|Star Trek: Enterprise episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Marvin V. Rush|
|Featured music||Jay Chattaway|
|Cinematography by||Douglas Knapp|
|Original air date||May 13, 2005|
"Terra Prime" is the 21st episode of the fourth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Enterprise, and originally aired on May 13, 2005. The story was developed by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, along with André Bormanis, and developed into a script by the Reeves-Stevenses and show runner Manny Coto. The episode is the second of a two-part story, which started in "Demons". The episode was directed by Marvin Rush, his second for the series.
Set in the 22nd century, the series follows the adventures of the first Starfleet starship Enterprise, registration NX-01. In this episode, John Frederick Paxton (Peter Weller), the leader of the human xenophobic group Terra Prime, threatens to use an array on Mars designed to redirect comets to destroy Starfleet Command, unless all aliens leave Earth immediately. Enterprise Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) and an away team take a shuttlepod to the array to stop Paxton and attempt to shut down the array.
The guest actors who appeared in "Demons" were joined by Derek Magyar and Eric Pierpoint, who appeared earlier in the season in "Affliction", while Joel Swetow had previously appeared in episodes of Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation. The script called for a reference to the United States space program and so the Carl Sagan Memorial Station and the Mars Exploration Rover Sojourner were included in a shot added in post production. "Terra Prime" received a Nielsen rating of 2.0/4% and it was praised by critics who described it as a "real" episode and there were suggestions that had Enterprise gone into a further season then the story could have acted as an ongoing subplot. It was ranked as the best episode of the series by Empire magazine.
In the episode "Demons", the Enterprise returns to Earth so the crew may attend a conference about the formation of a "Coalition of Planets". A DNA sample from a Vulcan-Human hybrid is handed to Sub-commander T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) by a woman shortly before she dies of phaser related injuries. T'Pol and Commander "Trip" Tucker (Connor Trinneer) discover that the hybrid was created from their DNA, and the crew track the sample to a terrorist group called Terra Prime. An away team consisting of T'Pol and Tucker, infiltrate the group's base on the Moon but are captured. Terra Prime's leader John Frederick Paxton (Peter Weller) reveals that the base is a spacecraft and flies the ship to Mars to take control of a weapons array designed to deflect comets.
Continuing in the episode "Terra Prime", T'Pol and Tucker remain captives of Paxton, who demands that all aliens leave the solar system within 24 hours or else he will destroy Starfleet Headquarters. The Enterprise is ordered to Mars to destroy the array. Meanwhile, the health of the Vulcan-Human hybrid baby is declining. Paxton's action has a devastating effect on the alliance conference. Seeing the divided nature of humans, both Andorians and Vulcans refuse to negotiate any further. On Mars, Paxton agrees to let T'Pol and Tucker see the child, but forces Tucker, who refuses to cooperate at first, to fix the targeting system of the array. Elsewhere, the crew of Enterprise conceive a way to approach the deadly station undetected, by use of a shuttlepod hidden inside a comet. Gannet Brooks (Johanna Watts) is concerned that Terra Prime may have placed an operative aboard Enterprise who will inform them of the proposed plan.
Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) elects to lead the away mission, along with Lt. Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating), Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley) and Ensign Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery). En route, the shuttle's navigation fails, nearly causing it to crash. The crew manages to recover, and infiltrates Paxton's base. Archer confronts Paxton in the control room, but Paxton breaches the hull of the base with a phaser and manages to lock in the firing sequence as the air escapes. Fortunately, Tucker had altered the target, and the beam harmlessly strikes the water near the Golden Gate Bridge. With the crisis over, T'Pol and Tucker's child, whom they name Elizabeth after his sister who had been killed by the Xindi, is delivered to Phlox who cannot do anything to save her. The events threaten to destroy any potential alliance between Earth and other planets, but Archer makes an impassioned speech at the conference to convince the delegates that the unpleasant incident is reason to continue, not pull back.
Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens created the story with André Bormanis and developed it into a script with show runner Manny Coto. Because of the nature of the two-part episode, revisions to the scripts for both "Demons" and "Terra Prime" were required as changes occurred in the other script. The Reeves-Stevens felt that a "ticking clock" was required for "Terra Prime", and so the 24 hour deadline set by Paxton's group was written into the end of "Demons". However, that exact ending was changed on several occasions which resulted in modifications to the "Terra Prime" script. Other changes were made following the filming of "Demons" as the Reeves-Stevens changed some of the dialogue for Paxton after seeing Peter Weller's performance. Shran, played by Jeffrey Combs, was written out of the episode as the decision was made to have the character appear in the series finale instead.
