Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Deadlock"

***

Air date: 3/18/1996
Written by Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Mr. Kim ... we're Starfleet officers; weird is part of the job." — Janeway

Nutshell: A great technobabble show with plenty of excitement. It's too bad the extreme but ultimately inconsequential damage to the ship prompts complete incredulity.

At the end of "Deadlock" when Harry calls his experience through space, time, and subspace weird, he sure isn't joking. The situation the Voyager crew faces in this episode is substantially strange. It's yet another high concept outing from the mind of Brannon Braga, who has supplied several labyrinthine stories in the far reaches of physical, temporal, and spatial manipulation this season. From "Projections" to "Non Sequitur" to "Threshold" to "Deadlock," Braga has displayed a constant affinity for spewing new technical gobbligook and conjuring fake new scientific theories out of thin air.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. "Projections" was absolutely riveting. "Threshold" was absolutely ludicrous. "Deadlock," ranks nearby the former rather than the latter, featuring an intriguing premise, though not quite up to par with "Projections" in story strength or plausibility (if such a term can be used), but very well done nevertheless.

The plot: Unbeknownst to the crew, the mysterious properties of a plasma cloud replicates the Voyager such that there are two ships with two crews, both exactly the same, occupying the same location in space at the same moment in time. The only thing separating the two ships is a "spatial rift," which seems to link the two Voyagers together on deck 15. Under details that I refuse to go into here, one Voyager severely damages the other with "proton bursts" in an attempt to recharge their own warp core. Even more intricate details brings one of the Voyager's crew to realize what has happened after Kes crosses through this rift—that the ship has been duplicated—and before you can say "huh?," Janeway and Torres figure out how to get a communication signal through subspace to the damaged Voyager. Now it's a race against the clock to figure out how to converge the two Voyagers before both are destroyed.

Baffled? Well, at times, this can be damned confusing—and you can bet there is an ample supply of technobabble used to explain all this. But like DS9's "Visionary" last season, this episode goes to show that tech-laden plots can be very good if done properly and supported by a cast and crew that knows what to do and how. Not to say that Braga's script isn't adeptly written for the most part—it is—but the execution is what really stands out here.

David Livingston surely had his hands full with the dual shooting of Voyager realities and overseeing the reams of technobabble. (The actors also deserve a lot of credit for making the non-stop jargon sound believable.) But Livingston does all this and makes the show an intriguing mystery with plenty of excitement. In fact, "Deadlock" opens and closes with pulse-pounding intensity that is virtually unmatched by any Voyager episode to date. It wastes no time in its early minutes, beginning with jarring urgency and breakneck pacing, featuring some chaotically impressive photography as the ship is ripped apart. Surprising events like Ensign Kim being sucked into space and the unfair death of Ensign Wildman's newborn baby demonstrates a pull-no-punches grimness that proves quite compelling. Meanwhile, the bridge catches on fire and is evacuated in a scene that borders on the apocalyptic.

Once the two Voyagers realize their nature of coexistence, the time comes to repair the damage, and the fascination level is one-upped with scenes of Captain Janeway talking to herself over a viewscreen and, later, face-to-face.

The technical solution theories are, of course, absurd, and they involve such complicated fictional science that the characters always seem on the verge of spraining their tongues as they talk about using the main deflector dish to realign divergence fields and what not. If this technobabble wasn't so well performed, I would probably be complaining about it for months.

And just when you thought the two Voyager crews had their hands full trying to fix the phase-shift variance to merge the ships into one again, the episode throws more blood-boiling thrills at us when along come the Vidiians, looking for unwilling organ donors. With the Voyager's weapons unusable, they are easily able to tractor and board one of the Voyagers. However, the Vidiians are unable to even detect the existence of the other one.

