Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Enterprise, Season 1: Cold Front

 Enterprise, Season 1
"Cold Front"

Airdate: November 28, 2001

10 of 97 produced

10 of 97 aired


Captain Archer learns that one of his shipmates is not what he seems - and has ties to the Temporal Cold War he learned of months ago.


All right, Daniels, this Google Maps interface has gotten way too complicated.



Matthew: After a few in a row that had things getting like Enterprise was spinning its wheels, this seemed like a nice return to some forward momentum for the show. Its it perfect? No. But I thought it was well paced, advanced the cold war story, and has a lot of nice "slice of life" character work. On the last score, I particularly liked Dr. Phlox's enthusiasm for comparative religions, the ship movie night, and the little bits of dialogue that help it help it feel like a real ship with real people on it. Similar scenes were Trip's tour of engineering, Travis sitting in the captain's chair, Archer demurring on the question of religion, and the general air of hospitality and curiosity of the ship's crew. The other aspect of the episode I really thought worked was the discussion of time travel had by T'Pol, Trip and the captain. It had a nice feel of the TOS "triad."

Kevin: I think I'm a little colder (haha) on this episode than Matt. I agree that the idea of the nice aliens with no ulterior motives like sacrificing Trip to their god or something is a nice piece of multiculturalism that Star Trek is good at. That said, I found them closer to cardboard cutouts, there only to provide camo for Silik. The slice of life stuff on the Enterprise is nice though, I fully agree. I agree they did a good job with T'Pol as well, giving her skepticism some grounding that was pissing on humanity's good time. It's the basic problem with any time travel story. If it doesn't work, why not go back and do it again? You can get around that in fun story ways for any given story, but pointing that out gives her skepticism some heft.

Matthew: The success of the Daniels plot was more mixed. On the one hand, I enjoyed his dialogue with the crew members. The scene of him showing his temporal observatory was fun and interesting. I was quite glad that this plot line was continued from the pilot episode. On the other hand, I think the question if why Silik would save the ship should have been explored further. Without answering it, it just remains a mystery and the story misses a huge opportunity to tell us more about the two factions at work. Silik has a fun scene in which he accuses Daniels' faction of lying. Maybe they were? We never find out. Again, a missed opportunity. I think overall the sci-fi chops of this episode were a bit lacking. In a franchise in which we are used to traveling to the 1800s, destroying the ship a dozen times, freezing time, and the like, what was on offer here was somewhat lackluster. I know that the season ending cliffhanger will do so. But that doesn't absolve this episode.

Kevin: I think the problem for me is that it doesn't really advance the story of the temporal cold war. We don't really learn much beyond what we know or could reasonably infer from the pilot. The Suliban are being manipulated on a much larger chess board, and obviously some version of the Federation is the other side, but as the episode itself points out, what does it even mean to be the Federation from that far in the future and why should we trust them? It was a lot of speeches and a lot of posturing that didn't go anywhere. I think it either had to advance the war story for its participants, or give us some insight into the stakes for them. Even the Suliban enhancements don't seem like enough of a carrot. I don't think I feel the lack of the ability to squeeze under doors keenly enough to side with someone who is patently and unambiguously a huge double-crossing villain


Matthew: Matt Winston as Daniels was a great piece of casting. He can ably play both "obsequious gofer with a secret" as well as "slightly strange future guy holding back knowledge." Against John Fleck's unctuous Silik, the "antagonist" casting totally works. I found the rest of the guest cast adequate, by which I mean the Agasoria people.

Kevin: John Fleck is great. He was great in Mind's Eye, and he was great in the episode of DS9 with the really long Latin title I'm not going to look up. His gravely voice and general lankiness just give him the vibe of a CIA villain from a Cold War movie, which here really makes sense. This is the guy in a 70s movie who dispassionately doses the hero with Super LSD and takes notes calmly while he shrieks. The banter with Archer and Daniels was good too. I don't want to queer code every villain, but some habits are hard to break, and there was something a little intentionally melodramatic about Silik that I do respond to.

Matthew: On the main cast, the standouts here were Connor Trinneer, whose engine room tour was very funny, and whom I just loved hearing him drawl "the Great Plume of Agasoria" over and over; and John Billingsly, who gave Phlox a very charming enthusiasm. I found Bakula a bit stiff in the one, though, especially in the scene in which he was called upon to be stiff and suspicious. 

Kevin: Billingsley lands the enthusiasm without coming off treacly. He seemed genuinely touched to be asked to lead the prayer and he also managed to pitch his curiosity in a way that felt genuine and not 'touristy' if you get the distinction I am trying to make. He hasn't gotten an episode to himself yet, but he has still managed to paint a clear point of view and priorities for his character.

Production Values

Matthew: The Great Plume of Agasoria was a disappointment. Maybe I've been spoiled by prior practical effects work, or current CG work, but it wasn't very inspiring, and the script called on it to be. On the other hand, the timeline projection thingie looked great. It really sold the concept and it was neat enough to inspire a desire for more information. 

Kevin: The projection works because it felt like the next generation of Annorax's chart from Year of Hell. Great stuff that implied the complicated nature of tracking time itself. The Plume fails because there wasn't enough to it and the background of a lavender nebula was just too much for contract. Even prior to the Bluray releases, the effects from TNG's Evolution did a way better job of it. 


Matthew: I want to give this a 4 for the time travel factor, but there are too many unanswered questions for me to go above a 3. If there had been a scene of Daniels actually taking Archer somewhen else to convince him, that might have pushed me over the top on it. But there was a distinct curtailing of ambition here. So it just ends up being tantalizingly average.

Kevin: Maybe I was tired or in a bad mood because of [gestures broadly] but I was just more down on this episode overall. I watched it right after Fortunate Son, so I was kind of primed to look for flaws. A 2 was never in the cards to be sure, but honestly, a 4 had never crossed my mind even to dismiss it. The smaller slice of life bits are fine, but the main story is all set up, no pay off. Still, John Fleck's preening sneer is probably worth a 3 by itself, so that makes a total of 6.

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