John Frederick Paxton was a Human who served as chief administrator of the Orpheus Mining colony on Luna. Paxton also led the xenophobic movement Terra Prime, a radical faction that advocated to expel all non-Humans from Earth and the rest of the Sol system.
Paxton was a follower of Colonel Green, whose theories on the purity of the Human race formed the basis for Terra Prime's ideology. Ironically, Paxton's own health benefited from alien technology: he used Rigellian gene therapy because he suffered from Taggart's Syndrome. Nonetheless, Paxton found himself driven to follow the ideals laid down by Colonel Green. Despite claiming that Terra Prime was "dedicated to the protection of life in all its diversity", he was not beyond murdering people who stood in his way, even those of his own species.
Creating a clone
Paxton ordered the creation of a binary clone, a Human-Vulcan hybrid, using DNA from Commanders Charles Tucker III and T'Pol, two crew members of the Starfleet vessel Enterprise NX-01. Paxton used the resulting infant to justify his actions, presenting the child to Earth as "proof" that an alliance between different species would result in the pollution of the Human genome and the eventual extinction of Humankind as a result of generations of cross-breeding.
When one of his medical technicians, Susan Khouri, opted out of Terra Prime to alert Starfleet of his intentions, Paxton had her killed. Although Khouri ultimately died from a phase-pistol wound, she managed to deliver a sample of the cloned baby's hair to T'Pol before she died. Paxton later sent his personal assistant, Daniel Greaves, to kill Mercer, another medical technician whom Paxton felt was becoming too attached to the baby.
Conflict with Starfleet
When Tucker and T'Pol arrived on the Orpheus Mining colony to investigate, Paxton captured the two officers. He then used the mining colony itself (which was a fully functional warp-capable spacecraft) to take over the verteron array, a comet directional facility on Mars. Paxton planned to use the array to threaten Earth into giving into his demands: either all aliens leave the Sol system immediately, or Paxton would use the array to destroy Starfleet Command, whom he saw as responsible for Humanity's attempts to form an interstellar alliance.
With the verteron array under his control and with an army of loyal followers like Josiah at his side, Paxton forced Tucker to work on refining the array's targeting system. T'Pol ultimately discovered Paxton's illness and attempted to use it as leverage to obtain medical care for Elizabeth, who had acquired a fever as well as a heightened white blood cell count. Paxton, however, scoffed at her demands, citing that his loyal followers would never believe the word of an alien over his own.
Captain Jonathan Archer, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, Dr. Phlox, and Ensign Travis Mayweather later succeeded in reaching the surface of Mars by bypassing the sensory grid behind a comet. Once they arrived at the facility, they attempted to stop Paxton before he fired the array at Starfleet Command.
Paxton began to taunt Captain Archer, claiming that his father, Henry Archer, had been a pet Human of the Vulcans. Archer, not provoked by Paxton's insults, tried shutting down the array. Paxton went on talking about his own father's achievements of turning a moon from a colony to an independent world. During a firefight, Paxton's room decompressed; however, Paxton himself was not affected, due to his experience of being in areas of low oxygen. He continued his attempts to fire on Earth. However, because of Tucker, the array misfired into San Francisco Bay, saving Starfleet Command. Paxton was eventually taken into custody.
Paxton's actions had lasting consequences. T'Pol and Tucker lost their child because of a flaw in Paxton's scientists' genetic techniques with Tucker's and T'Pol's DNA. And, in a way, Paxton's name probably would be significant, as his actions led to a better understanding of Humankind's fear of the unknown. This allowed the attempted coalition to revive and eventually to become the United Federation of Planets. (ENT: "Demons", "Terra Prime")
Paxton was played by Peter Weller. With Star Trek: Enterprise third- and fourth-season Executive Producer Manny Coto having previously collaborated with Weller on the science fiction television series Odyssey 5 (which was created by Coto and starred Weller), Coto created the role especially with Weller in mind. (Star Trek Magazine issue 122, p. 34)
In the final draft script of "Demons", Paxton was described as being in his "50's" as of 2155. The script also remarked about him, "Paxton is a steely, intimidating man – used to getting what he wants."
