May 29, 2018
Star Trek: Enterprise “These Are the Voyages...” (part 2 of 2)
Previously on Star Trek: Enterprise: As the Enterprise-D searched diligently for a shipwreck containing a top secret device that could have potential far-reaching consequences for relations between the Federation and the Romulan Empire, Riker was play-acting on the holodeck as the head chef of the NX-01, where he for some reason tried to rekindle a long-dead romance between two long-dead people, and also became a witness to the ship’s final (and most low-stakes) mission ever.
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The shuttlecraft carrying Archer and crew cruises on down to Rigel X, your average inhospitable alien planet, and Shran and T’Pol walk onto your average post-apocalyptic back alley set and meet up with a gang of long-haired alien criminals. They quickly swap Shran’s daughter for the “amethyst”.
Shran sends his daughter off with T’Pol, and then the lead criminal—who never gets a name, so I’ll call him Zipperface for obvious reasons—examines the big gemstone. While this happens, Archer and Trip are up on a nearby catwalk, and Trip presses a button which turns the gemstone into some kind of flash grenade bomb that disorients the criminals and allows Shran to make his escape.
A firefight then breaks out between the alien criminals and the Enterprise crew, which amusingly includes Riker as a MACO firing away at the criminals.
There’s a moment that I guess is supposed to be suspenseful where the catwalk gives way beneath Trip, and Archer goes to save him while Zipperface fires on them. Trip survives, and I really have to wonder if this moment was included solely to throw people off the scent if word of Trip’s impending death had leaked before the episode aired. Because otherwise, it’s rather pointless.
The two shuttlecraft return to the ship. They debark and Shran’s daughter tells Archer, “Thanks, pink-skin!”
Trip again reminds Archer that if he had gotten himself killed down there, it “wouldn’t have gone over too well at the ceremony!” Yes, it appears Trip is convinced that if Archer isn’t able to deliver his speech, the new interplanetary coalition will completely fall apart, as if they couldn’t just get someone else to read his speech. Regardless, this at least provides some flimsy explanation for what Trip does later.
Cue another shot of the CGI Enterprise-D, now floating through a field of asteroids just like in the scenes from “The Pegasus” where they’re searching for the shipwreck. Cut to Troi in her quarters, where she gets a call from Data, which is a new bit of audio recorded by Brent Spiner specifically for this episode. Data asks to meet up with her and she says she’ll need to take a “rain check” on that, and he “hilariously” fails to understand the meaning of this expression, and we should all at least give it up for this episode for technically being Spiner’s final appearance as Data.
Riker enters, and he finally tells her the truth about why they’re trying to find the Pegasus, in a big fat infodump that couldn’t possibly have meant anything to anybody unless they happened to have watched “The Pegasus” less than 24 hours prior to this episode. He goes through the whole story, about how they were testing a cloaking device, which is against the Treaty of Algeron, and there’s so much information to process here that it quickly becomes mind-numbing. Finally, Riker says he wants to tell all of this to Picard, but he can’t, because he’s under orders from Admiral Pressman to stay mum. And I realize Troi’s the ship’s counselor and sworn to secrecy, but I have to think she’d kind of be included under the general umbrella of Pressman’s orders, as well.
And then Riker’s back in the holodeck playing Chef, and preparing food while talking to Malcolm Reed. They’re discussing Trip, and suddenly Riker-as-Chef asks, “Did you ever find yourself attracted to him?” And then the camera pans over and it turns out it’s later, and he’s now talking to Hoshi. For sure they were trying to make the hardcore fans laugh here, in particular the ones who shipped Malcolm and Trip early on, but I think in all the hatred over this episode, this little joke was pretty much ignored.
Hoshi admits she was attracted to him at first, but then he turned out not to be her type, though she still finds him “kind of cute”. Then we cut to Mayweather rolling out the dough with Chef as they talk about Trip and some sort of scuba diving incident in his past. Then Riker asks, “Did Trip ever take a swing at Captain Picard?” and when Mayweather looks confused, Riker quickly corrects himself to say “Archer”. Hmm, projecting a little bit, are we? Will, would you like to take this opportunity to share your true feelings about Jean-Luc?
And now Riker is rolling out the dough with Dr. Phlox, who barely gets any screentime in this episode. Phlox is talking about the “neuropressure” treatments that led to T’Pol and Trip falling in love way back when.
Cut to Archer’s quarters, as he and Trip share a bottle of whiskey and wonder if this new interplanetary “alliance” will actually work out. Oh, and it’s a special bottle of whiskey because Zefram Cochrane (namedropped for roughly the 9,546th time in this series) gave it to Archer’s dad when they started up the Warp 5 Complex, and somehow Daddy Archer never found the time to actually open the bottle. Trip says it’s amazing that Warp 7 ships are coming down the pike soon, and Archer gets another leaden line when he raises his glass and says, “Here’s to the next generation.”
