Warp Factor Trek

The Star Trek Fan Website

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

Enterprise returns from holiday break with an episode set entirely aboard ship. The ship is threatened by a “silent” adversary, an alien spacecraft encountered several times throughout the episode. We observe how the crew plan to communicate with Earth as they venture further out from home. We learn of their resourcefulness in repairing and fabricating defensive weapons without having to return to home base. And we essentially see Hoshi add “party planner” to her CV by preparing a birthday surprise for our armory officer. With the spotlight focused on Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, do we finally manage to learn more about him?

In “Fortunate Son” (two episodes ago), Archer mentioned that Enterprise was about to begin launching subspace amplifiers to facilitate communication with Starfleet Command back on Earth. Here, we see the ship launch the second of these satellites. Malcolm then detects a nearby alien vessel. Colored green, the ship is unfamiliar even to T’Pol.

“If a ship is green or red, it’s usually not friendly!”

The mysterious spacecraft

This ship doesn’t respond to hails. After it abruptly departs, the Enterprise crewmembers find that they haven’t managed to take any scans of the mysterious vessel.

The crew take advantage of the newly deployed amplifiers to catch up with news from home. Archer communicates with Reed’s parents in hopes of learning enough to plan Malcolm’s birthday dinner. His parents offer little insight into his food preferences. Frustrated, the captain tasks Hoshi with discovering what he’d like for his meal. It seems the audience are not the only ones who know little of our mysterious armory officer.

Archer and Hoshi discuss Reed

“Poor Hoshi, they give her something special to do and it’s a crap secret mission.’’

In private discussion with Archer, Commander Tucker relates that he’s having difficulty maintaining a long-distance relationship with “Natalie from Pensacola”. Elaine in particular liked this mention, as she has had family history in that city. Appreciating how it shows that Tucker had a life before Enterprise, Matt regarded this plot point as an effective way to relate to what the crew may be going through with their separation from family and friends.

The mysterious vessel returns for a second encounter with Enterprise. Still refusing to answer hails, the aliens proceed with the most obnoxious-sounding scan imaginable.

“I don’t like that noise during their scan!”

Carnage ensues!

This time, the alien ship fires on Enterprise before leaving. The attack does minor damage but almost breaches a section that would have killed thirteen crewmembers, including Commander Tucker.

Frustrated at Enterprise’s limited defense options, Archer decides to return to Jupiter Station to complete installation of phase cannons. The events in “Broken Bow” necessitated leaving the station before this work could be completed. Trip and Malcolm seem chaffed at the notion that the crew can’t complete the upgrade. They’re given permission to begin the process while Enterprise travels back to its home solar system.

Trip and Reed brief the engineering staff about the phase cannons

Hoshi calls several other people, trying to discover Reed’s favorite foods. Apparently, his sister, his best friend, an uncle, and two aunts can only contribute that he, indeed, occasionally eats. T’Pol suggests speaking with Malcolm directly. Hoshi, meeting him in the mess hall, tries to get him to share a meal in her quarters. Looking awkward, Lieutenant Reed declines the perceived romantic overture and Ensign Sato leaves in embarrassment, none the wiser.

“For a communications officer, Hoshi sure messed that communication up!”

The third encounter with the unknown aliens continues to escalate hostilities. This time, the adversaries manage to disable the ship’s systems and, using a shuttlecraft, transport two of their kind on board. Two security officers confront the invaders but are knocked unconscious and scanned during the encounter. Archer fails to stop the aliens, and they leave, their purpose on Enterprise unknown.

One of the alien invaders

“They look like the Mars Attacks! aliens!”

Tucker informs the captain that it will take a few days to restore the warp drive. Attempts to call the Vulcan High Command for help fail. It seems the aliens have destroyed the previously deployed subspace amplifiers.

During the repairs to the warp engines, progress is also being made towards installation of the phase cannons. To speed up the process, Lieutenant Reed tries to bypass the EPS grid, drawing power for the phase cannons directly from the impulse engines. Commander Tucker disapproves of the risks involved and overrides the decision. After discussing the nature of their mission with the captain, however, Trip reconsiders the risk of drawing power from the impulse engines.

Reed and Trip inspecting one of the phase cannons

Two days after the previous encounter, the engineering crew complete the installation. They proceed to a moon to test the new weapons, which fire much more powerfully than designed. This overloads several plasma relays, which leads them to discover a device that the invaders planted aboard Enterprise. Archer sends a message to the aliens through the device before destroying it.

Hoshi and Doctor Phlox deduce that Reed will likely appreciate pineapple for his birthday. He regularly takes medication to prevent allergic reactions to that tropical plant.

Hoshi, in Phlox’s company, excitedly thinks of pineapple

The ”silent enemy” returns for one more encounter. This time, the aliens use Archer’s own recording to send an ultimatum for Enterprise’s surrender. A skirmish ensues, as the captain is certainly not going to comply. Initially, the phase cannons prove ineffective against the alien ship. Archer decides to recreate the overload from the test. The phase cannon blast succeeds in lowering the enemy’s shields, and some follow-up torpedoes damage their engines. The alien ship limps away, convinced that Enterprise is not the pushover they had assumed.

In engineering, Archer breaks protocol by sharing beers with Tucker and Reed. Hoshi arrives with a pineapple cake. Malcolm is pleased and wonders how they knew it was his favorite. This small-scale birthday celebration finishes our adventure.

Reed’s birthday party

“Why was Reed’s birthday ‘party’ only with Tucker, Archer, and Hoshi?”

Rating: 3/5

Instead of giving us something to learn about his past, this episode leaves Reed as a blank slate, which seems a bit of a cop out. It could also be a positive, though, as the writers have free reign to develop his character. We hope they’ll flesh out his character more in future episodes.

It’s frustrating that, once again, little is learned about an alien race. Providing motivations for their hostility would have made this a much more interesting story.

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