The Vidiians' assault on the one Voyager crew is almost unsettling. Again, they come across as they did in "Faces": vicious and merciless, shooting down everyone in sight and extracting their organs without so much as a second glance. Outnumbered and outgunned, Janeway does what she has always vowed to in such a circumstance—arm the auto-destruct sequence. She orders Kim to take Wildman's baby to the other Voyager (they are both alive on this Voyager, and Janeway thinks it's only fair to replace the fatalities experienced by their counterpart). Kim surprises two Vidiians in sickbay (who have already begun their harvesting experiments on Wildman) in a nicely-done scene where he phasers them both and then finds the Doctor hiding behind his desk with the baby. Kim heads off to deck 15 to travel through the spatial rift.

Meanwhile, as the Vidiians walk onto the bridge to seize the ship, Janeway stands up and has just a few choice words for them—which she says with almost a smile: "Welcome to the bridge." With that, the Voyager explodes, taking the Vidiian ship right along with it, in a spectacular pyrotechnic spectacle that had me almost cheering. It's a guilty pleasure, I'll admit—seeing the Vidiians finally put in their place—but a pleasure nonetheless that is long overdue considering how the Vidiians wantonly ignored Janeway's stern warning she issued in "Phage," the first Federation/Vidiian encounter.

The details surrounding this ending, however, bring up perhaps the most perplexing questions about the situation. How is it that both Voyagers could detect the Vidiian ship, but only one could physically interact with it? Is the other Voyager in an alternate reality? Why can't the Vidiians detect it? How is it protected from the explosion of both its counterpart and the Vidiian vessel? If somebody explained this to me, would my head blow up?

I'm not sure, but I don't really care either. The raw energy of this episode makes it a winner, and, by the end of the show, everything feels like it more or less adds up in its own bizarre way, even if my brain doesn't want to buy it. Braga shows the talent, I guess, for making things clear and confusing at the same time. Livingston shows the talent for turning it all into a gripping hour of science fiction.

Still, the episode really only works on its adventure level. If you consider the long-term effects of the episode, they're shoved under the carpet with painful blatancy. The biggest flaw in "Deadlock" is the fact that Voyager's severe damage will undoubtedly be repaired by the beginning of the next episode, never to be heard of again. When Tuvok delivered the lengthy damage report early in the show, there was a sense of uneasy helplessness. After all, there are no repair bays or starbases in the Delta Quadrant. Yet the closing of "Deadlock" would have us believe that Voyager is a completely self-sustaining starship and there's nothing to worry about.

If you think about it, this defeats many of the dramatic elements of the very core of the series—which is definitely not a good thing. Such damage to the ship should not be treated lightly on Star Trek: Voyager. Remember the concern expressed in "Learning Curve" over the damage to irreplaceable gel packs? It was a big deal. Yet in "Deadlock" half the ship is hanging in ruin, and by the end of the episode it's hardly an issue.

It's too bad the issue surrounding Voyager's damage is so uncertain. The rest of the episode is terrific.

