Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Prime Factors"

***1/2

Air date: 3/20/1995
Teleplay by Michael Perricone and Greg Elliot
Story by David R. George III & Eric A. Stillwell
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"You can use logic to justify almost anything. That's its power ... and its flaw." — Janeway to Tuvok

When a race of aliens called the Sikarians—renowned for their unequivocal hospitality—invites the Voyager crew to visit their homeworld, Ensign Kim stumbles upon their unique technology based on "folding space" that may be able to send the Voyager more than halfway home. The question becomes whether or not the Sikarians are disposed to share this technology.

Janeway has a number of personal dealings with Gath (Ronald Guttman), one of the magistrates of the Sikarian government, who informs her that their rules forbid them to share their technology, lest it fall into the wrong hands. Gath is a man interested only in the simple pleasures of life, and despite his hospitality, he is not willing to make an exception to help Voyager in its journey home—deep down he is only selfishly interested in convincing Janeway and the Voyager crew to join his society and indulge in the Sikarian ways.

Meanwhile, another Sikarian named Jaret (Andrew Hill Newman) approaches Kim with an offer: knowing that Gath will not likely give Voyager the technology, Jaret agrees to trade the technology for a collection of Alpha Quadrant literature, since literature is very highly valued in Sikarian society.

This leaves Janeway with a dilemma: should she violate her Starfleet ethics and engage in under-the-table dealings? After all, no one would likely be the worse off, and the crew could gain some 40,000 light-years on their trip. But, as she says to Tuvok, when Voyager started its trip, she made it clear to the crew that they would behave like a Starfleet crew with Starfleet values. Should integrity be compromised?

As subsequent negotiations with Gath fall apart, Janeway decides she can't cope with the moral implications of cutting a deal with Jaret. It's wrong, she argues, and the best thing to do now that Gath has denied them what they need, is to move on.

It's about here that "Prime Factors" turns compelling. With their minds now unavoidably set on getting home ("We could be there tomorrow!" Seska exclaims), the chain of command slowly starts to break down, and members of the engineering staff begin planning an exchange for the technology so they can integrate it into the ship's systems. What's most interesting here is how things progress from one unauthorized step to the next. The situation doesn't go wrong all at once. It starts out innocently enough—at first Torres, Seska, and Carey (Josh Clark) merely toy with hypothetical situations, trying to determine if the technology unit can be used at all.

But as Janeway's attempts with Gath fail, Seska starts pressuring Torres to think about other options. "Janeway is so infatuated with the magistrate that she can't think straight," she says. "Besides, she made it clear that our first priority is to get home." And Carey doesn't want his kids back home to grow up without a father. If getting home means bending a few rules, then so be it. Torres, with no real ties back home of her own, finds herself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Biggs-Dawson, effectively using pained facial expressions of reluctance, does a fine job of portraying that Torres really wants to do the responsible thing, yet can't simply deny the urgent requests of friends who want to oppose the captain in an interest that apparently takes higher priority.

And before long, Torres, Seska, and Carey are scheming to beam down and trade the technology, consequences and Federation ethics be damned. They don't want to do the wrong thing, but in their mind there is no other choice—this is too much of an opportunity to pass up, so they have to try. They're just about to beam down to the planet without authorization when Tuvok walks in on the three of them in the transporter room.

But Tuvok isn't here to bust them. He announces his plan to make the exchange, and much to the three engineers' astonishment, he beams down to meet with Jaret himself.

Surprised? I sure was. One of the reasons "Prime Factors" is such a good episode is because it tries risky things like this with the major characters. And Tuvok's actions are believable, because the show allows us to understand why he does what he does. At the end of the show after everyone confesses for their improper defiance of the chain of command, Tuvok's reason—that he made a logical choice for Janeway where she couldn't, due to her conflicting emotions of guilt and responsibility—is one that makes an awful lot of character sense, even if it wasn't the proper choice of action.

