(written from a Production point of view)
Archer and the crew try to discover why a 19th century-era Human settlement has been placed in the middle of the Expanse.
A group of men on horseback take another man and lynch him. They refer to the hanged man as a "Skag". They shoot their guns in the air and ride off.
While searching for the Xindi in the Delphic Expanse in 2153, Enterprise NX-01 discovers a planet inexplicably inhabited by Humans in a setting that resembles the late-nineteenth-century American West. Wearing period dress, members of the Enterprise crew visit the planet surface and learn that the Humans are descended from Americans abducted from Earth in approximately the 1860s by a species called the Skagarans who, after bringing them to this planet, used them as slave labor. T'Pol, Tucker, and Archer scout out the town to find useful information. Reed, back on Enterprise, informs the captain that there is a smaller town filled with aliens only ten kilometers away. Archer tells T'Pol and Tucker to go to the town and find out what they can, while he heads off to a local bar. Tucker and T'Pol go off to find the town, but Tucker thinks getting a horse first will speed up the journey. Tucker finds a horse dealer and offers him his gun (a relic from the nineteenth century period) as collateral, along with his harmonica for the use of a horse for a few hours. T'Pol asks Tucker about his experience handling the creature and Tucker says he has seen every John Ford western.
While at the bar, Archer finds out that a man called Cooper Smith (who the bartender proudly claims as an ancestor) was the man who liberated the Humans from the Skagaran. He meets the deputy sheriff Bennings and stops him from harassing a Skag, Draysik, who also was his waiter. When the sheriff comes in to see what the trouble was, the deputy informs him that Archer butted into a conversation he was having with the waiter. The sheriff, MacReady, asks what Archer's business is in town, and tells him it is too hot for coffee, a drink he got free from the bar. Archer says he is passing through on his way down south, to meet his brother who was herding bluehorn. Once Archer leaves the bar, the sheriff tells his deputy to "keep an eye" on Archer.
Archer goes to the house of a teacher who he saw earlier in the day, standing next to a dead Skag in a coffin. After a short conversation with the teacher, asking him why he barged into her home, he says he would like to know more about the Skagarans. She replies that everyone knows about the Skagarans. Archer says in response that up north quite a ways, where he lives, there are none. He goes on to say that his actions in the bar were because he doesn't think that the Skagaran life is any less valuable than his. The teacher asks Archer if he would like to meet more of them and, when Archer nods his head in agreement, they go off in a carriage to Skag town. On the way the deputy and some men come out of an alley way and watch the pair leave.
When the teacher and Archer arrive at the town, the teacher quickly informs the Skagarans that Archer is not a threat. While Archer walks through some metal archways, apparently the remnants of a ship, he spots T'Pol and Tucker. He calls the teacher, Bethany, over and introduces them. Bethany leaves to lead a lesson in the Skagaran language, but not before inviting Archer to stay for it. He intends to learn what he can about them firsthand, so he accepts, and sends T'Pol and Tucker back to the ship to get more information. They had found some data logs retrieved from the wreckage. Tucker is concerned about Archer staying, but he responds he "doesn't want to miss [his] first day of school." Bethany starts to teach six Skagaran children, among them Yral and Kret, multiplication tables. She says next week they will start long division. Bethany then invites the children to start telling Archer about their history. One of them is able to finish saying that their ancestors abducted the Humans for forced labor when the deputy, Bennings, and some men, Nash and Franklin, then come out from the shadows to arrest Bethany. She tells the kids to run home, since she knows what will happen. She states that no one is hurt, and Archer notes that Bennings could bend the law (like he said earlier in the bar to the Skagaran waiter), but Bennings is clear he doesn't care. He has her arrested. Archer intervenes when it seems she is hurt, but Bennings comes up behind him, knocks him down, and arrests him, too.
While in jail, Bethany tends to Archer's head wound and tells him more of the story. Shortly after the Humans' arrival, they had revolted against their Skagaran oppressors, led by Cooper. The aliens were overthrown, however, Bethany described Cooper as ruthless, not only killing the oppressors but whole families. Cooper further created laws as a further means of keeping the Skagarans – or "Skags," as they were disparagingly referred to – subjugated. The liberated Humans had made it illegal to teach successive generations of the aliens to read, write, or even marry.
The sheriff then calls Archer to his office. Offering some Skagaran whiskey, he challenges Archer on his actions and appeals to him, saying the laws are necessary to keep the Humans free. He gives Archer an hour to leave town, however, Archer also learns Bethany will receive a minimum ten-year prison sentence. Feeling responsible, Archer quietly accepts the deal and leaves, but then goes to help Bethany escape from jail, subduing Bennings in the process. The sheriff finds him and they both get ready to hunt the two. Archer takes her away by horse, but, during the effort, Bethany is shot and seriously wounded by Bennings. With Bethany incapacitated and facing the deputy's gun himself, Archer is forced to beam himself and Bethany up to the ship in full sight of the locals.