Previous episode: Investigations
Next episode: Innocence

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40 comments on this review

Stefan - Mon, Feb 11, 2008 - 9:37pm (USA Central)
So was that a duplicated Ensign Kim and duplicated Naomi Wildman (the baby) on the original Voyager (including the crew), or was that the original Ensign Kim and Naomi Wildman on a duplicated Voyager (including the crew)?
Dirk Hartmann - Mon, Mar 31, 2008 - 2:18pm (USA Central)
@Stefan: I think "duplicated" does not necessarily mean that one was the "original" and the other a "copy". Rather we should think that due to the "rift" Voyager "split" like an amoeba ...
Stefan - Mon, Mar 31, 2008 - 7:26pm (USA Central)
Dirk: Do you believe that neither Voyager was the original Voyager? That would mean that the Voyager, including its crew, that we saw in all episodes preceding this one was destroyed and its crew killed. I have a hard time believing that the Voyager writers intended that none of the characters we saw in Caretaker survived this episode.
Dirk Hartmann - Thu, Apr 3, 2008 - 11:45am (USA Central)
@Stefan: I rather would say that both Voyagers share the same past. Seen like this, no one was destroyed during the split-up - it's just that the word "original" loses its significance within the frame of such a scenario.
Stefan - Thu, Apr 3, 2008 - 5:21pm (USA Central)
Are you suggesting that Voyager and its crew were in a kind of Schroedinger's Cat type of situation?
Tim - Sun, Jun 22, 2008 - 1:23am (USA Central)
The scary part about all of this: If the Harry Kim that survived in this episode was the duplicate Harry Kim. Then the guy in "Course Oblivion" was a duplicate of the duplicate Harry Kim. Then counting all the alternate timeline Harry Kims, there must be literally dozens of Harry Kims in the 24th Century. And frankly, that scares the hell out of me :)
Mike - Fri, Oct 3, 2008 - 1:59pm (USA Central)
Wow - multiple Harry Kims The only thing worse would be multiple Neelix'. Anyway, I agree with most of the review - the reset button is in full effect here (we get to see Kim and baby Naomi killed! Voyager I almost destroyed! Voyager II destroyed! and all back to normal...). I still wonder about Jammer's love of 'Projections'; what's more of a reset button episode than that? Ah, what could have been....this show had such potential.
Jeff - Sat, May 2, 2009 - 10:30am (USA Central)
My favorite scene in this episode is when Tuvok is listing off all the damage to Voyager. It's played with all the seriousness that the scene was due. I've only watched "Deadlock" twice, but each time he gives his damage report I thought "I'm surprised there's even a ship left." As usual, Voyager is back to its launch day condition by the end of the episode, but that damage report scene always gets me.
Jonathan - Thu, Nov 26, 2009 - 2:30pm (USA Central)
I enjoyed this a lot (after the opening scene featuring Neelix in a Silly Hat, which didn't bode well) and I thought that the frenetic terrible stuff happening in the first part (culminating in Tuvok's endless damage list) was superb. That's the sort of thing we should have seen more of. Of course as soon as Harry disappeared into space we knew that none of this was "real", since we know that's not really going to have happened. But I liked the way the episode surprised us. It turned out that all that stuff *did* really happen! It just didn't have any consequences.

The most genius part was the arrival of the Bad Guys. Until then I had assumed that the damaged Voyager would be destroyed or otherwise dealt with and the undamaged Voyager would survive and be perfectly fine. That seemed the obvious way to negate any consequences coming from all that chaos. The fact that the Bad Guys landed in the *undamaged* Voyager and started killing everyone was surprising and excellent, as was the consequence that it was *that* Voyager that was destroyed, and the other survived. Very good stuff.

As for the problems of "splitting" the crew, and whether any of them were identical with the originals, that is the sort of problem that lies at the heart of the philosophical discussion of personal identity. Suffice to say that many philosophers would say that, while the two Voyagers co-existed, each crew might have had equal claim to be identical to the originals, and it is possible either that they both were (which raises severe problems) or that neither was (which also raises problems). However, after the destruction of one lot, there seems no reason to say that the surviving crew isn't identical to the originals. Which is weird, but that's personal identity for you.
Will - Fri, Dec 25, 2009 - 6:14pm (USA Central)
Okay, Harry Kim may have died in this episode and been replaced, but let's face it, it was all forgotten and it's Harry. Who cares? You forget he's a different Harry because he's the same as the last. Ditto the rest of the Voyager crew if you see it that way.
Nadrac - Sun, May 2, 2010 - 2:56am (USA Central)
One question when janeway tells kim to take the baby and escape, only them for whatever reason.
The senior staff just sit there and they dont help him to escape , not like they defending the bridge or anything.I was so happy when kim died and we got an extra kes but the ending ruined it :)
Pete - Wed, Dec 22, 2010 - 11:57pm (USA Central)
@Nadrac: I'd trade in a Harry Kim for an extra Kes any day!
Destructor - Sun, Mar 27, 2011 - 6:54pm (USA Central)
I love this ep- it's smart and compelling from start to finish. The death of the baby and Kim -not to mention the pretty brutal Vidiian assault- all add up to a pretty dark episode. And the two Janeways scene is priceless. I'd give it maybe 3.5 stars- certainly one of the best action eps of the season.
Brian - Mon, Jul 4, 2011 - 6:05pm (USA Central)
Some of the shots during the dual Janeway conversation were a bit odd to me. They seemed a bit close when you would expect a bit more distance as a natural reaction.

