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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Twilight”

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Rereads and Rewatches Star Trek: Enterprise

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Twilight”

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Published on March 14, 2023

Image: CBS
Image: CBS

“Twilight”
Written by Mike Sussman
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill
Season 3, Episode 8
Production episode 060
Original air date: November 5, 2003
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. Archer wakes up to the sounds of Enterprise in battle. He tries to leave his quarters, but is stopped by a security guard, who has orders to keep Archer in his cabin. Archer slugs him and goes to the bridge, and he is immediately confused by the fact that (a) T’Pol is wearing a Starfleet captain’s uniform, (b) T’Pol is ordering Archer off the bridge, and (c) they’re in orbit of Earth and are just in time to watch the Xindi super-weapon destroy the planet.

After the credits, we once again see Archer waking up, but he’s got a lot more gray in his hair. He’s in some manner of settlement. T’Pol is in the kitchen making him breakfast—her hair is much longer and tied in a ponytail. The last thing Archer remembers is discussing movie night with T’Pol (the movie in question was Rosemary’s Baby, and T’Pol was reluctant to attend), and then Enterprise hit an anomaly.

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Some Desperate Glory
Some Desperate Glory

Some Desperate Glory

That was twelve years ago.

The damage done by the anomaly included a large piece of metal falling on T’Pol’s leg. By staying behind to get T’Pol’s leg out of it, Archer allowed himself to get hit with one of the waves, which infected him with parasites that mess with his ability to form long-term memories. Phlox explains this to him when Archer wakes up, thinking it’s only a couple of hours since the anomaly hit, but it’s truly three days later. The parasites have resisted every treatment Phlox has thrown at it so far. The only thing he knows will work is a subspace implosion, but that would kill Archer, so not a viable treatment…

Once it becomes clear that Archer cannot remain in command, he’s relieved and T’Pol is given a field commission to captain. He tries to contribute, but he winds up making the same suggestions over and over again, so he gives even that up.

They continue their search for the Xindi superweapon, but by the time they find the world it was being built on, it’s already been launched. Enterprise gets into a firefight with two Xindi-Reptilian ships. Enterprise is victorious, but there are heavy casualties—including Mayweather—and a maneuver T’Pol performed to basically swat one ship that was docked with Enterprise with another ship results in nacelle damage that Tucker can’t repair without a facility. They’re now stuck at warp 1.7.

Image: CBS

Earth is destroyed, and Starfleet is now tasked with saving the rest of humanity. The Xindi move on from Earth to wipe out other human colonies. Starfleet is tasked with herding human refugees, and they’ve settled the six thousand remaining humans on Ceti Alpha V. Another convoy was destroyed in the Mutara sector.

Soval tried to convince T’Pol to return to Vulcan and get reinstated, but T’Pol is pissed at Vulcan High Command for holding humans back. If they hadn’t retarded Earth’s development, the planet might still be intact.

T’Pol resigns her commission when Archer decides to stay on Ceti Alpha V. She remains to take care of him.

Phlox has continued to work on a cure, and he shows up with the fruits of ten years of labor: a potential cure. But he needs the high energy of a warp engine to power it.

They go to Enterprise, where Archer receives a hero’s welcome. Tucker, who is now captain, is also grayer now, Sato has shorter hair, and Reed has a goatée. Archer, for some reason, doesn’t ask about Mayweather.

The first treatment goes very well—in fact, there’s an unexpected side effect. Phlox sees that the segment of parasites he irradiated are now gone. But when he checks it against past scans of Archer’s brain, those parasites are gone from every scan he’s made of Archer for the last twelve years. The parasites are extradimensional, and it’s possible that their relationship with space-time is different. Wiping them out seems to be retroactive.

T’Pol and Phlox theorize that this could mean that curing Archer wouldn’t just give him long-term memories back: it would retroactively cure him twelve years ago and change history, allowing him to remain in command.

Image: CBS

Enterprise detects a ship nearby. The only person on board is a Yridian, who admits under angry questioning by Reed and a pretty unhinged Tucker that he was hired to follow Phlox. The Xindi figured the Denobulan doctor would eventually touch base with the humans he served with.

Now the Xindi know that the last remnants of humanity are in Ceti Alpha. Archer’s treatment has to be postponed, as they need ship’s power to defend themselves. Six Xindi ships show up, with Enterprise, Intrepid, and two more ships fighting them. The fight does not go well, and at one point Enterprise’s bridge is literally ripped off, killing Tucker, Reed, Sato, and the rest of the bridge crew.

At this point, humanity’s only hope is for Archer to be cured. Unfortunately, the device Phlox was using to treat Archer was damaged in the firefight. However, they can use the engines to trigger a subspace implosion. With Xindi-Reptilians boarding the ship, they’re probably all gonna die anyhow, so they have nothing to lose. Phlox and T’Pol are shot and killed before the implosion can be executed, and Archer, too, is shot, but manages to trigger the implosion with his dying breath.

Cut back to twelve years ago: Archer wakes up in Enterprise’s sickbay a few hours after the anomaly struck. Phlox says Archer’s fine, but a little banged up, and he wants to keep him overnight just to be safe. T’Pol provides a padd with Rosemary’s Baby loaded on it, since he’ll miss movie night.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently, extradimensional parasites that live outside of linear time as we know it can ride the anomaly into someone’s brain.

The gazelle speech. Archer has the same conversation several times throughout the episode and its flashbacks. He also breaks down and cries when T’Pol informs him that they failed in their mission to the Expanse.

I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. T’Pol—who looks much better in the ponytail than she does with the bowl cut—devotes her life to taking care of Archer after he saved her life. (And saved her from the same fate.)

Image: CBS

Florida Man. Florida Man Gets Promoted And Becomes A Much Bigger Asshole.

