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It's always interesting to hear both sides of a story or at least get to know your enemy. The evil Xindi are given a face here finally that is anything but evil. There is Gralik, but he was never shown to be anything but good. Degra on the other hand has appeared so far to be a *bad guy*. The character of Degra (sensitively played here by Randy Oglesby) has layers now. We see that he is a family man and cares for his children. He was affected by the deaths of the children on Earth when the first attack occurred. He is not totally evil. We understand *why* he is so afraid of the human threat and how he is doing what he is doing because of his children and his people. He is not a military man but a scientist.
All these things add a great deal of dimension to the character and the actor does much to add depth to the character as well. Much like last week's "Proving Ground" and Shran, we get yet another well-written recurring character. I hope we get to see more about the Xindi in this way. The more developed the recurring villains are and the more complex the better. Of course it helps that this is an arc. It lends itself to more complicated characters and stories and I love it.
Speaking of the writing, this is a well-crafted story. It is interesting from beginning to end. The dialogue is crisp and Vejar's direction is flawless. From the camera angles to the direction of the actors, it is noteworthy. I liked how I didn't know what was going to happen next. I was genuinely engaged from beginning to end. It was a joy to see that Degra is more than just some *nut* trying to destroy Earth.
It is in fact the acting that stands out however. Bakula does an excellent job as Archer convincing Degra that they are prisoners that are escaping and keeps himself focused throughout. Bakula has certainly grown into the part. His Captain Archer is believable and clever which is really great to see. Oglesby plays the hapless passenger being lead to God knows where and is excellent here in that he shows a great range of emotion from disbelief and desperation at first to calm acceptance to finally fear and defeat when he realizes at the end that he has been fooled into giving away the location of the weapon. For the longest time I haven't found the Xindi all that intriguing, well, no more.
There are nice continuity touches here as in the mention of Andorian ale to of course Gralik from "The Shipment". I also like the fact that this story wasn't predictable. Once you knew that they were in a modified shuttle, you could sort of tell how it was going to end however I didn't expect the ending at all. That last *ruse* where they act like they have made their way to Azati Prime while having stayed in the debris field all along was the last thing I expected.
I liked how yet another television genre is depicted here. In "North Star" we got a western scenario; in "Carpenter Street" a sort of police story and here we get a secret agent kind of story a la "Mission Impossible". I half expected Archer to be sporting a fake beard et al. I hope they explore the *mystery* genre sometime as I think they have the writers now to pull it off.