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Star Trek: Enterprise – The Xindi (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This August, we’re doing the third season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Delivering on change is always more difficult than promising change.

The first block of episodes in the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise struggle with the weight of expectation and the sense that the production team have no real idea of how to manage this sort of storytelling. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga had consulted with Ira Steven Behr towards the end of the second season, suggesting that they wanted to model the storytelling loosely on the blend of episodic and serialised scripting that Behr oversaw on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It makes sense, as Deep Space Nine was the only Star Trek series to really engage with that sort of storytelling.

A primate example of the Xindi...

A primate example of the Xindi…

In hindsight, it seems a shame that the writing room on Deep Space Nine was allowed to disintegrate so thoroughly. Ira Steven Behr, Hans Beimler and Rene Echevarria departed immediately following What You Leave Behind. Ronald D. Moore migrated briefly over to Star Trek: Voyager, but quit quite promptly following creative disagreements with former collaborator Brannon Braga. The veteran writers on Enterprise came from Voyager. Brannon Braga, Mike Sussman, Phyllis Strong and André Bormanis were all writers who had come into their own working on Voyager.

Star Trek: Voyager a show that was incredibly episodic and seemed to actively resist serialisation even more than Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is not a reflection on the production team. Braga had lobbied to expand Year of Hell into a year-long story arc during the fourth season, but his proposal had been rejected. Discussing the Xindi arc, Braga has talked about how he wanted to tell a year-long Star Trek story, and it is telling that one of his post-Star Trek writing assignments was on 24.

The ascent...

The ascent…

Nevertheless, it meant that the writers working on Enterprise faced a sharp learning curve when it came to structuring the third season. The experience accumulated during the arc-building on Deep Space Nine was largely lost to the franchise, and a lot of the early part of the third season sees Enterprise making a number of teething mistakes. The early stretch of the third season struggles to pace itself, and it struggles to integrate stand-alone stories with its larger serialised arc.

The Xindi is a prime example of this, an episode that has a wealth of interesting ideas and great concepts, but one that stumbles in the execution.

Pointing the finger...

Pointing the finger…

Discussing the third season in the documentary In a Time of War, writer Chris Black is quite candid about some of the weaknesses in how Enterprise approached its season-long arc:

One of the issues I had with the Xindi arc was that I don’t think we locked it down before we started. I think it was like, “Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to start with this spectacular attack on Earth – it’s going to kill millions of people – and then we have to launch a mission into this uncharted region of space. And we’re going to meet this race that is this unique race because they have different… they’re not all of one species.” And all of that in theory sounds great. It’s like, “Okay. That’s cool.” But I don’t recall that we had much more than that. I don’t think that we had a roadmap for where we were going.

He makes a fair point. It seems like the third season struggles a bit to work out what it wants to be and how it wants to be about it. The plotting and structuring of The Xindi is working against those constraints, as if it is stalling for time and trying to stretch out its reveals and its information.

Enemy mine...

Enemy mine…

After all, the episode really has very little to do with the eponymous alien species. Archer and Trip get to meet a Xindi, but the character conveniently dies before he can provide any actually useful information. He can point Enterprise to the shattered ruins of the old Xindi homeworld, but Archer and his crew are not materially closer to their objective than they were in the opening of the episode. Instead, most of The Xindi is eaten up by a sinister mining operation run by a slave-driver who tries to add the crew to his work force.

It is not the most innovative or inspired plot in the history of the show. In fact, The Xindi ultimately feels rather lightly plotted. To be fair, the episode uses that space to build atmosphere and plot out character beats for Archer, Trip and Reed. This is not dead air, this is not pure filler. At the same time, it feels like there should be more weight and more significance to The Xindi. The episode should be the start of this bold new chapter in the life of the show. Instead, it feels like a reiteration of a lot of what was said in The Expanse.

Wrestling with his demons...

Wrestling with his demons…

The most interesting thing about The Xindi is how awkwardly the episode goes about getting where it needs to go. If The Expanse was a spiritual successor to The Jem’Hadar, then The Xindi is a spiritual successor to The Search. It is an episode about Archer and his crew venturing off to discover what he can about the aliens who launched a devastating attack upon Earth. As such, it seems that The Xindi is consciously building towards the reveal of the eponymous aliens – glimpsed only as a charred corpse in The Expanse.

