24 February 2024

Broken Promises: Star Trek: Enterprise Seasons 5, 6, & 7.


Sometimes we do not know what promises are made to us by a TV show or film...we just watch and wait for the story to unfold. Then there are the works that are planned to be a multi-stage story arc were Luke becomes a Jedi Knight and takes on Darth Vader, or the Master Chief defends the Earth from the Covenant, or Frodo and Sam are on the quest to destroy the One Ring. Often, TV shows embark on a single storyline that webs through the show's run and ties it together. We saw this with the Dominion War in DS9, the quest for Earth in both BSG shows, and the last great war with the Shadows in B5...and then there is Star Trek: Enterprise (ST: ENT) and the promises made by the show and the lack of delivery. 

What Star Trek: Enterprise Means to Me...
When I was three, my parents took me to see Star Trek: The Motionless Picture, and I was bored by the film (as I am still), but it was the repeated watching of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that sold me on the entire franchise. From then on, I was a Trekkie and I bought the original DC Comic series (which is pretty good) and watched the films and reruns of The Original Series...then came Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987 and was hooked. From 1987 to around 1996, I watched all Trek series and taped my favorites on VHS, and even bought some of the Playmates electronic starships to decorate my room and my first apartment (still have them!). A great deal changed for me during the end of DS9 and the later seasons of Voyager and I barely watched any of those shows until many years after...however, when ST:ENT was launched, it was to be their flagship show of the network. For me, when ST:ENT came out,  I was in a better place and I was an adult with a job, at university, married, with a child. To me, Voyager was horribly hit-or-miss, with more misses than hits and when I first watched Enterprise, I was fully hooked. To me, ST: ENT restored my hope for Trek and my passion for the franchise.
What Star Trek Enterprise means to me from then was that it is my favorite Trek TV show and the last bastion of real Trek and an end to what Trek had been. To put a point on it: I still watch it and I still love it and I still want an NX-01 baseball cap, and I wear a NX-01 patch pin on my scrubs at the hospital every day. There was a magic in the show and more human feel to the show, the characters. the stories, the technology, and the ship itself. The show took risks, developed interesting ideas, embodied the times that the show was made in (post-9/11 America), and had some of the best SFX in all of Trek. There was tons of hope and promise in the DNA of ST:ENT, especially when season four got rolling and then....it was cancelled without us fans getting the Romulan War and the final answered to the Temporal Cold War. They took it from me and I hated them for it. For seven goddamn years, UPN had funded the painful and expensive journey of the USS Voyager in the Delta Quadrant and it was mostly a bad show with a beautiful ship and talented actors. Oddly, Voyager had the best series finale of all time in Trek...no show in Trek has been able to replicate that two-parter even close to Voyager. I deeply vexed me why the network and the fandom would support such a half-baked half-ass show as Voyager that suffers from the majority of its episodes being 100% terrible and not support Enterprise, where the vast majority of the episodes are great. Enterprise restored my love for Trek, but is cancellation made me separate myself from the fandom to this very day. 

The Promise Made by ST:ENT
When ST:ENT launched in 2001, it made very clear that the fictional year of the launch of the NX-01 Enterprise, United Earth's first Warp 5 vessel, was 2151. This is just ten years prior to the founding of the United Federation of Planets (UFP or the Federation) and just a few years before the start of the much discussed-and-never-seen Earth-Romulan War. According the limited information, the Romulan War would begin around 2156 and last to 2160. When Enterprise concluded its four season run, the fictional year was 2155. If there had been a 5th, 6th, and 7th seasons, which was the plan, we would have seen the unfolding of the Romulan War, the Founding of the Federation, and more character development of our heroes on the old NX-01. 
In addition, we would have seen an upgraded NX-01 to be fitted with the familiar bottom engineering section, as seen in the 3rd Season of Picard. These were the promises of Enterprise, and they were ones we never got to see due to the cancellation. Another promise of Enterprise is something I am going to mention a lot in this article: something different than what had come before. For much of Trek history up to the premier of Enterprise, the franchise was dominated by two elements: the Original Series and the Next Generation. Both had shaped what came after them and setup the universe they occupied. However, Enterprise was not as connected to TOS nor TNG given that the show was nearly100 years before the launch of the Constitution class. Enterprise promised to show us a galaxy before the Federation and to pick up some of the story elements from Star Trek: First Contact. This was a show that was to fill the gap between the first warp flight of Terra to The Cage. Hell, it abandoned the typical theme songs for something...different. But, it seems that fortune did not favor the bold this time. 

