At the end of season two in Star Trek: Enterprise, the Xindi attack earth with their prototype mini-superweapon, killing 7 million humans and some alligators. This precipitates all the events of season three, where the protagonists attempt to stop the real superweapon.

However, why did the Xindi show their hand that they had it in for the humans? Why not test it on some other uninhabited moon like they did later, then show up only when they were ready to go?

  • 6
    This is just the first of many serious flaws I feel showed up in the Xindi plotline that dragged on waaaay too long. (Seriously, did anyone think there was any point in turning in until the last 15 minutes of the last episode to see Earth be saved?) It could have been just as easily tested on an uninhabited planet near them as on Earth, so many light years away. (Besides, there's just so many better ways to destroy an entire planet than by wiping the surface.)
    – Tango
    Commented Nov 8, 2011 at 4:01
  • 4
    Because if they waited until they finished the real superweapon and managed to destroy Earth, there wouldn't be a season 3 or 4.
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 8, 2011 at 4:28
  • 7
    they did it for the lulz
    – Xantec
    Commented Nov 8, 2011 at 4:53
  • 3
    @Kevin: But if they were smarter and were a credible foe, people might have stuck around for a season 5 or 6 or 7!
    – Tango
    Commented Nov 8, 2011 at 5:30
  • 5
    I love the fact that the 3rd season is so polarizing. There were some plot holes large enough to fly a starship through, the "Vulcan neuropressure" plot thread was insulting and absurd, and you could argue as to whether the darker, more intense stuff was even Trek at all, but they definitely broke some new ground on that season. Commented Nov 11, 2011 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


The Xindi were not in the business of annihilating whole planets for the fun of it, they were planning on destroying Earth because the Sphere Makers told them that—if they didn't—Earth would do the same to them in the future.

So they spent a lot of time developing the weapon, which needed to be tested, and they needed intelligence on Earth. Testing the destructive power of the weapon on any planet with life and sending a probe that would likely to be caught wouldn't have been prudent.

But killing two birds with one stone by sending a probe with the prototype weapon and testing it on the planet they hoped to destroy anyway makes sense, especially if you operate under the assumption that there would've been no way for Earth to know it was you.

That is, in "The Xindi", the council is shocked to find out that Enterprise was looking for them in the expanse:

Xindi-Humanoid: It could simply be a coincidence.
Xindi-Reptilian: You're being naive. Their planet is fifty light years away. It is not a coincidence.
Xindi-Humanoid: How do you know your contacts gave you accurate information?
Xindi-Insectoid: It's the beginning of an invasion. Hundreds of Earth ships will follow.
Xindi-Humanoid: They have no way of knowing that we launched the probe.

Of course, the only way Earth knew who perpetrated the attack was because Future Guy told Archer about it in "The Expanse".

There's also the matter of the different philosophies amongst the Xindi species. The Humanoids like Degra wanted to proceed slowly, but the Reptilians and the Insectoids wanted to attack Earth as soon as possible. They were constantly giving the other races ultimata to finish the weapon quickly lest the resort to other tactics. For example, in "Rajiin", the Reptilians threaten to use bioweapons when Degra talks of the delays in the project:

Xindi-Reptilian: And what of your work, Degra?
Degra: I haven't been able to assess how much data was lost. This will obviously delay us.
Xindi-Insectoid: How long?
Degra: Months perhaps. I'm not certain.
Xindi-Insectoid: The humans have been through our space!
Xindi-Reptilian: They attacked a trellium mine. We cannot wait any longer.
Degra: Think what you're asking me to do. Build a weapon to destroy an entire world. Do you understand how difficult, how dangerous this project is?
Xindi-Reptilian: Are you saying you're not up to the task?
Xindi-Aquatic: Dissension will solve nothing. We knew there could be setbacks.
Xindi-Arboreal: I agree. We are too far along to change our plan.
Xindi-Humanoid: Besides, we have no alternative.
Xindi-Reptilian: You know that isn't true.
Xindi-Humanoid: That option has been discussed and rejected.
Xindi-Insectoid: Not by all of us.
Xindi-Reptilian: Perhaps it is time to reconsider our colleagues' proposal.
Xindi-Humanoid: We do not have enough information about the humans!
Xindi-Reptilian: That can be remedied.
Xindi-Aquatic: It's too dangerous.
Xindi-Arboreal: I agree. Degra deserves more time.
Xindi-Aquatic: But if we do not see some progress soon, we'll have no choice but to consider all our options.

And we learn in "Azati Prime" that it was a Reptilian who manned the probe that attacked Earth: it's not inconceivable it was the Repitilians who pushed for a "live fire" test ahead of the finished product.

  • What do you mean by "and they needed intelligence on Earth" and "Testing the destructive power of the weapon on any planet with life and sending a probe that would likely to be caught wouldn't have been prudent."?
    – B Seven
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 23:55

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