Star Trek: Enterprise - Episode Guide - Season 3
O, Star Trek: Enterprise season 3 … you leave us speechless with the breathtakingly un-Star Trek feel of nearly every episode in this season, and in the tone of the overriding story arc. See, two years prior to the airing of the premiere episode of STE season 3, the attacks on the Twin Towers happened. Since every ST series prides itself on its topicality, the creative team apparently decided that the best way to address issues in the post-9/11 Star Trek was to turn Enterprise grim, gritty and humorless while placing a heavy accent on the militarism.
And they made T’Pol a futuristic drug addict.
Beyond the actual inclusion of the space marine corps on the Enterprise, the scriptwriters and script editor clearly had no clue what to do with these troops; when the “MaCos” could be useful, they’re not around; when they are around, they’re useless. It’s a bit like having three or four dozen Trois aboard.
Meanwhile, the bridge crew – even beyond (sigh) Sick Boy T’Pol – takes a like turn into darkness: Archer becomes Shouty Archer, nary a boyish grin crossing his face; Trip morphs into Bad Trip, spending the entire year-long mission alternately moping about his dead sister or doing massage with druggie T’Pol; and Tucker unfortunately doesn’t change at all.
Watch Enterprise season 3 once through if you’re a completist; otherwise, just skip to the good ones, which mostly work as standalone episodes – stuff like “Twilight” (episode #8), “North Star“ (#9) and “Proving Ground” (#13). As for much of the rest, however … yeesh
1. The Xindi – The grim ‘n’ grittiness commences with an episode set entirely behind a blue filter; the storyline involves Captain Archer and Lt. Reed grimly investigating a gritty mining facility in hopes of finding a single Xindi who was rumored to have visited recently. **
2. Anomaly – The Enterprise enters the Delphic Expanse, a region of space in which tremendous physics-bending and f/x budget-stretching anomalies that will haunt the crew for much of the season. Upon first contact with the anomalies, the Enterprise shuts down and alien pirates board! ***
3. Extinction – Take it as a rule: Any Star Trek episode in which crew member(s) contract a space virus and morphs into another species is bad. Think “Identity Crisis” or “Genesis” or “Threshold” or…*
4. Rajiin – The Rajiin of the title is an alien slave girl of the sort much bandied about on The Original Series, except done up darkly. In less-sexy-than-pheromonally-rapey fashion, Rajiin seduces just about every member of the crew except T’Pol (she should have waited about 10 more episodes) and turns out to be, to no one’s surprise, allied with the Xindi. A subplot involving the acquisition of Trellium-D with which to protect the ship from anomalous effects of the Expanse is dull and serves to start T’Pol’s descent into madness. **
5. Impulse – Apparently, when Vulcans are exposed to Trellium-D, the neural pathways which aid in suppressing emotions no longer function properly. And then they turn into zombies bent on mindless destruction. Yeah. *
6. Exile – A solitary psychic first plays the voyeur with Sato, then hints that he can assist with the Xindi search … but only if Sato stays with him for a few days. Archer, nor anyone else, really sees any serious problem with any of this. *
7. The Shipment – This episode gets Degra and Trellik, a couple key recurring characters in the Xindi scientists with qualms about, you know, genocide. Involved with the Enterprise’s mission. Very little else is notable here, except for lots of swell special effects. **
8. Twilight – Head trip for Archer, who first watches the Xindi destroy Earth before waking up to find himself living with T’Pol in the last remaining settlement of homo sapiens. As it turns out, certain brainstem parasites have given him anterograde amnesia, which prevents the formation of new memories (dude, like the guy in Memento!). Yet, eternal optimist Dr. Phlox believes that both Archer’s and humanity’s condition are reversible. A classic ST-style twisty-turny episode that really doesn’t belong in season 3…****
9. North Star – Y’ever see that show Firefly? This is Enterprise’s version of that, with the Enterprise crew discovering a planet inhabited by folks ineffably living a 19th-century American West lifestyle many light-years from home. (Minor spoiler: It doesn’t even the ridiculous parallel evolution.) Like “Twilight,” another cleverly-written episode that has little/nothing to do with the Xindi. Sensing a theme here…? ****
