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'Archer' Faces Tough Decisions as the NX-01 Ventures Deeper Inside the Expanse in "Anomaly"
PROMENADE







Posted: 06:46:41 on September 18 2003
By: O. Deus
Dept: ENTERPRISE Reviews
Reviews Ex Deus

"Anomaly"

Summary: Archer's morals are tested as he enters a dog-eat-dog section of the Expanse.

Merging material from great STAR TREK episodes like DS9's "In The Pale Moonlight" and VOYAGER's "The Void," "Anomaly" is the first episode of the third season that actually begins to deliver on its premise. And while "Anomaly" is not the equal of either of those episodes, it is a strong story that demonstrates a notable improvement over last week's "The Xindi." While ENTERPRISE has been billed as a series about Earth's first Starship that would recreate the Original Series's sense of isolation in deep space, it has rarely done so. Instead Archer and Co. have often come off as casual and carefree adventurers guided by a belief that no problem was ever any more than just a temporary inconvenience. "Anomaly" is one of the few ENTERPRISE episodes (though really the only one since season 2's "Minefield" arc) that actually shows Enterprise alone and vulnerable in deep space while struggling to survive.

Like in "The Void," this area of the Expanse turns out to be a trap for ships that they can enter but can't escape, leaving them with the choice of becoming either predator or prey. Unlike Janeway, however, Archer doesn't have plenty of time to befriend every other alien and win their friendship and trust. He's running against a deadline tied to the destruction of Earth and as in "Pale Moonlight," this forces him to test his morals against the consequences of failure. In doing so, Archer finally seems to grow up, moving past his petty displays of self-righteous nobility and towards becoming the pragmatic commander his crew and his world need. And he does this without ever losing sight of the personal price he's paying to do so. His Osaarian captive, a capable performance in a small role, plays both a killer and a fallen man taunting Archer to prove that he is really no better than him. His apathy and his contempt for his victims is driven by the self-knowledge of his own ruin.

The Expanse, too, is also beginning to come into its own as a place with cloaking fields, anomalies and mysterious giant spheres, all of which helps create a dog-eat-dog environment of trapped ships that can't get out and can't go any further. This comes closer to fulfilling the promise of the Expanse as a mysterious place full of strange things, rather than just another train stop on the Alien-of-the-Week express. Mike Sussman'ss script is generally solid and workman-like with no weak spots aside from Phlox and Trip's awkward referencing of last week's topless grief counseling session. This really isn't his fault so much as it is Berman and Braga's, who wrote it and now seem to insist on tainting other episodes by having them reference it.

While a lot of the cast really doesn't have much to do in "Anomaly," with Porthos getting more lines than some of them, including surprisingly T'Pol, Reed seems to be finding a new voice playing the rational, constrained Spock to Archer's impulsive driven Kirk, particularly during the airlock scene. And of course there's a gratuitous action scene for Trip in which by some miracle of restraint he doesn't find any reason to take his shirt off. Hoshi is given something useful to do in hacking the Osaarian's computers, which helps broaden her specialties on the ship as well as making for a better battle scene in which the conflict works on multiple levels. Still, "Anomaly" is very much an Archer episode, just as "Pale Moonlight" was very centered around Sisko, and Sussman might have even considered including that episode's framing device of Sisko's narration with Archer's starlog.

Of course as with season 2's "Minefield" arc, it will be up to future episodes to carry the ball and we'll see if it manages to hit as high a note as "Dead Stop" did during last year. "Anomaly" has already raised the stakes by killing a crewmember who will be rather difficult to replace this far from Earth and showing the impact this had on the crew including Archer, Reed and Trip. The MACO's themselves are of course here because unlike the cast members, who have long-term contracts, they can die tragic deaths. Archer has shown that he's willing to use desperate measures and write his own rules to get results. Enterprise itself is alone, vulnerable and far from any help or repairs. This has the potential to create some intense and dramatic situations. We'll see if the series manages to make use of them as the season goes on.

Next week: Starfleet Werewolf .

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About the Author
O. Deus has been a TrekWeb visitor since the site's 1996 inception. Along with being an ardent poster, he is a freelance journalist based in New York City. Deus has written reviews and columns for TrekWeb for over two years.

Past Reviews
  • Impulse
  • Rajiin
  • "Extinction"
  • "Anomaly"
  • "The Xindi"
  • Season 2 Poll Results
  • "The Expanse"
  • "First Flight" and "Bounty"
  • "Regeneration"
  • "Cogenitor"
  • "The Breach" (Williams)
  • "Horizon" (Williams)
  • "Judgment"
  • "The Crossing"
  • React to this story below and see what others are saying at the STAR TREK BBS.
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    TREKWEB TALKBACK
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    I've seen it... It was okay but...
    By Hbasm ( ) at 10:13:29 on September 23 2003
    URL: http://home3.inet.tele.dk/huas/st_enterprise/ENT-page1.htm | User Info
    The refreshing thing about this episode is not actually the episode, but the positive buzz on these pages. People liked it! That's a rare thing, however, I'm puzzled as to WHY people react this way.

    To me, the episode isn't better than most episodes from season 1 & 2. It's just different. A different mission, and not as happy. Why are you attracted to things like this? Are there any wisdom in such episodes that are more useful to you, than what we saw in season 1 & 2 ?

    B&B obviosuly listened to fans and changed the show, although it violates the logic approch from the beginning, regarding humanity's first space exploration. The fact is, this new would never have gotten this far in real life. It's unrealistic, at least as much unrealistic as the old mission was blamed for.

    I found Anomaly rather unimportant to me, as a human being. I don't live in a scenario where I need skills to do anything like this. There was no "golden corns" to pick up from the story. Also, the entertainment value wasn't higher than what Enterprise has offered all the time.

    The "old" mission however is a dream of mine about the future. It really seems though, people prefer to watch nightmares and this can really get me angry sometimes.

    Last thing, about the review by O. Deus: It was good. But I wonder why you blame B&B for the Phlox/Trip dialogue about sleeping with help from T'Pol. I think it was pretty clever. The comparison between worms and T'Pol really made T'Pol win. It was surprising, and it made her shine. It was the only positive emotional reaction I had during the entire episode. There's nothing wrong with that.

    The rest was ...okay.. I'll be watching all the upcoming episodes of course because I'm not that difficult to please. But I've spoken out now, this time.

    [ Reply | Quote | Parent ]

    Yes. Take Enterprise back to the days of nittty, edgy & gritty Tre
    By Grand Admiral Thrawn ( grandadmiralthrawn@sbcglobal.net) at 16:24:52 on September 21 2003
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    Strangely I liked Anomaly much more than the Xindi. It felt dark, edgy and sprinkled with some nifty cgi just like the good old days of DS9.
    I hope we get to see more of this. Enterprise usually turns out occasional gems like this every season like Dead-stop of S2 and Silent enemy of S1 but majority of episodes falter due to poor execution. With smallville looming ahead B&B donot have that luxury anymore

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    omfg NO ONE MENTIONED THIS?!?!?!?!?!?
    By JediFonger ( ) at 21:08:08 on September 20 2003
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    ARE YOU GUYS OFF YOUR ROCKS!!!??? did you guys even WATCH THE EPISODE?!?!?!?!?

    can't you see the DEATH STAR! i almost fell off my chair when i saw that. i almost expected reed to say, "that's a big moon"... but that was a BIG rip off of star wars and a little bit of arthur c clarke's rama (not shape but concept of a mysterious gargantuan craft). and you call yourselves fans...

    anyway... didya guys notice that when the pirates came aboard and they were in the cargo bay one of Osaarian (trying to reference Last Flight of Osiris?) attached transporter devices. i noticed that one of the smaller containers to the left of the screen had no device yet was transported ANYWAY!! i thought they would have maintained some consistency. i mean fucrying outloud if one device has proximity sensors on it that can transport whatever is in its vincinity wouldn't you need just ONE! instead for a total of 3 containers they had 2? taht to me is lazy attention to the world and mythos of star trek.

