Enterprise attempts to bow out gracefully, but then the two terrible Bs crap all over it.
May 16, 2005
Star Trek is dead. Some would say it’s been dead for a long, long time. Some would say those two terrible Bs killed it way back when and then tried to cover up the evidence with all the panache of an idiot murder suspect on Law & Order.
As a long-time Trekkie, I suppose this news is hard to deal with. This might sound odd, coming from a hardcore DS9-er like myself, but I never completely hated Enterprise. I was often indifferent to it, but my heart never burned with seething, soul-sucking hatred. Yes, it was deathly dull in parts, and Archer was annoying and just a little bit in love with his own big, square head, and the show never seemed to quite “get it” when it came to classic Trek-style morality plays (in other words, Enterprise, if you’re trying to show us a metaphor for Japanese internment during World War II, don’t have Archer say, “You know, this is just like Japanese internment during World War II”). Still, the series occasionally showed sparks of life and employed talented folks like John Billingsley and Manny Coto and seemed to be finding its footing in these last couple of seasons. All in all, I was fine with it chuggin’ along, so long as I was not required to watch every episode.
Upon learning of the show’s cancellation, I didn’t shed the same buckets of tears I did when they killed off Vedek Bareil (Yes, I did. I was in high school. Yes, really. You shut up!). I guess I felt a little disappointed — after all, this will be the first time in umpteen billion years that there’s no Trek on the air — but as with everything related to Enterprise, it was sort of muted, and probably followed by an overwhelming feeling of not caring.
There was one plot thread, however, I was kind of hoping they’d wrap up decently. See, I really liked the relationship between Trip and T’Pol. You could even maybe say that I was a ‘shipper. I don’t know if I can adequately explainwhy I enjoyed these two together, but I did. Maybe because pairing them up showed actual character growth, as neither of them had much use for the other’s species when the show premiered. Maybe because the two actors seemed to have genuine chemistry. Maybe because their relationship gave the show a thread of humanity at an up-close-and-personal, character-driven level — a key element that was all-too-often missing from Enterprise‘s scripts.
I don’t know. Whatever the reason, all I really wanted out of Enterprise‘s final voyages was a satisfying resolution to this relationship. Did the show deliver? Yes and no.
Enterprise‘s penultimate episode, “Terra Prime,” was probably one of its best — or one of my favorites, at least. It had Peter Weller slinking around hammily and magnificently, a genetically-engineered Tr’Pol baby, and good end-of-the-road speeches from both Archer and Phlox (was anyone else hoping that Soval would do the slow clap when he gave Archer a standing ovation, though? That would have been awesome). It took on some big Trekkian themes and added some intimate character moments, and all in all, felt like good, vintage Star Trek. And as for that one thing I mentioned earlier, That One Thing I Care About, it was handled in a way that was sweet, emotional, and restrained. I liked that T ‘n’ T didn’t end up in a big, cheesy clinch. Instead, one of the episode’s final shots has the duo mourning their lost child. As Trip tearily tells T’Pol that the future existence of a Vulcan/human hybrid baby is scientifically possible, she reaches over and tightly clutches his hand.
See? Nice. Restrained. Emotional, but still restrained, and still open to further fanfic speculation. The end!
Unfortunately, those two terrible Bs decided to follow up a decent resolution with a gummed-up cheesy mess of an episode and made that the series finale. Jolene, hon? I think “appalling” is, well, charitable. (For the record, Coto, the Reeves-Stevenses and Andre Bormanis were behind “Terra Prime”; those other two guys I’m trying not to mention wrote the “finale.”)
As y’all know, the finale featured Troi and Riker checking out the decommissioning of Enterprise and the signing of the Federation charter via holodeck. And while it’s always nice to see our old friends again, 1) using the holodeck as a framing device blows and 2) having fucking Riker in every goddamn Enterprise scene only served to remind me of all the show-offy, superfluous shit George Lucas crams into the backgrounds of his wretched prequels. It didn’t work, the TNG stuff didn’t belong, and lest you think I’ve forgotten about That One Thing I Care About because I’m too busy foaming at the mouth, well…
First of all, this episode supposedly takes place six years after recent Enterprise events. T ‘n’ T’s relationship apparently did not develop at all in that time period. That’s sort of disappointing, but then…then! Trip dies a shitty, pointless death to save stupid Archer, thereby negating any hope we might have for their future relationship. The end! (Really, this time.)
So basically, rather than satisfying the true-blue Enterprise fans that are out there (and even if I’m not one of them, they do exist) or bringing closure to one of the show’s more interesting plotlines, B&B tried to…I don’t know. Appeal to TNG fans? Appeal to people who like watching shitty, pointless death scenes? Appeal to no one by going, “Fuck all y’all, this is what you get for canceling our shit”?
I know I’m speculating a lot on this, especially given that I earlier claimed to have a nonchalant “I don’t care” attitude towards the show. But here’s the thing — what is probably most surprising to me about all of this is that both of these episodes provoked such an emotional reaction in me. I’m mad that they ended the show that way. I’m mad that they didn’t give T ‘n’ T a decent conclusion. And also, I’m sort of mad that I’m mad, because I thought I didn’t really care about Enterprise.
In my ever-idealistic of hearts, I can’t help but wonder if this just goes to show that there’s hope for Star Trek yet. If a sub-par Trek series can get me to care about even one plot thread within it — and care enough that I’ve basically concocted an entire scenario in my head wherein that final episode doesn’t exist, “Terra Prime” is the true finale, and that holodeck thing was just a simulation of one possible future that will probably never happen, and Trip and T’Pol really got married and had some continuity-busting t’babies — well, maybe Trek isn’t dead after all. To paraphrase what Trip said to T’Pol upon sharing the fact that Vulcans and humans might be able to successfully mate one day: “There’s something kinda comforting about that…doncha think?”