Trip and Reed find themselves
On a routine shuttlepod mission to investigate an asteroid field, Trip and Reed
find themselves suddenly cut off from the Enterprise and become convinced
that the mothership has been destroyed. With a limited oxygen supply and almost
no chance of being rescued, the opposite-minded twosome must battle their
annoyance with one another while also coming to terms with their impending
. .debris convincing enough to make them think Enterprise had been destroyed.
Then THEIR oxygen supply gets into trouble and they find out they only have ten
days left of breathable air, no sensor array, no navigation, and no com system.
Then something knocked out one of the O2 tanks and they were left with only 2
days' worth. D'oh!
C.A. Voigts' "A View From The
Shuttlecraft" Enterprise Episode
Shuttlepod One Review - spoilers involved.
Some predictability, some resemblance to an original Trek episode, some
wonderful humor in an otherwise dramatic episode and, unfortunately, a couple of
goofs. All that and more was in this episode of Enterprise.
Explaining the situation, explaining the errors in judgment, seemed for the
most part, natural. There were a few things that I felt both Trip and Malcolm
should have known, but I also know the questions were asked so that we, the
audience, would hear the answer. I am willing to accept the willing suspension
of disbelief to a point.
There were a few things I wondered about, however. First of all, why wasn't
the shuttlepod equipped with some sort of emergency oxygen supply? One would
think that, with all the preparation for space, an emergency oxygen supply would
have been one of the first things included, as well as a couple of environmental
suits. Second, the Robinson Caruso scene, also known as the mystery of the
moving, refilled glass. When Trip first opens the bourbon, he fills two glasses,
hands one to Malcolm, empties his own and sets it on the floor. After lighting
the candle, his glass has miraculously moved to the seat in the shuttlepod and
more bourbon has been added. As far as I can tell, Trip never had the chance to
move or refill the glass. Also, the bottle level changes. Third, would a man
dreaming about a beautiful woman really want to be called "Stinky"?
On the plus side, the two actors did a good job of keeping me interested in a
situation that could have rapidly become very boring. And my, my - who knew Lt.
Reed was such a ladies' man? That Brit is obviously not reserved all the time.
This episode really gave me more character development on Lt. Reed. I did not,
however, learn much more about Trip. This would have been a good opportunity to
get to know him better as well.
The final act of desperation by Trip and Malcolm was reminiscent of the
ending of an original Trek series, Galileo Seven. And a note to Dominic Keating
- Jolene Blalock isn't the only one with a nice bum.
Great lines: "Sometimes I think you North Americans read nothing but
comic books and those ridiculous science fiction novels." "I knew her
more times than I can remember."
What does this rating mean?
C. A. Voigts starfleetlibrary.com
Copyright 2001, C. A. Voigts. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask... This
article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net compilation
without due attribution and *express written consent of the
Laurie's No-Nonsense Review
I think this is one of my new favorites. The cheaped out a bit by mentioning
all these aliens that arrived in escape pods from a damaged ship and never
showing any of them, but otherwise, A+ all the way.
Archer and Reed were studying an asteroid and arrived early at the rendezvous
point to find debris from
Reed spent his time recording sentimental farewell messages to friends,
family, and old girlfriends while Trip tried fixing the systems and working on
more constructive activities. They fought a lot, used mashed potatoes (from
meatloaf dinner rations) to plug holes in the hull, turned the temperature to
just below freezing to save air, and finally ended up sharing a bottle of
bourbon. . .which led to Reed's confession that he likes T'Pol's bum. I swear,
he said bum. ("Have you ever noticed that she's got an awfully nice
bum?" Usually Star Trek's prudishness bugs me, but that one was kind of
funny. The whole drunk scene was great, as a matter of fact, as was all of their
high-tension, short-tempered banter.
The pacing was good, the story was good even though I thought someone should
have chastised Reed & Tucker for their premature assumption that the
Enterprise had been destroyed. Definitely one of the better episodes so far.
Land of Laurie
Timothy Lynch's Enterprise Episode Review
WARNING: "Shuttlepod One," spoilers many.
In brief: Very strong -- a testament to the strength of the characters.
