Trip-centric Review of “Shuttlepod One” by Li
Episode Summary: Believing that Enterprise has been destroyed, Trip and Reed, aboard a shuttlepod that has two days of air left, confront each other, their own fears and eventually become fast friends.
As this episode opens Trip is repairing a damaged communications relay in a shuttlepod that he and Reed have taken to test its targeting scanners. Reed tells him he’d rather be reading Ulysses than fixing things and chastises Trip for reading comic books. Trip tells him that comic books are very complex. As they are joshing back and forth, the shuttlepod comes across an asteroid on which they see debris from a ship. As they go over the asteroid, they see a panel with the designation NX-01 on it and think the worst.
In the next scene we see the Enterprise safe and sound. Archer and Hoshi are discussing the situation of a group of aliens that they rescued, the Tesnians. We learn the reason why the panel crashed into the asteroid: the Tesnians somehow lost control of their ship as they were trying to dock and crashed into Enterprise, tearing off a portion of the hull.
Back in the shuttlepod, Trip and Reed discuss which way they should start heading to save themselves. They don’t have warp capability and are light years away from any habitable planets or communications buoy. They get into a heated argument, since it seems to Trip that Reed has given up hope. Trip also pulls rank, but realizes it’s useless when Reed mentions that they have no way of manually plotting a course to the nearest planet or communications buoy, since sensors are also off-line.
On the Enterprise, Archer and T’Pol are discussing micro singularities as a possible cause of the damage to the Tesnian ship. Archer doesn’t believe in them and tells T’Pol that they are a myth created by the Vulcans.
Back on SP1, Reed starts dictating letters to family members as a way of tying up any loose ends that he may have had concerning them. Trip, who is trying to sleep, becomes very agitated, not only because he is exhausted, but also because Reed is upsetting him with his pessimistic view of their situation. Reed suggests that they have dinner; Trip eats meatloaf and mashed potatoes, Reed eats Chilean sea bass. A little while later the ship is rocked and the two realize they are losing pressure and atmosphere. Trip releases gas from a CO2 tank to find out where the leaks are. Two tiny holes appear. Reed has an idea to close them until they can find some sealant: he will use the mashed potatoes from Trip’s dinner. They are discussing a waitress they both knew when Reed notices on a panel that whatever created the holes in the ship also created holes in the O2 tanks-there is little more than two days of air left. Meanwhile, Trip has partially repaired the broken communications relay so that they can at least receive messages.
On Enterprise, T’Pol comes to Archer with a report that the damage was indeed caused by micro singularities, stressing the fact that this is a very important scientific find. Archer tells T’Pol not to worry about the scientific finds, but to get working on finding SP1 because Trip and Reed haven’t checked in and they might be injured.
On SP1, the guys decide to turn down the heat to save energy. As they get colder and colder Trip realizes he’s been harsh with Reed as Reed tells him how he felt about the Enterprise crew. Trip finally starts to accept their fate. They decide to drink the bottle of Bourbon that they found earlier on the ship. The radio starts to make noise and they run to it. A message is coming in from Hoshi telling them to change their course because they are in potential danger. They cannot answer and discuss ways to get the attention of the Enterprise. Reed suggests that they blow up their only engine, since it will make a big blip on T’Pol’s screen and get Enterprise’s attention, especially since they haven’t had any communications with the ship. Trip hates that idea, but unfortunately can’t come up with anything else. So they eject and blow up the engine, which leaves them adrift in space. As the shuttlepod gets colder and colder, Trip decides to go into the airlock to save Reed, since there will be enough air for one person to survive. They have their biggest argument yet, and Reed threatens Trip with a phase pistol to stay put.
In the final scene, Reed awakens from his coma and Archer tells him that they only had a couple of hours of air left and that they suffered sever hypothermia. After Archer and T’Pol leave, Reed tells his newfound friend good night.
This episode scored an impressive 80 Points on the HoT ENT*EP Rating System.
