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Time Agent Provocateur: The Greatest Hits of Crewman Daniels

The man with a plan to save all the entire timeline is back. Or maybe he never left?

This article contains story details and plot points for Star Trek: Discovery's series finale, "Life, Itself."

Stylized and filtered image of Crewman Daniels

As much as serious Star Trek fans might worry about keeping the intricacies of the various chronologies well-ordered in our brains, there are characters within Star Trek striving to do the exact same thing. While Trek has given us our fair share of time agents — from Gary Seven in The Original Series, to Captain Braxton in Voyager, and even recently, La'An Noonien-Singh in Strange New Worlds — there is another, undercover temporally-concerned individual who had a big impact on all of Star Trek. We're talking about Agent Daniels, who first appeared in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Cold Front," way back in 2001.

And now, sneakily, Agent Daniels is back. When Captain Michael Burnham completes her mission in the Discovery series finale, "Life, Itself," she decides it's time to get some answers from the mysterious Kovich, as played cryptically, and charmingly by legendary director David Cronenberg, starting with Discovery's third season. When Burnham deduces that Kovich is a "codename," she reintroduces herself, which prompts Kovich to reveal that his real name, yes, is Daniels, and that he'd served on the Enterprise and "other places."

Kovich sits at his desk, in front of his shelf of trinkets across time, with his hands folded in 'Life, Itself'

"Life, Itself"

But just how many "other places" has Kovich/Daniels really been? While we may not know the full breadth of the timey-wimey adventures of Daniels, we are aware of his greatest hits to date. Here are the essential Daniels moments, all of which have kept the Star Trek timeline intact. Mostly.  

Daniels Saves the Day… and Then Dies?

Daniels takes Archer into a Temporal Observatory to discuss the events of the Temporal Cold War in 'Cold Front'

"Cold Front"

From the very start of Enterprise, Captain Archer had hints that the villainous Suliban were just one part of a paradoxical Temporal Cold War. But, it wasn't until Episode 11, "Cold Front," that we learned that there were some future-tense allies in this conflict. When Silik sneaks aboard the Enterprise, Daniels reveals himself to Archer as being an agent from the 31st Century, sent back in time to prevent enemy forces from messing with the 22nd Century. Although this is the first appearance of Daniels in any Star Trek episode, ever, Matt Winston's performance convinces us that he's sort of been there all along; an innocuous crewmember that Archer might not notice.

And so, when Daniels reveals to his captain that he has a lot more information about the larger conflict, a seemingly meek character is transformed into a formidable one. That said, Daniels does get zapped, seemingly, to death in this episode, which makes his ability to keep popping up all the more interesting.

Daniels Takes Archer Back to the Beginning

Daniels sits down in a chair in Archer's apartment on Earth with his hands, palms facing each other, stretched out in front of him as he looks up at Archer in 'Shockwave, Part I'

"Shockwave, Part I"

In the Enterprise Season 1 finale, "Shockwave, Part I," the crew, briefly, believe they are responsible for destroying an entire colony due to a random shuttle plasma accident. This disaster threatens to shut down the entire mission of the NX-01, and Archer, Trip, and everyone involved are understandably depressed. But, just as Archer climbs into bed to cuddle with his dog and feel sorry for himself, he wakes up in his old apartment on Earth, 10 months prior, and exactly one day before his mission began.

As Archer walks around shirtless, trying to figure out what’s going on, Daniels appears, explaining to Archer that nothing about the disaster on Paraagan II was his fault. Turns out, the Temporal Cold War is heating up, and somebody is trying to change the past to frame Starfleet and Enterprise. Daniels is here to help Archer set the record straight. Though, strangely, he doesn't offer to help Archer find his shirt.

Daniels Recruits Archer and T'Pol

Close-up of Temporal Agent Daniels who approaches Archer with a mission in the galley in 'Carpenter Street'

"Carpenter Street"

Throughout Enterprise, we learn that Daniels is from the 31st Century, and that his organization deals with a lot of complex rules. He alludes to the "temporal accords," from time to time, which is something his future self, Kovich, has mentioned on Discovery, too. But, in the third-season episode, "Carpenter Street," Daniels can't get involved with the timeline changes directly, and so, he recruits Archer to do some time travel dirty work for him.

