Star Trek: Enterprise: Fortunate Son
October 7, 2018 9:04 PM - Season 1, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Wherein Travis Mayweather shares an inappropriate anecdote about life on J-class freighters.

Memory Alpha doesn’t have a ton of behind the scenes stuff for us this time:

Background information
Script, cast, and production
> The final draft of this episode's script was submitted on 21 September 2001. The end of the episode vastly differed between this script and the final version of the installment.
> Lawrence Monoson, D. Elliot Woods, Danny Goldring, and Vaughn Armstrong all appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Monoson played Hovath in "The Storyteller" and Woods played a Klingon officer in "Sons of Mogh". Goldring played Legate Kell in "Civil Defense" and Chief Burke in "Nor the Battle to the Strong". Armstrong played Danar in "Past Prologue" and Seskal in "When It Rains..." and "The Dogs of War".
> The sets used to depict the Fortunate were redressed NX-class sets commonly shown as areas of Enterprise. The hallways of the Fortunate were redressed corridors from Enterprise, with a new lighting scheme and several new additions to the walls. Similarly, the cargo bays of the Fortunate were the shuttlebays of Enterprise, filled with several types of cargo tubs and boxes.

Continuity
> Mayweather mentions to Ryan that Starfleet has plans to build three more NX-class ships in the near future (Enterprise itself, the lead ship of the class, having launched only four months previously). The next NX-class ship, Columbia NX-02, was seen when it was introduced later in the series: first while still under construction in the season two finale "The Expanse", as well as when it was ultimately launched, in the season four episode "Affliction".
> This episode features the first on-screen appearance of the Nausicaans in Enterprise. The outing also depicts the first official contact between Starfleet and the Nausicaans.
> Admiral Forrest references the scans Enterprise took of the comet in "Breaking the Ice" as being "incredible."
> The end-of-transmission screen from Admiral Forrest references the signal as relayed from Relay: Echo 1/Transponder 4. A Relay that hadn't been deployed yet.

Reception
> The "Ultimate Guide" in Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 78 rated this episode 3 out of 5 arrowhead insignia.
> The unofficial reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 362) calls this installment, "A nice episode, a rare Star Trek story where both sides in a dispute are equally wrong and equally hot-headed."

Memorable Quotes

"The Earth Cargo Ship Fortunate. Y-class freighter. Maximum Speed: Warp 1.8. Crew complement: 23."
"Not counting newborn babies."
"Ensign?"
"I grew up on a J-class. A little smaller, but the same basic design. And one thing I can tell you is that at warp 1.8, you've got a lot of time on your hands between ports… That's how my parents wound up with me."
"Do you have any helpful information on this vessel beyond its… recreational activities?"
- T'Pol and Mayweather, as T'Pol gives a dry briefing on the Fortunate

"Ready or not, here I come! Have you seen Nadine?"
"I'm sorry. I don't know which child is named 'Nadine'."
"Thanks!"
"I just told him the truth."
- Boy, T'Pol, and Nadine during a game of hide and seek as Nadine hides

"They say that for a split second, you can actually feel yourself in both places at once."
"Why do you think I wanna try it?"
- Ryan and Mayweather on Enterprise's transporter

"Warp 1.8 works just fine for us. Any faster and there'd be no time to enjoy the trip."
- Ryan, after Tucker tells him things are going to change when faster engines get installed in freighters

"Get down!"
"Under the circumstance, I defer to your experience."
- Reed and Phlox, in the middle of a firefight

"The Nausicaans. Ryan's after revenge, sir."
"A very primitive emotion but it would explain his irrational behavior."
"It's rational to him."
- Mayweather and T'Pol, trying to determine Ryan's motive

Poster’s Log:
This mostly worked for me. As ever, some complaints. But mostly this was good.

* Ryan’s a pretty good antagonist.

Even though Ryan is a hothead who makes terrible choices, they did a decent job offering his perspective. I was sympathetic without agreeing with any of his choices. (If nothing else… why wouldn’t the Nausicaans assume their shield codes were compromised? Gah. Not a planner, that kid. But very believable.)

* The Nausicaans were appropriately unpleasant.
ARCHER: Perhaps we have an opportunity here to improve relations between your people and mine.
NAUSICAAN 2 [on viewscreen]: We're happy with our relations the way they are.
I liked the cut of their jib generally, but that exchange was particularly fun. Also, a good reminder that not everybody is interested in making friends, no matter how upbeat Starfleet is.

* I have questions about Starfleet’s jurisdiction.

Archer can’t compel Ryan to turn over his prisoner, which leaves me wondering exactly what his legal status is out here. I mean, I’m not quibbling, I’m genuinely curious.

