Voyager Challenge

VOY Challenge, Ep. 14: Faces

VOY_S01_E14TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s quest to reintegrate his Klingon and Human sides while en route to the Alpha Quadrant.

OVERVIEW

The episode opens in an unfamiliar location. We see an unconscious long haired figure who has been restrained and a male voice off-screen orders something called the “Genotron” to be deactivated and a bio-matrix to be shut down.  The restrained person is slowly coming around. The voice off-screen calls, “B’Elanna…B’Elanna Torres. Wake up.”  Slowly, the face of the person comes into view–and it’s a Klingon female.  It’s not the B’Elanna we’ve come to know–her more human features appear to be gone.

Cue the opening credits.

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 48784.2. We have completed our survey of the Avery system and are returning to retrieve Lieutenants Paris, Torres and Durst. By now, they should have concluded their inspection of the magnesite formations on the third planet.”

We open in the Voyager Mess Hall where Neelix is serving Tuvok a bowl of “authentic plomeek soup.” Tuvok would be happy to have a whatever the rest of the crew eats, but Neelix thinks it’s important for the crew to have dishes from their home worlds. Tuvok tries it and thinks it tastes rather…piquant…and immediately reaches for a glass of water. Of course, Neelix thought it tasted a little bland, so he spiced it up a bit. Suffice it to say, it didn’t really taste like plomeek soup. Chakotay summons the Senior Officers to the Bridge and Tuvok departs.

Chakotay informes Captain Janeway that the Away Team is overdue and they’re not responding to hails. They can’t locate their combadges on the surface, so they must be underground but Harry Kim can’t locate them there, either. The magnesite deposits are more than likely blocking the sensors from picking them up.

Kim observes that the tunnel which the Away Team beamed nearest to has shifted 75 degrees in direction in the last two days. They weren’t aware of any geological shifts, but this adds a layer of complexity. Chakotay requests to lead another Away Team down to look for them because they may have been trapped by the geological shifts. Tuvok questions what is to prevent them from losing Chakotay and that Away Team as well.  Kim pipes up with two words: Bread crumbs.

Kim means that he could modify some subspace transponders along Chakotay’s path which could be used like bread crumbs. Placed at regular intervals, they could be able to maintain a signal link with the ship in the event they need an emergency beam out. Janeway greenlights the Away Team and she wants a transporter lock at all times. Chakotay tabs Tuvok and Kim to come along.

Back on the planet, the Klingon called B’Elanna Torres is restrained on some kind of examination table. The voice apologizes for the restraints, but says that her presence there is very important to him.  His face comes in to view and we finally get a sense of who we are dealing with: The Vidiians.

B’Elanna asks who her captor is, and he tells her he is Sulan, Chief Surgeon of the Vidiian Sodality. She demands to know what is happening. He holds up a mirror and she says that they must have surgically altered her face. Torres asks Sulan what he’s done with Durst and Paris. He just wants to ask her questions like what her age is. She tells him that if he wants answers, he’ll answer her questions.

She asks what he did to her. Sulan tells her that he reconstituted her genome and that now she is 100% Klingon. Her human half is gone. Sulan developed a process to stimulate cell division. Her Klingon genetic material was extracted and converted from matter to energy by their genotron and she was re-materialized as the purified Klingon specimen.

B’Elanna asks why he did this to her. He says that for generations the Vidiians have been searching for a species immune to their phage in the hopes that it could lead them to a cure. He believes that the Klingons are but he needed a pure specimen to be certain which is why he extracted B’Elanna’s human half. She could be their greatest hope. She yells that she will never help him. He hopes that she can be resistant to the phage because…well…he’s infected her with the disease.

We then see Paris and Durst (the guy from the last episode) being led with what looks like a line of prisoners down a corridor. Durst is bringing up the rear when he is shoved by one of the Vidiian guards. Paris reminds Durst that the Vidiians are the ones with the guns. The Vidiians conduct them to what looks like a cell block of sorts with barracks. Durst says to Paris that they’ve got to find a way out of there (Jeez…YA THINK?!). Paris agrees but he doesn’t want to do anything until they know what happened to Torres. In the meantime, he says they should keep track of the movements of the guards. When the time is right, they’ll make their move.

They hear someone laughing at them. It’s a Talaxian on the bunk above Paris. Tom asks him what’s funny and the Talaxian says that he is. No one ever escapes from the Vidiians. Paris observes that the Talaxian seems to know the place pretty well and he says he should–he’s been there six years. Paris asks if the Vidiians are the business of harvesting organs, why are they all still hanging around there? The Talaxian says that they need someone to dig the tunnels—manual labor.  Their disease leaves them weak, so the best way to remain around and not have your organs harvested is to stay strong. The Talaxian says that there were 23 on his ship and he’s the only one left.  Paris asks if the Talaxian saw B’Elanna. He says that if she isn’t here, she must have been taken to Organ Processing. That doesn’t leave Paris with a good feeling and Durst is shaking his head.

Chakotay, Tuvok, and Kim are searching the tunnels. Kim has deployed the subspace transponders and the signal is getting through clearly. Kim says that according to his tricorder readings, they definitely came that way but he can’t really tell where they went. Tuvok finds a smashed tricorder and detects evidence of five life signs…but there were only three on the Away Team. Clearly, they weren’t alone.

Back on the examination table, B’Elanna is in obvious pain, but she won’t let Sulan know that. One of the early symptoms of the phage is excruciating joint pain.  (Check!) He’s stunned that she can endure it–some Vidiians have died from the agony of the pain alone. B’Elanna says it will take more than an infection to kill her and Sulan agrees. He says that her body is successfully fighting off the phage. He tells her that soon he will begin to replicate her genetic code and attempting various methods of integrating her Klingon DNA with theirs. In time, he says they’ll be successful and she’ll be a hero to the Vidiian people. Torres tells him that Klingons find honor on the battlefield and not as guinea pigs in a laboratory.

Back in the barracks, Paris is asleep when a door opens. We see a Vidiian bring another Starfleet officer down the hallway–one in a gold uniform with long dark hair. The Vidiian throws her down toward the bunks and walks off. She steps into the light and closer to Tom Paris and calls him by first name to wake him.  Tom wakes up and does a double take–the person crouched next to him is B’Elanna Torres.  A very human B’Elanna Torres. Tom asks what they’ve done to her.

Human-B’Elanna says that she remembers the Vidiians grabbing them outside the caves and then she blacked out. Next thing she knew, she woke up in a laboratory. She asked them what they did to her and, as she rubs her forehead sans ridges, she remembers that they extracted her Klingon DNA. As a child, B’Elanna did everything she could to hide her forehead ridges and, now, she seems to feel naked without them. Tom tries to put her at ease by listening and empathizing, but Human-B’Elanna is still scared.

She grew up on Kessik IV, where she and her mother were the only Klingons. It was a time when relations between the Klingon Homeworld and the Federation weren’t exactly cordial. She remembers feeling different then, even though no one said anything. Then, her father left when she was five years old and she cried herself to sleep every night for months. She told herself that he left because she looked like a Klingon and so she tried to look human. Paris jokingly tells her that she finally got what she wanted as a lone tear streams down her cheek.

Chakotay, Tuvok, and Kim are still searching the caverns when Tuvok notices something strange. According to the last geological scan, the cavern they’re searching should extend for another eight kilometers. Instead, it’s now at least 50 meters of solid granite before them. They would have sensed any reconfiguration of the caves or tectonic activity, so Tuvok believes the wall is an illusion–a disguised force field. Chakotay updates the Voyager and tells Janeway they’ve encountered a force field. Then, Tuvok breaks the news: the energy configuration of the force field matrix is identical to that of the Vidiians they encountered.

Janeway reminds the Away Team that their phasers can disrupt the Vidiian force field. She definitely wants to know what lies beyond the force field…but she doesn’t want them taking any unnecessary risks.  (Seriously?!) She’s ready to get them out of there by emergency beam out if it comes to it. Chakotay draws his phaser and fires at the wall. Nothing happens. Janeway suggests modulating the frequency of the phaser when Kim notices two Vidiians watching them. Chakotay calls for an emergency beam out.

Back in the lab, Klingon-B’Elanna is trying to break free from her restraints on the examination table. She almost frees herself when Sulan comes back to see how she’s doing. She says she feels strong and that it’s frustrating to be restrained. She doesn’t like being treated like an animal. He apologizes and Klingon-B’Elanna interrupts him to say that she’s been thinking about what Sulan said. It’s because of him that she is Klingon and she likes it. In a way, she supposes she is grateful. She then asks him if he was aware that, in the Alpha Quadrant, Klingon females were renowned for their physical prowess as well as their…uh…voracious sexual appetites. She suggests that Sulan let her out of her harness so he can study her in action. (As George Takei might say… “Ohhh myyyyyyyy!)

Sulan wishes (does he EVER!) but says that he can’t risk releasing her just yet. He touches her face and then backs away, asking for forgiveness. He requests that she not condescend.  While he maybe grotesque in appearance, his instincts are “finely honed” and he does have feelings. Perhaps, someday when his species has cured the phage, she won’t find him as grotesque.

Back in the barracks, two Vidiian guards are coming to take the prisoners to work detail. Paris tells Human-B’Elanna that she can’t let them see how sick she is. B’Elanna wonders if she tells them she’s sick, she might be able to stay behind and access the console in the barracks. Paris tells her that, or maybe the’ll skip the formalities and take her straight to Organ Processing. The guards, however, head straight for Durst and tell him to come with them. He wanted to try and contact the ship and the Prefect wants to discuss his request. Paris interrupts and says he’s the senior officer–if the Prefect wants to talk to someone, it should be him. The Vidiian guard pulls his weapon and backs Paris off. Human-B’Elanna cowers in the corner and Durst reminds Paris that the Vidiians are the ones with the guns.  Sounds familiar. Durst goes with the Vidiians and they leave the barracks. Human-B’Elanna is sniffling back tears. Paris asks her what’s wrong and she looks to be in the middle of a panic attack and can’t get any words out.

Back aboard the Voyager, Janeway says that now the Vidiians know they’re there, they have to be prepared for the possibility that they’ll bring in reinforcements. Kim says that long range sensors aren’t picking any additional vessels up. Tuvok says that it’s possible that the same technology that disguises their force fields also cloaks their ships. Chakotay also suggests that the captured Away Team might be at greater risk now that they know the Voyager is trying to rescue them.

Kim summons Janeway over to the Ops Console. Using the tricorder data they collected, he was able to scan the entire planet for the force field’s signature. It appears that the force field covers an area of approximately 600 kilometers in circumference. The only problem is he can’t scan inside that area to locate the Away Team.  Janeway wonders why their phasers were unable to breach the force field since, last time they encountered the Vidiians, it wasn’t a problem. Tuvok concludes that the force fields have been modified to repulse phaser fire. Janeway orders the crew to set up simulations and find a way to breach that force field. If the Vidiians can get through it, they should be able to find a way themselves.

Meanwhile, back in the Lab, Klingon-B’Elanna is on the slab–and trying to get out of her restraints again. Sulan enters the lab and has something he wants to show her. (Seriously? This guy has the worst timing, EVER.) He comes around to the side of the examination table to show Klingon-B’Elanna his new face…

…which, unfortunately, is the face of Lieutenant Durst…who is seems was actually on his way to Organ Processing and not to contact his ship.

He thought that this new face would make her more comfortable with him. Klingon-B’Elanna says that Sulan has killed Durst…which he admits is true, but his organs would save at least a dozen lives. This angers Klingon-B’Elanna who is able to bust out of her metal restraints and go after Sulan. She corners him against a wall and begins to choke him, lifting him off the ground. A door opens and she hears footsteps approaching.  She drops Sulan and attempts to make her escape.

Meanwhile, back aboard the ship, Kim tells Janeway that deep level scans have revealed a network of microfissures in the force field which open briefly each time the force field remodulates. The microfissures are only about a micron in size and close up after a few seconds. The y can’t use the phasers to expand the fissures because they’d have to be at an extremely close range and it could potentially alert the Vidiians to their presence. However, they could possibly transport through the microfissure if they could tighten the transport beam. (Huh?!) If they could get someone inside, they might be able to locate the Away Team and disable the force field.

Tuvok then points out that even if they can get someone inside, they’d be unable to communicate back through the force field nor will they be able to verify the transport was successful. (Man, what a killjoy.) Janeway wonders what’s to prevent whomever transports in from being captured by the Vidiians themselves and Chakotay has an idea about that.

We next see Chakotay in Sick Bay. He has been surgically altered by The Doctor to look like a Vidiian. Looks like he’ll be the one to transport in through the microfissure. (Ahkoocheemoya, help us.)

Paris and Human-B’Elanna are on work detail in the caverns and they’re hauling large rocks with their bare hands. She’s still not feeling well and Paris assists her in sitting down. The Talaxian captive offers them some water and they gladly accept. Human-B’Elanna tells Tom that she thinks that the Vidiian DNA extraction process did more than just change her appearance. She admits to Paris that she was terrified when they took Durst away. Paris tells her that no one could blame her for that, but Human-B’Elanna says he doesn’t understand–she’s been in worse situtations and never felt that kind of terror before. On the verge of tears, she tells Tom that her heart was pounding, her hands were shaking, and she didn’t even try to help.

Paris admits he’s no doctor (PHEW! I’m glad we cleared that up. I was starting to get confused!), but he thinks that whatever the Vidiians did seriously depleted her strength–there was nothing she could have done. She tells him that’s not it.  When the Vidiians extracted her Klingon DNA, she thinks they turned her into some kind of coward. Paris tries to tell her that, sometimes, fear can be a good thing because it can keep you from taking unnecessary chances. He goes on to say that courage doesn’t mean that you don’t have fear–it just means you’ve learned to overcome it.

Just then a Vidiian guard comes back and asks what’s going on. Paris jumps up and tells the guard that Human-B’Elanna was ill and needed a rest. (Way to go, genius!) The guard says that, if she’s ill, he’ll take her back to the barracks. Paris begins to protest, but Human-B’Elanna says that it’s OK–maybe she can find a way to make contact with the ship from there. One guard takes Human-B’Elanna back to the barracks and a second takes Paris back to work.

Chakotay is preparing to transport through the microfissure. Janeway asks him if he’s ready and he nods. Tuvok detects an opening in the microfissure and they initiate transport. Janeway observes that all they can do now is wait.

The Talaxian is moving through the caverns when he is ambushed and overpowered by Klingon-B’Elanna. She tells him to be quiet or she’ll break his neck and he agrees to keep the noise down. She asks where him where she can find Tom Paris. He directs her to the tunnel he was working in and says there was another human with him, but they took her to the barracks. Klingon-B’Elanna is confused by the fact that there was a human female.

Back in the barracks, Human-B’Elanna is lying down. She is being observed by a Vidiian who is in close proximity to her when a door opens and that Vidiian is summoned away. Human-B’Elanna gets up from her bunk and makes her way to the control console to try and find a way to contact the Voyager. She’s surprised by two Vidiian guards who subdue her and attempt to take her away–presumably to Organ Processing. Just then, Klingon-B’Elanna bursts in and knocks the Vidiians out in hand-to-hand combat. Human-B’Elanna can’t see the face of the person who beat up the Vidiians, but they are extending their hand to help her off the floor. She takes it and, when she rises, she comes face-to-face with her Klingon self and promptely faints. Klingon-B’Elanna throws her over her shoulder and they make their way out of the barracks.

