If the season long arc had been condensed to, say, a strong group of 13 or15 episodes, it may have really worked…but instead they HAVE to make it 24 episodes…so the story goes nowhere for weeks, does not advance, and then moves in circles before finally getting to the point in the last few episodes. I’m actually glad the episode order got cut down, because it would’ve been tragic for this season to meander around for a few more episodes.
The Xindi themselves are not very interesting villains. The fact that NONE of the members of the Xindi are seen in the various Trek that came before also negates their importance to the franchise. Imagine this though: Season 2 ends in the same way, only the villains we hear rumors and whispers of are not a new villain called the Xindi, but are this new threat called the Romulans.
So then we get Season 3, a whole season of build up to conflict and war…the Romulan-Earth War first talked about in the Romulans introduction on the Original series as having taken place around the time this show is set. Then we can follow the continuity of having that unseen enemy, in much the same way the Xindi were used for the first half of the season…and make for an interesting storyline, one that WOULD get Trekkies watching again. The Romulans work best when scheming behind closed doors anyhow, so why not use it here? Personally I’ve always felt the Romulans haven’t been given a fair shake in Trek. TNG used them the most, but they always felt underused. They never properly got featured in a movie (the closest have been offshoots and fringe groups). I want to see that proper conflict with the Romulan Star Empire, with the full force of the sneaky bastards.
The truth is that the showrunners of this particular series, Rick Berman and Brannan Braga, were so focused on trying to do something “new and different” that they overlooked obvious storylines that were perfect for this show set in this time period. And sadly, even though they tried so hard to be “new and different” they often fell into the trap of doing EXACTLY what they had done for years on TNG And Voyager. Even this season, which took a fairly different approach with it’s season long arc, eventually began to feel like more of the same.
The Xindi Arc is decent. There are some good stories and ideas employed throughout the season, but in the end it doesn’t feel nearly as satisfactory as one would hope, and that cliffhanger was entirely unnecessary.
NEXT TIME: The Manny Coto Year