The creators of Star Trek decided to do a seasonal arc, they were trying to bring back the fans that left the show after the first two season. The set-up was in the season two finale where a race called the Xindi sent a bomb to earth that kills 7 million people, among them Trip’s sister. Season 3 is arguably the best season of Enterprise, although I think the fourth season also could run with this title, it’s hard to make a choice.
Still the 3rd season has its share of mediocre (or worse) episodes, it’s not like that all 24 episodes are fantastic unfortunately. When we get into the first episode “The Xindi”, the Enterprise is six weeks in the Delphic Expanse and have yet to find a single clue about the Xindi. The ship is in trouble, strange anomalies affect the ship. T’Pol helps Trip with his insomnia with Vulcan Therapy. Archer and Trip find another race of Xindi in some prison. Problem is that the keeper of the prison is far from honest and wants to keep them as workers.
The 2nd episode “Anomaly” the Enterprise continues having trouble with these anomalies. The meet a ship and the crew materializes into engineering, they begin steeling antimatter injectors. They steel a large number of items and escape. Security team catch one pirate unwilling to talk. Archer no longer is the friendly captain, some of his crew mates think he has gone too far. I think his actions is a logical response to what has happened. Enterprise goes into pursuit and find a mysterious sphere with reference about the Xindi culture.
The first weak episode in my opinion is “Extinction” where Archer, Reed and Sato are transformed into aliens while visiting a planet. Don’t want to say more about this one, I just really didn’t like it. I thought “Rajiin” was an okay episode, Enterprise visit a colony planet in the Expanse where a chemist offers to sell them the formula for synthesizing trillium-D, a hull insulation vital for travel through the Expanse. There they meet a slave girl Rajiin who begs Archer to take her with them. However, Rajiin is there on a mission, her employers are the Xindi. “Impulse” is a bit of an horror story, Enterprise answers a distress signal from a stranded Vulcan ship, only when arriving they find the ship completely desolate, wrecked - and filled with Vulcan zombies. I thought it was well executed, definitely a T’Pol episode, she is pure Vulcan but you could have fooled me! Actress Jolene Blalock does this very well!
“Exile” is another so so episode where an alien is prepared to help the Enterprise on one condition, that he meet Hoshi, in reality he wants her to stay with him and never leave. One thing I didn’t understand, she feels a bit uncomfortable around him, yet she wears short dresses and such around him. I would have thought she would wear as much clothes as she can! “The Shipment” was a solid episode, Enterprise crew discover a Xindi lab that refines Kemocite, the key ingredient in the weapon that is being created to destroy Earth. Lead researcher Gralik Durr wasn’t aware what this Kemocite was being used for, when Archer explains him, Durr is convinced to help them. I liked this episode a lot, the way Archer convinces Durr without violence. Also we see more of these Xindi, especially the Reptilians are not the most friendly ones!
“Twilight” is an episode I quite like! Archer’s memory is crippled, he wakes up years into the future where the Xindi have ruined Earth. What is left of humanity have settled on a distant planet. T’Pol sacrificed her life, sort of, by staying by Archer all that time. Archer forgets everything that has been set to him within hours. Phlox has a treatment he worked on for about a decade, when they examine the records from 12 years ago, they realize that the parasites in the past are also gone. This would mean that the parasites would never exist and this would effectively change history. This episode for me also proves that the Archer / T’Pol relationship made more sense than the Trip / T’Pol relationship.
“North Star”, a western episode, not my favorite kind of shows, this was okay but nothing special. Enterprise investigates a previously unknown colony of humans who are living in the fashion of the American Old West. They are oppressing an alien race called the Skagarans. Some nice Archer moments in the bar though. I am not a fan of the character Trip as you might know, but episode “Similitude” was a good episode and a good performance by Connor Trinneer. Trip’s life is in danger, Archer decides to approve a fast-growing clone of Trip who would help save Trip’s life. It’s called Sim, but when the time comes Sim doesn’t want to die for Trip.
“Carpenter Street” is a favorite of mine, Archer and T’Pol travel back in time to Detroit in 2004 to stop 3 Xindi Reptilians from creating a bioweapon. There are numerous reasons why this episode is a favorite of mine. I like the time travel concept. I also really like Archer and T’Pol teaming up together. They do that the whole episode. Actor Leland Orser who plays Loomis is also a reason, always liked him, good performer, saw him in many things, for example in The Pretender, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The X-Files, Revolution and so on. It’s also a bit creepy, using his position at the hospital to kidnap people from their homes for money.
