been the worst episode in the entire Star Trek: Enterprise
series will probably go down as one of the top ten best. Right
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."
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
story doesn't stop there.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
on the alien rating scale, this week's episode scores a