Star Trek 725: Terra Prime

725. Terra Prime

FORMULA: Demons + Shockwave Part II + Tears of the Prophets + The Undiscovered Country

WHY WE LIKE IT: Everyone gets a good bit. Archer's final speech.

WHY WE DON'T: It doesn't quite end with that speech. Travis & Gannet.

REVIEW: Though there's another episode to come, don't be fooled. THIS is Enterprise's series finale (come back tomorrow for why These Are the Voyages is not). It's got good bits for every member of the cast, a heroic line-up at the end, and an inspirational speech while the series looks to the unwritten future. But first, we need to defeat that pesky Paxton and his giant laser gun pointed at Starfleet Command. Archer is ordered to simply destroy the array, but that would probably destroy the Utopia colony as well as kill T'Pol, Trip and their baby, so he's not willing to do that before at least trying another option.

The cowboy move of the week is tracking a crashing comet with a shuttlepod to get onto Mars' surface without being detected. It's a nice sequence, not just because of the effects, but because it's Travis' big hero moment. He's shown as a real ace pilot, keeping his cool under pressure, and then letting out a smile as if it were one big amusement park ride. Malcolm - probably the big loser in the final hero moments sweepstakes - still has a funny bit involving Star Trek's first puke bag. He did also get some information from Section 31 before going on the raid, but it's a minor point and a minor scene where he leaves S31 with no hard feelings. Like I said yesterday, its inclusion is largely wasted.

But back to Mars where the shuttlepod flies by a somewhat indulgent Carl Sagan memorial featuring the Mars rover from the credits sequence. It's a shot that calls a little too much attention to itself, but otherwise, Mars looks quite good. Inside Paxton's base, T'Pol calls Paxton on his hypocrisy, pointing to a genetic illness treated by alien medicine, a mirror of her own child's doomed genetic heritage. Trip's hero moment is going all MacGyver and busting himself loose from his holding cell, with some oddly retro 80s music scoring the action. Trip meets up with the raiding party and is wounded in the ensuing phaser fight, but he does save the day by deviating the super-weapon blast into the ocean (tsunami, anyone?). Archer has a fairly good confrontation with Paxton, though he's a little dumb, standing too close to that cracking window in the background. Good thing Mars is on its way to being terraformed or he and Paxton would have ended up with golf balls for eyes like in Total Recall. Up on the ship, Hoshi's left in charge and gets her great moment when she has to stand up to Minister Samuels on the bridge. The biggest rookie of them all, she's really grown up.

This occurs rather early in the episode, leaving plenty of time to deal with the mole that apparently stole T'Pol and Trip's DNA, as the baby lay dying. It's not that humans and Vulcans are necessarily incompatible, it's that the clone was genetically defective (perhaps on purpose). The scene where they choose a name for it is heartbreaking. I was thinking T'Les (T'Pol's mom), but Elizabeth is even better and really sad. When the child dies, Phlox has a great little speech that pays homage to his new family, no doubt a sentiment shared by the actor in regards to the show's cast and crew. Beautiful acting by the always superlative John Billingsley. The mole, as it turns out, is a one-line chump from engineering, who's at least given a little more meat when he's shown as completely torn between loyalties and ends up a suicide. Red herrings include Kelby (too easy) and Gannet, in a way, who turns out to be the worst Starfleet Intelligence operative in history. If her job was finding out who the mole was, she certainly did a bad job of it. Unless she really thought Travis was the culprit, there's really no reason for her to spend all her time in his bed.

Though the process was poisoned by the Terra Prime incident, talks for an alliance charter resume and Enterprise's crew gets the credit it deserves this time. Archer's final speech is a beautifully Trekkish mission statement, that the final frontier isn't in space, but within ourselves, an exploration of our similarities and differences, or the friendships between peoples. And really, it should have ended there. I wish they'd found a way to edit the episode so that the two epilogue scenes were before that speech. The first is a useless "Gannet sprung from the brig" scene that can't be called a resolution to the subplot at all. The last is a touching emotional scene between T'Pol and Trip that I like, but which ends the show on a real downer.

LESSON: The Star Trek universe is only rated PG because the universal translator doesn't do curse words.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Not perfect, but an excellent showcase for the characters that plays enough right notes to be a satisfying series finale. As such, I think it rises above the Medium-High it might have gotten if it were just an episode somewhere in the middle of the series.


snell said...

A nugget for your consideration as you come up to the finale of both Enterprise and Trek on TV: Did Paramount kill/damage the franchise by forcing it to be on their pathetic micro-network?

De said...

It was definitely indulgent, but seeing the Carl Sagan Memorial Station made me smile anyway. I think Dr. Sagan would have appreciated it, even if he wasn't a big fan of Trek.

Snell - That's a great question.

Anonymous said...

I actually stopped watching Enterprise during the third season because it was on upn. My house wasn't able to pick up the signal well unlike all the big channels. I probably would have watched it if it had been on CBS.

Siskoid said...

Snell: We were just talking about that this weekend here at home. My answer is YES.

FoldedSoup said...

My God.. It all makes sense...


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