(written from a Production point of view)
|ENT, Episode 3x09|
Production number: 061
First aired: 12 November 2003
|←||60th of 97 produced in ENT||→|
|←||60th of 97 released in ENT||→|
|←||689th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
David A. Goodman
Archer and the crew try to discover why a 19th century-era Human settlement has been placed in the middle of the Expanse.
A group of men on horseback take another man and lynch him. They refer to the hanged man as a "Skag". They shoot their guns in the air and ride off.
While searching for the Xindi in the Delphic Expanse in 2153, the Enterprise NX-01 discovers a planet inexplicably inhabited by Humans in a setting that resembles the late-nineteenth-century American West. Wearing period dress, members of the Enterprise crew visit the planet surface and learn that the Humans are descended from Americans abducted from Earth in approximately the 1860s by a species called the Skagarans who, after bringing them to this planet, used them as slave labor. T'Pol, Tucker, and Archer scout out the town to find useful information. Reed, back on Enterprise, informs the captain that there is a smaller town filled with aliens only ten kilometers away. Archer tells T'Pol and Tucker to go to the town and find out what they can, while he heads off to a local bar. Tucker and T'Pol go off to find the town, but Tucker thinks getting a horse first will speed up the journey. Tucker finds a horse dealer and offers him his gun (a relic from the nineteenth century period) as security, along with his harmonica for the use of a horse for a few hours. T'Pol asks Tucker about his experience handling the creature and Tucker says he has seen every John Ford western.
While at the bar, Archer finds out that a man called Cooper Smith (who the bartender proudly claims as an ancestor) was the man who liberated the Humans from the Skagaran. He meets the deputy sheriff Bennings and stops him from harassing a Skag, who also was his waiter. When the sheriff comes in to see what the trouble was, the deputy informs him that Archer butted into a conversation he was having with the waiter. The sheriff asks what Archer's business is in town, and tells him it is too hot for coffee, a drink he got free from the bar. Archer says he is passing through on his way down south, to meet his brother who was herding bluehorn. Once Archer leaves the bar, the sheriff tells his deputy to "keep an eye" on Archer.
Archer goes to the house of a teacher who he saw earlier in the day, standing next to a dead Skag in a coffin. After a short conversation with the teacher, asking him why he barged into her home, he says he would like to know more about the Skagarans. She replies that everyone knows about the Skagarans. Archer says in response that up north quite a ways, where he lives, there are none. He goes on to say that his actions in the bar were because he doesn't think that the Skagaran life is any less valuable than his. The teacher asks Archer if he would like to meet more of them and, when Archer nods his head in agreement, they go off in a carriage to Skag town. On the way the deputy and some men come out of an alley way and watch the pair leave.
When the teacher and Archer arrive at the place, the teacher has to inform some Skagarans that Archer is all right. While Archer walks through some metal archways he spots T'Pol and Tucker. He calls the teacher, Bethany, over and says these are the friends from up north he was telling her about. Bethany goes back over to a fire pit and lets Captain Archer talk to his friends. T'Pol shows him some data logs retrieved from the wreckage of what was apparently the spacecraft that had brought the Humans to the Delphic Expanse. Archer tells Tucker and T'Pol to go back to Enterprise and find out what they can. T'Pol asks what Archer is going to do. He tells her that he doesn't want to miss his first day of school. Bethany starts to teach six Skagaran children, among them Yral and Kret, multiplication tables. She says next week they will start long division. The deputy, Bennings, and some men, Nash and Franklin, then come out from the shadows to arrest Bethany. She tells the kids to run home.
From these logs and the short lessons from Bethany, Archer and his officers learn that shortly after the Humans' arrival, they had revolted against their Skagaran oppressors, overthrown them, and thereafter subjugated them as a means of preventing them from regaining control. As a further means of keeping the Skagarans – or "Skags," as they were disparagingly called and referred to – subjugated, the liberated Humans had made it illegal to teach successive generations of the aliens to read, write, or calculate. When Archer's involvement indirectly led to Bethany's being discovered doing so, she was given a minimum ten-year prison sentence and incarcerated. Feeling responsible, Archer helps her escape from jail, but during the effort she is shot and seriously wounded by Bennings. With Bethany incapacitated and facing the deputy's gun himself, Archer is forced to beam himself and Bethany up to the ship in full sight of the locals, some of whom became convinced that Archer, although evidently Human, is a Skagaran sympathizer.
