ROMULANS ARE THE SEXIEST STAR TREK VILLAINS AND I WON’T HEAR A WORD AGAINST THEM! Yes, we have a Romulan in Voyager and this episode is great because of it.
Since I’m not going to be reviewing the next episode of Voyager today, I thought I’d give my opinions on one of the most important concepts in Star Trek as a whole: The Prime Directive.
The Prime Directive, also known as Starfleet General Order 1 if you’re wanting to be really geeky, is basically comprised of two general rules:
Now when you consider what Roddenberry wanted Trek to be originally, the whole “Wagon Train to the Stars” concept, the Prime Directive is a sensible idea. Human history is filled with examples of a technologically superior culture meeting primitive tribal societies and completely wiping them off the face of the map. Examples include the Native American tribes, African tribes and the Aborigines in Australia, not to mention the countless examples in Ancient History involving the Romans and Celtic cultures which were so successfully integrated that it’s now impossible to piece together Celtic history without using Roman source material. This cultural (and in many cases literal) genocide is what the first part of the Prime Directive is intended to avoid, since Roddenberry wanted his idea of the future of man to be peaceful and enlightened.
The second part also makes a huge lot of sense if you look into American history. The whole point of not interfering in the internal politics of another nation is so that your own nation doesn’t get drawn into a war. After the First World War the US refused to be drawn into what was seen as another “European” conflict (although at one point Congress was more likely to ally with Germany than Britain - look it up) and it was only the threat from the Japanese that bought the US into the war giving Britain the much needed material and financial aid to liberate Europe. As a side note, more British and Canadian troops were involved with the D Day landings and as much as the US was needed to triumph over fascism, it didn’t win the war on its own.
Back to my point, the idea of not involving yourself in the conflicts of your neighbours is a sensible policy and one that seems to have been ignored in recent years. However, the Prime Directive does have a major problem. It’s become a fixed ideology.
Back in The Original Series the Prime Directive was used less of a fixed rule but a guideline, allowing Kirk the flexibility to save lives even if it meant his personal involvement. During his tenure on our screens Kirk possibly violates General Order 1 on nine occasions, mostly for the betterment of the people he came in contact with.
By the time we get to The Next Generation and Voyager the Prime Directive becomes a hard rule. Even when the result would save lives you DO NOT involve yourself. While Picard does violate it once or twice, we always get treated to a moral argument; on the one side the rules he is charged to uphold, on the other his personal morality and human (or alien) lives. However it’s in Voyager that we get to see that in the hundred or so years since Kirk the Prime Directive has been deified to the point that it doesn’t get questioned. Harry Kim (who frankly is the character equivalent of a piece of scenery but that’s a discussion for another day) even says that it may seem wrong to them but the Prime Directive’s there for a reason. This is the problem. Even when it could save countless lives and generally improve things, General Order 1 is to be trusted above your own instincts and morals. Janeway, as we’ve seen, even goes to the length of refusing to help AN ENTIRE PLANET from self destruction because “we shouldn’t get involved cause the Prime Directive says so”.
Obviously the Prime Directive is a sensible precaution against the Federation becoming involved in conflict or ruining and exploiting more primitive peoples and I’m not against the idea of it. What I am against is that Starfleet, which on the whole gives a HUGE amount of leeway to their captains (seriously, how many times did Kirk steal the Enterprise/disobey orders etc.), decided in the interim period between TOS and TNG that the Prime Directive was unbreakable. It leads to poor writing and our heroes coming across as insensitive arseholes because they’d rather follow their rules than save lives. And that, dear readers, is a travesty.
Until tomorrow when I’ll be going over my impressions of Eye of the Needle. Live long and prosper.
**SPOILER WARNING** If you haven’t watched S1 E5 - The Cloud, go watch it now and come back. You’ll be happier if you do.
Right this is it, the episode that gives this blog it’s frankly insane title. We open with Janeway giving her captain’s log exposition and we find out that Voyager’s been in the Delta Quadrant for several weeks now. She’s debating the wisdom in keeping her distance from the crew which basically will become a theme throughout the series. How to captain a vessel so far away from home and maintain the necessary balance between authority and surrogate mother figure? Anyway Janeway makes her way to the mess hall where we get a wonderful and awkward exchange between her, Kim and Paris.
“No need to stand, after all I’m only your BOSS.”
The boys are complaining about Neelix’s cooking and once the Captain feels sufficiently awkward they bicker like a married couple about inviting Janeway to eat with them. Seriously, Kim and Paris are so homoerotic sometimes and this only gets worse in this episode.
Anyway, Janeway starts hunting for coffee since her bun needs its power supply replenished. Sadly she instead finds Neelix who offers his “coffee substitute” which we see resembles the contents of a diaper. She makes this face:
“Neelix, if you do not give me coffee I will have you executed in the most painful fashion”
Luckilly for her the ship’s found some kind of weird nebula. Looking for any excuse to get away from the Talaxian tit and his idea of a decent beverage, she goes to the bridge. We get some class technobabble and we discover the nebula is filled with omicron particles. This leads Janeway to proclaim “There’s coffee in that nebula!”. Now I actually had to look up omicron particles on Memory Alpha in order to figure out what the hell she meant. Obviously there aren’t sacks of coffee beans floating about the nebula so what the hell is she going on about? Well omicron particles can be used as an energy source meaning Janeway can use the replicator to get some coffee. This is by no means clear in the episode making Janeway’s proclamation seem the insane ramblings of someone undergoing severe caffeine withdrawal. Anyway we cut to the titles.
We open back on the bridge when Janeway confides in Chakotay that she needs advice. This prompts what I like to call Chakotay’s pan-Native American heritage to make an appearance.
“Yes I’m from ALL the tribes because the writers wanted to offend everyone!”
Chakotay suggests Janeway go on a vision quest to meet here spirit animal. Let me take a minute here to cover the problem with Chakotay’s heritage. I have no problem with him being from a Native American culture. What I do have a problem with is the writers treating all pre-Colombian civilisations as one big group when differences between tribes were as distinct as differences between European nations. This is natural considering the size of the Americas (yes Chakotay’s supposed to be from a South American tribe…) but generally unless the writers have got a basic knowledge of tribal history (a rarity in the US to be honest considering its ability to whitewash colonial history only beaten by my country’s complete inability to have an adult conversation about its former Empire…) then they shouldn’t bloody well write about a Native American character without help. Which seems to be what’s happened here. As we’ll see MUCH later on, Chakotay’s tribal culture seems to change to fit the whims of the writers and that is frankly crap.
Anyway, back to the plot. Regardless of the fact that Janeway is a woman of science she’s very interested in Chakotay’s pseudo-tribal bullshit. As this excitement builds there’s some technobabble and they decide to enter the nebula.
Personally I wouldn’t let Paris drive a Mini, let alone a spaceship.
There’s shaky cam and apparently the ship’s been stopped by some kind of energy barrier. Naturally Janeway sees this as some kind of challenge to her authority so they press on regardless. Kim gets to act like a petulant child to Tuvok for no good reason and as they go through the hole they’ve made it closes.
We cut to Neelix and Kes in the mess hall.
“This reminds me of an old Talaxian proverb that you really don’t care about.”
Surprisingly Neelix isn’t annoying for most of this scene as he points out that in the last few weeks the Captain’s put both the crew and the ship in mortal danger more often than someone who’s supposed to care about their welfare. Kes retorts with that wide-eyed wonder thing she does so well and they kiss. Which I didn’t screencap because it’s completely disgusting.
