2001: Looking Back At STAR TREK ENTERPRISE: BROKEN BOW - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Jaspreet Singh isn't afraid of the wind.
“You can't be afraid of the wind. Learn to trust it.”
Henry Archer

Star Trek: Enterprise has unfairly been dubbed by some fans as the black sheep in the ever-expanding Trek tapestry. However, while this series has its faults, it also has many redeeming qualities.

Its pilot episode 'Broken Bow' first aired in September 2001, a few months after the groundbreaking finale of Star Trek Voyager ‘Endgame’ which premiered in May of that year. It was only logical (if you pardon the pun) that writers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga would be gearing up for production on their brand new Trek prequel.

Now, in this retrospective review, it's easy for one to go off on a tangent and talk about the show in its entirety, however I believe 'Broken Bow' to be a strong story that not only continues to expand on the Star Trek lore but with its unique premise of being set during the early years of Starfleet, provides a new perspective that would be ideal for newcomers to the universe.

One of the notable and I believe to be the strongest plot point in the series is the strained relationship between the humans and the Vulcans. In fact it is established quite quickly within the first ten minutes that the Vulcans have taken upon the role of strict overbearing parents that want to control the speed at which the humans are developing their interstellar space legs. This frustration is brilliantly demonstrated by no other than the lead character Jonathan Archer. He has a personal reason for his distrust of Vulcans and this proves to be the ideal motivating force that sets this episode in motion.
We're soon introduced to the Sulliban, that make their debut appearance in this story. These genetically altered chameleonic species are unique to the Star Trek lore and it is quickly established that they are merely pawns in the ominous 'Temporal Cold War'.

Utilizing time itself as a battleground is a goldmine and while it may be a recurring trope for series such as Doctor Who, it's a new frontier for Star Trek and 'Broken Bow' delivers in regards to creating suspense and leaving its audience wanting to know more about this temporal war. Even for someone who has re-watched this story a few times, it leaves me with the same level of intrigue as it did on my first viewing.

As the plot revolves around returning a lost Klingon courier to his home planet, it surprisingly doesn’t feature much of our bloodwine consuming friends apart from the final few minutes. I applaud the writer for keeping their appearance to a minimum as this story needed its main focus to be on acquainting the audience with the new Enterprise crew. With lore as rich as Trek, I believe if you want to introduce fan favourite characters to a brand new audience, I’d often advise against doing so unless it was crucial. This is purely due to not wanting to overwhelm new viewers with deep lore and references on its very first episode. There is ample opportunity to do so throughout the series itself. There is a fine line between fan service and unnecessary self-referencing.
The strengths of Broken Bow lies in the tension that is built through both episodes. The tensions between the Vulcans and the humans, the tension between the Enterprise crew and the Sulliban and even the tension between the Sulliban and their mysterious benefactor.

Characters such as the Enterprise’ first Denobulan medical officer Phlox, was a refreshing choice as he often served as a pleasant reminder for the crew that despite them charting new territory across the galaxy, not every species was on the verge of destroying them.

Production-wise, this is the best that a Star Trek series had looked on television. From brand new sets and cameras to even the music itself. It honestly felt like Star Trek had found its footing in the 21st century.

Of course, in hindsight looking back at how much of an influence Enterprise had on current productions such as Star Trek Discovery (which in itself utilizes many of the established codes and conventions of Enterprise), it is quite interesting to see how similar the language and postmodernism themes are. Enterprise to all intents tried to appeal to a wider audience and, whether for better or worse, it would be wrong to call the series an overall failure. Yet many people still see it as that, often just because it didn't last as long as its two predecessors in the franchise.
Broken Bow has a terrific pilot and is my direct recommendation for anyone wanting to take their first leap into the Star Trek universe. It has action, it has emotion and most of all… it has optimism.

I shall leave you all with a quote by Jonathan Archer from the pilot episode which I believe to be fitting for anyone who may be hesitant to give this series a try.
“Ever since I can remember, I've seen Vulcans as an obstacle, always keeping us from standing on our own two feet. If I'm going to pull this off, there are a few things I have to leave behind. Things like preconceptions, holding grudges.”
YouTube content creator and sound designer with a flair for the Pertwee era of Who. Jaspreet was the mind behind the 2018 BBC Radio documentary 'The Sound of the WHOniverse'. He can mostly be found on Twitter @TheJazNetwork, gushing over Star Trek and Big Finish.

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