Of course, the reason a confession is necessary is because the engineers nearly blow up the damn ship trying to get the space-folding device to interface with the Voyager. In one of the most exciting technobabble scenes ever created, Torres, Carey, and Seska frantically attempt to shut down the device after it overloads and runs awry and nearly causes a warp core breach. I don't really understand what this technobabble means, but due to some rather convincing line delivery, when something happens on that weird graphical display, it's very easy to tell when it's good, or when it's very, very bad (in a big "uh-oh" kind of way).

There are a number of effective levels and themes here. First of all, we have Torres' realization that she has changed, that as an assimilated Starfleet officer she has more responsibilities, and that she can't continue to live the way of the Maquis. When Seska tries to convince B'Elanna that they can cover up what was a near-disaster, B'Elanna refuses. "It has to do with being able to live with yourself," she tells Seska.

There's also the theme of Janeway losing some faith in members of her crew whom she thought she could trust. The ending, where Janeway has to discipline Torres for her behavior, shows a certain helplessness. She can't throw anyone in the brig for this mess—she needs every person on the ship—but when she gloomily says to Torres, "I want you to know how very deeply you have disappointed me," the line hits with the force of a sledgehammer. And Janeway's talk with Tuvok is just as charged: she depends on him for advice, yet here he is doing something she would never have permitted.

Lastly, there's the theme of what is really right in this situation. Although Janeway's decision is what the episode ultimately chooses as the correct path, there's a lot of grey area here. Janeway is torn and indecisive through many moments of the show, and given how far Voyager is from home, breaking an ethical stance may be necessary at some point in time. Tuvok and Torres weren't necessarily wrong in their assessment of the situation. They made some errors in judgment, and their methods may not have been correct, but one of "Prime Factors's" biggest strengths is that it has interesting subtleties and grey areas, and no simple answers or questions to give any of the characters an easy way out.

There are only two real quibbles I have with this show. First, where was Chakotay during all this? His role wasn't important; he had no real decisions to make. Given that he's a Maquis and has known Torres for so long, why couldn't he have been used as a major factor in the way the show played out? The other quibble is that this episode poses the Voyager with yet another way to get back to the Alpha Quadrant. If the writers are going to tease us with ways Voyager can get home every three or four weeks, the series is going to get old fast. Nevertheless, the plot device falls perfectly into place and works quite well, allowing the ethical core of the episode to take form, which shines and makes the show a winner.

Previous episode: Emanations
Next episode: State of Flux

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28 comments on this review

Rob in Michigan - Sun, Sep 21, 2008 - 4:41pm (USA Central)
I completely agree with your review. This was a powerful episode as soon as we see Tuvok side with the conspirators; suddenly all bets were off. It's a tragedy that the creative staff wasn't very creative for the run of the show and that these sorts of risks weren't taken far, far more often.
And Janeway's dialog when the plot is revealed is devastating because of Kate's delivery. Not just the quote to Torres that you cite, but also her nearly plaintive, "I want you to tell me how you, of all people, could be involved in this?"
You can see she's been struck in a vulnerable place and at the same time is struggling to control her anger. Wonderful acting.
navamske - Wed, Sep 22, 2010 - 6:57pm (USA Central)
Two things ruined this episode for me. The first was that I found that Gath guy to be seriously creepy and off-putting. Maybe that was partially the point, since he turned out to be a sorta-bad guy, but FWIW, Michael Piller has been quoted as saying that he didn't like the casting choice. The second was the "We don't even know if it will interface!" (with shipboard technology) bit and yet the magical Sikarian transporter thingy just happens to have two cylindrical projections that conveniently fit nicely into two corresponding receptacles on the engineering console.
Destructor - Sun, Feb 27, 2011 - 6:49pm (USA Central)
Is response to navamske's second quibble- Tuvok directed Belanna to 'prepare for the trajector'. Since she'd already seen it, it presumably wasn't too hard for her to fashion an interface unit to suit their requirements.

