Star Trek 674: Horizon

674. Horizon

FORMULA: Fortunate Son + Family

WHY WE LIKE IT: Travis gets the spotlight.

WHY WE DON'T: The melodrama. The forgotten mine.

REVIEW: Travis gets one of his very few showcases and shows ability that makes me wonder why so little was done with him before and afterward. Anthony Montgommery manages both a serious and touching performance, providing more than his character's usual "gee-whiz" attitude, and Travis is written as intelligent and independent spirit with plenty of leadership qualities and an interesting backstory. Perhaps the writers thought they needed to include a less glamorous cargo ship into each of his stories and weren't inspired by that. On the one hand, they were mistaken, and on the other, getting a glimpse at true frontier life through those slower ships is rather interesting.

In fact, I really like those small details about living in deep space aboard older ships. The rough warp sequence. The problems of dwindling human resources as all the better people go into the sleeker Starfleet. Enterprise is actually signaling the end of a way of life. Which certainly explains the resentment Travis' brother Paul exhibits. It's the usual story. The prodigal son returns, a hero to some, a sore point to those who feel betrayed by his departure. The family melodrama is nothing new, nor does it proceed in unexpected ways. Still, despite the standard plot, Travis' family and relationships seem real enough. His cute childhood friend doesn't get much of a role though.

Obviously, the Horizon gets into trouble with pirates, and Travis has to use his Starfleet skills to help. There's a cool moment when the ship drops its cargo and become really mobile, but otherwise we're left wondering why the bad guys never detonated the mine on the engine. It's also worth noting the scene in which Archer reveals the contents of a letter of recommendation sent him by Travis' dad. A touching moment of posthumous reconciliation between father and son.

Back on the ship, there's a small subplot in which Trip and Archer try to socialize T'Pol by dragging her to movie night. The crew seems to be working its way backward through the archives, or else the 22nd century is nuts for old black and white pictures. T'Pol finally makes the most of it and analyzes the film in the correct way (though the boys don't see it). It's all played for laughs, and mostly succeeds in being amusing. There's also a cute bit in which Reed imagines a starship with families aboard needing a psychologists, an obvious poke at TNG. All fluff, but it's done with a smile.

LESSON: You'll be ready when you're ready and not a second sooner.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: A good turn for Travis, finally, but not particularly innovative.


De said...

Travis is easily the biggest missed opportunity on this series. He's had more space experience than anyone in the crew and should really be Archer's go-to guy about the various stuff they encounter.

He was well used in the pilot, but aside from "Fortunate Son" and "Horizon," he's a bit of a cipher.

Jeffrey said...

I think Enterprise missed the boat, or starship, by not focusing a bit more on those old freighters and that way of life. Those guys had been "going where no man has gone before" before Enterprise did.


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