Thursday, January 5, 2023

Enterprise, Season 3: The Council

Enterprise, Season 3
"The Council"
Airdate: May 12, 2004
73 of 97 produced
73 of 97 aired


The Enterprise reaches the Xindi Council world, where Archer must plead the case for a draw down of violent intentions among the Xindo towards humankind.

But still doesn't find time to shower or shave, because SERIOUSNESS!





Kevin: And we are finally at the fireworks factory! Archer gets to directly confront the Council and things happen as a result. The bulk of these scenes work pretty well. Almost like a stage play, every character has a clear point of view and subjectively understandable motivation and the clash is organic and has some zing. I don't have a ton more to say on most of the A-plot because it is pretty paint by number for the conflict. My only complaint, and it's not really a complaint, is that there were two ways to resolve the impasse at the council. Dolin, the Reptilian Xindi either uses violence to break the stalemate or is convinced or outmaneuvered by the others. I think the more interesting plot is figuring out how to do that latter. The former is fine, and the action show we got was competently executed. But the more "Trek" story is cracking the nut of using one's words, at least most of the time. This has been an action heavy season, and I'm glad that action is coming to a head, but I do yearn for a boring talker of an episode.

Matthew: I was kind of hoping for a story about the reptilians, giving us their point of view.  The previous Enterprise episode with the arboreal Gralik Durr gave us back story about the avian species and the fall of the Xindi homeworld, which I liked quite a bit. I want more of that, and this was an opportunity to do so with the "villainous" reptilians. Why are they so militaristic? Another episode that comes to mind is TNG "Chain of Command," in which we hear of the desperate state of Cardassian society before its militaristic fascist government rose to power. Do we like military fascism? No (most of us anyway). But can we understand it? Yes. Anyhow, missed opportunities aside, I am in broad agreement with generally enjoying the way the races are portrayed, and I thought Archer's presentation was fairly good. If anything, I would rather the season had given us an episode apiece on each Xindi species, with Archer visiting them in an attempt to understand and convince them. But what we got here wasn't shabby in that respect.

Kevin: The Sphere Builder plot is a standard villain plot, and the only objection I'm really going to lodge at this point is that the plan, as is the case more often than not, doesn't quite make sense. Why not terraform interstellar space? I suppose it's possible that the extradimensional aliens need preexisting planets, but I don't quite buy that. It just seems like a needlessly complicated plot. Maybe there's even a solution in here where the Enterprise helps them find a home or something. There's a Star Trek solution in here somewhere...

Matthew: Yeah, that story would require an episode from their perspective. As of right now, we have only gotten half an episode about a Sphere Builder masquerading as an alien and a few minutes of this manipulative lady. Like the Temporal Cold War, Braga just has not seemed to realize that establishing the history and back story of the villain is important, especially for Star Trek. As such, our lady Sphere Builder is tantalizing, but ultimately doesn't amount to much. Another Big Bad in this vein are the Founders, who got way more development in DS9. Maybe Braga thinks they can get away with a Borg treatment on this one? Sorry, no.

Kevin: I will say there are definite highlights in the episode. Hoshi gets something (at least a little) to do. She comes off as a competent officer in her role as translator. Trip gets a nice button on the arc relating to his grief. His resolution feels like real character growth. I also found Degra's murder to be pretty effective. I've poo-pooed other instances of violence, especially one done for shock value, but we've seen enough of both characters and their beef that the violence felt 'earned' for lack of a better word, and I can't deny it was a splash of cold water on the crew's attempts to use diplomacy to solve the problem in a way that sets up the next episodes. It may be predictable that Hoshi is kidnapped, but I can't deny it felt like something happening in the story.

Matthew: I think Degra's murder was effective as well. It wasn't done for shock value, and it wasn't gruesome. It was an organic development of a story in which character motivations clearly indicated it, and it created interesting problems for the Enterprise crew, since he was their staunchest advocate. I think it was nice that Travis and Reed got to do stuff within the Sphere was well - the cast outside of what seems to be forming as a "main triad" hasn't been terribly well utilized, but this episode was more of an ensemble than most.


Kevin: Everyone did good work. Archer was firm in his position without lapsing into Angry Dad. Randy Oglesby again turned in a great performance and I will miss him. Tucker Smallwood has been good as the other Xindi primate councillor, to the point I wish his character had a name. Trinneer and Billingsley did nice work in their scene together, too.