* Didn’t like Archer’s speech to Travis, but his actions at the end were good.
ARCHER: I don't know about you, Travis, but that doesn't sit right with me. Human beings have a code of behaviour that applies whether they're Starfleet officers or space boomers, and it isn't driven by revenge. Just because someone isn't born on Earth doesn't make him any less human.
TRAVIS: You're right, sir. I suppose I should understand that more than anyone.
I have complained about the lack of self-reflection in VOY often and at great length. ENT hasn’t worn on me in the same way, but this speech took me back: Archer is operating from a position of privilege here, judging a very hard situation from a place of comfort and safety. It is very easy for him to judge the Boomers here. I do believe someone in his position would react that way, but it doesn’t feel utopian to me.

(On a similar note, I’d take issue with T’Pol’s assertion that revenge isn’t rational: in an iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, tit-for-tat is a pretty effective strategy.)

I really would’ve preferred Archer pointing out that Ryan has no combat experience and was going to get his entire crew killed by space pirates, particularly since that was how this would’ve gone without Enterprise’s rescue.

That said, I did appreciate the insistence on a peaceful resolution, down to Ryan surviving with a demotion instead of suffering a karmic death, and the Nausicaans leaving without further casualties. It was still a pretty Star Trek ending. I also felt like characterization was good all around, and it was nice to see more of Mayweather. (He remains the crewman I’m most interested in learning more about, since he’s spent the most time in space.)

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: These abound. Nausicaans are a key Klingon-faction race, both playable and valuable as space-oriented bridge officers for their ‘Piracy’ trait.

Civilian freighters are available as a very rare gambling box drop. They're terrible in a fight, but have some interesting side options. (I don’t own one yet, but I plan to eventually.)

Finally, Chefs are an available type of Duty Officer, helpful in many Diplomatic assignments. (The’re also a special chain to get your character a Chef title. The best levels of it require two top quality Chefs at the same time.)

* Vulcans Are Superior: Vulcans are totally above revenge. (Riiiight.)
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: None, although this is another time the crew avoid the transporters at every convenient moment. Nobody even discusses beaming away the Nausicaan hostage.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: Averted. The NX-01 plainly outclasses all other ships in the story, able to get four Nausicaan raiders to back down.
posted by mordax (20 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I feel like for all it's shortcomings this is the first episode in the series that has not only a real Star Trek feel but also a This is pretty good TV feel. Like it's not perfect as outlined above but IDK it fills you with hope for the rest of the season. (which will be dashed soon lol oh god not lol this show had so much promise and it squandered it arrrg why.)
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:33 PM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Brief Sunday-night thought/question: what was the purpose in using the particular title? "Fortunate Son" has a certain resonance, especially if you're old enough to remember the Vietnam War. (I am.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:40 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: the NX-02 is Columbia, while the intention for the unseen NX-03 was Challenger.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:24 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


I agree with mordax: it's a pretty good episode, even if Archer's attitude is not great. The whole concept of "things are different out on the final frontier, if you actually live there" is the basic premise of DS9, and I would have liked a deeper delve into the society and culture of the Boomer ships, the ways in which they may have felt it necessary to deal with things on their own in their own way, and their resentment at the Starfleet people showing up in their fast starship and just sort of assuming that they were the new sheriff in town. The episode touched on these things, but I would have liked a deeper delve. Sometimes things don't need to be spelled out 100%--I think that it was pretty implicit that Ryan's stubbornness may have been in part from survivor's guilt, and in part from wanting to prove himself to the crew of a ship that he wasn't born on--but I still think that they could have incorporated the Boomers' perspectives and knowledge more closely into the series; from a post-colonial perspective, it would have made a nice contrast to Archer's often-overeager desire for exploration to have someone on board to offer the perspective that they're not really boldly going where no human has gone before. Mayweather could have and should have been that person, but seems too quick to defer to Archer's perspective. There may be reasons for that--maybe it's a Boomer thing not to argue with your captain, or maybe it's Mayweather's having grown up with the captain being his dad--but I don't recall that really being covered in the show. At any rate, I think that this episode does sort of nibble around the edges of Mayweather being part of something that's eventually going to destroy the way of life that he grew up with, which is always an interesting dramatic set-up.

I'll also give the episode credit for the idea that Starfleet should try to get on good terms with just about everyone, even the Nausicaans, who were introduced in TNG's "Tapestry" by way of nearly murdering young Jean-Luc Picard. Also funny was T'Pol helping the Boomer girl out with hide and seek, rationalizing her not giving the girl up by saying that she didn't know her name.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:57 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Has Trek ever really effectively shown humans independent of the Federation working for good/not being misguided in some way? Thinking about it, all that comes to mind is the Enterprise of various series visiting colonies where the humans who came from early exploration of space or had purposefully left behind the Fed being depicted as backwards and needing remedial action by representatives of the evolved and enlightened Federation.

