Jonathan Frakes having a bigger role in Picard season 3 could mean Star Trek is ready to address the issues of Enterprise’s critically panned finale.
With an ideally bigger return coming up for Jonathan Frakes in Star Trek: Picard, the franchise finally has an opportunity to fix the problems with Enterprise’s finale, namely due to William T. Riker’s involvement. The final episode of Star Trek: Enterprise takes a unique route by concluding every character’s story through the narrative perspective of a holoprogram run by Riker. Issues that arose from this non-linear plot haven’t been addressed in Star Trek since the end of Enterprise’s run, so now may be the only opportunity to redeem the show’s reputation.
In order to solve a personal dilemma about the confidential USS Pegasus, First Officer William T. Riker begins a holoprogram in Star Trek: Enterprise’s finale that will allow him to interact with the NX-class Enterprise crew’s final mission preceding the initiation of the United Federation of Planets. Through Riker’s simulation, the audience watches the crew’s resolutions unfold. In a time jump from the second to last episode, T’pol and Trip have separated, Shran has conceived a child with Jhamel, and Captain Archer is chosen to construct the Federation’s commencement speech. The recorded final mission of Archer’s Enterprise ultimately inspires Riker to open up to Captain Picard about the Pegasus. Jonathan Frakes has appeared in the recent Star Trek installment, Picard, and is slated to return with nearly the entire main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation for season 3.
As recently as Strange New Worlds, Enterprise has been remembered either in tribute or with references but the critically panned finale has not yet been addressed. Though Enterprise faced many problems with reception, its finale, in particular, resulted in an outcry of disappointment. Watching the resolutions of Enterprise’s characters through the perspective of Riker, a character uninvolved in their story, for the series finale is disingenuous to the characters and implies the ending the audience sees may not be completely accurate. After all, the holodeck cannot replicate history seamlessly. Focusing on Riker also causes emotional moments like Trip’s death to feel rushed as well as dismissive. Since Jonathan Frakes is returning for Star Trek: Picard season 3, he may have enough screen time to finally expand the lore of Enterprise in a way that redeems its vacant finale. A scene where he mentions the characters of Enterprise and confirms he isn’t the appropriate person to tell that crew’s story might take away from The Next Generation focus the last episode has. Even a throwaway line about holo-simulations and how inaccurate they can be would fix Enterprise’s finale from feeling duplicitous.
Archer T’Pol Enterprise Finale
To further fix the problems the Enterprise finale poses, Picard season 3 could have a cameo from an Enterprise crew member to either correct Riker’s record of their crew’s final mission or at least offer more of a conclusive ending for those characters. The timeline causes a dilemma since the NX-class crew would be long dead by the time period of Picard, however, Scotty from Star Trek: The Original Series appears in TNG due to an anomaly which is a plot device that can easily be replicated. This may be the last time Jonathan Frakes appears in Star Trek so the franchise should use this opportunity to redefine the ending of Enterprise in a decisive manner considering Riker’s major involvement in why it comes across as convoluted.
Enterprise is an underrated installment in the franchise because of its lost potential, a crew of distinctive characters, and foundational concept. The finale crushed an opportunity to solidify its powerful legacy, making a final shot at redemption needed. Star Trek: Picard season 3 finally has a chance to fix Enterprise’s finale issues by having either Jonathan Frakes’ Riker or a returning character clarify the reality of the show’s conclusion.