Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Dreadnought"

**1/2

Air date: 2/12/1996
Written by Gary Holland
Directed by LeVar Burton

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"When a bomb starts talking about itself in the third person, I get worried." — Paris

Nutshell: A very "neutral" show. Some good moments, but not enough to turn this into anything more than a routine hardware show.

The crew comes across a forgotten Alpha Quadrant doomsday weapon named "Dreadnought," manufactured two years ago by the Cardassians to attack the Maquis, but captured and modified by then-Maquis B'Elanna Torres to destroy a Cardassian outpost. The missile had mysteriously disappeared into the Badlands—now presumed to have been brought to the Delta Quadrant the same way the Voyager was. Since that time it has gone berserk and found a new target—a populated planet. If it reaches its target, two million innocent people will die.

If you, like me, are willing to concede that in the vast infinitum of the Delta Quadrant the Voyager just happens to come across this lost missile flying on a random course, you've taken the first step in accepting the premise. "Dreadnought" is a decent, solid show with very little to scrutinize. There's nothing really bad about it, but there's nothing inherently compelling about it either. The show is basically five acts of setup that leads to a lackluster foregone conclusion.

Foregone conclusion settings aren't bad, but they do require expert handling to really be exciting. And, simply put, this episode is just not that exciting because nothing very unexpected happens. It's entertaining and reasonably paced, but it doesn't have the pressure-cooker sensation it really needs.

There are some good ideas here, like the idea of an unstoppable weapon programmed by Torres coming back to haunt her out of her past. The unstoppable weapon is an old but reliable idea (though I somewhat doubt that if the Cardassians had such an advanced weapon this would be the first we would hear of it).

There's the idea that Torres had reprogrammed the computer to speak in her voice, which is entertaining with its perverse undertones (I don't know if I would want a weapon of mass destruction to talk with my voice). As the Voyager tries to subdue the missile, it speaks back in a monotone B'Elanna voice indicating its catastrophic intentions. Everybody on the bridge turns and looks accusingly at B'Elanna as the Dreadnought speaks.

There's the idea of the missile heading toward Rakosan, a world inhabited by peaceful, friendly aliens. Janeway contacts the Rakosan First Minister Kellan (Dan Kern) and informs him of the situation. He responds with an answer that is becoming common to hear: "Your reputation proceeds you." It's rather unfortunate for Voyager that wherever they go, the message "Oh no, here comes the infernal Voyager!" follows them. It's intriguing that the Federation has become the bad guys in the face of the Delta Quadrant simply because of Kazon rumors.

Then there's traitorous Crewman Jonas (Raphael Sbarge) who makes his third appearance as the guy who wants to talk to Seska and supplies the Kazon Nistrim with information. (He was also in "Alliances" and "Threshold.") Just as in "Threshold," his presence here has no impact on the plot, but it sparks my interest on what the writers are going to eventually do with this guy. Hopefully there will be a payoff soon.

Despite the decent ideas, there's nothing standout in the execution. In fact, it's positively pedestrian. Everything about this show—from the opening teaser of pregnant Ensign Wildman (Nancy Hower) talking with Doc and Kes about a name for her baby (which, after some 13 months, still hasn't been born) to the Dreadnought's seemingly self-aware computer faking a shutdown procedure, to Janeway arming the auto-destruct sequence—has a ho-hum effect. I did, however, like Janeway's discussion with Kellan where she explains that she plans to stop the missile by blowing up the Voyager in its path. Kellan has a reassuring response, saying that Voyager's grim reputation isn't deserved.

The latter acts follow Torres as she beams aboard the missile and desperately tries to override the Dreadnought computer. While Biggs-Dawson is certainly watchable, this isn't exciting, and with the majority of the closing scenes confined inside the missile as Torres tries to fool the computer with hypothetical games and paradoxical puzzles, the circumstance begins to grow tedious. All of this would be fine, but the final answer to the problem is not as punchy as it could've been, and what should've been a heart-pounding countdown to disaster is instead a drawn-out underwhelming solution.

