The Forge (Star Trek: Enterprise)
|Star Trek: Enterprise episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Michael Grossman|
|Written by||Judith Reeves-Stevens
|Featured music||John Frizzell|
|Original air date||November 19, 2004|
"The Forge" is the seventh episode of the fourth season of the American science fiction television Star Trek: Enterprise, and originally aired on November 19, 2004 on UPN. The script was written by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens and formed the first part of a three-episode arc which continued in "Awakening" and concluded in "Kir'Shara". Michael Grossman directed "The Forge".
Set in the 22nd century, the series follows the adventures of the first Starfleet starship Enterprise, registration NX-01. In this episode, the crew investigates the bombing of the Earth embassy on Vulcan. The evidence lead them to suspect a group called the Syrrannites, and Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) and T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) seek to cross the Vulcan desert "The Forge" in order to find them. Meanwhile on the ship, the crew discover that the evidence was planted by elements linked to Vulcan High Command.
The episode picks up on several references from Star Trek: The Original Series and The Animated Series. Scenes were filmed in Simi Valley, California to represent the Vulcan Forge itself, which was augmented with additional CGI to represent the firestorm and a Vulcan animal called the sehlat. The ratings for "The Forge" saw a decrease from the previous two episodes.
After the bombing of Earth's embassy on Vulcan, in which Admiral Forrest (Vaughn Armstrong) dies whilst saving the life of Vulcan Ambassador Soval (Gary Graham), the Enterprise is ordered to journey there to investigate. Captain Archer is given the task of leading the investigation as the embassy was Earth territory. He meets with the head of the Vulcan High Command, Administrator V'Las (Robert Foxworth) who suggests that a Vulcan faction called the Syrrannites might have been responsible. This is dismissed as they are peaceful and logical, but follow a "corrupted" form of the teachings of the Vulcan philosopher and father of Vulcan logic, Surak. However, initial evidence shows DNA from a Vulcan named T'Pau, a known Syrrannite. Koss (Michael Reilly Burke) arrives on board the Enterprise to speak to his wife, T'Pol. He gives her an IDIC pendent from her mother, who he explains is a Syrrannite. The pendent projects a map showing a path across a desert on Vulcan called "The Forge", which Archer believes will lead them to both T'Pau and T'Pol's mother. T'Pol and Archer leave the ship and begin to make the crossing, following the map.
Back on the Enterprise, Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley) discovers that the DNA was planted. He and Commander Tucker (Connor Trinneer) then examine the tape of security camera near a checkpoint in the embassy and single out the man who had the bomb. Furthermore they notice that the guard at the checkpoint seems to already know who the bomber is. Unfortunately, the guard is in a coma from the blast. While it violates Vulcan ethics, Phlox and Tucker convince Soval to perform a mind meld with the guard. To Soval's surprise, he discovers that the real bomber is Stel (Larc Spies), a Vulcan security officer. They confront Stel, who agrees to testify. On Vulcan, Archer and T'Pol encounter another traveller, calling himself Arev (Michael Nouri). Arev drives away a sabre-toothed bearlike Vulcan animal called a sehlat, but is distrustful of Archer and T'Pol. A sand-fire storm kills Arev, but before he dies, he forcefully performs a mind-meld with Archer to transfer his katra. It revealed that the traveler is Syrran himself, the leader of the Syrranites. When Archer and T'Pol reach the Syrranite alcove, they are held at knife-point.
Husband and wife duo Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens had previously written a number of Star Trek related novels and books, including a series of collaborations with William Shatner and the novel Federation. They had also written several non-fiction books on the behind the scenes productions of the Star Trek series such as Star Trek: Phase II - The Lost Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission. "The Forge" was their first script together for a Star Trek series, but they had previously written scripts for other shows including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World and Once a Thief. They joined the Enterprise writing team shortly before working on the story for this episode which formed the first part of a planned "Vulcan arc". The arc was created to address the differences between Vulcans seen in the early seasons of Enterprise and those seen in Star Trek series set in later periods. Executive producer Manny Coto said that during the storyline "we will begin to see Vulcans approaching what they were in the later eras". In Enterprise, Vulcans were more emotional and deceptive than they had been seen in earlier aired series. The storyline was one of several in the fourth season of Enterprise which Coto sought to connect the series to The Original Series. "The Forge" was director Michael Grossman's second episode of Enterprise, having previously directed the third season episode "Hatchery". He went on to direct the episode "Affliction" later in season four.
"The Forge" and the following two episodes make reference to a time of savagery in Vulcan history known as the "Time of Awakening". This had been previously mentioned in The Original Series episodes "Balance of Terror", "All Our Yesterdays" and "The Savage Curtain" as well as The Next Generation episode "Gambit". The story mentioned the Vulcan T'Pau, who had previously appeared in The Original Series episode "Amok Time" presiding over the fight between Kirk and Spock, with the elder T'Pau portrayed by Celia Lovsky. Michael Reilly Burke returns as Koss, having previously appeared in the role in the season four episode "Home". Robert Foxworth appears as Administrator V'Las, having previously appeared as Admiral Leyton in the Deep Space Nine episodes "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost".
Production on the episode began on September 14, 2004 and ran through to September 22. The standing sets were used for the first three days of filming. Further sets were created to represent the Vulcan Embassy and portions of the Forge. The final two days were filmed on site in Simi Valley in southern California, which doubled as the main areas of the Forge. The property used in the valley was owned by mining company P.W. Gillibrand, which was nearby property owned by Vulcan Materials Company. Optical effects were added to represent the firestorm and the sehlat. The CGI sehlat was based on one which previously appeared in Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Yesteryear". Visual effects producer Dan Curry said that the team "looked at the animated series and it just looked nice and pleasant, so I did a couple of sketches to do a reinterpretation of it to make it look scary, but not be too radical a departure from the original". Eden FX modelled the CGI under supervision by staff visual effects supervisor Art Codron. Additional care was taken to create the fur so that close-ups could be used if required. The only physical portion of the sehlat to be created was a single paw. "Yesteryear" was set in the Vulcan city Shi'Khar, which reappears in "The Forge", and it is also the first mention of the area on Vulcan called the Forge. A further reference was made to "Vulcan's Forge" in the Deep Space Nine episode "Change of Heart".
Reception and home media
"The Forge" received a 1.9/3% share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49. This means that it was seen by 1.9 percent of all households, and 3 percent of all of those watching television at the time of the broadcast. This resulted in UPN placing last out of the major networks with NBC leading during the timeslot with a 6.3/11% rating for Dateline. Joan of Arcadia on CBS was close to NBC's numbers with a rating of 6.2/11%. "The Forge" saw a decrease from the 2.1/4% share received by the previous two episodes "Cold Station 12" and "The Augments".
Michelle Erica Green of TrekNation approved of the episode with some reservations. She said that it "beautifully melds together threads from every Star Trek series in a way that's deeply satisfying to this lifelong Trekker", However, she was disappointed at the lack of anything for Hoshi Sato or Travis Mayweather to do, and the obviousness of the use of some green screens in some scenes. Jamahl Epsicokhan of the website "Jammer's Reviews" described the episode as a "jam-packed story that cares about the history of Star Trek". He gave it a score of 3.5/4, saying that it was "an intriguing outing. It's like a cross between Enterprise, The Original Series, and Deep Space Nine, all at once." When later summarising the fourth season, he described "The Forge" as "easily Enterprise's best episode of the season".
The first home media release of "The Forge" was in the season three 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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