Anyway, this will always be one of my favourite VOY episode, primarily due to Janeway's speech to Tuvok at the end.
Carbetarian - Fri, Apr 8, 2011 - 12:36am (USA Central)
Jammer, I almost entirely agree with your review and concur that this one was a winner. But, I'm knocking a half star from your assessment because I also agree with navamske; alien of the week guy was totally skeevy and off putting.

Three stars from me!

Oh, and I know Harry is excited to get home and all, but he could have at least gotten to 1st base with the cute alien chick before running off to Janeway like that. That poor boy has no game at all.
John - Thu, May 5, 2011 - 2:45am (USA Central)
This is the first episode I saw that was really compelling and made me think Voyager had some serious potential. Unfortunately, it very seldom lived up to this. Aside from Harry Kim having his love romp, this was an absolutely excellent episode.
Jay - Wed, May 30, 2012 - 10:42am (USA Central)
@ navamske

Re: the connections matching...I chalked that up to them replicating an interface that had a ""ederation" plug at one end and a Sikaarian one on the other.

As for the creepiness of the Gath...I agree 150%. I also found the guy that played the first Trill we ever saw in TNG's "The Host" to be terribly offputting too. Horrible casting there and again here.
Grumpy - Mon, Jul 2, 2012 - 9:31am (USA Central)
At the risk of diminishing the best episode of Voyager's 1st season... isn't it odd that the Sikarians are never seen again, given that their technology would have allowed them to easily colonize most of the galaxy?
hlau - Sun, Jul 8, 2012 - 7:01am (USA Central)
Oh poor Harry, that Sikarian was really cute and was throwing herself at him.

But really, i don't think the story works since if the Sikarian are so much more advanced technologically, wouldn't they quite easily chase Voyager down and outgun them in everyway? They could easily invade the Federation if it gave them 'pleasure'.
Milica - Wed, Jul 18, 2012 - 9:45am (USA Central)
I agree with the review entirely.
One comment, however - it seems unlikely that a race that is so devoted to pleasures could have developed such sophisticated techology. Someone must have invested a lot of sweat, years and pleasures for this kind of invention to be created - so unsikarian.
Jack - Sun, Oct 28, 2012 - 10:50pm (USA Central)
@ Grumpy...

That goes for the race from "Blink Of An Eye" as well. At the end of that episode, they overcome the planetary barrier when the pair of ships comes up and drags Voyager out of its gravity well. From that point on, their ultra-advanced civilization would have free reign in the "greater" universe.
Vylora - Mon, Nov 26, 2012 - 8:48pm (USA Central)
Rewatching random Voyager episodes.

Dunno why.

This one was neat.

Sikarian trying to get with Harry was super cute.

I'd tap that.
Jay - Sat, Mar 9, 2013 - 8:03am (USA Central)
@ Grumpy...since the technology was shown to be something that built upon a natural and unique characteristic of their planet, I can believe that maybe this culture stumbled upon this technology accidentally when some other experiment they were trying went awry somehow and revealed this unique property, but isn't otherwise incredibly technology advanced beyond the one gadget.

I recall waaaaay back in "Angel One" where the culture there didn't seem particulary technologocally advanced but had this crazy execution gadget that was activated remotely by touching a crystal ball.
eddie - Fri, May 10, 2013 - 4:57pm (USA Central)
This was one of my favorite episodes of the first season. For pretty much the same reasons Jammer has stated.

But it was one I considered a type of missing opportunity for the series. I felt that Janeway's attitude that if she couldn't negotiate for the technology in a day or two then they should be on their way was misguided. They could have attempted to find a way to send voyager 40,000 light years w/o actually transferring the technology. (they did it with that catapult later on). But even if they didn't want to give Voyager that advantage so early in the season, then just let that effort fail. But while voyager a) negotiates with an alien culture it knows little about and b) they attempt to build the tech device that takes them home but would fail... they could have had voyager park on a planet for a couple of episodes and really explore those chances but more importantly build an arch with a species they've met to explore its culture/politics (I liked DS9, so i guess i'm biased towards that type of story).

