Well, as Broken Bow is a modern Trek series premiere, the audience can be assured of a few inevitabilities: we’ll meet our newest (oldest?) set of Starfleet recruits, their mission shall be revealed, they’ll meet some good aliens, some bad ones, and there’ll be plenty of snappy banter all around.
The first clue that human-Vulcan relations aren’t quite as stable as in previous Treks comes right in the first flashback scene, when a young Jonathan Archer refers to a particular Vulcan diplomat, Soval, as “Ambassador Pointy”. Though his father quickly chastises him, the seeds of resentment have clearly already been sown.
Meanwhile, back in Enterprise’s present day, an Oklahoma cornfield is the setting for some unusual excitement; as a crashed starship burns in the background, a Klingon is pursued by a couple of as-yet-unfamiliar reptilian aliens. The Klingon is victorious when he blows up a grain silo inhabited by his antagonists, but he’s attracted the landowner’s attention. The farmer, clearly having missed the ‘snappy banter’ memo, fills the cranky Klingon full of 22nd-century buckshot. A disastrous first contact, indeed…
Cut to a small inspection pod orbiting a spacedocked ship; inside the pod, we catch our first glimpse of Commander Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker III, updating his Captain Jonathan Archer on Enterprise’s progress. The ship’s registry number, NX-01, is helpfully printed right on the front of Archer’s stylish baseball cap. Clearly at ease with one another, the two men banter about hull paint color (“Planning to sit on the hull and pose for some postcards?”) and the ship being ready for Warp 4.5 shortly. Trip regrettably bumps Enterprise’s hull with the pod, scratching Archer’s precious paint job. Luckily, just then Admiral Forrest cuts in over the comm, interrupting the tour to call Archer urgently to Starfleet Medical. The Vulcans are at Starfleet Medical as well, bantering with some of the human brass about an unusual patient. “It’s a Klingot”, says one clueless Admiral, who’s corrected by Ambassador Soval: “A Klingon.” His name is Klaang, and he is a courier who was trying to get some unknown crucial information back to his home world, Qo’onos. The Vulcans want to push back Enterprise’s long-anticipated launch until the situation is under control and they can take his corpse back to the Klingon High Council. Understandably, Captain Archer is somewhat peeved, storming into the medical bay to demand if the patient is actually going to die. “Not necessarily,” says the odd-looking alien physician in charge of his case. The Vulcans insist that Klingons find honor in death, and that they need to unplug Klaang immediately and take him home regardless of the medical consequences. Archer counters that Enterprise should take him back, alive, and that the ship can be ready to launch in three days. To the Vulcan diplomats’ surprise and dismay (if they’d only admit it), Admiral Forrest agrees.
Back aboard Enterprise, Lieutenant Malcom Reed and Ensign Travis Mayweather banter over the newly approved biotransporter. The lieutenant is exasperated to find another batch of valve sealant transported up rather than his precious weapons parts, and proves that the intrepid Commander Tucker’s made an impression on him already by perfectly mimicking his Southern accent: “Keep yer shirt on, Lew-tenant…” The armory officer and helmsman go down to engineering to pay Trip a visit, and find him polishing the warp core. More banter ensues, and Trip assures the impatient Brit his cannon parts will arrive soon and advises him to remain fully clothed from the waist up. Meanwhile, Archer is in Brazil, enticing his communications officer, Ensign Hoshi Sato, back from her Starfleet sabbatical by playing her a recording of snappy Klingon banter.
With the entire crew complement safely on board, Captain Archer and Commander Tucker learn that the Vulcan High Command has assigned an observer from their own ranks to serve as Enterprise’s science officer, with Starfleet’s permission. The men are less than thrilled, and Trip states he’d rather have Porthos, the Captain’s beagle, on the bridge. The resident Vulcan, Subcommander T’Pol, reports for duty, and the meeting doesn’t go well, as it seems banter is illogical. Plus, the crew apparently smells bad. The Commander insists he took a shower today, and introduces himself: “Trip, I’m called Trip.” T’Pol ignores his friendly, outstretched hand and gets jumped on by Porthos. Serves her right for dissing the charming Southerner!
Starfleet doesn’t break a bottle of champagne over Enterprise’s bow, but there is a dedication ceremony, and Zephram Cochrane’s famous speech, in which he finally un-splits that infamous infinitive, plays as our intrepid crew departs “to go boldly” off to deliver their patient to Qo’onos. Meanwhile, Silik, the apparent leader of the reptilian aliens, banters with a shadowy figure via some kind of holographic communicator. They are to find Klaang and recover the evidence…and not to be concerned with “when”.
Back on Enterprise, Our Heroes continue to get acquainted. Doctor Phlox, Enterprise’s new alien Chief Medical Officer, settles in to Sickbay, and assures Archer he’s not upset at being sidetracked from his medical exchange program, extolling the virtues of humans’ “charming optimism”, as well as Chinese food. Trip finds Travis Mayweather, the Space Boomer, hanging upside down in the ship’s “sweet spot”, and diplomatically avoids mentioning that of course as the Chief Engineer, he already knew it existed, even when the Ensign goes into a lengthy explanation. The two banter about alien encounters and the trebly-endowed women of Draylax. Later, Trip has dinner with “the boss” and T’Pol, and the Vulcan accuses them, on behalf of their species, of being impulsive carnivores.
