Star Trek: Voyager



Air date: 5/15/1995
Teleplay by Jack Klein & Karen Klein and Kenneth Biller
Story by James Thomton & Scott Nimerfro
Directed by Kim Friedman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Those are consequences, Doctor Jetrel." — Neelix

Voyager begins to show evidence of promise by delivering one of its better dramas, with a parable that has writing memorable enough to make me forgive the writers for the horrendous "Cathexis," not to mention its commendable performances.

Neelix finds himself facing up to his disturbing past when a Haakonian scientist named Dr. Jetrel (James Sloyan) returns to see him. Jetrel invented the Metreon Cascade, a weapon of mass destruction that was used by Haakon on a Talaxian lunar colony when the two planets were at war 15 years ago. The Cascade resulted in over 300,000 deaths, including Neelix's entire family.

Though an all-too-obvious allegory for the U.S.'s bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, "Jetrel" looks at the man who actually developed this weapon and how he copes with the consequences of his invention. James Sloyan (who has made guest appearances on both TNG and DS9) is wonderful as Jetrel. At the same time, this episode opens the door to Neelix's backstory and supplies his character with a depth of sophistication and self-torment that I could never expect to see from his DS9 comic relief counterpart, Quark. Who would've thought Neelix was a war veteran? It's as big a show as Ethan Phillips has had to carry (the first show, actually), and he delivers a convincing on-par performance.

No doubt about it, Neelix hates Dr. Jetrel. He holds Jetrel personally responsible for the Haakonian's use of the weapon and for all the death and destruction caused by it. But Neelix is not just angry at Jetrel for inventing the Cascade. He finds himself venting other anger at Jetrel—including anger at himself he had been holding in since the war. Another example that the series does inner conflict well, this episode reveals guilt Neelix put upon himself for going AWOL from his military unit prior to the Cascade. And I can't shake the feeling that Neelix feels he should have died on the lunar colony along with his family.

Jetrel has come to see Neelix to determine whether he has a dormant metreon-induced disease caused by radiation aftereffects of the Cascade. The disease is a terminal one, but Jetrel hopes that studying many Talaxians will give him a chance to develop a cure. It's evident Jetrel feels a heavy weight for having developed a weapon that caused so many deaths, and his desire to cure Talaxians of this disease is an attempt at redemption.

Neelix finds this attempt at redemption disgusting. Watching these two characters debate the polemics of the mass-killing weapon is one of the unsettling highlights of the episode, especially the scene in sickbay where Neelix tells the story of his return to the colony to search for survivors. Here, we see Jetrel reveal his true self: His spirit died the day his weapon was unleashed, and he was unable to live with the consequences.

The fact that Jetrel himself is dying of the radiation disease makes him quite a tragic character. He knows he will die with 300,000 deaths on his conscience, and there's nothing he can do about it.

The only problem I have with this installment is its excessive ending, in which Jetrel unveils his scientific theory to bring back the victims of the Cascade. Using plenty of technobabble, he explains the true reason why he came aboard the Voyager—to reverse the vaporization process of the Cascade by using the transporter beam and some other cleverness. Though the theory ultimately fails, this idea is still quite implausible, and not really necessary. I don't think the story needed to have Jetrel attempt to undo the effects of his weapon to prove that he's not a monster. The ending somewhat diminishes the subtlety of Jetrel's character. This is unfortunate because his subtlety was one of the reasons his character worked so well.

In any case, "Jetrel" is a winner—a thoughtful parable that takes an appropriately sombering tone and has an effectively appropriate low-key score by Dennis McCarthy.

Previous episode: Faces
Next episode: Learning Curve

◄ Season Index

48 comments on this review

Sat, Sep 13, 2008, 9:42am (UTC -5)
Sloyan is quite good here; I'm surprised he never got a series. He seems to have just guest-starred on about 1000 series but never got his own. Neelix is an incredibly annoying character.
Rob in Michigan
Sun, Sep 21, 2008, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
One of the best moments in the episode, to me, is also its quietest. When Janeway asks after Neelix's family after he explains (a bit overacted IMO) about the Cascade, and he simply shakes his head while unable to hold back his tears.

This episode really 'humanized' the character and stopped him from being a complete cartoon.
Sat, Apr 24, 2010, 4:55am (UTC -5)
The dream sequence with a burned Kes was disturbing though. Possibly the most realistic victim portrayal ever on all the series. I can't even remember it from the first run or any reruns I've seen. Maybe the network here censored it.
Sun, Mar 6, 2011, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
I thought the last line in the episode "I forgive you." was very powerful, as well. In a world where the tendency is to go 'dark', it's actually quite an acknowledgement that you have to forgive, to heal.
Sat, Apr 9, 2011, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
This episode tried to be DS9's duet and didn't quite hit the mark. Still, this was a very good episode. I teared up several times. Three stars from me too!
Sun, Jul 22, 2012, 6:06am (UTC -5)
Neelix is so so annoying. And his relationship with Kes is gross - he seems to be her sleazy uncle. This was a very annoying and boring episode for me.
Fri, Feb 1, 2013, 2:48am (UTC -5)
This episode is just horrible. How on earth did Jammer give this 3 stars is beyond me.

First, I have no idea why Janeway is so welcoming to this doctor who designed and implemented a weapon that murdered millions. Since we've received no indication that the Talaxians are an aggressive species, we gotta assume they were the defenders and didn't instigate the war. Based on what we learn about the alien's government, they probably did. So why on earth does Janeway and the rest of the crew welcome him with open arms?

As annoying as Neelix was, his attitudes toward Jetral are entirely justified, and I cannot understand for the life of me why nobody else on the ship thinks the same thing. His judgements are entirely rational, and he's being rationally for a change.

The writers seem to want to get across this concept of neutrality, or forgiveness... but that just flies in the face of everything we know today about justice. So does Tuvok value justice when it's against a single murderer, but not someone responsibility for the deaths of millions?

