This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
back to Character Insight! This week, we profile Private W. Woods, a recurring character in Enterprise.
("Just a regular grunt in the crowd, so to speak")
Private Woods is assigned as one of the MACO, or military assault command operations officers aboard the Enterprise during the Delphic Expanse mission. As a military attache, he is often seen guarding various personnel and ship assets, as well as leading security on various away missions.
It is these trips off the ship where Woods makes some of his biggest impact. He is one of three MACO's chosen by Lieutenant Reed to join him on the assault of the Xindi weapon. Woods was one of the lucky few who survived this type of encounter. He also plays an important role during a firefight with a Skagaran colony of humans who mistake their own kind trying to make "first contact" with covert Skagaran operatives. Despite having few speaking lines in 21 appearances, he is clearly one of the most important military or security members on board the ship, as evidenced by his numerous appearances on the most dangerous missions.
Despite being referred to as Private Woods on various occasions, one of the jumpsuits this character wore had a name tag N. Meyers, which is clearly incorrect. Of course, that's what happens when background characters are not critical to the stories being told, other than to stand in when the security is needed.
Unlike the general tendency to have redshirts or security detail officers killed off frequently in The Original Series, Enterprise does a better job of having some key background players in the MACO's show up time and time again in these roles. Although space exploration is clearly dangerous, this appears to be more realistic than the constant redshirt deaths depicted in the later timeline of TOS. Private Woods, despite an unfortunate name, is one of the better developed truly background characters in Star Trek history, which is a type of background character which will hopefully be used again when Trek comes back to the television.
Woods was played by Ricky Lomax, who was hired just as a background actor. However, he brings real-life military experience and credibility to the role having served for three years as a Bradley tank operator in the U.S. Army. He also has appeared in the movies Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Clueless along with a number of commercials for IBM, Miller Brewing Company, and Pepsi.
Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...