What Star Trek Enterprise Means to the Entire Franchise
For better or worse, ST:ENT represents the end of the classic (canon) Star Trek that has been around since the first pilot in 1966 aired and the beginning of the J.J. Abrams films (vomit) and the Modern Star Trek TV shows. Fans and the wider sci-fi community have debated which is better Classic Trek or Modern Trek. I firmly believe that for better or worse, ST:ENT would have been the end of the Trek we knew, due to franchise exhaustion either way. What ST:ENT means to the rest of the franchise, is it fills the beginning of the story of Starfleet, the foundation of the Federation, and the service of ships named "Enterprise" under the banner of Starfleet. 
This show also continued the storyline established in Star Trek: First Contact. It would have also explained and shown the history of two of the most important events in Trek history: The Romulan War and the founding of the Federation. That is the promise of Enterprise and the pain we fans of the show and Trek got when the show was cancelled.  In addition, Enterprise was the Trek show that, along with DS9, had the balls to do something different and there is not better example than the Xindi full-season storyline. Enterprise is like that member of the family that takes risks and does not fully fit into the family, but we love them anyways. 

Why was Star Trek: Enterprise Cancelled after Season 4 and the Cost of that Cancellation to Trek
To understand what happened to Star Trek Enterprise, we must understand the context of Trek during the time that Enterprise aired. Enterprise would take up the mantle of responsibility of the Trek franchise during a time of great change in the realm of Trek and TV as well in America. Today, Star Trek is more popular than ever with three shows and "Trek Twitter" being populated with comments, cosplays, and memes. However, that is not what it was like in 2001-2005. 
We have to remember that the Original Series aired for only three seasons and was gone and it was only through fan involvement and the syndication of Star Trek: TOS reruns that Paramount decided to give the green-light to a new Trek TV show for their planned 4th network or a full-length movie back in the late 1970's. For fans like me that were inducted into the Trek life and fandom at this time, it was the classic crew films, reruns of TOS, and the DC Comics that forged us...then came The Next Generation in 1987 and it changed the face of Trek forever. By the time that "Broken Bow" aired in September of 2001, kicking off the ST:ENT TV show run, Trek was in a unique position in its history. 
Between 1987 and 2001, there were three live-action TV shows aired, with some overlapping, films with the classic and TNG crew, video games, action figure, and all level of merchandising that finally allowed Trek to coming into its full Star Wars moment with the level of merch...more on Trek toys in a future article...and that lead to some franchise fatigue. Star Trek at that time had liberally mined the 24th century via three shows and tie-in products and when Voyager wrapped up in May of 2001, the fans were ready for maybe something different. Trek had fallen into a pattern and that pattern was getting worn out. While fans today pile on the praise for Voyager, it was not a good Trek show overall, especially when you watched during its first run. Wonderful cast, beautiful ship, and great production design...but there only about a dozen good episode in the entire series with the best series ending ever in all of Trek. However, with ST: VOY ending there was a decision to be made by the studio...where does Trek go for here? The tenth Trek film, Nemesis, is finishing production and the studio needing a new TV show and a vehicle for another film Trek franchise. 
At this time, I was on Trek message boards, and I saw the fan reaction and suggestions where Trek should go from there. Some wanted to see a Captain Riker TV show, much like ST: Lower Decks is exploring. Some desired to see a return to the time period of Kirk & Spock in the Original Series, and others really wanted to see a TV show set in the 23rd century with the adventures of Captain Sulu and the Excelsior. What is interesting, is that the fans I interacted with at that time did not discuss a show set shorty after the events of Star Trek: First Contact
At the time, prequels were still being made, but the terribly uneven and disappointing Star Wars Prequels had colored the view of this storytelling device in science fiction, and all of these factors led to the Trekkies not being onboard as much as they could have been for Enterprise when it came out in 2001. That is another element we have to remember, the pilot episode of Enterprise came out 15 days after the terrorist attacks in New York and the Pentagon. The full impact of the collective psychological trauma of those events and the War in Afghanistan had would manifest themselves during the 3rd Season of Enterprise with the Xindi story arch. 
Of course, all of these is just context to the real reason that Enterprise was unable to complete its 7-year plan: money. Like or not, TV is a business, and UPN had used its Trek TV shows to launch and maintain its network. Enterprise was expensive and if the ratings had been there along with the advertisement revenue, than Enterprise would have continued. Just look at Star Trek Discovery  has an example. That is terrible, like accidently shitting your pants after Taco Bell terrible and yet, it continues to be renewed by Paramount+, including a 5th season. 
However, its ratings are not good and the support among the fanbase is very mixed. As for Enterprise, the ratings had dipped year to year and fans believed that Enterprise would not return for season 3 let along 4. UPN itself was in deep trouble as well and just a year after the cancellation of Enterprise, UPN and the WB were combined to from the CW network. Another issues where discussed by Conner "Trip Tucker" Trineer: "The problem was that for the nights that we were on, usually your Major League Baseball team was also on UPN locally. So, we would get preempted by whatever local sports were happening. There were also entire regions – it didn’t even play in St. Louis, Scott [Bakula’s] home town. So, you had these pockets of where it wasn’t even on. And then [Paramount Television Chairman] Kerry McCluggage got fired, our real fan, really quick [December, 2001]. And then the new regime came in and it was probably as early as the second season when we were like “Huh?” I don’t think we got any lesser ratings than anyone else, but Next Generation. I think we all kind of sat in that same area."
This is another nail in the coffin of Enterprise, then there is the last one: fan support. The ratings were not there due to the MLB and franchise fatigue as mentioned above, but some fans just did not like the show. From the theme song, the setting, the ship itself; fans were mixed or down-right hateful to the show. In part of this was due to the Temporal Cold War and the Xindi storylines...of which, I liked actually, but most fans did not at the time and nor did the studio. When Enterprise got back on the road with season 4, the new concept of the episodes was solid and some of the best Enterprise episodes were forged.  And those Mirror Universe episodes were solid gold. 
In the last few years, the fans have softened their stance on Enterprise and with the rise of Modern Star Trek, some have looked at Enterprise as a missed opportunity to continue the correct canon. The death of Enterprise allowed for the rise of the stool sample that is Discovery. If Enterprise had been a ratings darling than the other part of the Enterprise destiny was to be fulfilled: movies. Yes, Enterprise was tagged to become a film franchise as well, much like TNG had done mostly unsuccessfully. With the merciful death of the TNG film franchise and the lack of a clear successor to take over the empire of Star Trek, the studio took a knee and then a few years later, we got the oddball J.J. Abrams Trek films beginning in 2009. 

