Star Trek 644: Shuttlepod One

644. Shuttlepod One

FORMULA: The Galileo Seven + The Ascent + Explorers

WHY WE LIKE IT: Great focus on two characters.

WHY WE DON'T: Reed gets slightly maudlin. "Stinky".

REVIEW: I never thought of Reed and Trip as particularly antagonistic, but lock two people in a sardine can for a length of time and tension will rise. That's how Shuttlepod One tries to get some meat on these guys' characters, and it does it well. In mourning because they think Enterprise is destroyed, far from home and moving at a snail's pace, facing death, their personalities start getting on one another's nerves. There are also shades of the competition started during the phase cannon incident, and even a certain Euro-American ribbing that seems natural in the wake of World War III, even 100 years on (which also seems to explain why Starfleet is so full of Americans even by the TNG era).

Since we know they'll be rescued eventually, we can sit back and enjoy the dark comedy that ensues. Reed leaving messages for all his girlfriends back home while Trip desperately tries to sleep, for example (one of which he's shared with Trip, as it turns out). Reed seems a pessimist, but calls himself a realist, and is at odds with Trip, in total denial in part because he's a bit naive, but also because he has total faith in Archer (testified to in a deleted scene). Reed's vanity and difficulty opening up are put on show, and better moments than when he does open up, which is just a touch maudlin. In the end, they'll bond over a bottle of bourbon, as only two men can, even if they weren't so particularly opposed.

One thing I like about Enterprise is the use of low tech problems and low tech solutions. Micro-singularities blow a couple holes in the shuttlepod? Patch up the hole with leftover mashed potatoes! Need to draw attention to yourself? Blow up your engine. It's as simple as that and has that Apollo 13 kind of feel. As air runs out, both men actually try to sacrifice themselves, but in very different ways. Trip tries to climb into the airlock and allow himself to die to double Reed's hours of breathable air. Reed stops him, preferring to die sooner rather than be sole survivor. Each option has its honor and nobility.

T'Pol as sex object: Ok, well, let's talk about this. My least favorite scene in the whole show has to be Reed's dream of T'Pol slinking up to his bio-bed to whisper sweet nothings in his ear. He's got the hots for T'Pol, that's fine, but the scene is played wayyyy too long, and the whole "stinky" thing is just stupid. But the boys talking about T'Pol's bum is exactly what I'd expect two guys trapped together to do. We don't have enough of that on Star Trek. Aside from a few quizzical looks from Riker, guys are never really caught being guys on Star Trek. It's still a little demure, and I can't believe Trip can't see T'Pol was designed to be a sexpot, or that her bum is actually something someone would notice (if you know what I mean), but the scene felt real, especially with the alcohol factor.

LESSON: Reed is an ass man. To the extreme.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: A very good character showcase. They should throw everyone in a shuttlepod and see what happens.


De said...

I think this episode had the first mention of comic books in Trek.

Siskoid said...

In in the same swoop, of a superhero, i.e. Superman.

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

"she does have a nice bum".

Lt. Reed talking about T'Pol's ass. great line, and on a personal note i couldn't agree more.


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