Another way they could have explored species in an ongoing way could have been to join a convoy with ships they met along the way. They were alone in an unknown place... and ever since ships sailed the oceans, there was safety in groups. Whether it had been voyager travelling for a couple of episodes with a talaxian mining convoy to having them stay with the Trebe longer (trying to help them to find a new home along the way before the Trebe pulled that attempt to kill the Kazon leadership and parting ways). A couple of others that I remember were those aliens that had their world destroyed by the Borg and tried to steal the warp core. They were kind of annoying but it would have been interesting for voyager to escort their 30 or so remaining vessels while they looked for a new home on their way to the alpha quadrant (heck Janeway could even promise that if they don't find an acceptable planet on the way and somehow stick around with them until they find a shortcut to the alpha quadrant, she'll ask the Federation to give them a planet they can settle). The xenophobe aliens that gave Kim and STD... the ones that broke off from the generational ship could have formed a convoy with voyager for a bit. All they wanted to do was explore... hey, Voyager does that and they have more firepower than us and we can watch out for each other on the way for a while!

And adding vessels to a convoy commanded by Janeway would have given them the opportunity to have larger battles if they antagonized aliens species along their way.

Lt. Yarko - Sat, Jun 8, 2013 - 2:25pm (USA Central)
Outstanding acting job by Kate. What a moving scene at the end. She nailed it. Roxanne and Tim were wonderful too.

Kate is easily the 2nd best captain from an acting standpoint after Patrick.

@Milica: Even people on earth get pleasure from scientific endeavor. Some people devote their entire lives to it and don't miss the things that others find pleasurable. I don't see that the Sikarians would have a problem with scientific advancement.
Ian - Fri, Jul 19, 2013 - 4:34am (USA Central)
If the show really wanted to break new ground it would have allowed them to use the technology one time for a 40,000 light year trip. It would still keep them in the delta quadrant but at least move the story forward.
inline79 - Thu, Aug 1, 2013 - 6:28pm (USA Central)
This, and not Ex Post as Jammer noted... is the real first Tuvok defining episode. No, more than that, this changed the way we look at all Vulcans. Suddenly they're a little more "transparent"... they just use logic to justify what they want to do, so really they are human. Wow. I think Tim Russ also started to get that after this episode too. Another great addition to the first season.

As for Harry... don't we all have a friend like that (or were/are like that ourselves?).
Eudana - Tue, Aug 27, 2013 - 7:24am (USA Central)
Wouldn't an incredibly advanced piece of technology like the spatial trajector have made the Sikarians a prime target for any number of militaristic neighbours? The Kazon, the Trabe, the Viidians, the Haakonians, the Krowtonan Guard (if the crew of the Equinox are to be believed) are all in the locality of Sikaris. You'd think a "remarkably pleasure-oriented species" like the Sikarians would have been conquered by now, or at the very least learned to keep the technology a more closely guarded secret.

And that's not even factoring in jaunting over most of two quadrants without a care. A forty-thousand light year range brings them well into range of highly militarized civilizations far more advanced than their neighbors. Oh, and there's these guys called the Borg Collective too...
Adam - Fri, Dec 13, 2013 - 1:55am (USA Central)
I'd forgotten how good early Voyager was. Just rewatched this episode for the first time in ages. The first couple of seasons showed real promise, imo. Episodes like this one could only have been done on Voyager. It uses the show's premise, and this show uses its premise all too rarely. I especially liked the latter half , with the stealing of the technology, and Janeway's scene at the end with Tuvok. These are the kind of character driven episodes that Voy should have done more often.
Trent - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 5:53pm (USA Central)
Twenty minuts into this episode, and I thought Jammer was nuts giving this episode a high grade. It seemed like a bad Miami Vice episode, with cheesy aliens and locales. And then, almost suddenly, it becomes great. The premise then builds to arguably the greatest scene in Season 1, Tuvok and Janeway eyeing each other emotions that can only be described as wonderfully mixed.

