7.06.2018

Star Trek: Voyager (Season Four)


Much has happened since my last Voyager post, some of it terribly sad (RIP, Trey Sterling) and some of it even worse (RIP, Trey Sterling.) I'd like to dedicate this post to the memory of my departed friend, and if his spirit is reading these words: sorry it's not, like a statue, or the Delta Quadrant Tropic Dancers, or something way cooler than some dumbass rankings of Voyager. But I imagine when you make your way through all the Daredevils in Lucien's Library, you'll need something to fill the gap between that and your next project. Hope it gives you a chuckle or two.

The world - and all the quadrants around it - lost a damn good one. Although we only knew each other a handful of years and all of it through the internet, I really loved hearing from him and bs-ing back and forth. He will be missed. By many. 

So say we all.

There really is no kind of segue from that into the below - is there ever? - and perhaps it's the wrong place to append such sentiments in the first place. It makes sense and feels okay to me, though.


"Life is not a support system for art. It's the other way around." 
- Stephen King

~
24.

Voyager comes to a standstill when the computer detects extremely powerful Omega radiation in the vicinity, triggering a super-secret Starfleet protocol that Janeway takes mega-seriously.

I never quite understood what the hell Omega was all about. That could be my problem, but I'm not sure it ever made any sense. More importantly, though: (a) they say it a few thousand times too many, (b) "The Omega 13!" and (c) None of this ever really feels like VOY to me. I don't think they successfully integrated it with the show's strengths.

More nitpicking: the thing that Seven does (giving everyone in her work crew designations) is dumb. And Harry never seems like Harry. 

Season 4 is pretty strong, and even this episode isn't terrible. And while there's more likelihood of finding Seven's childhood ship than finding Dreadnaught or Amelia Earhart, it still felt like a bridge too far. 

23.

On a planet of telepaths, Lieutenant Torres is arrested when a violent thought from her mind causes another man to commit a crime. Investigating the seemingly open and shut case, Tuvok soon finds himself embroiled in a black market of thoughtcrime.

"Wolf in the Fold," anyone? How could I blame anyone in the writer's room for having the same TOS and TNG hang-ups I myself have? Nevertheless, I'll take "Wolf in the Fold". 

Not the greatest performance from Tuvok's ladyfriend. Interesting to watch this in 2018, though, when you actually hear arguments like the one she's making re: hate speech/ thoughtcrime/ exposure to ideas being violence itself. By professors, pundits, politicians, and punters. Not good.

It feels like they were really going for great and never quite gets there. Here's a thought: the episode rests on thoughts vs. impulses and repression/ control, etc. Why not have had Tuvok and Nimira attracted to one another and not acting on it? I like Tuvok's faithfulness to his wife (it's only logical after all) and am glad they never "went there." But for the drama, some unacted upon attraction would have helped, no? There's a subtle undercurrent of it here, but if they'd played it up more, it'd have reflected the murder story more and maybe raised the overall quality some. 




22.

Chakotay is shot down on a planet in the midst of a bloody civil war. Taken in by friendly humanoids, he comes to share their hatred of their beastly-looking enemies. Meanwhile, it is those enemies with whom Voyager makes contact, learning that Chakotay's experiences are not what they appear to be.

For the love of Pete! Stop giving this man a shuttlecraft.
Poor Chakotay; like Kirk, he never met a "LEAVE HER ALONE!" knockout fist he didn't charge into.



Not a huge fan of the visual design for either alien species. Or the particular "speak" they use. But so be it. The twist(s) rehab considerably an otherwise doesn't-quite-gel episode, but something still feels off to me. (I think it's the actors who play the aliens who brainwash Chakotay; they feel like they're Gob's acting-troupe friends, whom he employs to teach a lesson to George Michael and who later join Tobias in his anti-crime street gang.)

21.
 

An alien translator decodes the message from Starfleet Janeway received from the Hirogen relay and leads the crew to an experimental ship which Starfleet has provided for their journey home.

"I've learned to walk the line between hope and caution," Janeway says at one point. That's close enough to the episode title where I wondered if it was intentional. If so... I'm not sure it's so effective. The line would suggest we're going to see some kind of contrast between Janeway's remark and the episode title, as embodied or triggered by Arturus. Does it though? Only vaguely. 

Still, not a bad episode. Good guest performance (Ray Wise delivers no other kind), nice sets on the Daedelus


good dramatic conflict, though a bit tell-don't-show-y at the end. Much of the emotional conflict with Seven was dealt with much better in "One," the episode that aired the week before this (the season finale.)

20.

Janeway and Tuvok work aboard a Borg cube with a Borg spokesperson, Seven of Nine, but the ship is attacked and sacrifices itself to save Voyager to combat Species 8472. Seven is severed from the collective and takes the ship into fluidic space to attack Species 8472.

Another parallel with "Best of Both Worlds" with the Captain out/ First Officer briefly in charge. Upon her return, though, all the drama between Chakotay and Janeway is just silly. It makes no sense at all; it's like they beamed in all this and the human/Borg stuff from a different script.   

