The Cynics Corner


"Shuttlepod One"

by David E. Sluss

18 March 2002

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: An old story in new packaging, but it's reasonably well executed.


STARFLEET UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: Reed reports early on that the away mission required them to take the shuttlepod "at least 20,000 kilometers from Enterprise." Assuming that they didn't travel much further than they actually needed to, the pod would have been well within Enterprise's communications range. So why would Archer leave on an emergency mission to the aliens' planet without establishing contact with the pod, which would have taken mere seconds? After all, Archer had time to take the ship out of warp to inspect the damage to the shuttle bay. It seems to be another case of Enterprise's writers having no clue about distances in space, although they do better later on, when Trip and Reed discuss how long it would take for them to reach the Echo 3 relay at impulse power.

CONTRIVANCES OF THE WEEK: This episode is well-scripted, well-acted, and convincingly produced, and by showing early on that Enterprise has survived, it doesn't try to play the viewers for chumps. All of that is admirable, but nevertheless the whole thing rests on a big pile of contrivances. At the end of the day, the writers had to get Trip and Reed into this situation at all costs, and no expense was spared. First, we viewers shrug our shoulders and accept that the exact set of systems, such as sensors and communications, needed for Trip and Tucker to be able to ascertain Enterprise's fate were damaged, while things like the microwave and the message recorder were undamaged. Then we roll our eyes a bit in astonishment that Enterprise's engineer can't distinguish the wreckage from an Earth vessel from that of an alien craft, but we swallow it anyway, along with the fact that the one piece of the Enterprise that broke off happened to have the registry number painted on it. But then we learn that the captain has hidden booze, intended as a gift, on the shuttlepod, instead of in the security of his own quarters? Now, that's going too far, particularly since it resulted in some pretty bad drunken acting, which was about the only really bad part of the episode (aside from the dream sequence, which went moronically far with the "Stinky" thing).

NATIONALISM OF THE WEEK: I was a bit jarred by the rather jingoistic dialog in the teaser, particularly Trip’s claims that Americans made all of the important advances in warp technology. It seems unnecessary and frankly a bit "anti-Roddenberryian" to make a statement like that, an extension perhaps of the thinking behind Enterprise's excessively US-centric opening credits.

WEIRD SCIENCE OF THE WEEK: Engineer Trip frets that after ejecting the shuttle's engine, the pod will be dead in the water. Well, not exactly. Thanks to the miracle of inertia, the Pod would continue to travel at impulse speed indefinitely...

WEIRD SCIENCE OF THE WEEK FIRST RUNNER-UP: I don't know why this tale required technobabbly "micro-singularities" to be told, as there are plenty of real threats to life and navigation in space, but they do have interesting properties. I particularly smirk at the idea of black holes that bounce off and dissipate when they hit Enterprise's hull plating. Archer's reaction to T'Pol's theory about the micro-singularities is interesting; why did he want to keep his science officer so badly last week in "Shadows of P'Jem" if he's just going to ridicule her science? Still, I suppose it's somewhat refreshing to see a Starfleet Captain who doesn't swallow every outlandish bit of technobabble that comes his way.

WEIRD SCIENCE OF THE WEEK SECOND RUNNER-UP: Starfleet's MRSH's -- Meals Ready to Seal Hulls. No wonder the crew values the mysterious "Chef" so much.

INSIGHT OF THE WEEK: We now know that Reed is an ass man; otherwise I wouldn't expect T'Pol's "bum" to be her "main attraction....

Previous: "Shadows of P'Jem"
Next: "Fusion"
...but it looks like we'll find out more about that NEXT WEEK



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This review is copyright 2002 David E. Sluss
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