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Carpenter Street

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at November 27, 2003 - 5:43 AM GMT

See Also: 'Carpenter Street' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: In 2004, a man named Loomis is promised money in exchange for a human being by a Xindi-Reptilian. He picks up a streetwalker he knows from the blood bank where he works, drugging her and taking her to a warehouse where several other people already lie on cots, hooked to IVs.

On Enterprise in the 22nd century, Crewman Daniels visits Archer, telling him that the timeline has been corrupted and there are Xindi in Detroit, Michigan in the 21st century. Archer tells T'Pol that he is going back to find the aliens on Earth and asks her to accompany him, despite her doubts about the feasibility of time travel. They travel nearly a hundred light years and 150 chronological years into Earth's past, where they steal a car, then money to buy gas. By tracking the Xindi life signs, they discover that Loomis is working for him and follow him home, where they pretend to be law enforcement and discover that he has been collecting people for his unknown employers. They want one human of each blood type, and still need two more. Since Archer has B- blood, he decides that Loomis will take him as his next "victim."

After Loomis delivers Archer to the warehouse, T'Pol forces him at phase pistol-point to wait in his station wagon with her. When Archer investigates the Xindi facility hidden in the back of the warehouse, he finds a bio-reactor and concludes that they are working on a bio-weapon, testing it in the past to hide it from adversaries in Archer's time. Speaking to T'Pol via communicator, he realizes that he must destroy the equipment by which the Xindi intend to return to their own era. Though he manages to down the Xindi with the temporal beacon, his weapon alerts the others to his presence, and they flee with the unfinished bio-weapon in a canister.

When Archer calls for aid, T'Pol orders Loomis to drive her back to the warehouse, but Loomis alerts his employers with the wagon's horn before he realizes that they are reptilian aliens. T'Pol shoots a second Xindi but the third races away, apparently intending to release the unfinished virus which could conceivably kill three-fourths of Earth's population. While T'Pol lays down cover fire, Archer sneaks behind the Xindi, kills him after his refusal to explain the weapon, and captures the canister. Back on Enterprise, he takes the weapon to Phlox for analysis, while T'Pol shows Trip the dead Xindi and equipment they have brought forward in time with them. Meanwhile, in Detroit in 2004, the police arrest Loomis, refusing to listen to his stories of ray guns and lizard people.

Analysis: "Carpenter Street" is a very entertaining but ultimately pointless time-travel episode that redeems its existence primarily by not requiring a reset button. It does little to further the Xindi arc other than to establish that their time travel equipment is as sophisticated as that of the Suliban...and to establish that it apparently does not come from the Suliban, as Daniels indicates to Archer that he has no reason to doubt the time-traveling Suliban informer who told Archer that the Xindi were attacking Earth to prevent their own destruction.

Archer greets Daniels with an entirely appropriate tantrum, though for once I was wondering where Captain Airlock was -- about time Daniels showed up, indeed, especially since he confirms that none of this happened in the "real" timeline of Star Trek. I don't understand how the changes can not have reached Daniels yet -- shouldn't any change in the distant past be instantaneous, like with the Guardian of Forever and all of Starfleet disappearing? If history mentions no Human-Xindi conflict, and Daniels and his world still exist, I'm inclined to take that as a sign that the Xindi won't succeed in destroying Earth and its people after all.

But apart from the Kathryn Janeway-patented causality headache, this episode offers quite a lot of fun. Guest star Leland Orser, who played the creepy hologram Dejaren on Voyager's "Revulsion", is superb as Loomis, one of the most repugnant villains I can remember on Trek and that's including every Cardassian, Klingon and Romulan I can think of. As T'Pol says, he represents the absolute slime of humanity -- his motivation is greed, his M.O. is violence and he's as morally corrupt as they come. He preys on prostitutes presumably seeking HIV tests, on men in wheelchairs presumably too helpless to fight him; he wants his money quickly and easily with no thought for the possible fates of his victims; though he says he wouldn't work for terrorists, he warns the Xindi of T'Pol's presence, even though he believes her to be legitimate law enforcement and his employers to be, well, probable terrorists.

By these standards, Archer's theft of a vehicle and money in the interests of saving the world seem as noble and laudable as Kirk's theft of clothes in "The City on the Edge of Forever." It's easier to loathe human garbage than the aliens fighting for what they believe is the survival of their species, and watching Loomis eating a greasy, disgusting fast food burger, dripping meat onto T'Pol's vegetarian thighs, is perversely entertaining...more so than listening to Archer attempt to order the food from the drive-thru, insisting to a woman with an accent that no, he doesn't want the combo. It's much less entertaining watching Archer let T'Pol untie the guy so he can hit him, saying he feels better about doing it with Loomis' hands free, but even so, it's impossible to feel sorry for the creep; one simply wants Archer to be that much better than him.

There's simple, silly pleasure in listening to T'Pol reminding Archer to turn the headlights on, watching them walk around in ugly civvies, seeing them against what's allegedly the backdrop of Detroit though I swear they used that same warehouse entrance in an episode of 24 the year before last. The ray gun and lizard-man jokes, while predictable, work nicely, and the low-key visuals seem much less forced than those in "North Star" where it seemed that every Western cliche was being thrown at us at once, for no apparent reason. Archer gets most of the action sequences but T'Pol comes across very well, with answers for most of his questions (I love that she knew exactly how to find the Xindi temporal beacon with a single scan!) And there's a neat moment where she resets her phase pistol from kill (for the Xindi) to stun so that she can shoot Loomis. It's obvious what's coming, and really hard not to anticipate it.

Speaking of reason...exactly how does this episode advance the Xindi arc? Well, we learn that the Xindi have moved ahead with their plan for a bio-weapon, as Rajiin told Archer; we learn about the time-travel capabilities, and receive confirmation of the ruthlessness of the Reptilians (it seems possible that their unnamed enemies are another, less brutal Xindi species, thus necessitating that they work to exterminate all of humanity in Earth's past rather than in their own era). We don't learn whether there is a connection between the Xindi and the Temporal Cold War, nor Dark Future Man, and I'm not even certain that I believe Daniels is telling the truth about the future timeline.

It's possible that most of these plot threads will return -- the time travel, the bio-weapon, Daniels, a possible Suliban connection -- and then this episode will seem like a critical moment in this season's storyline. Right now it seems more like entertaining fluff, loosely connected. But as entertaining fluff goes, it's warm and witty and well-done.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.

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