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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Star Trek Enterprise Retro-Spective "Cold Front"

The episode starts with Silik having his enhanced vision removed as punishment for not stopping Klaang from returning to Qo'noS, but is told he'll get it back if he succeeds in his next mission. Cut to...
After a disappointing movie night featuring "Night of the Killer Androids", the Enterprise is changing course to investigate a stellar nursery. We meet crewman Daniels, swapping shifts with crewman Taylor to serve the Captain his breakfast. Daniels takes an apparently unnecessary interest in the course change. Archer tells him anyway, declines a refill of orange juice, and Daniels disappears.

Enterprise makes it to the stellar nursery and finds ships inside. They communicate with one, a freighter. Captain Fraddock tells Archer that he is carrying pilgrims to the Great Plume of Agosoria. He explains that every eleven years, one of the protostars gives out a neutron blast. The pilgrims believe it's a sacred event. Archer invites them all over for dinner (assuming that they can eat human food). Everyone but Fraddock comes over, and they get a tour of the ship. While there, the pilgrims explain that they believe that the stellar nursery is where the universe began, and the plume represents the continuing cycle of creation. Nice idea.

During the tour of engineering, one of the aliens breaks away from the group and opens up a panel. He uses Suliban shape-shifting tricks to sever three connections, then rejoins the group. Shortly thereafter, the Enterprise is caught by the edge of a plasma storm and gets knocked around. In engineering, they get in trouble when a plasma bolt hits the warp manifold and begins an antimatter cascade that will destroy the ship in seconds. Then, suddenly the problem is over as quick as it started. Trip tells Archer how it was stopped, and that nobody in engineering did it. After determining that none of the pilgrims took credit, Archer is confronted by Daniels who convinces Archer to meet with him by having knowledge of the Suliban and what Archer did on the helix (in Broken Bow). Daniels reveals that he's from 900 years in the future. He is part of an organization enforcing laws that regulate time travel. To that end he is hunting Silik, because Silik is working for another faction, represented by 'Future Guy'. Daniels reveals that Silik was the one who stopped the reactor breach, but won't say whether that was Silik's mission. Then he tells Archer that he needs to tie into Enterprise's internal sensors to find Silik. Archer is skeptical, but Daniels convinces him he's on the up and up. Next Archer briefs T'Pol and Trip.

A few minutes later, Trip and Daniels are in Engineering. At one point, Daniels puts a device on his hand, like a futuristic glove, to walk through a bulkhead and fix something.

Meanwhile, Silik shows up in Archer's quarters, threatens him, and wants to know who is looking for him. He tells Archer that he saved Enterprise because he was ordered to. He also says that the people who are supposedly trying to enforce the Temporal Accords are just another faction. During the course of the conversation, T'Pol calls to announce that Daniels is eager to get started. Silik thanks Archer for the help and shoots him with a stun blast.

Then, as Trip and Daniels are starting their search, Silik shows up from thin air (as always) and shoots Daniels. Daniels ripples and seems to blow apart. After that, Silik has Daniels' holoprojector device (that the Temporal Cops use to track events through the timelines) and he is headed for the launch bay. Archer uses Daniels' magic glove to walk through bulkheads to get to Silik. Silik threatens Archer, who shoots the holoprojector out of Silik's hands. Silik threatens him again, and opens the bay doors. As Archer holds on, Silik dives into space where he is picked up by a cell ship. Archer finally gets the door closed.

In the aftermath, they let the Suliban ship go, and Archer goes to bed. The next morning, he puts a security seal on Daniels' quarters. End of episode.

Cold Front picked up the crucial Temporal Cold War theme that formed the real basis for the series. It introduced the wonderful character of Daniels, who is still amazingly alive and well. It was fast moving and well written. Silik was nicely menacing even while saving the ship, (though they never explained who if anyone tried to destroy it), while Daniels was mysterious and actually funny. Especially in the following passage:

TUCKER: The grid can handle it. So I take it your brother isn't really an orbital engineer at Jupiter Station.

DANIELS: Actually, I don't have a brother.

TUCKER: And you didn't grow up in Illinois.

DANIELS: Oh, I'm from a place called Illinois, sir. Just not the one you're familiar with.

TUCKER: It's good to know Earth will still be around in nine hundred years.

DANIELS: That depends on how you define Earth.

TUCKER: Beg your pardon?

"Cold Front" was an excellent example of how good Enterprise can be when it follows a good storyline. It is also a fine example of just how good the writing is on Enterprise, particularly during the first season, when Trek series typically struggle. The last series that was, in my opinion, so dependably good in its first season was TOS. Absolutely enthusiastic thumbs up.

Next Up: "Silent Enemy"

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