Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: Fourth Season Overview


Star Trek: Enterprise Fourth Season
Original air dates: October 2004 – May 2005
Executive Producers: Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, Manny Coto

Captain’s log. Having saved Earth and stopped the Sphere-Builders from taking over the galaxy, Enterprise is diverted to 1944 Earth to do one last Temporal Cold War favor for Daniels, which apparently ends the entire thing, to the relief of both the crew and the viewership.

The scars of the mission to the Delphic Expanse take a while to heal, particularly for Archer and T’Pol, with the former reuniting with an old girlfriend (who’s also captain of the NX-02, Columbia), the latter by going home to Vulcan, where she winds up married to her long-affianced Koss in order to save her mother from political reprisal.

Some Augments that were taken out of stasis and raised by Arik Soong attack a Klngon ship, and Enterprise gets caught up in their and Soong’s attempts to create an empire for their genetically engineered selves, though it all goes to crap pretty quickly.

Forrest is killed when the Earth embassy on Vulcan is bombed, allegedly by Syrranites—radicals who are Surakian fundamentalists, as it were—but truly by a faction within High Command that is secretly in bed with the Romulans. The Syrranites have unearthed Surak’s katra and his writings. The former is put into Archer’s head by Syrran on his deathbed, and he’s then able to find the latter, causing a revolution on Vulcan and restoring mind-melds in the bargain.

After encounters with both the inventor of the transporter and some Organian scientists, Enterprise is asked to mediate the long-standing rivalry between Andoria and Tellar Prime—but the Romulans don’t like all this peace crap, and try to sabotage the talks with a remote-controlled ship with a holographic skin. This almost works, and Archer has to fight Shran to the almost-death in order to help move past it, then they work together to contact the Aenar the Romulans are using.

Klingons retrieve the Augment wreckage and are able to genetically engineer Klingons who are physically superior, but look human—but who also have a nasty disease. Phlox is kidnapped by the Klingons to try to fix it, and he does, but at the expense of giving millions of Klingons smooth foreheads, thus explaining a makeup change from 1979 for whatever reason.

Finally, Enterprise is caught up in the Terra Prime movement, which wants to remove all alien influence from Earth, and is doing it at the barrel of a gun. Archer and the gang stop their terrorist attack just in time for a Coalition of Planets to be formed.

Highest-rated episode: a tie between “Home” and “Babel One,” which both received 10s.

Lowest-rated episode: the absolute twaddle of “Bound” with a well-earned 0.

Captain Archer and an Orion woman. Screenshot from Star Trek: Enterprise "Bound"
Image: CBS

Most comments (as of this writing): “These are the Voyages…” a finale that still has people talking nineteen years later, with 44.

Fewest comments (as of this writing): At the moment, of the entries that have comments available, it’s “Terra Prime,” with a surprisingly low 11.

Favorite Can’t we just reverse the polarity? From “Affliction”: If the flow regulators are locked open, the warp core will breach if you drop out of warp, but if you go faster, the pressure is lessened. This is actually rather a spiffy bit of sabotage, akin to that which we saw in the movie Speed

Favorite The gazelle speech: From “Observer Effect”: Archer sacrifices himself to try to save Tucker and Sato. He is also surprisingly unaffected by the corpse of his best friend sitting up and talking to him…

Favorite I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations: From “The Forge”: T’Pol has to remind Archer at one point that she is part of a species that evolved on Vulcan, so she’s way more suited to wander across the Forge than his human ass. One of the things she mentions is the nictitating membrane, or “inner eyelid,” something Spock needed the better part of a day to even remember he had…

Favorite Florida Man: From “Demons”: Florida Man Has Miracle Baby With Alien Lover!

Favorite Optimism, Captain! From “Divergence”: Phlox absolutely owns this episode, taking charge of the entire situation once he’s on the road to a cure, manipulating K’Vagh and Krell both with verve and aplomb.

Phlox and Archer. Screenshot from Star Trek: Enterprise "Divergence"
Image: CBS

Favorite Good boy, Porthos! From “The Forge”: When Archer expresses disbelief that Vulcan children have sehlats as pets, T’Pol reminds Archer about Porthos. Archer’s riposte is that Porthos won’t eat him if he’s late with dinner, to which T’Pol replies that Vulcan children are never late with their sehlat’s dinner. (Well, at least not twice, anyhow…)

Favorite Better Get MACO: From “Borderland”: Even though the Xindi crisis is over, there are still MACOs assigned to Enterprise. They guard Soong while he’s on the ship and Malik when he boards as well, and they prove as useless as ever in repelling a hostile boarding party, as the Augments take them down in seconds flat.

