In the seventh episode of the third season of Enterprise, Archer must convince a Xindi to betray their own kind. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
I expected a lot more cynicism from this episode, so the most surprising aspect of “The Shipment” is the fact that Archer accomplishes his goal… sort of. He does so without Gralik betraying him, which I thought was going to happen THE ENTIRE TIME. The depth provided by this choice, however, gives the audience a better idea of who the Xindi are and how someone like Gralik could be complicit in something he knew nothing about. WHICH IS SO WILD TO ME. I expected all the Xindi to know what the council was doing, but this suggests that the information they have on humanity is being kept in close confidence. Why? Why not reveal it to the rest of the population? Is there some sinister reason to that, or is the council trying to solve this problem without involving anyone who doesn’t need to know?
I’m jumping ahead of myself, of course, but it’s hard not to when a story hints so heavily at potential future storylines. I don’t want to discount the development of both Gralik and Archer within “The Shipment,” though, because that was a lot of fun, too. See, for the first act, I couldn’t possibly believe that Gralik didn’t know what he was producing the Kemocite for. At best, I believed that maybe he was intrigued by Archer, so he humored Archer just to find out why this human was in his house. But by the end of the episode, it was clear that Gralik was kept completely in the dark. He really hadn’t ever seen a human before, nor had he even heard of Earth. Y’all, I kept waiting for him to reveal it was all a trap, BUT IT NEVER HAPPENED. The implications of this are so disturbing, y’all. How many other weapons has Gralik contributed to? What other uses for Kemocite have contributed to the harm of others? And yet, even if this was the first time, it’s still horrifying. Seven million people died. It wouldn’t have happened without Gralik’s work.
Thus, this becomes a story about Gralik’s attempt to divorce himself from this complicity. After he gets evidence of what he’s been indirectly involved in, he offers Archer something more than just his help: the story of the Xindi civil war. Y’all, I made another assumption: I figured that someone else had destroyed the Xindi homeworld. NOPE. A war between the various species that lived on their home planet resulted in the extinction of the Xindi-avians, the sixth member of the race. So that makes the Xindi community an uneasy alliance, and it also explains why there’s so much conflict between the different species. They hated each other so much that some of the Xindi BLEW UP THEIR OWN PLANET. Now, they’re spread about the Expanse, which… lord. THE EXPANSE MIGHT HAVE BEEN DELIBERATE. I still can’t deal with that though, so let me move on because help. So what if this is just the start of some Xindi finding out what their “government” is doing? I use that word lightly because I’m not actually sure what sort of organizational process there is for the Xindi. Does the council rule matters between the Xindi? Was there a peace treaty written after the civil war?
I have no idea, and I’m guessing we’ll get more of this story later. But there’s a conscious decision on the part of writers to at least give Gralik some sympathy, to show us that he truly didn’t know what he’d taken part in, and that he wanted to change who he was. That’s not an easy thing to pull off, and at the end of “The Shipment,” we don’t even know what price Gralik will have to pay. That’s not really the point, though; he wanted to do the right thing regardless of the cost. He’ll have to worry about Degra for a long time, but if that means that he’ll no longer be handing over his Kemocite for using in weaponry, then it’s a start. There’s a brilliant parallel here, of course, since the show also features Archer’s refusal to play into the expectations the Xindi have of humans. He could have blown up that production facility, but chose not to in order to subvert the misconceptions the Xindi had. Because look: even if they destroy this weapon, who’s to say that the Xindi will just stop attacking Earth? They’ve got to prove that the information they were given wasn’t true or that it can be avoided.
We’ll see how long that lasts, though.
The video for “The Shipment” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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