Star Trek: Enterprise seems to vie with Voyager as the worst Star Trek series, but from what I've heard, it redeems itself later in the series. When does this actually happen? What are the reasons that I shouldn't start from there later in?
Yes. Start from the beginning.
Otherwise you would not know the backstories, the character development, won't care about the characters OR the plot. Unlike TNG, ST:ENT is more high-level-arc-story as opposed to tons of mostly disjoint episodes.
In addition, as a super good extra bonus, they tried to sprinkle on tons of little details that introduce ideas and concepts that arose in "later-chronologically" series, e.g. origins of Vulcan mind meld, how humans met Klingons, etc...
Generally when people say "it started getting good", they are referring to the season-long arc in season 3 as well as the arguably best season, season 4.
Seasons 1 and 2 are mostly made up of standalone episodes, but if you want to skip them, you should at least watch:
- "Broken Bow" to see the initial launch of Enterprise, also the introduction of the Suliban, and the start of the references to the temporal cold war which is what started the season 3 story arc.
- "Cold Front", "Shockwave" and "Shockwave Part 2" - which feature Agent Daniels, who is an important character in a few episodes of seasons 3 and 4.
- "Future Tense" - which also talks of the Temporal Cold War, the Suliban, and Daniels.
- "Judgment" and "Bounty" - so that you won't be totally confused by the B-story of "The Expanse". (You could even skip these if you want, as long as you don't mind the slight confusion.)
- "The Expanse" - which sets up the entire of season 3.
You could watch others too I suppose - like "Fusion"/"Stigma" so that you will know the backstory when you get to the episode "Kir'Shara" in season 4, but I think most other episodes are largely redundant.
I went through adolescence with TNG and loved it. I'm in the middle of the 3rd season of ENT now, and I found the first two seasons were generally more enjoyable and ST-like than the third. But anyway, I agree that there is a lot of cumulative value in the stories, and there is quite a bit of character development, particularly with T'Pol. I've taken to checking the IMDb ratings and summaries to decide whether to watch a given episode. I'll read the plot on Memory Alpha if it doesn't look appetizing.
If you want a taste of the best of ENT before you commit, my favorite episodes from the first two seasons are Fusion and Cogenitor. They're also both pretty freestanding, IIRC.
No, you can skip to season 3.
Anything you miss in seasons 1-2 that you find unclear, you can just as easily read on Memory Alpha plot summaries and linked pages for characters/events/concepts.
- if you trust the judgement of people who tell you that seasons 1 and 2 were bad
- and if you aren't a die-hard Trekkie who MUST see every episode, no matter how bad
- and if you don't have a weird hang-up about seeing every episode in any series you watch (DVK looks in the mirror)
- and you value your free time very much and could find better uses for it than watching lower-quality episodes ... then skip seasons 1 and 2.