Cold Front
airdate 11-28-01

A few weeks ago Enterprise encountered a race of people who had developed holographic technology (Unexpected). On The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine such a contraption has become common place, but in a timeline before Kirk, where such simple technology like tribble population control devices had not been invented, it's tough to imagine holographs running around. Even though the holodeck ran on an alien vessel, and not a star fleet ship, the unnecessary addition of what fans recognize as 24th century technology seems way out of place.

But if the addition of the holodeck barely crossed the line, then this week's Enterprise blew past it at warp 8.5, a speed so far impossible for the actual Enterprise.

The pilot episode introduced the Suliban. We learned two very important things. One: the Suliban are part of a mysterious "temporal cold war." And two: in this time line Klingons wouldn't be wearing tweed.

This week the Suliban returned for the first time since the pilot, unlike the Klingons who already returned (still without tweed). And with their return the Suliban brought an answer to the age old question, "What in the space-time continuum is a temporal cold war?"

(1) An excuse to bring technology from the far future onto a show taking place in the near future.
(2) An excuse to alter the Star Trek time line and get away with it.*

Thanks to this lovely temporal cold war a star fleet of the 22nd century has access to a host of technologies that weren't even conceived in the 24th century. Furthermore, it's a wonderful excuse for the creators of Enterprise to invent things that weren't possible - even on Voyager.

Who knows? By next season Dr. Phlox could be replaced by the Voyager's own holographic doctor. Or even worse, using special technology the warp reactor could propel Enterprise deep into space to meet the Borg, the Dominion, Q, and any other of the villains that worked so well on the previous Treks.

And that's the beauty of such a plot device. If something happens because of the temporal cold war, and it so happens to contradict an event from any of the previous shows or movies, then the explanation is simple: by going back in time the Suliban have altered history, and now events won't unravel exactly as they did before. Thus we can toss out the Star Trek history book.

While we're tossing books, we can throw away any book on science, and replace it with Marvel Comics. Somehow Captain Archer became the Silver Surfer this week, because he was able to hang out in space for almost thirty seconds. If a hatch opens on a star ship, all the compressed oxygen would blow out into space. This could get real messy - real fast. But Captain Archer was more than capable of walking around, as if he was just holding his breath underwater.

However, with all that bashing said and done, this was a fine episode. Captain Archer and crew were forced to make a decision based purely on faith, trying to figure out which supposed time traveler could be trusted. Meanwhile Dr. Phlox explored spirituality from half a dozen perspectives. This balance between moral, ethical and campy science fiction is defining the show Enterprise.

That is until the authors need to add something familiar to them and have the Suliban alter everything, making Commander T'Pol roommates with Jadzia Dax and Seven of Nine. On second thought, something about that sounds appealing.

(*Definition according to: Data's Dictionary of Star Trek and Other Cult Shows - copyright 1998).

Kevin Miller

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