Saturday, December 31, 2022

Enterprise, Season 3: E²

Enterprise, Season 3
Airdate: May 5, 2004
72 of 97 produced
72 of 97 aired


The Enterprise meets its doppelganger ship in the Expanse, but is surprised when they find it crewed by their own descendants.

 It says right here that Fëanor forged the Silmarils, not Lorian!



Matthew: Sometimes, you can feel the weight of past Star Trek when you're watching an episode. I think that's very much the case here. The obvious prior comparison episode is DS9 "Children of Time," but there are also shades of episodes like "Yesterday's Enterprise," "Timeless," and "Endgame." When you have to content with 700 hours of prior history, and especially with the litany of classic time travel and alternate timeline stories, you need to either do something to differentiate your episode, or tell a story so well and with such character development that the repeat seems worthwhile. I think this episode does not really do the former, and sort of halfway does the latter. With respect to telling the tale with  unique spin or doing it really well, I think you need to create the "new" characters really well and make them compelling. Only Lorian (could they have named him any more like an Elf?) comes close with his Dad having died when he was a kid, but that is also undermined for reasons we'll get to. If you're going to do the "alternate timeline" crew, another angle is "should we change things if we will cease to exist," and this episode sort of punts on that question entirely. I think several potentially strong storytelling angles were hinted at, such as "waiting for 50 years to do Vital Thing X," but I ultimately did not find the E² crew compelling in the way I did, say, the Enterprise C crew, Future Harry/Chakotay/Side Babe, or the Children of Time crew.

Kevin: I agree that previous episodes sprung to mind, Children of Time most forcefully. I think the reason the episodes you cite work better is they had more interesting stakes. In Yesterday's Enterprise and Timeless, the question is if and how things will be made 'right' and more interestingly in Children of Time, we get the question of what this crew owes to its potential descendants. Here, the Enterprise-as-generation-ship basically appears only to help (or not) advance the story against the Xindi. I will also say that DS9 had a more roundly developed cast at that point, and their reactions from Kira's acceptance to O'Brien declaring that no one has the authority to order him to never see his family again really give the story some crackle. Here, the most we get is some interesting Trip/T'Pol potential, but overall, it's just not that interesting to imagine the future Enterprise crew.

Matthew: I do think that Trip and T'Pol got some nice development here, through the lens of their alternate future son. It was nice to see Trip being baffled by how he and T'Pol could possibly end up together (for a connoisseur of old movies, he sure missed the "meet cute personality clash" aspect of his story line...). I also liked how Old T'Pol gave Young T'Pol advice, and the development of her story with respect to lacking emotional control going forward (whatever we may think of the idea in a vacuum). This side of the episode did falter, however, in not giving the other crew members their own development and progress through the alt-future lens. We were teased a story with Malcolm realizing that his vaguely creepy standoffishness results in his not procreating, but he doesn't really do anything to explore or ameliorate this, besides inviting a stacked blonde crew member to sit down with him (which doesn't really seem like progress). Hoshi, Travis, and Archer also get bupkis.

Kevin: The obvious parallel to Children of Time is Bashir obsessing about his futuring breeding partner, and fellas, I have to tell you, it wasn't funny then and it wasn't funny here. Maybe if it actually spurred some reassessment about Reed's isolation, it could have been something, but it basically comes off a cheap joke, and we've had plenty of those about Reed's sex life. As for Trip and T'Pol, if you redact the rank exploitation of the actors and the juvenile sense of humor in the lead up, yeah, I agree, there is something here. And you are correct that Trip presumably has seen at least one Hepburn/Tracy comedy and should not be shocked by the passionate but combative couple. I enjoyed the idea of the scene between old and young T'Pol, but I can't shake how much I dislike the drug-based set up to really engage. Take scenes of older Spock from the movies. There's a softening of his stoicism and an acknowledgment of the importance of his relationships that reads as organic, earned wisdom, and it's more effective than "T'Pol has emotions now. Because. That's why."

