Portrait of a Character – Charles Tucker III
Charles Tucker III was almost a writers’ football during Enterprise.
Why the heck would I want to talk about a Star Trek: Enterprise canon character? After all, doesn’t Memory Alpha do a better job? For canon, yes. No argument here.
But what I am talking about is my own fanfiction. So I’ve got a different take on him.
Tripp/Trip – What?
First off, I spell it as Tripp, with two P’s. Why? I knew a guy who was a third, and that’s how he spelled it. To me, one P just looks off. And I am well aware that readers may see the two P’s as being off. So be it. I recognize that this is me being quirky and stubborn, and certainly breaching canon. That cannot be any more than the people who, let’s see, make Tucker gay, make him bi or make him essentially a superhero. Not to mention the folks who insist that he didn’t die in These Are the Voyages.
It’s just a letter, folks.
Marrying Canon to Fanfiction
The writers did a lot to Tripp throughout the course of the show’s four seasons. He got pregnant, he had a relationship with First Officer T’Pol (a Vulcan), he was cloned, he rescued a princess, he lost his sister in the Xindi attack and he met his end, too. In all honesty, I had seen so much of him on screen that I was a bit sick of him when writing my own fiction. He was a major character on the show, but television shows are of a finite size. Therefore, the more screen time for him, the less for other characters.
For me, obliquely referencing him and his exploits often did the trick. In The Reptile Speaks, he’s mentioned in a teenager’s film about sex, as an example of unconventional relations. For the two teenagers talking about him, he’s a source of some amusement.
In Razor, he’s barely referenced, although his identity should be clear to the reader.
A Regular Guy
For me, one of the fun things about writing him is playing on his being, essentially, a regular Joe. In Letters from Home, a riff on the mail distribution scene in the film Stalag 17, he gets a lot of correspondence, but it’s not necessarily of the welcome kind.
A Romantic Guy
Well, maybe not always heroically romantic. In Intolerance, he eagerly participates in the competition to woo the female medical students, and comments quite a bit on the woman he’s originally assigned to, Pamela Hudson.
Then in the E2 stories, I cover his relationship with T’Pol, including the cultural differences between them. For example, what Tripp sees as a symbol of commitment, T’Pol sees as a religious article – and not of her faith.
A Working Stiff
In Reversal, it is he who does most of the heavy calculations necessary, and he ends up risking his life in order to perform a rescue.
In Temper, he gives his all in service to the Federation, in what feels very much like a lost cause.
Not every character has a theme, but Tripp does, in Together. The song is Matthew Sweet’s Sick of Myself. I particularly wanted this song for the line, “When I look at you, something is beautiful and true.” That story also has couples’ songs. His (with his partner) is Joe Jackson’s Kinda Kute. I wanted that one for its opening lyric, “You make a guy feel humble.”
The Mirror Universe
At the end of the second canon MU ENT episode, Tripp is about the only one of the main characters who is likely to survive to see another day. Severely scarred, bitter and angry, he epitomizes the skewed life led there.
I have written the MU Tripp as being just as angry, but it’s later, so he’s sicker, and realizes he’s dying. He becomes gentler than he normally would be, and seeks solace with an old girlfriend, Beth Cutler, who accepts him for who he is. In Reversal, the MU Tripp has a lot at stake, and plays off people against each other in an effort to save himself. It is, ultimately, his wish to save others that redeems him, in a way.
In Temper, the MU Tripp again shows a small degree of selflessness, and by doing so he helps to undo the lost cause which threatens the Prime Universe. As I write the MU, everyone is keenly aware of what they owe others, and Tripp is no exception. Since he owes Doug something, he recognizes the debt, and repays it.
In Fortune, the MU Tripp has come full circle but is still a bit wary about strangers. Fortune tells of a dynasty, which shows a major divergence between his fate and that of the Prime Universe Tripp.
In the Prime Universe, his death is canon, so I don’t mess with that. Characters mourn and remember him, and there’s even a charitable foundation named for him, mentioned in Fortune.
“But we’re here to explore and to, to take risks. And I don’t think this is a foolish one.”
I enjoy the character but, as above, I think he was overused, often to the detriment of other characters. But he’s more than just engineering, an accent and a romance. In many ways, his observations are our observations, as an audience and, I hope, as readers.
Tucker is, as in canon, portrayed by actor Connor Trinneer.