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Star Trek Enterprise episode review – The Forgotten

Synopsis: Archer attempts to forge an alliance with Degra while Trip and T’Pol try to hold themselves together.

Review: It’s nice to see at the beginning of “Forgotten” that all the damage Enterprise took is still present and the ship is in bad shape rather than being fully repaired, as has happened all too often on previous shows. In that, ENTERPRISE seems to be giving us what some expected VOYAGER to deliver with “Year of Hell” but didn’t. From inside to outside Enterprise is still battered, still limping along, and not magically resurrected with a few lines of technobabble.

star trek enterprise the forgottenIn some ways, she’s worse off as the crew is reaching its limits. Archer is more wolfish and desperate than ever; Trip is stumbling around without sleep for two days and T’Pol is dealing with uncontrollable emotions and brain damage. Degra, meanwhile, is coping with the consequences of the decisions he has to make and Randy Oglesby delivers another strong performance as Degra is torn between the demands of his duty, the consequences of his crime, and Archer’s alternative. When he responds to Archer’s hail after his destruction of the Reptillian ship, it is with the resigned face of a man who knows that no decision he makes will be the right one anymore.

Once again Chris Black delivers snappy and witty dialogue from Trip’s encounter with Taylor to Phlox sending him off to bed. His confrontation with Degra even manages to give Trip and T’Pol a believable scene together minus the cheap and sleazy innuendo. LeVar Burton again does a solid and smooth job directing the episode. Trip’s grieving storyline is effectively handled and very well done but should have been part of an overall grieving process going on throughout the season. Instead TPTB chose to redirect that storyline into Trip receiving erotic massages from T’Pol, which was a rather unfortunate and slimy mistake to say the least. ENTERPRISE had the chance to do an arc and instead has done a single episode while devoting far more time to the far less interesting story of T’Pol having a breakdown.

Degra and the Xindi-Arboreal finally bring up the issue of demanding actual proof from Archer and are actually skeptical about the proofs Archer provides. This is nice but of course it’s hard to buy that they’d have freed Archer and left Enterprise unmolested, if they never considered his proofs credible to begin with. Ultimately Archer doesn’t manage to provide them with a whole lot anyway. But at least “Forgotten” makes a serious effort to address this issue while previous episodes expected us to swallow the absurdity of Degra and other Xindi council members having a complete change of heart based on some wonky temporal readings on a piece of metal. It was also a good decision to have Degra regain his memory, since a credible alliance has to be built on honesty, though it’s not clear when or how this happened.

The warp plasma leak scene is a credible crisis that gives Trip and Reed a chance to bond again. Reed has been badly shortchanged this season and Trip and Reed worked great together in the past. But this season some of that relationship has been sadly allowed to fall by the wayside. It’s nice to see Reed once again prepared to suffer near suicidal abuse for the team with the old stiff upper lip. Hoshi and Mayweather are again pretty much out of a sight but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Phlox is well within his element and his scene with Trip is comedy gold and another demonstration of how underused Phlox is for anything but tedious exposition scenes.

Next week: More future shock.

Star Trek Enterprise episode review – Azati Prime

Synopsis: Archer attempts a lone attack on Azati Prime, which leaves him captured in enemy hands.

star trek enterprise azati primeReview: “Azati Prime” in many ways resembles the episode that closed out the second season, “The Expanse.” “Prime” is chock full of plot developments and important things happening. So many and so much, in fact, that the episode seems unbalanced like an old woman carrying a heavy load on her back. Enterprise reaches Azati Prime, Archer goes to the future to discover the truth about everything that’s been going on, Archer goes off on a suicide mission, Archer is captured and tortured, T’Pol struggles with command of the Enterprise, Archer convinces Xindi council members they were wrong about attacking Earth (the latter in under 15 minutes), and the Xindi vessels nearly destroy Enterprise. This isn’t material for one episode, this is material for at least 2 or 3 episodes, which is ironic, considering that episodes like “Doctor’s Orders” and “Hatchery” were essentially filler, marking time until this week. Even so, “Hatchery” was a more coherent and better structured episode.

