'Expanse' Leaves Critics Cautious, Hopeful

By Michelle
May 24, 2003 - 5:36 PM

See Also: 'The Expanse' Episode Guide

The first reviews for the Enterprise season finale, "The Expanse", are online. Nearly all reviewers praised the production values and the special effects, but reactions to the show's new direction varied, with some writers stating that they would withhold judgment until next season.

  • "An episode with a lot of outstanding elements that never quite come together properly to form a cohesive whole," wrote Monkee, who was impressed by the pacing and special effects but didn't feel the emotional resonance of the cataclysm that struck Earth. She wrote,
    The parallels to our own time are obvious. The Xindi attack brings back horrific memories of 9/11, and Archer's new 'mission,' to destroy a weapon before it can destroy his home planet is familiar as well. Without getting too political, I'll just say that this made me uncomfortable. I'm holding out for a brighter future.
    Monkee found it strange that the Delphic Expanse, so close to Earth, was never mentioned in later Trek eras, and thought that the presence of Klingons cluttered an already busy storyline. "The weaponry seems far too advanced for a hundred years before Kirk. I'm just saying," she added. To understand Monkee's 8.5/10 rating, read her review here.

  • Matt D. wrote a joint review this week with Captain Mac at Trek5.com, giving the episode a warp four out of five rating. "Chock Full of Trek," they claimed, noting that the episode was cluttered with Klingons, Suliban, Future Guy, an attack on earth, new cool looking space ships, space battles, photon torpedoes, and lying Vulcans all in the first twenty minutes but adding that the pacing and character interaction were enjoyable. Still, like many reviewers, they expressed reservations with the 9/11-themed storyline and the show's new direction. Matt wrote,
    Will this new direction work? For me, what 'The Expanse' represents is not Starfleet going out to investigate or negotiate or even threaten. They're headed into the Expanse to wage war and destroy. It's very Bush-like. Maybe Archer should have Rumsfeld as his new science officer.
    The full review, written in rapid-fire dialogue format, can be found here.

  • TrekWeb's O. Deus likened "The Expanse" to a second pilot for Enterprise:
    Like a trailer, it's a flashy showcase chock full of ships, special effects, space battles, alien races, plot twists and emotions. And like a trailer it's also shorthand for the kind of abrupt changes, many of which should probably have been played out in a more gradual transition.
    But as a pilot, Deus felt it succeeded: "'The Expanse' covers a lot [of] territory that 'Broken Bow' missed, most importantly by giving us a sense of Earth and Starfleet that we never really got before 'First Flight'." Deus found the attack to be the most devastating viewers have witnessed on Trek, comparing it to several of the feature films. He noted, "It's Enterprise's need to reassert the importance of the crew and their mission in the face of falling ratings and interest that prompted Berman and Braga to cut a swath across the more optimistic Star Trek worldview of the future," expressing some dismay that the Suliban and Klingon storylines take time away from showing the crew's reactions to the attack. For a more complete summary and speculation on the future of the series, read the full review.

  • "I gots to tell ya, gentle readers, that I still haven't made up my mind on this episode," warned C.J. Carter of ScoopMe. "The major point of the episode is that it's going to spin Enterprise into a new direction. Whether it's a creative new direction with B&B still at the writing helm remains to be seen." Carter found that the episode had more in common with Starship Troopers than with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and wondered about the seeming randomness of the focus of the attack, not on a major city or a military installation. Carter wondered whether the attack might not even have come from the Xindi but from "Osama bin Humanoid Figure" whose motives for helping Archer seemed highly suspect. And he wasn't comfortable with the tone of the Archer-T'Pol interaction when she begged to stay on Enterprise. For Carter's complete analysis, read more here.

  • Over at Section 31, Mike Dunham praised the visuals but expressed grave reservations about the new direction of Enterprise:
    These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its new mission: To explore strange new expanses of space, to seek out (and destroy) new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Human (or Vulcan or Denobulan or Beagle) has gone before.
    Dunham said that the turn toward a darker feel like that of Deep Space Nine "could be the greatest thing to ever happen to the show, but it could also be the worst", citing the forced feel to some of the exchanges about doing whatever proved necessary to avenge the attack on Earth. He also found the characterization of the Vulcans a bit hard to swallow even by Enterprise's loose standards of continuity with other series and wondered how far the variations on canon would go. For the full review, explaining Dunham's B- rating, visit Section 31.

  • "'The Expanse' definitely was a pleasant surprise," wrote Sebi Meyer of SebiMeyer.com, calling it a "well acted, produced and written episode that was not afraid to try new things while drawing on already established characters and events." The show's writers seem "to realize that they do not need to change everything, but rather build on what has worked", he added, pointing out minor flaws like weapons fired at warp and the heavy-handed Vulcan scare tactics concerning the Delphic Expanse. Like TrekWeb, SebiMeyer likened "The Expanse" to a relaunch of Enterprise but reserved judgment on how well it would succeed. For more details, read the review here.

  • FilmForce weighed in on the Enterprise finale by likening it to Farscape. "I know a lot of the Farscape fans lobbied UPN hard to pick up the series. From the looks of things, that series is coming back on the air next season, albeit with the name Enterprise," wrote KJB. "Let's take a good look here: the Xindi so far are like the Skarens, Duras has become Commander Crais and the Expanse is the Uncharted Territories. If you ever wanted to see what Farscape would look like if it had been filtered through the Berman / Braga Crap-O-Vision (TM) machine, just tune in for season 3 of Enterprise." If it doesn't work, FilmForce recommended stealing the plot of Battlestar Galactica or Babylon 5. For more, read the article here.
Further information can be found in the Trek Nation episode guide.

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