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Enterprise review: "The Xindi".
(Episode 53)

Reviewed by Richard Whettestone.
Enterprise

THE PREMISE: Archer and Tucker fall into the trap of being captured as slave workers when they try to locate the Xindi homeworld. They escape with the information, the Enterprise finds the homeworld only to discover it had already been destroyed 150 years earlier, setting up a long-term time travel story requiring Archer to change the future in order to change the past to save Earth. Or something. Meanwhile, T'Pol discovers going topless makes Tucker sleepy.

"The Xindi"
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
(the usual suspects)


Hoshi Sato At this rate of speed, we'll be up to Kirk's time period within two seasons.

After years and years of producing entire seasons of fluff, filler and padding, Berman and Braga now continue their new tradition of quickly cycling through months of content within a matter of mere minutes in their desperate attempt to keep the show afloat.

In this episode, we learn that it has now been a full six weeks since the Enterprise has entered the Expanse, and already the Enterprise has encountered dangerous and hostile freighter captains and aliens, all off screen before this episode even began.

Furthermore, the starship has already learned about the Xindi and even made contact with one within just this one episode, even though we had to put up with endless scenes of Archer and Tucker whining about how they've been looking for the Xindi "for so long" and getting "tired of not finding them".

Taking it one step further, the episode actually opens with the Xindi in the Teaser.


Enterprise No, no. Build Up the Suspense!

Now usually I would say here that showing all five or so Xindi species in the first five seconds of the show would be kinda stupid, as it doesn't exactly build up the suspense. But the fact is that B&B are so desperate to attract viewers' attention and that they have to SHOW to viewers that they are punching up the show, that I didn't have a problem showing all of them so soon.

What I did have a problem with is the apparent inconsistencies. They attacked Earth for a planet that was destroyed 150 years ago, which would place the Earth attack on the Xindi homeworld at present day. Meaning we attacked the Xindi right around the time the ''Lord of the Rings'' trilogy came out in theatres. Where the hell are they getting their information? But then they actually believed a ''fleet'' of Earth vessels would be coming at them. Then of course there's the matter of them waiting around 150 years to retaliate. Now of course some of these plot holes SHOULD be explained in the time-travel-based storyline that crosses over to FutureGuy, but I think that even when it's concluded, we'll look back and see things that still don't make sense. We'll just have to wait and see.


Tucker Xindi? Xindi Brady from the Brady Bunch? Oh I love her! That show's great!

Let's talk about the Xindi.

There's some CGI fish guy swimming in an aquarium. Okay. Fine. To add value, he did NOT speak english, which of course was a problem that was caused or kept into play by Berman and Braga themselves. Example: Every single alien on ''Voyager'' speaking english. Those were courtesy of Berman and Braga as well. Although it's vital to point out that the aliens that did NOT speak english were all CGI, and would have required more work to match mouth movements, so don't think they did this for dramatic value. They did it for budget reasons. The dramatic value was a side-effect.

There's a whole bunch of bumpy-foreheaded aliens, one sadly played by Tucker Smallwood, who should have been cast as a MACO soldier or even the MACO commander. He's wasted here, as were the other MACO's we did see.

Battle Beasts

One of those bumpy-foreheaded aliens was suppose to be a Xindi sloth or something. I honestly don't know what a sloth is. I thought it was like a leech, but I think it's suppose to be a lazy monkey animal. I don't know. Either way, they were just bumpy-foreheads to me. I know some fans were anxious to see the Xindi-sloth, but it was just a rubber head again. I think Michael Westmore should go on Ebay and buy some of those old ''Battle Beasts'' Hasbro used to sell. It might give him some inspiration, because I swear he's phoning in his job as always.

Then there's that CGI insect. I was impressed. Good CGI doesn't look like CGI. This looked like CGI because you can just tell the difference in the shadowing or the pixels or whatever, but it was animated well. And again, its not speaking english was a side-effect of cutting the budget by not having to actually animate any mouth to match anything. He also reminded me of an action figure from the Kenner ''Swamp Thing'' collection that I have.

Unfortunately, you have to accept the fact that the cool ones will never be dealt with in any real fashion, simply because it's just too much work to CGI an alien on the level of articulation and interaction in a live-action scene like a bumpy-foreheaded alien. So what this means is we'll see the cool ones occasionally make threats, walk, talk, swim, or we'll see their ships. But we'll be seeing the actors with a bumpy face carry the physical scenes and the majority of the scenes that involve the Enterprise actors.


Reed Man down? Oh baby, let me have at him and I'll get him right up.

