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Terra Prime
original airdate: 05-13-2005

The final night of Star Trek turned out to be rather sad. Not simply because it’s the last time we’ll see a Trek in prime time for at least a decade, but the episodes heaped in our laps fell flat on their faces. That mixed metaphor draws a prettier picture then expected.

The first episode in the “two episode series finale” is the second part of the previous week’s “Demons.” T’Pol and Trip have got themselves trapped on Mars with Paxton, a terrorist madman who aims to cleanse humanity of all alien life forms by terrorizing Earth with his DEATH RAY.

Actually it’s a weather array, built to redirect asteroids and comets from their fatal paths into key solar system locales. Paxton fires a warning shot at Enterprise and at 2% of its total yield the starship gets wobbly. Malcolm reports that at full power the Enterprise would’ve been obliterated. This array can destroy anything this side of the meteor belt and it took no time at all for Paxton to commandeer it. It stands to logic that a remote base with a network of lasers capable of mass destruction would be under better security then a moveable mining station could crack.

Perhaps this story was a proposed three parter, like so many we’ve seen this season. Squishing three episodes into two might’ve torn some holes in the story line.

“Terra Prime” has many black holes. Trip and T’Pol’s baby was genetically engineered by Paxton’s team of xenophobes. They snatched two genetic samples from Enterprise’s storage locker and used flawed cloning techniques to build a human/Vulcan hybrid.

Why Trip and T’Pol? As an audience we know they’ve been doing the nasty pon far. Are the people of Earth also up on the soap opera of the Enterprise? Paxton could’ve very well chosen any Vulcan and human genetic samples from anywhere in the world. Why did he chose two of the most famous people on Earth, who just so happen to be having a sordid love affair?

Another storyline not properly explained is Malcolm’s relationship with Section 31. Still not named, Malcolm meets again with his contact from the secret government organization. Since it’s the second to last episode the writers felt compelled to wrap up this budding story line abruptly. After they exchange information and complements, the secret agent shakes Malcolm’s hand and wishes him the best of luck.

This could have been the beginning of long term explosive storylines. Enterprise COULD have been involved in all sorts of covert conflicts, including fighting the Romulans or anything else they’re not supposed to know about in the 22nd century. And since Section 31 gets things done without history writing it down it wouldn’t have altered the continuity one bit. Instead, it's another casualty of being cancelled after only four seasons.

Possibly the strangest plot hole of them all is Paxton’s master plan: broadcast on all frequencies a call to action to cast out all aliens from the Sol System, or he’ll destroy any city where non-humans live. And his ace—in-the-hole is some images of a human/Vulcan hybrid baby. Vulcans have been living on Earth for over 100 years. This can’t be the first time someone has thought of a human/alien child. To learn that humans and Vulcans can mate wouldn’t cause a world-wide riot.

This has all been an elaborate excuse to jerk some tears from viewers when they learn T’Pol and Trip’s baby won’t survive. It’s a slice of some seriously impressive acting, when Connor Trinneer (Trip) suddenly breaks into sobs as he tries to talk to cold quiet Jolene Ballock (T’Pol). Too bad the scene is based on such a flimsy premise.

But that’s just three quarters of the story. After Archer stops Paxton from destroying San Francisco he hunts down the Terra Prime spy on Enterprise. The kid commits suicide in the hallways. But this scene lacks any context. The ensign has no back story, or explanation of why he got involved with Terra Prime. He just apologizes and phasers himself in the head. Who cares? Who even remembers his name?

Then Archer, somehow, saves the day, and the first Federation conference, by delivering a speech so boring it could put a physics teacher to sleep. He rambles on about how it’s everyone’s duty to join hands and work together, or something. And then, one by one, aliens stand and applaud him admirably like the end of another teen movie. This is supposed to be the counter scene to the beginning of last week’s “Demons” when Archer and crew received no credit from Nathan Samuels, Earth’s Prime minister. Its symmetrical story telling… but it really could not have convinced the Andorians and Telleraties to stick around and possibly be mobbed by xenophobic humans.

Supposedly Manny Coto, lead writer for Enteprise wanted to spend all of season five on a forming-the-Federation story line. Maybe the delegates were all supposed to get up and leave Earth at the end of this season and we were going to spend the next year regaining their trust…

It’s unlikely the taste of disappointment will be washed away for quite a while.

Kevin Miller

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