Favorite Ambassador Pointy: From “The Forge”: Soval is very obviously humbled by Forrest’s selfless gesture, and he rebels against the High Command from the minute they start accusing Andorians and Syrrannites of the bombing.

He also admits to being able to do mind-melds.

Favorite The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined… From “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II”: Like Spock before him and Sarek after him, the MU version of Soval has a goatée. Tradition!

Favorite Blue meanies: From “Kir’Shara”: At one point, Kumari takes a hit intended for Enterprise, at which point Shran proclaims to Tucker that now Archer owes him two favors (the first for helping during “Zero Hour”).

trek enterprise kirshara 04
Image: CBS

Favorite Qapla’!: From “The Augments”: We meet two Klingon captains in this episode. One is incredibly gullible, the other incredibly incompetent. Not a banner day for the Empire, this…

Favorite No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: From “Bound”: I mean, where to start? The three Orion women turn all the human men (except for Tucker) into drooling idiots or posturing morons, or both. Plus T’Pol and Tucker finally decide to become a real couple after dancing around it for several years, and making us endure simply endless “Vulcan neuro-pressure” softcore porn scenes in season three…

Favorite More on this later… From “The Augments”: At the end of the episode, Soong thinks that he should abandon genetic engineering in favor of cybernetics and artificial intelligence, and muses that it may take a few generations to get it right, a hilariously clumsy bit of foreshadowing of the work of his descendent Noonien Soong in creating Data, Lore, and B-4.

In addition, Soong dismisses the story of Khan and his followers escaping Earth on Botany Bay as a myth, but it will be proven correct in the original series’ “Space Seed” (and again, after a fashion, in Star Trek Into Darkness) when Khan and his gaggle around found by Starfleet.

Favorite Welcome aboard: Several past recurring regulars make their obviously last appearances this season: Vaughn Armstrong as Forrest, Molly Brink as Talas, Jeffrey Combs as Shran, Jim Fitzpatrick as Williams, Gary Graham as Soval, John Fleck as Sillik, and Matt Winston as Daniels. This season also gives us a few new recurring regulars for the final go-round: Michael Reilly Burke as Koss, Joanna Cassidy as T’Les, Derek Magyar as Kelby, Ada Maris as Hernandez, and Eric Pierpoint as Harris.

trek enterprise daedalus 02
Image: CBS

Some folks who have made regular guest appearances in this era of Trek spinoffs also come back for one last hurrah: Lee Arenberg (“Babel One,” “United”), Cyia Batten (“Bound”), Kristin Bauer (“Divergence”), J. Paul Boehmer (“Storm Front”), J. Michael Flynn (“Babel One,” “United,” “The Aenar”), Robert Foxworth (“The Forge,” “Awakening,” “Kir’Shara”), Wayne Grace (“Divergence”), Brad Greenquist (“Affliction”), Harry Groener (“Demons,” “Terra Prime”), J.G. Hertzler (“Borderland”), Gregory Itzin (“In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II”), William Lucking (“Bound”), Christopher Neame (the “Storm Front” two-parter), Richard Riehle (“Cold Station 12,” “The Augments”), Mark Rolston (“The Augments”), John Rubinstein (“Awakening,” “Kir’Shara”), John Schuck (“Affliction,” “Divergence”), Joel Swetow (“Terra Prime”), Brian Thompson (“Babel One,” “United,” “The Aenar”), Marc Worden (“Affliction”), and Tom Wright (“Storm Front”).

Three actors get to play roles established on the original series: Kara Zediker as T’Pau (first seen and played by Celia Lovsky in “Amok Time,” appearing in “Awakening” and “Kir’Shara”), Bruce Gray as Surak (first seen and played by Barry Atwater in “The Savage Curtain,” appearing in “Awakening”), and Steve Rankin as Colonel Green (first seen and played by Phillip Pine in “The Savage Curtain,” appearing in “Demons”).

The “Storm Front” two-parter gave us some folks famous from other contemporary shows: Golden Brooks (Girlfriends), Steven R. Schirippa, and Joe Maruzzo (both from The Sopranos).

Other nifty guest stars include the great James Avery (“Affliction,” “Divergence”), WWE wrestler Big Show (“Borderland”), Adam Clark (“Demons,” “Terra Prime”), Bill Cobbs (“Daedalus”), Abby Brammell (“Borderland,” “Cold Station 12,” “The Augments”), Peter Mensah (“Demons,” “Terra Prime”), Michael Nouri (“The Forge”), Leslie Silva (“Daedalus”), and Peter Weller (“Demons,” “Terra Prime”).

trek enterprise borderlands 02
Image: CBS

And we have some folks better known for their roles on other Trek shows, starting with the amusing two-episode appearance of Jakc Donner (Tal from the original series’ “The Enterprise Incident”) as a Vulcan priest in “Home” and “Kir’Shara,” moving on to Brent Spiner (Data on TNG and Picard) playing his second of four members of the Soong clan, Arik, in “Borderland,” “Cold Station 12,” and “The Augments” (and also doing a vocal cameo as Data in “These are the Voyages…”), and concluding with Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis reprising their roles as Riker and Troi from TNG (and later Picard) in “These are the Voyages…”

But the best guest is the very very young Todd Stashwick, who will later go on to play Shaw in Picard season three, as a Vulcan-who’s-really-a-Romulan in “Kir’Shara.”

