Matt and Sean talk about time loops again… and again… and again... Star Trek’s use of time travel can be problematic at times, but is it here? We take a closer look at time travel loop holes vs. solid character development with Captain Archer, T’Pol, Trip, and the rest of the crew.
Join Sean and Matt as they rewatch all of Star Trek in order and in historical context.
Hey everybody. Today's episode of Trek in Time. We're gonna be talking about tiny wimy things again. That's right. We're talking about enterprise season three, Episode 21 E squared, which is a difficult title to write down because you gotta use a little tiny number two, and then somebody's like, What?
Anyway, welcome to Trek in Time, where we're talking about star Trek in chronological order and where it landed in history. We're taking a look at each episode in chronological order, which means currently we're talking about star Trek enterprise, and we're also taking a look at the times that they landed in, which means we're back in 2004.
And who are we? Well, I'm Sean Ferrell. I'm a writer. I write some sci-fi. I write some stuff for kids, and with me is my brother. He is the guru and inquisitor behind Undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and it's impacting our lives. How you doing, Matt? I'm doing good. How about you?
I'm doing well. I'm looking forward to this discussion without giving anything away. I feel like we're in the golden days of enterprise as we move from episode to episode and they feel part of a coherent whole and. Just across the board. I feel like the storytelling is really strong in these episodes that we've been in for the past, like five episodes, maybe four episodes.
This one I think is not quite as strong as the most recent ones that we've taken a look at, but I still think it's right up there. What did you think?
Oh, I, I like this one. I agree with you. It wasn't. Pitch perfect for the last couple, two or three, maybe four were really, really good. This one was still average.
Mm-hmm. , I enjoyed it and I agree with you. When I think about enterprise, I like, I have a very fond spot, my heart for this show, and I think it's only because of season three. I don't think it's cuz of season one or two. I think it's this season in particular,
I just loved so much that it's, it's kind of like crawled into my heart as an enjoyable show.
Yeah. It really feels like it not only found its stride, but. It's own voice at this point. Mm-hmm. . So we'll get into that in more detail. But first, as usual, we would like to jump into the comments on our previous episodes. So, Matt, what comments stood out for you? Yeah,
it feels like we only have two commenters.
Either it's Robotrav or PaleGhost69 a lot of the times. So I do want to, It's a PaleGhost69 1 that's really short. He wrote on the last episode, which was 68 damage. I don't know what's holding us together, but I hope it doesn't give out. It's what Trip said. His comment was. 2020 in a nutshell.
Yes. Pretty much was a really good, uh, good
way to call that out.
We have a new commenter, Laney, I think is how you say, uh, his username, uh, he commented on episode 38, Stigma, which is an older episode. It's the one where T'Pol comes down with Pinar syndrome. She was forcibly like, Mind raped, I guess you'd say in a previous episode, and this is a ramification of that.
Mm-hmm. , he wrote, I didn't immediately recognize the parallels between the two story lines when I watched the episode. That's why I love your analysis because you find and point out such connections. I still have a thought about the A story. I absolutely agree with you with the mind meld and fusion was an assault.
However, I found the argument wrong in stigma that T'Pol got Pinar Syndrome only because she was assaulted. She consented to try the mind meld and as I see it, she would've gotten the Pinar syndrome even if Tolaris hadn't assaulted her during the meld. And I thought that was an interesting kind of take on it.
Like, Cause I remember when you and I were debating all that, it felt weird to have this whole assault victimization of T'Pol. Yeah. And there is a, a different angle. You could look at this as, she's not the victim necessarily for Pinar syndrome, Right. She was a victim of the assault, but the two don't
It's a good call out. Thank you for those comments. And don't forget everybody, you can jump into the comments and weigh in at any point, including if you're taking a look at some of our older episodes. This show is not built to be a effectively a current event that you have to keep up with us on. If you're watching these episodes in isolation and you wanna jump back and leave a comment on something you saw in a previous episode, please.
Do. So we love to hear those kinds of comments. So that sound in the background that you hear right now, that's almost too loud. I guess that's the read alert. That can only mean one thing. Matt. It's time for the Wikipedia description. Oh boy. Set
The 22nd Century. The series follows the Adventures of the First Star Fleet, Starship Enterprise Registration.
