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The Trek Nation - Shockwave, Part Two

Shockwave, Part Two

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at September 19, 2002 - 8:33 AM GMT

See Also: 'Shockwave, Part II' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: As the Suliban prepare to destroy Enterprise, T'Pol reiterates that Archer is not on board and invites them to send a search team to confirm that fact. On-board scans find a temporal signature in the turbolift where Archer was last seen, convincing Silik that the captain might have left the ship. The Suliban leader orders the crew locked down in quarters while he investigates, uncertain whether or not to destroy Enterprise because his contact from the future has refused to contact him.

Meanwhile, in the wasted Earth city of the 31st century, Daniels realizes that a statue commemorating the Federation has vanished as if it never existed. Archer recommends visiting the nearby library to look for discrepancies in history. Daniels fears they won't be able to access the electronic databases, but inside the building they find books printed on paper. There Daniels discovers that the Federation apparently never formed because Archer never made it back from the future. It's clear to him that the Suliban wanted to remove Archer from the timeline, not just to derail Enterprise's mission. Yet Daniels believes that Archer may be able to communicate with someone in his own era if they construct a device using his communicator.

Suliban ships escort Enterprise into a nebula. Silik has T'Pol interrogated, but all she can tell him is that the Vulcan Science Academy denies the possibility of time travel and she has no idea where Archer might be. Back in her quarters, Archer appears to T'Pol using his modified communicator, but she thinks at first that he's a torture-induced hallucination. He manages to convince her to break into Daniels' quarters to find the technology he left behind. Tucker and Reed have managed to get communication among crew quarters; they enlist Hoshi to crawl through claustrophobic conduit shafts to get a tranquilizer for use on the Suliban guards.

Reed breaks into Daniels' quarters and finds his quantum device, but the Suliban catch him. During a brutal beating, Reed says that Archer told to destroy the device lest the Suliban use it to contact someone. Naturally this makes it interesting to Silik, who tries to make it summon the mysterious humanoid from the future. Tucker fakes a warp core breach to get the rest of the Suliban off the ship. When Enterprise goes to warp, they pursue, but by the time they have caught up, Archer has come through the Suliban time portal and convinced Silik at gunpoint to leave his ship alone. When he returns to the ship, he has Silik as a hostage and the data he needs to exonerate Enterprise of responsibility for the explosion at the mining colony.

Vulcan ambassador Soval still believes that Enterprise should be recalled. But Archer insists that humans learn from their mistakes, and T'Pol offers an impassioned defense of her crewmates, reminding the Vulcans of their own error in using a sacred sanctuary as a surveillance post. Later Archer visits her in her quarters to tell her that she put it over the top; their mission will continue. T'Pol declares that she still doesn't believe in time travel.


Analysis: Enterprise kicks off its second season with an episode that's comfortably consistent. Despite the name-dropping of the Federation, there's little change in the status quo. The senior Vulcans still want to hold human exploration back. The Suliban still want to take Archer and his crew out of the timeline to advance the agenda of a nefarious alien we know nothing about. Archer still believes his aw-shucks charm will convince his detractors that he's a good guy. The women on his crew still sleep in tiny tees that conveniently tear off in tight spaces. (You knew I was going to mention that, didn't you?)

In short -- and it is short, less than 40 minutes of airtime after commercials, summary from last season and previews for next week -- 'Shockwave, Part Two' is an entirely serviceable episode that's likely to satisfy longtime fans but won't win the show any new ones. The cast gels marvelously. T'Pol gets some physical comedy when she has to dupe Suliban guards, Sato takes another stab at recovering from her claustrophobia, Tucker and Reed perform heroics with technology and Phlox makes inappropriate jokes. Everyone but Mayweather gets something to do...and even that's consistent with last season. Compared to Deep Space Nine or Voyager at this stage of the game...oh, but comparisons are odious. Let's just say that for people who like the supporting characters, there's a lot to like in 'Shockwave, Part Two.'

Meanwhile, Archer and Daniels construct a communicator using stone knives and bearskins. For you young'uns, that's a reference to the Original Series classic 'The City on the Edge of Forever,' in which Kirk and Spock turn a tricorder into a viewing device because a time-travel accident has left them stranded several centuries from their...ah, you get the picture, even if you never saw the episode. Archer has all of his usual charm, though Daniels comes across as an annoying high school nerd. Maybe he's supposed to; maybe he's not really an expert from the 31st century, but precisely the sort of dolt who'd demolish a timeline by botching an attempt to save it. Unfortunately there's no way we can find out unless the character comes back.

And that would mean more Temporal Cold War. Now, don't get me wrong -- I like Silik, and I was very sorry that the Spirit of the Abyss refused to talk to him (I'm sticking to my theory that the mysterious alien from the future is really Captain James T. Kirk, come back to save his own heroic place in Starfleet history from Archer's meddling, because hey, we never heard Archer get credit for anything in Kirk's era, now did we?). Time travel is a great crutch for the writers; since, as T'Pol reminds us, time travel is impossible as far as our science can predict, they can make up all manner of technobabble to explain how it works. In a distant future with no people or technology, Archer and Daniels spend a few minutes rewiring some circuits and babbling about quantum regulators and presto -- problem solved!

The writers had an opportunity to take a real risk here -- namely, NOT to get Archer back to his own era in the season premiere, but to leave him stranded for awhile, letting us see what he's like in dire circumstances and letting us see what Trip and T'Pol are like without him in command. I would have been genuinely shocked had "Shockwave" ended without the captain back home. Imagine if we had a few season-starting episodes like that, which went completely against form! It would feel almost like we had a Star Trek show without the Star Trek. You know...a show we might think of as Enterprise.

Admittedly I like the Temporal Cold War arc a lot better than the Soval Is A Hypocritical Jerk arc, which we get in spades this episode as well when Admiral Forrest has to ask the guy twice if the Vulcans have detected Enterprise, when Soval declares that he's certain T'Pol has been kidnapped because otherwise she'd follow orders, and when he stomps out of the room without a word after being told off by that same pesky subcommander. It's one thing for Vulcans to doubt the existence of time travel and to worry that these humans may get in over their heads in dealing with vicious, violent aliens. It's quite another to cover up information, tell lies and deliberately ignore a looming crisis involving an alien species, all out of arrogance and xenophobia rather than anything resembling concern for the good of the galaxy.

The biggest problem with Soval is that when he and his ilk do come around to Archer's way of thinking after so much negativity, it probably won't seem believable. That would force yet another aw-shucks speech for Archer, yet another "I have no emotions but I love these people" scene from T'Pol and yet another rapid revision of Trek history as we know it. Next week, we learn that the First Contact wasn't the first contact, and Vulcans tell I Love Lucy jokes. I'm sure Desilu would be proud to see the franchise going strong after 35 years, but it's no longer reinventing itself weekly. The cast is fine. The premise is strong. So let's see some real risks.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews Enterprise episodes for the Trek Nation as well as Andromeda episodes for SlipstreamWeb. She is also a staff writer at Green Man Review. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.