+++ Review in Progress +++
In the 2004–05 season, Star Trek: Enterprise retreated somewhat from the previous year's all-in commitment to serial storytelling. Or maybe it pushed the envelope even further. It depends on your point of view. This final season of televised Trek closed eighteen years of continual production of at least one Star Trek series, not by adding one more year's worth of standalone episodes to the 27 that already existed, but by dividing what was essentially one story—the birthpangs of the United Federation of Planets—into a sequence of two- or three-episode arcs. The only thing that distinguishes these "arcs" from the season's pair of two-part episodes is whether or not the writers decided to give each part a unique title. And so, only three of Season 4's episodes seem to stand more or less alone: "Daedalus," "Observer Effect," and "Bound."
It was a season of Trek that gave so many insights into the backstory of the Original Series that one can only writhe in unrelieved frustration to imagine what might have come in subsequent seasons. The year starts by ending the Temporal Cold War plot line that goes back to the pilot episode. It then resolves some of the last impediments to forming the Coalition that would someday become the Federation: (1) xenophobia on Earth; (2) militarism on Vulcan; (3) interracial conflict on Andoria; and (4) the covert machinations of those xenophobic, militaristic, racially superior Romulans. I guess you could also add (5) the Orion Syndicate, (6) the Gorn, and (7) the Tholians, of whom we get a real eyeful for the first time in the franchise; (8) the long-rumored disease that caused the Klingons to lose their forehead bumps for a century or so, and (9) a few last aftershocks from the Eugenics wars, in the form of genetically-engineered supermen who threaten etc., etc., etc. And the Organians! And the inventor of the matter-energy transporter!
But one thing the show couldn't overcome was declining viewership. When the ratings bottomed out at 2.5 million viewers (the night "Babel One" was aired), the network announced that the series would not be renewed. Outright cancellation would have ended the production of new episodes right then and there, but Enterprise was given a merciful death, allowing a handful of final episodes to tie up its main storylines and a series finale that skips ahead to what might have been the end of the Enterprise's seven-year mission—albeit with a crossover plot device that makes it more of an appendix to the TNG episode "The Pegasus" than a real episode of Enterprise.
Still, when I read certain quotes about the series finale, like Rick Berman's claim that it was a "valentine to fans," I'm more amazed by how out of touch the producers were than by the fact that the show was canceled. Clearly, it was time for Berman & co-creator Brannon Braga to go, even if it meant ending Trek before its time. Now that Trek has been "rebooted" on the big screen, maybe the time has come to reboot it on TV as well. Only, may the Great Bird of the Galaxy grant that this be done under fresh leadership!
Storm Front, Parts I & II, brings the whole "Temporal Cold War" plot line to a decisive conclusion. As Season 3 ended, Captain Archer was feared dead in the explosion of the Xindi super-weapon. Actually, he has been captured by a coalition of gray-faced aliens and Nazis in a temporally messed-up version of 1944 in which the Germans have pushed the Western Front across the Atlantic, and World War II is being fought roughly along the line of the Appalachian mountains. Time Cop Daniels, suffering from fatal exposure to a nasty time distortion, lives only long enough to tell Archer that he must stop Vosk (the leader of the gray aliens) before he builds a tunnel back to the 29th century and destroys all of history. Vosk's people are the main villains in the Temporal Cold War, and even though time tampering reaches farther back in history, the 1944 situation represents the one serious chance to stop Vosk and heal history. To do it, however, Archer will have to team up with some Italian gangsters, a black Brooklyn beauty (and remember, these were times when eyebrows rose at the sight of black and white people walking down the street together). And I haven't even mentioned Silik yet, that old Suliban rascal who has stowed away on the Enterprise with an agenda of his own. This two-parter features J. Paul Boehmer in his fifth Trek role (like his first, a 2-episode stint as a Nazi soldier); Tom Wright (who previously played "Tuvix" on Voyager); Steven Schirripa and Joe Maruzzo (who both had recurring roles on The Sopranos); second-time Trek guest Christopher Neame; Golden Brooks of Girlfriends; and the final Trek appearances by John Fleck (whose seven appearances as Silik accounted for only one of his six Trek roles) and Matt Winston (after eight appearances as Daniels).