10. Similitude – Aaaand we’re back to killing good stories. Phlox creates a short-lived clone of Commander Tucker in order to produce brain tissue and save his life. After spending days of his life lovingly raised from infanthood through adolescence by Phlox, he ditches the doctor to follow Archer around like a puppy and soon is getting smoochy with T’Pol. The inexplicable denial of giving Phlox screen time in the second half of this episode is emblematic of the poor (poor!) creative choices made in this season and in this series in general. *
11. Carpenter Street – Those clever reptilian Xindi are building a genocidal weapon where the human/Vulcan forces can’t find them: The past. So Daniels shows up to take Archer and T’Pol time-tripping à la Star Trek IV to 2004 to sabotage the plans. ***
12. Chosen Realm – Religious wackos who worship the anomaly-creating spheres of the Expanse are welcomed aboard Enterprise. Easily taking over the ship despite dozens of MaCos and Lt. Reed’s awesome security, the extremists then get intent on preparing the execution of Archer for heresy. **
13. Proving Ground – Before Discovery, this episode could well be the single best episode in terms of special effects. The Enterprise uncovers the testing ground for the Xindi weapon and improvise a plan to steal the goods with the unexpected assistance of an Andorian ship captained by Commander Shran, who makes every episode he’s in better. ****
14. Stratagem – Head trip for … Degra? The Xindi scientist finds himself in a role usually occupied by an Enterprise crewmember, i.e. getting tricked into revealing secrets by feigning his memory loss and recreating a new environment around him. Twists and machinations keep this one interesting, but Archer truly hits a new ethical low among ST captains here…**
15. Harbinger – The Enterprise beams aboard an alien of the “Sphere Builders” who insists he must die by the spheres, despite the crew’s (incredibly malleable) ethics. **
16. Doctor's Orders – In a similar story to Voyager’s “One,” the Enterprise must pass through an area of space which only Phlox can tolerate. And when he’s alone (with Porthos), things start to happen on the ship. A deceptively complex episode which proves that Phlox really deserved more starring turns. Nice stuff. (Hint: Pay attention to T’Pol’s first few lines of dialogue with Phlox in this episode; they contain the key to the entire episode.) ***
17. Hatchery – An away team finds a crippled Xindi ship, aboard which is solely a clutch of insectoid eggs. Not only is Archer soon belaying orders to destroy the lot, he’s soon protecting the things. Why…? ***
18. Azati Prime – The Enterprise tracks down Degra again and finds the planet-killer being construction under the waters of Azati Prime. Archer gets set to pilot the Enterprise’s stolen Xindi shuttlecraft in a kamikaze mission to destroy the weapon, but he’s interrupted by a visit from Daniels. Daniels in turn takes Archer on a quick jaunt to the Enterprise-J (!) of the 27th (!!!) century – and turns the entire Xindi subplot on its head. And when T’Pol captains the Enterprise, the Xindi beat the tar out of the Enterprise due to her (sigh) drug habit. Plus points for the former, minus points for the latter. ***
19. Damage – After the Xindi attack of the previous episode, the Enterprise desperately seeks a new primary warp coil – and Archer again makes a highly ethically questionable decision. A top-5 Enterprise captain dick move by Archer; on top of this, the dudes he stiffs in this episode, to Star Trek Guide’s knowledge, are *never* recompensed... *
20. The Forgotten – Like this episode, in which next to nothing happens: Degra gets threatened by some Xindi council reptiles and Phlox hammers home the plotline about T’Pol’s Trellium-3 addiction. (um, didn’t that turn those other Vulcans into zombies 17 episodes ago?) *
21. E² -- The Enterprise runs afoul of a time paradox, meeting an Enterprise some 120 years into their future – yet manned by the descendants of the original crew. More than any other, this episode is symbolic of Enterprise as a whole, as it ends completely inelegantly and unsatisfyingly. Seriously, a dogfight between the ships…? **
22. The Council – Picard would be proud: Archer stands before the Xindi Council, reveals what his crew has discovered over the past months, speaks eloquently of his fine species and essentially Georgiou-esquely promises that “we come in peace.” Boom, civil war. Damn, this is a volatile bunch. ***
23. Countdown – While Hoshi Sato is forced by the Xindi reptiles to decode the launch sequence for the aquatic-built Earth terminator, Archer and some Xindi attempt to win over the aquatics. **
24. Zero Hour – The Enterprise versus alien reptile Nazis in the past? Now that’s what STG calls Star Trek. But for the overdose of grim and gritty in equal measures…***