NX oh one. Season three of enterprise features an ongoing story following an attack on Earth by previously unknown aliens called the. In this episode, the enterprise encounters a version of itself that was sent 117 years into the past, now populated by the descendants of the crew As a generational ship, the two crews must work together so the modern enterprise can access a warm hole defended by Xindi vessels.
And I have to say
that's not a bad description, that it's been a while since we had a Wikipedia description that accurately played the role of a description. So, Shocker hat tip. So as we were just saying, this is episode number 21 of season three, and it was directed by Roxanne Dawson. This is the fourth of hers for the season, more than any other director at this point.
Most recently, she had directed doctor's orders, exile, and chosen realm. The episode is written by Michael Sussman, and this is his fifth of the season. His previous episode that we talked about was hatchery. The original air date of this was May 5th, 2004, and guest appearances included Randy Ogilby as dra.
Once again, Tucker Smallwood as the Xindi Primate, Rick Worthy Asar Test. Lena as Karen Archer, David Andrews as Lorian Tom Chanel as Greer, and Steve Truit as Crewman number. And what was the world like when this aired on May 5th, 2004? Well, Matt, you were still singing? Yeah. Usher, featuring Little John and Ludicrous.
And at the movies, a little film called Mean Girls opened to $24 million and. It really kind of surprised me to see that this opened with only 24 million. Considering mean girls has become such a staple in the culture, not only, Yep. Is it still a film? It's available in Paramount if anybody's interested in checking it out.
It's available for streaming or rent in a lot of different locations, but it is a movie despite the fact that I've never seen it. It is one of those movies that has entered the popular culture to the point where I feel as if I had. This, of course, was a movie that was written by Tina Faye, starred Lindsay Lohan, and introduced us to the concept of Mean girls in the, in the, it's been a part of our culture ever since.
And on television, what were we watching? My wife and kids, they were getting about 7 million viewers a week. 60 minutes too was getting about nine. That 70 show was getting nine and American Idol was of course getting about 20. Friends got 8 million and 9 million on UPN Star. Trek Enterprise had 3 million and Smallville four.
So Star Trek continues to be in last place, which it has been for a while, and. In the news, What was going on at this time? Well, the Sasser worm was spreading, and if anybody out there is old enough like me to remember the Sasser worm, well, US Gen Xers have to stick together, right? . The Sasser worm was a new version of the blaster worm, and these were not actual worms.
These were computer viruses. And yep. Remember the days when we talked about computer viruses as worms? It. These were heady times, Matt and Gross. Yes. Meanwhile, the Bush administration was still getting criticized for the Iraqi prison scandal where prisoners were being abused. There were those who were calling for Donald Rumsfeld to step down from his position as Secretary of Defense.
But meanwhile, the US Senate almost unanimously appoint. Negroponte, who was a diplomat with a checkered history to be the head of the Bush Administration's management of Iraq. So criticism notwithstanding the Bush administration was effectively able to do whatever it wanted and it continued to defend Donna Rumsfeld.
Around this date, there was also a total lunar eclipse. I just thought that was interesting. And on television, we were reaching the point where friends was about to leave the air. They were about to broadcast their final episode. So we find ourselves once again at this stage of the storytelling with an episode that follows right on the heels of the previous one.
And I will admit, being a big fan of that kind of storytelling, For this story. Yeah. It's not always critical in a series like I think of strange New worlds, the strength of episodic storytelling with through lines that are not as, Overarching as other shows that I love, which are completely episodic, but have a kind of coherent heart to them.
Might be a show like Quantum Leap where you can watch that show, you know, in any order, in order. But there is a pairing, there's a heart at the middle of it about the relationship between the main two characters and, and their trust and love for one another. So there are different scales. Of how linked episodic television can be or is.
I think that this is a good demonstration of when a series chooses to move into this direction. Enterprise historically was not this, it was very episodic at the beginning, and then it moved into this for this season in particular, and I think that the strength of their style really shows. Yeah, no, I. So we find ourselves with the enterprise following on the heels of the previous episode where D said, I have get you in front of the Xindi council.
