Jan 24, 2013

[TV] Star Trek: Enterprise - Season 3

My on-going adventures with the series Star Trek: Enterprise has certainly been a mixed bag. As much as there are things that I like about the series, there was certainly a lot that could have been done to improve the series and maybe avert its premature cancellation.

But of course I continue to watch since it's been too long since we've had a steady-going Star Trek series on-air and so I make do with our collection of various Star Trek shows on DVD.

The first two seasons of the show dabbled a lot in time-travel related stories, which I felt strongly muddied the waters of their narratives. Instead of focusing on just telling the stories of the Federation's formation, we had some weird cross-generational story of these folks in the past needing to save the future and all that jazz. It could have been a decent enough story, but I still felt it was overly messy.

This third season tried to give it a bit more focus in a different direction which felt better, but not necessarily as strong as it could have been.

Synopsis: Star Trek: Enterprise is the fifth live-action TV series in the Star Trek franchise. It was created by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga.

As setup by the Season 2 finale, the focus of this third season was the mission to locate a race known as the Xindi, who had launched a weapon against Earth that killed over 7 million people. This leads them to a dangerous region known as The Expanse with many new threats for our crew of explorers to face. At its most basic, the region is filled with spatial anomalies that have the potential to cause significant damage to ships. Plus there's the fact that the region is not one traveled by friendly races such as the Vulcans, and thus the "Earthers" are largely on their own.

Then there's the Xindi themselves, who are not a single species but instead multiple ones that evolved to sentience on the same planet. Thus we have a wide range of enemies working together including Aquatics, Arboreals,  Avians, Insectoids, Primates and Reptillians. And they are convinced that the humans will be responsible for threatening their existence and thus they launch on their own efforts to take out humanity first.

The tone of the season feels a lot like Star Trek: Voyager, mainly given how the crew are pretty much on their own in the Expanse given Earth's limited space-resources in the area. Sending a single ship to investigate a massive weapon that killed millions may have made more sense in the latter timeline when the Federation is firmly established, but at this point it did seem a little silly. Then again this is television, so it's not like we need airtight plots and premises all the time.

I did appreciate the multi-species nature of The Xindi. And while any council of sorts can be rather cumbersome over time and made for mixed moments across various episodes, as a concept they were a lot of fun. I did appreciate how each species had their own unique traits and even technological profiles. Thus learning how to deal with one race was not enough to be able to deal with all the others right away.

The Enrprise's journey through the Expanse made the crew face a lot of difficult decisions. And while it was nice to return to the sort of moral dilemmas that helped define a lot of the stories in the original Star Trek series, the rather dark tone wasn't all that compelling. Plus a lot of the ethical questions that they faced were a lot like the ones that Voyager faced on its long journey home, and so it did not exactly feel like new territory.

Despite hunting down the Xindi, this season still featured annoying time-travel episodes like Carpenter Street and an alien-world Western in North Star. At least there were some efforts and novel and interesting concepts like Archer losing all long-term memory in Twilight, the question of what rights a clone have in Similitude and getting rather unusual help from time-locked descendants in .

On the whole, the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise had a better narrative tone by returning to a more serialized story format. There's still a wee bit too much time travel for my personal comfort, but I suppose we can't have everything. The series gets 3.5 different rants about how the Xindi killed millions out of a possible 5.

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