Nichelle Nichols gets a meatier role as Nyota Uhura than any classic episode or film! Walter Koenig's Chekov likewise. And I still adore Captain Harriman. ("Ferris Beuller... yer my heero.")
This trio of Captains (Head of Starfleet Linguistics, Starfleet Intelligence veteran, and commander of the Enterprise-B) meet up for a 40th anniversary of Captain Kirk's first 5 year mission aboard Enterprise: a Constitution-class Museum ship under the dead hero's nephew, Commander Kirk (James Cawley, nicely nicely).
It's 2305- Charlie Evans' Forty-Year Thasian Time-Out has ended, and he's looking for Way-Back Pay-Back against Captain Kirk. From planet M-622, Charlie uses the Guardian of Forever to kill Kirk's mother before he is born. The face of the galaxy takes a powerful 70-Year-Long punch...
In the new timeline, under the oppressive Galactic Order, humanity still has some alien friends, but they are the likes of the Klingons and the Orions, who seem to have been a bad influence. Amoral Harriman is a stooge of the system. He destroys planet Vulcan as an object lesson to the rebellion. (Poor Vulcan! That place is running out of parallel versions fast!)
The rebellion, under Chekov and his shapeshifting pal Ragnar, use desperate measures that devoutly pacifist Uhura finds just as deplorable as the butchers of the Galactic Order. As a universe without Kirk, everyone's under the thumb of super-powered madman Gary Mitchell. Your Only Choice: Vote Gary Mitchell for Curate Prime: 4 More Decades of Absolute Dominance!
Acting on vague impressions of a better version of reality from a mind meld with young Mr. Tuvok, and with Uhura's conscience as their guide, the rebels must restore what was.
Who can stand in a war with a demigod like Mitchell? Can old, old Charlie have a change of heart? Be "our new darling" once again?
Director Tim Russ joins Chase Masterson, Garrett Wang, Cirroc Lofton, Grace Lee Whitney, J. G. Hertzler, Gary Graham, Ethan Phillips and all the other heroes and villains lending juicy performances to an anniversary tale of peace, love, and friendship with lots of lovely space battles.
"Of Gods and Men" is dedicated to the Great Bird, 40 years of cast, crews, and writers, and also to the fans. Which, as a fan, I'm very O.K. with.
Episodes 4 & 5 of Star Trek Phase II were written and directed by David "The Tribbles Guy" Gerrold, and dedicated to Trek First Lady Majel.
Pitched battle is joined with the Klingons, and I imagine even the dead must appreciate how good the special effects are! "Fontana, go heal somethin'," snarls overworked McCoy.
Ensign Peter Kirk and Lt. Alex Freeman are engaged to be married. Overprotective Captain Kirk is taken off guard to hear it, but agrees to perform the ceremony... and to let his green nephew serve on a dangerous rescue mission in the same day.
"Relax, Jim," McCoy "soothes". "We don't put bulls-eyes on the red shirts anymore."
Starship Copernicus is in distress, intentionally on course for destruction in a plasma streamer between the stars Lear and Iago. The crew has been gruesomely killed by swarms of Regulan bloodworms. Starfleet Command orders the infected vessel destroyed... with the landing party still aboard.
Regulan bloodworm swarms are the anti-tribble. Unstoppable, immune to phasers, and burning through walls like tiny horrible Hortas. Their rapid skeletonization of Hodell from the feet up forces Peter to disintegrate the man to stop his suffering. The unsettling doctors Jenna N. Yar (Denise Crosby as Natasha's grandma) and Blodgett hope to harness the creatures for nefarious purposes. Like Burke in Aliens, you have to wonder what they'd do once they HAD them. Millions of tiny "Bloodworms Rock" T-Shirts?
Who will live and who will die? What is the secret of the worm?
If "canonical" Star Trek ever gets around to depicting "gay" as "normal" they will have to look back (at least) with an acknowledgement to "Blood and Fire"; a script from the '80s, modified for the noughties, that turns out COULD be made well without anyone's heads literally exploding. This is the Kirk I can really respect- a man who respects love in all forms.
I've run out of canonical Star Trek, kids! Three days early, too.