In order to do that, you're gonna have to use one of our, our transport, our tr our basically they have the ability to use these warp corridors that speed up their travel, gives the enterprise, gives Archer the coordinates of one of these corridors. Unfortunately, it's in a dangerous part of space. There are gonna be some other aliens, Kavalan they're referred to, and the Kavalans will be unhappy to have the enterprise showing up in their neck of the woods.
So you gotta get to these coordinates by such and such a date in such and such a time, and you can use these this warp corridor. Best of luck. We'll see you there as the message der gives. And then as they try to do all of this, they find themselves in bad shape. They're quickly attacked. They get into the warp corridor, but when they come through the other end, things haven't worked out quite the way that they expected.
They find themselves in a part of space that does not match with where they were supposed to end up and very quickly find themselves approached by another vessel. And when they finally get a good look at it, they discover. It's them, and this is a time loop without it being too loopy, which I'll admit, I appreciate it.
to all our listeners, Sean is a author and he has written a book, which, by the way, I highly recommend reading The Man in the Empty Suit, which is a. Time travel story. Yes, so to speak. And so as somebody who's written time travel stories, I wanna kind of bring up the whole crux of this episode, which is around time travel.
And Star Trek tends to lean on time travel as a get outta jail free card a little too much. This episode, I'm not accusing it of doing that, but it's always a mixed bag with me whenever Star Trek gets into time travel because they don't seem to be consistent in how time travel works. and it's always what will move the plot forward.
So time travel is not science fiction, it's fantasy. Mm-hmm. , it's like you can do whatever you want in time travel cuz nobody understands is this possible, how it will work. It's just fantasy. But you have to create rules for how your version of time travel
works. Yeah. And this
episode seems to be trying to play around with the back to the future, Marty McFly.
Version of time travel, and I've always had a problem with this because it's like, okay, as soon as you come back through this loop and you succeed in what you're doing, it means you no longer exist, which means how did this happen in the first place? It creates this whole kind of like, It breaks my logic brain.
Mm-hmm. , did this bother you for this episode? Because where I would say the back, the future movies did it extremely well for what they were doing. Mm-hmm. , this did not, and it bothered me, but I excused it because everything else about the episode I enjoyed. So it's like I was, I was able to kind of disconnect my, this time loop makes no sense, and put that to the side and just enjoy the story.
Yes. Did that bother you?
That that you brought up just now is my really my only critique of the episode. Not that within itself, within the episode itself, it is consistent. You think so? It is not consistent with the rest of Star, Star Trek. Yes. What I mean by that is this episode, if you watch this completely in isolation, Isn't enjoyable as you mentioned, sort of back to the future style of time travel.
Oh, these, we, we ended up back in the past due to an accident and as a result they become a generational ship and we are now meeting in the present the people that will be our grandchildren as a result of our falling back in time 117. It is very back to the future ish. They then have, you know, their experience in like, Well, how do we avoid this?
What can we do? How can we, can we change all these things? All of that is being said and done as Matt pointed out in the name of the plot, whereas in previous episodes of Star Trek, in every time that time travel is incorporat. , there's always the message of don't screw around with the past. Now the people on the second enterprise, the older enterprise, are not taking that approach at all.
Nope. And that's where my critique. Falls into a problem and I, I found myself thinking there are some aspects of this that could have been, like this episode falls completely within the scope of what has been happening in the series right previous to it. And I appreciated that and. Lifting the rule of don't mucking around with the past.
For this episode, at a certain point I was enjoying the depiction of the interaction of the characters to the point where I was like, Okay, I'm okay with that. Like it was a little tiny thorn at the back of my head of like, they're not really following their own rules. But I also reached a point where I almost wish there had been more exploration and this would've only come.
The episode had more time because I feel like this episode feels very full and I, and I do appreciate that the one thing that I wish there had been is if T'Pol had had an opportunity to talk to herself. She talks to herself completely about the current vein of, T'Pol's character, which is Yep. T'Pol has effectively damaged herself by using Trium on herself in an attempt to.
