REVIEW: Enterprise – Season Two – Shadows of War
Enterprise’s Second season runs along a very similar style as the first season. The Second Season is made up of mostly stand alone episodes although there is a far stronger connection between episodes. Events in one episode has consequences in a later episode as the series gradually builds up a story arc. It is no where as complex or on a scale as the Third Season. It also allows the series to build up characters and background scenarios.
Unfortunately the Temporal Cold War continues to play out in the background of certain episodes and it still most often acts as a hindrance to the storyline quality of Enterprise. This means that several hints are made for established canon particularly with the first mention of the United Federation of Planets and a Romulan Star Empire. While this is done to remind the viewer of what is to come, it still raises some questions about temporal paradoxes. How do we know where the name for the United Federation of Planets comes from. Did it come from the Vulcans or did it comes from Archer who was by now aware of what the Federation would end up becoming.
Paradoxes become of a greater problem when it comes toward the end of Season Two and the episode Regeneration. This episode acts as both a sequel to the film Star Trek: First Contact but also a prequel to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Q Who? In Regeneration, the Enterprise encounters the Borg who are attempting to reach the Delta Quadrant. In the end the Borg are defeated but not before they successfully send a message that will reach Borg space in 200 years. Leaving Archer to question “Have we only delayed the invasion until the 24th Century?”
This creates huge paradoxical problems. This means that Starfleet and the Federation will be aware of the Borg, so when the USS Enterprise-D is blasted across the galaxy by Q 200 years later, how come the Enterprise’s computer doesn’t recognise the Borg? For that matter, surely the Borg will become aware that their attempts to invade Earth will end in failure. So therefore why don’t they send more than one Borg cube to Earth in The Best of Both Worlds and Star Trek:First Contact. It’s not likely that the Borg will care about disrupting the time line since they have already messed around with the time line by sending a message in the first place. This is usually why I hate time travel and paradoxes. To quote Stargate SG-1’s Colonel Jack O’Neil “I hate time travel, it makes my head hurt.”
There are other problems as well, when they encounter the Romulans later on. It is played out over audio communications, preserving established canon with the episode of Star Trek: The Original Series Balance of Power. In that episode Spock remarked that the early days of contact with the Romulans and particulary the Earth/Romulan War was played out with crude atomic weapons. It was also noted that Cloaking technology was a recent development and yet in Enterprise, Romulan ships are using the same technology.
This is the distinct problem of Enterprise’s Second Season, it tries to introduce concepts and elements familiar to the Star Trek viewers. But in doing so the show’s producers and writers end up creating more problems than resolving them. This most often feels like they are doing this for ratings. Which is kind of backwards since the viewer will be aware of what is to come and established lore. By their efforts, the show’s producers often risk alienating their fan base which is not only absurd but a stupid attempt.
There are still redeeming episodes of Enterprise which set it apart. However by the Second Season it does become clear that the writers are re-visiting story concepts from previous star trek shows but also from Enterprise itself. I lost count how many times Archer and a member of crew end up being kidnapped/captured/put on trial.
I still enjoyed the second season of Enterprise and there are some episodes that are of particular interest.
Carbon Creek: A great Vulcan episode which while still messing with some established continuity, does it in a way that doesn’t make the viewer question events. It’s also a good episode that is set between the fallout of the Season Premier Shockwave Part 2 and the episode that follows it.
Minefield: This episode introduces the Romulans and despite setting up some continuity errors, the episode is still enjoyable and allows Archer and Reed to build some character development. It is also the first time where Enterprise takes significant damage that by the next episode, the ship is still badly damaged.
The Catwalk: A bottle episode of Enterprise which allows for increased character work and allowing the team work of the ship’s crew to come through. The episode is well written and done in a way which keeps the viewer immersed and interested in the events.
Cease Fire: Continuing from the previous season episodes The Andorian Incident and Shadows of P’Jem. This episode is noteworthy since it continues the Birth of the Federation theme from those previous episodes and showing the Andorians and Vulcans on the verge of war and through Archer and Humanity, finally finding some common ground with which to build.
Future Tense: Being a Doctor Who fan, i enjoyed the concept of a ship that was bigger on the inside. It was also noteworthy for introducing a familiar alien species from Star Trek: The Original Series in the shape of the Tholians.
The Expanse: While a Temporal Cold War episode, this proves to be a game changer for Enterprise entirely. With the firing of an alien object over Earth that kills 7 million people. The Enterprise is refitted and heads into the Delphic Expanse. The episode acts a prelude for the following Third Season. It raises the stakes for the show and it allows the writers to tie up a few loose ends before heading into the darker season.
Previously… Season One: The Voyage Begins
Next time – Season Three: The Xindi Incident