Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Enterprise 1x10 "Fortunate Son"

rating: ***

the story: The crew responds to a Boomer freighter emergency.

what it's all about: Mayweather was quickly identified as the weakest character of the series, and he never really recovered from that perception.  According to the structure set up for Enterprise, it deviated from the practice of the three series before it, returning to the original series mold of focusing on three core characters and filling in around them with the rest of the main cast as time permitted.  Now, in the grand scheme of the series, Mayweather certainly did prove to have the least amount of material; like Chakotay before him in Voyager, the more fans saw him as an afterthought, the more he was treated as such.  Perception became reality.  And yet, Mayweather came bursting with potential, and "Fortunate Son" was a readymade vehicle for him, something few of the other characters could claim.

The idea of the Boomers was an Enterprise concept, filling in the void of early human space travel, what it was like before Starfleet came to dominate the scene.  The series was all about the time just before Starfleet accomplished that, and so it was a wonderful opportunity to see what it was like, and Boomers were the intrepid folk making a living in space ahead of the rest of humanity.  Mayweather had been a Boomer before he joined Starfleet.  He provided a direct link to the crisis in the episode. 

In a way, the episode is a kind of metaphor about Archer's crew, and it foreshadows the third season, where Archer found himself faced with this very kind of situation, where it was suddenly necessary to make tough judgment calls in the face of dire opposition.  If the Boomers are merely facing piratical Nausicaans (fans of Next Generation's "Tapestry" will love seeing them again), Archer would face far worse.  A lot of what Enterprise tried to accomplish was explaining why Starfleet ended up operating the way it did in later series.  Sometimes it was fairly obvious, sometimes it was more like this.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - Besides the Nausicaans, the situation itself is reminiscent of other episodes, such as Janeway's "Equinox" experience in Voyager.
  • series - A big highlight of Enterprise-specific mythology in the Boomers.
  • character - Mayweather in a rare spotlight!
  • essential - He'd have to wait until next season to reunite with Boomers he actually knew (his family).
notable guest-stars:
Vaughn Armstrong (Forrest)

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