Since Peter Weller was neither a fan of Star Trek nor of science fiction in general, Manny Coto had to convince Weller into agreeing to play Paxton. "He said to me, 'I want to write this thing for you. Would you come on Star Trek: Enterprise and do this?'" Weller recalled. (Star Trek Magazine issue 122, p. 34) Coto also tried to persuade him to appear by telling him that, if he portrayed the character, he would be "immortalized." Referring to Coto indirectly, Weller noted, "He browbeat me and browbeat me into coming onto Enterprise and guest-starring on a couple of episodes."
As Weller was a budding director, Coto finally managed to coerce him into accepting the part of Paxton by arranging for him to direct an episode or two of the series' apparently forthcoming fifth season, a plan that was thereafter scuppered by the cancellation of the series. Weller nonetheless valued the invitation to appear as Paxton, for a multitude of reasons. (Star Trek Magazine issue 122, pp. 32 & 34) He continued, "When [Coto] finally told me they were going to be the last two [episodes] on planet E, I said I might as well put my feet in the cement of immortality and go to the Paramount lot and shoot the [next-to-the-] last two episodes ever of Enterprise."
Stepping into such an unsavory role as Paxton presented no problem for Weller, who viewed the character objectively. Star Trek Magazine issue 122, pp. 34 & 35) In fact, Weller considered Paxton's extreme isolationism as unfortunately being of contemporary relevance, saying, "It kind of rings of some people walking around on this planet today.""[He's] a misunderstood moralist," Weller commented. "You can make your own qualitative assessments, but I never look at anybody as a villain." Despite this, Weller also recognized that Paxton is a racist, mentally substituting this ideological element within himself in order to play the role. "I made a substitution, sure," he related. "You know, there are things I want shaped up. I don't like people coming into this club in tank tops – it's inelegant, I don't want them here. So there's an easy substitution right there. Everybody has their parameters of what's acceptable." (
Weller's portrayal of Paxton was somewhat restricted, regarding decisions about his movements. "I had some ideas and stuff that we worked in. But I was, you know, one of the gears in the machine, so I went where they wanted me to go," explained Weller, "and there wasn't a lot of room to physically invent because of the size of the sets and so forth. But within the scope of what they gave me, I got to play." This extent of freedom included a fair amount of input on his dialogue. "That's thanks to Manny. Because he wrote it," Weller clarified. "I would just get him on the phone and say, 'What if I say this instead of that?' And Manny was very amenable to me restructuring sentence syntaxes, anyway." (Star Trek Magazine issue 122, p. 36)
Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who co-wrote the story for the episode "Terra Prime" with André Bormanis and co-wrote that episode's script with Manny Coto, originally wanted to have Paxton ultimately die. Garfield Reeves-Stevens later joked that their reasoning for wanting the character to end up dead was "because we're bloodthirsty." Coto vetoed this idea, though. "[He] thought, 'No, no; he'll be fine, and keep him there as a threat,'" noted Garfield Reeves-Stevens. ("Terra Prime" audio commentary, ENT Season 4 DVD special features)
Paxton's line about studying to be an historian is a tip-of-the-hat to Peter Weller, who not only is known for his acting and directing but also is a history professor at Syracuse University and has appeared in several documentaries on the History Channel.
Visible on Paxton's desk is the oscillation overthruster, a device pivotal to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a favorite movie of Star Trek producers and effects creators, in which Weller played the title role. Weller went on to play Admiral Alexander Marcus in the 2013 film Star Trek Into Darkness, continuing his association with Star Trek.
The Pocket Star Trek: Enterprise relaunch novel The Good That Men Do established Paxton as still enduring imprisonment as of 5 March 2155, though the next Enterprise novel, Kobayashi Maru, referred to him as having died by 26 May 2155.
The Myriad Universes story A Less Perfect Union (published in the anthology Infinity's Prism) involved an alternate timeline in which Paxton managed to destroy Starfleet Command, which led to an increase in isolationism on Earth that lasted into the mid-23rd century.
Another man named Paxton featured in the short story "Age of the Empress". A researcher in the field of genetic engineering, Mr. Paxton was apparently John Frederick Paxton's counterpart in the mirror universe, although no first name was given for the character. His research proved highly useful to Dr. Arik Soong in creating a binary clone of Empress Sato I and General Thy'lek Shran in 2155.