A lot of The Xindi is structured in such a way that it feels like the Xindi should be a mystery to both the audience and the Enterprise crew. Phlox runs tests on the body recovered from the crashed weapon, and discovers that it had scales on its skin. The mystery deepens when the foreman on the mine provides Archer with a thumb that does not match this description. When Archer and Trip find the Xindi slave in the mines, he appears with a cloth wrapped around the head so as to make his reveal a big moment.

A deadend ally...

A deadend ally…

There is a sense that The Xindi should really treat the reveal of its villains as a big twist – rather like the reveal that the Changelings are the Founders in The Search, Part II. The idea of five different species co-existing and sharing a singular cultural identity is a wonderful subversion of the type of monolithic cultures that have been a fixture on Star Trek for so long. The idea that the Xindi are not a single race – but five – is a pretty significant development, because it distinguishes them quite clearly from the Klingons or the Romulans or the Cardassians.

However, The Xindi blows that big reveal by framing the episode with two scenes of bureaucratic squabbling among the five Xindi species. Treating the reveal of the Xindi as a gradual and organic process would be much more intriguing and satisfying than just dumping it all in front of the audience in the first scene of the new season. People in funny make-up bickering is a terrible introduction to the show’s central antagonists – akin to opening Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace with long conversations about trade negotiations and taxation.

War council!

War council!

It also immediately undermines them. Tucker Smallwood’s primate!Xindi immediately reminds viewers about the stupidity of the “let’s warn the race we’re planning to mass murder!” approach to genocide on display in The Expanse. “They have no way of knowing that we launched the probe,” he insists, which seems a bit of reckless supposition. Similarly, the Xindi decide to let Archer and his crew wander freely around the Expanse unimpeded. “If they are the first wave of an invasion it would be best for us to remain hidden,” Degra offers. “Let them keep searching.”

Of course, the show subsequently suggests that Degra might be trying to assuage a guilty conscience. Nevertheless, it seems strange that the majority of the council agrees with him. Allowing a human ship to sniff around the Delphic Expanse shortly before attempting genocide against the human race feels like the stupidity one might expect from a Bond villain. After all, it seems like Klingons and Vulcans are already afraid of the Expanse. Sending Enterprise back with her crew inside out would likely have a pretty deterrent effect; alternatively, make it look like an accident.

A dust-up...

A dust-up…

While the decision to introduce the Xindi as a talkative threat in the opening scene of The Xindi feels like a miscalculation, it reflects a strange caution to the script. The Xindi seems afraid of ambiguity and uncertainty, repeating itself and bluntly dumping exposition in a way that undermines the atmosphere that it tries to develop. Characters often offer redundant and pointless dialogue, over-explaining themselves and reiterating core themes in case the audience missed them the first time.

In his first scene, Archer bluntly and patronisingly sums up the new status quo for Reed inside the snazzy new Command Centre. (Which seems to be a briefing room without chairs.) After badgering his Tactical Officer with mean-spirited rhetorical questions, Archer bluntly summarises the show’s new mission statement. “So this state of the art equipment was put in here to help us gather all the pieces of the puzzle, figure out who’s trying to destroy Earth.” It feels somewhat redundant given that the “previously” segment already covered this.

That said, perhaps it's still the same show in some ways...

That said, perhaps it’s still the same show in some ways…

It is not the only example. Reed’s insecurity is one of the nicer character threads running through The Xindi, as he faces the possibility that he has been rendered largely redundant by the arrival of the MACOs. It is a nice character beat. After all, Reed has been no more or less absurdly incompetent than many of the franchise’s other tactical officers. (He probably ranks on the upper middle tier with Odo; above Worf and Yar, but below Tuvok when Tuvok is not being the security threat to the ship.)

There is something oddly charming in Reed’s desperate need to prove his value to Archer. Fearing for his place on the senior staff, Reed practically mothers Archer by going into full panic mode as Enterprise enters orbit around a mining colony. “And it is safe to enter orbit?” Reed asks. “There are no security considerations?” When Archer insists the area is secure, Reed replies, “With all due respect, sir, we should approach with caution. The freighter captain was of questionable character.” Interestingly, Reed turns out to be entirely correct in his suspicions.

MACO room!

MACO room!

On the other hand, there are moments where Reed’s finely-honed common sense is undermined by his perchance for sarcasm. Many of Reed’s interactions with Archer in the first season – in episodes like Strange New World or Rogue Planet – seemed laced with a superior sarcasm. Here, he seems defensive. “We should have worn EV suits,” Reed reflects when he arrives at the mining colony with Archer. This is more than fair. However, when Archer insists it is safe, Reed replies, “Safe? You call this safe?” No wonder Archer wanted the damn MACOs.

