Star Trek: Enterprise

Fourth Season Recap

For episodes airing from 10/8/2004 to 5/13/2005
Series created by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Executive producers: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga and Manny Coto

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

December 29, 2005

In brief: Not bad, but nor would I call it particularly good. It sounded better in theory than it worked out in practice.

Well, here it is at long last. My final review for Star Trek: Enterprise, where my handy but brief capsule reviews look back at the individual episodes, and a season analysis article seeks to put it all together to figure out What It All Means. This also marks the end of an era. Not only for Trek, but for me. While I have Battlestar Galactica to keep me busy with full-length reviews and TNG forthcoming to keep me busy with brief reviews, this article marks the end of a years-long Jammer Season Recap tradition. So, to say it one last time before it likely gets retired: Feel free to agree, disagree, or punch your computer screen. Then wipe a tear from your eye over the sentimentality of it all. Yeah, right.

Part 1: Capsule Reviews

Storm Front, Part IAir date: 10/8/2004. Written by Manny Coto. Directed by Allan Kroeker.

Manny Coto's first task as head writer for Enterprise was to clean up the temporal mess that had been in play since it was set into motion all the way back in "Broken Bow" and most recently turned into a time-travel free-for-all with the final 60 seconds of third season's "Zero Hour." Well, he did what he could, I suppose, which was to bring more nonsense to a nonsensical plot — specifically, an alternate 1944 timeline in which the Nazis occupied the United States thanks to the help of mysterious temporal-manipulating alien named Vosk and his sci-fi weapons. Archer is holed up with the American resistance while the Enterprise crew tries to make sense of the madness ... which may be about as pointless as us doing the same. As nonsense goes, it's watchable nonsense.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Storm Front, Part IIAir date: 10/15/2004. Written by Manny Coto. Directed by David Straiton.

The entire Temporal Cold War plot line is mercifully euthanized with a magical and completely arbitrary (not to mention predictable) device, in which a warehouse in New York City with Vosk's time-travel equipment gets Blowed Up Real Good, which results in the "resetting" of all the time lines to their "proper" states. No, this doesn't make any sense. But it pretends that it does, and does a decent enough job of pretending. Silik ends up fighting on our side of the TCW for once, and ends up dying ... although one wonders why he isn't "reset" back to "alive" mode (like Daniels is) since he only died in an alternate timeline. "Storm Front" isn't so bad, and it's good in that it ends the TCW once and for all, but it's hardly good, and contains too many boring shootouts.

Rating: 2.5 stars

HomeAir date: 10/22/2004. Written by Mike Sussman. Directed by Allan Kroeker.

The coda for season three, in which the Enterprise characters return to Earth as heroes and begin to deal with the aftermath of their grueling mission. After so many plot points, it's nice to have something that's free of all that and feels more like character-based storytelling. The episode aptly revisits the issue of the still-under-construction Columbia and gives us its commander, Captain Hernandez. The story also gives us a Captain Archer who reflects on the darkness and violence of the past year and allows him to question Starfleet's mission, a notion that at times comes across as overstated. Still, it's good to see characters question themselves and their actions and struggle with these sorts of issues in trying to assign some self-responsibility. Earth's xenophobic streak is also an interesting idea, although the run-in at the bar involving Phlox is lazy and forced. T'Pol's marriage on Vulcan and the interaction with her mother reveals some interesting culture clashes.

Rating: 3 stars

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

The first of the Augments arc, which turns out to be a reasonably diverting but easily discarded prologue more than a necessary first part of a compelling trilogy. Soong is a fairly interesting persona, no doubt because he's played by the always reliable Brent Spiner. Less interesting are his "children," the Augments, who are recycled characters who don't transcend the clichés of their templates for stories like this — vessels of arrogance with unlimited ambition. The center of the plot involving the Orions and their slave trade makes for reasonable fan-continuity enjoyment, but there's not much substance here.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Cold Station 12Air date: 11/5/2004. Written by Michael Bryant. Directed by Mike Vejar.

It's the best of the Augments trilogy, which for me boils down to a single scene — where Malik puts some poor SOB in a sealed chamber and exposes him to an unspeakable disease. Soong is complicit in this torture and yet at the same time desperately wants to stop it, but ultimately the entire situation runs off the rails. It's a truly effective scene that works on different levels of behavior and motivation. It all telegraphs everything to come in part three (i.e., Soong is unable to see what is obvious to all of us — that he's incapable of controlling these "children"), but for this one moment it packs a hefty dramatic punch. The rest of the episode is perfectly acceptable plot/action fare, but this show is a good example of one scene being worth the price of admission.

Rating: 3.5 stars

The AugmentsAir date: 11/12/2004. Written by Mike Sussman. Directed by LeVar Burton.

The inevitable outcome of this trilogy comes to pass all too inevitably, with Malik following (okay, okay; preceding) in Khan's footsteps by exercising unlimited hubris in his plan to escape Starfleet. No superior intellect ever thinks too small, but they sure don't think too logically. His plan is either so brilliant it's stupid or so stupid it's brilliant. Personally, I'm going with so stupid it's idiotic: Attack a Klingon colony, who, says Malik, will believe Starfleet did it and launch a counterattack. Sorry, that's just lazy writing. Malik is the perfect superior intellect who is also obviously destined for brazen self-destruction. Persis, the Augment with sense and compassion, ends up dying a predictable death due to her inaction. Soong ends up learning a predictable lesson after repeatedly ignoring the painfully obvious warning signs. In the end, we don't get much thoughtfulness regarding genetic engineering as an idea; just a routine three-character power struggle that fails to satisfy.

Rating: 2 stars

The ForgeAir date: 11/19/2004. Written by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. Directed by Michael Grossman.

Easily Enterprise's best episode of the season. The Reeves-Stevens bring tons of for-Trek-fans-only material to the table and make it compelling, layered, and nuanced — with the richness of a classic Bajoran culture episode on DS9, and approached from the standpoint of the novelists/archivists that the Reeves-Stevenses are. As delivery on the promise of the season-four Manny Coto Mission Statement (more Trek-themed continuity for fans), this is probably the pinnacle in terms of a mythology story that gets the right amount of attention as well as being one that deserves that level of attention. The episode is impressive in terms of the sheer volume of material it gives us, but also because it's able to see this material through its characters. Why not four stars, you ask? Because even though it's very good, it doesn't jump off the screen and become a thrilling experience. It often gets mired in its heavy exposition. But I'll gladly take exposition when delivered with this much care.

Rating: 3.5 stars

AwakeningAir date: 11/26/2004. Written by Andre Bormanis. Directed by Roxann Dawson.

It's the weakest link in the Vulcan trilogy, but still pretty good. The plot is a bit of a problem at times because of obvious logical gaffes, which I suppose is ironic when considering the logical deliberation of Vulcan society. Why would those in the Vulcan High Command engineer an elaborate frame-up of the Syrrannites essentially just to squelch a passivist lobby movement? (Seems to me the bombing of the embassy only draws more unwanted attention to their Andorian war plans.) Still, the episode is rich with its societal details and reveals a Vulcan society whose values have strayed from its traditional mores — something which we'd seen many hints of even before this season.

Rating: 3 stars

Kir'SharaAir date: 12/3/2004. Written by Mike Sussman. Directed by David Livingston.

The Vulcan arc is the best and most consistent of the multi-part arcs from season four, in part because it delivers a closing chapter that holds up to a level of scrutiny that many of the other arcs' final installments could not. It's also effective because it remembers that the Enterprise is a part of a much larger universe rather than the all-encompassing center of it. The myriad of characters and governments in play allows for unique interplay opportunities, such as a memorable interrogation sequence in which Soval ends up in the hands of Shran and a very specific torture device. It's an interrogation scene where we're really paying attention to the actors. The complicated plot is revolved satisfactorily but, alas, far too hastily. The way the episode brings the Romulans into the storyline at the last minute is admittedly clever.

Rating: 3 stars

DaedalusAir date: 1/14/2005. Written by Ken LaZebnik & Michael Bryant. Directed by David Straiton.

A sci-fi anomaly causes a man's close family member to become trapped in space and time for many years, leaving him obsessed with that day of painful loss and a determination to perform an impossible sci-fi rescue from a fate more complicated than death. That's right — it's like "The Visitor" ... only a whole lot lamer. Where "The Visitor" was vibrant with life and poignant reflection, "Daedalus" can only come across as obvious, predictable, and laborious. By inexplicably intentional design, nothing in the story is ever in doubt, and that ultimately becomes a huge liability, because the guest characters are not interesting or deep enough for us to invest in their plights. There's a reason why the Sisko/Jake bond is so fundamentally crucial in "The Visitor," and that sheds more light onto what's wrong with "Daedalus" than any review I could write.

Rating: 2 stars

Observer EffectAir date: 1/21/2005. Written by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. Directed by Mike Vejar.

This isn't a great hour of Trek, but it's a respectable one, and one that ties into the original series with a certain amount of understated cleverness. The story has a great many Trek standbys in its employ, and while the end result isn't original, the parts are assembled in such a way that the story works as an example of purely traditional humanistic Trek. What's more, the episode occasionally captures the feel of unpredictability even though all things seem inevitable in retrospect. The episode's willingness to put the cards on the table and show us events from the aliens' perspective allows the story to break free from what could've been obvious plot turns. The notion of Archer arguing against non-interference has a calculated irony that I enjoyed; this is a prequel to TOS's "Errand of Mercy," where Kirk makes the opposite argument.

Rating: 3 stars

Babel OneAir date: 1/28/2005. Written by Mike Sussman & Andre Bormanis. Directed by David Straiton.

In a fairly sensible story, Archer and the Enterprise crew get a unique chance to forge new relationships by brokering a peace agreement between the Andorians and the Tellarites. They must bring a very amped-up Shran and a Tellarite negotiator together and put them in a conference room without a fight breaking out. No easy task, especially with a disguised Romulan marauder running around the area stirring up trouble, pretending to be Andorians and/or Tellarites and opening firing on everyone. Solving the mystery of the disguised marauder is the other aspect of the plot. The way the Romulans aim to sabotage the situation with their subversive tactics carries a great deal of credibility, and the twist revealed in the last shot (that the ship is being piloted by remote from Romulus) is a nice, sneaky little surprise.

Rating: 3 stars

UnitedAir date: 2/4/2005. Teleplay by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. Story by Manny Coto. Directed by David Livingston.