So here's your bonus from the reams and reams of available Unofficial Trek: the tip of the asteroid, if you will.
James Cawley, producer, actor, and Elvis impersonator, was born during The Original Series in Ticonderoga, New York. With Jack Marshall and the Cawley Entertainment Company, Cawley created (and performed as Captain Kirk) in Star Trek: Phase II AKA Star Trek: New Voyages AKA Those Magnificent Bastards with too much time and money who have a moon shuttle full of creativity and spirit... and maybe just a thimble full of copyright infringement.
Who, it must be said, have put out stories which surpass some of the canon itself! To date, seven episodes have been produced. I saw them on YouTube, and if you're interested enough in Star Trek to have read this far, I recommend you see them, too. They're free! That's why CBS is sort of O.K. with it.
Writers Marc Scott Zicree and Michael Reaves deliver a powerful tale of love, sacrifice and time travel, showcasing (Ohhh Myyy!) George Takei as parallel universe Hikaru Sulu- if he'd been a desperate castaway and single dad like that chap Prospero. Mr. Sulu is rescued at the same moment he was lost, but for him, it's been 30 years. His daughter Allahna Sulu is brought aboard as well... only she must remain suspended in an improvised non-physical form because she's awfully darn paradoxical. If Sulu will not consent to undo this savage but fruitful life and return to the youth he was, the Romulans will surely get the better of Enterprise... but who could ask a father to sacrifice his child? With Grace Lee Whitney as Rand and Majel Barrett Roddenberry as the computer voice, you could squint and forget it's a fan film at all. But the regular cast is pretty good by this point, too. At the very least, it's worlds better than Nemesis!
"World Enough and Time", (the third story of this particular parallel universe) was nominated for a Hugo Award in 2008, and only lost out because 'Dr. Who: Blink' existed simultaneously.
2259: a terrorist bombing at the Doctor Who production offices in London is masterminded by rogue Starfleet operative "John Harrison Ford Not An Alias". Starfleet C-in-C Admiral Alexander "Buckaroo Banzai" Marcus, demands answers! While Marcus gathers all his eggheads in one basket, "Harrison" drops by in a hover chopper and kills (among others) Kirk's beloved mentor Admiral Pike. The suave, handsome mass murderer then beams to "safety"- a transwarp jaunt into the post-nuclear wasteland of the Klingon homeworld. You know, for safety!
Marcus orders Kirk to take a fistful of top-secret, totally unidentified torpedoes and shell the crap out of a Klingon continent from orbit to stop one man. Heroism! Scotty is the only one who vocally refuses to go along with this horrible plan (well, Keenser, too, just not so vocally). Kirk accepts that hippie's resignation while drooling over the Torpedo Babysitter "Carol Wallace Not An Alias". After all, who needs Scotty when you've got an English lady in her underthings?
With a K'normian ship acquired earlier during the comic book, Kirk and company disobey Admiral Marcus and extract "Harrison" themselves. "Harrison" allows himself to be arrested, since it is clear he can kill a dozen Klingons with his bear hands, cool coat, and giant gun, and also chew through handcuffs and cell walls if he so wished. He doesn't even need oxygen! Nice job on the genetic engineering, 1965!
For he is a super-soldier, and in my first disappointment of the Abrams tenure, he's Khan. Not Khan's trusted lieutenant, not some other Eugenics War Augment. Khan Singh. (The man's a versatile, PHENOMENAL actor. He's an amazing nemesis. He's an absolute snake in human skin! But does he look like a KHAN NOONIEN SINGH? Wesley Snipes, maybe! Nigel Chillingsbottom. Even John Harrison. THAT I'd believe!
Speaking of lying about your name for no real reason, Wallace the torpedo babysitter is the Admiral's good-hearted daughter- Carol Marcus. (Now that we're doing this, I half-expected Keenser to be DAVID Marcus under a Halloween mask!) Big Daddy Marcus is a war-mongering maverick with a big, black starship. He found Khan someplace and used him for wetwork (see deleted shower scene). But Marcus also held Khan's crew hostage to blackmail the centuries-frozen savage strategic genius into DESIGNING his big, black starship! You know, just as Donald Rumsfeld would logically have forced frozen Napolean Bonaparte to design his war planes...