A word on Species 8472: there's an attempt to make them into some kind of "ultimate evil" with all the stuff Kes suggests. This doesn't last too long in the show, if memory serves, but I can't recall just how many episodes that actually appear in. I'll be keeping my eye on them. I do remember a friend of mine calling them "Evil Jar-Jars" and that still makes me chuckle, years later.

Poor Harry.

5 days at maximum warp to cover 40 light years? I realize it's not consistent from show to show in the franchise, but is that internally consistent within VOY? It may be for all I know. I hope so - if the show's main conceit is covering an actual distance to get back home, it'd be kind of lame if not.

19.

An alien takes over Tom Paris' body and acts boorishly. When the crew gets suspicious, he takes over Janeway's body instead.

What this one really reminds me of is that Angel episode where Angel and that one guy switch places. Except that one is a lot more fun. This one isn't terrible or anything, just undeveloped. Probably an underrated performance from Dan Butler, as was also the case with Sandra Smith in the more famous Trek-body-swap episode "Turnabout Intruder." (Sadly, Robert Duncan McNeill is no Bill Shatner. But who among us is?)

I love the Doctor's ego. In the best Trek sense, I think it says something ultimately positive about our species that this holographic program thinks so highly of himself.

18.

Chakotay meets a woman who claims that they fell in love weeks before, but he has no memories of the event. Her race, the Ramura, have a technology which wipes the memory of all who encounter them. He falls in love with her anew, while Janeway wrestles with whether or not to grant her request for asylum.

Chakotay and Space Virginia Madsen - hey, good on ya, Chakotay. Later in our countdown we'll run into Tony Todd. The VOY/Candyman crossover no one knew they needed comes one step closer to fruition. (Sadly, this one season of Voyager seems to be the only steps in such a direction.) 

There's a bit of a The Notebook quality here, with the twist the story takes. Chakotay must commit their relationship to pen and paper, which are impervious to the Ramura's memory wipe.
I was touched by this moment at the end between the performers.

The whole thing is rather poetic/ meta for Trek Romance. I liked it. Didn't love it, but I liked it.


17.

The crew have nightmares about the same alien presence. Chakotay must use the spiritual techniques of his people to combat them.

Couple things with this one:

(1) I'm fine with Chakotay having Spock-like visionquest powers, and I'm fine with plots exploiting that. This is a story set in the 24th century, for one, and people have inexplicable visions in dreams across the spectrum of humanity and cultures for two. I thought of Joseph Campbell more than a few times during this episode. The story is there for all of us to hear, even in the Delta Quadrant. Thank Kahliss for Chakotay's "spiritual techniques," as they're called in that Trekcore plot summary up there.



(2) This is another one where I couldn't help projecting other things on it. Particularly A Nightmare on Elm Street - why oh why was this episode not named "Dream Warriors?" You bastard maniacs! - but also TNG's "Schisms" ("Computer, increase ridgeline," etc.), TOS's "Spectre of the Gun," Salem's Lot, and even Cell:


Not the only time I got a strong King vibe in Season 4. More on that in a bit.

As per usual I don't bring this up to suggest the episode is derivative of these things, only that it enhanced my enjoyment to project them upon it. May you find your own way as pleasant.

16.


Seven begins to hallucinate a large bird following her and is driven to steal a shuttle to follow a homing beacon which is activating her Borg implants. Tuvok pursues her, and the two find the Raven, the ship in which Seven's parents traveled to the Delta Quadrant before she was assimilated.

Janeway's Da Vinci thing is cool. Interesting, too, that as she talks of all art can do ("Imagination, creativity, fantasy aren't necessary, Seven. But they're an important part of one's life, because imagination frees the mind. It inspires ideas and solutions, and it can provide a great deal of pleasure. Human progress, the human mind itself, couldn't exist without them.") that Seven experiences another aspect of it: trauma trigger - and breakthrough.


"It's like I'm being driven somehow."

I like Neelix's reaction learning Talaxians were absorbed. (As well as Seven's, i.e. the Borg never bothered assimilating any more. Somewhere in the Collective, there are the Talaxian drones, and they all act like Neelix, but everyone else acts like the Borg. If there's ever a Trek Variety Show - and by Kahliss there should be - this would be a great sketch.)

Is it a stretch finding the vessel whence Seven was procured? I suppose yes and no. I'm going to be honest - as honest as one can be making such a ridiculous statement - it seems like not a stretch by 24th century standards.


15.
 

After a terrible day working with Seven of Nine, fighting with Chakotay, dealing with an duplicitous aliens who steal Voyager's warp core, and trying to reconcile with her Klingon half on the Klingon holiday via a holodeck program, Torres finds herself stranded in space with Tom Paris, running out of oxygen.

I wish they'd given Neelix a different visual. Ethan Phillips deserves to be celebrated, and I have to say the way Neelix fits into things is handled well more often than it's not. I'll have more to say on Neelix a little later.

Why does B'Elanna say "I'm leaving" and attempt to walk by instead of "Computer, end program"? I suppose (as Paris alludes to later) it's to indicate her disturbed state of mind. But come on - conserve energy, jerk. We're only stranded in the Delta Quadrant. 