Home dramatizes the lull in the Enterprise's (ahem) four-year mission after its heroic homecoming from saving the Earth. If the opening scene, with Archer accepting the planet's applause at a big open-air ceremony, seems too good to be true, that's because it is. Soon the Enterprises are brawling with xenophobic townies in a bar fight only just broken up by Dr. Phlox's instinctive panic response (his face puffs up like a blowfish, if you must know). Archer almost bites Vulcan Ambassador Soval's head off during his debriefing because he senses that he is being blamed for the hard choices he had to make, though the problem is that he blames himself. And Audra, I mean T'Pol, goes home to Vulcan to confront her disapproving mother, whose career at the Science Ministry was curtailed in response to T'Pol's wild lifestyle. Marrying her lifelong betrothed may be a way to regain the family's honor, but although Koss is a nice guy, T'Pol doesn't care for him. Nevertheless Trip, who happens to have come along on a lark, ends up watching the woman he loves marry another man. Good times. Guest stars include Who Framed Roger Rabbit? star Joanna Cassidy in her first of two appearances as T'Les; Ada Maris in her first of three appearances as Archer's romantic foil Erika Hernandez; Michael Reilly Burke in his third Trek role, and what would be his first of three appearances, as Koss; and Jack Donner, who had appeared as a Romulan in TOS's "The Enterprise Incident" 36 years before, here making his first of two appearances as a Vulcan priest.
Borderland starts a new three-episode arc featuring TNG star Brent Spiner in the role of Arik Soong, a 22nd-century eugenicist whose fiendish dabbling in the human genome threatens to revive the disastrous Eugenics Wars which would have happened by now if we lived in the Star Trek Universe. Archer springs him from jail to bring him along on the Enterprise's first post-Xindi mission: to stop a group of Augments—genetically enhanced humans whose embryos Soong stole from a maximum-security biohazard storage facility twenty years ago and raised as his own children—before they trigger a war between Earth and the Klingon Empire. The trail of clues leads the Enterprise to the Borderlands between the Empire and the Orion Syndicate, where those green-skinned brutes have a slave auction. Part of this trail turns out to be a ruse to give Soong a chance to escape while Archer tries to recover nine crewmen (including T'Pol) who have been kidnapped and put up for sale. But while Soong doesn't quite make good his escape from the Orion slave market, his kids show up soon afterward to take him off the Enterprise by force and continue their rampage of chaos and naughtiness. The guest cast includes Alec Newman of the TV miniseries version of "Dune," professional wrestler Big Show, Dayo Ade of Degrassi Junior High, and J. G. Hertzler in the last of his umptillion Trek roles to-date.
Cold Station 12 features Adam Grimes of The O.C., Kaj-Erik Eriksen of The 4400, and three-time Trek guest Richard Riehle, appearing as Phlox's human pen-pal Dr. Lucas. Lucas directs medical research-station C-12, which keeps dangerous germs on ice—to say nothing of embroys left over from the Eugenics Wars. Arik Soong and his Augments therefore attack C-12, aiming to liberate the embryos (and in Malik's case, to turn some of the germs into weapons). The Enterprises, meanwhile, search the outpost where the Augments grew up, discovering the runt of the litter, nicknamed Smike after the handicapped character in Micholas Nickleby. While Soong begins to realize that his beloved Augments have grown up to be monsters, the hostage situation on C-12 turns deadly. When the "To Be Continued" card fades in, Archer has 4 minutes to stop a bio-weapon from killing everyone on the station.