Archer must bring together the Andorians, Tellarites, Vulcans, and Rigellians in a coordinated alliance-like effort to locate and destroy the mysterious remote marauder causing havoc in the region. Before he can do this, he must deal with Shran's right to a fight to the death for the Tellarites having killed his girlfriend — very TOS like. Even more TOS is when Archer agrees to fight Shran as a tactic to ensure the alliance survives even if he doesn't. The lamest aspect of this story is its utter lack of an imaginative way for this fight to end with no one getting killed. The fight is fun, and no one dies — but the loophole is a total cheat. The teamwork pays off for Archer in a successful multi-species mission that hints at the future of the Federation. This particular trilogy defies conventional structure by having the resolution of the central story in the second of three parts.

Rating: 3 stars

The AenarAir date: 2/11/2005. Teleplay by Andre Bormanis. Story by Manny Coto. Directed by Mike Vejar.

Unfortunately, by defying conventional structure, this trilogy ends up with a third installment that's mostly a disposable epilogue (as opposed to the disposable prologue that was "Borderland"). The result is another botched trilogy ending (a la "The Augments"), this one centering on the Andorians' elusive sister species, the Aenar, who seem more like a one-episode invention than a plausible meta-society. The trip to Andoria feels like a waste; all we see are barren subterranean ice tunnels. Meanwhile, the Romulans' plan borders on absurd; they require an Aenar's telepathic skills to pilot the remote-controlled ship, and yet have only abducted one Aenar prisoner. Talk about shortsighted. The Enterprise's plan to hack into the remote ship is too much meaningless tech, not enough involving drama.

Rating: 2 stars

AfflictionAir date: 2/18/2005. Teleplay by Mike Sussman. Story by Manny Coto. Directed by Michael Grossman.

A solid and entertaining hour that benefits from its ensemble approach and ability to do a little bit of everything. We've got the Enterprise going back to Earth. We've got Trip reassigned to the Columbia for personal reasons. We've got Reed being contacted by his old Section 31 contacts and assigned to a mysterious mission that puts him in a tough spot. We've got a crime scene investigation. We've got Klingons forcing Phlox to help them find a cure for their genetic tampering (cleverly tied in with the Augments arc). We've got Captain Hernandez showing a quiet, cerebral style to approaching personalities. Basically, we've got a really nice little setup episode that balances plot and character better than I would've expected.

Rating: 3 stars

DivergenceAir date: 2/25/2005. Written by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. Directed by David Barrett.

But we've also got yet one more botched arc wrap-up, this time coming on a two-parter rather than a three-parter. It begins with an arbitrary tech-action opening stunt sequence that sci-fi geeks might find innovative but will not do much for drama enthusiasts who want to see useful character interaction; it's a service unto only itself. Captain Hernandez, one of this season's most potentially interesting new supporting characters, is all but wasted in a role that assigns her as an interchangeable placeholder, rather than exploring her specific personality or command style. The Section 31 stuff is okay, but the way the Klingons thwart it doesn't bode well for an intelligence agency that's supposedly going to be around for the next 200-plus years. The plot all converges upon a Klingon colony that the Klingons are going to wipe out if Phlox can't create a cure to the outbreak. The last act runs off the rails with pointless battle scenes, some trickery that I for one don't think the Klingons would actually stop and listen to, and a hopelessly silly scenario where Archer is injected with a disease and convulses in a chair. Too much mechanical, fast-paced plotting, and not enough character or depth.

Rating: 2 stars

BoundAir date: 4/15/2005. Written by Manny Coto. Directed by Allan Kroeker.

Guilty pleasure? Please. Manny Coto's hopelessly misfired "homage" to the sexist Trek clichés of yesteryear is a lame, boring, painfully tedious hour about green girls gone wild, etc., and the hopeless men who cannot resist their charms, etc. The plot is idiotic, as are all the characters. Anyone hoping Star Trek had grown up in the past four decades will be woefully disappointed. It's really hard to enjoy an hour of TV when you're groaning at the juvenile stupidity of it all.

Rating: 1 star

In a Mirror, Darkly, Part IAir date: 4/22/2005. Written by Mike Sussman. Directed by James L. Conway.

On the other hand, if you're going to do a Trek-for-fans homage, this is the way to do it. With a sense of fun and exaggerated comic-book mania, we take a trip over to the mirror universe to watch a bunch of savages at each other's throats as they attempt to steal a starship from the TOS era (the Defiant, from "The Tholian Web"). How much overacting and comic-book posturing can you handle? That's the question. The actors — in particular Scott Bakula — deserve praise for their willingness to go so fearlessly over the top. Most of the characters have no redeeming value, but I guess that's the point. The show contains the season's hands-down coolest scene when the bridge of the Defiant comes to life, and it's like we've stepped through a portal into 1966.

Rating: 3 stars

In a Mirror, Darkly, Part IIAir date: 4/29/2005. Teleplay by Mike Sussman. Story by Manny Coto. Directed by Marvin V. Rush.

How much overacting and comic-book posturing can you handle? For me the answer was that this episode provided maybe a little bit more than enough. The adventure involving the Gorn is a nice nod to the original series, but a rather pointless and drawn-out sequence that forgets that the charm of the Gorn is that he was a guy in a lame rubber suit. The story plots Archer's attempts to play out his delusions of grandeur by killing everyone and taking over the Terran Empire, and Scott Bakula's overacting is even more out of control here than in part one. This is all very silly, very extremely exaggerated, sometimes fun, but ultimately a little tiring. I liked that the episode's ruthlessness went so far as to kill all the sympathetic characters, but by the end I couldn't shake the feeling that this was all style, no substance, and something of a missed opportunity when you stop and think that the regular characters are more deserving to be walking around on the TOS sets as opposed to the mirrored ones.

Rating: 2.5 stars

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

After several episodes of inconsequential fluff, "Demons" is the series' final return to Trekkian substance and message delivery, and on those terms it's successful up to a point. Its biggest strength is that it looks inward at humanity's own ideological struggles as Earth becomes a larger part of an interstellar community. Its biggest drawback is that it doesn't ever come completely alive to feel like it's actually happening. The episode lacks juice, like it's sleepwalking through its script — even though the script is pretty good. Paxton is an isolationist ideologue, albeit not a particularly interesting one. The subplot involving Travis and his old girlfriend is too stolid to be interesting beyond its obvious plot manipulations. But the episode delivers on its bottom line with its allegorical themes and a statement that Earth must solve its own conflicts before becoming allies with others.

Rating: 3 stars

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

Everything I said about "Demons" holds true for "Terra Prime" — it's an hour of good allegorical intentions and reasonable thoughtfulness about the human condition (always a Trekkian TV mission), but it lacks the ability to break free of its plot machinations and become something special. In particular, the action at the end is clunky as hell, and I still don't understand why Terra Prime felt inspired to create a human/Vulcan baby if they hate the idea of such unions so much (the symbol doesn't prove their point, so what good is it to them?). But this is a storyline sold on an idea as opposed to its plot turns, and it works because of its idea and in spite of its plot turns. Bottom line: When Archer makes a speech at the end that looks toward the future of a possible Federation, I felt like I was watching a relevant piece of Trek history.

Rating: 3 stars

These Are the Voyages...Air date: 5/13/2005. Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga. Directed by Allan Kroeker.

If the online fans are any indicator, this is the most reviled series finale in the history of Trek (no, "Turnabout Intruder" does not count as a series finale). Yes, they have a point — even if I don't think it's quite as bad as many do. This is an aimless and unsatisfying hour that doesn't begin to deal with the Enterprise crew and instead spends too much time in the TNG universe, inexplicably dealing with the NX-01 in flashbacks. Key "wrap-ups" are painfully bungled; Trip dies in the silliest and most contrived of ways, and Archer's big speech at the end is interrupted in such an obvious way you get the feeling the writers simply didn't know what they wanted him to say. Perhaps the most appalling notion is the fact that the Enterprise crew, in six whole years, had not seemed to live any semblance of life in that time. I guess based on that notion we should be thankful the series was canceled so we didn't sit through six years of nothing happening.

Rating: 2 stars

Part 2: Season Analysis

There's a temptation — and at a certain level, perhaps a justified one — to blame Rick Berman and Brannon Braga for the shortcomings, and thus the downfall, of Enterprise as a series. After all, they were the guys at the top, so if Enterprise got canceled, they're the ones to blame, right? They're the ones who made the mistakes and didn't allow the series to change into something more successful, right?

Maybe. But I don't know. It seems to me that Enterprise, and Star Trek in general, has become a victim of its own age as much as anything else. For 18 nonstop years, we've had one season of second-generation Trek after another. With Enterprise being a prequel series, it also seems to me that there was only so much they could do to shake up the franchise while at the same time staying true to the series' roots and ideals. Perhaps — and I'm not saying this is definitely the case, but perhaps — this franchise has limits built into its ideology and history and its long, storied continuity. Trek is Trek, and perhaps that's a double-edged sword. There's another sci-fi series out there that I've been enjoying a lot lately. You might've heard of it; it's called Battlestar Galactica — and unlike Star Trek, it feels like it actually belongs in the 21st century. Star Trek seems, still, like it belongs in the 20th century. I don't mean that as an insult, but an observation.

Has Star Trek outlived — at least for the time being — its usefulness? It's possible. The 2000s are more cynical and less sentimental than, say, the 1980s. Trek may be outmoded in an era of television that would rather deal with grittier characters and drama. Maybe I'm just rambling and full of crap. After all, there seems to be a place for all sorts of programs, cataloging the entire spectrum of depth and shallowness, cynicism and sweetness. Maybe it's just about what I like personally. And what you like personally. And the fact that UPN is tired of Star Trek.

Whatever. Even if the end of Enterprise were to actually be the end of Star Trek on television forever (which, by the way, I doubt), that wouldn't be a tragedy. I've said it before: There's no need for Star Trek to keep on going with new shows and films forever. It's already immortal. It's part of pop-culture eternity, and nothing can undo that, short of the downfall of our civilization as we know it.

Oh, we were talking about season four

So then. Season four. Yea or nay? Well, let's start with the obvious, which is the fact that season four is regarded by pretty much everyone (who follows such things) as the Year of Manny Coto: the man — and self-described Trek geek — who took over the duties as head writer at the beginning of the season. There are those out there who see Manny Coto as the savior of Enterprise and think that season four was easily the series' best, and perhaps even the best thing since sliced bread. Me — I'm not so moved. I don't think Coto is the Enterprise savior. I think he had a very good theoretical idea of what the series as a prequel should be doing, but in terms of the actual shows that ended up on the screen — well, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. It was adequate ... and thus disappointing given the heightened expectations.

