Earth is attacked by an unknown Alien race. Earth’s best Starship ‘Enterprise’ is sent on a mission to find who did it and stop a second attack from destroying their entire planet.
We’ve seen this before. ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ and also ‘Crusade’. Having watched all 3 sci-fi shows doing the same kind of storyline it’s interesting to compare each. While ‘Crusade’ never got the chance to complete it’s storyline before being cancelled it did show a ship called “Excalibur” with a giant beam canon like the Yamato on a mission to find a cure to a virus that would kill everyone on Earth in five years. The Yamato had a year to save Earth too from Asteroids and Radiation. Both Enterprise and Yamato faced similar difficulties towards the end of their missions with each ship getting the snot beat out of them.
Season 3 starts off with a rather crappy episode demonstrating the weirdness of the Expanse as a Bermuda triangle type of place. Scott Bakula hams it up by making Archer a complete dick who walks around impatient and angry which seems too sudden and early a transformation. The Macos are, well, a bunch of background actors who display some stunts and military action which looks awfully staged which I find became a problem with later Star Trek series such as Voyager and Enterprise. A fight no longer looks like a fight but a demonstration.
This is the season where the Nick Name ‘Airlock Archer’ cropped up when the once good natured Captain Archer almost kills someone to get information. Again I feel it’s the character going over the top and changing too quickly. We’ve seen Captain Painway do something like this in Voyager which I equally didn’t like. It might be because the writers only know how to write one type of character “angry male”. Janeway is a bit of a lost argument, when female producer Jeri Taylor left Voyager so did the female aspect of Janeway.
In a later episode of Season 3 ‘Choosen Realm’ which is about Suicide bombers taking over the Enterprise, the leader of the group calls Archer out on him almost Airlocking someone. Archer replies that the man wasn’t hurt. Wasn’t Hurt? He almost suffocated a man. Is water boarding ok also because it “doesn’t hurt”? How about the psychological damage done?
There’s a line in the Vulcan Zombie episode ‘Impulse’ that I really like and it’s said by Archer. “”I can’t try to save Humanity without holding on to what makes me Human.”. It’s a nice line and I think one that Star Trek in general tries to uphold, however in Season 3 it’s just words. I don’t believe Archer’s actions match his beliefs anymore. Either he is lying to others or to himself. I’m not arguing that he isn’t in the most difficult position in the world but I feel in a way the Morals of Star Trek lost this time.
T’pol reminds Archer of what he said in the episode ‘Damage’, an episode where I feel Star Trek had the biggest failing in morals. Archer attacks a non hostile vessel to steal Warp Coils. It’s a great episode actually but it didn’t sit with me well.
In May 2004 Scott Bakula did a live online chat with fans on Startrek.com and by luck my question to him on this very issue got through.
What did you think of Archer’s actions in “Damage”? Do you think the ends justify the means? What would you have done in his situation?
SB: I think that it was a challenging, complicated episode and I think any episode of television that can stir a response that’s emotional and controversial is good television. I can’t answer really what I would have done if it were me, because I don’t think you can answer those questions hypothetically. You have to be in the moment and living with that reality and only then are you able to look into your own heart and make those kinds of choices. But I don’t think Archer had any choice.
I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s one of those situations where you can’t really say what you will do until you are face to face with the reality of it. It is a bit of a Kobayashi Maru. If he didn’t attack that ship there was a strong possibility Earth would be destroyed.
While I have problems with the episode in regards to Star Trek’s philosophy overall I still like that it raised a very good and debatable question and it’s probably one of my favorite episodes of the series.
The last 7 episodes of the Season 3 Arc are of movie like quality in terms of story, acting and special effects. It’s a roller coaster ride to the end and I liked how it all finally came together. I liked seeing the relationship between Archer and Degra grow to one of mutual respect. I liked that the Xindi council was no longer a cliche. I liked that the Spheres added a deeper mystery to the overall story and that they tied the Sphere Builders into the Temporal Cold War. It might have all come a bit too late though.
What I didn’t like was T’pol becoming a crack whore. Taking drugs and sleeping with Trip to explore sexuality. I remember reading once that J. Michael Straczynski
was asked to include a character of a similar nature in his short lived series ‘Crusade’ but he refused to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the audience. I think that’s where many Star Trek fans feel pissed off with this series, it had more obvious low brow scenes to attract a younger male audience by showing women in a degrading light.
The most useless changes to season 3 was renaming the series ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ and give the opening theme tune a faster tempo making it sound like a corny karaoke song. Minor details like this would not attract more fans.
As for the time travel well nothing seems to get resolved this season either. Scott Bakula had mentioned that he had heard that they might deal with this after season 3 but that never happened. The Sphere Builders seem to exist outside of time and are able to monitor different timelines which seems to mean the alterations of one timeline. The Sphere’s themselves might be something that exist outside of time, a bit like Gallifrey. The Xindi have said the Spheres were around for thousands of years but it that were the case why are they so slow to transform the expanse. It seems they have been there a long time and also not there so long. Daniels the useless time traveller tells Archer that effects of the Xindi attack haven’t yet reached his time in the 31st century. Usually changes in the timeline are instant. Take ‘Shockwave’ for example.
Ignoring these nitpicks Season 3 aint so bad. Having a long season Arc on Star Trek was never done before. They had previously wanted to do a Year of Hell Arc on Voyager but the network put the kibosh on that. But when Enterprise was on the air shows like ‘24′ were extremely popular so a lot of season 3 has that format. This was Enterprise’s year of Hell. While I dislike having the new kewl alien race Xindi the overall Arc has a large scale story that is rare to see in this franchise. It makes each episode necessary to see.
Favorite Quote: “It’s not that i’m afraid of dying. I just can’t imagine not being here tomorrow.” – Sim