Suddenly, the ship shudders, and they run out into a corridor, and it turns out that Zipperface and his crew have somehow gotten aboard the Enterprise. This is despite the fact that Shran briefly mentioned the criminals’ ships could “barely make Warp 2”, and here they are catching up with the NX-01, which can go Warp 5. They demand to be taken to Shran and threaten to kill Archer if he doesn’t comply.
Then comes a dumb (even by Enterprise standards) moment where Trip freaks the fuck out and steps in to save Archer, telling the criminals that he’s willing to defy his captain’s orders and take them to Shran, but first they have to knock out Archer first. You see, this all feeds into the episode’s “defying orders” theme, which plays into Riker’s decision to eventually defy Pressman’s orders and tell Picard all about the Pegasus, which is not at all an awkward way to tie everything together.
So Zipperface and friends pistol whip Archer into unconsciousness, and then Trip takes them to what he says is a “comm station” so he can contact Shran. He opens up a panel and pulls out a wire and goes to connect it to some other wire while telling the criminals, “You can all go straight to hell!” The ensuing explosion incapacitates the intruders, and then Archer wakes up to find Trip all deep fried while Riker looks on.
Cut to Sickbay, where a burnt-up Trip clings to life while Riker continues to look on. They load him into that MRI-looking chamber while Trip gives one final wink to Archer. And that, it seems, is the end of Trip Tucker. The idea of Trip dying in this episode doesn’t particularly bother me, because like I said, I didn’t care a whole lot about this character in the first place. But even I can see that the way he died was twenty shades of stupid. He and Archer had already gone up against numerous threats much more dangerous than a random Zipperface and his hair band cronies. For fuck’s sake, these guys even took on the Borg and won without anybody having to go all kamikaze on the enemy.
Obviously, we’re meant to infer that Trip was so concerned with Archer making his speech that he was willing to die to make it happen. But again, anybody could have given Archer’s speech, and if Archer had died, that certainly would have added an extra layer of urgency to what he was proposing, no? The obvious analogy here would be how President Kennedy’s assassination lit a fire under his successor to pass the Civil Rights Act; if anything, I’d expect Archer’s death to have had a similar effect, making an interplanetary coalition even more likely to happen, but what do I know?
Cut to sad music playing as T’Pol packs up Trip’s belongings, including a photo of him scuba diving, and then she actually appears to sniff his uniform. Archer enters and picks up a figurine of Frankenstein’s Monster and tells T’Pol to make sure to pack it up, too. If you’re confused, this is apparently a reference to an early episode of the series where Trip said 1931’s Frankenstein was the greatest horror movie ever made, and there is absolutely no way even the most hardcore of the hardcore fans would remember something like this.
The two talk about loss, and the contradictory nature of emotions, and T’Pol, being a true Vulcan, is on the verge of tears as Archer ruefully notes that Trip is dead and now he has to go give a big speech about how “worthwhile” their mission has been. T’Pol thinks that if Trip were still alive, he would have been the first to say it was all worthwhile.
Back in the ship’s galley, Riker is back in his role as Chef, when in walks… Trip. No, he’s not still alive; dialogue indicates that this is occurring prior to the scene where T’Pol visits the galley. So this is either some nonlinear Tarantino shit, or Riker likes playing his holo-programs out of order.
Trip munches on a carrot as he talks about how Archer is one of the people he really trusts, in that he knows Archer will always be there for him no matter how bad things get. “You know anybody like that?” Riker responds in the affirmative, apparently thinking of Picard. Trip goes to leave and asks Riker if he’s made his decision, which gives Riker pause until he realizes Trip is asking about whether or not Chef is going to stay on in Starfleet or open a restaurant like they talked about before. Riker/Chef says he’s not sure yet, and Trip leaves while saying, “I’m sure you’ll make the right choice.”
Then we come to the mostly CGI auditorium where Archer will be giving his speech. Malcolm Reed is in the audience with Hoshi and Mayweather as he wonders if they’re in the right seats. Yes, it would appear the crew of the ship instrumental in the formation of this historical coalition got assigned to the nosebleed section.
They make small talk, and we learn about their future career paths, and we even get a glimpse of showrunner Manny Coto behind them, dressed in an admiral’s uniform, along with a few other members of the show’s behind-the-scenes personnel. Also, we catch sight of Troi loitering in the background. Hoshi thinks Archer is going to become an admiral, while Reed thinks he’ll want to captain another ship because “he won’t be able to resist one of those Warp 7 beauties!” Mayweather agrees with Reed and wow, Anthony Montgomery is just as bad an actor here as he was on episode one. It takes a certain dedication to stay this mannequin-like for four whole seasons.
