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"The Xindi"

(Star Trek: Enterprise production code 053)
  • written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
  • directed by Allan Kroeker
  • music by Dennis McCarthy
  • 45 minutes

53: The Xindi

The highly anticipated third season opener is a strange egg, coupling development for a lot of long-term plot threads with a more mundane run-of-the-mill action situation for the centerpiece of the episode. I don't think this episode really succeeds in drawing fresh audience members into the big story for the season... Last season's finale "The Expanse" worked SO much better at that, and anyone wanting to get into Season Three really should start with that prior episode. That said, those of us who did get intrigued by "The Expanse" will find enough good stuff here in "The Xindi" to keep us intrigued and on the hook for more.

The opening sections of "The Xindi" give us some good material, but I think we get far too many new characters thrown at us too quickly, and none of them seem to get enough of a good hook or scene to stand out or become truly memorable. First we get the council of villains conspiring against Enterprise and Earth for this season, with about eight speaking characters arguing for dominance and none of them really standing out, none of them giving their names either. "Is that Degra sitting in the corner?" I ask myself, having seen this once before twelve years ago. No way to tell from this episode alone.

The ranks on Enterprise have also been increased to accommodate non-Starfleet military personnel. Steven Culp becomes the first major actor I'd ever seen on this show to get his credit along with his character's name Major Hayes in the opening, so it's easy to pick him out. Daniel Dae Kim also gets to smile and deliver one line as one of the new marines, although I'd be hard pressed to find him in any of the action scenes that follow. Really, despite the fact that Hoshi went out of her way to give us an introduction to these new crewmembers, they still feel like one great homogenous group of unknowns. And it is bizarre to think that she did this after they'd already been cruising along together for six weeks, as indicated in Archer's earlier rant.

For its main section, the episode diddles around with a basic mine/prison-break scenario, working through mistrust with an archetypal trickster/informant character. Not only is this standard formula in terms of writing (and Berman & Braga don't seem particularly good at it with Archer having a big goal of talking to the guy but no ounce of a reason why the guy should want to tell Archer anything), but this bit is also tired formula in the fact that we witness our characters fiddling around in the old tiny dingy standard cave sets filled with smoke yet again for most of this. The lack of production value here is a bit less excusable than usual since we can easily expect that it will take our characters the entire episode to finish with this place.

And it does seem that "Enterprise" as a series too often goes for a dark, foggy, colourless tone, both on and off the ship. Frankly, it's a bit depressing, and doesn't speak to the optimism of previous Trek shows, or frankly the spirit of the title sequence either. "The Xindi" certainly indulges in its fair share of this on today's planet, with our protagonists' crawl through sewage and icky blue slime in the shaft areas really dampening the atmosphere that should be here to draw new viewers in for the season.

The good news is that we're out of the ugly mines with ten minutes of screen time to spare, which the episode then puts to excellent use. The production value is in the optical shots, and we get some really good ones. We get to see the ramifications of what Archer has managed to learn during this episode, which nicely seems to contradict much of what the mysterious future figure told him in the last episode. The mystery deepens. I'm there.

We also see the beginnings of a new angle on relations between T'Pol and Trip. Enterprise needed to do more with the interpersonal relationships between the crew members, and though I'm not sure this T'Pol/Trip angle was the best idea, at least it seems to be giving this overly-congealed pot a little bit of a stir. It still feels quite clumsy though. There seems to be a triple fumble here as well. T'Pol shouldn't really need to take her shirt off, but having done that, the camera didn't have to sit where it would give us a revealing view, which then necessitates that she go out of character to cover up areas that Trip wouldn't have seen anyway. It makes the whole thing so clumsy and obvious, when subtle tensions would have been more effective. But perhaps the show's creators had painted themselves into a corner by creating a female lead who by design isn't allowed to display emotion, so now they've got her displaying the only other thing they can think of to make her attractive.

It is notable too that the title music for the show is much improved. We get a whole new rendition from the supporting instruments, which seems to have more energy and rhythm to it, but most importantly has less of a distorted electric guitar in it, helping the tone of each note come through more clearly and making the whole thing more tuneful and catchy. Very nice. Too bad we end up with the exact same raspy vocals as before - I'd have loved it if these had been replaced with good instrumentation instead, or at least a decent voice.

As this episode wraps up, it is the new developments in the mystery and the ongoing plot that have center stage and command our attention, and this episode absolutely makes you want to see where the show is headed next. It's a fitting middle chapter of a longer story.....

Read the next In-depth Analysis Review: "Anomaly"

This season has become available on DVD and Blu-ray in the Enterprise Season Three box sets:


DVD Canada


7-disc DVD set

DVD Extras include:

  • 2 audio commentaries:
    • "Similitude" with writer Manny Coto.
    • "North Star" with first assistant director Michael DeMeritt.
  • 3 text commentaries:
    • "The Xindi"
    • "Impulse"
    • "Countdown"
  • The Xindi Saga Begins (13 min.) with creators Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, and cast and crew.
  • Star Trek Enterprise moments: Season 3 (13 min.)
  • Enterprise Profile: Connor Trinneer (Trip) (17 min.)
  • Day in the Life of Director Roxann Dawson (17 min.)
  • Deleted scenes, outtakes, and photo gallery
  • hidden NX-01 File featurettes
Blu-ray U.S.

Blu-ray Canada

Blu-ray U.K.

NEW to Blu-ray for 2014 January 7 NEW in U.K.
2014 Jan. 27

Blu-ray Bonus features include:

  • All extras from the standard DVD set
  • 6 new audio commentaries:
    • "Impulse" with director David Livingston, and staffmember David A. Goodman.
    • "Twilight" with writer Mike Sussman and web-moderator Tim Gaskill.
    • "North Star" with writer David A. Goodman and staffmember Chris Black
    • "Similitude" with writer Manny Coto and actor Connor Trinneer (Trip)
    • "The Forgotten" with Connor Trinneer and writers David A. Goodman & Chris Black.
    • "Countdown" with writers Chris Black and André Bormanis.
  • "In A Time of War" 3-part documentary (HD, 89 min.) with the main cast, creators, regular writing staff, and crew.
  • Temporal Cold War: Declassified (HD, 20 min.) with Brannon Braga, Matt Winston (Daniels), and John Fleck (Sillick/Silik)

Review written by Martin Izsak. Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

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Read the next In-depth Analysis Review: "Anomaly"

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