Spoiler Level: Medium
This week's Star Trek is a special treat. "Enemy: Starfleet!" is the latest installment of the fan film series Star Trek: Phase II. It was just released last week on April 22, giving me my annual dose of new Trek. It's also the first episode to completely remove Star Trek: New Voyages from the title.
"Enemy: Starfleet!" is a lot more satisfying than the previous entry "Blood and Fire, Part 2" (which in fairness I later learned was released with the sound to the final segments unfinished, which may have accounted for part of why I didn't enjoy it as much.) The episode runs 58 minutes but feels very well paced.
The title's a bit deceiving; The colon implies that for some reason, Starfleet has become the enemy. What it's actually about is the rise of a different Starfleet due to the USS Eagle falling into the hands of a race called the Meska on the other side of the quadrant. The Meska have studied the Eagle and started building their own ships based on Starfleet technology, and using them to overthrow and annihilate their former overlords, the Pesha (who apparently have the same barber as Sabalom Glitz). This lands the Enterprise in the unfortunate position of having to take on a smaller, enemy Starfleet all on their own.
The Meska are lead by Alersa, played by BarBara Luna, who also played Marlena Moreau (aka "the captain's woman") in the classic TOS episode "Mirror Mirror," and who also had a guest appearance in the early Phase II episode "In Harm's Way" (back when it was still called New Voyages). As a bad guy she's delightfully over the top, playing Alersa as both alluring and dangerous, yet in a kind of b-movie way. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but it makes her a very fun villain.
As you'd expect with a premise like this, this episode is heavy on action, with lots of starship battles. The Meska have overhauled the Eagle, reinforcing its vulnerable spots with more armor and adding additional disruptor canons to it, making it look a bit more ugly but a lot more tough, and making for some very cool battle scenes.
There's also a good deal of character development, as Ensign Peter Kirk is still mourning the loss of his fiance from the previous episode, and Captain Kirk is still coming to terms with the fact that he has family on board, family being something he's never really had to deal with much.
We have a big change in actors again; Spock, Sulu and Chekov have all been recast. Brandon Stacey isn't really much of an improvement over Ben Tolpin as Spock. He looks the part more, but his delivery is pretty flat. (And Ben Tolpin, by the way, directed this episode. So while I may not have been won over by his portrayal of Spock, I have been won over by his directing abilities.) Andy Bray's Chekov is a hard act to follow, but Jonathan Zungre does an excellent job. Sulu doesn't really get a lot to do in this episode besides evasive maneuvers, so I don't really have much of a feel for J.T. Tepnapa's take on Sulu yet. As to the returning actors, either I've gotten used to John Kelley's portrayal of McCoy or he's gotten a lot better over the years.
One nice touch is that the Eagle was lost eight years ago, so the ship is more like the Enterprise as she was in the pilot episodes, with a curved viewscreen and crewmen wearing the old-style uniforms. (Which I have to admit caused a little confusion for me; at first I thought they were members of the Eagle's crew that were under Alersa's control, but then Kirk says that the Meska killed the entire crew, so presumably they just raided the ship's wardrobe like Archer and crew did in "In a Mirror, Darkly.")
Another very nice touch is that this episode involves the same kind of matter/anti-matter intermix wormhole like we saw in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, so we get to see it again here in the same style. It's a very TMP moment but blended with TOS; it's one of the little ways that this show is starting to transition into the Phase II that could have been, had it been made by Paramount. (And speaking of Paramount, now that Paramount's TV division has become part of CBS, instead of opening with the old 1960's "presented in living color" NBC intro, the episode now opens with CBS's 1960's "presented in living color" intro! That got a smile out of me.)
So all in all, another great entry by Cawley & company. Links for downloading or streaming this episode can be found at Star Trek: Phase II's website at http://www.startreknewvoyages.com/episode_ES.html.