TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge: One Geek’s quest to make it back to the Alpha Quadrant along with the USS Voyager crew.
Tom Paris’ shift comes to an end on the Voyager Bridge and he wants Harry Kim to join him. Why? Paris has set the two up with the Delaney Sisters in Astrometrics. Harry balks at the date, saying he has to do a diagnostic on the transtator assembly and that he has a girl back home, but Paris reveals that he may have…embellished Harry’s credentials to curry favor with them. It seems that Paris told them that Harry broke the single pilot speed record at Starfleet Academy–something that Harry protests is absolutely false, but Tom counters that they will never know.
It’s at that point that the Starship Voyager is hit by a shock wave. Janeway and Neelix enter the Bridge from the Ready room and Kes wakes up in her quarters feeling something is wrong. Paris reports a debris cloud in a red dwarf system nearby. Tuvok says that the cloud is made up of polaric ions. That’s worth investigating and a course is set for a planet in the red dwarf system.
Kes makes her way to the Bridge. She seems to know that there’s no life signs on the planet. She’s right–the planet’s atmosphere has been irradiated and it may be affecting sensor scans. An away team beams down to find a society that’s been thoroughly obliterated. It seems that there was a vast explosion of polaric ions–a source of energy on the planet.
In fact, Kes saw a vision of that explosion aboard Voyager. That’s what woke her up. Kes says that her people had telepathic abilities and Neelix tells her that’s an old wives tale. (Little does he know…)
Down on yonder planet, Paris finds what looks to be a clock of some kind and it’s stopped. The display reads 401-22-85. As he holds the clock, he notices a village with people that no one else can see. The vision stops and B’Elanna says the tricorder is showing Paris is in temporal flux and that there are fractures in subspace. At that moment, Janeway and Paris are pulled back in time to the village and it’s filled with people as if no explosion happened.
Janeway and Paris are also now being watched by a young boy that saw them appear and he doesn’t believe the cover story the two Starfleet officers have crafted. He calls “shenanigans,” but everybody thinks he’s just telling tales.
Paris is window shopping and sees the same time piece he picked up moments ago–and it looks like he and the Captain have been thrown back in time by one day. That explosion that ended all life on the planet is coming tomorrow, and perhaps they can stop it.
Back aboard Voyager, the hunt for Janeway and Paris is on. The staff theorizes that Janeway would have activated a subspace beacon from her combadge and they have to find a way to track the signal down. (Combadges can do that?!)
We find Kes in Sickbay getting her the Doctor is scanning her brain to determine if she really had a telepathic moment. The Doctor seems to be annoyed by everything and no one’s keeping him in the loop. (He’s only the Chief Medical Officer, dontcha know?) The Doctor, never having seen an Ocampan brain before, tells Kes to drink lots of liquids.
Back on the planet, Janeway and Paris look like locals. (Locals with terrible clothes, no less.) Janeway activates the aforementioned subspace beacon on her combadge and she and Paris begin a conversation about the Prime Directive. He thinks they should tell the locals what’s going to happen and she asserts that they can’t. Enter the kid who is following them and he accuses them of lying and Paris scares him away.
They look for the source of the polaric energy–a power plant, and there’s a demonstration going on. Janeway and Paris get caught up in it and a fight ensues. They leave with the protest organizer after Paris punches a security guard.
Meanwhile, back aboard the Voyager, Torres and Kim come up with a way to open a subspace fracture. There are some limitations (it can only be used in a spot once and for only 30 seconds) and some precautions (modified tricorders and anti-polaric armbands). Kes talks to Chakotay and tells him that she wants to go on the Away Team to the planet and Chakotay takes it under advisement.
We then find Janeway and Paris at the house of the protest leader. They are practicing some first aid when the protesters come to find out who they are and why they were at the power plant. Janeway continues with the fake story that she and Paris have created, but the protesters aren’t buying it. They think that our heroes are with the Government. Why? Because Janeway and Paris are throwing off a lot of polaric radiation which could only mean they’d been at another power plant–and they were practically glowing from the exposure.
The Away Team arrive on the desolate surface of the planet where Janeway and Paris disappeared. They detect a combadge signal, but it’s in the present, not the past. They begin to look for the source but can’t locate any localized subspace fractures.
