(written from a Production point of view)
Enterprise captures Degra, the mastermind behind the Xindi weapon project, and Archer tries to trick him into revealing the location of the final weapon.
Captain Archer, disheveled, long-haired, and not in his normal uniform, is on board an unusual shuttle with a grey-haired Xindi-Primate, who is unconscious on the floor. As the Xindi wakes up, the shuttle rocks, and Archer tells him that the ship is being attacked by Xindi ships. Startled and disoriented, the Xindi looks out a portal, and sees two Xindi-Insectoid patrol ships firing at them. He demands that Archer let him communicate with the attacking ships, because they will listen to him.
- Archer – "It's been a long time since any Xindi took orders from you…"
After raising the shields and eluding the attacking ships by dumping warp plasma into their intake manifolds (and thus, Archer reports, overheating their engines), the Xindi demands to be told what is going on – he can't remember anything. Archer tells him his name is Degra, and that, by working together, they've just escaped a Xindi prison colony where they've been held in the same cell for over three years. Degra isn't convinced, and he demands some proof. Archer rolls up his sleeve, and reveals Xindi prison script on both of their forearms. Degra still isn't convinced that a Xindi and a Human could have put aside their differences and become friends so easily. Archer explains about how they used to try and kill each other, but then decided there was no point – both of their species had lost the conflict.
Degra is told that the Xindi weapon had been launched against Earth, with the desired effect – Earth had been destroyed. However, since then the old Xindi rivalries had re-emerged, with the Xindi-Insectoids coming out victorious after having stockpiled weapons and ships during the building of the weapon. Many colonies of other species of Xindi had already been wiped out.
During the discussion, Degra mentions his family, staying in a colony near a red giant. Archer asks the coordinates but Degra dismisses it as too risky, since they are being followed. Just then, a section of the shuttle's hull is ruptured, and coolant gas is expelled into the cockpit. Degra and Archer work together to fix the leak before settling down for the night.
After a few hours of sleep, Archer gets up and uses a hypospray on Degra, then opens the shuttle door. As Archer steps out of the shuttle, it is revealed that the shuttle is in fact some type of simulator, and they are actually inside the Enterprise.
Archer, Trip Tucker, T'Pol, and Hoshi Sato discuss the tricking of Degra. The red giant mentioned by him could be a red herring and would not necessarily mean that it would be the construction site of the weapon; however Archer insisted that his family would certainly live in close proximity to where Degra worked. Another problem is that there were seven red giants in that vicinity. Archer dismisses T'Pol's advice to ask Degra directly and tells them he needs more time with him.
Three days earlier, the crew of the Enterprise had returned to the weapon test site and incapacitated a Xindi-Primate ship. After boarding, they found only three Xindi, and that any useful data had already been deleted. They took the three Xindi and searched the ship for anything useful.
Archer tried to convince the lead Xindi, known as Degra, to tell him where the weapon was being made. After failing, he decided to try to trick him into telling him. Doctor Phlox told the captain that he can selectively wipe their short-term memories. With this information, Archer decided to create a simulation of a shuttle, and use Degra's wiped memory as an advantage. Captain Archer was implanted with a MACO subdermal transceiver so he could covertly communicate with the Enterprise crew. T'Pol also helped Archer work out the details of the backstory. Phlox created tattoos on Degra's arm as prison markings and injects him with a (harmless) Regulan bloodworm, which Archer tells Degra are a means of interrogation and are the explanation for his memory loss.
Back inside the shuttle, Degra is woken again by a sudden jolt. The captain tells him that they're entering a region with high concentrations of spatial anomalies. Apparently the ship's hull was not lined with trellium-D. Archer convinces Degra to send out a distress message to his colleagues, hoping that it won't be intercepted by a Xindi-Insectoid ship.
In the command center, Sato and T'Pol are working to gain any information from Degra and the garbled data they recovered from the Xindi ship. Sato intercepts Degra's "transmission", and begins to formulate a reply.
T'Pol is told by Lieutenant Reed that another Xindi ship is approaching the system, about six hours away. Sato reminds T'Pol that Xindi sensors are more advanced than those of the Enterprise, and that they would probably notice them a long time before they arrived in the sector. With that, T'Pol orders the Enterprise back into the debris field of the test moon.
Archer and Degra are sharing a bottle of Andorian ale when their message alert sounds. It is a response to their call for help. After clearing it up, the voice claims to be Thalen, one of Degra's colleagues. Sato is using a voice synthesizer of some sort, presumably after having sampled the voice of one of the Xindi prisoners in the brig. "He", tells Degra that "he" is safe on Azati Prime, to which Degra responds by asking if his wife Naara and his daughters are "still there". Degra is convinced to enter the coordinates of the system, and does so, being intercepted by Hoshi who confirms that the coordinates are being encrypted which should validate their authenticity. T'Pol confirms that the coordinates match one of the red giants but will take three weeks to reach at maximum warp.
Just then, the Enterprise experiences ship-wide power fluctuations from the debris field that affect the shuttle. Degra notices one of the 'windows' flicker and realizes that he's in a simulation. After asking Archer some questions to validate his story, Degra lunges forward and attacks him with a knife. The Enterprise crew bursts into the shuttle just in time, and take Degra back into custody.
Back in the brig, Degra claims that he worked out the shuttle scenario was a deception when he received the com signal from his colleague as Azati Prime has a deuterium facility run by the Insectoids and would be the last place to hide from them. Although Archer (correctly) suspects he didn't know until the simulator malfunctioned, Degra insists that he intentionally provided false information. The crew discuss if they should head to Azati Prime; three weeks could be a critical waste of time if the weapon isn't located there. Hoshi suggests that the coordinates are genuine as Degra encrypted them, but T'Pol suspects it could have been a double bluff if Degra had indeed already worked out he was being lied to. As there's no way to know for sure, and no time to do the simulator scenario again, Archer puts another plan into action, involving the entire ship this time.
