Archer and crew run into some jerk aliens whilst trying to get the phase cannons online. In the b-plot, Hoshi attempts to learn Reed's favorite food. This "calling Malcom's parents and almost accidentally scheduling a date with him" plot is the one I always remember. Maybe, in part, because of its total weirdness. Does Archer track down everyone's favorite food for their b-day? That seems really time consuming. So why only Reed? A few years ago, I worked at a place that always made a big deal out of EVERYONE's birthday. There was cake and there were chips and there was veggie pizza (which was essentially raw broccoli and ranch dressing on bread) and a card passed around and we all assembled in the staff room and sang the song. It was often my job to help with this business but whenever it rolled around to January (and my birthday) the manager decided we should have combined month birthdays. Watching this episode, I basically just put myself in Hoshi's shoes and thought, "I'm a comm officer and highly trained linguist at the top of my field, serving on the flag ship and first Warp 5 vessel of Starfleet and I've just spent the last three days calling a dude's ex-girlfriends and asking about what he likes to eat."
|"I could've published seven linguistics papers in the time it|
took to get this cake for you so I super hope you appreciate it."
Wherein Phlox and Archer have a conversation that basically goes,
Archer: These people asked for our help.
Phlox: But we shouldn't interfere with their 'natural development'.
Me: That's pretty condescending.
Archer: Someday, Starfleet will have some sort of... directive... some sort of prime directive that'll tell us how we should blindly act whenever we get into these situations.
Me: Yeah, you should probably ignore that too.
Basically this episode is why I didn't pursue cultural anthropology at the graduate level.
Hoshi, Reed, and T'Pol are trapped on a Klingon ship as it sinks into a gas giant. I actually quite like this one but I did imagine, while watching, a scene wherein Hoshi blows up at Reed about how much crap she had do to for his birthday.
|"Once again I'm saving the day. What even is your job here?"|
Archer and T'Pol are captured by some hostiles. The Vulcans and Andorians get involved and before long everyone's pointing fingers and name calling and making threats. Naturally, I love this one. Anytime the Andorians show up, I'm on board. Archer and T'Pol have natural chemistry and Shran has a wonderful sort of anti-chemistry with everyone.
Remember how the early astronauts were, nearly to a man, test pilots? The astronauts in these early missions were trained to continue the mission and to try to save themselves until they either succeeded or died. Welp, when Tucker and Reed find themselves stranded in a shuttlepod and they believe Enterprise to have been destroyed, while Tucker goes about trying to figure out a solution Reed gets down to business moping and mooning into several personal letters to friends and family about his soon-to-be untimely death. Even less productively, he manages to have a dream wherein he's making out with T'Pol. Had I been Tucker, I likely would've jettisoned the bastard and kept the remaining oxygen for myself but I'm chaotic neutral and Tucker is, like those early astronauts, lawful good and that's not how things work out.
|"I bet you don't even really like pineapple!"|
Truly, I don't mean to pick on Reed. All the Star Trek first seasons have problems and they all have characters who hang around like wet dishrags because they're a good character in theory but no one really knows what to do with them. Archer and Tucker are pretty nailed down in this first season and I think that's because, like I mentioned, these guys are pretty much modeled on the early space program. What kind of guy is Archer? He's Jim Lovell. What kind guy is Tucker? He's Pete Conrad. All the rest of these people are still really malleable. Even T'Pol who it seems was meant to be Enterprise's Spock (and therefore also its Data, Odo, Doctor/Seven) feels a little adrift. What do we do with T'Pol in this episode? Hmm. Let's put her in her underwear. Or maybe she could make out with a guy in his dream. Or maybe a Ferengi should grope her ears. Or maybe she could be attacked in her quarters after she told a guy to stop. My point is that the first season of Enterprise, like the first season of any Trek (and any show, really) is shaky. Even though you're using similar ingredients the recipe isn't coming out like you thought it would. And that's ok. You just have to keep tweaking it until you find the right blend. Just look at how much Next Gen's second season improved!