Klingon-B’Elanna has built a fire in part of the caverns and is roasting something over it while Human-B’Elanna is still unconscious. Klingon-B’Elanna slaps Human-B’Elanna to wake her up and offers her some food. Human-B’Elanna asks what it is and her Klingon half says that it’s some rodent that she killed. Human-B’Elanna declines. Klingon-B’Elanna picks her up and apologizes that she couldn’t replicate her a soufflé but Human-B’Elanna is going to need nourishment because she can’t carry her all the way out of there. Human-B’Elanna takes the flame-cooked rodent.

She then asks Klingon-B’Elanna how they’re supposed to get out of there with Vidiian guards everywhere. Klingon-B’Elanna shrugs her off and says they’ll fight their way out. Human-B’Elanna says she’s not exactly in fighting form. Klingon-B’Elanna tells her that’s why she needs to eat and Human-B’Elanna partakes.

Klingon and Human Torres then spend a little time making small talk. Klingon B’Elanna asks if Human-B’Elanna was just going to waste away in the prison camp until the Vidiians killed her for body parts. She asks Human-B’Elanna if she was too frightened to act. Human-B’Elanna tells her that she was looking for a way to escape. Klingon-B’Elanna shows her how she should have escaped and holds up a fist and a weapon.

Human-B’Elanna lashes back and tells Klingon her that’s the way she tries to get out of every situation–by hitting things if they don’t work. She then tells Klingon-B’Elanna that it’s no wonder she was kicked out of Starfleet Academy. Klingon-B’Elanna thinks she should be grateful for that. She’s not, and Human-B’Elanna tells her that her Klingon temper has gotten her into trouble more times than she can remember.

She then realizes what they’re doing–they’re each fighting with their self. Klingon-B’Elanna reminds her that she’s the one who rescued her and she’s not fighting at all. In fact, Klingon-B’Elanna would like her Human half to be a little grateful that she busted her out of the prison camp. She’d like Human-B’Elanna to admit that she couldn’t have gotten out of there without her, to which Human-B’Elanna replies that she doesn’t know if she can get out of there with her–that brute force won’t accomplish it. Klingon-B’Elanna says perhaps not, but they’ll die in the attempt. That seems better to her than sitting around and being frightened.

Human-B’Elanna tells the Klingon half that there she goes again–leaping into action without thinking things through. Klingon-B’Elanna tells her she’s leaving and Human-B’Elanna tells her that’s not what she meant and apologizes. She tells Klingon-B’Elanna that before she rescued her, she logged into the Vidiians computer system and accessed the system that controls the force field. With a few minutes more, she could deactivate it–but she can’t do it without Klingon-B’Elanna’s help. She can’t make it back there alone and she’ll need Klingon-B’Elanna to cover her while she works.

Klingon-B’Elanna says that they can’t go back to the prison barracks–there are too many guards there. They can, however, go to the laboratory where Klingon-B’Elanna was being held. That’s the last place they’d expect them to be. Human-B’Elanna agrees and they set off.

Back in the barracks, Paris is talking with the Talaxian and they figure that Human-B’Elanna must have been taken to Organ Processing. Paris wants to find her and asks the Talaxian how to get there. A Vidiian puts his hand on Paris’ shoulder and he swings around, telling the Vidiian to keep his hands off. The Vidiian uses his name and suddenly Paris recognizes that it’s Chakotay. The undercover First Officer asks Paris where Durst and Torres are, and Paris tells him he thinks they’ve been taken to Organ Processing.

One of the Vidiian guards interrupts and asks Chakotay why he’s talking to the prisoners. Chakotay says that he was ordered to take Paris to Organ Processing–something which the Vidiian guard has no orders for. The Vidiian guard grows suspicious and says that he hasn’t seen Chakotay before and Chakotay tells him that he just had that face grafted. The Vidiian quickly inspects his face and allows Chakotay to take Paris to Organ Processing.

The two B’Elannas enter the laboratory and Human gets to work while Klingon covers the entrances. Human-B’Elanna attempts to shut down the force field and an alarm sounds through the Vidiian complex. A Vidiian guard comes rushing in and exchanges weapons fire with Klingon-B’Elanna. She stuns him (presumably), although she’s suffered an injury to her hand in the exchange. At that point, Sulan–still with Durst’s face–comes in with a weapon trained on Klingon-B’Elanna. She tells him that he won’t hurt her because he needs her. He admits that’s correct, but he will kill Human-B’Elanna if she doesn’t cooperate.

It’s then that Chakotay and Paris come through the door to create a standoff with Sulan. Human-B’Elanna is able to bring down the force field and Janeway hails Chakotay. He indicates that he’s found the Away Team. Sulan draws a hidden weapon and prepares to fire on Human-B’Elanna when Klingon-B’Elanna jumps in the way of the weapons discharge and is struck by the full force of the beam. Chakotay orders three Humans and one Klingon to beam up and they dematerialize as Sulan is horrified by having shot the Vidiians only shot at a cure for the phage.

Janeway enters the Transporter Room and is surprised to see two very different looking B’Elannas. Human-B’Elanna says they need to get her Klingon half to Sick Bay, and Klingon-B’Elanna says that there’s no time. She’s taken a shot directly to the chest and she’s going to make it. She takes the hand of Human-B’Elanna and tells her that she showed true courage and that it makes her death an honorable one. Klingon-B’Elanna dies in Human-B’Elanna’s arms.

Human-B’Elanna is in Sick Bay being tended to by The Doctor. He says that using tissue samples from Klingon-B’Elanna, he can replicate the Klingon DNA for reintegration back into Human-B’Elanna over the course of several days. B’Elanna is surprised that he is going to change her back. The Doctor tells her that has to because her ability of her cells to synthesize proteins has been severely compromised. Without her Klingon genes, she’ll die, too.  B’Elanna observes that her Klingon half is saving her yet again.

Chakotay is there and he asks B’Elanna how she is doing. She says she’s not sure–it’s been a pretty strange existence. She tells Chakotay that the way she is now, she’s more at peace with herself than she’s ever been before and that it’s a good feeling. She also feels incomplete and it doesn’t feel like her. Chakotay tells her that the two of them made quite a team down there. A teary-eyed B’Elanna says she knows and that she came to admire a lot of things about her Klingon self. She guesses she’ll have to spend the rest of her life fighting with her.

Chakotay’s at a loss for words. He goes to leave and turns back to say something to B’Elanna and doesn’t. B’Elanna sits alone in Sick Bay, rubbing the forehead where her ridges used to be one last time to remember the feeling one last time as a tear runs down her cheek and the episode draws to a close.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • This episode has shades of TOS’ “The Enemy Within.”
  • The Vidiians are back! I love this race of villains and how they are a great threat to the safety of the Voyager crew.
  • Roxann Dawson. She does an outstanding job in this episode playing two clearly distinctive characters at a time when she hadn’t been inhabiting the amalgamated B’Elanna for very long. We see the fragility of Human-B’Elanna and the strength of Klingon-B’Elanna and a glimpse of what that internal struggle might be like for her on another level. Plus, it’s nice to see her without the Klingon “turtlehead” on.
  • The examination of B’Elanna’s human side gives us so much information about her backstory and tells us a great deal about what motivates Torres.
  • Tom Paris is used incredibly well in this episode and the character is so much more likeable when he’s not trying to be the sarcastic wiseguy aboard ship.
  • The use of Durst’s face by Sulan is particularly chilling. You saw his death coming form a mile away, but the way the development was sprung on the audience was great.
  • The final scene where Torres is alone in Sick Bay touching her forehead is perfectly played and you truly get the sense of what Torres feels. It’s top-notch.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • Roxann Dawson’s first few scenes as Klingon-B’Elanna were almost painful in the way the dialog was delivered. There…were…so…many…pauses…that it was distracting at times. It was like a William Shatner impersonation gone wrong.
  • Of course, Starfleet doctors must be taught how to surgically alter people as Vidiians in a flawless manner.
  • B’Elanna’s sense of loss when her Klingon half dies almost isn’t pronounced enough. I’d have liked to have seen that impact her more there on the Transporter pad.

PHOTON TORPEDO COUNT

The Voyager didn’t fire any photon torpedoes this episode, so the count still stands at 37.

TUVOK’S MIND GAMES

The Mind Games Tracker stands at .500 this week with no additional Vulcan Mind Melds in this episode.

Episode Meldee # of Times
S1E08 – Ex Post Facto Tom Paris 1
S1E13 – Cathexis Kes 0*
* Meld suggested & interrupted by a non-corporeal Chakotay

THE TREKGEEKS OFFICIAL ENSIGN HARRY KIM SUFFERING TRACKER

There are no additions to the Harry Kim Tracker this episode.

Harry Kim’s Condition # Episode(s)
Abducted by Alien Race 1 Caretaker
Mysterious illness 1 Parallax
Killed 2
   Euthanized in Vhnori Death Pod Emanations
   Killed by Grendel and turned into energy Heroes and Demons
Critically Injured 1 Ex Post Facto
Dejected over mini-wormhole 1 Eye of the Needle
   Wormholes named after him 1 Eye of the Needle
Dejected over teleportation technology 1 Prime Factors

VERDICT

“Faces” is an outstanding episode of Star Trek. It’s an original story that couldn’t have been done by any other Star Trek series and it’s executed extremely well. I really love this episode and I enjoy it more every time I see it. There was the danger for this to be a really bad take on “The Enemy Within,” but I find it a tremendous compliment to that episode in the Star Trek universe–and I think that says a great deal.

Roxann Dawson really shines in this episode as the two distinct halves of her character. It’s a look at B’Elanna that we’d never be able to see any other way. The story is compelling and entertaining while not being overworked. The resolution is satisfying to the point where we empathize greatly with Torres and really feel as though we understand her internal conflict. You like B’Elanna Torres more after this episode–and that wasn’t necessarily true in previous installments.

If I were introducing someone to Star Trek: Voyager, this is one of the episodes I’d show them. “Faces” receives 4 out of a possible 5 Deltas for being an original story told in excellent fashion, as well as for it being a terrific examination of the Torres character.

4delts

 

 

 

 

WATCH IT

(If you are unable to see the video player for the embedded episode above from Hulu.com, please click here.)

NEXT TIME

Neelix encounters a scientist responsible for developing a weapon that caused a Talaxian genocide–and he claims Neelix is terminally ill in “Jetrel.”

=/\=

 

VOY Challenge, Ep. 13: Cathexis

VOY_S01_E13TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s endeavor to attach the stones to the medicine wheel in all the right places.

OVERVIEW

Janeway is spending some time getting away from being Captain by immersing herself in a holo-novel. (Does anyone remember when they had power shortage issues three or four episodes ago?) She’s playing the part of a Governess in “ancient England.” She’s not in the house sixty seconds and she’s already butting heads with the woman who manages the house staff. She then meets the Master of the House who sets forth some rules–when she is rudely interrupted by Ensign Kim. (Dammit, Harry! Mama’s got needs!)

Kim reports that he’s got the shuttlecraft transporting Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Tuvok  on long range sensors and they’re not responding. The shuttle’s been damaged and there are fractures in the hull. Kim also reports that the two life signs are faint. Janeway orders him to beam the life signs directly to Sick Bay as soon as they’re in range.

Once on board, The Doctor reveals that they’ve each taken an energy discharge to the head. Tuvok has sustained a concussion and should recover, but Chakotay isn’t so lucky.  All of the bio-neural energy has been drained from his synapses. The Doctor can put him on life support, but for all intents and purposes, Chakotay is brain dead. Cut to a one-shot of Janeway looking stunned and shocked as her eyeballs dart back and forth. Cue the opening credits…

Tuvok tells Janeway that the shuttle attack lasted no more than a few seconds. They had completed their trade mission with the Ilidarians and were on course for their rendezvous with the Voyager when they encountered a dark matter nebula. As they began to analyze it, a ship emerged and attacked the shuttle. Chakotay lost consciousness quickly and Tuvok was barely able to set the autopilot before he lost consciousness himself. Beyond that, Tuvok can provide little detail, but the shuttle’s sensors may have recorded information about the attack. The Doctor can do little for Chakotay without being able to examine the weapon to determine how his bio-neural energy was depleted. Janeway orders the ship back to the dark matter nebula to try and find the ship that attacked the shuttle.

Janeway says the long-range sensors detect strong electromagnetic radiation emanating from the nebula and they won’t be able to scan inside it. She reconfigures the sensors for multiphasic bandwidth and she loses all sensor contact with the nebula–which makes no sense. (I know, right?)  Turns out that the ship has changed course and is headed away from the nebula. Janeway asks Paris what’s going on and he has no idea–he didn’t input the new course. She asks Kim to check the navigational computer and asks who changed the course.  Kim says that the command to change course was issued from the Conn–Paris’ station. Paris vehemently denies doing it and says that there’s no malfunction of the helm. Janeway orders helm control transferred to Kim’s Operations Console and to resume course for the dark matter nebula.

Torres sets up Chakotay’s medicine wheel in Sick Bay in an effort to perform a healing ritual that she learned from him. She explains it’s significance to The Doctor and how she thinks it may be the only way for Chakotay to find his way home. (Yes, this coming from the woman who once attempted to kill her animal guide.) The Doctor actually corrects Torres’ placement of the stones because he’s got that as part of his programming. (Seriously? He’s got that but he didn’t have Beowulf?!) The Doctor also points out that it probably won’t be much help because there’s not enough left of his mind to work with.

Kes’ reading is her quarters when she senses something. She wanders around trying to get a better sense of it and asks if anyone is there. Something is definitely there with her and she can’t see it. We jump to the Mess Hall where Neelix is whipping up something that undoubtedly involves Leola Root. Kes is explaining the presence she felt as if someone were in the room with her. Neelix asks her if it’s like she sensed it telepathically and she says that it’s different–more tangible.

Meanwhile, back on the Bridge, the ship is randomly changing course away from the nebula again. They’re headed somewhere else and now Ensign Kim is locked out of the controls.

This time, the course change and lockout were initiated from Navigational Control on deck 12…where Tom Paris just was. Paris denies being there, but Torres saw him with her own eyes. Janeway wants an explanation and Paris doesn’t have one to give. She theorizes that maybe there’s a problem with his memory and orders him to Sick Bay for evaluation. The Doctor examines Paris and finds nothing out of the ordinary. Paris thinks that lets him off the hook, but Tuvok says not so fast–he found traces of Paris’ DNA on the console in Navigational Control. His cellular residue was less than 12 hours old. Paris still has no recollection and the Doctor suggests he could run a bio-molecular scan and Tuvok asks to be kept informed.

