Enterprise Review: “Azati Prime”

Damn. I mean, daaaaaaamn!

Azati Prime

Cast & Crew

Director: Allan Kroeker
Teleplay By: Manny Coto
Story By: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga and Manny Coto

Starring
Scott Bakula as Captain
Jonathan Archer
Connor Trinneer as Chief
Engineer Charles "Trip" Tucker III
Jolene Blalock as Sub-commander
T’Pol
Dominic Keating as Lt.
Malcolm Reed
Anthony Montgomery
as Ensign Travis Mayweather
Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi
Sato
John Billingsley
as Dr. Phlox

Guest Cast
Matt Winston as Daniels
Randy Oglesby as Degra
Scott MacDonald as Reptilian Commander
Tucker Smallwood as Xindi-Humanoid
Rick Worthy as Xindi-Arboreal
Christopher Goodman as Thalen

Episode Information

Originally Aired: February 25, 2004
Season: Three
Episode: Eighteen
Production: 070

What Happened

Enterprise finally arrives at the Xindi superweapon construction site, and despite a troubling glimpse into the future by time-traveling operative Daniels, a determined Archer leaves the ship in T’Pol’s hands as he alone pilots a suicide mission to destroy the huge Earth-bound planet-killer. With Archer gone, T’Pol and the crew attempt to escape enemy territory undetected, but once discovered are forced to make a last stand against multiple Xindi attackers.
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Review

I know Berman and Braga have credit for the story, but I think it’s safe to say that Manny Coto did the bulk of the writing here. It’s far too much for the wonder twins to have pulled off. It’s that same feeling when you look at certain Science Fair projects, you know the parents helped.

At any rate, this was an awesome episode that hung on for the full duration and left you drooling for the conclusion. All marks of good television. I wish this was earlier or last season, since this shows that Enterprise can actually be enjoyable. Now I just wish I didn’t have to wait nearly two months for the next episode.

High Point

The finale. I fully expected to see the Enterprise blown to bits and be left with that “oh well, we’ll just go back in time and fix it” feeling, but instead we’re left with ominous dread and genuine despair for the state of the ship and crew. Somebody’s learning.

Low Point

T’Pol needs to be a little less emotional, at least publicly. And shame on the production team for teasing us like that when getting on board the Enterprise-J. I think we deserve more than just a graphical display in the background! And, if memory serves, that display looked a lot like some of the concept art for the Enterprise-E for “First Contact.”

The Scores

Originality: Not wholly original, but still interesting. 3 out of 6.

Effects: Nice, very nice! Particularly effective is watching crew members sucked out into space. 5 out of 6.

Story: The pieces are all falling into place now and now things are getting juicy. 5 out of 6.

Acting: Everybody’s on edge and it makes for great tension, though T’Pol’s being a little too emotional in public. 5 out of 6.

Emotional Response: There’s nothing like thrashing the Enterprise to keep Trekkers on the edge of their seat. 5 out of 6.

Production: Excellent sets and interior work. 5 out of 6

Overall: Everything we wish this show would be on a weekly basis. 5 out of 6.

Total: 33 out of 42

Next Week on Enterprise (March 10, 2004)

North Star [Originally Aired Nov. 12, 2003]

After finding thousands of humans on a Delphic Expanse planet living in settlements seemingly straight out of the Old West, Archer gets embroiled in a dangerous cultural conflict once he discovers that the humans are systematically oppressing the alien race that originally brought them to this world.
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On Break and Time Change

Enterprise takes a little break with no new episodes until April 21st. It returns with “Damage” picking up where “Azati Prime” left off. Also, starting next week (March 10th) Enterprise slides back an hour to make room for its new lead-ins, Game Over and (shudder) The Mullets.

Additional Notes and Comments

If you’re interested in what’s in TheAngryMob’s review queue, check out my What’s Coming page.

TheAngrymob

18 replies on “Enterprise Review: “Azati Prime””

  1. MrRee says:

    Had it been…
    I’m with you, daaamn!

    A few firsts ,at least I think:
    1) A crew member was on FIRE.
    2) Actually saw crew members bodies ejected from a breech in the hull.

    However, had Kirk been at the helm he’d have blown the Enterprise up. T’Pol is a little weak here. No leadership. And I agree they are betraying her as too emotional.