Anyway I like to think the explosion didn't kill the other crew but instead re-joined the 2 ships back together. Otherwise surely the ship that survived could have spent the rest of the journey home out of phase and invisible to everyone.
Phil - Sun, Jul 10, 2011 - 8:50am (USA Central)
Didn't it give anybody else the creeps that the crew left a dead Harry Kim floating around in the Delta Quadrant? Or would it have been more macabre for them to recover the body and give it a proper funeral? Harry could have even eulogized himself!
Matthias - Mon, Aug 22, 2011 - 6:57am (USA Central)
Ah but in Vidian culture a floating corpsicle is considered a most generous gift, they might very well see it as an olive branch for blowing up their ship.

I can't believe they managed to have such horrible things happen while keeping the precious status quo, especially without resorting to 'it's all a dream LOL' copouts. Very tense episode and genuinely disturbing to see a crew get organ harvested and blown up.
Janeway being so flippant about it to Kim was weeeeird though, she was ready to sacrifice her own Voyager to save the other one earlier in the episode but now she's suddenly acting like the other one going down with all hands was no big deal?
Jay - Sat, Sep 3, 2011 - 2:27pm (USA Central)
@ Mike...

I think the plural of Neelix is Neelices, kind of like vertex :)
Chris Harrison - Fri, Nov 18, 2011 - 5:42am (USA Central)
I didn't agonise too much about which was the 'real' Voyager, the 'duplicate', the 'original' blah blah blah.

Every cell in our bodies are replaced every 7 years. Are we the same people that we were at birth?

And what about the transporters?

Not a big deal.
Rosario - Sat, Dec 10, 2011 - 8:57pm (USA Central)
One thing absolutely ruined this episode for me - the ease of the Vidian takeover of Voyager. The exact location of the breach is known and no one is even there to greet the attackers with phaser fire?? Tuvok turns the wrong way down a corridor and just gets merced. Without transport technology, attempting to force a boarding action would be disastrous but since the script demands this "action" occur we have to believe that the crew of Voyager is incompetent.

Well, since the script demands someone be incompetent every single episode I suppose then that the crew truly is incompetent. Guess starfleet's standards have fallen far since Kirk's day when you only got to act incompetent on away missions. (Mostly)
milica - Thu, Aug 16, 2012 - 4:45pm (USA Central)
This episode was terrible. One Janeway agrees to kill everyone aboard (except for Harry and the baby) and then she and the rest of the crew wait for self-destruction with a smile on their faces. Nobody aboard this Voyager does anything to stop Janeway from blowing them up.
Bryan - Fri, Sep 28, 2012 - 4:13am (USA Central)
This one was a 4 star to me- one of my favorite episodes! From the ship taking more damage than I ever saw to the actual main characters getting killed off the wow factor was top scale in my book. We all know, of course, that the series wouldn't kill off Harry Kim, but you'll have to admit that wanting to know how they fix this was part of the fun. Then the Vidians attack to ad to the already bad situation only to end with a self destruct! I truley believe that some people take these episodes way to serious and just need to lighten up and enjoy!
CeeBee - Tue, Dec 11, 2012 - 9:28am (USA Central)
I wonder why delivery by transporter isn't standard issue as it goes so easy. Why go through hours or even days of labor and especially pain?

Too bad that all that techno-babble was necessary. Simply "communicate" with the others by "phase-shifting" the communications device. It's as much bunkum as the chosen solution but leaves us with extra time to see the crew interact and to see the story develop.

