Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Shuttlepod One”

“Shuttlepod One”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston
Season 1, Episode 16
Production episode 016
Original air date: February 13, 2002
Date: November 9, 2151

Captain’s star log. Tucker and Reed are in Shuttlepod 1 on a survey mission, but their sensors and communications go out, so they head back early for their rendezvous with Enterprise, which is on a survey mission of its own. However, when they arrive, they find wreckage on one of the asteroids, some of which has Enterprise’s markings.

Unfortunately, they can’t find the black box without sensors, and they can’t call for help with no communications, and they can’t find any evidence of escape pods. They assume that Enterprise crashed with all hands lost. They only have about ten days’ worth of air left, and it’ll take a lot longer than ten days to get to the nearest subspace amplifier. Tucker, however, wants to try everything he can to get rescued, so they toast their deceased shipmates and set a course for Echo Three.

However, their shipmates aren’t deceased! They rescued a ship full of Tesnians whose ship malfunctioned, crashed into Enterprise, and was destroyed. Most of the debris on the asteroid is that ship, but they also trashed one of the NX-01’s launch bays, which accounts for the Enterprise markings they found.

Sato has managed to communicate with the Tesnians, who are devastated, but grateful. Archer is taking them home, though he and T’Pol pause to survey the damage to the launch bay. The captain figures they’ll be back in plenty of time to rendezvous with the shuttle, ha ha ha.

Screenshot: CBS

Back on the shuttle, Reed has been recording final letters to his family and to several of his ex-girlfriends. Tucker quickly gets to the end of his rope, partly because there are so many ex-girlfriends (who all get pretty much the same letter, with Tucker thinking he should just cut and paste, as it were), partly because he’s trying to sleep.

Reed finally goes to sleep also and dreams of being rescued by Enterprise and being seduced by T’Pol, and awakens to discover that Tucker has fixed the receiver. Unfortunately, they still can’t transmit, but it’s something.

Suddenly, there’s an impact, and air starts to escape the shuttle. Unable to find any hull breaches, Tucker blows some nitrogen smoke into the shuttle, which enables them to see where the air is venting. It’s coming out of two very tiny holes, which they temporarily close up with their fingers, and then with mashed potatoes from a ration pack, before they can apply sealant at their leisure.

Unfortunately, whatever hit them also trashed a tank. They now have only two days of air left.

T’Pol reports to Archer that Enterprise and the Tesnian ship were definitely hit by micro-singularities. This is a major find, but Archer is more concerned that Tucker and Reed’s shuttle might also have been hit. They set course for the asteroid field.

Tucker can get them another half-day of air if he turns off the heat, and Reed agrees to freeze for an additional twelve hours of breathing. Their conversation devolves into an argument, mostly Tucker complaining about Reed’s pessimism and Reed complaining about Tucker’s unwillingness to be realistic. They decide to get drunk on a bottle of bourbon that Archer left in the shuttle.

Screenshot: CBS

Reed finally explains why he’s being such a stick-in-the-mud—it’s not that he wants to die, it’s that he’s sad that they’ve lost Enterprise. He’s always had trouble making friends and getting on with people, but on Enterprise he’d actually found friends.

The pair of them get progressively drunker. Then they receive a communication from Enterprise, which at once brings them joy and sadness—the former because their friends and comrades are alive and well, the latter because they won’t get there for two days, and Tucker and Reed will be dead by then.

Tucker tries to sacrifice himself by going into the airlock and giving Reed more air to breathe, but Reed refuses to allow that, pulling a phase pistol on Tucker. Reed suggests instead that they blow up their impulse engine as a sort-of flare. Tucker is reluctant to do that—it violates the engineer’s code or something—but he finally does so. Which is a good thing, as Enterprise detects it and increases speed so they get there before the shuttle’s air supply goes away. Tucker and Reed are rescued and all’s right with the world.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Micro-singularities are itty-bitty black holes that can play merry hell with a ship by poking tiny holes in it, no matter how strong their hulls are.

Also mashed potatoes in ration packs can serve as a temporary seal for a hull breach. Which just figures.

The gazelle speech. There’s a deleted scene in which Tucker goes on about how quickly Archer learns new things. In particular, Tucker is cranky that Tucker himself taught Archer how to scuba dive, and Archer was better than Tucker at many aspects of it almost immediately.