The Augments picks up where the last episode left Archer, forced to make what may be the most insane escape from certain death in all of Star Trek. But the one who is really insane is Malik, and Soong is finally forced to turn on his genetically engineered children and help Archer destroy them. They have to act fast, because Malik (who repeatedly justifies batshit crazy ideas by saying, "It's the only way," though a moment's thought would show other options galore), believes the only way to ensure the Augments' survival is to wipe out millions of Klingon colonists and let the Enterprises take the fall. Rather than spoil all the other neat things that happen in this episode, I'll just point out a couple of things that bugged me. First, it seemed awfully convenient that there was an escape pod for Soong to escape in. Since when do Klingon battle cruisers carry escape pods? Since the plot required it, I guess! Second, the cute ending in which Arik Soong says that he no longer thinks humanity is perfectable, but that maybe in a few generations cybernetics can produce the same result... OK, that ties in TNG's Data and his creator Noonian Soong all right, but when does this middle-aged scientist facing life in prison get around to starting a family?
The Forge begins the three episode arc about the Vulcan Reformation. By now, fans of this series will have noticed that Vulcan society isn't yet what it would be by the time of TOS, when T'Pau is an elder stateswoman (see "Amok Time") and mind-melding has progressed from a closeted aberration to mainstream behavior. The spark that ignites the reformation, literally, is a bomb at the Earth Embassy on Vulcan, which kills Admiral Forest and some 40 others. The Vulcan High Command is keen to place the blame on a sect called the Syrranites who supposedly follow a radical interpretation of the teachings of Surak, the father of Vulcan logic. DNA evidence fingers a youthful T'Pau, a member of the movement. Though the Vulcans shoo the Enterprises off, intending to use the bombing to justify an internal purge, Archer and T'Pol beam down and hike into a brutal desert known, funnily enough, as The Forge—supposedly where the Syrranites hide and do their mumbo-jumbo. Joined by a Syrranite calling himself Arev, they take refuge from an electrical sandstorm, where Arev explains that the High Command have corrupted Surak's teachings and could lead Vulcan back to the dark ages. Mortally wounded, Arev does that Spock/McCoy "Remember" thing to Archer, and so evidently Archer now carries the katra of some Vulcan or other. Trip and Ambassador Soval, meanwhile, realize that the High Command itself is behind the bombing. Guest stars include Michael Nouri of Flashdance, The Hidden, and The O.C.; and Robert Foxworth, who previously played a high-ranking Starfleet Admiral in a DS9 two-parter, here as the head of Vulcan High Command.
Awakening reveals that the late Arev was actually Syrran, leader of the Syrranites, and that the katra he placed in Archer's head is that of Surak himself. Captured by the Syrranites, Archer and T'Pol figure out on their own that these people did not bomb the embassy; but the High Command's security forces are closing in, ready to take any excuse to wipe out the dangerous dissenters, who are only dangerous because they dissent. T'Pau tries and fails to extract Surak's katra from Archer, while the latter has visions in which Surak warns him that he must find something called the Kir'Shara in order to save Vulcan from collapsing back into its violent old ways. Bruce Gray, who previously played the same Starfleet Admiral in one episode each of DS9 and TNG, appears as Surak, while John Rubinstein, in his third Trek role, plays the Vulcan minister who who has reservations about Administrator V'Las's insane acts of aggression, which (besides attacking the Syrranites) includes opening fire on the Enterprise. The episode ends when Trip, having learned that V'Las also plans to attack Andoria, orders the ship to withdraw to that planet while T'Pol cradles her mother's dead body (long story), and we wonder how all this can be resolved in just one more episode.
Kir'Shara concludes the "Vulcan Reformation" arc with an action-oriented, plot-heavy flair. When Trip tries to warn the Andorians about the coming Vulcan invasion, a skeptical Shran captures and tortures ex-Ambassador Soval within an inch of his sanity. Meanwhile, Archer, T'Pol, and T'Pau are trying to get the original autograph copy of the Vulcan Bible back to the capital, while trying to elude capture by Administrator V'Las's extermination squads, before the strain of carrying Surak's katra turns Archer into a drooling idiot. Though at least one Vulcan minister thinks V'Las is out of control, nothing seems likely to stop the war between Andoria and Vulcan—or prevent Earth from getting caught up in it—until, right at the climax of the battle, with the help of T'Pol's estranged husband, Archer & T'Pau bring the Kir'Shara right into the council chamber and prove that Vulcan society is headed down the wrong path. V'Las is arrested, pending an investigation of his role in the bombing of the Earth embassy, and the Kir'Shara goes straight to Kindle. The episode ends with the creepy revelation that one of the Vulcans, played by Todd Stashwick of The Riches, is actually a Romulan agent who has been egging on the hawkish V'Las as part of a plan to reunify the Vulcan and Romulan races. Oh, those rascally Romulans!