To me, the big improvement in Enterprise came when season three turned things around from the dismal second season to deliver a fairly compelling story arc that spanned the whole year. Season three — particularly the last third of the season — was solid entertainment, despite some obvious missteps. The question I find myself asking now is: Was season four better than season three?

My answer to that question is: No. I find season four to be overrated in many camps, and would rank season three as more entertaining, more daring, and with darker and more involving stories. To illustrate my point, none of the trilogy arcs in season four were nearly as involving as "Azati Prime," "Damage," and "The Forgotten" from season three. Certainly, yes, season four was a step in the right direction for Trek fans, and certainly it's better than the first two seasons. But it does not outdo season three in terms of actual drama, character development, or excitement — and in the end, that's what I think we're all here for.

Structurally, the choice to make the season into a series of "mini-arcs" was both a strength and a weakness. It was a strength in that Trek hadn't consciously taken a stab at a series of relatively self-contained trilogy-sized storylines before in quite this manner, and the format was initially a refreshing proposition. Season three, and previous years of Deep Space Nine, had done longer arcs spanning entire seasons, but many of the individual stories were still often self-contained (which I think is ultimately a better approach because it permits the possibility of doing episodic and serialized elements at the same time). By doing a number of trilogies and two-parters, this season opened itself up to tell more involved, complex stories — or at least in theory.

The weakness to an approach like this is that you'd damn well better deliver on the episodes that count. (With all the arcs along with standalones, we essentially had only 12 different storylines this season.) To put it simply: If you're doing three-parters, it's pretty important to have effective third acts, or else you run the risk of sabotaging the entire trilogy. Nothing ruins a good story like a lousy ending. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened in several — too many — cases.

Look at the Augments trilogy, which was virtually shut down by a weak last chapter that employed obvious character archetypes instead of specifically interesting behavior. Or look at the Romulan/Andorian trilogy, which had an inexplicably mechanical third act that accomplished nothing dramatically. Or the Klingon two-parter that ended with tedious action when it had been set up with reasonable characterization and multiple intriguing story threads. It's too bad, really, because all of the trilogies/two-parters had good things about them and showed promise. "Babel One" and "United" revealed the sorts of alliance issues that would've arisen had a fifth season been possible. "Cold Station 12" was a good show with an uncommon scene featuring complex character dynamics. Even the "Storm Front" two-parter was a watchable show, albeit a hopelessly ludicrous one that defies logical thought.

The best of the season came with the Vulcan arc, which had its flaws but mostly worked from start to finish. As one who always likes to trot out the DS9 comparisons, this trilogy worked because, like DS9, (1) it studied its cultures seriously and (2) it allowed the Star Trek universe to breathe, seeming bigger than Earth and the Enterprise, where important characters could act from motives that went beyond a Level One Plot (i.e., what's in the best interest of the ship). Here was a storyline where ways of life and ideologies were at stake. Similarly, the Terra Prime storyline was solid, true-to-the-ideal Star Trek, examining human culture and behavior right alongside its jeopardy plot line of a super-weapon aimed from Mars, pointing at San Francisco.

The show was at its best when demonstrating that, yes, this is in fact a Star Trek prequel about the lead-up to the founding of the Federation and the issues that arise. I suppose a similar parallel can be drawn about the show at its worst, with the lamentably hokey "Bound," which tried to channel the charm of TOS hokum but succeeded only in channeling the stupidity. Or with "Daedalus," which I suppose tried to deal with the history of the transporter and ended up channeling DS9's "The Visitor," except badly.

Then there was "In a Mirror, Darkly." Honestly, I feel like I should commend the creators for the sheer willingness to make these two episodes, because it was a valiant try and had some truly good moments (the Defiant bridge lighting up is one of the high points of the entire series, as far as I'm concerned). It should've been better, and it was far too enamored with its own madcap excess to be successful. Ultimately, the inmates took over the asylum. But it was an inspired idea nevertheless, and I appreciate the audacity.

So that brings us to the perennial theme for Enterprise...

The Achilles heel: The characters

Who the hell are these people, really? Okay, maybe that's a little bit harsh, but let's face it: Enterprise this year was not exactly strong on the character development front. My litmus test here will again be whether season four was better than season three. Answer: No. Season three, for starters, had Degra — a major supporting character who was given a bona fide arc based on the character's willingness to listen and understand. Even if the arc killed him in the end, it was well worth our time as viewers. Season three also had issues of Archer's ethics beings stripped away, and T'Pol descending into drug addiction. These are some dark and interesting ideas (even if they didn't always pan out).

Season four felt more like business as usual, in the Trek tradition of characters doing their jobs. For Captain Archer, this can still be plentifully worthwhile, because at least in episodes like "Home" we can see him struggling with some of the tough decisions he made throughout the third season. The downside was the fact that after "Home" we didn't see much else about this. Also in "Home" we were introduced to Captain Hernandez, whose personality and style (and Ada Maris' performance) seemed to bode well for the possibility of a developed character. Unfortunately, we simply didn't see enough of Hernandez afterward; as I've already mentioned, her final appearance in "Divergence" was a major missed opportunity.

T'Pol got married for the sole purpose, it seems, to later get divorced. Some of the material with her mother worked fairly well, but the Trip/T'Pol relationship storyline — carried forward from season three — sort of played out as background noise. It never seemed like a legitimate storyline, because the writers just sort of danced around it aimlessly and halfheartedly all season, only to give us a non-resolution in the end. The most intriguing aspect of all this was Trip briefly being transferred to the Columbia (showing how a screwed-up relationship can interfere with work), but the writers only halfheartedly dealt with that as well — no doubt for the simple logistical reasons that Trip is still in the cast and the show is not Star Trek: Columbia.

Meanwhile, the supporting characters are virtual non-factors. Hoshi? Well, apparently she knows martial arts. Stunning. Travis? Apparently he had a girlfriend once upon a time. That's not just television, that's compellevision. Phlox? Well, he's a doctor — and he can make a basket from half-court. Whoa. The idea of making Reed a former Section 31 agent was intriguing and generated some much-needed conflict, and is the sort of thing the writers should've been doing more of. Overall, there just wasn't enough screen time to make these people three-dimensional or explore them in a meaningful way, and that's sort of a shame.

Perhaps one problem this season is that the show was so mired in expansive plots and cross-series continuity games that the characters and their personalities tended to get lost, even, to some degree, in standouts like "The Forge." A show like that, with all its politicking and plotting, probably just doesn't have a lot of time to understand its supporting players. But even granting that as an excuse, when you compare Enterprise characters to the much better, strongly defined characters in a show like Battlestar Galactica, where people are allowed to — gasp — disagree and dislike each other, and operate from opposing motives, you begin to see why Trek feels a little bit stagnant. On BSG, even characters with limited screen time feel like people, because the universe feels more organic. With Enterprise, the characters are somewhat boxed in by the fact that they are players in a master plot instead of individuals who can make their own decisions. I'm thinking that this is where trying to support the colossal weight and history of Star Trek becomes something of a liability after 18 straight years.

And it really, really doesn't help to have a final episode that takes place "six years later" only to inform us, that, gee, not a damned thing of significant interest has happened in six years to any of these people. I mean, I just can't stress how much that kills any hope of the characters coming across as human beings instead of plot vehicles. Once again, nothing hurts a reasonable story like a bad ending.

Closing thoughts

A fifth season of Enterprise, which likely would've involved the actual creation of the Federation, could've been the best season yet. Certainly it would've had that potential. But that was also the hope for season four, and I for one don't think the show got there. Who knows what would or would not have been possible in a hypothetical season five. It was simply not to be.

As I sign off, I'm not sad to see Star Trek go. It's had a long and fruitful life. For me personally, it's been a long and interesting ride, with a decade of review writing (and nearly a decade before that of just being a viewer). You already know that I've jumped on the Battlestar bandwagon, which will likely keep me busy with reviews (yes, that and also TNG, coming really soon) for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for reading. I hope to see you in the parallel Jammer Review universes. If not, then take care. It's been fun.

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57 comments on this post

Mon, Dec 31, 2007, 1:26am (UTC -6)
I have to agree with virtually everything that you have written here.

This page is the best epitaph I’ve ever seen to Enterprise (not just the fourth season), reviewing overall what the series could have been, where it should have gone, what it became, and why the series was so damn mediocre. I’ll go even further and say that this page is a good summary of the problems not just of Enterprise, but a great deal of Star Trek under Berman and Braga – ranging from all of Voyager to the films after First Contact (I really feel that Ron Moore’s influence over DS9 and First Contact made it what it is). I am curious if you feel the pattern.

You are right to be restrained and light in your criticism of Berman/Braga, as so much downright hate has been fired in their direction from the Star Trek fan base, and often without genuine reflection or analysis. At least, that’s my impression from skimming the internet; I have no way of knowing otherwise. My position is that those masses were right to have been wary (to use a polite word) of Berman/Braga, but often not for the right reasons.

As I think that you have said elsewhere, the two are not incapable of writing a good story or running a show; in all fairness to them, I think that some of TNG’s best material was in its last few seasons. The first season or two were distinctly Roddenberry-flavored, which was not necessarily a good thing – I’m glad that it evolved. But the two are clueless when it comes to evolving in terms of quality writing, character development, etc. In short, they are far too rigid – sticking to a formula and neglecting all else.

“All else” is a term that is mainly, but not limited to, character development, and (as you have coined it), a big picture, something sorely lacking in Enterprise (and most of their work). The large premise of the series is pushed aside in favor of episodic plotlines, and base ones at that. In all sincerity, the two are clueless when making statements like, “This is not your father’s Star Trek”, and pretending that Enterprise (and Voyager too, I might add) were somehow different than routine formulas.

Much of the criticism on Enterprise that you have made here are the exact same problems that faced Voyager and the TNG films. For example, the consistent pattern of clumsy, half-hearted, or even non-existent character development. It is blatantly obvious that the two are just bad at developing characters. Especially when compared to the very believable, very watchable and compelling characters that BSG has created. I never dreamed that a series could effectively introduce temporary characters and develop them into reoccurring supporting roles as BSG has (‘Kat’, ‘Hot Dog’, -even Tyrol- was originally envisioned as a very minor character). Enterprise failed to even give us believable main characters. Characters in Enterprise were wooden, cookie-cutter (how many “honorable austere officer” types can there be?) and contrived into their actions. They rarely if never had believable independent motives. They were always chess pieces relegated to being moved around a board (I’m making the chess board an analogy to the plot of an episode).