The deeper problem is that despite the competence and decisiveness and intelligence Archer and his crew have begun showing in recent Xindi episodes like “Stratagem” and “Proving Ground,” it goes completely out the window in this key episode. Archer suddenly decides to go off on a suicide mission even though he is not only the officer most needed on Enterprise but is actually far less qualified for the operation than Mayweather, who actually piloted the shuttle in. His whole course of action is irrational and endangers the mission but despite the crew being prepared to mutiny last week when Archer compromised the mission, this week the crew do no more than express muted sadness. Archer argues that he’s doing it because he doesn’t want to order anyone to their deaths, but that’s nonsense. The Xindi killed 7 million humans; Enterprise would have plenty of volunteers ready to carry out the attack, just as essentially suicide missions like the Doolittle Raid after Pearl Harbor had plenty of volunteers.

T’Pol then follows up on the situation and does nothing and eventually Enterprise is torn apart by a Xindi attack. Archer tries to get the Xindi star trek enterprise azati primeReptilian to kill him once he’s captured and being tortured which is pretty silly since the time for suicide was when Archer was on his powered-down ship with a lot of explosives on board and vital security information in his head. And despite simulations like the ones we saw Major Hayes running last week, Enterprise’s response to the Xindi is mostly to sit there and take it. Unsurprisingly this doesn’t work out too well. And while the image of Enterprise crewmembers being sucked out into space is shocking, it evinces more disgust than grief because of T’Pol’s incompetence and indecisiveness and Archer’s abandonment and desertion that led up to the moment.

Azati Prime has its stirring moments, like Archer’s farewell speech to his crew and turning over Porthos to Dr. Phlox. It has some great visual effects like the shuttle splashing down into the water and Enterprise being ripped apart. Allan Kroeker‘s direction is solidly dramatic through. The concept of Daniels bringing Archer to stand on the bridge of a future Enterprise at the scene of a battle with the Sphere Builders is pretty neat, too. Continuity tie-ins with previous episodes ranging from “Twilight” to “Hatchery” to “Strategem” to “Harbinger” to “Carpenter Street” are all well and good, but “Azati Prime” remains an episode burdened with too much material and too little intelligence. Ultimately, the core developments of the episode are driven by Archer and T’Pol, the ship’s top two officers, doing stupid things. And it’s hard to find stupidity gripping or moving.

“Azati Prime” would have worked much better by splitting up its material over more episodes, especially since far too few of Enterprise’s episodes this season have been truly arc episodes. Ending the episode with Archer’s capture would have also made for a much stronger ending than dragging it on while Archer rather unbelievably convinces Degra and other council members with no real evidence that he’s been to the future and that their real enemy is a race from another dimension. The plausible response by the Xindi wouldn’t have been anger or belief but laughter. Randy Oglesby again does a great job with the material but his change of heart based on Archer’s absurd claims, rather than based on his moral qualms, is completely ridiculous. “Azati Prime” would have done better by having Archer appeal to Degra’s sense of morality and the children who would die if the weapon was launched then by telling Degra he’s been to the future.

Having T’Pol and the crew formulate a realistic plan of attack that incorporated what they learned about Xindi insectoid vessels and having Enterprise fight believably for its life would have also made the devastation far more powerful and gripping. Also, you have to wonder why Enterprise didn’t bother keeping an eye on the outpost. Didn’t they consider the possibility the Xindi might check on them? But basic intelligence seems to have been checked at the door this time out, right along with common sense. “Azati Prime” has some good material but sadly it’s poorly deployed and jumbled together in an episode with too much whiz-bang and too little of the horse sense and strategy of recent scripts. No amount of special effects or plot developments can compensate for watching characters use their minds and do their best to cope with a problem instead of retreating into stupidity or apathy.

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