There's also one angle of the show that seems completely unfinished. This involves a scene between Paris and Torres which reveals that Paris has been having problems "fitting in" lately. He's been showing up to staff meetings late, and apparently even got into a fight with another officer over a trivial matter. What is the relevance of this? There's no follow-up scene so it seems like an abandoned idea. Perhaps something got cut.

"Dreadnought" is just a neutral, "okay" show. It's missing the momentum it needs to really be fun.

Previous episode: Meld
Next episode: Death Wish

Season Index

29 comments on this review

Jake - Fri, Mar 21, 2008 - 11:48am (USA Central)
This episode had great moments and a nice performance from Dawson. However, I found it curious that Voyager's initial attempts to stop Dreadnought were thwarted by its abilities to adapt to Voyager's methods, somewhat similar to the Borg's abilities to adapt. Since Dreadnought was built by the Cardassians, this makes one wonder if Gul Madred managed to get something out of Picard after all.
Nic - Wed, Apr 22, 2009 - 5:31pm (USA Central)
I thought this was one of the better episodes of the season. And although some of the action might have been sluggish, the dialogue between Torres and the weapon more than made up for it. What I really thought was missing from this episode was a closing scene where Janeway visits Torres in sickbay, to congratulate her and thank her for saving the ship, and Torres only being mad at herself for causing the deaths of the Rekosa fleet pilots. I definitely would have loved to have someone say "Well at least we were lucky enough to have come across the weapon before it crashed into a planet!"
Esther - Tue, Oct 13, 2009 - 9:43am (USA Central)
"I definitely would have loved to have someone say "Well at least we were lucky enough to have come across the weapon before it crashed into a planet!"

That's hilarious--way too self-aware for Star Trek to ever do. I remember thinking this episode was so cool & intense ten years ago, and rewatching it now, I was bored. Jammer's quite right in saying that everything is a foregone conclusion. World is saved, ship is disabled, and there is no chance in hell Voyager could take advantage of Dreadnought's technology.

The most fascinating angle is B'Elanna's former insubordination to Chakotay; there seems to be such tension and even bad blood between them about it. But the whole thing is dropped the moment it's announced. I would have loved to see more history from Chakotay's crew.
Will - Mon, Nov 2, 2009 - 2:38pm (USA Central)
Ugh, this episode made me feel so sick. Gary Holland must die!
Daniel - Wed, Dec 16, 2009 - 9:40pm (USA Central)
Ugggh... The similarities between this episode and Season 5's "Warhead".... I mean, Voyager squandering its premise and ripping off prior Star Trek stories was one (unforgivable) thing, but once it started copying itself (a retread of a retread?) it made me wonder, as Jammer wondered in his review of "Warhead," if the Star Trek TV franchise really did run out of gas...
Ken - Tue, Feb 8, 2011 - 11:24am (USA Central)
I've watched this episode a really long time ago, and I'm watching it again as I work through Voyager.

I just don't understand what is this ship's fascination with detecting and then picking up junk in space. First it's rusted iron... then mechanic robots... not debris from a ship.

I am surprised that travelling at such fast speeds - like warp 9 or 9.9 (I'm not really sure what their "normal" speed is usually at) - that they would be detecting crap like this in the first place.

And of course, this is now the second time this season that they have picked up something from the alpha quadrant. They are taking something that should be astronomically improbable and made it a common occurrence. They are 2 for 17 at this point in the season.

The rest is just moot. It really doesn't matter if there's a story here or not - the premise is implausible and is hokey. The writers really just want to tell useless stories that have really no importance and are entirely forgettable.
Destructor - Mon, Mar 21, 2011 - 10:41pm (USA Central)
The way I always justify the 'improbable' thing is... in the Star Trek universe, it's established that there's an infinite number of multiverses in which virtually everything that CAN happen WILL happen, in one of the multiverses. I just assume we're watching the specific universe in which Voyager happened to coincidentally run into the rusted truck (which was probably inevitable if the truck was on the 'path' to the AQ) and then run into the Dreadnaught (likewise). After all, that particular universe is no more or less likely to occur than the infinite number of other universes, so why *shouldn't* we be observing it?
Ken - Sun, Apr 10, 2011 - 5:11pm (USA Central)
@Destructor: what?