Trip and Reed are the focus of the whole episode. Trip, especially, surprised me in this episode. Always the (seemingly) happy optimist, Trip won’t let anything get in the way of his belief that they will be rescued. His reaction to the destruction of the Enterprise is almost a knee-jerk response, where he refuses to digest what he’s seen. Trip immediately goes about issuing orders to get them to the nearest starbase or communications buoy, momentarily forgetting that they are in a ship powered only by impulse drive, have no communications or sensors, and are somewhere in space, which is huge and infinite. He is angry, harsh and argumentative every time Reed countermands his orders with a statement on the status of their shuttlepod. It’s hard to tell what upsets him more: the destruction of Enterprise or Reed’s reaction of melancholy and despair. When Trip tries to go to sleep Reed, who is dictating letters to his loved ones, including various girlfriends, agitates him. Trip is distressed by Reed’s defeatist attitude of the situation.
As the men are forced to deal with each other and their situation, they slowly open up and let us inside their hopes and dreams. In one scene, Trip refuses to believe that they won’t be rescued because of his conviction that there will be a Charles Tucker IV one day. We see firsthand his hope for the future, his dream of having a family, as a beacon against incredible odds. As they are resting after the ordeal with the escaping atmosphere, Trip discusses a waitress he knew in San Francisco, Ruby. He tells Reed that he planned on getting married to her, having a family and a house with a white picket fence. When Reed tells him he also knew her, Trip expresses some surprise, yet also seems to accept the fact that it didn’t work out with her because many men may have “known” her. In other words, he realized that she couldn’t settle down with just one guy. A sad smile comes over his face; we in the audience realize that it was just a pipe dream he had. Trip also realizes because of the situation he’s currently faced with, that he missed out on finding a wife and starting a family.
As the episode progresses, the men start to get closer to each physically, also. Most likely it is because they are starting to get very cold in the little shuttlepod, as they have turned off the heat to conserve energy for the air. Trip opens the bottle of bourbon they found earlier and as Reed is refusing it, he says “We’re dead men, remember?” This is the first glimpse we get of Trip coming to terms with their situation. He is not all hopeful now. He calls Reed a “grim reaper,” at which Reed responds that he is upset to hear the only other survivor of the Enterprise disaster thinks he is so, even though, in his mind, he is facing the situation rationally. Trip starts talking about Hoshi and Mayweather. He lights a gas burner for warmth; when Reed tells him it will eat up 5 or 6 minutes of their air, he decides that he wants to live an extra six minutes, not because they will be rescued, but because he is starting to understand Reed better. They get progressively drunk. Reed tells Trip that he admires T’Pol’s physical features. At first, Trip can’t believe that he actually finds her attractive. But in his inebriated state, he considers what Reed’s taking about and toasts her. When she radio crackles, they run to it and hear Hoshi giving them directions. They can’t believe that the crew is alive! Once they understand the message, though both Trip and Reed are crestfallen because they can’t communicate with Enterprise to tell Hoshi of their situation. Trip refuses to take Reed’s suggestion of blowing up their only engine seriously. He has done a reversal-he believes they are dead men-no one is going to be able to rescue them. As Reed convinces him, he sees that Reed is a changed man, so he blows up the engine. Now all they can do is sit and wait, hoping that their last ditch effort to be noticed is picked up by Enterprise.
A while later, Trip decides to shut himself off in the airlock. That way, Malcolm can survive with the air that‘s left. Trip does this because he is noble, thinking of the welfare of his subordinates more than himself. When Reed refuses to let him go into the airlock, he lashes out; he wants to be in control of the situation, to make sure that Enterprise will find one of them alive. Trip threatens to knock Reed down a couple of ranks. Reed is unfazed. Trip tells Reed that being a hero doesn’t suit him; Reed answers that he is not trying to be a hero, but is trying to save his friend’s life. Reed tells Trip that he would rather die with him, his friend. Trip is very touched by this gesture and comes down. He understands that he has gotten through to this individual who is very hard to get to know. He sees that Reed is admitting that he is his friend; Trip decides not to throw that away by sacrificing himself. It is a very emotional scene, one in which the audience has invested emotions of hope and togetherness for the Chief Engineer and the Armory Officer.
It is interesting that Reed, who was so pessimistic in the beginning of the episode, is the one who convinces Trip to blow up the engine, on the off chance it will be seen by Enterprise so that they will be saved. Trip, on the other hand, was convinced they would somehow be saved from the beginning, yet at the end, he is willing to sacrifice himself to save Reed. These scenes show how much they both changed from the beginning of the episode and how close they became by staring death in the face together.
Keating and Trinneer do a terrific job in showing us the human side of these characters. The audience feels dislike, anger, sympathy and finally, hope for their situation. You can’t ask for much more from actors when you feel what they’re feeling.