A reminder that, in war, sides are just an idea and innocents abound. Originally broadcast on October 29, 2003 this is The Shipment.
Captain’s Starlog date Undetermined
After finding out where the probe that attacked Earth came from, Enterprise raids the mining complex where it originated. There they meet an Arboreal Xindi who denies knowing what Archer is talking about only to find that, Gralik, the Arboreal, is being truthful. It seems the Xindi leadership were not truthful in what they were using the ore for. It seems that the Xindi are not as unified as Archer once believed when he learns that many of the Xindi are actually peaceful people who are not interested in any kind of conflict. Soon the Reptilian Xindi arrive to pick up the last of the needed ore and Gralik helps Archer and team find a way to track the shipments so that they can discover where the Xindi leadership is located. In the end Archer learns that even though they are in a war, not every Xindi is bad.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I have to applaud Enterprise’s effort to do an overarching story this season but, man are these episodes very spotty at best. This one in particular goes out of it’s way to not just move the plot forward, i.e., let’s figure out where those Bastard Xindi are, but creates a rather complex and intricate story just to remind Archer that not every single Xindi is his enemy.
Now, for such an enlightened species humanity is supposed to be at this point, Archer going into Xindi space with a vengeance is in and of itself a massive character flaw that just doesnt match the same Archer we saw in the previous two seasons. This Archer comes across as a rather non-caring and frustrated man who is not really thinking about the reality of war. Sadly, his character is being used as a reflection of what was going on, and is really still going on, in the Middle East at the time this series aired. With the Xindi as an analog for terrorists and the attack on Earth a analog for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Archer is placed in the position of the ‘Angry Everyman American’ who sees danger in everyone who has darker skin than he does. If you look at this episode from that perspective, it actually works. This season is showing the distrust, anger, frustration and dream of vengeance that much of America felt after the attacks, but then, at times, it shows that having a harsh dream of vengeance against an entire people group is unjust, even if a few of them are hurting others. It’s a great message that shows the extremes people go through to ‘make a point’ or to ‘get revenge’, and, if they just took a moment to stop and realize that these smaller groups do not represent the whole, but only a small fraction of those that happen to look the same. Archer learns this in this particular episode and, whether it sticks or not is anyone’s guess, but he seems to have learned something this time.
While the story is a good one, as I mention above, using Archer as this ‘Angry American’ analog just doesn’t work. Not that Scott Backula doesn’t do a good job at it, no in fact he does fine, it’s just not the Archer we have come to know. If it had been someone else and Archer had to go after him, then sure, but this Archer is just mean and rather untrusting of, well, everyone. In essence he’s become a dick instead of the honorable and standup leader he started out as. At this point in the story, I really don’t care for Archer and his quest for vengeance. Yeah, sure, he gets better but the version at the start of this episode (and much of the season so far) is terrible.
Overall, The Shipment is a solid continuation of the Xindi storyline. While Archer’s dickish actions don’t quite fit his character, I can see where they are heading with this. I just wish this had been earlier in the series and not three years in, then the character development would have made much more sense in the long run.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We learn that there were once six Xindi species but the Avian Species died off in a war between the many species.
- It appears that Xindi weapons use living creatures as a power source and will overload if someone unauthorized attempts to use it.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Twilight
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Late To The Game 9/6/2021
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