Monday, June 1, 2015

Character Insight No. 147: Degra

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here. 


Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, the internet is all about some character called Jenner, so let's profile the character from Star Trek of the same name. But this Jannar doesn't hang out with Kardashians, he hangs out with this:

<<Enterprise theme song>>

(This is not the Jannar you are looking for, courtesy

Jannar is the personal friend of Degra on the Xindi Council. Wait, you don't know who Degra is because we haven't covered him? Well, you can't really understand Jannar without understanding Degra...

Oh to hell with it, for episode 147 <>, we might as well change course mid-stream. It's a silly Enterprise segment after all. 

Welcome back, again, to Character Insight. This week, by necessity, we profile Degra from Enterprise. 

Degra is a prominent Xindi scientist and a member of the Xindi Council. The first time we see Degra, he advised the council to avoid attacking Enterprise when it first entered the Delphic expanse, instead offering to use his upcoming super weapon to wipe out Earth instead. But his work on the super weapon took years, so the Council grows impatient waiting for him and starts work on a bioweapon instead.

Degra serves the role of J. Robert Oppenheimer for this show, the creator of a weapon of mass destruction who struggles with the ethics of it all. Like Oppenheimer, Degra wants to save his race and his family more than anything, and he is willing to go to the extreme of making and using the super weapon on multiple species and worlds to do it. At one point, we find out the pain of his past when his third child is lost before birth. One of his other daughters is named Jaina. You know, like...<>

Back to seriousness, Degra expresses this to Archer in the best episode featuring him, Stratagem:
Degra: Do you... have a family, Captain? 
Captain Jonathan Archer: [... ] I never really had an opportunity to start one. I was away from home a lot. 
Degra: You should make the time. I've learned that our work, in the end, means very little. Our real legacy is the children. I would do anything to protect mine. 

But Captain Archer in multiple confrontations with Degra eventually convinces him with evidence showing that the creation of the super weapon will actually eradicate both humans and Degra's race. It will lead to the Sphere Builders taking over the region of space for their own purposes.

Degra also eventually helps Archer convince Jannar, another Council member. And that leads to Archer presenting his position to the Xindi Council, which led to a reconsideration of the attack on Earth. But after this meeting, one of the reptilian Council members murders Degra in retribution for helping Archer destroy a reptilian ship earlier. Archer has revenge on this Council member for Degra, however.

But really, this death was inevitable for this conflicted character on both sides of this conflict. However, this character's impact is a huge one as a central player in the Xindi-Earth conflict, which is arguably the centerpiece of the best season of this show.

Kudos to the show writers for being willing to take on a tough character type like an Oppenheimer. According to the show producers, this is another role that became a recurring character and a much bigger part of the plot thanks to the great performance of actor Randy Oglesby. He took the core concept of this character and added some great personal touches. When not in Enterprise, Oglesby can be seen in small roles in movies like Pearl Harbor, Independence Day, and The Island.

Until next time, don't let the ethics of building a Death Star get to you. 


Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

No comments:

Post a Comment