Into Blackness, week 1: Travis Mayweather

Welcome to Black History Month at Women At Warp! Through three layers of content – blog posts, a podcast episode, and a livestreamed panel – I intend to celebrate the nuances of the Black experience within Trek, as well as Trek‘s impact on Black viewers.  This post is the first installment of a month-long celebration of Starfleet officers and the adjacent personnel who are members of the Cosmic African Diaspora. These officers are curated in chronological order in an attempt to illustrate how their contributions have influenced humanity’s presence in the galaxy.

First thing’s first: I’d like to establish that we had to wait until season 2, episode 20 of Star Trek: Enterprise to get a Mayweather episode. That’s 46 episodes before we were granted access into the NX era’s first pilot. I only mention this because I initially intended for this to be an uplifting recollection of his works, but instead I feel obligated to note that the character’s contributions were widely overlooked with skills that were mostly underutilized. In previous presentations of this parent panel (presented at events like Mission NY), I have glossed over Ensign Mayweather to allot for time for the remaining main characters of Cosmic African Descent. I’ve always considered this to be a shortcoming. To kick off our month-long celebration of Star Trek: Into Blackness, I now seek to rectify the lack of respect for everyone’s favorite SpaceBoomer.

Born in 2126, Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery) was part of the first generation of humans born in space. By the time Enterprise aired, most of us in the fandom had already acclimated ourselves with the concept of having a family on a starship. But if we consider the NX era in which the pilot was born, it can be a bit staggering to realize just how much of a pioneer Mayweather truly was.

NX ships like Enterprise did not have the creature comfort technology we’ve become accustomed to seeing from the Star Trek universe. Those ships were pre-shield emitter arrays and tractor beams, with tight quarters and questionable transporters. Inertial dampening technology was probably in its early stages, so who knows how smooth those jumps to warp must have been. The most distinguishable fact about the NX era, is how unfamiliar humanity was with it’s cosmic environment. I’m reminded specifically about navigating through the Delphic Expanse, and countless other astronomical anomalies that may seem boring to us when we take Enterprise out of chronological context. Mayweather was quite literally piloting where no one had gone before.

In “Horizon,” we (finally) catch a glimpse of Mayweather’s personal life when he returns home upon the news of his father’s passing. We get the hint of the familial atmosphere of the ship he grew up on, and the relationships he maintained with his family’s crew. His Starfleet education came in handy during a crisis and we even got a chance to see those Starfleet conflict resolution skills during some tense moments. I’d like to note that when he considered quitting to return to his family’s ship, it was his mother/chief medical officer/head engineer, Rianna Mayweather (Joan Pringle) that put things into perspective for him.

Travis Mayweather was the Helm Officer of the first warp 5-capable vessel. She implored him to realize that, family dynamics aside, he represented a level of achievement that would resonate throughout the echoes of history. Not many of us have the privilege of being the first of anything, let alone something as impactful as Mayweather’s contribution to Star Trek history.

With this unique perspective, we could have seen episodes focusing on the character helping the ship through patches of space where artificial gravity meant nothing, or literally anything besides getting hurt every time he stepped off the ship. If Travis had spent his childhood bouncing from planet to moon to starbase as a child, shouldn’t Archer have come to him for advice for the rough patches of space?

Because Mayweather was the only member of the Cosmic African Diaspora on Enterprise’s main crew, he will be included in Star Trek: Into Blackness which will be presented later this month. What were your favorite Travis moments?

  2 comments for “Into Blackness, week 1: Travis Mayweather

  1. Reading this reminded me how little we really get to see of Travis Mayweather in ENT. I wish we could have seen more or heard more about Mayweather growing up in space. It strikes me that he might be one of the few Star Trek characters who grew up in space rather than on a planet and this seems like a very interesting backstory.

    Look forward to reading the rest of these blog posts 🙂

  2. Anthony like Linda suffered from being part of the age old Trek problem to large a cast. As an actor he lacked range and was stuck in nice guy formula.

    When I think of Pilots I go Sulu/Data and the new guy in Picard. Tom Paris had an arc.

    There was the potential for Trip/Travis to have tension between them given one had to provide for the other.

    One of the reasons Enterprise failed is it did not mess enough with the formula. I would have made Trip like Burnham the lead and the Captain more of a politically correct ambassador controlled by T’Pol. Travis could then have shown his ingenuity and skill set and improvisational skills verse the steady as you go by the book of the Captain. Similarly with Hoshi. There could have been constant tension between the Captain/T”POL and the rest of the crew.

    Malcolm should have come on board with the Maco’s and enabled Travis/Trip to form a bond.

    The episode with the back story felt lost in the overall narrative and tokenism.

    What works on Discovery is when they challenge the formula.

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