(written from a Production point of view)
After Enterprise rescues a pair of aliens with a mysterious cargo, Trip finds himself in a major predicament after he accidentally opens the cargo.
Trip Tucker enjoys his off-duty time playing the harmonica in his quarters when he notices the Enterprise dropping out of warp. Looking out his window, he can see an alien ship approaching from the aft when Captain Archer calls in to ask if he'd like to help with some repair work; they've stopped to answer a distress call.
The ship is a Retellian freighter and is experiencing problems with its life support systems. Tucker meets up with Archer and T'Pol at a docking port. Two crewmen from the ship are welcomed aboard Enterprise and explain that they have been hired to return a young woman back to her homeworld but a few days ago her stasis pod began to malfunction. Their ship is a small freighter, however, not designed or equipped for more than two people; they still have a long journey ahead of them (at warp 2) and if she wakes up, there won't be enough food or air. They gladly accept all the assistance Archer offers them and are grateful for Tucker to take a look. One of the aliens, Firek Goff, also makes a request for a bath, and Archer agrees, adding a meal prepared by the chef.
The other alien, Firek Plinn, guides Tucker to the pod, which appears to be "creatively" powered by some old Ardanan power cells. Tucker suggests EPS conduits and goes to examine the pod, asking for Hoshi Sato to come aboard to translate and to get some tools. The alien agrees, happy for the help. Tucker is slightly struck by the female. Meanwhile, on the Enterprise, Goff meets with Archer, and thinks him for his hospitality. When Archer offers to help them get to their destination in just a few days, however, he politely declines the offer, insisting that they are on a schedule and that the family is not even expecting her on her home world for another five months.
However, trouble occurs when the passenger awakens following another malfunction while Tucker is working. It becomes obvious that she is not there of her own will: she is kicking and screaming in the pod that she is being held in, demanding to be let out. At dinner with the captain and T'Pol, the aliens receive an alert, and Goff goes to investigate, trying to not arouse suspicion. He finds Tucker trying to help her out of the pod, but, as he helps her up, Goff knocks him out. He calls for the other alien, who politely leaves dinner as well to address a "minor problem." When he leaves, Archer calls Tucker, but he doesn't respond, prompting him to have Malcolm Reed escort Plinn back to his ship. Goff goes to the docking port, sees Plinn being escorted, and starts firing. He leaves his partner behind and undocks his ship, breaking the docking clamps as he does so.
The Enterprise pursues him at warp 2, taking him out of warp. The freighter manages to release a dilithium hydroxyl cloud that disables Enterprise's warp drive temporarily. They will have to purge their plasma vents.
On the freighter, the outraged passenger picks up a weapon and beats Tucker with it, yelling in an alien language. Tucker slowly tries to signal he's not one of the captors. He signals he will untie her, though as he comes in, Goff bursts in and demands he fix the stasis pod. Tucker says it will be awhile, and Goff accepts it, leaving the room. Tucker then unties her and tries to gesture for the universal translator, since it must be nearby. He finds it and points it at her, gesturing for her to talk. She does so, and eventually they can communicate. She explains to Tucker that she is a prisoner and that she was attacked on her way back from a diplomatic mission. She is surprised that Tucker doesn't know her, for her family is apparently known on hundreds of worlds. She is Kaitaama, to be the First Monarch of the Sovereign Dynasty of Krios Prime. She is sure that she has been kidnapped by the Retellians for a ransom – so she suggests just waiting until the ransom is paid and they are returned safely. Tucker, however, doesn't want to sit around and wait, so he suggests trying to escape the cargo vessel using an escape pod he saw earlier. She protests, stating that it is too dangerous, but Tucker tells her that he is not one of her subjects and that he will try to get out regardless of what she says.
Back on the Enterprise, Archer and T'Pol interrogate Plinn. Plinn insists he's a victim, too, and that he doesn't have much information about Goff's plans. Archer asks for their warp frequency to more easily locate the ship, but he insists he doesn't know much about it. Archer orders him kept in the airlock under guard.
Tucker works on opening a way into the ship's cargo bay, trying to convince Kaitaama to come along. She berates him and is confident they will not harm her due to her value. Tucker is convinced they'll kill him once the stasis pod is fixed, and says to her that hostage situations rarely turn out as expected. He successfully opens the door to the crawlspace and makes a final plea for her to come with him. When he promises to disable internal sensors so that the ship won't be able to detect the escape pod, she finally agrees to come with him. They find that the escape pod is only large enough for one person, but they have to cram in. Kaitaama however has difficulty getting into the escape pod, so she rips her dress to be less confining and enters, all in the eyes of a disbelieving Tucker as he makes his way inside. He jettisons the pod and they cross the subspace threshold successfully.
Tucker is now without a plan, which surprises Kaitaama, but he is able to find a star system ninety million kilometers away. Forced, she agrees to head there.
Crammed inside a tiny space, they irritate each other immensely as Tucker tries to figure out the pod and Kaitaama berates him for touching a First Monarch and not knowing what he's doing. Tucker tries to tolerate her and states they will have a day to try to find a way to get along for the long ride.
