One of the livelier panels at the 55-Year Mission Star Trek convention in Las Vegas was with members of the cast of Star Trek: Enterprise. On hand were Anthony Montgomery (Travis Mayweather), Connor Trinneer (Charles ‘Trip” Tucker III), Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed), and John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox). They were quick to point out to the crowd that unlike dozens of other celebrities, “We didn’t cancel!” Setting the tone, Billingsley added, “Actually, technically speaking, I am a clone of John Billingsley. He sends his love.“
The panel covered what the actors were up to, favorite pandemic reads and streaming binges, and other light banter, but there was also some pointed discussion about their time in the 22nd century aboard the NX-01—especially about how it all ended and where it could have gone.
Season 5 hopes: Alive, and sex for Phlox
Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled in its fourth season. When asked if the actors had any knowledge of potential plans for what would have been the fifth season of the show, they generally agreed they had not been briefed on any details, and Dominic Keating suggested that the writers only planned “three or four episodes ahead.” But Anthony Montgomery did say he heard that Manny Coto—who’d joined the series in season three and was elevated to showrunner for season four—did have some thoughts:
When Manny Coto came in and what he did with season four… those two or three episode-arcs that you guys saw on the fourth season, that so many of you have come up and told us that you’ve loved. They said Manny was going to take us back to the Mirror Universe and that they had a lot of fun things in store.
John Billingsley chimed in with a bit of realism:
I had heard, though, that they did have some plans, and that did include going back [to the Mirror Universe]. I don’t think there was anybody in the upper echelon suites that entertained any realistic notion that we were going to come back. So I am not sure how fleshed out those plans were.
The actors differed in their hopes for the characters if the show got another season, although Trinner’s suggestion for Trip was pretty simple: “Un-dead… You all know I died, right?”
Billingsley’s season five goal for Dr. Phlox was also straightforward:
I would have wanted to have some sex. Anytime I ever got a little whiff of sex, it didn’t work out. Either my wife is throwing herself at Connor or something goes wrong. Everybody else, by the time the fourth season ended, I believe, had a little bit of sex.
As for Anthony Montgomery, he was just desperate for anything. At one point the actor said, “Did you see Travis? I can only do this so much [mimics control panel movements].” If there had been another season, he just wanted to explore Travis:
I would have liked to have learned more about my character. You guys saw Enterprise, our series became like The Original Series. It was about the captain, the engineer, and the Vulcan. So I was excited when we did “Horizon” and we got to learn about Travis. I wanted to see more about his family. That would have been fun.
Differing views on Enterprise’s Mirror Universe… and evil Phlox sex
Season four included a two-episode arc set in the Mirror Universe. When asked what their hopes were had there been a return to the Mirror Universe in season five, Billingsley was quick to respond:
I would like to have seen him have more sex! His sex would have perhaps been more evil sex, but I still would basically want the same thing.
Connor Trinner made it clear he did not like season four’s “In A Mirror, Darkly” episodes and would not have welcomed a return, saying ” I don’t like playing a pirate.” The actor revealed that his over-the-top portrayal of Mirror Trip was due to a lack of direction and that he was actually “kidding,” but the director actually liked it, much to his chagrin.
Billingsley had a different point of view on Mirror Phlox:
I like those episodes because I got to be jolly. I was the jolly vivisector… Both characters [Prime and Mirror] were buoyant. That was my through-line. No matter what fucking universe I am in, I’m happy. No matter what I’m doing.
Montgomery again was just hoping for something more about his character, even the Mirror version:
I was told that we were going to go back to the Mirror Universe. There was going to be Empress Sato and even though my character was the silent, strong type, I was curious to see where he was going to go. It was fun playing a bad guy.
On series finale: Scott Bakula was our captain!… also more Phlox sex
Enterprise ended its finale season with the episode “These Are the Voyages,” which did double duty as a coda to the entire Berman era of Star Trek that began with Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987. In so doing, the finale included elements of TNG including an Enterprise-D holodeck and the characters of Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Troi (Marina Sirtis). When asked about this finale, the usually even-keeled Anthony Montgomery was uncharacteristically critical:
I love Jonathan [Frakes] and Marina [Sirtis]. They are wonderful people, but Scott Bakula is my captain… Archer. I would not have had them come on, because I didn’t even know that we were a part of the holodeck until I read those episodes. And it just made me go, “Wait, so those other 96 episodes never really happened?”
He also felt the series finale should have been longer:
Give us two hours, like for the pilot. Give us a two-hour finale. That way we could have tied up a lot of things.
John Billingsley agreed on that point:
I do think we were all somewhat disappointed that the show didn’t have a multi-episode conclusion. It’s awfully hard to try and conclude a series in a single 15-minute segment, regardless of whether you like the framing device of Riker and Troi. I think the bigger question was, it just needed a bigger canvas. So I personally would have said to give it a three-episode out.
As for what he would have done for Phlox if he were recreating the finale, Billingsley remained on point:
Phlox would have had sex! I can tell you that!
While joking again about dying in the finale, Connor Trinneer said as an actor he found the work over four years gratifying. “They gave me so much to do and they fleshed out my character so well.” Regarding the finale in particular, he also took a different view from the others:
I was really satisfied with it, and I will tell you why. Trip was the only character on the show that got to complete the arc. You didn’t have to wonder what happened to him. And so that was satisfying, as the actor. It would have been nice to know what wound up happening to him had he not saved the ship. But, I’ve got no problem with it.
Billingsley had this to add about Trip’s death in the finale:
The one thing that bugged me wasn’t so much whether Connor died, that was fine, but the fact that he died foiling a second-rate jewel robbery seemed fairly pedestrian. It’s like save the universe at least!
Billingsley embraced the weird… also has Phlox spin-off pitch (actually not about sex)
When asked how much he was able to influence the character of Phlox, John Billingsley said he thought the writers did start picking up on his style, but they could have gone even farther:
This will be me being serious for once in my life. When an actor gets a part, you are bound by the words on the page. What you feel like you are doing is encouraging the writers to write into who you are as a person. So I think what happened is that they appreciated a particular aspect of my sense of humor, and kind of wrote into it. And I think that manifested itself. I did say to them, “Hey, as far as I’m concerned, I’d love to never give anybody a hypospray. I always want to put a bug up their ass.” They did not go as far as I would have liked… But I think we all could probably feel that we brought something of ourselves. And that encouraged them to write in certain directions.
At another point during the panel when they were all were talking about how much they liked getting episodes focused on their characters, Billingsley noted that these days he has a different idea:
That said, as you get older… At the age of 61, my idea for the spin-off is old, fat Phlox. Old, fat Phlox just sits in a rocking chair and tell stories about what happened in the past. And then young actors act them out. And I still get a healthy paycheck, but I only work half a day. [sings opening tune] ‘Old, fat Phlox he’s a-sittin’ on a box in the junction – Denobulan Junction.’
More from Vegas
We still have some more from the con, so stay tuned to TrekMovie for updates. And don’t forget to check out the coverage we’ve already posted.