10/17/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Shipment"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S03E07
Air Date: October 29, 2003
Written by: Chris Black & Brent V. Friedman
Directed by: David Straiton

Premise
The crew comes across a Xindi mining outpost and decides to make friends in stead of blow it up.

Review
In another teaser featuring the enigmatic Genosis Xindi council, Degra, a Xindi Primate with Xindi reptilian buddies, take a look at a hologram of the weapon that's meant to destroy Earth. They're ready for testing, but they just need 100 more kilograms of kemocite from a trusted mining outpost first. And guess where the coordinates that Creepy Tarquin gave Enterprise are.

T'Pol and Reed are initially wary about the planet that Tarquin directed them to. It doesn't appear to have any defenses; for all intents and purpose it seems to be a civilian operation. But there is a mine with materials that could be used for weapons, so any lead, when it comes to the protection of Earth, Archer surmises, is a good one. When they get there, they find the mining outpost to be run by Xindi of the Arboreal species. I had to look that up. Arboreal animals are the kind that live in trees. Which is odd, because their houses don't seem very tree-like at all. In any case, they appear to have sloth-like characteristics.
Also Professor Bobo-like characteristics.
Before they blow the place up, Archer decides they need to take a look around and see what's being produced. So they sneak inside and find some samples of kemocite. After a bit of study, Archer says he wants to know where the kemocite is going, so he breaks into the head Arboreal's house. Gralik doesn't appear to know anything about a weapon. When Degra, the primate Xindi, ordered such a large amount of purified kemocite, he and his workers rejoiced at the good fortune and didn't ask questions.

Back on the Enterprise, Trip brings Phlox in to help study a rifle that the Xindi left behind during one of their invasions. There is apparently an organic component that Trip believes Phlox can help identify. And, of course, he can. There's a worm-like creature inside the rifle that acts as a sort of core processor or brain. And as soon as Phlox takes it out of place, another one quickly grows into place. Later on, Phlox comments that it's the most advanced piece of bio-engineering he has ever seen. This is false. He has seen a Borg.
He also almost became one.
Meanwhile, Gralik gives Archer some more background on the Xindi race. There are five species now, but there used to be a sixth avian race. I know that one! Avians fly! There were bird-Xindi! Gralik says his grandfather could remember a time when the avian Xindi covered the sky on their homeworld. That was before the war between the species that broke the planet apart and forced them to live nomadic lives across the Delphic Expanse. Not having the proper technology to leave the planet, the entire avian race died along with it.

Not long after the history lesson, Degra arrives. He's way too early. Immediately, his reptilian buddies go searching for Gralik, but Archer takes him and runs off into the forest. This prompts the reptilians to launch some seeker drones which Archer and his team promptly destroy with phase pistols. Now the plan is to hide in a cave that will hide them from scans until they work things out.

Back on the Enterprise, Trip tests out the pistol he was working on despite protests from T'Pol. Here's a little tip: if a Vulcan warns you about testing a weapon, it's probably a good idea to listen. He pulls the trigger and nothing happens. Well, that's not entirely accurate. What happens is that a countdown appears on the pistol... it's about to blow up. Luckily they transport it out into open space just in time before it explodes.

So, because of the explosion, T'Pol warns Archer that they may have been detected behind the moon which had been providing such a nice hiding place from the Xindi. But Archer has some loose ends to tie up. Gralik convinces Archer to let him go back and distract Degra and help out the Human race by putting a tracking signal into Degra's kenocite shipment.

With a fine bit of 007 sneak tactics from Archer, Gralik's plan is a success and Hoshi says she can track Degra's ship. Gralik learns from Degra that they are building a weapon to protect against a "ruthless alien species," but Archer calms his fears afterward, and Gralik tells Archer to remember that not all Xindi are the enemy. And they all lived happily ever after and learned a valuable lesson about Muslim bashing.
"I believe Zephram Cochrane was a great man,
but not the savior of humanity."

Overall Thoughts
This was a pretty great episode. Really, the deeper they delve into the Xindi plot line, and the deeper they go into the Delphic Expanse, the more I like the whole idea behind this season. It's clearly meant as a parallel to the events surrounding 9-11, but it's done in a way that only great sci-fi can do.