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reviewed by Kevin Thomas Riley
It was with great sadness I sat down to watch Demons, the first part of two in ENT's last mini-arc - in essence what will amount to the finale for the series. What's been labelled the "finale" (episode 22) is no true finale for Star Trek: Enterprise but that's a topic for another review). This show ends with the next part, Terra Prime. After this there will be no more Trek for the foreseeable future. Not since the original series ended way back in 1969 are we faced with the prospect of being without Star Trek and it is a disconcerting feeling to say the least.
This final two-parter has been called "the solar system arc" since the events therein transpires in Earth's solar system. The 22nd century is still an era far from the "enlightened utopia" of later centuries. Here there still exists xenophobia, as witnessed earlier in Home for instance. However bad xenophobia is, it is refreshing to see it dealt with in Trek. Trek fan as I am I've never been one to believe in the supposed "perfect unprejudiced people" of a future "paradise".
The original series showed us an optimistic outlook while still recognizing humanity's inherent flaws. The optimism was that we all can struggle to overcome our inner demons. To do that we must not deny their existence - otherwise, how can we deal with them. This is the kind of optimism I can sympathize with. But in later Treks - most notably The Next Generation they went way overboard with utopianism. Now all of a sudden people were "perfect" and (almost) never confronted their inner demons, which is simply unbelievable. Aside from that it made for boring characterisations and stories. That was one of the reasons I was thrilled about the prequellian concept of ENT. We returned to an earlier era where humanity is far from perfect. Although ENT has stumbled and sometimes not taken advantage of this, it has nonetheless acknowledged it. None more so in this final instalment of Star Trek.
In Demons we are confronted with the existence of a xenophobic Human First-group called Terra Prime. They're isolationists and want nothing to do with aliens, who they think will overtake Earth if not held at arms length. They're opposed to Starfleet and the exploration of space - and hence the NX-01. And they blame the human presence in outer space for the Xindi attack. What's disconcerting is that they're not altogether wrong. How wise is it really to telegraph your existence to every alien species out there? We know the Klingons and the Romulans will become a major foe. It is perfectly understandable that even normal peaceful people would take Terra Prime's message to heart, even if they're misguided. As with today's world, it is virtually impossible to isolate yourself from influences from the outside. Whether or not you make your presence known out there, it is inevitable that you at some point will confront that outside world. It is the manner in which you handle that confrontation that matters.
The sensible way for the Earth government is to forge alliances with friendly aliens. In Demons a rather sleazy politician named Nathan Samuels (a very good Harry Groener - was I the only one who thought he at some point would metamorphose himself into a giant snake?) has taken advantage of the success Jonathan Archer had in United to call a conference intended on creating a "Coalition of Planets" - an organization that seems to be a precursor to the United Federation of Planets of later Star Treks. Star Trek chronology has the creation of the Federation at 2161, after the Earth/Romulan War, suggesting that this coalition will ultimately fail (just as the League of Nations did). It is however a noble attempt.
This is of course something that Terra Prime, led by a lunar mining tycoon named Paxton (excellently played by Robocop's Peter Weller), vehemently opposes. His big role model is Colonel Green (original series The Savage Curtain), who committed genocide on people mutated by radiation sickness after the third world war, in order to keep humanity "pure". Demons is essentially a big set-up for the great show down between Terra Prime and our Starfleet crew. Breathtaking computer generated visuals shows how the mining complex Orpheus rises from the lunar surface and warps to Mars, where it ties itself to the Verteron array - a particle "cannon" of sorts, designed to deflect incoming asteroids and comets. Paxton however threatens to use it against Earth if not all extra-terrestrials leave the system. To be continued in the next episode.
One can of course discuss how reasonable it was to leave the array virtually unguarded but my take is that it is something that is rarely used and that a huge complex like Orpheus could take over. It also shows the naiveté of the Earth government that no one even considered the possibility of it being hijacked like this. I can let this slide.
But Paxton has another surprise up his sleeve. It's a baby girl, a hybrid Human/Vulcan child made from the DNA of our favourite couple Trip and T'Pol. To Paxton she's an abomination, a symbol of how wrong the mixing of different species are. His intentions regarding T'Baby remains unclear. Did he help create it and if so, why, since he considers her an abomination? Or did someone else create her and Paxton got wind of it? Genetic engineer Arik Soong from the Augments arc springs to mind.
