- The Original Series (TOS)
- The Animated Series
- The Movies
- The Next Generation (TNG)
- Deep Space Nine (DS9)
- Voyager
- Enterprise

- Season One
- Season Two
- Season Three
- Season Four

Season Three:
- "The Xindi"
- "Anomaly"
- "Twilight"
- "Carpenter Street"
- "Azati Prime"
- "Damage"
- "The Forgotten"
- "E Squared"
- "The Council"
- "Countdown"
- "Zero Hour"
- Season Three Rankings

- Doctor Who
- Sliders
- The Matrix

- Main Index
- Site Map

"The Council / Countdown /
Zero Hour"

(Star Trek: Enterprise production codes 074, 075, 076)
  • written by Manny Coto (part 1),
    André Bormanis & Chris Black (part 2),
    and Rick Berman & Brannon Braga (part 3).
  • directed by David Livingston (1), Robert Duncan McNeill (2), and Allan Kroeker (3).
  • music by Velton Ray Bunch (1), Dennis McCarthy & Kevin Kiner (2), and Jay Chattaway (3).
  • 3 episodes @ ~45 minutes each

74-76: The Council / Countdown / Zero Hour

To finish off the third season, "Star Trek: Enterprise" produced a massive 3-episode spectacle of answers and resolution, with all of the ongoing threads of the Xindi plot and of season 3 shipboard relationships charging strongly forward, delivering on the promises made since the previous season's finale. I was almost prepared to make a case that these three episodes constituted the best, most exciting story on Enterprise ever, if only some serious flaws hadn't poked through.

First off, we have to note that production value is quite high and satisfying on these three episodes. Money for sets and optical shots and other effects seems to be better spent when it is used to create something that will be seen and used in several episodes. Characters and narratives can become bigger, more interesting, and less predictable when they appear across several episodes. These three episodes reap the full benefit of this long-term approach, and deliver a really exciting and worthy conclusion to the year's narrative. I particularly loved the reveal of the council chamber's location, one of many great visual effect highlights.

Only a few very minor points detracted from this conclusion in the style/production value arena. One was the knifeplay - which was a bit too ugly and primitive for my sci-fi tastes. Another was the small handful of torture scenes - no one really wants that as part of their TV viewing and writers really should come up with better stuff. But as I say, these are small bits that are more than made up for by all the good stuff here that is far more plentiful.

On the narrative side of things, we've got a bit more to talk about. Most of what we've got here is good stuff. I would say one thing about many of the Xindi characters. At times they seem to stretch credulity by having some very serious convictions one moment, but then come around to champion other views later on. Some of these twists are more believable than others. Does it all hold up in the end? Even in these last three episodes, we still manage to get some tidbits of character exposition that add credibility to various Xindi individuals. (As part of that exposition, many members of the council only have their names spoken on screen once all year, here in the final push.) I'm always prepared to grant aliens some substantial differences in brain chemistry leading to entirely different habitual thought processes, and from that point of view, I tend to think of the Xindi as being a bit more gullible to propaganda and hot-headedness than Humans or Vulcans. What we've seen of Xindi character and motivation all year works well enough for me. (I wish I could say the same for the characters of "Lost" over their six year run, but that's a whole 'nother TV show.)

The only real narrative flaw in these final episodes is a temporal one. It begins with some very minor bumps and glitches that would be easy to ignore. We get a number of scenes of the most heinous villains babbling on about timelines, and those scenes kind of missed the mark for me. Their use of terminology is loose and sloppy, as though Star Trek is recycling its own crap upon itself and suffering from Boudrillard's decay of meaning with each iteration. The gist remains clear enough anyway, but wimps the characters out a bit. Most other scenes show our protagonists really up against the odds, struggling hard not to lose everything. Then along comes one of these white-out scenes, which should creep us out as the villains say, "well now we're going to do THIS!" Instead, these villains manage to nearly undercut all the jeopardy by saying that it's actually more and more likely that the protagonists will be victorious. Ick! Maybe this truly is how conspirators spend their final days when their machinations crumble around them, but if such scenes are going to contribute to a narrative, better choices should be made in what these villains say, both in the selection of ideas and their articulation. All things said and done, I would like to have scenes of these characters here, but with these scenes as they are, I worry that they weaken the story more than they strengthen it. Still, this is a very minor flaw, easily overlooked, which doesn't truly hurt the story.