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    Enterprise
    By AntonyF ( ) at 06:40:44 on September 19 2003
    URL: http://www.b5tv.com | User Info
    A much better episode, again I agree with O. Deus.

    I think it'd be better if we hadn't seen the Xindi yet, so Archer's search is also our search.

    But I did have to laugh at the end of the review: "Enterprise itself is alone, vulnerable and far from any help or repairs". The ship or the show? ;)

    [ Reply | Quote | Parent ]

    "Anomoly" was satisfying , keep it going with greater charac
    By sentry ( ) at 20:26:42 on September 18 2003
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    While "Anomoly" was satisfying from an action and storyline point of view, the lack of depth in character development and interaction is keeping Enterprise from the level of entertainment that drew such loyal audiences for classic trek or the next generation. Individually, the characters are fine. They just haven't developed any steady direction in their interactions. I believe the key to this series is a more pronounced sense of unspoken loyalty between Archer and T'Pol and a tension in their personal relationship ala the early days of Maulder and Scully. T'Pol fooling around with Trip is the wrong path. The relationships of all the main characters needs work. Star Trek has always been about the chemistry of the cast, allow it to develop along with improved action and storylines and you will really have something.

    [ Reply | Quote | Parent ]

    For those of you restraining your enthusiasm...
    By Steve Krutzler ( s_krutzler@trekweb.com) at 17:25:21 on September 18 2003
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    ...allow me to exhale an exclamatory "finally!"

    Simply put, "Anomaly" was far better than "The Xindi" and would've made a better season premiere. This is the script that all future ENT scripts should look toward. It's the first ENT episode that seems far more than just an hour television show. As others have said, the show this week looked, felt, sounded, and executed like a solid feature film. When Archer tells Mayweather "we're going to wait for them to find us" and then they cut to the ship orbiting the sphere, some hugely invigorating drums kick in and it really feels satisfying.

    "Anomaly" does what we've been clamoring for: it works with character. Trying to find original sci-fi plots-of-the-week isn't going to be how ENT wins back its fans; it's going to do it the way DS9 did it, by mixing compelling character development with engrossing space opera and the enough sci-fi hooks to keep it interesting. From spatial anomalies to alien raiders to prison talks to tough decisions to ancient Dyson Spheres and commanding military strategy, "Anomaly" really has it all.

    The joy of this episode is in the fact that it never quits. Prior ENT episodes would've been satisfied with the raider plot, or getting back some anti-matter. But here the plot becomes far more complex and thus much more intriguing. The mystery of the ancient spheres starts to really make us feel that the Expanse is different and now we're getting the impression that perhaps the entire region is the remnant of some sort of strange ancient civilization. Is it the Xindi, or someone else? The point is, I want to tune in and find out. Badly.

    Underneath the sophisticated plot, unexpected twists, and some credibly exciting combat strategy by Archer, is a lot of character development. Archer is on edge from the beginning but when he gets wind of the Xindi he goes ballistic. The initial exchange between Archer and the Osaarian (nice brig set, btw) was very well done. Archer's retort, "If that causes me some remorse, I can live with it," is clever and powerful. We know something will happen and when he decompresses the guy in the airlock, he's crossed a boundary he can't come back from. The mission is what's important now and Earth is essentially at war with the Xindi. All bets are off.

    The new Archer isn't whining or self-righteous, either. He's confident, believeable, and driven. When he contacts the Osaarian ship there's a distinct change from previous seasons. He simply says, "This is Captain Archer, remember me?" No "we come in peace, we are from Earth," or any of that blah blah blah crap we've heard a million times before. His decision was already made and the execution of that strategy (resulting in a nice "we've got what we want, now blow their engines to hell!" climax that sends the aliens careening climactically into the sphere) is both convincing and different from the usual dogfight. Clearly the sphere holds important secrets that the Osaarians are willing to fight for.

