The Council: Degra takes Archer to the Xindi council, first seen way back in “The Xindi”. With Degra’s help, Archer’s task is to convince the council that humanity is not a threat and that the trans-dimensional aliens — whom we learn the Xindi revere as religious figures, called the Guardians — are lying about humanity and manipulating the Xindi. The Xindi humanoids and arboreals are with Degra, but the insectoids and reptilians aren’t and the aquatics are undecided. Then, the reptilians — led by Commander Dolim (Scott MacDonald), the reptilian we’ve seen for months — surprisingly agree to delay the weapon’s launch. Archer and Co. begin to breath a sigh of relief, but then Dolim kills Degra — the reptilians’ earlier vote was a ruse and Dolim knows about Degra’s role in the destruction of a reptilian vessel — and steals the weapon (along with the insectoids) and kidnaps Sato. They then flee, presumably for Earth.
Countdown: The Xindi council has fractured, and Dolim and the insectoids are trying to get the weapon’s activation codes using a tortured Sato’s linguistic skills. To stop the reptilians, Archer convinces the aquatics to help by telling them that Enterprise can destroy the spheres and prevent the expanse from turning into a trans-dimensional wasteland. A short battle ensues, but Dolim is able to jump into a subspace vortex with the weapon and head for Earth (after Enterprise recovers Sato). With few options left, Archer, Reed, Sato and some MACOs take Degra’s ship (it’s fast) into the vortex to pursue the weapon while T’Pol and Trip lead Enterprise in its efforts to destroy the spheres.
Zero Hour: Archer and Co. catch up with the weapon in orbit of Earth and are assisted by Shran and his ship in taking out the escort Xindi vessels. Meanwhile, T’Pol and Trip finalize their plan to destroy the spheres and head toward sphere 41, a key to knocking out the network. But the sphere builders have taken notice, and can interfere with the ship’s efforts while it’s in the area around the sphere. After being told by Daniels not to lead the mission, Archer boards the sphere with Reed, Sato and some MACOs and start its self-destruct process. But Archer must go one-on-one with Dolim to complete the task, and is apparently lost in the process as the weapon explodes over Earth. Reed and Sato escape and return to Enterprise — where T’Pol and Trip have successfully destroyed the spheres and ending the Guardian threat — and inform the crew that the mission succeeded, but that Archer is dead. The ship returns to Earth, but is disturbed to find they’ve been thrown back in time to the 1940s (!) in the middle of World War II. The episode ends with a badly wounded Archer in a Nazi hospital that contains an odd-looking alien with red, glowing eyes.
Why it’s important
Archer’s efforts to find a peaceful solution are pure Star Trek, and it’s clear that his efforts here — even though they’re undermined by Dolim and the insectoids — are important in setting the peace-first approach that we see throughout the rest of the franchise.
And, of course, the success of the mission to stop the Xindi from destroying Earth is hugely, hugely important (duh) but Enterprise’s parallel efforts to stop the Guardians is important, too. If those efforts hadn’t been successful, more conflicts with would have happened, apparently, for hundreds of years (at least, according to Daniels).
We’ll explore how and why Enterprise ended up in the 1940s in our next review. But the events about that in “Zero Hour” end up being significant.
What doesn’t hold up
One of the key premises of the end of the Xindi arc is that the weapon can only be activated with codes from three of the five Xindi species. This is why Dolim kidnaps Sato — because he needs her to crack at least one code not belonging to the reptilians and insectoids. But, why wouldn’t the weapon require all five codes? If the idea is to unify the Xindi people …
That said “The Council” and “Countdown” are pretty solid episodes — and “Zero Hour” mostly works, though there are a few problems.
My biggest gripe is that we see no Earth vessels when the weapon pops up in the Terran system. Shouldn’t there be a fleet of Earth ships ready to defend the planet, on guard after the first Xindi incident? Remember that a year earlier, Earth vessels helped defend Enterprise against a Klingon attack upon Archer’s return to Earth. Keep in mind that the Xindi destroy a science station (identified by Archer) in orbit of the planet, and that Shran shows up — meaning that the battle in Earth’s orbit didn’t take place in the 1940s. This is a constant problem in Trek, with all apologies to the Mars defense perimeter. And why didn’t Archer try to contact Starfleet after Degra’s ship reached Earth — or why didn’t Reed reach out after the weapon was destroyed?
Then, there’s the time travel at the end. Aside from the WTF moment with the alien right before the credits, do we know when Enterprise traveled back in time? Did the Xindi ship that brought Enterprise back to Earth ALSO travel back in time? And doesn’t the ability to bring the entire ship back 200 years seriously increase what we know of Daniels’ abilities?
Putting aside the final developments of “Zero Hour” until our next review, I’m a big fan of the last 10 episodes of this season, and I give the creators credit for tying in the disparate elements from earlier episodes fairly well. It would have been nice for the creators to address why the Xindi conducted their first attack on Earth — which in the long-term, didn’t accomplish anything that the final attack wouldn’t have and merely alerted humanity to the threat. There are ways it could have been justified. Perhaps the reptilians had gone rogue or a subset of Xindi who opposed the bigger attack thought it was the best way to alert humanity?
It’s also too bad that what we see here is essentially the last we see of the Xindi. We know from Daniels that the Xindi and humanity will some day work together, and the unnamed humanoid Xindi who takes over as Archer’s main contact after Degra is killed alludes to forging a relationship. But we don’t see the Xindi again (other than in a dream sequence) after “Zero Hour”. Formalizing relations with them would have been an interesting topic for Enterprise’s final season — or a fifth season that never came to be.
Of course, it’s been speculated — by Connor Trinnear, among others — that the creators ended the episode as they did to make fans angrier at UPN had the show been canceled after the third season (which was a possibility). That’s interesting, but can you imagine if the very last thing we saw in second-generation Trek was an unknown alien with red glowing eyes in a NAZI uniform?
Coming next week …