Enterprise: The Expanse (S02E26)

One thing I appreciate about Enterprise is its level of ambition:  some episodes really reach for the stars (no pun intended), and while most of them don’t end up being all they strive to be, I give them credit for at least trying.  The Star Trek universe is a rich canvas on which an incredible variety of stories may be painted, and I like it when Berman and Braga just go for it and throw caution to the wind.

The Expanse is one of those episodes.  I can’t say that it’s entirely successful at what it sets out to do, but it’s certainly an interesting and entertaining ride along the way.  The show starts out with an attack on earth by an alien probe, reminiscent of Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home.  Except instead of churning the oceans, this probe cuts a swath right out of the planet roughly 300 yards across and 4,000 miles long.  It starts in Florida and goes clear to Venezuela, after which the probe self-destructs and bits of it crash-land on Earth.  Blackout.  Cue opening credits (and, of course, the mute button.  *shudder*  that opening ballad is still terrible.)  This, my friends, is how to open a season finale.

Soon afterwards the Enterprise is called home to help out and investigate, and we also get a somewhat hollow emotional core to the story:  Trip’s sister, we find out, was among those who perished in the attack.  This is handled somewhat clumsily, though it does provide a strong motivation for Trip and Cap’n to go get those darned aliens who did this to Earth.  But pulling a character out of thin air (I can’t recall Trip ever mentioning a sister up to this point) is a bit of a cheap way to add a sense of drama to any plot.  Still, it suffices, and I can overlook it for now.  Archer gets told by the weird future-man from early in season 1 that the attackers came from (where else?) the future, and are planning to destroy humanity because in the future, humanity accidentally destroys the aliens.  Archer wants to go get those rapscallions, but doing so would involve entering (dun dun DUN!) the Delphic Expanse:  a hitherto unknown area of space that’s basically an interstellar Bermuda Triangle.

And that’s just the first five minutes.  Suffice to say, this show was jam-packed with enough material to fill a movie, and perhaps they could have pared it down a little (between T’Pol’s possible deportation to Vulcan, the Duras family exacting revenge on Archer, Trip’s dead sister, the Delphic Expanse, and Archer’s quest for vengeance, it’s a little much) but I rather like the ambition.  Despite a few weak spots and possible fiddling with the canon of Trek, this was a pretty solid way to end Season 2.  I’m rather looking forward to Season 3, which we probably won’t start watching for at least a week.

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