Some visually entrancing but exceedingly questionable physics-defying airlock antics later, Kirk and Scotty tag gamely along as Khan defeats Marcus. And crushes his skull. Then Khan steals Marcus' Vengeance for himself. Vengeance and Enterprise shoot each other down, and Kirk dies of the radiation while re-starting the engine. Spock rages at the death of his BFF, and beats Khan into submission aboard a speeding hover garbage truck.
Everyone is very sad, so Dr. McCoy uses Khan's magic blood to resurrect Kirk, a tribble, and Admiral Archer's beagle. You had to be there. It was pretty exciting.
Speaking of exciting, for all the Cumberbitches, I offer this deleted scene of Khan in a hot shower. As The Internet has pointed out, it's a regular shower with Mr. Cumberbatch in it!
So, yeah. Amazing action. Visually stunning. Fantastic performances. Originality? Not so much. Dialogue, characters, emotional beats- too many are lifted directly from Wrath of Khan. Which was a big let down after the 2009 film was so fresh. This leaves a bad taste in the mouth, like two skanky Neko-Girls in bed with Kirk instead of one perfectly nice Orion.
"Star Trek Into Darkness" offers half the fun, but keeps the dream alive and, despite the poster, is probably a sophomore slump instead of the franchise finally crashing and burning. As Kirk's final speech hypocritically exclaims: "Exploration is the answer, not violence! Just ignore all that lovely, pulse-pounding violence we just spent two hours thrusting at you! Exploration! That's the ticket! Yeah! Violence? Icky." Until I tire of it (I've only seen it twice, after all), I still have to give it four stars. It's Star Trek, you guys! It may be grim, but it's all we've got for the next few years.
What's that you say? You say there's hundreds of comics and novels and fanzines and YouTubes? Well, then what the hell are we waiting for? The Human Adventure is Just Beginning!
In which the planet Romulus is destroyed. Nero, one of the few survivors, seeks revenge on the entire galaxy. Traveling backward to a suspiciously similar parallel universe, he interferes with the birth of Jim Kirk, killing our hero's father and otherwise dicking around with time. Fate and the Original Mr. Spock, marooned in the past, must intervene to stop the fiddling Nero from burning every Federation world, one by one.
By default, Kirk's father figure is the noble Captain Pike, who peels the lad off a barroom floor. "Your father was captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives... I dare you to do better."
Dr. McCoy's origins can be summed up in one curmudgeonly sentence. "The ex-wife got the whole damn planet in the divorce- all I got left is my bones." Kirk latches onto the glum medicine man instantly on the shuttle to Starfleet Academy.
The pair of fast friends embark on their better-late-than-never career path, along with a certain straight-laced Vulcan who (by the standards of his world) is really a Bad-Ass Rebel. Spock's also going to be setting the standards of his world from now on, as one of a handful of survivors when the Romulan terrorists implode Vulcan along with half the Starfleet on Graduation Day.
Add Spock's brainy linguist girlfriend Uhura, the math ninja Chekov, and the regular ninja Sulu, and the wheels are almost back on this high-octane Wagon Train to the Stars.
Snarky Scott was exiled to the chilly, remote planet Delta Vega for losing Admiral Archer's beloved beagle in a long-distance transporter experiment. The writers confirm this was indeed 145-year-old Federation Founding Father Jonathan Archer, but were quite sure the beagle involved was NOT Porthos. And, in case (like me) you were worried about the poor little puppy, Alan Dean Foster's novelization finally beams him back aboard. So does one of the comic books. But that's not the real question: "Are you from the future?" Scotty innocently inquires. "Do they still have sandwiches there?"
A massive round of applause to the combined efforts of the make-up and CG teams for some of the most creative atmospheric aliens in a long while, and who finally netted a Trek film an Academy Award. The ubiquitous Romulan foreheads of the 24th century are suspiciously absent, but one can only assume more cases of the Augment Flu caused them in the first place.
