The Cynics Corner


"Cold Front"

by David E. Sluss

2 December 2001

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: A fairly solid outing on its own terms, but it may not bode well for the "future" of the Temporal Cold War storyline.


TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: So, we're playing the X-Files game with the Temporal Cold War, are we? Memo to Berman and company: You've got a temporal anomaly going on right in your office, since that trend was cashed out at least five years ago. Nevertheless, that's what we seem to have here, with Silik in the Cancerman role and Daniels playing Deep Throat, Mister X, et al. Or is it the other way around? As in The X-Files, neither of their stories makes any real sense. Daniels' explanation of how time travel evolves in the future doesn't square with Star Trek history, in which the Slingshot Around the Sun trick was pretty much perfected in the 23rd century, with time travelers fully manifesting pretty much anywhere they wanted to. That seems to mean that Daniels is lying or that Enterprise is chucking Star Trek's (future) history; one's just as likely as the other. And, of course, T'Pol is right to point out that Daniels, if he was telling the truth, could just as easily have come back earlier and taken out Silik on the Helix or anywhere else. Interestingly, Daniels points out where/when Silik's bosses come from in his little display but doesn't say when that is, which leaves open the possibility that some Fan Favorite from the 24th Century could turn out to be the Guy in the Temporal Chamber, and make a Sweeps Cameo at some point in this series. As for Silik's "Is he friend or foe?!" material, well, it was a pretty standard implementation of that plot device. All we needed to make it complete was Silik asking, "By the way, John, how is your mother?" and then taking a drag.

Although this handling of the Cold War struck me as potentially sordid, this episode did have some good things going on. Some minor, not in your face characterization, such as Phlox being interested in comparative religion, Trip talking down to the pilgrims in engineering and getting smacked down, and Mayweather trying out the Captain's chair were welcome. In the latter scene, though, I thought Reed came across as an uncharacteristically humorless prick; he did gleefully help build a snowman on a comet after all. And however thin his character remains, Reed is still the only one on the ship with any sense at all, even though he is mocked for not wanting Enterprise's guests to see all of the ship's secure areas. We even had some minor continuity, outside of the obvious references to "Broken Bow," as Trip remembers his Holodreck experience in "Unexpected." In the Avoided Cliches department, the alien Captain wasn't a villain, just a jerk, and the star's explosion, against overwhelming odds, didn't threaten the ship. And no caves or shuttle pods were harmed in the making of this episode. OK, is that enough for you folks that think I've been unfair for the series? Good...

WEIRD SCIENCE OF THE WEEK: Vulcans have declared time travel to be impossible, according to T'Pol. Say what? Theoreticians right here, right now on Earth have proven that traveling back in time is possible within the laws of physics. And with all due respect (which isn't much), I think I'll take Stephen Hawking's word for it over that of Enterprise's writers, who have proven repeatedly that their science education ended at about the fifth grade.

STAR TREK CLICHE OF THE WEEK: Oh, dear, someone broke into the shuttle bay. The science in Silik's escape was a little suspect. You can't exactly sky-dive in space after all. And Archer should have been in a bit more distressed after the bay was depressurized, with some burst blood vessels and a couple of popped eardrums at least.

WEIRD TECHNOLOGY OF THE WEEK: Archer decides to use Daniels' phasing gizmo to go through a bulkhead to get to Silik. So he:

  1. Turns the device on.
  2. Grabs a phase pistol handed to him by Reed.
  3. Walks through the bulkhead.

Let's grant for a moment that Daniels' device is smart enough not to let the wearer go through the floor. Even so, how could Archer grab the weapon while he's phased?

STARFLEET INSECURITY OF THE WEEK: "Seal off those quarters! Put one of those blinking Frisbees on the door." Like that would ever work. And if Archer's so concerned about what might be in Daniels' room, why not go in there and look?

STARFLEET INSECURITY OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: Archer and Daniels want as few people as possible to know about the temporal shenanigans. So T'Pol, Trip, and Daniels are in engineering blathering about it, using strange devices, etc. while other crew members are milling about in the room. By the end of the episode, there's a good chance everyone on the ship except Chef knows that time travelers were allegedly on board.

LINGUISTIC ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: If nothing else, this episode may be proof that Enterprise has chosen to punt on the "language barrier" issue altogether. We've got multiple unnamed alien races here with whom our heroes are immediately able to communicate. And we've got the Psychic Universal Translator module going again, as we see in the scene in which Phlox says something in one of the alien languages to Archer and has to translate it. Hoshi, you've been re-assigned; here's your miniskirt…

Previous: "Fortunate Son"
Next: "Silent Enemy"
NEXT WEEK: An unknown enemy attacks the Enterprise. Again?



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