Matthew: I really wish Randy Oglesby had been given even more than this season gave him. The fake shuttlecraft story was really good, and he could have gone deeper into his character's family history and motivations for trusting Archer. He was good here, but wasn't allowed to do much more than go to bat for the Enterprise crew. Similarly, Scott MacDonald as the reptilian Dolim really seems to have the capability of portraying more depth than he's been given. I wanted to know more about him, and that's saying something for such a transparently villainous character.

Production Values

Kevin: The major set piece is the inside of the Sphere. It was a lot of green screen but I'm not mad this one. At least there were no gumby people, and they gave it an appropriate sense of size. The robot arms bit strained credulity a little. Even today, filmmakers can struggle with integrating the back and fore grounds. But like I said, I think it levels out at 'fine.'

Matthew: I enjoyed basically every visual effect in this episode, save one - the bizzarro planet doors opening to reveal the weapon sphere. It looked like a really bad texture map, for one, but it also just made no sense. Did they put... mountains and snow on the doors? Where does it go? Or is it painted on? In which case, WHAAA? With respect to the robot arms in the sphere, the dead MACO did do a bit of Gumby movement, but overall, despite there being an absurd number of these arms, they looked pretty good.


Kevin: I am stuck between a 3 and 4. We are finally landing this plane and a lot of stuff actually happens, and I enjoyed watching it a good deal. I think what's holding me back is that it was still very action oriented. There was fun conflict amongst the council, but not much different than what we've seen before, Degra's murder not withstanding. I will cop to being fairly harsh on the weaker parts of this season, so I suppose Enterprise has earned the benefit of my coin toss, just this once. For the enjoyment and energy, I'll give this a four.

Matthew: I'm stuck on a 3. I think pacing lagged in a few stretches, and as I indicate above, the most interesting story threads were not explored to my satisfaction. This was a competent continuation of a story that hasn't been terribly well set up. It doesn't surmount those limits or break into new storytelling ground. That makes for a total of 7.


  1. I went back and watched it, because I remember so little beyond Degra being murdered.

    I wonder where Reed came up with the 20% being the limit for acceptable casualties. Seems rather taken out of thin air - clearly, acceptable losses is more fluid than that.
    But I guess it makes sense he's the one to snap, given how he picked Hawkins and knew him better than the others. Given his willingness to sacrifice himself, we really ought to have a look at his survivor's guilt at some point, but I don't think that ever happened.

    Anyway, I agree it dragged somewhat. I guess I'm back down on a 6 on the Annoyed Suburban Dad scale. Get in already, you guys! Hoshi's already left!

    1. I don't quite know how to feel that apparently my most enduring contribution to the fandom will be an elegant scale for rating Jonathan Archer's crankiness, but anything worth doing is worth doing well. I fleshed out the whole scale. I may work this up into its own post and reserve the right to tweak it, but this feels pretty good:

      1. Traffic during the morning commute
      2. Traffic at any other time
      3. Grocery store has randomly reorganized itself, again
      4. Leaving a light on when leaving the room (No, for some reason, it doesn't matter if you are just going to the kitchen to refill your drink and will literally be returning in less than 30 seconds)
      5. Finding a parking spot that would work except the bozo behind it pulled up too far despite clearly having plenty of space behind him
      6. In the car, engine running, waiting to leave
      7. Anyone touching the thermostat
      8. Being required to download an app to complete a customer service interaction
      9. The parking space from #5, except the larger space is being inefficiently bifurcated by a scooter or Vespa
      10. $5/gallon gas

      I realize looking at the list that most of these are car related. The second most is energy related. The rest are some variation on a fear of change. I know I'm saying it about myself but I think I crushed this project. Also, take a look at yourself suburban dads. Think about how much easier life could be in a transit friendly neighborhood...

    2. You should be proud! :D It is both elegant and solid. I shall promote this to anyone I watch Enterprise with.

      I've updated my bookmark to this URL, and we'll see if you do a full write-up that it can finally rest with. It sits right next to a page about what little we know of Tolkien's Dwarf language, Khuzdul. Also in that folder are a method of calculating the distance of the horizon depending on how high above sea level you are, and (very appropriately) hour-by-hour energy prices for the day. So you are clearly in good company, and never far from my mind. :)