In the eighth episode of the third season of Enterprise, what the FUCK. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Enterprise.
You know, for an episode that contains one of my least favorite tropes in the Trek repertoire, I found “Twilight” engrossing. Like, y’all know that I hate episodes where the final scene erases everything that came before it, but like the whole “Year of Hell” arc on Voyager, or even “The Visitor” in Deep Space Nine, there’s a way to explore an alternate timeline and still pack a punch. And good fucking god, this is… A Lot.
I kept expecting some clever explanation. This wasn’t really happening! It was all a simulation! It was nothing but a dream! Instead, “Twilight” takes this premise – that Archer becomes infected with parasites that prevent him from forming long-term memories – and then escalates everything to the worst possible place imaginable. I am still reeling from what I had to watch here, y’all. Archer’s infection is merely the first domino that falls, and it’s not really what this episode is about.
See, the reason this sticks so heavily in my mind is because it explores the scope of the human/Xindi war, and it suggests an end that makes the present conflict all that more urgent. The season two finale showed us the horrifying ability of the Xindi to cause wide-scale destruction and death, but this episode? It feels like an inevitable path, at least if Enterprise can’t stop the construction of that sphere. So it’s less like an alternate timeline and more like a frightening possibility. And that’s scary, you know??? It doesn’t help that in terms of imagery, “Twilight” is full to the brim with uncomfortable or horrifying things. Hell, the cold open features Enterprise failing to destroy the sphere and watching Earth destroyed before them. Somehow, IT’S NOT EVEN THE WORST THING HERE. Granted, the episode relies on the audience being confused. How did twelve years pass in the blink of an eye? How is T’Pol now Archer’s caretaker? Where is everyone? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON??? Thus, we’re unsettled right from the start, and up to the climactic scene, “Twilight” doesn’t let us go. It’s frustrating, sure, but a little frustration on the part of the viewer isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s part of how tension is built, and in this case, the details of this “future” timeline are revealed slowly and methodically, at least until I had to accept that this wasn’t an illusion or a hallucination. This was what had happened once Archer got infected by those parasites. Which, I might add, happened because he saved T’Pol’s life, so HI, HELLO, LOTS OF FEELINGS ABOUT THIS AND THE WEIRDLY BEAUTIFUL DOMESTIC AU THAT POPPED UP IN THIS EPISODE.
And look, I’m grabbing on to everything I can hold here because otherwise, this is so bleak. Earth was destroyed; approximately 6,000 humans survived and are in hiding; Archer cannot remember TWELVE YEARS of his life; Travis dies, but in one of the weirdest choices, he’s just not on screen at all??? And when Phlox comes up with a possible cure for the parasites – which also erases them from the timeline – all hell breaks loose. Yeah, watching Phlox and T’Pol die from Xindi gunfire is awful, but I’m not sure I’m ready to forgive this show for that scene where Enterprise‘s bridge explodes and THE REMAINING CREW IS SUCKED INTO SPACE. WHAT THE HOLY FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS SHOW.
So yeah. The reset button thing is aggravating in a general sense, but this wasn’t the worst invocation of it. It was necessary for the story, and now I’m traumatized, so GREAT. EVERYONE WINS.
The video for “Twilight” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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