6/24/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Fortunate Son"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S01E10
Air Date: November 21, 2001
Written by: James Duff
Directed by: LeVar Burton

Premise
A cargo freighter gets attacked by pirates and the Enterprise just HAPPENS to be the only ship in range that can help.

Review
We open on a father and son cheating at a game of catch by lightening up the artificial gravity. Which, ya know... is actually pretty awesome. After a few tosses and some useless dialog which tells us nothing except that we're on a freighter, the room begins to rock and the father reveals his position as captain when he calls the bridge to see what's up. Turns out, they're under attack by some Nausicaan raiders.

Now, Nausicaan raiders are pretty much the Star Trek version of Tusken raiders (aka Sand People). Mayweather, who has experience on cargo ships, explains later on that they have a territorial streak at least a light year wider than their territory. Although, it's unclear weather they attack in single file to hide their numbers.
What is clear... 
...is that they're ugly.
When they're attacked, someone sends out a distress call to Starfleet who, in turn, sends the only ship who can make it in time, Enterprise. When the Enterprise gets there, the ECS Fortunate denies help. Mayweather explains that cargo ship crew are used to handling things on their own. Which makes sense, obviously, since all they have is their crew between vast stretches of space. What doesn't make sense... is denying help from a frakkin Starfleet starship.
Can we talk for a minute...
About the fact that humans seem to have taken a step backward in progression? Granted, I get the premise of this show, it's somewhere between today and The Original Series as far as human progress has gone. In The Original Series, it's established that men have gotten rid of war and hunger and poverty and have progressed to a Utopian society. Ok, so they have to take a step back from that if they want to make Enterprise. They still got rid of war and hunger, but they're a little less positive, a little less patient, a little less forgiving and understanding. But they went too far. The humans in this series are more arrogant, suspicious and dismissive than most of the humans I know today. In the last few episodes I've seen Captain Archer rush off against any better judgement to save a Klingon just because he had something to prove to the Vulcans, I've seen second and third generation humans not able to put together a common sense conclusion that they are, in fact, humans, and I've seen a cargo ship first mate refuse to accept help from a clearly superior crew simply because he felt threatened by Starfleet taking all the good crew. This is humanity in the 1800's, not the 2100's. It's not a good conflict device, it's just annoying.
So, the Fortunate denies the help of the Enterprise. Oh, and, it turns out, they have a Nausicaan in custody. So, when Phlox insists that he sees the injured captain, and when Archer muscles his way in using that as an excuse, the first mate is on edge. Hoping that no one finds his secret.

And then they do.

In a panic, the first officer seemingly grants their request to see the Nausicaan prisoner, but when they get there, the Nausicaan is gone, they're locked in the room and the first officer shoots a hole in the wall, blasts off that section of the cargo ship and runs away!

Mayweather, being the cargo ship guru that he is, explains that they'll be going for the Nausicaans for revenge (another primitive human emotion). But before they go, they have to pick up Archer and T'Pol from the cargo hold that's floating around in space decompressing.

So, then, basically, the Fortunate first mate interrogates their prisoner further, discovers some shield codes, tracks a Nausicaan ship back to some sort of Nausicaan hive and gets in all kinds of trouble. They're boarded, surrounded, and pretty much dead until surprise! Enterprise comes along. The Nausicaans agree to Archer's conditions that they will cease hostilities as long as their crewman is recovered from the Fortunate. But now Archer has to convince the Fortunate first mate that it's worth handing over his prisoner.

And this is where Travis Mayweather steps up to the plate. He reaches out to the cargo ship crew like only one of them can. He explains that their actions today will not only effect them, but also every other cargo ship that has ever been endangered from a Nausicaan ship. If he kills the Nausicaans today, the cycle of revenge will not stop here, but will keep going until both sides are dead. So, finally, the prisoner is released and the captain recovers, all is right with the galaxy and we all learn a valuable lesson about trust and live happily ever after.

Overall Thoughts
Meh. It was ok. Like I said, I'm really bothered by the "progression" of the human race in this episode. People in the Sixties acted better in The Original Series's "Asignment: Earth" than humans in this century seem to act.