Enterprise as the Story of a Prince

This week I finished watching Enterprise, the troubled Star Trek prequel series. I confess that I gave up on it back when it was on the air after only seeing a couple of terribly written episodes. Having seen the whole thing, however, I now think it is fairly well done. There are a handful of terribly written episodes in the first two seasons, but the writing is really stepped up for the third season where the series shines, throwing caption Archer and the Enterprise crew into a desperate mission to save Earth. Archer must push both his crew and his ship past their breaking points. He finally falls from the moral certitude that has always characterized Star Trek, even resorting to torture and piracy.

Archer manages to save Earth and go on to lay the groundwork of an interplanetary alliance that will eventually become the United Federation of Planets, the sympathetic political entity in the other Star Trek series. Through various mechanisms, the series shows viewers that Archer’s place in history as a great peacemaker and explorer is secure. However the final episode, rather than focusing on Archer’s accomplishments, is more of a paean to Enterprise‘s chief engineer, commander Charles Tucker III, affectionately called Trip by his friends. The episode features several of his crewmates discussing their favorite memories of Trip (and accordingly, some of the viewers’ favorite memories) before Trip gives his life to ensure that captain Archer can attend the signing of the charter of the proto-Federation, thus ensuring its success.

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