For the rest I like the episode, especially because in the end the "healthy" Voyager is the one that's destroyed, not the one you expected. Solid 8 out of 10.
Sintek - Sat, May 25, 2013 - 5:04pm (USA Central)
Torres: "Ensign Kim is dead and Kes just disappeared!"
Janeway: "Disappeared?"

Ha! I love Janeway's complete disregard for poor dead Harry. Her facial expression doesn't even change when she hears he died.
Lt. Yarko - Thu, Jun 13, 2013 - 1:22am (USA Central)
Those Janeways were awful close together. I thought they were gonna kiss for a second...

Personally, I don't think I'd want to be that close to me.
Shane - Sun, Jul 7, 2013 - 12:34am (USA Central)
LOL, there's a Harry Kim corpse floating around in space. Could've been a wonderfully macabre moment if Voyager starts heading home again and then Kim's dead body smashes into the viewscreen.
ian - Tue, Aug 6, 2013 - 1:43am (USA Central)
Eh...
why is there pain in a 24th century pregnancy?
We do not need to have it in the 20th century.
Epidural anyone???
Sheesh...
Moonie - Tue, Nov 5, 2013 - 2:47pm (USA Central)
This was the first full VOY episode I watched. I liked it, and I'm now really looking forward to watching the whole series. I want to finish TNG first though. But this was good. (Yeah there was the usual technobabble explanation for the phenomenon but I don't let that bother me anymore, otherwise I wouldn't be able to enjoy ST. It's just like the 60s special effects and the sometimes laughable aliens. The story is what matters most and if technobabble is required for it to work, so be it, as far as I'm concerned.)
Jack - Mon, Nov 18, 2013 - 3:23pm (USA Central)
@ Shane,

yeah, with their technology the reptilians from "Distant Origin" should have been able to find him...A Kimsicle would be even more revealing than Hoganbones.
inline79 - Tue, Nov 19, 2013 - 2:35am (USA Central)
Poor Harry.
First, he dies.
Then his Captain tells him to go from the bridge on Deck 1 to the rift on Deck 15 by himself with one phaser and 347 bad guys in between. Plus he has to make a detour to Sickbay on Deck 5 (where the bad guys are also pouring out of a boarding ramp) and carry a delicate newborn the last 10 decks. Oh and he only has 5 minutes to do it all!
Finally he arrives in some other place where his own dead body is floating around in space and as the Ops guy, will spend the next week repairing a battered ship to pilot show condition.
I think the hero of this story is Harry! Let's hope he also tossed a bunch of gel packs through the rift too!
Amanda - Mon, Feb 10, 2014 - 2:13pm (USA Central)
This episode would have received a five star from had they done two things: kept Ensign Kim dead because when I thought he died I felt real danger of the DC. Second: dragged ship repairs to show continuity and inconvenience to voyager crew.

If surfing the Delta quadrant was so campy and fun who gives an f about Earth? I certainly didn't. Going back to what? Having Janeway drop what little casualness we got back to stick up the butt- bun of steel admiral and unbending SF regulation? No thanks. I am with Paris, Seven, and Naomi. I choose the more casual, impervious ship of vast exploration :-)
Corey - Tue, Feb 25, 2014 - 5:56pm (USA Central)
Great episode. But as Amanda said above, it would have been much better if the damage inflicted to VOyager during this episode carried on to subsequent episodes. It's gritty outtings like this that make you wish Voyager's reset button were a lot less often used.
DLPB - Mon, Mar 3, 2014 - 5:48pm (USA Central)
3 stars? No. This episode is a mess. The science doesn't even try to be believable, and the reset switch swings into motion yet again. Worse, they are supposed to be a crew with limited resources and yet at end of the episode the damaged ship is fine and dandy.