Again, everyone on the ship is acting so irrational - all because the writers want to paint the picture that Starfleet officers are "above" this sort of thing or something - I really don't understand it. It's as if Starfleet can't tell or is afraid to judge right from wrong. It's okay to accept alien cultures differences, but murder is murder, and as long as you don't judge murder for what it is, you open yourself up to all sorts of problems with morality and hypocrisy.

At the end of the episode, even Kes tries to convince Neelix that he shouldn't be mad at him - and that's he's really just mad of himself. This is a total cop-out. I don't care if Neelix was or wasn't a coward during the war - his attitudes toward Jetral are entirely justified, yet Kes seems to think he shouldn't make these judgements. What is she - nuts? Does she welcome mass murderers with open arms too?

Jetral is later "redeemed" somewhat at the end of the story by attempting to fix the damage he caused. If we had known this from the start, the characters actions of accepting him would have made a little more sense - but that's the thing, none of the Voyager crew knew this to be case.

Lastly, I don't know how/why the doctor couldn't figure out that nothing was wrong with Neelix. You'd think the doctor would be interested in how Jetral's instruments function to verify his conclusions to Janeway, but none of this happened even though it *should* have happened - just for the sake of moving the story along. Just wonderful.

This episode is just bad, and it doesn't even get a single star from me. The crew is totally out of character, and they take positions that are completely contrary what they've taken on other episodes in the series. The writers were trying to tell a story about acceptance - regardless of how evil a man is - but this is the wrong message to send. It *is* okay to judge evil for what it is, and it's also ago to hold them in contempt and punish them for it too.

And people wonder why Voyager was such a bad series.
Thu, Mar 21, 2013, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
At 16'30'' in this episode, Kes looks so damn cute, I instantly fell in love with her!
Thu, Apr 11, 2013, 4:43am (UTC -5)
This seemed a very DS9-like episode to me. Could have been something like "Duet" or many of the other episodes where individual Cardassians are confronted with their own or their government's actions during the occupation.

The screenplay or the acting weren't up to that standard, but an enjoyable episode nonetheless, I like this sort of thing. 3/4 seems about right.
Wed, Sep 4, 2013, 7:39am (UTC -5)
I agree with Jammer that this was very well done.

However where I don't agree with Jammer is with the ending. I think that the plan to rematerialise everybody is simply part of the guilt and torment of Jetrel, driven mad by remorse if you will, and I think it adds to the character.

What makes this ending more serious is the fact that the technique does not work at the end... if it had worked, that would have taken away depth from the character, but as it didn't, it adds to his tragic nature.
Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 1:19am (UTC -5)
Good episode, with a very refreshing take on Neelix that goes beyond the comical relief he has been so far (although the ridiculous clothes he keeps using are disturbing and keep reminding us how he is sort of the predecessor of Star Wars' Jar Jar Binks).

Anyway, the plot was quite interesting, with credible dillemas and this Eisten doctor suffering for having created the "bomb".

I agree that the captain was a bit too easy on the doctor, and everybody was too trustful. This is the sort of situation where I especially miss Picard-level of acting delivery. I mean, this is the sort of situation when Picard would have taken the same decisions, but with that face of whom is being pragmatic to save one's life, but disgusted to have to deal with the doctor.

Anyway, I digress... Overall, this season has been quite consistent in my opinion. Despite people warning me that Voyager disapoints later (this is my first watching), season 1 was a good start.
Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 10:18am (UTC -5)
Ric - I wouldn't take much notice of what people have told you about Voyager disappointments.

I have watched all the Star Trek incarnations - and Voyager is by far and away my favorite. I don't dislike any of the others I just enjoyed Voyager the most.

The main thing is you are enjoying it and as a television program after season 1 - you can't say fairer than that!
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 2:23pm (UTC -5)
A rather poignant and moving episode that brings up probing questions about the ill-use of scientific progress, the moral implications thereof, and its devastating consequences. Smartly written, acted, and directed. Easily one of the best of season one. The ending was a bit of a stretch, but understandable in Jetrel's need to prove himself before his death.

3.5 stars.
Sat, Oct 25, 2014, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Ken.

Neelix reacts with horror... he explains, in anguish, how Jetrel killed his family and so many thousands of other civilians... and, with no further ado, the very next scene is Janeway welcoming the man onto the ship?!

I don't think the un-vaporization scheme ever had a chance of working. Neelix's first instinct there was right: Jetrel was out of his mind.

The "redemption" ending was BS all around. The Cascade was "punishment for our hatred"? Really, all the charred children deserved it?

No, mass murder *is* monstrous. Unforgivable, irredeemable.

Like this episode. Zero stars.
Sun, Nov 2, 2014, 10:19pm (UTC -5)

I don't have a problem with Janeway bringing Jetrel on board. After all, he stated earlier that his reasons for doing so was concern for Neelix's health, and it makes sense that Janeway would be willing to meet with him in order to ensure a crew member's safety, even if that crew member doesn't want to go through with it. And she was reasonable unfriendly to Jetrel in their initial encounters. As for the lack of security surrounding Jetrel, well, when has Starfleet ever had good security?

As for the episode, I had a lot of trepidation coming in. I generally don't like it when Trek does issues, and especially when they start using analogies. Admittedly, TNG doing the IRA and DS9 doing the Holocaust actually worked out decently. But here? I'm not a fan. I don't think it works on four separate (but not quite equal) grounds:

1) The thinly-veiled atomic bomb analogy. I know it can be a touchy issue, but it's not a matter of what was presented. It's how it was presented. If you want to make a show that argues that Hiroshima was morally unacceptable (and clearly that's what they were going with here), then you have to stand up and say it. You have to make the arguments clearly and rationally. You can't just beat up on a straw man. Which is essentially what Jetrel was. What were his arguments in favor of the WMD? It wasn't his choice to use it. And that you can't stop the progress of science. And that they only planned to kill everyone quickly, and didn't know that it would kill people slowly too. Wow, that's real convincing.