Speaking of aliens who are easy on the eyes, and because it slips my mind whether or not I've ever mentioned that I enjoy ladies of the green persuasion, let me refer you to my own sadly neglected sister blog for my thoughts on some Orion window dressing who should be crew, Gaila! Since the time of that writing, I saw the deleted scenes that explain how Kirk used an email mash note for his alien bedroom buddy to carry his cheat code to the Kobiyashi Maru test simulator. Also, there's a scene where Kirk stands in an Enterprise hallway apologizing to a disgruntled Orion woman he THINKS is Gaila... further implying that Kirk thinks Gaila is aboard! Not in the sequel. sadly, but not dead yet!
They say the heart of rock and roll is still beating, and from what I've seen, I believe 'em.
"Star Trek", until I saw it, was a movie I expected to LOATHE. Told for years that no one cared about the concept anymore, THEN told it would be a Top Gun/Kirk/Spock/Academy prequel/reboot by that Lost guy, I was never happier to be wrong. Michael Giacchino's score is delightful. Orici and Kurtzman's script is top drawer. It is repeatedly hilarious, and painful, and triumphant.
If no one had ever made Galaxy Quest, this would be my favorite Star Trek movie ever.
In which (yes, spoilers, damn it) Trip bravely dies to save Enterprise from the snooty Maitre De from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
I've rarely read so many negative reviews for a single episode of anything! And yes, I still really like it. Despite the fact that it shunts the regulars aside... and reminds us that they are centuries dead... and that a minor crisis Riker resolved years ago was retroactively because he and Troi liked to watch these people on the holodeck on the Enterprise-D during commercial breaks!
"Just beyond the next planet, just beyond the next star there would be something magnificent, something noble," says Archer, and for the most part, he was bang on.
But what do we learn today? We jump six years ahead and nobody mentions the Romulan War. Nobody on the bridge got a promotion or changed AT ALL. Except Shran, who had a cute half-Aenar looking kid.
"You got any advice?" Riker asks Trip in what will turn out to be the last day of his life.
"No." Trip laughs. And I can't top that.
So it's 2161- dignitaries from 18 different worlds are present when Jonathan Archer signs the charter of the United Federation of Planets. And the most important moment of all of this... is his heartfelt hug for the alien. I've read that many were mad that Riker ends the program BEFORE we get to hear Archer's speech to the fledgling Federation.
But, c'mon. We KNOW the speech! We've all heard it many hundreds of times. And we hear it again. From Picard, from Kirk, and yes, from Archer. It begins: "Space. The Final Frontier..."
"These Are the Voyages..." divides even those few who claim to have seen it. For many, it was a stumble at the finish line. For myself, a tired but sincere love letter to an era that will never come again. Just as Jar-Jar Binks is BOTH a loveable sweetheart and a tooth-grinding screw-up, there's nothing hindsight can improve. With 25 seasons produced in the 18 solid years leading up to this ending, some were brilliant... and some were worn out.
IF you felt Enterprise was robbed of its own finale, I can only say (Season 4 notwithstanding, and let's not forget I'm easily Season 4's biggest fan) that if Enterprise had spent less time coasting on the goodwill of previous series and more time innovating it might have deserved one.
But this is not the end. As Captain Archer toasts: "Here's to the next generation."
John Paxton, voted best-dressed Bond Villain of 2155, patrols the streets of Old Detroit keeping humanity safe from adorable pointy-eared half-alien rugrats. Plus he's got a mobile moon base with laser sharks!
Seemingly following up on rumours that Humans and Vulcans have started to bump uglies, Paxton managed to keep his lunch down and had his Earth First (Sorry, Babylon 5, I meant Terra Prime) stooges steal Trip and T'Pol's... uh... personal Starfleet Seed Samples. The crazy racists whip up a test-tube baby they believe will make their closed-minded buddies toss their cookies. Toss their cookies with RAGE! If the aliens don't quit their fruit picking, hover-cab driving, and medical professional jobs at once and leave the solar system FOREVER, Paxton will blow up Starfleet HQ. As you do.
It's up to our heroes to swoop down to Mars on a terraforming comet, bringing along enough phasers and sick bags to stop Paxton tying T'Pol to the monorail tracks until she pays the rent.
