Just forget the words and sing along

Friday, May 13, 2005


I just finished watching the final episode of Enterprise, entitled These Are The Voyages.... Where to begin, where to begin. How about at the beginning?

It opens on the bridge of the NX-01. We overhear the crew chatter. Enterprise has been in space for 10 years. They're heading home to sign the charter of the United Federation of Planets, and then turn in the NX-01 for decomissioning. Capt. Archer is obsessing over his speech. Seems that he's a founding father. As he discusses the pronunciation of several alien names with the crew, we hear a familiar voice. "Computer. Freeze program!" Everything freezes. The camera whip-pans to screen left and we see that one of the young ensigns on the bridge is Commander William T. Riker. Riker tells the computer to save the program at this point, and tells the holodeck to end the program.

Here's the premise. It's the time of the Next Generation, more specifically the episode The Pegasus. This is the one where we learn that, when Riker was just a young hotshot ensign, he was part of a conspiracy to create the first Federation cloaking device. Well, the search for the wreck of the Pegasus has begun, and Riker knows the shit's about to hit the fan in regards to the cloaking device. So, his dilemma is weather he should break orders and unveil the conspiracy, or if he should continue covering it up. Troi suggests that Riker go to the holodeck and watch the final mission of the NX-01, and that perhaps Riker can learn something from Archer and his crew.

Meanwhile, back in the 22nd Century, Archer and crew are on their way back to Earth for everything I've already mentioned. Then they get a call from Archer's old Andorian counterpart, Commander Shran. Seems that Shran's daughter has been kidnapped by some unscrupulous characters, and Shran needs Archer and some Starfleet soldiers to help him in a covert mission to save his daughter. They save Shran's daughter, Commander Tucker needlessly dies, and they make it back to Earth for Archer to give his speech.

OK. I can understand why Jolene Blalock (T'Pol) called this episode "appalling." For those not in the know, this episode was actually written over a year ago when it was feared that last year would be the final year. And it SHOWS. T'Pol made some great advances in her character this past year, but when this episode starts, it's like some giant reset button was pressed and the past year never happened - at least in terms of character development. And not just T'Pol. Every character is thrown back to where they were a year ago. And it's...kind of sad. In this past year, the Enterprise characters were so good. Why o why did they negate all that?

My second big issue: the very needless death of Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III. It's just...I have the same issue that I had with Data's death in Nemesis. I felt NOTHING when he died. Hell, in the episode that was shown right before These Are The Voyages..., we witnessed the death of a baby that we'd only known for 15 minutes. We felt a lot more for the death of that baby than we did for Trip. We felt it through the characters and their reactions. They were genuinly saddened by the death of that baby. But, when Trip died, everyone was like, "Aww, shucks. Well, let's give a speech!" It was such a needless death.

But the Next Generation parts with Riker and Troi (and even a brief cameo by Data) were pretty good. It was full of nice little geek out moments. I know, I know. Because this was being hyped up as the last episode of all of Star Trek, there was this desire to bring it back where it started. But, ya know, this episode actually might have been a better send-off if they dropped all that Next Gen stuff and spent the extra time on the Enterprise characters.

I will admit. The final 2 minutes was a wonderful geek-out moment. It went like this.

We see a beautifully computer animated Enterprise-D soaring off into space. We hear the familiar words by Captain Picard: "Space. The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her continuing mission...."

One artful scene change, and now we're watching a beautifull computer animated origianl series Enterprise. Captain Kirk continues: "To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations."

One final artful scene change, and we watch the Enterprise NX-01 soar through the heavens. Captain Archer finishes off: "To boldly go where no one has gone before."

My final thought? Everyone credits Enterprise's turnaround this season to showrunner Manny Coto. Before rushing this episode into production, Rick Berman and Brannon Braga should have let Coto do a quick re-write.

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