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Recap / Star Trek Enterprise S 03 E 14 Stratagem

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Archer, looking a lot scruffier than usual and not in uniform, is on a strange shuttle with an unconscious Xindi-Primate. The Xindi wakes up and then Xindi-Insectoid ships start attacking the shuttle. The primate demands that Archer let him talk to the insectoids, then Archer overheats the attacking ships' engines by dumping plasma into their intake manifolds. The Xindi, who is revealed to be an amnesiac Degra, asks what's going on, and Archer claims that they've escaped from prison after being locked up for three years. Degra demands proof, so Archer rolls up his sleeve to reveal Xindi prison script on both their forearms. Degra still doesn't buy the Interspecies Friendship, but Archer responds that they just got along out of pragmatism after failed attempts at killing each other.

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Degra is told that Earth was successfully destroyed, but then the old Xindi rivalries restarted due to the insectoids winning as a result of their stockpile of weapons and many Xindi colonies were wiped out. Degra mentions that his family is at a red giant, so Archer asks for the coordinates, but Degra thinks it's too risky since they're being followed. The shuttle leaks, so Archer and Degra fix it, then they go to bed. A few hours later, Archer wakes up, gives Degra a hypospray, and steps outside, revealing the "shuttle" to actually be a simulation inside Enterprise.

Archer, T'Pol, Trip, and Hoshi talk about the situation, revealing that they're tricking Degra to try to get information from him. They consider that the red giant he mentioned was a red herring, but Archer points out that if his family did live there, they'd certainly be near where he worked. However, there are seven red giants nearby. T'Pol suggests asking Degra directly, but Archer turns down the idea.

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Three days prior, the Enterprise had returned to the weapon test site and incapacitated and boarded a Xindi-Primate ship. There, they found three Xindi, the leader of whom, Degra, Archer tried to convince to tell him where the weapon was being built. He was unsuccessful, so decided to trick Degra, with Phlox wiping his memory and Archer building the simulation. Archer was also given a subdermal communication device, he and T'Pol came up with the fake backstory, and Phlox tattooed the fake prison markings on the men's arms. He also injected a worm into Degra to make an excuse for the amnesia.

In the simulation, Degra is woken by a jolt and Archer tells him they're entering a region of space with many anomalies. He convinces Degra to send a distress signal to his coworkers. Meanwhile, T'Pol and Hoshi are looking over the information, with Hoshi planning a reply to Degra's "transmission". Malcolm tells T'Pol that another Xindi ship is approaching. Hoshi reminds her that Xindi sensors are more advanced than theirs, so T'Pol orders Enterprise back into the debris field of the test moon.

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Archer and Degra share some Andorian ale, when a message alert sounds. It's a reply to the distress signal, which claims to be Degra's colleague Thalen but is actually Hoshi using a voice synthesiser. "Thalen" tells Degra that "he" is safe on Azati Prime, to which Degra asks if his wife Naara and his daughters are "still there". He enters the coordinates, with Hoshi noting that they're probably true as they're encrypted. T'Pol confirms that the coordinates match a red giant three weeks away.

The ship's power then starts glitching out, which unfortunately reveals the simulation to Degra. He interrogates Archer, then lunges at him with a knife, but the crew arrive and throw Degra in the brig. There, he claims that he realised the truth even before the glitches, as Azati Prime is a bad place to hide from insectoids due to them having a deuterium mine there. Archer (correctly) says that Degra didn't know until the glitches, but Degra insists he gave false information and going to Azati Prime would be a waste of time. Hoshi thinks the coordinates are genuine since they're encrypted, but T'Pol points out that it might be a double bluff. There's no time to find out, so Archer decides to make a new plan.

Malcolm bolts in, demanding that Degra and another Xindi follow him. As they rush to engineering, the ship shakes, and when they get there, Archer claims that they adapted some Xindi technology to open one of their subspace vortices. Travis steers the ship into normal space, while Archer leads Degra to the bridge.