Back to the main plot and because those blue things are attaching themselves to the ship we got to Red Alert!
One day Janeway will get her wish and kill her entire crew. Today is not that day.
They try to use technobable and the phasers to escape but they don’t work so they fire off a photon torpedo and get out. We fade to black. When we come back we’re in Kim’s quarters and he’s asleep.
Seriously, he’s wearing a blindfold.
Now I do kind of play up the “Kim’s a repressed gay man” but seriously he’s wearing a blindfold to sleep like some kind of 1940s Hollywood starlet. He gets woken up by Paris who explains his presence in Kim’s room with “You learn some things in prison”. Creeper. Jealous that Paris has now appeared to be the creepiest member of Voyager’s crew, Kim reveals that the reason he wears the blindfold to sleep is that it reminds him of his time in his mother’s womb. Which he remembers. And longs for. Add “Oedipus complex/mother issues” to “repressed homo”.
Moving on from Kim’s complex psychological issues we find out that Paris’ reason for waking Kim up is to show him a holodeck program which we’ll all be thoroughly fed up with before it gets retired. Chez Sandrine.
Get used to this set folks, we have it for a while.
This wonderful little place is supposed to be a cafe in Marseilles. The problem with that is that it comes across as an Irish theme pub. Anyway the weird insight into psychological issues now moves onto Paris, who it is revealed puts the same holographic woman into each of his programs to act as a sort of holosex slave. Wonderful. There’s another example of Harry’s awkwardness with the opposite sex but for the most part this scene only exists to introduce Chez Sandrine so we’re not surprised by it when it makes another appearance. They play pool like the holodeck is some sort of Starfleet Youth Group and the boring scene ends, bringing us back to the actual plot where Torres is studying the stuff that was on their hull from the nebula.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that’s a vial of Chakotay’s semen.
Turns out she needs a little help and instead of going to the science lab which all ships of Voyager’s class have (I checked) she goes to Sick Bay to talk to the Doctor. They talk about the stuff and Torres gets some ideas before we cut to Janeway’s ready room.
Chakotay comes in, ready to do his Native American thing. He mentions that Janeway’s the first person to see his medicine bundle which consists of a feather, a rock and a plot device to help the writers avoid the use of psychotropic drugs.
“And here is my plot contrivance to stop the conservative anti-drug lobby hating the writers.”
Janeway goes on a vision quest which is frankly as batshit crazy as it sounds. Anyway Torres comes in, saving us from this mangling of a noble and ancient culture, to tell us that he nebula is a lifeform. Chakotay remarks that Torres is the only person he’s known to try and kill her spirit animal prompting a “WTF happened to continuity” moment as it’s clear Janeway isn’t the only one to have seen his medicine bundle. Maybe Chakotay was trying to use an innuendo and wanted Janeway to play with his junk. I have no idea.
They go to the bridge to figure out if they’ve hurt the animal. The Doctor points out that Voyager barged in, fired phasers at it and then blew a hole through it with a photon torpedo so Janeway mutes him.
“Oh bitch please”
Torres has an idea of how to help fix the hole. Neelix upon hearing that the ship is going back in decides to storm into Janeway’s ready room, make ridiculous demands and generally be a dick. Janeway makes this face:
“Execution is looking very good right now Mr. Neelix…”
Janeway basically tells Neelix to deal with it and bugger off. They go into the creature, going to Red Alert (twice in one episode, we are being treated today) but we get shaky cam, lightning and a fade to black.
Oh shit Janeway, now you’ve pissed off Zeus himself.
Basically they lose all their fuel and there’s more technobabble. Also they’re deeper in the creature and if they use their engines it’ll attack. However they figure out that it’s “bloodstream” will bring them back to the hole. Neelix comes to the bridge with nibbles and a new title he just made up - Chief Morale Officer. Instead of just pushing him out of an airlock, Janeway lets him get away with it.
Seriously Janeway no one would blame you…
Torres’ technobabble isn’t working to fix the hole so the Doctor has an idea.
“Use the ship as an suture like they did in ancient times.”
Yes, they call a period 370ish years in the past “ancient”. WRITERS: Here’s an idea, I know you’re trying to point out that this is the future but ancient generally refers to a period before 476AD and the fall of the Western Roman Empire. We don’t call Medieval England “ancient England” even though it’s over 500 years ago. All it serves to do is make your audience feel stupid because they’re “ancient” humans.
Anyway they use the ship to plug the hole which works and they get out before the hole closes up. In total the ship lost 20% of its power stores so they decide to follow a suggestion by Neelix of a planet 14 light years away. Remember, this is the guy that failed to get them dilithium last episode.
We close the episode on Chez Sandrine and Janeway comes along to hustle the crew at pool.
Janeway: She plays pool too.
We get some awful French accents and Janeway is clearly getting closer to her crew. RUN CREDITS!
If it weren’t for the famous quote this would be a fairly forgettable episode. The huge amount of Harry/Tom, Chakotay/Janeway and Neelix/Kes scenes only prove that this episode’s A plot, the Alien Nebula thing, wasn’t meaty enough to carry an entire episode and that shows so badly.
Chakotay gets a bit of background fleshed out but as I’ve explained above he seems to come from a mix of about 4 or 5 different pre-Colombian cultures. If the writers had no idea they shouldn’t have written him as coming from that background. When mixed with the frankly atrocious French stereotypes displayed in the Chez Sandrine scenes you get the impression of a group of writers who’ve never had anything to do with any other cultures. It comes across as very naive.
Finally, WE DO NOT NEED TO KNOW ABOUT KIM’S MOTHER ISSUES THANK YOU.
Anyway guys, you get an extra day to watch the next episode, S1 E6 - Eye of the Needle, because I’ve decided Sundays will be a day off. If I don’t take a weekly break I’ll very quickly burn out, probably midway through season two which would be a shame. Until then, live long and prosper.
**SPOILER WARNING** If you haven’t seen S1 E4 Phage yet you ought to go watch it before reading this.
Are you all sitting comfortably? Have you got a bottle of hard liquor to hand? I hope so because “Phage” is our first Neelix-centred episode. Before I head right in and start picking it apart, I just wanna go over a little background with this episode. You see, originally this was written with Paris in mind as the victim, not Neelix. This was changed because, in the words of one of the writers, “We cared about Neelix and Kes immediately because we could see how much they cared about each other.” The problem is, even as this show was being aired the fanbase had taken a massive dislike to Neelix’s character. This means that while this episode tries to be dramatic, because all the bad things are happening to Neelix, possibly the most annoying character in Star Trek, we find ourselves laughing rather than being moved. More on this in the verdict. On with the show!
“You know Chakotay, you could always try showing an emotion.”
We open with Janeway and Chakotay talking about power issues on the ship. These could be solved because Neelix has apparently found a source of dilithium nearby. Remember, this is the person that put the entire crew and ship in danger to save his girlfriend. Reliable isn’t the word you’d associate with Neelix. Anyway there’s technobabble and Torres thinks she can refine dilithium ore using the impulse engines. As the conversation turns to food, the Captain walks into her private dining room only to find that Neelix has turned it into a mess hall.
Neelix stole this fabric from curtains commonly found in a caravan park.
Naturally this pisses Janeway off since the Talaxian tit neither asked for permission nor warned anyone that he was going to completely repurpose a part of the ship. Now on a normal ship his punishment for not following protocol would be some kind of chore or possibly time in the brig but because Janeway seems to have a soft spot for his antics she let’s him off.
Anyway, we come back to the bridge because the ship’s come close to the supposed source of dilithium. Janeway decides to send Chakotay, Kim (who amazingly manages not to get horribly injured in this episode) and much to my annoyance Neelix. Why does she send Neelix? Basically cause he begs her and she’s spent the earlier part of the episode indulging his whims so why the hell not?! It’s either that or she’s hoping they can leave him there as punishment for the mess hall issue. I dunno.
So, the away team beams down, Neelix wanders off, not noticing that there’s an alien nearby who has the power to induce the opening credits.
By the way, not as many screenshots this time, mostly because I refuse to have 16 shots of Neelix.
We open back in the caves and surprise surprise, Neelix’s information is wrong. There’s no dilithium to be found. However the Annoying One, not to be outdone by this fumble, wanders off, ignoring Chakotay’s orders. This leads to one of my favourite scenes in Season One.
Yes, Neelix is in pain from the use of force lightning. Yes, it is GLORIOUS.
Because of his complete inability to do whatever anyone in a uniform tells him, Neelix gets shot by the sneaky alien and starts spazzing out on the floor. Chakotay and Kim beam him up to sickbay when we get a grim revelation. He’s still got an hour to live.
I know Doctor, an hour to live is an hour too long.
Basically when that alien zapped Neelix it stole his lungs. Kes arrives and is upset. We get some technobabble and Janeway, annoyed that someone’s using her personal source of organs, decides to tool up and go back down to kick ass.
“If only they’d taken his heart, I have no use for one of those!”
The away team scan the wall and Janeway takes the “shoot it with a phaser and see what happens” approach to science. This reveals the tunnel that our new favourite lung-stealing guest star came from. We cut back to Sick Bay.
The Doctor is moaning about the fact that the Captain assigned Paris, the helmsman and pilot, to Sick Bay as a medic, thus proving once again that the only person with any kind of sense on the ship isn’t actually a person. Kes offers Neelix a lung but it wouldn’t be a match so the Doctor suggests creating a pair of hololungs. He does this by slapping Paris which is frankly amazing.
Anyway, Kes plays the concerned girlfriend, neglecting to realise that they have to do something NOW because Neelix only has so much time left. Kes agrees to the hololungs even though (or perhaps because) Neelix won’t be able to leave Sick Bay or even move.
Meanwhile back on the planetoid we find this…
I was working in the lab, late one night…
It’s a horrible lab full of organs. But no dilithium. Turns out the scanners had been reading the power signature of the medical equipment, once again proving you shouldn’t leave Neelix in charge of anything. The away team chase after the alien but he escapes onto their ship.
We quickly cut back to Sick Bay and the operation has worked. We fade to black before opening up on a shot of the ship flying through space after the alien ship.
145 crew left to die, 145 crew… Everybody sing with me!
Janeway’s log voiceover let’s us know that they’re chasing after the aliens as Neelix is informed of his predicament. Now obviously he’s upset and that’s normal. However in the circumstances you’d think he’d be happy just to be alive. But no, he starts moaning about the decor in Sick Bay. The Doctor makes this amazing face:
“I’m a Doctor, not a decorator.”
You can just see the anger in his eyes and if it wasn’t for the fact he has to uphold the Hippocratic Oath, he’d remove the hololungs and watch as Neelix suffocated. Anyway, Paris says a fairly innocuous line about being there for Kes if she needed him prompting Neelix to get jealous. This is the emotion between Kes and Neelix that we’ll get pretty much for the rest of this season. I can understand that since the Annoying One is frankly repulsive that he’s protective of Kes. However the very fact that she’s even dating him, let alone that she offered a lung, should lead Neelix to worship the ground she walks on. Instead we get annoying jealousy and a sub-plot that will go on and on and on.
Back on the bridge, the alien device that Janeway stole has been analysed by Torres. It’s some kind of advanced medical technology that can remove organs without cutting into the victim. Kinda like Jack the Ripper without… well the ripping. The ship arrives at an asteroid that the aliens use as a hideout and because Janeway has once again changed her medication she decides to risk all 145 members of the crew that aren’t Neelix and the ship in order to save him. They go into Red Alert and fly into the asteroid.
“I will not do harm, I will not do harm, I will not do harm…”
Back in Sick Bay and to no one’s shock Neelix is acting like a big baby. He won’t shut up and wants to be let out EVEN THOUGH IT WILL KILL HIM. This argument causes the moron so much stress that he hyperventilates and the Doctor has to put him to sleep to save his life.
Back on the bridge and the ship’s arrived in some kind of mirror chamber which means they can’t find the alien ship. There’s some technobabble and Janeway decides to press on regardless of the problem just because.
I know it’s a lot of the Doctor but it’s a hell of a lot better than a lot of Neelix.
We’re back in Sick Bay and the Doctor’s getting annoyed with the situation since the ship doesn’t have a real doctor, nurse or councilor, making his job incredibly difficult. Kes reassures him, saying he’s done an amazing job and we start to see their relationship grow. This is when Kes starts to improve for me though there will be moments later in the series where I want to shove her out of an airlock.
Back on the bridge and there’s some kind of power drain coming from the alien ship. Janeway wants to approach it as she approaches everything and fire phasers at it. Tuvok points out that that could reflect back onto the ship and damage them. Then Chakotay vomits some technobabble and Janeway’s reaction is this:
“Yes Chakotay, soon we shall rule the Quadrant!”
Anyway Chakotay’s idea involves firing phasers at low power and if phasers are involved the Captain’s happy. This finds the real ship and in a display of complete idiocy Janeway orders the two ORGAN STEALING ALIENS beamed onto Voyager, the ship which is basically a Happy Meal in space. We fade to black.
The aliens are beamed aboard and they look like this:
I’m not sure I could do a Fallout reference twice in a row but they are a little…ghoulish.
So the aliens reveal that they’re a race called the Vidiians and they’re affected by an illness called the Phage. What this does is basically destroy every part of their bodies and their technology only has one way of slowing its growth: stealing organs and body parts from other species. Frankly this is a fantastic idea for a Star Trek race, it means they’re morally gray. After all, if humanity was faced with being wiped out unless we harvest organs, I can’t say for certain that we wouldn’t do it.
Anyway Janeway’s reaction is actually very sensible, not to mention well played by Kate Mulgrew (Apparently she found this part of the episode very hard to shoot and you can tell, she gets very emotional).
“I’m the only one allowed to ruin my crew’s lives…”
It turns out that the Vidiians have already reused Neelix’s lungs leading Janeway to a tough decision: does she commit murder to save a life? Obviously the Captain decides not to kill them. Finally Janeway’s acting a little more consistent with the Janeway we see in “Caretaker”. Anyway, the Vidiian with Neelix’s lungs decides he wants to help. They scan the crew and in contradiction to what the Doctor said earlier, they’re all a match. This is because the Vidiians can manipulate Neelix so that his body will accept the lung. Kes offers but Neelix being a selfish bastard wants SOMEONE ELSE to give him a lung. Listen arsehole, the only person aboard likely to offer you a lung is the girlfriend that you’ve managed to indoctrinate enough not to dump you. Anyway Kes insists and the transplant is successful, saving Neelix.