Gary Graham and Eric Pierpoint, the fantastic leads from the Alien Nation TV series, finally appear again in the same episode. But they've swapped roles as "Prejudiced Human Cop" and "Brainy Alien". Still, as T'Pol points out: "Life is change."
There's nothing like the death of a sick little kid to suck the wind out of your sails in a story's final moments. The second Elizabeth in Trip's life passes on. But grief is easier when shared. T'Pol is as moved in her own way as Trip by the tragedy of a life that was too brief. That moment is very painful. And I'm proud of them for having it.
Phlox tells Archer that his time on Enterprise was kind of meant as a break from his giant crazy family. But he found another family with them.
"A final frontier begins..." says Archer to the sceptical alien delegates. "Let's explore it together."
"Terra Prime" was, by default, Enterprise's TRUE finale. (There's one more to go, but it turned out to be a Star Trek finale overall instead.) Hmm. A giant laser beam firing into the San Francisco bay? Looks pretty cool. Let's make sure we use THAT again someday...
***** (5 stars out of 5)
Meanwhile, it's January of 2155 back in a universe where close friends rarely shank each other for the last Pop-Tart in the box: the Star Trek Universe.
Nathan Samuels (better known as the Mayor of that plucky Californian city on the Hellmouth, San Fransisco) is politicizing the progress Captain Archer has made in getting aliens and humans to not murder each other so much. (Progress which is, itself, made possible by a grant from the Hoshi Sato Universal Translator Foundation.) Samuels is the beaming face of the budding new Coalition of Planets (name to be firmed up later).
Reed is making clandestine rendezvous in back alleys again, as the spymasters of Section 31 investigate the shooting death of Dr. Khouri, a woman who collapsed at the Coalition holding a hair from a Vulcan-Human hybrid. Phlox identifies this as the child of T'Pol and Tucker. And finally, Mayweather is doinking a reporter who works for a xenophobic cult lead by a power-hungry madman.
John Frederick Paxton. What is he, a tycoon or a moon shuttle conductor? He's got a funny idea about heroes: his idol is a familiar figure from The Original Series- Colonel Green. It seems that around 2056, shortly after the nukes of World War III dropped, "The Green Party" had an ENTIRELY different connotation. The Colonel prevented generations of mutation, disease, and ugly people using certain undisclosed unsavoury measures. Presumably millions of extremely late term abortions- in the 443rd month, for instance.
From his mobile fortress Paxton seizes the verteron laser on Mars and flatly intones "Aliens Go Home".
"Demons" is LeVar Burton's final directorial contribution, and wonderful work it is, too. Harry Groener and Peter Weller are welcome guests, and the regulars are in top form. We're wrapping up here and I'm kind of sad to see the end. To Be Continued...
***** (5 stars out of 5) Using a strategy they'll stick with for a hundred years but get much, much worse at implementing, the Tholians spin a web of any size and explode the ISS Enterprise.
The surviving thugs with our heroes' faces will just have to settle for Defiant, which fiercely outclasses everything else in the Mirror Universe, and turns even mighty Vulcan Wessels into chump meat.
Don't underestimate a Vulcan, though, some of them can meld your mind and some of them have goatees. Some are blessed with both! Rebel Soval of the Avenger tries to conspire with T'Pol to wrest the future ship from the usurper Archer. You'd think it's be easy to do: Archer may have lost his brush-cut brain in the agony booth. He's reading the historical bio of Good-Guy-Universe Archer and having a jealous fit of rage about... himself. He even hears Hero Jon taunting him. But his strangest symptom though- wearing the green wraparound velour shirt popularized by Kirk in the '60s. For the Ladies.
Also For The Ladies: Evil Archer wrestles his giant lizard in the welcome surprise return of a Gorn. Slar may be a slavemaster and head-chomping saboteur, but his defeat via gravity plating crushing and multiple phaser blasts is unfortunate. They could have made him a member of the crew. In a green wraparound velour shirt!
As happens sometimes, the deleted scene has some of the best stuff. I love Archer's deleted line: "Shoot the first one who stops clapping." They should have done that with this series! Although I might have been the only survivor.
"In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II" is a romp with all the trimmings, from every detail on the GNDN pipes to the computer voice of Majel. Plus the rise of the Earth's Evil Empress. Fear the belly shirt!
