Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Enterprise, Season 1: Shockwave, Part 1

 Enterprise, Season 1
"Shockwave, Part I"
Airdate: May 22, 2002
25 of 97 produced
25 of 97 aired


The Enterprise sends a shuttle down to a planet, which precipitates a disastrous accident. When the crew finds out who really caused the malfunction, they are pulled back into a Temporal Cold War with combatants from the future. 


The location shooting in Detroit really added to the verisimilitude.


Kevin: Judging season finales is always a slightly complicated proposition. Unlike a mid-season two parter where the fact that it's a two parter is usually a surprise, at the end of the season you know the cliffhanger is coming and it makes the first half a bit of a hybrid animal. Since it only has to create problems without having to bother to solve them, it's free to be the biggest swing it wants to be. On the other hand, if the twists and escalations come too fast, it can be a little hard to connect to as a story. In a way, Best of Both Worlds was a blessing and a curse. It was a singularly great episode, but it really set up some expectations that only rarely even got close to being met. I think the best finales after BoBW were ones that went for more macro cliffhangers, like DS9s Jem'Hadar or The Adversary, where the status quo has been truly shaken, but the next ten minutes of the story haven't been written for the next episode as a result. So where does this episode fall? It's definitely closer to try to replicate the immediacy of BoBW's ending, and I would say it's moderately successful. The opening is strong and it's a kind of fuck up that feels inside the line of plausible, even if no one did anything wrong. I liked everyone's guilt and remorse, and I think array of reactions were pretty good and in character. I even think T'Pol trying to pull Archer out of his funk was well done.

Matthew: So for me, the setup of destroying the Paraagan colony was rather weak. If there were some atmospheric contaminant that would lead to DESTROYING EVERYTHING if someone lands a shuttle cockeyed, then the people who lived there would try, I don't know, not releasing such a compound into the atmosphere? Like, this isn't a disinformation scenario, in which people are warning about a doomsday scenario but for economic reasons people don't believe it. Nope. They have explicit instructions and everything, it's a very clearly understood issue. Anyway, I am in agreement that the scenes of the crew grieving and the mission being canceled were strong ones. The T'Pol/Archer moments were particularly good, but I also liked the little scenes like Hoshi and Travis talking about going home.

Kevin: Once we get to Daniels, I think the episode, while it doesn't exactly go off the rails, still starts to strain under the weight of the Temporal Cold War plot. It's a lot of exposition, more tell than show. It's just hard to latch on to the stakes of a battle that I'm only hearing about obliquely. Also, the apparent back and forth of move/countermove is starting to wobble a little too much. The changes to everyone's respective timelines are starting to get too crowded. I like Daniels fine as a character, but he can't carry this whole plot on his back.

Matthew: Indeed, we've been waiting for the payoff to the Temporal Cold War stuff for a whole season. This story is the closest we've come, and it was fairly good as development goes. No, indeed, it doesn't dig deep into the motives or back stories of the principal combatants, which is disappointing. But it at least moves things long, and provides a framework for good storytelling in terms of character scenes (which we've mentioned). I Was left wanting more. That means something - it means that the hints are tantalizing, not off-putting. After so many years of being off-put by NuTrek, it's something I'm willing to take.

Kevin: The ending was pretty fun, but again, I don't think it quite has the punch that they wanted. Maybe if it were Archer's Earth, that would make sense, but again, it's hard to get as worked up that the timeline from the perspective of a person in the 31st century has been altered. That all said, I can't deny that this episode moved quickly and was entertaining throughout, so on that vector, the episode is a solid success. It was a brisk, solidly executed hour. The action sequences in the Helix moved really well, feeling tense but not overstuffed.

Matthew: The episode was entertaining, despite any creakiness in setup.  I thought the final pull-out shot was pretty effective, but agree it would have been better if we had been given something to compare it to. Maybe Daniels could have pulled Archer there earlier in the episode to show a bit of super-future stuff, and deliver a bit more information about the temporal war.


Kevin: I liked Bakula's self pity a lot more than his petulance over the season. I think he did a really great job portraying the guilt at what happened. I also liked T'Pol's work to pull him out of that funk. Fleck was his usually delightful self. I don't have much more to add, given the action tilt of the story.

Matthew: I like Matt Winston's Crewman Daniels a lot. He was less detached and creepy this time around, and I thought he delivered his (admittedly heavy) expository dialogue with aplomb.  And yes indeed, John Fleck is welcome to join any episode he likes, as far as I'm concerned. The whole main cast did a nice job with their little moments. Another actor who doesn't get much credit is James Horan, AKA Future Guy. He's played several aliens in 90s Trek, and his voice and stature reinforce that feeling. He did about as well as can be expected for a future shadow with no apparent motivation.

Production Values

Kevin: The CGI continues to be very of its time, but I think they did solid work here, and since this is the finale, there's certainly a lot of it. The effects work hunting for the Suliban was good, and I liked the set of the Helix base. There have been a few bottle shows recently, and the money clearly went here, and was largely worth it.

Matthew: I think this was a pretty rich episode, visually. Archer's San Francisco digs looked lived in, albeit like an Ikea show room. The cloaked Suliban ship and interiors were well done. Even the Enterprise ship shots were more creative in terms of angles. And the final shots of the ruined Earth were detailed and interesting to look at. I will say - Daniel's future costume was pretty ridiculous.


Kevin: So this is a good, well paced, entertaining episode. I think the temporal cold war plot is just too soupy to really allow this story to blossom like I think the show wants it to. But the episode still took a lot of big swings and landed most of them. I think this is a hearty 3 for me.

Matthew: This episode is neither boring nor derivative of previous Star Trek. The Enterprise crew gets a chance to shine in individual scenes, and my appetite was certainly whetted to see the second part of this story. I think this just sneaks into a 4, for a total of 7

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