"Wouldn't an incredibly advanced piece of technology like the spatial trajector have made the Sikarians a prime target for any number of militaristic neighbours?"

My understanding is that the technology could only be used around or in their planet. Maybe I am mistaken. But that was my impression.
Andy's Friend - Mon, Jan 20, 2014 - 5:42am (USA Central)
@Trent: Hey, what's your problem with Miami Vice? ;-)

- and + on this one:

- Gath is one of the creepiest alien males in Star Trek.
+ Eudana is inversely one of the cutest alien girls in Star Trek.

- Janeway is bloody incompetent as usual.
+ Tuvok shows some serious initiative.

- Neelix. Arrgh!
+ (No redeeming factor here. There never can be).

As to the 'ethical dilemma', however: I fail to see one. Let's not fool ourselves: this is a fantastic piece of technology, and Janeway would be rewarded upon return to Earth nearly regardless of how she had acquired it. As it is, what is the cost? Literature. We're talking trading Don Quixote and Faust for utterly improbable technology. It's not like Jaret is asking for the secrets of themonuclear warfare, bioterrorism and cybercrime, is it? I say hit'em hard with Milton and Montaigne, and take off with the tech.

About whether "the technology could only be used around or in their planet" or not: "...they would need an amplifier the size of a planet to make the system work. The Sikarians are able to use the technology because Sikaris itself has a crystalline mantle that focuses and amplifies the trajector field" [Memory Alpha]. But surely some other celestial bodies out there must have such a 'crystalline mantle', wouldn't you say?
K'Elvis - Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 9:16am (USA Central)
@Milicia: A member of a species devoted to pleasure might well develop this technology. There are many kinds of pleasures. A Sikaran engineer might take great pleasure in learning and exploration. Someone on that planet is producing all those goods, the foo, fabrics, jewelry, etc, and if they are devoted to pleasure they presumably enjoy doing so. Pleasure may be their highest ideal, but they don't have to pursue pleasure in the same way: Gath just wants to collect new playthings, Jaret wants credit for introducing all these new stories, but we don't know that all Sikarans pursue pleasure in the same way that they do. They are powerful people, and can presumably afford to be as indulgent as they wish.

I would have made the trade for the technology too. It's not at all clear that the Prime Directive forbids an under the table trade like this. The Federation would certainly have made the trade. Kirk infiltrated the Romulan Empire to steal a cloaking device, after all.

This technology would be utterly destabilizing. If you could move your ships 40,000 light years in an instant, you would be only seconds away from every species home worlds. You could annihilate empires in minutes. Thus every power would want it. It's understandable that the Sikarans would not want to allow this technology to escape, but it is a technology that the Federation would be foolish not to develop.

The technology may have required the particulars of the Sikaran planet, but in the long run, that's not a problem. It should be easy enough to find another planet with similar properties, or to develop a technological means of getting the same result. The reason they needed to rush it was that if they were going to use it against Janeway's wishes, they had to do it now, this was their once chance to use it in the appropriate environment. They could find another planet that met the requirements, but to do so, Janeway would have to order Voyager to go to such a planet, and that wouldn't happen.

The technology may not have been compatible with Voyager's technology, but it should have been possible to make it be compatible eventually. It's just that Torres needed to destroy it to save the ship. For this type of technological advancement, the Federation would eagerly alter their technology around it. They did get some scans of the technology, and I suppose when they got back, Federation science labs went to work attempting to study it.
Ric - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 - 1:13am (USA Central)
This episode begins as a Risa-like episode of the Delta Quadrant. And boring as all usual Risa episodes. Additionally, with an annoying repetition of hedonist races already found more than once in Trek history (another one that comes to my mind are The Edo).

However, its second half ends up being a Trek powerhouse. Not only due to the amazing dillema that puts the Starfleet officers "at the other side of the fence". But also due to the interesting idea of a people almost addicted in stories.