On board the ship, Dr. Phlox treats Bethany's injuries while T'Pol expresses her concerns about Archer's public transport. Phlox believes Bethany will survive, however, he also found that she is one-quarter Skagaran. Archer goes off to talk with his senior staff next, where the Skagaran logs, are discussed. They've been translated and confirm Bethany's story. The crew finds out more about how the Humans were abducted from America's rocky desert regions because they were best adapted to the new planet's identical environment. Archer decides that the planet's inhabitants deserve to know that Earth has not abandoned them and decides to make themselves known.
Meanwhile, on the planet, Bennings has a debate with the sheriff about the recent event. He is convinced that Archer, although evidently Human, is a Skagaran sympathizer, and recalls stories of the Skagarans' ability to disappear into thin air. The sheriff, however, gives him the benefit of the doubt and isn't yet convinced he's "working with them." Bennings, convinced there's an uprising about to occur, wants to kill all the Skagarans once and for all. He then questions the sheriff's handling of the Skags altogether. When the sheriff insists they are not going to murder, but uphold the law, Bennings hands in his badge and walks out the door.
Later, Archer leads T'Pol and a security team to the planet in a shuttlepod, in full view of the town. Wearing their twenty-second century uniforms, Archer exits the shuttle and approaches the sheriff, with MACOs guarding the group. In private, Archer explains to MacReady that he is from Earth, which MacReady had almost come to believe was a mythical place. Archer informs the sheriff that unfortunately the Enterprise isn't equipped to take the entire colony of 6,000 Humans to Earth but promises to send help later. Archer also informs the sheriff that Humans have evolved past bigotry and the subjugation of other sentient species. His people will have to let go of that if they want to live normal lives on Earth. Archer and the sheriff leave the building and go to the shuttlepod. Once there, Archer introduces MacReady to his first officer T'Pol. As Archer says that they were going to take MacReady up to Enterprise, former deputy Bennings shoots MacReady and demands they drop their weapons.
Archer tells Bennings he is from Earth and asks to let him prove it. However, one of the other men decide to provoke a shot from Reed. The firefight starts, dropping a few of the Humans while T'Pol and Archer drag MacReady to safety. Kelly, Money and Woods stun several of the Humans. Archer advances to take out a couple others, but is shot by Bennings, who has hid behind the building. Bennings pursues Archer to the stable, who then jumps on him from behind and they fight. He ultimately subdues him, despite having temporarily lost the use of one arm due to his injury.
Meanwhile, T'Pol is captured by one of Bennings' men who came from behind. Bennings' man tells Reed that he will kill her if Reed does not put his gun down, but Reed simply stuns T'Pol with his phase-pistol, confusing him, and then turns to T'Pol's captor and shoots him, too.
The shuttlepod departs the planet and returns to Enterprise. Once on Enterprise, Archer talks to Bethany. She laments that the colony's Humans must appear to be barbaric by Earth's standards, but he reassures her that such progress did not occur overnight and the colony will be able to change before ships come to rescue them. Once Bethany returns to the surface, Enterprise leaves orbit, leaving behind a more enlightened community and some historical materials. Bethany, now openly, begins teaching catch-up history to a classroom of students, Skagarans, Humans, and Sheriff MacReady about Orville and Wilbur Wright's first powered flight, which had taken place forty years after her Human ancestors had left Earth.
"Do you have any experience riding these animals?"
"I've seen every John Ford western."
- - T'Pol and Tucker, just before T'Pol climbed up on Tucker's horse
"Let's raise a glass to the dearly departed. To dead Skags."
- - Bennings, making a toast
"Excuse me. Do you think I could get some more coffee before you shoot him?"
- - Archer, to Draysik after Bennings asks him to shoot him with a gun
"I saw you this morning at the undertaker's. What's your business here?"
"Just passing through town."
- - MacReady and Archer
"It's a little hot for coffee today, don't you think?"
"… Maybe you're right."
- - MacReady and Archer
"You must think we're barbaric. All the things Humanity's accomplished – building ships like this, traveling to other worlds – and we're still down there shooting each other."
"The progress on Earth, it didn't happen overnight."
- - Bethany and Archer, staring out a window of Enterprise
- The writing of this episode began with influences from several installments of Star Trek: The Original Series. "North Star" writer David A. Goodman recalled, "I was the one who pitched the idea to [Executive Producers] Rick [Berman] and Brannon [Braga] […] In fact, this episode came from Brannon challenging me to come up with a 'parallel Earth' story like they had on TOS, but one that would fit Enterprise. My favorites of those TOS ones were 'A Piece of the Action', and 'Patterns of Force', since they didn't rely on impossible to explain things like 'Hodgkins Law of Parallel Planet Development.' So it was really inspired by those episodes […] For those who say 'why do a concept like this again?' I can only say that I tried to use an old concept to say something new, or at least relevant. I hope it comes through."