In contrast, if these sorts of arguments were hurled at US personnel involved in Hiroshima, they would be better equipped with arguments, that the Japanese attacked first, that the atrocities in China and elsewhere justified dismantling the Japanese state, that the invasion of Japan would have had a much greater death toll, etc. etc. But Jetrel didn't offer anything of the sort. His race was just naturally assumed to be the bad guys in this fight because Neelix is a regular cast member. Sure, there were a few side comments (Neelix saying he thought this was an unjust war), but no real debate on the matter. The episode decided that Jetrel's race was monstrous for even thinking up the Cascade, end of story. And because they decided that, they went out of their way to tell us that. End of story. It's hard to cheer for polemics.

The worst part about this is that I recognized the actor who played Jetrel; he also played Jarok in TNG's Defector. There, he played an "enemy," with hidden plans, hidden motives, and oh yes, a massacre in his past. And he did it very well. This is an actor who has the chops to play a complicated moral character (and given what he had to work with in this episode, he did a darned good job). Unfortunately, the episode didn't give him a chance to shine.

Oh sure, you could say he was a complicated character because he wanted to help at the end. But no, that doesn't work. The episode strongly implies that he is really racked with guilt over the Cascade and is trying to atone for his sins. Jetrel could have been interested in saving those lives after the war regardless of how justified the Cascade was. He still could have been a complicated character. But the episode's refusal to consider the other side really hurts the show.

2) That said, Neelix's abrupt about-face on Jetrel was even worse. "I'm not really mad at you about killing my family; I'm mad at myself for being a coward." Really? See, maybe one can justify the Cascade weapon. But to Neelix, it was personal. I'm pretty sure the grief he felt for his family's death was real. And regardless of how an impartial observer might judge Jetrel, Neelix has every right to be irrational about this issue. Big, weighty issues are big and weighty precisely because they are complicated, precisely because the universe is not always nice. In the decision whether or not to drop the bomb, both decisions will have nasty consequences. Both decisions will result in people dying; it just happens to be different people. And while someone observing the dilemma from a distance (of space and/or time) might be able to judge the situation impartially, it's much harder for someone who would be marked for death by such a weighty decision.

I mean, I don't mind that there was some sort of reconciliation between Neelix and Jetrel, but the way they did it was so ham-handed that it ruined its effectiveness. Neelix had a very good reason to be upset at Jetrel, and to wash it away and say that it was due at least in part to Neelix's cowardice is just silly.

3) Jetrel having one last chance at redemption and then dying was rather cliched. And really, kind of irrelevant. Once that revelation appeared, I just started rolling my eyes. And actually, although I said all my problems with the episode were separate, there is a theme appearing. Namely, that this episode tried to cram so much angst from so many different angles. First we had the atrocity. Then we had the revelation of Neelix's cowardice. Then we had Jetrel dying. Couple that with the mystery of Jetrel's real mission and then the drama of that final mission, and, well, there wasn't enough time to focus on any one thing. Maybe that's why the Hiroshima analogy felt so one-sided. Maybe that's why Neelix's turnaround on Jetrel felt so silly. Maybe that's why Jetrel's sudden death felt tacked on and a contrived coincidence. The episode threw so much stuff at us that it never had the time to properly deal with the issues that arose.

4) And, of course, the science was ludicrous yet again... So, let me get this straight, the Cascade was a weapon that caused the atoms inside people to undergo nuclear fission? Really? Did that, um, include the hydrogen atoms? Because that would be impressive if so. But then Jetrel was going to reconstitute individual people, even though they were shredded at the subatomic level? Just how was he going to do that? By finding DNA? By reconstituting DNA? It's only the first season, and I'm already learning not to bother listening to the technobabble, as each episode gets stupider than the last. Yeah, TNG had its really bad moments, but this one ranks right up there with Rascals and Genesis.

Yes, the episode was weighty and dramatic and full of angst. But that doesn't make it good.
Wed, Jan 28, 2015, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
That pub/bar is supposed to be in France right? So why on earth would they have an American pool table as their main table? That just does not happen in UK and France, if there is only one table it will be an English table first and foremost unless it was an American based bar which this clearly isnt.
Wed, Jan 28, 2015, 7:09pm (UTC -5)
In the 24th century, everyone in France speaks with a British accent, so naturally their billiards culture will have changed, too.
Tue, Mar 17, 2015, 11:33am (UTC -5)

Yes but by that logic they would STILL be an English table.
Wed, Aug 5, 2015, 2:01pm (UTC -5)

"At the end of the episode, even Kes tries to convince Neelix that he shouldn't be mad at him - and that's he's really just mad of himself. This is a total cop-out."

Boy, Kes was very right here, wasn't she? Maybe you should give her credit for being able to really see/feel/sense what Neelix is really upset about.

"Maybe you have to stop hating yourself first." ... I'd say she was spot on here.

This guy invented this as a weapon to win a war. You would have done the same thing. Oppenheimer did the same thing. How many lives were estimated to be saved by the a-bombs that were dropped on Japan to end WWII? You hangin him? Why shouldn't Janeway let him onboard?

I thought Ethan overacted a few times here, but it was offset nicely by James Sloyan. He played well opposite Odo too.

I think Jammer's review is spot on.

Kes is cute as ever...

I'll go 3 stars on this one.
Fri, Sep 25, 2015, 10:23am (UTC -5)
The only point to this episode is to provide the backstory to Neelix's character. It tries to explain the various psycho-social aspects to his behavior, why he so overfriends people, why he assumes so much of others, why he is so annoying.

Whether the episode succeeds is a matter of opinion.

Wed, Nov 11, 2015, 7:38am (UTC -5)
Reading the reviews on here it's clear the ep has evoked strong feelings in the reviewers. The responses really got me to thinking about things in this ep that I never considered.

The hypocrisy that was mentioned in an earlier comment. I'm not sure honestly how Picard would have handled Jetrel. The incident occurred I think 15 years ago or so from their current date. But the way Voyager handled it...I don't know if I would have disagreed with it. It would seem the Prime Directive would be open to interpretation here.