What Would have Season 5, 6, and 7 have been like?
With Enterprise being cancelled far into Season 4, we know that the showrunners were planning out some ideas if UPN would allow Enterprise to come back for a 5th season. The ideas for what would have come after the fifth year of journeys of Archer and his crew is much more muddy. So, there is what we know and can assume about the unfinished run of Enterprise.
  • During an interview with the former showrunner of Enterprise, Manny Coto, stated that we would
    have seen the "origins of the Federation" and "whispers of the Romulan war" in the fifth season, which would have run from 2005 to 2006. 
  • The NX-01 would have been upgraded with the lower engineering section with other NX class starships being upgraded as well. 
  • We could have see the disappear of the NX-02 Columbia in 2156 during an Romulan attack on a transport convey as was laid out in 2008 novel Star Trek Destiny: the Gods of Night. Of course, the book was created three years after the end of Enterprise, and it is highly unlikely that if the series had continued that these books would have been written in the same way. 
  • It is likely though, that the end of the series would have been similar to some of the events seen in "These are the Voyages..." were Cpt. Archer is giving the speech during the founding of the Federation. It is unlikely that the same Holodeck trick would have been used. There has been some talk by those involved with Enterprise that the story presented in "These are the Voyages..." was always planned...but I call bullshit on that. 
  • There was discussions of having Alice Krige back to play the Borg Queen and reveal her origin story as a human medical tech that was abducted by the Borg and made into their Queen
  • The NX-01 would be visiting some interesting places if the series had continued: Denobula, the cloud city of Stratos, Tellar Prime, and the site of the first Starbase.
  • We would have seen more Starfleet ships and more of the NX class, including the NX-03 Challenger and the four other of the NX class that were named for NASA Space Shuttles and maybe the Soviet Space Shuttle Buran or the Orion space craft. The Orion is more official than my idea of the Buran being used. 
  • Manny Coto was interested in setting about four episodes of one of the  Enterprise seasons
    completely in the Mirror Universe to explore the rein of Empress Soto. This was backed up Brandon Braga stated that they thought about setting all of the 5th season in the Mirror Universe. Ugh. This would have been hard for the actors and taking too much of a good thing. The Mirror Universe should be in small doses...after all, look what Discovery did to it. 
  • Our favorite Andorian, Shran, was to be a full member of the cast and been an advisor to the NX-01 in season five. 
  • There was attempts to bring William Shatner as a special guest star, but he proved too expensive and the backup concept was to have Leonard Nimoy play Spock looking back with young Vulcans about T'Pol and the NX-01. 
  • Speaking of T'Pol, they were thinking of recycling the concept of her being Half-Romulan from the original concept of Lt. Saavik being half-Vulcan (originally, ST: III TSFS would have been about Romulans and not Klingons). I am glad they would have never done this for many reasons. 
  • One of the best ideas, and one I wished had been developed was introducing the feline hostile alien race of Kzinit. These alien killer kitties from outer space where seeing in the Star Trek Animated Series and even in Lower Decks, and they were burrowed from author Larry Niven. There was even a concept of Kzinit warship developed as well, but Manny Coto has stated that the episode, called "Kilkenny Cats" was not under development. Pity. The Kzinit are not the only feline race in Trek, the Caitian are Federation members and have been in ST: IV Voyage Home and in the animated series. For the record, Caitian and the Kzinit are related in a way similar to Vulcans and Romulans.  
So...There would have been Enterprise Movies?! The Mystery of ST: The Beginning
When Enterprise actors Dominic Keating  & Conner Trinner founded their podcast, they mentioned that the plan by the studio was to transition ST: ENT to the big screen and for NX-01 crew to pick up the mantle from the TNG crew and I was shocked to hear and made to wonder on what the Enterprise films would have been like. According to some information I found the following information the Enterprise Reddit page along with entry on Memory Alpha. It seems that  the film was to be titled: Star Trek: The Beginning and there was a write-up of the proposed 11th Star Trek film by Band of Brothers writer & producer Erik Jendresen. This film would have been set during the Romulan War and not centered around Cpt. Archer and the crew of NX-01, but a member of Cpt. Kirk's family named Tiberius Chase. He is sent on a mission to go behind Romulan lines and sabotage their war effort after the Romulans launched a deadly attack on Earth and disabling the NX-02 Columbia while she was in space dock. There was mention that Chase was not a member of Starfleet, but the United Earth Stellar Navy, and his family are members of Terra Prime. Honestly, the story seems not in line with canon nor what we fans would want from a Enterprise film project.  
Oddly, the cast of Enterprise would not really be in the picture at all and only Commander Shran would be the only familiar face. I am not sure about this and it seems to be a rumor given the statements made by actors involved with the series. During the Mission Chicago Con in 2016, Connor Trinneer on a panel discussion made this statement: "We weren’t walking into a pilot, we were walking into a series. We had that luxury. So that was a little intimidating. We knew we were in it together. And we knew we were going to be together for well…" Then Anthony Montgomery added: "It was supposed to be seven years. We signed for seven years. They told us we were doing movies, because they didn’t do movies with DS9. They didn’t do movies with Voyager. So they told me that the fans love Star Trek and you guys are going be here for at least seven years, and you’re going to be doing movies and everything. And you guys know how that all turns out". 
So what could have been done with the Enterprise film franchise? Possibly show the major battles of the Romulan War, the end of the Romulan War, or even Trip getting pregnant again, it is very hard to say. But, what needs to be said is that Trek is more at home on the smaller screen rather than the big screen, Trek had a harder time building a film franchise worth much of a damn than Star Wars did. Some concepts work better on the television rather than in the theater. This is the same for Stargate as well. Honestly, only a few of the movies of Star Trek are worth a damn and Trek should likely stay on television...but, I would like to see a ST: SNW movie! 

