story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Manny Coto
teleplay by Manny Coto
directed by Allan Kroeker
EXCELLENT MUSIC by Jay Chattaway
Enterprise's third season enjoyed some of its best, biggest, and most important
twists and developments in "Azati Prime" and the two episodes following. We also get
some significant answers to some of the key temporal intrigue that has been afoot
Previously, we had had only two major time-traveling players on this show.
One was the Suliban's dark mystery informant, and the other was Daniels who supposedly
came from a future Federation. Neither was particularly adept at understanding time any
better than Trek's usual writers, and there was much deliberate ambiguity as to which
one (if either) was more worthy of Archer's trust.
Now in these three episodes, a third time-traveling party is revealed, which both
nicely raises the stakes but also unfortunately increases the level of confusion in keeping
everyone's motives and histories straight. Heaven help the casual viewer. In "Azati Prime",
we really only learn new details of this third party through one of Daniels' info-dumps,
with a scene from a possible future painting the backdrop.
Once more, "Star Trek: Enterprise" isn't really all that concerned with exploring temporal
mechanics, much less thinking such things through very well. Instead, the time-travelers
are all being used more like the powerful hidden key players in a massive conspiracy plot.
Daniels now easily fits into the same slot as Jerry Hardin's character in early seasons
of "The X-Files", or indeed the "Deep Throat" informant in Nixon's Watergate scandal whom
Hardin's character was named after. Might the conspiracy on "Star Trek: Enterprise" have worked
equally well, or indeed better, if the conspirators were not time travelers? The ability
to travel through time seems most importantly to be a symbol of power in these stories much more
than a concept being explored in science fiction terms.
One striking observation that Archer seems to completely miss here is that the Daniels
that he meets here in "Azati Prime" has to be a completely different one to the one he met in
"Carpenter Street". One has intimate knowledge of centuries of Xindi history,
with Archer being one of that history's key players, and the other hasn't got a clue who the Xindi
are and thinks contact with them doesn't belong in his "proper" history. In the terms of the show
"Sliders", these two Daniels are "doubles" of each other, co-existing in
alternate universes. It makes you wonder if we ever meet the same version of Daniels
in any two encounters with him, which brings into serious question whether any future
he tells Archer to aim for really represents Archer's best course of action.
While all additional information is good, the scene with Daniels gets a bit silly
when he tries to prevent Archer from taking action without actually suggesting an alternate
course. Just let the man go do his thing. At best, perhaps it did give Archer the idea
for a "plan B", which he eventually did begin to work through.
A curious side-note is that the picture Daniels paints of these new time travellers
shows them to be remarkably similar to the Tharrils in
"Doctor Who: Warriors' Gate", beings who are so aware of
alternate histories and futures that they become unstable and out-of-phase in any given one.
"Azati Prime" goes on to become one of the big winners in Enterprise's third season.
Not only is the long term story arc developing full steam ahead, but it is doing so
with some serious eye-candy as many of the things we've been waiting to see are revealed
in grand optical shots and sequences with minimal dialogue.
The real icing on the cake
is that composer Jay Chattaway is allowed to break out of the chains of blandness with which
Berman and company usually restrained the musicians, and many striking and energetic cues
are used to back all those primarily visual scenes. The end result is one of the most
cinematic episodes of Star Trek ever to be presented on the small screen. This is worthy
of note, and contributes heartily to the two thumbs up I'll gladly give this episode.
Well, it seems multi-disc music collections such as
TNG's "Haven / Face of the Enemy" or
the DS9 Collection
will continue to come out for each
Star Trek series. The one I'm most interested in is the one for
Enterprise, and particularly the Jay Chattaway disc of it.
Chattaway's creativity seems to have got a chance to breathe regularly
on this series more than any other of Trek.
Strangely though, Chattaway's excellent selections for "Azati Prime" do not
appear to be included. It looks like they missed a trick there.
Find all the latest Star Trek music releases in our
Star Trek Music Catalogue
written by Phyllis Strong
directed by James L. Conway
music by Dennis McCarthy & Kevin Kiner
In "Damage", apart from a quick peek-a-boo between Archer and the Aquatics,
our Enterprise crew spends most of its time contemplating its own wounded navel
and the dark places therein from several angles and viewpoints.... some of which
makes previous episodes of the season suddenly a bit more important than before.
Developments in the main Xindi plot are contained within a handful of scenes
with various council members, where their temporal advisor is finally shown to
the audience. Interesting is her tactic of admitting her actions and claiming that
those actions kept the council united, when it was those very actions that
divided the council. What a politician! Does she really expect her lies to be praised?
She delivers the concept charismatically; maybe it'll work if there are no thinkers in the room.
At any rate, her admission seems to make much of the debate of the next episode moot....
"Damage" might be considered a bit of a lull in the midst of a three-episode
mini-arc, however it does do a good job of keeping the ball rolling and making
the audience anticipate where things are going next. As we ask ourselves if we will see the tables
start to turn in the next episode, we know we can't dare to miss it....
written by Chris Black and David A. Goodman
directed by Levar Burton
music by Paul Baillargeon
This episode does turn out to be a very important one as character loyalties begin to
shift around, but it does feel a bit clumsy in the way Degra is allowed to wander everywhere
behind the crew with no one guarding him, and in the direction that many of the Archer-Xindi
conversations get lost in.
The details of many previous season 3 episodes are presented to Degra and his
Sloth-Xindi friend on the council played by Rick Worthy. But I have to ask myself
why the Sloth-councillor seems so obsessed with asking about the time-travel aspects
surrounding the adventure in "Carpenter Street"? The Xindi's newly revealed time-sponsor
admitted in the last episode to making that dead-end tangent possible. Is he afraid she
won't continue to admit this to the Aquatics as she has to the other four Xindi species?
And regardless, what can evidence of the events of "Carpenter Street" actually do to help resolve
distrust and realign Xindi loyalty with people who are not truly their enemy? In particular,
why does Sloth-councillor need it to be proven that "Carpenter Street" did take place in the past?
I'm still of the opinion that that story could have worked better and more easily in the present,
if indeed there was any point to doing it at all.
At any rate, such pointless questions only serve to make this episode needlessly more
confusing, adding hay to a stack that further obscures the needles we should be looking for.
At least the needles are here, and deserve a bit more focus than they get. Archer's
information from episodes such as
"Anomaly" and "Harbinger" are FAR more important and
interesting, and THESE are the bits that actually have the power to shift loyalties.
"The Forgotten" also continues some of the personal character threads from earlier
episodes, with T'Pol having an interesting twist in her life that may continue long term
from now on, and Trip looking as though he's partly resolving an issue he's been carrying
all season long. Not the greatest stuff ever, but at least it's giving this crew a bit more
character. Phlox has also been a strong supporting character in this episode and the last one,
while Reed is on the ball holding the ship together and Hoshi and Mayweather get a bit forgotten
in the background.
All in all, season 3's main plot is progressing fairly strongly by this point, and
seems set to become a very big and interesting event for the Trek universe in its final
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