The first contact was initiated already. But the happenings of another planetary race whether reprehensible or not should have no bearing on being frosty toward being introduced to a member of that race. They are no more a monolithic group than humanity. Not everyone agreed with the launching of the weapon against the Talaxians, just as not everyone agrees with the reasons countries go to war period. I can't (and won't) be held responsible for choices made by the government. I might even disagree with it. Jetrel's wife left him because she sure despised it. Jetrel himself didn't create the process to be used as a weapon (tho his scientific curiosity seemed to supercede his conscience). That was the government's choice.

If they were to react that way towards hostile beings who commit atrocities like this then they certainly wouldn't have bought Seven of Nine on board. The Borg's body count far exceeds that weapon used on Rinax. Or the country deficit. And that's a really big number.

On the other hand when it was another human being that was committing these acts (by choice and not by assimilation) then Janeway was far less forgiving. Who could ever forget the USS Equinox? Ransom, we hardly knew ye...

But I did think Neelix was a bit overwrought. I'm not saying it wasn't completely unfounded. But it was clear that anger was running a little too deep and too close to the surface. Remember his reaction during the conference scene whilst attacking Jetrel? Jetrel retorted with his asking about Neelix's body count during the war. Ohhhh the guilt on his face....but not because of the accusation. We learned a hidden truth later in the ep. A truth that reached back to his misgivings with his own government. It almost felt like the writers were taking a jab at big brother. Not unlike the X-files at the time.

This was 20 years ago and the baby boomers were aging but still anti-government. But after Vietnam it was understandable. PTSD is real and ignored far too often. They suffered just as those whom fought in Iraqi Freedom. And yet a blind eye is turned on their plight. Even today in the internet age the gov tries to keep their heads buried in the sand about it. Except during election year and politicians need votes. Not so easy to cover up now thanks to google. One can simply do a search on how many times Mayor or Senator x says "let's get back to the issues".

Episodes like these really are necessary. We need to see the consequences of war. And you can't reset the settings like a Call of Duty game. Now that I think about it it's good Janeway didn't dump more proverbial gasoline on Jetrel. Another hidden reason PTSD endures. At least Neelix had Kes to lean on. The comments alone on here are a testatment to the power of the episode and its unflinching approach to the subject matter. War doesn't determine who's right. Just who's left.

I will say the ending was one that I believe Roddenberry would have given the nod of approval on. This is Star Trek. And an eye towards a utopian future was always at the heart of the series. After all, the whole mythos was created after WW3 had devastated the planet. And out of the ashes of that was the beginning of a new era. A solid 3 (weak three and a half) stars just for the gravity of the material.
Diamond Dave
Tue, Dec 15, 2015, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
For me, an episode that almost tries too hard to be weighty and dramatic. Yes, there are a lot of tortured speeches and angst ridden silences but in total it seems all a bit melodramatic and obvious. In bringing some weight to Neelix's backstory the episode introduces some welcome themes, and it's not without power. But overall it falls short of the mark. 2.5 stars.
Sun, Mar 13, 2016, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
I disagree with Jammer a bit on the ending. I don't think it was gratuitous.

The way I chose to interpret it was that Jetrel *ignored* all evidence that it wouldn't succeed. Despite the fact that literally everybody he spoke to felt it wouldn't succeed, he tried anyways, because he *had* to try because of his regrets; he didn't care that there was a high chance of failure, he never gave up trying. Similarly I felt Neelix encouraged Janeway to allow the experiment for a similar reason: It didn't matter if it was plausible or not, they just had to *try*. Also it was a sign that Neelix was accepting Jetrels motives (and everything that implies).

I think this was a powerful moment in establishing Jetrels futile desire to make up for his past (futile being the key word), as well as moving Neelix forward as a character.

Without this experiment, I don't think the true depth of Jetrels regret could have been as effectively conveyed.
Sun, Mar 13, 2016, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
PS Again, not the same JC as the one that posted last November.
Sat, Jun 18, 2016, 1:38pm (UTC -5)
I have to agree with Ken here. Janeway is completely unquestioning, and basically gives this unknown scientist the complete run of the ship. It's absurd. Okay, the guy is a scientist, and not military. Therefore, don't immediately throw him in the brig with accusations of genocide, but let him do his 'work' with armed guards. And don't completely trust his word just because he seems nice.

One of those ST episodes where characters act as they do solely because of the necessities of the 'themes' of blame and forgiveness, and the movement of the plot. One of many episodes where Janeway should have been court-martialed for her behavior.

I also agree Kes saying "you don't hate the guy who invented the weapon that killed your family. You hate yourself!" is brutally offensive. When someone is partially responsible for killing your family, not to mention your entire species - even if they didn't actually 'push the button' - hatred seems a pretty reasonable emotion. I suspect this episode wouldn't have been QUITE the same after 9/11. It's the episode written from a cultural perspective that thinks war is in their distant past.
George Monet
Tue, Aug 2, 2016, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
While this episode humanized Neelix and made him a likeable instead of insufferably annoying character, the relationship the writers try to create between Neelix and Kes is just gross beyond belief. Kes is like 2 years old, Neelix is probably in his 40s. Just disgusting. As someone pointed out, this is like a 40 year old uncle trying to seduce his 12 year old niece, just absolutely disgusting. This is one of the reasons why I can't stand Neelix's character, because he's a pedophile.
Mon, Aug 15, 2016, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
Psychological snooze fest unless you're into that sort of thing
Mon, Aug 22, 2016, 10:27pm (UTC -5)
Considering they have access to Antimatter bombs or just ramming warp speed ships into planets I wonder why the Hakonian's bothered researching that cascade weapon.

oh wait if we did the obvious we can't have our Hiroshima allegory. This is an okay voyager episode but since Neelix is the star of this one and he mostly isn't annoying I'll say it's worth watching.

