the story: Archer is confronted by rival agents in the Temporal Cold War.
what it's all about: The Temporal Cold War proved to be controversial among fans. They thought it was poor compensation for having a prequel series that looked backward instead of ahead. And yet it was an obvious extension of the increasingly sophisticated view of time travel in the franchise, building on the Department of Temporal Investigations (Deep Space Nine's "Trials and Tribble-ations") and a future Starfleet that actually policed time travel (Voyager's Captain Braxton, as seen in "Future's End" and "Relativity"). In "Cold Front" we meet Daniels, who comes later still than Braxton, and becomes the second most important figure we meet in the arc, other than Silik, who debuted in the pilot, and the forever-mysterious "Future Guy," Silik's shadowy boss.
"Cold Front," I always thought, was actually the best Temporal Cold War episode. Rather than attempt a major event, it merely plays up the "cold war" aspect, in which agents are constantly working against each other, as happened between operatives of the United States and Soviet Union. It's a spy story, essentially. It casts the arc back to the origins of the franchise, when the real world cold war was running hottest, and adversarial aliens like the Klingons and Romulans earned their enduring place in Star Trek lore, having been cast in the roles of the Chinese and Russians, the two biggest communist threats.
Which means Daniels and Silik are actually the best reasons to enjoy the episode, not only for their own sake, but how they play off Archer. And actually, this is the best Archer showcase of the series to this point, and as with his earlier foreshadowing in "The Andorian Incident," proves that his real importance will be his ability to pivot humans between opposing forces, as would develop in the fourth season, the birth of the Federation.
- franchise - A powerful argument in favor of the Temporal Cold War as an extension of classic Star Trek storytelling.
- series - An explanation for the stakes of a signature Enterprise arc.
- character - The introduction of Daniels, a key player in the arc.
- essential - It not only sells the concept, but it helps contextualize it, once you realize what it's really about.
Matt Winston (Daniels)
John Fleck (Silik)