Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Enterprise 4x1/4x2 "Storm Front"


The fourth season of Enterprise is generally regarded to be its finest, the year that finally started to tackle all the continuity points fans expected from the series.

Of course, before all that, the show's own continuity had to be acknowledged one last time.  Since the first episode, something called the Temporal Cold War had been a recurring element of the plot, a way to visit the far future while sticking to the past.  At this point in franchise lore, you must remember, each new series had always moved forward.  Enterprise was the first look back, as it attempted to illustrate how Starfleet and the Federation helped create a landscape that seemed fully formed from the moment the original series debuted in 1966 (this, of course, is hogwash: "Starfleet" as a term didn't spring up for years).

The creators of Enterprise thought they were having their cake and eating it, too, but fans were already discontent, had been discontent probably since 1994, when Kirk was killed off falling from a bridge.  They felt betrayed by Star Trek, and so started betraying Star Trek in droves, fragmenting the fanbase until it finally collapsed on itself.  In 2009, the reboot finally came, and by starting fresh, the franchise found its greatest success to date.

That goes to show that the fans who were convinced they knew how everything should be done maybe weren't as right as they thought they were.  They thought the Temporal Cold War was an unnecessary complication to Enterprise, and so "Storm Front" concludes the arc, sending Archer and crew to WWII, because for some reason Star Trek has always loved bringing back the Nazis.

On a purely intellectual basis, "Storm Front" is a worthy culmination of the arc.  Since it was long implied that the whole basis of the Temporal Cold War was the absurd logistics of carrying out a conflict across time, it makes sense that it ends with a questionable amount of satisfaction.  Both Silik and Daniels, key players from the start, appear, but their participation is a far cry from appearances like "Cold Front," the best episode of the arc.  Future Guy, the shadowy instigator of the whole affair, does not make an appearance, unless you subscribe to my theory that he's the alien Nazi Archer defeats.

And that's it.  Archer even states for the record that he never wants to see Daniels again, and wants no further part of the Temporal Cold War.  Message received.  In some alternate version of the series, which would have lasted the traditional seven seasons, you know the arc would have been heavily featured in the finale.

It's a fine adventure, but it's a clear blow-off, skirting the thing it's featuring, and while it's possible to interpret "Storm Front" as more significant than it appears to be, you have to massage the material.  In one way, it's essential to the series, but given its placement and treatment, you can also pretend, as the show itself wants to at this point, that it never happened.  In that sense, how you feel about "Storm Front" remains entirely your decision.

franchise series * essential * character

Notable guest-stars:
John Fleck
J. Paul Boehmer
Tom Wright
Matt Winston

Memory Alpha summary, Part 2.

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