Enterprise

Season 1, Episode 26 & Season 2, Episode 1

Shockwave

Reports from the Star Trek front lines. Something has been bugging me about the Enterprise Season 1, Season 2 two-parter and it’s finally settled in. For the first half or so of Shockwave pt 1 the episode represents some of the greatest Star Trek television written. Bold statement, right?

Spoiler Warning

In Shockwave pt 1, Enterprise seems to be responsible for an in-atmosphere detonation that wipes out an alien colony. Captain Archer suddenly has to live with the fact that he has caused a practical genocide, 10s of thousands of lives on his conscience. If that wasn’t bad enough, Star Fleet cancels the Enterprise mission and orders the ship recalled to Earth. It won’t launch again for five to ten years.

With mass-man-slaughter weighing on him and knowing that his father’s life work and his own life’s ambition lie in tatters, Archer falls apart. We see a Star Fleet captain go to pieces like we have never seen before. Despondent, despairing and without hope.

His salvation comes in an unlikely form. T’Pol. The Vulcan who has been so much his foil throughout the season is forced to admit to him ‘it is easy to list your wrong decisions, but there have been other decisions. Decisions no one could question. I am willing to make that point to my government if you will make it to yours’. I am paraphrasing, but the message is there. T’Pol is on Archer’s side, even in the face of evidence that says he has killed an entire planetary population. At least one Vulcan backs Enterprise, its’ captain and the human race.

Frankly, I’m pretty much speechless at this point. I want to see T’Pol turn around and argue with the Vulcans, I want to see Archer and T’Pol in a united front arguing that regardless of their scale, accidents happen and one accident is not worth canceling the mission. Especially when every evidence proves that it was truly an accident, a fluke occurrence and no one’s fault. I want to see the first great mission of Star Fleet make a disastrous misjudgment but persist.

Sadly, no. The detonation was caused by a Suliban ship, framing Archer. It’s part of the temporal cold war. As I explained before, I hate this plot as it is one of things happening to Archer and his crew, making them reactionaries not protagonists. What’s worse, Archer is suddenly transported into the far future, hundreds of years into the future, to find the future destroyed.

Cliff hanger.

Suddenly it’s turned around on me. One of the boldest, bravest Star Trek story lines has turned around and told me ‘ah, but none of it was real. It wasn’t an accident, Enterprise didn’t cause it, it’s time-travel and will probably all be alright. Tune in next season to find out how we put everything back to normal!’.

I don’t want it put back to normal. I want to see the crew deal with it. I want to see Star Fleet deal with it. I want to see humanity deal with it. But no, we’ll reset and it’ll be back to shiny space adventures before you know it.

Of course, that’s all Shockwave pt 1. You might notice I’ve put Shockwave pt 2 up there as well and that’s because it also lets me down.

Given the disappointing bait-and-switch set up of pt 1, pt 2 proceeds much as you’d expect. However, that doesn’t stop it from doing something that bugs the hell out of me…

In the future, Archer points out that if the future that created time travel technology no longer exists, they shouldn’t be there. Daniels replies:

You’re thinking of time travel like an H.G. Wells novel. It’s not. It’s far more complicated. You couldn’t possibly understand.

Look at that again. Specifically the words ‘you couldn’t possibly understand’. My problem with this is that ‘you couldn’t possibly understand’ is patently false. Daniels is human and he understands. Ergo, ‘you couldn’t possibly understand’ can be read as the script writer admitting ‘I couldn’t possibly explain’ which means the script has no internal consistency and makes no sense, because in a world where ‘Heisenberg Compensator’ is an acceptable answer to ‘Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle’, something inexplicable must be very, very poorly thought through. So poorly thought through not even techno-babble can save us!

So it’s with some trepidation that I make my way into Season 2…