Star Trek: Voyager

"Time and Again"

**

Air date: 1/30/1995
Teleplay by David Kemper and Michael Piller
Story by David Kemper
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"We ate him. Because we are demons and we eat children ... and I haven't had my supper yet." — Paris to inquisitive kid

Voyager displays one more way how to be derivative of TNG by offering an exercise in not one, but two dependable Star Trek cliches—the Violation of the Prime Directive and Crew Members Lost in Time motifs. What is basically a tame, mundane, lackluster time story fortunately displays some energy in the closing act with a halfway punchy (though somewhat predictable) ending. Fans of the other Trek series will surely find this as more of the same.

The series has obvious potential, but again refuses to use it by telling a story that could just as easily have been told on TNG or DS9. These are not the episodes that should have used to launch the series. The writers should've delivered two knockouts to get the audiences going. Instead, they supply two relatively pedestrian plots.

While cruising through a star system, a sub-space shockwave alerts the Voyager to a planet whose entire population has just been annihilated by subspace radiation. Upon beaming down to investigate, the away team discovers fractures in time caused by the aftereffects. Janeway and Paris "fall" into one of these cracks, and find themselves shifted back approximately one day in the past where the planet's population is alive and well, without the slightest clue they're going to be gone tomorrow.

Unfortunately, after act one's setup, we get fairly uneventful acts two, three and four. We get into the issue with the Prime Directive again, as Janeway orders an exasperated Paris not to warn anybody what is going to happen. The rest of the Voyager crew begins to look for a way to retrieve Janeway and Paris through time, which means we get another episode mired in technobabble.

The cast goes through the motions but doesn't strike any notes. We learn nearly nothing new about the characters or their personalities, and the dialog lacks strength. There's a bit with Kes' telepathic abilities, as she "sees" the deaths of everyone on the planet in her sleep. But her scenes come across as needlessly melodramatic, marked by the bothersome sight of her breaking into tears on Neelix's shoulder over the horrible sight. Saving some grace is Robert Picardo's amiable performance as the holographic doctor (who comes across as the episode's most interesting character). He's a being who may have more than his superficial qualities suggest—the Voyager version, I suppose, of Data from TNG.

Janeway and Paris learn the planet's impending destruction will be the result of the people's own use of unstable power sources, possibly due to some activists who know the dangers of the technology and plan to sabotage a power plant to make a point. The story changes direction when Janeway realizes that their very presence may be what causes the disaster. This leads her to decide she has to stop the activists from performing their dastardly deed. This is where the story finally picks up (though too late) as Janeway plays the heroine by following the bad guys into the power plant, where she pulls a gun and an all-business attitude on them.

But the conclusion is far too ambiguous. It turns out that the crew's rescue attempt through time causes the explosion, and suddenly the scene takes us back in time (or forward, from Janeway's point of view) to before the Voyager even encounters the subspace shockwave. The time manipulations are reminiscent of "Cause and Effect," but this conclusion doesn't offer any explanations to the questions it raises. (Most of all, why does Kes come to the bridge to avert the crew from restarting the same time loop again?) The ending completely ignores its paradox without any offer of credibility.

Weighing down the sci-fi element is the fact that the planet's residents are way too human, making the Delta Quadrant that much less fascinating. Unfortunately, plot requirements require it, which is another reason why this story is a bad move this early in the series. And frankly, Chattaway's score here is dreadful, particularly during the obligatory gunfight scene. It owes more to fingernails on a chalkboard than notes on a page.

Here's hoping Voyager does something genuinely new next week.

Previous episode: Parallax
Next episode: Phage

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38 comments on this review

Mal
Fri, Oct 16, 2009, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
I remember vividly loving Season 4's Year of Hell, but hating - totally hating - the "Reset Button," which by the end of VOY, was perhaps its worst offending cliche. What I had forgotten was just how early in the show the writers started leaning on that crutch.

This is only the third episode! Isn't it vital at this point to build UP the characters? Instead, what little character development occurred was all wiped away like so many other potential (but sadly, reset) twists and turns throughout VOY's seven years. What a shame. What a total waste.

