Enterprise Episode 6 Summary: Terra Nova

Caution: May contain spoilers!

Apparently seventy years ago a group of settlers headed off to an inhabitable planet that was (at the time) nine years away. It was a one way trip and they knew it. Not long after they arrived on Terra Nova all contact was lost. At the current time this is not a very long journey for the Enterprise, and the crew heads off to investigate what happened to the Terra Nova colony.

The crew arrives to find the colony there, but deserted. An away team including Archer, T'Pol, Mayweather, Reed and a couple of others is sent down and start investigating. Eventually they sight some movement and follow it to a series of underground caves. After a flurry of activity they lose Reed to a gunshot to the leg and retreat back to the shuttle.

They return to negotiate for his release and meet with some humans who are the descendants of the original Terra Nova settlers. They are caveman-like speak in their own strange dialect and have great hatred for "humans" (even though they are human they call themselves "Novans"). They claim that humans made it rain fire from the sky and they gutted them. While examining Reed the doctor shows the Novans some of their technology, and discovers that an elderly woman, the mother of what appears to be the leader of the Novans, has lung cancer. "Easily cured" though. They leave Reed in the custody of a younger member of the Novans and take the leader and his mother up to the ship to cure her. During the examination Dr. Phlox finds that she is suffering from a radiation induced poisoning.

We learn that not long after the colony landed there was a "civil war" of sorts between the group of settlers that didn't want another colony ship to be sent and those who did. Around this time a meteorite or comet hit the plant dispersing a radioactive cloud over a fair amount of the northern hemisphere. The adults died quickly but the young children built up an immunity to it. They retreated to the caves and started their own community, and have been living like that for two generations. Through this the hate of humans has grown and become embedded in their culture. Lately though the radiation has been infecting their water supply, and if they do not leave they will all die.

The choices don't look good though. The topside will not be inhabitable for another 10 years or so, and moving them offworld would not be easy, especially with their distrust of humans. After considering a few possibilities Archer decides that the best thing to do would be to move to the southern hemisphere where the radiation cloud hasn't reached and the climate is similar. The Novans don't think to highly of this of course and call it "shale" (lies). Archer is a bit pissy that they aren't doing what he wants them to but takes them back.

(Note: I missed this final part of the show so I'm going on what people told me. Please send corrections by /msg). When they arrive back a cave-in is caused by the shuttle and in the resulting mayhem a Novan is trapped under a tree. The crew uses their phasers to cut him out. This of course causes instant trust and the Novans agree to move (or be moved) to the south. In the end, the mystery of Terra Nova is solved!

Personal Commentary
This episode is probably the most like the original series we've had so far. Go to alien world, kick some ass, then save the day. I was a little dissapointed in Archers reaction when the Novans weren't doing what he wanted. He seemed very pissy and like a little boy not getting what he asked for. T'Pol was calm as ever, and Archer actually listened to her logic for once, instead of throwing a tantrum. The dialect that was used by the Novans was pretty neat, and watching the crew deal with, and tell them about, their "transformation" from human beings was pretty good.

This is part of the Enterprise Episode Guide, hopefully well maintained. Please message me with corrections or any important details I left out.

A 1977 play by Ted Tally. It's about the famous race for the South Pole by a British team, led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, and a Norwegian team, led by Roald Amundsen. The play focuses on the Brits, who lost the race by a month and ended up dying in the snows on the way back to the Antarctic coast. Scott's journals were found with his body and detailed much of the team's journey and tragic end.

The play is an odd, hallucinatory thing. While it is indeed set in Antarctica and everyone dresses appropriately, there are numerous flashbacks to Scott's wife, Kathleen, who visits and sometimes interacts with the team wearing clothes suitable for an English summer. Amundsen himself appears frequently, serving as a combination of nemesis and Greek chorus. In fact, the second act begins with the British team dining together in England and toasting the success of their expedition -- an event which, obviously, never occurred.

I've only seen "Terra Nova" once, when I was in college, and it's still my favorite ever. There was almost no publicity done for this play (a criminal act, considering the weeks of advertising done for the far inferior production of "Chicago" later that year), but the theater was still packed. The set was stark and almost empty: two white wooden arches on either side of the stage (I've heard of other productions where most of the stage was draped in white sheets). The actor playing Captain Scott wasn't even a drama major, but he got the haggard, haunted look perfect. The actor portraying Amundsen was quite amazing, switching from sympathetic observer to dastardly supervillain from one scene to the next. There were also some very interesting things done with some of the props, the supply sled in particular; I've never forgotten the scene where Amundsen seemingly transforms a dining table into the sled just by whipping the tablecloth off.

And the best special effect of all: the theater was well-heated, but the audience shivered.

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