Much is made of the fact that T'Pol has never been pregnant and that Trip harbours doubts. Personally I think they went a little overboard with doubting Trip. I can understand that the timeframe may indicate something, since this is set on January 19th, almost 13 months after the "sexual relations" of Harbinger. A baby no more than six months old would allow for a gestation period (ex vivo) of about seven months. Putting aside the improbability of conception without outside genetic engineering, it still is improbable for no other reason than that T'Pol said so. When would the foetus have been removed and by whom?
Given that the crew has knowledge about, and even met, the alternate son of Trip and T'Pol in E2 and their previous encounter with Arik Soong and his augments it is odd in the extreme that no one, not even Phlox, even considered the possibility of someone using DNA samples (that wouldn't be too hard to come by for someone persistent enough) to artificially create a Trip/T'Pol hybrid baby. Even the scene in sickbay played out much like a similar scene in E2. We've also had Sim, the Trip clone grown in an artificial womb in Similitude, so the technology shouldn't be that hard to master if Phlox could do it while they were isolated in the Expanse.
Why make such a big deal of Trip having doubts about T'Pol's sincerity, other than create some angst for our bonded couple? T'Pol was visibly hurt by his doubts. Even if he hadn't said anything she did pick it up through their psychic bond. Sure, Trip is only human but common sense would tell him that she was truthful. Even under stress and considering that she hasn't been forthcoming with everything before (she took a long time to admit her feelings for him, and has she told him about her Trellium-D addiction?) this would not be something to hold back on.
On the other hand it was nice to see the difficulties they have to adjusting to the bond. Being in each other's heads can be very invasive. They've just discovered it and has probably have had very little time to learn how to handle it, especially considering that Trip's an emotional human and T'Pol a more controlled Vulcan. I suspect even bonded Vulcan mates have to meditate and practice mental shielding techniques. And logically, the bond is stronger on T'Pol's side since she can pick up on his doubts but he can't pick up on her sincerity. And in the original Journey to Babel, Sarek hid his heart condition from his bonded human mate Amanda. Exploring the bond between Trip and T'Pol would be very interesting. It is unfortunate that we're not going to see that, since the show has been cancelled.
You can tell though that Trip and T'Pol are warming up to the thought of parenthood. Trip really lights up when he talks about it with Phlox - about the health and traits of T'Baby and how his father always wanted a granddaughter. As soon as T'Pol learns of T'Baby she instinctively ("I'm Vulcan") knows that "there is a child out there and it's ours". The mother-child bond kicks in and does she look pissed off or what, in that scene after Paxton has captured her? Don't mess with T'Mom!
The protectiveness of Trip and T'Pol also helps to explain why they were allowed to infiltrate the lunar mining complex. Though it really was a very bad call to send them down to that hostile environment, considering how well known they probably are, I can so see that happening. It is their baby after all and it is perfectly understandable that they feel that they must be down there. I suspect Archer knew that as well. They would have gone down to Orpheus regardless. What is inexcusable is that they didn't disguise themselves, most notably covering up T'Pol's ears. It was a foregone conclusion that they were going to be captured. I also thought their bickering about directions like an old married couple were cute, but I'm a sucker for things like that!
The story about Travis's old flame, reporter Gannet Brooks, showing up seemed like an unnecessary detour (unless it leads somewhere in the next episode). Those scenes dragged and while the girl was pretty enough to look at, they didn't have that much chemistry. There has been many jokes jokes about Travis's lack of lines on the show but given Montgomery's performance here that may have been a blessing in disguise. He didn't act very convincingly here and it was so long ago he had so much screen time that I'm hesitant to tell whether this was a one-time occurrence or not. Too bad. I also did not see it coming that Gannet was a spy for Terra Prime (for obvious reasons I wasn't spoiled by UPN during the commercial break). I assumed that she would turn out to be nothing more than a nosey investigative reporter.
Other nice tidbits were Archer blackmailing Samuels and Reed enlisting the aid of his Section 31 superior again. Does this mean Reed is, as Harris suggested, back in the fold of Section 31? We'll probably never know. Another thing that could've been developed in a fifth season!
It's difficult grading a part of a multi-part arc when you haven't seen how it pans out. The pacing was slow in parts but overall I enjoyed it. Not every episode has to have huge explosions, space battles and fights. My preliminary grade is 9, subject to revision after I see part two - Terra Prime.
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