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Zero Hour

original airdate: 05-26-04

Fans of Enterprise can stop holding their breath for a couple of reasons. First, if you haven’t been keeping up, or didn’t check out our forums; Star Trek: Enterprise has indeed been renewed for a fourth season. Secondly, the Xindi season long storyline has finally come to a close…Or as closed as anything can be on the continuity crazy Enterprise.

RED ALERT: Spoilers ahead.

Hard to believe, really, but the Xindi were first introduced one year ago in the second season finale. The entire episode featured Enterprise just getting to the Delphic expanse. This should have been a sign that it would take an entire season to finally BEAT the Xindi. But who would’ve dreamed that up? Star Treks have been using season finale cliffhangers for years. The safe bet was that the Xindi would be defeated in the third season PREMIERE – not finale.

Sadly, a story that took 26 episodes to be told could’ve been completed in less then 6. The Xindi Saga wasn’t so much an epic tale that needed an entire year to be explained properly. But instead it was a shorter story stretched out to an uncomfortable length.

But the season is in the past and we’ll focus on the well earned finale, appropriately titled: "Zero Hour."

It may have taken a full year to get to it, but the final Xindi battle is full of action. Lots of space dog fights. Plenty of alien on human fisticuffs. And a fair share of phaser showdowns. Not to mention all sorts of cool explosions and galactic disasters. It’s what a finale should have.

The Andorians, and Commander Shran, make a cameo helping Captain Archer beam onto the Xindi super weapon. Shran is one of the most interesting characters on Enterprise. The Andorians haven’t gotten much attention in the past Star Treks. So while the Vulcans, Romulans and Klingons have all gotten a “modern” revamp, the Andorians have been hiding in the shadows with their little blue antenna balls. Shran is borderline obsessed with keeping score with Archer. It’s a very clever character trait, and a well deserved insight into the Andorian psyche.

Once on the Xindi super weapon, the M.A.C.O. handle a bulk of the alien boxing matches. As Enterprise’s version of the “red shirts,” M.A.C.O.’s have been on the show this season as the expendable crew members who can die and no one cares, like on old school Trek when Kirk, Spock, Bones and Mr. Smith would beam down to a planet. Only Mr. Smith would end up being killed.

But instead of on some studio planet, the M.A.C.O.s fight the Xindi inside the super weapon, which, since last week, has received a major upgrade. There is still a giant spinning command center inside the core of the sphere weapon. But the lighting inside (and on the Reptilian ship) has become dramatically more theatrical. Both sets look and feel like a cinema set, instead of a TV set. Great work for the season finale, but it creates some weird continuity questions. Why wasn’t their ship that cool last week?

Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, Trip and crew try to take out the Guardian’s Spheres and engage the transdimensional aliens in some phaser fights. But Fanboys are suddenly reminded of the Borg, when the crew’s phasers have no affect on the alien terrorists. They walk through the ship, blowing up systems, and the phaser shots go right through them. That is until the ingenious Dr. Phlox has them rotate phaser frequency.

The Guardians, like the Andorians, highlight some of the clever writing on Enterprise. All of the Guardian leaders are women. The only male Guardian was the test tube parakeet in "Harbinger." But their ruling sex class is never mentioned. Unlike the Xindi, who constantly remind us that there are five distinct races, and at one time six. Any instance when two or more Xindi races appeared throughout the season, someone reminded the audience that there is a Reptilian, Humanoid, Arboreal, Insectiod, Aquatics and the extinct Aerials (interestingly enough, the only flying people in all of Star Trek alien history).

The season finale featured a subplot, which has not been banged over our heads for a season. Captain Archer forces Hoshi to recover from her mind warping experience in last week’s Count Down. Hoshi, like Mayweather, has been cast aside in the past months. The last two episodes have helped grow her relationship with the Captain. In the first season there were a few episodes dealing with Hoshi’s fear of space travel and her superhuman ability to decipher alien languages. The Xindi have overshadowed her character’s growth, and it’s only fitting that they’d give her a heap of lines in the season finale.

To answer the year old question, Archer DOES destroy the Xindi weapon. Also, Trip and T’Pol take out the network of Guardian Spheres which created the Delphic expanse and killed off the She-people. They had to use Enterprise but Archer takes out the weapon by hand, no less. From inside the spinning sphere of doom he sets charges that make the sucker blow up just like a death star. Which it is, really.

But he doesn’t beam out in time. And now the four minute trick ending that will have Fanboys holding their breath, again, for the rest of summer.

Time traveling Lieutenant Daniels shows up midway through the episode to warn Archer that if he dies the Federation may never be founded. Archer blows him off, claiming that his mission will succeed, even if it means he needs to die… VERY OMINOUS.

After the Xindi Death Star explodes T’Pol and the others carry on like Archer won’t be back for another season. After Enterprise is dumped out in the Sol systems back yard by a Xindi Aquatic’s super ship, they zoom into Earth but can’t make contact with Star Fleet command. The Xindi took out a communications array during their attack, so T’Pol orders a shuttle pod to land and figure out what’s wrong with Star Fleet.

And instead of finding the space age San Francisco they’re attacked by 20th century American fighter planes. And, presumably, not in San Francisco, Archer’s body shows up in and a Nazi war camp. All around stand mean looking Germans and some unnamed bluish purple looking alien.

Who the hell is that!??

So Daniels was right. Somebody must’ve fired a temporal weapon and prolonged World War II for two hundred years. Interestingly in all that time no one bothered to build a computer because the Nazi’s are picking away at an old typewriter and using oil lanterns for sight.

It’s going to be another interesting season.

But before we speculate anymore on season four let’s put the season finale up against the final Star Trek alien rating scale…

Hour Zero scores a…

It’s kinda against the rule to use the aliens in the episode as the score in the alien rating scale. Like using a word to define itself. But with the Xindi beginning and ending 27 solid episodes, it’s only fitting that the finale would actually remind us of the very first time we ever heard their names. And may it be at least two or three episodes before we hear them again…

Kevin Miller

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