We have no proof that the Talaxian's didn't start the war and were just incompetent. this is Neelix's species were talking about.
Mon, Jan 30, 2017, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
I have to say, the over-the-top sanctimonious antipathy toward Jetrel is almost funny. We celebrate the scientists and engineers who invented the Hiroshima bomb. And we used it to kill plenty of innocents. That said, Janeway and her security staff prove fairly incompetent here, given that they give this questionable character access to the ship's wealth of knowledge and don't even surveil him.

I am not a big neelix fan, but I didn't find him too annoying in this episode. And saying he's a pedophile because Jes is 2 years old is just silly. She's more mature than most human "adults". Their relationship was formed in another culture 70000 light years away 400 years in the future. You think maybe their societal mores are a little different than ours?
Mon, Jan 30, 2017, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
JohnC: "We celebrate the scientists and engineers who invented the Hiroshima bomb. And we used it to kill plenty of innocents."

Err... speak for yourself. I don't exactly celebrate that. More to the point, relative to this episode--I wouldn't expect a Japanese person whose family died under the bomb to join the celebration.
Mon, Jan 30, 2017, 7:44pm (UTC -5)
Peremensoe: We celebrate the science behind the invention, not the manner in which the science was utilized. Hating on Jetrel is like hating on Robert Oppenheimer. Unless I misread the episode, I thought it was clear that Jetrel did not make the decision to utilize his findings as a means to perpetrate genocide.

And that's why I don't really understand why so many people commenting on the episode don't get why Janeway wasn't more antagonistic to Jetrel. From her perspective, he's just a fellow scientest.
Tue, Jan 31, 2017, 11:56am (UTC -5)
I haven't watched it in a while, but I think you misread the episode--which, to be fair, is a mess thematically.

My understanding is that Jetrel, like Oppenheimer, intended to make a weapon of mass destruction for use against civilians. Before Hiroshima, Oppenheimer sided with the political and military men who advocated a first use on a city, rather than a demonstration on an uninhabited target, as others of the scientists wished.

The two diverge in their reactions afterward. As Memory Alpha says, Jetrel "considered the use of the weapon necessary at the time, had no apparent regrets in developing it, and only realized the seriousness of what he had done when his wife Ka'Ree left him for his apparent lack of remorse, taking their three children with her – in his words, 'my own casualties of war,'" which is an awfully self-centered way to find and describe one's relationship to killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Oppenheimer, on the other hand, maintained the rightness of the bombing in its time (perhaps a necessity to avoid Jetrel-like madness), but grimly contemplated the even more dire potential future consequences of what they had done. See orse-360125 for example.

In any case, neither of these figures is "just" a scientist.
Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
I agree for the most part with @Ken, @Skeptical, and @Peremensoe

Why the Doctor didn't demand for prove and explanation of this 'metrimia' disease, then confirm it himself is beyond me. He just settled to roll over and let unknown scientiest take over his job and responsibilities? Even more dubious with the knowledge that the scientistis have questionable past and morale, not to mention the likely of having ulterior motive? That just stretching it.

Janeway welcome Jetrel is an okay, she has a reason to worry about Neelix and Neelix agree she represent him. But let him having a free reign on the ship, without any security precaution, and supervision?
I thought several episodes ago Janeway already give Doctor a way to deactivate himself and to prevent being turn-off by crew (Eye Of The Needle)
Now.... the Doctor can be deactivated even by a non-crew member?
Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!

I'm willing to overlook that flaw as a minor for overall advancement of plot. Sloan did a great job delivering the complex disturb scientiest, and we see Phillips can make really good performance given the chance to do it. The build up working well for the most part and we can relate to Neelix and Jetrel. THATS UNTIL.....

The writer turn Neelix into coward. In a single act, not only Neelix character is getting heavy blow again, its also a huge cop-out for Neelix and Jetrel coming face to face overcome the conflict and get proper resolve.
So now his anger for his family and 300.000 people on his colony died is unjustified?
He is actually angry to himself but not really angry for all that killing?
So now all Neelix have to do is forgive and stop hating himself? Jeeezz!
Kes, go back to your quarter or hydroponics bay.

Whether Neelix a cowardice or not is irrelevant to the issue. That's just ducking and avoiding the issue of what is Neelix view on the cascade/nuclear event.
'Can Neelix overcome/forgive/forget/accept that Nuclear bomb event as a victim?'. That issue is totally cop-out and forgotten with changing it to Neelix forgive himself! Are the writers telling Neelix is not angry with that event and just angry to himself because he done nothing/cowardice? ARRGGGH!!!

The End is absurd. Attempting to bring back to life people already scattered to atomic level? In 15 years time that atom is still preserved the way it is? The body and atomic structure maintain it's property after being vaporized? No further atomic/chemical/physical reaction happen afterwards?
This is like trying to remake completely burned building with material from its rumble, ashes, cloud, and wishing they're in the same precise condition afterwards!
Maybe this is the secret of how Voyager can have new shuttle instantly everytime it's blown to pieces eh? They insta transform it from blown pieces.

Even if we're to allow suspension of disbelief that this is possible. Janeway and Neelix allow it? Huge chance they'll be in deformed, mutilate, mutant form. Do they think the victim will appreciate and thanks for it?

"Maybe the cascade is punishment for all of us?"
Not only Neelix is already forgive himself and Jetrel at the end, but now he's considering it's also his fault! WTF? Talk about over-the-top!
I can't ever imagine the family of Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombing would ever said something like that. Japanese governement, maybe for a political reason.
But the civilian and family of the victim?
Would you tell that to the face of family victim? It's punishment for them!
I wouldn't be suprise if they found that line to be highly insulting!
I do find it's VERY INSULTING.

I think it'll be better if Neelix stick that he dont believe and forgive Jetrel. Jetrel as the 'mad scientiest' desperate to undo some damage goes to the length at what we saw on transporter-scene. After witnessing that, Neelix realize how it's affect Jetrel greatly (physically and mentally), said something along the line that 'He still can't forgive that event and Jetrel, but he understand and don't blame Jetrel personally, and it's time to put it behind and move on'

2 (**) star
Tue, May 9, 2017, 9:17pm (UTC -5)
This was a very good episode, but one that was spoiled somewhat by that which spoils so many Trek episodes: Leftist moralizing and grandstanding presented as absolute truth.