“I’m sorry but the operation was a complete success.”
The story resolves with Kes and Neelix only having one lung and Kes starting training as a medic. Roll the credits!
Oh boy oh boy. Neelix is a huge problem in this episode. He acts like a complete dickhead throughout, even going to the point of making demands of the people TRYING TO SAVE HIS MISERABLE LIFE. He doesn’t thank the Doctor, he doesn’t thank Kes, he rants and raves that he’s stuck in Sick Bay and that he’d rather be dead. The Doctor’s face in several scenes says it all. In my opinion Paris would have been better, we could even have seen it as a way of developing Kim beyond “the guy that gets kidnapped or points as diagrams” since Paris is Kim’s best friend. But no we get Neelix, someone whose character we’re supposed to like but we just don’t. This makes the episode fall flat when it comes to drama or even giving a shit about his fate.
On the other hand the Vidiians are an excellent adversary here. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “enemy” since they’re out for their own survival. The dichotomy between the pair of them, one of them being more arrogant and selfish than the other more caring, empathetic character helps paint this race as not simply monsters stealing body parts but as victims themselves. They get some terrible stories later on but for now they’re actually reasonably well treated and that we only find out what’s going on with them in the last 10-15 minutes helps keep the suspense.
Overall, this episode isn’t a bad one. It isn’t amazing either, the only way it would ever be amazing is without Neelix’s involvement. Sadly that didn’t happen.
Tomorrow I’ll be watching the episode from which this blog gets its name: S1 E5 “The Cloud”. It’s a fun one and if you’re watching with me, remember that I try to post around 8pm GMT. Until then guys, live long and prosper.
**SPOILER WARNING** IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN S1 E3 TIME AND TIME AGAIN GO AND WATCH IT, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.
So after the weird science of last week, Voyager has sailed on and we find ourselves watching an inane conversation between Tom and Harry.
I’m honestly not trying to get derpy screenshots of Paris, honest.
Basically Tom wants Harry to help him bed one of the Delany sisters, twins who apparently only ever date as a pair. Harry refuses because he “has starship stuff to do” and a girlfriend back home, not because he’s slowly coming to terms with his homosexuality. Anyway, shaky cam turns up to save the day as there’s some sort of shockwave hitting the ship.
Nice pjs there Kes!
The shockwave wakes Kes up and gives her a headache, which in Sci-Fi is code for a premonition. Back on the bridge Janeway deduces that there’s been some kind of detonation nearby and since she has a pathological need to put the crew in harms way, decides to go and investigate.
Kes arrives on bridge, claiming that she “has to know” though we have no idea what she’s going on about. We get a nice shot of the planet just as Tuvok informs us that every organic thing on the surface is dead.
Sometimes being colour blind helps with this show. Is that aquamarine?
Anyway there’s some technobabble about polaric radiation and naturally the Captain decides to lead an away team even though she’s got Chakotay sitting right behind her and she’s the officer in command of the bloody ship.
They beam down and arrive in what seems to be early concept art for Fallout 3.
“I don’t want to set the world on fire…”
We come back from the opening credits to the revelation that subspace is being all funky because of the explosion, everything organic was vapourised and that because of some testing done by Romulan mad scientists, polaric energy is banned in the Alpha Quadrant. Great Janeway, you’ve led your crew into the aftermath of a huge planetwide disaster and you STILL wanna poke your nose around.
“Maybe we can use this highly burned out technology in someway…”
At this point they figure out that it wasn’t a global war that caused this but domestic power plants. Now that that mystery’s solved they can go back to Voyager and… NOPE we cut back to the ship to Neelix and Kes.
Sadly she’s not crying because she’s finally seen Neelix’s penis.
Our resident psychic apparently saw everyone on the planet burning and dying which has naturally got her worked up. What’s The Annoying One’s reaction? Oh only decides that he’s suddenly an expert on psychic abilities even though he’s shown before that the only thing he’s good for is winding up Tuvok.
We cut back to the planet (WHY?! They’ve figured out what happened, why the hell are they still there?) and Paris finds a clock and jumps back in time to before the accident. This is due to “floating subspace fractures”. They all try to beam up but Paris and Janeway get caught by one of these migrating fractures and end up stuck in the past.
“Gee mister, you’re really strong…”
A kid who looks like the human disguises Pain and Panic use in Disney’s Hercules sees our pair suddenly arrive, screams and decides they’re demons. Yes he is annoying. Almost as annoying as what everyone’s wearing but we’ll get to that. Janeway lies about coming from a neighbouring province and asks where they can get kitted out with the funky clothes. After this Paris asks a clockmaker how to read the clocks and figures out they’ve only got one day before the explosion. Basically they’re fucked so they fade to black.
We open back on the ship as Chakotay’s doing his best impression of Tuvok. Sorry, he’s actually doing his log, it’s hard to tell what with the lack of any emotion from the pair of them. Anyway, we cut to the meeting room where Kim’s doing the only thing he’s qualified to do.
“And here’s the point where I accept I like fellas…”
Yup, he’s giving the Starfleet equivalent of a Powerpoint presentation. We get plenty of technobabble and then Tuvok hopes that Janeway does something completely out of character and acts like a sensible person by sending out a subspace beacon so the crew can find her. Torres also has no idea how to widen the time hole to get them out if they can even manage to find Janeway and Paris.
We then cut to sickbay where Neelix has decided to stop being a dick and get Kes checked out.
“I’m reading signs of ‘Annoying Ugly Ass Boyfriend Syndrome…”
The brain scan reveals that once again the Doctor’s been left out of the loop since he had no idea that Kes, Neelix and the Maquis crew had joined Voyager. He tries to contact the Captain only to find out she’s missing, leading to the best line of the entire episode: “I appear to be on the voyage of the damned”. The Doctor then tells Kes to rest and drink plenty of fluids since she otherwise seems healthy. Thank God for The Doctor and his ability to be the only sensible and sane member of the crew.
We cut back to the planet.
“No Tom, the mancorset doesn’t make you look fat.”
Yes folks, this is what the people on this planet wear. Holy Mother of God. It’s a mancorset. Seriously, what is going on with the choice of colours and the idea of A CORSET OVER YOUR CLOTHES? I have no idea. Anyway, Janeway trots out the Prime Directive, stating that it would be morally wrong to stop the deaths of millions. Now, as we’ll start to see, Janeway’s approach to the Prime Directive changes almost as often as she changes her hair. In “Caretaker” she destroys the magical plot device that could get them home because leaving it functioning could affect the balance of power in the quadrant. Here we’re dealing with a pre-warp society that would BENEFIT from not being wiped out and she’s deciding to sit on the sidelines. Oh well, genocide aside, the annoying kid comes back, Tom says he eats babies, there’s technobabble and they decide they need to go to the power station to figure out a way back.
There’s a protest, Janeway gets hit in the face and we cut back to the ship.
Chakotay’s gorilla impression wasn’t going down too well…
We’re back in the meeting room and Torres has figured out a way to open the fractures using polaric energy, and a way to stop people falling in with magic armbands. Kes says she needs to go along and Chakotay lets him.
Meanwhile, the terrorists who’d been protesting have captured Janeway and Paris and are accusing them of being government spies. We fade to black.
