Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Ex Post Facto"

**

Air date: 2/27/1995
Teleplay by Evan Carlos Somers and Michael Piller
Story by Carlos Somers
Directed by LeVar Burton

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"My wife and I have been married for 67 years."
"I'm sure she's a fine, dispassionate woman."

— Tuvok and Lidell

Paris is accused of the murder of Professor Ren, a brilliant scientist on the home world of a people known as the Baneans. They try, convict and sentence him before the Voyager crew knows anything about the incident. His punishment is a brain implant that forces him to live out the last moments of his victim's life from the victim's perspective once every 14 hours.

I guess it's inevitable that a murder-mystery works itself into the opening leg of any new Star Trek series (Deep Space Nine did it on the third outing). But something co-creator and executive producer Jeri Taylor said in a magazine article before this series premiered still hangs in my mind. The premise of being stranded in the Delta Quadrant is supposed to be a catalyst for telling some new types of stories, she said. No Starfleet Command, no Klingons, no Cardassians, nothing we're used seeing on TNG and DS9.

But the stories so far have hardly been original. Only the pilot has come close to non-standard Trek storytelling. Most (even better outings, such as "The Cloud") have been derivative devices that play second fiddle to character development. We haven't met any new races that really impact the series—only the pilot's Kazon show the slightest hint of future encounters.

So now we fall back on the dependable murder-mystery. "Ex Post Facto" works okay for four acts, with well-written characters and dialog. The plot, unfortunately and not surprisingly, is ludicrous, with a final act that manages to blow everything before it out of the water.

The teaser proves eerie and atypical, as we enter the story as the Baneans carry out Paris' sentence. He sees himself stabbing the victim, apparently feeling the victim's pain and mortal fear.

Voyager returns to pick up Paris and Kim, who shuttled to the Baneans' planet alone to avoid provoking the Baneans' neighboring enemies, the Numuri. Voyager arrives to find Kim in the shuttlecraft alone, with no knowledge of Paris' whereabouts. All Kim knows is that Paris has been charged with murder. Shortly afterwards, the Baneans contact Janeway and agree to turn Paris back over to her with his sentence already carried out. The implant turns out to have some compatibility problems with human biology and will likely kill Paris if left in for too long. The Baneans agree to remove the implant and offer another sentence, but Janeway wants to clear Paris of an apparently unjust conviction.

This leads Lt. Tuvok to investigate the crime. Paris' alleged motive for murder appears to be Professor Ren's beautiful, young wife Lidell (Robin McKee). When Ren discovers the two embracing, an argument ensues, and Ren is stabbed. Tuvok's investigation takes him back to Lidell, who explains the events of the night in question. Lidell's sultry persona and a series of flashback narration offer some enticing film noir elements into a less than stellar story. Meanwhile, Tim Russ nails the role of Tuvok perfectly by delivering a classic Vulcan performance. Indeed, Vulcans have reentered the Trek universe through this character. And though the plot is simply an exercise in mediocrity, the performances keep it enduringly tolerable.

Unfortunately, the plot wraps up with the most standard of revelations, in which Tuvok shows that Paris has been set up by Lidell and the Numuri for "bigger reasons"—to get their hands on top-secret information they hope to obtain via Paris' brain implant. (Anyone who couldn't predict Lidell's involvement in this plot needs to take Basic Plots 101.) But Tuvok's "witness" of the murder—a damn dog, for crying out loud—manages to sabotage any remaining potential for the plot, with one of the hokiest, insipid conclusions imaginable.

Tell you what. Watch this episode to see Tim Russ in action for some good development of Tuvok. Don't watch it for a satisfying murder mystery.

Previous episode: Eye of the Needle
Next episode: Emanations

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17 comments on this review

AJ Koravkrian - Sat, Nov 17, 2007 - 10:11pm (USA Central)
A murder mystery, involving a starfleet officer and a beautiful woman, who is the wife of a brilliant scientist. Is it just me, or is there a scent of TNG's 'A Matter of Perspective' here ?
mlk - Sun, Dec 2, 2007 - 4:02pm (USA Central)
Horrible episode, if it wasn't for Tuvok and the doctors character developement it would be pure manure.

A predictable murder story with the standard alien of the week with the standard ridges on the fore head
Christopher Alexander - Sat, Jan 26, 2008 - 12:43pm (USA Central)
I enjoyed Tuvok's handling of the murder mystery, but the ending was terrible. The smuggling idea was just ludicrous, and the dog was indeed painfully hokey.
Nic - Tue, Sep 22, 2009 - 10:50am (USA Central)
Jeri Taylor's comment did end up being true in the long run. However, you can't expect them to meet "many new races that really impact the series" because they are travelling. No, I think Voyager made the right choice to concentrate on character-building story arcs and leave the main plot of each episode as a stand-alone. It is what makes the most sense in this context. Unfortunately, the Kazon were around for way too long than is plausible, even when you take into account the detours Voyager made in the first two seasons (going back to Neelix's planet in "Jetrel"; returning to pick of Janeway and Chakotay in "Resolutions").
Firestone - Fri, Apr 16, 2010 - 12:44pm (USA Central)
"No Starfleet Command, no Klingons, no Cardassians..."

