HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
On TV Today's Date:

North Star
original airdate: 11-12-03

What could've been the worst episode in the entire Star Trek: Enterprise series will probably go down as one of the top ten best. Right alongside...um...

The original Star Trek featured a few "parallel Earth" episodes where Kirk and Spock found planets run by 1920's mobsters or the ancient Romans. So that's the first clever layer of "North Star."

Just beyond its sweet candy shell is a very tasty layer of irony. Old school Star Trek is often thought of as the real space cowboys. Westerns were really popular in the late 1960's and so Kirk was a cowboy with a phaser. He got in bar fights, saved the girl, and dug for gold. So it's sort of a double homage to the old Trek.

But it doesn't stop there. As can be expected, an episode buried deep in the old west borrows more camera angles, music riffs and character archetypes than you can shake a rattlesnake at. Yee haw.

And just to seal the deal - the whole episode is about racism. It just wouldn't be Star Trek without the continual exploration of the human condition… Yee haw!

Enterprise discovers a planet, deep in the Delphi Expanse, inhabited by over 6,000 cowboy humans and a handful of aliens they call "Scarbs". One of the aliens has been hung… hanged… killed with a noose - and Archer arrives in town just in time to play hero. The deputy sheriff Bennings tries to pick a fight with one of the Scarbs and Archer pipes up before the bullets start flying.

Before he knows it Archer is knee deep in the discrimination war against the Scarbs. And it takes about twenty minutes 'til it's finally explained, but the average Trekkie saw this one coming (it doesn't make it any less cool, however).

A long time ago in the second to last frontier, aliens abducted some humans from the Old West to be used as slave labor on their colonial worlds. But the humans didn't like being slaves, so they massacred their captors, and then ran the planet for themselves. The Scarbs were treated as third rate people. Laws were written preventing them from being educated, getting married and dancing to rock 'n roll within city limits.

Three hundred years have passed, and neither the technology nor the level of tolerance has changed. All humans hate Scarbs. Well, all except for the school-marm Bethany. She moonlights in "Scarb-town" (the wreckage of the Scarb space ship), teaching the young ones to do math. When Archer visits the illegal class room Bennings and his boys show up and toss Archer and Bethany in jail.

The Sheriff asks Archer to be on his way - back south to join the Blue Harvest, or something. But instead he springs Bethany from her ten year sentence, just in time to be shot by Bennings. And in a flash of light, they beam onto Enterprise, leaving the cowboys behind.

But the story doesn't stop there.

Up until this point there has only been one shot of Enterprise and it was about three seconds long. From here on out the episode becomes an amusing clash of genres. As if Frontier Land and Tomorrow Land were at war.

Archer flies his shuttle pod down to the planet's surface, kicking up more dust and dirt than any horse ever had. Out pours T'Pol (in her hot alien green uniform), Reed, Tripp and a handful of fully armed Space Marines.

In the Sheriff's office Archer explains that the race wars need to stop, and as soon as they're done with their war with the Xindi they will start the Galactic Oregon Trail to return these people to Earth. Meanwhile outside, the crew re-creates another recent theme from our heated political environment.

All season Enterprise has been on the hunt for terrorists. Now the Star Fleet Marines stand with next-step technology guns in the center of an old world town - like American soldiers in the streets of Iraq. I don't mean to be heavy here - but these themes are becoming extremely apparent.

Fortunately this week the parallel takes a curve and we jump straight into action. The general war starts as Bennings shoots the Sheriff in the shoulder. Bennings' boys all have their crosshairs on Archer as the rest of the crew scans the town for hidden gunmen like Hogan's Alley. Then it starts. Pistols fire. Phasers rocket. Archer leaps over wooden fences, stunning gunmen, and then changes the setting on his phaser to cut a hole in the balcony above. A gunman falls through the roof as Archer changes his setting back and stuns that one, too. Just then a bullet flies through the back of his shoulder and we watch it blow a hole in his arm!

Meanwhile a Bennings boy takes T'Pol hostage, and tells Reed to put down the gun or he'll kill her. Reed, remembering his Keanu Reeves training, shoots the hostage to take her out of the equation. Reed then stuns the gunmen, too.

Archer, cradling his blown out arm, has a barn brawl with Bennings. He takes so many punches to his bullet hole the pain level starts to match WWF Raw. But in the end, Archer lays him out and holds him at gun point. Yee haw!

Later, in space, Bethany watches her green world spin below and Archer promises that her people can learn tolerance just like the Earth humans have done. And with a whole new history lesson, and the newly integrated schools of Scarbs and humans, Bethany teaches the whole town about the three hundred years of human history they've missed… and the Enterprise rides off into the sun set.

This was an absolutely needed break from the hunt for the Xindi. Much like when Deep Space Nine took a week off from their war with the Dominion to go back in time to the classic episode "Trouble with Tribbles," this week's episode will be a jewel in the Enterprise crown. And with Enterprise's love for continuity we'll probably see these folks again in seasons to come - and most likely we'll see the Scarb's home world. Most certainly this will be another level in the new Star Trek video game. It'll be the chapter right after the Vulcan Zombie ship.

Before then Tripp will die. Next week's episode is lifted straight from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as the chief engineer's body is shot into space, and his memories are implanted on a fast growing clone… I bet Christopher Llyod will be there, too.

However, on the alien rating scale, this week's episode scores a…

Klingon - for being so incredibly cool.


Kevin Miller

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites