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The Shipment (Star Trek Enterprise)

01/01/2004. Contributed by Evan Braun

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The Shipment was designed to be a turning point for Enterprise; more specifically, the episode is meant to change the way the viewer responds to the Xindi, by making the race more sympathetic. Unfortunately, our Evan tended to find the writers' tactics here just a little on the obvious side.

The episode picks right up where the last ("Exile") left off. The ship is headed toward the coordinates of the Xindi colony, coordinates that were given to them by Tarquin.

However, as they approach. Ultimately they track the colony down. While Archer, Reed, and Colonel Hayes head down in a shuttlepod, Enterprise remains hidden behind a moon.

I should point out that I half-expected the shuttlepod to run into an atmospheric storm, or by some other means force themselves into a crash landing. With their luck, it seemed likely. Somewhat to my surprise, however, they all made it down safe and sound.

On the surface, they find a large complex from which Xindi-Sloth are walking in and out of. Archer observes that whatever is being done here, it's consuming a lot of power. They devise a plan to sneak into the facility to learn more about the operation. Inside they find that a multiphasic isotope being developed. The substance being produced is known as kinopsyte (spelling is entirely my own guess).

Afterward, Archer and company follow the man in charge of the facility to his home, and corner him there. His name is Gralic, and he insists that he doesn't know what his clients do with the substance.

He is merely the manufacturer. Archer is contacted by T'Pol, who informs him that the kinopsyte was a substance used in the construction of the Xindi probe that attacked Earth several months ago. Gralic, however, is genuinely surprised to hear this.

Which brings us to the "turning point" that I mentioned earlier. Gralic becomes angry at Archer's accusations and tells him, "I've never seen your species before. I've never heard of a planet called Earth, and whether you believe me or not I had nothing to do with killing millions of its inhabitants."

Despite Gralic's assertions of innocence, though, it is proven that the Xindi probe did come from Gralic's facility.

The show takes the time to fill in a few details about the Xindi, about their homeworld and the various species that co-existed there. We learned earlier in the season that the homeworld was destroyed, but we never learned how.

Gralic tells us the Insectoids and the Reptilians detonated explosives under eight major seismic fissures on their world, destroying the planet and putting an end to the wars that had been raging for years. Gralic also tells us that, while there are five species of Xindi now, there used to be a sixth: the Avians, but they have been extinct since the destruction of the homeworld.

Meanwhile, on Enterprise, Trip and Phlox have been puzzling over the Reptilians weapon they recovered several weeks back ("Rajiin"). The weapon has a remarkably resilient biological component serving as the power source. It's highly sophisticated, but Trip begins to develop a strategy that would disable the weapons en masse. Unfortunately, when Trip tries to use the weapon, it overloads and he barely manages to beam it off the ship before it explodes.

Back on the planet, a Reptilian ship arrives to pick up their final shipment of the kinopsyte. Gralic offers to help Archer to obtain information about the intended use of the substance. But when Gralic attempts to gain information, he is told in no uncertain terms by the Reptilians that it's none of his business.

Archer and Gralic modify the shipment of kinopsyte so that it's just different enough that it won't be of use to the Reptilians, as well as transforming one of the kinopsyte canisters to serve as a homing beacon.

At the end of the show, we are meant to be left with the heavy realization that not all Xindi are bad. Alas, the point seems already a bit too obvious, perhaps, to make much of an impact, at least for me.

7.5. It's the thought that counts. Don't get me wrong, I really am quite glad that the writers are making an effort to make the Xindi a three-dimensional villain.

Certainly some of the scenes between Archer and Gralic are the strongest of the season.

Evan Braun

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