In the end, the sacrifice made by Tuvok gave us a brilliant Trek moment. Outstanding. The sentence about logic being able to justify anything was also memorable. The only downside is in fact Kate Mulgrew's delivery in the last scenes. Although a strong acting, she was looking as she was close to crying. This was overacted and bad for building the strong character she should build.
Amanda - Sun, Mar 16, 2014 - 1:41am (USA Central)
Ric > I disagree. Let me explain my pov even if we reach an impasse. If anything it shows the writer's/acting in a synergy. They tend to write the characters so wooden it's hard to imagine if they experience any emotion. She's with a trusted friend in this scene ( which has come into question), not staring down the barrel of a gun of an antagonist pleading for her life. It shows she's not invulnerable. She's more believable and still is strong in my eyes. If she looks weak it is when she makes choices that make Cpt Ransom's point.

Now, my pointless contribution about the episode: I was so glad for part B of the story. I was put off by the alien immediately and couldn't see why Janeway was so seduced by him (Or maybe she was faking) I feared it'd be a pointless shore leave ep. Without the holodeck this time. I was pleasantly surprised.
Peter - Sat, Mar 29, 2014 - 11:47am (USA Central)
This is a really great review for this episode that after watching 19 years later really holds up well. Yes it is very unfortunate that Voyager couldn't continue with a lot of the concepts brought up in this episode, especially in light of some of Janeway's later misuse of the Prime Directive.

This episode was sooooooo much better, both in my mind back then and now, then Emanations was just before it, although I do agree about the creepiness of Gath.

Would have loved some more of Sikarans at some point and I agree that the engineer who developed the space-folding device did out of pleasure.

Also the idea of Voyager combining with Delta Quadrant native'sconvoy was used in a later 4th season two-parter that could have been an interesting place to reintroduce the Sikarans. And that was in "Year of the Hell, Part 1 & 2" -- at least in the alternate timeline created from the Krenen timeship. It would have been interesting and so like the Krenen if they were the aliens of the Delta Quadrant to fight the Sikarans for the space-folding device and made Janeway and Voyager crew's ability to fight the Krenen even more of a problem.

I do love how "Prime Factors" and "Ex-Post Facto" moved along in interesting ways both Tuvok as a character and how we felt about the Vulcans. It started making me wonder just how different the Vulcans truly were with their distant cousins the Romulans? (Or even much the same they were?)

I agree that Chakotay was woefully missing from this episode, especially near the end in Janeway's ready room (surprised both then and now that Chakotay would not have been in there when Torres was pulled in), but it would have also been interesting to see if Chakotay would have agreed more with Janeway's actually correct way of dealing with Gath and the Sikarans. That might have set-up some interesting dynamics of having Torres, Siska, Lt. Carey, Tuvok and somewhat Harry Kim on one side, and Janeway and Chakotay on another and might have been an interesting dynamic put into the show's run in terms of what was about to happen with Siska, as well as Chakotay's later dealing with Torres, Tuvok and Kim and even to an extent Paris and the rest of the crew. Does anyone know what was going on or where Beltran (Chakotay) was during this episode's filming that would make him not be involved more?
Vylora - Mon, Aug 18, 2014 - 11:21pm (USA Central)
What begins as a seemingly lightweight yet intriguing episode with more nicely conveyed character moments quickly builds into fantastically written drama with dynamic interpersonal conflicts. It basically pulls you in with a false sense of serenity before punching you in the face.

I did find the character of Gath a bit creepy initially but it wasn't noticeable again until Janeway, and thus the crew, were told to leave.

The last couple of acts are among the best, if not THE best, scenes of this season. Tuvok's statement of: "My logic was not flawed, but I was" spoke volumes.

Some really good stuff here that elevates the above-average first few acts into something even better as a whole.