For all the nice character beats that The Xindi gives Malcolm Reed, the script still feels the need to have the character articulate ideas best left as subtext. In the Armoury, Reed and Hayes have a disagreement about how best to proceed with a rescue mission. Both want to lead their own team to the surface, with Hayes claiming it makes sense for Reed’s staff to stay on the ship because they knows it better. Reed is quite unsettled by the idea, eventually deciding to lead a team of MACOs in a false compromise.

Carrying a lot of baggage...

Carrying a lot of baggage…

“Coming from a military family, I’ve seen men like Hayes all my life,” Reed confesses to T’Pol after that disagreement with Hayes. “That had nothing to do with who knows Enterprise inside and out. It had to do with who the Major thinks is more capable of carrying out this rescue.” Of course it did. Any vaguely literate television viewer could read that subtext. It was hardly subtle, particularly given Reed’s behaviour in the rest of the episode. Having Reed actually say that feels patronising and condescending.

Similarly, the episode is hardly subtle in its handling of Trip. The Expanse made it quite clear that Trip’s character arc would see him travelling through hatred and anger. That much is immediately obvious. While the dream-sequences are a bit heavy-handed, the episode really suffers when it feels the need to keep reminding the audience that Trip is angry and violent. When he meets his first Xindi, Trip threatens, “You know, I’m not sure why, but I’m just itching to kick the hell out of you.” It is just clumsy, like a lot of the episode’s script.

Digging for dirt...

Digging for dirt…

Other clumsy touches include the hoops that the script jumps through to get Trip to accept T’Pol neuropressure treatments. It is very clearly an excuse for the show to treat T’Pol as a sex object, but the plotting feels unnecessary convoluted. More than that, it makes Phlox seem even creepier than usual – as if he is trying to pair off Trip and T’Pol single-handedly. “Commander Tucker is on his way to your quarters,” he advises T’Pol. “He believes I just gave him a sedative, but it was only a placebo. He’s had a rather difficult day. I believe you have your work cut out for you.”

That clumsiness even bleeds through into the primary plot. The sequence in the mines amounts to a somewhat pointless stall – Archer and Trip mount an escape, only to end up captured again so that they can rescued. It feels more than a little redundant, as if The Xindi is stalling for time. The plotting and dialogue feels a little awkward and rushed – as if The Xindi has not been properly broken out and developed. The Expanse was similarly loose in terms of plot, but it was a much broader episode than The Xindi. The Expanse was more of a mood piece.

What a Trip...

What a Trip…

That said, despite these very clear scripting and structuring problems, there is a lot about The Xindi that works. The eponymous species are a fascinating creation – a race made up of five distinct species that happened to evolve in the same environment and thus consider themselves to have a collective culture. While it is hardly a groundbreaking science-fiction concept, it allows the Xindi to stand apart from all the monolithic Star Trek aliens who have appeared over the franchise’s long lifetime.

In many respects, the Xindi could be seen as a mirror of the Dominion – a comparison made all the more inviting by the obvious similarities between the third season arc on Enterprise and the Dominion War on Deep Space Nine. Like the Dominion, the Xindi seem to provide an effective mirror to the Federation. While the Dominion are a dictatorship with a clear class structure, the Xindi are more egalitarian and even-handed. While there are divisions and friction, it is clear that – in theory – all species are considered equal. Even the reptile!Xindi have been forgiven for their past sins.

It's all a Hayes...

It’s all a Hayes…

This portrayal of the Xindi is in keeping with broader trends on Enterprise. The show has worked hard to reach beyond the monolithic alien cultures associated with Star Trek, perhaps as a response to the more complicated international climate that emerged during the War on Terror. In Shadows of P’Jem, the crew of the Enterprise were shocked to discover that the Coridan government could not presume to speak for its entire population. In Fallen Hero, an organised crime syndicate passed itself off as the government. In Judgment, Archer explored the Klingon Empire beyond the warrior caste.

So the Xindi are a logical continuation of that theme. There is a sense that the Xindi are trying to navigate the potential perils of their own multicultural society. They are trying to recover from a cataclysm and build something better for themselves. The Xindi are not presented as generic two-dimensional bad guys, but as an analogue for humanity; particularly contemporary humanity. As much as the Xindi arc is an exploration of the War on Terror, the Xindi are never portrayed as terrorists. Instead, they serve as a counterpoint to Archer and his crew; they are another extrapolation of contemporary America.

