Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 1, Episode 26
Production episode 026
Original air date: May 22, 2002
Captain’s star log. Enterprise is en route to a Paraagan mining colony. They’re a matriarchal society, which prompts some tiresome, “wow, women in charge, that’s crazy” commentary from Archer and especially Tucker. The mines spit out tetrazine, so the landing protocols for the shuttlepod are very specific to avoid the plasma exhaust igniting the atmosphere.
Reed is careful to shut the exhaust ports ahead of schedule, but somehow the tetrazine ignites anyhow, burning the atmosphere and completely wiping out the colony, crispy-frying all 3600 inhabitants.
The entire crew is devastated. As far as they can determine, the pod’s exhaust ports were closed, but the tetrazine was definitely ignited, and there was nothing else besides the pod in the area. Reed does find some odd EM readings, but they could be anything.
Archer reports to Forrest, and before too long, the verdict comes down that Enterprise is to return to Earth, its mission scrubbed. The Vulcans are making noise about keeping Earth constrained to their homeplanet for another ten-to-twenty years.
As the crew heads home and contemplates their fate, Archer is spending most of his time moping. T’Pol tries to convince him to fight for Enterprise’s mission to his superiors, as she plans to do to the Vulcan High Command.
Contemplating this, and the fact that his Vulcan science officer just tried to cheer him up, Archer goes to bed—
—and wakes up in his bed in his apartment in San Francisco. Tucker calls him to let him know he can sleep in as the inspection pods are getting an overhaul tonight. Archer realizes that it’s ten months ago, the day before Klaang crash-landed in Broken Bow. After confirming it by calling the Interspecies Medical Exchange to confirm that they have a Denobulan named Phlox there, Daniels shows up in his apartment. Somehow Daniels has brought him to ten months in his own past (almost like he Quantum Leapt into his previous life!), and also apparently was only mostly dead, not all dead, after Silik attacked him.
According to Daniels, the Paraagan colony wasn’t supposed to blow up and Enterprise’s mission wasn’t supposed to end. Daniels then gives Archer very specific instructions on how to build a quantum beacon. Daniels sends Archer back to the present, and he orders Mayweather to turn the ship around and head back to the Paraagan colony and for Tucker to build the beacons. At Archer’s direction, Reed also finds a small device responsible for the EM readings he found earlier. Nobody recognizes the design, but Archer says they’ll get some Suliban data disks to help dope it out.
Upon their arrival at the colony, they then head to a nearby binary star system, using the beacons to detect a cloaked Suliban ship. Reed and Archer unseal Daniels’ quarters and pull out some ship schematics—Archer telling Reed that no, he can’t download all the Klingon ship specs they see—for the Suliban. Armed with that intelligence, a strike team consisting, not of any of the dozen or so qualified security personnel under Reed’s command, but rather of the first three people in the chain of command go over in a pod. Archer, T’Pol, and Tucker steal some data disks and then head back to Enterprise, managing to stop the genetically enhanced Suliban with a bunch of stun grenades and three phase pistols. Because they’re just that awesome.
Using the disks, T’Pol and Sato are able to access the device Reed found on the shuttle. It has evidence that the cloaked Suliban ship attached itself to the pod, placed the device, and used it to ignite the Paraagan colony’s atmosphere. Enterprise is innocent.
Archer reports to Forrest and they set course back for the Vulcan ship they were supposed to rendezvous with.
However, Silik has been sent by the shadowy figure from the future with the cool voice to capture Archer—but to leave Enterprise be to have its rendezvous. Silik isn’t thrilled about letting them keep the disk, but he doesn’t particularly want to piss off his benefactor a second time.
Enterprise is surrounded by cloaked Suliban ships. Silik says he wants Archer, and if he agrees to become his guest, he’ll let Enterprise go. While there’s still a chance he’ll destroy the ship anyhow if Archer goes over, he’ll definitely destroy the ship if he doesn’t, so he puts T’Pol in charge and heads off to turn himself over.
When Silik complains that Archer hasn’t arrived, T’Pol is confused, especially since Archer isn’t on the ship anymore. Silik targets all the Suliban weapons on the Enterprise warp core.
Meanwhile, Archer finds himself in a burned-out building, standing next to a stunned Daniels. The latter had brought the captain here to his home in the thirty-first century before Archer could turn himself over to Silik. But somehow the act of doing that changed Daniels’ own future—when he’d gone to get Archer, the place was thriving, now it’s a burned-out wasteland. And all the time-travel equipment he’d used is destroyed. They’re stuck in this alternate thirty-first century.
To be continued…
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Archer throws out a ton of technobabble while telling Tucker how to build the beacons: dispersal curve, sub-assembly tolerances, emitter algorithms, stable flux between the positron conductors, renormalizing the tertiary wave functions, and a whole lot of other nonsense.
Also, when they mentioned quantum beacons, I couldn’t help but flash on the line Scott Lang has in Ant-Man & The Wasp: “Do you guys just put the word ‘quantum’ in front of everything?”