Zero Hour

Daniels also makes a brief appearance in the season finale, during a scene in a completely arbitrary time off on its own tangent. One kind of gets the feeling at this point that the writers are trying to use him in the same fashion as Bakula's other counterpart Al on "Quantum Leap", only it's really not working. Daniels rambles on with his usual schtick about the historical importance of Archer's future, using that as the lame excuse for begging Archer to not be the proactive hero tackling the issues of his own present day. It leaves me wondering, "My God, why did they bother to put this here at all?!" It adds nothing to the conclusion of the Xindi saga, breaks the momentum, and is completely useless. It's a mistake for sure, BUT, since you can easily cut this scene or ignore it without it detracting from the conclusion of the Xindi saga, this remains as just another minor temporal fluff.

I will say that "Enterprise" feels like a slightly different show now that Berman and Braga themselves are writing the final episode "Zero Hour". The core action sections wrapping up the Xindi saga are equally good, but it is noticeable that many of the regulars miraculously have time for scenes of self-reflection during this. Phlox has one which isn't out of character, but feels out of context because of its timing during the narrative.... when more pressing concerns are paramount. Shouldn't he have done all that months earlier?

Music from "Countdown" (7:43)
and "Zero Hour" (14:32)
is available on:
Star Trek - Enterprise Collection
audio CD 4-disc box set

Find all the latest Star Trek music releases in our
Star Trek Music Catalogue

But I want to give a positive point to Berman and Braga as writers in the sense that I felt Hoshi's voice was finally present in the writing here in "Zero Hour", for the first time since "Broken Bow" and "Fight or Flight". Seeing as how Hoshi almost disappeared into the background even more than Travis Mayweather during the later stages of season three, the resurgence of her character was quite reassuring.

But now to the big serious flaw. Collectively, "The Council", "Countdown", and the first 80% of "Zero Hour" could have easily gone down in my book as Enterprise's finest story (partly because the bar was not set quite as high on "Enterprise" as on other Trek series), with Archer's final action shot being one of those classics that had burned itself into my brain as a very positive key memory of this show. But show runners Braga and Berman then went on to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, leaving me scratching my heads at their sense of taste. In the end with the last 20% of "Zero Hour" weighing in, I have to say I think that "Proving Ground", "Broken Bow", and "The Expanse" all manage to stay ahead of this 3-parter in my ultimate ranking of the entire run of Enterprise.

It does make a certain amount of sense that B. & B. should want to create some kind of cliffhanger to pull us in for the start of the fourth season. Personally, I'm not sure that was wise or necessary. Simply bringing the Xindi saga to a successful conclusion, which they did, shows that they will deliver what they promise and therefore makes it natural for us to want to tune in next year, knowing that the show has finally gotten good. They could have simply gone out on a high. Let the final act be a coda of celebration and reflection, with Admiral Forrest and Ambassador Sevol greeting the crew on their good Earth. Far too simple.

Even pulling a total Quantum-Leap exit for Archer isn't totally without merit, if it can tease us with the promise of a GOOD adventure to open next season. But what we are teased with is anything but good. It just looks like old tired recycled crap.

Firstly, Braga can't seem to keep his fingers out of time travel. On Star Trek, that is NOT automatically a draw, and under his pen, is often something that can bore the audience and send them away in droves. Further, he appears to be tipping his hand to show that he's going to really screw this one up by starting with what we can guess to be his idea of a time rewrite. Oh, the importance of keeping history "correct"! Pass me the barf bag. I wish I could maybe say that there was a good reason why the Enterprise crew should have slid to an alternate Earth, and done it in two completely separate groups, but I really don't want to be dissecting the massive action beats concluding the Xindi saga looking for such a distraction. I wish I could say that this was just some stupid one-off adventure that did this, an adventure that all Trek fans could safely ignore, but here it is staining the final 10 minutes of what otherwise might have been the most exciting story "Enterprise" ever did. Aaaahhhh!!!! I would so love to pull "Zero Hour" in two, and keep its Xindi portions completely separate from the prelude to "Storm Front".

Back to the consideration of enticing the audience to tune in next year, this ending misfires in another arena. Hollywood is going to portray Nazis again. Like they haven't already done that to death, and it gets more boring every time. Braga didn't learn his lesson back on Voyager's "The Killing Game" at the end of The Hirogen Arc. How much of a literal repeat of "City on the Edge of Forever" were he and Berman going to try to chuck at us?

I consoled myself that just maybe, in a time travel tale, they might reveal the identity of Sillick's mysterious informant from the future. Neither of them had appeared all season. But I have to confess, I didn't really care about such a reveal very much anymore. This show no longer needed to crutch itself on a familiar face from TNG, DS9, or Voyager, if indeed such was mysterio's identity. "Enterprise" had established its own regulars, and a cast of recurring minor characters that we needed to see more of. Still, it would be a promise to deliver on, if we could have that reveal just the same.

And so, with an unnecessarily sinking heart, I grimaced and tuned in to the season four opener. Archer's out-of-place scenario did not look enticing. Captain Quantum indeed. Oh boy!