Some of the suit-shared stuff metaphor gets a little cutesy. Even if this is the breakthrough-ep for Tom and B'Elanna's relationship and even if I enjoy their chemistry onscreen, some of this stuff is just overdone.



Faux-Vorick seems better adjusted in this episode. I guess everyone has moved on from "Blood Fever." Again, this seems to me a valid enough circumstance for the 24th century, but I sense that somewhere, brows in our own furrow in fear and loathing.


14.
 


The Hirogen take over Voyager and force the crew to enact violent scenarios on the holodecks in order to study both the behavior and the technology; crewmembers lose their memories and re-enact scenes from Klingon history and World War II. While Janeway and Seven break out of the World War II scenario and try to stop the Hirogen, Chakotay and Paris lead the Allied forces against the Nazis.

1 part "meh," 1 part "hey okay fine, get it out of your system," and 1 part "whatever else you say, they did a decent job fleshing out the concept, and it's undeniably fun to see the performers in their different roles."



I sometimes wonder about how so many shows that find ways to get the cast in or against Nazi uniforms. It's its own weird little genre. 


I think either the Enterprise one or "The Killing Game" feels the most contrived for the Trekverse.
"Patterns of Force," though equally contrived, fits the TOS template much more than either the VOY or ENT one.
The X-Files one is insane.
Probably the best of them all.

It's a shame this trope doesn't extend to shows like Modern Family or Law and Order: SVU. I mean, why not? Anyway, like all of these entries, "The Killing Game" has its moments. It capitalizes poorly on the Hirogen set-up in "Hunters" and "Prey," but they had more pressing (Nazi) concerns. I'm unsure if they ever revisit the newly-armed-with-holodeck-technology Hirogen. (Had to google it - they do indeed. Looking forward to it.)


13.

The crew receives messages from home via the Hirogen relay system. When the Hirogen stop the download before it can finish, Seven and Tuvok investigate and are captured.

Thoughts on the Hirogen? Better than the Kazon, for sure, but a lot of these warrior/hunter races in Berman-era Trek blend together both visually and conceptually for me. It seems the obvious inspiration for the Hirogen is The Predator, but could just as easily be an unused variant of the Jem'Hadar or a number of other Trek-species. As for this episode/ stretch of episodes, I can kinda see their POV on Voyager's unauthorized use of their relay network.

I enjoyed the crew's various reactions to their first word from home. Some nice emotions playing out over the performers' faces, particularly Harry ("It's from my folks" - aww), Tuvok, and Janeway.





12.

As Seven of Nine becomes increasingly human after the Doctor removes most of her Borg implants, she becomes a danger to herself and others, and the Captain must throw her into the brig. Meanwhile, Kes begins her evolution into her next state of being; there is no brig big enough to hold her.


See you in Season 6, Kes.

Not a bad exit episode of Jennier Lien. Sort of a benevolent Gary Mitchell sort of deal.
That's the extent of my notes for this one, believe it or not. Really like I mentioned in the first one of these VOY rankings, the rankings themselves are the story - this isn't so much a collection of reviews as it is a collection of rankings with some notes and asides. Conversation starters/ jumping-off-points. (If you want real reviews, read the comments. And add your own! On this topic, I am a captive audience.)


11.

Seven of Nine recalls repressed memories of having been assaulted by a member of a race of aliens with whom Voyager has been trading. With a man's life at stake, Tuvok soon realizes that all may not be as it first appeared.

I give this episode something like a solid B. It could have been better, could have been worse, but everyone showed up, and the idea was fleshed out well. What makes it stand out is how controversial it all seems due to the particular socio-political climate of 2018. What would be the reaction be to Tuvok's suggesting, for example, in the face of Seven's #MeToo testimony, "historically, recovered memories have often proven unreliable?"


"Even being accused of violating them is a serious matter. Once they're made, the damage is done."

Or how about the Doctor at the end ("I became a self-righteous advocate. I didn't stop to think for one second that I might be wrong") or the general "wrongly-accused man dies in shoot-out with the police, ironically there to exonerate him" plotline? Would it be seen as continuing a Trek tradition of standing on the side against mob action, or as horribly offensive / reactionary mansplaining? 

I don't know the answer, but it could be that as a result of this - feeling that in 2018 I must choose sides (with the implied threat of and you'd better choose correctly) rather than ponder the episode as the Trek metaphor it was obviously intended to be - I'm esteeming "Retrospect" higher than I would have when it originally aired.


10.

The Hirogen pursue a member of Species 8472 onto Voyager, where Janeway must decide whether to turn the deadly alien over to their mutual enemy or sacrifice it to save her crew.

Tony Todd is quite good in this ep. And as with the Voyager's use of the Hirogen array, I kinda see their POV over Starfleet's, here. But hey. Anyway, of all the Hirogen we see or will see, TT's is the best of them. I was less impressed with Species 8472. No sign of that Michael-Myers-must-kill-life-itself side that Kes described back at the beginning of the season. 

A different more TOS-y Pop Arts-y title might have served this episode better ("If It Bleeds... We Can Kill It!" Or perhaps "If It Leaks A Quantum Signature, We Can Irregulate Its Isonarrative Subroutine!")

