the Trip Tucker – Joe Tyler connection
By Ara Hagopian
This article theorizes several similarities between Enterprise’s Charles “Trip” Tucker III, and the original Star Trek navigator Joe Tyler from the pilot episode, “The Cage”.
From the episodic evidence we endeavor to demonstrate Joe Tyler’s:
1. Physical resemblance to Trip
2. Diehard loyalty to Captain Pike ala Trip and Captain
3. Heated, emotional voice when paired with an indifferent
4. Unspoken bond to Pike, hinting at a linked past
In UPN’s television series Enterprise, Connor Trinneer’s character, chief engineer Charles “Trip” Tucker has been identified by fans and critics as one of the warmest, most well rounded characters of all five of the Star Trek series. Trip’s appeal is underscored by his character’s loyalty and friendship with Captain Archer. The two share a close bond going back many years, and that depth helps the audience feel connected too. Looking back on the origins of Trek history, this same Captain / protégé bond was established some thirty-seven years before Enterprise aired. The character of Joe Tyler shared many of the emotional and physical traits of Enterprise’s beloved Trip. The similarities are worth a thorough analysis.
We only see Tyler for one episode, as portrayed by Peter Duryea (Dan Duryea’s son) in the original pilot. Filmed in November 1964, The Cage is the very first slice of Trek, and although dated, its themes of loyalty, and humanity’s desire for freedom-- and freewill-- remain relevant today.
Tyler was presented as a handsome, youthful, light-brown haired man of smaller stature, in good physical shape. The photographs that accompany this article clearly indicate a similarity between Tyler and Trip. Tyler, like Trip, participated on planetside Away Teams, even sustaining an injured right wrist (a bandage is evident throughout the episode). Tyler was probably one of Pike’s seven injured during the disastrous, often-spoken-of Rigel VII mission.
Tyler was a headstrong bridge crewmember, very emotionally close to Captain Pike. Today on Enterprise, Trip shares a similar relationship with Captain Archer.
Tyler’s Trip-like loyalty is displayed on several occasions. During a tense scene where Tyler is single-handedly working to identify an approaching signal, the red alert sounds. Actor Duryea handles this moment magnificently. He glances at his console’s flashing red light with concerned disdain; he’s working on keeping the ship safe but he is also thinking about what the red alert symbolizes to his Captain. His first look reflects irritation (mirroring a patented Trip trait), and after a camera cutaway, Tyler’s sustained glance at the alert communicates his care (another Trip mannerism).
We know that Captain Pike doubts his own command performance on the recent Rigel mission (Pike lost three crewmembers due to a self-admitted lapse in judgment). To Tyler, the flashing red light signifies his Captain’s hurt and the young navigator loathes the reminder of said pain.
Another display of loyalty takes place on the planet Talos IV. When Pike is captured, Tyler is the first to notice; he calls for the Captain and is first to draw his weapon. Tyler also leads the charge to the abduction point.
He’s the first to the sealed cave entrance, and is the only member of the Away Team to attempt to pry open the door (bandaged hand be damned! This was his friend). Tyler then indicates force is required and leads the phaser attack. None of these efforts aid in the release of Pike, and the crew somberly gathers for a larger-scale plan. Tyler stands alone. Higher-ranking crewmembers want the Captain back; Tyler needs Pike back. This differentiated Tyler from the crew then, and links him to Trip now.
Tyler’s emotional voice when paired with indifference
In a scene similar to Enterprise’s famous Trip and T’Pol clashes, The Cage’s ready room meeting puts Tyler in direct opposition to the highly logical first officer, the icy Number One. Although not a Vulcan, her character embodied series creator Gene Roddenberry’s prototypical Vulcan philosophy, even more than Spock’s early portrayal. Tyler cuts through Number One’s emotionless, distanced rationality, with an acerbic “Why aren’t we doing anything? They’ve got Captain Pike.” Ultimately, it is Tyler’s idea to utilize the ship’s power to free Pike, and the dispassionate first officer agrees with the plan.
One is reminded of a certain heated exchange that took place on the Enterprise premiere, “Broken Bow”. Captain Archer was stranded on a space station and the Enterprise was under viscous attack. The chilly Vulcan T’Pol was convinced to plan a rescue, but only after an emotional arm-twisting from Trip.
Some of Trip’s best moments are when he and Captain Archer rely on their shared past to help them with a current situation. The panic scene in “Unexpected” comes to mind, where Archer easily judges the depth of Trip’s anxiety and is able to make a sound decision, despite the actual content of Trip’s words. Archer had heard Trip’s panicked tone before; he knew his engineer had not yet reached his limit.
As Tyler and Pike were in only one episode, finding evidence of a shared past is difficult. There is one scene that is quite compelling, however. When the Captain orders the ship to a warp speed of seven, he silently moves behind Tyler, who has plotted the course and has engaged the drive. Wordlessly, Pike observes the screen. And then we see it; Tyler, without first turning around to verify the Captain’s presence, carefully holds up seven fingers-- indicating warp seven-- and Pike nods. They have done this routine many times before.
A final link
Look it up: Peter Duryea starred in a film entitled “Is This Trip Really Necessary?” aka “Trip to Terror”.
T’Pol: “That is a specious analogy.”
Trip: “Is it.”
Ara Hagopian is a writer of contemporary mystery fiction and resides in Massachusetts. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org