Plinn is brought to a dimly-lit room (the mess hall, minus most of the furnishings) on Enterprise, the captain awaiting him. Archer starts by mentioning Plinn's tribunal which he says will take place in the room. He says T'Pol is assigned to be an impartial judicial administrator to his case, having already reviewed the evidence. He states several charges for which he will be judged – and an example of the kinds of the harsh punishments T'Pol has brought before. Plinn objects that they don't have jurisdiction over him and that he wasn't responsible for the crimes, but Archer simply says he's not the one Plinn must convince. T'Pol enters, pretending to be the harsh judge and asks if he knows the accusations – and if his culture has death rituals. Plinn demands his government be contacted, but T'Pol states she has complete autonomy and doesn't feel the need. She leaves, leaving Plinn under a lot of pressure. Archer is playing "good cop" and offers him leniency versus T'Pol in exchange for some information.
In the escape pod, the two find some nourishment in a compartment. Tucker makes some conversation and the two manage to tolerate each other until they can land on a habitable planet. Tucker still can't figure out the sensor for life signs, but can see that it has a breathable atmosphere. Tucker finds a few islands, and Kaitaama permits the landing. It's a bumpy descent, but fortunately the pod makes it. They end up in a hot, humid, swampy area, not very hospitable.
Kaitaama and Tucker explore the area to set up camp and focus on survival, though they continue irritating each other. Kaitaama insists on treating Tucker's wound, as she is now dependent on him. She is also sent to get dry wood, but can't find much, prompting a comment by Tucker. She refuses to do the manual work, leaving it to the one "more suited" but Tucker won't have it, and demands that she gets more wood stating that since she is dependent on him, he's the one in charge. Fed up, Kaitaama stands nose to nose to the commander telling him that him speaking to her in such a manner would get him imprisoned, but Tucker counters that since he saved her life, he should get a medal because without him, she would be dead, which Kaitaama says that would be preferable; which draws a response from Tucker saying that the commoners wouldn't complain if she were dead. Finally having enough of his insults, she proceeds to strike Tucker but he blocks her and both of them tumble into the water nearby, where they end up kissing and become physically intimate with one another.
Later, they wake up, and Tucker hears the sound of the escape pod's subspace beacon, which indicates it's been traced. Tucker smashes it into silence, since it probably is Goff. Indeed, he lands on the planet in pursuit of the two. They set a trap for him, with a decoy Tucker that Goff shoots, only for Tucker to jump from above and fight him. Goff bests him, but Kaitaama knocks him out with a stick from behind. As they look for his weapon, fortunately, Archer, T'Pol, and Reed arrive to rescue them.
- "Captain's starlog, September 12, 2152. We've rendezvoused with a Krios battle cruiser which has taken the kidnappers into custody."
Back on the Enterprise, Tucker accompanies Kaitaama to the battle cruiser that is to take her home. He jokes that he doubts that from what she told him, her family would allow her to see him if he were to ever visit Krios Prime. But she states that once she has been made First Monarch, she will have the authority to change the rules and asks him to come visit her to find out.
- "Captain's starlog, September 12, 2152. We've rendezvoused with a Krios battle cruiser, which has taken the kidnappers into custody."
"Take him back to docking port 2. Put him in the airlock and post a security detail."
"I'm telling you the truth!"
"We'll keep the outer hatch unlocked. If you decide to leave, you know the way out."
- - Archer, at the end of an unfruitful interrogation of Plinn
"My family is known on hundreds of worlds."
"Well, I'm afraid Earth isn't one of 'em."
- - Kaitaama and Tucker
"I am first monarch of the sovereign dynasty of Krios Prime."
"Oh… Charles Tucker III. Pleased to meet you."
- - Kaitaama and Tucker introduce themselves to each other
"You are not to leave this chamber!"
"With all due respect, I'm not one of your subjects."
- - Kaitaama and Tucker
"Is your entire species so ill-mannered?"
"No… just me."
- - Kaitaama and Charles Tucker
"This'd be a whole lot easier if you'd stop moving around."
"You're touching me!"
"I'm afraid I don't have much choice."
"It's inappropriate to touch the first monarch!"
"You're welcome to step outside until I'm done."
- - Tucker and Kaitaama while in the extremely cramped Retellian escape pod
"You know, you were a lot more pleasant in stasis."
- - Tucker, to Kaitaama
"Is it edible?"
"Well, depends how hungry you are."
- - Kaitaama and Charles Tucker, on the escape pod emergency rations
"Well, we started out with 83 crewmen on board. We're down to 76."
- - Archer about T'Pol's supposed strictness about unbecoming conduct for an officer
"How much do you weigh?"
"1.8 meters. Why are you asking these questions?"
"Does your culture observe any postmortem rituals?"
"This is not fair! I demand to speak with someone from my government!"
- - T'Pol pretending to be Plinn's judge and executioner
"You'd be dead if it weren't for me!"
"I'm beginning to think that would be preferable!"
"I doubt the commoners back home would complain!"
- - Tucker and Kaitaama arguing
"Trip? This a bad time?"
- - Archer, upon finding a scantily clad Tucker and Kaitaama
Story and script
- This was the first Star Trek: Enterprise episode on which David A. Goodman worked. He explained, "With 'Precious Cargo' I was new to the staff, I didn't fully understand the rules and I definitely didn't – a lot of my problems with that episode were my fault, in terms of how I approached writing it. You learn as you go […] I definitely had a lot to learn… Even up to that point I had not written for one-hour television which was definitely very different from writing for half-hour. I had a big learning curve, and I learnt a lot." 
- The producers of Star Trek: Enterprise had the idea of including references to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Perfect Mate" in this installment, a concept they proceeded to execute. 
- The first draft script of this episode was submitted on 1 October 2002. The installment's final draft teleplay was issued on 10 October 2002, with revised pages being submitted until 14 October 2002. The archival final draft of the script was submitted on 4 December 2002. That draft of the script contained a couple of errors, such as its pronunciation guide referring to the language spoken by Kaitaama as "Tiburrian" and the captain's log being dated "August 17, 2152" rather than "September 12, 2152".
- Executive Producer Brannon Braga performed a rewrite on the episode, trying to treat it as a screwball comedy but later admitted, "I struggled through it." (ENT Season 2 Blu-ray "Destination: Unknown" special feature) Said David A. Goodman, "To be fair, I was rewritten a lot on 'Precious Cargo'." ("Judgment" podcast/audio commentary)
Cast and characters
- Leland Crooke previously played Gelnon in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes "One Little Ship" and "Honor Among Thieves".
- Scott Klace had previously played Dremk in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Juggernaut".
- This episode was filmed between 11 and 22 October 2002.
- The Ardanan power relay was a reuse of the chrono deflector used by the future Admiral Janeway in VOY: "Endgame". (citation needed • edit)
- The similarities between this episode and TNG: "The Perfect Mate" include the fact that Krios Prime is heavily referenced in both episodes. Both characters central to the plot (Kamala and Kaitaama) were also from that planet.
- T'Pol wears her Vulcan robes during Plinn's "tribunal" for the first time since her introductory scene in ENT: "Broken Bow".
- Tucker's ruse of using his Starfleet uniform as bait for Goff to attack him is similar to what Miles O'Brien did to Vinod in DS9: "Paradise".
- Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley) does not appear in this episode.
Reception and aftermath
- David A. Goodman has repeatedly stated there were two very different forms of this episode, describing both as a "piece of crap." These were, specifically, his original scripted version of the outing and the final edit in its aired format. ("Judgment" podcast/audio commentary; )
- Even from the time of its origins, this episode provoked disappointment from the producers of Star Trek: Enterprise. "They were pretty much ready to fire me," David A. Goodman recalled about their reaction to the episode's script. ("Judgment" podcast/audio commentary) Thinking he himself did not manage to do "a very good job" of rewriting the episode, Brannon Braga even asked Rick Berman if there was a way to not have the episode broadcast. (ENT Season 2 Blu-ray "Destination: Unknown" special feature) Thanks to Braga, Goodman remained on the series, contributing to the writing of some later episodes. ("Judgment" podcast/audio commentary)
- In 2013, Brannon Braga stated that he considers "Precious Cargo" to be one of the worst Star Trek episodes ever. (ENT Season 2 Blu-ray "Destination: Unknown" special feature) Though David A. Goodman did not take full responsibility for the end result of his initial script, he laughed, "I'm very proud of the fact that I've written one of the most hated episodes of Star Trek ever." 
- Among the items from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay were many crowbars. 
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Doctor Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as Sub-Commander T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed
- Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather
- Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III
- Shawn Crowder as stunt double for Connor Trinneer
- Vince Deadrick, Jr. as stunt double for Scott Klace
abductor; access tube; accessory; accused; adverb; advisor; amputation; Ardanan shuttle; automobile; behind; bio-pod; bio-sensor; boiling; butt; cargo pilot; chain of islands; charge; Chatkin Point; Chef; chief engineer; commoner; "conduct unbecoming an officer"; crowbar; courted; dereliction of duty; dilithium hydroxyl; distress call; Earth; EPS conduit; escape pod; Everglades; first contact; First Monarch; girlfriend; Gulf of Mexico; homing beacon; humor; kidnapper; kilometer; Krios Prime; Kriosian; Krios Battlecruiser; Kriosian transport; life support system; logic; meter; methane; mosquitoes; nitrogen; officer; opposite sex; oxygen; oxygen recycler; parking; passenger; phase cannon; prisoner; postmortem ritual; pyrosulfate; rear end; research colony; Retellian; Retellian escape pod; Retellian freighter; Retellian weapon; shoreline; "Sleeping Beauty"; Sovereign Dynasty of Krios Prime; Sovereign Guard; staring; stasis pod; subspace beacon; subspace threshold; suspended animation; swamp; universal translator; unnamed planet; Vulcan High Command; warp frequency; water supply
- "Precious Cargo" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Precious Cargo" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Precious Cargo" at Wikipedia
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