9.


Voyager is contacted by an alien hologram, the sole survivor of his ship's complement. When Torres and the Doctor investigate, they realize that the alien matrix isn't quite stable. Not only is it inconsistent, but the hologram is psychotic, a would-be murderer of all organic lifeforms.

Interesting set-up. At heart, here, is the traditional sci-fi exploration (droids, isomorphs, Cylons, Exocomps, water-carrying broomsticks, golems, etc.) of humans creating things to do things for them, and the inevitable insurrection. Here, though, our holographic antagonist is less Spartacus and more Norman Bates. Which lends an interesting dimension to the sci-fi trope just described: Dejaran (the isomporh) is not just rebelling against his creators; he's undergoing the type of school-shooter-meltdown that is the inevitable end of toxic narcissism. (And why should toxic narcissism be reserved for organics?)

From the descriptive text in the transcript: "Torres crawls backwards and activates the isomimetic conduit lying on the floor. She jabs it into Dejaran and it stays there until he finishes decompiling."

Dejaran gets the best lines of the episode: "I exist as pure energy, but you depend on food and water to survive. Frankly, I find it disgusting. Look at you (...) Grinding up bits of plants and animals with your teeth. Secreting saliva to force it down your esophagus into a pit of digestive acids. You can't even stand to think about it yourself. What a repulsive creature you are! Constantly shedding your skin and hair, leaving your oily sweat on everything you touch."

"I spent my entire existence cleaning up after them. When they were busy sleeping or reading, or engaging in their slovenly carnal pleasures."

8.

A species of superior aliens conduct grisly experiments on the crew, making them behave erratically and suffer health problems, and only Seven of Nine has the ability to perceive them.

My notes (as I wrote them): "The They Live episode." "Shaky bridge-cam galore!" and "Close-up on Roxana D: Just a feeling." I'm sure I meant something by each of them, and while I can kinda suss out what that might have been, I wish I'd been a little clearer.

I love angry, sleep-deprived Janeway. (I can relate)

7.
  
The Krenim Imperium, a race with the ability to alter timelines, makes abrupt changes to their slice of the Delta Quadrant that devastate Voyager and push Captain Janeway pushed to the breaking point.
and
While Chakotay and Paris work on the Krenim ship to stop any further temporal incursions, Janeway seeks allies to help rescue her crew and restore the timeline.

The whole calendar-countdown structure of this one is perhaps more fun than the actual plot, which regrettably never quite achieves sensibility. The story has momentum enough to carry the viewer over this lack of sense, but more on that in a second. My favorite moments from "Year of Hell" are the little plot-accoutrements, like what do you do/ how do you react when Sick Bay's gone and the computer's offline, etc. Non-essential but well-chosen.

"This is one year I'd like to forget."

So yeah, this temporal" weapon. I mean, does this make any sense at all? The script both dances around it and examines it in some detail. Or pretends to - I had a million other questions that no one onscreen asked, but okay, let's say they asked and answered them offscreen. Problem is, some of their answers open up questions I didn't even know until they evaded answering them, like why build a weapon to erase an enemy from history when you could just kill them? Annorax and his crew name some of those reasons, but are they convincing? Don't they kind of just say "Nah, not enough, we've got to get this Year of Hell going." But the problems that the "solution" creates are just opportunity cost. Could a society capable of building this thing truly fail to understand this? Of course, its ineffectiveness is the whole point; Annorax must come to see the wisdom of not using the temporal weapon in the first place. Somewhat contrived, though.

Nevertheless, solid performance from Clarence Boddicker either way. (Still... does he get off rather easy, considering the body count?)

But I got kind of stuck on the wtf-ness of the whole scenario. It's a bit like the "Conundrum" problem, which I've mentioned elsewhere in these VOY countdowns. "Conundrum" is a TNG ep I love, so I can, in theory, overlook this stuff. And considering where it lands in my countdown, I'm more than happy to do so here, as well. Sorry for the feint. Really, though, temporal weapon aside, it's a story from the "Let's blow up the ship!" side of the writer's room, dressed up in some different threads.

"The Borg were present at these events," says Seven re: Zefram Cochrane's first warp flight. Good callback to another wonky-time-travel plot. I wish Seven had provided more ironic commentary on Annorax's plan.
"Time's... up!" Nice.

6.

In a desperate search for deuterium, Voyager sends Tom and Harry down to a deadly Demon class planet, where they disappear and then returns... or do they?

A man vs. elements story almost always lands with me. Throw in some intriguing twists and great visuals (which this episode has more than a few of in both categories) and I'm in. Very enjoyable watching, this one. Sentient gasoline, really, is what we're looking at here - and such an intriguing solution (which leads the way to one of the best Trek episodes of all time, as we'll see in Season 5.


Chakotay: You want me to take a shuttle and look for them? 
Janeway: ...
Tom's jokes are mega-lame. It's almost like he's some kind of "banter-bot" Buzz Killington.

5.
  
Neelix dies in a shuttle accident but is revived by Seven of Nine, who uses her nanoprobes to restore his vital signs. But he finds his faith in the afterlife shaken by the experience, and becomes despondent.

