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O. Deus Says ENTERPRISE Returns from Hiatus in Impressive Fashion with "Silent Enemy!"

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Posted: 07:40:47 on January 17 2002
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: ENTERPRISE Reviews |

Reviews Ex Deus

Written for TrekWeb by O. Deus

"Silent Enemy"

Written by long time Star Trek science advisor Andre Bormanis and directed by long time Star Trek director Winrich Kolbe, Silent Enemy is a quality production which is one of the Enterprise episodes to fulfill the promise of a well-imagined look at isolated deep space exploration. From some of the best visual FX shots of the Enterprise yet, to long interior shots that emphasize the size of the ship and the isolation of the crew within it, Silent Enemy's production merges the episode's themes on visual and script levels.

Though Silent Enemy does feature an alien menace, its real emphasis is on the bonds that hold the crew together this far out from Earth, and for the first time we really get a sense of the mechanism that is the Enterprise. We get department meetings, birthday parties, hands on operation of weapons and a problem-solving process that persists throughout the bulk of the episode, instead of being a last minute afterthought as it often has been.

It is quite a step from the standard technobabble-in-engineering solution to the script's Trip/Reed departmental meeting discussing the installation of the phase cannons and interdepartmental competition with Jupiter Station. We see the first often enough as a plot device meant to move the story along, but the second turns a plot device into something that provides context and depth for the characters and the engineering department and the attitudes of these people.

From the launch of a communications amplifier satellite meant to communicate with Earth, to the closing scene where the crew successfully discovers reticent Reed's favorite desert, Silent Enemy is an episode about communication. Indeed Enterprise's crew are the only important characters in this episode. The silent enemy of the title are unseen for most of the episode. They even communicate with recycled footage of the Enterprise's crewmembers reflected back to them. The communications with Earth are limited to failed attempts to learn about Reed from his friends and family and this communication is itself cut off when the aliens destroy the amplifiers and the crew once again finds itself cut off from Earth and having to rely on each other.

The crew's ability to come to know Reed in a way that neither his parents nor his friends and family were able to reemphasizes the crew's interdependence and independence from Earth. As does Archer's aborted attempt to return to Earth. Even the attempt to communicate with the Vulcan High Command fails, leaving the crew with no resources but their own and using those resources they persevere in the old TOS model of a starship alone against the entire galaxy. In this case it's literally so as Enterprise faces an enemy they have to devise and build a weapon against, an enemy who seems to represent the silent menace of a dangerous galaxy that is willing to attack them simply because the Enterprise crew are inadequately prepared to face the dangers that are out there.

For an Enterprise episode, which so far have been rather simplistic and devoid of content, Silent Enemy is rather complicated. There is a continuity reference to the pilot which allows Archer to reflect on his decision to launch Enterprise prematurely. A tossed-off comment about the launch of another new starship fits in with Favorite Son continuity. We even have an historical continuity reference suggesting that England was still a separate nation with a monarchy and a navy less than a century ago. While Enterprise is clearly attempting to be fixed in a current cultural context with its baseball caps and religions, you have to wonder if the producers really thought out the implications of all that. The Doctor's solution to the favorite food mystery is moderately clever and more common sense than you would normally expect from a Star Trek episode. Reed's parents and sisters are cliches but still well-played cliches that have the resonance of real people.

The only flaw involves more references to the tiresome Vulcan-Human bickering storyline which we are apparently destined to see more of soon. Archer's constant concern about showing independence from the Vulcans comes off as childish. It doesn't betray hostility so much as it betrays a deep and fundamental insecurity. However Silent Enemy doesn't go so far as to have Archer refuse to consider asking for help when the lives of his crew are at stake but uses a plausible enemy tactic to avoid that problem. Since in Breaking of the Ice, Archer nearly refused to do so, Silent Enemy at the very least shows that he has grown somewhat.

About the Authors

Steve Perry is not the former lead singer of Journey. He is, however, a long time fan of all Trek, yes, even Voyager. He is currently in law school.

O. Deus has been a TrekWeb visitor since the site's 1996 inception. Along with being an ardent poster, he is a freelance journalist based in New York City. Deus has written reviews for TrekWeb for over a year and shares the duties with Steve Perry.

TrekWeb Reviews

  • "Shockwave" (Deus)
  • "Two Days and Two Nights"
  • "Fallen Hero" & "Desert Crossing" (Deus)
  • "Vox Sola" (Deus)
  • "Detained" (Deus)
  • "Oasis" (Krutzler)
  • "Acquisition" (Williams)
  • "Rogue Planet" (Deus)
  • "Fusion" (Deus)
  • "Shuttlepod One" (Deus)
  • "Shadows of P'Jem" (Deus)
  • "Sleeping Dogs" (Deus)
  • "Dear Doctor" (Deus)
  • "Silent Enemy" (Deus)
  • Mid-season 1 (Deus)
  • "Cold Front" (Krutzler)
  • "Fortunate Son" (Perry)
  • "Civilization" (Perry)
  • "Breaking The Ice" (Perry)
  • "The Andorian Incident" (Perry)
  • "The Andorian Incident" (Deus)
  • "Terra Nova" (Deus)
  • "Unexpected" (Perry)
  • "Unexpected" (Deus)
  • "Strange New World" (Perry)
  • "Fight or Flight" (Perry) Mission Logs

    Season Two (2002-2003)
    Prod #Title
    128 Shockwave, Part II
    127 Carbon Creek
    129 Minefield
    Season One (2001-2002)

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