Daedalus guest stars prolific character actor Bill Cobbs and Odyssey 5 star Leslie Silva as the inventor of the transporter and his daughter. Dr. Emory Erickson, wheelchair-bound due to injuries brought on by mishaps in transporter tests, visits the Enterprise ostensibly to test a "next-generation" transport technology in a starless region called the Barrens. But the real reason he is there is to try to save his son Quinn, who years earlier got trapped in subspace due to a glitch in a transporter test. Quinn's pattern is still out there, periodically manifesting itself on the decks of the ship, where it messes up everything it touches. This causes a crewman's death, messes up T'Pol's hand, and blows up a piece of technobabble, but because of the long friendship between his family and theirs, Archer allows the experiment to continue—even though Erickson has proved he can't be trusted. The engineer finally decides to pull his son out of subspace, even though he knows it will kill him, rather than leave him trapped forever. The scary Quinn manifestations and the atmospheric lighting (resulting from the ship's power being drained by Erickson's phony experiment) are all that keep this rather talky episode from falling flat.
Observer Effect starts out as a deliciously creepy, unconventional episode in which two non-corporeal aliens—later revealed to be the Organians of TOS's "Errand of Mercy"—possess members of the crew while observing what happens when the humans encounter a deadly virus. Evidently they have been using this phenomenon as a test to determine whether a given race is worthy of First Contact; so far, they haven't been impressed. The victims of the virus in this instance are Hoshi and Trip, who are given five hours to live while Phlox races to develop a cure and the aliens bicker over ethics versus protocol. In the end, the surprising human trait of compassion saves the day—that and a persuasive speech by a doomed-to-die Captain Archer. Though the episode never gives up being creepy, it becomes increasingly thought-provoking on the moral and scientific tension between unbiased observation and humanitarian intervention. And at the end, it proves deeply moving due to the humanity of the characters and top-level performances by the show's regular cast.
Babel One begins another three-episode arc, dramatizing the birth of the Coalition that would, in turn, become the embryo of the Federation. Things get off to a rough start, however. While the Enterprise is ferrying the rude, argumentative Tellarite delegation to the diplomatic planet Babel (cf. TOS's "Journey to Babel") for important trade negotiations with the Andorians, Shran's ship is blown out of the sky by what appears to be a Tellarite vessel. Then, after the Enterprise picks up the survivors, it is attacked by what looks like an Andorian warship. This has the Andorians and Tellarites at each other's throats, but Archer smells a rat. It turns out to be a Romulan rat, or rather, a ship bristling with holo-emitters which can make it look like any kind of ship you like, and technobabble weapons that can fake the weapon signature of ditto. With great difficulty, Archer manages to shout loudly enough to get the squabbling Tellarites and Andorians to listen to his theory that the Romulans, for some unknown reason, are trying to disrupt their trade talks. The Enterprises track down the Romulan ship and send over a crack team, but for some mysterious reason the ship has no life support systems and it rides like a bucking bronco. Soon this ship is chasing the Enterprise at maximum warp while, trapped on board with a dwindling supply of air, Trip and Malcolm discover that nobody is flying it. Or rather, as we learn in the final scene, it is being piloted by remote control from the capital city of Romulus (pictured above). Guest stars include Lee Arenberg, three of whose four previous Trek roles were Ferengi; J. Michael Flynn in his third Trek role; and the lantern-jawed Brian Thompson in his fifth. It also happens to be the last of ten Enterprise episodes directed by David Straiton, whose name always jumps out at me because I have an uncle by the same name. Ah, the little things!