The Voyager is back at the dark matter nebula and Tuvok thinks he might have discovered the ion trail of the ship that attacked he and Chakotay. The trail leads directly into the nebula, but the flight path seems erratic. The planetoids in the nebula may be creating gravitational currents and Tuvok suggests that they might want to follow the exact flight path of the mystery ship. Just then, the ship drops to impulse power and Kim is reading massive energy drain all over the ship and the warp core is shutting down.

Janeway and Tuvok go to Engineering to ask what’s going on and Torres has no idea. The warp core is shut down, the main computer is offline and Torres has no idea why. (There seems to be a trend here.) The Doctor examines her, too, and has found something–Torres and Paris’ memory engrams are identical at the times of the various disruptions–something that shouldn’t be possible since memory engrams are a bit like fingerprints. The Doctor thinks another brain wave was superimposed on their own at the times of disruption. The Doctor theorizes that an unknown alien could have controlled both Paris and Torres and caused them to act.  Whatever it is, it doesn’t want them going back to that nebula.

Since the entity can apparently jump from person to person with no warning, Janeway orders transfer of the command codes to The Doctor. Janeway, Tuvok, and Torres head to Engineering to try to bring the warp core back online when Kes runs up to them. She tells them she’s been sensing a presence all day and doesn’t know how to describe it.  We can see the presence floating through the hallway through its own point of view. Tuvok points out that Kes’ telepathic abilities are “undisciplined,” and that perhaps he can learn more from a mind meld with her (YES!). Janeway agrees and tells Tuvok to proceed.  He and Kes break off from them and head for the turbolift. Turns out they don’t get much further than that since Kim discovers them there, unconscious, and Kes has some kind of odd bruise on her neck below her right ear.

Tuvok and Kes were apparently hit by some kind of unidentified energy discharge that came through the bulkhead. Tuvok was not badly hurt, but Kes is in a coma. (This seems to be a trend.)  Internal sensors didn’t pick up any kind of energy discharge at all, but it had to come from somewhere on board the ship.  Paris suggests they could search the ship with a magneton scanner, but that would likely prove fruitless since the alien can move so quickly. Torres suggests a magneton flash-scan so the ship could be scanned all at once. They ask Harry what he thinks and our favorite Ensign is deep in thought—or is he? Tuvok stands up and draws his phaser and Torres scans him with a tricorder.  Harry snaps out of it and says he was recalling a study he read on magneton scannes and his mind wandered off.  Janeway is concerned that alien paranoia could get the better of the crew any time someone is distracted. She orders Tuvok and Torres to get started on the flash-scan.

Back in Sick Bay, Neelix is telling The Doctor of what seems like every possible instance of crew members acting oddly. In fact, it seems like Neelix is gossiping by way of paranoia–the very thing that Captain Janeway had hoped to avoid. The Doctor warns him that this paranoia isn’t helping his already emotional state given Kes’ injuries.  The EMH successfully talks Neelix down from the ledge and he leaves Sick Bay.

Tuvok enters as Neelix leaves and tells the Doctor he is reconfiguring the sensor relays in Sick Bay. The Doctor questions as to whether he really has to do it now because he’s in the middle of treating Kes and Tuvok tells him that’s “Captain’s orders.” Tuvok asks how Kes is, and The Doctor tells him that she has no permanent damage and that her injuries are very different from Chakotay’s–her bio-neural energy is still intact. He is curious about the bruises on her neck and shoulder, though. They don’t seem consistent with the energy discharge. In fact, they look like wounds sustained during a physical struggle of some sort. Tuvok doesn’t recall a struggle.

The Doctor also mentions that the wound looks like an extreme trauma to the trapezius nerve bundle–like the nerve had been ruptured. (Hmmmm…the nerves in her neck and shoulder…)

Tuvok reports to Janeway’s Ready Room. He and Torres will be ready to start the magneton scan in two hours’ time. Because of it’s intensity, it can cause dizziness and disorientation for several seconds. Janeway directs him to make a ship-wide announcement before starting the scan.

Tuvok also tells her there’s another matter of concern–Kes’ injuries.  They weren’t caused by the energy discharge and Tuvok tells her that Kes was physically assaulted.  Janeway observes that Tuvok wasn’t assaulted at all, to which Tuvok agrees. Janeway asks him if it’s possible that he–Tuvok–inflicted Kes’ wounds (presumably through the infamous Vulcan nerve pinch which he has yet to perform on camera in this show) and probably while he was inhabited by the alien. Tuvok admits that it is possible and suggests that The Doctor could run a neurological scan to see if he had the same overlay of brain patterns that Torres and Paris did. Janeway agrees.

She attempts to raise The Doctor over the comm, but he doesn’t respond. She tells the computer to activate the EMH and the computer cannot comply because the EMH’s program has been disabled–and there’s no record of who disabled it. Janeway attempts to unlock the program and she can’t—it’s been encrypted and Tuvok deduces that it’s been done by someone above Deck 4. Janeway wonders why someone would deactivate The Doctor and Tuvok reminds her that The Doctor is holding the command codes to the ship. Once he was deactivated, those codes reverted back to…Captain Janeway. It would make sense that if the EMH couldn’t be possessed by the alien, then it would try to force the command codes back to a human it could take over.

That means it’s too dangerous for one person to have the command codes and Janeway suggests to Tuvok that they should divide the codes between them. Janeway says they’ll have to tell the Bridge Crew the plan (Why?? She’s the Captain, for cryin’ out loud!!) and act as checks and balances for each other. They head for the Bridge and we can see the alien from its own point of view moving through the Bridge.

She goes to the Bridge and tells the crew that The Doctor has been disabled–presumably by the alien’s influence–and they can’t get him back online. She states she’s decided to divide the command protocols…and then stops mid-sentence and focuses on Tuvok. Tuvok turns around and Janeway hauls off and strikes him, sending him to the floor.  Tuvok draws his phaser and Janeway kicks it out of his hand. Tuvok asks for someone to stun her because she’s the alien, and Paris draws his phaser and fires at her. Janeway drops to the floor, unconscious.

The alien leaves her and moves across the Bridge and inhabits Harry Kim (!) who draws a phaser and Paris backhands him in the face. The alien then jumps to Lt. Durst who draws a phaser and fires at Tuvok, missing him. Tuvok fires his phaser on a wide beam dispersal and stuns everyone in front of him.

Janeway is in Sick Bay being tended to by Tom Paris who gives her a hypospray. She asks Harry if he’s had any luck getting The Doctor back online, and he hasn’t. He’ll have to try and break through at least six levels of encryption to reactivate his program. He estimates two or three hours before The Doctor could be activated. Torres interrupts over the comm and requests the Captain’s presence in Engineering telling her there’s something she should see.

Torres tells Janeway that she’s trying to piece together the sensor logs from the damaged shuttlecraft. She’s discovered that the sensor logs weren’t destroyed the the energy discharge–someone erased them and then overloaded the sensor matrix to make it look like they’d been damaged in the attack. That’s not all: there was enough information left in the logs for her to figure out what happened during the attack. The shuttle was near the dark matter nebula and it did encounter an energy discharge–but there wasn’t another ship. It looks like the energy discharge came from the nebula itself. Janeway wonders why Tuvok would lie and Torres says that he was probably under the control of the alien.

Kim interrupts over the comm to tell Janeway that the ship is approaching the dark matter nebula. Janeway asks Torres how long before the magneton flash-scan is ready to go, and she says that it will be 15 or 20 minutes. She instructs Torres to transfer control of the scan to the Bridge when she’s ready. Janeway heads for the Bridge to get a closer look at the Mutara dark matter nebula.

Janeway asks Tuvok if he can locate the ion trail of the ship that attacked the shuttlecraft, and he believes he can. He sends the coordinates over to Kim and tells the Captain the shields are at maximum. Just then Paris rushes in and tells the Captain that he’s completed the scan that The Doctor was running on Kes. If he reads the data correctly, he believes that her injuries were the result of a Vulcan nerve pinch. Janeway and Paris look at Tuvok who has no recollection of doing such a thing. He suspects that he was inhabited by the alien at the time–and Janeway wonders why it keeps attacking him.

Tuvok tells her that she’s being paranoid. She says it’s not her paranoia that’s keeping her from seeing the ion trail Tuvok is following and she requests the bandwidth he’s working on. He sends it to her, and she sees it–but she observes that there’s no subspace distortions in the wake of the ion trail he’s sent over.  According to those readings, it’s a ship without engines. Tuvok is lying–there is no alien ship and there never was.  She tells him they’re not going inside that nebula until she gets some answers. She orders Kim to reverse course and Tuvok draws his phaser.

Tuvok claims that’s what the alien has been trying to do–keep the ship from entering the nebula and he claims the Captain is under the influence of the alien. What’s more, he says he’s relieving her of command and orders Kim to change course back for the nebula. Janeway tells Kim not to obey Tuvok’s order and he refuses. Tuvok tells Janeway that his phaser is on wide beam dispersal again, but this time it’s set to kill. He directs the Bridge crew to gather on the other side of the Bridge and moves for Kim’s console. Durst tells Janeway that the ship is entering the nebula. (Thanks, Lieutenant Obvious.)

Harry is picking up highly coherent energy pulses in the nebula and they’ve got a bio-matrix. Lifeforms…and they’re heading for the Voyager. Janeway asks Tuvok if the lifeforms in the nebula are his people and he says that he is part of the Komar and the nebula is their domain. We then see the alien making it’s way through Engineering. It circles the long way round before it takes control of Torres. She moves to the center console and ejects the warp core. This doesn’t make the alien inhabiting Tuvok very happy at all.

Torres hails the Bridge and tells the Captain she thinks she was just inhabited by the alien who had her eject the warp core.  (Can’t put nuthin’ by Torres, can you?) Paris doesn’t get it–how could B’Elanna be inhabited by the alien if Tuvok is inhabited by the alien already. Harry says he doesn’t know–unless there are two aliens. (Can’t put nuthin’ past these two, either, huh?)  Janeway tells them that Torres isn’t authorized to eject the warp core on her own–it requires a command code authorization. Janeway asks the computer who authorized the ejection of the core.

Commander Chakotay.  (Sure…now he leaves his calling card?!)

The presence that’s been trying to keep the ship out of the nebula is Chakotay. His bio-neural energy was displaced and he’s been moving person to person to thwart the Komar. Tuvok engages the thrusters to get closer to the nebula. He’s trying to get the crew closer to the nebula to extract their bio-neural energy. It will sustain the Komar for years to come. Janeway offers to help them find a new form of energy. The beings start to bombard the ship. Janeway makes a move and dives for her console to start the magneton flash-scan and the crew is disoriented. Paris disarms Tuvok who his still disoriented and the Komar entity leaves his body and escapes through the bulkhead.

Janeway says the magneton scan identified the alien as a trianic-based energy being before it left the ship. The Komar continue to attack the ship and the electromagnetic radiation is blinding the sensors so they can’t find a way out of the nebula. Janeway orders the ship to come about and reverse course. Harry’s not so sure that’ll work since Tuvok was navigating a fairly complicated course and they could go deeper in the nebula. Janeway suggests that Harry could reconstruct the course from Tuvok’s navigational logs.

The disembodied Chakotay is moving through Sick Bay and inhabits Neelix and he goes to the medicine wheel and reorganizes the stones. Harry says that Tuvok deleted the navigational logs as he went along so he can’t piece together the course. Neelix contacts the Bridge and tells Janeway he was just taken over and done something odd by rearranging the stones on the wheel. Janeway takes that as a clue and has Harry activate Sick Bay Visual Relay 16 (?) and pipe it to the view screen. She’s not sure what it is, but Paris thinks it could be a map.  Janeway orders the computer to overlay a star map of the nebula. Chakotay is showing them a way out. Janeway orders Harry to plot a course close to those planetoids to find a way out.

Shields are failing and the Komar are starting to penetrate the hull. They’re close to normal space and almost out of the nebula. Janeway orders all power, including life support, to the thrusters and they power their way out of the nebula. The aliens have ceased their pursuit of the Voyager.

The Voyager has returned to the coordinates where they ejected the warp core and they’ve retrieved it. The Doctor has been able to reintegrate Chakotay’s consciousness to his body.  (Hello, Reset Button!) Chakotay wakes up and he’s a little rough around the edges. Janeway asks what happened in the shuttle.  He says he felt the sensation of floating over his own body but he couldn’t see or touch anything.  He thought he had died. He realized he could share the consciousness of another person if he concentrated on them and that was how he could inhabit others.

Chakotay apologizes to Tuvok for roughing him up a bit. Janeway welcomes the First Officer back, but says it’s like he never really left as the episode draws to a close.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • The concept of the episode–at least, in theory.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • Janeway’s holo-novel was an idea that I don’t think was all that interesting. At least, not that setting. The average Star Trek viewer doesn’t really care about Jane Eyre ripoffs and it’s just not engaging in five minute bites.
  • Robert Beltran has zero to do in this episode but lie there and pretend to be brain dead.
  • The Medicine Bundle (which Chakotay had never shown anyone…other than B’Elanna…and Janeway…) is used by Torres to help Chakotay. It’s interesting that the character that tried to kill her spirit guide is so well-versed in Native American healing rituals.
  • 13 episodes in and I really want to put Neelix in an airlock and de-pressurize it. (The character, not the actor.)
  • Torres needs a command code authorization to eject the warp core?  Really?  Geordi LaForge never needed that on the Enterprise.
  • So, the bio-neural energy of the crew is wanted by the aliens in the dark matter nebula. Isn’t the circuitry of the ship also bio-neural?  Why can’t they just grab that energy?
  • RESET BUTTON: the Warp Core is back and Chakotay’s consciousness is back in his body. It’s magic, I tell you. MAGIC.
  • Tuvok’s changing rank pips. His rank as displayed on his uniform hasn’t been right all season, but they finally straighten it out in this episode after a few changes back and forth.

PHOTON TORPEDO COUNT

The Voyager didn’t fire any photon torpedoes this episode, so the count still stands at 37.

TUVOK’S MIND GAMES

I think Tuvok performs more mind melds than all of the Vulcans in the history of the Federation. For something that is supposed to be rare–and potentially dangerous–Tuvok breaks that bad boy out every chance he gets.

He had one already in the episode “Ex Post Facto.” He suggests one in this episode and it never happens thanks to out-of-body Chakotay. (Respect the Meld, Tattooed Man. Respect the Meld.)

This initial appearance of the Mind Games counter is dedicated to my friend, Isis, who suggested that I keep track.

Episode Meldee # of Times
S1E08 – Ex Post Facto Tom Paris 1
S1E13 – Cathexis Kes 0*
* Meld suggested & interrupted by a non-corporeal Chakotay

THE TREKGEEKS OFFICIAL ENSIGN HARRY KIM SUFFERING TRACKER

There are no additions to the Harry Kim Tracker this episode.

Harry Kim’s Condition # Episode(s)
Abducted by Alien Race 1 Caretaker
Mysterious illness 1 Parallax
Killed 2
   Euthanized in Vhnori Death Pod Emanations
   Killed by Grendel and turned into energy Heroes and Demons
Critically Injured 1 Ex Post Facto
Dejected over mini-wormhole 1 Eye of the Needle
   Wormholes named after him 1 Eye of the Needle
Dejected over teleportation technology 1 Prime Factors

Harry is possessed by Chakotay’s disembodied bio-neural energy for the briefest of moments in this episode, but it’s hardly worth charting.