The Legacy of Enterprise
Star Trek Enterprise has a complex and divisive  history in the overall story of Trek and given this, its legacy among the fandom is normally of two narratives. Some fans blame Enterprise as the show that ended of one of the most successful eras of Trek. In addition, they also blame Enterprise for beginning the era of "New Trek" as well. Then there are others that see Enterprise as I do, a bold take on Trek and a show that broke the mold of the 24th century shows that are grown stale after the run of Voyager. The quality of the writing, acting, and special effects. Today, the legacy of Enterprise is better than has been in many years and it seems that ST:ENT is finally getting some respect and it is about damn time. For much of the time that Enterprise existed on-air, it fought for its place in the wider Trek universe and to win over the fans. It got even worse after its cancellation, with legions of Trekkies saying that the legacy of Enterprise was as a doomed show that killed that era of Trek off...and then that changed. It seemed that Trekkies came to finally watch Enterprise during the pandemic lockdown and they liked it, especially given how bad Picard and Discovery have been. Enterprise finally has been seen as the series that filled in the gap of our understanding of how Starfleet was formed and where the history of Starfleet and ships named "Enterprise" got their start. 
It is also the series that allowed use to see something different than the 23rd or 24th centuries and it is the show that allowed to see the founding of the Federation in 2161. Also, fans experienced the quality of the writing, the production, and just how good and bold the series was. Part of this legacy has been experience by when Enterprise actors Dominic Keating  & Conner Trinner when they appeared at the Cons and how many more people engaged with them over just a few years ago. Part of the legacy of Enterprise is being carried on with Dominic and Conner via their podcast: The Shuttlepod Show. Through their podcast, they have discussions about Enterprise with people involved in the show and the wider world of Trek. As a long time fan of Enterprise, it is wonderful to see people care about this show that was so maligned during its run and for the wider Trek community to give this show a legacy that is just more than "the show that killed proper Star Trek TV". 