Just because something can happen, doesn't mean it will. There's a chance Ron Paul might get elected... but that sure as hell doesn't mean it's going to happen either.

Even assuming multiverses is true, 99% of the shows take place in the same universe/reality anyway.

Your logic doesn't support the basic premises of reality. Good shows are grounded in reality... or grounded in things that we can believe to be true.

Astronomically low odds becoming commonly possible on a show is not something I can believe to be true. It's not something any rational person would believe to be a common occurrence.

I still stand by what I said that this is just a way for the writer's to tell whatever pointless, forgettable show they desire and nothing more. Logic and rationality had nothing to do with it.
Carbetarian - Sun, Apr 24, 2011 - 4:24am (USA Central)
I really enjoyed this episode, even though it felt like a rip off of Dark Star. By VOYAGER standards, this might even be a three star outing for me. I mean, when you compare it to the other crap they put out in season two, this one is pretty good. If this episode aired on TNG or DS9 though, I think it would be two stars at best. This season of Voyager has sucked so hard, I've had to start lowering my standards a little to keep up.

I'm beginning to think the contest for "suckiest star trek series ever" is a tighter race than I had previously suspected. I thought Enterprise had the title on lock down. But now, I don't know. Voyager is definitely putting up more of a fight than I had remembered.
Carbetarian - Sun, Apr 24, 2011 - 4:26am (USA Central)
Also, @Destructor, may I second Ken's what???
Matthias - Fri, Aug 19, 2011 - 7:23am (USA Central)
'Your reputation preceeds you captain Janeway, we heard you guys bring death and destruction wherever you go!'
'Who told you that, first minister?'
'Why it was our good friends the unpredictable bloodthirsty tribal warriors!'

This would've been a lot better if it hadn't been Star Trek but some other show were bad things can actually happen.

Also I want B'ellana to do some Klingon stuff already, she passed up some prime opportunities to hit various vital parts of that stuck-up missile with a well placed blow of a wrench this episode.
Chris Harrison - Sun, Nov 13, 2011 - 12:48pm (USA Central)
Haha, I get what @Destructor is saying. Given that there are 'infinite' parallel versions of the universe nested within a 'multiverse' - then the probability that we are 'observing' that particular version (where all of the unlikely occurences that we've seen on Voyager thus far, all happen in an unlikely chain) - is no more or less likely than observing a universe where these events didn't occur.

It's similar to the fact that, in a lottery where 6 numbers between 1 and 40 are drawn at random, the probability of the numbers resulting in the sequence: 1,2,3,4,5,6 - is no more or less likely than any other 6 number sequence.

It's a silly answer to a silly premise.
Chris Harrison - Sun, Nov 13, 2011 - 1:01pm (USA Central)
@Ken "99% of the shows take place in the same universe/reality anyway." - EXACTLY, and what makes you think THIS universe/reality isn't the 'strange' one, where all these unlikely things happen?

Haha, again I agree it's absurd: but @Destructor's justification is interesting, amusing and does make logical sense, considering that Star Trek has already established that the multiverse exists (e.g. TOS's 'Mirror, Mirror', DS9's 'Shattered Mirror' etc).

But of course, @Destructor, @Ken and myself are all on the same side: in 'reality' all these events are crazily impossible considering the vastness of the Milky Way galaxy. And it is exceptionally lame that the crew keeps bumping into Alpha Quadrant objects, the other Caretaker etc.
Ken - Sun, Nov 13, 2011 - 1:08pm (USA Central)
Even if this reality was the strange one, there is nothing the necessitates this reality to have ALL of the strange occurrencies.