The MACOs were added to punch up the action. The MACOs are there to deal with the serious and deadly encounters that regular crew can't handle over. The Enterprise is in the most deadliest area of space they've ever been in before, encountering threats of great magnitude, all for the survival of planet Earth and all mankind, and many won't survive.

Oh wait. They did all survive. I guess B&B didn't see the dramatic potential of having a MACO soldier die right off right there in the first episode the first time they were sent in to do battle. To kick off the dangers of the Expanse with the first death of an Enterprise crewmember could not have been ignored by viewers, especially all of the viewers who know full well that not one single character had managed to die in the two full years they've been attacked by Klingons, Romulans, Borg, Suliban, Tholians and endless aliens-of-the-weeks.

Then of course there's the dramatic value of Reed losing a man under his command of the rescue mission, T'Pol ordering the mission in which he died, Archer dealing with the ship's first casualty, and both Archer and Tucker dealing with the fact that this man died to rescue THEM. Plus go ahead and add to that the dramatic value of revenge-seeking Tucker realizing that to accomplish his revenge for the death of his sister, the result WILL be deaths of more humans.

There's no drama here. Move along.


star Gold Star Bonus!

Those crates flying across the room from one side to the other was kinda cool. Unfortunately, you have to ask the obvious questions, like why didn't the anomally move throughout the ship as the ship moved through the Expanse? Why is it only isolated to just one room and never flinging people? Why don't the boxes come open on impact? Etc.

It was still cool, and scary to see, reminding me of some scenes in ''Poltergeist''.


Archer Nope. The Xindi aren't in here. Although I did find two more Mallurian mining facilities and the Borg Baby. Shut that kid up.

This season better NOT be an entire season of "looking", scattered with aliens-of-the-weeks everywhere, only to find them in the last couple of episodes and solve the threat problem.

On ''Blake's 7'', it took the Liberator crew several continuous episodes to try and track down the location of the Federation super-computer Star One. They were on the run from Servalon at the time, and lost Gan in their first search attempt. And once they did find it, all hell broke loose and the series was never the same there on after. But a season of "looking"? I'm not hearing any information at all that shows this is going in any other direction other than "looking", false leads and threats to "kill the humans". And with an upcoming episode that de-evolves the crew into cavemen and mutants, that aliens-of-the-week stradegy looks like that's what we'll be seeing.

"Looking" for a year is not a story-arc. The plot-twist of the Xindi homeworld having ALREADY been destroyed is giving me hope, but only for the occasional few scattered episodes over a year. And besides, ''Smallville'' has proven they can advance and move forward more stories in a year than B&B have ever done.


Reed and Mayweather You're right Ensign. Last year Archer was obsessed with rescuing those jailed Suliban from Dean Stockwell. But we just left a planet where they enslaved people as workers, murdered them, and even tried to capture our own crew. And he just walked away. Time for that mutiny we've been discussing.

You ''Voyager'' fans have seen this before with Janeway. The actions she took in one episode don't match the actions she takes in a later episode. It's called being inconsistant.


star Gold Star Bonus!

Another Bonus: Tucker's nightmare. It was pretty good. It also showed us a different angle of the attack. I'm reminded of Sisko at Wolf 359 at the battle of the Borg in the ''Deep Space 9'' premiere many years after the battle actually occurred in ''Best of Both Worlds''. I'm also reminded of the few flashbacks we occasionally saw on ''Battlestar Galactica'' that showed a few characters living through the evacuation of the 13 colonies at the Cylon attack. This one was well done.


Archer You mean you honestly thought I came here to talk to them? Starfleet never told you my real mission, did they?

The MACO says that the sooner they find the Xindi, the sooner they can get started with what they have to do. And what would that be? Killing them? The MACOs are suppose to be there for back-up, tight situations, rescue missions, protection and combat as a last resort. Archer did say he needs to "talk" to the Xindi after all. They're not looking for the Xindi to blow them up. Besides, that's what started this mess. And if they really do want to blow them up, they don't have enough people or guns. That scene of the MACO makes it sound like they are there for an assassination mission.

Which then leads me to something that would have really been cool. What if the MACOs have special orders from Starfleet that Archer doesn't know they have? And so when Archer finally gets a meeting with the Xindi... You can speculate on your own. Although it probably won't happen that way. Instead Archer will talk them to death and convince them we're innocent in a long rambling speech that wouldn't even convince us, while Scott Bakula experiences his "unbalanced 12 year-old"-inspired mood swings every other paragraph.


Phlox and Archer I have good news and bad news concerning your escape through the sewage tunnels. The bad news is Tucker now has both an anal and penile infection. The good news is you only just have a penile infection. You'll have to apply the ointment yourself.

I suppose Braga wrote the sewage escape sequence because he thought it would be "kewl". Too bad it wasn't taken to its complete medical conclusion.

