Buried in the grainy background details of Picard season 3, there’s a detail that completely rewrites one of Star Trek’s most infamous episodes, that Enterprise finale.
I’m still reeling from Picard season 3, and judging by the Red Shirts Always Die homepage, not to mention the rest of the Star Trek blogosphere, I don’t think I am alone. Hidden details and the ramifications of that season are still revealing themselves. Another that’s just been brought to my attention is that it retconned that infamous Star Trek: Enterprise finale.
It’s a bit of a convoluted and obscure twist (my favorite kind) and I can’t take credit for spotting it, that honor goes to CBR. They spotted that among the legendary Star Trek ships at the fleet museum above Athan Prime, such as the Defiant, the Voyager, and Kirk’s Enterprise-A, there was the Enterprise NX-01 from Enterprise. But it wasn’t the Enterprise as we remember her, it was the refit, which until now, hadn’t been canon.
Why is this significant? Well, the Enterprise finale features the final voyage of the titular NX-class ship and shows it in its original (not refitted state). If the Enterprise was refitted at some point, this contradicts the established idea that she was decommissioned without a refit.
And if we’re contradicting that idea, then perhaps other unpopular aspects of that episode didn’t happen either.
I’m usually not a fan of major retcons. To me, fictional universes are something that you either embrace warts and all or not at all. If we just pretended the bad episodes or inconvenient plot points didn’t happen, then Star Trek would lose its lore. Continuity wouldn’t be malleable, so much as ephemeral. Eventually, it would cease to be a shared universe, as each series or even episode would have its own separate history.
In general, retcons should be limited to those extreme cases where they’re necessary, like the infamously sexist original series episode Turnabout Intruder.
But what’s great about this retcon is that it doesn’t necessarily change the canon.
The Enterprise finale had a rather unique, and controversial framing device, the events of the episode were being recreated by Commander William Riker in the Next Generation era just over 200 years later. We weren’t watching the events as they happened, we were watching Riker’s Holodeck recreation, a historical record. We could’ve been watching an unreliable account of those events.
Picard made it official that the NX-01 was refitted, so Riker’s holodeck program was at least a little inaccurate.
…Or depending on how you feel about the Enterprise finale, it could even be complete historical fiction.
The problem with the Enterprise finale, wasn’t simply that it was a bad episode. Enterprise was canceled rather abruptly, during the filming of the fourth season, leaving the producers scrambling to create an appropriate send-off. The Enterprise finale has the feel of something put together at the last moment, and the holodeck reveal feels half-baked.
In a desperate attempt at gravitas, they killed off a fan-favorite character, seemingly for no reason other than to add said gravitas, which defeated the purpose. Trip Tucker’s death felt empty and meaningless.
Enterprise was just hitting its stride in the fourth season, despite a rocky start. There were a number of intriguing storylines in that season, and they were cut short for this anticlimactic dud.
But thanks to Picard, if you want to believe that none of it really happened, that’s now completely consistent with canon.