Balancing the scales...

Balancing the scales…

After all, America itself was a divided and discordant society at the turn of the millennium, with those divides only increasing after 9/11 and the War on Terror. As Blaine T. Browne and Robert C. Cottrell argue in Modern American Lives:

Even as the American people celebrated the new millennium, deep divisions over political, economic, social, and cultural issues were evident. The extent of the polarisation was evident in the 2000 presidential election, which showed the American electorate almost evenly divided in its political allegiance. The new president, George W. Bush, failed to win a popular majority and struggled to advance a conservative agenda prior to the shattering events of September 11, 2001. Though the terrorist attacks temporarily united the public, disagreements soon arose over Bush’s determination to invade Iraq as part of the overall “war on terror.” Although Bush won reelection in 2004, his popularity plummeted in subsequent years due to divisions over the Republican domestic agenda, apparent government ineptitude, and the seemingly endless carnage in Iraq. As of 2007, the possibility of uniting Americans around a consensus as enduring as that which came out of World War II seemed extremely unlikely in the short term. The American people were compelled to confront the unprecedented challenges of the twenty-first century as a nation divided, fundamentally at odds over the most basic questions that a people might face.

The Xindi seem to position themselves as a mirror to those divides – a singular cultural entity with deep social and philosophical schisms that threaten to tear them apart.

Venting their fury...

Venting their fury…

It is, then, a very clever decision to title the episode as “The Xindi.” Although two-word titles with the format “the [noun]” are generally generic and bland, it works quite well here. The word “Xindi” is both singular and plural – suggesting that the Xindi are inseparable and indivisible; to discuss one is to discuss them all, despite their differences. The title of the episode is quite playful and ambiguous – inviting the audience to wonder whether it applies to the singular Xindi trapped in the mine or to the larger species as a whole.

The decision to mirror the Xindi to mankind is reflected in Archer’s final scene of the episode. Archer is shocked to discover that the Xindi homeworld is nothing but a floating debris field; it is a graveyard. “They’re building a weapon, planning to annihilate Earth because they think we’re going to destroy their world in four hundred years,” he offers. “How is that possible if their world doesn’t exist anymore? Hasn’t existed for decades?” It is a clever twist, and not just because it provides a nice way to extend out the arc.

Slaving away...

Slaving away…

One of the themes of the third season is the idea that violence occurs in cycles – that violence begets violence; that it self-perpetuates. It is revealed that the very people planning to destroy Earth have already seen their own home destroyed; paradoxically, they are trying to prevent the future destruction of their new home. Cause and effect feed into one another, with a sense that violence and horror tend to feed one another. Are the Xindi so eager to commit genocide to protect their home because they know what it is to lose their home? Have they already suffered the same loss that Archer is trying to prevent?

Despite the presence of the MACOs in The Xindi, despite the use of a sniper’s kill shot at the climax, it seems that Star Trek has not entirely lost sight of itself. The show is making it quite clear that nothing good will come of following bloodshed with more bloodshed, suggesting that these decisions tend to trap people (and cultures) in cycles of hatred and recrimination. It is not coincidence that the season is structured as it is. The first episode features the long-dead Xindi homeworld, and the final episode features the salvation of Earth.

A snipe hunt...

A snipe hunt…

It is interesting to note that the destruction of the Xindi homeworld is an element carried over from the back story of the Suliban in the first season. Both races are largely defined by their reaction to the destruction of their home world. The Suliban respond by scattered and fracturing; the Xindi respond by knitting themselves into a much tighter community. In some respects, the Xindi can be seen as a conscious update of the Suliban – right down to existing as a race portrayed both by live actors and CGI.

The idea of the Xindi serving as something of an update of the Suliban makes a great deal of sense. In a way, the third season serves as a new first season for Enterprise. After all, there are some broad similarities in term of storytelling. Broken Bow featured the Suliban announcing themselves to mankind in an unprovoked attack. Obviously, the intrusion on Farmer Moore’s farm does not compare to the massacre of seven million people in Florida; nevertheless, Enterprise was launched and relaunched in response to what where essentially acts of war.

A dead world...

A dead world…

This sense that the third season of Enterprise is essentially a second first season is reflected just as clearly in Mike Sussman’s script for Anomaly, which makes a point to reference and address two significant plotting issues from Fight or Flight and Strange New World, the two episodes directly following Broken Bow. There is a sense that Enterprise is really cutting loose and trying to do its own thing – like the third season of The Next Generation following Michael Piller’s arrival and the third season of Deep Space Nine following Michael Piller’s departure.