Rather than me wasting my time reviewing the episode like many others here have, let me just cut to the crunch:

Creating the atomic weapons did indeed derive from our advanced knowledge of physics, but guess what? So did nuclear energy - and, one day, much cleaner Fusion power will be developed based on that knowledge. The episode tries to make it seem like the atomic bombs were some awful horror that could be completely avoided at no extra cost. Strike 1 against the Lefties.

The scientists involved in the Manhattan Project overwhelmingly did not consider themselves monsters. For example, one of the nicest and most gifted humans ever to grace this planet: Richard Feynman. Strike 2 against the Lefties.

The Japanese Empire was, at the time, a ruthless and unrelenting power that refused to surrender. It didn't even surrender after the first weapon was dropped. Lefty toadies like to claim that the war with Japan could have been concluded without a land invasion, but history, and the interviews with all concerned since, says that they are flat out wrong. It would have taken huge allied deaths to force a surrender—and massive enemy deaths. Strike 3 against the Lefties. They're out!

This episode is how a Lefty sees the dropping of nuclear weapons—through the prism of emotion, rather than logic and knowledge and history.

I really don't appreciate this level of left wing propaganda in my entertainment.
Tue, May 9, 2017, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Oppenheimer, on the other hand, maintained the rightness of the bombing in its time (perhaps a necessity to avoid Jetrel-like madness)

No. It was because, like Feynman, he understood it was a World War and that huge numbers of allied deaths - and enemy deaths - would still have occurred without them. I just thank my lucky stars some of you guys weren't around with your useless, appeasing ways at the time. The same appeasing nonsense that made WWII possible in the first place.
The Sisko
Thu, May 25, 2017, 10:59am (UTC -5)
@DLPB - if you consider this "left wing propaganda" then why are you watching Trek at all? This sort of stuff is all over Trek in general - which is why I consider it incredibly important. If I were you, I would stop watching now. You're not going to like what else is coming.

Also, your defense of the decision to drop the bomb is incredibly cynical. Our emotions - not our logic - are what make us human, what makes us different from machines. Without compassion and love, what would this world be? Would it be worth living in?

IMO this episode does a fantastic job in demonstrating the cruelty of genocide, irrespective of what the supposed justification might be. It is simply NEVER right to take the lives of innocent people - not even in the most extreme case of war. The fact that you seem to dispute that makes YOU exactly the kind of monster that this episode talks about.
Thu, May 25, 2017, 11:53am (UTC -5)
@The Sisko - I think judging the past for dropping the bomb is that easy. We had already been napalming the hell out of Japan, we obviously were beyond worrying about civilians. And they literally were never going to surrender. The were going to fight to the last man. The fact that they didn't surrender after the first bomb drop when we were promising more is, to me, insane.

In some ways I think it needed to be done. Somebody had to be the first one to deploy on nuke on an enemy. It was horrible and I hope nobody ever does it again. But if any of the other powers had gotten the bomb in WW2, they'd have used it.

It's easy to say we shouldn't have done it in retrospect at the horror. When the President is staring at the estimated casualty list for taking Japan in a ground/water war and making that call to avoid it or not. I don't want to bring current politics into this, but it's a very interesting thing that a universal in politics is that whoever is in office the other side rails on them for "breaking promises". The first President I remember well is Daddy Bush. And it's no secret that I'm a Democrat. But when everyone was slamming him over breaking his "no new taxes" promise... all I kept thinking is... maybe there's crap that we need to pay for that's more important than a campaign slogan?

I think we all need to acknowledge that decisions look different in that seat. It's easy for you or me or DLPB or the writers of this episode or anyone else to say what they would have done holding the bomb in one hand and the projected casualties in the other. But nobody can ever really know without that weight on them.
Thu, May 25, 2017, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
@the sisko:

I tend not to agree with DLPB - in fact I generally find him/her lacking in basic reasoning skills.

However, when I see you simplify complex issues down to preschool-level rules, and see you call your adversary a "monster" for having opinions you disagree with, I am inclined to roll my eyes.

As far as the episode: I like it.
Fri, May 26, 2017, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
Why don't you stick to the topic, Ravenna without getting your obvious 2 cents in at me while chastising someone else for doing it? Still, nice to see you understand the concept of free speech. I guess I gotta be thankful for that.


I am surprised to hear you say that. Would have had you down as an "Evil USA for dropping bomb" type, like so many Dems are. But fair play. Also, I think we can all agree that Bush is - and was - a bad president, who had absolutely no idea what he was getting himself into with his misguided foreign interventions (which I contend were illegal). He and Blair should be up for war crimes. Anyway, this is all off topic.
Fri, May 26, 2017, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
@The Sisko

This might be hard for you to accept, but most of us can despise political bias and moralizing in fiction... if it is entertaining. The sad fact is that the media/TV these days is clearly leftist, and so it's all one way traffic. It can indeed get irritating for someone like me, who finds much of it not only a deluded ideology - but a sick and dangerous one, too.

No-one who purports to understand the "values" of Star Trek should be happy about the one-sided nature of today's films and television shows. Since the whole point of Trek is, supposedly, to understand other people and their opinions, which you clearly do not. Judging by what you have just said, I have to conclude that you wouldn't watch any show that disagreed with your politics. And that's very sad indeed.

Not all episodes of Trek have political bias. Not all Trek episodes beat you over the head with the leftist moralizing. In fact, I have noted many episodes that are not just entertaining (as most are), but brilliantly written. And Trek usually asks important questions and has interesting themes. If I were a bigot, I would take your advice. But I am not.

Saying that, I have no intention of watching Abrams' Trek, because, not only is he a gone in the head leftist, the latest films are brainless and without a soul - designed only around action and not around asking important questions. I'm at a loss to explain why so many "Trek fans" don't see the problem there.

Hope that explain why someone who does not share Trek philosophy can nonetheless still enjoy watching Trek. Mostly. I would also note that even a large number of Trek fans consider Gene's Utopian view of the future to be rather ridiculous and naive.

