[ENT] Jammer's Review: "Storm Front, Part II"
- Note: This review contains significant spoilers.
In brief: Watchable, nonsensical, predictable. At least it purports to be
the end of the timeline wars.
Plot description: Only the crew of the Enterprise stands between an alien
and his plan to escape Earth of the year 1944 and tamper with the timeline
in ways that could destroy the histories of countless civilizations.
Star Trek: Enterprise - "Storm Front, Part II"
Airdate: 10/15/2004 (USA)
Written by Manny Coto
Directed by David Straiton
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: **1/2
"The building's about to blow up."
-- Archer and Trip
The bad news is that "Storm Front, Part II" inherits so much nonsensical
time-travel baggage from previous episodes (including last week's "Storm
Front, Part I") that the premise is all but indefensible.
The good news is that this episode appears to end -- once and for all -- the
Temporal Cold War and all its related, incoherent BS. Personally, I'm in
favor of the end of the TCW in "Storm Front, Part II."
If the first two paragraphs of this review seem familiar, it's not because I
copied and pasted them (naw); it's because this week's installment of the
Jammer Review has become the latest front in the Temporal Cold War, and
temporal agents have subjected you to a time loop. As you can see, history
has been altered, because this review is now different. (Actually, it might
as well be the same, since I'm going to say many of the same things.)
But, you see, now I'm confused, because if the Temporal Cold War never
happened, what about all those episodes where the Enterprise was involved in
Daniels' temporal shenanigans? Did they also not happen? Or did they kind of
happen in a reality that everyone remembers but no one cares about?
And, for that matter, what about the Xindi? Were they ever really a part of
the TCW? After Earth was attacked, Silik gave Archer information about the
Xindi, implying that they were somehow manipulated by people who were
involved. And yet the sphere-builders didn't seem to be a part of the TCW,
and rather seemed to represent only their own independent interests.
In essence, "Storm Front" represents about the only thing the writers could
really do with the TCW -- namely, throw their arms up in defeat and admit
that it made no sense and never would or could. That they have slyly
packaged that sentiment inside a story that rewrites World War II and
*pretends* to make sense is admirable, I guess. Obviously, we know better,
but at least you can still fill an hour of television time with something
that is halfway entertaining.
"Storm Front, Part II" -- a very average outing -- works and fails along all
the same lines as "Part I." Since everything was more or less explained last
week in the setup, this week's installment pretty much just goes through all
the motions we knew would have to happen in order to arrive at a payoff --
although "payoff" is too strong a word for the overall experience of "Storm
About the only remaining question is what Silik is up to and why. It turns
out that Silik's faction of the TCW also intends to stop Vosk, since Vosk is
a madman who sees time-travel as just another technology to employ in
improving the universe, to his own ends, no doubt. (In a war as convoluted
as the Temporal Cold War, it stands to reason that Silik would eventually
end up on our side for at least one episode.)
My thinking is that if the timeline is something that can be changed at will
at any point, then reality is meaningless. That's a dangerous storytelling
through line, because it leaves us in the middle of nowhere. Besides, how
could Vosk maintain any control over such a mess? I would think that at some
point he would end up accidentally erasing himself with his own meddling. Of
course, reckless sci-fi like this means that there are no answers. In this
case, there probably aren't any questions, either.
Well, there are questions of scripting logic, which are pointless to
scrutinize but I'll try anyway. Why, for example, wouldn't Silik try to team
up with the crew of the Enterprise from the outset? He always has so much
information, so why wouldn't he know that the Enterprise was sent to stop
Vosk? For that matter, wasn't it awfully convenient the way he was able to
stow away on the Enterprise?
In this episode, Silik has complete shapeshifting abilities, allowing him to
look like anybody. There's a point where he assumes Trip's identity and then
gets aboard the Enterprise when Archer negotiates the release of "Trip" and
Mayweather from Vosk. The whole business involving the data disc Silik
retrieves is a somewhat flimsy device that takes Silik down to Earth, only
for him to return to the Enterprise under a subterfuge that obviously
wouldn't last five minutes. Just how did he intend to carry out his mission?
He's able to do the highly unlikely, and yet still inept.
In a story that is all plot and virtually no characterization, the one
interesting character moment comes when Archer throws Silik against the wall
in the brig, and Silik tells him, "You've changed, captain." Indeed. It's a
notion worth its own episode.
Silik and Archer subsequently team up to infiltrate Vosk's facility so they
can disable the shield generator and the Enterprise can swoop down and
destroy the building. Of course, no infiltration would be complete without
bringing in the American resistance fighters established in part one to keep
the Germans busy. Ensuing are a lot of lackluster shootouts between the
Americans and the Germans, which is often laughable in its depiction of
German ineptitude (they can't hit the broad side of a barn even with machine
guns). I'm pretty sure the only non-German casualty in all the shooting is
Silik. The Germans can't even hit Carmine when he's standing in the middle
of an alley with no cover. (If people are going to get hit with bullets,
can't we at least get some body squibs?)
One thing I liked in the episode was Vosk. As demented (and ridiculous) as
his notion of unlimited timeline manipulation is, he brings a sort of calm
rationality to explaining it. In the negotiation with Archer, Vosk is so
convinced of his own righteousness that he thinks Archer might actually buy
into his proposal. Jack Gwaltney is interesting as Vosk, who is a calm and
confident villain who speaks precisely but with no uncertain menace beneath
the surface (in one scene, he threatens to erase a Nazi general from
Archer and Silik are successful in shutting down the shield generator, but
of course you knew that. Silik is shot and killed in the process. There are
some nifty FX shots of the Enterprise flying over Manhattan (right between
the Empire State and Chrysler buildings) and being shot by German fighter
planes equipped with plasma cannons. Not quite as nifty is the destruction
of Vosk's facility (at the Last Possible Moment, naturally), which showcases
the latest in CGI artistry that also looks like an exploding Styrofoam
cooler. I'm not sure that's what they had in mind.
"The timeline's resetting itself," Daniels helpfully informs Archer, in a
line of dialog that actually uses the word "resetting" to invoke a Reset
Plot. "It's almost ready," Daniels says. Just how "long" does it take for a
timeline to reset itself and become "ready"? Do such terms apply? Never
mind, because I'm with Archer: "I'll take your word for it."
Being the Timeline Inquisitor that I am, I must ask if Silik is really dead.
Couldn't he be alive in some other time period? After all, Daniels, who died
last week, is alive in the 29th century because of the reset timelines.
Shouldn't this go for Silik? Is there some Timeline Law that says Silik must
stay dead in a timeline that never existed simply because he wasn't from
that timeline? Not that it matters, because the Timeline Laws are probably
just Timeline Suggestions.
In a story free from all notions of cause and effect, the only net effect is
that my brain hurts. I'm probably focusing too heavily on goofy logic. Let
it be said that "Storm Front," while positively absurd, is workable as an
exercise in predictable absurdity. More importantly, it marks the end of all
this temporal nonsense, which is as crucial a quality as any. (Shadow Man or
Future Guy or whatever he's called does not make an appearance here, so I
guess we'll never find out who he was/is. I can live with that.) May the
timeline no longer be this series' playground.
The final shot of the Enterprise's homecoming is nice. I just hope that next
week we get a breather and a coda to these two big storylines being wrapped
up in the course of three episodes. Now that we've seen the end of the Xindi
and Temporal Cold War arcs, let's at least find out what it means to the
characters who carried out the missions.
Next week: You are cordially invited to a Vulcan wedding.
Copyright 2004 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...