Break emotional barriers down for herself and now has damaged herself through this addiction to the trillion, to the point where Flox has given her advice to say, You're gonna have to figure out how to incorporate this into yourself, because that seems to be where you're gonna be. She now meets an older version of herself, one who is 117 years older.
And who seems to have reached a stability with that emotional component. And there's really a very nice scene between the two T'Pol's, and you and I have talked about this on a number of different episodes. Jolene Blalock does not get enough credit for how good she is in this role here. She is playing a much older version of herself who is incorporated an emotional state so that she.
Charming. She's that really old lady that you like to know, and she seems happy. She's charming and happy, and she's, and she reveals like a little bit about herself and you can tell that she's got kind of a twinkle in her eye of like, like you poor child talking to herself. She's like, You poor child. You, you're struggling through all this.
You need to connect to the. Who can help you the most? Basically, playing Love Connector in saying like, You gotta go after trip. You love trip. I love trip. Go be with Trip. The, the circumstances of this time travel thing that we had happened to us forced me and trip together. So rather than rely on that accident, go after him, you know, go kiss the girl effectively.
I'm okay with that. I do wish there had been a tiny little moment. Even if it had just been a one line joke of older T'Pol saying to you younger T'Pol. So how do you feel about time travel now? Yes. The show has done so much with time travel so many different times in the series up to this point. The fact that nobody points out like, Well, we got our.
Yeah, they, they marvel at the fact that these might be their offspring, but once that's proven, there's really zero. Like, discussion time, travel, time travel. Yeah. Like, yeah, time travel. We, we could do this. And even with that being said, I also wish there had been the tiniest, tiniest moment of debate with Archer.
Is there a way we could use the time travel to go back maybe five years and stop the attack and have there be a legitimate debate in saying like, we don't even know the accident that took place. We have no idea how to control it. So I, I think that there could have been an opportunity for them, for the captain to suggest like, yeah, something audacious and have T'Pol and other people be like, We, we don't even know what happens.
To cause the accident. So let's not try and manipulate it to, to help us. Like you've, you've introduced a major element to the story at this point. That could be a solution to a number of different problems that the enterprise is facing. And instead they just focus in on like, well, how do we avoid it? And I'm okay with that being the plot, but I do think that there were a couple of moments where it would've been interesting to see the characters, especially with to.
Her entire thing. Like we still don't know. We still don't know. We still don't know. And just having older Paul say, So how do you feel about time travel now? Would've been a nice little cherry on top that would've been like, Yeah, let's put that to bed. Let's stop with the can time travel happen within star Trek debate?
Let's just suspend it.
My two things, my two like nitpicks were My question to you about what do you think about the time travel and then my other nitpick is around just that, is that T'Pol's and trip's son, there's two solutions to this and there's, there's only, and that are these two solutions. This is the right one.
And it was like you, No, come on. There's gotta be option 3, 4, 5, 6. Cuz as I'm watching, I'm thinking of like all these different options. It. If they succeed, that means you technically don't exist. Right. Which means you could sacrifice yourselves to help them get through the thing. Right? And it was like, how come nobody brought that up?
It seemed pretty obvious to me. So it was like there was all these possible solutions and like what you just brought up about the whole, why didn't somebody say, Could we manipulate this and control how far back we go? It's like that's another option. So it's like, why was this never discussed? And it bothered me about how they were trying to make it very black or white.
Yeah. Like there's two obvious choices and I'm sitting here thinking, No, I've got three, four, and five obvious choices and you're not discussing any of 'em. Yeah. So that was another nitpick, but I set it aside because again, it was just like that. Well, as you said, the thorn in the back of your mind. I enjoyed so much about the character interactions and the son's interactions with everybody.
Yeah. That conversation with Teal and DePaul, I loved that entire scene. I thought it was wonderful. I was just so enraptured by the, the characters and the discussions that those minor nitpicks didn't matter to me at the end of the day. So we can discuss it as a nitpick now, but it's like it wasn't distracting from my enjoyment of the episode as I watched
Yeah, I agree. And. There's a certain point in this episode where I had a similar response. Everybody is taking the, it's black or white, sort of mm-hmm. approach. And that's because they're trying to tell this story. And I'm like, like, I get it. Like I'm mm-hmm . And at that point then you rely on performance, uh, you know, creative interactions between characters.