We open back with the away team and Kes is sensing things, like where our pair were, while Tuvok and Chakotay act incredulous. Kim meanwhile has found the signal from Janeway’s combadge and starts to follow it.
(BTW I haven’t got a lot of pics for this bit because it chops between both bits fairly quickly)
The terrorists question Janeway and the annoying kid, who they’ve captured and still decide she’s a terrorist.
Kim however finds the combadges, and they don’t look pretty.
Ensign Kim’s second job as a hand model was starting to really pay off…
Chakotay manages to start talking through the combadges as the terrorists continue to question Janeway. They were planning to do something at the plant next week but (and here’s the important thing) because of the presence of Janeway and Paris decide to do it the next day. Kes senses the Captain and vice versa which causes Janeway to FINALLY break the Prime Directive as the away team try to open a fracture. The Captain’s attempt at explaining what’s going on goes unheeded, probably because she sounds even crazier than usual and the terrorists take Paris, Janeway and the boy out of the room, leaving the combadges. Kes goes all psychic again and we fade to black.
This is either a swimming pool or a reservoir, I think.
We open on Janeway and Paris talking temporal mechanics. Basically Janeway explains that she can break the Prime Directive here because they’re already involved. (Just to let you know, there will be an extended look at this point in the verdict…) Tom naturally doesn’t understand because as was established last episode he has no understanding of even basic science fiction time travel plot devices.
We then cut to another Tuvok/Chakotay pissing contest. I’m coming to the conclusion that Chakotay is so unsure of his authority/masculinity that he has to pick a fight with at least one member of the senior staff each episode. Anyway this sets up that the away team will go to the power plant to see if they can find Janeway and Paris there.
Meanwhile in the past, there’s a bit of a shootout outside the power plant and Tom gets injured trying to protect the little boy, leaving Janeway to go it alone.
“Peakaboo! I see you!”
Janeway tries to act the stealthy action hero (not really the role her background as a former member of Starfleet Science prepares her for) as the terrorists start doing stuff to the plant. Meanwhile the away team start looking for fractures. Janeway holds up the terrorists who point out that if she fires, the plant will blow up and everyone will die anyway. Tuvok gets all emo and says Janeway was never at the plant while Kes, not one to be out-emoed, says “No this is where she died”. Nice one Kes, way to give everyone hope.
There’s a showdown with the terrorists just as Torres and Kim start to open one of the fractures. This turns out to be what causes the accident and Janeway makes one of her patented faces.
I call this “Horror with a side of surprise”.
Anyway Janeway seals the hole with her phaser which sets off the magic reset button, turning everything white and bringing us back to that riveting conversation between Harry and Tom about boning the Delany sisters. Only this time there’s no explosion to save us from the inane prattle so Voyager doesn’t investigate anything. Kes, because she’s a psychic and as we know psychics are attuned to the flow of spacetime, is the only one who remembers anything. Turns out no one on the planet died and because it’s a pre-warp civilsation, Janeway gets to trot out the Prime Directive one more time.
You can tell it’s healthy now because it’s blue.
Roll the credits!
I actually like this episode although I don’t like some of the ways it was handled. I have a few big issues with it so it’s best to handle them one at a time:
Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be tackling the first of our Neelix focused episodes S1 E4 - Phage. Good thing I have a bottle of wine at the ready to get me through it. As yesterday, if you wanna watch along I’m aiming to publish the review at around about 8pm GMT. Until then, live long and prosper.
If you guys are watching with me, you’ve got about an hour and a half to watch Voyager S1 E3 - Time and Time Again before the blog goes up. You won’t wanna miss such drama as Kes sitting on some stairs with her eyes closed would you?
**SPOILER WARNING** IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN S1 E2 OF VOYAGER NOW WOULD BE THE TIME TO DO SO, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
So since Janeway took the decision to blow up the best chance the crew had of getting home, merged both a Starfleet and a Maquis crew and took on board the single most annoying character in Science Fiction, what exactly has happened? Well we open on a wonderful shot of an Engineer with a bloody nose.
You were hoping for an “O’Brian must suffer episode”, admit it.
This is Lieutenant Carey and apparently (though it’s no surprise) it was B’Elanna “I’m half-Klingon bitches” Torres who decided to force him to sickbay. He’s naturally pissed off which you can tell because he ignores the Doctor’s orders to sit still thus proving that all emotion on Voyager causes hearing loss. There is much technobabble as Carey explains how and why Torres hit him to Chakotay and Tuvok who both seem to be competing to see who can under emote the other.
Seriously there is NO emotion going on.
They leave and Chakotay’s like “I’ll sort it out” while Tuvok wants Torres thrown in the brig and tried by the Captain. This is the first example of Tuvok’s lust for punishing people and this will come up again in future episodes. Anyway, Chakotay gets all protective because Mars Bar Face is Maquis which prompts Tuvok to remind him that they’re all now a Starfleet crew. There’s the first of several pissing contests before our dashing Commander bumps into two Maquis in the hallway.
I’m pretty sure you’re meant to boo every time Seska’s on screen.
So the pair of them basically want to mutiny because… well I suppose Torres hitting the acting Chief Engineer has really pissed people off. Naturally Chako is all like “If you carry on talking like this I’ll throw you in the brig myself” and storms off towards our favourite violent, out-of-control engineer, Torres.
“I’ll scream and I’ll scream until I make myself sick!”
That’s a Just William reference by the way. Obviously Torres being a half-Klingon, one note, one emotion character is angry. Chakotay points out she could have killed Carey, prompting her to respond with every 5 year old’s excuse “I never hit him that hard”. Good going there Torres, just pray if Q ever turns up you don’t have to act as legal defense for your entire species.
The Commander points out that Torres needs to bond with Carey if she wants to be made Chief Engineer, pointing out that he wants her for the job. This revelation is so important that it causes the opening credits to roll.
Power issues and officer replacement for dummies.
So we arrive in the boardroom where Janeway is conducting a meeting of all the Senior Officers to discuss Voyager’s ongoing power issues and the replacement of all the officers killed when the ship was dragged 70,000 light years from Earth. Naturally our favourite pointless character and his mate have to crash this, claiming that since they’re the “senior” Talaxian and Ocampa they have to be there.
Kes is still trying to pull of that haircut too.
Since there are going to be food issues down the line, Kes actually makes a decent suggestion: a hydroponics bay. This would mean Voyager would be able to grow its own food and cut down on its dependence on food replicators. The Captain gives it the green light and Neelix starts jizzing over all the “wonderful” food he can prepare.
We then move onto the key issue of who’s going to replace the lost crew. Paris gets to be a Field Medic, basically because Janeway hates him almost as much as me and then the question becomes who to make Chief Engineer. Chakotay immediately suggests Torres for the job, causing Janeway to make a WTF face and dismiss the meeting. This is convenient since all hell breaks loose and the ship finds itself on top of an interesting phenomenon.
Somewhere in this image, there’s a mad man inside a blue box…
Sadly, because this is not Doctor Who, the ship has discovered a Type 4 quantum singularity not the Time Vortex. Seeing that there’s another shit seemingly trapped inside it, Janeway tries to send a message. Unsurprisingly there is no response. Attempting the sort that out Chakotay decides to ask Torres in Engineering what her opinion is, completely ignoring the chain of command. Naturally this pisses Janeway off and she drags him into her ready room so she can really be mad.
The bun is controlling her actions at this point.