Favorite I’ve got faith… From “The Forge”:

“You keep saying ‘supposedly.’ You don’t believe Surak did the things they said he did?”
“He brought logic to Vulcan, in an age we call the Time of Awakening. But his writings from that period no longer exist.”
“There must be some record of it.”
“Over the centuries, his followers made copies of his teachings.”
“Let me guess—with the originals lost, whatever’s left is open to interpretation.”
“You find this amusing?”
“I find it familiar.”

–Archer and T’Pol discussing Surak.

Favorite Trivial matter: Probably the one for “Divergence,” with all its Klingon-y goodness…

Trek Enterprise demons 01
Image: CBS

It’s been a long road… “I’ve been told that people are calling us heroes.” On the one hand, this is the show Enterprise really should’ve been all along. After two years of giving us the most lackluster exploration of outer space imaginable and one year of a 9/11-inspired season-long arc that didn’t really work, they finally decided to embrace being a prequel and show the roots of what would come later.

What was most successful about the season was that they didn’t allow themselves to be constrained by the one-hour format. The season was a delightful mix of single episodes, and two- and three-parters, giving some stories the space they needed.

Unfortunately, the execution left a lot to be desired. They all started promising, with the Augment three-parter giving us Brent Spiner snark; the Vulcan three-parter giving us the attack on the embassy that killed Forrest, a devastating loss; the Andorian three-parter opened with Shran’s ship being destroyed and Archer trying to negotiate a fragile peace, ending the first episode with a brilliant cliffhanger; the Terra Prime two-parter, the Klingon two-parter, and the Mirror Universe two-parter all had excellent first episodes, as well.

And every single multipart storyline blew the ending. The Augment trilogy turned into nonsense with the Augment kids looking more like they should be arguing over what mousse product to use in their hair than being the vanguard of the next step in human evolution. Both the Vulcan trilogy and the Klingon two-parter expended a great deal of story energy fixing things that weren’t broken, giving unnecessary fan service at the expense of an engaging story. The MU diversion was just that, a diversion, and not as fun a one as it could have been, as Trek has dipped into the MU well way too often. And the fascinating political commentary of Terra Prime devolved into an action hour with a big ray gun pointed at Earth.

Probably the most successful story was the Andorian one, which would’ve made a fantastic two-parter. Alas, they tacked a third part on, and “The Aenar” adds almost nothing to the story that wasn’t already accomplished by the first two parts.

The standalone episodes run the gamut from brilliant (“Home,” a fantastic coda to the third season’s trauma) to dreadful (“Bound,” a throwback to the worst excesses of the original series).

And the season was bookended by two abject failures. First was pathetically ending the Temporal Cold War with SPACE NAZIS! and then ending the season and the series with a misbegotten disaster of a TNG crossover holodeck episode that fails as an Enterprise finale, fails as a parallel storyline to a rather good TNG episode, and just generally fails.

While the fourth season is better than the previous three, it’s too little, way too late. By the time the fall of 2004 rolled around, Enterprise had hemorrhaged viewers to the point that no matter what they did in season four, it wasn’t going to be seen by enough viewers to justify the expense of producing the show. Three years of Mediocre White People Failing Upward had not proven to be a winning story strategy, and the final season did little to ameliorate that. Excellent work by various guest stars—the likes of Spiner, Gary Graham (whose Soval was at his best this season), Jeffrey Combs, John Schuck, James Avery, Bill Cobbs, Harry Groener, Peter Weller, Joanna Cassidy, Michael Nouri, and Vaughn Armstrong all served to show up how incredibly lackluster the main cast was. No one more embodied this than Ada Maris, whose Captain Hernandez proved in three episodes to be far more charismatic and interesting a shipmaster than Scott Bakula was able to scrape together over four seasons.

Warp factor rating for the season: 5

This ends, not just the Enterprise Rewatch, but all the classic Trek rewatches that I’ve been doing for this site on and off since 2011. Later this month, I’m going to do a wrapup of the five rewatches of the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. And keep an eye on Reactor for news of my next big project… icon-paragraph-end



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