The Cynics Corner


"Fortunate Son"

by David E. Sluss

28 November 2001

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: Despite some useful background information, I found the execution to be rather predictable and pedestrian. I'm sure some people thought it was interesting to focus on another crew when so many of the regulars are lacking development, but -- It ain't me!


DECK-STACKING OF THE WEEK: There isn’t really a whole lot to analyze here. This episode had some potential in exploring the Boomers’ existence and how it is affected by Starfleet’s increasing presence in space, but as is often the case, the writers put a thumb on the scale. Mayweather’s perfectly reasonable argument about leaving the Boomers to handle problems their own way is brushed aside by some sweet talk from Archer (in a scene very different from the way it was edited in the Voyager-ish preview). And the issues are made moot by the fact that Ryan is an A-One Nut Job, portrayed as sadistic and irrational. He of course becomes rational enough to cave in to Mayweather’s speech though, when the time comes, as the light dawns that 23 fewer Boomers is not a good thing. I think this story would have been a lot more interesting if someone other than a stock character has been used as the antagonist, someone like the Fortunate’s captain, featured in a great scene with Archer at the end of the show.

TECHNOLOGICAL ANOMALIES OF THE WEEK: Alright, so there’s a little static, and subspace relays have to be placed here and there, but I don’t buy instantaneous subspace communication at this point in Starfleet’s history. Previous episodes, such as “Breaking the Ice” and an earlier episode (which I can’t name) in which Archer had received a message from Admiral Forest, suggested that only delayed messages were possible, and I think that makes sense. In other areas, Enterprise’s technology seems to have regressed. The torpedoes were useless, less effective even than the Fortunate’s raygun which the Enterprise crew had disparaged earlier.

ALIEN ANOMALIES OF THE WEEK: The retroactive insertion of the Nausicaans, a truly minor race introduced in The Next Generation, into early Star Trek history strikes me as suspect. I can’t point to anything that specifically contradicts it, but since they’re within a hundred light years of Earth, you’d think someone would have noticed in the Original Series. The fact that their level of technology appears to be higher than humans’ is interesting, as is the fact that they can speak complete sentences, although I suppose “Play Domjot!” technically qualifies as a sentence. The big question, of course, is “Why Nausicaans?” The usual suspects (lots of prosthetics lying around the Paramount lot, an executive producer with a fetish for the race, etc.) don’t play. It seems to me that human pirates, or perhaps a group such as the Orion Syndicate, which was around as far back as Kirk’s day, would make more sense, and be cheaper to portray. Oh, well.

LINGUISTIC ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: I’ll accept that Archer can communicate with the Nausicaans via Universal Translator, but is the technology ubiquitous enough that it would be aboard freighters? If not, are we to assume that Ryan’s hostage was speaking English during the interrogation?

STARFLEET UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: If this series is laying the groundwork for the future of Starfleet, then it’s easy explain all the foul-ups we’ve seen in later centuries. Since Starfleet is presumably one of the customers for the dilithium ore the freighters are carrying, shouldn’t they at least be aware of the Nausicaan campaign of harassment and theft? If so, no one seems to have briefed Archer, who apparently had never even heard of Nausicaans.

Previous: "Civilization"
Next: "Cold Front"
NEXT WEEK: The Temporal Cold War is not looking so cold.



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This review is copyright 2001 David E. Sluss
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