Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Carpenter Street”

“Carpenter Street”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by Mike Vejar
Season 3, Episode 11
Production episode 063
Original air date: November 26, 2003
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. We open in Detroit, 2004. A guy named Loomis returns home to his shitty apartment and gets a phone call from someone who wants to know if he made his selection yet, and who also warns him to go easy on the sedative this time. Loomis makes sure he’s getting paid. The guy on the other end of the phone is a Xindi-Reptilian.

Loomis drives to where there are prostitutes hustling and picks one up whom he’d previously seen at the blood bank he works at. He douses her in chloroform and brings her to a warehouse that’s full of other people laying on bunks hooked up to IVs. He does the same for her, setting the IV up, then takes a briefcase full of money.

In 2153, Archer is feeding Porthos cheese (which Phlox told him not to do, but who can resist that puppy face?) when Daniels appears out of nowhere. Or, I guess, out of the future. Daniels’ people have no idea what’s happening in the twenty-second century because there’s no record of an Earth-Xindi conflict. However, they have also detected Xindi on twenty-first-century Earth, and that’s not right. For reasons he doesn’t bother to explain, he wants Archer and a plus-one to go back in time and stop the Xindi doing what they’re doing. Archer asks T’Pol to come along, because she’s second in the opening credits. (Wouldn’t it make more sense to take Sato, who, if nothing else, has a grounding in cultural history, plus also isn’t an alien from another planet?) T’Pol expresses skepticism about Daniels, about time-travel, and about the mission, but once she and Archer wind up in 2004 Detroit, she stops complaining and focuses on the mission.

Armed with equipment that will help them navigate the mission and the timeframe, Archer and T’Pol steal a car (they have to find one that’s easy to steal without much of a security system), then they steal more money from an ATM to pay for gas.

They track the Xindi-Reptilians by their unique-on-this-planet life signs. While staking out the warehouse they’ve detected them in, Loomis shows up with his latest conquest: a person in a wheelchair whom he’s convinced to come along on the pretense of getting an extra bonus for giving blood. After Loomis hooks up the latest one to an IV, the Xindi (who remains in the shadows) says he needs the last two blood types immediately, and even offers to pay double.

Screenshot: CBS

Archer and T’Pol follow Loomis, figuring he’s their way in. They ambush him at his apartment—Archer knocks on the door, Loomis, thinking they’re cops, runs away down the fire escape, and T’Pol neutralizes him with a neck pinch.

Loomis, still thinking they’re cops, agrees to help them stop the bad guys in exchange for a lighter sentence. They bring him to the warehouse (stopping at a drive-through burger place en route, with the vegetarian T’Pol declining the option to eat, given that the only non-meat item she’s offered can come with bacon if she’d like). Archer has one of the two blood types Loomis still needs to provide, so Archer goes in as one of Loomis’ victims.

T’Pol and Loomis wait in the car, Loomis briefly firing her phase pistol to prove that her “ray gun” is real. Archer does surveillance of the warehouse, and finds a bio-reactor. They’re creating a toxin to wipe out humanity. Archer gets into a firefight with the Xindi. Two of them run outside, and Loomis beeps his horn to warn them, and then tries to attack T’Pol with a switchblade. T’Pol easily deflects the weapon and then stuns him with the phase pistol.

Archer is able to stop the Xindi from unleashing the toxin in twenty-first-century Detroit—even though it’s incomplete, it’ll still wreak havoc with Earth’s twenty-first-century development. They go back to the future (ahem) only seconds after they left (confusing the heck out of Tucker) and take the unconscious Xindi and all their equipment with them, leaving Loomis unconscious in his car to be arrested by the Detroit Police for kidnapping.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Daniels provides Archer and T’Pol with various doodads, including devices that will allow them to break into cars that don’t have electronic security systems. Why Daniels didn’t just provide a slim jim is unclear…

The gazelle speech. Archer keeps feeding Porthos cheese even though it’s bad for him. He’s at once a good human for indulging the pooch and a bad human for indulging the pooch.

Also, he apparently has B-negative blood.

I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. Where Spock wore a hat, and Tuvok wore a do-rag, T’Pol just either grows her hair or wears a wig to cover up her ears when she travels to the past on Earth.

Florida Man. Florida Man Is In Charge Of Ship For Two Seconds Because Time Travel.

