Enterprise visits the classic ‘lost shuttle’ trope in the episode that was originally broadcast on February 13, 2002. This is Shuttlepod one.
While on a survey mission in Shuttlepod 1, Tucker and Reed discover wreckage that looks to be the remains of Enterprise indicating that they might be in some serious trouble. Thinking the shop has been destroyed, the two officers begin to try to find a way to contact someone for help. Knowing that the closest place to get a signal boost in Echo 3, Tucker suggests going there but Reed disagrees. Before long they begin to fight with one another about what to do realizing that, with only 10 days of air, it is highly unlikely they will find another ship, or even a hospitable planet. After Reed dreams that they have been rescued and T’Pol comes on to him, Things take a turn for the worse when the ship run into a micro singularities that breach the hull. Before the ship loses all of the oxygen, Reed uses Tuckers left over mashed potatoes to fill the holes but the event has brought them down to only two days of air remaining.
Back on Enterprise, Archer deals with some ship damage that seems to be incidental but needs to be repaired. After investigating the damage, they realize that they will need to send a message to Shuttlepod 1 indicating that they will need to change their rendezvous so that the shuttle is not damaged by the same thing that damaged Enterprise.
After adjusting the environmental controls to give them more time, Reed and Tucker find themselves freezing and begin to drink a bottle of burbon as they lament the loss of their friends aboard Enterprise. The two soon realize admit to one another that they respect each other even though they may have disagreements all the time. Still drunk, they receive Enterprise’s transmission and, although they are overjoyed, they will not have enough air to make it to the location. With no other options, they jettison and detonate their impulse engine, hoping that it serves as a signal flare to Enterprise. After one last drunken fight after Tucker agrees to jettison himself out of the airlock, the two awake to find themselves in the Enterprise infirmary. Archer informs Reed that they found them with only minutes to spare and, through her actions, T’pol assures him that this is not a dream.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I think every single Star Trek series, from the Original series and on have eventually broached the ‘lost, crashed, or missing shuttle trope’. I mean, it’s not a terrible trope and one that, if done well, can be the basis for a very impactful and interesting story. Thankfully, this one happens to be one of those.
The thing that makes this well told tale works is the fact that this series is set in the past of the Star Trek universe. Watching this, you have to remember that this is well before the common use of transporters, before significant subspace communications plus, not to forget, the lack of shuttle pod warp engine technology. So with all this in mind, seeing some early explorers attempt to deal with the trials of surviving a true ‘lost in space’ situation. As far as Reed and Tucker know, they are truly stranded in the waste of space with no hope and, because of this, we get to see a side of them that we would never get a chance to see on any given duty shift.
While we know that Reed and Tucker are accomplished officers serving as the Munitions Officer and Chief Engineer respectively, to see them use these skills to survive what is essentially a no-win situation is pretty great. Sure, in the end they luck out a bit with Enterprise arriving in the nick of time, but the fact that they not only find ways to extend their air but also send a signal flare to Enterprise giving them a really solid chance to survive. I also love that we get a chance to see these two develop a deeper friendship in the face of potential tragedy, this antagonistic friendship will continue on.
While Tucker got a chance to shine, it is really Malcolm Reed who gets the lime light. So far we haven’t had much of a chance to get to know Reed outside of his love of munitions and pineapple. So, giving him a chance to break loose exposing his characters fears and insecurities was an absolute delight. Dominic Keating does a tremendous job in his role and I really look forward to seeing this character grow over the series.
Overall, this is a pretty solid episode giving Malcolm Reed and Trip Tucker a chance to really shine. It’s not a complicated story or one that significantly changes the course of the series, but it does give us some tremendous character development for both of these characters. To me, this one is certainly worth watching and a great example of how good this series can be.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- Tucker mentions that hair and nails grow after death, this has since been proven wrong but it seems Starfleet still teaches this fallacy in the academy.
- We find that Malcolm has a slight crush on T’Pol given that he has a rather…personal dream about her.
- Reed eats seabass when he has several other choices, apparently he doesn’t hate fish after-all.
- Interestingly, this episode and the previous one end on nearly the same shot of the infirmary, only this time two officers are recovering instead of one.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Fusion
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Late To The Game 5/28/2021
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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