The PR Reps at Paramount are promising a new direction for the current Star Treadmill, which includes a journey into the unknown mystery realm known as the Delphic Expanse! Here voyagers are lost, ships never return and those few who escape are turned inside out (like that episode of The Simpsons... not kidding)! Within the expanse is the home world of the Xindi. Somehow a fringe group of Quantum Leapers have sent messages to the Xindi of the past informing them that in 400 years their homeworld will be destroyed by the people of Earth. The Xindi, being as trusting as 3 year olds, and as stupid as Bin-Ladin, believe this suggestion and send an attack probe to Earth before they are ready with a real, major devistation weapon! Okay... so they zap Earth killing 7 million people in a burning strip between Florida and Venesuela... essentially just enough to piss Earth off beyond belief so that they will send warships to... destroy the Xindi Home World! They were working on a super-weapon... they had 400 years to perfect it... it would have been ready within months... but they decided to send a prototype... to attack Earth... when they weren't ready... to remove the element of surprise... and to make sure they would get attacked in return. So the Xindi are complete freaking Idiots, and clearly the best idea Rick Berman could come up with!
I'm sensitive here... I know how much that would hurt if this was real, and I know how angry I would be if this happened in real life. Anyone in this day and age has a pretty good idea how that might feel... I just don't know if it's appropriate anymore for sci-fi. End of that sermon... It's more than open to debate!
At any rate... Enterprise is recalled (the ship, not the series concept... no such luck, man!) to Earth for a refit and new orders. Along the way the Suliban stop by for their first friendly visit so that Archer can finally meet "Future Guy" who has been manipulating the Enterprise missions from day one! Archer... believes him... I guess because of the number of times he's time traveled (or Quantum Lept... have I belabored this joke yet?).
Star Fleet Command along with the representatives of the Vulcan High Council slowly and grudginly believe Archer after questioning the hell out of him asking such things as "Have you encountered beings from the Future?" His response was "Many times!", but I would have given big bucks (that I don't have) if he'd said "Yeah, man, every Wednesday night on NBC between 1989 and 1993! Word!" Since Archer was able to show science equipment from his own Quantum Leaping Crewman from the first season, he gets to invade the Expanse and kick some Xindi arse! The vulcans are also partially motivated by a video feed of a Vulcan Science vessel within the expanse. The Vulcan crew had become Emotional, angry and violent... so completely in keeping with every Vulcan on this Gregory Benford of an Alan Smithee show! Clearly the Expanse makes Vulcans act like themselves on this show!
Of course the crew had to decide whether or not to accompany the captain. Surprise... all the paid actors are staying. Naturally there's a remarkably tense half hour when it appears that T'Bod (uh... I mean T'Pol) might leave at the behest of the Council. What will she choose?
Meanwhile in a subplot that had certainly better pan out next season, the Klingons, led by Duras are still furious with Captain Archer and are determined to bring him to Batlheh Justice! To this end they arise every so often, attack Enterprise to keep the plot from slowing down too much! Naturally, every time the Klingons come a-knockin' the crew seem to break out of this against all odds in a James T. Kirk-ian victory.
The episode ends with our crew riding off into the Expanse to seek their fortune or demise as the case may be. The Klingons are defeated (for now), T'Bod is remaining with the crew against Vulcan wishes and all that stands before the crew is the unknown of the Expanse that features gas that can turn people inside out and cause them to break into song like Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, not to mention some of the stone-stupidest Star Trek Villains in any generation! Cliffhanger? Nah!
There are some good moments here... Aside from getting to look at T'Pol! For one thing, Trip Tucker's sister was one of the Florida victims, and Connor Trinneer is given some good dramatic moments dealing with it. He's subdued and angry, and surprisingly never melodramatic. The SFX are still very good, and the artistry that went into creating the Expanse was breathtaking for television! The quiet dignity and Military Reserve of the entire crew is actually realistic to people dealing with tragedy. I was impressed with the lack of overacting here.
The Gregory Benford Moments here continue, as a new/old version of the Klingon Bird of Prey attacks Enterprise at every turn. I guess this isn't a huge deal as the Enterprise NX-01 looks far more advanced than the Excelsior anyway. Finally, everyone here seems really quite trusting here. I wondered at any second if Jon Lovitz was going to wander on and say "It... was the Xindi! Yeah, that's the Ticket... and they were in league with... my wife Morgan Fairchild... whom I've seen naked! Aaaaaaaand they were ordered by someone from Clevel- uh, the future, yeah, that's it, that's the ticket!" I wonder if I could have sold Archer my Beach Front property in El Paso!
Three Stars for "The Expanse!" My fantasy is that one day Rick Berman will hold a press conference and reveal that he so loves Mad Magazine that he intentionally made Star Trek: Enterprise spoofable. This would explain a lot and make me feel a damn site better about that theme song!
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