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July 15 2024


An archive of Star Trek News

These Are the Voyages...

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at May 14, 2005 - 4:58 AM GMT

See Also: 'These Are The Voyages' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: As Sato discusses her plans to travel to Brazil and Archer frets about his speech to the assembled delegates of the interplanetary alliance, Will Riker sits on the bridge and observes. His personal log notes that the arrival of Admiral Pressman has put him in an awkward position vis a vis his role as first officer of the Enterprise-D, and Counselor Troi recommended gleaning insights from a historic holoprogram, suggesting that he take on the role of chef who was a sort of unofficial counselor near the end of the NX-01's ten years in space. As Riker observes, Shran hails Enterprise, calling in the favor Archer has owed him for years even though Archer believed him dead. Shran's daughter has been kidnapped by shady business associates, and he needs help getting her back from a Rigellian trading outpost.

While Archer prepares a rescue mission despite the fact that he's due to arrive at Earth for the ceremony, Riker interacts with the crew in the guise of preparing a banquet with everyone's favorite meals before the NX-01 is decommissioned. He learns that although T'Pol and Tucker ended their relationship several years earlier, she misses him, and that Reed admires the engineer while Sato thinks he's cute. Troi briefly joins Riker on the NX-01 and learns Riker's true dilemma: he feels torn between his obligation to Pressman and the fact that Pegasus was testing an illegal cloaking device that could cause war with the Romulans, something Pressman has ordered Riker to keep from Picard as he prepares to make another attempt. When Archer takes a team to the surface - accompanying the crew over Tucker's objections that the captain should protect himself - Riker goes along, listening as T'Pol admits to Tucker that she will miss him when they leave Enterprise for new assignments.

Shran retrieves his daughter and sends her to safety with T'Pol just before Archer and his crew exchange weapons blasts with the kidnappers, whom Shran and Archer have tried to dupe. Archer saves Tucker's life while Riker, playing the role of a MACO, lays down cover fire. Archer doesn't believe that the thugs can follow them at warp four, but while Riker observes the captain and Tucker toasting the next generation, the NX-01 comes under attack and is boarded. Tucker protects Archer, leads the aliens down an access corridor and blows them and himself up to protect the ship; he is still alive when Archer finds him, but he dies in sickbay. While packing his things, T'Pol tells Archer that she wants to meet his parents and that she finds emotions very difficult. Archer says he used to believe that he would find something magnificent wherever he went, but now Trip is dead and he has to give a speech about how it's all been worthwhile. T'Pol points out that Trip would be the first to say that it was worthwhile.

Having talked to many other crewmembers about Tucker, Riker finally meets the man himself, taking his order for dried catfish with hushpuppies. The engineer observes that while Archer will never admit it, he's very proud to be one of the people signing the charter for the planetary alliance. Then he asks "Chef" what he's going to do next - sign onto another ship or open a restaurant in the Berkshires - and adds that he's sure Riker will make the right choice, which is just what Troi told him when he admitted that he would have to betray either his promise to Pressman or his commitment to Picard and his principles.

At the ceremony, still observed by Riker and Troi, T'Pol scolds Archer for stalling on his speech and says that it is not logical to be modest when he deserves credit for his accomplishments. Archer gives her a hug before heading out to face the delegates, speech in hand. Troi tells Riker that she memorized that speech in grammar school, admiring the alliance that gave birth to Federation, and Riker announces that he is ready to talk to Captain Picard. As they end the program and leave the holodeck, Picard's voice is heard intoning that these are the voyages...then Captain Kirk's voice comes up, continuing, "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations," and the final voice is Archer's making his speech as his ship heads into a nebula, " boldly go where no man has gone before."

Analysis: There are probably two reviews that could be written of this episode: the critical reactions of an Enterprise viewer and the overall impressions of a longtime Star Trek fan. Being both, I must admit from the outset that the latter overwhelms the former for me; it's hard for me not to enjoy any episode that features Riker and Troi (their relationship is one of the few things I love unreservedly in Insurrection and Nemesis), and it's hard for me not to get a little choked up being told that Kirk and Picard's famous voiceover was originally their predecessor's speech to the assembly that became the UFP. As a Next Generation episode I'd give "These Are the Voyages..." decent marks - not perfect ones, but it's perfectly in character, the storyline fits nicely into the events of "The Pegasus" and I love the casual way Data slips in, even if it's just his voice. The two episodes that followed "The Pegasus" on the air, "Homeward" and "Sub Rosa", are two of my least favorite hours of Star Trek, so it's not like Next Gen got everything perfect, anyway.

But I don't think any Enterprise fan could be blamed for being disappointed at this sendoff for this cast and crew whom we see six years down the road and...nothing. Mayweather still hasn't gotten any sort of promotion or real responsibility, Sato's still opening hailing frequencies, Tucker and T'Pol still haven't worked out exactly what kind of feelings they have for each other, and worse, there's almost no interaction between the crewmembers; we hear Reed talking about Archer, we hear Sato talking about Tucker, but we don't see the character interaction that would make these moments real. One of my big complaints with Enterprise all along has been its insistence on telling rather than showing who these people are. Having Sato declare out of the blue that she was a troublemaker at the Academy isn't the same thing as seeing her do something rebellious; having T'Pol's mother announce that her daughter always struggled with her emotions isn't the same thing as seeing consistent development of that theme. By putting the focus on Riker and his limited scope, we lose any possibility of one last glimpse of the NX-01 crew together.