We get ANOTHER pissing contest between Chakotay and a Senior Officer, leading me to think that basically he’s on his man period. Janeway questions if it’s fair to promote a Maquis above a Starfleet officer, then Chakotay gets protective over his former crew, again. Then Janeway gets emotional before we cut to Sickbay.
I seriously love the Doctor.
Anyway Kes wants soil samples for her hydroponics experiment. Yes, soil. For a hydroponics farm. There’s some bonding, some explanation that the Doctor hates being relegated to simple boring medical issues but that’s not the important issue here. The important thing is that THE DOCTOR IS SHRINKING! This leads our trusty doc to call upon the help of Ensign Harry “Chronic Kidnap Victim” Kim to fix him. Naturally because Kim is a douchebag he doesn’t care and basically tells the Doctor to stop bothering him.
Meanwhile on the bridge, the team try to tractor the other ship out of the anomaly but it buggers up. There’s shaky cam and much technobable before Janeway decides to follow Neelix’s plan (God help us) and go get help.
“Instead of anger, let’s try ‘slightly cheesed off’ instead?”
Janeway calls Torres to her ready room to discuss being Chief Engineer and Mars Bar Face’s record at the Academy. Torres, quel surprise, “doesn’t care what anyone thinks”, gets angry with Janeway and storms out like a 14 year old girl. Way to prove you’re mature enough to lead, B’Elanna!
The Doctor then messages the Captain who turns her small chunky laptop to see this:
Do not adjust your sets, folks!
Yup, the Doctor’s imaging issues are now so bad he looks like a really bad photoshop. However he tells Janeway that crew members are falling ill for no apparent reason. He has no idea what’s causing it but the Captain and him agree that it’s probably the spacial doohicky they’ve just flown away from.
However Paris tannoys the Captain to the bridge where she finds out that while the ship has actually moved, it’s ended up in the same place it was. This prompts this face:
“This is my ‘Fade to Black’ face”
We open back up on Tuvok and Kim walking somewhere, I’ve no idea to be honest I kinda phased out and forgot to take notes. Anyway Kim falls ill because the Voyager Gods insist that it’s not a proper crisis unless the naive, useless ensign is incapacitated somehow.
The rest of the team meet in the conference room where Janeway actually admits that she has not got the slightest idea what’s going on. Always reassuring when the most experienced and senior crew member on the ship doesn’t know what to do.
“I always thought the ship ran on the blood of innocents…”
Anyway Torres has an idea about how to contact the other ship. Some sort of technobabble, again I zoned out at this bit.
The other ship seems to be trying to contact them but the message is all garbled. They clean it up, only to find out that it’s exactly the same message Janeway sent out at the beginning of the epidsode SHOCK!
This brings us back to the conference room where Torres explains that the other ship is simply a time delayed reflection of Voyager, caused by the quantum singularity. Paris then attempts to understand…
Naturally he fails miserably, causing Janeway to be a condescending bitch to him again. We get treated to some fast talking at each other from the Captain and Torres (seriously, this bit could be in a David Tennant/Matt Smith episode of NuWho).
It seriously looks like Torres just offered to go muff diving on the Captain here.
The pair of them then take a shuttle to a small hole in order to try and make it bigger, giving Janeway one more opportunity to belittle Paris before she goes. On the shuttle (which is Star Trek code for “bonding time”) Mars Bar Face apologises to Janeway while the Captain goes on about how Torres’ former professors were sad to see her go.
Anyway they widen the whole and prepare to make their way back to the ship but OMG!
Seriously Janeway, you shouldn’t fly a shuttle after a bottle of scotch.
There’s two Voyagers because one’s a time delayed reflection. Naturally Janeway deduces which is the right ship and makes it back to give a speech basically saying “Punch it!” which causes shaky cam.
Voyager however makes it out, Torres is made Chief Engineer and Chakotay and Janeway make friends again. But what about the poor Doctor?
Auditions for the Voyager rendition of The Wizard of Oz weren’t going so well
Yup, basically everyone in Ops is a dick, forgetting to fix the Doctor. This lets Paris come in, make a joke and leave (which brings to mind the moment in Blackadder the Third where Blackadder kicks the cat, then the cat bites the mouse, then the mouse bits Baldrick…).
QUE THE CREDITS!
Oh where to begin. We’ll start with Torres. She gets some ok development here I guess, even though there was so much going on with this episode we didn’t get that much focus on her. We probably could have done without Kes and Neelix today to be honest, since the only reason for the hydroponics thing was to introduce the fact that the singularity was affecting the Doctor.
This episode is also where we start to see what I like to call “The Janeway Conundrum”. Basically each scriptwriter seems to have very different ideas about Janeway’s character which means we end up with her flipping from one thing to another between episodes. In “Caretaker” she actually says to Tuvok that she needs to get to know her crew better while here she genuinely comes across as disliking the Maquis members so much that she’d rather not have them aboard. It comes across as conflicted and it WILL get worse throughout the next two seasons.
All in all a mediocre episode, certainly not the worst but not the best either. Just be thankful that Neelix wasn’t featured too much.
Anyway tomorrow I’ll be watching Time and Time Again which to be honest, is an episode I like. If you wanna join in with me, just make sure you’ve watched the episode before about 8pm GMT as that’s when I’m aiming to publish these. Until then, live long and prosper.
**SPOILER WARNING** IF YOU’VE SOMEHOW NEVER WATCHED VOYAGER IN YOUR LIFE, WATCH S1 E1 THE CARETAKER AND THEN READ THIS. Also this episode is 1hr 30min long so expect a word and pic heavy blog.
So we start off my favourite series of Trek with a Star Wars-esque plot roll detailing where we are storywise. Since Voyager starts off midway through DS9 it’s understandable, even if the font they use is REALLY ANNOYING.
This is it by the way, no voiceover. Not even the wonderful Majel Barrett-Roddenberry who voiced the computer.
So anyway, the awful “This is the future” font buggers off and we open on a Cardassian ship firing on a smaller vessel. Just as a side note, the whole Bajoran/Cardassian conflict is one of my favourite Star Trek stories. However I absolutely dislike Cardie ship design
Hey guys, just Gul Plotdevice here, don’t you like my boring brown ship?
We’re now introduced to three characters, clearly not Starfleet (you can tell because they’re not wearing ugly uniforms), one of whom looks like she’s had her plastic surgery done by the people that make mars bars.
You will never look at a Klingon the same way.
Their ship is being blown to bits by Gul Evek of the Cardassians. There is much technobable (Weapons power is transferred to the engines etc.), they fire some photon torpedoes and make it to The Badlands, which look like this:
I think Dorothy would be shitting herself.
Our first black Vulcan gives us more technobable and the small ship gets caught in a massive displacement wave. Cue white light and a cut to the titles.
You’ve all got the theme tune in your head now.
We now arrive at a prison. Our focus for the moment is on this dickhead, Tom Paris:
Just to warn you, he’ll get a reasonable amount of hate from me for the next two seasons, although not as much as a certain other two characters…
Anyway he’s repairing some space shit when low and behold Captain Kathryn Janeway comes to make him an offer he can’t refuse. Key thing to note is Janeway’s hair. It’ll change a lot over the course of the next few seasons and in my estimation is the source of all her powers. That and coffee.
Bitch, my quiff understands space time mechanics and how to use quantum theory to fix starships.