“Chosen Realm” is an episode I didn’t like at all! Enterprise is taken over by religious zealots and they want to use the ship for their war against heretics and after that they intend to return the ship. I did find it all too easy how they conquer the ship, really hated the leader of the zealots (Conor O'Farrell), could not enjoy the episode for a second.
“Proving Ground” is another solid episode where Shran (Jeffrey Combs) returns. Enterprise has picked up a trail of the tracking device Archer placed on the Xindi Reptilian ship. Problem is to get there they have to cross a big and very dense field of anomalies. Of course when they try, they get into trouble but the Andorians to the rescue! Andorians and Enterprise crew decide to work together to retrieve the weapon.
Episode “Stratagem” is trying to mislead the viewer and they do that convincingly. The episode starts with showing Archer and the Xindi Degra (Randy Oglesby) in a shuttle, Degra waking up and seeing Archer piloting the shuttle. Archer acts as they worked together from a prison escape and that the insectoids took power after the Earth was destroyed. I thought it was well done, Degra keeps suspicions for a long time before he begins to start trusting Archer. In reality the shuttle is on the Enterprise and Archer is trying to get the necessary information from Degra.
In “Harbinger” the Enterprise crew finds a pod in a dangerous expanding gravimetric field. In the pod they find an scaled alien which is dying from cellular decay. He claims he is a prisoner who would be freed if he cooperated in an experiment. Captain Archer knows there's more to it when it is discovered the pod's hull is of the same material the Spheres are composed of. Meanwhile Reed is in a fight with MACO major Hayes (Steven Culp), they are fighting over a new training program. Trip is doing Vulcan neuro-pressure on MACO private Amanda Cole (Noa Tishby). T’Pol seems to be jealous.
In “Doctor’s Orders”, while traveling to Azati Prime, Phlox & T’Pol are the only ones who can remain conscious when they travel cross a trans-dimensional disturbance phenomenon that could kill the humans. Really like this episode., bit creepy, two characters which work well together, Phlox and T’Pol. Dr. Phlox: I'm a physician, not an engineer!
“Hatchery” is an episode I really didn’t care for, for me it is one of the weakest of the season where Archer orders the Enterprise crew to save a Xindi-Insectoid hatchery. It is an episode I will probably skip with next rewatch. I think that I also skipped it this time. Find Archer’s behavior too annoying! I understand why he does it ….mostly, but I still find it annoying.
In “Azati Prime” The Enterprise crew discovers the Xindi weapon and plans to launch a suicide mission to destroy it, with Archer insisting that he be at the helm. Temporal agent Daniels urges him to reconsider, because he is too important for the future. But Archer does not want anybody else get killed for him. When Archer is captured he must convince Degra and the other Xindi leaders that humanity is no threat to the Xindi. Meanwhile, the Xindi launch a heavy attack on Enterprise that leaves the ship defenseless and almost destroyed. These last 7 episodes are really the icing on the cake, starting with this episode.
In episode “Damage” we see Archer again becoming a hard-ass, perhaps even unbecoming a Federation officer. The Reptilians damage the Enterprise so that the ship is stranded without warp drive, they encounter another ship which is also damaged but they still have warp. Archer proposes a trade but that would mean that the other ship is stranded so the captain (Casey Biggs) declines their offer. Archer however has an appointment to which he cannot be late and thus Archer goes to the armory and orders Reed to put together an armed boarding party. He's decided to board the Illyrian starship to steal their warp coil! A bit disturbing of course, Archer is no longer acting like a Starfleet captain, more like a pirate. Still it’s good TV, it shows what someone is capable of when put in a dire position.
While on the way to meet Degra and the Xindi Council, the crew of the Enterprise have a memorial service for the 18 crew members (“The Forgotten”)who died during the Xindi attacks. Archer regrets he cannot to thank the 18 in person but he promises that they will succeed in the mission to save Earth. The Xindi Council offer to stop the launch of the weapon if Archer and his crew can prove that the sphere builders are behind all of this. Archer needs to prove that the Xindi have been manipulated. They are not easy to convince, meanwhile Trip is really struggling with the fact that Degra is onboard Enterprise while he is responsible for the death of his sister and 7 million other people.
