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Star Trek Enterprise episode review – E2

Synopsis: ENTERPRISE does VOYAGER and encounters its future in the form of reruns of previous STAR TREK episodes hashed together.

star trek enterprise E2Review: DS9’s “Children of Time” was hardly all that great of an episode, so it’s unclear as to why ENTERPRISE felt the need to remake it again. Or why after already doing one episode that showed Enterprise’s dark future if the Xindi mission failed, they chose to do another one. Or why they chose to interrupt the concluding arc of the season that had just begun gathering steam with an episode that distracts by rehashing a bunch of old episodes. But such are the mysteries that earn one a position on the writing staff of a television series.

It’s not that “E2” is a particularly bad episode. In fact, Mike Sussman has generally done good work and so has Roxann Dawson. But as the saying goes, there’s only so many times you can go to the well. The STAR TREK franchise has managed to drain the life out of such strengths as the Klingons and the Borg, and ENTERPRISE is well on its way to doing to time travel VOYAGER to the Borg. “E2” is not a bad episode but we’ve seen better versions of it plenty of times before. Take “Children of Time,” hash it together with some bits and pieces of “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” “Deadlock” and “Equinox” and you pretty much have this episode.

Worst of all, “E2” really doesn’t manage to do anything significant with the material. None of the future descendants are particularly interesting and aside from the great mess hall scene with Hoshi, Mayweather and Reed, the encounter with a future version Enterprise seems redirected into yet another round of Trip -n- T’Pol. And that is what really manages to reduce “E2” to a pile of barely digestible mush. Much as ENTERPRISE Season 3 took the destruction of Earth and the death of Trip’s sister and turned it into an excuse for erotic massages, “E2” takes the encounter with a future Enterprise and turns it into yet another round of gracelessly shoving Trip and T’Pol together. But of course even this silliness isn’t original because “Children of Time,” the DS9 episode this episode is cribbed from, featured a futuristic version of Odo revealing his love to Kira.

But it isn’t the turpid scenes between T’Pol and Trip themselves that destroy the episode but the outcome of twisting the episode to accomodate them by the creation of Lorian. Despite being derivative, however, “E2” had some possibilities. Imagine an encounter with a more wolfish and desperate Archer a decade or two down the road. Or even the same aged T’Pol we see in this episode in command and becoming more unstable as she desperately tries to achieve her goal by any means necesarry. It wouldn’t be the greatest STAR TREK episode of all time but it could have been compelling. It would have been about the crew and the choices they’ve made and what they can become if they continue down this path. It would have tied neatly into the previous episodes.

But instead as an articulation of Trip and T’Pol’s Love That Dare Not Speak Its Ratings, we get Lorian the first Redneck Vulcan on STAR TREK. He might have been entertaining if played for laughs, maybe meditating under a Confederate flag to a piece from a Harley’s motor. But instead David Andrews portrays him with all the intensity of a coma patient being pumped full of extra sediatives. Meanwhile, the child of Trip and T’Pol combines Trip’s boneheaded stupidity with T’Pol’s emotionlessness to produce a truly boring idiot. Aside from his emoting scene in the brig, Lorian isn’t just boring, he taps into a whole dimension of tediousness we never thought previously possible. God knows when you’re looking forward to Mayweather saying a line, something is seriously wrong.

Not only does “E2” waste enormous amounts of time on a character who does not seem to survive this episode but it wastes more time drawing out this round of the ‘Will They Or Won’t They Game’ for T’Pol and Trip, a game best reserved for the viewership of teenage girls, and ultimately is not about the choices Archer makes so much as the moral struggle of a boring character who is not a member of the crew and whom we will never see again. While it was a nice touch of irony to see the Enterprise crew end up on the other side of the treatment they handed out in “Damage” and for the same reason, “E2” manages to flub even this scene by centering the confrontation on Trip rather than Archer (you know, Archer, the guy who struggled with that tough decision to steal a warp coil from innocent people to save Earth only to find himself in the same predicament from the other side.)

There are worthwhile moments in the episode, however. Reed’s worries about remaining a bachelor, the two beaten ships docked together, the revelation of who Phlox married, Archer’s disappointed expression when he realizes that it’s Degra’s ship and not the other Enterprise and Degra becoming even more desperate and determined as Randy Oglesby continues stealing every scene he’s in. Jolene Blalock turns in another surprisingly good performance as the aged T’Pol, which perhaps might remind the producers that they might consider more possibilities involving her than getting her on drugs or taking her clothes off. But when all is said and done this episode simply does not work.

It is a poorly hashed together mix of older episodes that fits poorly into the arc, has the wrong focus and is a letdown in every way. Even the production values seem poor with the corridor effects looking cheap and terrible and T’Pol’s caked makeup making her look more like a swamp monster than an old woman. Makeup this bad was understandable on TOS when Kirk, Spock and McCoy underwent dramatic aging. But it’s completely unacceptable in 2004. But then T’Pol’s makeup, like this episode, shows the age of a creaking franchise in its last throes. With two episodes this season showing a dead and doomed ancient Enterprise fighting a hopeless battle, one almost wonders if the writers are prophecying the eponymous show for which they work.

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