I'm sure there will be debate about whether this episode should count as canonical; for all we know, the holoprogram is more the equivalent of a TV movie about the life of Jonathan Archer than reality, and it made for better drama to kill Tucker saving the captain's life than to focus on the fact that, yes, this crew was stupid enough to let their ship get boarded by a bunch of alien thugs because they arrogantly believed they could outrun the villains. It's really painful to watch Tucker die an even more meaningless death than Kirk's - he doesn't give up his life saving a planet or rescuing the ship, just marching a bunch of hairy bad guys away from Archer to make sure the captain gets home to make his big speech. What dramatic purpose did his death serve? This isn't like Tasha Yar, where there was an actor trying to get out of a contract! Personally it seemed to me that Trip might have had a bit of a death wish, not sure where he was going next and not having any more emotional connection to T'Pol than a pronouncement that she'd miss him. We've known since the first season that Tucker would lay down his life for Archer and the ship; this death only serves notice about how little we really know about him, his long-term goals and dreams, and that last little conversation with Riker about catfish and Mobile underscores the way the same couple of lines from the series Bible are really all these writers ever gave the man.

I don't want to take anything away from Connor Trinneer, who really demonstrated in the final three episodes the extent to which he is the most valuable actor on Enterprise. He had me wiping my eyes in "Terra Prime" as he played Trip mourning for a daughter he hardly knew, even though I found the whole instant-paternity instinct rather contrived. His acting is the reason I believe Reed and Sato when they explain that there was so much more to Tucker than redneck hick and solid engineer, because there's really not a lot in the scripts to suggest otherwise. But really I could say the same for Reed and Sato as well. I doubt that in these reviews I have ever given as much credit to this cast as it deserves. I really like all the characters on Enterprise in a way that I did not in the end like many characters on Voyager, and the credit for that must go to the actors, because if I sit down and try to make a list of things I learned about Sato or Reed as opposed to moments I think Linda Park and Dominic Keating really nailed, it's pretty sparse. (My favorite moment in the finale, which will probably surprise no one: the segue when Riker is talking to Reed about Tucker and asks, "Did you find him attractive?" only to have the camera then reveal that he's now talking to Sato, though I choose to believe he also asked Reed, who was supposedly once planned to be the first gay character on Star Trek.)

There's a kind of painful irony watching Archer and his crew stick their necks out for Shran and his daughter when it seems none of them have managed to have children of their own - at least not children who survived. It's as if they've been stagnating personally and professionally as time passed while Shran, who has apparently made some very stupid decisions, also built a life for himself that matters deeply to him. What matters deeply to, say, Mayweather? A week ago we heard him profess to Brooks that maybe he was ready to leave space and settle we find out that he's sat at those same controls for six years, changing very little. If this is the best for the characters that the writers could come up with for the final episode, I'm rather grateful they didn't write all the intervening boredom in which nobody grew or changed or left the ship or nearly died or was wounded enough to force a career change or simply asked to be transferred from engineering to communications just to do something new.

And seeing Riker and Troi just brings that home: At the time of "Pegasus," Deanna was considering what it would mean to have a serious relationship with Worf after considering Riker the great love of her life, and Riker was increasingly asked why he settled for remaining second in command to Picard rather than seeking out his own ship. Archer's Enterprise is returning home to be decommissioned after ten years; we saw far more upheaval on Picard's Enterprise in only six years. We know that ultimately Riker and Troi do come back together, that he gets his own ship, that they get the happy ending Tucker and T'Pol never will. And maybe they were never meant to, but it would have been nice to see them try, you know, instead of to see them in denial and then be told after the fact that it just didn't work out and very little changed otherwise on the NX-01.

I don't think that "These Are the Voyages..." is the stink-bomb of an episode that some of the early reviews have claimed, nor do I think it's the glorious send-off for the Star Trek franchise that some folk at Paramount would like us to believe. It's more an orphan episode of an orphan series that never quite worked out its continuity issues, that never fully embraced its role as a prequel to Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek...that provided several seasons of entertainment and likeable characters, but, had it not borne the Star Trek label (and who can forget that it didn't for two full seasons), would never be classed as the sort of groundbreaking, gutsy science fiction that Next Gen and Deep Space Nine were and that I hope the next incarnation may be.

Note: With the end of Star Trek: Enterprise approaching, this will be one of the final Enterprise reviews by Michelle Erica Green. However, that doesn't mean you'll no longer be able to read Trek reviews here at the Trek Nation, as Michelle will soon embark on a series of Retro Reviews of the original Star Trek series! Check back the week after the airing of the Enterprise finale for an introductory article to her TOS reviews, and then each week from late May onwards for a new review of the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the crew of the NCC-1701!

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.

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