Finding BOTH the dreadnought and the rusted truck in space should probably be next to 0% (like 0.000000001%).

YET, in season two, after only 17 episodes, the probability of this occurring is 11.7%. Even across the first 2 seasons, it's still at an alarming 4% (and I forget if there was any earth-related finds in the delta quadrant... if there was, then we need to bump this % up).

Even if you accept the crazy occurrence this episode, you can't accept this episode AND the 37's.

It's not like Voyager starts up saying, "We are in the universe where highly improbable things happen!"

Really, let's just call a Spade a Spade here, okay? The writers sucked on this show.
Chris Harrison - Sun, Nov 13, 2011 - 1:19pm (USA Central)
It's not about the relative improbability of each event. That is how you would calculate the statistical probability in a *single* universe. The idea is that you trasnfer your calculation to the multiverse where you are merely picking a universe.

OK, OK, OK. I concede to call a spade a spade! It wouldn't happen...
Justin - Thu, Mar 15, 2012 - 12:39am (USA Central)
I thought this was a good episode depicting the classic Human vs. Computer scenario with a nice twist. Having Dreadnought be in Torres' own voice was a little creepy - but I'm a good way.
SamRNYC - Sun, Apr 8, 2012 - 9:59pm (USA Central)
Thanks to Carbetarian for also seeing the Dark Star rip-off (or hommage, depending on how you look at it.) I'd also like to agree that this is just too improbable to be anything but silly. And let me add another point, which no one has mentioned: how ridiculous the whole 'doomsday weapon created by the Cardassians' idea is. I don't care if it was modified by the Maquis or not. This thing is the size of a shuttle, and it can hold off Voyager and the defense fleet of a planet (granted less advanced). If Voyager can't simply destroy the thing once it was found, and is at risk of being destroyed by its secondary defense systems (as opposed to the primary detonation charge that can destroy a moon), and the thing can go over warp 9 and adapt itself to any technology then why didn't someone in the Alpha quadrant invent it (assuming it is a hybrid of Cardassian and Maquis tech), make 10,000, and nuke every enemy civilization in the Alpha quadrant???

My point is that the tech simply exists to string the story line along and allow Torres to have some interaction scenes - but to do so Voyager cannot just destroy it, so then the tech makes no sense at all. Just more poor writing. This episode was crap.
Paul York - Wed, May 9, 2012 - 12:30pm (USA Central)
There is a deeper message here for humanity: if we create weapons of mass destruction we cannot be assured that they will not be used. There are still 20,000 nuclear warheads ready to launch in this world, and more created everyday by "rogue states." Yes, the cold war is over, but its weapons are still with us and could be used. In the event of "wars over scarce resources" -e.g. water, which is increasingly scarce in a warming world -- this could happen. Disarmament is the solution. Voyager disarming Dreadnought could be seen as an allegory for a problem still facing humanity.
duhknees - Thu, Jun 14, 2012 - 1:44pm (USA Central)
Well, while the rest of you are debating the probabilities of multiverses, I'd like to commend this episode on its roots in real science fiction, whose purpose is not just to look at science but on the human relationship with science. The doomsday weapon here is much more believable than any from previous treks, and I appreciate the similarities to important science fiction of the past. Janeway's conversation with the First Minister is a nice nod to the one in Fail Safe between the American president and the Russian premier; quite touching, I thought. And the Cardassian and Maquis computers battling for control as well as the hypothetical puzzles B'ellana set up reminded me of some scenes in War Games. I don't think society has solved the issue of the doomsday weapon, hence it is still fair game for science fiction. Yes, we know it has to be reset by the end of the episode, but that is not the point. It's the conversations that are important. Nice job, Voyager.
milica - Wed, Aug 15, 2012 - 9:38am (USA Central)
Destructor is right - you are just not familiar with the parallel universes theory, which is, believe it or not, mainstream physics. Watch a BBC documentary on youtube for details.
Jakob Tettertotter returning from Akron - Sun, Oct 28, 2012 - 12:06am (USA Central)
Back in biness and aint it grand let the good times roll- ba ba bobby's world ba ba bobby's world! Here we are returned from a trip to the rehab center and my first episode of Star Trek Voyager in over a year is one about a missile whose programming has gone awry.

