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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Enterprise Season Four - Series Finale

(Season Four episode list here)

(If you haven't read the update to the previous review, check it out.)

This episode is a clever merger with the TNG episode "The Pegasus." The USS Pegasus is an Oberth-class vessel (the same class as the USS Grissom in Star Trek: The Search for Spock), lost near Romulan space 12 years ago. This was Ryker's first Star Fleet assignment, and Admiral Pressman, the ship's former commander, orders Picard to search for the ship. What Picard doesn't know is that the ship was conducting a cloaking experiment in violation of treaty with the Romulans.

Ryker is under orders to keep this secret, and he agonizes over whether to tell Picard. The Enterprise finale bounces between the Enterprise-D and a holodeck recreation of the NX-01's final voyage, which Troi recommends to Ryker as a source of inspiration for how to deal with the dilemma.

Six years after the previous episode, The NX-01 is scheduled for decommission after delivering Archer to the signing of the Federation Charter. But on the way he is intercepted by Shran, thought to have died some time in the six-year gap. Shran wants Archer's assistance. His daughter has been kidnapped by former buisiness associates who want some sort of valuable crystals in return.

Archer arranges an exchange with the kidnappers. He counterfeits the crystals - they're actually an explosive, set off by remote control when Shran's daughter is safe. A firefight ensues, Archer rescues Tucker from what would have been a lethal fall, and Archer and company get away. The bad guys can do only Warp 4, so all is well.

But somehow they manage to catch up with Enterprise. They board, and in a hallway they hold the captain at phaserpoint while demanding that Tucker give them Shran. Tucker tricks them down an access corridor and does something with the wiring to cause an explosion. Archer finds him alive in the smoldering corridor, but Tucker dies in sickbay. Evidently this is what Troi wanted Ryker to see: a vivid example of the proverb "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one." In this case, the "many" are the Andorians, Tellarites, Vulcans, and whatever other aliens who wouldn't be allying with each other were it not for Archer's leadership.

Archer arrives at the conference and prepares to deliver his big speech. The speech itself is left to the viewer's imagination. The show ends with Enterprise-D flying off as Picard's voice says, "Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise." Then we see the TOS Enterpise and hear Kirk's voice: "To explore stange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilization." Then the NX-01 comes on screen as Archer picks it up: "To boldly go where no man has gone before!"

It was an okay episode, but not worthy of a season finale. One hughe problem is too much Ryker. It's the end of the series - it should be the main cast's day to shine. Another is that six years have gone by and we're given no glimpse into how lives have changed for the crew. Trek Nation says this:

There's a kind of painful irony watching Archer and his crew stick their necks out for Shran and his daughter when it seems none of them have managed to have children of their own - at least not children who survived. It's as if they've been stagnating personally and professionally as time passed while Shran, who has apparently made some very stupid decisions, also built a life for himself that matters deeply to him. What matters deeply to, say, Mayweather? A week ago we heard him profess to Brooks that maybe he was ready to leave space and settle we find out that he's sat at those same controls for six years, changing very little. If this is the best for the characters that the writers could come up with for the final episode, I'm rather grateful they didn't write all the intervening boredom in which nobody grew or changed or left the ship or nearly died or was wounded enough to force a career change or simply asked to be transferred from engineering to communications just to do something new.

The six-year gap gives the Roddenberrians the option of cranking out a few movies. Whether they will exercise the option is another story.

Update: Best line from the episode: when Shran's daughter innocently says to Archer "Thanks, pinkskin." Archer's non-reaction shows that he sees the glass as half full; the little girl knows only the word and not the condescending attitude that normally accompanies it. Some day the epithet will disappear - or become the name of the first NFL franchise on Andoria.

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