On the bridge through Enterprise‘s viewscreen, John Frederick Paxton, the self-proclaimed leader of Terra Prime, is continuing to speak of his threat to use the powerful verteron array. Captain Archer orders his communications officer Ensign Sato to block the transmission, but it is going system-wide. Suddenly, an infant with pointed ears appears on the screen. Over the image, Paxton says “The citizen soldiers of Terra Prime will act to protect you against the most dangerous enemy that humanity has ever faced.“
At the meeting hall at Starfleet, Paxton’s video of the baby Vulcan plays on a large screen, in front of the gathered alien delegates. Nathan Samuels, through a communicator, orders that the transmission be blocked, but Starfleet cannot break through. He demands the officer he is speaking to find some way to contact Captain Archer on Enterprise.
On the bridge of Enterprise, Paxton, through the viewscreen, states that Terra Prime is devoted to the protection of life in all its diversity, so, for the next 24 hours, they will allow aliens safe passage through the solar system. They must leave as soon as possible before the deadline is up. Archer asks Malcolm to scan Paxton’s ship for Vulcan life signs, so they can transport T’Pol and the baby out of there. Just after this, Paxton warns that if any extraterrestrial individual remains on the surface of the Earth, he will fire the verteron array directly at Starfleet Command. He claims Terra Prime does not want war, but he makes a solemn to the people of Earth – their future will be secure because humanity will prevail.
Just then, Reed notes that Paxton’s ship has targeted Enterprise. Archer orders the vessel be taken away from Mars, but the ship is hit by the beam. Half of the vessel’s relays are fried, even though the beam that was fired at them was only at two percent. Archer considers them fully warned by this action and has the ship put on a course back to Earth.
Back at the conference hall, Ambassador Soval speaks with Samuels. He notes that demonstrations have begun forming around the Vulcan Compound due to Paxton’s threat. Samuels believes that this is only an isolated incident, but Andorian Ambassador Thoris walks up and talks of similar demonstrations occurring at the Andorian embassy. Soval finds it troubling that Paxton has the support of so many Humans. Thoris thinks the proposed Coalition of Planets will be unsuccessful, as this proves that Earth is still deeply divided.
In Archer’s ready room, Samuels orders the captain to attack the array but Archer cannot, as two of his people are being held hostage. The Council has been made aware of this, but the decision has been made. Without the use of the verteron array, in the next thirty months, fourteen comets will impact on the surface of Mars and could hit anywhere on the planet, including the populated domed cities. Archer proposes that he take a small team into Paxton’s facility to stop them. Samuels notes that Paxton can destroy any ship that approaches but Archer has a solution to that.
Meanwhile on Mars, T’Pol and Tucker are held as hostages by Paxton. Paxton finally shows them their Vulcan–Human hybrid baby. He reveals an agent of Terra Prime on Enterprise obtained their bio-samples to create the child. Now that Paxton has fulfilled his part, he asks Tucker to help refine his targeting system for the array. Tucker at once refuses, but Paxton forces him to after he has Josiah aim a EM pistol at point blank range at T’Pol’s head.
On a foggy night in San Francisco, Reed meets up once again with Section 31 agent Harris in a dark alleyway. Reed asks Harris for further information on Mars. He reveals that the planetary sensor grid on Mars has become prone to false signals in the denser terraformed atmosphere, which would allow a small vessel to arrive without being detected. Harris tells Reed that they will still need to reach the surface undetected but the crew of Enterprise has already come up with a solution to that – without Harris’ help. Reed tells Harris that if the coalition is formed, Enterprise will be busier than ever and this will likely be the last time they will see each other. Harris wishes the lieutenant good luck and they part ways.
In a briefing with Samuels, Archer, Reed and Mayweather devise a plan to disguise a shuttlepod in the wake of the comet Burke which is currently heading toward Mars‘ north pole. Samuels doubts this plan will work but Mayweather assures him he has experience with comets. Archer assures Samuels that if the plan is unsuccessful, Enterprise will destroy the facility.
At Orpheus, T’Pol is rocking the baby back and forth when Paxton enters and tells her that what she is doing will not make the child fully Vulcan or Human. She responds that Human and Vulcan genes created the child which proves that both species have more similarities than differences. Paxton nevertheless calls the baby a threat to humankind.
During their, T’Pol notices Paxton’s hand shaking. As he turns to leave, T’Pol quickly scans him. T’Pol says she will not let Paxton hurt her child but he cryptically says he will not have to before leaving.
On Enterprise, Archer has the ship taken on a course toward the comet Burke and toward Mars.
In Enterprise‘s brig, Mayweather visits Gannet Brooks after she has requested to see him. She tells the ensign she has not spoken to her lawyer to which Mayweather tells her she’ll have to speak to Archer but she has been told he’s busy. Brooks tells Mayweather that she does not work for Terra Prime – she’s an agent for Starfleet Intelligence. After opening the brig’s door, he asks why she has not contacted her division head to free her already. She tells him if she had done that, her cover would be blown and the Terra Prime operative would know her true occupation. Mayweather is contacted on his communicator by Reed, informing him they are assembled in the launch bay. Brooks tells Mayweather that she is telling him all of this because he and the assault team are going after Paxton and since there is an operative on board, he could know they are coming. Mayweather sarcastically tells her he’s “touched” by her concern and leaves.