I think that there's a lot here. Is well mind and well structured to hold, to hold your interest and I really appreciated that. Little things like, I mean, you just proposed and they, and they kind of introduce it at the end, the the new captain trip and T'Pol's son, he's played by David Andrews is Lorian.
He suggests that there was a point where when the Xindi weapon, the probe, the first attacked the earth and destroyed a huge swath of Florida, when that probe is first being launched, he says, We had an opportunity, I could have used the ship as a weapon and just mm-hmm. plowed into it and destroyed it, but he thought he couldn't sacrifice his crew.
One of the things about all the story. Up to this point about getting rid of the probe, stopping the probe in time, getting back in time, doing these things, you know, earlier stages. I always. Shrug my shoulders at all that, because like ultimately that wouldn't have stopped the Xindi at all. So I'm always like, No, it wouldn't like, Okay, what?
That's, that's kind of a moot point. But in the final sequence of this episode where they are trying to get through the, the enterprise is trying to get through the. The Warp corridor, and I really like the closing battle sequence where the original enterprise damaged to the point that the other enterprise has to use a tractor man and effectively throw them into the warp corridor so that they will go through and you get the impression that the second enterprise, the older enterprise, is now going to sacrifice itself in defending the first.
And there are questions on the other side when they come through the warp corridor. How we've waited now for five hours and there's no sign of them showing up. Did they get destroyed? Or the fact that we got through the corridor, does that mean they never existed? And then there's even the, But how do we remember them if they like that line?
And there were like, there were moments like that, that it was like, okay, this is now them trying to step back into. Star Trek Lores version of time travel, like they had their back to the future moment and then they're like, uh, but the fans are gonna wanna know how, like, how that got resolved. And it's similar to a critic's response.
I remember back when, Back to the Future three came out and there was a critic whose response was the entire third movie is predicated upon the fact. Doc cannot get back from the past, but then at the end, he gets back from the past, so, mm-hmm. , the entire movie was moot. And this falls into that same danger zone of like, well, how do we get all these things to line up?
And at a certain point, you don't need to, because the point of this story are moments like T'Pol talking to DePaul, T'Pol, talking with. Trip talking with his son, his son Lorian, talking with Archer. And what I love about all of that is that Lorian is trip's son. And Trip is having this kind of like out of body, you can tell he is kind of like thrilled at the fact like, I'm meeting my son.
This is crazy. I hope I was a good dad. And Lorian has the heartbreaking moment of like, you would've been, you died when I was 14. And then later you get to see Lorian in conversation with Archer reveal that he succeeded Archer as captain of the enterprise, Which means Archer was Was an old man. An old man, Yeah.
Still performing his duties as captain and passed another DeLorean. And in that scene you get the father son relationship that Trip was hoping to have with. But clearly Lorian grew up with Archer as his father figure, because after the age of 14, he makes a promised Archer of I will do whatever I have to, to make earth safe, and he's willing to attack his own hero.
in order to do that. Mm-hmm. steal from the older enterprise, the, the one we know he's willing to steal from that enterprise to make his enterprise stronger, to be able to go back and fight the, the battle that he thinks is important. All of that, I think is worth the tiny whamy like, yeah. Magic ish storytelling of, well, how do we remember them and we don't remember them effectively.
This is almost like a. Version of the Enterprise C story from yesterday's enterprise, where you have the way, if you followed the yesterday's enterprise logic, the moment they get through the corridor effectively, they should have gotten the other side. If you were writing this from the perspective of yesterday's enter.
They would've gotten through the warp corridor, they would've gotten to the other side safely and not known. And they wouldn't have known. And not only that, they would've said, Our ship is damaged. We've got things missing. Our engine is broken. What happened? And they would've had zero clue. And that to me, might have been a more heartbreaking ending.
Yeah, than what they gave, which is the waiting for five hours and they're worried and we remember them. How do we do that? Like I get why that ending existed because it, like I said, I feel like it's the, I think it's Sussman trying to say like, Oh, let's get back to Trek reality around time travel. But they've effectively stepped.