I thought I had completely tired of the Mirror Universe, but here it is again and it's better than ever!
First of all, that's a staggeringly fantastic opening sequence. Trek Nerds recognize the end of Star Trek First Contact where Zefram greets Solkar... only instead of the Dawn of Maturity and Peace, psycho Cochrane shotguns the space elf down and steals all his stuff! (Keep in mind, in this dimension, Dexter is a sitcom.)
We discover Reed and Phlox invented the Agony Booth, and, curiously, that the ISS Enterprise crew is already more racially integrated than its counterpart in the positive universe: Andorians, Tellarites, even Orions. Of course, they're all conquered vassals, but still... get to the Tholians!
It's not just another evil parallel universe story, but a sequel to 'The Tholian Web', in which those dastardly crystal lobsters have got their claws on a tasty piece of future tech in flamboyant 2260's style... U.S.S. Defiant.
Mirror Archer proves he's not as unambitious as his Captain Forrest thought, torturing and blasting his way onto the bridge of the most powerful ship in the universe. Who wants the first orbital barrage?
"In a Mirror, Darkly" has lots of twisted amusements: Doktor Phlox dissecting his menagerie, Ho-shi trading up from Forrest's bed-warmer to Archer's, and Big Dick Tucker looking like he took a nap on a hot plate, but they had me at the revised opening credits. Earth thugs killing everything they see until they conquer the moon! Humans are the WORST... but you kind of have to admire their can-do spirit!
Groobies, groobies, everywhere, and nary a man can think!
When Enterprise heads into "Here There Be Dragons" territory, scouting the Berengarius System for a good place to build Starbase One, the Orions stir up trouble. SEXY trouble!
Orion Syndicate giant and son of anarchy Harrad "Piney" Sar seals a deal for part interest in a magnesite mine with Archer. He does this by giving the captain three Slave Girls: Navaar, D'Nesh, and Maras. The trio of scantily-clad dancers emit pheromones that drive men wild, give competing women headaches, and make Dr. Phlox stifle a yawn.
D'Nesh is soon giggling and pulling levers in engineering, while Navaar wiggles her way into Archer's command centre. I MEAN PANTS! Travis Mayweather recommends the same thing he did as a teen surrounded by Deltan ladies- flee the room and Exercise More.
Meanwhile, T'Pol and Trip discover they've accidentally entered a deep and monogamous mating bond. This allows them to read each other's minds, pick out furniture together now and then, and also makes Trip immune to the Green Honey Trap.
This is good news, because they are the only ones who can form a coherent thought when Harrad-Sar turns up again to capture Enterprise on orders from the real enslavers- his owners: The Slave Girls.
"Bound" doesn't ask for much, and it wants to be The Original Series so bad you almost feel sorry for it. Keep Off The Grass!
**** (4 stars out of 5) How do you manage to risk 160 lives and two top-of-the-line starships just to fix a broken brake line? Just like this... and it's awesome! This is also how mommy space-ships and daddy space-ships make baby space-ships. The mommy space-ship sidles up alongside daddy at 5 times the speed of light and they press real close in a special hug... then they exchange a tiny space-ship building man on a string. Go Trip!
Marab, the Klingon Augment who snuck quietly in and sabotaged the Enterprise, is disdainful of Reed for sneaky-peeky spying! Speaking of hypocrisy, Augment Laneth reports to Marab's father that his son died without honour... because she thinks mere HUMANS killed him. The smooth-foreheads are feeling ashamed because they may have lost some bravado along with their crunchy heads. Although some of the fear may be due to the genocide descending upon them for being infectious mutants. Plus the Klingon Admiral trying to murder all the infected is in bed with Section 31, who (last time I checked) are humans! Sometimes I think Klingons are making up the honourable/dishonourable rules as they go along.
Medicine is just as arbitrary as engineering and honour: Phlox does something with computers and centrifuges, then incubates the result in Captain Archer's veins, which temporarily gives Archer a Klingon forehead somehow. So nobody dies, but the virus is going to create several generations of miserable Klingons who look like humans. (Worse yet, millions of them also caught a cold once that made their hair look like bad curly wigs!)
