Warp Factor Trek

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In this review by Elaine and Matt Sweatman, Elaine’s comments are in italics.

Phlox communes with alien pilgrims. We observe the “Great Plume of Agosoria”. Archer dodges a question about his religious beliefs. Oh, and a Suliban and a time-traveler from 900 years in the future hunt each other aboard Enterprise. Yes, the “Temporal Cold War” story arc returns… in a big way!

Silik’s temporal chamber, while Silik is operated on, under orders from the future

It was exciting to see the Suliban agent Silik and his mysterious benefactor in this episode’s teaser. Anyone following our previous reviews knows we’ve been anxious to learn more about all this since the pilot episode. When it originally aired, this episode was the last in a ten-week run leading into a holiday break. “Cold Front” and “Broken Bow” are Temporal Cold War episodes to bookend the first batch of adventures.

After Archer is served breakfast by an unusually chatty steward, Enterprise arrives at a stellar nursery and encounters a transport ship there. The ship’s captain is somewhat brusque.

“Oh, that’s rather brisk and rude!”

The transport captain, on Enterprise‘s viewscreen

He proves to be a man of few words in describing his passengers. They’re pilgrims, there to witness the Great Plume of Agosoria, an event that holds great meaning to their order. Archer invites them to visit Enterprise, and the captain promises to pass along the invitation to his passengers, but the captain himself, “Fraddock”, declines the invite.

Archer, T’Pol, and Tucker greet a small group of the pilgrims and are given a selection of gifts. Among these is a bottle of spirits that apparently enhances one’s enjoyment of the Plume.

“Oh, you get high! You get stoned!”

The pilgrims come aboard Enterprise

The group proceeds for a meal in the mess hall, where Doctor Phlox shows great interest in their beliefs. Archer is asked about his faith and says he tries to keep an open mind.

A tour of the ship is planned for the group. This brings up security concerns from Lieutenant Reed.

In engineering, Commander Tucker oversimplifies antimatter reactions, amusing the warp field theorist in the group. Another pilgrim surreptitiously tampers with a conduit behind a panel in the engine.

Doctor Phlox, Captain Archer, and several of the visiting pilgrims

Later, the visitors gather in sickbay and are shown how the imaging scanner work. During this demonstration, a plasma storm disrupts ship systems and eventually starts an antimatter cascade that is mysteriously halted. Apparently, our saboteur saved the ship!

“What are you hiding, son?”

While Phlox enjoys a sleepover on Fraddock’s ship, Archer begins to unravel the mystery of the averted catastrophe. The captain consults Trip about the lucky “break” but is unable to identify who the saboteur was. Archer is approached by his steward, Daniels, concerning these events. In a beautifully crafted CG scene, Daniels shows the captain a time map of sorts and further describes his role in the Temporal Cold War.

Daniels and Archer using the temporal observatory

“Oh, Daniels is a time agent! Like Captain Jack in Torchwood.”

A time-traveler from the 31st century, Daniels has returned to the 22nd century, as it has become a major front in the conflict. Silik undoubtedly saved Enterprise with his sabotage, though to what end is unknown. Daniels recruits Archer to help locate the Suliban. Archer, and the viewers, are left not quite knowing who to trust.

“T’Pol’s not wrong – how do you know you can trust him?”

In the captain’s ready room, Archer, T’Pol and Tucker debate whether to trust Daniels, T’Pol skeptically advising caution. Archer orders T’Pol and Tucker to help Daniels locate Silik, who might be disguised among the returning pilgrims.

In engineering, Daniels uses a phase device to pass through a bulkhead.

“Wha-what?! He just walked through that wall!”

Daniels walking through a bulkhead

In the captain’s quarters, Porthos alerts Archer to the fact they are not alone. Silik has staked out the cabin, hidden by his personal cloaking device. Aware that another player in the Temporal Cold War is aboard Enterprise, Silik tries to convince Archer to reveal the identity of his pursuer. The captain feigns ignorance, but T’Pol communicates Daniels’ identity in an ill-timed status update. Learning what he needed, Silik stuns Archer and flees the scene.

Back in engineering, Daniels configures his sensors to detect the Suliban just as Tucker spots movement in the chamber. Silik confronts his stalker and seemingly blows Daniels to pieces. The captain isn’t responding to hails, so Tucker, T’Pol, and Phlox head to Archer’s quarters, concerned.

There, Archer is roused by his visitors. They soon discover that Silik has not returned to the pilgrims’ transport and that Daniels’ temporal map has been taken.

Archer wearing the phase device, sitting with Lieutenant Reed

Using the configured sensors, Tucker locates Silik. Archer uses the phase device to take a short cut to confront Silik in the shuttlebay.

“I wonder what’s trippier – walking through walls, or quantum-leaping through time!”

When turbulence from the Plume hits, a scuffle ensues between the two, causing Silik to drop the time atlas. He’s attempting to escape with it. Moments later, Archer blasts the device to pieces. Silik tells Archer he may have endangered his future. Opening the bay doors, the Suliban throws himself out of them, towards an awaiting Suliban shuttle.

Archer watches Silik jump

Archer chooses not to pursue Silik, instead securing Daniels’ quarters, pending a thorough investigation. The last shot shows a large lock on the cabin doors, implying we have more to learn here.

“It ended on a… well, not a cliffhanger exactly… but a mystery?”

The mysterious door of Daniels’ quarters: Cabin E-14

This episode provides more questions than answers about the Temporal Cold War. How many factions are there? What are their intentions? Can we trust any of them? Why did Silik seem to act on Enterprise’s and Archer’s behalf this time? Why did Daniels say he wasn’t exactly human and that the Earth in his time wasn’t exactly Earth? And what’s up with that cryptic message Silik left with Archer as he escaped?

Rating: 4.5/5

As good as it was to learn more about the Temporal Cold War, the jury is still out on how successful this story arc will be. We both found the B-story of the pilgrims and Phlox a delight. While it’s hard to judge how we’ll feel about the main story until it plays out, this installment succeeded in keeping us invested.

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