- David A. Goodman originally planned for this episode to be set during Medieval times. Remembered Brannon Braga, "I think I was the one who said, 'Make it the Old West, but with aliens in the midst.'" David A. Goodman continued to develop the episode from there. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 151, p. 30)
- Getting the tone of this episode right was important to the ENT writing staff. "We really wanted to make sure that it didn't play like TNG's 'A Fistful of Datas', which was a farce," Brannon Braga recalled. "We wanted to do it more like The Unforgiven, something that was more gritty and realistic." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 151, p. 30)
- David A. Goodman decided to take some character names in this outing from other filmed Westerns. "Since it's a Western setting," he commented, "I paid homage to 'Spectre of the Gun' by naming one of the aliens Cronin. Kit was not named after 'Miss Kitty' on Gunsmoke, but was named after Olivia DeHavilland's character in one of my favorite guilty pleasure westerns Santa Fe Trail."
- David A. Goodman enjoyed writing this ENT installment. "It was fun to get to write the one cowboy-planet episode of the sequel series," he recalled. 
- The final draft of this episode's script was issued on 19 September 2003.
- Exteriors of the town were shot primarily at Western Town, Universal Studios in Universal City, California.
- A swipe-edit between a shot of Archer and Bethany leaving the jail, just after Bethany's jailbreak, and the immediately subsequent shot, in which Sheriff MacReady enters the jail, was a highly unusual editing choice for Star Trek: Enterprise.
- Like the Star Trek: Voyager episode "The 37's", the premise of this episode involves the discovery of a colony inhabited by Humans who were abducted by aliens. Also, like previous installments "Spectre of the Gun" from Star Trek: The Original Series and the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "A Fistful of Datas", this episode takes place in a Western-themed setting.
- The scene in which Archer is showing Bethany her planet from space recalls the actions of Jean-Luc Picard, who did the same for Rivan in "Justice", Nuria in "Who Watches The Watchers", and Lily Sloane in Star Trek: First Contact. In all of these cases, in order to prove a point, the captain of the Enterprise shows a female native of a pre-warp culture her own planet from space.
- Chronologically, this is the first time that a Starfleet officer asks for transport while specifying how many to beam up.
- Archer's claim that Humans had gone past intolerance and racism seems to have been premature, as the fourth season episodes "Home", "Demons" and "Terra Prime" show Humans on Earth can be just as racist and intolerant.
- The title "North Star" may have been a reference to the celestial signpost for slaves seeking to escape their condition in the antebellum south in the United States.
- This episode has inspired mixed responses. David A. Goodman said of the outing, "[It] has its fans and its detractors." 
- Brannon Braga was definitely a fan of the episode, remarking, "[David A. Goodman] […] really did a great job with it […] And it had a poignant little metaphor for the Native American Indians, in this case being the aliens. It did feel like an original series episode, and I thought it really came across well." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 151, p. 30)
- Despite some fans accusing this episode of being too similar to sci-fi Western TV series Firefly, David A. Goodman responded, "Although I was a fan of Firefly, […] I did not set out to rip it off."
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed
- Anthony Montgomery as Travis Mayweather
- Linda Park as Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Charles "Trip" Tucker III
- Paul Rae as Bartender
- Steven Klein as Draysik
- Gary Bristow as Stablehand
- Alexandria M. Salling as Skagaran Girl
- Jon Baron as Skagaran Boy
- Vince Deadrick, Jr. as North Star inhabitant
- Kevin Derr as Kelly
- Thomas DuPont as cowboy
- Jeffrey Eith as Nash
- Ricky Lomax as W. Woods
- Aouri Makhlouf as science division crewman
- Cliff McLaughlin as Franklin
- Robert Sidney Mellette as Henry
- David Moore as Human boy
- Dorenda Moore as S. Money
- Cesar Rodriguez as science division lieutenant
- Paul Townsend as cowboy
- Mike Watson as Skagaran
- Unknown performers as
- Vince Deadrick, Jr. as stunt double for Scott Bakula
- Unknown stunt performers as
2149; airplane; alien abduction; ancestry; Ancient West; apothecary; apothecary (shop); Archer's fictional brother; arithmetic; barber; bartender; Assenede; bluehorn; buffalo; butcher; casket/"box"; cemetery; checkers; coffee; collateral; cowboy; crime; cup; data module; dentistry; deputy; DNA; Earth; feather; Ford, John; grandmother; harmonica; heat exhaustion; horse; Human; Human history; interspecies reproduction; liquor; local ordinance; long division; lynching; MACO; maternal; mathematics; mile; multiplication table; New York; North Star; north; northwest; Ohio; Pacific Ocean; parlor trick; particle rifle; piano; prejudice; projectile weapon; quantum scan; ranch; reading; recessive gene; revolver; rot-gut; San Francisco; shave; sheriff; shuttlepod; Skagaran; Skagaran colony; Skagaran language; Skagaran starship; Skagaran whiskey; Skag town; slate; slavery; smoking; sober; spittoon; Smith, Cooper; stablehand; Stanton, Clay; stick up; sun viper; teacher; toast; tooth extraction; Undertaker; United States dollar; Van Hoorebeke; Vulcan; western; Wright, Orville; Wright, Wilbur; Xindi incident
- A group of Humans are kidnapped from Earth by Skagarans who intend to use them as slave workers.
- The Wright brothers accomplish their first flight.
- Enterprise NX-01 finds the failed Skagaran colony.
- "North Star (episode)" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "North Star" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "North Star" at Wikipedia
|Star Trek: Enterprise