With a new year upon us, I decided the least I could resolve for 2019 was to try and finally finish Enterprise. I’ve seen almost all of Season 1 plus a smattering of episodes from the other seasons, but it’s time to fill in the gaps, starting with “Minefield.” If “Shuttlepod One” wasn’t enough, get ready for some more crisis-induced male bonding! Apparently that is the only way to crack Reed’s stiff, British exterior.
We get a reminder of Reed’s personality in the first scene, when he is invited to breakfast with the Captain and it all goes rather awkwardly as he evades Archer’s attempts at small talk. Luckily they’re interrupted by news that Enterprise has detected a planet, decides to go say hi, but runs into a cloaked mine that blasts a hole in the side of the saucer. But even worse may be a second mine that’s attached to the hull, still unexploded. Reed goes out to try to defuse it.
Reed on the hull is most of the episode. The tension is raised significantly when the mine decides to attach itself even more to the hull – by shooting a spike through Reed’s thigh. Archer decides to go out and have Reed walk him through defusing the bomb, hopefully saving both the ship and his crewman. Next, the Romulans show up and demand that Enterprise immediately detach their hull plating around the mine and begone.
They only know that it’s the Romulans because Hoshi pushes through the results of a pretty bad concussion and insists on translating their message, even if she can’t actually make it to the bridge.
As Star Trek has pointed out in multiple instances, when you are injured, martyring yourself by running back to work instead of taking time to get better is not always a good thing, but it’s often portrayed as heroic (see Rachel Garrett in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and Janeway in too many episodes to name). At any rate, this is a strong show of bravery from an officer who’s often struggled with her own fears. My only question is why they couldn’t just relay the message to Sickbay in the first place instead of recording it and having someone bring the logs down there.
T’Pol, who’s competently taken over command, relays the situation to Archer and handles the ship from the bridge. Worth noting that she says the Vulcans have never met the Romulans. True? We shall see.
The purpose of this episode is to develop Archer and Reed, particularly the latter. Amid the bomb-defusing sequences, Archer tries to get Reed to talk about sports, hobbies, books, anything casual, but it only makes Reed more uncomfortable.
REED: If you must know, I was honoured to be asked to sit at your table. I just wasn’t entirely comfortable having a casual meal with my captain. I was trained not to fraternise with superior officers.
ARCHER: Never too late to learn.
REED: Frankly, sir, from my point of view that kind of socialising has no place on a starship.
ARCHER: I had a CO once felt the same way. They’re your crew, not your friends. I thought about that a lot when I took this command, but then I realised this is not your typical mission. We could be out here for years. All we have to depend on is each other.
I like this in theory – I like that Archer says he listens to his senior staff, although there are many examples of him not listening, especially to T’Pol. Maybe there is hope for Archer yet.
In their most significant exchange, Reed tells Archer about his background in the Navy and his fear of drowning. His great-uncle also had aquaphobia but signed up with the submarine service to face his deepest fears. When his submarine ran into a mine, he went down with his ship in order to save his crew. He says he’s ready to sacrifice himself the same way for Enterprise, but Archer won’t hear of it. Reed even disconnects an air hose to try to force Archer to leave him and save the rest of the crew.
Finally Archer comes up with a plan to detach the hull plate, let the mine blow, and ride the shockwave with the protection of a couple of shuttlepod doors. Seems pretty unlikely but for the sake of the story, it works.
Overall I found this episode a little dull. I don’t have a lot of time for Reed and I don’t think we learned much new about his character except for one incident that motivates him. It felt less dynamic than “Shuttlepod One” but at least Reed and Archer didn’t talk about T’Pol’s bum. And it did give an interesting hint of Archer’s attachment to his crewmembers. He seems to want them to all be his friends, but isn’t sure how that works when they don’t share his interests (nice to see this isn’t just true of his relationship to T’Pol). Makes you wonder whether he would pass the Bridge Officers’ test that Troi takes in “Thine Own Self.” Can he order someone like Reed to his death if it’s necessary? Even if he doesn’t need to give the order, how would he react if someone died?
One final note – it was disappointing that we never got to actually see any Romulans in this episode, just their ship in the distance. Maybe it could’ve made the various plot McGuffins less McGuffin-y to have a face negotiating with T’Pol.
Bechdel-Wallace Test: Pass. T’Pol asks Hoshi a question about alien communications and Hoshi answers.