"Divergence" also explains Saavik and Ziyal- their faces must have caught the Augment Flu!
Did you ever sing "More, more tell us more" when Uncle Remus sang "That's how the camel got his humps?" Well, here's more anyway... that's how the Klingons got their Lumps! (And, no, it wasn't a bite from Lumpy Space Princess.)
Speaking of a beautiful crooning voice and racist comedy, Transferred Trip Tucker has a new underling on the newly-launched starship Columbia: Ensign Stewie. Why, it's a cameo appearance from Seth MacFarlane! (Sadly, he does not sing The Thunder Song.)
Madam Chang's is a popular San Francisco restaurant. Unfortunately, popular with kidnappers. Klingon Uncle Phil drags Dr. Phlox to Qu'Vat Colony, where a Fresh Plague has become Bel Airborne! Klingons can't look weak by ASKING for help. So they stole a Metagenetics expert. (Not as easy as it sounds. First someone had to invent Metagenetics.)
Klingon medicine has advanced to the point of Retsenbaum Scissors and screw-top cranial replacement surgery, but they still can't get that cat out of the operating room! (Sorry, it's a targ, not a kitty cat.) What's the "Affliction" poised to kill millions of Klingons? It's a mutated Levodian Flu Virus. What mutated it, you ask? Oh, you didn't? Well, I'll tell you!
Jealous of human Augments, Klingons made their own! With Soong's embryos from the wreck of Malik's ship. Granted, the super-soldiers lost their cranial ridges, but on the bright side they don't live very long with the disgrace.
Archer's search for Phlox hits a Section 31 roadblock when it turns out Malcolm Reed works for those Shady Secret Servicemen. And while he's still reeling from the betrayal, Klingon Augments infiltrate Enterprise and program it to be the bus that couldn't slow down. Why? Best I can tell: the Augmentation process includes a penchant for pulse-pounding but ultimately meaningless cliffhangers.
***** (5 stars out of 5) Welcome to Andoria at last! It's an ice moon of the gas giant Andor. Enjoy labyrinthine ice tunnels. Geothermal cities in glaciers. Leg-piercing icicles for the unwary. Swarms of acidic bore worms. Essentially the same as Canada.
The Romulans causing all the trouble turn out to be fascinating, too. The football jock-type is a former Senator, demoted to Admiral because he didn't agree with expansionism. The head scientist passionately objects to their scheme with the drugged captive pilot, but he knows if he speaks out demotion is the least consequence. Being right is not rewarded on Romulus. Essentially the same as Canada.
The dastardly telepresence drones continue to fly circles around Enterprise. But the answer lies in the frozen hearts of "The Aenar": an endangered Andorian Goth subculture. Jhamel (sister of the Romulan's victim Gareb) is a brave volunteer for the countermeasure Trip and Phlox threw together out of old iPads and cake pans. Jhamel reaches her sibling mentally with a boost from the machine.
Gareb, told he was the last Aenar, appalled by his own deadly actions, and completely out of Doritos, turns on his tormentors. Knowing they will kill him for it, Gareb crashes the drones into each other.
Unwilling to explain his reasons, Trip asks for a transfer to Columbia. Phlox knows why: "No species in the galaxy has mastered the art of mixing romance and vocation."
What a great adventure story! Testing the limits of science! Exploration! Trying to understand the other guy! Nearly 40 years since Vulcans and Andorians showed up on TV and it takes this long to get around to a season depicting their home worlds? What fun, though!
Reaching out to communicate solves problems, silence causes more. Yet everyone knows that as a best policy, honesty is risky. After all, the Remans are waiting outside, just as they were in Nemesis: the wolves who show up to drag your carcass away when you're cancelled.
Trip and Reed are shaken like a Polaroid picture aboard the Romulan Remote-Control Drone ship. The nefarious nemesis continue to sow rage and confusion by destroying hapless Rigelians while disguised as Enterprise. Elsewhere, a Romulan agent takes shots at Extreme Cougar Wives while disguised as Honey Boo-Boo.