VERDICT

This episode could have been so much more and it was muddled and confused and really lacked cohesion. It’s like a series of small scenes with nothing to bind it and it’s way more complex than it truly needs to be. It’s a tough episode to follow and, honestly, it was even tough to recap for this blog without getting confused at times.

The best part of the episode is when the “alien” is jumping from person to person on the Bridge crew.  If they’d made more of those first-person moments (rather than them happening off-screen) and altered the story a bit, I think it could have been a tighter episode.

“Cathexis” gets 2 Deltas out of a possible 5 for being aimless wandering—kind of like Chakotay’s bio-neural energy!

2delts

 

 

 

 

 

 

WATCH IT

(If you are unable to see the video player for the embedded episode above from Hulu.com, please click here.)

NEXT TIME

B’Elanna Torres is of two minds…and bodies…as the Vidiians return in “Faces.”

=/\=

VOY Challenge, Ep. 12: Heroes and Demons

VOY_S01_E12TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s quest to ratchet up the Harry Kim toteboard and defeat Grendel all at the same time.

OVERVIEW

Torres is beaming samples of a protostar aboard the Voyager into containment fields after detecting unusual amounts of photonic activity. She transports the samples, but only one of the two containers receives a sample. Janeway detects a slight breach in the annular confinement beam and Torres attempts the transport again, bringing the second sample aboard.

Hmmm…photonic activity.  Photonic. Yeah, it’s probably fine. I mean, there’s nothing aboard the Voyager that uses vast amounts of assembled photons, right? What could go wrong?

Torres performs a full spectral analysis and the Captain and Chief Engineer theorize that the samples could help them increase the efficiency of the power converters by 15 or 20%. Janeway figures that Harry Kim (!) can probably help speed the analysis along instead of the projected six hours it will take and she taps her combadge to contact him. He fails to respond and Janeway asks the computer to locate him—he’s not aboard the ship. He hasn’t beamed off and all the shuttles are accounted for.

Harry got off duty four hours ago and he was scheduled for time in the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) after his shift.  No one has seen him since internal sensors are unable to scan the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) thanks to interference.  Chakotay and Tuvok head down to the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) and there is a program that is currently active and manual overrides are not functioning (!). The pair proceed into the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) and the opening credits roll.

Chakotay and Tuvok discover that Kim was running a Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) program based on the old English poem, Beowulf. Tuvok isn’t detecting any life signs on his Tricorder but there is still considerable interference. Just then, the two are almost hit by a flying spear which sticks into a nearby tree…and that’s followed closely by the sword-wielding Freya, daughter of King Hrothgar. Tuvok instructs the computer to delete the Freya character–and nothing happens. The two figure that the command protocols are offline and that probably means the safeties are, too.  (Good thing you dodged that spear, Chakotay.)

Freya thinks that Tuvok and Chakotay are intruders and she’s the perimeter guard. She asks if they are kinsmen of Beowulf and Chakotay catches on. He figures that Kim was playing the Beowulf character and he tells Freya that they are indeed kinsmen. Chakotay asks Freya if she has seen Beowulf, and she says she has…but he’s dead!

For those of you keeping score at home:

  • Harry Kim = Beowulf
  • Beowulf = Dead
  • Harry Kim = DEAD!!

That’s not optimal.

Meanwhile, back in the episode, Chakotay wants to know more about how Beowulf died, and Freya takes him and Tuvok to the King.

Once at the castle, the King’s men tell Chakotay and Tuvok that Beowulf died with 30 men fighting the monster Grendel. Tuvok wants to see Kim’s body, but Grendel took it back to it’s lair.  Oh, and no one saw the battle, either.  The King is a little freaked out–Beowulf was supposed to kill the monster and now he’s dead.  He doesn’t think that Chakotay and Tuvok can avenge the death of Beowulf and he makes them stand sentry to try and prove their worthiness.

The pair check in with the Captain and tell her that Harry was playing Beowulf on the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) and that he may actually be dead. Janeway wants them to remain on the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) and gather data, sending their Tricorder data to the Bridge.  Looks like the protostar energy has caused the problem with the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) and Harry Kim may have been converted to energy.

A bright mass about a meter in size appears before Chakotay and Tuvok. Tuvok wants to remain to observe the program because it may be Grendel.  (Y’know…the monster that just killed Harry and turned him into energy. What could go wrong with that?) Torres picks up signs of matter/energy conversion and Janeway orders her to beam them out of the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™). She can’t get a lock and their life signs aren’t there to be picked up anymore.  They’re gone.

Wow…who saw that coming?!

Photonic energy has now de-materialized Kim, Chakotay, and Tuvok and seemingly turned them into energy but Tom Paris thinks they may still be recoverable. (Yes. The Helmsman is apparently also an expert in holo matrices. Who knew?)  The only problem is that a rescue team could be lost in the same fashion, so Paris suggests that The Doctor (PHOTONS!™) be used to rescue the de-materialized crew.  He rightly observes that The Doctor is a hologram and “a hologram cannot be converted into energy because it’s already energy.” (This guy’s gonna go far in this outfit, I tell you.)  With that, The Doctor (…you get the idea. He’s made of photons.) is pressed into service to explore the Beowulf program and interact with it in an effort to find the malfunction and rescue the crew.

No pressure, Doc.

Kes chats with The Doctor  as he reads about the story of Beowulf. Kes wonders if he is nervous since the task differs from his programming. The Doctor confesses that the world outside of Sick Bay makes him uneasy and Kes tells him it will be an opportunity for the The Doctor to explore his independence. Kes also suggests a name for him and he decides to research the matter further.

The Doctor is transferred to the Holodeck and he encounters Freya–whom he knows almost every detail about. The Doctor  asks the location of Grendel, and Freya figures he must be a true warrior to seek out such a monster. She asks his name and he says that it is “Schweitzer.” Freya agrees to take him to the King.

Upon arriving at the castle, The Doctor is received by the King and is engaged in a sword fight by one of the King’s men to demonstrate his worthiness. He wounds the guard and then offers him advice on treating his wounds as the gathering chants “SCHWEITZER!” (Really?  The name of a warrior?!)

The Doctor gets invited to a feast where he regales the gathering in attendance of his medical exploits. Riveting stuff, really, unless you’re one of the men listening. Or someone watching the episode. Then, you’re probably just bored.

Freya cozies up to The Doctor by the fire…and tries to really cozy up to him when she invites him to her bed.  (WINK, WINK!) She heads off to her room leaving Lord Schweitzer on his own, when he hears a howling. He pulls out his Tricorder and detects some photonic energy. Grendel gets closer to The Doctor and Freya isn’t the only one who wants to reach out and touch The Doctor because Grendel gets a tentacle around the Doctor’s arm. He wants out of there NOW and requests an emergency transfer to Sick Bay.  Paris is able to retrieve him–more or less–sans one arm.  Looks like Grendel has a trophy.

Back in Sick Bay, Paris gets The Doctor’s program outfitted with a new arm (Seriously–is there anything this guy can’t do?!) Contact with the photonic energy disrupted his magnetic cohesion. (HUH?!) That’s not all, though.  The readings from The Doctor’s tricorder data showed that the photonic energy has synaptic patterns. Paris and Torres decide to check the samples that were beamed into the containment fields in Engineering.

Paris establishes a polarization field and introduces it into one of the photonic energy samples in Engineering. A reaction starts and a synaptic pattern is definitely showing. Just then, the photonic energy breaks out of the containment field, flies across the Engineering bay, and disappears into a console and cuts through bulkheads.  Paris and Torres attempt to establish containment fields to trap it, but it keeps evading them. They block the energy on three sides, and it still manages to escape. They finally figure out that it’s displaying the properties of a life form.  (You THINK?!)

The alien manages to escape the ship by breaking through the hull and it escapes to a glowing sphere just off Voyager’s bow which appears to be some kind of photonic lattice. They detected three separate bioelectrical patterns inside it which Janeway figures could be the missing crew.  (Kim, Chakotay, and Tuvok…in case you forgot.) Janeway also says that they had no way of knowing that the photonic samples they beamed to Engineering were, in essence, capturing life forms…and the aliens did the same by capturing members of the Voyager crew. Retaliation, plain and simple.

The Doctor believes that releasing the remaining organism to Grendel in the Holodeck as a gesture of goodwill might get the missing crew members back. Janeway points out that Starfleet officers are normally put through training before any kind of First Contact situation, but the Doctor is the only one who can do this safely. He wants to finish what he started. Janeway reminds him that if he’s holding the container, he’ll have to remain in solid form.

The Doctor returns to the Holodeck with the container holding the photonic alien. He explains that it’s a talisman to aid in defeating Grendel. Unferth, the King’s swordsman who tangled with The Doctor earlier, figures that Lord Schweitzer must be in league with Grendel since no man has the power to destroy Grendel on his own. Unferth attacks The Doctor and Freya blocks the attack with her body, suffering a mortal wound.  She bids the Doctor goodbye and kisses him.  Unferth takes the container with the alien and flees. The Doctor picks up Freya’s sword and pursues him.

Unferth presents the King with “the talisman,” with The Doctor hot on his heels. The Doctor tells the King that he’s the only warrior that can defeat Grendel and he needs the talisman to do it. Unferth claims that The Doctor has already killed Freya and cannot be trusted. The Doctor picks up an iron from the fire and threaten’s Unferth with it and backs him up against a table where he follows that up with a sword to Unferth’s throat. The Doctor says that the only reason Unferth won’t die is because he’s taken an oath to do no harm.  The King gives the talisman back to The Doctor.

The Doctor tells Grendel he is ready for him and the photonic alien appears. He opens the container with the captured alien and tells Grendel that there’s no need for any more of this and asks for the crew to be returned. Grendel agrees and the missing crew are returned–and, of course, Harry Kim has no idea what was going on.  Death’ll do that to you, Harry.

Janeway praises The Doctor’s efforts and tells him that she’s giving him a special commendation for exemplary performance. She asks if he wants to be addressed with a name and he decides that the death of Freya made “Schweitzer” too painful to keep as a name, and he chooses to continue to be referred to simply as “The Doctor.”

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • The production design of the Beowulf characters and sets are outstanding.
  • The Doctor gets his first “away mission!”
  • Excellent exposition for new viewers between Janeway and Torres explaining how the transporters could affect the Holodeck.
  • Great feature for Robert Picardo getting to stretch the boundaries of the Voyager EMH.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • Lose the bun, Janeway. It’s getting old. It makes you seem uptight.
  • Voyager’s first Holodeck gone awry episode. It’s like a Star Trek rite of passage now.
  • Tuvok taught at Starfleet Academy on Earth for 16 years but never heard of Beowulf? Seriously?
  • Chakotay and Tuvok just stay behind in the Holodeck to observe Grendel when Kim has already been converted to energy? One member of the Bridge Crew has gone missing and they just hang out?
  • Why does the Doctor need to read Beowulf when he’s a computer program? He’s got the knowledge of hundreds of years and doctors and he didn’t have to read that. Can’t he just integrate it into his program? Can’t he assimilate the knowledge he needs? HE’S A COMPUTER PROGRAM!
  • Why does The Doctor have to tap his combadge? It’s a computer generated holographic program. The combadge isn’t real.
  • Oh, and there’s no Freya in Beowulf. How could The Doctor have learned all about the character when she’s not in the story, I ask you?

PHOTON TORPEDO COUNT

The Voyager didn’t fire any photon torpedoes this episode, so the count still stands at 37.

THE TREKGEEKS OFFICIAL ENSIGN HARRY KIM SUFFERING TRACKER

Starfleet’s long-suffering Ensign died this week.  Again. He died again. 12 episodes in. 12 episodes in and the guy has been killed twice.  Given the things that have happened to Harry so far, I’m amazed that he’s not curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth, weeping uncontrollably.

Alas, here’s an up to date list of what Ensign Kim has experienced so far on his first posting…

Harry Kim’s Condition # Episode(s)
Abducted by Alien Race 1 Caretaker
Mysterious illness 1 Parallax
Killed 2
   Euthanized in Vhnori Death Pod Emanations
   Killed by Grendel and turned into energy Heroes and Demons
Critically Injured 1 Ex Post Facto
Dejected over mini-wormhole 1 Eye of the Needle
   Wormholes named after him 1 Eye of the Needle
Dejected over teleportation technology 1 Prime Factors

 

VERDICT

There are many fine hours of Star Trek that have been produced over the years. This is not one of them.

This is a largely forgettable episode to me and I found myself tuning out after a while.  It’s like they were sitting around in the writer’s room and said, “OK…it’s the first season.  We need a ‘Holodeck-gone-wrong’ episode and The Doctor needs to save the day.” It’s essentially a vehicle to get The Doctor out of Sick Bay and it waits 20 minutes to get him there. The story isn’t that engaging, honestly, and it just seems to be 30 minutes longer than it really needs to be.  The more I see it, the less I like it.

When I did my initial note taking on the episode, I gave it three Deltas.  The second time I watched it, I took it down to two and a half Deltas. After the third viewing, I settled on two Deltas–mainly because it’s contrived and boring. It’s not Voyager’s worst episode, but it’s far from it’s best. 

2delts

 

WATCH IT

NEXT TIME

Chakotay is left brain dead by an alien force in Cathexis. (Believe it or not, it wasn’t from watching Heroes and Demons.)

=/\=

VOY Challenge, Ep. 11: State of Flux

VOY_S01_E11TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s mission to fire the person who brought Leola Root aboard out the nearest airlock.

OVERVIEW

The Voyager has dispatched a survey team to the surface of a planet to find food sources. Carey finds a bunch of what look like some form of apple, but Neelix tells him that they’re extremely poisonous. Instead, the Talaxian guide is excited to have found Leola Root. Chakotay takes a taste and spits it out–it tastes terrible. (Is it any wonder? It looks like painted ginger.) Lo and behold, this is the reason Neexlix brought the ship here. Apparently there’s no finer source of vitamins and minerals in the quadrant.

Greaaaaaaat.

Aboard the Voyager, Paris observes what he believes could be a cloaked ship. Tuvok says that it is a ship using some kind of technology unfamiliar to him. He suggests using a polaron burst and Janeway concurs. When fired, the burst lights up what appears to be a Kazon raider. Janeway orders the survey teams back to the ship immediately. The teams gather at the transport site, and Kim notices that Seska is missing. Chakotay orders everyone back to the ship and he goes on to look for Seska.

He searches for her in some nearby caves (Seriously–why are there always caves in Star Trek?) when he notices 2 Kazon in the caves with him. He hides as they pass by and he continues his search for Seska. He finds her picking mushrooms–she wanted to show Neelix how to make Chakotay’s favorite soup–but now it’s time to get out of there. They are surprised by the Kazon while trying to exit the caves and a firefight ensues.  Chakotay is injured and Seska gets him back to the ship. They leave orbit without further problems from the Kazon.