    I can’t stand the wait for part 2. What a cliff hanger!

  2. is says:

    finally a cool episode
    I love the darkness of this one.
    There are no stupid quick fixes and no bogus dillemas.

    Archer did what I think most people would have done in response to Daniels. He said “screw this” and grabbed the guns. I wasn’t sure if he would convince Degra, but I think they set it up nicely for another story sub-arc. They can now spend plenty of time fighting the Xindi reptilians while working behind the scenes for peace and a fix to the sphere-builder problem.

    Great ending too. Someone knows how to leave people hanging.

    I really have a problem with T’Pol’s leadership. I’ve never gotten the impression that Vulcans were weak that way… But she was absolutely useless.. I still don’t buy the highly emotional vulcan idea at all. I think Trip should have slapped her and taken over.

    • billg says:

      T’Pol’s Tears: Unfinished Story Thread?
      I’m not bothered all that much by T’Pol’s displays of emotion. It isn’t inconsistent with what we know of Vulcans: Their emotions are suppressed by conscious action, not involuntarily; T’Pol must have developed strong emotional ties to Archer and the mission to have elected to stay with them.

      It is logical (sorry) to assume that few Vulcans can completely suppress all emotional reaction in times of high stress. Spock’s relationships with Kirk and McCoy, for example, are chocked full of emotional display and content.

      In any case, it’s a good story thread for the writers to play with.

      OT a bit, given the long lifespans of Vulcans, isn’t it within reason that, late in her life, T’Pol could have an encounter with a young Spock? Perhaps, since Spock was the first Vulcan to enlist in Starfleet, T’Pol provided advice based on her own experience with humans.

      • seethelizard42 says:

        Re: T’Pol’s Tears: Unfinished Story Thread?

        OT a bit, given the long lifespans of Vulcans, isn’t it within reason that, late in her life, T’Pol could have an encounter with a young Spock? Perhaps, since Spock was the first Vulcan to enlist in Starfleet, T’Pol provided advice based on her own experience with humans.

        I’ve come up with an idea that T’Pol might actually end up being Sarek’s (Spock’s father’s) mother. It probably won’t end up happening, but it might be kind of interesting if it did.

    • jbrecken says:

      Re: finally a cool episode

      I really have a problem with T’Pol’s leadership. I’ve never gotten the impression that Vulcans were weak that way… But she was absolutely useless.. I still don’t buy the highly emotional vulcan idea at all. I think Trip should have slapped her and taken over.

      I’m guessing they’ll find out that the magic paint they used to keep the region from driving her insane isn’t working.

      • theangrymob says:

        Re: finally a cool episode
        <BLOCKQUOTE TYPE="cite">
        <BLOCKQUOTE TYPE="cite">
        I really have a problem with T’Pol’s leadership. I’ve never gotten the impression that Vulcans were weak that way… But she was absolutely useless.. I still don’t buy the highly emotional vulcan idea at all. I think Trip should have slapped her and taken over.
        </blockquote>

        I’m guessing they’ll find out that the magic paint they used to keep the region from driving her insane isn’t working.
        </blockquote>
        You’re close…

        Spoiler Alert: She’s addicted to the Trellium-D and it’s starting to get to her. Apparently it’s a subplot in coming episodes. I got wind of it from Sci-Fi Wire’s excerpt from an upcoming Berman interview. Take it for what it’s worth.

      • Kaki says:

        Re: finally a cool episode

        I’m guessing they’ll find out that the magic paint they used to keep the region from driving her insane isn’t working.

        Sounds like a reasonable prediction. If it is that, then Phlox needs to be sued for medical negligence. Seriously, he knows some substance could seriously harm a crew member, a very similar substance has been applied throughout the ship, if he isn’t doing regular tests for the potiential harmful effects, he is incompetent.

        Really though, they don’t have to use the paint excuse. Let’s tally up the score here. T’Pol has been ‘mind-raped’, given some strange brain disease, sent to kill someone who worked with someone else whose hunt drove her nuts before, and almost turned into a Vulcan zombie. Those should be plenty to explain that her grip on control of the potientially irrational Vulcan emotions is past the cracking point.

    • vanyel says:

      Re: finally a cool episode

      I love the darkness of this one.
      There are no stupid quick fixes and no bogus dillemas.

