Star Trek 704: Zero Hour

704. Zero Hour

FORMULA: Mine Field + Azati Prime + Harbinger + Endgame + Insurrection

WHY WE LIKE IT: The big climax. Dolim's death.

WHY WE DON'T: Daniels won't shut up. Shran's fortuitous appearance. That cliffhanger.

REVIEW: The reptilians are about to win and toast the event with mice (hilarious!). Meanwhile, our heroes must wage a war on two fronts, the Enterprise out at the control sphere, Archer in Earth orbit as the superweapon is about to fire. The latter mission isn't all that easy, of course. To even get inside the weapon and blow it to kingdom come, a confused and mentally crippled Hoshi must first decipher its schematics. Archer is risking everything, including her sanity.

One annoying obstacle is Daniels who wants to protect Archer's place in history and forbids him to go on this dangerous, potentially suicidal, mission. It's annoying because he spills the beans about the Federation (it's founding members, etc.). That's just too much information for Archer to have, and since we, the fans, know all about it, it can't possibly be important to the plot. Especially since Archer says screw posterity. A more welcome character, yet also problematic, is Shran. The Andorians show up in the nick of time to help fight the weapon, having apparently tracked Archer through the subspace vortex that brought him back to Earth. It's not even a surprise thanks to the opening credits.

Despite all that, the action sequences inside the weapon are pretty intense. As Archer and Hoshi plant explosive charges at key points and deactivate whatever needs deactivating, the reptilians converge on their position. Tension mounts as they lose their Maco escort and then Hoshi's PADD (which forces them to rely on her scrambled memory). The best part, however, is Archer dirty, drag-down fight with the reptilian general, Dolim. Is it sadistic to find his death so satisfying? Archer certainly doesn't cut corners, slapping an explosive charge on him and setting it off while looking the general squarely in the eyes. The race out of the explosions as the weapon blows is properly heroic (to the point of being a little cheesy) and though everyone figures Archer for lost, you of course expect Daniels ex machina.

The other thread is more "techie", but no less tense, as Enterprise must destroy a control sphere and with it, the entire anomaly network. The problem is the sphere is protected by one of those deadly anomalies from Doctor's Orders. Medication can only protect the crew for about 12 minutes, but of course the Sphere Builders don't make it easy, invading the ship like wraiths. The mission involves a lot of people staring intensely at consoles, but it's helped by the eerie lighting, visible physical deterioration of the crew, and the final result as the sphere network implodes spectacularly. In the end, the Expanse is no more, that part of space freed from anomalies and the nebulous barrier enclosing it. In fact, it's the greater long-term victory.

With Archer thought lost, Enterprise reaches Earth, but communications seem to be offline. As a shuttlepod goes to to San Francisco, it is attacked by WWII planes. Then we see Archer alive in an army tent as an alien dressed like a Nazi looks on. Whaaaaa?!?? The homecoming is delayed in favor of a cliffhanger, which is fine, but it seems silly after the year's arc. No rest for the wicked, I guess.

LESSON: DC Comics crossover titles are fair game (hey, DC then went and stole Countdown).

REWATCHABILITY - High: Though the inclusion of Daniels and his time travel elements weakens the episode, it's still a very satisfying conclusion to the Xindi story arc.


De said...

I can understand Daniels whisking Archer out of there, but the Enterprise too? That didn't make much sense to me.


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