Seska visits Chakotay in his quarters and brings him some of his favorite while he recovers from his wounds–mushroom soup. While enjoying his bowl of soup, Seska tells him how she and some of the other Maquis officers stole the mushrooms to make it from Neelix’s kitchen. This upsets Chakotay and he revokes the replicator rations of everyone involved for two days, including himself. Seska says the others won’t go along with that and he also threatens to throw Seska and anyone else in the brig…and he’s serious.  Seska said it was worth losing the rations for two days as some romantic tension is introduced. Chakotay reminds her that they decided long ago that it wouldn’t work between them.  Seska tells Chakotay that there aren’t many potential mates where they are and jokes that she’s been keeping her eye on “young Ensign Kim.”  She leaves and the Senior Staff are summoned to the Bridge by Captain Janeway.

The Voyager is receiving a distress call from the same ship that shadowed them at the planet. The call appears to be real and Neelix advises caution because it may be a trap.  This ship looks like it’s part of the Kazon-Nistrim and they’re one of the more violent branches of Kazon. Janeway orders the ship to intercept.

An Away Team of Chakotay, Tuvok, Torres, and Seska beam over to the disabled Kazon ship and the situation isn’t good. They find a lot of dead Kazon and, to make matters worse, they all to appear have died from some kind of subatomic manipulation and their bodies have been integrated with the metal around them. Chakotay’s tricorder reads high levels of nucleonic radation in the vicinity and it’s contained by force fields.  Seska locates one Kazon survivor and he’s in really bad shape. He’s beamed aboard Voyager for medical treatment. The explosion on the Bridge came from a console that seems out of place and it’s got a .41% trace of a neosorium composite and Torres points out the only people who use that are the Federation.

The Doctor reports that every cell in the body of the surviving Kazon has been altered or fused with inorganic matter, bonding with metallic nuclei. The EMH will have to perform a complete pyrocyte replacement on the Kazon to save him, and they’ll need donors. Outside Sick Bay, Tuvok tells Janeway that the explosion had a Federation signature. They don’t know what the console the Kazon were installing was and it’s going to be hard to get to with all that nucleonic radiation.  Janeway’s concerned that they have Federation technology and Tuvok says there are three possibilities: that it’s not Federation technology, that it could have come from another Federation Starship in the Delta Quadrant somewhere, or that someone aboard the Voyager has covertly given the technology to the Kazon. Janeway doesn’t like the third possibility one bit, even though it’s the most likely explanation. (Occam’s Razor cuts deep, Captain.)

Tuvok also says that it’s also possible the Kazon were able to deceive their sensors before they arrived at the planet because someone gave them the information on how to go undetected. That means there’s a potential traitor on board and Janeway wants no stone unturned.  Janeway asks Chakotay who could have possibly met with the Kazon on the planet and Tuvok immediately chimes in and says that Chakotay did discover Seska in proxmity to the Kazon in the caves.  (Way to go after the First Officer’s babe, Tuvok.)  Chakotay defends Seska and Tuvok urges him to treat her with caution.  Janeway doesn’t get why anyone on the ship would betray the crew–that they’re all in this together.  (Really?  Really?!? )   They need to get to that console.

The staff assembles in Main Engineering to discuss ideas for retrieving the console. Seska thinks they can use a localized subspace bubble to get past the force field, but Torres thinks that’s risky. Carey says they could use an expander to manipulate the containment field out of the way. By rotating the field, they should be able to get to the console without being at risk of the radation.  (Does anyone else think that Carey kind of resembles Chief O’Brien—without the weekly suffering?)  Janeway gives the go-ahead and Torres says that she can have it ready by tomorrow. Janeway says she wants it by end of day.  Torres says…uh…no, Captain…you don’t get it.  She doesn’t exaggerate and she means she can have it tomorrow and that’s the best she can do.  Janeway appreciates her honesty and Torres and the Engineering Team get to work….with everyone but Seska.

Chakotay reassigns Seska to the Bridge which leaves his Bajoran paramour none too happy.  He reveals to Seska that there’s some “concern” about her because he found her near the Kazon on the planet. Chakotay is reassigning her to the Bridge to coordinate the operation up there because he’s trying to protect her. Seska disagrees–she says that he might as well be pointing a finger at her in front of the entire crew.  Chakotay reminds her that you don’t assign someone to the Bridge that you don’t trust. Seska, still unhappy, storms off.

Seska then drops by Sick Bay and asks how the Kazon is. Kes says that he’ll need his blood replaced. She then asks the EMH if the Kazon will regain consciousness and The Doctor says there’s no way to know that or how much brain damage he may have sustained. Seska says that he’s the only one who can tell people that she had nothing to do with giving the technology to the Kazon. She asks to be notified if the Kazon wakes up.  Kes asks if Seska ever left a blood sample on file and she says she never got around to it. Seska’s blood wouldn’t help anyway–she had a childhood disease that made her ineligible to donate blood for transfusions. The Doctor says that’s all the more reason her blood should be on file.  (Typical Doctor.)  Seska says she will, just not now. She’s got some important stuff going on.  (Don’t we all, sister. Don’t we all.)

Meanwhile, in the Captain’s Ready Room, Tuvok reveals that someone from the Voyager did make an unauthorized transmission and they were an expert in covering their tracks, according to Chakotay. The signal was masked by a test of the dorsal emitters (Emitters?? Emitters of what?!). The whole Engineering crew was working on it and tracking down exactly who made the transmission is a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Paris interrupts and summons Janeway to the Bridge. Another Kazon ship is approaching and attempting to hail the disabled ship.  They’re over four hours away at present speed. Kim shows an unauthorized transport—someone has beamed off of the Voyager.

Seska.  She takes matters into her own hands and  uses her subspace bubble theory to try to fetch the console off the Kazon ship. Tuvok says it’s possible she could be on the Kazon ship to destroy evidence that implicates her and Chakotay disagrees. Just then, they hear a scream over the com and what sounds like it could be some kind of danger.  Seska isn’t responding and Chakotay orders her beamed directly to Sick Bay. Seska looks like she’s been burned pretty badly and Chakotay rushes to her side.

Carey is interviewed by Tuvok, Chakotay, and Janeway. They’re trying to find the traitor and they bring him in for questioning. He says he hasn’t had any communication with the Kazon-Nistrim. Turns out the communication sent to the Kazon during the test of the dorsal emitter (?) was from his console. Carey is stunned and surprised. He doesn’t remember if anyone else was at his station but says that maybe they should ask Seska–everyone knows she was found in the cave with the Kazon. He’s not saying she did anything wrong, but he didn’t, either. Janeway wants to believe him. but until they can get to the bottom of this, she restricts him to quarters. Carey understands and goes on his way. Chakotay observes he had the motive and opportunity. Janeway says he’s had a stellar career in Starfleet, whereas Seska has spent the last couple of years as a criminal.

Chakotay says, “So have I.”

The incoming Kazon ship is hailing. They’re moments away and First Maje Culluh wants to know what they’ve done to they’re ship. Janeway says they responded to a distress call and Culluh wants to speak to the survivor. Janeway offers to beam Culluh aboard.

Janeway conducts Culluh and another Kazon to Sick Bay. The Doctor reports good news–the injured Kazon is stabilized and that his blood had been completely replaced. Culluh asks what they were replaced with and Janeway says that it was the blood of volunteers from her crew.  Janeway says they’re still investigating the source of the explosion and Culluh says that’s not necessary–they’ll just take the ship to their port and continue from there. Janeway says she can’t allow that because she believes that someone on her ship gave them that technology. Until she has a better explanation, that ship isn’t going anywhere–and that doesn’t set well with Cullah. He mentions there are more Kazon coming soon as a veiled threat.

Janeway moves off to the corner with The Doctor to discuss matters, and Culluh’s companion moves closer to the injured Kazon. He touches his ring and a needle protrudes from it. Tuvok observes what’s going on and moves to stop them, but not before the injured Kazon is hit with the needle. Janeway draws a phaser to hold Culluh in place and, it’s too late. The Doctor reports that the injured Kazon is now the dead Kazon. Janeway tells Cullah to get off the ship. The Doctor says he died instantly from a nerve toxin in the needle.  He also tells her that Seska isn’t Bajoran at all–she’s a Cardassian who has been genetically altered.

Chakotay isn’t buying it, but Tuvok says this kind of thing isn’t unprecedented. Tuvok tells Chakotay that The Doctor says there is no other plausible explanation for the medical anomalies. Chakotay wants to hear Seska’s side of things before they dismiss it. Chakotay wants to question her, but Janeway wants the console from the Kazon ship first.  Torres tells her over com that she’s done with her simulations and they’re ready.  So the retrieval begins.  Chakotay then says to Tuvok, “You were working for her; Seska was working for them. Was anyone on board that ship working for me?”

The Kazon hail the Voyager. They’re displeased that an Away Team is trespassing on their property. Janeway says she told them she was going to get the console. Culluh says that if they remove anything from the vessel, it will be considered an act of war. Janeway says she’s easy to get along with, but she doesn’t like bullies, she doesn’t like threats, and she doesn’t like Culluh.  She promises to respond with all the “unique” technologies at her command if the Kazon try to stop them.

In that time, Torres grabbed the console and beamed it to Engineering. (That was quick!) Torres reveals that the console is a food replicator, or it was trying to be. The Kazon didn’t use a thick enough interior shield casing which is what caused the explosion. Torres also says there’s no question that the pattern buffer relays are composed of bio-neural fibers so there’s no doubt that it came from the Voyager.

Chakotay heads to Sick Bay to talk with Seska and says they’ve recovered the console and that it came from the Voyager. Seska says that she assumes now people will think she was trying to destroy evidence. Chakotay asks, “Did you?”  She maintains that she was trying to show everyone–including him–that she didn’t. Chakotay isn’t sure she didn’t have anything to do with it and he’s doubting a lot of things lately. Seska sarcastically suggests that he talk to his animal guide and figure it all out. Chakotay says he knows she’s a Cardassian and that he knows her blood is missing all the Bajoran markers. Seska says it’s a side effect of Orkett’s disease and to ask The Doctor. She says she survived an outbreak in the Labor Camps thanks to a bone marrow transplant from a sympathetic Cardassian woman named Kattell. She maintains she only had one agenda with Chakotay and that she never kept that a secret–a reference to her love for him.

She asks him if he trusts her again and he says he wants to.  Chakotay tells her she has to stay confined to Sick Bay until they can find where the components for the replicator were taken from. She asks him if he really believes that the person who did this was foolish enough to use their own name while logging in. He says Tuvok is looking into it and he’ll brief the Captain.  Hopefully, it’ll clear up soon.

Chakotay leaves Sick Bay and Tuvok is waiting for him in the corridor. Chakotay tells him the story about the Cardassian bone marrow transplant. Tuvok asks him if he set their plan in motion and he nods.  Tuvok gave Carey the same information. All they can do now is wait and see if one of them takes the bait.

Back in Engineering, Tuvok and Chakotay are playing Gin. Torres comes in and tells them there are two more Kazon ships about six hours away. Just then, an alert goes off on the console.  Seems that someone has taken the bait that Chakotay and Tuvok left and they’re accessing the inventory database. The infiltrator is trying to place evidence to point the blame at someone and using an encrypted security code to do it. The code belongs to Seska. Torres says it has to be Carey and he’s trying to point the blame at Seska but Chakotay knows what’s going on.

He goes to Sick Bay to talk to Seska. She awakens and asks what’s wrong. He says that they know who gave the technology to the Kazon–and it was her. She tries to explain it away, but Chakotay says they found the evidence she put there for them to find. She says that it’s a terrible way for her to cover her own tracks—to use her own security code. Chakotay says she knew no one would believe she’d be that careless and that she’d say someone was trying to frame her. He tells her they even traced the console she used right back to Sick Bay. The lights come up and Janeway enters with Tuvok and two security officers. Chakotay activates the EMH and he comes in to “testify.” Chakotay tells her that before she mentioned Orkett’s disease, The Doctor had already excluded it as a possibility. (His program includes the complete Bajoran medical text on the ailment, so he’s a bit of an expert.) Chakotay still doesn’t understand why, though.

Seska says she did for him and the crew because of Janeway’s “incomprehensible decision” to strand them in the Delta Quadrant. Seska also says they need to form alliances to survive with powerful friends…friends like the Kazon. Seska calls Janeway a fool and Chakotay a fool for following her. She can’t imagine how she ever loved Chakotay.  She then issues “command XJL” to the computer and she is beamed away in front of their eyes. Chakotay orders an override but the computer can’t comply–Seska has locked out the security on the transport. She’s beamed to the Kazon vessel and they’re getting out of there. Janeway orders a tractor beam, but Paris indicates there’s two more ships just moments away. Tuvok says they can’t outlast the three vessels if they get into a fight.  Janeway orders Paris to take them out of there at Warp 4.  They’ll have to wait for another time to deal with Seska the traitor.

Later, Chakotay encounters Tuvok in the Mess Hall. He asks Tuvok to be honest with him. He wants to know from Tuvok–since he also deceived Chakotay back in the Maquis–if he thought Chakotay was particularly naive and what it was that let a bunch of spies get by him. Tuvok replies that humans rely on feelings and instincts to guide them and they can let you down.  He doesn’t find him particularly naive at all.  Chakotay asks if he ever saw anything about Seska that made him suspicious and Tuvok says no. She pulled the wool over his eyes as well.  It’s a minor consolation to Chakotay.

Tuvok finds it curious that his failure added to Chakotay’s improves the Commander’s feelings. Chakotay reminds him that misery loves company as the episode draws to a close.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • Chakotay’s outrage at Seska over the mushroom soup is spot on, as is his asserting himself as First Officer.
  • Martha Hackett is great as Seska and nails her duplicity perfectly. Casting her in this part was a big win.
  • Robert Beltran does a great job as a betrayed Chakotay—you really get the credible sense that he’s very wounded by Seska.
  • Seska as a Cardassian agent who has infiltrated the Maquis—this is a great plot twist and it was revealed well!
  • The exchange in the Mess Hall between Chakotay and Tuvok at the end of the episode is well done.
  • Minimal Paris, Neelix, and Kes.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • Two episodes of possible betrayal by a crewman back-to-back. Is Janeway in control? Makes one wonder.
  • Painted Ginger masquerading as Leola Root.

PHOTON TORPEDO COUNT

The Voyager didn’t fire any photon torpedoes this episode, so the count still stands at 37.

HARRY KIM TRACKER

There are no updates in the Harry Kim Tracker in this episode since he didn’t have a whole lot to do. The totals stand from the previous week’s episode.

Harry Kim’s Condition # Episode(s)
Abducted by Alien Race 1 Caretaker
Mysterious illness 1 Parallax
Killed 1
   Euthanized in Vhnori Death Pod Emanations
Dejected over mini-wormhole 1 Eye of the Needle
   Wormholes named after him 1 Eye of the Needle
Dejected over teleportation technology 1 Prime Factors

VERDICT

This is an outstanding episode of Voyager–and, more importantly, a great episode of Star Trek–because it relies on drama between characters to tell a story instead of technobabble or some kind of spatial anomaly. Martha Hackett and Robert Beltran are outstanding in this episode and there are enough twists in the story to keep the viewer engaged the whole time.  I almost wish this episode had been the Season 1 finale, because it would have been a great way to leave things with the characters–slightly unresolved but on a definite high note. This episode guarantees that Seska and the Kazon will be back, and probably sooner rather than later. This is the best standalone episode of Voyager since the pilot and it merits a solid 4 and 1/2 Deltas.  It’s got a few minor script issues, but if I were sitting someone down to introduce them to this series, I’d make sure this were one of the episodes.