Rankings (Season Three):

  1. Proving Ground (a nice clean sci-fi action story advancing a lot of the long-term character relationships that we care about. FINALLY an episode that does Star Trek Enterprise RIGHT!)
  2. The Council / Countdown / Zero Hour

  3. Harbinger (Intrigue aboard ship and with spheres, and best Hayes story yet.)
  4. Azati Prime
  5. The Forgotten
  6. Stratagem (Another solid tale of progress for season 3, fleshing out Degra to the max.)
  7. Exile (tops all season 3 stories that come before it in the run. Hoshi's situation is interesting and civil, with eye-candy, then gets a little tired, but ends positively. Sphere exploration is fascinating. [A lot of fans seem to forget how much important info comes out first in this episode.] More!)
  8. Damage
  9. The Shipment (A solid story advancing the main plot, and singling out Degra a bit. Not too exciting, but solid.)
  10. Anomaly
  11. The Xindi
  12. Similitude (This finally feels like Star Trek, TNG style, first time in a LONGGGG time. Impressive debut for Manny Coto. Off point for the season arc, and a bit too harsh with Archer's determination in a scene or two, but balanced in the end. Early on, it looked like the reset-button would make the journey pointless, but it soon twists unexpectedly into something much better. An interesting idea, fairly well explored from a thorough variety of angles.)
  13. Hatchery (alien influence or evolved philosophy? This one kept me guessing long after I thought I'd figured it all out.)
  14. E Squared
  15. Rajiin (decent story advancing the main season 3 plot)
  16. Twilight

  17. North Star (Way out west. This turns out alright in the end, but makes us anticipate a formula rut episode for the first 2/3. Thankfully, no Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planet Development, no Prime Directive. The truth is allowed to rule, honest relations develop, real issues are tackled head on. Very nice. Action is a bit gratuitous, but not bad. Star Trek has evolved since the 1960's at last. Two thumbs up.)
  18. Doctor's Orders (not too bad, but a bit dull)
  19. Chosen Realm (opens with very good new information and a promising difference of beliefs, but descends too completely into a terrorism version of ye olde "take over the Enterprise" plot. 2/3 of this one can go out the airlock. A dialogue-based exploration of a more rational spiritual belief system could have made a much better episode.)
  20. Impulse (nice CGI and arc development, but a dull episode premise. Improvements might include losing the out-of-sequence hook that creates anticipation of disappointment.)

  21. Carpenter Street (ick!)
  22. Extinction (what a bore! It advances nothing of the big plot, and doesn't even feature our characters as Bakula and company play other roles. HUGE fumble!)

Read the next In-depth Analysis Review: "Storm Front"

This season has become available on DVD and Blu-ray in the Enterprise Season Three box sets:


DVD Canada


7-disc DVD set

DVD Extras include:

  • 2 audio commentaries:
    • "Similitude" with writer Manny Coto.
    • "North Star" with first assistant director Michael DeMeritt.
  • 3 text commentaries:
    • "The Xindi"
    • "Impulse"
    • "Countdown"
  • The Xindi Saga Begins (13 min.) with creators Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, and cast and crew.
  • Star Trek Enterprise moments: Season 3 (13 min.)
  • Enterprise Profile: Connor Trinneer (Trip) (17 min.)
  • Day in the Life of Director Roxann Dawson (17 min.)
  • Deleted scenes, outtakes, and photo gallery
  • hidden NX-01 File featurettes
Blu-ray U.S.

Blu-ray Canada

Blu-ray U.K.

NEW to Blu-ray for 2014 January 7 NEW in U.K.
2014 Jan. 27

Blu-ray Bonus features include:

  • All extras from the standard DVD set
  • 6 new audio commentaries:
    • "Impulse" with director David Livingston, and staffmember David A. Goodman.
    • "Twilight" with writer Mike Sussman and web-moderator Tim Gaskill.
    • "North Star" with writer David A. Goodman and staffmember Chris Black
    • "Similitude" with writer Manny Coto and actor Connor Trinneer (Trip)
    • "The Forgotten" with Connor Trinneer and writers David A. Goodman & Chris Black.
    • "Countdown" with writers Chris Black and André Bormanis.
  • "In A Time of War" 3-part documentary (HD, 89 min.) with the main cast, creators, regular writing staff, and crew.
  • Temporal Cold War: Declassified (HD, 20 min.) with Brannon Braga, Matt Winston (Daniels), and John Fleck (Sillick/Silik)

Review written by Martin Izsak. Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

Contact page


Read the next In-depth Analysis Review: "Storm Front"

Home Page Site Map Science Fiction Doctor Who Sliders The Matrix Star Trek Catalogue