Archer lording it over Ryan is exactly what one would expect from the (in its own eyes) Lawful Good representative of United Earth and its Starfleet.
posted by Fukiyama at 8:38 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


Is my memory crap, or is this the ONLY "Travis episode" of the series?

Has Trek ever really effectively shown humans independent of the Federation working for good/not being misguided in some way?

Huh… no examples come to mind. I guess Gene casts a long shadow.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:15 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


is this the ONLY "Travis episode" of the series?

"Horizon" comes up in the second season. I can't think of any others.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:08 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Has Trek ever really effectively shown humans independent of the Federation working for good/not being misguided in some way?

The human colony in The 37s? Sure they shot at Tuvok's security team but you might be a bit phaser happy if your civilization's origin story was that alien visitors abducted your great great great great great grandparents. They were technologically advanced and not actively shitty to each other.
posted by nathan_teske at 2:34 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


Fun fact: the NX-02 is Columbia, while the intention for the unseen NX-03 was Challenger.

So, wait, the first Space Shuttle was named Enterprise, after the TV show, and then in the TV show the first Enterprise was named after the Space Shuttle "Enterprise" that was named after the TV show?? It's practically a time paradox!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:04 AM on October 9 [6 favorites]


Well, the original NCC-1701 was named after the American aircraft carrier Enterprise (CV-6), the most decorated US ship of WWII, so it's not impossible that someone may have decided to name the first shuttle after the ship in the Trekverse. There's also the "Big E"'s successor, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and that ship's planned successor.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:44 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


(Also, here's the master list of American ships named Enterprise. You will note that, in line with the original 1701, the first ship was destroyed to avoid capture.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:49 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


And some in-universe confirmation that cargo ships were cruising around at warp 1.8-ish still.

Not that I'm fixated on it or anything.

Decent episode, although yeah it sorta shows Baby Starfleet having all the dick-swinging swagger of a.. Well, a _fleet_ and not just a single dang ship that doesn't even have all its weapons.
posted by Kyol at 7:28 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


I felt kinda underwhelmed by this episode...it was a solid enough idea, but it just never came together somehow. Archer comes across as condescendingly dickish, especially given the mistakes he and his crew have made; Travis seems naive, and Ryan carries himself with an undeserved cockiness. The problems with Ryan's "plan" seem incredibly obvious, and Starfleet has no moral authority or the ability to back it up yet, so...yeah, the whole thing seems like it was missing a few pieces of solid connection to really make it work. Going back to the roots of Star Trek as "Wagon Train" in space, this could have been a great episode about the problems of trying to establish law and order on the frontier, but it didn't quite get there.

The world/universe building continues to puzzle me - the Nausicans are apparently somewhat known to the Boomers, but are something Archer has never heard of. You'd think that nascent Starfleet would be grabbing all the knowledge they could from other humans in space prior to venturing out there. Anyways. Maybe I was just in too much of a nitpicking mood.

Also, here's the master list of American ships named Enterprise. You will note that, in line with the original 1701, the first ship was destroyed to avoid capture

I'm pretty sure that the pictures in Archer's cabin are intended to be representations of the various Enterprises through time - I can recall seeing either a schooner or a sloop and an aircraft carrier hanging on the walls in various shots.
posted by nubs at 8:24 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


oh god not lol this show had so much promise and it squandered it arrrg why.

Heh. Yes. Although at the moment, I'm still enjoying it as a contrast from VOY. (It's interesting to me to watch the franchise learn or fail to learn from its various mistakes.)

it would have made a nice contrast to Archer's often-overeager desire for exploration to have someone on board to offer the perspective that they're not really boldly going where no human has gone before.

This continues to slay me here, yeah: in all prior spinoffs, we were operating near some boundary of Federation space. TOS was on a long range mission, TNG featured Starfleet's flagship, DS9 was near a border with a hostile military power and VOY was almost completely cut off.

ENT is still in explored space. This has kind of a vibe of 'kids on a road trip discovering Canada' rather than 'bold explorers pushing forward the limits of human experience.'

The human colony in The 37s?

This amuses me on several levels:
- It's true.
- I didn't think of it, (although I was sure there was something).
- Those people were literally the descendants of escaped slaves who threw off their shackles rather than people who left Earth deliberately. (Shades of Stargate SG-1 there, for that matter.) If we're talking about people who left Earth on purpose, I think it might still be shale all the way down.

You'd think that nascent Starfleet would be grabbing all the knowledge they could from other humans in space prior to venturing out there.

The one that kills me is how they don't have one or more officers studying the Vulcan database 24/7. ENT needs a Daniel Jackson.

Maybe I was just in too much of a nitpicking mood.