4halfdelts

 

 

 

 

 WATCH IT

NEXT TIME

The Doctor must save the day when the Beowulf program in the Holodeck goes awry in “Heroes and Demons.”

=/\=

VOY Challenge, Ep. 10: Prime Factors

VOY_S01_E10TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s challenge to to barter his way home to the Alpha Quadrant aboard the Starship Voyager.

OVERVIEW

The crew of the intrepid U.S.S. Voyager (Ha! See what I did there?!) seems to be getting along at this point in their journey. Whether Maquis or Starfleet, there seems to be harmony. Seska and Torres chat in the Mess Hall about Paris and Kim’s date with the Delaney sister–one that didn’t go to well for Harry. He apparently arranged for Holodeck time to enjoy a canal ride in Venice with Jenny Delaney and wound up falling over the side of the gondola. (Poor Harry. Too bad self-inflicted torture doesn’t make the TrekGeeks’ Harry Kim Watch.)

Janeway notices the harmony and comments to Tuvok that the two crews seem to be coming together. Tuvok logically observes that kind of development should help improve performance and maximize efficiency.  Just then, Chakotay notifies the Captain that the Bridge is receiving a distress call and the vessel alters it’s course to intercept Voyager before they can change course. She hails the vessel to ask the nature of the emergency, and the person responding says there is no emergency and that the Voyager crew is the one in distress.  Janeway and Chaoktay exchange puzzled looks as we head to the opening credits.

The gentleman not in distress is Gathorel Labin of the planet Sikaris, but you can just call him Gath. He welcomes the Voyager crew to the Sikaran system and extends the hospitality of his people. He is invited aboard the Voyager where he promises gifts and an offer that they just might find irresistible.  (He doesn’t want to oversell it, I’m sure.)

Once aboard, Gath provides samples of Sikarian dishes and offers the crew a chance at shore leave on his planet. The Sikarians have heard about the crew’s journey and they are well-known for their hospitality. Janeway accepts the invitation and the ship is off to Sikaris.

Once there, Harry Kim meets a local named Eudana who is working on an atmospheric sensor. They hit it off and Harry hopes to go somewhere with a little more privacy with her. She takes him to a platform that kind of resembles a transporter and they materialize in a place she calls Alastria. Harry observes that Alastria has two suns and Sikaria only has one, so they’re in a completely different system.  (Hey, be warned–you can’t put one over on ol’ Harry.) What’s more, Alastria is 40,000 light years away from Sikaris. Forty. THOUSAND. That’s more than half of the distance the Voyager needs to go to get back to the Alpha Quadrant and would shave about 35 years off their journey.

Kim wants to get back and report this immediately.  (Yes, he blows yet another date.)  He tells Janeway about the technology and how it provides real hope in shortening their journey. The Sikarian transporter works on the principle of folding space and is called a Spatial Trajector. Janeway suggests to Gath that the Voyager could modify the technology to get the ship closer to home and this doesn’t fly with Gath.  The Sikarian Canon of Laws prohibits them from sharing their technology since it could fall into the wrong hands. For the first time, this Starfleet crew is on the other side of the Prime Directive and it doesn’t feel so great.

Back aboard ship, Harry has an idea. While he was on Sikaris, he learned that they value stories as a measurement of character. He proposes that they barter for the technology with the ship’s entire library of literature. Janeway approves, and she meets with Gath over a piece of Pecan Pie.  She asks again for the technology and Gath declines, which she expected. She then offers their bartering chip and Gath is interested. He promises to meet with the other Sikarian magistrates to discuss the offer.

Back on the surface, Eudana takes Kim to meet Gath’s aide in secret. He tells Kim that Gath has no intention of accepting Janeway’s offer, but that he is willing to trade the technology for the literature behind Gath’s back. Jaret says the Sikarians believe rules should be flexible enough to meet the needs of the moment. Plus, he wants to be the one to provide the Voyager stories to the public so that he can gain prestige. Everybody’s got an angle.

Harry wastes no time reporting this development to Janeway, and she agrees that Gath will probably not go through with the deal. She now finds herself between a rock and a hard place–either she deals with Gath who doesn’t want to play ball or she negotiates a deal with his aide who is willing to break Sikarian law. Tuvok attempts to apply logic, but Janeway reminds him that she’d also adhere to Starfleet principle while in the Delta Quadrant. Problem is, now she isn’t sure if she can tell the crew that her principles are more important than getting them home. (Y’know…like in she did already in “Caretaker.”) For now, Janeway will deal with Gath. She thanks Tuvok for the talk.

Janeway goes to see Gath one more time on the planet’s surface to try and get his answer. She asks Gath about the decision of the Magistrates and he evades her answer and even belittles her desire to get home. Janeway now realizes Gath’s intentions never included helping them. He directs Janeway and the Voyager crew to leave Sikaris and Janeway beams up to the ship, insulted and upset.  She tells Chakotay to cancel Shore Leave and get everyone back to the ship. She tells Tuvok that she feels like she’s been strung along. He asks her if she’s going to acquire the technology through Gath’s aide, and she says that she wishes she could.

Back in the Mess Hall, Seska has downloaded the entire Federation library and she, Torres, and Carey discuss making the deal with Gath’s aide.  This doesn’t sit so well with B’Elanna.  Seska says they made a promise to the Maquis and their people are still dying at the hands of the Cardassians.  Carey says that he has a wife and two children and he doesn’t want them growing up without a father. Torres reluctantly agrees and the three of them head to the Transporter Room. They plan to beam down and make the exchange where they are halted by Security Chief Tuvok.

He explains that went to download the library and  he noticed that it had already been downloaded. He had planned to make the exchange himself which completely stuns Torres, Seska, and Carey. He tells them to prepare Engineering and he beams down to make the exchange.  Tuvok returns with the trajector technology and tells Torres not to use it until he talks to the Captain. They run some tests on the device and discover that the trajector needs an amplifier the size of a planet in order to work–they can’t use the trajector if they leave orbit of Sikaris. They need to use the trajector now or the opportunity is gone. 

They activate the device and the trajector comes online but it’s causing the plasma manifold to become unstable. The trajector is bombarding Engineering with anti-nutrinos which are part of the space folding technology the device needs to transport. As a result, plasma temperatures are going through the roof and there’s the potential for a warp core breach. Seska attempts to compensate but it doesn’t work and Torres is forced to use a phaser and destroy the trajector. She realizes now that the anti-neutrinos made the trajector totally incompatible with Federation technology and that it never would have worked. Seska offers to delete logs and cover their tracks, but B’Elanna tells her there will be no cover-up. Seska tells B’Elanna that she has change and Torres says, if that’s true, she takes it as a compliment.

Tuvok and Torres are in Janeway’s Ready Room and the Captain is far from pleased.  B’Elanna tells Janeway that she takes full responsibility and she was the senior officer involved.  Tuvok interjects that Torres isn’t entirely accurate and that he was which stuns the Captain. Janeway dresses down B’Elanna and tells her how deeply she has disappointed her and that if there is another incident with her, she will no longer be part of the crew.

Janeway then asks Tuvok to explain himself. He tells her that she was in an ethical dilemma and he was the logical choice to lift that burden from her shoulders. He did it for her because he knew she could not. Janeway talks of their friendship and how he is her moral compass and that she depends on him in that role. She realizes he made a sacrifice for her, but it’s not one she would have allowed him to make. From now on, she wants him to bring his logic to her before acting. Tuvok gives his word. Tuvok is dismissed and Janeway looks out the window of her Ready Room, full of emotion and seemingly heart-broken.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • Voyager runs up against a species with its own Prime Directive. Turnabout is fair play!
  • The Sikarians have a new-fangled Transporter technology reminiscent of Transwarp Beaming in the J.J. Abrams movies.
  • There are flashes of the old B’Elanna in this episode—the one that’s not happy with Janeway’s decisions and takes matters into her own hands.
  • I like the undercurrent of mutiny and insubordination in this episode—and how it sucks Tuvok in, too.
  • Janeway’s dressing down of Torres is the appropriate amount of anger I’d expect.
  • Seska the Instigator! Martha Hackett is great in this episode.
  • Tim Russ–he’s got this Vulcan thing down. I found myself asking in this episode, “WWSD?  What Would Spock Do?” I think he’d do what Tuvok does in this episode for his friend.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • Weakest tease of any Star Trek episode I’ve seen. They sent out a distress call because the Voyager was “in distress?” Painful.
  • Episode 10 and Voyager has another potential way home? It seems way too early for something like this.
  • The Sikarians seem like an entirely codependent society—they derive joy from doing things for others. If Voyager hadn’t offered them their library, what would the payoff have been for them?
  • Janeway almost seems jilted after she gets back to the Voyager, and I don’t like that writing of the character.
  • I don’t feel as invested in the Janeway/Tuvok friendship as the writers think I should. I think the writers needed to build that more on screen to make Tuvok’s defiance of Janeway’s orders matter more.
  • Janeway’s dressing down of Tuvok is almost not angry enough.
  • I’ve had enough of heart-broken, almost-crying Janeway. Enough already…she’s a Starship Captain!

PHOTON TORPEDO COUNT

The Voyager didn’t fire any photon torpedoes this episode, so the count still stands at 37.

HARRY KIM TRACKER

Harry Kim’s Condition # Episode(s)
Abducted by Alien Race 1 Caretaker
Mysterious illness 1 Parallax
Killed 1
   Euthanized in Vhnori Death Pod Emanations
Dejected over mini-wormhole 1 Eye of the Needle
   Wormholes named after him 1 Eye of the Needle
Dejected over teleportation technology 1 Prime Factors

VERDICT

This episode was a nice turnabout since we’re always looking at Starfleet’s Prime Directive and how it influences their dealing with other cultures. We haven’t really seen them on the other end of that and I think it was a great change.  Plus, the insubordination aspect is great.  There are some nice cornerstones laid for the Janeway/Tuvok friendship and, while I wish they had explored that more before this episode to give the end of the episode more weight, I think it was a scene that was well done. Prime Factors is a good episode of Star Trek and it rates 3 and 1/2 Deltas out of a possible 5.

3halfdelts

WATCH IT

You can watch Prime Factors via Hulu below. (U.S.)

NEXT TIME

The Kazon return and there’s a big reveal for our crew in “State of Flux.”

=/\=

VOY Challenge, Ep. 9: Emanations

VOY_S01_E09TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s quest to go where no abused Ensign has gone before.

OVERVIEW

The crew of the Voyager has discovered a new element. It’s the 247th known to science and they’ve found it among a group of asteroids. As Chakotay, Torres, and Kim beam down to investigate, they come across what looks like an alien burial ground. Chakotay wants to tread lightly and make observations with eyes only so as not to desecrate the site when a subspace vacuole forms. An emergency beam-out is requested, and Torres and Chakotay materialize on the transporter pad with a dead alien–and no Harry Kim.

Meanwhile, Ensign Kim finds himself trapped in some sort of pod and surrounded by a people called the Vhnori. The pod is a burial pod, used to euthanize one of their society that is close to death. It seems Kim has materialized in the pod following one of their rituals in place of a Vhnori–the corpse that just materialized aboard the Voyager.  The Vhnori now believe that Harry has come from their afterlife–the Next Emanation–and to make matters worse, Harry’s told them that he’s just come from a world where there’s a lot of dead people.  Whoops. That’s not going to square up with their belief system, I’m thinking.

Back aboard the ship, The Doctor revives the deceased Vhnori by removing her brain tumor and replacing some neural tissue. She’s clearly confused–she thought she was going to wind up in the Next Emanation and, now, here she is aboard a Starship. The situation degrades fast and The Doctor sedates her.

Harry Kim is visited by one of the Vhnori’s thanatologists–Neria–who questions him about what happened. Harry’s account and presence is offsetting to Hatil who himself is preparing to go to the Next Emanation. Apparently, this euthanasia is a voluntary thing and now Hatil has misgivings.

Voyager attempts to send the revived Vhnori back to the asteroid and the attempt fails, killing the woman. After the attempt, subspace vacuoles begin to appear on the ship, depositing Vhnori corpses in Engineering. It appears the warp core may be attracting the vacuoles. The Captain orders each corpse to be transported back down to the asteroid as they appear…and they’re starting to appear more frequently.  What’s more, the vacuoles are beginning to damage the Voyager’s warp core, so they can only remain there so long before needing to leave.

Meanwhile, Harry Kim is taken to a facility for further medical testing. He knows he has to get back to the ship, and there’s only one way he can think to do it. He speaks with Hatil and gets him to let Harry take his place in the pod. Since the person departing for the Next Emanation is wrapped like a mummy, it will be easy for Kim to take his place.  Hatil agrees, figuring he will spend his remaining days in the moutains, and Kim will wind up somewhere Voyager can find him. The only problem is, he’ll be dead since the pod does euthanize the occupant.

The ceremony begins…the Vhnori say goodbye to the shrouded body and the lid to the pod is closed.  Harry Kim begins to take off the shroud and settle in. A tube extends and connects with Harry’s neck and, just like that, he’s dead.

The Voyager is running out of time and they need to call off the search for Kim. Just then another vacuole opens aboard the ship and deposits another corpse–a human.  Harry is rushed to Sick Bay where The Doctor revives him.

Janeway finds Kim in the Voyager mess hall where he is recovering from his, y’know, having been dead. She gives him a couple of days off to reflect on his experiences and to absorb what happened. Harry considers the Vhnoori, and how they spend their lives waiting to go to this Next Emanation and how they wind up on an asteroid.  Janeway tells him that may not be the end of the story. She says that based on the energy emitting from the newly deposited bodies added to a more complex energy field around the asteroids which may itself be the Next Emanation.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • The first of many abuses Harry Kim will have to endure across 7 seasons of Star Trek.
  • Veteran Actor Jerry Hardin as Neria. Hardin has appeared in several Star Trek episodes, notably as Mark Twain in TNG’s “Time’s Arrow,” and also as Radue in “When the Bough Breaks.” Genre fans will also recognize him as “Deep Throat” in multiple episodes of The X-Files.
  • Brannon Braga’s script is thought provoking, but it wanders a bit.
  • Janeway’s conversation with Kim in the Mess Hall is nice moment.
  • There’s a great POV shot with the camera when the Vhnoori is “resurrected” on the Sick Bay biobed. You really get the sense that she’s a bit bewildered by this experience.
  • Harry manages to undo a society’s entire belief structure in about 45 seconds. Way to go, Harry. It usually took Kirk an entire episode!