Reed bursts into the ship's brig, and demands that two of the Xindi, including Degra, follow him. The ship is being rocked and jolted as they race to engineering, where Archer explains that they've adapted the Xindi technology from their ship to open one of the Xindi's subspace vortices. After Travis Mayweather inverts the warp field and brings them back into normal space, Degra is led with Archer up to the bridge.
Once on the bridge, Archer shows Degra a red giant on the main viewscreen. The other officers on the bridge confirm Xindi ships in the sector, along with high levels of kemocite. This is enough evidence for Degra to shout out:
- "You'll never get close to the weapon! Our defense perimeter will destroy you!"
Archer slowly turns round to Degra, and reveals that it has been another hoax, and the viewscreen reverts to show the test site. A stunned Degra is led back to the infirmary. "Thanks for your help," Archer says.
After wiping all three Xindi's memories, returning them to their ship, and faking a plasma leak to explain their loss of consciousness, the Enterprise leaves the test site for Azati Prime, on what Archer hopes to be the final leg in their search for the Xindi weapon.
"Too bad he didn't go for the Andorian ale. That would have loosened him up."
- - Tucker, while Archer tries to get Degra to give him the coordinates for Azati Prime
"By capturing us, you've accomplished nothing."
- - Degra, to Archer
"On my mark, initiate a sharp jolt to starboard."
"How sharp do you want it?"
- - T'Pol and Tucker while operating the simulator
"The captain's certainly drinking a lot."
"The doctor gave him an anti-intoxicant."
- - Sato and T'Pol observing Archer and Degra drinking Andorian ale in the simulator
"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? I suppose I've told you this before."
"Actually, you haven't."
- - Degra talks to Archer about viewing the deployment of the prototype weapon while in the simulator
"Thanks for your help."
- - Archer, when Degra ultimately reveals Azati Prime as the location of the weapon
Story and script
- The final draft script of this episode was issued on 7 November 2003.
- The basic story concept of this episode is very similar to that of "36 Hours"; a 1965 film starring James Garner and Rod Taylor, which also inspired "The Train"; a 1967 episode of Mission: Impossible directed by Ralph Senensky and guest starring William Windom and William Schallert.
Sets and props
- The bottle of Andorian ale Archer shares with Degra is a reuse of a Skagaran whiskey bottle seen in the episode "North Star".
- This was the second episode written by Terry Matalas. The first was "Impulse", in the same season.
- In this episode, Phlox refers to Regulan bloodworms as "harmless." Ironically, David Gerrold's rejected "Blood and Fire" script for Star Trek: The Next Generation would have included Regulan bloodworms carrying a dangerous and terrible plague, with a social stigma on carriers. 
- In the teaser, when Archer simulates raising the shuttle’s deflector shields, a computer schematic shows the ship being enveloped by a series of dots. This is similar to computer schematic depictions of the shields being raised (or dropping) on the USS Reliant and USS Enterprise in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed
- Anthony Montgomery as Travis Mayweather
- Linda Park as Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Charles "Trip" Tucker III
- Brian Avery as command crewman
- Douglas Bierman as Xindi-Primate
- Dominic Calandra as command lieutenant
- Mark Correy as Alex
- Paul Eliopoulos as operations crewman
- Hilde Garcia as Rossi
- Peter Godoy as operations crewman
- Glen Hambly as operations ensign
- John Jurgens as operations ensign
- Chase Kim as R. Azar
- Ricky Lomax as W. Woods
- Aric Rogokos as sciences crewman
- Ator Tamras as A. Tamras
- Unknown actors as
- David Anderson – stand-in for Anthony Montgomery
- Jef Ayres – stand-in for Connor Trinneer
- Dominic Calandra – hand double for Scott Bakula
- Evan English – stand-in for Dominic Keating
- J.R. Quinonez – stand-in for John Billingsley
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Scott Bakula
- Jessica Vash – stand-in for Jolene Blalock
- Susan Yee – stand-in for Linda Park
- Unknown performers as
amusement; Andorian ale; anti-intoxicant; Azati Prime; Azati Prime; bath; beach; bloodworm; brig; buckling; Calindra system; computer core; coolant tank; debris; defense perimeter; Degra's ship; Delphic Expanse; Denobula; dermal art; deuterium; dilithium; Durr, Gralik; Earth; engram; flight school; flight simulator; grasshopper; hair follicle; Human; hydraulics; intake manifold; interrogation chamber; Jaina; kemocite; kilometer; lake; liter; lymphatic system; Maarek III; MACO; Malosian; Malosian cargo shuttle; memory engram; military habitat; Naara; navigational log; navigational deflector; neural pathway; neurophysiology; phase deflector pulse; Piral; plasma conduit; plasma network; plasma tank; prison (prison colony); pylon; reactor coolant; red giant; red herring; Regulan bloodworm; respirator; reunification; sensor drone; sensor; shields; spatial charge; subdermal transceiver; subspace transceiver; subspace turbulence; subspace vortex; tactical alert; trellium; truth serum; warp field; warp nacelle; warp plasma; warp reactor; weapons expert; Xindi-Aquatic; Xindi-Arboreal; Xindi Council; Xindi identification tattoo; Xindi-Insectoid; Xindi-Insectoid patrol ship; Xindi-Primate; Xindi-Reptilian; Xindi reunification; Xindus
- "Stratagem" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Stratagem" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Stratagem" at Wikipedia
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