Enterprise Season 1, Episode 15
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston
Brief summary: Stranded in a shuttlepod and believing Enterprise to be
destroyed, Trip and Reed face dwindling oxygen supplies and their own
At times I've been convinced that there are actually two different Brannon
Bragas. The one we first encountered, back in TNG's middle years, had one of the
best ears for incidental dialogue of any of the writers on staff at the time,
and came up with plots that, while twisted enough to make your head hurt, were
also coherent enough to be interesting. That Brannon wrote or co-wrote stories
like "Cause and Effect," "Frame of Mind," "All Good
Things," and the "First Contact" film, many of which lead happy
and fruitful lives on my list of greatly entertaining Trek stories. The other
Brannon Braga wrote as though a single high-concept Goofy Idea [TM] was enough
to justify any story, no matter how ill-thought-out or poorly characterized it
was. That Brannon wrote TNG's "Sub Rosa" and "Genesis,"
along with Voyager's "Threshold," all residing entirely too
comfortably on my personal list of worst Trek material ever.
For a number of years, the second Brannon seemed to dominate quite a bit, and
my occasional attempts to watch Voyager after quitting two seasons in did
nothing to convince me otherwise. Thus, I've spent some of this season nervously
waiting for the other shoe to drop and for me to see Braga-penned episodes that
really jumped on all my personal dislikes. ("Unexpected" may have been
poor, but it's certainly not on the level of the episodes listed above.)
"Shuttlepod One," however, leads me to suspect that Good Brannon
has now regained the upper hand. A few months ago, "Cold Front" was a
solidly entertaining piece of work that played to the more bizarre parts of the
series' premise, but "Shuttlepod One" took the other extreme: by
essentially setting most of the episode in a small box, the episode was going to
stand or fall almost completely on the core strength of its characters, their
reality in the viewers' mind, and their reactions.
It succeeded marvelously.
Someone said to me recently that this series has done a terrific job
humanizing its characters with just a few scenes here and there (referring
specifically to the Archer/Trip breakfast scene in last week's "Shadows of
P'Jem." With only the occasional exception, I couldn't agree more, and the
opening scene of "Shuttlepod One" is a good example of such. They're
waiting for the Enterprise to rendezvous with them at an asteroid field, but
waiting very differently. Trip's always walking, always fidgeting, always
tinkering, while Reed's content to while away the wait with a good book (or a
book, anyway -- depends on your opinion of James Joyce, I suspect). The banter
about how "sometimes I think you North Americans read nothing but comic
books and those ridiculous science-fiction novels" worked beautifully (I
particularly liked Trip's "I'll have you know that Superman was *laced*
with subtext."), and contrasted nicely with their horrified discovery of
what appeared to be the wreckage of the Enterprise on an asteroid.
It's at this point that the episode dodges a substantial bullet. We could
have gone half an episode without knowing whether Trip and Malcolm were right,
thus making the episode a mystery with an obvious answer (also known as
"sure, the ship's destroyed -- right"). We also could have discovered
that the crash was real, but caused by Random Temporal Anomaly #274C, which as
everyone knows can be reversed by cooling a nearby asteroid down to one degree
below absolute zero. Any number of truly dreadful episodes could have followed
on that teaser.
Instead, the premise was kept simple and revealed openly: Trip and Reed
simply leapt to a conclusion that was wrong, and without sensors or
communications working had no way of knowing they were wrong. (The debris is
that of another ship whose passengers Enterprise rescued, taking some damage in
the process.) That's reasonable, it's realistic, and it gives us all a story
without an obvious (and obnoxious) resolution.
(What few scenes we do get on board Enterprise are enough to let us in on the
nature of the problem and, later on, on what Archer and company were doing to
help the shuttle, all without making the problem itself the central issue. No
From there, most of the episode revolves around Trip and Malcolm, and
specifically how they cope in the face of almost certain death. From Trip's
initial order to head to Echo Three (with distress beacon, so that Starfleet can
at least find the shuttle someday), both have reactions that are true to their
characters as revealed to date. Reed, for example, faces death with a certain
serenity: he decides that he needs to tie up loose ends and send letters home
(via log entry) so that his loved ones know how he feels about them. Most of
what he says is somewhat superficial, but that's also true to Reed -- as we've
already seen in past episodes, he tends not to let others in very much.
Trip, on the other hand, chafes like mad every time Reed bows to or even
suggests the inevitability of their fate. He insists, even in the face of long
odds, that anything could happen -- they could be rescued, no matter how big
space is. (He rattles off a list of possible races who could be "lurking
behind the next planet we run into," and when Reed notes that "at
impulse, we're not likely to run into *any* planets -- not for at least six or
seven years, anyway," Trip simply assumes that someone could find them
instead.) He intends to fight the odds until his last breath, and accuses
Malcolm of taking pessimism to a new extreme.