Matthew: As far as the season plot goes, this was really just a placeholder episode, inserting a story into the "we need to get the Enterprise to the meeting" progression. I think this type of story would have better served the overall season if it had happened earlier on (though Trip/T'Pol would not be as far along then). It's kind of like the Western episode in terms of "change of pace," and that was placed better in the "we're in a weird new realm" portion of the story.

Kevin: Yeah, that's kind of becoming our refrain in the back half of the season. They spun their wheels for so long that even when things are good, it still feels like stalling. Get to the fireworks factory already.


Matthew: Connor Trinneer and Jolene Blalock were again given the juiciest script material, and they ran with it. They should just make an old-style "African Queen" movie with these two. They have chemistry and charm, they sell us on their emotional lives, and they're attractive people. The remainder of the crew gets short shrift, but no one stands out as bad in any way. If anything, Anthony Montgomery and Linda Park show flashes of wasted ability in their mini scene.

Kevin: I know this really goes places next season and I am going to have to just retcon their origin story to enjoy it. And I think I will, since as you say, the actors themselves have chemistry.  I wasn't a huge fan of Blalock's old acting, but that may be the makeup.

Matthew: David Andrews played Lorian, receiving an "And" credit in the episode. He sort of didn't work for me. It felt like he was trying to play a Vulcan-Human hybrid, but didn't really have a handle on what emotions to display or what his character's internal life was. So when he was talking with his dad, I didn't get the emotion, and when he was attacking the Enterprise, things just felt weird and stilted.

Kevin: Yeah, neither Andrews nor Tess Lina's Karyn Archer really did it for me. Maybe their story didn't get enough to chew on as an actor, but I just never bought either as being 'in the universe' the benchmark of the good guest star. I think it would have been better to have Lorian pick a side more clearly, maybe choosing his absent father's humanity as a tribute rather than how Spock picked Vulcan stoicism. I agree he just didn't strike a balance or engage the material that was there in any real compelling way.

Production Values

Matthew: The E² ship looked nice, and there were a lot of good ship shots in this episode. The interiors, however, were pretty lazy. Yellow lights? Why? Why would anyone want to live with that as their multi-decade aesthetic upgrade? The bridge was a bit better, but still just sort of "we put a few new metallic things in here."

Kevin: My beef is with the old age make up, which was on par with Admiral Jameson from Too Short a Season. I understand that she would be about 180, but there are plenty of 90 year old humans who merely look 'old' and not decrepit. Less is more with age make up. I'll believe a still handsome, silver haired Jolene Blalock more than the Crypt Keeper act they went with.


Matthew: I think this is a 3. It's perfectly entertaining, but doesn't give us enough originality or character growth to really attain the "Instant Classic" feel that Trek's better timey-wimey yarns frequently reach. I would have de-emphasized action stuff to the minimum, and focused on character's being forced into soul-searching when confronted with their futures.

Kevin: I feel like my commentary is a two-level, but I agree, this is a fine, watchable, if unremarkable episode. Like I said, in all the other time travel episodes, we care more about the crews to care about their alternate histories, and without that, the most this episode could achieve is fine, if slightly repetitive. But the 45 minutes I watched were reasonably entertaining, and that levels out to a combined 6.


  1. I remember loving the concept first time I watched, but I was hoping for too much and got disappointed. I also remember thinking the second crew really didn't get much done in all that time.

    I think the 'Lorian' name was picked specifically to sound elvish, as a touch of humour from Trip. The Steve Jackson movies were still very much alive in the collective consciousness in 2004. But "What is their fixation with our ears?" as Soval once asked. I don't know the answer to that one.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year to you, too. I think this year I will finally get around to watching the Steve Jackson LOTR movies.... ;-)

  2. *twitch* Have to say it: There's a typo in 'Silmarils'. Sorry.

    1. You have used the internet for its purest purpose: to correct someone about Tolkien on a Star Trek fan site. The dream of the ARPANET creators from so long ago is finally fulfilled. :)

    2. That was a fat finger typing error. It has been rectified.