TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge: One Geek’s quest to make it through the fifth Star Trek series.
The episode opens in Sickbay where the EMH is treating Lt. Carey for a broken nose–one given to him by fellow engineer and erstwhile Maquis, Lt. B’Elanna Torres, who hasn’t learned how to operate in a team environment aboard a Starfleet vessel. It seems her Klingon half has been getting the better of her, leading to physical outbursts like this one. Carey won’t have any of it, though–he tells Chakotay and Tuvok that he doesn’t want her in Engineering anymore.
Tuvok tells Chakotay that B’Elanna should be confined to the ship’s brig and maybe even receive a court martial, but Chakotay won’t have any of that. He prefers to deal with the situation on his own. Tuvok, of course, will file a full report. (Way to drop a dime, Tuvok.)
En route to B’Elanna’s quarters, Chakotay encounters other former Maquis members who tell him they’ll support if he wants to take over the ship. Chakotay responds by threatening to put them both in the brig if he hears anything like that again. We haven’t even hit the opening credits and Chakotay has already squelched a mutiny aboard Voyager!
Chakotay visits B’Elanna and tells her she’s got to rein it in if she’s going to be the next Chief Engineer–an idea he hasn’t run by Captain Janeway yet.
Following the opening credits, Voyager encounters a Type 4 quantum singularity and is receiving a garbled transmission from a ship caught near the singularity’s event horizon. Janeway wants to use a tractor beam to rescue the stranded ship, but that’s not going to work thanks to the subspace interference. (Damn that subspace interference!) Chakotay contacts Engineering and talks to Torres–pulling an end-run on Carey–which does not make Janeway happy one bit.
Janeway pulls Chakotay into her Ready Room and tells him that he should not have bypassed the Senior Officer in Engineering, and he says that the Maquis contingent of the crew don’t get enough responsibility which is why the crew isn’t coming together. He also suggests that Janeway should get to know Torres.
Kes goes to sickbay for soil samples and finds the EMH not only irritated, but also shorter in height–10.4 centimeters, to be exact. The Doctor contacts Kim to request a repair to his holographic emitters, but there’s kind of a lot going on right now with the quantum singularity and all.
Back in Engineering, a subspace tractor beam has been devised and is put into use somewhat unsuccessfully. Janeway decides they’re going to need help and orders a course to be set for a nearby planet at full impulse.
Janeway decides to talk to B’Elanna and invites her up to the Captain’s Ready Room. Janeway tries to find a common bond with her and begins to talk about Torres’ Academy days, but B’Elanna isn’t digging it. She tells the Captain that she didn’t want anything to do with Starfleet then and is sorry she has to now and leaves. (Certainly not the way to impress the Captain.)
Janeway is summoned back to the Bridge because another quantum singularity has been discovered–but it turns out it’s actually the same one from before. She orders a course in the opposite direction at warp speed, but they are met by the same quantum singularity again!
Cue the staff meeting. The Doctor updates the Captain on the crew’s health (some of them appear to be experiencing dizziness, headaches, and muscle spasms relating to the singularity) and also informs them that he’s lost 68 centimeters of height. Torres theorizes that she could use a localized dampening field around the sensors to contact the trapped ship. Janeway agrees, and when they can decipher the garbled transmission from the other ship, they realize the ship in distress is Voyager itself. (Now MY head hurts and there’s not even a quantum singularity here.)
Meeting time again. They estimate that there are nine hours left until Voyager is destroyed by the singularity and they need to find the hole they think they made in the singularity from the first attempt with the subspace tractor beam to get out. Janeway and Torres start to finish each other’s sentences and come to the joint conclusion that warp particles are the way to go.
They find the hole, but it’s not big enough so Janeway and Torres use a shuttle to use a dekyon beam to enlarge the hole. Torres apologizes for her earlier conduct, and when the job is done they turn around and head back to the ship. The only problem is, now there’s TWO Voyagers and they’re not entirely sure which one is the real one. Janeway makes a guess and, of course, she’s right.
Voyager heads toward the opening and, despite failing shields and engines, is able to make its way out of the singularity. Chakotay informs Torres that she’s now the Chief Engineer and Carey shakes her hand. The episode closes with a sight gag of The Doctor being less than a meter tall.
WHAT WORKED FOR ME
- We see early on that this ship isn’t the Enterprise by any stretch. They have to rely on themselves and it brings a different quality to this Trek series that we’re not used to.
- Janeway’s attempt to talk to B’Elanna. It was a well written scene, although I think they should have spanned this conflict over a couple of episodes.
- Chakotay’s challenging of Janeway was something that never would have happened in any other Star Trek series due to the “Roddenberry Rule” that the principal cast shouldn’t have disagreements.
- Neelix’s explanation of a quantum singluarity to Kes via exposition is great–and something that the TNG era of Trek should have done more often. It almost seems like it was a note from the network to explain this stuff to the audience of a new network, but it was done effectively just the same.
- Ethan Phillips. Neelix may be annoying at times, but I think that’s primarily because of the way the character is written–not because of his performance.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME
- The Doctor’s shrinking is a thoroughly lame bit. It doesn’t work on any level.
- B’Elanna’s hotheadedness in the conversation with Chakotay seems forced and over the top. I almost feel like the writers struggle with this character early on in the series.
- Tuvok has Lt. Commander rank pips, but Chakotay calls him “Lieutenant.” (This will occur for several episodes.)
- So, B’Elanna violates the rules, strikes an officer, commits a court martial offense and she’s still going to be Chief Engineer? That just seems really contrived and convenient to me.
- I feel like I’ve seen the quantum singularity part of this episode before.
- Janeway begins her own analysis on the singluarity. Does she not have much faith in her Science team? I think this highlights one of my initial problems with Voyager–there’s no Science Officer among the senior staff. I get that she was once a Science Officer, but she’s a Starship Captain now.
- The way that Janeway and Torres finish each other’s sentences doesn’t work for me, although I get what they were trying to accomplish.
“Parallax” is a weak episode for me and it really kind of serves as a device to make B’Elanna Torres the Chief Engineer. The quantum singularity story line is not all that interesting or compelling. There are some decent character notes, but I think that the script would have been better served by drawing the conflict out between Janeway and Torres to provide a more satisfactory (and believable) resolution in a later episode.
Ultimately, the episode is largely forgettable. In fact, I’ve seen it at least three times over the years and had forgotten that I had.
“Parallax” gets a lowly 2 Deltas for an uneven script saved by some decent exposition and character development.
Voyager investigates a cataclysmic explosion that wiped out an entire civilization–only to see Paris and Janeway taken back in time one full day to try and prevent the global disaster in “Time and Again.”