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On TV Today's Date:

The Shipment
original airdate: 10-29-03

So was this a two-parter or what? The opening of this week's episode of Enterprise was a quick recap of the previous, rather hum-drum episode. In less than a minute we're reminded of the alien telepath who used a super crystal to locate a secret Xindi compound.

This week we visit the compound in an attempt to learn more about the foul Xindi's Earth-bound weapon. But why the one minute update? Because this whole season has focused on the hunt for the Xindi. Since its second episode, Enterprise has been an ever weaving tapestry of stories. The continuity from episode to episode is almost overwhelming, perhaps to the point where new viewers can't catch on.

Will every episode begin with, "Last time on Enterprise?" We'll have to find out next time. In the meantime Enterprise is running out of time searching for the Xindi weapon… just in time.

Every week T'Pol disagrees with Archer's gut decisions to investigate some planet, and this week is no exception. And just like every time before, Archer is right. It seems the alien telepath was telling the truth, and on some remote planet one of the five Xindi species has set up a kimosite refinery.

Archer sets down with a small away team (of people who actually belong on an away team, for a change). They mask the shuttle pod's signal and fall to the planet like a meteorite, or maybe a really lame firework.

Once on the ground they trap the lead Xindi engineer, Gralik (John Cothran Jr.) in his own home. His alien hut looks like something from the Forest Moon of Endor. Actually, this branch of the Xindi could be cousins to the Wookies. Officially they're called the Xindi-Sloth, but that doesn't seem very politically correct. In fact, none of the five Xindi species have very PC names. They're the sloth, the reptilians, the insectoids and the prime-mates. We haven't yet learned what the underwater manatee race is called. But it'll probably be something clever, like "mer-folk."

According to Gralik there once was a sixth Xindi race. They were wiped out after the "great war." More than likely because they were the only race that wasn't identified by their generic creature form. Unless there is some creature called the Abi. Or whatever.

It's really hard to take the Xindi seriously with their pentagon shaped family tree. (Shouldn't it really be sextagonal?) On one hand you have to admit that in space there are infinite possibilities and no reason why five or six incredibly different races couldn't evolve on the same world at the same time. On the other hand, it sure does seem convenient. At least the make-up folks are paying attention. All five, even the insectoids, have the same shaped eye sockets… Is that even worth noting?

Back to what matters. Archer and the Wookie Xindi, Gralik, wrestle back and forth. Archer accuses him of arming the Xindi with a weapon to eliminate humanity. Gralik denies the whole thing and keeps trying to reach Han Solo.

Meanwhile in the B-Story line… Trip works with Phlox to break apart one of the reptilian Xindi's weapons. They discover the gun is powered by a brain worm that instantly reproduces when it's removed. Phlox studies the brain worms, hoping to find a way to kill them. If he's successful, any future reptilian Xindi invasion could be halted.

Viruses and bacteria don't affect it. And just before he tries exposing it to hours of senseless reality TV shows, he discovers that delta radiation renders it useless. A good thing, too, because The Joe Schmo Show just finished this week.

But much like Alice learned that one half of the mushroom makes you big and the other small, Phlox warns Trip that delta radiation kills the brain worm and omicron makes it lethally reproductive. We're talking tribble speed here.

We don't get to see an omicron backfire this week. In fact we don't' even get to see a delta radiation experiment, because when Trip pulls the trigger on the alien gun a timer starts ticking. They frantically look for a safety switch - as if they hadn't been examining the thing for two days - and in a last second move of "quick thinking" Trip runs the gun down the hall, knocking down extras, and uses the conveniently placed teleporter to beam it out in space, just before it explodes.

Why is the teleporter in the middle of a hallway? What if something was beamed in and exploded? No force fields. No reinforced walls. Just kaboom. Who designed this ship, anyway?

Back on the surface Archer begins to believe Gralik. The rest of the away team think he's mad to trust the Wookie-Xindi, but instead of killing him and destroying the compound they head for the hills. The reptilian and prime-mate Xindi come looking for the rest of their kimosite and want Gralik to give his final chemical blessing. So they send "seekers" into the woods. These leftovers from the "great war" jet at lighting fast speeds, are equipped with the same brain worms, and look like green versions of Darth Maul's seekers in The Phantom Menace.

The away team evades the "seekers" and strikes a deal with Gralik. If he can lie to the reptilian and prime-mates then Enterprise won't destroy their compound. Seems fair enough. So while Gralik distracts the bad Xindi, Archer sneaks into their ship and secretly replaces their regular kimosite for new and improved tracking kimosite with added flavor crystals.

In a trite goodbye Gralik reminds Archer that not all Xindi are the same. And that they don't all want to destroy his home world. Despite their alien sub-species, each individual Xindi is different, and you can't judge a book by its cover.

For more on racism and hate crimes, visit your local library.

Next week Enterprise magically speeds forward in time in a Star Trek version of Memento. Hopefully this will be a much needed vacation from the hunt for the Xindi. Only time will tell…

On the alien species scale this week's episode scores a…
You guessed it. Wookie. (Yeah, yeah, Star Wars, Star Trek, it's all the same. Happy Life Day.)

Kevin Miller

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