Oops! Suliban Did It Again! - Mania.com

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Oops! Suliban Did It Again!

ENTERPRISE boldly returns to where it's been once before

By CHRIS WYATT     November 28, 2001

Archer amid the circuitry of the Enterprise NX-01 in "Cold Front."
© 2001 UPN
Tonight's ENTERPRISE is a "special episode" which acts as, in effect, a sequel to the two-hour series premiere. The good news is that it's got a pretty cool plotwhich is likely to encourage some of the hardcore TREK fans who've been complaining of weak stories recently. Also, unlike most of the series to date, a casual viewer who's vaguely familiar with the show's premise could very well be drawn into the tale and be interested in coming back for more.

The episode, entitled "Cold Front" (which turns out to be a delicious little pun), opens with a teaser featuring the mysterious blur-faced silhouette of the villain from "Broken Bow" who is punishing his Suliban servant, Silik, for having been defeated by Archer. It's a bit funny to think that it took the villain all these weeks to get around to disciplining his underlings; but hey, being a superpowered bad guy from the distant future probably doesn't leave a lot of holes in your schedule. That aside, the scene is well played and interesting. It sets up the fact that Silik will soon be sent on another mission to face Archer... and those eerie visual-echo effects always look cool.

Meanwhile, on the good ship Enterprise, Archer and the gang run into a transport that's been chartered to bring religious aliens on a pilgrimage to see a rare cosmic event that holds spiritual significance. Archer decides to hail the ship, just to introduce himself and make a diplomatic overture. Archer's good will is well received, and soon the race is taking their first tour of a Starfleet vessel.

Unfortunately, in a move that proves that aircraft security will not improve much in the centuries to come, the nefarious Silik enters the ship disguised as one of the guests. Bits and pieces of the "temporal cold war" alluded to in the pilot begin to emerge. One of Archer's crew steps forward with information from the future. He claims to be a part of an organization founded to enforce temporal law and order. The episode begins to weave issues of conspiracy into the picture, and even some complex questions about whether Silik is that much of a bad guy anyway.

The Suliban Silik encounters Enterprise for the second time in "Cold Front."

The creators of ENTERPRISE seem to have it in mind to create a kind of X-FILES-like "mythology" that they can go back to and build off of occasionally during the course of the serieswhich is an excellent idea. Both DEEP SPACE NINE and VOYAGER were at their best when they were involved in evolving story arcs. In fact, it was "mythology"-style arcs that made the last half of DS9's final season among the most riveting television ever created. Also, think of how much less rambling and pointless VOYAGER's middle seasons would have been if only they had a more continuous core storyline at their backbone. Kudos to the ENTERPRISE writing staff for learning from the past and employing the technique early on.

So if the plot's the good news, what's the bad news? Well, it's not too bad... Awkward action choreography makes the hand-to-hand combat scenes, of which there are many, seem stilted and a little silly. This choreography isn't helped by bad screen choices. It's difficult to say what those bad choices were. It could be that the camera movement isn't intense enough, or that the editing isn't crisp enough, or even that something in the director's pacing isn't up to snuffbut no matter what it is, something is wrong. When you watch those scenes you just feel that something's missing. All the fighting feels a little too slow, or amateurish, like the actor's were just rehearsing and got filmed by accident. But please! Bad choreography isn't the worst thing that could happen to a TREK episode, so we're clearly getting off lightly.

One other nit-picky complaint about the ending: Without giving away too much, suffice to say that the episode ends with someone going out an airlock. This may very well be the most overused sci-fi deus ex machina of the last decade or so. Ever since we saw Ripley use the loader to suck Momma Alien out in James Cameron's ALIENS, every Tom, Dick and Harry has thrown a last minute "airlock save" into their spaceship-bound teleplays. If memory serves, this was most recently seen on the otherwise fiercely original FARSCAPE. Admittedly, in "Cold Front" there's a little bit of a variation on the theme, as you'll see but not enough of a variation to make it seem fresh. Please, Hollywood, enough with the airlocks already!

The problems in the episode do not overwhelm the value and the mystery in the story. "Cold Front" comes off as a very watchable hour of televisionsomething that's been relatively hard to find on the airwaves of late.

ENTERPRISE - "Cold Front"

Grade: B+

Reviewed Format: TV Episode

Network: UPN

Original Airdate: November 28, 2001; 8:00 p.m. EST

Cast: Scott Bakula, Connor Trinneer, Jolene Blalock, Dominic Keating, Anthony Montgomery, Linda Park, John Billingsley

Creators: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga

Writers: Steve Beck & Tim Finch

Director: Robert Duncan McNeill


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