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Storm Front, Part Two

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at October 16, 2004 - 3:18 AM GMT

See Also: 'Storm Front, Part II' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: As Hitler arrives in New York, the Nazi general headquartered in the White House demands the squadron promised to him by the aliens and is informed that if he is not more accommodating, he and his people may be erased from history. In private Vosk concedes that he does not trust his Nazi allies. The aliens have realized that Tucker and Mayweather are not temporal agents, but they don't believe their presence on Earth in this era could be an accident. On Enterprise, Alicia begs Archer to bomb Berlin with his ship's weapons, but he insists that this is not the way to defeat their common enemy and asks for her help in finding his missing crewmembers.

Vosk contacts Enterprise, telling Archer that he will hand over Mayweather and Tucker if Archer will agree to meet with him. After beaming a rather battered pair of Enterprise crewmen back aboard, the captain listens to Vosk's plea for assistance as Vosk insists that Daniels and his people manipulate the timeline just as shamelessly as he does and they have agendas as well. If Archer will help him, Vosk promises, he will set Earth history as it was before any temporal agents began to interfere. Back in sickbay, Archer begins to tell Tucker about the conduit and the temporal shield when a glimpse of Phlox's readout reveals to him that "Tucker" is not human; he struggles and fights with Silik, who has taken Tucker's form to sneak a disc of schematics of Vosk's facility aboard the only vessel present that could carry Silik into the future.

Vosk contacts Archer, telling him that a thief from Archer's era has stolen data belonging to him and that he is prepared to fire a plasma cannon at Enterprise to retrieve it. Archer refuses to make a deal, returning fire with phase cannons, but Enterprise is damaged. T'Pol discovers that the crew cannot pinpoint the location of the conduit, nor can they disable Vosk's shields from orbit. Silik tells Archer that although he has no interest in saving the life of the man whose form he took to escape from Earth, he does not want Vosk to succeed in completing the conduit and will help Archer sneak into the facility where the device is being constructed so that Archer can place a homing beacon for Enterprise. Alicia recruits mobsters in the American resistance movement to help Archer and Silik get past the Nazis guarding the building.

Vosk makes a speech about how temporal manipulation will allow his people to perfect themselves, then prepares to use the finished conduit to reach the 29th century. When he learns that the facility has been breached, he breaks the alliance between the aliens and the Germans and sends his enhanced squadron of jets, originally promised to the Nazis, to fight off Enterprise, which has entered the atmosphere to blow up the facility after honing in on the signal Archer has planted. But ionization in the atmosphere is blocking Archer's communications with the ship, and Silik is shot and killed by the Nazis. Just afterward, Archer finds Tucker, who has escaped from the corridor where Silik left him. The two return to the ship, where Archer orders Reed to fire on the facility. It blows up just as Vosk enters the conduit, killing him.

Daniels, who is alive and healthy again, shows Archer the timeline resetting, but Archer is unimpressed, begging to be sent back to his own era and to have his crew left out of the temporal cold war. He and his crew can see Earth on the viewscreen but they are uncertain which era they have entered until signals start coming in, and dozens of friendly spacecraft approach Enterprise.

Analysis: While "Storm Front, Part Two" inherits all of the problems of "Storm Front, Part One", it does a reasonable job dispatching them, despite cramming in so many plot threads that I couldn't keep track of where everyone was and how they got there, exactly. The opening is one of the best Star Trek has ever done, a fake newsreel showing Hitler's triumphant entrance to New York, cruising past the Statue of Liberty; it's somehow creepy and humorous at the same time, a combination of Zelig and Triumph of the Will. It's still a somewhat cartoony Hitler - more akin to Mel Brooks' "Heil Myself" than the architect of the death camps we never hear about in this episode - but since we are watching a cartoony version of history anyway, the one where EVIL ALIEN NAZIS take over the world, it's perfectly fitting.

Again, there's so much action packed into the episode that it's hard to talk about the regulars, their motivations and their finest moments. When so much time is given to the spunky 1940s woman, the Tony Soprano of the American resistance, the jets that fire plasma, the spaceship hurtling past the Chrysler Building, the unexpected switcheroo of Suliban from adversary to ally, the competition between aliens and Nazis to see who can be the baddest of them all...well, it's hard to worry about little things like whether T'Pol has a personal interest in saving Tucker's life or whether Phlox should have jabbed a needle into Silik's arm and knocked him out the second he realized he wasn't Tucker, which must surely have been before he got around to letting Archer figure it out. It's unfortunate that instead of seeing for ourselves how much tougher Archer has become, we have to have it announced by Silik; that's just bad writing, telling instead of showing. But I guess screen time must be saved for Loch Ness Monster jokes and a few seconds of Reed demonstrating his WWII weapons geekery.

For the purposes of the plot, I'm still not sure why it mattered that Lenin was assassinated and there was no Soviet Union, nor that that meant the time-tampering was broader than just the 1940s scenario. It makes even less sense that aliens would have been building their conduit in Manhattan when Hitler controlled all of Europe, particularly since the much-discussed squadron wasn't even in the city and had to be shipped in. Naturally it's fun to listen to an alien tell a Nazi that his puny little master race could be wiped out of existence, then to watch the most arrogant of the Nazis get shot by his gray-skinned ally, but it's also depressing, particularly when Vosk makes a Hitleresque speech about how his race can perfect itself and vanquish those who oppose them. I understand how Alicia feels when she reacts with horror to learning that there's still war in Archer's era and that people pretty much suck across millennia. There's been way too much solved with guns on Enterprise and not nearly enough diplomacy.

And "not all species have the same values we do" or whatever Archer's line was? Ugh. The Xindi War was not about different values, but rather about the fact that the Xindi believed, for very good reason, that humans were going to wipe them out of existence, and chose to strike first. One can certainly argue that this was a poor choice but it is not radically different from the logic used repeatedly by human cultures to attack neighbors. It's also fairly similar to the logic that set off the crisis in "The Andorian Incident", where mutual distrust and cultural differences are nearly enough to spark a war. As Vosk points out, we can't even be sure that Daniels' values are altruistic; okay, it's nice to know that his colleagues saved the Suliban from temporal tampering, but we still don't know (and perhaps never will) the root of the conflict between 29th century humans and the shadowy guy from the future who was advising Silik all along. We're just assuming the humans are the good guys even though Daniels has jerked Archer around all along.

This is probably more deep thinking than the episode deserves. I guess I'm frustrated to see the apparent end of the temporal cold war when we still have no idea exactly what it was about, and in an episode I'd rather remember as comic relief than the kickoff to what could be Enterprise's last season. If I'd been writing a follow-up to the evil alien Nazi in "Zero Hour", I'd have dispatched him in the first ten minutes of the new season in some really cheesy way - T'Pol finding Tucker in her shower and realizing all of last season was a dream, Archer learning he was hit on the head and imagined the warplanes and the Nazis, something undoubtedly stupid but at least it would have taken up only a handful of minutes of screen time instead of the entirety of two episodes to get them back to series-time. Because no matter how much distraction we receive in the form of Nazis and mobsters and New York and Billie Holliday and Hitler and the Chrysler Building and machine guns and World War II flying aces, it doesn't make up for the abrupt kicking to the curb of the Xindi arc, nor the lack of character moments. It's full of sound and fury, and we all know what follows that: signifying nothing.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.

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