P.S. Kes is no Guinan. And Time and Again is no Yesterday's Enterprise.
OddJohn
Tue, Dec 1, 2009, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
I'm surprised you didn't go more into Janeway's bizarre Prime Directive fundamentalism in this episode. Janeway uses the Prime Directive as a reason to not save this episode's SOTW from extinction. But considering the Voyager is so far from Federation HQ and the Prime Directive has been routinely skirted around by previous captains with little consequence, it's hard to not see Janeway's behavior here as borderline psychopathic. Kirk wouldn't have given a damn about the PD in this situation. Picard would have expressed reservations but found a way to save the species anyway. Janeway just condemns them to death without a second thought.

Her reasoning (beyond just 'the PD says so')? That it's impossible to know what consequence saving them would have. Really!? According to that logic, it's immoral to save ANYONE from ANYTHING! After all, you never know who will end up giving birth to the next Hitler after you save them. Simply preposterous.
Tim
Sat, Jun 26, 2010, 11:08pm (UTC -5)
This episode is pretty lame. Especially considering its the third episode of the series and its the second episode on a row to focus on time travel.

But there is a scene between Kes, Neelix and the Doctor that is absolute gold. The doctor has two classic lines:

"Your brain...is not on file!"

...and...

"Please advise the highest ranking crew member who is not...missing...to contact me at once"
navamske
Sat, Sep 25, 2010, 8:14am (UTC -5)
@OddJohn

"Janeway's . . . Prime Directive fundamentalism"

That, sir, is brilliant.
navamske
Sat, Sep 25, 2010, 8:18am (UTC -5)
@Tim

"Your brain...is not on file!"

To which Neelix could have responded, "Brain and brain, what is brain?"

Neelix: hands-down, the most annoying character in any Star Trek incarnation. Just sayin'.
navamske
Tue, Nov 2, 2010, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
Not only do the denizens of the planet look completely human, they also use human idioms like "appeared out of thin air." Amazing.
Destructor
Mon, Feb 21, 2011, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
I've been rewatching Voyager for a second time with my girlfriend and she is loving it- because she doesn't care about plot. She cares about the characters, and I think this episode, while entirely useless because it resets at the end, does actually get into the characters. And I think that might just be the key to enjoying Voyager this second time around.
Carbetarian
Tue, Apr 5, 2011, 11:28pm (UTC -5)
@destructor I totally agree. I'm rewatching Voyager for the first time since it was originally on the air and, while I think the plots are WAY lamer than I remember them being, I genuinely care about this crew. The cast had good chemistry and that is what saves the show from being a total bore for me.

This episode sucked though. @oddjohn is right about Janeway's insane prime directive fundamentalism. That was ridiculous. I won't restate everyone else's all too apt complaints. But, I agree with everything that's already been said.

Is it just me, or does Neelix kind of look like Tony the Tiger crossed with a leprechan? I'm still wondering who thought he was going to be the new breakout alien of the show. Remember that scene in caretaker where he was in a bathtub?

*shudders*

That will haunt my nightmares forever.
Nathan
Thu, Oct 27, 2011, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
"Picard would have expressed reservations but found a way to save the species anyway."

Really? How about 7th season episode "Homeward" with Worf's (human) brother? Picard is willing to let the entire planet die from 'atmospheric dissipation'.

Personally, I think total destruction of an isolated society is a place where the Prime Directive should not apply. Most of the arguments for the PD don't apply when you're dealing with the annihilation of an entire civilization that has no contact with any others.
charlie
Thu, Dec 29, 2011, 6:19am (UTC -5)
Nathan,
"Homeward" was just a fluke, just like giving Spock a brother in Star Trek V was a fluke. "Time and Again," however, proved the norm for Voyager.
Shane
Fri, Oct 5, 2012, 1:23am (UTC -5)
Wow Tuvok was an annoying prick in this episode. The whole way through he would spout disdain for the other crew member's thoughts and ideas and had nothing to contribute himself.

