the story: Religious fanatics are angry about the crew's sacrilegious approach to the spheres.
what it's all about: Pretty much everyone seems to have fixated on the ending of "Chosen Realm," which echoes the conclusion to the original series episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." And while they are similar, there's also...plenty more that can be said about it.
For starters, it's the episode of the Xindi arc that most directly reflects its origins as a response to 9/11. 9/11 happened just as Enterprise was about to launch. It took a few seasons, but the series eventually addressed its proximity to the terrorist attacks by way of metaphor: the Xindi attack Earth inexplicably, and Starfleet sends Archer and crew to try and stop further attacks. Just as the Afghanistan and Iraq wars proved increasingly controversial, Archer faces his greatest moral struggles during the arc. But "Chosen Realm" addresses the terrorists themselves.
Now, the terrorists had been acknowledged already, although the producers couldn't have known at the time that they were doing so. At the start of the series a species called the Suliban was introduced as part of the Temporal Cold War. The Suliban were named after the Taliban, who at the time were best known for smashing ancient Buddha statues. No one knew they would suddenly become a lot more relevant for harboring the terrorists who caused 9/11. So "Chosen Realm" features entirely unrelated aliens, who are caught up in an internal conflict, much as the Muslim world generally in the backdrop of the 9/11 terrorists disagrees about certain tenets of faith. And of course these aliens are terrorists.
What's actually the most interesting aspect of the episode is that not only does it continue the seemingly inexplicable fascination with spheres that had no obvious connection to the Xindi threat itself, at the time, but even gives us the first real hint of what they actually are, and what they were designed to accomplish. In hindsight, that makes "Chosen Realm" more important than it initially seems.
- franchise - Echoes of "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" are surely noteworthy...
- series - But this episode is ultimately more significant in explaining the purpose of the spheres.
character- It seems like a lost opportunity not to have included one of the aliens here in the season's host of recurring characters.
- essential - A direct look at 9/11 and its psychological impact.