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original airdate: 05-19-04

After force feeding the fans of Star Trek Enterprise a single story for an entire season, the Xindi terrorism plot is starting to taste good. That’s either because things finally started making sense last week, or we know we only have a few more bites left before we’ve cleaned our plate. Or maybe "Countdown" really is a good episode. Whatever the reason, it’s nice to feel like we’re watching Star Trek again, instead of some 8 bit mini-series.

"Countdown" continues the three part story started by last week’s "The Council." In fact, the “last time on Enterprise” contained segments exclusively from last week’s show (unlike some weeks when the “last time” was a gumbo of plots spanning as far back as last season). The Reptilian and Insectiod Xindi have commandeered the weapon, transport-napped Hoshi and locked their sights on Earth.

Things look grim!

So Archer fights with the leaders of the Sloth and Humanoid Xindi to meet with the Aquatics council members. Their heavy ships could be the only thing capable of stopping the super weapon before it reaches Earth. But as Archer learns, they may be called Aquatics but their actions are more like Sloths (further explaining why Sloths are now referred to as Arboreal).

Meanwhile Hoshi learns she’s been kidnapped to aid the Reptilian Xindi in cracking the Aquatics command codes so they can launch the death star thingie. Hoshi has proven herself to have superhuman powers when it comes to languages, and yet she seems to get less and less stage time. It’s nice to see her in a subplot. Sure it’s a hostage sub plot, but we’ll take it!

She’s exposed to some crazy mindbending worms. They don’t prove to be as effective as the ones Khan used because Hoshi is able to resist them and earn herself a second batch. The frequency of barbaric medicinal practices used in the 22nd century seems odd. Phlox’s menagerie of alien beast remedies was a novel idea in the pilot. But now it turns out most of the galaxy is using some sort of space leech or another.

T’Pol’s still suffering from her alien drug usage. Not blood worms, but Trillium D. However, this week, they don’t mention that she’s a recovering user. Instead they chalk her emotional behavior up to stress and leave it up to the audience’s memory to fill in the blank. That’s good storytelling! We don’t need the continuity banged over our heads every week. We’ll remember. And if we missed an episode then reruns will fill us in later.

Continuing with his continuity, Archer is able to convince the Aquatics to join their cause by promising to destroy the Spheres that plague the Xindi. Enterprise is then loaded into the belly of their gigantic water ship. We don’t know that Enterprise is carry-on baggage until later. But the Captain’s window is filled with water and machines instead of stars.

The mystery of the window gives way to new questions as T’Pol talks about joining Star Fleet. There’s probably a movement to see T’Pol in a uniform. These are the same bozos who wanted her to start crying and lashing out. But wasn’t Spock the first Vulcan in Star Fleet? Sure, Enterprise is damaging the time line, but just how much can they rewrite before we’re in a parallel universe and not the past? That answer will come when there is a Tribble Captain.

Meanwhile in the future, sort of, the Sphere-building Valkyries decide to take action against Enterprise. A neighboring Sphere, cleverly named Sphere 41, forms a spatial barrier between the Xindi good guys and the Xindi bad guys. Just in the nick of time the M.A.C.O’s are able to save Hoshi, but at the expense of Major Hayes. Poor guy got shot while trying to beam away. Guess in the past, the old “beamed them out at the last second” trick doesn’t work.

The convenient spatial distortion tips the CG Insectoids off that their Angels just might be Devils after all. So the Reptilians blow the Insectoids ship to pieces and roll over the remains with their giant spinning ball of doom. Now it’s just the Reptilians against all the Xindi and the humans.

Next week in the season finale, we’ll see which probable time line will prevail. And we’ll hopefully set the Xindi aside and let some other Star Trek villains share the spot light.

Before we find out the fate of all Star Fleet’s history let’s put "Countdown" up against the Star Trek Alien rating scale…

Wormhole Aliens
Deep Space Nine opened with the Bajorans' Prophets. It was a subplot that was sure to be doomed. But the producers stuck with it, and though DS9 went through season after season of changes, they kept the Wormhole Aliens (Prophets) till the very last episode. The Xindi are a very similar endurance test.

Plus they lived outside of time. Sort of.

Kevin Miller

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