Monday, January 9, 2023

Enterprise, Season 3: Zero Hour

 Enterprise, Season 3
"Zero Hour"
Airdate: May 26, 2004
75 of 97 produced
75 of 97 aired


Everything comes to a head when Archer and Hoshi must infiltrate the Death Star to destroy it, and the Enterprise crew must risk their own safety to destroy the Sphere network. Also: Space Nazis!






Kevin: This is a fine episode. It's not a particularly deep episode, but the two main action threads work. They are practically fill in the blank action stories, but I can't deny that it moved briskly and effectively. We get ticking clocks on both the Enterprise and the sphere. We get a friend riding to the rescue at the last minute. There's a fistfight over a HUGE chasm. We get Archer running from an explosion. Check, check, double check. The only issue I can raise is that it's been such an action heavy season, and run of episodes, that's there's a little fatigue. I need a palate cleanser at some point. 

Matthew: It was an action show to be sure, but they nailed the beats. Especially when Shran pops up, it was sort of a "hell yeah!" moment that really worked. The fisticuffs were effective, the various plans and ticking clocks were adequately set up and executed. Running from the explosion was pretty silly, but I was sort of along for the popcorn-munching-ride by that point in the script.

Kevin: One of the most effective threads is definitely Archer pushing Hoshi so soon after her abduction. I like this element since it's clear that he does in fact need her and its non-negotiable. It's a great ethical problem because the scale of the consequences are so great. I wish they had gone further and really examined what the last year has done to Archer. His Starfleet morals have really been put through the wringer. He eventually committed outright theft and is now all but tormenting a crew member. Sure, the reasons are just and Hoshi, to the extent she can at this point, is on board as much as she can be. I even think it's not that much of an indictment of human morals. If you keep traumatizing someone and threatening them with horrific violence, I don't think its some insight that they would respond with violence to protect themselves. That said, the experience would still be harrowing, and dramatically interesting. I think some nod to the trauma that Archer has experienced and what it has pushed him to do would be the deeper story that would elevate the action story.

Matthew: I was thinking that very thing. Why does he seem so bent on being the one who sacrifices himself? Is it a perverse rebellion against his destiny, because he feels unworthy of it, given his ethical transgressions? Who knows, because this isn't given to us. I wanted it. His pushing of Hoshi was good but needed one more scenelet, showing her anguish and his attempts to comfort her. I guess the episode was somewhat stuffed as it is.

Kevin: In the complaint department, the Daniels stuff is becoming a parody of itself. Archer is so important to history that Archer should casually order someone, literally anyone else to die on the mission. He's the captain of one of a handful of ships in a nascent stellar power. He's not the Messiah. It's almost shocking how casually Daniels suggesting picking someone else to board the sphere. There's being important to history and there's casually demoting sentient beings to disposable supporting cast. And the ending. I know it's suppose to be a cliffhanger that is going to encourage me to watch (and apparently, the Powers that Be actually make) season 4. I get it. But alien Nazis? Again. I know we have a bunch of WWII stuff in storage, but we've been down this road a lot. I just don't foresee the story doing anything novel with it.

Matthew: The ending is silly and stupid but gosh darn it if I don't love it. A lot of TOS was silly and a bit stupid, too, but the entertainment value was in committing to it. Why does the Xindi Aquatic ship deposit Enterprise in WWII, and are able to return to their own time unmolested? Who knows. But Space Nazis? I'm completely and totally on board with it. I do agree however on Daniels. Like, it was kind of fun to see the Federation charter signing (and boy, we will ever see it again, from about this distance), but Daniels isn't giving Archer or us enough information to really feel the meat of the debate.


Kevin: Park turns in another pretty good performance here. There was just the right raspiness in her voice to make her sound so tired. It was quite effective. Beyond that, everyone was turning in pretty good action work. Shran declaring that "Archer owes him one" was a definite highlight. I'll even give a shout out to Trinneer and Blalock's "you look old" scene. It was nice. They had rapport and didn't even have to get naked. Billingsley did his usual good work, both in the scene with his will and with T'Pol after they believed the captain was dead.