In the… let’s call it the green room… Archer is practicing his speech while T’Pol and Phlox offer moral support. Phlox tells Archer that he should be proud that he helped bring so many planets together but he’s humble about it, and T’Pol wonders why humans are so reticent to take credit. Which evidently is a callback to the first scene where Archer didn’t want to take credit for stuff, which I never even knew was a thing with him until this episode.
As he walks up the steps to take the stage, T’Pol says he looks “very heroic”. So he briefly walks back down to give her a tender hug.
Archer walks to the podium as everyone cheers and Troi looks on. Riker joins her and she mentions that she had to “memorize this speech in grammar school”, because this alliance “gives birth to the Federation”. Riker then tells her he’s made his decision, and he’s going to tell Picard everything, and so they’re all done here. And just at the moment Archer is about to deliver this indelible speech that’s sure to rival both the Gettysburg Address and I Have a Dream, Riker says, “Computer… end program,” and everything shimmers away into that familiar gridwork pattern of the holodeck. Yeah, it’s pretty lame that we didn’t even get to hear one word of this supposedly landmark speech, but I think that’s probably for the best. Can you imagine how badly Berman and Braga would have whiffed it? The last time they tried to give Archer some sort of grand, inspiring speech, he ended up babbling about a gazelle giving birth.
Riker and Troi walk out of the holodeck, and to wrap things up, we get the Enterprise-D cruising out of the asteroid field while Picard’s voice is heard giving the “Space, the final frontier” speech. An asteroid passes in front of the camera, and now we’re watching the original Enterprise NCC-1701 while Kirk’s voice picks up the middle of the speech. The ship passes out of view and we see the NX-01 as Archer wraps things up with, “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” (Yes, interestingly enough, they went with the original “no man” instead of TNG’s “no one”.) The ship cruises off into the stars, and that’s it. And this little montage is pretty much the only indication that we’re seeing the end of the Roddenberry-Berman continuity here, which was on our TV screens nonstop from 1987 to 2005.
It was, as Trip Tucker said, a hell of a run, though apparently, the idea for this montage didn’t come from Berman or Braga, but from another producer telling them they had to include something to mark the end of the franchise. Otherwise, this episode might have ended with the Enterprise-D cruising out of the asteroid field, meaning the finale of Enterprise would have ended on a shot of a totally different ship, which certainly would have been the final insult.
So here’s what I liked about the episode. I like the idea of characters from other Star Trek shows viewing the events of an Enterprise episode on the holodeck. I even like the idea of setting the holodeck framing story as happening during a previous TNG episode, though seeing Frakes and Sirtis trying to look like themselves from over ten years ago was a bit hard to take seriously. I again have to wonder why they didn’t just go with having them on the USS Titan in a totally new framing story taking place post-Nemesis.
And I certainly don’t mind the idea of Riker witnessing something in this historical tale that helps him resolve a current crisis. I also like the time tripping nature of the story, as Riker moves backwards and forward (though mostly forward) in the story. I honestly wish they could have done a bit more of that.
And I really don’t care that they killed off Trip in this episode. There was a big fan outcry about Trip’s death, so much so that the officially licensed tie-in novels found some ludicrous way to bring him back to life, but let’s face it, a character dying in a show’s last episode is certainly an effective way to add poignancy and a sense of finality. And there’s obviously never going to be any more filmed entertainment featuring Trip Tucker, so killing him off had no real impact on the franchise.
But even I have to admit the execution just sucked here, partly in the rushed way Trip offed himself, but mostly in how “The Pegasus” was chosen as the framing story. How could Riker have possibly had this much time to dick around on the holodeck during the events of that episode, when they were constantly trying to avoid being detected by Romulans? And the idea that Trip’s sacrifice somehow played into Riker’s decision to come clean with Picard in that episode is, at best, a complete stretch.
According to some sources, the script for “These Are the Voyages…” was originally written at the end of season three, in the event that the show wasn’t picked up for a fourth season. And that would seem to be the biggest issue with this episode: when it was finally decided that Enterprise was really and truly cancelled, Berman and Braga dusted off their year-old script and filmed it with almost no changes. This would explain why the episode leans heavily on references to minor things that happened in the early episodes of Enterprise and makes barely any mention of anything that occurred during the show’s vastly improved fourth season. Berman and Braga had nearly nothing to do with season four, so why would they bother to acknowledge it in their final episode?
But ultimately, I can’t hate this episode, because it’s scripted by Berman and Braga, and going into it, I never even had the slightest glimmer of hope that they would rise to the occasion and pull off something worthy of the end of a franchise. Hating this episode is a bit like hating Michael Bay for making big, dumb, loud movies. Hating this episode is like hating your dog for pooping on the carpet. I mean, he’s a dog. What else did you expect him to do?
Here’s hoping Star Trek: Discovery is a vast improvement, but as the first Star Trek TV series in decades not produced by Rick Berman or Brannon Braga, I’d have to say that’s pretty much guaranteed.