The wrong direction. I think that it, it could have been a darker and sadder ending if they got through and said, What happened to our ship? Like, this isn't just damage from the Warf corridor. This is, we were attacked by something, but nothing that we can remember happened. Yep. And for them to not even remember that.
Their grandchildren and they're offspring in that way. It's also why they do that though. Yeah. I can understand why they didn't do that. And I also feel like there's an element of the heartbreak around all this that is ultimately almost too sad to deal with, which is they show children on the generational ship.
Yep. And those children were either dead or never existed. So, Happy episode there.
There is thing I wanna call out. Just a couple episodes ago we had that episode where Captain Archer had to basically go against the, the ethical dilemma of where he basically robbed that other ship to steal their warp coils and all this stuff so they could go, Yeah.
I found it interesting that this episode flipped it. Yeah. And suddenly the enterprise was being, Having their injectors stolen so that the other ship could do, and the fact that they never, I picked up on that. Yeah, I'm sure you did too. And you don't need to be them like on the nose to the viewer going, This is a callback.
Yeah. But it's like, I wish that there had been some more of a hint that this was a deliberate callback to what they had done previously. Yeah. This was kind of like a comeuppance of like, this is what happens when everything gets lawless and you just do what you think is right, buddy. Right. And so it's like there's, they didn't do that.
And so for me it was a missed opportunity. But again, this episode was so jam packed, adding that kinda stuff in which it just made it like, so just like chaotic with stuff and different plot lines and statements they're trying to say. I think I can understand
why they didn't. Yeah, I completely agree with you.
I know why they didn't, but in like it's nice to create my own head cannon. Yeah, around that, that the conversation, the conversation between Lorian and Archer when Lori's in the cell after the whole attack, if Archer had said something like, What, what made you think you had the right to do that to us?
And Lorian say, Well, when I was just learning how to be a commander, you talked to me about something you had done that was very similar, and I thought that I was in safe territory there. Like it could. Like that's lurking in the back of my head. Like Lorian has learned from an Archer who was willing to do these things.
And we also don't know, and this is another thing that could have been hinted at through conversations with Lorian, with his own crew, we don't know what they have done similar to that with. Species. Right? And if somebody had on his crew pointed out like, Well, we've done this before, but this is different because this is our own grandparents.
Like it could have had a different, it could have had a nice little twist to that for Lorian. They could have twisted it with
him saying to Archer like, you know, I learned it from you. Yeah. And justifies
the means. So Archer smoking, Archer, smoking a joint, and then he is like, I learned it from you, man.
I think that's a perfect spot to wrap up our discussion with an anti pot, anti-drug message from the 1980s, which Matt and I grew up on. So I felt. The, the whole storyline while being a little bit weaker than previous episodes still fit within the current of how this season has felt, and I didn't feel like it was, while I had a few nitpicks, I didn't feel like it was subpar.
I thought it was very, I thought it was strong, and I thought it was Trek, and I thought it was. You know, in, in your hopes for this series, I felt like, well, if season three is this good, if a subpar episode dips to this level, that's still a pretty good television. Yeah, I agree. Yeah. So listeners, what did you think?
Do you agree that this episode. Makes the same kind of energetic push for the storyline for this season, or did you think that this one was even better than Matt and I thought it was. Let us know in the comments. You can reach out through the contact information in the podcast description. Or if you're watching this on YouTube, you can just scroll beneath the video and leave a comment there.
And before we sign off, Matt, is there anything you wanna remind listeners about? What do you have coming up on your main channel if you're
interested in energy efficient homes, solar panels, battery storage, just building kind of a crazy net zero home. I've got a whole bunch of videos coming up, but my experience building a factory built basically passive house, so be sure to check that out.
There should be an episode where by the time this is. Of my tour of the factory, seeing my house getting built in the factory,
it's, it was pretty cool. As for me, you can check out my website, sean Ferrell dot com, and you can look for information about my books there. You can also just go to any bookstore that includes everything from your local bookstore or library to Amazon or Brunson Noble.
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