Production Report – Season III: The Search for "Xindi"
The first episode of Season 3 completed principal photography last week, kicking off a season that will take Enterprise literally into new directions.
Titled "The Xindi," this segment begins a multi-episode arc that follows the NX-01's journey into the Delphic Expanse, to track down the perpetrators of a brutal assault upon Earth in the Season 2 finale "The Expanse." With a nine-day shooting schedule under the direction of Allan Kroeker, "Xindi" gave the various production departments some of their biggest challenges since the Enterprise pilot "Broken Bow."
Michael Westmore's makeup crew had several new alien species to create prosthetics for, but the most fun for them came in some exotic designs for the titular creatures. We learn in this episode that there are actually several sentient species of Xindi, all collaborating in the campaign against humanity, including "Xindi-Reptilians," "Xindi-Sloths" and the simpler "Xindi-Humanoids." We'll also be seeing "Xindi-Insectoids" and "Xindi-Aquatics," but they'll be computer generated by Dan Curry's and Ronald B. Moore's visual effects team. On the set, however, the Insectoids were actually played by stand-ins in black suits, their positions and movements being tracked for digital rendering later.
Herman Zimmerman's set designers had their hands full creating some bizarre new sets, including the Xindi meeting chamber and a mining complex where Captain Archer and his crew search for information. The script calls for this complex to be filled with a murky blue haze, and blue residue caking the walls (the mined substance is called "trellium"). So the crew not only dressed the mine sets with painted rocks and quartz crystals, but also brought in bags and bags of blue-dyed Styrofoam. A blue-tinted smoke filled the sets during the shooting, and the actors involved in those scenes including Scott Bakula were lucky enough to be smeared with blue dust.
There was one shooting location outside the show's normal three soundstages, and that was across the studio lot. The Paramount Theater — where Enterprise had its world premiere of "Broken Bow" in 2001 — served as a backdrop for a nightmare sequence with Connor Trinneer as "Trip Tucker" being haunted by the loss of his sister in Florida. A greenscreen was used in some of the shots where digital effects will be inserted.
A significant new element in the show this season is the presence of a military contingent, as mentioned in "The Expanse." These soldiers are referred to as MACOs, standing for "Military Assault Command Operations." The MACO group is led by "Major Hayes," played by Steven Culp. Culp is a Star Trek veteran ... sort of. Culp was part of the original final scene of "Star Trek Nemesis" which was edited out of the movie. He played "Martin Madden," Will Riker's replacement as first officer on the Enterprise-E, and he can be seen among the Deleted Scenes on the "Nemesis" DVD (related story).
Coincidentally, another MACO was earlier seen in "Nemesis" — actually, the Star Trek: Voyager episode of that name. Nathan Anderson was "Namon," but here he's "Sergeant Kemper." Daniel Dae Kim was "Gotana-Retz" in "Blink of an Eye," and he's now in the role of "Corporal Chang."
Most of the rest of the large guest cast have been in Star Trek before, including Richard Lineback, Stephen McHattie, Randy Oglesby (who was in the Enterprise episode "Unexpected"), Scott MacDonald, Rick Worthy and Tucker Smallwood.
There was some substantial stunt work involved in scenes where Archer's men and the MACOs are put into action. About a dozen stuntmen were employed under the direction of stunt coordinator Vince Deadrick Jr., and a lot of on-set special effects were utilized, including "air mortars" representing energy pulse fire, "squibs" representing blood, and a lot of sparks amidst the blue smoke and dust.
"The Xindi" was written by executive producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. This is the second episode in a row for director Kroeker, having concluded last season with "The Expanse," adding to his extensive Star Trek resume.
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