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"Storm Front"

(Star Trek: Enterprise production codes 077 & 078)
  • written by Manny Coto
  • directed by Allan Kroeker (Part 1)
    and David Straiton (Part 2)
  • music by Jay Chattaway (Part 1)
    and Dennis McCarthy (Part 2)
  • 2 episodes @ 45 minutes each

77-78: Storm Front

"Star Trek: Enterprise" charged into its fourth season with a lot of momentum and with buoyed-up hopes from its success with the previous season's long-term arc.... and promptly stumbled over its own feet and came crashing down on its face. It was predictable really, considering the content of the teaser for this story embedded into the last act of last season's finale "Zero Hour". There just isn't much draw for this show's tired, recycled take on time travel, or from Hollywood Nazi stories. Only after crawling past this embarrassing two-part opener did the fourth season have a chance to shine and prove to the world what was uniquely good and special about this incarnation of Star Trek.

At least one aspect of this tale turns out to be far less awful than what "Zero Hour" had led me to predict. The NX-01 and her crew have not found their way to an alternate primitive Earth of 2154 by way of a change in the past magically altering their present. My regular readers know how vehemently I refuse to buy into such theories. Both Enterprise and Archer have been flung into the past by Daniels - in the case of NX-01, probably with one of those barely noticeable sudden cuts as the reunited crew approach Earth. As they go back in time, so they also slide over to the alternate universe with a bizarre twist in its history. Okay fine.

But the writers, their three time-traveling instigators, and the regular "Enterprise" crew, are all stuck thinking this adventure through from the concept of a single line of time constantly being altered and re-written, and as this natural resource appears limited to them, so they all find reason to fight and argue over it. It's all too small-minded and implausible for me to entertain, let alone get invested in.

And getting invested in THIS particular narrative will be difficult for anyone no matter what their temporal beliefs. It's hard to remember when last a Star Trek story has had such a disjointed opening 20 minutes. Each scene appears to have little or nothing to do with the scene before it, constantly shifting from one character to the next without making any of them seem interesting in themselves or by way of what they are doing or by way of whom they are involved with. Archer's role here is much closer to that of Sam Beckett in "Quantum Leap" than a main protagonist of a Star Trek show, except as Sam he usually did a charming little fish-out-of-water routine before quickly getting invested in some heart-warming aspect of what was going on, which was usually made clear as he conversed with his holographic sidekick. In "Storm Front", Bakula's character floats through scene after scene without finding a purpose, looking far more clueless than he actually is. For the audience, this is really boring, and many may not stay tuned in to see if he will eventually get a clue.

Another factor easily saps audience interest down to zero. On screen, we see history has gone all "wrong". What does Star Trek do with this kind of situation? What has it always done? Hit the reset-button of course, and pretend that the adventure never happened, and doesn't count. Daniels even comes out and says that this is the outcome that the protagonists should hope and strive for. It's going to be a tedious 2-TV-hour wait until they're done, after which the crew can maybe get back to doing something important and real, with lasting impact.

Part One really misses the mark for me. The characters, their scenes, and their situation just all seem to be too poorly chosen. Nothing that's going on interests me, and what I'm looking at on screen hasn't got much appeal.

Part Two is a marked improvement, I'll give it that. In fact, for all that "Storm Front" accomplishes narratively, you could do it with an edited down version comprised mostly of material from part two. Instead of a 2.2 episode story beginning in the end of "Zero Hour", it could easily have been an all-in-one-episode story, with a bit more zip and punch. Part two definitely has better visuals and better story. Even then, this story is not really good enough to be worth doing in the first place.

For its main villains, this story introduces a whole new set of time-traveling aliens. I don't remember them being named on screen, but it'll be hard for any fans of Sliders to not see them as Kromaggs, via both the lumpy grey make-up, and the fact that they're all wearing Nazi uniforms. I often criticized Kromaggs when later stories used them as poorly disguised stand-ins for Nazi soldiers instead of aliens with their own quirks and culture. But at least the Kromaggs were adept with the concept of alternate universes. No one involved with "Storm Front" seems capable to think that far.

