73: E Squared
As if having three separate time traveling interests with their fingers in the Xindi plot
wasn't enough, "Star Trek: Enterprise" now adds a fourth - mostly just to facilitate another
of its typical one-off time-bending episodes, but with enough clues sprinkled into previous
episodes to indicate that some minimal thought has been given to continuity.
The premise of "E Squared" is very, very similar to the late season five Deep Space Nine episode
"Children of Time" - nearly a carbon copy in fact.
The Enterprise crew meet their descendents, who spawned from a trip backwards to a previous century
that Enterprise is about to make.
But "E Squared" has entirely different pros and cons. In terms of audience draw,
Enterprise's crew is just not that interesting as a group of characters, compared to
the characters of Deep Space Nine or pretty much any other incarnation of Star Trek.
Finding out who hooked up with whom and had how many children and what those descendents
are like, etc., is only mildly interesting here.
"It's ridiculous to assume those events are going to happen.....
However, in terms of temporal mechanics, "E Squared" is miles ahead of "Children of Time",
so far ahead that it actually sits on some safe and solid ground. No emotion or energy is
wasted insisting that the temporal accident be recreated faithfully. This script seems to fully
acknowledge that these Enterprise descendents will continue to coexist with their ancestors no
matter what "new" choices those ancestors make. Our regular Enterprise crew are in fact the
doubles of the crew that spawned those descendents. The story's action proceeds along those lines.
The descendents' various plans have that consideration embedded into them. Every once in a while,
we see the odd Human member of our Enterprise's regular crew entertaining the thought of
a single-line rewrite model of time, whether it's Trip assuming his future is set in stone,
or Archer musing that maybe time has been re-written, but in each case T'Pol is actually very eloquent
in quickly shooting down those theories and stating more enlightened theories on screen.
The fact that our counterparts married doesn't mean we'll do the same."
Although technically, this episode could be looked at as though both parties are desperate
to break out of a possible loop of history recreating itself, the loop really isn't the main
focus of their efforts. The loop is incidental to the big picture - the successful completion
of the Xindi mission. Thus, "E Squared" is quite well motivated on the grand scale of mission statements,
and doesn't suffer the same problems as so many other time travel debacles. That said,
specific motivation for many of the smaller decisions on how to go about things isn't
really all that powerful. It is a difference over the particulars of technobabble that creates
one of the central conflicts of the story, and a problem that should easily have been resolved
through discussion feels artificially escalated into a ship-to-ship showdown with phasers firing
and fingers on the torpedo launchers. Later there are some more external battles with
a species that seems to have been artificially planted here just to provide action. Why would
Degra's people be using this shortcut and recommending it to Archer if it is indeed so
Although we do get a few scenes of Degra's council and some advancement on the long term
Xindi plot, it is minimal, and today's efforts are mostly just a struggle to get from A to B
in order to continue on. Perhaps the biggest problem is simply the credibility
of having Enterprise's descendents being given a 117 year headstart on the Xindi conflict and
of the entire Delphic Expanse without being able to do anything better to nip the whole
scenario in the bud. The outcome we see the episode start with, given the season three premise
and the motivation of the crew of the looped ship, is quite a stretch indeed.
"E Squared" has not helped the momentum of the third season's
main arc, and was probably not the greatest idea for this point of the show, but what's done
is done, and it would probably be awkward to try to skip this one in the run. At least
all of our main players in this plot remain in the present working through their troubles,
so events here do still matter.
In the end, "E Squared" is certainly not great, but remains a pleasant enough episode
of "Enterprise" and keeps the ball rolling, letting you know that further big developments
can be expected in the season's final episodes.....
Read the next In-depth Analysis Review:
"The Council / Countdown / Zero Hour"