    Archer isn't the only character with meaningful scenes this week. Trip's insomnia thread is continued and I think the very point I made last week about his T'Pol scene being too easily dismissed as provocative is confirmed when Trip says "it's not what you think." It's also one of the few moments of humor in this tense episode and the dynamic between Keating and Trinneer is definitely on the mark. Sussman also gives ample time to all the characters this time out, with each having something useful to do, all the way down to Hoshi and Mayweather.

    My only regret is that the captured Osaarian didn't give Archer a reason to kill him in the end. Obviously he couldn't do it in cold blood, that would be too far considering what he's already done. But had the prisoner uttered his line about mercy and then stolen the phaser from the guard and making Archer gun him down, a nice "I think you're right" from the captain would've been quite satisfying.

    I cannot talk about "Anomaly" without mentioning two technical aspects that I hope we haven't seen the last of. First, direction. Straiton's direction of the initial raid was excellent and his full-on tracking shot as Archer and the MACO approach the cargo bay was very well done. The other is music. I didn't catch the credits to see who scored this episode but it was excellent and quite possibly the best score of any ENT episode. Finally they've realized that this type of show needs to be scored like a feature film. The mix of bombastic drums with the mysterious, early-TNG-esque electronic theme during the "sci-fi moments" and the end was pure gold.

    Which brings me to the end of this episode, which was a fantastic conclusion. It's nice to end shows on something other than the ship floating in space and the cinematography here with the reflecting data screen on Archer's face was very effective. If "The Xindi"'s talking bugs and whales didn't spark your interest last week, the superior drama and unfamiliar plot devices most certainly had to this time around.

    If the show starts delivering quality like this on a regular basis, I will have to admit, ENTERPRISE has finally docked.

    [ Reply | Quote | Parent ]

    Wonderful episode... and a word of advice for Deus.
    By lemmiwinks ( ) at 15:22:39 on September 18 2003
    URL: | User Info
    First, the word of advice for Deus. Let me first say that although I don't always agree with what he has to say, I do enjoy reading Deus' reviews. You can tell that he's very involved when he's writing these. Deus, I think the reason you get such a negative reaction from folks around here is that when you don't like an episode, you are very articulate about it. You are quite boisterous about your distaste, and it comes across loud and clear. But when an amazing episode like "Anomaly" comes along, you hold back... a lot! You seem to make very generalized comments about what was good, and still manage to find quite a few things that were bad. Your review of this episode even seemed much shorter than those in which you don't like the ep. It just feels biased, like watching some biased middle east report on CNN. I don't know if you even care about this, but I dunno, I'll still keep reading. One thing though... why do you have such a problem with there being romantic/sexual situations on the show? All good stories have a little romance in them, what would Shakespear (sp) be without it? What kind of guy would Kirk be if he didn't have a girl in every port (or planet)? Would the whole Imzadi thing between Will and Deanna have been as interesting if he wasn't seducing some woman every once in a while? Kirk was quite a racy guy, and many times half the episode in TOS was about him hooking up. This T'Pol/Tucker thing was something that was hinted at in season 1 and I'm really glad they've decided to bring it back, it makes the story seem more real.

    Now, the episode... GREAT! WONDERFUL! WOW! They should have kicked off the season with this one! When the giant sphere appeared, I thought it might have been a Dison (sp) Sphere (TNG). I also loved how Enterprise was kicking ass, but then the enemy ship came back and it was clear that they had much more advanced weapons, the multi-firing disruptor-like cannons were so cool. But our little ship had the element of surprise... I really felt like jumping up and cheering after Hoshi was done and they wasted the pirates' nacelles. It's true, in this episode you really got the feeling that they were in real danger. Bravo!

    -Is it a plot? Is it a ploy?
    (Q, All Good Things...)

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    Watching and Liking!
    By Edzo ( lordedzo@hotmail.com) at 14:16:12 on September 18 2003
    URL: | User Info
    I wrote this before reading anyone else's reviews.

    Yes, "Anomaly" bore similarities to previous episodes, such as TNG's "Relics" and VGR's "Equinox, Part II" and "The Void."