There, Archer shows Degra a red giant. The other officers confirm there are Xindi lifeforms and a lot of kemocite around. Degra yells, "You'll never get to close the weapon! Our defense perimeter will destroy you!", to which Archer reveals that this was another trick. Thus, the three Xindi have their memories wiped and are returned to their ship, with a plasma leak faked to explain their loss of consciousness. The Enterprise then leaves for Azati Prime.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Amnesia Episode: Invoked; Phlox deliberately takes Degra's memory.
  • Bad Future: The backstory Archer and T'Pol come up with is this. The Xindi destroyed Earth, but the Insectoids betrayed the other races. Archer was captured, and Enterprise was subsequently destroyed.
  • Batman Gambit: At the end of the episode, Archer manages to convince Degra that they've applied Xindi technology to their warp drive, allowing them to arrive at the red giant in a matter of minutes. Degra shouts out that the Xindi's defense perimeter will destroy Enterprise, at which point Archer reveals that they're still at the test site and thus has confirmed that the red giant is where the weapon is being built.
  • Blatant Lies: Degra tries to convince Archer that Azati Prime is the location of an Insectoid deuterium station rather than the weapon's construction site.
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: The crew is reasonably certain Azati Prime is where they need to go, but it would take three weeks to get there at maximum warp. There's question of when Degra realized the deception and whether or not he did this. Archer manages to prove he did give them the information they wanted.
  • Call-Back: Gralik is mentioned again, with Archer telling Degra that he sabotaged the kemocite and was later executed.
  • Character Development: Previously nothing more than a generic scientist overseeing the doomsday weapon's construction, Degra is revealed to be a family man who is conflicted over preserving his race and the guilt he feels for killing seven million people.
  • Easy Amnesia: Phlox knows exactly how to erase Degra's memories.
  • Eye Scream: That bloodworm Phlox planted inside Degra? He inserted it through the man's eye. The camera pans away, but Archer's reaction says it all.
  • Faked Rip Van Winkle: Phlox wipes Degra's recent memory and Archer convinces him that three years have passed.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Archer tells Degra that they became this in prison.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: The shuttle mockup malfunctions from radiation, and Degra just happens to notice.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • In addition to studying medicine, Phlox also studied dermal art.
    • After the con is found out, Degra admits he had no idea humans were so skilled at deception.
  • Hope Spot: Degra has a knife and questions Archer over the names of his children. Hoshi manages to get Archer the information in time, but then Degra asks which child is older.
  • How We Got Here: The first act ends by showing that it's a simulation and the second act shows Archer capturing Degra and his aides shortly after the previous episode.
  • In Medias Res: The episode starts with Archer and Degra in the "stolen" craft.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Discussed when Degra questions how a human and a Xindi could be friends. Archer responds that they weren't friends per se; they just got along out of necessity.
  • In Vino Veritas: Archer uses some of the Andorian ale that Shran gave him to try to pump info out of Degra.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Recognizing they're outmatched, Degra orders his assistant to wipe the ship's computer core before Enterprise can board them.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Degra recalls when the prototype weapon enter Earth's orbit.
    Degra: When it arrived in your star system, I watched the incoming telemetry with the other members of the council. Seven million lives... were extinguished in front of my eyes. I asked myself, "How many of those were children?"
  • Prematurely Grey-Haired: Archer notes the heavy grey that Phlox put into Degra's hair, which the doctor justifies due to the stress of imprisonment.
  • Race Against the Clock: About halfway through, Malcolm detects an incoming Xindi ship that will arrive within six hours. This becomes important when Degra sees through the charade, meaning there's not enough time to simply wipe his memory and try again.
  • Shown Their Work: Invoked. Malcolm says that their shuttle mockup needs to take into account manufacturer origin and language on the control interface. The result is impressive work.
  • Spotting the Thread: Degra claims that the mention of Azati Prime was this, saying it's the location of an Insectoid deuterium facility.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The look on Archer's face when Degra asks him which of his children is older, as the Xindi has figured out the charade and is holding a knife.
  • Truth Serums:
    • According to Archer, bloodworms produce them, which is why they're used for interrogations.
    • Phlox also mentions that they could create one to work on Degra, but it will take too long to produce.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Archer's final bluff is made to look like he actually tried to open a Xindi portal, both to Degra and the audience. It works perfectly.
  • Wham Episode: The crew finally learn where the weapon is being built. What is revealed about Degra will also motivate his actions throughout the rest of this arc.
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