An early sign that most of the writers for Voyager and Enterprise could never script the Vulcans as anything more than conceited a-holes with pointed ears.
Shane
Fri, Oct 5, 2012, 1:28am (UTC -5)
Oh wait, nevermind, none of it actually happened! Reset button!
mike
Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 5:21am (UTC -5)
1.5 stars at most. It had every Star Trek cliché in the writer's guide: prime directive, technobabble gone wild,time travel paradoxes and an alien culture where everyone inexplicably dresses alike. By the time this thing as third quarters through I just didn't care. A planet with people this irritating is better off scorched beyond recognition.
inline79
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
While writing this script, someone somewhere noted that the most popular Star Trek episodes deal with paradoxes and time travel ("Relics", "All Good Things"... just to name two). So is the entire Voyager first season going to be time travel? We are not that gullible.

Two time travel stories in a row is bad storytelling. But what really irks me is they don't even make the effort to explain the paradox at the end, or give any of the characters any growth out of it. Well, except Tuvok, who is now established as having nobody to tell him to "Shut up".

Clearly there were set and make-up budget constraints but, unlike many of the above, I actually enjoyed this episode more than Parallax. It should get an extra half star from Parallax's 2.5. It is an entertaining plot. It is an interesting premise of "do you warn them or not? and even if you do, will they believe you?". We do see some of the Paris / Janeway relationship, and we get more of a look at our Bad Captain's decision making. So we, the viewers, get insight into the characters without them gaining anything. That's a uniquely sci-fi story element that I hope will get filled some time in the next 170+ episodes...
Caine
Wed, Oct 9, 2013, 3:06pm (UTC -5)
".. Tuvok, who is now established as having nobody to tell him to "shut up". "

Hehe - brilliant, that actually made me laugh out loud :)

About the episode: extremely boring! Next, please!
Elizabeth
Mon, Dec 30, 2013, 5:52am (UTC -5)
I didn't mind watching the episode, there were a few entertaining moments. However, I couldn't get past the fact that the aliens are identical to humans. And the reset button is really annoying! I remember as a little girl, watching 'Dallas' with my parents (apparently they thought that was appropriate viewing for an 8yo) and seeing the scene where JR's death was all a dream. I thought it was the laziest plot twist ever and that the writers should be fired. Lame!
K'Elvis
Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 11:34am (UTC -5)
Janeway says that "as a rule", the Federation doesn't deal with pre-warp species. That doesn't mean they never do so, it's just a general policy, there might be any number of circumstances where they would deal with pre-warp species. But this is different than "Homeward", in that episode, it would have been a radical intervention to save them, packing a vestige of a primitive society and relocating them on another planet. The society in this episode is at least on par with 21st century Earth. Saving them wouldn't involve a radical intervention, it would simply involve giving them a warning.

Janeway telling Tom not to intervene and Chakotay admonishing his fellow Maquis not to mutiny seem like the same thing: if there is action to be taken, they will take it themselves. If Voyager will intervene, Janeway will make the call; if there is to be a mutiny, Chakotay will make the call.
Ric
Tue, Mar 4, 2014, 12:10am (UTC -5)
@K'Elvis Just a general policy? You are talking about the Prime Directive, or god sake. Maybe has it name because it is a unimportant one that be put aside in "any number of circumstances"...
Tricia
Fri, Apr 18, 2014, 5:04am (UTC -5)
Isn't the universal translator built into the com badges? How does Janeway and Paris keep talking to the aliens after the com badges are taken? Apparently the aliens not only look exactly like humans, but they speak English. (The universal translator doesn't make sense anyway, but that's a different discussion).
Robert
Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 10:23am (UTC -5)
I'm actually going to take the opposite PoV on this episode. I liked it. It wasn't a classic, I'd not give it 3 stars, but it was good enough to be entertaining and the reset button doesn't erase anything of consequence.

The reset button is only annoying if it removes character DEVELOPMENT. The only character development lost here is that Kes doesn't start to realize her powers yet (instead the audience gets a glimpse into her future).

Most of the character moments here are to DEFINE the characters for OUR sake, in which case none of that is erased. We still learned a bit about almost every character.

Was the storyline pedestrian? Yes. Been there done that? Of course. Filled with time travel cliches? You betcha. Was it still a fun episode with an interesting twist of an ending and some needed character definition for the third episode? Yep.