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • Since when are there multiple classes of humanoids? What’s more is that there’s a standard post-mortem resuscitation technique for Class V life forms? Huh?! So, death was irrelevant before Into Darkness?!
  • So the crew of the Voyager winds up with a dead alien woman, so what do they do?  They just REVIVE HER! Forget that we didn’t want to disrupt or desecrate the burial ground! Let’s just bring her back to life!
  • “This is what my people call a ‘First Contact Situation,’ and we’ve learned to be very careful about how much we tell alien cultures we’ve just met.” You mean like totally squashing their religion the moment you meet them, right, Harry?
  • No one’s going to notice that Kim has disappeared, but his uniform is left behind? No one?!

PHOTON TORPEDO COUNT

The Voyager didn’t fire any photon torpedoes this episode, so the count still stands at 37.

HARRY KIM TRACKER

Few members of Starfleet have been beaten down as much as Harry Kim has. Here’s a running tab of what’s happened to young Ensign to date:

Harry Kim’s Condition # Episode(s)
Abducted by Alien Race 1 Caretaker
Mysterious Illness 1 Parallax
Killed 1
   Euthanized in Vhnori Death Pod Emanations
Dejected over Mini-Wormhole 1 Eye of the Needle
Wormholes Named After Him 1 Eye of the Needle

We’ll keep this tab running through the series.

VERDICT

This episode is a bit of a heavy-handed treatment of “what happens when I die” but it also deals a bit in the quality of life/end of life debate. It seems like the focus is lost a little bit with all the ground it’s trying to cover and it should have focused squarely on one. It’s not a bad episode episode of television, but it’s also not a bad episode of Star Trek. Just past the mid-way point of Season 1, this is not a bad episode at all.  Emanations earns a respectable 2 and 1/2 Deltas out of a possible 5.

2halfdelts

 

 

 

 

NEXT TIME

The Voyager crew discovers a technology that could significantly shorten their journey home, but the people who own it have a non-interference directive of their own in Prime Factors.

=/\=

VOY Challenge, Ep. 8: Ex Post Facto

VOY_S01_E08TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s mission to make all the way through Star Trek: Voyager without being sentenced to relive it every fourteen hours…

OVERVIEW

As the episode opens, we see black and white footage of Tom Paris and a woman meeting up for a romantic encounter from someone else’s viewpoint. We discover that the observer is the woman’s husband, and he confronts Paris and his wife.  Paris doesn’t take too kindly to this and he stabs the husband who falls to the floor as the black and white vision fades away.  Tom Paris has just relived this entire scene and will continue to do so–every fourteen hours–as his sentence.  Tom Paris has been found guilty of murder on the planet Banea–a murder he says, he did not commit.

The U.S.S. Voyager finds one of her shuttlecraft, but there’s only one life sign aboard. Harry Kim is severely dehydrated and injured. Kim and Paris were on the Banean Homeworld meeting with engineering physicist Tolen Ren who designed navigational arrays and they were invited to his home for dinner where they met Ren’s wife, Lidell.  There’s obvious chemistry between Paris and Lidell, something that even Kim notices right away.  Things between the Rens have not been going well, and she definitely shows an interest in the Voyager helmsmen and the two of them spend some “quality time” together.

Tolen Ren finds out about the rendezvous and confronts his wife. Tolen Ren then winds up dead. It appears he fell on a knife rather mortally.   Paris is arrested, tried, and convicted of the murder.

That’s all Janeway needs to hear.  She orders the ship to head for Banea so they can investigate. Neelix tells the Captain that they will undoubtedly encounter a Numiri patrol vessel.  Seems the Numiri and the Baneans are at war with each other. They’re not exactly fond of the Baneans receiving visitors. They provide a few warnings to Janeway, but ultimately allow the Voyager to proceed to Banea without conflict.

Janeway meets with the Banean Minister. He explains that the evidence proves Paris’s guilt beyond the shadow of a doubt–the memory of Tolen Ren. Paris again denies having killed Ren. He speaks with Janeway and Tuvok and, while he’s telling his side of the story, he hits the fourteen hour mark and relives the murder. Again. The Baneans allow Janeway permission to take Paris back to the Voyager for a medical exam.

After examining Paris, The Doctor says the implant which causes Paris to relive the crime is causing significant damage to his brain. Tuvok interviews Lidell, who says she witnessed Paris murder Tolen. Later, Paris remembers that Lidell gave him a cup of tea the night Tolen was killed and he theorizes to Tuvok that she might have spiked it with something.

It is then that the ship is attacked by the Numiri out of the blue. They are repelled by the Voyager, but they’ll certainly be back. Tuvok decides to perform a Vulcan mind meld when Paris relives the 14-hour cycle so he can witness Ren’s memory. After the meld, Tuvok is convinced of Paris’s innocence and he also knows why the Numiri attacked the Voyager.

Tuvok gathers the interested parties and reveals that Paris wasn’t the man Tolen saw before he was murdered because someone altered his memory engrams. Tuvok also says that Lidell lied in her interview: the man that Tolen saw with his wife was almost equal in height with her and Paris is several centimeters taller. Tuvok also says that the murderer had to know Banean anatomy because he knew where the Banean heart was–where Tolen was stabbed.

We also get an explanation of the series of written characters that Paris sees in reliving the murder–those are equations that existed in Tolen Ren’s weapons research. It appears that the killer not only was romantic with Lidell, but was also a traitor providing information to the Numiri. That’s why they attacked the Voyager—they wanted to get hold of Paris to get the equations. Whomever put the memories in Paris’ head altered the engrams to include the secret research equations.

That person could only be doctor who performed the procedure and Lidell Ren had to be his accomplice. The Doctor denies having ever met Lidell before the other day, which Tuvok can easily disprove. He lets Lidell’s pet dog, Neeka, in the room and she immediately treats the Banean doctor as if she knows and recognizes him.

Later on in the Voyager Mess Hall, Paris approaches Tuvok to thank him for having saved his life. Tuvok states that he just conducted an investigation searching for the truth and that Tom didn’t owe him anything.

Paris thanks him again stating that, whether Tuvok likes it or not, he made a friend today.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • This episode was directed by TNG alum LeVar Burton—the first of eight Voyager episodes he would helm.
  • The concept of the punishment for murder–being forced to relive the crime from the victim’s point of view over and over.
  • Harry’s POV is the audience’s POV in the exposition of what happened prior to Paris’ sentencing. It’s an effective use of the character in this sense.
  • Tuvok’s investigation is…well…logical. Tim Russ nails it as a Vulcan in this episode, despite the script being a kind of also-ran procedural crime drama.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • The Doctor’s quest for a name seems forced. It’s a conversation that was bound to come up at some point, but this conversation between the EMH and Kes is just kind of flat.
  • Janeway is fretting a bit too much when they shuttle is discovered with only one life form aboard and again before Tuvok attempts the mind meld—almost like a worried mother. It doesn’t fit her character as a Starship Captain.
  • The Baneans almost remind me of the character Hawk from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. (In fact, every city on every planet in Star Trek looks like the same matte shot being recycled—which also looks like it came from Buck Rogers.)
  • The scene with Neelix in the Ready Room where he’s briefing the Captain on the Baneans is just painful…especially when Neelix laughs.

  • How does Neelix know all these things—that’s something that’s never really rung true to me. I can’t believe he’s traveled that much of the Delta Quadrant in that tiny little ship of his.
  • Since when does Neelix sit in a chair on the Bridge next to the Captain?
  • Star Trek should know after all this time that trying to make a dog look alien is bound to fail.
  • Tuvok has the same reaction to having made Tom Paris as a friend that I have. YAWN.

PHOTON TORPEDO COUNT

The Voyager didn’t fire any photon torpedoes this episode, so the count still stands at 37.

THE VERDICT

Ex Post Facto is, at best, filler. While the concept of the punishment is interesting enough, the episode itself seems like every other crime show on television from Hawaii Five-0 to Law & Order.  It’s hard to come up with a lot that’s bad about this episode, but it’s also hard to come up with a lot that’s good about this episode. Well, that, and the alien dog was the chief witness. (Seriously?!)  Ex Post Facto rates 2 and 1/2 Deltas out of a possible 5.

2halfdelts

NEXT TIME

Harry Kim manages to make an entire race question its concept of an afterlife in Emanations.

=/\=

VOY Challenge, Ep. 7: Eye of the Needle

VOY_S01_E07TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s mission to get through the Delta Quadrant using a tiny, tiny wormhole…

OVERVIEW

The opening Captain’s Log clues in to the fact that Ensign Kim has found what could be a wormhole that could possibly shorten Voyager’s journey home. It’s not exactly on their way home, so to investigate requires a significant detour.  Janeway orders the course change and Paris recommends that once their home they should petition the Federation Astronomical Committee to name the phenomenon, “The Harry Kim Wormhole.”

If it works.

After the opening credits, Voyager arrives at the coordinates where the wormhole should be located. It’s at that point we learn the bad news: the entrance to The Harry Kim Wormhole is only 30 centimeters in diameter–nowhere near large enough for the ship to travel through.  Janeway believes that the wormhole could be in an advanced state of decay. She decides to send a microprobe into the wormhole to investigate it, but it becomes stuck in an eddy inside. It’s not all bad news, though–it’s not long before the crew of the Starship Voyager realize that someone on the other side has noticed the microprobe.

Meanwhile, in Sick Bay, the Doctor is examining Lt. Baxter–who injured himself working out and only seems to want to talk to Kes. Baxter even questions the Doctor’s abilities openly. Once Baxter is treated and discharged from Sick Bay, Kes asks the Doctor if he was aware how rude the Lieutenant was to him. The Doctor replies that he’s used to it. Kes decides to ask the Doctor for more of a challenge–she doesn’t just want to learn first aid, she wants to learn anatomy and physiology. The Doctor obliges and Kes thanks him for his help and assistance…something he doesn’t appear to be used to.

Cut to the Observation Lounge: The Senior Staff has gathered to talk about the wormhole. Torres says that the microprobe will be crushed by the wormhole in 72 hours.  Janeway theorizes that it could be used as a relay to contact whomever is monitoring the probe from the other side.  Kim says they can use the probe as  a subspace relay to get a message across. This excites Ensign Kim a great deal.

Kim and Torres go to Engineering to work on configuring the relay, and they talk about who they might talk to back home. Kim hopes to talk to his family and Torres says the Maquis are the closest thing to family she’s got. Once the relay is configured, they send a series of signals across the wormhole. After several minutes, they receive a signal from the other side of the wormhole–AND it’s coming from the Alpha Quadrant!

Back at the B-Story, Kes visits the Captain to inform her she’s not happy with the way the crew treats the Doctor. Janeway tells Kes that she’s gotten all kinds of negative reports about the Doctor to the point where she’s considering having him reprogrammed. Kes doesn’t like the sound of that at all–she tells the Captain that the Doctor is alive…he’s got self-awareness, he learns, and he communicates.  Janeway ponders Kes’ points.

Harry Kim is encouraged by the test signals that the Voyager has sent and considers voice communication with the other side of the wormhole.  Janeway hails the other side and, after some manipulation for phase variance, they receive a reply from a Romulan cargo ship in sector 1835 of the Alpha Quadrant. She tells the Romulan ship that they are in the Delta Quadrant and, of course, the Romulans think Janeway is lying and insist she’s a spy.  Silly, silly Romulans.

The Romulan terminates communication. Tuvok mentions that there are no shipping lanes in that sector of the Alpha Quadrant and that the ship is most likely a Romulan science vessel on some kind of secret mission. Janeway orders continual hails of the Romulan ship. (Doesn’t she know it’s not good to keep calling a guy right away after the first date?)

Janeway decides to go to Sick Bay and talk to the Doctor but she doesn’t find his program on. She activates the EMH and he explains that he was deactivated by a crewman while in the middle of prepping a culture. Janeway tells the Doctor that he’s become a full member of the crew and asks what she can do to help. She suggests giving him control over his own deactivation and he’s surprised by the idea. She asks if there’s anything else that she can do and he says he’ll get back to her.

Kim finally re-establishes contact with the Romulans in the middle of the night and wakes Janeway. The Romulan is still suspicious and doesn’t give his name. He admits that he has confirmed that they’re in the Delta Quadrant but doesn’t see how that is possible. He still believes that Janeway and the Voyager crew are spies, but she assures them that they’re not. She explains that all she wants is for the Romulans to pass along messages from the Voyager crew to their families. He’s still not so sure–he’s like to establish a video link and believes he can amplify the signal on his end. Kim and Paris work with the signal until the Romulan appears on the Voyager’s viewscreen.

The Romulan comments that he’s never seen a ship like the Voyager before and Janeway mentions that it is new but not classified. He’s been on his mission for over a year and isn’t caught up to the intelligence. He explains to Janeway that his Government is considering relaying the Voyager’s messages home. Janeway’s concerned that the wormhole will collapse, but the Romulan is just a cog in a machine. She hopes that he will urge his Government to relay the messages. Janeway tells Chakotay to have the crew prepare their messages just in case the Romulan Government agrees.

Torres asks to speak to the Captain in private. She tells Janeway that the frequency of the communications link with the Romulan is within a few megahertz of the transporters. It could be possible to use the microprobe as a relay not just for communication, but to transport the entire Voyager crew to the Alpha Quadrant.

Kes is apparently a quick study, because her work on human anatomy and physiology is complete. The Doctor is as stunned as we are and quizzes her on some details. Kes gets the answers correct and tells the Doctor she’d like to go to medical school if the ship makes it home. The Doctor says that, if she keeps this pace up, she could be considered a doctor herself by the time they get back. (I’m guessing he didn’t have the heart to tell her that medical school is six years of her nine year lifespan.)  The Doctor clearly hasn’t heard the new plan, though, and he’d clearly be unable to join the crew in transporting to the Alpha Quadrant. Kes kisses the Doctor on the cheek and thanks him and he asks her to ensure that he’s turned off before they all leave.

Janeway tells the Romulan about the transporter theory and this impresses the Romulan–especially their advanced technology. They conduct a test, transporting a test cylinder to the other side of the wormhole successfully after accounting for more phase variance. Janeway then wants to send a Voyager crew member over to the Romulan side and he says that his Government would never allow it. He offers to transport himself over to the Voyager instead, promising to arrange for a Romulan troop ship to take Voyager’s crew if successful.

The transporter is energized and, although it’s not an easy beam-in, the Romulan materializes in the Voyager transporter room.

Janeway starts to think of having the crew prepare to abandon the ship and transport, but Tuvok steps up and asks the Romulan what year it is. The year?  The Romulan says that, by the Federation’s calendar, the year is 2151. Jaws drop in the room–the phase variance they have been accounting for is not only a variance in the wormhole but also a temporal one.  They’ve transported the Romulan 20 years into the future across the wormhole.  Of course, you know what this means–it’s time to go to the Observation Lounge and have a meeting.

The options are clear: transport 20 years into the past or have the Romulan deliver the messages from the Voyager crew in 20 years’ time. The Romulan agrees to deliver the messages at the appropriate time and says that he would welcome a visit from them when they arrive back home in the Alpha Quadrant. He finally gives them his name–he is Telek R’Mor of the Romulan Astrophysical Academy.