There’s some exposition where it’s revealed that Janeway wants Paris as her helmsman to find the Maquis ship we saw disappear. The commander of that ship is named as Chakotay and Janeway explains her chief of security was undercover. Paris is apparently the best pilot she can find, even though he’s a prisoner and Starfleet have given permission for him to leave to help the Captain find the missing vessel. Apparently Chakotay and Paris don’t get on because Paris was a mercenary.
Sadly Paris is the character that introduces us to Voyager, hitting on one of the extras along the way.
Sleazy does not even cover it. We see DS9 and Voyager for the first time where the extra explains “Bio-neural circuitry”. We move to DS9’s bar and we get a cameo by Quark! The lovely ferengi is attempting to scam new Ensign Harry Kim out of money, surprise surprise. Tom Paris steps in, stops the scam and a friendship is formed. This becomes the entire basis of their relationship: Harry is young, naive and easily duped whereas Tom is jaded, sex obsessed and dead inside.
“Have I ever told you about the time I got eaten by a giant demon snake in a Californian high school?”
So after that awesomeness (shame about no Odo breaking it up by the way) we get yet another glimpse into the fact that Paris is a criminal and seen as such by most of the Voyager’s crew. No shit Sherlock. Funnily enough one of the consequences of committing a crime is everyone thinks you’re a criminal.
Anyway we move on from Paris’ “I’m an edgy loner” shtick to the revelation that not only does Janeway have a handsome silver fox boyfriend but that he’s sweet and looks after her dog. She makes an “I love him so much” face before greeting Paris and Kim, pointing out that she prefers to be called “Captain” rather than sir. Ma’am may be used in a crunch leading to a HILARIOUS joke with Kim’s inexperience. Our ship then flies off towards its mission and we fade to black.
We arrive in the mess hall where there is yet MORE focus on Paris’ past. We’re now 16 minutes in and most of what we’ve learned is that he’s messed up, got an admiral for a dad and that Kim refuses to not associate with him. Oh that and the replicator can make 14 varieties of tomato soup and none of them are good. Did I mention that I don’t like Paris?
Because all this focus on one character has been a bit tedious, Janeway puts a message out on the space tannoy for Paris to come to the bridge as Voyager has reached the Badlands. We get more shots of what Kansas would look like in Hell and plenty of technobabble. The Cardassians are claiming the ship was destroyed but as usual everyone knows the Cardies lie. Then SHOCK the displacement wave hits Voyager and the shit hits the fan. If you liked the extra Paris hit on, Janeway’s First Officer or the Doctor you’re going to be upset…
“He’s dead Jim.”
Yup, half the crew has perished and our plucky band find themselves 70,000 lightyears from Earth. How did they get that far in the blink of an eye? No one has a damn clue. Yet. But we do get to see our first example of Janeway with messed up hair.
Much like Samson, if Janeway’s hair is messed up she no longer has power.
And HOLY CRAP KIM’S GOOD FOR SOMETHING AFTER ALL AND MIGHT HAVE FIGURED OUT WHAT THE HELL’S BOUGHT US HERE!
“Captain, it appears to be a space station made out of kitbashed Lego and Warhammer 40k sprues.”
We fade to black again and open with a shot of Voyager and the weird looking space station. There are apparently no life signs on the Maquis ship, which was also transported. The sensors can’t penetrate the array when HOLY FUCK THE WARP CORE MIGHT BREACH! Since this would be like 200,000 nuclear bombs going off, Janeway rushes to engineering to fix the problem, taking the time to fix her hair on the way. Meanwhile Kim and Paris put out a fire with Kim wearing what look like tweed oven gloves. Then more technobable with the wonderful Majel (The computer) telling us, helpfully, that a warp core breach is imminent. (N.B. Something that’ll crop up on this blog is the Computer’s ability to state the bleeding obvious whenever there’s a problem.)
We hop back to Kim and Paris in the medbay. The Emergency Medical Hologram is activated (YAY! We now have two characters I don’t dislike!) and immediately gets to work trying to solve some of the many medical problems going on. This isn’t easy because apparently both the nurse and the doctor were killed.
Seriously, the EMH is awesome.
There’s some light comic relief before we hurtle back to Janeway fixing the warp core before THE ARRAY IS SCANNING AND BEAMING UP THE CREW! This leaves the poor EMH all on his own because he can’t switch off his program.
The crew arrives to find themselves on an American farm with some odd farmer’s wife offering a pitcher of lemonade and sugar cookies (BTW What the hell are sugar cookies anyway?). Janeway tries to ask the old dear what the heck is going on when everyone in the town turns up, including an old man with a banjo (who you can tell is important because he’s the only extra to speak except the old farmwife and a young lady. Not to mention the banjo.)
Super important plot banjo, that.
Anyway, there’s a hoedown, Janeway very quickly figures out it’s got to be some kind of holodeck, has an ominous chat with the old lady before Paris and Kim find an old barn which a pretty girl tries to stop them seeing. There’s wonderful Paris lechery when Kim finds sporocistian life signs, whatever they are. Turns out the Maquis crew are also there when the girl goes berserk and hits Paris. The rest of the villagers beam in, the old lady says something ominous and all of a sudden it’s a space station again. A creepy one with mars bar face, Chakotay and Janeway’s Vulcan security chief all there comatose.
Then we get lovely scenes of needles going into Janeway and Kim (which creep me out which is why you don’t get a screencap) and the we fade to black.
That was some party last night!
The crew wake up 3 days later back on Voyager but it’s revealed that Kim’s still on the station. It also turns out that the Maquis ship is also missing a crew member. Janeway offers to help solve the problem as a team and the Maquis beams over, carrying weapons (like sensible rebels) prompting Kim to point out the obvious.
“Watch out Captain, they’re armed!”
By the way, we’re only a third of the way through this episode. Tuvok, the black Vulcan, reveals he was a Federation spy. Chakotay goes mad at Paris for betraying him (which is a bit rich for an ex-Starfleet rebel but hey ho) and Tuvok gives us lovely technobabble, saying that both crews were examined by the creature running the array. But why did it keep Torres (A.K.A. Mars bar face) and Kim?
Janeway, Chakotay and Paris go back with Tuvok and the nameless Maquis man to begin the search. Banjoman is sitting on a bench being awesome when Janeway comes up to him, all angry, asking for an explanation. She doesn’t get one.
“I’m an awesome intergalactic species and I’m playing a banjo!”
Crazy caretaker sends them back and turns out Kim and Torres are in some medical facility with aliens with weird ears. Why weird ears? Because Star Trek aliens only have five options: 1) Weird ears, 2) Weird foreheads, 3) Weird Noses, 4) Weird skin colour, 5) Any combination of the above.
Turns out they were sent there by the energy pulses going from the array to a desert planet. Tuvok says the pulses are getting quicker and it turns out there was some kind of environmental disaster on the planet. Janeway decides she needs to get to know her crew better since she knows bugger all about Kim and now he’s gone. We fade to black.
Get ready folks because now the hate begins. I give you Neelix:
“I’m going to annoy you for 3 seasons with my weird girlfriend!”
Neelix exists for two reasons in Star Trek Voyager: Plot exposition and to annoy the fuck out of me. Seriously, we’ve got some Neelix heavy episodes coming up and I may have to drink to get through them. It’s that bad.