Unable to curb the need for speed, the crew takes Enterprise up to Warp 4.3. Hoshi proves to be a white-knuckle space traveler, insisting she feels more and more small tremors as their speed increases, but has enough spirit left to tell T’Pol off in her native language after the Vulcan suggests she should go lie down. Luckily, before a fistfight ensues, Doctor Phlox calls to say Klaang has regained consciousness, and the Captain and linguist go to attempt communication. The Klingon proves to be even more insulting than T’Pol, but before things can really go south, Enterprise suddenly loses power on all decks, dropping out of warp. Lieutenant Reed thinks he sees something off the starboard bow just before the sensors go down, but Trip says it may be just a glitch. Meanwhile, in Sickbay, Archer and Hoshi finally get to break out those nifty flashlights they bought on deep discount from the X-Files division, and discover there are Suliban aboard ship. The aliens take Klaang, but not before one of them is shot. Dr. Phlox gets out his scalpel, autopsies the corpse with unholy glee, and discovers that the Suliban have received advanced genetic enhancements. Trip and T’Pol argue about….er…work on deciphering the sensor logs to see if Our Heroes can catch the Suliban. T’Pol earns Trip’s “what the f----?!“ look, and parries it with the Eyebrow of Death, but finally cracks enough to admit she thinks Klaang may be on Rygel X, his last destination; Enterprise sets a course. Meanwhile, the Suliban try to interrogate Klaang using truth serum, only to discover he knows nothing about the message he’s supposed to deliver.
The Enterprise senior staff goes down to Rygel X, splitting into three teams to search for Klaang. Trip fails to restrain his gregarious tendencies, almost sticking his nose into a couple of unpleasant situations, but is rescued by T’Pol. Reed fails to restrain his curiosity, almost becoming entangled with some exotic dancers, but is rescued by Mayweather. Sato fails to restrain the Captain from walking into a Suliban ambush, but luckily they prove to be enemies of the evil Cabal. Archer meets Sarin, Klaang’s informant, and learns that he was carrying a message proving the Cabal were staging attacks to foment distrust between various Klingon factions. Sarin also claims that the Cabal are soldiers fighting a “Temporal Cold War”, taking orders from the future. Her faction can help the Enterprise find Klaang, but unfortunately the Cabal attack suddenly, and Sarin is killed in the ensuing firefight. The crew make it back to the shuttle, but Archer is rendered unconscious with a gunshot wound to the leg. T’Pol declares she’s taking command of Enterprise, earning a second “WTF?!” look from Trip.
Back on board, Trip and T’Pol argue during….er…meekly undergo decontamination. Trip’s skimpy attire marks the historic first appearance of the Enterprise blue skivvies, beating Archer by mere minutes. (Meanwhile, back in the viewing audience, legions of newly-minted Tuckerites faint dead away, and must be revived at the next commercial.) Clearly decon with the Commander makes an impression on T’Pol, because when the Captain comes to, Enterprise has modified its sensors, with her help, and are in hot pursuit of the Cabal. They follow the trail to a Helix, a conglomeration of hundreds of Suliban ships, and detect Klaang inside. Reed deploys the grappler and captures an individual ship, which Archer and Tucker take to find the Klingon. (Mayweather is peeved he doesn’t get to fly the thing.) They rescue Klaang and activate a device that will separate the Helix, but Archer is trapped inside the structure, leaving Trip alone to banter with the smelly alien while Hoshi listens for their return. Archer has a showdown with Silik in a weird temporally-displaced chamber. Meanwhile, Trip and T’Pol argue over…er…discuss how, and whether, to rescue Archer; mutual “WTF?!” looks ensue. The rest of the bridge crew exchange looks as well. “Get a room already!” Trip naturally persuades T’Pol to go back for Archer, and they end up using the biotransporter to retrieve him. “Sorry Cap’n…” Archer, T’Pol and Hoshi return Klaang to Qo’onos, and discover that Sarin’s intelligence info was encoded into the Klingon’s bloodstream. The High Council doesn’t say thanks, but Our Heroes remain undaunted, because Starfleet decides to extend their mission, and T’Pol decides to stay aboard.
Let’s see: we met the new recruits-check; had good aliens-check; bad aliens-check; mission revealed-check; snappy banter-check, and how. Oh, and some nifty CGI. Sounds like a fine example of a Trek premiere to me. Now for the official Trip rating:
5) Trip eats or discusses food: 10 points
8) Trip gives T'Pol his 'WTF look' (or says it): 10 points X 3 = 30
10 ) Porthos appears: 10 points
11) Trip has major screen time: 20 points
12 ) Mayweather has major screen time(for him): 20 points
13) Reed smiles: 20 points X 2 = 40
(Well…one smile, two smirks. I’m counting it.)
15) Trip removes major article of clothing, and shares
time with any major character (but Phlox) in decon: 20 points
16a) For shaved chest add on 5 points
Grand total: 155 points = Outstanding Episode