Ok, let's get to that problem with Neelix I mentioned before. Beyond the visual, he's just too MUCH of everything. He knows warp (both theory and engineering), the Delta Quadrant, chef, morale officer, emcee, wise man, godfather, supercutesy positivity machine, etc. I don't suggest there aren't people who have all these traits, but they are the sort of exceptional people who are difficult to place in the background of anything. They should've done what they did for everyone in the ensemble and focused on 1 or 2 of those things and let Ethan Philips play within tighter boundaries. 

Having said that and having sidelined Neelix intentionally for the past few seasons, I announce: no longer. Ethan Phillips does great work here. I definitely felt compassion for Neelix and wanted to see his character arc come to a positive end. Haven't we all had these 3 am nights of the soul? Is there ever a 100% assuring conclusion? A thoughtful meditation on perhaps the only real question there is.

And I like the symbolism of the end with Naomi. We don't know, but an inspiring dream is a comfort. To be able to give that dream is a great gift. As is doubt, too. All play across Neelix's face in some scenes. Well done, sir.

I like the general idea here: what if instead of a bright light/ family waiting, there was nothing? No variation of you/ your people's beliefs, just oblivion. And what if you returned, disconnected somehow, from the experience? Sort of a Neelix-Pet-Semetary thing, minus murderous Gage Creed. (I'm sure the Mirror Universe version of this episode has Naomi Wildman playing that part.) More King-Voyager, too, which I am in no way looking for but keeps popping out.


4.

A Hirogen relay station allows Voyager to send the Doctor to the Alpha Quadrant, where he finds himself on an experimental shuttle that has been overtaken by Romulans. Working with that ship's EMH, he tries to defeat the enemy and get a message to Starfleet.

I'm always surprised that I can enjoy an Andy Dick performance given how uniquely awful and obnoxious the man is off-screen. I enjoy him here, though; he and the Doctor play off each other surprisingly well.


If you never saw, heard of, or read about the actor prior to watching him here, you'd never know he had this whole other career as a jackass.

Quite a great episode. I like the subtle introduction of the Hirogen over several episodes, I like the use of the Romulans, and the plot was clever. Fun stuff with the holograms on the bridge, fun twists all around.  Heroic moments from the Doctor here.

Why name it "Message in a Bottle," though? It's kinda/sorta a good fit for the story, but not the best IMO. Mainly - and perhaps this is just me, on account of loving the TNG episode so much - it's too close to "Ship in a Bottle." Which only came out 5 years prior to this episode airing. I guess in retrospect they're two excellent episodes of their respective Trek wheelhouse, so who cares, but it irked me a little. Perhaps not reasonably. 

Folks, reasonable people don't do things like write 100+ blogs of Star Trek. To paraphrase-rather-than-look-up King's On Writing once more, if you take up the task, your days in polite society are pretty much over.



3.

Hundreds of years in the future on a planet in the Delta Quadrant, the Doctor's backup module is recovered by a race which believes he can shed light on Voyager's devastating intervention with their planet's history.

It's tempting to project things on this episode. And very fair to do so. I suggest it's a reasonably neutral and very thoughtful exploration of that 3rd-most human (after love and oblivion) of mysteries: the past. It's not for nothing that that Orwell guy had "He who controls the past controls the future" as a key organizing principle of ruling Oceania in 1984.

What we see here, though, is less 1984 and more 2018, though I want to emphasize this was (obviously) not written as any kind of response to the particular madness of our times. That it comments on them is a testament to the idea's durability in different environments.


I was impressed. Chapeau, Voyager (and to Tim Russ, who directed it. And there is one almost-odd low-angle close-up of Tuvok, where he smirks a little, that made me wonder if the actor had been arguing for this shot for years. Alas, no screencap. Here's the Doctor, though, imprinting himself upon another DQ civilization - good on ya, Schmullus.)

"He had a longing for home."

2.

When aliens steal technology from Voyager, Janeway works with a holographic Leonardo Da Vinci - who has also been stolen, by way of Doc's portable emitter - to find and salvage the computer processor.

Another great one. Love the Da Vinci stuff in general, and what a treat to see John Rhys-Davies with so much to sink his teeth into here in VOY. Excellent use of a presence like him. And great chemistry with Janeway, not just the performers but between the characters.

"Earthquakes... and idiots. Florence be damned."

"James T. Kirk claimed to have met him, though the evidence is inconclusive."

Thanks a lot, Spock. ("Requiem for Methuselah")

I mentioned "Ship in a Bottle" up there. Daniel Davis is still alive, as is John Rhys-Davies. Not too late for a Da Vinci/ Doctor/ Captain Proton/ Moriarty-gets-a-mobile-emitter VOY/TNG big-screen (or even small-screen) crossover adventure, Paramount.


Or Mask Unleashed: The Revenge of Rocky Dennis

A quick question on the whole idea of Holodeck University: if the holodeck can so successfully recreate geniuses of the past, right down to their imperfections to allow for improvisation, does Starfleet have a program constantly running where Mozart, Archimedes, whomever-you-like are just given all the time and resources they need just to see what they come up with? What a fascinating idea. 

