North Star (Star Trek: Enterprise)
|Star Trek: Enterprise episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||David Straiton|
|Written by||David A. Goodman|
|Featured music||Jay Chattaway|
|Original air date||November 12, 2003|
"North Star" is the sixty-first episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Enterprise, the ninth episode of the third season. It first aired on November 12, 2003 on UPN. The episode was written by David A. Goodman and directed by David Straiton.
Set in the 22nd century, the series follows the adventures of the first Starfleet starship Enterprise, registration NX-01. In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise discover a lost colony of humans in the Delphic Expanse. The colony originated from a wagon train from the American Old West in the 1860s which was abducted as slave labor by an alien race called the Skagarans. The humans overthrew the Skagarans and now treat them as second class citizens.
Goodman wrote the episode after he was set a challenge by executive producer Rick Berman, and wrote in references to the 1940 film Santa Fe Trail and The Original Series episode "Spectre of the Gun". The episode was mostly filmed on the Western town set nicknamed "Six Points Texas" at the Universal Studios lot. Critical response to the episode was mixed, but the ratings held steady from the previous episode with a 2.6/4% share.
Whilst in the Delphic Expanse, Enterprise discovers a planet inhabited by 6,000 humans who are living in the fashion of the 1860s American frontier. Captain Archer, Commander Tucker and Sub-Commander T'Pol beam-down to the surface in period costume to investigate. They head into one of the numerous towns to observe the humans and aliens first-hand, and while Tucker and T'Pol acquire a horse, Archer stops Deputy Bennings from belittling a "Skag" waiter in the town's tavern. After questioning Archer on his plans and intentions, Sheriff MacReady tells Bennings to keep a close eye on Archer.
Archer, wishing to learn more about the Skagarans, enters the house of a teacher named Bethany he had seen earlier. The two depart for "Skag Town", the remnants of a 300-year-old wrecked spacecraft, but the deputy notices them leave. They arrive and find Tucker and T'Pol, who had arrived earlier. They then travel back to Enterprise to investigate some data logs found in the wreckage, while Archer stays behind. On Enterprise Ensign Sato discovers that the humans overthrew their Skagaran masters after being brought to the planet. Meanwhile Bennings and some men arrive and arrest Bethany for teaching the children, and she is later detained in prison. Archer helps her to escape, but she is shot in the process. Archer orders an emergency beam-up in front of Bennings and other locals.
Doctor Phlox treats her injury and discovers that she is one-quarter Skagaran. Meanwhile, back on the planet, Bennings hands in his deputy badge because MacReady orders him not to take any further action against the Skagarans. Archer returns in a shuttlepod along with T'Pol and a security crew, led by Lieutenant Reed — all wearing their modern uniforms. Landing in the center of town, he informs the Sheriff that he is from Earth and will return to help them once their mission is over. Bennings then shoots MacReady, starting a firefight. In the chaos, Archer is also shot by Bennings, but finally overpowers him in a fistfight. Enterprise then departs, but not before returning Bethany to the surface, and providing her with a PADD to educate the local children about Earth's recent history.
"North Star" was the third episode of the season to be directed by David Straiton, while writer David A. Goodman had previously written the episodes "Judgment" and "Precious Cargo". He also wrote the Star Trek themed Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before". Goodman explained after the episode that he was inspired by The Original Series episodes "A Piece of the Action" and "Patterns of Force" after executive producer Rick Berman set him the challenge of writing a "parallel Earth" story similar to those featured in TOS but would fit with Enterprise. These types of stories were featured in Gene Roddenberry's original pitch for Star Trek to NBC, which was where humans had evolved societies on other planets similar to our own.
Goodman also added a reference to the TOS episode "Spectre of the Gun" with the naming of the character Cronin, but said that the character Kitty was named after a character in the 1940 film Santa Fe Trail rather than the radio/television series Gunsmoke. Goodman later described "North Star" as his favourite episode of the series. It was the third Western-themed episode of Star Trek, after The Original Series's "Spectre of the Gun" and The Next Generation's "A Fistful of Datas". This episode included a number of guest cast members. Emily Bergl appeared as Bethany in "North Star", having previously appeared in the miniseries Taken, produced by the Sci Fi Channel. Glenn Morshower had previously appeared in episodes of The Next Generation and Voyager, and appeared once more in this episode as Sheriff MacReady. James Parks had also appeared in Voyager, and played Deputy Bennings in "North Star".
It was the first episode to be filmed on location during season three, but the production only moved from the Paramount Studios lot to the Universal Studios backlot where the Western town set "Six Points Texas" was used. The shoot there started on the second day of filming over five days and utilized a number of sets including the main street, livery stable, saloon and schoolhouse. The sets have been used to film more movies than any other set in the world; the livery stable in particular was used in the 1940 film My Little Chickadee. A shuttlepod set-piece was brought from Paramount Studios and was used for filming scenes after it had landed, while in-air shots were added with special effects after filming was completed.
Twelve horses were used, and due to safety considerations, in some scenes stunt doubles undertook the action scenes where main cast members were required to ride on horseback. The episode was heavy on the number of stunts, which were supervised by Vince Deadrick, Jr. Scenes using the standing sets at Paramount were filmed on the first and last days of shooting, which overlapped with the first day of shooting of the following episode, "Similitude".
Reception and home media release
"North Star" was first aired on November 12, 2003 on UPN. It received a 2.6/4% share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49. This means that it was seen by 2.6 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds, and 4 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of the broadcast. This was the same as the ratings received by the previous episode entitled "Twilight", but showed a loss of 200,000 viewers overall. "North Star" received lower ratings than the following episode "Similitude", which received a ratings share of 3.0/5%.
Michelle Erica Green watched the episode for TrekNation, saying that she was expecting something similar to The Original Series episode "Spectre of the Gun" but was pleased to find it was more similar to Voyager's "The 37's". She said that, "because the episode is stylish and beautifully paced, the morality play doesn't get too heavy-handed or silly", but felt that it was one-sided because of the lack of information on the Skagarans. She summed up the "North Star" by describing it as a "fun, throw away" episode. Jamahl Epsicokhan on his website "Jammer's Reviews" described it as a "shallow Trek adventure by the numbers" which was "all about setting and rarely about substance". He gave it a score of two out of four. When Epsicokhan was summing up the whole of season three, "North Star" was described as one of the mediocre episodes in the season.
"North Star" was released as part of the season three DVD box set, released in the United States on September 27, 2005. The season was released on Blu-ray in the United States on January 7, 2014.
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