On board the ship, Dr. Phlox treats Bethany's injuries. Archer asks him if she is going to make it. Phlox says he believes so, there are a few things about her physiology he does not understand. Archer wonders what Phlox means. Phlox says he thought Archer was familiar with Bethany's ancestry, he says that Bethany is one-quarter Skagaran. Archer goes off to talk with his senior staff. Meanwhile on the planet, Bennings has a debate with the sheriff about his handling of the Skags. Bennings hands in his badge and walks out the door. On Enterprise, the Skagaran logs have been translated, which confirm Bethany's story, and the crew finds out the Humans were abducted from America's rocky desert regions because they were best adapted to the new planet's identical environment. Archer decides that the planet's inhabitants deserve to know that Earth has not abandoned them and decides to make themselves known. After the meeting with the senior staff Archer leads T'Pol and a security team to the planet in a shuttlepod, wearing their twenty-second century uniforms. Archer explains to the sheriff, MacReady, that he is from Earth, which MacReady had come to believe was a mythical place, and that Humans have evolved past bigotry and the subjugation of other sentient species. Archer informs the sheriff that unfortunately the Enterprise isn't equipped to take the entire colony of 6,000 Humans to Earth and promises to send help once their Xindi mission is completed. Archer also informs the sheriff that Humans have grown to be more tolerant of other cultures and says their band of Humans will have to grow before they can live normal lives on Earth.
Archer and the sheriff leave the building and go to the shuttlepod. Once there Archer introduces MacReady to his first officer T'Pol. As Archer says that they were going to take MacReady up to Enterprise former deputy Bennings shoots MacReady. Archer, T'Pol, Reed, and a security force engage Bennings and his men in a shootout. Close to the end of the shootout, T'Pol is captured by one of Bennings' men. Bennings' man tells Reed that he will kill her if Reed does not put his gun down. Reed proceeds to stun T'Pol with his phase-pistol and then turns to T'Pol's captor and shoots him, too. While this is going on, Archer engages in a hand-to-hand fight with Bennings, ultimately subduing him, despite having temporarily lost the use of one arm due to his injury. The shuttlepod departs the planet and returns to Enterprise. Once on Enterprise, Archer talks to Bethany, reassuring her that the Humans on the planet will be able to change before ships come to rescue them. Once Bethany returns to the surface, Enterprise leaves orbit, leaving behind a more enlightened community and apparently some historical materials, as Bethany (openly) teaches a classroom of students, Skagarans, Humans, and Sheriff MacReady about the Wright brothers' first powered flight, which had taken place forty years after her Human ancestors had left Earth.
Memorable quotes Edit
"Do you have any experience riding these animals?"
"I've seen every John Ford western."
- - T'Pol and Tucker, just before T'Pol climbed up on Tucker's horse
"Let's raise a glass to the dearly departed. To dead Skags."
- - Bennings, making a toast
"Excuse me. Do you think I could get some more coffee before you shoot him?"
- - Archer, to Draysik after Bennings asks him to shoot him with a gun
"I saw you this morning at the undertaker's. What's your business here?"
"Just passing through town."
- - MacReady and Archer
"It's a little hot for coffee today, don't you think?"
"...Maybe you're right."
- - MacReady and Archer
"You must think we're barbaric. All the things Humanity's accomplished – building ships like this, traveling to other worlds – and we're still down there shooting each other."
"The progress on Earth, it didn't happen overnight."
- - Bethany and Archer, staring out a window of Enterprise
Background information Edit
- The writing of this episode began with influences from several installments of Star Trek: The Original Series. "North Star" writer David A. Goodman recalled, "I was the one who pitched the idea to [Executive Producers] Rick [Berman] and Brannon [Braga] [....] In fact, this episode came from Brannon challenging me to come up with a 'parallel Earth' story like they had on TOS, but one that would fit Enterprise. My favorites of those TOS ones were 'A Piece of the Action', and 'Patterns of Force', since they didn't rely on impossible to explain things like 'Hodgkins Law of Parallel Planet Development.' So it was really inspired by those episodes [....] For those who say 'why do a concept like this again?' I can only say that I tried to use an old concept to say something new, or at least relevant. I hope it comes through." wbm
- David A. Goodman originally planned for this episode to be set during Medieval times. Remembered Brannon Braga, "I think I was the one who said, 'Make it the Old West, but with aliens in the midst.'" David A. Goodman continued to develop the episode from there. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 151, p. 30)
- Getting the tone of this episode right was important to the ENT writing staff. "We really wanted to make sure that it didn't play like TNG's 'A Fistful of Datas', which was a farce," Brannon Braga recalled. "We wanted to do it more like The Unforgiven, something that was more gritty and realistic." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 151, p. 30)
- David A. Goodman decided to take some character names in this outing from other filmed Westerns. "Since it's a Western setting," he commented, "I paid homage to 'Spectre of the Gun' by naming one of the aliens Cronin. Kit was not named after 'Miss Kitty' on Gunsmoke, but was named after Olivia DeHavilland's character in one of my favorite guilty pleasure westerns Santa Fe Trail." wbm
- David A. Goodman enjoyed writing this ENT installment. "It was fun to get to write the one cowboy-planet episode of the sequel series," he recalled. 
