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4-21 Terra Prime
reviewed by Kevin Thomas Riley
For all intents and purposes, this episode - Terra Prime - is the de facto final episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. While not dubbed a finale by the powers that be, in my mind and in the mind of many ENT fans it is. The abomination that comes after this one is in no way a proper finale for the series (but more on that in another review). And as finale for ENT it works very well indeed. Since the show was cancelled prematurely there was really no possibility to do a story about the birth of the Federation justice but the conclusion of Terra Prime is fitting enough as it foreshadows this event when finally the Coalition of Planets is formed. Of course I would have wished for a full seven seasons to delve into how the United Federation of Planets of later Treks came into being, but since we unfortunately aren't getting that, seeing its precursor is good enough.
Terra Prime continues where Demons left off, with xenophobe leader Paxton threatening to use the Verteron array on Mars to target selected sites on Earth if all aliens aren't expelled. To underline his argument about the dangers of polluting influence he has created a hybrid baby, made from stolen DNA samples from the human Trip and the Vulcan T'Pol. One wonder though how he thought that would sway sentiments in his favour. After seeing the cute T'Baby I would imagine it would be difficult to convince the fence-sitting humans that she really is the "most dangerous enemy ever faced". But maybe I hold my fellow humans in too high regard? Or are we to assume that Paxton is delusional enough that he couldn't fathom the inherent protectiveness that's inside us when confronted by innocence personified - a helpless little baby?
It would also seem farfetched to think that he had T'Baby created just so he could lure Trip and T'Pol down to his lunar mining complex, and then blackmail Trip into helping him perfect the array into a weapon? Doesn't he have experts of his own to do that? Since Trip never helped him in the end anyway, one wonders about his motivations in that regard. And hadn't Trip been there the Verteron beam would have struck San Francisco and not just the bay offshore. It was good to see Trip save the day for a change. Even if Archer stormed in and gave a helping hand, in the end it was Trip that averted disaster. This is how it should've been more. The crewmembers actually helping each other and letting everyone be a hero once in a while - and that without making any other look weak or stupid. Archer didn't come of weak or stupid here just because of what Trip did.
The way that Archer's strike team descended on Mars was ingenious - hiding behind a comet about to strike down on Mars's north pole to avoid Paxton's sensors. Since comets don't strike every day that was one lucky coincidence. Travis got to shine and show off his piloting skills even after the engine was sabotaged. Good for him. And Phlox giving poor Malcolm a barf bag was hilarious LOL! The writers also made a very nice tribute to the late Carl Sagan in having them fly by the memorial station named after him where the first Mars rover had landed. The action was pretty straightforward and worked well despite being somewhat predictable.
A large part of the episode was also about Trip and T'Pol and their baby. Aaaawwww, didn't T'Pol make a very cute T'Mom and despite the tragic events surrounding it I thought the scene where she talked to T'Baby was funny. "Hello! I am you mother. You are going to need a name. We should discuss that with your father." Absolutely adorable and exactly how I would picture a scene like that. Parental instincts are every bit as strong in Vulcans as in humans. I firmly believe that T'Pol would make a great mom and Trip a great dad. Any child having that couple as parents would be a very lucky child indeed.
Too bad it was a foregone conclusion that Elizabeth, named by T'Pol after Trip's dead sister, wouldn't survive. Despite being used as a plot device, her sad fate and the reactions to her came out very good and believable. Trip and T'Pol (aptly wielding an IDIC medallion) keeping vigil by her incubator while Phlox did his best to cure her. I choked up when Phlox did. And the final scene with Trip and T'Pol in her quarters was one of the most moving scenes ever depicted on Star Trek. I really got misty eyed there and Jolene and Connor played it beautifully. Everyone on the set was supposedly in tears after filming that scene. It was very poignant. The alien ambassadors asked to be present at the funeral and you got the feeling that the mere existence, however briefly, of Elizabeth acted as a unifying symbol for all those attendees at the conference. She was a harbinger of things to come, when humans and aliens come together in common cause not just by convenience but also by genuine friendship and love. That was further nailed down when it turns out that a faulty technique had been used in the cloning process and that's what killed Elizabeth. Paxton was wrong; it wasn't the two halves fighting each other. There's no medical reason why a Human/Vulcan child couldn't be viable. And we all know about Spock, Star Trek's most famous hybrid. It is very fitting that Star Trek: Enterprise ends on that note, with Trip and T'Pol holding hands over the Vulcan symbol of IDIC - Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. It leaves open the possibilities for future inter-species unions, not just between Trip and T'Pol, but also for the entire Trekverse as we will know it.
I really liked this episode but there were some unnecessary detours and minor plot faults. Thankfully not too much time was spent on Travis's spying girlfriend Gannet Brooks. I had hoped that she would become useful somehow but in the end she was just a detour. Having her reveal that she wasn't a spy for Terra Prime but for Starfleet Intelligence didn't amount to anything. It didn't help the crew finding the real spy/saboteur onboard. He wasn't found until Trip and T'Pol came back and could tell about how their DNA was apprehended.
Then we get an unknown ensign the culprit (who them kills himself) instead of the more dramatic choice that a resentful Kelby would've been. T'Pol finding out about Paxton's disease - only cured by an alien gene therapy - didn't amount to anything either, besides showing him as a big hypocrite.
While it was cool to see Hoshi in the big seat for once, it was a bit unrealistic. Has she really command training? Putting an ensign in command at a crucial moment stretches believability. On top of that, having a show down between her and the pompous government minister Samuels didn't ring true.
A nice surprise was that Archer actually got to deliver a good speech in front of the diplomatic conference. As far as I could hear, there were no mentions of gazelles, perhaps that was why Soval was swayed this time and actually initiated the applause. He still paced around but I can forgive him for that. And finally the NX-01 crew got the recognition they deserved.
All in all, despite my minor nitpicks, this was an excellent send-off for ENT. While I might be tempted to downgrade it for those I feel that the positives more than adequately weighed up for them, especially the very moving Trip, T'Pol and Elizabeth scenes. So I give this ENT final episode a grade of 10, but no + because of my nits. This is great Star Trek: Enterprise and it shows why the cancellation is such a huge blunder. While bringing some sort of closure it also shows that there are still so much to tell in this era of Star Trek. Unfortunately the show's creators Berman and Braga doesn't share this sentiment and instead opted for doing a so-called "finale" that effectively destroys all the positives that especially the past season has brought. But I - and I gather a lot of other ENT fans - can comfort myself with having the Demons/Terra Prime two-parter as the true ENT finale. The episode that comes after this one is an aberration.
With Terra Prime, ENT goes out in style. The show didn't live long and prosper but it nevertheless captured my heart and got me excited about Star Trek again - a feeling I haven't had since I watched the original series when I was a kid. This ENT that ends here will live long in my memory. That's all we've got now. As of now, Star Trek is dead and if it ever comes back it won't be anything we can recognize and it will be so far in the future that I won't bother with it. The suits at Viacom/Paramount and its very creators shabbily treated ENT. Shame on all of you!
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