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Terra Prime

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Title :
Terra Prime
Series :
Rating :
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
13 May 2005
Stardate :
Director :
Year :
Writers :
Season Ep :
4 x 21
Main Cast :
Guest Cast :
When we see the comet, the tail is pointing in the wrong direction. It's a common mistake - people tend to think that the tail streams out behind the comet because of its forward motion, much as a contrail is left behind an aircraft. In fact the material is pushed away from the head by the pressure of the sunlight (or solar wind), so the tail always points away from the sun. Given how Mars is lit in the shot of the shuttle approaching, the tail should be streaming away roughly to the left of the frame.
Great Moment :
The ending with Trip and T'Pol. Just amazing.
Body Count :
Paxton's cronies are shot, presumably on stun settings. Elizabeth died. Ensign Masaro blew his brains out.
Factoid :
This is the last episode that Manny Coto had a hand in writing.

The guy who played Masaro isn't an actor - he won the role as part of a contest.


With Paxton threatening to obliterate targets on Earth, Enterprise is ordered to destroy the Verteron array even though it will kill Trip, T'Pol, and thousands on the Utopia colony. He convinces Starfleet to instead allow him to lead a daring attempt to infiltrate the colony and seize control, leaving Hoshi in command with orders to destroy the array at the last moment.


Terra Prime pretty much lives up to Demons for the most part, and exceeds it in several places. The verteron array never really made sense as a simple defence system against comets as implied by Demons - comets simply aren't enough of a threat to justify a facility like this. When we find that comets are being guided towards impacts on Mars as part of the terraforming of the planet, the array begins to make much more sense.

Starfleet's actions also hold up to scrutiny, with a sensible order to destroy the array despite the considerable cost in equipment and lives. It must have been tempting to generate a bit more tension by having Archer's alternate plan dismissed out of hand and then showing him disobeying orders to carry it out anyway, but that would have been a bit forced and it's nice that the brass went along with his idea and kept the destruction of the array as a backup plan.

The comet-riding was nicely handled, with Reed once again confirming his position as ship's wimp by needing a sick bag. It was also nice to see the serious battering the shuttle took when we saw it afterwards - somebody obviously decided that they may as well do a little hammer work since they wouldn't be needing the things much longer!

The "traitor within" subplot seemed a bit forced. At first I thought Kelby really would turn out to be the traitor, which would at least have given this part of the story a bit of impact. But it turns out he was wrongly accused - and what's with the writers and Kelby? I know he was a rival to Tucker and as such needed to be slapped around a bit, but can't the poor guy catch a break at least once? Anyway, so the traitor turns out to be some guy we've never seen and have barely even heard of before. It left me with the feeling I've had a lot in this season, that this particular twist was put in there wholly to pad out a few minutes of running time.

Not only that, but having revealed Gannet as a spy for Starfleet Intelligence rather than Terra Prime, the episode then does nothing with her! Surely the sensible thing to do would be to have Archer let her out and then she tracks down the spy - that's what she was there for, but they instead just left her in the brig for the whole episode.

What brings Terra Prime above Demons are the scenes after the array is neutralised. Partly it's Archer's speech to the conference, where he manages to convince the delegates that they shouldn't give in to their fears. And then even more so when we go to Trip and T'Pol in the aftermath of Elizabeth's death. This is the most powerful scenes in the episode, and ranks up there with any in Trek. It was an incredibly brave decision on the part of the writers to allow the baby to die, and the scene is superbly written and superbly acted by Blalock and Trineer. It also acts as a marvellous counterpoint to the Terra Prime ethos. They tried to use Elizabeth as a way to separate Humanity and aliens, but the end of the episode shows how she brought Trip and T'Pol together, and even the Denobulan Phlox confesses that the multi-species crew are all one family now. The Trek message at it's very best.
© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 34,102 Last updated : 29 May 2005