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The Trek Nation - Twilight

Twilight

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at November 6, 2003 - 4:38 AM GMT

See Also: 'Twilight' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Archer wakes during an attack and goes to the bridge, where he witnesses Earth's destruction by the Xindi. When he wakes again, he is several years older and confused about where he is. T'Pol, who is preparing his breakfast, explains that he was injured by an anomaly while trying to rescue her from its effects. His brain was infected by parasites that are preventing him from forming new long-term memories; he can never remember more than a few hours beyond the moment when he was infected. Admiral Forrest gave T'Pol a field commission and she took command when it became obvious that the captain could not be kept up to speed on the mission.

T'Pol and the crew tried to find the Xindi weapon, but Enterprise was damaged after Mayweather's death when T'Pol used a desperate battle tactic and the ship could not even reach warp two. The weapon had already been deployed by the time Enterprise tracked it. After Earth's destruction, the Xindi continued to pursue humans in colonies and on other worlds, until all those remaining set up a secret colony on the fifth planet of the Ceti Alpha system. T'Pol resigned to take care of Archer there, and Tucker became Enterprise's Captain.

Twelve years have passed since Archer lost his memory, and T'Pol tells him that it is an important day: Phlox has come from Denobula with a plan to eradicate the parasites, which exist outside of normal space-time and therefore cannot be damaged by any conventional means. The three of them travel to Enterprise, which is uncomfortable for Archer because from his perspective, he saw the crew just hours before, when in reality they have all aged and some have died. Initial tests of Phlox's treatment, which uses energy from the warp engines, show that the parasites have been destroyed not only in the present but in the past, for they have disappeared from brain scans taken of Archer years before. But before Phlox can complete the treatment, Tucker discovers that the Xindi have used a spy to follow the doctor from Denobula and lead them to the hidden human colony. He orders the treatment stopped to preserve energy for the coming battle.

Enterprise is badly damaged despite bolstering to the shields provided by General Shran. The bridge is destroyed. Archer realizes that finishing his treatment may be the only way to stop the Xindi, for if the parasites were destroyed at previous points in the time continuum, he might have remained in command of Enterprise and history might have unfolded differently. Unfortunately, given the damage to the ship, the only way to destroy the parasites for certain is to create a subspace implosion, which will also kill Archer and destroy the ship. However, since Xindi-Reptilians have boarded and crewmembers are dying every minute, they have little to lose. Phlox and T'Pol both fall to Xindi weapons fire but Archer, despite being shot twice, manages to complete the procedure to overload the engines before he collapses.

The captain wakes in sickbay. T'Pol and Phlox tell him that they have cleared the anomalies, that he has a concussion and that the ship sustained only minor damage. At Archer's request, T'Pol brings him a pillow and he tells her that she would make a wonderful nurse.


Analysis: "Twilight" contributes almost nothing original to the Trek oeuvre. It's Voyager's "Future's End" and "Shattered" crossed with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek: First Contact, with a storytelling twist like the one in the film Memento (which might seem like a contribution to the Trek oeuvre if something similar hadn't happened to the Enterprise-D crew in "Cause and Effect"). Whether one finds this a brilliant episode or an utterly derivative one will depend on one's level of emotional investment in the storyline and the characters. Personally, I could argue it either way. Or, to put it more frankly, I really enjoyed it, but for terrible reasons that make me feel ashamed and guilty. So I'll argue both.

The critic in me, the longtime Trek fan in me, the feminist in me were all screaming at T'Pol quitting her job, abandoning her people and burying her head in the sand so she could play nursemaid/would-be-girlfriend to Archer. As it turns out, this decision saved everyone, because she was around to understand that the thingamabots in his brain were the key to reversing history, but she couldn't have known that; at the time she made the decision, all she knew was that she felt guilty/obligated/attached, and decided that sitting out the waning days of the human race at his side was more important than staying on Enterprise and trying to help save the rest of humanity. Can anyone imagine Spock spending most of his life making breakfast for a brain-damaged Kirk?