And it really did not help that the plots were more often than not stuck rigidly to a formula, that …well… got boring. How many generic worlds inhabited by aliens with bumpy forehead/facial variations can there be in the universe? How many times can the captain be captured, or the ship taken over, or super-power-alien-entities control our “heroes”?

Enterprise always unrealistically resolved these scenarios in a way that to me had a stench of “Well, the script and season outline has ordained that our characters win this situation, so they will, despite their chances of success being dubious and improbable”. It just reeks.

The most dreadful device of all was the now-infamous ‘reset button’, by which the next episode has everything return completely back to normal, with rare recollection of the past crisis. This device is most dreadful of all, because it became the means through which characters never developed or learned from experiences. Trip is the same Trip from Season 1 through 4. Harry is the same Harry from Season 1 through 7.

You would think that the extreme and damn exotic crises that these people face would change them, harden them, bring characteristics out in them, and give them a new outlook… something, anything! Even more frustrating is when a character – seems – to develop, only for the next episode or film to put them flatly back at square one. Look at Data. In Generations it seemed to me that Data had become able to feel emotion and human behavior; he developed, or was at least working on getting a playful side. Fast forward to Insurrection and he’s relearning the same lesson. Supposedly, this is a gap of years too.

I could go on, but I think that I’ve said enough. There are other problems, like a banal reliance on technobabble as a crutch instead of actually having characters resolve conflicts using skills. But I’ve gone on for too long.

I don’t really think that Star Trek has – except for a few episodes and films scattered throughout its history – has ever really reached the potential that it can be. I see glimmers of it though.
Wed, Jan 30, 2008, 10:58am (UTC -6)
Is this the first ever season of Trek you've reviewed without any episode getting 4 Stars?
Tue, Apr 15, 2008, 8:37pm (UTC -6)
Even though I have issues with this series on the whole, it's still superior to Voyager, imo.

The Time Travel aspect of this whole series was a wreck. So much of it was avoidable, me thinks.

I will say it looks superb in HD, and I have enjoyed watching it on HD-Net.

Archer, T-Pol, Trip, Phlox, and to a lesser degree Hoshi all seemed interesting characters throughout the series. Malcolm annoyed me somewhat, but at least had purpose. Mayweather was the Harry Kim of this series, but he did decent work when given the chance.

And Berman/Braga did good work on Star Trek back in the day. But look what Ronald Moore can do. Clearly this series would've been MUCH MUCH better with him at the helm.

And some of the criticism towards Berman/Braga is that they hurt continuity and canon in both Voyager and Enterprise, and many times for no good purpose. That not only damaged the particular episode or series, but the Star Trek mythos.
Sun, May 11, 2008, 10:26pm (UTC -6)
Here's a quality comparison between the Trek series and various horror franchises:

TOS is like Psycho (the trendsetter)
TNG is like Halloween (same format with different twists, with the TNG movies comparable to Rob Zombie's Halloween remake-watchable but routine)
DS9 is like A Nightmare on Elm Street (again, same format with different twists)
Voyager is like Friday the 13th (it has its moments but is too nonsensical to be considered 'good')
Enterprise is like Seed of Chucky (a story that just didn't need to be told)
Chris H
Wed, Mar 18, 2009, 3:24pm (UTC -6)
I liked Enterprise, mainly because Hoshi is the hottest Trek character ever. But also because it had so much potential, and had excellent recurring characters like Shran, who brought a sense of comraderie and something a bit different to his episodes. I do agree with the idea that star trek is a 20th century show, no longer fitting in with 21st century values. People need drama, even Doctor Who supersedes Enterprise for Drama. It should be noted that alot of shows from the 20th century are being rewritten, simply because with this new style of writing they can shine again. I think its a shame that this didnt happen for Star Trek before enterprise began, same characters, same actors to a degree, different writers, same sets. This could have been so much better.
There was no real danger, Bakula always had a smug grin, I knwo people say he is a great Actor, but everyone knew who he was, in that sense it becomes unbelievable. This is the first time an internationally reknowned actor has been a captain..what a shame!! He simply couldnt act his way out of it.

Please Star Trek XI reboot without a need to change canon *crosses fingers*

One thing that worries me is that if this film leads to a TV show, who knows what the hell will be messed with :s
Sat, May 16, 2009, 5:34am (UTC -6)
Chris had a good point here. No more reset button. Also, could I propose an alternate ending for Voyager (not that it will change anything because I'm over nine years late)? Have the crew comming back after 26-29 odd years in space. Have them comming back traumatised. No victory celebrtion. Instead a court martial. The crew are put on trial. Captain Janeway takes full responsibility and urges the court to punish her instead of the rest of the crew. The crimes are numerous. Over the 29 years lost in the Gamma Quadrent there have been hundreds of violations of the prime directive along with plenty of other violations and unethical decisions. Perhaps the crew should be seen as vilains especially after the doctors holo novel. The whole crew are arrested in the end but not so much for violations of starfleet but merely for conspiring with other aliens to produce a virus that destroyed the borg. Thus being involved in the biggest genocide in history. I believe a trial on Earth with an unhappy ending would be far more compelling than the time travel plot at the end. Star Trek should have taken more risks. The parallel universe plot line is more in line of the risks I would have taken. May also point out that on the whole I have enjoyed the series. All five of them and the films. My criticism of Berman and Braga is that they were capable of doing more but relied to heavily on "reset button" rather than character development. If you're going to use the stupid button, at least be ironic about it. Turn it into a running joke. Or better still create the illusion of the reset button with the characters initially unaware of the consequeces of last episodes actions until it hits them in the face in a shock twist at the end of the present episode.
Wed, Sep 30, 2009, 8:56pm (UTC -6)
Well, thanks to the joy of Netflix, I have now seen every single episode of Star Trek ever produced. Just watched the last episode of Enterprise about an hour ago.

I guess I have to be one to disagree with Jammer's take on the fourth season. I stuck it out through S1 and S2 because I'd heard it would get better. S3 was much better with the Xindi arc. But I feel, with the exception of a few clunkers, that S4 was the best season of Enterprise.

If the entire series had been like S4 (compelling storylines that fit into the ST mythos), the series probably would have lasted the typical 7 seasons.

Still, Enterprise will never be TNG/DS9. I own the complete DVD sets of those two series. Have no plans to get the sets for Enterprise or (ugh) Voyager.

Good by Star Trek until you return. Now it's on to Babylon 5.
Tue, Nov 3, 2009, 2:44pm (UTC -6)
GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!!! Why, oh why does the magnificent third season of Enterprise get so much crap? It was easily the best season of Enterprise by far. Much better than the horrible, disgusting, overrated fourth season which is just a huge, gigantice fan-wank without any good or interesting stories. The horrible mirror episodes, which are as overrated as the season itself, along with the disappointing Klingon and Vulcan stories make this the worst season of Star Trek by FAR. Finally I've found someone who agrees with my point of view, rather than the series of brainless fans on the internet who enjoyed this season just becaue Berman and Braga weren't in command. Thank you lord, there is justice
Thu, Feb 4, 2010, 1:50pm (UTC -6)
Chris, I wouldn't put ALL the blame on Berman & Braga. Braga should get just as much credit as Moore should for "Star Trek: First Contact" (and for "All Good Things..." by the way). Star Trek: Insurrection was written by Michael Piller, who also wrote "The Best of Both Worlds". And Moore has written his share of mediocre episodes. Who's to know what would have happened under someone else's direction.

Dan, to answer your question, Season One of Voyager also had no four-star episodes (though "Projections" was shot during the first season, so one could say that Season Two of Voyager had no four-star episodes).

Here's to the new star Trek series (in a few years) that will take a bold new direction in the new universe.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010, 8:19pm (UTC -6)
Very interesting reading everyone's reviews. Like someone else here I got Enterprise through Netflix. Thus my post is probably years after the punch.

Overall I'd have to say I disliked Enterprise, a lot. Not everything was bad. The writers had some good ideas, but failed to develop them into crisp, layered story arcs. When I say layered I mean arcs with character development. The result, EVERY season was formulaic to the point of insanity.

Take the evolution of Archer's character (or lack thereof). First off, Bakula was a poor casting choice, too old and with sparse acting range. Second, thanks to time traveler Daniels the audience is told of Archer's pending greatness early in S1, thus resulting in Archer's character being framed-in far too early. It merely served to place Archer into the "main heroine role" by default, particularly in longer pivotal story arcs.

The need to place Archer at the centre of everything invariably undermined the show's evolution from an early stage.

The other characters were neglected. Blalock in particular is a pretty dam good actress. Yet she seemed to be given so little material from which to work. Trinneer was equally neglected. The character's of T'Pol and Trip should have been given their own significant story arc with a firm understanding of where their relationship would go. The writers neglected so many opportunities to really examine early Human-Vulcan relations that underpin every subsequent Star Trek series.

Here's an example, in "The Forge," "Awakening" and "Kir'Shara" Archer takes a central role in bringing about a monumental change to Vulcan society. Why didn't they combine those episodes with "Home" and have Trip and T'Pol the main characters? Trip could be drawn unknowingly into machinations of Vulcan society. Perhaps have it culminate in a union or separation of T'Pol and Trip romantically. Their relationship could have been emblematic, perhaps foreshadowing future relations within the Federation, and characters such as Spock, etc.

This reluctance to dove-tale the story arcs for different characters really forced the series into a bland formulaic pattern.

I was first skeptical in S1 when time travel was mentioned. Time travel is a good indication that the writers are drawing a collective blank.

The show also lacked a plan. Early on we are told Enterprise is a ship of exploration. But in the history of exploration there is always an underlying specific goal. For example: Columbus-route to China for trade; Magellan-went around the world to find shipping routes-trade winds. Enterprise NEVER had an underlying goal or plan from which to build interesting story arcs. They simply point Enterprise into the dark stuff and hit the gas. Unfortunately the show has a similar feel to it.

When they were pitching this show it should have been a five year mission-five seasons. Everything should have been fairly well-developed before any shooting of Enterprise began. Don't be afraid to kill off characters as per that plan, even popular ones. That's what makes for interesting TV, i.e. Band of Brothers, Sopranos, etc

If there is another Star Trek series I think they can learn from Enterprise's failure.
Mon, Mar 28, 2011, 5:02pm (UTC -6)
I've been rewatching Enterprise. It's just not that good of a series for most of its run -- with the last third of season three being truly excellent. There are some standouts along the way (Regeneration, Shockwave Part I, Shuttlepod One, the Vulcan arc) and it's not as bad conceptually as Voyager -- which was truly an awful series.