And also let's not forget that it shows Berman and Braga are continuing their obsession with poop and pee scenes.


Now let's talk about wasted potential.
Daniel Dae-Kim

DANIEL DAE-KIM: Besides being on one of the best episodes of ''Voyager'' (which of course was NOT written by Berman OR Braga), Daniel Dae Kim was on one of the best science-fiction series: ''Babylon 5: Crusade''. With its story-arcs scheduled to kick-in with Episode 14, and TNT canceling the series after the production of Episode 13, we can never see the potential this series had. Straczynksi made quite clear the cure to the Drahk plague would have been found around season two and that the series was going into a different direction that no one could see. And not to be confused with Doctor Who, Dae-Kim played ''Special Agent Tom Baker'' on ''24''.

Dae-Kim should be heading up entire episodes, not playing a bit-part background soldier who MAY be used again.


Steven Culp

STEVEN CULP: He was good on JAG as Special Agent Clayton Webb, and he still is as he still shows up occasionally. He has played Robert F. Kennedy at least twice in movies, one theatrically and one on television. He has done everything from ''Father Downling Mysteries'', ''Dr Quinn'', Baywatch Nights'' and ''Ally McBeal''. ''24'' fans recently saw him in a few episodes of that show.

Culp should be heading up a starship. In fact, he should be Captain of Enterprise's sister ship, and the series should have been alternating stories back and forth between two starships to keep it interesting.


Tucker Smallwood

TUCKER SMALLWOOD: I'm not going to say anything about Tucker. I'm not going to tell you about his role on the greatest science-fiction series ever made, ''Space: Above and Beyond''. I'm not going to tell you about how great of an actor he is. Instead, I'll just leave you with this single MPEG Video clip that you can download and play for yourself.

Tucker Smallwood ''Space: Above and Beyond'' clip: 1.58MB, 16 seconds


T'Pol I'm a Vulcan. Don't get logical with... Hey! I have a new catsuit!

So, Future Guy told them that someday Earth will destroy the Xindi homeworld, yet here it was already destroyed. Apparently, this is suppose to mean something. Apparently, the writers of this episode, who coincidently happened to have been the show's producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, think they're creating some plot-twisting mind-boggling story-arc to baffle and intrigue fans everywhere to get them hooked. One problem, B&B don't have a clue what they're doing.

Was I intrigued with the planet having ALREADY been destroyed by the time Archer shows up? Yeah. But after I remembered that I was watching something written by B&B and remembered that they don't have a clue where they are going or what they are doing, I quickly stopped thinking about it. Because there was no reason to think about it. Because Berman and Braga didn't even think about it. They just made up something at the last minute to toss on the air. They like to pretend they have a story-arc, they like to call it that and tell people that, but they don't. After all they don't even know how long they'll be spending in the Expanse. They said it themselves in interviews. Will it be just for a few episodes? Half a season? A complete season? Multiple seasons? The rest of the series? They don't know. And they said they don't know.

They don't know who tractor beamed the Caretaker Reactor Core through subspace on ''Voyager''. It was forgotten. They don't know what happened to the Borg Baby on ''Voyager''. After fans complained, Braga says on the INTERNET that they returned the baby home off screen and didn't think that was worth showing. They don't know what happened to Janeway's Holonovel on ''Voyager''. Jeri Taylor said they rush-wrote a conclusion and yet still didn't film it. They don't know who Future Guy is. They've admitted they've "narrowed it down to possibilities but we can change it". They don't know what the Temporal Cold War is about. They admitted they only have 25% of it worked out and create the remaining 75% as it goes along. But considering virtually every non-finale/premiere Temporal Cold War episode was written by people OTHER than B&B, clear proof exists to disqualify even the 25% claim.

Does B&B have it worked out who attacked the Xindi planet? When Archer will find the weapon? Why Future Guy lied? Who is moving all the chess pieces? The purpose of manipulating the Suliban? Daniel's purpose? No. No. No. No. No. No.

Do they know the reasons behind this planet having ALREADY been destroyed by the time Archer finds it? No.

Anybody can make up crap as they go along and CLAIM they have a story-arc when they look back on years of wandering. They did that with ''Voyager''. But a story-arc has a beginning, a middle and an end. B&B have a beginning, and... that's it. Production-wise, even with a full seven year run, Enterprise is already more than 1/3rd over. And they still don't know. They've admitted that.

The Bottom Line: Fans want a story-arc. That means a beginning, middle and an end that is pre-planned and moving forward and building up to a destination, with surprises and plot-twists that sneak up on viewers. B&B doesn't seem to understand this simple point.


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