Splitting in two. Please. Lazy, desperate writing.
Amanda - Wed, Mar 5, 2014 - 8:02pm (USA Central)
I watched it again and what still bothers me is what happens to bodies in space? Wouldn't be'lanna be dead right along with him once the breech happened? It's not like they were on a commercial air plane, it was space. The vacuum would suck them both out and death instantly that's why we wear space suits and not a snorkel. *shrugs*

Speaking of dead Ensign Kim forgotten, wouldn't episode Ashes to Ashes have been WAY cooler if they came across Harry Kim back from the dead as the reanimated alien? Ha...Continuity is too much to ask :-)
Chris Harrison - Wed, Mar 5, 2014 - 8:41pm (USA Central)
@Amanda You wouldn't immediately explode on exposure to the vacuum of space. If you're lucky you've got at least a few minutes before you run out of air or suffer injuries from swelling/burst blood vessels etc.

As for the decompression, I guess it wouldn't seem more or less explosive than in a jet liner at high altitude (which is dramatic but not instantly fatal).
Amanda - Sat, Mar 8, 2014 - 11:57pm (USA Central)
Thank you for the clarification, Chris.
K'Elvis - Tue, Mar 11, 2014 - 9:21am (USA Central)
Both ships are the original. Consider an Amoeba: it reproduces by splitting in two. Where you had one organism, you now have two. Which is the original? Both. You don't have an original and a copy, you have two amoeba, each of which, if they could talk, would be able to claim to be the original.

The episode does surprise us by having the more-damaged Voyager survive, but it does seem to be good as new by the next episode. Shouldn't the Vidiians be going after easier targets than Voyager? They risk an awful lot of damage to get a small number of organs. Predators don't attack the most ferocious prey, they attack the sick, slow, old and weak. Perhaps the Vidiians would make good allies with the Kazon. They could aid the Kazon in their raids; the Kazon gets the equipment while the Vidiians get the organs of the people on the raided ships.
HolographicAndrew - Thu, Jul 24, 2014 - 1:32am (USA Central)
Funny episode, but a little disturbing if you take it seriously. Because there's a universe where Harry Kim is dead and no one even mourned his death, because his duplicate stepped in to replace him. Since the show plays it off as an upbeat moment it kind of creeps me out. Yeah, I'm going to try to pretend that didn't happen.
Robert - Thu, Jul 24, 2014 - 8:08am (USA Central)
@Andrew - Sort of? Who mourned for the other crew that died? Why is Harry special?

They all got duplicated. In the SAME universe. Harry died exactly the same as literally everyone else. Everyone got split in two and EVERYONE had 1 duplicate die.

Considering there are theories that the transporter is doing this (killing you and beaming a duplicate somewhere else) the only thing that was really "lost" is Harry's memories between the split and the death. So like 10 minutes tops.

What WOULD have been interesting is to revisit this (briefly) in Basics when Naomi is sick. I always felt Samantha should have had PTSD from losing her baby the first time.

Yes, technically the Naomi she has is the same one she carried inside her for (what is it, like 15 months?) but she still watched one of the Naomi's die after childbirth. Would screw with anyone.
Vylora - Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - 10:11am (USA Central)
Definitely an enjoyable hardware show with an interesting take on one of many quantum theories. Very nice pacing with a few well-realized "omg" moments thrown in for good measure.

This is one of those times, though, that makes me wonder if the repair teams are manned by miracle workers. My hunch is that the newer Starfleet vessels, like the Intrepid class, are built to be more self-sustainable. Still, the damage here seems to be quite extreme.

Neither here nor there, this is an impressive episode on a technical level and everything else is above average to good with only a few quibbles. I'd rather have Tribbles than quibbles, but, as a famous philosopher once said: "You can't always get what you want."

3 stars.
navamske - Mon, Sep 1, 2014 - 7:42pm (USA Central)
"Without transport technology, attempting to force a boarding action would be disastrous but since the script demands this 'action' occur we have to believe that the crew of Voyager is incompetent."

I wonder why no one thought of "Computer: Have the transporter lock onto all Vidiian lifesigns and beam them into space" (or back to their ship, or to the brig, or hold them in the buffer for 75 years like Scotty).

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