Twilight: When it comes to Star Trek, I’m normally very much against the use of memory-killing interdimensional neural parasites and time-travel-like events used as plot elements to cancel out a whole episode. (Ron Pacheco cites Poe in denouncing “dream within a dream” storylines, though I understood the final scene as being a “reset” of the space-time continuum rather than merely Archer’s awakening from a coma.) However, I’ll go out on a science fiction limb and say that “Twilight” was actually pretty good as far as Enterprise episodes go. This was a clear echo from the TNG episode finale “All Good Things” and the Stargate SG-1 episode 2010; both shows providing unique glimpses into character development by projecting into the not-so-far future. If these glimpses prove to be reasonably insightful, then a good story has been told, even if the whole continuum gets reset, and “Twilight” achieved that, with some great acting from Scott Bakula and some dramatic rumination on T’Pol’s role as his devoted caretaker.
(“Twilight” also earns some geeky fan-boy points for mentioning Ceti Alpha 5 — ironic twist, as that’s where Khan was marooned in Space Seed — and the Mutara Sector; though I think that a good episode should be able to stand on its own without having to namedrop Wrath of Khan references.)
North Star: Though it was largely derivative of “Spectre of the Gun”, I thoroughly enjoyed this superbly written, paced, and executed Enterprise episode. The gunfight between the Enterprise crew and the vigilante gunmen made a fitting metaphor for the internal conflict of a literally-alienated Wild West humanity versus the sudden onslaught of the 22nd Century. Seeing phase pistols versus lead bullets was an added bonus, and Archer’s line in the saloon, “I’ll be damned,” is a classic example of the captain’s innate shrewdness in the face of adversity.
Similitude: Awful. Awful, awful, awful. This episode weakly addresses cloning issues via the casual use of a disposable character: a Tucker clone, introduced to the story by Phlox through a “secret” — more like deus ex machina — medical process. The clone then ages at an accelerated pace, gets into discussions, kisses T’pol, gives his neurons to Tucker, dies, and is finally conveniently pushed out of the storyline through a torpedo tube. There are so many things wrong with this plot that I don’t know where to start.
I thought T’pol “loved” Archer, since she seems so devoted to him in “Twilight”; are the neuropressure sessions giving her second thoughts, or is this just a brief relapse due to her experience from “Impulse?” Archer’s “Enterprise needs Trip!” outburst is an unconvincing reason to so flippantly clone the engineer, despite the script’s insistence that the decision is not lightly considered. The script itself stumbles awkwardly in a few places, though Manny Coto deserves the benefit of the doubt, being a newcomer to writing Enterprise screenplay. I give him kudos for the intense treatment of Archer’s character in the argument with Sim, where Archer angrily expresses his willingness to kill the clone if it keeps Tucker alive. It’s not a pretty scene; Archer steps over the line in a way we should not expect of our hero the captain, but it shows the conflict that he goes through in dealing with the pressures of the Xindi mission. A daring bit of writing — unfortunately the only daring bit of writing in this whole, messed-up episode.
All in all, Enterprise seems to be getting a bit better, but I’d say we can do without episodes like “Similitude.” Issues like cloning are better tackled without disposable characters like Sim.