Production Report: Xindi-Sloth Deliver "Shipment"
The NX-01 crew tangled with a Xindi-Humanoid in this week's "The Xindi," and they will have a serious brush with the Xindi-Reptilians in "Rajiin," but in the latest episode to complete production, the humans will finally have a close encounter with the Xindi-Sloth.
In "The Shipment," the Enterprise crew follows a lead to an industrial colony where it is believed they can gain information about the Xindi weapon planned for use against Earth. Archer, Reed and Major Hayes infiltrate the complex occupied by Xindi-Sloth, and Archer corners the one in charge and interrogates him about what they're producing, what it's being used for, and where it's being shipped.
The Sloth species was seen among the Xindi council in the season premiere — they were the gruff-looking ones with the large hairy faces (as opposed to the Reptilians, who were scaly and had "spikes" for hair). They will also be seen several times in other council scenes in upcoming episodes, but this is the first time they are prominently featured. This segment will also reveal a great deal more about the internal politics of the Xindi and their history.
The Xindi-Sloth at the center of the story is named "Gralik," and he's played by John Cothran Jr. Cothran was previously seen as the Klingon "Nu'Daq" in "The Chase" (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and as the mirror-universe Klingon "Telok" in "Crossover" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). Other guest cast members include two reprising their roles from "The Xindi" and other future episodes: Randy Oglesby as the Xindi-Humanoid "Degra," and Steven Culp as the MACO soldier "Hayes." There were a number of smaller parts for a few Reptilians and other Sloth and Xindi-Humanoids, including background extras.
Shooting on this production actually started the Friday before Labor Day, overlapping with the final day of "Exile." While Linda Park was completing that episode on another soundstage, Connor Trinneer, Jolene Blalock and John Billingsley did several scenes in "The Shipment" for a subplot where Trip Tucker attempts to take apart a Xindi rifle that was confiscated in an earlier episode. Production resumed the following Tuesday with the entire principal cast for other scenes on standing ship sets, including the Command Center, the Bridge and Shuttlepod One. The rest of the schedule played out mainly on the alien world with Scott Bakula, Dominic Keating, Culp, Cothran and the other guest actors. The sets created for these scenes included Gralik's Home, an Alien Forest and Cave, and several interior and exterior portions of the Xindi Complex. The seven-day schedule concluded Tuesday. It was that morning that the crew lit some of the standing ship sets for Bakula to do a live broadcast with Good Day Live (related story).
"The Shipment" is directed by David Straiton. This is Straiton's second Enterprise episode of the season, after next week's "Anomaly." He directed four episodes in the first two seasons including the Hugo-nominated "A Night in Sickbay." The script was written by Chris Black and Brent V. Friedman. Black is co-executive producer of the show with numerous scripts to his credit including "First Flight" and the Hugo-nominated "Carbon Creek." Friedman is consulting producer, and this is his second Enterprise writing credit after "Rajiin."
The episode is tentatively set to air October 22 on UPN.
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