      I really have a problem with T’Pol’s leadership. I’ve never gotten the impression that Vulcans were weak that way…

      I was not nearly so enamored of this episode as many of you seem to be, though I did like the special effects of the Enterprise getting the crap beat out of it. But that’s part of the problem: every time they want the ships to be destroyed quickly, one or two shots and they blow up. Now we want a little suspense and the thing becomes a Timex (“Takes a licking and keeps on ticking” for you youngsters who don’t remember the ads).

      And they’re challenged on entry to the most secure facility the xindi probably have, told to go back to their carrier ship, and *not* followed? No f-ing way!

      And those are just the two most glaring holes that are on the top of my head…

      T’pol’s emotionality also annoys me, but if that’s a subplot they’re going to explain later, then I’ll hold off. They should be addressing it more though with questions like “I thought you vulcans didn’t have emotions?” however.

      Overall, I think the Enterprise story ideas are a little more interesting than Voyager, but 7 of 9 and the Doctor were developed into way more interesting characters than anyone on Enterprise, or for that matter, any regular character on any of the other ST series. Garak and Gul d’Kot(?) on DS9 were as interesting, but not regulars.

  3. Daemonik says:

    Interrogation?
    My big nitpick was how the Xindi reptillians were interrogating Archer. Considering they have been studying humans to better design a bioweapon, I would think they could do better than beating the crap out of him. Drugs or brain scans or something at least.

    Also, who starts interrogating an enemy combatent and doesn’t do a full strip/body cavity search for hidden weapons, poison teeth or, I don’t know, plot devices like Xindi artifacts from the future ‘hidden’ in their pockets?!?

    • theangrymob says:

      Re: Interrogation?

      Also, who starts interrogating an enemy combatent and doesn’t do a full strip/body cavity search for hidden weapons, poison teeth or, I don’t know, plot devices like Xindi artifacts from the future ‘hidden’ in their pockets?!?

      Remember, really small brains (like those found in certain Executive Producers)…

  4. dubbayoo42 says:

    The conclusion
    I fully expected to see the Enterprise blown to bits and be left with that “oh well, we’ll just go back in time and fix it” feeling, but instead we’re left with ominous dread and genuine despair for the state of the ship and crew.

    I had nothing but an overwhelming feeling that the outcome would be Daniels fixing things with some time travel magic.

    • Jethro says:

      Re: The conclusion
      Yup. I’ll bet $10 that the Conclusion involves a major cop-out of some sort. And I really, really hope I lose, because even I can come up with ways to conclude it WITHOUT one.

    • encaf1 says:

      Too Little, Too Late

      I had nothing but an overwhelming feeling that the outcome would be Daniels fixing things with some time travel magic.

      Enterprise has failed.

      Instead of fulfilling the exciting premise of going back to the beginnings of the Federation, of showing us how humanity took its first significant flights into the universe and pulled itself up to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the older and more established races, Enterprise has shown us that humanity failed. They couldn’t do it without the Vulcan’s help. They couldn’t succeed at all without help from time travel.

      In short, the Enterprise mission has failed over and over again, only to be set right by the grand hand of those who exist in an alternative, “right” timeline. They’ve done this in an overly parental way, dusting them off, wiping their skinned knees, and patting them on the head, saying “There, there. It doesn’t matter. Future Parents will make it all right again.”

      And they are about to do it again.

      Enterprise will be fine. The series has hauled out the “time travel will fix everything” trope so many times that no threat really feels like it will actually happen, or really matter. My prediction is that even go back in time and stop the original weapon, thus removing any real sense of loss, grief or any actual emotion built on the show.

      They should have learned from the mistakes they made on Voyager. When you erase the errors by going back in time and fixing things easily, you remove the real emotional contact the viewers have with the show.

      Time travel should be used sparingly, and with great consequence. In the original series, even though they did not care about continuity, they were much more careful about using time travel. (Probably comes from using writers who were masters of science fiction, *not* masters of Star Trek.)

      In recent memory, time travel was used very effectively in the tv show Angel, in an episode where everything could be made right from the errors of a season’s worth of angst — if only everything could be given up in return. Thus, there was an effect, consequences.

