Enterprise gets a bad rap sometimes. It was the only post-TOS series (so far) to make it less than seven seasons. Here, at the end of the second season, I’m already more than halfway through the series’ entire 98 episodes.
Here’s the thing, though. It’s not a bad show. So far, I’ve enjoyed the special effects in Enterprise more than in any other Trek series. And the characters have all grown on me. I still think Hoshi is the least-developed of all the senior crewmembers on the show, but she has become less whiny and ineffectual as she had been in the first season. Mayweather is seldom given any heavy lifting to do either, but we did learn more about the helmsman and his cargo-hauling family in Episode 2.20 “Horizon,” when he goes home to his family’s cargo ship, only to find that his captain father has passed away and that his brother resents his leaving the family to join Starfleet. A bit of a downer at the beginning, but it ends well.
If there is a “trinity” on this series, its formed by Captain Jonathan Archer, Sub-Commander T’Pol, and Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker. The majority of our storylines seem to focus on these three.
A good argument could be made to include Lieutenant Malcolm Reed in this exclusive inner circle, because he frequently proves himself to be an MVP on the crew. He was willing to sacrifice himself for the ship when a Romulan mine pinned his leg to the hull with a metal spike. He constantly proves himself to be brave and resourceful, among other things leading the rescue party to free Archer from the penal ship in “Canamar and helping to rescue Archer from bounty hunters in “Bounty.” However important Reed may be as the man who keeps the weapons armed on the NX-01, he is less socially adjusted than Trip, whom the writers seem to love to write for. For that reason alone, I chose not to include him in the Big Three.
On one Trek podcast that I won’t namecheck, I heard one of the hosts disparagingly refer to the Vulcan T’Pol as “Two Boobs.” And, yes, her sex appeal seems to be highlighted frequently on this series. But, I’ve grown fond of the character T’Pol for less prurient reasons. She becomes more loyal to Archer and the Enterprise than to Vulcan High Command. Notably in the first episode of the season, “Shockwave, Part II,” T’Pol goes to bat for Archer with the Vulcans, and in the final episode of the season, “The Expanse,” she defies Vulcan High Command to remain on the Enterprise as it goes into the Delphic Expanse, the home of the Xindi. In-between, she saves the ship and everyone on board on what seems like multiple occasions. Jolene Blalock did double duty playing both T’Pol and her own grandmother, T’Mir, in my favorite episode of the season, “Carbon Creek.” This episode reminded me of the classic TOS episode (written by Harlan Ellison), “City of the Edge of Forever.” I put it easily in the same league. But, there are prurient reasons to like T’Pol as well. She’s easy on the eyes, and the writers must have been encouraged to find reasons to get her into various states of undress. Plus, we had an episode in which T’Pol prematurely enters Pon Farr, which all Trek nerds know is the Vulcan mating cycle. T’Pol even tries to get Dr. Phlox to give her the cure for what ails her in this episode.
“Trip” Tucker is Captain Archer’s best friend on board the Enterprise. He’s a confident engineer with a great deal of aw-shucks-ma’am Southern charm. He was the focal character in my second-favorite episode of the season, “Dawn,” which borrowed a bit from the TNG episode “Darmok” and from the movie Enemy Mine. This was a good showcase for the character’s abilities and was a very good episode overall. Trip is a featured player in most episodes, and has a much higher social aptitude than Malcolm Reed, whom he is often paired with. Another memorable Trip episode was “Cogenitor,” in which Trip makes some mistakes that seems to threaten his friendship with Archer. At least for that episode. The two do not speak about Trip’s actions in that episode for the remainder of the season. During “The Expanse,” the season finale, Trip finds out that his sister was killed during a Xindi attack on Earth, and he naturally wants revenge. He is always an engaging character and the camera loves him.
Dr. Phlox and Hoshi are good supporting characters in the series. Neither grab the spotlight for very long, although “A Night in Sickbay” is a great episode that reveals a lot more about Phlox.
Without a doubt, this series is about Captain Jonathan Archer. The Enterprise’s Warp-5 engine was built by his father, Henry Archer. The stories in Enterprise are writing the history of Jonathan Archer. As the captain of the first full-fledged starship, he, and his crew, are responsible for a lot of “firsts” for humans in the Alpha Quadrant. He was an Eagle Scout, a collegiate water polo athlete, a test pilot in the NX program, all before being selected as captain of Enterprise NX-01. He is brave and adventurous, but not without flaws. He often allows emotion to rule his judgment, and often makes rash decisions. He is, in spite of this, a hero, and he commands the respect of his crew. Also, he has a dog named Porthos.
As I mentioned in my Season 2 review of DS9, Archer did fall to the #4 spot of my post-TOS Trek Captains. Rather, he didn’t fall, but was passed by Commander Sisko, who is less prone to making command mistakes than Archer is at this stage of the series. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like Archer. He may be the most likeable of the captains, in fact. If the events of this series really happened, they were responsible for creating what are arguably stronger leaders in the other Trek series that are set later in the timeline. Picard, Janeway and Sisko owe much of their abilities to the captains who came before and wrote the guidebooks. Archer would have been the first of those.
I am enjoying Enterprise. There was only one episode this season that I didn’t give at least 3 stars to, and it was a 2.5, so it was close. At a glance, I’d say this series probably has the highest overall rating average, even without any 5-star episodes and only two 4-star ones. This show is consistent and of high quality. I recommend it for verteran Trekkies and as a great starting point for new viewers as well.
Note: After watching Episode 2.26 “The Expanse,” I have now watched 188 episodes of Trek during this Going Boldly project. That’s nearly 26% of the total 725 episodes in existence prior to the debut of Star Trek: Discovery. If I continue to watch at this rate, I will have watched 100% of all Trek episodes in TNG, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, TOS, the animated series, AND Discovery by July 2019. However, if I watched at the planned, and more sedate, rate of 4 episodes per week, I will finish in April 2020. I think the true end date will be somewhere between the two.