Could Star Trek: Enterprise come back or even should it?
There has been some chatter about the possibility of Enterprise being taken out of cold storage and thawed out for some sort of continuation...but should it be honestly considered? I firmly believe that the time for Enterprise is gone and given that the show aired some 19 years ago...bring it back would be impossible for a live-action show. Simply put, the window for the actors as closed...they could not play their characters as they were in 2005 and recasting the NX-01 crew is pure heresy. However, that does not rule out the possibility of an animated Enterprise series finishing off their story. But, should this resurrection of a television series that went off the air nearly 20 years ago even be seriously considered? No. The time for Enterprise has passed and the endeavor to bring back the NX-01 is just too difficult of a task. We should let it stay in the past. Besides the animated path, there could be a way include some Enterprise into a guest appearance in ST: SNW or even ST: LOW. 

Next Time on FWS...
In the next installment of Guns from the Future, FWS will be diving into the SOCOM program that give birth to one of the most celebrated and lushed after military handguns: the H&K Mk. 23 .45ACP SOCOM. Not only will be exploring and explaining the handgun itself, but the other entry into the Offensive Handgun Weapons System Program, the Colt OHWS along with the OHWS Program. 



  1. A solid review William

    For me, I grow to distaste TNG sense of holier than thou attitude. Humanity of the 24th century is unrecognizable as humans anymore and that all socialist utopia, no-money or possessions, feel like infantilized propaganda.
    Earth and Starfleet of the Enterprise era are closer to the sense of how real humans are and the show really convey the essence of venturing and explore the galaxy as the new upcomer specie on the stage.
    Speaking about Earth-Romulan War, the show clearly showed that by the beginning of the war Starfleet already developed and deployed the Photonic torpedoes with their antimatter warheads to replace the Spatial torpedoes, which had presumably 'plain' nuclear warheads.
    But... Spock briefly mention that during the Earth-Romulan War 'Atomic weapons'.
    If we assume that Earth and its allies use such weapons against Romulans that beg the question – why Starfleet step back to use fusion and/or fission bombs where matter-antimatter annihilation explosives are far more distractive?
    One answer might be scarcity, Earth couldn't produce enough antimatter to both make Photonic torpedoes and fuel their ships' warp drive, and while antimatter is great for warheads you can't really run ship FTL with plutonium or enriched uranium.
    Another answer, one more appealing to me, is that fission bombs were preferred for their fallout effects when orbital bombarding Romulan habitable planets.
    Matter-antimatter annihilation produces intense gamma rays but other than some photofission doesn't contaminate planet surface and atmosphere with radioactive materials. Fission bombs on the other hand fission very little of their fissile material and spread the rest all over the place.
    I like that scenario, good ol' humanity resort to use medieval tactics of poisoning the wells and salting the soil using plutonium and uranium scavenge from almost forgotten nuclear waste dumping sites forge to warheads using cold war schematics and know-how.
    The glorious perfect Federation of Planets have a mountain of irradiated skeletons in its foundations, not canon by any means but not contradictory to one.


  2. Great read.



  3. Just remember the last episode of ENT is named "Terra Prime". There were no episodes after that one.

  4. Enterprise is my favorite series of all the Treks

  5. I'm grateful for the practical tips you share.