    But I liked it anyway. It's a different crew. And it wasn't all wrapped up in the end.

    Hopefully, we'll get to see Archer adjusting to the Expanse a little differently than Janeway adjusted to the Delta Quadrant. Sure, Janeway had to become more aggressive and defensive, but she found ways to "meld" this with her attention to Starfleet principles.

    Those principles haven't really evolved yet in the 22nd century. This is the time for Archer to take the bull by the horns. His actions, good or bad, should become the basis for the principles that Janeway will eventually hold dear.

    Also interesting will be how Archer adjusts his "morality" to the Expanse. He can almost asphyxiate an uncooperative alien, but he still shows mercy and sets the guy free in the end. He says he'll have to learn to "live" with whatever actions he takes to protect his ship. Sisko said the same thing in "In the Pale Moonlight," and you could see the unrelenting, omnipresent weight on his shoulders whenever he "shuffled" through the station. Hopefully, Archer will be equally stricken.

    Let's make one thing clear: The visual effects were out-freaking-standing! Movie quality! So many money shots!

    The other production values also are quite high. The show "looks" good, and I think the writing could come along in time. There's nothing like being backed up against a wall to get your creative juices flowing, and these first two episodes are showing improvement. I'm actually looking forward to Wednesday nights now, unlike anytime in the past two seasons.

    I'm watching and I'm liking.

    Edzo!

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    From Disappointed to Surprised
    By anti_proton ( ) at 13:54:21 on September 18 2003
    URL: | User Info
    Last week, I posted a comment on how disappointing I thought the "Xindi" was. This week, I was surprised, and very pleasantly so. I won't re-iterate all of the comments already made, but I thought this episode fulfilled some of the promises made regarding the new season. If they can keep it going, Enterprise may become a good, even great show. I have hope !

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    Reed should have been reamed out over lousy security.
    By FreshPez ( ) at 11:49:12 on September 18 2003
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    My only problem was the horrible security during the ossarian boarding. I wanted battles all over the ship. But no, Main characters one and two fight one battle with support from the hired goons, then they SPLIT UP?? and go to the other places? Are there any people on this ship? Are they armed and trained? I usually don't let it bother me, but it would have been nice to have it done right. And I did really like the sequence, music and directing was great. Just pretend you have a hundred people on the ship, that's all I ask.

    [ Reply | Quote | Parent ]

    Whoa
    By timmer33 ( ) at 10:31:18 on September 18 2003
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    Well, I have to say I was surprised by this. After last week's disastrous episode, this one was a breath of fresh air. Not only that, but this episode made me feel better about last week's ep, and it actually made it better. Here are my thoughts:

    - When the producers said this would be an arc, I thought just in terms of storyline. But no! Scenes from THE XINDI that seemed out of place to me are actually being extended and built upon. It's not just the plot points that have an arc .. it's the character development as well. The fact that Trip's problems were addressed again in relation to T'Pol was a good thing.

    - I saw the warp streak again in this ep ... great work. Looks just like a TOS movie.

    - Archer is one bad ass this season. I like it. He actually seems to have finally found a way to play the character. During season 1 and 2 he was almost like an excited schoolboy on a field trip. Now he's jaded, hardened slightly and ready to kick ass. There's more of kirk in him now. Good going, Scott. Keep it up. Even his voice and way of giving orders is better. Kudos.

    - Reed seemed a little too eager to work with the MACOs. I want to see more resentment from him.

    - Odeus says that the minor people had nothing to do. I disagree, Odeus. Mayweather for the first time in ages was given more to do ... sure, it was flying the ship, flying the pod, etc. but at least he was on screen and CONTRIBUTING to the plot. Hoshi had stuff too. Overall, I think it was a well balanced ep.

    - The way the ep ended was nice. It definitely made me want to watch next week. Good job, whoever wrote this one.

    - I am still hoping this all gets tied in to the birth of the federation and the Suliban storyline

    - I still want these anomalies explained

    - I like how they said starships have to be coated with Trellium-d, which is what was being mined last week. Nice way to tie in the eps. Maybe Archer will go back to that mine to get some Trellium-d.