- The final draft of this episode's script was issued on 19 September 2003.
- Exteriors of the town were shot primarily at Western Town, Universal Studios in Universal City, California. wbm
- A swipe-edit between a shot of Archer and Bethany leaving the jail, just after Bethany's jailbreak, and the immediately subsequent shot, in which Sheriff MacReady enters the jail, was a highly unusual editing choice for Star Trek: Enterprise.
- Like the Star Trek: Voyager episode "The 37's", the premise of this episode involves the discovery of a colony inhabited by Humans who were abducted by aliens. Also, like previous installments "Spectre of the Gun" from Star Trek: The Original Series and the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "A Fistful of Datas", this episode takes place in a Western-themed setting.
- Chronologically, this is the first time that a Starfleet officer asks for transport while specifying how many to beam up.
- Archer's claim that Humans had gone passed intolerance and racism seems to have been premature, as the fourth season episodes "Home", "Demons" and "Terra Prime" show Humans on Earth can be just as racist and intolerant.
- The title "North Star" may have been a reference to the celestial signpost for slaves seeking to escape their condition in the antebellum south in the United States.
- This episode has inspired mixed responses. David A. Goodman said of the outing, "[It] has its fans and its detractors." 
- Brannon Braga was definitely a fan of the episode, remarking, "[David A. Goodman] [...] really did a great job with it [....] And it had a poignant little metaphor for the Native American Indians, in this case being the aliens. It did feel like an original series episode, and I thought it really came across well." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 151, p. 30)
- Despite some fans accusing this episode of being too similar to sci-fi Western TV series Firefly, David A. Goodman responded, "Although I was a fan of Firefly, [...] I did not set out to rip it off." wbm
Links and references Edit
Main cast Edit
- Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Doctor Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as Sub-Commander T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed
- Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather
- Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III
Guest stars Edit
- Paul Rae as the Bartender
- Steven Klein as Draysik
- Gary Bristow as the Stablehand
- Alexandria M. Salling as Skagaran Girl
- Jon Baron as Skagaran Boy
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Kevin Derr as Kelly
- Tom DuPont as a cowboy
- Jeffrey Eith as Nash
- Ricky Lomax as W. Woods
- Cliff McLaughlin as Franklin
- David Moore as a child in school
- Dorenda Moore as S. Money
- Robert Sidney Mellette as Henry
- Paul Townsend as a cowboy
- Mike Watson as a Skagaran
- Unknown performers as
airplane; alien abduction; Ancient West; arithmetic; barber; bartender; bluehorn; buffalo; butcher; cemetery; checkers; coffee; cowboy; crime; data module; dentistry; deputy; DNA; Earth; feather; Ford, John; interspecific reproduction; harmonica; heat exhaustion; horse; Human; Human history; lynching; MACO; mathematics; mile; multiplication table; New York; North Star; Ohio; Pacific Ocean; parlor trick; particle rifle; prejudice; projectile weapon; Recessive gene; revolver; rot-gut; San Francisco; sheriff; shuttlepod (22nd century); Skagaran; Skagaran colony; Skagaran language; Skagaran starship; Skagaran whiskey; Skag town; slate; slavery; smoking; spittoon; Smith, Cooper; stablehand; Stanton, Clay; sun viper; teacher; toast; Undertaker; United States dollar; Vulcan; western; Wright brothers; Xindi incident
- A group of Humans are kidnapped from Earth by Skagarans who intend to use them as slaves.
- The Wright brothers accomplish their first flight.
- Enterprise finds the failed Skagaran colony.
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