The Good: Good character study, Decent acting
The Bad: Very low on plot developments/forced plot developments.
The Basics: “Shuttlepod One” puts Reed and Malcolm at each other’s throats as they wait to die in their stranded shuttle.
When I gave up on Enterprise in its first run, there were very few episodes I looked back for. However, the buzz about “Shuttlepod One” was significant enough that it cut through my indifference and dislike of the series and for years I actually wanted to sit and watch it. Well, I finally got my wish and it was pretty much worth the wait.
I like character-driven episodes, even if nothing really happens in the episode. After all, my favorite hour of television is “Duet” (reviewed here!) from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. While Star Trek: Voyager never landed a perfect episode, the best episode was one in which almost nothing actually happened, “Resolutions” (reviewed here!). “Shuttlepod One” is plotted similar to those other episodes where almost nothing happens. “Shuttlepod One” is one of the episodes written by showrunners Brannon Braga and Rick Berman and is one of the rare episodes that has no guest stars. It is, however, very familiar in form and structure to the original Star Trek episode “The Galileo Seven” (reviewed here!). Fortunately, it focuses more on the characters and does that fairly well.
Trip and Reed are out in Shuttlepod One, investigating an asteroid field, when they encounter debris from Enterprise. There, they conclude that Enterprise has been destroyed and they must limp to the nearest possible beacon, Echo 3. Given that they have only nine days worth of oxygen and cannot even reach the subspace beacon in time, they make the trip on impulse, feeling somewhat futile. Reed begins to dictate logs and letters that bum Trip out and put the engineer on edge.
The Enterprise, however, is alive and (mostly) well. The ship sustained serious damage while trying to rescue a new alien race. As Enterprise races to return the aliens to their home planet, T’Pol theorizes that the damage to the aliens and Enterprise came from micro-subspace fractures, a previously unencountered spatial phenomenon. Reed and Trip run into those same fractures and they punch holes in Shuttlepod One, which puts the two on edge even more.
Reed is characterized as a dark realist in “Shuttlepod One” and he is interesting. Reed wants to use the time to read Ulysses and dictate letters, which annoys the hell out of Trip. Reed, as it turns out for the incredibly reclusive armory officer, is something of a womanizer. He and Trip, as it turns out, have shared a woman – a waitress back on Earth – and this sort of information only comes out as they talk. Trip works diligently to try to fix the shuttlepod while Reed uses the time to try to tie up loose ends.
The episode smartly makes an excuse for the misunderstanding of Reed and Trip believing Enterprise has been destroyed; their sensors are offline and have been from before the episode began. Unfortunately, the way the episode begins, the problems of the shuttlepod crew are not immediately evident. Instead, all of a sudden, the Shuttlepod has failing systems and Reed and Tucker are talking about their limited air supply and lack of ability to get anywhere.
The dramatic tension for the episode is cut by the inclusion of the Enterprise crew being shown alive and well almost instantly in the episode. “Shuttlepod One” makes up for it by providing Dominic Keating and Connor Trinneer with a lot to perform, but not a lot to do. As a result, Trinneer is able to spend more time emoting and the passion he presents in this episode is more convincing than anything he has showcased so far. For his part, Dominic Keating manages to make Reed both morose and interesting. Keating plays the part of the pragmatist exceptionally well. He is straightforward and realistic and Keating infuses him with little looks and great vocal inflections.
“Shuttlepod One” lives up to being a decent character study of both Reed and Trip.
[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete First Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the premiere season here!
For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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