The gazelle speech. Archer does not take the death of 3600 Paraagans well (nor should he). He spends half the episode moping about it, and the other half proving that it wasn’t his fault.
I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. T’Pol gives Archer quite the pep talk, convincing him to fight for Enterprise’s mission rather than wallow in self-pity—though truly it’s Daniels’ intelligence that gets him up off his morose ass to do something…
Florida Man. Florida Man Creates Futuristic Device Without Having The First Clue What He’s Doing.
Optimism, Captain! Phlox has to remind T’Pol that humans process grief differently than Vulcans (or Denobulans, for that matter). He’s also the most philosophical about Enterprise’s mission coming to an end.
Good boy, Porthos! Porthos tries very hard to comfort Archer by being incredibly cute while the captain is moping about.
The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined… Despite Archer having gone back ten months in time and gotten detailed instructions on how to build quantum beacons, as well as the location of the cloaked Suliban ships—a level of detail that obviates it being a dream—T’Pol insists that the Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that time travel is impossible.
Ambassador Pointy. Tucker makes some snotty comments about Soval, saying that ending Enterprise’s mission will be his crowning achievement and he’ll get a medal.
Qapla’! Daniels has a lot of Klingon ship specs in his quarters, and Reed salivates over them.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. When Archer contacts the Interspecies Medical Exchange while shirtless (he’s just out of bed), the woman who answers the phone is very obviously checking him out.
I’ve got faith…
“Can’t you ever give a straight answer?”
“Depends on the question.”
–Archer asking an honest question, and Daniels saying, “no.”
Welcome aboard. Back from “Cold Front” are John Fleck as Silik, James Horan as Future Guy, and Matt Winston as the only-mostly-dead-not-all-dead Daniels. All four will be back in Part 2.
Trivial matters: This is a sequel to “Cold Front,” continuing the Temporal Cold War storyline, and will continue in Part 2 to start the next season.
It was in “Cold Front” that Archer sealed Daniels’ quarters. Besides the Klingon ships, they also see some familiar-to-the-viewers ship designs from the twenty-third- and twenty-fourth-century Starfleet.
The scene in Archer’s quarters takes place the night before the first 2151 scene in “Broken Bow.”
This is the second time Trek has gone as far into the future as the thirty-first century, the other being in Voyager’s “Living Witness.” Until Discovery’s second season, this was the farthest in the future Trek had gone, with the exception of the final scene in “Living Witness.”
It’s been a long road… “I thought you were supposed to protect the timeline, not screw with it.” This is the outline of a good episode, but it doesn’t quite come together—at least until the end, with a particularly effective cilffhanger.
Getting there, though, is very hit-and-miss. We start with the Paraagans, who sound like a very interesting culture, though the tee-hee idiocy with which Tucker refers to the notion of a matriarchal society, and the relief on his and Archer’s face when T’Pol tells them that men have been getting more rights lately, is embarrassing and pathetic. And writers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga didn’t give a micron’s thought to this culture in the least, as T’Pol refers to the “foreman” of the mine, a term that is rooted in a male-dominated society assuming that the person in charge would be a man. (It’s “Tomorrow is Yesterday” and “Angel One” all over again.)
But the Paraagans are just a means to an end—which is annoying, as I was way more interested in seeing more of them than I was in watching more time-travel shenanigans. I like how Archer handled the death of the colonists, though the fact that we never saw them dilutes the impact quite a bit.
The biggest problem is that it’s just furthering the tired Temporal Cold War storyline, and it’s impossible to be in any way invested in it. I’m even less invested in the tired fakeout of cancelling Enterprise‘s mission, which we know isn’t really going to happen because the show’s called Enterprise, and they’re hardly going to spend the rest of the show with humans staying on Earth being lectured by Vulcans on being doofuses.
Also, the show is still trying to catch that original series vibe without actually understanding it, in this case having Archer, T’Pol, and Tucker do the commando raid. It’s a scene that’s entire people shooting at other people and throwing stun grenades around. There’s nothing in it that requires these three characters, and there isn’t even hardly any dialogue. Why not have Reed and two extras do this, so it actually makes sense?
Then again, making sense doesn’t seem to be a priority here.
It got interesting when Daniels “rescued” Archer only to find his future so completely changed that he no longer had the equipment to time-travel. That’s a wonderful “oops,” and makes for an actual strong cliffhanger. I mean, we know Archer will get home, but maybe the process of getting there will be interesting!
Warp factor rating: 4
Keith R.A. DeCandido will have a short story in the upcoming Fantastic Books anthology Three Time Travelers Walk Into…, edited by Michael A. Ventrella, which has stories taking three people from three different time periods interacting. Keith’s story throws author Mary Shelley, baseball player Josh Gibson, and NASA scientist Florence Johnson together. There are also stories by Star Trek writers Peter David and David Gerrold, as well as Adam-Troy Castro, Jonathan Maberry, Gail Z. Martin, James A. Moore, Jody Lynn Nye, Allen Steele, Lawrence Watt-Evans, and more! It’s available for preorder from Barnes & Noble and Amazon—check out the full table of contents here.