@Nic,
Yeh, none of those came true... Well, unless you count Starfleet in at least one ep a season from as early as season 4(?), the Klingons in Prophecy and B'ellanas human-parent Worfcomplex, Seska being a Cardassian. Oh, and not forget the Ferengi showing up... twice, the Borg becoming the major enemy and all the Vulcan misticism. Granted, it is not all bad, but the show didn't really set itself apart like BSG for example did.
While viewing the whole show again, this time on DVD, for the first time in 10 years, I feel cheated on when I see the 'lost' ship communicate with the Alpha Quadrant in only the 6th episode. Too bad, because it really had a nice premise.
enniofan - Sun, Mar 27, 2011 - 8:15pm (USA Central)
I like how in TNG era Trek every shot of an alien city is precisely the same. they all have the same buildings, antenna arrays, etc.

awesome.

re-watching some of this show now.

it's better than I remember; not great or anything, but whatever.

it's too bad TNG took most of 2 seasons to fully realize the universe it inhabited, with some truly shitty episodes.


woulda been cool if the Voyager had actually gotten in touch with the stupid, fat idiot aliens that captured and tortured La Forge in that one TNG episode. or Armus. yeah...Armus.
enniofan - Sun, Mar 27, 2011 - 8:15pm (USA Central)
oops, meant this for the previous episode.
Carbetarian - Wed, Apr 6, 2011 - 10:12pm (USA Central)
@AJ YES! That was all I could focus on the entire episode! This was just "A matter of perspective" with a different crew!

I enjoyed Tuvok and some of the other character moments in this episode. But, not enough to keep this episode from being a total suck fest. One star from me!
Matthias - Wed, Aug 10, 2011 - 8:52am (USA Central)
Apparently Kirk's reputation is now of such proportions that even inhabitants of the delta quadrant see a starfleet ship turn up and immediately get to work on a scheme hinging on one of its crew members banging a green chick.
Nathan - Thu, Oct 27, 2011 - 9:01pm (USA Central)
"woulda been cool if the Voyager had actually gotten in touch with the stupid, fat idiot aliens that captured and tortured La Forge in that one TNG episode."

Every fourth DS9 episode from the first 4-5 seasons has Pakleds in the background :)
Liam - Wed, Jun 20, 2012 - 1:08pm (USA Central)
The thing that made me do a double take when watching this video, was the fact that the writers actually were stupid enough to write a dog into the episode, without any explanation for why an earth animal just happens to have evolved on a Delta quadrant planet. There's no attempt at even a dumb explanation for it (i.e "it's a Tazolean wolfhound"), they just put a normal earth dog as a key point in the plot.

It's times like this that really demonstrate how the writers often seem like they have no idea what sci-fi is.
Milica - Tue, Jul 17, 2012 - 10:45am (USA Central)
It is interesting to see that some people are re-watching Star Trek after in 2012, after all this time. From this time point, Voyager seems worse than I remembered it, and much worse than Enterprise, which I have also re-watched recently.
Although Jammer seems to dislike Enterprise the most, his reviews for that series are much more insightful and wittier. This is not a criticism, I understand that the VOY reviews were written 6 years before those ENT ones. I guess it takes time to mature and experience. I enjoy reading all of them.
Corey - Tue, Apr 23, 2013 - 4:19pm (USA Central)
I guess I'll be the voice of dissent here - I liked this episode. And I liked "A Matter of Perspective" too. I will grant the method of transferring the important data silly - we will put in Tom's mind, what we could just transmit encrypted to Numarri ships that are apparently in orbit?

But I enjoyed Tuvok's investigation, and the dog was NOT the only evidence that Tuvok presented. I also enjoyed the little stand-off they had between the Numarii and Voyager when they tried to capture Tom.

Nevertheless, having said all this, I agree that the episode is just acceptable, and not more than that. This is certainly not on the par of "Sacrifice of Angels" - so I have to agree with Jammer's overall rating.
inline79 - Mon, Jul 29, 2013 - 1:51am (USA Central)
I don't see the Tuvok development that Jammer says happens in this episode. To me he was just another boring Vulcan doing his job well. Maybe if the Tuvok and Paris conversation happened earlier than the end. Tim Russ is a great Vulcsn though.

Other than that, this episode doesn't add to this Franchise at all - clearly just a writer having a bit of fun... But come on, it's still season One!
Josh - Thu, Aug 1, 2013 - 4:38pm (USA Central)
I don't think this episode has a lot going for it, but I will say that Lidell is pretty hot. And does the stereotypical "femme fatale" character pretty well.

Otherwise it's pretty weak, as only nondescript early Voyager can be.
Caine - Wed, Oct 9, 2013 - 5:00pm (USA Central)
As others have mentioned already, this epsiode was quite clearly a "remake" of "A matter of perspective" - and that stuck in my mind all through the episode.

I do think, however, that this episode was a BETTER version of this story. I enjoy a good "whodunnit" murder mystery, and the way teh story is told fom different perspectives to give us a chance to spot inconsistencies and other clues is fun!

Sure, there are some things that don't really make much sense (a normal dog on an alien planet - seriously?!), but that's all secondary to watching Tuvok Holmes play the detective game. Fun!
Trent - Thu, Jan 16, 2014 - 7:45pm (USA Central)
I didn't mind this episode as much as you guys. Some nice character work with Kes and the Doctor made it interesting, though I agree it is otherwise simply a reheated version of TNG's "Perspective".

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