...okay, bad example. I've read fan fiction where that happened. Err, I've read fan fiction where Chakotay did the same for Janeway too. It's called the hurt/comfort scenario, and it usually ends up with fantastic sex between the injured party and the caretaker following some sort of miracle cure. Perhaps this is why the critic in me, the longtime Trek fan in me, the feminist in me all shut up and got all sniffly when Phlox asked T'Pol whether Archer knew how she felt about him and she did such a rotten job pretending not to understand.

Mind you, this doesn't make it a good story. This is one of the least original plot developments in the history of plot developments, and of course it had to be reset-buttoned out of existence at the end. Not because Earth blew up, but because we all know from previous Treks that when the captain and a crewmember get together, like Picard and Crusher in "All Good Things" or Sisko and Kira in "Through the Looking Glass", we're either in an alternate timeline or an alternate universe.

And how much would some of us have paid to see that cliche with Janeway and Chakotay, just long enough for one kiss?

Ahem. "Twilight." (I'm now singing the E.L.O song by the same name. "Twilight/I gave you time to steal my mind/Away from me.") The heck with it: I loved this episode. Yeah, I should complain at greater length about T'Pol playing nurse and Sato being the only surviving regular who's basically doing the same job twelve years down the road while the boys have been promoted to captain, but I'm not in the mood. And let's not get started on the fact that Archer withstands three shots by a Xindi weapon that fells T'Pol in one. We get to see our lovely Vulcan in a uniform instead of a catsuit, after all.

We're encouraged to think nostalgically by the fact that Enterprise leads its ragtag, fugitive fleet on a lonely quest: a shining planet known as Ceti Alpha Five, best known as the charming place where Kirk stranded Khan without bothering to figure out that neighboring Ceti Alpha Six was going to explode and level the planet six months later. The time-warping mechanism of the thingamabots made little sense to me (if the ones destroyed by the initial treatment had ceased to exist on the brain scans, how come T'Pol and Phlox remembered that they had ever been there in the first place?) but I had similar problems in Voyager's "Timeless" when Kim and Chakotay used Borg tachyons in Seven's cranial implant to send a message to her in the past, so this isn't a new issue. In fact the very nonsense of it fits right in with previous Trek reset-button episodes, where sometimes characters remember alternate histories ("Parallels") and sometimes they don't ("The Year of Hell").

The emotional core of this episode rests with the characters most changed by the alterations, in this case Archer and T'Pol. And though Connor Trinneer does a wonderful job as Trip in command, though John Billingsley has some lovely moments playing the doctor who never quite ceases to be an outsider among humans, though Scott Bakula has wrenching moments first shaking his head in mute denial as he watches Earth's destruction, then thanking T'Pol for giving up so much of her life for him, this is Jolene Blalock's episode. She's astonishingly good. I'm finally buying T'Pol as a Vulcan, even though I still think she's too emotional in her decisionmaking, because Blalock has become so skillfull at portraying subtlety of expression. She's a wonderful mixture of hope and despair in the future, and a wonderful mixture of determination and disappointment in the past.

So I loved T'Pol's barely-repressed rage reminding Soval that if Vulcans had not held back human technological development, then Earth might have been able to defend itself, and I loved both her anger at Trip when he berated the decision that probably saved the ship but cost it high warp speeds and her resignation when she told him she would turn over command to him to stay with Archer. I loved her ability to predict what Archer would need to hear, the bleakness and humor rolled together in her recitation of his sad romantic past, and I loved her very subtle overreaction to Phlox's query about her level of attachment. And, okay, again, I loved her in uniform. She's a much stronger presence in uniform even when she's doing something as stereotypically feminine as sacrificing her career for love. Please, can she become an official Starfleet officer soon?

This has been an even more subjective review than usual, but I maintain that the pleasures of this episode are more subjective than most. Either you're sick of reset button episodes or you don't mind them in the service of storytelling; either you're willing to rush ahead through the Xindi arc to this conclusion or you're annoyed that it hasn't been developed better in the present tense; either you buy that deep down T'Pol loves Archer and would go to these lengths for him or you don't. And either you think these are what Enterprise should be about, or you want it to tell more original science fiction stories and give Sato and Mayweather more to do. In my case, all of the above, but when forced to choose, the relationship fan in me comes roaring to the fore. Still. And if you're disgusted, that's fine, because I am too...but apparently not enough to stop it.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.