The writing was a problem, but the acting wasn't very good either. Jolene Blalock was much better in the third and fourth seasons, and Trinnear and Billingsley were good throughout. But everybody else -- including Bakula -- just weren't that great.

I grimaced through a lot of Bakula's line delivery, and it's weird, because I like him in other stuff. But he was either too easygoing or too "this isn't open for debate!" I think the series tried way too hard to make him a Man of Destiny from Jump Street.

Also, I think the series changed too many premises within itself. The first season is all about the Enterprise crew going farther than any other humans, but the Augments trilogy blew that straight to hell (Soong apparently was hanging with Orions 10 years earlier and Dr. Lucas and several other humans were on a deep-space medical station). The Klingons also completely gave up on capturing Archer for some reason after the second season, and the fact that there was no follow up with the Xindi after season three was a missed opportunity.

I'll give the series credit for the end of the Xindi arc, for some of the late-series Vulcan stuff and for the earlier alliance-forming. And it generally was better about dealing with consequences -- i.e. the ship couldn't be repaired in a day after a disastrous battle and shuttlepods didn't grow on trees.

As for the finale ... well, it just didn't make sense in context with the original "Pegasus," Riker and Troi looked WAY too old and Trip's death was pretty stupid. I think the intent to celebrate TNG was even a little over the top. I liked TNG, but it hasn't aged that well. Berman and Braga might have thought it deserved more of a shout-out than it did. I guess Frakes and Sirtis are always good for a check from Paramount.

Last thing: I do find it funny that the Enterprise crew always talked a good game about exploring -- even in the later seasons -- when Enterprise at it's best was about diplomacy and saving Earth. In one of the parallel universe episodes, good-Archer is called "one of the most famous explorers of the 22nd century." I laughed out loud at that line. Exploring was not what made Enterprise good, and it wasn't even much of what the crew did after the first season's "ooh, look, a comet!"
Fri, Apr 22, 2011, 3:41am (UTC -6)
I've been looking over my collection of scifi shows, from Stargate to BSG to Babylon 5, and wanted to offer some thoughts about Enterprise, its potential, and what would have made it a great series:

I want to give Berman/Braga some real credit for developing such an optimistic, outward looking show: perhaps if it had been developed after 9/11 it would have been a much darker series. In Rick Berman's interview for the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences (granting the Emmy Awards), he stated to the effect that:

"... [the] greatest legacy of Trek is Roddenberry’s "uplifting vision" of the future "depicting a culture of man ,more evolved in the best of all ways" unlike other dark sci-fi"

I know it's a matter of what I like personally, but the best part of Trek scifi are these crews of moral individuals exploring the universe and making it a better place to live. If I ran into trouble, these are the kind of people I'd love to back me up.


About Scott Bakula: I think he was a great choice to play Archer, but it did not always work. The temporal cold war diminished the Enterprise crew by shifting the focus to more powerful, 29th century players. There also seemed a strong impulse to have Archer carry the weight of Captains Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard, to be a strong, bold presence, and this doesn't fit Bakula: had they developed him more as a likeable "coach" or mentor for his crew, the way it was hinted in Season 1 episodes like "Fortunate Son" as a mentor for Mayweather, or "Vox Sola" as captain of his water polo team, Bakula would have found his niche.


Characterizing the Villians:

Enterprise's best run was the early episodes 1 to 13 in Season 1, starting with probably the best Star Trek pilot in "Broken Bow" and ending with "Dear Doctor": episodes that for the most part felt fresh, before space travel became routine like in Season 2. However, even after some great story arcs in Seasons 3 & 4, the antagonists in the episodes still felt "comic bookish" or "cartoony". It was "good guys vs bad guys", instead of nuanced, multi-layered people with opposing interests. A great example is V'Las, the Vulcan leader in "The Forge", who shows only lust for power and a lot of un-Vulcan emotional outbursts, while his motives for siding with the Romulans are less clear. In the end, many contests can be sifted to show "good" motives versus "evil" motives, but more 3 dimensional antagonists would have given Enterprise the depth and weight of BSG or DS9.


Fri, Apr 22, 2011, 3:55am (UTC -6)
My apologies:

Repaired link to quotes on Rick Berman interview:
(no gaps or spaces in link)
Mr. Mister
Mon, Sep 26, 2011, 12:06pm (UTC -6)
Nice reviews, but WHY IS IT ALWAYS DS9?!
My fav is TNG, then Enterprise, TOS, Voyager and finally the least fav DS9.
Tue, Jan 10, 2012, 12:28am (UTC -6)
Mr. Mister, for the longest time I've always seen DS9 as the red-headed step-child. Years later watching it for the heck of it, I realized it delved to the other parts of Trek that I didn't consider before: DS9 isn't always a paradise TNG was- as worf said "I knew who my friends and enemies are in the Enterprise, it is not so clear here.". Once i got it and accepted it, I like the damn show above ENT, VOY. TNG is mr generation's star trek so it's always on top and something Jammer at this point have not reviewed yet. For me, TNG was successful in apeasing TOS fans and wowing a new generation of fans without destroying canon or hitting the re-imagined or reset button.
Alvin Cura
Sat, Jan 21, 2012, 2:22am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed DS9 a lot, especially at the end. But I also think of TNG as the best Star Trek.

Without a huge diatribe about what I like so much about DS9 (where I think of it as great TV but bad Star Trek); here is the easiest way I think I can explain it.

I watched DS9 on DVD after Babylon 5 ended. And I liked it a lot, because it did a lot to fill the void and hunger that Babylon 5 left behind.

A great show, to be sure. Wonderful production value. Awesome cast. Good stories. Great continuity. Huge story arcs with real consequences ranging from subtle to apocalyptic.

Kind of like B5. With Paramount's money.

Awesome show. Not great Star Trek, IMO.
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 3:56am (UTC -6)
Enterprise.... Awful....Absolutely irredeemable....
Sun, Jun 17, 2012, 10:23am (UTC -6)
Enterprise was a disaster...female Spocks never worked,
Quantum leap dude seemed to shout every line and
The smug, self assured doctor was just boring.

The contention that ST has outlived its usefulness is
plain wrong, Chris Pine et al saw to that.

And the worst thing IMHO about Enterprise
was the theme song. Vocals from a half baked pop song? Are you kidding?


Just gimme the huge awesome instrumentals from every other ST series,
that's what gets the point across!

Sorry but I'll take flawed Voyager over this any day of the week
Latex Zebra
Wed, Jul 4, 2012, 3:50pm (UTC -6)
I don't have fond memories of this series and to be honest if I saw an episode on cable I probably wouldn't switch over.
This whole series was a massive missed opportunity, and even this improved final season failed to create any real memorable moments that stand out in the history of Star Trek.
Wed, Jul 11, 2012, 6:22pm (UTC -6)
Season 4 was awesome. The writing, direction, acting, everything took a massive change for the better in season 3 except the new writers still had to deal with the terrible time war plot.

It was amazing how much better the characters got, I went from hating Kip to thinking he was a great character same with T'Pol(?). This series reminds me a lot of the quality arc for TNG, first 2 season are bad then suddenly good stuff. Really bad characters like Wolf somehow evolve to become very interesting characters.

Too bad the last episode was such a disaster, with characters reverting to there season 2 self's and the totally senseless death of Kip.
Wed, Jul 11, 2012, 6:25pm (UTC -6)
Oop's I meant Trip, been a while since I saw the show.
Mon, Sep 24, 2012, 9:49pm (UTC -6)
I have to disagree with season 3 being better. Season 3 has some excellent excellent episodes for sure, but it also has a large amount of mediocre ones. But the main problem with season 3 is its very basic presence. It's intricately tied to the temporal cold war which is definitely not needed and utterly ridiculous to begin with. It relies to much on technobabble and time travel. The Xindi feel like comic book villains, especially at the beginning, and even the Reptilians near the end. The initial test on Earth was not needed, they could have attacked a random planet like they did while testing the main weapon thus the whole thing was unneeded. And its way to long. It didn't need to be 24 episodes. There are several episodes that are certainly not needed, like the western and the time travel to 2004 ones. They could have cut many of these episodes and used up the time to tell meaningful character stories.

Season 4 was overall better. Yes it was fanwank, but it was fun fanwank. It was fun to see what the show was actually supposed to be, a prequel. If the show had been like season 4 from the beginning and been a prequel like it was supposed to be, it might not have been canceled. Except that horrible season finale, it was overall much better than season 3. I would have liked to see a little more of Columbia, but there's always the expanded universe.

I saw a perfect quote awhile ago that summed it up nicely. "During seasons 1-3, Enterprise was asking to get killed. During season 4 it got its wish, just as it was beginning to change its mind.
Mon, Dec 24, 2012, 12:08pm (UTC -6)
Elphaba, I agree with your assessment. Jammer seems to get obsessed with drama over everything else (action, plot, continuity in story and character). Season 3 was an improvement, but since a lot of people were tuning out by then, the season long arc made it hard to see. The shorter arcs, the tie in's with ST continuity, and improved writing started to raise the bar. I particularly liked the Klingon plague arc. It explained what the Klingons looked more human like at one point and did so in an intelligent manner.

Moore would have completely wrecked the show with needless drama and sudden, illogical plot changes when he got bored with the current path of the show. Oh, Archer would have been on some sort of mystical journey. For reference see BSG.

All that being said, prequels are a bad idea in general.
Thu, Dec 27, 2012, 7:50pm (UTC -6)
At the risk of pursuing the Moore/BSG tangent too far, I'd like to disagree with Terrahawk: "Moore would have completely wrecked the show with needless drama and sudden, illogical plot changes when he got bored with the current path of the show. Oh, Archer would have been on some sort of mystical journey." Whether Moore would've wrecked Enterprise or not is completely hypothetical, but the mysticism in BSG is partially defensible. That is, mysticism was a facet of the original series, so naturally it manifested in the reboot. The problem, as I see it, is that mystical gimmicks were used to solve plot conundrums, and that's just sad. But to return to Enterprise...

"The 2000s are more cynical and less sentimental than, say, the 1980s."

Sentimental? Not the '80s I remember. You probably should've rephrased that, Jammer. Especially when you wrote that before the decade turned truly cynical.
Sun, Apr 14, 2013, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
I've been watching this series more and more, and it's a trial to get through--except season 4. They were definitely getting their footing before the axe was dropped.

It seems to me the first two seasons were like Voyager and the last two were like an attempt to be Deep Space Nine. It's quite the schism from season 2's "A Night in Sickbay" to season 3's "Damage", but the quality difference is as noticeable as the sun.
Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 5:51pm (UTC -6)
Season four was better than season three, because it showed what we should have seen from the beginning: the events which led to the forming of the Federation. The events which led to TOS and the rest of the series.

