11/12/11

Star Trek Asterisk: "Azati Prime"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S03E18
Air Date: March 3, 2004
Written by: Manny Coto
Directed by: Allen Kroeker

Premise
Archer tries to kill himself.

No? Not enough? Ok, the Enterprise finally finds the Xindi weapon and Archer tries to go on a suicide mission to destroy it, only to be captured and interrogated. I liked the first premise better, though.

Review
Here's what we know so far: The Xindi attacked Earth with a weapon that wiped out 7 million people and now they're out to make an even bigger weapon that will destroy the entire planet. However, they have been manipulated by trans-dimensional beings that are trying to turn the Delphic Expanse into a place where they can live. Archer manipulated the Xindi in charge of the weapon, Degra, into giving away the weapon's location, wiped his memory and went on to that location, Azati Prime. So, this we know for sure about the Xindi: They're super gullible.

When they reach the Azati system, they need to find away past the Xindi detection grid, so they come up with a genius idea. While they were busy trying to rip Archer away from the Hatchery, they captured an Insectoid vessel. So they decided to use that vessel to take advantage of good ol' Xindi gullibility and pass through disguised as Insectoids. Hoshi programmed the universal translator to speak Insectoid and sent Trip and Travis on their way. It was a little tense finding their way through the detection grid.
Keep your distance, but don't look like you're keeping your distance.
I don't know! Fly like an insect!
But they finally make it through. They're surprised to find that the weapon is on Azati Prime's ocean floor. I suspect this is so the Aquatic Xindi can work on it. Well, they have to check it out, which means they have to go underwater and face untold amounts of atmospheres of pressure. But they're in a space ship, so I'd say they can handle anywhere between zero and one.
That's no moon.
Meanwhile, Archer faces the terrible decision to either destroy a Xindi base that had detected them or allow it to contact backup. These are grounds that Star Trek, in my experience, has rarely traversed. You can feel the pain that Archer experiences in having to make the decision to kill three innocent Xindi. With no hope of any help from a Federation that doesn't exist, indeed, humanity's first steps into deep space are difficult ones. But it does gain them time to study readings of the weapon and and for Archer to decide he'll be the one to take the one-way mission to destroy it.

And then Redshirt Daniels stops by for a visit! He takes Archer to the future and tries to convince him to make peace with the Xindi rather than destroy the weapon, continuing the cycle of violence. But Archer will have none of that. He's determined to kill himself. But Redshirt Daniels is able to convince him to take a Xindi relic with him back to the past.

Well, Archer goes on his suicide mission and finds that the weapon has been moved at the last minute. Which would be fine except it means that the Xindi are waiting for him and he gets captured. And interrogated. I gotta say, though, Archer vs. Reptilian Xindi is pretty hilarious. He makes reference to how reptiles were once in charge of Earth, but they died off because they had brains the size of walnuts. And how, nowadays, we eat some reptiles. All the while, he's avoiding answering any pertinent questions and bravely facing being beaten to a pulp. But when the reptilian says he knows exactly where Enterprise is, Archer gets down to business. He says he's only going to talk to Degra.
BFFs!
When Degra comes around, Archer gives him the relic that Daniels gave him as proof that the Xindi are being manipulated into destroying humanity. Good ol' Xindi gullibility takes hold and Degra delays killing Archer. But it's too late because a strike force has already been sent by the reptile to take out the Enterprise. And that strike force takes a huge toll on our hero's ship. As a matter of fact, the Enterprise is basically dead in the water when the episode ends.

Overall Thoughts
It's getting real now. The entire reason they went into the Delphic Expanse is now coming to a head. The weapon is in their sights and there are... five episodes left in the season. Well... obviously there are a few more obstacles to overcome. There's really no way to judge this episode out of the context of the whole season and especially the next few episodes. But it faces some pressing issues, has a bit of action, and continues the overarching plot line rather well, so for that I commend it.