Good boy, Porthos! Porthos apparently likes Daniels. Then again, before he revealed his true self, Daniels was the guy who brought Porthos’ human his food

Screenshot: CBS

The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined… T’Pol insists on being skeptical about time travel despite Daniels magically appearing on Enterprise, and despite everything that happened in the “Shockwavetwo-parter. One assumes, now that she’s spent the better part of a day in 2004 Detroit, she’ll finally shut up about time travel being theoretical…

I’ve got faith…

“Have you ever operated a vehicle from this period?”

“I can pilot a starship!”

–T’Pol expressing skepticism about Archer’s ability to drive a truck and Archer not actually answering her question.

Welcome aboard. Leland Orser is back for his fourth and (so far) final Trek role as Loomis, having previously played a Skrreean in DS9’s “Sanctuary,” the changeling disguised as Colonel Lovok in DS9’s “The Die is Cast,” and an evil hologram in Voyager’s “Revulsion.” Matt Winston is back for the first time since “Shockwave, Part II” as Daniels; he’ll be back in “Azati Prime.”

But this week’s Robert Knepper moment is the great Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Xindi-Reptilian. Morgan has since gone on to fame and fortune in such roles as John Winchester in Supernatural, the Comedian in 2009’s Watchmen, Negan in The Walking Dead, and lots of others.

Trivial matters: Jeffrey Dean Morgan reportedly only took the role because he needed the money, and the trauma of having his head covered in latex nearly led to him quitting acting.

Most of the cast doesn’t appear in this one. Connor Trinneer’s role is very small, Dominic Keating is only heard briefly over Archer’s communicator, and John Billingsley, Anthony Montgomery, and Linda Park are nowhere to be found.

When Archer sees the bio-reactor, he mentions that they were warned about that as a possibility by the title character in “Rajiin.”

The script is full of references to the Halloween horror movies: the titular street is named after director John Carpenter (there is no actual Carpenter Street in Detroit, though there is a Carpenter Avenue); Loomis is a reference to Donald Pleasance’s character; one of Loomis’ victims is named Lawrence Strode, a reference to Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode; etc.

Screenshot: CBS

It’s been a long road… “Be careful—they got ray guns!” At the very least, this episode has a much better fakeout teaser than “North Star,” as it ends with the shot of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Xindi-Reptilian, which works beautifully as a tease for this episode.

That’s the good news. The bad news is the episode that it teases…

Trek has a long history of using time travel to go back to contemporary (or near-contemporary) Earth, from the original series’ “Tomorrow is Yesterday” to The Voyage Home to DS9’s “Past Tensetwo-parter to First Contact to Voyager’s “Future’s Endtwo-parter, and “Carpenter Street” is quite possibly the most boring example of the breed.

We start with the sheer inanity of the premise. Why did the Xindi feel the need to go back in time? Why go to Earth in 2004? Why Detroit? Why does a biological weapon need different blood types to work? Why, if Daniels knew the Xindi had been in 2004 Detroit for months, did he send Archer and T’Pol to when they were almost finished instead of to right after their arrival? For that matter, why the heck did Daniels send Archer back when he’s supposed to be part of an agency that deals with this nonsense?

Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the dumbshit Temporal Cold War plot, which apparently ties into the Xindi crisis on a macro level, but on a micro level all Daniels’ presence induces is groaning that we’re revisiting this nonsense again. There’s not even a token effort to try to make any kind of sense out of all of it. Daniels knows just enough to make the plot mechanics work, but not enough to actually provide any useful information. He’s a plot device, as usual, and this particular device is buggy and malfunctioning and probably needs to be rebooted.

Having said that, the episode is somewhat salvaged by three good performances. One is by Leland Orser, whose progression of guest appearances is a chronicle of improvement. His Skrreean was a cipher, his Romulan/changeling was wooden, but his psychotic hologram was entertaining, and his Loomis is a perfect schlub. His rant to the cops about lizard-people with ray guns at the end of the episode is hilarious. While Jeffrey Dean Morgan is unrecognizable under the Xindi-Reptilian makeup, his gravelly voice shines through beautifully, adding significant menace to his character.

And Jolene Blalock is magnificent, beautifully showing T’Pol’s disdain and disgust with twenty-first-century Earth in general and Loomis in particular. I also loved how easily she disabused Loomis of the notion that she’d be helpless before his switchblade attack, and I was grateful that the producers remembered that Vulcans have superior physical strength to humans.

Still, this is a nonsensical exercise in time travel

Warp factor rating: 3

Keith R.A. DeCandido’s first Trek fiction in thirteen years will be a DS9 story called “You Can’t Buy Fate” in Star Trek Explorer #7, which will be on sale on his fifty-fourth birthday, 18 April 2023. It’s available for preorder from Titan.


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