Classy episode. And finally:

1.

In order to pass through a dangerous nebula, the entire crew is put into stasis, leaving only Seven of Nine - who is immune to the deleterious effects - to fly the ship.

Here's the episode that got me into Voyager. I think. I know the first episode of the show I ever saw (besides the pilot and maybe half of one or between 1995 and 1999) was "Equinox, pt. 1." (May 26, 1999 - not that the date is burned into my memory, just it was the night it aired, so had to be.) I remember thinking I'd tune in that fall for the conclusion/ s6 premiere, but I didn't. (And I couldn't tell you what I was doing the night it aired.) But "One" is the one that I saw in 2008-ish that made me start getting the discs from Netflix. And that led, eventually, to now.


Cool storie(s are irrelevant) bro.

Undoubtedly the pivotal episode of s4 for Jeri Ryan. If she blew it here, her character might not have had the development she got in s5 - s7. (Alternatively, this might be her high point, although I don't personally think that to be the case.) Could she carry the episode by herself? Could a Seven-centric show carry the rest of the cast or teach us something about them, as well? Could we be moved by or find common cause with a Borg's struggle to be alone? The answer, happily for us, is yes on all counts.

Hard not to project some of that on-set drama on Seven's paranoia, here, particularly the almost-painful bridge scene at the end. Which I took ridiculously personally - I hadn't realized the extent to which I was sympathizing with Seven's struggle with loneliness and friendship until that scene. Her nightmare felt so real to me.



"Now it's just the two of us." Ahh, the irony, from a hologram.

And the understated, haunted last last line - which could be read as her simply making conversation (which began the episode) with Paris, speaking of his claustrophobia - "Perhaps you dislike being alone." We-the-Viewer, who have been on the journey with her in "One", understand the iceberg of emotion almost rising through the surface with that line. Delivered perfectly, directed perfectly. 


A real grand slam, this episode, and great writing all around. Two last things:

- Did Joss Whedon see this and come up with "Out of Gas" for Firefly? Lots of parallels. ("Out of Gas" might be the better of the two, but that's no knock on "One.")

- A bit of a The Shining vibe to some of this episode. A bit more than a bit. (Again - Naomi Wildman should be happy she wasn't "nominated" to be part of the cast.) But along the lines of the above, were the VOY writers inspired by the Overlook Hotel, I wonder?

~
Until next time, friends.

14 comments:

  1. Poor ol' Trey, man. Rough stuff. I knew him (as McMolo knows -- I say this for the benefit of any onlookers) since 2003 or so, and I'm not sure I've fully processed the fact that he's no longer here. Every now and then I get that split-second urge to call him or text or whatever, and then I remember that's not a thing anymore and get kind of irate about it.

    Case in point.

    Trey was a fan of the show "The Expanse" (and even more so of the novels it is based on), and the third season recently wrapped up. I'd been putting off watching the final two episodes (both of which aired the Wednesday between the Fridays that marked Trey's passing and his funeral) because I just kind of didn't want to deal with them. But finally I did and they were great and I immediately was seized by the urge to call Trey and talk to him about them and do that thing where I halfheartedly tried to guess where the story was going from there but with strict instructions to him that he was to answer none of my questions. He never got to see any of this third season, and I'll never get to talk to him about a bit of it, and goddamn if both of those things aren't a rotten shame. The former more so than the latter, of course, but still.

    Since a large portion of my friendship with him was based on ephemera like that -- books, movies, tv shows, etc. -- there are likely to be a lot of moments like that in the years to come. And if Trey can't be here to be a part of it, then by golly, I'd hope it'll continue to sting me. That's as it should be.

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  2. I only sorta skimmed my way through this post, but I'll have plenty to say on it all over the coming weeks as I rewatch my way through it all. Just gotta get unmired from season three! (Which is not to hint that I'm not enjoying the third season; I'm enjoying it fine, there just hasn't been a lot of teevee watchin' getting done around here lately.)

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    1. Looking forward to it as always!

      It's kind of a delayed-reaction co-blogging-up the VOY thing we're doing, split between comments and in-the-posts.

      Had we done the Springsteen blogs this way, those (excellent!) posts would all have 50+ comments apiece. As it should be! (Someone's reading them, per the page counts, but not a whole lot in the way of sign-the-guestbooks.)

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    2. My only theory is that the people reading those Springsteen posts are so impressed by the sheer extent to which we got it right that they feel like they can add nothing.

      It's the only explanation!

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  3. 1. As it turns out, there have been several other “last bows” made in the public sphere. One is by comic book legend/Spider-Man creator Steve Ditko:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/07/obituaries/steve-ditko-dead-spider-man.html

    And the other (perhaps fittingly for a Trek-related blog entry) the passing of Sci Fi’s last angry man:

    http://366weirdmovies.com/rip-harlan-ellison-1934-2018-the-last-dish-of-angry-candy/

    I think it was the combined sign-offs that sort of lit a bit of realization in my head. I believe, BrynM, that you mentioned part of the stuff you liked to do was notice cultural patterns in a structural or structuralist form of some sort. I don’t know if the insight I had was anywhere on the level. All I know is that what occurred to me is that a whole generation is starting to pass, making room for whatever comes next.

