Second Union

Second Union

STAR TREK REWIND: “Shuttlepod One”

“Mr. and Mrs. Reed… I realize you have just begun a period of mourning and that I’ll never get an answer to this question but I gotta ask it anyway. Was Malcolm always this cynical?”

“Sometimes I think you North Americans read nothing but comic books.” Oh, Malcolm! How well you know us! Trip and Reed are finishing up a mission surveying an asteroid belt. In the middle of this playful banter, they come across wreckage which looks a lot like Enterprise strewn across the surface of an asteroid. They assume the worst: Enterprise has been destroyed. What happened was that a small ship collided with the ship’s docking port, and the debris simply crashed into the asteroid. Trip and Reed are three days ahead of schedule so they never would’ve seen the debris before the rendezvous with Enterprise.

The only contrivance (far as I can tell) is that sensors and communications are down, but that is awfully convenient when you think you’re going to die, isn’t it? They’re stuck in space, and with only impulse engines it would take months to reach the nearest communications amplifier, and years to find a planet. The upshot is they only have ten days of breathable air. It doesn’t take long for Reed to get on Trip’s (and our) nerves.

Reed starts recording personal messages to all the girls he’s loved before. Isn’t this the same Reed who discovered he would die a bachelor in an alternate timeline? He doesn’t strike me as particularly charming, but as I’ve discovered, he does indeed have a fan base. He even claims to have bedded the famous Ruby from the 602 Club. While Trip tries to effect repairs on the damaged sensors and communicators, Reed continues his personal messages. This drives Trip crazy. He accuses Reed of being a pessimist, which he probably is. Hey, what about that stiff upper lip? Keep calm and carry on!

This is a textbook Odd Couple situation: can two starship officers share a shuttlepod without driving each other crazy? They break out the TV dinners and a bottle of Kentucky bourbon. They toast the crew of old NX-01. Reed daydreams about rescue and a hero’s welcome. He fantasizes about T’Pol lauding him for his bravery. He wakes up back into the misery of his situation. He shaves so he can present a good-looking, if frozen, corpse, but Trip rains on his parade by telling him his hair will continue to grow after death.

There isn’t much to do in a small shuttlepod; a point of which the teleplay consistently reminds us. The frustration of the two leads becomes our frustration, and the episode doesn’t hold up for repeated viewings, and by the time we get to the ending, we’re grateful. Trip orders Reed to drink so that maybe he’ll lighten up for a change. The set design is impressive, evoking a frozen feeling. Trip and Reed have to put on their jackets and hats. They shiver. We see the steam pouring out of their mouths and the consoles are coated with ice.

You really believe they’re stuck in a half-frozen shuttlepod. They get drunk and goofy. Reed talks about T’Pol’s ass! Interesting here that Trip doesn’t seem all that interested in her. When they get a transmission from Hoshi and Enterprise, they’re positively elated, but the mood quickly turns sour when they reason they only have half the amount of air left for the rendezvous. It’s a better episode than I give it credit for, but with only the one story to keep it afloat, it gets repetitious in the one setting. “Hold on, Fred. Here we go!”

Twice a week, Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Janeway, Kirk to Picard, and Georgiou to Sisko — boldly read what no one has read before!

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