Season three was good, but the Xindi didn't have anything to do with the rest of Trek, and we knew that as a prequel, they would not succeed in destroying Earth. There was no tension there. We knew the crew would be ok.

Both seasons are better than seasons one and two , though. Just about any season of Trek is better than Enterprise seasons 1 and 2
Tue, May 27, 2014, 7:12am (UTC -6)
I just watched the last of season 4, ending up with Terra Prime. I had watched TATV out of sequence--just had to see what was so bad about it--and after taking anti-nausea medication, am able to agree with those who said it was an abomination, an insult, and a TNG episode anyway, not an Enterprise episode. Just as entertainment and for completion, I'm glad I watched the four seasons of ENT. Some of the eps will stick with me for a long time--some because they were good, and some because they were bad. I did not always agree with Jammer, and enjoyed watching and making up my own mind, as earlier comments here and there after the eps point out. I wish we had seen more of Erika Hernandez and Columbia--I thought she was head-and-shoulders above what I've seen of Janeway and Voyager. Alas, I guess it will never be. I did feel that Terra Prime was a pretty good wrap-up to the series. I will always consider it the true last ep, and thought Archer's speech was everything it needed to be--very inspirational. Trip and T'Pol should have had a story arc through the whole four seasons that made sense and did not make T'Pol look like a ridiculous sex object. And she should have been in uniform. It was a low blow to kill off baby Elizabeth. She should have been allowed to live, and Trip and T'Pol needed to be left with their baby and at least some pay-off for the viewers that they were going to have a happily-ever-after in some way. Probably the writers were afraid of not making Spock the first Vulcan/human offspring, but hey, so what? Little Elizabeth should not have died, and it would not have harmed the Sarak/Amanda/Spock arc as far as I'm concerned. Now I'm starting to watch Voyager for completion--trying to keep an open mind--see you on the Voyager comments--thanks, Jammer, for these thoughtful reviews.
Sat, May 31, 2014, 9:27am (UTC -6)
I just ordered the re-launch paperback "The Good That Men Do" from Amazon Prime. Supposedly it completes the Enterprise story in a more satisfying way. We shall see--I'll plan to make a brief comment after I've read it.
Fri, Jun 6, 2014, 9:49pm (UTC -6)
The novel "The Good That Men Do" was fast-paced and enjoyable, dotting a lot of I's and crossing the T's, and making a nice follow-up to Terra Prime. It does not totally close the Enterprise story, but gives satisfying resolutions to some of the threads. The book does stand alone, but at the ending leaves the door open for the next Enterprise adventure. I enjoyed it, and felt that it respected the story lines and the characters far more than the deplorable TATV. I've bought three more of the Enterprise re-lauch series novels, and am looking forward to reading them. Enterprise will never be TNG or--my favorite Trek--DS9, but I've become strangely attached to the characters, and look forward to following them in book form.
Jack Bauer
Thu, Sep 18, 2014, 1:58am (UTC -6)
Yall should watch this documentary on the failing of Enterprise.
Wed, Oct 15, 2014, 8:50pm (UTC -6)
Jack, thanks for the link. I think they were a little hard on themselves, although there's no denying that Enterprise was a flawed series. I've gone on to read three more of the Enterprise paperbacks--The Kobayashi Maru, and the Romulan War books Beneath the Raptor's Wing and To Brave the Storm. Without giving away any spoilers, I'll just say that Trip and T'Pol's story ends up being treated realistically and with respect. I feel a sense of closure to their storyline--or enough for me, anyway--and am left with positive feelings about it. The authors of the four Enterprise paperbacks I've read just seemed to have so much more overall respect for their characters and their stories than the writers of the TV series did.
Paul M.
Mon, Nov 3, 2014, 4:37am (UTC -6)
That documentary is one huge bashfest. I'm actually glad they had the courage to come out and say what many fans had been thinking all along.

Though I must say that every time I read or hear something from Brannon Braga, I dislike his professional decisions more and more. The guy seems utterly oblivious to where the true problems were.
Thu, Jan 22, 2015, 9:20pm (UTC -6)
It's too bad Enterprise ended this way. It could have been so much more, but got screwed over by incompetent writers who were too afraid to do anything more creative than rehash warmed-over TNG-type storylines. By the time they did (Seasons 3 and 4 were a massive improvement over 1 and 2, and I liked S4 as a whole a lot more than Jammer did, apparently), it was too late. That pitiful excuse for a finale was the final insult. (HIMYM fans: We Trekkies feel your pain.)

On the bright side, 2005 was a good year for sci-fi. That was the year BSG started airing weekly episodes. Doctor Who was revived to resounding success (and it's still going strong to this day!). Lost finished up its first season, firmly cementing itself as a classic. It's a pity Trek wasn't there to join the party.

Someday, I hope, Trek will experience a Doctor Who-like revival and come back to TV with a fresh take on the genre that still respects what came before. The original Doctor Who was basically dead in the water when it ended in 1989, but when the time came, it roared back to life with a clean restart that still stayed mostly faithful to the old series.

Hope springs eternal, I guess.
Jeff O'Connor
Wed, Apr 22, 2015, 1:27am (UTC -6)
1989-2005 for no Doctor Who episodes on television... the Trek version would be 2005-2021. I can live with that. I can live with six more years without weekly Trek.

I don't want to live with it, but I can!
W Smith
Sat, Aug 22, 2015, 3:26pm (UTC -6)
It's been 10 years since Enterprise went off the air and still no new Trek show on TV. At the time of Ent's cancellation, I figured a new Trek would crop up in five years or so, but I think the new JJ films sucked out CBS/Paramount's incentive to do a new series. It's a shame because I don't think Trek works narratively as films very well (action is not its forte), and is much better suited to TV's weekly episodes for thoughtful storytelling. Such a shame.

As for Enterprise, it was finally finding its legs in season 4 (better than season 3 IMO), and I would have liked to have seen a season 5. Another shame.
Mon, Nov 2, 2015, 8:11pm (UTC -6)
Breaking a three month or so comment silence to directly reply to Jeff O'Connor: "1989-2005 for no Doctor Who episodes on television... the Trek version would be 2005-2021. I can live with that. I can live with six more years without weekly Trek. I don't want to live with it, but I can!"

In light of today's news, I guess we only have to wait a bit more than a year! Here's hoping it's awesome! Make it so!
Thu, Nov 5, 2015, 12:04pm (UTC -6)
Engage!! Wahoo!! I can't wait. I'm also hoping it's awesome.
Diamond Dave
Wed, May 18, 2016, 3:41am (UTC -6)
So overall I scored this series at an average of 2.46, which makes it the second best Enterprise season but a big fall off from season 3 and among the lower scores across all the series.

For me, by the end, the whole thing was seeming rather tired and the cancellation was probably the right thing. After 4 seasons Enterprise still hadn't found its direction, and at that point it's probably better to cut your losses than continue. And fundamentally it was due to the lack of progress in the characterisation. Trip was the only character that to my mind really broke out, but everyone else seemed either static or going backward. If we didn't care about these people, why would we care about the show? The curious tonal decisions made towards the end merely added to that fact.

Additionally, the shift to short story arcs also didn't really work. It meant too many episodes were mired in set up, and the payoffs were often minimal in the extreme. A disappointing end to what was overall a disappointing show.
Diamond Dave
Wed, May 18, 2016, 4:57am (UTC -6)
"It's been a long road, getting from there to here". So after 614 episodes watched over 285 days (averaging 2.15 eps/day) here's the final tally from best to worst:

1) Deep Space Nine Season 2 2.79
2) Deep Space Nine Season 5 2.77
3) Deep Space Nine Season 7 2.70
4) The Next Generation Season 3 2.69
4) The Next Generation Season 5 2.69
6) Deep Space Nine Season 4 2.66
7) The Next Generation Season 4 2.61
8) Deep Space Nine Season 6 2.60
9) Enterprise Season 3 2.583
10) Voyager Season 5 2.58
11) The Next Generation Season 6 2.56
11) Deep Space Nine Season 3 2.56
13) Deep Space Nine Season 1 2.55
14) Voyager Season 7 2.54
15) Voyager Season 1 2.50
15) Voyager Season 2 2.50
17) The Next Generation Season 7 2.48
18) Enterprise Season 4 2.46
19) Voyager Season 4 2.44
20) Voyager Season 3 2.42
20) Voyager Season 6 2.42
20) Enterprise Season 1 2.42
23) Enterprise Season 2 2.35
24) The Next Generation Season 2 2.30
25) The Next Generation Season 1 2.14

By series complete average:

1) Deep Space Nine 2.66
2) The Next Generation 2.50
3) Voyager 2.49
4) Enterprise 2.45

Complete episode average = 2.54

The Best: 4* Episodes


Q Who
Yesterday's Enterprise
The Best of Both Worlds Pt 1
I, Borg
The Inner Light
All Good Things...


The Wire
The Way of the Warrior
The Visitor
Trials and Tribble-ations
In Purgatory's Shadow
In The Pale Moonlight


Scorpion Pt 1
Infinite Regress


Shockwave Pt 1

The Worst: 1* Episodes


Lonely Among Us
Angel One
Too Short A Season
The Royale
Up The Long Ladder
Shades of Gray
Sub Rosa


Profit and Lace


Spirit Folk


A Night In Sickbay
Precious Cargo

So as a bottom line it's been a fun ride with overall the quality being much higher than I might have anticipated going in. If there's a single lesson to be drawn it's that a series lives and dies by its cast - the reason DS9 was my favourite was I think due to the fact that most of its cast (including a major array of occasional characters like Garak, Dukat, Weyoun etc) could carry an episode. The same was broadly true for TNG, but for Voyager and particularly Enterprise the fact half the cast couldn't really support a full episode was a real limiting factor.
Wed, May 18, 2016, 8:19am (UTC -6)
Wow Diamond Dave, you've flown through these :-)

Someday when I finish I will compare my results with yours.

One difference I know we'll have is how high you've ranked DS9 Season 7. 7 was the 5th best DS9 season in my rankings. Also, having Voyager Season 5 so low is puzzling. Voyagers best by far and IMO much better than most you've ranked above it (especially DS9 S6). I'm sure my ENT S1&2 and VOY S1&2 will grade out higher than DS9's and TNG's seasons 1&2.