Was it better than EVERY OTHER MODERN TREK'S third episode (Code of Honour, A Man Alone, and Strange New World)? I think so!
Robert
Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 10:24am (UTC -5)
That should have read "I'd not give it MORE than 3 stars" instead of "I'd not give it 3 stars".
William B
Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
Robert -- you've opened my eyes. If there's another Star Trek series at any point, I will just *not* watch the third episode.
Vylora
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 11:26am (UTC -5)
What started as a very promising episode in the first act completely derails into a nonsensical TNG season one quality disaster. It's a shame, as I genuinely liked the idea of it. Unfortunately, the shoddy execution and horrible writing makes this the epitome of missed opportunity. The final two minutes saved the closing credits from being the best part since the second act.

1 star.
navamske
Sun, Aug 31, 2014, 1:44pm (UTC -5)
@Elizabeth

"I remember as a little girl, watching 'Dallas' with my parents (apparently they thought that was appropriate viewing for an 8yo) and seeing the scene where JR's death was all a dream. I thought it was the laziest plot twist ever and that the writers should be fired. Lame!"

It was Bobby's death that was revealed to be a dream, when he turned up in Pam's shower. (Also, J.R. was shot, but he didn't die.)
navamske
Sun, Aug 31, 2014, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
@Robert

"The reset button is only annoying if it removes character DEVELOPMENT. The only character development lost here is that Kes doesn't start to realize her powers yet (instead the audience gets a glimpse into her future)."

I liked Kes, but I didn't like that they tried to make her into Voyager's Counselor Troi (not that she was the local shrink but that she had magical mental powers).

OT: I recently re-read Entertainment Weekly's preview of the forthcoming Voyager series and its characters. For Kes, they wrote, "Think Yeoman Rand, a Keebler elf, and a transporter accident."
Robert
Tue, Sep 2, 2014, 9:34am (UTC -5)
@William - LOL

@navamske - I LIKED the mental powers, I just wish they were more telekinetic than telepathic. Telepathic characters need to be excluded from any scenes where they'd really come in handy or they'd ruin the scene.

Telekinesis would have made her have the same interesting mental power background, but without the limitations of making sure she could never use them. Considering we can vaporize most enemies by pointing and clicking a phaser having her be able to throw somebody into a wall with her mind isn't really overpowered.

And I liked the episode where she melted Tuvok's face.
Peremensoe
Wed, Oct 8, 2014, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
I don't think Kes' upset is "needlessly melodramatic." Seeing the incineration of a civilization *should* be traumatic. If anything, it's good to see such a devastating premise respected. And I thought Lien acted this scene and its followup in sickbay well.


How did Paris interpret the timepiece numbers with no context for the count's zero-point?
Peremensoe
Wed, Oct 8, 2014, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
OK, I think those early bits with Kes are the best part. The rest falls into a technobabble fracture from which there is no escape.


My favorite line of Doc's: "It seems I find myself on the voyage of the damned." Too true, too true.
Mads Leonard Holvik
Sun, Mar 8, 2015, 6:11am (UTC -5)
Seems like most comments in here try to find faults and be critical. Well, you find what you are looking for. I think this episode was an ok episode.
Yanks
Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
This has never been a favorite of mine.

I come to the realization that Jennifer isn't the best actress. The scene with her crying was cringe worthy.

I've just about had enough of this time travel stuff for awhile...

So so episode, I'll give it two stars.
John
Sun, Sep 13, 2015, 3:17am (UTC -5)
Can someone please help me here? How is it that these aliens who look just like humans have time pieces that display American/western Earth numerals? I mean, Roman numerals I would almost believe, but American numerals? Get the hell outta here!
Luke
Sun, Sep 13, 2015, 10:40am (UTC -5)
Oh, just wait until "Blink of an Eye," when we literally witness an alien on a pre-warp planet writing a letter - in English.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Dec 6, 2015, 10:42am (UTC -5)
A bit early for a time travel plot one might think? Nevertheless, this is serviceable enough although there's nothing here that could not have been seen in TNG. I wonder how many times I'm going to be saying that as I proceed. It's also fair to say that the technical elements of the plot are pretty dense and hard to follow - to the point it is certainly not entirely clear why we get a reset at the end.