Along the way, Reed tries to get some sleep and we get a look into his
dreams. His dream's probably not that different from a lot of the lower-ranking
crew's dreams: rescued, he's told that his bravery has saved Trip's life, and
T'Pol says that his selflessness will never let her ignore him again. As the two
draw close, Reed's awakened by Trip. The dream is slightly cheesy, but that's
pretty much true to the nature of a lot of dreams: people are acting according
to the dreamer's self- image of them, not according to who they really are. The
scene lasted just long enough to be effective without belaboring the point,
although they hung on the "Stinky" name-dropping just a little long
for my taste.
We also get a crisis, but one that makes sense. Something (which we can infer
from later dialogue is a "micro-singularity," or microscopic black
hole) punches through the shuttle's hull, causing a minor hull breach and a
dangerous air leak. The premise is reasonable, and both characters are
professional enough and intelligent enough that even under great stress they
come up with a perfectly decent solution: bleed some supercooled nitrogen into
the shuttle enough to make the leak visible, then plug it temporarily with
Trip's leftover mashed potatoes while getting the more permanent valve sealant.
It reminded me a bit of "Apollo 13" (both the film and the actual
events), but in a good way. (As an aside, I also seem to recall having a few
servings of mashed potatoes over the years that would probably have made a
*better* sealant than the official valve sealant, not just a good stop-gap!)
The problem's solved, but that leaves them with only a day and a half or so
of air left: they decide to turn down the thermostat in order to let the air
recycle more efficiently, but before long the two find themselves at odds again.
Malcolm goes back to his letters, this time to various girls he's been involved
with, and Trip's continued optimism eventually gets Malcolm frustrated. When
Malcolm notes that a candle Trip's lit for a toast (to their fallen comrades)
will use up oxygen, Trip says that Malcolm shouldn't worry -- he seems to be
eager for death anyway. The barb wounds Malcolm deeply, and we finally see
Malcolm's facade crack into an emotion other than sardonic frustration.
The Enterprise crew is the only group of people he's really felt close to, we
learn -- he was finally starting to relax a bit and to be himself. Now they're
all gone but one, he mourns, "and now the only one that's left thinks I'm
the bloody Angel of Death." Dominic Keating hasn't had to play the role of
Malcolm this emotionally until now, but he pretty much nails it from start to
finish: Malcolm's anguish is palpable and effective. All Trip can do is blow out
the candle, noting that the extra few minutes of life "sound pretty good
As the Enterprise figures out that the micro-singularities in the asteroid
field could put the pod in danger and send a message ordering them to a
different rendezvous site, Malcolm and Trip decide to get very, very drunk on
the bourbon. Malcolm eventually turns the conversation to T'Pol (specifically
her looks: Malcolm thinks she's pretty, and asks Trip if he's "ever noticed
her bum?"), at which point both Trip and the viewers know Malcolm's had
waaaaaaaaay too much. I've griped in the past that there's far too much effort
going into creating a Resident Babe character, but I thought all of this played
well -- for one thing, given the form-fitting catsuit and the decontamination
scenes ("with assorted perkiness," as "Angel's" Cordelia
Chase might say but hasn't), it would be absurd *not* to have one character or
another take an ... aesthetic interest in our resident Vulcan.
This scene is one of the very few that I think misfires slightly, though - -
while Connor Trinneer seems to portray a drunk Trip pretty well, I actually
thought Keating played things just a little too broadly. The scene was fun, no
doubt about it, but something just rang ever so slightly false. (It's also a
little contrived that Archer just happened to store a bottle of hooch on a
shuttle -- what, he's worried that Porthos is going to raid the liquor cabinet
It's at the end of this scene, however, that the pair finally get a message
from Enterprise and can rejoice that their shipmates are still alive -- until
the sobering realization kicks in that Enterprise is still two days' journey
away, and that there's not enough air to keep them alive that long.
The situation changes a bit, but as before there are no distractions from
those two characters -- and now that the goal becomes staying alive long enough
to be rescued rather than staying alive with a vain one-in- a-million hope of
rescue, both become problem-solvers figuring out how to get Enterprise's
attention. Reed, ever the armory officer, considers firing weapons, only to
reject it as too small a blip. Then he gets to suggest another one of his
favorite activities: blowing something up! Specifically, he suggests jettisoning
the impulse engine and rigging it to self-destruct, hoping that the explosion
will be noticed and will convince Enterprise to pick up the pace a bit. Trip, as
a dedicated engineer, really dislikes blowing up an engine, but Reed's simple
and desperate question ("ever hold your breath for 11 hours?") is
enough to convince him.