United continues the "Babel One" arc with Trip and Malcolm still trapped on board the Romulan drone, which continues to disguise itself as other ships and attack targets calculated to destabilize the region, even while the pair tries to disable it. Meanwhile, Archer works hard to get the Andorians and Tellarites to pause in their deadly enmity long enough to organize a concerted hunt for the drone. In order to prevent a duel between the two parties that can only lead to war, Archer takes advantage of a quick study of the Andorian rules of combat to insert himself into the duel as the champion for the Tellarites. This puts him in the uncomfortable position of being in a duel to the death against his friend Shran, but luckily the body part he has to cut off in order to defeat Shran with honor is one that will grow back. (Guess.) And finally the Romulan "telepresence" device, which remotely controls the drone ship, is revealed to be powered by the telepathic abilities of an albino Andorian, also known as...
The Aenar. And so this trilogy of episodes ends with Star Trek's first visit to the Andorian homeworld, where the cities are underground; where people live for years without seeing the sun; and where surface temperatures above freezing are known only in the tropical regions, and during particularly warm summers. The Aenar, a small and dwindling subspecies so good at keeping to themselves that they were long thought to be a myth, live in the harsh polar regions and survive the cold by dint of geothermal energy, with no sight in their eyes and only their telepathic powers to guide their steps. Although the Aenar abhor violence, one relatively pretty Aenar girl agrees to go back with the Enterprises to help them use a makeshift telepresence machine to disrupt the Romulans' control over their drone. The girl's brother, you see, is the poor dupe the Romulans have plugged into their telepresence gizmo, which you would have to see to appreciate what a horror it is. Both siblings stand in good chance of having their brains fried by the effort of wrestling for control of the drone, while Trip and Malcolm look for a way to outwit the ship's auto-repair systems and the Romulans' efforts to rub them out. Soon enough the Romulans have two drone-ships gunning for the convoy, but by working together the good guys prevail, allowing the negotiations between the four founding races of what will eventually be the Federation to go on. It would be wins all around, if a depressed Trip—smarting from his breakup with T'Pol—didn't end the episode by asking for a transfer. This episode was the last of 31 episodes in all four Trek spinoffs to be directed by Mike Vejar.
Affliction begins another two-episode arc in which the greatest mystery known to continuity-obsessed Trekkies is finally, canonically resolved: namely, why the Klingons in TOS had smooth foreheads, whereas all Klingons from the feature films forward have had bumpy ones. The answer surprisingly proves to be related to the Eugenics Wars (which are already behind schedule in Earth history) and the "Augments" arc earlier this season. You see, Klingon scientists(!) have somehow gotten hold of the genetically enhanced embryos that Malik & Co. stole from Cold Station 12, and have tinkered with the idea of combining these superhuman genes with Klingon DNA. So far, however, their tinkering has only triggered a plague which, by the time the Klingons kidnap Phlox and force him to search for a cure, is on the verge of wiping out an entire colony. At first all the plague does is to give Klingons a human appearance (by dissolving their cranial ridges) and to enhance their mental and physical abilities. But it also makes them more aggressive (if that's possible) and, eventually, drives them insane before at last proving fatal. The clock is ticking in more ways than one; for, if Phlox doesn't find a cure by the time the Klingon fleet arrives, the whole colony will be wiped out to protect the rest of the bumpy-pated master race. T'Pol and Archer, meanwhile, put on their deerstalker caps and try everything to find their missing doctor, including the first mind-meld T'Pol has ever initiated—guided by Archer's lingering memory of bearing the katra of Surak, in case the episode hasn't yet achieved its preposterousness quota. Trip struggles to feel at home on his new ship, while Malcolm, to ensure there are enough subplots to stretch the story into two episodes, is now reluctantly taking orders from his old masters—who, in case you can't guess who they are, base their right to exist on Section 31 of the Starfleet Charter. The episode ends with Malcolm in the brig and the Enterprise, sabotaged by Klingons, racing out of control. Guest stars include Eric Pierpoint, late of Alien Nation, in his fifth Trek role, as the recurring Section 31 agent who controls Malcolm (when the lad isn't in control of himself, that is); Philip Banks of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and five-time Trek guest John Schuck, both as Klingons; Marc Worden, who had played Worf's son Alexander on DS9, as the Klingon whose forehead dissolves in the teaser; four-time Trek guest Brad Greenquist as one of Phlox's abductors; and Derek Magyar in his first of four appearances as engineer Kelby, who was supposed to get Trip's job when the latter transferred off the ship.
