Star Trek 698: Azati Prime

698. Azati Prime

FORMULA: The Communicator + Thirty Days + Shockwave + Year of Hell

WHY WE LIKE IT: The story ramps up! The effects. That cliffhanger.

WHY WE DON'T: Daniels says too much.

REVIEW: We finally reach Azati Prime and there's no time to waste. At least, not the way the episode is edited. There's really very little padding in this one. Using the Xindi insectoid shuttle picked in the previous episode allows Trip and Travis to get close to the weapon, splendidly hidden underwater (the marine Xindi's contribution), is at exciting, gorgeous-looking, and even amusing. Meanwhile, Enterprise must draw first blood when it destroys a defenseless lunar monitoring post before it blows the whistle on their position (shot in a way that recalls missile strikes on Baghdad). We're in it now!

Using that intel, the crew hatches a suicide mission to destroy the weapon, one which Archer fights for. Poor Travis doesn't get to play hero again. Archer does get a nice little speech about getting back to exploration (this sounds a bit naive, however), but fact of the matter is, we know we're not going to lose our captain. In fact, he's too important to history! That's Daniels' cue to whisk Archer to 400 years hence where the final battle between the Sphere Builders and the Federation takes place before the galaxy is engulfed in an anomaly. This is the kind of revelation about the Sphere Builders I wish had been fitted into Harbinger, but it does bring things into focus here - it is confirmed that they manipulated the Xindi to destroy an enemy in the future. Intriguing notions include the idea that the Xindi will one day serve in Starfleet and the look of the Enterprise-J. Not so hot is Daniels' decision to spill the beans about the Federation. In any case, Archer goes on the mission, and furthermore, the weapon has been moved by then. So aside from explaining the larger plot, Daniels' intervention isn't relevant. T'Pol is acting strangely in this section, over-reacting to everything, so if you think there's a trellium-related cause, you're right (see next episode).

Degra remains a sympathetic character, guilt-ridden about the weapon he's crafting, but unable to temper the reptillian aggression. It stands to reason that if he was open to Archer's overtures in Stratagem, he would be again. When he is captured (it's his thing), he gets to chance to try. The humanoids and arboreals are open-minded, but of course, it's the council that has to be convinced. Archer's goading of the reptilian commander, Dolim, is pretty fun, though it's probably isn't helping his case for later.

Before Archer can make his case, however, the reptilians and insectoids find Enterprise and attack. This has to be one of the harshest battles in Trek outside of the movies, with the ship turned into Swiss cheese, the ceiling almost falling on Travis, and crewmen actually seen sucked out into space. The battle and damage are so intense, this comes off as one of the most effective, desperate cliffhangers ever.

LESSON: Don't stand so close to those hull breaches.

REWATCHABILITY - High: There's always something happening in Azati Prime, it all looks great, and unless you're made of stone, it'll make you want to watch the next episode right away.


Anonymous said...

Back in Trials and Tribble-ations doesn't the temporal police tell Sisko that there are 5 (no 6) Enterprises. Enterprise-J would mean there are 10 (A-J) + Original + NX Enterprise, so 12 Enterprises?

Unless they meant there are 6 vessels in the past or present (NX+Original+A-D) and the other six (E-J) are in the future relative to that episode.

Am I the only one to have noticed this?

Siskoid said...

Well, the J is a couple centuries LATER than the DS9 time scale, so they wouldn't know anything about it.

The mention in Trials can include the NX-01, Kirk's, A, B, C and D. Or it can mean post-Federation, and it includes the E.

But the J is right out.


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