10/31/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Proving Ground"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S03E13
Air Date: January 21, 2004
Written by: Chris Black
Directed by: David Livingston

Premise
The Enterprise follows their tracked shipment of kemosite to a Xindi weapons test site and employs the help of giant smurf with UHF reception to steal the super weapon.

Review
We open on one of the most unexpected things you would expect to see in the Delphic Expanse: a crew of Andorians. Commander Shran is in command and is informed that they're closing in on Enterprise, the quarry for which they have been hunting for some time now. Now there's a good series of stories to tell: the adventures of the Andorians in the Delphic Expanse.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise, while going through what's left and what they can recover of the information they gathered on the Delphic Death Stars, start to go through a particularly dense field of spacial anomalies while on the trail of the Xindi super weapon. The anomalies started getting rough, the tiny starship was tossed; if not for the tractor beam of an Andorian crew, the Enterprise NX-01 would be lost.
Hello, little buddy!
So what is Commander Shran doing in the Delphic Expanse? After coming over to the Enterprise, Shran explains that the Andorians want to help Earth. Why? Because it's the higher moral ground than the Vulcans have taken. So the Andorian crew all comes over to help with repairs and modifications on the Enterprise to help them in their quest.

Lt. Talas, Shran's weapons officer, is a little pissed of that she has to work with Reed, and the feeling is mutual, but they quickly start to... get along.
Reed, you old dog, you.
So, they make it through the anomaly field and finally find the Xindi proving ground in the middle of an asteroid field around a moon. In order to get some good scans of the area without the Enterprise being detected, it's decided that the Andorians will go in under false pretenses and distract the Xindi while they run scans. They move in just as the Xindi are about to start a test, but the Xindi stop and hail them. Claiming to be from the Andorian mining consortium, Shran uses his masterful powers of deceit to distract the Xindi while concurrently running scans.

So now the Enterprise has all the information she needs about the weapon to send back to Earth for study. Now they get to watch the test in action by patching through to Shran's more advanced sensors. The weapon only destroys half of a moon, so, when compared to Earth, this is considered a failure, but it's still daunting. Regardless, Archer understands that the failure is due to Dalik - the Xindi guy who helped him track the kemosite.

So now it's time to steal the weapon. Shran's cargobay has better shielding, so he offers to take the weapon on board until it's safe for the Enterprise. But this offer makes Archer suspicious. He accepts on one condition: that he be allowed to command Shran's ship while they take the weapon. Begrudgingly, Shran accepts, so the Enterprise comes into the system, Degra's lackies attack, and while they're distracted, Shran's ship comes in, grabs the weapon with a tractor beam and brings it aboard. The two ships escape unscathed... somehow... 'cause that wasn't a dangerous operation at all.

So, yay! They got the weapon and everything fine, right?
NOPE!
Shran takes back control of his ship and reveals that their true intention was to steal the weapon for their own use. They figure if they have a bigger weapon, the Vulcans won't attack them. So much for the moral high ground. Shran drops off Angry Archer in an escape pod and tells Enterprise where to find him. Despite having just betrayed what trust Archer ever had in him, Shran looks genuinely regretful when he reports to his superior that the mission was a success.

BUT NOT SO FAST! When Archer is picked up, Reed tells him that he had been watching closely and, although the Andorians had tried to sabotage the ship, he made sure they were unsuccessful. They catch up to Shran's ship and play the only hand they have. They activate the weapon while it's still on board their ship. While it builds to an overload, Shran orders that the weapon be jettisoned. It explodes in space and heavily damages the Andorian ship, but the Enterprise is far enough away to be safe.

So is the mission a success? They don't have a weapon for Earth to study. But while Enterprise warps away, an Andorian sends them the detailed scans they had taken prior to blowing up the weapon. It's so detailed, in fact, that it may just be enough for Earth to come up with a countermeasure.

Overall Thoughts
I start liking the Andorians more and more whenever they arrive on screen. It may or may not be a coincidence that whenever they arrive, Shran also takes more of a liking to Archer. While it may be a bit of a stretch to bring the Andorians into the Delphic Expanse, the story itself was pretty great; advancing the overall plot and developing the Andorians. Thumbs up all around!