      Consequences… That’s the word that Enterprise has never learned. I have found all of the episodes to be eye candy, beautiful in special effects (even when it disrespectfully makes things look far too much like TNG than TOS), but it is hollow, lacking in substance. It doesn’t help that I cannot buy Bakula playing Captain Archer. The character has loose morals, selectively standing on them absolutely one moment, parading around and insisting “We don’t do that!” or “We always do this!”, and the next moment violating those morals freely, in the fury of the moment and in name of a greater good he seems confused about understanding. Bakula cannot play this well, but his position within the show’s executive has made him intractable. Much in the way that the show Andromeda was ruined by it’s star, Enterprise has been ruined by him and Braga.

      Why am I writing this? Why do I bother to even watch the show? Because I’m a fool. I watched most of Voyager, waiting for the moment when they would grow into realization of the show’s potential. I am excited by Star Trek, but the possibilities of humanity’s future, by the potentials outlined by the premise of Enterprise. It promised us the building of the Federation, and has given us the failed mission of a poor captain.

      And yet, I will still watch the show, right until the moment it gets cancelled when the less dedicated and less desperate viewers decide that it has wasted their time.

      • Vesh says:

        Re: Too Little, Too Late
        encaf1, that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to explain to the dullards on other boards. I was beginning to think that I was the only one in the “damnit, I know I’m a loyal fool for watching – just let it go and let me complain, already” camp.

        Glad I’m not.

        The complaints have weight. The ‘defensive’ name calling of those who are so easily entertained by the constand employment of flimsy plot excuses – to me – do not. It’s a terrible truth that they matter just the same to the ratings.

        Enterprise could have been something grand and amazing. Had they started with a true bible things would have had so much more meaning. Maybe they would have realized some fantastic storytelling possibilities such as those pointed out by Richard Whettestone in several of his episode reviews. My favorite of his observational suggestions was the notion of Starfleet starting in Florida, then be destroyed by the first Sphere. We would have been rid of many of the annoyingly boring Starfleet characters and could have a deeper reason for Starfleet being in San Fransisco later.

        These are the kinds of things that developing a bible can bring to the surface – it allows you to look back and pre-plan elements that can resonate not only through one episode or a few episodes, but through the entire franchise. Of course, the Wonder Twins didn’t see a reason for that. I guess they know better than I do.

  5. neuronbob says:

    Yesssss!
    Now THIS is what I’m talking about! This was a great episode and I can hardly
    wait six weeks for the next new one. I wish more episodes were like this.

    I hope that the comments above mine prove incorrect, that like other ST
    series, that these first three seasons were just background and improved
    greatly with time….best example is my favorite Trek series, Deep Space Nine.
    The first three seasons were OK, then from the fourth season on, this show
    simply clicked, more episodes were well-written, and the Dominion War
    cycles simply left me begging for more. (Can you tell I just finished watching
    DS9 on DVD?)

    Only time will tell what’ll happen to Enterprise, but I will admit that it’s been
    an abysmal failure so far.

  6. Lt. Munro says:

    What an ending!!!
    This show is, without a doubt, the BEST Enterprise show that Berman and Braga have made so far. I don’t know about anyone else, but to me, “Azati Prime” could have made one hell of a season finale!

    I have absolutley no problem with T’Pol becoming emotional; it just helps to set the stage for another storyline: T’Pol and Archer getting involved with one another. She did say, “I don’t want you die.”, which could be interpreted any number of ways. And we all know why she was going to take a shuttlepod to “go and have a diplomatic disscusion with the Xindi.”; she was going to find Archer and try to save him.

    It was cruel of them (Berman and Braga) not to show us more than they did on the Enterprise-J. I did some calculations and I discovered something interesting: if ST: Nemesis took place around 2382 and Archer was brought 400 into the future from his time period (his period being roughly 2155), then that would make the year around 2450. I find it hard to believe that the Federation went through 6 Enterprises in 68 years, but… here we are!

    Like everyone else, I am so eager to see “Damage”. If you disagree with me on something, tell me and I will be more than happy to talk.

    • Eldhrin says:

      Re: What an ending!!!
      I assumed that the war with the sphere builders takes out a lot of Federation ships.

      Not to mention there’s probably at least one more Borg invasion before that war starts, and it’s entirely possible the Dominion play up again too.

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