Divergence continues the two-parter concerning the Klingon-Augment virus. Trip transfers back to the Enterprise (at least, on temporary loan) via a hair-raising maneuver involving two starships flying at maximum warp with a grappling line running between their shuttle bays. That scene alone is worth the price of admission. With a Klingon fleet (whose Admiral is played by three-time Trek guest Wayne Grace) closing in on the colony threatened with quarantine by fire, Phlox is running out of time to cure the plague. Part of the risk he runs is that his captors want him to perfect the Augment genome, not cure it. Besides a good deal of tactical maneuvering, and the revelation that Section 31 is working with the Klingons in this case, the big event in this episode is when Phlox uses Archer as an incubator for a vaccine to stop the virus (side effects pictured), then beams a canister of the virus on board the Klingon Admiral's ship to ensure that it's in the Empire's interest to wait for a cure before deciding the fate of the afflicted colony.
Bound is the one in which an Orion privateer dupes Archer into accepting the gift of three green-skinned slave girls. In the end the secret of Orion society is revealed: it isn't the women, but the men, who are slaves. Using a potent combination of pheromones, manipulative tactics, and nubile, scantily-clad flesh, the green girls soon have every male on the ship wrapped around their little fingers—strangely, excepting Trip. T'Pol theorizes that his immunity is a result of their having boinked, which apparently formed some kind of psychic link between them. But with the rest of the crew against them, except the women who have headaches and Phlox who can barely stay awake (also a result of Orion pheromones), the two of them have a fight on their hands if they're going to prevent Harrad-Sar from towing the disabled Enterprise to a rendezvous with the Highest Bidder. And remember, Archer is wanted by both the Orion Syndicate and the Klingon Empire. William Lucking, who played Bajoran rebel Furel in three episodes of DS9, guest stars as Harrad-Sar. Playing the ringleader of the Orion babes is Cyia Batten, whose previous two Trek roles included two appearances as Tora Ziyal on DS9 (a role she shared with two other actresses).
In a Mirror, Darkly, Parts I & II is a most unusual Trek episode, even for one set in the Mirror Universe. As such it is a sort of prequel to TOS's "Mirror, Mirror" and the whole string of Mirror-Universe episodes on DS9; but unlike them, this episode is conceived entirely from the point of view of the Bizarro counterparts of the Enterprises we know. None of the characters from "our" universe cross over, taking the alternate-reality conceit even to the point of changing the main title sequence and theme music to something more appropriate to the fascist militarism of a universe in which Zefram Cochrane, rather than shaking hands with man's first-contact Vulcan visitor, shoots him and commandeers his ship. To be sure, some of the Bizarro characters learn that there is a parallel universe where, instead of a Terran Empire, there is (or will be) a United Federation of Planets. They learn this from the records of the U.S.S. Defiant, last seen disappearing into an space-time rift in TOS's "The Tholian Web," a hundred years in the future and in the universe where Star Trek mainly takes place. Eventually this information is suppressed as a dangerous heresy, though the Bizarro-Enterprises happily take possession of the Defiant and use its superior technology, first, to crush a rebellion by such subjugated races as the Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites, and then to overthrow the Emperor and usurp his throne. Being pragmatical dogs with no loyalty except to their own personal ambition, naturally, the Enterprises (subsequently Defiants) disagree among themselves as to who the next Emperor or Empress should be. And by disagree, I mean shoot, stab, torture, and poison each other in a paroxysm of sex and violence. Worth noting: The four episodes from "Bound" through "Demons" contain between them more clothing-optional, sweaty bedroom scenes than the rest of the Trek canon put together, and this two-parter is especially thick with them. So sexual manipulation and treachery are evidently a