    - The music is something that struck me as being great. Lots of drums and suspenseful music this time. Could it be the same composer as REGENERATION? Anyone?

    - The title of the ep. Ah, the title. ANOMALY. Stupid title, UNLESS it is also referring to Archer's anomalous method of dealing with the alien. Could this be the new Archer? Or just an anomaly until the Xindi threat is neutralized? Any way you slice it though, it was a stupid name. I was actually surprised by how good the ep. was as a whole though.

    - the f/x of the corridors warping was terrible. It was ridiculously fake.

    - OH! Here's a big problem. I know that in the 1st season there was an ep when Archer was prisoner in a Suliban prison. The shuttlepods came to rescue him, complete with phasers shooting from the pod. I thought it was a mistake made by the writers/producers. We haven't seen that since. NOW, however, we see it again! How the hell are these shuttlepods supposed to have phasers when it is new technology and shuttlecraft in TOS never had them? This is a big issue, Berman, and it should be addressed! You can't just create things that conflict with continuity to get yourselves out of situations. This was predetermined when you made the decision to do a prequel. You must pay attention to continuity.

    - I actually gave this ep an 8/10. I thought it was great. I was interested in the outcome, and I am more interested in what happens next week. I just hope I don't get let down. Please continue with the character development.

    - THe good thing about this arc is that it is helping them develop the characters. I hope they keep working on REED, who for a change is more important than before. His distaste for the MACOs was a good decision. Even in the first ep of this season, when he was ordered to get the MACOs to help him, you could tell by the way he looked at T'Pol, startled, that he was upset by it. He didn't even need lines to convey that. But this week, he worked with them without complaint. They need to continue this conflict, because not only does it make sense and may lead to redshirts when Starfleet is created, but it also creates character development for Reed, which is important.

    Overall I was happy with the ep, as B&B and the writer and cast should be. The continuing arc was played out better than I thought it would be. It really felt like it was the day after ep 1 and the characters hadn't forgot about it, like would have happened on any other Trek but DS9.

    Kudos to all.

    (In a way I hate what ENT is doing to me. One week I'll savage the ep, the next I'll praise it. THat is a sign of inconsistent writing/producing. Please guys, get it straightened out and soon!)

    [ Reply | Quote | Parent ]

    promising direction
    By sky ( ) at 10:23:49 on September 18 2003
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    I agree, this was one of the most enjoyable eps of Trek since VOY season 5. My kids enjoyed it a lot too, unlike the other slow-moving, preachy eps of seasons 1 and 2. So this might show B&B that this ep reaches a younger demongraphic.

    "Anomaly" had lots of action and a couple new twists on the standard Trek plotlines. However, the "boarded by pirates" theme is really wearing thin on ENT. At least Archer and Trip didn't get wedgies in this ep.

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    An Hour Well Spent
    By HotStove ( ) at 09:04:43 on September 18 2003
    URL: www.cascobay.net | User Info
    Finally, FINALLY, an episode of ENT that left me not feeling like I'd wasted the past hour and actually looking forward to next week. It's on Wednesdays at 8, right? :)

    [ Reply | Quote | Parent ]

    Hey, this was good stuff!
    By NAFF ( NATHANGSHARP@HOTMAIL.COM) at 07:18:23 on September 18 2003
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    This was quite an exciting episode. The director created a great sense of action and urgency, and once again the SFX were top notch.

    Archer sliding down the ladder in Engineering was a particular nice touch.

    I like this 'Starship Troopers' meets 'Cops' approach to Star Trek.

    I'm sure there's an upcoming story where insomnia plays a part, but at least this week's entries in the Trip no-sleep sub-plot were in keeping and in the scene with Phlox, actuallly funny.

    I felt the characters were in real jeopardy for the first time in the (whole Star Trek) series and I was left with the sense a cast member or two might actually die before the end of the season. My money is on the dog getting inverted.

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