2:24 - First Flight
TV Blurb: During a shuttle mission, Archer thinks about an old friend from the NX testing days. Written by John Shiban & Chris Black. Directed by LeVar Burton.
Another flashback episode, and you already know how I feel about those.
Archer gets bad news about a colleague, A.G. Robinson (Keith Carradine), as preparations are made to search for a dark matter nebula. T'Pol tags along to get him to talk about what he's feeling. Which seems a strange thing for a Vulcan to do, act as a counselor.
We get a lot of information about what Starfleet was like before Enterprise was launched. Archer meets Trip apparently for the first time. We meet Ruby, waitress at the 602 Club, that Trip and Malcolm had reminisced over in "Shuttlepod One". And we learn a little bit about A.G. Robinson, whom we'd never seen before, and never will again.
We also learn the Vulcans were quite right in thinking humans weren't yet ready to venture into space. Starfleet officers apparently were in the habit of disobeying orders, letting test vehicles explode rather than abort a mission, getting into fist fights at the local bars, and performing unauthorized vehicle tests.
There are standard performances, though Robinson doesn't really seem that likeable, but the same criticism has been leveled at Archer by people, so maybe they deserve each other. T'Pol seems unusually concerned about how Archer takes the news of his friend's fate. There are some subtle reactions from Jolene Blalock that makes me wonder if T'Pol was perhaps secretly in love with Archer.
The story is meant to be a tribute to America's (not Earth's) space program, and perhaps to the Wright brothers. Three "Sailor of the Year" honorees from the real USS Enterprise
, aircraft carrier CVN-65, make cameo appearances as extras.
Basically, this is Top Gun with two middle-aged guys. Or, The Wrong Stuff.