In a discussion for Star Trek? I'm not sure I'd even know what that looks like.
posted by mordax at 10:32 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]


I really would’ve preferred Archer pointing out that Ryan has no combat experience and was going to get his entire crew killed by space pirates, particularly since that was how this would’ve gone without Enterprise’s rescue.

Were I to pick on quibble, it would be this: that Archer doesn't really make, or even attempt to make, a particularly compelling case beyond 'don't do this' and 'it seems wrong' -- the crux of this coming down to Archer's speech, which is given to Travis rather than Ryan:
I don't know about you, Travis, but that doesn't sit right with me. Human beings have a code of behaviour that applies whether they're Starfleet officers or space boomers, and it isn't driven by revenge. Just because someone isn't born on Earth doesn't make him any less human.
Except -- the nature of living in society is that we all have different codes of conduct. We empower the police to investigate and to arrest; we empower judges to judge; we empower Starfleet captains to do...what, exactly? The show, here, wants to make this into a question of the lawless frontier where those kind of societal strictures don't apply but the sub-thread on both ships is precisely that they do: that this is only even a problem that needs solving because everyone is deferential to Ryan's authority as captain.

It felt kind of weird to not have a stronger articulation of why engaging in revenge-piracy and hostage-taking is bad given to the person who needed to hear it, basically. That sort of collision of values was present but not really on a moral level or a practical one -- other than Merryweather's plea to avoid creating a cycle of violence, which was good but also like it came weirdly late in the episode. I would have loved a boardroom-style discussion here where we hear input on what to do and bit more time talking through the implications, or just more of either Travis-Ryan or Archer-Ryan debating what to do.

---

Idle asides:
- 'Polarize the hull plating!' does not have the same ring to it as 'shields up' and they do say it an awful lot.
- Nausicans boarding the freighter felt more like A New Hope than A Voyage Home (for a IV to IV comparison) -- no one randomly beaming aboard to the bridge, etc. This does feel like one thing that being a prequel accomplishes: they can break out of some of the normal ST narrative beats that the show had fallen into, from TNG onward.
posted by cjelli at 1:24 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


This has kind of a vibe of 'kids on a road trip discovering Canada'

Just be thankful that the regular cast doesn't feature that one kid who lugs his guitar around everywhere, even though the only songs he knows are "Faith of the Heart" and "Wonderwall."
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:48 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


Just be thankful that the regular cast doesn't feature that one kid who lugs his guitar around everywhere, even though the only songs he knows are "Faith of the Heart" and "Wonderwall."

Berman and Braga have done a lot wrong with Trak but they at least saved us from this terrible idea.
posted by nathan_teske at 5:00 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


Really interesting bullets in that link, nathan, thanks!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:57 AM on October 10


Except -- the nature of living in society is that we all have different codes of conduct.

I'd argue Star Trek is problematic here generally, and especially in the era of B&B. It's sort of the point of the whole thing where most humans who leave the Federation are misguided or evil or something.

(VOY was particularly bad it. Like, they depicted 'the Maquis way' as simple thuggery - of course people who rejected the Federation would solve disciplinary problems by punching subordinates.)

It felt kind of weird to not have a stronger articulation of why engaging in revenge-piracy and hostage-taking is bad given to the person who needed to hear it, basically.

Also a constant problem in VOY: 'this is the right thing because it is the right thing.' It was especially egregious when Seven came on - she'd do the classic 'why do humans do [x]?' routine, and Janeway would be like, 'BECAUSE, that's why.'

Really, it comes back to the creators not being particularly deep thinkers themselves, and so unable to realize they're not putting deep thinkers on the screen for us. (It did inspire me to give a Good Place style lecture about ethical frameworks during Tuvix one time though.)
posted by mordax at 8:51 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]


It felt kind of weird to not have a stronger articulation of why engaging in revenge-piracy and hostage-taking is bad given to the person who needed to hear it, basically. That sort of collision of values was present but not really on a moral level or a practical one

Yes! You've captured exactly why this episode didn't click for me. Archer's little speech was vague and moralizing, and given to the wrong person. That talk should've been part of a confrontation between Archer and Ryan, while Travis gets the complexity of grappling with how the existence & expansion of Starfleet is forever going to change the way of life his family is in, in ways both good and bad. There's an element here that to me would (as I said above) really harken back to Gene's idea of "Wagon Train in Space", and life on the frontier changing as civilization comes along (this is well explored in Deadwood, though with far more swearing, nudity, violence, and cynicism than you would see in Star Trek), and frankly could have been an interesting subarc for the 1st season to play with - humanity has colonies and freighters out amongst the stars, but now comes a faster ship, better armed, better equipped, and how does that change things?
posted by nubs at 9:23 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


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