Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled after four seasons, and some fans have attributed the show’s early demise to Captain Archer’s lack of abilities
Captain Jonathan Archer has been accused of being a bad captain since Star Trek: Enterprise debuted in 2001. A recent post at Giant Freakin Robot proclaims that Archer “wasn’t very good at his job” and that he didn’t have any idea what he was doing. Other fans have said that Archer was too angry, too worried about his dog, too slow to react, too, well, too everything. The complaint list is long and detailed. But here’s the thing. Captain Archer wasn’t a bad captain; he was an untried captain.
Enterprise was a first for him as it was for the galaxy. It makes absolute sense that he would stumble along the way some. He didn’t have the benefit of many years of experience as a captain, and he certainly had never been in charge of a spaceship capable of warp five. On top of that, he had Vulcans breathing down his neck because they didn’t believe Enterprise (or the crew) was ready for a mission.
Though some fans say that Archer was too close to his crew, he chose to make everyone feel welcome, to get them comfortable with a long mission as did Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager. Archer knew the spaceship would be in for some rough times so he let the crew know his door was always open.
Over the four seasons, Archer did change, especially after the Xindis destroyed a part of Earth. He was angry. So was Captain Sisko when he was betrayed by Michael Eddington and Captain Janeway when she discovered Captain Ransom’s atrocities. It makes sense they would step across the line to defend their beliefs and the galaxy.
Captain Archer showed emotion. He had compassion for his crew and was determined to make Enterprise’s first mission a success. Yes, he made mistakes, took risks, and made some bad decisions. But what captain didn’t? Yes, he was close friends with one of his officers. What captain wasn’t? Yes, he got emotional and even depressed a time or two. But that didn’t define him as a captain.
What defined him was his perseverance, his willingness to stand in the face of danger, to take the risks that no one else would. And he brought Enterprise home even with bumps along the way. As the other captains are defined as heroes, so should Captain Archer.