3.5 stars.
Roger Dalton - Fri, Sep 26, 2014 - 3:22am (USA Central)
I'm watching all the way through Voyager for the first time, essentially (I saw a handful of the episodes when it was airing, but not since), and I just finished a rewatch of TOS, TNG and DS9. It is very sad that this is apparently considered a high water mark for the series, because I found this episode really, really annoying. I may be an unusual Trek watcher, because I think the Prime Directive is morally bankrupt, but I found the position promoted by this episode to be pretty deplorable. If your crew is willing to do this, including the officer you use to act as a moral compass, doesn't that mean that you, Captain Janeway, might be in the wrong on this ethical issue? If the leader of the planet was Hitler, and there was a subjugated underclass of slaves, would Janeway be talking about how only dealing with the official power structures of this clearly warp-drive capable civilization is the appropriate form of action, because that's their law? Janeway isn't being "Lawful Good" she's being "Lawful Stupid" to crib some tabletop RPG terminology.

Between that and the meta-issue of me thinking "There's no way the authors are going to let this work" the entire time, I was annoyed through most of the episode so I can't say it was enjoyable.

So there's two issues of trust here. First, the crew didn't trust Janeway to make the right ethical choice in this situation (and this lack of trust was well-founded), and she doesn't even have enough ACTUAL introspection to think she might have been wrong, no matter how many scenes they show of her struggling over the issue. The struggling they showed is more of an indication of the pain she felt about being given two unpleasant choices rather than actually examining her choices and questioning them, which would have implied a real possibility of going either way (there was never a credible consideration of the choice she didn't like). She knew her bottom-line before she did the math, and she just didn't like what the bottom-line was.

And second, I didn't trust the authors to deal fairly with the issues at hand. That lack of trust was also well-founded.
Elliott - Fri, Sep 26, 2014 - 11:03am (USA Central)
@Roger Dalton :

First of all, according to whom is this a high watermark for the series? It's a good S1 episode, but it doesn't come close to the really great episodes of the series.

Second of all, that you deplore the Prime Directive does not make you unique amongst Trek fans. Hell, visit any of the hot-button PD pages on this site (Pen Pals, Homeward, Prototype, Dear Doctor) for a veritable onslaught of indignant rants against the philosophy.

However, your hypothetical

"If the leader of the planet was Hitler, and there was a subjugated underclass of slaves, would Janeway be talking about how only dealing with the official power structures of this clearly warp-drive capable civilization is the appropriate form of action, because that's their law? "

doesn't really hold up. If the leader were a kind of Hitler instead of Fabio, Janeway wouldn't have ordered shore-leave and they never would have discovered the technology. If somehow that still had, Janeway would not have gone with "well fuck it, these guys are assholes, so it's okay to steal from them." Not Season 1 Janeway. Give her a few years of seeing her crew die and suffer and check back in with her around Season 5.

"First, the crew didn't trust Janeway to make the right ethical choice in this situation (and this lack of trust was well-founded)"

Well, yeah, that's the point--they barely know her. She hasn't done much to earn their trust at this point, has she?

"She knew her bottom-line before she did the math, and she just didn't like what the bottom-line was. "

That's called having principles and sticking to them. I'm not saying that her choice was objectively the right one, but it's in keeping with her character development at this point in the series and did quite a bit to flesh out the supporting characters and heart of the show, regardless of whether we knew they wouldn't actually get home this way.
Roger Dalton - Sat, Sep 27, 2014 - 12:37pm (USA Central)
@Elliott:

I'm happy there are better episodes coming down the pipe.

You make several good points. I've actually enjoyed some of the episodes this season much more than the average reviewer and commenter here, so I hold out hope that I'll enjoy the show more than average as well. Perhapse Janeway's principles will end up seeming endearing like Picard's, rather than stupid like they seem right now. It can be hard to enjoy a show where every time there is a big moral question of consequence, the implied "better choice" is contrary to one's opinion. If doing morality right were as easy as having simple, firm principles and sticking to them, that would be very nice, but out here in the real world, deontology is probably best thought of as a heuristic for consequentialism that works most of the time, but not all the time.

I have enjoyed your comments on the latter episodes of DS9, when I started following Jammer's reviews. Although I disagreed with you as often as not, your comments always had a rational basis and were well-argued.

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