“E²” is DS9’s, “Children of Time”, the Enterprise has to pass a subspace corridor in order to meet Degra on time. However this corridor is being guarded by the aggressive Kovaalans. Just before they want to contact them, Enterprise is contacted by Enterprise, their Captain Lorian explains that if they cross that corridor, they will be send back 117 years back in time. He also tells our Enterprise that he and his crew are all descendants of the original crew! Lorian wants to make modifications so that it won’t happen again. Although perhaps a bit of a rip off from the DS9 episode, still it is still a very entertaining episode. You could say in terms of arc, it is a filler, but a good filler episode!
On “The Council” The Enterprise arrives at the location of the council of the Xindi. Archer must present his proof there about the Sphere builders. The primates and the Arboreals are already known with the truth but the other 3 Xindi species need to be convinced and they aren’t easily convinced, furthermore the Sphere builders know what is Archer planning and have a secret meeting with the Reptilians. Guess you can say this is the 1st episode of a 3 part story as a season finale.
In “Countdown” Hoshi has long been strong but now the Reptilians have brainwashed her so that she can decipher the code of the Aquatics and activate the weapon with the Insectoids and their own codes. Archer is successful in convincing the Aquatics to join them against the Reptilians after Archer promises to help destroy the Spheres in the Expanse. Humanoids, the Arboreal also join the Aquatics and the Enterprise against the Reptilians and the Insectoids. When it looks like the enemy is almost defeated, the Sphere builders cause a strong anomaly which destroys many ships and allow the Reptilian to escape through the vortex.
In the season finale, “Zero Hour” Archer takes Degra's ship to try to prevent Earth from being destroyed and gets some unexpected help. Enterprise tries to destroy Sphere 41, but the Sphere Builders know about the plan. The Sphere builders intervened and therefore the coalition of Humans, Primates, Arboreals and Aquatics was unable to stop the weapon from being launched. Only 10 more hours before the weapon reaches Earth, only Degra’s ship is capable of catching up but is nearly powerless. But team Archer gets some unexpected help!
It's a fantastic season with a great and very satisfying conclusion, of course it does end on a cliff-hanger but that has little to nothing to do with the Xindi storyline. Some great stories over the course of its third season, although a massive tick-up from season two, the ratings only marginally improved if at all. So it was a miracle it even got a 4th season, perhaps because Berman & Braga let it end on a cliff-hanger and UPN knew they would get angry fans when they did cancel it after season 3 on a cliff-hanger. It may be one of the reasons it got a renewal. Other reason could be, with another season Enterprise would be more interesting for syndication. On the season 4 Blu-ray set you can find multiple interviews about this. Anyway, we were lucky to at least get another season.
Special features Blu-ray set Season 3:
All the special features you’ll find on the older DVD sets are here too, but there also new special features, deleted scenes, all in HD!
- In a Time of War: Part One: Call to Arms (HD, 28:07): A new retrospective on the Xindi arc, its relevancy to the modern world and the series' parallel with the years following 9/11, building the story as it evolved, Manny Coto's arrival and contributions, the goings of other crew, the season's finale, and more. As with all of these new Enterprise supplements, this one, and the new features that follow, is quite candid and refreshing.
- In a Time of War: Part Two: Front Lines (HD, 29:51): Another new retrospective, this one featuring the cast covering the Xindi storyline, Jolene Blalock's disappointment with her character's arc and her lack of communication with the writers, ratings trouble and rumblings of cancellation, questions with boundaries and morals depicted in the show, and more. The supplement also features additional writer commentary.
- In a Time of War: Part Three: Final Conflict (HD, 28:36): A further examination of the season, including the Xindi character design, budget limitations, and special effects. The supplement also features interviews with Xindi actors and briefly looks at the season finale.
- In a Time of War: Temporal Cold War: Declassified (HD, 20:17): A deeper look into the Temporal Cold War arc, including plot specifics and side characters integral to the story line. The piece features interviews with several actors.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 4:42): Scenes from "E2."
- Deleted Scenes (HD): Several scenes from "Similitude" (2:30) and one scene from "Chosen Realm" (1:08).
I found it much more difficult to write this blog than that with season 2, because with season 2 I took notes, I didn’t do that with season 3 and so I had check IMDb and Memory Alpha, because my memory is not what it’s used to be! I did watch the 3rd season in 2021, so it was a while ago also. Season 3 has only a few mediocre episodes, 4 episodes or something, on 24 episodes, that is not bad, and a big improvement on season 2. Long I have been in doubt which season I thought was best, season 3 or 4, but after watching both again last year, I think I do prefer season 4 but not by much!