Sun, May 28, 2017, 4:25am (UTC -5)
3.5 stars - didn't appreciate how good this one was when I saw it as a kid. Trauma, PTSD, survivor's guilt, shame... it's a heavy ep and Ethan Philips was superb conveying these difficult emotions. Given the potential displayed in this episode, it really makes you realize how underutilized Neelix was as a three-dimensional character - troubled, scarred and lonely yet kind and relatable. As it stands, his story can basically be told in three episodes: Jetrel, Mortal Coil, Homestead.
Tue, May 30, 2017, 8:14am (UTC -5)
@DLPB - I just feel like people of my generation don't really understand the horror of what wars were like back then. It's easy in the age of drones being akin to video game wars and low casualty counts (America lost 1% of the people in the recent Iraq War as we did in WW2) to judge the President for making the decision. So it's not that I necessarily think it's the right or wrong choice... more that I have no right to even consider judging the President for it. It's just beyond my purview. He held more life and death in his hands during that decision than likely anyone will ever hold again (at least barring WW3). It's certainly not evil though.

As for this episode... I like it for what it did for Neelix's backstory, but Jetrel himself is no Maritza and the conflict is presented as laughably 1-sided for sure. I feel like this episode shot for Voyager's Duet and fell a little short.
Thu, Jun 22, 2017, 5:44pm (UTC -5)
Decentish episode that lost the plot in the last 10 mins.

"I've plugged in the DNA sequencing. We also have remnants of the victims of the event. Lets reconstitute a casualty!
More power to the pattern buffers!
Er ok... we appear to have reconstituted a pile of ashy slime.
Oh yes, forgot that the transporter never actually held a copy of the actual body.."

I know Star Trek has a macguffin attitude to technology but it could at least be consistent in the technology principles it laid down. A DNA sequence might be useful for generating an interesting splodge on the transporter pad, but resurrecting atomised individuals in form pushes the boundaries of coherent storytelling.

I also wish they wouldn't do close ups on neelix's face. His nose resembles a circumcised penis.
Peter Swinkels
Mon, Aug 7, 2017, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
For the most part a very nice episode, but it had to have typical DNA nonsense thrown in: would any one care to explain how you go about finding a person's atoms using their DNA?? DNA is made of atoms, not the other way around. Also I don't think DNA gives an exact specification as how to put all the pieces back together. Oh well...
Fri, Sep 15, 2017, 12:03am (UTC -5)
So Jetrel has been working on reconstituting all the victims of the cascade for 15 years right?

The thing is, he had never seen a transporter or knew how one even worked until he 'heard of' the one on Voyager, so how was he working on using a transporter to do that?

'I have heard of your transporter technology, Captain, but, to experience it first hand is truly remarkable' he says when he beams aboard.

Did he just guess how one might work all those years, hoping to find some sort of magical transporter somewhere? How lucky Voyager showed up just before he was about to die. How did he hear that Voyager had one? The only reason he went to Voyager was to use the transporter. No other reason at all. How did he know where they were? How did he catch up to them? What would make him think it would be able to lock onto billions of atoms spread across an entire moon and reconstitute them when he hadn't ever even seen a transporter before? Lucky they actually had a Talaxian on board so he could use his cover story. What if they didn't? How did he know Neelix was even on board?

Didn't they leave Talaxian space months ago? Or at the very least weeks ago? So how did they get back to their homeworld in a few hours? Even if they could, why would the Talaxians allow what is probably one of their worst war criminals to experiment on their dead families? Wouldn't they demand that Janeway turn him over to them for trial or something? And if they are under Haakonian control, the Haakonians had already refused to allow Jetrel to do it before when he asked, and exiled him, so wouldn't they just refuse again and boot him out once more?

But then again Janeway didn't ask for permission to try and bring people back from the dead, just to collect some of the atmosphere of the moon. Maybe she should have consulted the government or Talaxian people before doing the whole experimenting with an alien species' dead loved ones thing. Or at least told them Jetrel was on board.

There's just so many plot holes.

And also, now Neelix is not only an annoying, whiny, cloying, jealous, possessive pedophile, but a coward as well? Nice.

Fill in even half of the plot holes and it could have been 2 or even 2 1/2 stars, but it's hard to overlook all of them.

1 star
William B
Mon, Sep 18, 2017, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
I've been putting off commenting on this one because I find it a very difficult episode to rate. Probably I'd have to watch it again to do so properly. As it stands I'll just make a few notes.

The acting is excellent, and most of the characterization (writing) generally for the two leads is strong. Even in the eps where I find Neelix nearly intolerable (Parturition, Investigations) I don't really think the fault is with Phillips, and here he shows a range and reveals what lies underneath Neelix's sunny exterior. I think this episode is crucial for explaining who Neelix is and why. Neelix's clingy attachment to Kes and his idolization of her innocence looks more like an attempt to protect and rediscover his own youth (and the dead members of his family) which was horribly taken away from him. His ingratiating behaviour with the crew and his aggressive optimism are ways of coping with personal tragedy that would overwhelm him if he didn't find a way to hide it under multiple layers. His jack-of-all-trades hyperactivity, wherein he apparently couldn't let himself settle down anywhere for a long time, and cultivated several diverse skills rather than being able to have the discipline to focus on a single one, similarly comes from someone who lost everything he had, and whose core beliefs (pacifism) seemed to have betray him. The tension between his wandering and his need to be part of a surrogate family makes sense of the way things play out with the Voyager crew -- and maybe also why he ends up focusing so much of his energies on Tuvok, on forming a friendship with the person in the crew least likely to reciprocate, and also whose emotional equanimity is the one thing he himself lacks.