In this gritty time travel episode, T'Pol and Archer have to go back to Chicago in the year 2004, and prevent Xindi from using human blood to create a biological weapon in the future. With Daniels as their temporary boss, "Carpenter Street" remains the closest thing a Star Trek episode has done that feels like The Terminator — a shadowy battle in the present to prevent a worse future.

But, in addition to the new revelation that Kovich and Daniels are one in the same, "Carpenter Street" has also influenced contemporary Star Trek shows in other ways. In Picard Season 2, La Sirena's mission to fix the timeline is similar in tone and style to "Carpenter Street," even if the specifics differ. And, in the Strange New Worlds Season 2 episode, "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow," La’An is recruited to fix the timeline in a way that's not entirely dissimilar to what Daniels does with Archer and T'Pol.

A Glimpse at the Enterprise-J

Archer finds himself on U.S.S. Enterprise-J with Daniels watching a battle being fought on the viewscreen in 'Azati Prime'

"Azati Prime"

In the Season 3 episode, "Azati Prime," Daniels once again whisks Archer to a different time period, but this time, to prove a point. In this episode, Daniels wants to convince Archer that figuring out some kind of truce with the Xindi is likely the best route to victory. Why? Well, turns out in the 26th Century, the Xindi are members of the Federation, and some of them even serve in Starfleet.

To make this point very clear, Daniels brings Archer to the deck of the Enterprise-J, a 26th Century incarnation of the beloved ship, that plays a huge part in the Battle of Procyon V. But, If Archer doesn't make nice with the Xindi in the 22nd Century, then the Enterprise-J can't do its thing in the 26th. While this one-and-only glimpse of the Enterprise-J was a wonderful Easter egg for fans when the episode aired in 2004, it also connects to the recent Kovich reveal on Discovery.

In "Life, Itself," when Kovich says he served on the U.S.S. Enterprise, he could have been referring to the Enterprise-J, since the NX-01 Enterprise wasn't initially given the prefix of "U.S.S." Then again, if Kovich survived dying in the 22nd Century, lived in the 31st Century, and settled into the 32nd Century as "Dr. Kovich," then who knows — maybe there are several other Enterprise he's lived on.

Kovich Explains the Multiverse

In the Ready Room, surrounding a projection above a large table, Admiral Vance, Burnham, Culber, and Kovich all look towards Saru in 'Terra Firma, Part 1'

"Terra Firma, Part 1"

Now that we know that Kovich is Daniels, so much of what he's done — and elucidated — on Discovery makes a lot more sense. In Enterprise, we were made aware that time travel was common in the 31st Century. But, in Discovery, in the 32nd Century, time travel has been outlawed, by the "Temporal Accords." Surely Daniels was behind making this happen, since he probably got sick of all the time paradoxes earlier in his career, which constantly required him to grab Captain Archer in the middle of the night.

In the Discovery Season 3 episode "Terra Firma, Part 1," Kovich says to Dr. Culber, "Consider yourself lucky to have skipped the Temporal Wars. Amongst the many horrible things we discovered when weaponizing time — temporal travel can make you pretty sick."

What this ends up meaning is that some time travel within the same reality is okay, but if you time travel and cross parallel dimensions, like Georgoiu did, the results can be fatal. Because we now know that Kovich was Daniels all along, it makes sense that he would have all sorts of knowledge that spanned the era of The Original Series, The Next Generation, and even, the Kelvin Universe. But, as Discovery concludes, what remains so interesting about Kovich is that in a world in which time travel is outlawed, he seems like the last of an extinct breed, the last of the Star Trek time lords, at the edge of the universe.

'Red Directive'

"Red Directive"

Luckily though, just like everyone else in the Star Trek family, Kovich (or Daniels) is never really on his own. And so, when he recruits Burnham to help with those pesky "Red Directives," it seems he's carrying on the same tradition he started back in the 22nd Century, when he enlisted the help of the first captain of the Enterprise.