Hoshi is barely able to summon up memories of the sphere-weapon’s design, let alone the strength to relay that information to Archer, but the captain presses her to recall the information as Degra’s ship speeds toward Earth and an attempt to intercept the Xindi weapon. In the meantime, the Enterprise’s mission proves to be more dangerous than expected: the Sphere Builders have erected dimensional distortion fields around their network of spheres controlling the Expanse, and if the Enterprise gets close enough to destroy even the weakest link in that chain, the instability could easily shred the ship and her crew. Hoshi is finally able to remember enough about the weapon to give Archer a way to disarm and destroy it, though Archer and his small force are unable to stop the Xindi-Reptilians from reaching Earth first and destroying an orbital station.
Archer alone takes responsibility for disarming the weapon, assigning Reed and the MACOs the task of fending off the small crew of Xindi-Reptilians aboard. The attempt to disable the Sphere Builders’ network in the Expanse is successful, though it almost succeeds in destroying the Enterprise and everyone aboard as well. The battered starship meets up with Degra’s vessel, where Reed and Hoshi report that the sphere-weapon was destroyed before getting a single shot off at Earth – but they also report that Archer went down with it, unable to beam off the sphere before it exploded.
What they don’t know is that prior to embarking on his fateful mission, Archer received a visit from time-hopping Crewman Daniels, giving him a glimpse seven years into the future at the founding of a united federation of planets – something Daniels says Archer is instrumental in creating.
And what they don’t know until they return to Earth is that, by being aboard the sphere when it was destroyed, Archer may have irrevocably changed the course of that future, and the Earth the Enterprise is returning to is not the Earth that her crew remembers.
written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
directed by Allan Kroeker
music by Jay Chattaway
Guest Cast: Scott MacDonald (Reptilian Commander), Rick Worthy (Xindi-Arboreal), Tucker Smallwood (Xindi-Humanoid), Josette DiCarlo (Sphere-Builder Woman), Bruce Thomas (Reptilian Soldier), Andrew Borba (Reptilian Lieutenant), Matt Winston (Daniels), Mary Mara (Sphere-Builder Presage), Ruth Williamson (Sphere-Builder Primary), Jeffrey Combs (Shran), Gunter Ziegler (Doctor), J. Paul Boehmer (Officer), Zachary Krebs (Andorian)
Notes: This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup For A Series, Miniseries or Special in 2004, but the award instead went to the pilot episode of the FX Network’s black comedy about plastic surgeons, Nip/Tuck. The writers of the episode have since admitted that they had no idea how to resolve the World War II cliffhanger, but apparently new executive producer Manny Coto did have an idea.
LogBook entry by Earl Green