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The Council
original airdate: 05-12-04

It’s taken nearly a year but the humans are finally entering the last leg of their journey to stop the Xindi from destroying Earth. After last week’s Voyager inspired episode, Enterprise aired Act One of a three part story. Next week the plot will thicken, leading up to a heavy season finale and hopefully the END of the Xindi saga.

Much like any good three act story, this episode introduces the main characters like learning how the pieces on a chess board move. Since we’ve known most of them for almost three years, and we’re in the endgame phase, some of the information in "The Council" is more for color and humor. Captain Archer and Hoshi’s continual conversations about being sent to the principal’s office are both amusing and great snapshots of their personalities.

Tripp and Phlox also share a comical conversation about alternative dieting. Having an intergalactic tape worm just might be healthier then the Atkins diet. What makes their scene even more impressive is the long single sweeping shot as they leave the medical bay and walk directly to the mess hall, where Tripp picks up a piece of pie. Great camera work.

Right at the top of the show, after the “previously on Enterprise,” we get an inside glimpse of the Sphere Builder’s “home base.” A race of no nosed lizard girls float through white fog in a sort of Wormhole Alien’s dimension. Maybe they’re really Prophets sent to protect the Bajoran people. Oh, no, wait – they’re the Guardians of the Xindi…

For twenty plus week’s the connection between the Sphere Builders and the Xindi has been fuzzy, and now we know the Xindi revere them as angels. More then likely they were also the very force that destroyed the Xindi home world and helped the now dead sixth Xindi race to conquer Xindis.

Meeting the Guardians in those 15 seconds shed some light on the idea of Temporal Warfare. They refer to probable time lines and possible out comes, as if they’re living in a place where time can’t affect them till the outcome is determined in the past. Possible outcomes must be weeded out by interacting with the Xindi at different times. Or maybe they just have some gigantic magic eight ball that helps them time travel. The latter is a little easier to put into words…

Meanwhile T’Pol, Mayweather, Reed and Mr. Red Shirt head out to a sphere to gather critical data. Mr. Red Shirt (a M.A.C.O.) is vaporized by a robotic arm. Who didn’t see that coming? Reed fires repeatedly at the arm, snapping it back like a mini boss in first person shooter. Look for this level to be matched up with the Vulcan inspired level from episode "Impulse." It’s as if this whole season was designed to be a first person shooter game.

I’d buy it.

When Tripp is forced to work with Degra he sets aside his rage and places a face on his enemy. It’s very nice to see Tripp’s vengeance story arc come to a close. He’ll always be hurt from the loss of his sister, but it’s good to know he won’t always be looking for a way to cut a Xindi throat.

Instead, Commander Dolim will do the throat cutting. Just as it looks like the puzzle of peace is coming together, the Reptilian commander comes into Degra’s quarters and guts him. It’s a pretty gripping scene, with a rather cheesy tag line, but gripping none the less. It’s also nice to finally know the specific characteristics of each of the Xindi council members. Much like the well deserved information about the relationship between the Sphere Builders we finally know what the Humanoids think about the Reptilians, how the Aquatics switch to sonar when speaking in past tense, and how the Sloth Xindi preferred to be called Arboreal. (Relating to or resembling a tree. Sloth is NOT P.C.)

And Archer’s morality seems to be jumping a few notches up. After terrorizing the sector in the name of stopping terrorism, the first captain in deep space has stretched out his hand to the Xindi council without firing a phaser. He could be regaining his morality. Or next week he could run over a space grandma to get to work on time. Who knows?

Like a lot of three part stories, "The Council" is steeped in political bickering with a hint of action. The Fellowship of the Rings weighs in with the council. The Phantom Menace was basically a pod race build up to a single battle. Even the most perfectly constructed trilogy of all time holds true to the same formula: The Terminator.

In the last minutes of "The Council" the Xindi weapon is ACTUALLY LAUNCHED! Not a dream sequence, alternate reality, or possible future. The sucker actually leaves its launch bay and flies towards Earth! Enterprise and a handful of new Xindi supporters fight it off as Hoshi is beamed away.

Next week the action will build as they "Count Down" to zero hour. And the commercials are already hinting at the loss of a major crew member. Now’s your last chance to vote for who you think should be written off the show.

Before we kick anyone off, even the Xindi, let’s go to the Goodson proof Star Trek alien rating scale.

If the Federation could distrust the Romulans for centuries and then band together in their darkest hour against a common foe, then the Xindi and humans can fight off the manipulative Sphere Builders.

Kevin Miller

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