In this sopa opera threaded episode in which we see that Tom Paris has developed a cocaine habit amist a replase into deression and thinking he's the ship fuck up. Tommy no longer cares about personal grooming, and has become irrritable, and is late as a result of having to wait a around for his dealer. Chakotay dresses him down in front of
janeway because hes been around the quadrent and knows what's up, but as Janeway watches befuddled from the back of the conference room. Then B-Elanna calls Tom out on his return to using (as so far this information is only know to the Maquis crew, as we know Chako tends to leave these sort of things out the files he sent to Tuvok in season 1 upon merging of the crews. Even thought Tom Paris dicked him over, hes still maquis more than Starfleet in his eagle American spirt eyes.
However attention is quickly dierterd to the large Cardassian shuttle craft with a warp drive attached to it. Blanna attempts a risky at warp beam over, after VOYAGER and thier SUPER STRONG CRAFTSMAN SENSORS can detect life on a planet that is 3 weeks away at warp speed. Yes, craftsmen Starfleet grade sensors are that damn good. And so is Harry Kim the Transporter Chief (and subsequently nameless Maquis crew member as well) at ship to ship beaming while at warp and B'Lanna talks to herself for a while while tinkering about. Instead of ramming into it with a shuttle (which is as dumb as ramming it with Voyager, but still makes more sense), or maybe beaming a bomb over with or hell even better with out B-Elanna Torres our half Spanish Earther-half Norther Kartagian Provence Enginner with a nice ass, she just puts around for a while. The bomb, whose intellect is only rivaled by Neelix'z easy bake over (also aviable from Black and Decker at sears.com), decides that Torres is now working for the Cardies, and fears she is there to prevent it from completing its mission. So this bomb, which I'm assuming was bulit from spare emachine parts cant tell two planets apart, wants to blow up some reptile looking peoples world. Janeway calls the one leader from the worlds weakest country, Boliva IV, and the chat a bit on subspace. This interupts Maquis crewmeber Jonas's call to score some more blow from the Kazon, so it looks like Tom Paris is gonna have to hold out just a little longer....what oh we've forgotten about that plot line never mind......Back to B'elana...she can't trick her emachine mind on the bomb, which by the way isn't about to kill her either. This goes on for 38 minuites, while Janeway decides the only option, the ONLY one left (after wasting about 12 of thier 10 photon torpedos that are left, to ram that fucker, after lauching all crewmembers except Tuvok off in life boats). Tuvok being fascinated with violence as a residual effect of a recent mind meld, stays aboard to watch the fireball tear into thier skin as ship explodes around himself and the captain.
So she lauches all the life pods, they float all different directions. One of them hit an asteriod, and that Kazon cruiser that constantly follows them off the port bow cloaked (in order to keep in communication range with the bad guy of the week, in this case the bad guy of the last 3 weeks Mr My name is Jonas, smashing all the ones on that side).The remaining 18 pods are scatted across a light year as the keep speed with the bomb.

So after a few hours, it seems B'Lanna just can't get that bomb to accept that she hasn't joined Starfleet (not like she's wearing a Starfleet Uniform or anything where did it get that idea?)
nor can she reprogram the bomb into to thinking 2+2=5, depressed and cut off drom communication she dicks around with the computer a little more, then Torres stumbles upon an old JPG file thats over 4000 KB from Stardate 46292.2- thats and old file from the 6th season of TNG or 1994, however u want to view it, she clicked on it and it was some old porn vid she forgot about and it released a really nasty Apple II virus into the bombs computer system. The ship goes nuts when she double clicks on this then a door opens up that leads right to to off switch that she luckily is able phaser blowing the ship up- only 18 minuites after life support was cut. Damn Kingon women are fistey little hotheads.