I've enjoyed reading your reviews. Brief, but informative.
Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 12:19am (UTC -6)
So I finally finished watching every episode of every Trek and I felt the need to talk about it. Seems like here's a good place as any.

So yeah, ending my long journey on the Enterprise finale is pretty depressing, but hey, at least there's a new show now to look forward to! (I know better than to get my hopes up too high.) I enjoyed the Xindi arc a lot, but it seemed out of place on a Stark Trek prequel show. Season 4 was the first time I felt like I was watching real Trek, and of course it gets cancelled. Oh well. It still wasn't that great of a series, but it had its moments.

It took me several years to get through this, taking breaks and watching other shows, but I finally did it. And I read many of the reviews, though I mostly skimmed through Voyager and Enterprise reviews since they seemed awfully negative and you appeared to just not like the shows (which I totally understand). Still read most of the comments, though I rarely said much myself.

Since I have a fascination with ranks and lists, I figured I'd make one of my own. So here we go, from favorite series to least favorite series:

Deep Space 9 (best reoccurring characters, most interesting storylines, SO many good characters, did I mention the characters?)
The Next Generation (best captain (yeah, I said it!), feels the most like what Trek should be.)
The Original Series (best crew (Spock, McCoy, Scotty, you can't beat 'em!), most 'charm')
Voyager (best first season, The Doctor)
The Animated Series (it was certainly... interesting! Trippy visuals, entertainingly bad animation)
Enterprise (it had Porthos)

I didn't hate any of the shows, and I'm glad I watched them all, but if I weren't such a completionist, I probably would have given up on Enterprise during season two, though interestingly, I also would have most likely given up during Deep Space 9 season two, and that ended up my favorite. That show definitely grew the most, and Voyager the least (it was consistently

Thanks Jammer for all the reviews and giving us nerds a place to congregate. I'm hoping Battlestar Galactica gets put back on Netflix since it sounds like a show I'd like, but if not, I'm tempted to buy the series. If I do, then I'll certainly be back for the reviews. The original BG series is on there... I plan on watching that before the reboot. Gotta fill that Sci-FI void I now have.

And of course, I expect full lengthy reviews of the new show (OK, maybe not), assuming it doesn't keep getting delayed and actually gets made! Not that I'll be watching it on CBS access, but I'll probably get the blu-rays when they come out.

So yeah, it's been a long ride (I'd quote the Enterprise theme if I didn't hate it), and it wouldn't have been the same without this site and all the interesting characters here. Just felt the need to say all that.
Mon, Aug 14, 2017, 10:52am (UTC -6)
Fans have lauded season 4 as when the show got good, but I don't see it. If anything, season 4 is every bit as uneven and boring as seasons 1 and 2. I really don't get the praise that this season gets. I think fans were so excited to see more ties to the cannon, that they had blinders on. It starts off with great promise (Home) and then slides into extreme silliness (the Augment arc). Season 4 regressed back into safe, stale, old Trek stories and plots. Season 3 has its' faults, but it tried new things here and there, and had a sense of urgency.
Baron Samedi
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 8:29pm (UTC -6)
I just finished Enterprise and have how seen every Trek episode made so far! (Assuming you don't count The Orville or the Animated Series.)

Compared to Jammer, I liked Seasons 1 and 2 of Enterprise a lot less, Season 3 about the same, and Season 4 a lot more. Botched finale aside, Season 4 really worked for me - it had so much world-building, developed a few of the characters (and put the others in plot-driven stories that at least didn't bring out their underdevelopment as characters), and had the delightful "In a Mirror Darkly..." two-parter, which I had an absolute blast with (Mirror Universe Porthos being a Rottweiler gave me a big laugh).

If Enterprise had 7 seasons, I could see the first two being looked at as the bad ones, three as the transition where it got good, and four as the beginning of its peak. Unfortunately, the show's cancellation and the terrible "These Are the Voyages" (seriously, nothing happened to these characters in six years?) prevented that from happening, and we're left with a failed show that only got consistently good right before the ending.

That said, I'm glad I watched it. Compared especially to Star Trek Discovery so far, Enterprise episodes have a lot of breathing room and are more pleasant to watch. It's fun and relaxing to watch the shows take their time presenting a new conflict every week. Too often, these conflicts were resolved with silly firefights, and the first two seasons hugely overplayed the crew's inexperience and drew heavily on cliche, but it was OK overall. The Xindi Arc worked; the Temporal Cold War didn't. I enjoyed all the two and three parters in Season 4, as they all provided a lot of insight to the Trek universe.

Enterprise's biggest weakness is in its characters. Jeffrey Combs was always a blast to watch but among the regular cast, Reed, Hoshi and Phlox were all only mildly interesting and the rest just bored me. At least Archer grew as a result of the Xindi Arc, but he was never hugely compelling and is definitely the weakest of the Trek main protagonists.

Looking at the number of episodes I gave a positive rating (a 7 or higher on the 10-scale I use on IMDb, which correlates with a 3/4 star rating here), I gave 5 episodes a positive rating in Season 1, 9 in Season 2, 15 in Season 3, and 15 in Season 4. So that's a lot of improvement!

My picks for the best episodes:
1. Cogenitor
2. Twilight
3. Damage
4. In a Mirror Darkly Part I
5. The Council
6. In a Mirror Darkly Part II
7. Shockwave Part I
8. Carbon Creek
9. Stratagem
10. Vox Sola

Thanks as always, Jammer, for running this site, and I'm glad you're continuing writing reviews for Discovery!
Elle Finn
Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 5:41pm (UTC -6)
Thanks, Jammer for your review site! You helped me get through Enterprise. I have to say I hated it, but had to soldier on due to my chronology mission. But you and some of your commentators helped me appreciate some parts of it, helping me get through it episode by episode, even in ten minute increments sometimes. These days your site has been a permanent tab open on my phone as I watch or re-watch the rest of the versions of Trek. I've looked at other review sites but this is the only one that has kept me around.
Wed, Oct 30, 2019, 4:39pm (UTC -6)
Enterprise was vastly superior to Voyager. I make that determination strictly on characters. The only bearable characters on Voyager were the Doctor and 7 of 9. I was not offended by any of the characters on Ent. Even the vacuous characters like Mayweather were non offensive. The English guy was fine. Whereas idiotic characters like Harry Kim thrive on Voyager. The Vulcan on Voyager was a complete bore. T'pol had depth. I could care less about the Klingon hybrid on Voyager. I liked Hoshi. Scott Bakula was believable. Captain Annoyance on Voyager grated. Don't even get me started on Neelix and Kes, ugh.
Thu, Oct 31, 2019, 8:20am (UTC -6)
"Fans have lauded season 4 as when the show got good, but I don't see it. If anything, season 4 is every bit as uneven and boring as seasons 1 and 2. I really don't get the praise that this season gets. I think fans were so excited to see more ties to the cannon, that they had blinders on."

The reason season 4 is lauded by so many, is that the ties to previous cannon were done *well* (most of the time). At least two of the trilogies (the Vulcan one and Romulan Marauder one) were stories that screamed to be told. The rest of the season (except perhaps "Bound" and the horrible horrible finale) were also good stories. It was also done with a masterful attention to detail.

So yeah, many fans loved Enterprise Season 4 and for a good reason. Not sure where those "blinders" come in. It was, indeed, a great season (and a lesson in prequel-making that the creators of the newer Trek shows should take to heart).

@Baron Samedi
"If Enterprise had 7 seasons, I could see the first two being looked at as the bad ones, three as the transition where it got good, and four as the beginning of its peak."

...and the fifth season giving us the beginning of the Earth-Romulan War.

Man... that would have been awesome.
Thu, Nov 14, 2019, 7:09pm (UTC -6)
Okay, wasn't sure where to post this because it's a really broad and general Star Trek franchise question the answers to which might also have spoilers from accross the franchise for any new fans. I chose here because it's probably the last place a new fan would go (unless going chronologically) and therefore the most safe.

Anyways, my cousin's 12 year old daughter said the magic words, that she wants to watch Star Trek, and I get to be her shepherd throught this franchise. Given she has interest in being a doctor (surgeon to be exact) I've already picked out some medical-centric episodes for her (Ethics, The Quickening, Transfigurations) but I'm still not sure those might be good jump on points to know if she'll like the characters etc. Plus I want her to get a taste for the variety of stories Trek has.

So my question is this; what are some good episodes to introduce her (or anybody) to Trek with (of each series) that don't require any background plot or spoil any major twists?

This is a very active and vocal and largely well-spoken group of fans on this site and I look forward to the potential replies.
Jason R.
Thu, Nov 14, 2019, 7:36pm (UTC -6)
"So my question is this; what are some good episodes to introduce her (or anybody) to Trek with (of each series) that don't require any background plot or spoil any major twists?"

TOS - City on the Edge of Forever, The Doomsday Machine, Devil in the Dark

TNG - The Measure of a Man, Q Who, Best of Both Worlds 1/2, The Inner Light, Chain of Command 1/2, Darmok, All Good Things 1/2

DS9 is tough because it is so serialized. Voyager and Enterprise are tough because they are so bad....
Tue, Nov 19, 2019, 6:06am (UTC -6)

Thanks! Those are all really good episode choices, the best of the best of each of the series you picked for. "Devil in the Dark" is a good choice for TOS, (and a really good lesson for a girl her age to see) though I'm almost inclined to start her Trek journey off with "The Corbomite Maneuver".

As for TNG, while picking the best eps might be a good idea, I dunno if they showcase quintessential TNG. Who the characters are, the stuff they'd face week to week, that sorta thing.

I was about her age when I got into TNG, znd Trek in general, but I can't for the life remember what my first ep was, since I caught it on weekend-long marathons on the old "The New TNN" before it became Spike. If I had to guess it was maybe "Phantasms "or "Emergence"... both out there episodes that might spark the imagination. In a similar vein "Disaster" might be a good one to start her on since it showcases all the characters... but I dunno, this series is hard cause there's so much choice and varied stories.

DS9 maybe "Babel", "Visionary" or "Civil Defense". (I'd go with the pilot, but that's got a ton of TNG baggage/backstory/spoilers to just jump in with) I'd probably tell her to hold off on DS9 for serious binging for a couple years anyway.

I suspect Voyager she may identify with the most. And being 12 years old, Seven and the Doctor would be characters she'd likely relate to... "Phage", maybe, or "Macrocosm" perhaps. "Dragon's Teeth", "Tsukatse" or "Blink of an Eye" might be good too.

Enterprise... eh, "Broken Bow"? I might've said "Vox Sola", but the goo creature might be a bit much. Maaaaybe "Cogenitor"?

