“Proving Ground”
Page 5 of 7
Archer goes to the Command Centre. Hoshi tells him that before they went to warp, someone from the Andorian ship sent an encrypted transmission to the Enterprise. It contains detailed scans of the weapon. The captain tells Hoshi to send it to Starfleet Command. Archer asks T’Pol to come to dinner with Trip as he has some Andorian ale he thinks she might like to try.

I’ve loved all the Andorian episodes so far but this one is the best of the lot. Black’s writing is sharp and at times witty. Livingston’s direction is fine-tuned. While the tone of the episode is serious there are some well-timed and well-acted comedic scenes as well as the dramatic. His direction brings out the best of the actors. There is some delicious sexual tension between Reed and Talas and Tucker and T’Pol. The camera angles are at times striking and add to the tension and the feeling of confinement and desperation as when we see the overhead shot of Degra entering the Xindi Council chamber and to the humor when we see the back of Archer’s head with Shran’s antennae sticking out on top. The f/x are exemplary like the scenes of the moon blowing up or the anomaly going through the ship. John Frizzell’s music is wonderful. Michael Westmore’s makeup is fantastic. There’s nothing I can find to fault about this episode.

There are lots of funny scenes and lines in this episode as when Shran tells T’Pol after he remarks on her resigning her post: “A remarkably selfless act…for a Vulcan.” with that expression on his face. Or when Talas is brimming with anger and asks Reed: “Is there anything else I can get you? Perhaps a cup of coffee?” and he replies: “Oh, that would be lovely.” Another funny line and scene is the one where Shran is posing as the representative of the Andorian Mining Consortium and he gets into the act a bit too much for Archer and T’Pol when he says: “The Andorian Mining Consortium does not run from anyone.” Finally, the best line with double-entendres in it when Talas tells Reed: “It’s not the weapon, it’s the soldier who wields it.”

Jeffrey Combs as Shran is a sheer delight. His facial expressions along with the antennae movements are fun to watch. He has managed once again to bring to life and make believable yet another character in a long list of Trek and other characters he has portrayed. He has chemistry with whomever he acts with. His scenes with T’Pol, Archer and Degra are a hoot. I loved how he poked and prodded at T’Pol. When he asks her about why she is out of uniform he circles her like a cat plays with his prey taking shots at her ever so pleasantly. You could see his feelings so well when he spoke to the General or to Archer. I loved when Archer punched him in the nose and how Shran reacted. Yet he is so well-written that even though he is a sort of villain here, he still comes off as a good man. He is a complex and well-written character which suits an actor like Combs so well.

Bakula and Blalock also do a good job here. Archer is hard-nosed and T’Pol skeptical. Reed (Keating) is no slouch either. He appears to fall for Talas but keeps a keen eye on her as we see later. Alas, we don’t get to see much of Connor Trinneer (Trip) but his scene with Reed and Talas is very cute and funny when he says: “I’ll leave you two to get acquainted.” He is

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