As B'Lannna beams back aboard thanks to the Transporter Skills of ......Tuvok from the command chair?, or maybe the computer, or was it the doctor, I forget, anyway all's well that ends well. B'lanna feels like she redeemed her self in the Chacko's mind now, besides he always wanted to take a ride in one of those escape pods...Janeway, Tuvok, and Torres are back on board a ship thats badly damaged, with shilds down to 3 percent, and -2 torpedos left. Rather than call the planet and tell em eveythings cool, so they dont comitt mass suicide, or going back to look for the life pods, Janways decides it easier just to go forward from there, forget the escape pods, fuck that Tom Paris storyline (she'll share some of her rocks with him off camera to bring him around if need be if he still can't cop anything by the time he gets back) and decides the fastest way to get everything back to normal is just to roll credits, and hit that Voyager reset button.

Next week: Q returns a little older, a little greyer, but hell thats still the best thing thats come Janways way since that guy with all the wires in his hair she banged last season. (Englsih 18th century Holograms dont count!)

oh and 2 popcorns for DRENAUGHT! While the premise is inpausible that they'd even find another thing from ALPHA QUAD, let alone something TORRES built!
But its nice seeing Tom all strung out even tho we are left to make up our own reasons why. Stuff wit h the bomb was boring, nice watching Torres's ass, but thats about it. Oh and nice loyalty shown by Tuvok to Janeway. What is it between these two anyway? There's MUCH more than meets the eye here, that I'm sure of. Until next time!
Zuzu's Petals - Wed, Jun 12, 2013 - 3:18am (USA Central)
Damn, dude. Get your own blog!
Chris Harrison - Wed, Jun 12, 2013 - 3:58am (USA Central)
"Jakob Tettertotter returning from Akron" is totally off topic. He's just doing his own reviews. It's very distracting.
T'Paul - Fri, Sep 6, 2013 - 4:21pm (USA Central)
Yep, I get Destructor's point too... it's one way to look at things, and intelligent and sci-fi enough.

This episode has touches of 2001 in the B'Elanna and computer interactions... amusing.
T'Paul - Fri, Sep 6, 2013 - 4:48pm (USA Central)
Plus, for anyone who says there's no continuity in Voyager the Paris story should be enough to prove them wrong...
Illinois Dude - Sat, Jan 25, 2014 - 5:42pm (USA Central)
Gotta love how the inside of this automated missile had more empty space than most luxury hotel rooms, lights, heat, oxygen, etc. Almost looked like a set in a mediocre television series.
K'Elvis - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 - 11:27pm (USA Central)
@Ilinois Dude: I thought the same thing, this is a missile, and it has 12 foot celings, and plenty of space for crew at the workstations? Even the crawlspace wouldn't be needed. Once this was built, there was no need for space for humanoids.

I think the episode was decent, I can overlook the improbability of running across this weapon. But it is a strange superweapon. It had to be extremely expensive to make, but only kills 2,000,000 people? We could easily do that with our nuclear weapons today. A weapon this sophisticated and this able to defend itself would be better suited to yields that could do major damage to enemy planets.

Perhaps it was a very expensive weapon (all those sophisticated defenses don't come cheap), and when it failed the Cardassians pulled the plug. If they could have put shields like that on Cardassian ships, they would have done so.
dlpb - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 2:47pm (USA Central)
The writers have clearly given up at this point. Not even trying to make a decent continuity... plonk any old story in the delta quadrant.
dlpb - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 2:57pm (USA Central)
Plus, for anyone who says there's no continuity in Voyager the Paris story should be enough to prove them wrong...
--------

OH, PLEASE! You find one tiny piece of continuity and think that excuses the hundreds of instances of lazy writing? Do you think we are stupid? As for the Paris storyline... it all came to NOTHING. A big fat reset switch at the end of it, to completely reset his character to what it was before. "He was just kidding, kids!"

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