691. Carpenter Street
FORMULA: Future's End + Time's Arrow
WHY WE LIKE IT: Some of the directorial tricks. A dark vision of the present.
WHY WE DON'T: Some of the directorial tricks. We've been in high concept mode too long.
REVIEW: Though we know that the Temporal Cold War is responsible for giving the Xindi the wrong idea about humanity, I wasn't exactly expecting too much TCW stuff in the season. But here's Daniels again, warning Archer about Xindi sent back into the past destroy humanity via a deadly toxin. All they need to do is collect every blood type on Earth (really?) and throw the stuff in a ventilation shaft somewhere (really?). It's a premise that stretches credibility (along with what Daniels knows and doesn't, and why he's sending Archer and T'Pol practically to zero hour instead of earlier), but if you don't think about all that, it's pretty good.
The action takes place mostly at night, giving the episode a dark, but slick look, more City on the Edge of Forever than Future's End. Actually, it's a lot like an episode of 24, with motivated cameras, cell phones, SUVs and terrorists about to poison a major American city (here, Detroit). Yes, there's fish out of water material, but Archer is better equipped than past captains because 2004 isn't THAT far from his home period. And yet, there's still fun to be had with driving, bank machines, cigarettes and fast food.
When I say that the camera is "motivated", I don't mean to suggest it's as documentarian as 24's, but it does have more style than it usually does. Sometimes for the better (POV shots, including one through a peep hole), sometimes not (some outrageous zooms during the interrogation scene and bad slow motion). The world of the twitchy Loomis is grimy and not at all Trek-like, which helps motivate these stylistic choices, hookers and all. Loomis is a reprehensible character, but there are a couple of humorous bits having to do with him. We're so used to seeing briefcases full of money, his measly 4 stacks are hilarious to me. And then there's the weird episode of Cops at the end. All that's missing is a camera crew.
It's a good action episode for Archer and T'Pol, who manage to stop the Xindi and bring them back to Enterprise a split second after they left. T'Pol gets to shoot Loomis at point blank range in the middle of a knife fight, and nerve pinch him at the end of a chase sequence. As for Archer, well, you gotta love his untying Loomis only to punch him out and retying him.
LESSON: Don't hit a man while he's tied up.
REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Though it seems odd that the Xindi are suddenly allowed to time travel, the episode isn't as indulgent as others with the fish out of water humor, and the action's pretty good. Keeps you watching.