That said, there remains something quite problematic about the way the show eventually develops the Xindi. It feels a little unfortunate that the humanoid primate!Xindi and arboreal!Xindi are those characterised as the most empathic and sympathetic while the more alien insect!Xindi and reptile!Xindi end up serving as villains and monsters. It feels a little too convenient and almost cliché. Watching The Xindi, it is almost immediately apparent how the battle lines will be drawn by the time that the show reaches Zero Hour. It feels a tad predictable.

The life aquatic...

The life aquatic…

To be entirely fair, it is not as if Star Trek has avoided this problem in the past. The Klingons were distinctly “othered” on their initial appearances, presented as evil aliens designed to evoke all sorts of unpleasant stereotypes and imagery. Of course, the Klingons evolved over the course of the show, taking on a slightly less racist character design and developing into a fully-formed culture. Similarly, the Jem’Hadar were very clearly designed to be villainous heavies; although they were also fleshed out in some later episodes. That said, the reptile!Xindi and insect!Xindi are never developed as well as they might be.

With all that in mind, the decision to cast the reptile!Xindi as the villains feels like a conscious attempt to hark back to a very pulpy style of science-fiction. The final two seasons of Enterprise have a decidedly nostalgic and retro atmosphere, as if playing with toys and ideas that were locked away at the height of the franchise’s success. The reptile!Xindi costumes are beautifully absurd and ostentatious. They are highly impractical and more than slightly silly, feeling like something that escaped from the cover of a fifties magazine or a Flash Gordon serial.

Getting the shaft...

Getting the shaft…

There are a whole host of elements of The Xindi that feel like they come from a different world than Star Trek usually inhabits. During his communications with the Enterprise, the creepy mine foreman uses a retro fifties radio microphone. With his evil plan to brutally enslave the crew, the foreman seems like the type of fiend who might have escaped some sort of trashy serialised space opera packed into the back pages of an old copy of Incredible Tales. Even his masked henchmen seem delightfully bizarre creations that would have seemed out of place in the first or second season.

The third season of Enterprise really latches on to these sorts of classic science-fiction tropes, playing with concepts that were probably off the table in the nineties. To pick examples from the first four episodes, the show gives us bad guys wearing capes and robes with wire sculptures attached to them, space pirates, ancient dead cities, and alien princesses. This is to say nothing of the way that Impulse is essentially a zombie episode or the goofy western aesthetic of North Star.

Storm troopers...

Storm troopers…

Even the show’s new-found attempt at serialisation feels like a nod back to the pulpy Republic science-fiction serials. It is no surprise that the third season climaxes with Archer involved in a brutal fist fight atop a gigantic bomb, waking up to the strange sight of evil!alien!space!Nazis. This engagement with weird trashy pulpy science-fiction continues into the fourth season with Archer visiting a pirate hub in Borderlands, recovering a lost relic in Awakening, fighting to the death in United and dealing with Orion Slave Girls in Bound.

Whether or not this change was for the better is a matter of debate. The Xindi very clearly and very consciously delivers on the promise to be different from what came before. This is not at all what Star Trek looked like even six months before. The basic plot of The Xindi is quite comparable to the plot of Workforce from late in the final season of Voyager; both stories feature aliens trying to enslave the crew to provide cheap labour. However, The Xindi is a lot more brutal and malicious than Workforce, quite candid about its violence and horror.

No neuro pressure...

No neuro pressure…

There is something decidedly nasty about the world presented in The Xindi, as though Star Trek is breaking away from the relatively sterile worldview of The Next Generation and Voyager. The mine is a distinctly unpleasant place. It feels more hostile and more alien than the usual cave sets used on Star Trek, with blue dust in the air and sewage running through the vents. This is not the type of world to which our characters are used. “I must have been in the shower for two hours and I still had that crap in my hair and under my nails,” Trip confesses.

The mining colony is decidedly more unpleasant than most such locations featured on Star Trek. However, the foreman makes no apologies. The mine is a vital part of the economy of the Expanse, but it is not a particularly clean economy. “Is Trellium-D the only thing you mine here?” Trip asks. “The only thing,” the foreman replies. “Trellium-D.” When Trip asks what the compound is used for, the foreman explains, “Insulation. Mostly for interstellar vessels.” Given that Anomaly suggests Trellium-D is necessary to survive in the Expanse, it seems likely that the foreman does pretty great business.