Interestingly, I was curious and after convincing my friend (who I see more often than I get to see my cousin) to actually watch Trek, I started him on a chronological (curated) watch through. Starting at Broken Bow. He's enjoying it for the most part. But he doesn't have the compentcy of the prior casts or the feeling of rehashing certain beats and themes to contwnd with either. It'll be interesting to see what happens as we move into the older shows though...

I'm willing to potentially burn his view of Trek, but I don't want to risk that happening to my cousin, hence my overthinking the chance of Trek's first impression. It's surprising how daunting a prospect it is, introducing this huge franchise to someone.
Sat, Feb 8, 2020, 8:10pm (UTC -6)
Just finished my first complete rewatch of Enterprise since the show came out. Though I tend to be more forgiving than Jammer (on average, bump up each of Jammer’s ratings by ½ star and that’s how much I enjoyed the episode), I do concur that S3 was stronger overall than S4. S4 was the most consistently good season of the show, but S3 hit higher highs.

“Perhaps one problem this season is that the show was so mired in expansive plots and cross-series continuity games that the characters and their personalities tended to get lost.”

^^This to me is the central problem of Enterprise’s second half (S3 and 4). I’d go one step further and say that the series completely changed its storytelling philosophy halfway through, and it actually lost something in the transition.

When Michael Piller took over TNG in S3, he brought a whole new storytelling philosophy to the table: each episode had to tie back in to one of our lead characters. It had to be “a Geordi show” or “a Worf show,” etc. This was a revelation for Trek. In TOS and the early seasons of TNG, each story tended to be about a sci-fi concept or real-world allegory. The stories were rarely personal to the characters, with exceptions such as “Amok Time” or “The Measure of a Man.” But with the new Piller Philosophy, suddenly the characters snapped into focus and the show took off. This character-based approach to storytelling was arguably the reason for Star Trek’s stunning success over the next decade.

The Piller Philosophy continued through the rest of TNG, all of DS9, and all of Voyager. We got used to seeing “Odo shows” or “Seven of Nine shows,” etc. Each character got their own showcase at least once a season. Even the first two seasons of Enterprise maintained this philosophy. Even in S2, Enterprise’s worst year, the supporting characters each got their own showcase: “Minefield” for Reed, “Vanishing Point” for Hoshi, “Horizon” for Travis, “The Breach” for Phlox. It was one thing that Enterprise did right.

But in S3 and 4, this went out the window. S3 had vestiges of the old approach: “Exile” for Hoshi, “Doctor’s Orders” for Phlox. But really, the season was *about* the Xindi arc, not the characters. In S4, the Piller Philosophy was completely gone. Except for “Home,” every episode was *about* its plot, not its characters.

Now I still think S3 and 4 were a vast improvement on S1 and 2. The series’ biggest problem in its first half was the lack of a big picture. But when the show gained a big picture, it lost its characters, and a key component of what made Star Trek work for so many years.

I enjoy Enterprise overall. It gave us a lot of solid episodes, even some great ones. But it never rises to the heights of the other series because it hardly ever stops to think: who are these people? What do they want? And how do they change?
Sat, Aug 1, 2020, 4:01am (UTC -6)
I have so many mixed feelings about Star Trek: Enterprise in almost every category.

Positives: Unlike later Abrams Trek, Enterprise more or less maintained the Star Trek “feel” (especially in the latter third and fourth seasons). And unlike the bile of contemporary Kurtzman Trek, it demonstrated a general respect for the franchise. Did we *really* need to know why TOS Klingons had smooth features? No, probably not. But I remain in awe that this series had such a love for TOS and desire to honor the overall continuity that it gave us an origin story anyway. That “love-letter” to continuity ended up an albatross in the finale weaving in the TNG cast in a story that was not their own, but it at least proved the showrunners cared about the wider franchise canon. That’s commendable.

Visually, Enterprise is a good looking show. A little more drab than previous entries, but, again, considering how embarrassed Kurtzman seems of classic Trek uniforms, ships, and aesthetics in DIS and PIC, Enterprise honors the visual style of its predecessors, while still being slickly produced.

A number of the series’ characters are engaging, particularly Tripp. Likewise Malcolm and Doctor Phlox (disagreeing with the reviewer) are reasonably well-rounded and no member of the crew grated on the viewer like Wesley or Neelix. I remain a Travis defender in that Anthony Montgomery COULD have handled deeper, more abundant material. His bright-eyed optimism and divergent upbringing could have been a real asset if they had bothered to give him more screen time. If he appears “wooden,” perhaps it derives from so much time atrophying on the bench.

Enterprise also makes more of its premise than its predecessor Voyager. We see first contact with a number of classic races, in-depth looks at early relations with Vulcan, and a sense of the wonder, danger, and novelty of interstellar travel in their era. It isn’t flawless, but it does well as a prequel (again, shots fired, Discovery).

Negatives: The collective cast never gels in remotely the same way as the TOS Trinity or the TNG bridge crew or the wonderful noir ensemble on DS9. Even later Voyager managed to build meaningful dynamics between EMH, Seven, and Janeway or Tom and Belanna. T’Pol regresses in many ways as a character after ingesting toxic metals (emotion crack) losing her strength, competency, and distinctiveness. The continual “will they, won’t they” yo-yoing of her and Tripp’s relationship culminated in absolutely nothing and the reviewer rightly notes that all characters essentially end where they began. Character arcs need not be seismic to be profound (before senselessly killing Data off in Nemesis, his triumph was merely in incrementally becoming more human).

Archer ultimately never really worked as a character, especially when the writers unsuccessfully wrote him as a tough guy. A series of poor scripts resulted in Archer imprisoned or kidnapped too many times to count and the character fluctuated wildly between compassionate and aggressive (Janeway syndrome).

Now the unfortunate standard, Enterprise pioneered season-spanning arcs far beyond even what occurred on DS9. Relying on ongoing narratives for an entire season necessitates that your core story be really good. And like eventual Discovery and Picard, much of Enterprise’s core plot threads were not very good. Particularly the Temporal Cold War which was a) confusing, b) largely unexplained and unresolved, and c) diverting and uninteresting. Anchoring so much of seasons 1, 2, and partially 3 in this plot marred many of the series’ episodes. DS9 paid dividends focusing on the Dominion War, but also showed the dangers of serialization with the P’ah Wraiths and the Prophets (in many ways seriously harming its own finale).

All in all, Enterprise is as worthy a member of the franchise as Voyager, if not in some respects more meritorious. Voyager and even TNG and DS9 all came into their own in their latter halves. With three more seasons and the promising changes of seasons three and four, Enterprise might well have become a great series, despite its flaws. Cut off at the legs as it was hitting its stride, we half to judge it as a half series. Yes, it’s tiptoeing into grittier material and serialization may have helped pollute the franchise of the latter 2010s. And no, Enterprise lacks a Darmok or a Measure of a Man or an Inner Light. But it tried something new, fleshed out the canon in a meaningful way, and showed great respect and care for a franchise we love.
Tue, Sep 22, 2020, 11:08pm (UTC -6)
Wow @Jack Bauer, that ENT documentary was extremely cathartic!

Reminds me of the Ronald D Moore interview @Keiren posted in @Jammer's review of Voyager season 6,

I especially liked hearing a little more about the Ronald D Moore/Brannon Braga feud. Man, Braga fucked up. But Star Trek's loss was nBSG's gain!
Wed, Sep 23, 2020, 10:04am (UTC -6)
nBSG was really good through 2 1/2 years and RAZOR, but after that is was garbage to include that horrible finale.
Fri, Dec 31, 2021, 1:28pm (UTC -6)

Thought I'd respond to you from an ENT comment stream to not further clog up that DSC stream.

It is unfortunate that ENT got off to a poor start in its 1st 2 seasons -- yes, it would have been good to let the writers recharge etc. but Paramount has repeatedly been putting dollars ahead of what's best for the show/writers. Hard to blame them as they have shareholders to answer to. Not sure if you've seen this documentary series "The Center Seat -- 55 years of Star Trek". It goes into all these behind the scenes details.

For sure the best ENT ever got was late in S3 when it was pretty riveting stuff. The three episodes "Azati Prime", "Damage" and "The Forgotten" are outstanding together.

I really appreciated what ENT tried in S4, fan-service etc. And yes, it did have trouble sticking the landing but that's not uncommon for Trek multi-part episodes. The very minor problem with ENT S4 is it didn't come up with one standout episode that the other 3 seasons managed to do. "Observer Effect" would be my choice for the best from S4 and it was a strictly standalone effort.

It seems Bakula gets some flak here and there but I think he's a terrific actor. Again, we have to consider the writing with the actor and the writing is what let ENT and the Archer character down during S1 & S2 at times. As for Takei, while he is Star Trek royalty, his ramblings on social media can be quite toxic and I strongly disagree with what he said about Bakula.

And I agree with you re. "Omicron..." Another one to ignore. Don't let the trolls ruin your enjoyment of Jammer's site.
Sat, Jan 1, 2022, 6:46pm (UTC -6)
Rahul, I do not appreciate you accusing me of trolling on random threads. This time you really crossed the line.

And you know something else? I'm sick and tired of constantly fending off the political kooks here in the least disruptive way I can manage, while also being under fire from people like you.

So I refuse to do this any longer. Since Rahul here is so confident in his theories of how to properly deal with these kooks, I'm leaving this job in his capable hands for the next 30 days (at least). Who knows? Maybe Rahul will succeed in convincing everyone to 'ignore the trolls' and maybe the PC crowd will magically stop spreading their agenda here once the opposition is gone.

I will await the results of this test with baited breath.

Good Luck, Rahul.
(you are going to need it)
Sun, Jan 2, 2022, 4:03am (UTC -6)
Ok, when I wrote about group dynamics I was giving an outline of very basic sociological concepts. I was not pushing any ideology. If you go to any university on the planet and participate in a sociology 101 course you will hear some version of what I wrote.

If you want a more scientific version (all I could find on the open internet)

If you still want to believe that this is all PC ideology, fine. I did what I could.
Fri, Jul 15, 2022, 3:31pm (UTC -6)
lizzzi said: "The novel "The Good That Men Do" was fast-paced and enjoyable, dotting a lot of I's and crossing the T's, and making a nice follow-up to Terra Prime."

I really wish the re-launch novels had taken up just after Terra Prime instead of after These Are The Voyages. Enterprise had really hit its stride in season 4 and it would have been nice to continue on from there instead of having to put the pieces together after the events of TATV.

The Daedalus duology are probably my favorite Enterprise books fwiw.

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