So in case you hadn’t heard, Enterprise is due to be cancelled. Yes, that’s right: enjoy it while you can, because this season will be the last. I have a few thoughts on the matter, which I’d like to express here, if I may.
Thank you, merciful Zeus. No more craptacular theme song. No more of me wanting to punch Archer right in his arrogant jackass mouth. No more of me hating Berman and Braga with a fiery passion for their fucking up the Star Trek prequel series, pissing on continuity, and basically killing the franchise. Even Voyager, lame and pathetic though it was, managed to limp through to its (laughably derivative and idiotic) seventh season finale.
Let’s be fair: I love Phlox. I loved Hoshi, shy geekgirl that she was, until Linda Park started phoning in her performance and the character’s unique talents became less and less useful. Reed always has style and class. Trip was… okay as a character. And he had a nice chest. As did Mayweather; pity about that lack of lines outside of a few Boomer-focused episodes. Archer, as mentioned above, was and is a jackass: an overbearing, small-minded, impatient, somewhat bigoted tool who shouldn’t have been allowed within a light-year of any first-contact situations. Sigh. Scott Bakula is still all kinds of hot, and I did love him so in Quantum Leap. And T’Pol? A “hot” Vulcan chick, all boobs and pouty lips and ribs, played by a former model who can’t do the Vulcan thing and really needs a sandwich.
Again to be fair, and though it’s too little too late, this season’s pretty good: they finally got around to laying the groundwork for the Federation, which they should have been focusing on right from the start. And Vulcan society’s on the right track at last. You know, that may be the one thing that burns me the most: how the Vulcans were treated in Enterprise. Ever since the original series, Vulcans were a dignified and honourable people, somewhat arrogant and condescending, yes, but very logically so. They were pacifists with ancient and rigid traditions that may have seemed barbaric to humans (betrothal as children, ritual combat), but it worked for them.
So what did we see for the last three years? Lying Vulcans, warlike Vulcans, sneaky and underhanded Vulcans who were no better than humans, who didn’t mindmeld and oppressed those who did, illogical Vulcans who didn’t follow the IDIC philosophy, Vulcans who got lectured by fucking Archer, of all people, on how to respect one another. Why? Seriously, I’d like to know. Was it just done for conflict, and sort of got out of hand? Did Berman and Braga enjoy ruining the Borg and the Klingons on Voyager so much that they said, “Hey, let’s take down Vulcans on this new show!” “Yeah, sounds like fun!” “And then let’s have Archer save their culture and carry Surak’s katra!” ?
And there’s the decon gel, as though B & B were thumbing their noses at the viewers. “It’s soft-core porn in space! Woo! We’re all about the eye candy!” And the Ferengi! And that Temporal Cold War bullshit! And…
Bah. Let the franchise die. I won’t miss it, not the way it is now. Star Trek’s been dead in every way that counts for most of the last decade, anyway. If it’s a choice between continuing like this and pulling the plug, then I for one am all for euthanasia. Voyager and Enterprise are only pale shadows of what Star Trek used to be.
The original series? With all the cheese and the go-go boots and the clunkers (“Brain and brain, what is brain?” Oy.) there was… substance. Messages about racism and war, and hope for a better future. RIP, Gene.
The Next Generation? Okay, the first two seasons were generally nothing to write home about (“Justice”? Please. “Symbiosis”? Drugs are bad, mmkay. “Shades of Gray”? Save us from boring clip shows. Dr. Pulaski? No thank you.) But the third… Ah, that’s when things picked up. “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” “Sarek.” “The Best of Both Worlds.” Remember when Picard is captured by the Borg and taken to the centre of their ship to address the hive mind?
Captain Jean-Luc Picard. You lead the strongest ship of the Federation fleet. You speak for your people.
“I have nothing to say to you. And I will resist you with my last ounce of strength.”
Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours.
“Impossible. My culture is based on freedom and self-determination.”
Freedom is irrelevant. Self-determination is irrelevant. You must comply.
“We would rather die.”
Death is irrelevant. Your archaic cultures are authority-driven. To facilitate our introduction into your societies it has been decided that a human voice will speak for us in all communications. You have been chosen to be that voice.
Remember when the Borg were actually scary? Remember when we had a smart, educated captain commanding the Enterprise? A captain whose knowledge of linguistics and mythology helped him make first contact with a species who spoke only in mythohistorical allusions?
I remember Deep Space Nine: the grittier Trek, the Bajoran politics and religion, Cardassians and Dominion, the always entertaining Garak (sorry, “plain, simple” Garak). “Duet.” “Improbable Cause/The Die is Cast.” “In the Pale Moonlight.” The shades of grey and the longer story arcs that, true, didn’t always work, but dammit, the writers tried, and that counts for a lot.
That’s what I remember. That’s what Trek is to me. And I hope that after Janeway and Archer have faded into oblivion, it’s the legacies of Kirk, Picard and Sisko that will endure.
(And in case you’re wondering, that scene from “The Best of Both Worlds, pt. 1”? I wrote that from memory.)