In the launch bay, Archer leaves Ensign Sato in command of the ship. He reminds her of when she first came aboard Enterprise and used to jump when the warp engines hiccupped. She says she still does – she is just now better at hiding it.
Tucker is in Orpheus’ weapons room, doing what Paxton told him to – fix his targeting array. Whilst supervising Tucker and his repairs, Greaves goes into a xenophobic rant about Vulcans and how they refused to assist Earth during World War III and sat back while millions of Humans died. When the Terra Prime operative refers to Tucker and T’Pol’s daughter as some “half-Human thing,” Tucker punches him in the face. While Greaves falls back in pain, Tucker sabotages the targeting system. Greaves kicks Tucker to the ground and calls him “a traitor to humanity.“
On Shuttlepod 1, Archer, Reed, Mayweather, and Dr. Phlox are being rocked around inside. The shuttlepod’s inertial dampers were taken off-line so it would appear to be a chunk of the comet. Reed becomes nauseous and Phlox hands him a bag to throw up in.
After Tucker has been caught sabotaging the weapons, Paxton arrives. He knows Tucker has been trying all along to sabotage the targeting systems, as Paxton has been monitoring his progress the whole time. Paxton tells Tucker that in only two hours, he will fire the beam at Earth but the way the targeting system currently is, he will take out half of San Francisco, along with Starfleet. When Tucker refuses to work on the system further, Paxton states “If you are so eager for a bloodbath, a bloodbath is what you’ll get.” Paxton orders that Tucker be put into the detention center, equipped with a news screen, so Tucker will see the numerous deaths resulting from his actions.
T’Pol holds her child up in her quarters. She tells the baby she is her mother and she will need a name. She scans the child and looks concerned.
Meanwhile, on Shuttlepod 1, Archer reports that the sensors have picked up ionization from the Martian atmosphere. However, there is a sudden, violent jolt. The shuttlepod’s engine has suddenly shut down without warning. Also, Mayweather’s console has locked up and the hull plating is offline. The shuttlepod is spiraling out of control and coming in hot with the comet.
Mayweather bypasses from auto flight control and has switched to manual, despite the speed the shuttlepod is traveling. Mayweather has no choice, as they are out of options. The shuttlepod levels off with five seconds to spare before the comet impacts on Mars’ ice cap. The comet Burke crashes on the surface… and Shuttlepod 1 emerges from the impact, flying away. “Well, that was fun. Can we do it again?“, Reed sarcastically asks.
When Tucker is thrown into his cell, he creates a makeshift tool using pieces from around the room and items on his miner‘s belt. He opens a door panel and notes that it is a mark three interlock and starts to bypass it.
Mayweather pilots the shuttlepod over the Carl Sagan Memorial Station to a ridgeline and lands it there. The four Enterprise crewmen exit the shuttlepod in thermal garments and make their way to Orpheus.
In Paxton’s office, T’Pol is brought in by Josiah. Paxton has been told that the Vulcan has something she wants to say to him but she wants to talk in private. “I keep no secrets from my men,” he says. “You and I both know that’s not true,” she states. Paxton tells Josiah to leave. T’Pol tells Paxton that he will arrange for her daughter to have medical care at once at the Utopia Colony. Paxton wonders what makes her think that she can dictate terms to him. “This,” she says. T’Pol takes his shaking right hand and reveals that she knows he is suffering from Taggart’s Syndrome and is using Rigellian gene therapy to treat it, making him not only a terrorist but a hypocrite.
When Paxton asks what is wrong with her child, T’Pol tells him she is suffering from an elevated white blood cell count and low grade fever. Paxton tells her that her child’s two halves are at war with each other and that conflict was inevitable. He has T’Pol taken away and tells her that both the Coalition and her child were doomed from the beginning.
On Enterprise‘s bridge, Samuels emerges from a turbolift and tells Sato that Paxton’s deadline is up. He believes that Archer and his team have failed in their mission. Sato tells the minister that the array will need two minutes to fully power up. Samuels is incredulous but Sato insists that she will only order to destroy the array if there is no other choice. Samuels gives her an order to destroy the array now. Sato refuses, stating she is following Captain Archer’s orders, not his. Samuels asks to be patched in to Admiral Gardner, but Sato belays that, telling Samuels that they need to maintain radio silence. “You’re risking the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.” “I know what I’m doing,” Sato tells him.