Archer's plan to catch the wily raptor with a sensor blockade requires the cooperation of a large fleet. Earth doesn't have enough ships, and the Vulcans are disarming to read the scriptures and lie in deck chairs. Still, Andorian ships are plentiful, and Tellarites have some second-hand Xindi Sloth barges whose stench can likely be detected across a vacuum...
However, the Andorian Aphrodite, Talas, was shot while surrendering to the cowardly Tellarite Naarg. Talas' lover Shran pours her blood on the killer's hands, demanding a duel to the death. Captain Archer stands in for the snivelling pig, since to do otherwise would ruin any chance at alliance. Interstellar peace and politics come down to knife-fights rather often in this dimension! And it's a stab-fest between friends, too, so it's pretty intense. Especially the "handcuffed together wielding ceremonial pizza-cutters" part.
Still, we need honour satisfied and Shran and Archer alive, so it turns out that by "Death Match" Andorians mean: "Or Whatever".
Like Buster Bluth piloting a bomber from a mall kiosk, the hand on the tiller is nobody very important. The Romulans won't let any trace of their involvement be proven, so they captured a Pasty Patsy, an Andorian Mole-Man who looks like he's spent the better part of his life in a basement playing video games hopped up on sugar.
"United" offers a sense of the fledgling Federation as a brittle community struggling to respect each other's values. It's a treat!
Apparently only 2.5 million people watched "Babel One", because this was when UPN decided to cancel the series. I will try to refrain from saying (again)... just when it was getting good! O.K., so I failed. JUST WHEN IT WAS GETTING REALLY GOOD!
If the stiffest complaint that can be laid against this story is that is a lot like 'Journey To Babel' then I must totally agree and say 'bring it on'! This is exactly the derivative pandering pablum I wanted to yum up all along! Provided said pablum is also knowing, funny and surprising.
Tellarites and Andorians standing on the brink of war! Molly Brink standing around in her underpants! Returning with a bang as the Andorian Talas, this soldier gal certainly makes Captain Shran's antennae stand at attention! HOW is he always so grouchy with a GF like that?
Speaking of grouchy, I don't know if I would love a Tellarite friend or co-worker, but these dog-eating, mud-wallowing, stinking, hairy swine bring a pork barrel full of fun to interstellar politics... when they're not adding injury to insult.
Action and tumult ensue- when Reed and Trip explore a nasty ship. Trapped aboard the attacker (which uses advanced holography to mimic multiple hull designs), the humans must make their way to the bridge and find out who's behind all this murderous chicanery...
It's an absolutely BRILLIANT twist ending, perfectly in keeping with established facts, and it's spoiler-y as all hell. But it's way past too late to bother about that. The answer is... NOBODY! There's NOBODY driving! Cancelled! Still, numbers don't lie. ROMULANS LIE!
Shine, little glow worm, glimmer! Powerful disembodied aliens possess Reed and Mayweather to watch what humans do when they die. Like Nagilum only less visually ambitious.
Hoshi and Trip catch a silicon-based virus while snooping around a Klingon latrine (!) Whatever archeological treasure they hoped to dig up... could it EVER be worth it? Disease symptoms include discussions of previously unsuspected back story. Hoshi has an aikido black belt?? And plays poker??? And was expelled for breaking her commanding officer's arm??? Hoshi??? Meek, withdrawn Hoshi. Fine, I'll accept it, but I think you meant B'Elanna Torres. Also, Hoshi's pattern-sensing genius extends to picking computer-code quarantine locks and going for a feverish wander. "Yeah, she's full of surprises today," says Trip. Surprisingly bad quarantine, too. Even a chair wedged under a door handle would've worked better!
Humans are surprising to the observers, too. The more jaded of the pair of godlike scientists had never in 800 years seen a captain infect himself trying to help. What you get for watching jerks like Cardassians and Klingons, I guess. Or is it just that everyone else sends doctors to heal people?
"Experience compassion for yourself," Archer challenges the observers.
The aliens agree to save lives instead of being jerks, and also start sprucing up for an official first contact with humanity. "That will barely give us 5,000 years to prepare."
"Observer Effect" is a good bottle show, but I'm baffled when The Original Series had better special effects to depict these nostalgic special guest aliens than the modern.