A lot of fans seem to want to hail new executive head writer Manny Coto as the saviour of Star Trek: Enterprise, speculating that perhaps his influence came about a bit too late to truly save the show. I've never been all that keen to jump on that bandwagon. Yes, Coto did bring an improvement to the quality of that show, but I think it was a marginal improvement, with a very hit-and-miss success rate, and "Storm Front" represents one of his biggest misses - evidence that he was not THAT great a writer. If he'd been truly brilliant, he'd have gotten out of this time-zone in 5-10 minutes, before lavishing any production value on it, and pursued a resolution of on-going arcs in Enterprise's normal present day, where that resolution could count for something. For my money, the most positive influence on Star Trek's writing this year easily comes from Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who always seem to be heavily involved in the best portions of the season's best stories, and not involved at all in its stinkers.

Curiously, the final portions of this story act as if they want to portray the final chapter of the ongoing arc of the Temporal Cold War, and sign off on characters important to that arc like Daniels and Sillick. But how can a definitive ending occur in a history that gets re-written? This story shows Daniels dying for what must be at least the second time on the show, and then goes on to show him alive and well and living happily ever after in the coda. Death doesn't count when you can re-write time. So how can Sillick's death count for anything? Does anyone actually believe that he either can't or won't come back if the writers decide to do another story with him? If he and Archer had stayed in the present, had an encounter, and he died, that might have been definitive. Here, with rewrites fudging along over everything and anything, or to be more elegant, slides to alternate universes occurring, who is to say another "double" version of him won't continue right on without missing a beat?

Besides, the only real open end on the temporal cold war that we hadn't had yet would be to answer the mystery of who Sillick's mystery informant was, and what his situation and ultimate motivation was. "Storm Front" doesn't go near to addressing any of that. As far as tying up that arc goes, this story has been a pointless nothing.

Instead, we end with Daniels deep in his holographic representation of time rewriting, going on about what a beautiful thing it is to see. Blech! I suppose the right hologram could fool anyone into believing in something unreal. And he who is good with a hammer tends to see every problem as a nail. "Time re-writes" have so become Daniels' "hammer" that it seems he can't think in any other terms anymore. I certainly wouldn't mind at all if this is the last we see of Daniels. I'm hard pressed to find any story in which I liked what his presence brought to the table.

As far as I am concerned, "Enterprise" fans can skip "Storm Front". It only got in the way of the Earth-side payoff to season three's Xindi arc, coming up next episode....

Read the next In-depth Analysis Review: "Home"

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


DVD Canada


6-disc DVD set

DVD Extras include:

  • 3 audio commentaries:
    • "In a Mirror, Darkly, Parts 1 & 2" by co-writer Mike Sussman and web-moderator Tim Gaskill.
    • "Terra Prime" (Part 2 of 2) by co-writers Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Tim Gaskill.
  • 3 text commentaries by Mike & Denise Okuda:
    • "The Forge" (Part 1 of 3)
    • "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part 2" (of 2)
    • "These Are the Voyages"
  • Enterprise moments, Season 4 (16 min.)
  • Inside the "Mirror" episodes (15 min.)
  • Enterprise secrets (6 min.)
  • Visual effects magic (13 min.)
  • That's a wrap (9 min.)
  • Links to the legacy (4 min.)
  • Deleted scenes and outtakes
  • Photo gallery
  • hidden "Save Enterprise" featurette
Blu-ray U.S.

Blu-ray Canada

Blu-ray U.K.

NEW to Blu-ray for 2014 April

Blu-ray Bonus features include:

  • All extras from the standard DVD set
  • 6 new audio commentaries:
    • "The Forge" (Part 1 of 3) and "Observer Effect" with
      writers Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens and
      scenic/graphic artists Mike and Denise Okuda.
    • "United" (Part 2 of 3) with the Reeves-Stevens and director David Livingston.
    • "In a Mirror, Darkly (Part 1)" with writer Mike Sussman, director James L. Conway, and the Okudas.
    • "Demons / Terra Prime" (parts 1 & 2 of 2) with Connor Trinneer (Trip) and Dominic Keating (Reed).
  • "Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise" 4-part documentary (HD, 118 min.) with the main cast, creators, regular writing staff, and crew.
  • In Conversation: Writing Enterprise (HD, 90 min.)
  • Westmore's Aliens: Dr. Phlox and Beyond
  • Enterprise Goes to the Dogs
  • Original script ending of "Home"
  • Extended scene from "Home" (HD)

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

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Read the next In-depth Analysis Review: "Home"

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