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Overview – The Enterprise is badly damaged after a devastating Xindi attack that has left over a dozen crew members dead. They have a meeting set up with Degra, the Xindi-Primate scientist who developed the weapon that attacked Earth, and Jannar, the Xindi-Arboreal Council member, hoping to convince them of the truth behind the Sphere builders. As they attempt to form an alliance with the Xindi representatives, Tucker must come to terms with a letter he is asked to write for a fallen comrade and the emotions it is causing him to experience.
Score: 8/10 – As we wind down the Xindi arc that comprises the third season, we are given this treat of an episode that starts tying up a lot of threads that have begun throughout the season. Of the many highlights in this episode, I particularly enjoyed the opening memorial that Archer holds for the fallen crewmembers. I also liked how the Enterprise is still badly banged up from the previous episodes. With the exception of “Year of Hell”, this is one of the complaints that fans had about Star Trek: Voyager that was remedied here. The ship has been through an almost literal hell, and they have not been able to make the necessary repairs between the last two episodes. Even the crew are still sooty and unkempt, giving the happenings of the last few epsidoes weight and significance. It is a nice attention to detail. We had some great development of several characters and the fractious Xindi council continues to splinter. Malcom Reed shows some of his grit by completing his assignment with extinguishing the plasma fire on the hull of the ship. Phlox gets to show the different ways that he can be supportive of his crewmates, ranging from a nurturing role with T’Pol to a more stern, tough-love approach with Tucker. Archer continues to show the strains of command from this difficult mission, while Tucker and T’Pol continue to sort through the psychological burdens that the mission has placed upon their shoulders. There is a good dose of action with the arrival of the Reptilian Xindi vessel, and we finally see some members of the Xindi Council begin to accept the truth of what Archer has been telling them. Most notably, Degra is showing his remorse for the weapon that he created, and takes the final step that begins his road to redemption by destroying the Reptilian vessel. Underlying all of this is a simple yet poignant story of Tucker having to write a letter to the family of one of his fallen crew, forcing him to acknowledge the grief he bears over the loss of his sister. In the end, we see that those that have fallen will not be forgotten, at least not in the minds of those who worked with them. Overall, a great episode.
Relevance – 3 points. Points are scored for T’Pol’s continuation struggles to deal with her trillium addiction, Tucker finally accepting the impact of his sister’s death, and finally for Degra destroying the Reptilian vessel with the hope that it will ensure that Enterprise can reach the Xindi council. The repercussions of this action will have a significant impact in upcoming episodes. There could also have been points scored for the reference to the episode “Carpenter Street” when Archer shows Degra and Jannar the bodies of the Reptilian Windi they found and killed in 2004, and to the crewmen killed in an earlier episode as “The Forgotten” begins with their memorial.
Continuity – 3 points. For character continuity, everything checks out. A lot of people seem to try to ignore orders, from Reed’s refusal to stop his work with the plasma fire as his EVA suit reaches dangerous levels, to Tucker bargaining down Phlox’s order to get some sleep so that he can keep the ship together all fit with their characters. Story wise things also check out, especially the fact the Enterprise is still heavily damaged. If not for Degra’s assistance, the Reptilians would have finished them off for good. Universe continuity also checks out here.
Character Development – 3 points. I at first thought that this show would do more to develop Archer’s character, and maybe T’Pol, but it soon becomes apparent that it is Trip that gets the most attention. His order to write the letter to crewman Taylor’s family weighs heavy on him, and it is a catalyst that forces him to accept that he is feeling conflicted for mourning the death of his sister Elisabeth more than the other 7 million people killed in the Xindi attack. This also leads to some significant development for T’Pol as she bonds with Tucker over this. Archer also gets some significant growth as he continues to address the desperation of their situation. Phlox and Reed get some good moments as well (and of course, Hoshi and Travis are given some token lines, but that’s about it).
Social Commentary – 2 points. Coping with the tragedies of our lives, looking for internal healing, or remembering the forgotten. Any of these themes can apply to this episode. We tend to take the loss of loved ones harder than the loss of complete strangers, and sometimes we feel guilt over this fact. We recognize that all lives matter, but we feel that by feeling the loss of those we knew more keenly than the loss of strangers that we have somehow failed. I think the point that Trip came to in that it was fine to grieve his sister more than to grieve the other millions of lives that were lost is one we can all acknowledge. Yes, he knew that Elizabeth was no more important than any other life lost, but she was more important to him.
Cool Stuff – 2 points. A point is scored here for the plasma fire and the hull walk needed to fix it. I also score a point here for the first appearance of Seth MacFarlane as an engineer that Tucker berates. MacFarlane, who is best known for creating the animated show “The Family Guy” (and, this fall, Trek-like “The Orville” which appears to be a parody/homage to Star Trek) is a huge Star Trek fan. While his humor tends to lean more to the raunchy side of things, I almost always appreciated his Trek references in his work. At a convention several years ago, Connor Trineer admitted that when Seth was on the show, he had no idea who he was or what Family Guy was. When he realised how big MacFarlane was, Connor thought that maybe Trip shouldn’t have yelled at him so much.
Rank – Admiral (21 points). This episode gives us necessary plot movement to advance the story that arches across the season while delving into the human condition that deals with loss and tragedy. Some fine acting gets us set up for a solid end to this year-long adventure.
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