    I guess it’s interesting when you realize you catch yourself making mental preparations for such events, i.e. how to handle yourself, how to handle the event itself, what you say to friends and family members, especially those awkward gaps where you realize you never bothered to keep in touch, and whether or not that makes you just short-sighted, or else some kind of subconscious callous jack-@$$.

    I don’t know, maybe it’s different for other people. The best I can say is that a lot of it all depends on whatever the truth of such situations are, as opposed to how all those involved perceive it to be, or else what they believe it should be like.

    I don’t know if any of that makes a lick of sense. It’s just those strange middle-ground unknown territories you reach when trying to take stock of the whole picture, I guess.

    One thing I am sure of, however, in cases of people like Ellison and Ditko, it really is going to be up to the next generation to try a memorize all this stuff. “Those who fail to learn from the past etc. etc.” It’s a bit of an oldy, but still an ineradicable goody. At least I think it holds with great works of past art.

    To be continued.

    ChrisC

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    1. Continued from above.
      2. When it comes to “Random Thoughts”, it’s really “Minority Report”, and just how far VOY might have borrowed from PKD years before Spielberg. At the same time, you raise some good points about the current moment. In terms of real life, what I think it really comes down to is a question of mental breaking points. At what point does a sociopathy go from passive to irrevocably active, with all its attendant threats.

      I think these sorts of things can be prevented, however, if someone stops a sociopath before he can commit his crimes, eventually, I can still see how a mental breakdown of some sort would occur. The reason for this would have to be that the socio has no outlet for his problems, and hence confinement means his symptoms have to turn inward. It’s both fascinating, infuriating, and freakish, when you think of it.

      3. I like “Hope and Fear” well enough. There is always an irony for me in the interactions with Seven and Janeway. On the one hand, I always think she’s over-black and whiting the situation more than it needs to be with Seven sometimes. For instance, what f Seven made a compromise offer. Give her a shuttle of her own, or else build one, complete with regeneration station, and she will still follow Voyager for most of the way. When and if they reach a point where they are close to home, then simply allow Seven to decide whether she wants to follow, or else go her own way.

      I don’t think even Spock would raise any real objections or find much in the way of logical flaws. However, well, there’s always the Janeway Factor. I suppose you could raise fears that Janeway is being made into a Mary Sue in these moments (a charge wich might carry even more weight in terms of the backlash to certain other franchises, *cough, Star Wars, hack*). Then again, there’s the irony of knowing episodes like “Imperfection” and a hundred other countless examples are in the pipeline. The final irony comes when you just turn to look out the window and realize whole conversations like this make little sense from a reality-based point of view. No solutions offered here, just observation.

      4. “Evil Jar-Jars”, I like that. To honest I never got much of a fear factor from the “B.E.Ms” as I like to think of them. They’re just another threat of the week for me.

      To be continued.

      ChrisC

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    2. 5. The opening dialogue with Seven and Janeway in “The Raven” is yet another of those moments where you wonder how it would all go is someone just pointed out the facts of life.

      Instead of saying "Imagination, creativity, fantasy aren't necessary, Seven,” say that others have thought the same way, only to find themselves faced with a problem that might not be a problem, but it’s certainly ineradicable. Namely, imagination isn’t necessarily something we choose, it’s a collective piece of the human mind, and no one seems able to shake or get rid of it.

      More to the point, the irony is that sometimes imagination is the way some people re able to plug-in to real life, if that even makes any sense. My point is it would be interesting if Janeway had supplied a little psychological logic at this point, particularly is she had said that if some people don’t exercise their imaginations, they could, potentially go insane. It’s just one of those what if paths that you wish the writer’s had explored.

      To be continued.

      ChrisC

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    3. End of an era for sure with Ellison and Ditko both. I agree: it drives home how we're only ever temporary holders of history/ culture/ appreciation. It's like with each old-timer that kicks off, you inherit the responsibility a little, of honoring their memory. Ditto with friends, too, of course, but with added weight and sadness.

      RIP to them all.

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    4. 6. If I’m being honest, “Day of Honor” is one of those episodes that’s kind of thin on the ground. The episode is focused more on character rather than an action based plot.

      In some ways, however, I can’t help but wonder if things would have been better off in a more action-oriented direction, where Seven, Belana, and Paris all find themselves in a shuttle or something, and they have to all get back to the ship in time, or some such.

      For instance, taking this a bit further, they could ratchet up the tension to the point where it seems like Belana and Seven are going to be at each other’s throats. Then actually have Torres try and attack Seven, only to learn that her cybernetic enhancements make her more physically powerful, effectively ending any possibility of challenge.

      This could lead to a scenario where Torres goes full mid-life crisis and can’t even see what worth or value she is if she can’t be either a good Starfleet officer or a Klingon.

      Here is where Paris could step in and lift her out of the doldrums, with Seven observing and learning from the whole experience. For whatever reason, the story group seemed to be running low on ideas for this one.