I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. T’Pol goes on at some length about how big a scientific discovery the micro-singularities are, and is reminded by Archer that the discovery could be a bad thing for the shuttlepod.

Florida Man. Florida Man Refuses To Accept His Imminent Death Or Being Sober.

Optimism, Captain! Phlox has to rotate the Tesnians through the decon chamber to pump them with boron gas, which they need to survive, and later has to rescue Tucker and Reed from hypothermia.

The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined… Archer pooh-poohs the notion of micro-singularities, calling them a Vulcan myth. Since those micro-singularities nearly got his chief engineer and armory officer killed (not to mention destroyed the Tesnian ship), T’Pol would be fully justified in doing an I-told-you-so dance in his face. But she doesn’t. Alas.

Screenshot: CBS

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Reed dreams of T’Pol coming onto him, and later waxes rhapsodic about how hot she finds her, especially her nice ass. He’s later surprised when the real T’Pol doesn’t respond the same way the T’Pol of his dreams did when they’re rescued.

Also both Tucker and Reed banged the same server at the 602 Club when they were cadets. Wah-hey!

More on this later… Micro-singularities were previously seen in the twenty-fourth century in DS9’s “Past Tense” and Voyager’s “Message in a Bottle.”

I’ve got faith…

“Is that modulated enough for you?”

“Modulated?”

“The radio! Or is it just the galaxy giggling at us again?”

“It can giggle all it wants, but the galaxy’s not gettin’ any of our bourbon!”

–Reed and Tucker, drunk.

Welcome aboard. There are absolutely no guest stars in this episode. Not even a bit part or an extra or a stunt performer or anything like that. Just the seven folks in the opening credits, one of whom (Anthony Montgomery) is only heard over the intercom and not even seen.

Trivial matters: In his letter to his parents, Reed mentions that they told Archer that they didn’t know he was assigned to Enterprise, which happened in “Silent Enemy.” Apparently he did tell them in a previous letter to them, which upsets Reed a bit…

Ruby, the server at the 602 Club that both Tucker and Reed were involved with, will be seen in the flashbacks in “First Flight.”

The bourbon Tucker and Reed get drunk on is called “Dorton’s Best,” named after the show’s art director Louise Dorton. Tucker says that Archer put it on the shuttle intending it as a gift, but he can’t recall who for—it’s possible he intended to bring it to the reception on Coridan that he and T’Pol never made it to because they were kidnapped in “Shadows of P’Jem.”

Screenshot: CBS

It’s been a long road… “Friends don’t shoot each other!” There are a couple of minor flaws in this episode, and they both relate to T’Pol. One is Archer once again being a smug asshole when it comes to Vulcans—and this time it’s skepticism about the existence of micro-singularities, which we already know are real. So our captain is a schmuck the minute he opens his mouth.

The other is the really embarrassing fantasy dream Reed has about T’Pol, which mostly just had me rolling my eyes so much they almost fell out my ears, compounded by the drunken leering over her that Reed did later on.

That aside, however, this is a delightful episode. Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating do a superb Odd Couple riff here, the uptight Brit and the laconic Southerner. From the opening when they riff about their different takes on literature to their drunken ramblings at the end, their double-act is comedy gold. I particularly liked their opening argument, with Reed basically gloating that he’s reading Ulysses by James Joyce and then snottily condemning North Americans’ love of comic books and science fiction. Speaking as a guy who writes science fiction and comic books and who found his attempt to read Ulysses to be an exercise in unnecessary masochism, I’m completely on Tucker’s side of the argument…

My favorite element of the episode, though, is Reed’s revelation that he’s not being fatalistic because he’s inherently pessimistic, it’s partly that he’s a realist and partly that he’s incredibly depressed that he’s lost the one place where he’s fit in. This builds nicely on the work “Silent Enemy” did to show Reed’s very stiff-upper-lippy life and how he isn’t really all that close even to the people he should be closest to—his parents and sister and best friend were all incredibly unhelpful when it came to providing information that family and friends generally have. I like that Reed isn’t really that fatalistic, it’s just a reaction to depression.

One of Enterprise’s better character jobs, and a very strong use of the “bottle episode” format, saving the budget by having no guest stars and existing sets and minimal special effects, to provide a wonderful two-person play.

Warp factor rating: 8

Keith R.A. DeCandido is also reviewing the new episodes of Discovery and Picard that are airing side-by-side in these early weeks of March for Tor.com.

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