Starring: Jamahl Epsicokhan (critic-turned-pitcher; narrator), Wade Steinberg (best buddy; travel manager), Joe Menosky (pitch inviter; co-executive producer), Ashley Miller (objective pitch adviser), Mike O'Halloran (tour guide), Bryan Fuller (pitchee; executive story editor), Tim Lynch (retired critic), Ted Liu (final test-pitch victim), Brannon Braga (incidental meeting guy; executive producer)
By Jamahl Epsicokhan
April 26, 2000
Voyager Pitch: "The Warning"
Note: The actual pitch was in verbal format and did NOT follow this basic outline word-for-word.
An alien, a sole pilot in his ship, wakes up groggy and dizzy with massive gaps in his memory. Slowly he's coming to his senses. He's repeating to himself, "I must stop Voyager."
Meanwhile, Voyager receives a distress call from a nearby planet that had been experimenting with a new type of artificial-wormhole-creation technology in a station orbiting their planet. They have no idea why, but there was a massive explosion that left a tear in space-time, which is causing major disruptions (tremors, etc.) on their planet. The explosion killed all 50 people on the research station. Now they fear the tear will grow and threaten lives on the planet if not sealed as quickly as possible. They need assistance from a ship with high-warp speeds to transfer enough dilithium (or other tech) from a distant mining colony to combat the problem. Voyager is nearby and agrees to help. They make a warp 9 run out to the mining asteroid to get the dilithium.
En route back to the planet, the mysterious "must stop Voyager" alien (we'll call him Bob) intercepts Voyager and tells Janeway they must turn around. He is CERTAIN that Voyager's involvement will cause a catastrophe. But he isn't certain how or what that catastrophe is, just that Voyager is directly involved. His memory is hazy about everything else. He just knows that Voyager MUST stop.
Janeway doesn't have time for this; a catastrophe is precisely what will likely happen if she doesn't take action to help seal the rupture. She does not yield to Bob, but passes his concerns on to the alien officials. They say they aren't sure who Bob even is, although we know he's one of their race. One thing is certain: The aliens want Voyager's help more than they want to put stock in Bob's cryptic prediction. They've assessed the situation; this is the action to take.
But Bob is CONVINCED that Voyager's presence is a disaster waiting to happen. He continues to contact Voyager, sounding more and more desperate. Janeway reluctantly agrees to beam him aboard to talk. While the crew, in conjunction with the aliens, work on refining the dilithium to deploy to seal the rupture, Tuvok agrees to mind meld with Bob to see if he can resolve the vagueness in Bob's uncertain prediction. He can't, although Tuvok does become more convinced of Bob's urgency. But Bob's mind is a muddle; he can't find anything there except the overrunning thought of "I must stop Voyager." This leaves Janeway a little troubled, but there's no time to waste pondering the situation.
Bob is panicked. He says he must get as far away from this disaster as possible. He beams himself back to his ship. Everyone else wonders why; there's no indication of any problem. The rupture is closing as hoped.
But when Bob returns to his ship, he crazily opens fire on Voyager, disrupting the energy transfer that's sealing the rupture. The rupture expands suddenly, and Bob's ship is pulled inside. Voyager tries to tractor him out, but to no avail. With no more chances to take, Voyager seals the rupture. The planet is safe. Bob is gone.
Later, Torres finds a sensor log that took a reading of the rupture after Bob had entered it. The crew realizes that the wormhole rupture led back through time just a few hours, to exactly when the explosion happened. She believes Bob somehow ended up in that time frame unharmed, possibly having CAUSED the explosion in the first place because of passing through the rupture. Sensor logs indicate that not far away another rupture opened and sealed itself at exactly the moment of the explosion. This is apparently where Bob had been sent. When we met him at the beginning of the story, it was right after he had emerged from this other rupture's exit. The trauma of moving through time must've had some strange effect on his memory. All that remained was his certainty that Voyager was the cause.
The paradoxes are troubling, and the crew ponders them. Where did Bob come from? Was he ever a real person, or did he exist only inside this loop? How did he get there? Was Voyager responsible for the explosion and the 50 deaths? Or was Bob? Or was anyone? Was the situation avoidable, or was it destined to happen no matter what? Is there a cause or an effect?
Bryan's comments: He thought the story was too complex, and that the paradox issue at the end would confuse viewers. He said the writers go out of their way to avoid and ignore time paradoxes because they're so baffling. He also thought the "must stop Voyager" alien was too similar to Captain Braxton and his motives in third season's "Future's End."
My thoughts: When I first thought up this story I called it "Prognostic." It was going to be about an alien police force who denies Voyager passage through space because they have the arrogance to predict Voyager's going to cause a problem. As I started typing, it turned into one alien who isn't even sure what he believes. After I wrote the first pitch draft and then read it over and thought it through, I realized that it was full of contrivances, full of meaningless tech, and I hated it. I found myself reviewing my own story and awarding it one star. I reworked the details so they'd make (somewhat) more sense, but I never really was satisfied with the tech or the contrived aspects. Finally, I decided the real interest in this story was ABOUT the time paradox and tackling one head-on. I think that would've been an original approach to the time story with disturbing things to leave the audience pondering. So I envisioned the payoff being the eeriness of the unknown. Unfortunately, Bryan didn't want to go anywhere near a paradox. Too bad.
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