I know I just said that I was going to hold off on pronouncing judgment on the “Zero Hour” cliffhanger until we could establish some context. But I’ll be frank— it’s awful hard to not judge something when you’re stuck thinking about it for three months!
It’s been almost a month since the cliffhanger aired, now, and I’ve tried to give Berman and Braga the benefit of the doubt. Really, I have. But it was just such a bizarre ending. Hell, it wasn’t even an ending— it was a mindf*ck. A true cliffhanger spends the entire hour building the suspense up, and then leaving you teetering on the edge, waiting for the conclusion. But “Zero Hour” didn’t give us that. Instead, we got a decent conclusion to the season’s Xindi arc, followed by a completely random and out-of-the-blue revelation that the Enterprise has somehow been thrown back in time. And not just any time— an altered past, too! With Evil Alien Nazis!
You wouldn’t believe the string of curses that were uttered in my living room after watching the last few minutes of the finale, either. It took me a while to gather my thoughts, because I was completely baffled. Not confused, not excited... baffled. And unfortunately, as time went on I went from being baffled to being angry. I won’t waste time dignifying the choice of Evil Alien Nazis with a full review, either. Bernd Schneider’s review of “Zero Hour" already sufficiently covers the complete pointlessness of using the same old tired villains.
Oh, how I long for the days of TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds”, or DS9’s “Call to Arms”, or Voyager’s “Scorpion”... now there were true cliffhangers! I still remember the summer of 1997, waiting eagerly and wondering what would happen with Gul Dukat in charge of the station again, or with Janeway and her crew, about to make a deal with the devil. Nowadays, we’ve just got these lame, forced thrillers that need to pull Evil Alien Nazis out of nowhere to create some form of suspense.
As I recently posted, I felt that Enterprise’s grand Xindi arc was a pretty good success, despite its occasional flaws. I can’t say that the end of “Zero Hour” actually ruined the Xindi arc, though, because by the end of the episode, the arc was already over! The cliffhanger had nothing to do with the arc.
Yes, I’m going to be watching the fourth season premiere of Enterprise in a few months’ time. Yes, I’m still curious to see how the story will be continued. But unlike last year, with “The Expanse” setting up a realm of possibilities with the upcoming season arc, this summer we’re just left with confusion caused by bad writing.
Gee, thanks Mr. Braga!