8/5/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Minefield"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S02E03
Air Date: October 2, 2002
Written by: John Shiban
Directed by: James Contner

Premise
Reed prefers to talk about himself while pinned to the hull by a Romulan mine instead of sitting at the breakfast table with Archer.

Review
When Archer invites Reed to the captain's mess, Reed is very uncomfortable. When Archer tells Reed that this isn't a call to the principal's office, Reed is slightly relieved, but all he can talk about is work. It's clear that social interaction isn't his forte. Which, as it's been established that he has had his share of fine women, gives hope to all the socially awkward geeks out there.

Luckily, they're pulled out of their awkward breakfast by T'Pol who says there's an unexplored system coming up with an M-Class planet. Unfortunately, just because this planet is uninhabited doesn't mean it's unexplored. Just as they pull up to the planet, the Enterprise is rocked by a series of explosions causing several injuries, but, luckily, no fatalities. Reed figures out that they've been hit by a mine. He figures this out when another one attaches itself to the Enterprise's hull. Ever the hero, Reed decides he has to walk out onto the hull and defuse the mine. As a last resort, Archer plans to detach that section of the hull and tells Trip to get to work on unscrewing it.

No sooner does Reed get to work defusing the mine than a strange alien space ship decloaks right in front of him.
Frakkin Romulans.
Can we talk for a minute...
...about why I was uncomfortable with Romulans being in this episode? When Romulans were introduced in The Original Series, it was explained that they had never been seen. Starfleet had contacted Romulans via audio and perhaps text, but never had direct, visual contact. They were introduced in the episode "Balance of Terror" which was a fantastic episode and contained one of my favorite lines in the whole franchise, "You and I are of a kind. In a different reality I could have called you friend." I never want this episode to be tampered with, which was why I was initially uncomfortable with Romulans being in Star Trek (2009). In J. J. Abram's movie, Spock says "Vulcans and Romulans share a common ancestry." That he knew this was a matter of contention, but could probably be explained by Nero trying to contact Romulus or Vulcan before being detained by Klingons. Enterprise has no excuse, and with the Farengi episode, they have a history of stepping on the toes of canon. They have one chance with this episode.
And they didn't blow it. When the Romulans show up, they try to contact the Enterprise, but only send audio. This audio is unable to be translated by the universal translator and Hoshi was one of the crewmen injured by the initial mine blast. Without the ability to understand what they are saying, the Romulans fire warning shots at the Enterprise, so they are forced to maneuver away from the minefield as slowly as possible so they don't injure Reed who is still trying to disable the mine that has attached itself to the hull. They know that they've had success when a spike shoots out of the mine, impaling Reed's leg and attaches itself to the hull. That's when Archer decides to be the hero's hero and save the hero. Donning another space suit, he joins Reed on the hull and takes over disarming the mine.

While Archer gets to work, he attempts to engage Reed in conversation. That's when Reed starts to be a downer and shows his military upbringing. He comes from two generations of English Navy men, and it shows when he says that socializing with other crewmen doesn't have a place while on duty. Archer counters with the idea that Enterprise's mission is not a normal mission. They have to seek out new life and new civilizations and engage them in conversation. In an attempt to get away from Archer's boring speeches, Reed expresses a desire to sacrifice himself for the good of the ship.

Meanwhile, the bridge crew is contacted by the Romulans again. This time Hoshi is alive and well and able to translate. But they basically just reiterate the same thing that the Enterprise already knew they wanted.
or else we'll re-write history... again.
Just as Archer thinks he's got the mine defused, it starts to go off, so Reed tells him to reset it. Now they're back to square one and the only way to get out of it is to dismantle the entire mine. Faced with imminent Romulation, Reed decides that the only way out is to kill himself and let Trip release that hull section. He pulls his air supply out of his helmet, but before he succeeds in dying, Archer connects his own air supply.

Then Archer comes up with the brilliant plan to use suttlepod hatches to shield Reed and himself from the mine blast while he detaches the hull plating, and then reed and then hides. Apparently this shuttlepod hatch material is made of the same stuff Captain America's shield is made from.
It'll repel bullets, knock out Nazis and protect you from space mines
So, this is pretty much exactly what they do. Archer gives reed a hatch, cuts through the spike in the mine and pushes away. The mine explodes, and sends Reed and Archer flying through space. They're able to pick them up with a shuttle or something, apparently, because in the next scene, they're on board and warping away to safety. And they all lived happily ever after and learned a valuable lesson about Reed's back-story.

Overall Thoughts
I did not dislike this episode. I was wary about the Romulans, but I figure as long as they never see them, it's all good. And we get to know a little more about Reed, who is a pretty fascinating character, so that's good. I approve of this episode.