Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Star Trek Enterprise Retro-Spective "Fortunate Son"

Fortunate Son, like many Enterprise episodes, is quite simple. The ECS (Earth Cargo Ship) Fortunate Son is on its cargo run when it is attacked by Naussican pirates. A distress signal is sent, Enterprise is dispatched to help. They arrive to find the Fortunate Son damaged but under repairs with the first officer running things while the Captain recovers from serious injury. We first start to get an idea that all is not what it seems when the first officer of the Fortunate Son initially declines any help from the Enterprise. He eventually relents. We soon find out that the cargo haulers have captured one of the Naussicans and is interrogating him for shield frequencies.

While the Enterprise crew helps repair and upgrade the Fortunate Son (and Phlox helps the Captain), Mayweather gets to know the first officer. We learn that the 'boomers' are an independent breed who tend to look down on people who aren't boomers, or worse yet, boomers who leave the ECS fleet (as it were), for the cushy, easy life of an NX Class ship.

As repairs proceed, T'Pol detects the life signs of the injured Naussican on board the Fortunate Son. There is the inevitable confrontation. Archer threatens to take all of their spare parts, and the wily first officer of the Fortunate Son fools his way out the jam, leaving our heroes frustrated and left behind.

The Fortunate Son arrives at the Naussican base, thinking it is chasing a single ship and armed with the shield frequencies. As it turns out, there are three ships (I saw that coming), and the shield frequencies don't seem to work (I saw that coming too). They are in a bad spot and losing the fight.

On Enterprise, while they are speeding after the Fortunate Son, Mayweather confides in Archer that he has doubts about interfering with what his fellow boomers are doing. Archer makes a speech about the moral code we are all subject to, and how boomers are just as human even if they're born in space. Mayweather comes around (way too easily for my taste), and they continue.

They finally arrive, just in time to save the Fortunate Son. They eventually convince the Naussicans to let the Fortunate Son go in return for their hostage. In the last scene, Archer talks to the fully recovered captain of the Fortunate Son. He says that the first officer will be punished but kept on the team and put to work. He tries to get Archer to have a drink with him, but Archer declines, because he's on duty. You get the feeling that they are two entirely different kinds of captain's from this, which sums up the episode aptly. End of episode.

This episode was good for the series, because we learned a bit more about what it is to be a boomer, and what boomers think of people who leave their ranks for fancy NX Class ships. There is also a hint of independence and almost rebellion from Travis Mayweather (that shows up more strongly in the Enterprise relaunch books). There was also the issue of boomer crews looking at the potential end of their lifestyle due to an engine that does warp five (as opposed to 1.8 of the Class Y Fortunate Son, or the Class J Horizon that Mayweather comes from). On the other hand, it is a very simple story that has been done a thousand times. I wasn't impressed by the Naussicans, who seem to be the favored boring stock villains. I also was unimpressed by Archer's moralizing speech with Mayweather. It made sense enough. but it came off stiff and wooden, and Mayweather gave in too easily. Still, the episode was interesting enough, and the plusses outnumbered the minuses. I'm not going to pull out the DVD specifically to watch this one, but I wouldn't skip over it if it was playing. Thumbs up.

Next Up: "Cold Front"

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