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the Xindi faces we've come to know this season. There's plenty of character development of the *enemy* here and it couldn't come at a better time. The acting is equally good but it is Randy Oglesby as Degra that steals the show. Last but not least, the visual f/x are superb and the music outstanding. Velton Ray Bunch's score adds much to the action and dramatic scenes.
It's interesting to watch the progression of the main villain in this episode, Dolim, the Reptilian commander. We finally *understand* this man. He's evil, there's no question about it. Before this episode, it was possible that he was just belligerent. He is a military man after all and he does have a mission. But here we find out he had his own grandson killed because he couldn't live up to his cold-hearted standards. His killing of Degra also adds to the evidence but that could have been seen as payback for Degra having destroyed the Reptilian scout ship and as such killing 22 of his men. But it's when the Sphere-Builder appears to him that we see his true colors. His intentions are selfish and despotic. We see the offer of his becoming the ruler of a future Xindi empire change him before our eyes. Whereas before he was concerned about saving the Xindi, here we see that his true ambitions are much less noble. The Sphere-Builder knows exactly how to appeal to him and she is no doubt evil as well. Scott MacDonald could so easily have gone over the top with this but instead has consistently portrayed a character filled with a controlled, seething rage. Add to that the excellent makeup and we have a great villain.
Of course the real villains are the Sphere-Builders. I find it interesting that they are all female and wonder why that is. The test subject that Archer encountered in "Harbinger" was male. They are worshipped almost as gods although they are not seen as supernatural. The Sphere-Builder who appears to the Xindi does play the devil's role by *tempting* Degra and Dolim so there is an undertone of good versus evil personified by the characters within the storyline which is interesting. Regardless, Dolim and the Reptilians pose a much more immediate threat.
Randy Oglesby has also done an excellent job with his character, Degra. From the startled look on Degra's face when Dolim stabs him to the horror in his eyes when he realizes that the commander plans to hunt down his wife and children, Oglesby has continued to add great dimension to the character. This is a great death scene, and thanks to having developed the character for several episodes, the writers have made us care about what happens to him. I have to admit I didn't see it coming. I knew the minute Dolim entered his quarters that things would not go well for Degra but I never thought he'd be murdered. It's a pity we won't be seeing him again.
The other two Xindi, the Arboreal (Rick Worthy) and the Primate (Tucker Smallwood) are equally well-played. Worthy's Jannar is not as well developed as Degra or Dolim but he manages to give him layers nonetheless. He projects a sense of integrity and goodness about him. Smallwood's character remains unnamed unfortunately but he too has created a character that has some depth. It was also enjoyable to watch the Insectoids and the Aquatics.