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Star Trek: Enterprise – Proving Ground (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.

Proving Ground is an odd episode to sit in the middle of the third season’s larger arc involving the Xindi and the threat against Earth.

In a very real sense, it is more serialised than a lot of the episodes leading up to it. The episode even opens with a fairly sweeping “previously…” section that is sure to include a lot of nice action shots from the first half of the year. Proving Ground contributes more to the arc than anything like Carpenter Street or Chosen Realm, featuring the testing of the Xindi weapon. It also features the Andorians, suggesting that Star Trek: Enterprise has not completely divorced itself from its original place in the Star Trek canon.

Drinking away the blues...

Drinking away the blues…

At the same time, the episode is also very episodic. Shran makes a very quick cameo in Zero Hour, but this is the extent to which the Andorians are involved in the larger plot of the third season. Much like the second season, there is a sense that Shran has been slotted into “the obligatory Andorian episode” as a way to fill a production slot in a chaotic season. The sense of weight and impact of the episode is relatively minimal, like Cease Fire before it. The conclusion seems to be that Shran might be a nice guy underneath it all. It’s hardly shocking.

More than that, the structure and plot of the episode can’t help but emphasise some of the more misguided creative decisions of the third season, with Proving Ground introducing a bunch of clever (and exciting concepts) into the arc only to take them right away at the end. The fact that Proving Ground is so fun and enjoyable is almost a detriment, inviting the audience to wonder whether some of that love and affection might have been distributed across the season.

Look who just blue in...

Look who just blue in…

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