main ingredient in the Mirror Universe Recipe for Success. We see, for example, Hoshi sucking face with a Captain version of the late Admiral Forester, a megalomaniacal Archer, and a particularly study-looking Travis (for crew wardrobes in the TOS era are far more figure-flattering than those proper to this series). The cat-fight between Hoshi and T'Pol is a scene many fans may want to rewind and watch again in slow motion. Besides this eye candy, these two episodes also afford fans an updated-for-21st-century-special-effects look at the Tholians (crystalline creatures who cannot survive at temperatures much lower than the surface of the sun) and the reptilian Gorn (who, had the Defiants thought about it, could probably also be neutralized by lowering the temperature in his section of the ship). It's a tremendously cool two-parter in which the main cast appears gleefully out of character, while suggesting that our version of the human race may be closer to that of Bizarro Trek than the real thing. Part II features Gregory Itzin in the last of his five Trek roles.
Demons was filmed after the decision was made to cancel the series. If it hadn't been, this episode might well have been the one to kill Star Trek. For it is one of the outings that reads like a spec script sent in by a fan who has no real understanding of what makes Trek Trek. The Enterprises are back on Earth, getting no publicity for the role they played in making possible the negotiations that will soon lead to an alliance with several alien races, but hanging around anyway. So they happen to be on the spot when a nurse drops dead after thrusting a lock of hair into T'Pol's hands. The hair belongs to a child who, according to Phlox's genetic analysis, is the offspring of Trip and T'Pol. The couple is surprised to learn that they are parents, but their happiness is dampened by the fact that their baby girl is in the clutches of a xenophobic cult that plans to stage a demonstration against the peace talks, on a scale that no one in the solar system can ignore. RoboCop star Peter Weller, playing Paxton, the leader of this fringe group, brings a certain physical woodenness to his otherwise convincing performance—sometimes when he is speaking you find yourself looking around to see where the voice is coming from, because his lips aren't moving—but that isn't the problem. The problem is Harry Groener, who was effective enough in his previous two Trek roles, but here playing the government minister in charge of the diplomatic talks has a tendency to suck all the Star Trekness out of every scene that he is in. Perfectly suited for the role, he projects such a bureaucratic blandness, even down to his wardrobe and the way his voice seems to elude the sound engineer's best efforts to invest it with a particle of charisma, that his scenes have the incongruity of a Chicago alderman talking about present-day zoning laws with the Captain of the Enterprise. Then there's the whole subplot in which Travis hops into bed with an old flame, whom he mistakes for a journalist on assignment to cover the talks, when she is actually a Terra Prime spy looking for a monkey-wrench to throw into the works. Maybe it's just the fact that Travis is such a bore, but any scene finding him in bed with a non-regular starlet comes across as a fragment of slash fanfic that got filmed by mistake. Guest stars include game-show maven Tom Bergeron, in his second Enterprise role, as the Coridan ambassador; four-time Trek guest Steve Rankin in a hard-to-see, historical-archive video of the genocidal Colonel Green (cf. TOS's "The Savage Curtain"); prolific character actor Patrick Fischler, late of Lost, as an ill-fated doctor; and Peter Mensah, late of cable TV's Spartacus, as Paxton's main stooge.
These Are the Voyages...
For more on spaceship-based TV series, see my reviews of Star Trek: TOS seasons one, two, and three; of TNG seasons one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven; of DS9 seasons one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven; of Voyager seasons one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven; and of Enterprise seasons one, two, and three. See also my review of Farscape seasons one, two, three, and four; of Firefly; and of Babylon 5 seasons one, two, three, four, and five.