Lastly, even though it smacks of cliche, it would be difficult to do a story
of "2 crewmembers stranded with X hours of air left" without someone
eventually bringing up a "cold equations" scenario. With 10 hours of
air to go, Trip realizes that if there's only one man rather than 2, that makes
for 20 hours, which vastly increases the chances of someone being rescued alive.
Trip voices this, and when Reed jokingly suggests that Trip seal himself in the
airlock, Trip starts heading for it. While this could be seen as marginally
artificial tension, it doesn't come off that way -- Trip's intentions seem
utterly true, and Reed's threat to stun him to stop him equally so. (I also
liked that Reed's intention wasn't to sacrifice himself instead, but merely to
make sure they have an equal chance: "I've invested far too much time
trying to figure you out, Mr. Tucker -- I'm not about to accept that it was all
for nothing." Hardly the man meeting death calmly half a day earlier -- but
that's pretty much the point.
In the end, of course, they are in fact rescued with an hour or two to spare,
though both have a nasty case of hypothermia. Reed certainly feels he's found a
new friend, and even though he slips a bit when talking to T'Pol (wondering if
she should say something to him about "heroics,") it's all very human
and very true to the semi-delirious state he must be in.
There's not really a moment of false jeopardy in this episode, nor any real
technobabble (certainly none used to duck out of a problem). As I said at the
outset, "Shuttlepod One" was going to succeed or fail based on how
much it made us care about these two men -- and anyone who wasn't drawn in by
this probably won't be drawn in by these characters at all. The characters were
true, the drama real, the dialogue marvelous.
Welcome back, Mr. Braga -- good to have you on the side of the angels again.
Some other thoughts:
-- Okay, two science nitpicks. One, Trip's not remembering his biology
classes correctly: it's not that hair and nails grow after you're dead so much
as it's the skin pulling back and making everything appear a bit longer. (Having
Trip believe this is not a problem at all -- he is, after all, an engineer and
not a doctor.) Two, one of Trip's concerns about destroying the pod's engine is
that they'll stop dead in space. Mr. Tucker, there's a fellow named Newton who'd
like to speak with you about this First Law of Motion he's worked out...
[Neither problem interfered with the drama of the story, however -- this is
just the science teacher in me taking an opportunity to comment.]
-- Is there a supply of spare shuttle engines, or is Pod 1 going to be out of
commission until they stop in at Earth?
-- I loved Reed's wish that Zefram Cochrane had been European. "The
Vulcans would've been far less reluctant to help us. But no -- he had to be from
-- Similarly, after Trip angrily orders Reed to use his generations of
navigational skills, Reed was entirely justified in snapping back, "I don't
suppose you have a *sextant* handy?" (Reed's "left it with the slide
rule" rang true as well.)
That'll do, I think. "Shuttlepod One" is a show that could have
easily turned out miserable rather than marvelous -- but this all just clicked
and came together nicely. Between this, "Cold Front," and "Dear
Doctor," I'm feeling more optimistic about Trek than I have in quite some
time. Let's hope we get more like these and fewer like "Shadows of P'Jem"
as the season continues.
So, to sum up:
Writing: No punches were thrown -- but neither were any pulled, and the
wringer the characters went through was very real. Directing: It's not easy to
make an entire episode set in a box visually interesting, but David Livingston
managed well. Kudos. Acting: This is probably the first time I've *really* liked
Connor Trinneer's work, and Keating rose to virtually every challenge.
OVERALL: 9.5. Marvelous.
NEXT WEEK: A pair of reruns. See you in two weeks.
Tim Lynch (Castilleja School, Science Department)
"I don't want to die -- what makes you think I want to die?"
"Because every since we saw Enterprise spread across that asteroid, you've
done nothing but write your own obituary." -- Reed and Trip
-- Copyright 2002, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to
ask... This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net
compilation without due attribution and *express written consent of the author*.
Walnut Creek and other CD-ROM distributors, take note.
Where to Watch - Local channels and
VHS, Laserdisc and DVD availability.
Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer
Connor Trinneer as Chief Engineer Charles Tucker III
Jolene Blalock as Sub-commander T'Pol
Dominic Keating as Lt. Malcolm Reed
Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather
Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato
John Billingsley as Dr. Phlox
Director: David Livingston
Story By: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga