“Precious Cargo” is the thirty-seventh episode (production #211) of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Enterprise airing on the UPN network. It is the eleventh episode of the series’ second season.
In this episode, the Enterprise answers an alien distress call and Commander Tucker (Connor Trinneer) is kidnapped and then escapes with a spoiled and beautiful alien princess Kaitaama (Padma Lakshmi). She is from Krios Prime, which were a race of aliens introduced on Star Trek: The Next Generation (“The Perfect Mate”).
The episode has been compared to the film Star Wars (1977), with the character Kaitaama being compared to Princess Leia. The overall theme of rescuing a princess, flirtatious one liners, and crash landing on an exoplanet like Dagobah.
The episode is noted by technologists for its depiction of the universal translator, one of the “treknologies” real-world experts are interested in realising.
The Retellian’s cargo spacecraft was designed by John Eaves.
Firek Goff, the captain of a Retellian cargo vessel, docks and asks Captain Archer for help; a passenger-carrying stasis pod is malfunctioning. Archer then offers Trip’s services, while also extending an offer of Enterprise hospitality to both the captain and his brother, Plinn. When Tucker enters the cargo hold inside Goff’s ship, he notices a beautiful female alien beneath the stasis canopy. Goff tells him that she is a passenger travelling home from a planet where she was studying medicine. He explains that because his ship can’t travel over warp 2.2, she has to be kept in stasis because there is not enough food to support them all.
As Tucker starts working on the stasis pod, it begins to fail, and fearing that the occupant will suffocate, he releases her. Tucker is then knocked unconscious by Goff, who then flees from the faster Enterprise by disabling her engines and ionising its warp trail, but Plinn is left behind. The female passenger, Kaitaama, is initially hostile. However, Tucker uses the translator Ensign Sato left with him, and he learns she is a high-ranking soon-to-be First Monarch being held for ransom. Tucker has a plan for escape, and though she believes that her status will keep her safe, she joins Tucker in a one-man escape pod.
Meanwhile, Archer and Sub-Commander T’Pol use a ruse similar to “good cop/bad cop” to persuade Plinn to tell them how to locate Goff’s ship. The plan works and Plinn reveals the warp core’s signature frequency. After finding an island on the planet, Tucker and Kaitaama soon set up camp in a swamp, and their mutual antipathy eventually gives way to burgeoning sexual tension. But Goff soon locates them using the homing beacon on the escape pod. Tucker and Goff fight until the latter is subdued by Kaitaama, just as an Enterprise rescue team also arrives. Kaitaama is later collected by a battle cruiser from her home world of Krios Prime, leaving an invitation for Tucker to visit her in the future when she is in power.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): David Livingston.
- Writer(s): Rick Berman and Brannon Braga.
- Release Date: 11 December 2002.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.