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The Trek Nation - Storm Front, Part One

Storm Front, Part One

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at October 9, 2004 - 4:55 AM GMT

See Also: 'Storm Front, Part I' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: As Tucker and Mayweather return to Enterprise on a shuttlepod damaged by warplanes, Archer is transported in a Nazi Jeep that resistance forces ambush. The German officers are killed and Archer is taken to the home of Alicia, a woman who cares for injured Resistance fighters and tells him that he's her first POW - a sailor, she assumes, from the sunk USS Enterprise, based on his insignia. On Enterprise, the crew hears Nazi broadcasts and Tucker asks T'Pol to spare them a lecture on the official Vulcan position on time travel: obviously they're in the 1940s. Mayweather speculates that perhaps they arrived at this time for a reason as Silik crawls across the ship's ceiling.

In a White House covered with Nazi flags, a uniformed alien tells a German officer that he has requisition forms for equipment. The officer objects that the materials are needed for the effort against the American resistance, but the alien assures him that their weapons will make the Nazis immune from attack, enabling them to target non-Aryans with pathogens in their water supply. The Nazis are searching for Archer, particularly the aliens who have determined that his communicator comes from the future, but Alicia's friend Sal and his henchman - though distrustful of Archer's refusal to explain his origins - help him make contact with a man who claims to have seen an alien in New York.

Daniels appears on Enterprise, near-death, explaining when he can speak that the Temporal Cold War has become deadly, with agents changing history across many centuries. He has brought Enterprise to 1944 because at this time they may be able to stop the people who have altered the timeline. Silik attacks Tucker in engineering and steals a shuttlepod after insisting that what is happening is beyond the Enterprise crew's comprehension. T'Pol assumes that Silik is one of the enemies of whom Daniels spoke and has Tucker and Mayweather beam down to find him, but though they locate and destroy the shuttlepod before the Nazis can take possession of it, they are unable to find the Suliban.

Archer meets with one of the aliens supporting the Nazis and learns that they are helping the Germans win World War II because they need help building a conduit back to their own era. Sal kills the alien when more Nazis approach, but not before Archer has taken his communicator, which he uses to call the ship for a beamout just as he and Alicia are about to be taken into custody. T'Pol has them brought on board, but is unable to get a lock on Tucker and Mayweather whose signals have been obscured by the shuttlepod explosion. Daniels warns Archer that the alien Nazis are led by Vosk, a fanatic whose people are destroying all of time and who must be stopped before he can complete a temporal conduit to return to his own era. As he dies, Daniels begs Archer to find and destroy the conduit, which is housed in the same facility where Tucker and Mayweather are taken to be incarcerated and tortured.


Analysis: The piece of me that wants to try to start Star Trek: Enterprise's fourth season on a serious note, discussing the important social, political and historical themes the show has promised to explore this year, is being stopped cold by...well, Evil Alien Nazis! Never mind that the US had better production capabilities than the Germans in the '40s and the aliens would have been better off joining the Allies. Never mind that Nazis would have been about as likely to remain loyal to gray-skinned aliens as murderous time-traveling extraterrestrials would have been to leave any humans - racially pure or otherwise - still standing after they got their supplies. Folks, we've had evil aliens on Star Trek before, and we've had evil Nazis on Star Trek before, but have we ever had time traveling evil alien Nazis with plans for genocide in the 20th and 29th centuries at the same time? No, sirree, we have not!

"Storm Front, Part One" is a thoroughly entertaining episode that I think suffers greatly from having been broadcast the hour before a US presidential debate. Because, let's face it, it's hard to make even a decent science fiction allegory seem immediate and relevant when there are real politics right there. Star Trek has done a couple of fairly good Nazi stories, and some truly excellent stories about people coming together to face alien threats, and some time-travel fables that allowed a glimpse into our own past and required us to think about the choices that led us into some of our gravest errors. Viewers who watched the presidential debate on UPN got to hear President Bush asked a question about things he wished he had done differently and would change if he could take them back. He ducked the question, and, really, I feel as if the Star Trek producers have done the same: instead of giving us a meaningful might-have-been, or even something like the Xindi arc which provided parallels to our own era, they threw all sorts of flash and dash with little substance.

Mobsters! A mutilated time traveler! Warplanes! A shuttlepod explosion! Suliban! Gunfighting on the streets of New York! SS officers in the White House! Air raid sirens! Alleyway chases! There's an amazing amount of action in this story, which leaps right in from the end of last season's "Zero Hour" cliffhanger with Trip and Travis fleeing on the shuttle and Archer sitting in a Jeep with a German officer's arm around his shoulders, listening to blather about how Americans make good movies but their warriors are more successful onscreen than in the real world. No sooner does the Nazi make the statement than the good guys come leaping out of the trees to kick butt, just like in the movies! And the rest of the episode stays true to that formula. No one dies whom we really care about - Sal was fun, it would have been entertaining to keep him around for one more episode, but as soon as he blasts that alien Nazi it's pretty obvious he's bought his ticket to the farm. Silik shows up to provide menace, but he isn't the bad guy, because in any storyline with Nazis, the Nazis have to be the bad guys. And anyone who becomes an ally of the Nazis, let alone a self-indulgent alien time traveler? Is obviously a murderous fanatic! We hardly need Daniels to explain that!

There are some things Star Trek has always done well - lighting, makeup, effects, pacing - and "Storm Front, Part One" is no exception. It's certainly not boring. The aliens are suitably nasty-looking, Sal's funny, Alicia's spunky and gets in some of that Benny Russell-style protest of historical prejudice. And I have nothing but good things to say about the new digital film because I couldn't tell the difference from the film quality of last season (I did wonder why Paramount didn't spring for a few more extras, as it's hard to believe that there were absolutely no people on the streets of Brooklyn even with a Nazi curfew in effect, but that's budget cuts for you). There are moments when I am almost tempted to believe that there might be relevant social commentary being attempted: Does the image of foreigners stampeding through New York trampling on American values mean something? Shall we guess whether there's a message in the image of Nazi banners fluttering around the White House about the current administration?

In a nutshell...no. None of it leads anywhere. This isn't "City on the Edge of Forever", where Kirk recognizes that peace and optimism have to be sacrificed in the face of the fascist threat, and it isn't "The Killing Game", where aliens discover via a Nazi holo-scenario that humans will fight oppression even when their memories have been altered. The writers conveniently sidestep the horrors of the Nazi death camps by suggesting that these aliens have a magic pill to wipe out all non-Aryans, and thank goodness for that because the idea of this show attempting to say anything about the Holocaust gives me hives (unlike Voyager's excellent "Remember" and "Living Witness"). "Storm Front" is a romp with a built-in reset button, kind of a refreshing, over-the-top change from the darkness of the Xindi arc, and sometimes it's nice to have villains who are such evident bad guys that they don't need personalities. But if this episode represents what the bulk of season four will be like, then Enterprise has declared its irrelevancy in a world that could desperately use some relevant, incisive perspective of the sort that Star Trek once supplied.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green is a reviewer and news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.