Sloyan is of course fantastic here, as he is in all his roles (especially Jarok and Mora, but he's great in Firstborn, too). I appreciate that throughout the episode, Jetrel is allowed to play several different emotional beats without settling on any one above all others. This is in some ways Voyager's Duet, in terms of theme if not necessarily quality, but it's worth noting that (SPOILERS for Duet) Jetrel is in some ways a more ambiguous figure as both villain and hero than either Gul Darhe'el or Marritza. In some specific senses, then, it's possibly even more ambitious than Duet, though I love Duet a lot more. Jetrel really is more directly responsible for a huge number of deaths than Marritza, whereas Duet backs down from having us actually examine a "real" mass murderer (for obvious reasons). And while Jetrel has a heroic plan for redemption, the episode avoids making him too sympathetic in several ways. Jetrel really does seem to have some large elements of self-pity, seems to hold onto the way he "lost his family" (through divorce/abandonment) as a kind of equivalent to the way in which Neelix lost his, and there's a kind of self-importance to his own martyrdom for the emotional pain and guilt he suffers which he attempts to use to shut down Neelix's criticisms. I don't think this is a flaw in the episode but actually an astute observation of how people work; Jetrel really does try to use his own pain as a shield from criticism, and on some level despite his claims to the contrary he seems to want Neelix's pity.

There is an emotional charge to the scenes between Neelix and Jetrel that are rare in this series, and the episode seems to be mostly serious about the effects of war and mass destruction. I've seen people above suggest that in the episode's rather obvious Oppenheimer allegory, there is a failure because the episode seems to make the Talax/Haakonian conflict very black-and-white in contrast to the realities of WW2. I'm not so positive. Jetrel doesn't particularly defend his government's actions, it's true, but as the episode goes on we eventually find out that Neelix opposed Talax's role in the war at the time, and that itself suggests that there's maybe a bit more ambiguity in what actually happened than the initial line Neelix gives. In some ways, the episode maybe errs on the side of de-politicizing the actual conflict, of sort of drawing back from the *actual* moral debate over the use of WMDs in war to look more directly at the reality of what it means to live with mass destruction in war, from the perspective of those who lost and those who won.

And that maybe is an error, I think. I talked with my wife after we watched the episode, and she said she wasn't sure how she felt about the episode playing such an obvious, overt allegory to a very specific event, rather than something a little more universal. I mentioned Duet, and she pointed out (and I agree) that DS9 did a lot of work to establish what the Cardassian Occupation meant within this world. Most of the TOS/TNG one-episode allegories were a little broader in scope, I think, dealing with Serious Subjects, and in some cases where it was clear what the particular real life analogy was, but still...different somehow. Maybe I just can't put my finger on it (especially a few weeks after having seen it). And maybe part of it is that by making this analogy so obviously *specific* to the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings, it opens up to criticism for being a misleading take on those things. Oppenheimer didn't devote his life to attempting to save the lives of the people he'd killed, is the bottom line, and the episode to some extent makes the big emotional point of having Neelix forgive Jetrel somewhat contingent on seeing this extreme devotion to making up for the mass destruction, which has no direct analogue in what actually happened with Oppenheimer in the real world. In Duet, while the reality of Marritza's plan wouldn't really work in our world, one could imagine a German file clerk wracked with guilt over what he did not do, and wanting to transform himself if he had the chance. Jetrel-the-episode seems to be suggesting something particular about not any random soldier or worker, but about the key historical figure, and it's a bit of a fantasy. It's possible that if the analogy were a little more ambiguous this would work better for me. On the other hand, Oppenheimer *did* attempt to use his position to prevent further nuclear proliferation, and saw his career junked for it, and so it's partly accurate to paint him as someone who attempted to find ways to prevent more mass-deaths.

I don't actually mind the crew treating Jetrel with some respect rather than shunning him because Neelix hates him. Meeting new people with openness, etc.; and, yeah, he *was* a scientist rather than the actual person who used the weapon. It makes sense for Janeway et al. to view Jetrel as someone who is not really an active danger. What I don't really buy is the crew's reaction to Neelix's anger, and the way they seem perplexed by it, as if Neelix should be over his anger at Jetrel personally by this point. In particular, Kes' "Oh! NOW I're mad at yourself!" reaction to Neelix is frustratingly tone-deaf, but it's more a problem because the episode seems to *support* her perspective, that of course Neelix isn't mad at the guy who developed the mass weapon that killed his family and destroyed much of his civilization, but is mad at himself...for...not killing people. I'm not saying that people aren't angry at themselves in war (or in life in general) and it makes sense for Neelix to be particularly angry at himself, because it is Neelix's own behaviour that he could control, and not Jetrel's. The thing is, even if the Talaxians were entirely in the wrong, I don't think it'd be irrational for Neelix to hold anger at the person who invented the thing that killed his family. We're not talking here about hating all Haakonians, but about one particular figure. Maybe it'd be healthy for Neelix to let go of this anger, and it probably would, but the episode seems to go a little further than that and to suggest that almost all Neelix's anger at Jetrel is just projection of his anger at himself, which I don't buy and think is a lousy take.

That Jetrel's plan is completely bonkers doesn't really bother me, since, of course, it didn't work, and it seems as if he was just expert and self-delusion. The ending does have a nice tragic tinge, and I appreciate the quiet tone of the last moments between Neelix and Jetrel. Though even there, that Jetrel sort of *immediately* dies from the disease when his plan doesn't work is a melodramatic contrivance (he might as well have died of a broken heart) that feels out of place in this story.

I think the episode mostly works for me more than it doesn't, but it's a hard one for me for reasons I've listed. I will go with 3 stars. I can understand people who view it as being a genuine classic as well as people who view it as being a failure.
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
A decent episode, but Jetrel was another example of someone with a disease that has a gruesome end but apparently produces no symptoms until that bitter end. Jetrel says the disease literally makes the body undergo fission, and later he says that he has advanced metremia and will be dead in days. So apparently the fission starts suddenly, but Jetrel somehow knows it's coming in short order. Also, how exactly did Jetrel get it?
Thu, Sep 28, 2017, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
The ending technobabble experiment was a ridiculous notion.

BUT, considering how it kind of seemed to be partially working after one attempt, seems like it just might be worth spending more time on?

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