Optimism, Captain! Phlox spends a decade trying to cure Archer. That’s one devoted doctor…

Better get MACO. The MACOs continue to be useless in actually defending the ship against boarders.

Good boy, Porthos! It is never explained what happened to Porthos in the alternate timeline, and I’m not happy about that at all. (Apparently a scene with Porthos was filmed for one of the alternate future segments, but it was cut. Bastards…)

The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined… Soval tries to get T’Pol to abandon Archer and the humans and come home in the alternate timeline. She tells him to go fuck himself.

Blue meanies. In the alternate future, Enterprise is equipped with shields that were provided by Shran, who has been promoted to general in the interim.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. T’Pol and Archer have grown very close over the dozen years of the alternate future. How close is left maddeningly vague. When Archer asks how far their relationship has evolved, we cut away before T’Pol can answer.

Image: CBS

More on this later… The last remnants of humanity settle on Ceti Alpha V, which is where, in the main timeline, Kirk stranded Khan Noonien Singh and his people in the original series’ “Space Seed,” and which was rendered nigh-uninhabitable by the destruction of the sixth planet in the system some time between that episode and The Wrath of Khan. Something for those poor refugees to look forward to in a hundred years…

I’ve got faith…

“It couldn’t have been easy for you—telling me the same story over and over again for twelve years.”

“I don’t always tell it in detail.”

“I hope I’ve told you this before, but—I’m very grateful for everything you’ve done for me.”

–Archer and T’Pol

Welcome aboard. Gary Graham is back for his lone third-season appearance as Soval. He’ll be back in season four’s “Home.” Brett Rickaby plays the Yridian, while Richard Anthony Crenna plays the poor guard that Archer slugs in the teaser.

Trivial matters: Mike Sussman originally pitched this to Voyager, with Janeway in the Archer role and Chakotay in the T’Pol role.

Archer’s plight in this episode is reminiscent of the real-life case of Henry Molaison, who was treated for epilepsy in the 1950s by a surgical procedure that removed bits of his brain, with the unexpected side effect of eliminating his ability to form long-term memories.

T’Pol mentions Alpha Centauri and Vega colony as two places where humans were wiped out. Alpha Centauri was established in the original series’ “Metamorphosis” as where Zefram Cochrane lived in his later years, and the Vega colony was first mentioned in “The Cage.”

Archer stabs a Xindi-Reptilian with a tiny replica of the Zefram Cochrane statue that was described by La Forge in First Contact (and which will later be seen in Lower Decks’ “Grounded”).

Image: CBS

It’s been a long road… “Fortunately, I don’t take orders from you.” This episode has the DNA of lots of past Trek in it: “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” “The Visitor,” the “Year of Helltwo-parter, “Timeless,” “Endgame,” “All Good Things…” Some of those are among Trek’s most popular episodes, too, as it’s always fun to see the main characters in alternate situations.

“Twilight” is definitely a good example of the breed, mainly because it mixes the Inevitable Action Scenes with some really strong character work on Archer and T’Pol.

It starts out beautifully. I’ve spent a lot of time on this rewatch complaining about this show’s truly awful teasers, so I especially want to give credit to the teaser for this one, which is right up there with TNG’s “Cause and Effect” and Voyager’s “Scorpion” as one of the most effective in franchise history. Archer waking up confused, seeing T’Pol in a captain’s uniform, watching Earth explode—it’s the textbook definition of a good teaser, because it teases the hell out of this episode.

And the rest of it lives up to that. Scott Bakula nicely, and understatedly, plays Archer’s confusion, and Jolene Blalock is simply stellar as the older T’Pol, who has serenely accepted that this is her life now. I particularly love how subtle Blalock plays it, as the change in her demeanor is so minor as to be almost imperceptible, but Ponytail T’Pol on Ceti Alpha V is just a bit more relaxed than Bowl-Cut T’Pol on Enterprise has been. I also love the way she tells off Soval…

In addition, Connor Trinneer does a fantastic job with the now-completely-unhinged Tucker. The anger from “The Expanse” is back with a vengeance, and it’s some very scary stuff. It would’ve been nice to see more of how this affected Sato and Reed beyond tonsorial choices. Phlox is exactly the same aside from some slightly longer hair, because of course he is.

The episode loses points for a few problems. One is the redshirting of Mayweather without even any kind of comment. Seriously, “Black Dude Dies First” isn’t a section of TV Tropes you should be a part of, especially on Star Trek. The solution to the problem is a hilariously absurd bit of technobabble even by Rick Berman-era Trek’s incredibly high standards of hilarity for such.

And I really am not at all comfortable with the notion that T’Pol being in charge would mean disaster for everyone. T’Pol has consistently been portrayed as the only grownup on Enterprise, as the most competent person on board, and as the one who’s been needed to save their asses more than once. This feels like a desperate attempt by the production staff to stack the deck in favor of Archer, which is only necessary because they and Bakula have done such a mediocre job of showing why Archer even deserves to have command of this historic ship and mission in the first place.

Warp factor rating: 8

Keith R.A. DeCandido’s sixth novel in his “Precinct” series of epic fantasy police procedurals, Phoenix Precinct, has been published by eSpec Books and is available in trade paperback or eBook form. Ordering links can be found on this blog post.

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Keith R.A. DeCandido

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Keith R.A. DeCandido has been writing about popular culture for this site since 2011, primarily but not exclusively writing about Star Trek and screen adaptations of superhero comics. He is also the author of more than 60 novels, more than 100 short stories, and around 50 comic books, both in a variety of licensed universes from Alien to Zorro, as well as in worlds of his own creation. Read his blog, follow him on Facebook, The Site Formerly Known As Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and Blue Sky, and follow him on YouTube and Patreon.
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