But we get some nice character moments (Paris and the Doctor in particular shining) and some less nice ones (Kes channeling Troi). And we get to see Janeway smacked in the face with a baton. What's not to like about that?! 2.5 stars.
45 RPM
Sun, Dec 13, 2015, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
Peremensoe - hit the nail on the head! Killing without guilt only produces more carnage. The indifference towards her tears is a bit scary. It means they've become desensitized to things like the death of an entire civilization. Or maybe it just needs to happen to them or someone they love to empathize. Have we as a society become that cold towards one another? At this point it's a rhetorical question at best and naivete at worst.

"After all, you never know who will end up giving birth to the next Hitler after you save them..."

That line easily justifies what you are arguing against. The very thought of that scares the hell out of me, to be honest. No parent wants to believe their bundle of joy will grow up to be a genocidal killer.

We really don't know what tomorrow will hold for any of us. The next 10 seconds aren't even guaranteed. Victims of natural disasters probably weren't giving them a thought....until one actually occured. A life gone in an instant. It's a sobering thought, indeed.

I don't know...maybe the best thing to do is be aware of those dangers, but not to the point that it keeps one from enjoying life to the fullest.

But man made atrocities? How does one prepare for that?

We don't have full on answers for our own planet. It only makes sense to avoid them on another planet altogether. That's probably partly the reason a Prime Directive was initiated. Because we saw what the best of intentions led to in this case. Or what it could have led to. ENT showed that much with episodes like "Dear Doctor".

Personally what I find more appalling is the assumption that all these alien races are just variations of humans that just happen to speak proper English far too often. It's more likely we would come across aliens that don't come close to resembling anything we've ever seen. I give more credit to ENT at least for showing the Xindii as multiracial with bipedals and clearly nonhumanoid races. I would expect aliens with appearances more like that silly movie from the 80's "Explorers". Or more like Species 8472. Well, before S5's In The Flesh, anyways.

These 'aliens' were far too similar in likeness to humans to the very layout of the land for me to believe they were ever on another planet. I just wish there were more aliens that were completely different from anything earthly. But that would be a tall order, I guess.

Story and plot were doable, nothing to marvel at. Another time travel related ep. 1.5 stars would be preferable, but I guess two works. The extra half star was for the kind and gentle Kes whom still seemed more human than...well...humans. Their reactions weren't much different than Tuvok's.
Grumpy
Thu, Apr 7, 2016, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
Someone remind me: did past Janeway survive after she thwarted the rescue attempt? If so, she remained marooned on the planet while her temporal doppelganger sailed on.

Janeway aside, there remains a timeline where the crew failed to rescue Janeway & Paris, so they continued homeward without their captain.

Would it be rude to ask if they got home earlier?
Ivanov
Tue, Jul 5, 2016, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
@Grumpy well theirs a better chance they'd actually ally with somebody and with chakotay in charge Seska has no reason to betray voyager and join the Kazon so for sure 5 or 7 crew members survive.

Chakotay definitely wouldn't have allied with the Borg so no 7 of 9. of course that means 8472 is still riding roughshod over the Borg so maybe they could just avoid the Borg like other civilizations were doing.

For sure more people would have survived without Janeway and Chakotay in charge. Maybe that wormhole in "False profits" did lead to the alpha quadrant or at least beta. I don't think they would stop to deal with the 2 Ferengi

RandomThoughts
Thu, Aug 11, 2016, 7:29am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone

No in-depth nit-picky-apart for this one from me. Well, maybe one nit to pick...

There had been a mild incident at the gate to the power plant, with a few townsfolk fighting with some security guards. Janeway and Co. go back to the power plant to do/prevent some sabotage, and there is one stationary guard in a booth and one that intercepts them. And that's it. They are then able to run in and around the place, where no-one seems to work. That just seemed... weird to me.

Have a Great Day... RT

Wilt
Tue, Sep 20, 2016, 8:01am (UTC -5)
@Grumpy, to answer your question as to whether or not they would have gotten home earlier my guess would be probably not. Remember in S3's Scorpion when chuckles wanted to go around Borg space to avoid the Borg/8472 conflict which would have taken them an extra two or three years to complete.

Also did anyone else notice that the name of the Province just happened to be the same name as that Vulcan game?

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