Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Enterprise, Season 4: Storm Front, Part II

 Enterprise, Season 4
"Storm Front, Part II"
Airdate: October 15, 2004
77 of 97 produced
77 of 97 aired


Archer must lead a clandestine assault on the Space Nazi base, while the Enterprise fends off laser-equipped Stuka bombers in the skies over Manhattan.

Nreeeaaooowwwww.... rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat!!!!!



Kevin: Like so many two-parters before it, the setup gives way to a more action focused episode that wraps up and largely pays off the cliffhanger, even as it doesn't quite meet the first part in terms of ambition. This isn't meant as criticism, it's just the nature of the format. In most stories, once you reach the climax, you tend to focus on the action and resolution and less on the setup that got you there. In terms of being an action story, it proceeds with well paced focus. I may be mentally rounding up in my assessments given Manny Coto's increased role, but I think as an action episode, the A to B to C moved well and I wasn't bored, even if I was never enraptured either. Like last week, I think the plot of this episode could have been scribbled by any long time Trek fan on the back of a cocktail napkin having scene only the button of Zero Hour, but familiarity is not always a bad thing.

Matthew: Yep, a long tradition of whiz bang openers and competent finales continues here. I do think there is some pacing drag in the middle of this episode, specifically when Trip is... tied up in a room, and when Silik and Archer have two brig conversation scenes. But the broad strokes of the plot were entertaining, such as the American counter-attack, the tension between the Nazis and their alien benefactors, and the assault on the portal base.

Kevin: In terms of actual critique, I think the episode doesn't find a way to effectively use the 20th century characters this time. I was less enthralled than Matt with the wiseguys, but in concert, the hodgepodge resistance cell did really help the world building last week. This time, I know that it's a foregone conclusion that this version of these characters will never exist, and it creates a kind of narrative clog, particularly for Alicia. I think this would have been a perfect opportunity for the patented Curiously Complete Archive of Twentieth Century Earth Data that told Janeway about her ancestor in 11:59 or even Clare Raymond about her descendants back in The Neutral Zone. I think it could have even served as a nice button on the conversation with Daniels, where Archer wants one question answered, and rather than some timeline altering detail about the Federation, it's finding out if Alicia's husband made it home in the prime timeline. It's a credit to the character and the actor that she managed to make me care off not that much screen time, and I've decided to picture her dancing with her husband to Billie Holiday on her roof in Brooklyn.

Matthew: Yeah, I know it's frequently a budget thing, but I would have liked even more "Americana," by which I mean slightly off-kilter recreations of things from our history, such as a VE parade in Times Square, maybe the Enterprise buzzing by the Statue of Liberty, or an exiled leader returning (whether it be FDR or Eisenhower). I think we are meant to assume that history re-forms in a beneficial way around our plucky resistance cell, but they could have had a scene of it happening. Maybe Alicia and her returned husband (after the real VE day) could be looking up at the stars and see a strange ship leaving orbit.

Kevin: Does this episode resolve the Temporal Cold War largely by fiat? Yes. Do I mind? Not in the slightest. It leaves lots of threads, including WHO ANY OF THESE PEOPLE ARE OR WHY ANY OF THIS MATTERS but it's done, and that's good. Silik gets a send off, after a fashion, and I'll say on balance, it was fun watching him be his normal imperious self while looking like a human. Good comedy there. The whole plot line never got off the runway and seems to subscribe to both 'destiny' and the "Great Man" theory of history, neither of which delight me. But, like I said, if you can't finish well, the only thing left is to finish quickly, which this episode did. If only for what it presages about the rest of the season, it was encouraging.

Matthew: The fact that Coto can recognize dead weight and has the authority to shed it is encouraging. The fact that he wove it reasonably well into a brisk and entertaining two-parter is even more so. I would have appreciated a tie-in with the USS Relativity Timeline from Voyager, personally - it seems like such a big thing not to mention, the Federation's own faction in this now-completed (whatever that means in a world with time travel) struggle. That or foreclose the possibility of time travel for a while, who knows. Anyway, Silik's role was indeed appreciated, and giving him the wherewithal to be able to reason that the enemy of his enemy is his friend (and that the Suliban were saved by the human faction) gives his species some narrative complexity.


Kevin: The main cast all did solid to good work, though I don't think anyone was too heavily tasked this week. I liked the mini reunion with Trip and Archer. Gwaltney did some great work this week. He really gave the sense of a person confident in his position, but not megalomaniacal so. He was ruthless, but practical, so even the apparent use of torture felt like mindful rather than mindless cruelty. His bargaining with Archer was really well achieved in that it made him seem competent and flexible to the needs of the situation. In another timeline, he and Silik could have really formed the poles of an interesting conflict where Earth gets caught in the middle.

Matthew: Yep, Jack Gwaltney's Vosk was again the highlight of this episode. I wanted more of him whenever he left the scree, which shows how well he was both written and acted. His voice is great, which it needed to be given the makeup. His tete-a-tete with Christopher Neame's Nazi General really added flavor to the alien scenes. I quite enjoyed Trip and Archer's reunion, it was acted with a good amount of humor and pathos (but no Porthos, nor Parthos a la Yuta).

Production Values

Kevin: The newsreel was a nice touch. It was well made, and you could only kind of see the seams on how they inserted archival footage of Hitler into the various settings. I liked the implication that a Nazi occupation of the eastern seaboard would not be some frothing scorched earth campaign, but one pitched as the Nazis are actually restoring peace, with the consent of the Americans, no less. It's a nice piece of real world politics that gives the alt history some depth. 

Matthew: I loved the newsreel.  The melding of footage was clever, and the narrative was well written to give us a real sense of propaganda and politics. They even used some real footage of the American Nazi rallies of the '30s, which shows a keen eye for history and irony.

Kevin: In the minus column, the battle sequences this week were not good. Particularly the strafing shots over the plasma cannon, they looked like video game cutscenes of the day, and lacking a fair amount of texture. The effect of the timeline resetting itself was fine, if a little soupy. It was more that the various scenes were a little precious, taken together.

Matthew: Yeah, the timeline resetting reminded me of the Guardian of Forever, in that apparently the past is in black and white, predominantly focused on the United States, and presidents most of all. On the other hand, I applaud the battle sequences for visual ambition. Are the planes and anti-aircraft weapons obviously CGI? Sure, and not particularly good. But they spent time and money creating a good battle sequence, and the incorporation of period-specific Manhattan backdrop photos was much appreciated.


Kevin: This is a hearty three. There's not really an ambitious reach in this episode. It's designed to resolve the story set off by the end of the last season and resolve the temporal conflict, and it does both with a brisk confidence. It's not going to be on my list of all times favorites, but I can't deny I enjoyed the act of watching it a fair amount. It certainly makes me feel good about the reputation the fourth season has gotten over the years.

Matthew: I agree with the 3 for a total of 6. It's a solid alt-history tale with competent plotting and action. It resolves what it needs to and doesn't leave much on the narrative table. Some better character follow up, or reaching for some greater point about history would have elevated this. But good action is still good action. It was goofy fun, and fun is something that Star Trek ought to have now and again.


  1. I got nothin'. I just don't want you to think I'm not still reading along.

    1. Did you like it? Dislike it? Nothing it?

    2. Usually, your analyses jog my memory, but this time I don't get anything. I may have been rolling my eyes too much to remember stuff, or I'm just repressing it.

      But I do remember that it signalled the end of the Temporal Cold War, so that was good. I think Silik died? *shrug* As if Daniels hadn't died and come back.

      Anyway, good riddance. We've got about twenty episodes of much better stuff ahead.