This is the season that Star Trek: Enterprise turned around. It was also the first time that Star Trek ever did a season long arc. When Enterprise was on the air television was changing, episodic television was giving way to more serialised story telling. In TV events from one episode would have an effect on the following weeks episode.
When Enterprise started it continued the episodic trend of Star Trek: Voyager. A format I still prefer at times, but it was making Star Trek feel behind the times to the mainstream crowds and people who thought the show was doing nothing new. In the eyes of surviving, Star Trek needed to up its game and now we have the crew of Enterprise sent on a new mission. A mission to a dangerous region of space and to stop an alien race from destroying Earth.
The attack on Earth at the end of the Second season had the highest casualty list. Seven million people dead. It was great dramatically, especially fro Trip, whose sister was among those killed.
Season Three starts off three months into the mission. As well as searching for the Xindi, the race that launched the attack, they have to deal with anomalies from these mysterious spheres throughout the region, that cause extreme damage to the ships.
There is a compound that can shield them from it but they are unable to use due to the effects that the compound has on Vulcans. In the episode “Impulse” the crew encounter a group of zombie like Vulcans who go on a murderous rampage against the crew. The way this episode is shot is quite chilling, evoking many a zombie movie. A really fun episode and something new to Trek.
This episode showcases another positive aspect of this new style, a stand alone story amongst the season, but yet still has a tie into the overall arc. As a result of this story, the effect it has on T’Pol leads her to becoming a drug addict later in the season, wanting to experience emotions.
The Xindi are an interesting race, one that has five different species. The designer of the weapon, Degra, is a sympathetic character and we see that he is not a cleancut villain. In the episode “Stratagem” when Archer creates a fictional event where he and Degra have escaped a prison and are on the run, Degra contemplates with regret wondering how many of the seven million people that died were children.
It’s the Xindi Reptilians who are the most ruthless and the most eager to see humanity destroyed. They are the ones the crew are in combat with the most and the least agreeable.
The relationship between T’Pol and Trip was interesting and although it caused controversy I felt it was handled well, in comparison to the more recent pairing of Spock and Uhura in the new universe films.
Another conflict was Malcolm Reed’s friction with the leader of the MACOs, Hayes. The MACOs were soldiers that Archer had join the crew to have more muscle in their new mission. Reed as Security chief felt threatened and made no attempt to hide his dislike for Hayes. A conflict that comes to head in the episode “Harbinger”.
“Harbinger” itself shows a member of the species who would become the main villains of this arc.
The lack of direction that season two had in it’s first half has been replaced with a show with a direction. Star Trek never forgets it’s core values and traditions throughout the mission and there are some great Star Trek episodes filled in amongst the stories. A western episode feels right out of the Original Series and although a bit average was brilliantly shot and a really cool sci fi idea.
The episode “Extinction” early on in the season, where Archer, Reed and Sato change into this primitive species that dance around and eat grubs is quite a forgettable episode as is the episode “Exile” which is a Beauty and the Beast style story with an alien wanting Hoshi to become his latest companion. The Doctor never had this problem.
This season also had Archer do more questionable actions, like torturing a prisoner for information. Although very anti Trek and more akin with something like 24, Enterprise is the only Star Trek show I think that could do this and still be Trek. The fact that Archer makes these decisions shows the gloves are off this season for his character, yet the fact that he tries to redeem himself for these actions and next season help bring the character back to the Roddenberry ideal.
Unike Star Trek: The Next Generation on blu ray, these have not been remastered. The episodes were HD ready. Season 3 is when the show was shot in full HD and it helps. Yet being ten years ld the image is a little softer than TNG but the sound is amazing. Xindi weapon fire gets a lot louder.
The three part documentary is a great piece and the writers, producers and cast talk about the change of direction the show took and needed. The influence of 9/11 is discussed and how they developed the arc. It is revealed that they weren’t even sure if the arc would last the entire season and to have stand alone episodes ready. Writer Mike Sussman reveals that he felt it should have been the Romulans and not the Xindi. Brannon Braga calls the aforementioned “Extinction” the most embarrassing moment in Star Trek.
Randy Oglsbey and Scott MacDonald, who played Degra and Reptillian leader Dolim, are interviewed and talked about how they created this dislike between their characters that the writers picked up on as the season progressed. Great stories and no holds barred in these documentaries make them essential viewing to any fan of the show.
There is also a documentary on the Temporal Cold War arc of the show. Writers and cast including Matt Winston (Crewman Daniels) talk about the Temporal Cold War and how difficult it was and where the arc would have finished up if the show had continued. This is also worth the watch.
The features are the main new source of material on these Blu Ray sets and justify the repurchase of this trouble show. I loved Enterprise as much as I love the other shows but this is the season that Enterprise became essential viewing
(Especially for the stunning cliffhanger to Azati Prime, Owen)
video copyright paramount pictures