Recalling Travis Mayweather
It’s kind of a strange thing, to be a ship’s captain. When thinking of the word “captain,” I visualize the commanding officer piloting the ship. However, the captain actually relies heavily on each member of the crew, individually. One of the most important members of that crew is the helmsman. The helmsman of the NX-01 Enterprise was Travis Mayweather, played on screen by Anthony Montgomery.
Travis was the youngest member of the crew and was often the brunt of well-meaning “space boomer” jokes by his fellow crewmen. We’re first introduced to him, along with the rest of our crew, in Star Trek: Enterprise‘s first episode, “Broken Bow”. He immediately struck me with his bright smile. It seemed like he was totally ready for whatever he might find out in space, eager to experience extraordinarily fast spaceflight, and was prepared to take his captain and the crew wherever they might need to go. So eager was he that he seemed pretty interested in the transporter technology they were using to beam up armory supplies at the start of the episode.
At the beginning of the second season installment “Horizon”, young Ensign Mayweather asks Captain Archer for some time with his family, since the Horizon and Enterprise are soon to cross paths. His father’s been ill, and he’d like to see him, a request Archer approves. During this interaction in the captain’s ready room, I feel we are once again reminded of Travis’ youth, and the nature of what it’s like to serve in Starfleet.
Unfortunately, before Travis leaves Enterprise, we find out that the civilian message channels fell behind, and his father has passed away. In a rather poignant scene that takes place in the “sweet spot” from “Broken Bow”, we see how much Travis relies on the guidance of Captain Archer, who evidently cares for Travis. His father strongly recommended him directly to Archer when he was looking for a helm officer. Once Archer tells him this, Travis starts to feel better about the situation. He left his family to serve in Starfleet, and his brother Paul consequently holds resentment for him. By joining Starfleet, Travis never wanted to abandon or upset anyone; he just wanted to fly.
Aboard the Horizon, Travis makes a few upgrades on his family’s rickety old ship, which bothers his brother Paul. Once Travis is back in his old quarters, he bonds with an old friend of his, giving her a hug. They are chatting about how the Horizon recently lost its captain when, suddenly, the ship comes under attack. Jumping to one of the consoles on the bridge, Travis tries to help as much as his brother will let him. Although Paul wants to simply give the attackers what they want, Travis tries to tell him that – if they surrender their cargo – they’ll only be encouraging more attacks to other cargo ships.
Travis’ conflict with his brother worsens, and he begins to wonder if he ought to request an extended leave to come back and help Paul. However, their mother, Rianna, renews in Travis a sense of hope that I feel each time I see him on screen, expressing that she and everyone else aboard the Horizon, including his bother, are proud of him.
When the alien attackers come back and demand not just the cargo but the ship too, Travis is instrumental in defending the Horizon, as Paul decisively commands the vessel. That truly gave me pause, but it’s what Travis Mayweather represents. He exemplifies a deep-seated hope that’s so much bigger than Starfleet. It’s bigger than him. It expanded to include his brother Paul. Travis learns to not only settle his differences with his brother but also deal with the guilt he felt about leaving the Horizon to enter Starfleet. And at the end of the episode, we’re treated to his hopeful gleam of a smile once more.
The fourth season episode “Demons” is another key installment that gives an insight into understanding Travis Mayweather. In it, he meets up with an old reporter friend of his, Gannet, at a series of peace talks. All but begging for another chance to talk with Travis and interview him, she appeals to him like an old flame, saying, “If we wait another four years, we’ll have too much catching up to do.” They become very close onboard Enterprise, sharing some some intimate moments together. Travis also gives her a full-access tour of the ship, excitedly telling Gannet about all the ship’s recent adventures.
Unfortunately, when Archer comes knocking at Travis’ quarters with Reed and his security officers, we find out that Gannet purportedly isn’t who she claimed to be. She’s apparently a spy for Terra Prime. I can’t imagine the shock Travis must have felt! He didn’t want to believe it at first, having advocated for Gannet, against his own captain. Travis need not have worried in this case; in the next episode (“Terra Prime”), Gannet is vindicated of the accusations against her and turns out to be an operative for Starfleet Intelligence.
But what I appreciate about Travis is that he’s so hopeful. He gives everyone the benefit of the doubt until they show who they truly are. Travis Mayweather is the essence of a Starfleet officer.