Matthew: I think that, despite whatever deficiencies the story possesses, Matt Winston's Crewman Daniels is a really nice performance. While we and perhaps even the actor don't know all of Daniels' motivations and beliefs, Winston imbues Daniels with some motivations and beliefs - that he knows something, that he is withholding those things from Archer, that he has feelings about said withholding. It's too bad this story thread just went away, because Daniels is a fun part of it. But indeed, Jeffrey Combs yet again nailed Shran, and our Xindi councilors did a fine job yet again. I think Linda Park was not given the scene she needed to make this more than just "woozy." One extra note - it was really brief, but J. Paul Boehmer, who is at risk of being typecast as "perfect Nazi guy," was really good in his brief role as "perfect Nazi guy."

Production Values

Kevin: They were saving the effects budget and it showed. The interior of the sphere has a bunch of nice levels in the reactor for the actors to work in. The green screen for the infinite chasm was fine, but not great. The battle sequences were good and well paced. I think my favorite shot was watching the spheres crumple. It was a nice way to not do the standard Death Star explosion and it worked for me. I'll say this, and it works as a catch all for the last few episodes. It was all standard action fare, but it was well-executed action fare. 

Matthew: Yeah, while the deflector dish beam was kind of "meh," the sphere destruction itself was neat. The shots of Earth were nicely executed, as was the destruction of the Yosemite station. The WWII effects, such as planes attacking the shuttle, and the San Francisco backdrop, were really nice, and darn it if the WWII medical triage tent didn't look rich and textured. If I had to pooh-pooh anything, it would be the pyrotechnics on Archer's run through the self-destructing weapon. And I suppose the light-tube mechanism of its destruction, which was very video-gamey.


Kevin: This is a three. It's a good episode. It's well paced and well acted. It's a good solid action episode, capping off a run of the same. I wanted there to be just a little bit of a reach on the ideas under the story, but I can't deny that this was largely a satisfying end to a basically satisfying story arc. If we had it to do over, I would make it a half season arc and trim some dead weight in the hunt of the Xindi, but overall, this is still a definite improvement over seasons 1 and 2.  

Matthew: Yeah, I agree with the 3 for a total of 6. There were a lot of fun elements, and they did resolve story threads from the season (as opposed to introducing dozens of them during the season and then flailing to throw them all in in a mad dash finale). But there were times I wanted some scenes to be extended or augmented, while other action aspects of the story got more focus than I would prefer - like the random karate fight between Random Sexy MACO and Lizard-man, and the other fistfight between Archer and Lizard-man, which gave me uncomfortable "Nemesis" vibes. But I liked the goofy cliffhanger, and absolutely am psyched for Season 4 - as I recall being when I caught up with Enterprise on my parents' VHS tapes way back in the day.


  1. First time I watched this, I was very much feeling like I didn't care any more, but I had to see it to get past it. Having Archer hyped as the Great Man of Destiny grates on me, and when he 'dies' I didn't dare to hope for one second that they had actually done what I'd have liked them to do - start over without him. He's the captain, not the under-utilized tactical officer.
    The shifted tone from the much more optimistic TNG and even Voyager also did not sit right with me. If it had not been for Phlox, I would not have pushed through this season.

    I'm more charitable towards Archer these days. By now, he's come a long way from his early nonsense. You can reasonably hope he would not take Porthos on away missions any more without pretty careful consideration, and it's been a long time since he did his anti-Vulcan thing. But having him shoved onto me as some great (cis male white) hope seriously irks me, still. And it is not going to go away entirely even in the fourth season. But it will get less overt, and that's something.
    And I can appreciate the acting much better now. Sometimes it hurts a little to watch the cast struggle to make the writing work, but there is such talent here.

    Not looking forward to the space Nazis, but bring'em on. I'm seeing clear skies somewhere ahead.

    1. Yeah, my "I know more now than I did in my 20s" Award definitely goes to Jolene Blalock. My impression at the time was that she was a knockoff Seven of Nine, and don't get me wrong, the creators definitely thought that, but Blalock has really nailed it with some...unsupportive...material this season. I was surprised as anyone to find her and Trip's scene at the end where she gets defensive about her age so effective. As long as we're re-writing time, how about we just condense like 6-8 episodes from this season in a two-night 'movie of the week'-type pilot and start over at Season 1 with the Space Nazis? Then Trip and T'Pol's relationship can just be interesting and not DEEPLY, DEEPLY PROBLEMATIC. Who's with me?

    2. I second that motion, just so long as we don't get lectured at by Daniels for messing with space-time.