Mixed Reviews Greet Romulan Arc ConclusionBy Michelle
February 18, 2005 - 10:28 PM
See Also: 'The Aenar' Episode Guide
Online reviews for "The Aenar" were perhaps the most varied of the season, ranging from critics who felt it was the most satisfying end to any of the arcs to those who felt it dragged and offered little entertainment value. The bulk of acting kudos went to Jeffrey Combs for his portrayal of Shran and to Connor Trinneer for doing a good job portraying Tucker's emotions, though a number of writers objected to the Tucker/T'Pol romance and its effects on the characters.
- "A good end to another good arc in Enterprise's very best season," wrote Monkee of Monkee's Place. She gave the episode a 9/10 like the previous two in this trilogy, citing the beauty of the Andorian system, the brother-sister bonding story, "Trip/T'Pol angst, and more birth-of-the-federation." Pleased with the Romulan backstory, she said that Jhamel reminded her of Voyager's Kes and like most reviewers praised Shran and Archer's interaction.
- Lower Decks' Ryan8bit raised the episode's score a notch on his site to an 8.5 from an 8 for"United." He felt that the episode did a nicer job wrapping up a multi-parter than did several other trilogy-enders this season:
As far as the fourth season has gone so far, the conclusions to the arcs have not been conclusive enough and have hastily ended. With this arc, the end was a nice surprise as it was a good story with nice character interactions and a general sense of appeal.He also enjoyed the chemistry between Shran and Jhamel and thought the Tucker storyline was very well-acted. Ryan had some questions about the Romulan storyline and the relevance of the Andorian worms, but was quite positive about the episode overall.
- By contrast, "'The Aenar' is not a bad episode or a particularly good one," wrote TrekWeb's O. Deus, who dropped his rating a full point from "United", from 7.5 to 6.5 overall. "If nothing else can be said for Enterprise it has managed to explore the Andorians far more than Star Trek ever has. It's not the best epitaph for a series but it's better than no epitaph at all. Still, where 'Babel One' and even 'United' were laying the groundwork for the birth of the Federation, 'The Aenar' isn't laying the groundwork for much in particular...it increasingly loses its dramatic focus." Deus enjoyed Combs' performance, but called the Trip/T'Pol storyline "tedious and annoying."
- Dr. Phlox of Save Enterprise called the episode "adequate at best", saying that the absence of the Tellarites and the larger Federation issues "makes 'United' look like a cheap date, a one time endeavor that was never intended to be moved forward." Though he rated the episode a 7, he felt that the interaction between T'Pol and Tucker contained "painful soap opera moments" and found the visuals hit-or-miss.
- Erik Dardan Ymeraga of Section 31 called "The Aenar" a "triumph of character", saying it was subtle where "United" was grand in scope but feeling that the two episodes worked well together. Strongly praising the writing and performances of all the protagonists, he also appreciated the glimpse into Romulan culture and the way Archer interacted on his first contact with the isolated Andorian subspecies. Despite weaknesses in the plot, he felt that characterisation made up for any flaws.
- The Great Link's Michael Marek went three for three with three-star ratings, saying that obvious cuts in the episode distracted him. He found the use of telepathy inconsistent, wondering why Gareb neither verified the true extinction of his species nor set up blocks for the Romulans like the ones the Aenar used to keep Archer and Shran wandering in the caves. "It is an episode the series could have skipped without really missing anything and feels like an effort to get extra mileage out of the sets and expenditures from the previous two episodes by the financially-strapped production team," he wrote.
- "Enterprise has started to find a balance in their storytelling. 'Babel 1' was a fun excursion, 'United' was very space opera, and 'The Aenar' was very much a small, character piece," wrote Ian J. Slater of The Great Link. He gave "The Aenar" the same four out of five he awarded "United", praising the sci-fi components like telepathy and the visuals of the Andorian system. "The Romulans did not get the screen time to be well developed and interesting, but kudos to the writing team for giving them at least one introspective moment in all of the carnage," he added. As for the Tucker/T'Pol story, "Trip is just old-fashioned and romantic enough as a character to fall in love and not want to live close to the one who can't return it."
- Again, in a directly contrasting opinion, The Star Trek LCARS Episode Database's John Patuto agreed with Deus that the episode felt out of balance compared to the previous two. "The power of love was a recurring theme in 'The Aenar' and it excelled in the sister/brother relationship between Jhamel and Gareb," he wrote, saying he felt torn because as moving as he felt Jhamel's desire to rescue her brother was, he felt that it was "a bit of a let down as catalyst to the end of the Romulan marauder ships." He also found Tucker's impulsive decision to leave Enterprise "more reflective of a school-boy crush than anything else."
- Tail Slate's Michael Sheridan agreed with the latter and gave "The Aenar" only two popcorns, though he said he enjoyed it more than the previous trilogy. He liked the development of Andorian society, but found that the Tucker-T'Pol subplot really dragged:
Trip's entire character has suddenly become about this relationship, and thatís just sad. At least with T'Pol, the relationship was a growing experience, something that played to her cold, logical character. It was a conflict for her. But with Trip, it doesnít do any service for him. He doesnít learn or change or grow from the experience. The storyline doesnít offer anything for him, and now theyíre making him into this weak, sappy goofball who decides to run away. I donít know, just came off to me as rather pathetic.
- Entil of Entil'zha rated the episode a 7/10, his lowest of the trilogy, despite praise for the superb CGI and the deepening of Shran's character in what might be his last appearance on Enterprise. Though most reviewers praised character development in "The Aenar", he felt that it was further indication that the regulars beyond Archer, Tucker and T'Pol were largely being left aside. As the big three go, however, he found Tucker's choice to leave perfectly sensible given what we know of him. and praised the use of the romance in the service of bigger character issues.
- Television Without Pity's Keckler recapped "The Aenar" and gave it a grade of C, down from the B- given to "United." As she mocked in the recap, "'Vulcans have telepathic powers,' Quantum announces. No! Really? Vulcans have TELEPATHIC POWERS? You're joking! Wow. That's just...wow. My world will never be the same. Phlox says that Vulcans aren't as telepathically advanced as this particular brainwave, and he also can't find a species to match the brainwave: 'However, the nearest genome is Andorian.' Hold on, what's this crap now? Genomes are all about DNA and shit -- they have absolutely nothing to do with brainwave patterns, right? Oh, I give up. Sure, why not -- next thing they'll be wanting me to believe is that 'Faith of the Heart' is actually related to music."