Filming began on "Terra Prime" on the afternoon of February 15, 2005 and continued until February 25. It was the second episode to be directed by Marvin Rush, who had previously worked on the second part of "In a Mirror, Darkly". Rush was normally the director of photography on Enterprise. Whilst the majority of sets created for the Martian array had been created for the previous episode, a set was created to appear as an access tube specially for use in "Terra Prime". In order to represent the shuttlecraft entering the comet, rather than using camera movement, the set was placed on rollers and physically moved to appear turbulent. The Martian landscape was inserted using a green screen where the away team enter the array, and the actors had make-up applied to represent the red dust of the Martian landscape.
Several guest stars who had appeared in "Demons" continued in their roles in "Terra Prime"; Harry Groener, Peter Mensah, Adam Clark along with Weller and Watts. A reference to Weller's former show Odyssey 5 is included in the episode, when his character is diagnosed with "Taggart's Syndrome", where Taggart was the name of his character on Odyssey 5. They were joined in this episode by several actors playing recurring roles, including Gary Graham who had played Ambassador Soval since the series pilot and Derek Magyar and Eric Pierpoint, who had played Kelby and Harris respectively earlier in the season in "Affliction". Joel Swetow also appeared in "Terra Prime" as an Andorian Ambassador, who had previously appeared in the pilot of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the The Next Generation episode "Firstborn" as well as performing voice roles for several Star Trek video games. The baby in the episode was played by a pair of twins, whilst the pointed Vulcan ears were applied to the child in post production.
The script requested two post production shots to be added as references to the American space program, which would have been shown as the shuttlepod landed on Mars. These included the Mars Exploration Rover Sojourner which appeared in the opening titles of Enterprise, now lying dormant and covered in dust. A further shot showed a plaque which denoted the landing spot of the rover on board the Carl Sagan Memorial Station. Following the cancellation of the series two episodes earlier, Coto stated that he considered "Demons" and "Terra Prime" to be the actual finale of the Enterprise storyline, rather than the final aired episode "These Are the Voyages... which would be a goodbye to the franchise."
Reception and home media release
"Terra Prime" was first aired in the United States on UPN on May 13, 2005. The broadcast saw the episode come in fifth place during the timeslot, with a Nielsen rating of 2.0/4. This means that it was seen by 2 percent of all households, and 4 percent of all of those watching television at the time of the broadcast. It gained higher ratings than The WB, which aired re-runs of What I Like About You and Reba, but was behind the other four major networks with a CBS special on Elvis Presley receiving ratings of 7.8/14. This was the same ratings received by "Demons", but was less than the final episode, "These Are the Voyages..." which received ratings of 2.4/4 when it was aired immediately after "Terra Prime".
Michelle Erica Green reviewed the episode for TrekNation, saying that it felt like a "real Star Trek episode" but wasn't sure about the characterisation for T'Pol seen in "Terra Prime". She would have preferred to see more of Mars, but was pleased with the glimpse of the Carl Sagan Memorial Station. She summed it up by saying that the two episodes were "no means perfect episodes, but they're reaching very earnestly for what Star Trek was in the beginning". Jamahl Epsicokhan at his website "Jammer's Reviews" said that while there were plot holes in the story, and that elements were clumsy such as the showdown towards the end, the overall story was "sound". He said that the episode was a "much more satisfying as a send-off for the Enterprise crew" than "These Are the Voyages...". He gave "Terra Prime" a score of three out of four.
The review from IGN said that "In a perfect world, Enterprise would have gotten another year and could have used Terra Prime as a running subplot." While they thought that the message was heavy-handed, it was the type of stories that Enterprise should have been covering all along. They gave "Demons" and "Terra Prime" a score of four out of five. Jay Garmon, whilst compiling a list of the best episodes of Enterprise, listed "Demons" and "Terra Prime" as the third best. He thought that Peter Weller "stole the show", and that it created a "solid conclusion" to the show despite the following episode, "These Are the Voyages...". Empire magazine ranked "Terra Prime" as the best episode of the series.
The first home media release of "Terra Prime" was in the season four DVD box set of Enterprise, originally released in the United States on November 1, 2005. The Blu ray release of the final season of Enterprise is due on April 1, 2014.
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- "Terra Prime" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Terra Prime" at TV.com
- "Terra Prime" at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- "Terra Prime" at StarTrek.com