Anyway our convenient plot exposition local is a junk trader and he explains that the energy goes to the Ocampa, the lifeforms on the 5th planet. What does he want in exchange for this information? Water. Janeway then beams him to Voyager (and the script writers miss a really big opportunity for Neelix to endear himself by saying “Well then, beam me up” or something to that effect) and poor old Tuvok gets the pleasure of taking the multicoloured annoyance to his quarters. The Vulcan suggests a bath. We cut to Torres and Kim.
“I’m angry and distrusting!”
Torres acts like a Klingon and starts screaming and shouting and generally being a pain in the ass. She gets better, but to start off I dislike her intensely. There’s some bonding and an Ocampa man turns up with clothes so they can leave the room. They’re ill with lovely lumps that look like cornflakes and KY jelly painted green.
Turns out the Ocampa are looked after by the Caretaker (the Banjoman) who provides all their needs. They only live nine years and are basically the galactic equivalent of children. (Yes we will get an Ocampa crew member and yes in a way she acts as a viewer surrogate). The Ocampa believe that Kim and Torres were separated because they’re ill. Fatally ill. We fade to black.
OH MY GOD HE’S IN THE BATH! WHERE’S THE EYESOAP?!
We return to Tuvok and Neelix where the most annoying one is luxuriating in a bath because water is so precious in the area that to waste it in that way is rare. Neelix explains that they’ll find Kim and Torres but they’ll need a couple of containers of water to barter with the local Kazon tribe, the Kazon Ogla. They look a little bit like cut price Klingons mixed with the inhabitants of Tatooine.
“Be a Star Trek extra they said, see the world they said…”
Turns out Neelix has, surprise surprise, been using the Voyager crew to pay off his debts with the Kazon leader and rescue his girlfriend, an Ocampa named Kes. She starts off looking like a post-Cris Brown Rhianna.
Her hair looks like a page boy’s too.
Turns out there’s not an easy way to get into the underground Ocampa city. Neelix tries to barter for Kes, the Kazon leader wants Voyager’s tech and the shit hits the fan. Neelix shoots the water and everyone beams back to the ship in the confusion.
Here’s the fun thing: Kes is a year old. Neelix is her boyfriend. This is the whole reason I dislike this relationship. It’s weird, it doesn’t work as an ongoing plot thread and I’m very thankful I only have to deal with it for *SPOILERS* three seasons.
Anyway back to Kim and Mars Bar face! Turns out the Caretaker’s been acting weird, sending enough power to run the city for 5 years in one hit. Also there are breaches in the security tunnels allowing people in and out of the Ocampa city.
We then find ourselves back in sickbay (YAY MORE EMH!) and Tuvok goes on about logic to Neelix. We still have 30 mins by the way. Kes says the same thing to the Voyager gang that the Ocampa lady said to Kim and Torres and then refuses to not help Voyager find her crew.
There’s some arguments in the Ocampa city with Kes going on about how her people were psychic before the Caretaker came along and they became dependent on him.
Quick! We’ve not checked in on Kim and Torres for a while! They’re in the stairwell leading to the surface. Que more character development with the pair of them: Torres went to Starfleet Academy!
But what are Janeway and the gang doing? They’re in a shopping centre, obviously!
“First we’ll go to the Apple store ‘cause I need to replace my PADD for a New iPad, then we’ll hit up Yo! Sushi.”
The Caretaker is sealing up the conduits out. Tuvok deduces that The Caretaker is dying and that he owes a “debt” to the Ocampa that can never be repaid. Paris and Neelix meanwhile are in the stairwell following Kim and Torres, Janeway tries to beam the others up, it doesn’t work so they have to make their way up the same tunnel.
Paris and Neelix find Kim and Torres. Paris and Kim say some kitchy stuff about being friends and Kes help them all through the barrier. The four of them get to the to when one of the energy bursts bugger everything up and Paris and Neelix decide to be heroes to save the others.
Chakotay’s leg is broken, Tuvok’s hurt so Janeway and Neelix get him out. Then the inevitable happens. The stairway starts to collapse.
“We can’t both be the grim action hero, Paris!”
Needless to say, Paris risks his life because “if I save your butt, your life belongs to me. Isn’t that some kind of Indian custom?”. Yup he doesn’t save Chakotay because it’s the right thing to do but because it means a life debt. Plus we get some casual racism with Paris saying some slightly off-colour remarks about American Indians.
They escape and we’re back on the ship but OH DEAR the Kazons have sent two ships up. This causes our first Red Alert of the series.
“Captain, we have more kit bashed models on the sensors.”
The Kazon want to stop Voyager’s crew boarding the Array so they attack a ship that they acknowledge is technically superior. Janeway and Tuvok beam to the Array while Chakotay on the Maquis ship holds off the Kazon.
We’re in the final stretch as Janeway confronts the Caretaker, demanding he return Voyager to the Alpha Quadrant.
I genuinely love this man.
The Caretaker explains that he’s from a race of aliens from another galaxy. They fucked up the Ocampa planet, completely destroying the atmosphere. He and his partner stayed to look after the Ocampa but his mate left soon after for more interesting climes. The Caretaker was looking for an heir to continue looking after the Ocampa hence why he’d dragged ships from all over to the Delta Quadrant. Janeway gives him a pep talk while the Kazon ship get some back up in the form of a big buttplug.
I wonder if it has a vibrate setting.
Chakotay decides to run a kamikaze mission as that’s the only way to take out the space dildo. All the Maquis crew beams over to Voyager and there’s a tense moment where you think Chakotay may possibly have snuffed it but he hasn’t.
Back to The Caretaker and it turns out that he’s set a self destruct system because the Kazon cannot be trusted with the Array.
This is the actual Caretaker.
The Caretaker passes away, explaining that the Array must be destroyed. His remains look like a dirty rock and Janeway makes the decision to destroy the Array, even though it goes against the Prime Directive since “we’re involved”.
Janeway returns to Voyager, opens a channel to the Kazon and explains that she’s destroying the Array. Using her badass face.
Thank god the episode’s almost over I’m running out of captions!
Torres goes mental because Janeway’s destroying their best chance of going home and the Kazon leader points out he’s now Janeway’s enemy.
We have 4 minutes to wrap up and so Janeway invites the Maquis onto her crew. Chakotay takes responsibility for Paris’ safety. Paris is given a field commission of Lieutenant and Neelix and Kes decide to stay.
We cut to the bridge and Janeway gives an inspirational speech to both the Starfleet and Maquis crews who will be one Starfleet crew from now on. They have 2 goals: Explore new worlds and get back to the Alpha Quadrant.
QUE THE CREDITS AND THE THEME!
While I’ve obviously taken the piss a lot with this assessment of the season opener, I don’t dislike the storyline. There are problems, the obvious one being the HUGE cast which all need enough time onscreen to be fleshed out enough so that the audience has some idea of their personalities. I feel a little too much time was spent on Paris to the expense of the other characters and that we should have had a little more on Torres and Chakotay since they’re the main members of the Maquis crew that we deal with. It would also avoid the issue of both these characters appearing a little one note (Torres is Half-Klingon so she’s angry, Chakotay is a rebel so he’s angry). We have only just begun our journey through the Delta Quadrant. Join me tomorrow for a blog which should be half the length and easier to write.
If you wanna watch with me, tomorrow’s episode is “Parallax” in which Torres gets some much needed character development. Until then folks, live long and prosper.