They give him the chip with the messages on it and R’Mor beams back to his time in the Alpha Quadrant. There is general relief aboard the Voyager that someone will hear their messages and then Tuvok drops the other shoe…

Telek R’Mor died four years before the Starship Voyager was transported to the Delta Quadrant.

Janeway looks heartbroken. Torres theorizes that maybe R’Mor gave the messages to someone else to forward along. Ultimately, there’s no way to know. All they can do now is get back on course for home.

Back in Sick Bay, Lt. Baxter is back to receive more treatment for another injury. Looks like he’s pulled a hamstring. Baxter begins talking only to Kes again and the Doctor tells him that if he has anything to say, he can say it to him. The Doctor also tells Baxter that if he has another workout injury, he’ll notify Baxter’s superior officer. Baxter replies with a “yes, sir” and leaves Sick Bay.  The Doctor also gives Kes a list of things he’d like from the Captain including probably the most prominent: a name.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • The A-Story. Although it’s obvious that there’s no way Voyager is going to find its way home in the seventh episode, this story is told well–along with the appropriate twist at the end.
  • The B-Story. What could have been forgetful filler in the episode lays the building blocks for the growth of the Doctor as a character.
  • Vaughn Armstrong as the Romulan, Telek R’Mor. Armstrong is fantastic whenever he appears in Trek and this episode is no exception.
  • Harry Kim’s unbridled enthusiasm. Totally appropriate for his age and experience in Starfleet and it provides a good build up to the let down later on. Garrett Wang does a great job in this episode.
  • Janeway’s disappointment at the end of the episode. She, too, had her hopes up and the twist hits her like a ton of bricks. She’s downright crestfallen and Kate Mulgrew plays the scene exceptionally.
  • The Twist, obviously. You just know another shoe has to drop…and it does.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • Voyager’s power reserves are down, yet they can beam everyone across to the Alpha Quadrant?
  • Although it was a conscious decision to exclude them, I’d have liked to have seen the crew recording some messages to their loved ones–perhaps maybe even Janeway, if for no other reason than to add layers to her character.
  • I still don’t like that Romulans have protruding foreheads in the TNG era and the Vulcans don’t. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

PHOTON TORPEDO COUNT

The Voyager didn’t fire any torpedoes this episode, so the count still stands at 37.

VERDICT

“Eye of the Needle” is a great episode of Voyager and good Star Trek, to boot. If I were putting together a list of episodes for the purpose of exposing this series to people who had never seen it, this one would be on it.  It gets a solid four Deltas out of five.

4delts

 

NEXT TIME

Tom Paris is convicted of murder and is sentenced to relive his crime over and over and over and over and over and over…well, you get the idea. Ex Post Facto is episode 8.

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VOY Challenge, Ep. 6: The Cloud

VOY_S01_E06TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s quest to milk nebulas for all the coffee they’ve got!

OVERVIEW

Captain Janeway is on a quest, and what she wants is coffee. Problem is, all Neelix has brewing up in his kitchen is the equivalent of sludge. She’d rather use one of her replicator rations for something much closer to her beverage of choice, but Neelix says that wouldn’t be setting a very good example for the rest of the crew. Besides, energy reserves are at a premium and it’s not like they can use that power for replicating coffee on demand.

It’s then that Chakotay interrupts the conversation, summoning Janeway to the Bridge. Upon arrival, he tells Janeway that they’ve found a nebula rich in omicron particles which they can collect for energy—and, as Janeway observes, coffee.   Ah, coffee…

After the opening credits, we learn that Janeway is concerned about the crew given the ship’s current state. She wishes there were a Counselor on board. Chakotay tells her of his people’s traditions–that animals are their counselors, as spirit guides.  He tells her that everyone has a different one, which intrigues the Captain.

Voyager enters the nebula but encounters some kind of energy barrier that’s preventing them from getting to the energy. They force their way through the barrier–and what would seem to be their point of egress closes behind them, leaving them inside the nebula.

This doesn’t make Neelix happy.  He and Kes are down in the Mess Hall looking out the window.  He wonders why Janeway has to endanger the Voyager and her crew in that manner.  Kes reminds him that they’re explorers and they’re curious by nature. Neelix isn’t so sure he agrees, thinking that the Starfleet crew may be “natural born idiots” with their exploration, especially given the ship they have. Kes still doesn’t agree, saying if she were the Captain she’d be doing things like Janeway.  I guess Neelix is sleeping on the sofa tonight.

Neelix may be right about the risk, though.  Now there’s some kind of compound attaching itself to Voyager. It’s time to get out of that nebula but–new problem–the barrier they energy barrier they forced their way through is now preventing them from getting out.  They push the thrusters past the limit, fire phasers, launch a photon torpedo. They make it out, but now energy reserves are now down another 11%.

Later, Paris lets himself in to Kim’s quarters. He wakes him up and tells him he wants to show him something on the Holodeck: a recreation of his favorite pool hall in Marseilles.  They talk about how they miss home.

Meanwhile, in Sick Bay, Torres needs a hand with some analysis so she brings a sample of the compound taken from the hull while Voyager was inside the nebula. The Doctor, after sounding a whole lot like Neelix in Act I of the episode, confirms that the sample B’Elanna has brought to him is definitely organic. Time to tell the Captain.

Chakotay bring his his medicine bundle  to Janeway to help her find her spirit guide. B’Elanna interrupts the conversation to inform them of her findings–that this compound is organic, but it seems to be from a much larger organism.  So, that nebula–yeah, it’s not a nebula.  It’s a lifeform and it turns out that they’ve injured it by taking the actions they did.  That’s not very Starfleet of them, now is it?

Now they have to repair the damage they’ve done. Torres says that they may be able to repair the damage using a nucleonic radiation field.  That should enable the lifeform to regenerate.

Neelix catches wind of that and decides to complain to the Captain. The last thing he wants to do is to go back inside that “nebula” for any reason and he doesn’t think Voyager should either. He asks that Janeway allow him and Kes to sit by the sidelines in Neelix’s ship and they can wait for Voyager to come back and pick them up.  Janeway tells him in no uncertain terms that they’re not going to stop and let him off everytime they encounter trouble and that he should find a good seat for the ride.

Voyager re-enters the cloud and the ship is hit by multi-polaric charges. The ship is pulled even deeper into the lifeform. Chakotay suggests that they could enter the lifeform’s circulatory system to wrap back around to the wound Voyager caused. Neelix shows up on the Bridge with refreshments, having named himself the ship’s Chief Morale Officer.  Once back at the wound, they apply the nucleonic radiation and use the ship as a type of suture to close the wound.   The lifeform is on its way to healing.

On the bright side, Janeway gets invited by Harry to the Holodeck to see Paris’ recreation of the Marseilles pool hall.

On the down side, energy reserves are now down 20% overall. No coffee in Janeway’s future, that’s for sure.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • Janeway’s opening log entry is good character building and gives us insight to her inner struggles. I’ve always felt she was a study in contradictions as far as the Star Trek captains went, and this is no exception.
  • A very well written scene between Janeway and Neelix regarding her coffee.
  • Chakotay is going to teach Janeway how to contact her animal guide.
  • The scene where Janeway dresses down Neelix is decent and adds credibility to Janeway’s leadership. 

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • Tuvok’s redirection of Kim on the Bridge seems odd–like no one else could hear their communicator conversation?
  • Six episodes in and they still haven’t fixed Tuvok’s pips.
  • Kim’s “in your face” comment to Tuvok seems out of character–and a breach of protocol.
  • Janeway’s taking Voyager into this nebula seems very ill-advised, aside from the obvious reasons.
  • So, Voyager’s energy reserves are down yet another 11%, yet Tom Paris can go and create a French pub on the Holodeck? Janeway can’t even get a damned cup of coffee, for cryin’ out loud!
  • I don’t feel like this pub adds any depth to Paris. He still seems very one-dimensional to me right now.
  • How did Chakotay get his medicine bundle on to Voyager when he was beamed off his Maquis raider at the last second before it crashed into the Kazon ship? Seriously?
  • Janeway’s animal guide is apparently the Geico Gekko.
  • Neelix appoints himself Morale Officer. UGH.
  • Kirk, Picard, Sisko, and Archer would never have allowed snacks on the Bridge.
  • Harry takes Janeway to the Holodeck pub and, still, no one has a problem with this use of energy despite the fact that they’re using replicator rations and energy reserves are down 20% from the start of this episode.

PHOTON TORPEDO COUNT

We learned during this episode that the U.S.S. Voyager has a compliment of only 38 photon torpedoes.  They fired 1 to get out of the lifeform, so now they’re down to 37. (Thirty-seven. In a row.)

VERDICT

“The Cloud” is one of those episodes that I think was probably a TNG episode at some point. I think it came too close in the schedule to “Parallax,” because it seems like another “Hey…we found this weird thing in space. Let’s go inside it!” type of episode. While it’s better than “Parallax,” it’s really not all that compelling. It’s a decent enough story, but it just seems odd to me that they would have entered the “nebula” to begin with–especially since Janeway got her start in Starfleet as a science officer.  It seems out of character for her to issue that order, both as a Starfleet Captain and as a scientist.

RATING

Although “The Cloud” is a decent script, I think it’s flawed in its concept and the pitch should have been re-worked on a couple of angles. It’s watchable and there are some decent character moments, but it’s by no means the best of Star Trek. It gets 2 1/2 Deltas out of 5.

2halfdelts
 
 
 
 
 
 

NEXT TIME

The Voyager discovers a wormhole and contacts the Romulans in “Eye of the Needle.”

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VOY Challenge, Ep. 5: Phage

VOY_S01_E05TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge: One Geek’s quest to make it back to the Alpha Quadrant with all his internal organs intact.

OVERVIEW

Captain Janeway is making her way to her private dining room when she finds that Neelix has converted it into a makeshift galley to make real food for the crew.  The ship’s current energy reserve situation and replicator rations policy have made it a necessity–and one that will take some getting used to.

Janeway is then summoned to the Bridge by Chakotay.  Sensors have detected a possible deposit of dilithium which would go a long way in solving Voyager’s energy reserve problems.  In fact, there could be as much as 1000 metric tons of the stuff on the Class M planet the deposit is located on.

The Captain orders an Away Team of Chakotay, Kim, and Neelix (who practically begs to be part of the group) to beam down to the caves that contain the dilitihium. They split up and search for the deposits in the caverns–because what could possibly go wrong–and we learn that things aren’t what they seem.

Neelix has been called back to the rendezvous site to return to the ship, but his tricorder has picked up some unusual readings from the rock and he goes to investigate (against orders, of course).  Unbeknownst to Neelix, the rock wall behind him has disappeared and reveals a corridor.  Neelix eventually turns around and it stunned to discover the corridor when he is surprised by an unknown species. The alien fires what appears to be some kind of weapon at Neelix and hits him.

Chakotay and Kim rush to Neelix’s location and find him writhing around on the ground unable to breathe. Emergency Transport! Everyone is beamed directly to Sick Bay where the Doctor discovers that Neelix’s lungs are missing.  They’ve been completely removed from his body.

Artificial lungs aren’t an option, but The Doctor says he can replace Neelix’s original lungs if they can be found quickly. Janeway decides to lead an Away Team down to the caverns and investigate the situation.  The break through the force field that was projecting the rock wall and proceed down the corridor.

Back aboard the Voyager, The Doctor is able to craft a set of holographic lungs for Neelix to allow him to breathe on his own. The downside? Neelix will have to remain perfectly still in order for the lungs to work properly.  It seems the computer can’t compensate for movement in rendering the hologram of the lungs in his chest, so he’ll have to remain completely motionless for the rest of his life. Good times.

Meanwhile, Janeway, Tuvok, and Kim have discovered a room that looks like it’s got a lot of organs in it. The Captain picks up a life form in the area and they encounter the Vidiians who evade pursuit with a force field. Janeway finds one of the Vidiian organ extraction tools and brings it back to the Voyager where they lay in a pursuit course.  The Vidiians try to lose Voyager inside a giant asteroid and, to make matters worse, the inside of the asteroid is like a Hall of Mirrors. There appear to be hundreds of Vidiian vessels when, in fact, there’s only one.  Chakotay comes up with an idea to use the phasers on low power and bounce the beams off the reflection until it stops on the real ship.

They find the real ship and the Vidiians surrender.  They come aboard Voyager and drop the bad news: they’ve already used Neelix’s lungs and can’t retransplant without killing the Vidiian recipient–who happens to be one of the two Vidiians standing aboard Voyager.  Captain Janeway is left with no other choice but to let the Vidiians go, but she sends them with a stern warning to take back to their people: if they so much as jaywalk in front of Voyager, Janeway will meet them with deadly force.

The Vidiians, grateful for Janeway’s sparing their lives, offer to give some of their medical knowledge to try and save Neelix. Kes offers a lung to Neelix and the transplant is successful. Janeway sends the Vidiians on their way. Voyager gets back under way for the Alpha Quadrant and Kes becomes the heiress apparent to Tom Paris’ medical assistant position.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • The Vidiians. What a great, scary new race wtih great potential. Organ harvesting to fight off a plague?  Sign me up for more of this! 
  • The Doctor giving Neelix holographic lungs. Such a neat and inventive solution!
  • Janeway’s internal struggle when it comes to releasing the Vidiians. This Captain is still finding the balance in being the leader of a group of people trapped 75 years from home.  Her conflict between doing the right thing and doing what gets her crew home is quite a delicate position that Kate Mulgrew absolutely nails with perfection.
  • The final version of the script.  The original version of the script called for Tom Paris’ heart to be stolen by the Vidiians and I think this version just works much better.
  • This episode sets up a great discussion on the quality of life for patients with severe illness in the best traditions of Star Trek.
  • Neelix manages to find some humor in a less than ideal situation. Great texture to the character in this episode.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • I never liked the story element of Neelix being suspicious and jealous of Paris where Kes is concerned. I don’t think it plays well at all.
  • Neelix is going to get one of Kes’ lungs thanks to Vidiian technology. Here’s hoping that lung lasts more than the 9 years that make up the typical Ocampan life span.
  • I feel like we’re seeing a whole lot of Neelix lately and not enough learning about our Starfleet crew.
  • This episode reinforces one the long-standing problems I’ve had with Voyager. The primary conflict the ship is facing is resolved during a Captain’s Log and happens off-screen in the last 90 seconds of the show.

VERDICT

“Phage” is a great episode that introduces a new alien species that truly pose a life-threatening danger to the Voyager crew. The vast majority of this episode works for me and, more than being “good Star Trek,” it’s really good science fiction.  You just know that, based on Janeway’s warning, we will be seeing this race again and you know it’s not going to be good for anyone.

Additionally, five episodes in, I definitely see why Kate Mulgrew was cast as Janeway.  She absolutely can carry the mantle of Starship Captain in the Star Trek Universe. I definitely have not given Mulgrew or Janeway nearly enough credit in the past.

RATING

“Phage” fires on all thrusters and is a great, early episode in this series. It gets a solid 4 Starfleet Deltas out of a possible 5.

4delts

 

 

 

 

NEXT TIME

Voyager discovers a nebula that could solve their power reserve problems in Episode 6, “The Cloud.”

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