Janeway is being questioned and answers somewhat evasively. It’s at that moment that the kid that has been following her and Paris is brought into the room kicking and screaming by one of the other protestors. The kid tells the leader that Janeway and Paris have been lying about who they are.
Back at the Away Team, they’ve found the source of the signals–it’s a couple of very melty combadges. No help there.
Head Protestor Guy questions Janeway about her phaser and tricorder saying they could be spy equipment. He then spills his plan for the power plant and Janeway can all of a sudden hear Kes and Kes can hear Janeway. Janeway tells Protestor Guy who she is and begins to spill the beans. (So much for the Prime Directive.) Protestor guy doesn’t believe Janeway’s story–or the fact that there’s going to be a massive explosion–and he brings Paris and Janeway with him and his crew to the power plant.
Almost as soon as they leave, a subspace fracture opens thanks to the Voyager crew, except no one on the other side is around to see it.
Janeway and Paris talk about the Prime Directive more. She says that the Prime Directive was broken when they were thrown back in time and appeared in the village (which makes NO sense at all) and that it didn’t matter at that point. Plus, now it means that stopping the protestors is their job now.
At the power plant, Protestor Guy tells Janeway that there’s a gun on the kid and she’d better get them past the power plant’s security by telling them she’s with the Government. (THAT sounds like a foolproof plan, doesn’t it?) She instead tells the guard that she’s a hostage and that the protestors are there to break into the power plant. The guard reaches for his weapon, but is shot. One of the protestors goes to shoot the kid and Paris jumps in front of him and is shot. They storm the plant, Janeway makes sure Paris is OK and then picks up a gun and goes after them.
Janeway catches up to them and gets them at gunpoint, telling them to stop. Protestor Guy tells her that she shouldn’t discharge a weapon near all that polaric energy and a standoff begins. She figures they can just wait until after the time the explosion would have happened and everything should be fine at that point.
It’s at that point that a subspace fracture opens. It’s the Voyager crew trying to get to Janeway and that’s when she realizes the paradox: the rescue attempt is what causes the explosion. The Voyager crew is what destroys that planet’s civilization. She takes her phaser from the Protestor Guy and fires it at the fracture, forcing it to close and stopping the explosion before it can happen.
We’re back on the Voyager Bridge as we were at the beginning of the episode except there’s no shock wave that hits the ship and the planet’s civilization was never destroyed. The only one who seems to remember anything about it is the newly telepathic Kes.
WHAT WORKED FOR ME
- Kes’ discovery of her telepathic abilities–which we’ll see grow as the seasons progress.
- The discussion of the Prime Directive.
- Janeway and Paris. Paris was far less irritating in this episode.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME
- This was the second episode in a row that had some kind of pre-destination paradox. In both “Parallax” and here in “Time and Again,” Voyager was the cause of the problem in the first place. So far, it seems like the most dangerous thing in the Delta Quadrant is the crew themselves! They’ve got to find another antagonist, and soon, or else they’re not going to make it past the first season, for cryin’ out loud!
- This is also one of those episodes that seems to me like it could have been a TNG episode if just a couple of the characters were changed. Instead of Janeway and Paris, it could have been Picard and Riker or Picard and Crusher or…well, you get the idea.
- The Protestor Guys. They had no teeth and seemed like they served as a device to get Janeway to user her phaser to close the fracture and reset time.
- The kid. Annoying.
“Time and Again” isn’t a bad episode, but it isn’t a great episode either. For me, it’s kind of down the middle albeit still enjoyable, particularly because of the allegory that the polaric energy represents in the debate on nuclear energy that we’ve seen for decades. This episode comments on our modern day society, though not in as eloquent a way that some of Star Trek’s finest hours have done in the past.
I think that more time could have been spent “humanizing” the planet’s inhabitants to draw the allegory better which would have made for a more poignant commentary on energy in today’s society. I think that aspect fell flat a little bit which affected the overall perception and rating of the episode.
For me, the episode is slightly better than “Parallax”. I give it 2 and a half Deltas out of a possible five.
Neelix is breathless as the Voyager crew encounters the Vidiians for the first time in “Phage.”