Dead weight...

Dead weight…

However, the foreman is able to keep his costs down (and, presumably, his profits high) by recruiting a slave labour force. When Archer finally meets Kessik, he seems surprised at the nature of the mine. “Do these look like volunteers?” Kessik inquires. “We’re captives, slaves!” Indeed, the foreman is able to take advantage of Archer’s naivety in order to trap him in the mine as part of a bid to enslave the crew of the Enterprise. It is an incredibly obvious con, one that even Reed seems to see coming. However, it works because characters on Star Trek don’t tend to pull those sorts of tricks.

While Star Trek is quite fond of the whole “enslave the crew” trope – from episodes like By Any Other Name through to The Killing Game or Workforce – there is something wonderfully base about the foreman’s plot here. There is no nuance, no higher purpose. He simply locks Archer and Trip in his mine and sends for two heavily-armed cruisers to help subjugate the Enterprise. This is a much rougher style of business than Star Trek tends to deal with. (Indeed, The Killing Game and Workforce begin after the crew has already been enslaved.)

Platinum standard...

Platinum standard…

Again, there is a sense that this is Enterprise reacting to a changing world. The American perception of the outside world had been radically and dramatically altered by the events of 9/11, leading to more cynicism and skepticism. As John Keegan notes in The Iraq War:

Before 9/11 the American people, if largely uncomprehending of the outside world, viewed it through benevolent eyes; after 9/11 they saw enemies everywhere. Before 9/11 American governments had, for fifty years, sought to keep the peace by leading a Western alliance of the like-minded; after 9/11 Washington committed itself to the defense of America first and foremost. Thinking Americans, in and out of government, knew that their country still had foreign friends; but henceforth friendship would not be taken on trust. It would have to be demonstrated.

It doesn’t matter that issues like human trafficking and slavery and rights abuses had all existed long before 9/11. Against the backdrop of the War on Terror, these issues were pushed to the fore in media stories and national debate. The world was seen to be a lot more hostile than it had been before.

Warp speed ahead...

Warp speed ahead…

The Xindi is a solid introduction to the third season, even if the script is a little clunky in places. The Expanse was able to trade on the fact that it was a broad sweeping statement about the nature of the show, throwing everything into doubt. The Xindi has to actually deliver on those promises made before the summer haitus. It does a decent enough job, even if it does feel like the show has room to improve and a need to hone its skill and technique. Still, there is time for that. The fundamentals are in place, and they are certainly interesting.

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6 Responses

  1. It’s back!

    Yes, very sad that DS9 had no impact on Trek as a whole. Apart from the Section 31 stuff. Do you remember Behr at the DS9 wrap party with Berman in attendance, boasting that he had left Trek far different than he’d found it?

    Then again, if DS9 is self-contained, at least they can’t ruin it.

    • Well, I mean that’s technically true.

      I think that the estimation of DS9 has improved dramatically since it went off the air, particularly in the Netflix era. In contrast, I’m not sure that Voyager and Enterprise have seen corresponding bumps. I suspect any future television show will draw from DS9. (And even the third season of Enterprise has moments where it’s clearly trying to do DS9, which would be easier if the production team hadn’t so ruthlessly severed that strand of Star Trek writing while the cleaning staff were tidying up the leftovers at said wrap party. Okay, a slight exaggeration… but we’ll get to Ronald D. Moore’s Voyager stint in time.)

  2. Hi, Darren! I’m currently binging Enterprise Season Three on Netflix. So many people told me the show got really good starting with the Season Two finale that I decided to go from there.

    I have to agree with your estimation of this episode. The finale of Season Two worked incredibly hard to sell the audience the idea that the Expanse was this vast, mysterious region that was so weird and dangerous that even the Klingons and Vulcans were afraid to enter it, and that the Enterprise was embarking on what would probably be its most terrifying mission ever. So then we open Season Three with this episode, and the first threat that the Enterprise comes across is… a dodgy mining operation run by some aliens with bumpy foreheads? Um, yeah, that’s not exactly the stuff of nightmare fuel.

    As you said, “Delivering on change is always more difficult than promising change.”

    • Yeah, I think that’s fair. The show does get better at it as it goes. The first third or so of the third season struggles a bit, but the back half really uses that momentum in clever and compelling ways, to the point that you almost forgive some very stupid plot-related decisions.

  3. It felt like a pretty standard Trek episode to me, but I did really like the mining foreman as a “Bond villain” type of character. Nice set design and fight choreography as well.

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