I made the comment on another post that the overall rating of a series was determined by its conclusion.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I watched the last episode of Enterprise about a week ago. The obvious parallel is the series Lost, which, at best, had a mediocre series finale. In hindsight, I still think that Lost was an excellent series. I watched it from beginning to end, with great anticipation as to what was coming next. The fact that the conclusion of the series disappointed me, as it did so many others, does not in any way diminish its impact. I wish the last episode had blown me away, and it didn’t. But, ignore that episode, and what remains is something that’s still pretty great.
I find myself in the same situation with Enterprise. I would rather believe that the final episode didn’t exist. It’s not horrible (I gave it a rating of 3 of 5 stars), but it is not of-a-piece with the rest of the season, let alone the entire series.
Enterprise, at least through the fourth seasons of TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise, may even be my favorite of what I call the “Next-Gen Era” Star Trek series. I’m tempted to give the advantage to TNG, but my ratings during this rewatch don’t really bear that out. Taken as a whole, an entire seven series, I think Next Generation will still be my favorite. But, Deep Space 9 and Enterprise are giving it a run for its money. Sadly, there’s no contest for last place. There’s a lot I love about Star Trek: Voyager, but it’s my least favorite of the series. At least, so far.
I did not expect to like Enterprise as much as I have. I never even saw an episode of the series until it was cancelled.
It’s a shame that the series was cancelled, the first Trek series to claim that distinction since the original ’66 series. I would rather have seen the series run its course, ending when the creative forces behind the show felt that they had reached a natural conclusion. As it stands, I felt that the ending of the series was forced upon us. More on the last episode later. For now, let’s talk about Season 4 as a separate entity.
It is the characters who make the series. You can read my reviews of Seasons 1 through 3 to get my views on that. My opinions haven’t changed. The main characters in this series are Captain Jonathan Archer, Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker III, and the Vulcan T’Pol. That doesn’t change this season. Lt. Malcolm Reed continues to occupy a tier of his own, the JV Squad to our top-3. Doctor Phlox, Lt. Commander Hoshi Sato, and Ensign Travis Mayweather round out our main cast, utility players that never stand out as superstars, for the most part.
During Season 4, we get several story arcs. It starts off weakly with another Nazi Earth story. I’m not a fan of science-fiction Nazi stories, and I wasn’t a fan of this one. When the season began, I thought that this was one of the reasons the series was cancelled.
Then the stories improved. We get an arc starring Brent Spiner as Dr. Arik Soong, the creator of augments that remind us of “Space Seed” and Wrath of Khan. Then we spend some time on Vulcan and learn more about the internal political struggles there. Reed betrays Captain Archer because of loyalty to some old spy outfit he was a part of. Phlox helps the Klingons cure some sort of plague while explaining the difference in Klingon appearance over the years (except for Discovery). We also get a dose of an ultra-conservative Earth-First movement with the group Terra Prime, which is headed up by Peter Weller, Robocop himself. Ultimately, we spend some time in the Mirror Universe, keeping in touch with our TOS roots.
Overall, this is the highest rated fourth season between TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise, at least in my opinion.
And, then the series finale.
There seems to be a general consensus between fans, actors and showrunners, that “These Are The Voyages . . .” was just not a good episode. I can speak only for myself, but this is why I think this wasn’t a good finale episode. The framing device, in which William T. Riker of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D uses the holodeck to re-live the final mission of the Enterprise NX-01, immediately puts distance between the story characters and the viewer. We’re viewing a recreation of something that happened two centuries earlier. Plus, the NX-01 story takes place at least six years after the events of the last Enterprise episode we watched. More distance.
The NX-01 is about to be decommissioned, we find out. Also, Trip and T’Pol haven’t been a romantic couple in six years. Then [SPOILERS] Trip dies a heroic, but stupid, death in this episode.
I didn’t mind having William T. Riker and Deanna Troi in the episode, but their inclusion made this a TNG episode that happened to be about the characters in Enterprise. And, while it was watchable, it wasn’t really good. It may have been just okay as a normal episode, but it was not a good finale episode at all.
This episode is why I’ve taken a week before writing my Season 4 review. I didn’t want one episode to overshadow an entire season that, taken as a whole, was pretty good.
This was a great Trek series. I wish there were more episodes to watch.