      7. For me, “The Killing Game” stacks up just as well with both the TOS version, though maybe the “X Files” beats out both of them in terms of sheer enjoyment factor.

      I would even argue that the main idea, exemplified by the convo between the two Hunters about “species that don’t change die” is a lot more relevant to the current situation now, in all honesty.

      8. The same can indeed be said for “Retrospect”. The real danger here is that the more people get accused, the more a just cause gets hurt by society at large being unable to tell which is a real case that needs redressing, and which is either false memory, or the like.

      I do worry that sooner or later it could all get dismissed as a “cry wolf” type of deal, and so everything goes back to being ignored. I can even how this might be the sort of outcome the perpetrators of such crimes might wish to happen.

      Who says satire is dead?

      To be concluded

      ChrisC.

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    5. Re: "The final irony comes when you just turn to look out the window and realize whole conversations like this make little sense from a reality-based point of view. No solutions offered here, just observation. " That's very true. I find myself having those look-out-the-window moments a lot with these VOY posts actually.

      A real life holosuite-situation would be art-imitating-life-imitating-art-poking-holes-in-easy-ideas-of-reality.

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    6. Re: "the irony is that sometimes imagination is the way some people re able to plug-in to real life, if that even makes any sense."

      It does! And it's very true. I like your point on imagination as well, and that would have been an improved response for Janeway to make for sure.

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    7. 9. Interesting thing about “Revulsion”. It was written by a woman. I can’t say that this episode was written with concerns such as those raised in “Retrospect” in mind, however it is just food for thought.

      If that is the point of the episode, then I don’t wonder if the subplots featuring Harry and Seven aren’t meant as a juxtaposition of at least some form of positive sexuality/relations as a contrast to Norman Bytes.

      10. “Scientific Method” I find interesting for just one thing. Classic “Crazy Janey” Time!

      Seriously, one of the reasons Janeway has such a following is how just off-the-wall she can be. Again, though, I wished they’d try going further with it.

      11. I guess every viewer has their own favorite episode. All things considered, apparently “One” is the best candidate I can come up with. I’m glad you pointed out certain SK “Shining” vibes, as that was pretty much the same conclusion I reached. I’m pretty sure there’s an essay about the incorporation of horror into VOY, the problem is I’m not sure what shape it’s supposed to take.

      12. When it comes to “The Gift”, it’s really just a question of what one thinks about Seven as a character in general. I certainly can’t say I ever really minded her (of course, what else am I going to say?).

      The irony is that it’s one of the few Executive level mandated changes (and I’m assuming that’s where the wardrobe choices for the character came from in the first place) that surprisingly didn’t blow up in everyone’s face.

      I suppose you could argue such a portrayal sets a bad example, and I’m sure the character wouldn’t happen in the current climate. Still, I have to admit, of all the characters in the show, she consistently comes off as the most well written, and hence the one with the most creative potential.

      For instance, I can imagine a Trek series based around just her alone. I’ve never thought the same could be done with any of the others, except maybe for Shatner’s Kirk, and, if you wanted, you could throw the Doctor in there as Seven’s constant companion or something like that. For the rest, not really.

      The trouble with such characters is that they tend to upset too many carts. Trek is always designed to be an ensemble show, yet characters like Seven almost demand a can of stand-alone story. At least that’s how I always viewed the basic conflict such ideas bring to the show. Still, I can say that, on the whole, she was a surprisingly good idea.

      ChrisC.

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    8. I decided to just reply all at once to these excellent remarks of yours, Chris.

      (1) I like your idea of this "Day of Honor" reshuffling/reboot. That would have worked well with Torres, for sure.

      (2) I worry about the same thing with all the Fake News-ing/ Media-Guilty-Trumping(ahem)-Courtroom-Guilty. It's lower on my list of worries than media-academe indoctrination to cultural collapse, but it's certainly true and always worth keeping squarely in one's sights: if the goal is truth and justice, then keep those goals and give up those paths that do not lead to them or exist to subvert them, and you'll be okay. It requires almost daily counter-narrative from the media-academe these days, which is awful. In fact, I'd even say we've actually reached that point where crimes are ignored/ framed-endlessly-erroneously by the media/academe, and a class on whom any democracy relies to speak truth to power (journalism) is instead actively colluding to bury truth and advertise narrative. But hey! Who the frak knows.

      (3) I had not considered that re: "Revulsion!" I'll look for it, tho, on my next re-watch.

      (4) Also hadn't considered "The irony is that it’s one of the few Executive level mandated changes (and I’m assuming that’s where the wardrobe choices for the character came from in the first place) that surprisingly didn’t blow up in everyone’s face." You're totally right, there. Was it the last of them, even? It seems everything since Seven of Nine that originated at the executive-level has been a disaster. Financially lucrative, perhaps, but disastrous in others.

      (5) Glad to hear that re: "One." I've always been a big proponent of the Star Trek: Worf idea for a show, although it'd make a better animation series now, but they totally should've done this concurrent with ENTERPRISE. Or maybe even after. Or just a movie. Anyway! I think a Seven show might've flown; there's a lot of interesting things they explored with her character.

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