity had been exploring the stars or not. Starfleet and the NX program were the only reason why the planet wasn't destroyed. The fact that the aliens would have eventually come to us, Starfleet or no Starfleet, is also evident from the events of First Contact. The genie was already out of the bottle in 2063. If other civilizations can detect our warp signatures, we don't have to even leave our system for them to know where we are and consider us for conquest. Obviously we need a) defenses and b) the ability to establish common diplomatic ground, both of which are mandates of Starfleet.

    But I suppose all of this has shades of Trumpism and the current political landscape. Xenophobes are not going to be moved to change their mind by anything as mundane as *facts* and *logic*. So I suppose it doesn't matter how solidly the Xindi argument refutes their position. In this sense, this two-parter has surprising (depressing?) relevance even now.

    “In this sense, this two-parter has surprising (depressing?) relevance even now.”

    I suppose it does…. as no amount of *facts* or *logic* will ever convince some people that Trumpism has nothing to with xenophobia.

    The biggest problem with 11001001's quip isn't even the mention of "Trumpism", but the claim that xenophobia is somehow more prevalent in "the current political landscape".

    It is not. Xenophobia is neither more or less prevalent today when compared with (say) 20 years ago. Meanwhile, the world has gone mad in a dozen other ways which could be seen as "the sign of our times". Extreme political polarity, funnily enough, being one of these ways.

    Ok I'm not sure if this has been brought up already (didn't read through all the comments) but how the heck does Travis know this woman? He is the least likely person to have a history with an Earth reporter.

    He grew up on a cargo ship. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure they outright said that he'd never set foot on Earth before entering Starfleet. And I think he just enlisted, meaning it wouldn't be a long multi-year period going through Starfleet Academy.

    So that basically means he met her during his brief initial training, or during leave. Both of which make it difficult (while not impossible) to believe that they share much of a history beyond just a fling. Yet the episode tries to play it like more than that. And that's not the only time the show has done this with Travis. They tend to forget the character's background for the sake of the plot, which sucks because the character doesn't have a lot else to define him.

    The Defining Traits of Travis Mayweather:

    - he was born on a cargo ship

    - I'm pretty sure he'd never been to Earth prior to the start of the series

    - at some point he developed an affinity for mountain climbing (when he practiced this on a cargo ship, who knows)

    - he's buff

    that is all.

    Oh, Travis has one other defining factor. He's a good pilot.

    But still, a short list of defining characteristics.

    This episode makes me think Mass Effect, which came out just a few years later, was inspired by it, with life on the Citadel with lots of different cultures, ambassadors from other worlds, and Gannet reminds me a bit of Ashley Williams.

    Also great casting, good acting, a dialogue-centered episode rather than boring action scenes, and a clear anti-racist message.


    It's funny how Earth made a super-weapon by mistake.

    But the rotation and orbits of the planets would severely limit the Mars array's usefulness as a weapon. The likelihood that you could draw a bead on the particular target spot on Earth at the time you wanted to is surely slim.

    Weird episode with strange, unconvincing characters. The moon mine that morphs into a warp ship was cringeworthy bad. Bring back the mirror crew!

    Was nice to see he Minister played by Ambassador Tam Elbrin from TNG Tin Man

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