|Star Trek: Enterprise episode|
|Directed by||Allan Kroeker|
|Teleplay by||Manny Coto|
|Featured music||Jay Chattaway|
|Original air date||March 3, 2004|
"Azati Prime" is the eighteenth episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Enterprise, the 70th overall. The episode was written by Manny Coto from a story developed by Coto, Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. It was directed by Allan Kroeker, his second of the season. The episode featured several guest actors, including those playing members of the Xindi Council, as well as Matt Winston who reprised his role of Temporal Agent Daniels for the second time this season.
Set in the 22nd century, the series follows the adventures of the first Starfleet starship Enterprise, registration NX-01. Season three of Enterprise features an ongoing story following an attack on Earth by previously unknown aliens called the Xindi. In this episode, the crew track a Xindi superweapon down to a planet and Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) seeks to destroy the weapon in a suicide attack. He is captured, and the Enterprise is seriously damaged after an attack by four Xindi vessels.
The USS Enterprise-J appeared in this episode, based on designs by Doug Drexler. The ship was from 400 years in the future from the timeframe that the series is set in, and the bridge set was created mostly using green screen. John Eaves also created several designs of aquatic Xindi vessels for this episode. "Azati Prime" received Nielsen ratings of 2.6/4 percent. Critical reaction was mostly positive, with praise directed at the pacing of the episode and the plotting of the overall arc.
Despite their time-wasting detours of recent days ("Harbinger" and "Hatchery") Enterprise reaches Azati Prime before the Xindi finish construction of their superweapon. Captain Archer sends Commander Tucker and Ensign Mayweather on board a Xindi shuttle they had previously captured to investigate the planet. Working their way past security, they approach the weapon, which is being built underwater. Meanwhile, Archer orders Enterprise to destroy a Xindi detection facility on the planet's moon to prevent it from signalling the ship's presence. The shuttle returns with scans of the weapon, confirming it is just days from being finished, so Archer designates himself to pilot a suicide mission to destroy it. The crew try to talk him out of it but he is resolute.
Archer then suddenly finds himself 400 years in the future on board the USS Enterprise-J, alongside Temporal Agent Daniels. They are at the battle where the Sphere Builders (the alien species first seen in episode "Harbinger") are defeated, and Daniels gives Archer an initiation medal from a Xindi who had joined Starfleet as temporal evidence. Back on his Enterprise, Archer rejects the notion of a Human-Xindi détente, and leaves on the shuttle. He arrives at the superweapon construction site but finds it gone, and is rapidly captured by the Xindi Commander Dolim.
The Reptilians begin to interrogate Archer, who then asks to speak to Degra, the Primate scientist from episode Stratagem. Using Daniels' medal, Archer tries to convince Degra that the Reptilians cannot be trusted, but Dolim arrives with armed colleagues and takes the Primates away. Meanwhile, Sub-Commander T'Pol, now in command of Enterprise, displays signs of an emotional breakdown. She also decides to go on a mission, to negotiate a peace, and reacts angrily when Tucker tries to stop her. An attack from four Xindi ships follows, and as the episode concludes, Enterprise is left severely damaged.
"Azati Prime" was the first episode of Enterprise to be filmed in 2004, starting on January 5. Filming took eight days, concluding on January 14. The eighth day overlapped with the production of the following episode, "Damage". The story was developed by Manny Coto alongside Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. Coto developed it into a script, his third of the series. The director of the episode was Allan Kroeker, who also directed "The Xindi" earlier in the season as well as the final episodes of both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. The episode featured a number of guest stars, including Smallwood, Oglesby, MacDonald and Worthy who appeared in their recurring roles on the Xindi council. Winston appeared as Daniels for the second time during season three, having made his debut in season one's "Cold Front".
The Xindi shuttle set had been constructed for "Hatchery", while a new set was constructed for the bridge of the Enterprise-J which consisted mostly of a green screen. The future Enterprise was designed by Doug Drexler, who drew the first design only two days prior to the production meeting for the episode. The computer generated model was created in a few hours, and Drexler later said that they would have finished it differently. He imagined that the vessel was so large that there would be universities and entire parks on board, with the turbolifts replaced by short range transporters. More than one design was created, with the final version created with elements from different designs. One of the elements incorporated into the version seen on screen was a reduction in the size of the warp nacelle supports as Drexler said that he didn't like that they had increased in size. John Eaves also created a number of designs for aquatic Xindi vessels for use in the episode, as well as a rejected design for the superweapon.
Reception and home media release
"Azati Prime" was first aired in the United States on UPN on March 3, 2004. It received a 2.6/4 percent share among adults. This means that it was seen by 2.6 percent of all households, and 4 percent of all of those watching television at the time of the broadcast. Enterprise was the sixth most watched program in the timeslot, behind Smallville on The WB. It was estimated that "Azati Prime" was watched by 4.02 million viewers, which was less than recent episodes had received.
Michelle Erica Green of TrekNation compared elements of the episode to the Star Wars franchise, such as the Xindi superweapon standing in for the Death Star. She found the pacing made the episode "engrossing" and thought that the action sequences would qualify it for technical Emmy Awards. She said that the one flaw in the episode was the characterisation of Archer and T'Pol, as she felt that some of their actions were implausible. Jamahl Epsicokhan on his website "Jammer's Reviews", gave "Azati Prime" a rating of three and a half out of four. He thought it was compelling and was impressed with how elements of earlier episodes were brought together, also saying that it was "possibly the most entertaining episode of Enterprise yet this season". Film and television critic Jordan Hoffman gave the episode four out of five, saying that the Xindi storyline was reaching a peak.
The only home media release of "Azati Prime" has been as part of the season three DVD box set, released in the United States on September 27, 2005. The Blu-ray release of Enterprise was announced in early 2013 and season three is expected to be released in January 2014.
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