The Great Star Trek Enterprise Rewatch: Silent Enemy

When Enterprise encounters an alien ship that seems completely uninterested in establishing a dialogue, Archer starts to doubt whether Enterprise is really ready to deal with the unexpected – and potentially unfriendly. Determined to prove him wrong, Trip and Malcolm work round the clock to install two new phase cannons. Meanwhile, Hoshi has a top secret mission to find out Malcolm’s favourite food in time to make a surprise birthday gift.

In all honesty, I don’t care about the main plot of Silent Enemy. An uncommunicative alien race that eventually attacks the ship is never going to be on anyone’s list of most enthralling plot devices. Instead, where Silent Enemy’s true strength lies is in how it develops some of Enterprise’s characters.

Archer

In the TOS and TNG days, captains didn’t doubt themselves. They knew they were out in space to explore strange new worlds, and it would never once have occurred to them to turn back. Self doubt in a commanding officer didn’t really manifest until the later series. Archer’s reactions in this episode most resemble those of Janeway’s feelings about stranding her crew in the Delta Quadrant – a feeling of having led those under their command into an unjustifiably dangerous situation. At least Janeway could reassure herself that she was heading for home – Archer is deliberately pointing his ship outwards and away from a safe harbour.

Trip

Trip is really the everyman in this episode, curbing the excesses of the other characters. He has to remind Archer that everyone on the ship has accepted the risks of space travel, and is eager to continue their exploration. At the same time, he has to work long hours to install the phase cannons, all the while dealing with Malcolm’s short temper and frayed nerves.

We also see Trip get a Dear John letter from home, but it’s hard to care when we didn’t even know he had a girlfriend in the first place.

Malcolm

As well as seeing him being a bit of a jerk under pressure, we get to meet Malcolm’s family in this episode. All of them are painfully British, and none of them really seem to know him that well. We learn that Malcolm isn’t at all close to his parents – his father seems disappointed that Malcolm chose Starfleet over the Navy, and neither of them know exactly what he does on Enterprise. Talk about playing up the reserved British stereotype.

Other points

  • I feel a bit uncomfortable that Archer and Trip are happy to mock T’Pol for not being able to handle chopsticks.
  • The adversaries in this episode look a lot like the kind of aliens who might abduct humans and probe them.
  • ‘Spinster aunt’ is still an acceptable term in the 22nd century. I bet those aunts are having loads of hot lesbian sex.

Summary – Silent Enemy: In which we learn that pineapple is Malcolm Reed’s favourite food.

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