When Archer, Reed, Phlox, and Mayweather finally infiltrate the Orpheus Mining Complex, they find Tucker in a corridor and they team up together to defeat Paxton. They manage to get into the control room. Archer contacts Enterprise and informs a relieved Sato they have made it. Archer orders Tucker to shut down the array. Greaves tries to prevent Tucker from shutting down the array, shooting him. Greaves is also shot and a firefight ensues between Paxton and Archer. A phase-pistol shot from Archer misses and hits the window, causing the viewport to crack and the room begins to depressurize.
Reed is hit by Paxton and is taken out the room by Mayweather and Phlox. While Archer puts his mask on Tucker, Paxton speaks about Henry Archer and tells Captain Archer the reason why he turned his back against Humanity. He says Henry embraced the Vulcan aliens only because he wanted the warp five engine so badly. Paxton tells Archer they should go to the stars taking worlds and taming their civilizations. “The galaxy’s more crowded than we thought,” Archer tells him. After telling Paxton it is over, the window at this point breaks and Paxton is able to arm the weapon, since he used to breathing with low oxygen. The beam fires harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean near the Golden Gate Bridge, and not at San Francisco. This is a result of Tucker’s intervention.
Later, Mayweather finds T’Pol and her daughter. “She’s dying,” T’Pol tells the ensign.
In sickbay, Dr. Phlox is trying to find a cure for the baby, now named Elizabeth (for Tucker’s late sister) by T’Pol. Tucker tells her that his sister would have liked that. Phlox informs Elizabeth’s parents that she is dying due to Human and Vulcan DNA being incompatible. Phlox is trying to stabilize her nucleotides but there has never been a child like her before. “Her name is Elizabeth,” T’Pol tells the Denobulan doctor.
In the launch bay, Reed and Mayweather discover that the Shuttlepod 1 was indeed sabotaged, confirming there is a Terra Prime operative on Enterprise.
After the two initially suspect Commander Kelby of wrongdoing, he reveals that the shuttlepod underwent maintenance by Ensign Masaro. After discovering this, the crew scrambles to protect Nathan Samuels from harm. With the whole ship searching for him, Archer is confronted by the operative in a corridor, revealed to be Masaro. In a corridor, he apologizes to his captain, then puts a phase-pistol to his head and pulls the trigger.
In sickbay, we see T’Pol and Tucker looking at Elizabeth, whilst Phlox is talking to Archer about how he wishes could do more to help. He says that his commission to Enterprise was intended to be no more than a diversion: a way of getting away from the complexities of Denobulan family life. It never occurred to him that he would gain another family aboard Enterprise. He says it’s hurting him as if Elizabeth were his own. As Trip and T’Pol suddenly look away from Elizabeth in anguish, Phlox urges Archer to make something good out of the situation.
In front of the assembled alien delegates, Samuels tells them that in the last week, they have all seen what Humans can be at their worst. However, he insists they cannot and must not use that as an excuse to end a dream that started here in the room. Instead, he wants to properly honor the people who made the conference possible – the crew of Enterprise. Archer steps forward and begins to speak. He talks about how privileged Humans are to now know the question that – up until about 100 years ago – burned in every one of them: are we alone in the universe. Archer believes that the more he’s experienced while exploring in space, that the most profound discoveries are not necessarily beyond the next star. They are within everyone, woven into the fabric that binds them all together to each other. “The final frontier begins in this hall. Let’s explore it together.” Ambassador Soval, who had once opposed Archer’s appointment as captain of Enterprise, stands up and begins to applaud, followed soon by everyone else.
In a corridor on Enterprise, Gannet Brooks, now released, walks with Mayweather. She hears the conference is back on track now, though Mayweather says it will take years to iron out all the details. She tells the ensign that because of him, it will now happen. He tells her he was just doing his job. “So was I,” she says. Upon stopping at the transporter alcove, she asks if that is the fast way down to Earth. Mayweather instead offers to take her down the old fashioned way and they head to the launch bay holding hands.
Later, a tearful Tucker arrives in T’Pol’s quarters, where she is sitting on her bed holding an IDIC pendant. Tucker informs T’Pol that the delegates want to attend Elizabeth’s memorial. Though they are both still mourning their devastating loss, Tucker tells T’Pol that Phlox has determined that Elizabeth’s death was caused by the flawed cloning process and that in the future, a Human and a Vulcan could indeed have a natural child. In an ironic turn for the woman who refused to shake his hand when they first met, T’Pol takes the sobbing Tucker’s hand in hers as they sit together.
Elizabeth: This character was invented to live or die based on whether a fifth season of Star Trek: Enterprise was given the go-ahead or not. While the episode “Terra Prime” was in development, Manny Coto – showrunner for season 4 – had the idea that, if another season was indeed approved, the baby would live, but if the series was canceled, the child would die. The writers hoped the baby would live, as they expected it would make for “a great storyline.” However, the death of Baby Elizabeth echoes the fact that Enterprise was canceled at the end of its fourth season.
The parallel (pun intended) between Terra Prime and the Terran Empire is not lost on me. Is it possible that Terra Prime is the Prime universe equivalent of what the Terran Empire became in the mirror universe?