Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Non Sequitur"

**

Air date: 9/25/1995
Written by Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Anyway, I got as far as Deep Space Nine, where I got into a bar fight with a Ferengi, and I was thrown into the brig by a very unpleasant shapeshifter..." — Paris, on why he "missed" the Voyager

Nutshell: The alternate-reality premise is okay, but the episode moves at snail's pace and suffers because of some surprisingly weak performances. And the conclusion is painfully routine.

Harry Kim wakes up one morning to find himself in an alternate reality where he lives in San Francisco and everybody treats him as if he had never been on board the Voyager. Unfortunately, the interesting premise is wasted due to execution problems, and the episode has big troubles figuring out its dramatic dynamics.

I like the way this mystery begins, by throwing Harry into a situation where he hasn't got a clue (and neither do we) and must try to wrestle out a solution given very little information. The first act or so seems to be working very well as we sample a day in the life of a misplaced protagonist.

Unfortunately, "Non Sequitur" loses momentum fast, and is sabotaged by some sub-par performances and a rather heavy-handed direction by David Livingston. The underlying problem here seems to be a lack of material that necessitates scene after scene to be drawn out into slow, laborious exercises; almost as if the teleplay timed out early.

In the search for what has happened, Harry begins looking through Voyager's classified files (which to the Harry of this reality should not even be accessible). This makes Starfleet Security suspicious, which begins monitoring his movement. Meanwhile, Harry's search is hampered by the presence of his fiance Libby (Jennifer Gatti), whom he cannot begin to make understand that he does not belong on Earth, but on board the Voyager. In this reality, the Voyager is still apparently lost in space, except that some of the people who were supposed to be on board aren't for some reason or another. Harry Kim is one of them. Another is...Tom Paris.

So Kim looks up Paris, who happens to be in France (no pun intended). Hopefully Paris may have some answers or insights. But Paris has no answers to give him—he's just a pool-shooting drunk who didn't make it onto the Voyager in this reality. (In the show's most entertaining scene, Paris explains to Harry the reason he "missed" the Voyager: because he was arrested by Odo after a bar fight with Quark at DS9 right before the ship left.) This scene has more dramatic depth than anything else in the show, showing what Paris could've been without the chance to prove himself as Voyager's ace pilot. Here, he's just a loser. Brannon Braga's script supplies Paris with some good material and Robert McNeill delivers a fine performance.

Because of Harry's mysterious info-gathering and movement around the planet, Starfleet begins to think he's a Maquis spy. They come to arrest him, and suddenly Harry finds himself on the run. The show supplies a decent foot chase scene, and then Paris comes to the rescue to prove he's not a loser, and the two try to find a way to set things back to normal.

But how can Harry fix the space-time continuum to get back to his reality? Here's where the storyline completely takes the easy, highly contrived road. It turns out that the local restaurant owner, Cosimo (Louis Giambalvo) is an alien assuming human form to guide Harry's integration into this alternate reality. Cosimo explains that there was an accident between Harry's shuttlecraft and one of his alien's "time stream." As a result, things got a little bit shuffled around but, for the most part, back to normal.

I wanted to cover my ears during this preposterous explanation. When they first introduced the Cosimo character, I had a feeling it was going to result in some outrageous "revelation," but I was hoping deep down that I would be wrong. Alas, I was not, and the plot resolution comes down to the most obvious and insipid, simply dropping the solution into Harry's lap. To set things back to normal, all Harry has to do is recreate the accident as "exactly" as possible. For the episode, that means the usual, implausible technical procedures which prove only as convenient or difficult as the story needs them to be. So Paris and Kim break into Starfleet and steal a Runabout so they can re-alter reality.

Alternate reality stories can be fun, because it gives a chance to explore character dynamics that would ordinarily not be possible. But aside from the brief moment where we see Paris' apathetic lifestyle, there is nothing at all dynamic about the characters in "Non Sequitur." Garrett Wang's performance is sometimes passable, but Jennifer Gatti's portrayal of Libby is so sluggish that it manages to sabotage almost every scene between Harry and Libby. Based on the chemistry between these two characters, it's no wonder that Harry decided he couldn't stay in this reality!

Previous episode: Elogium
Next episode: Twisted

Season Index

50 comments on this review

Mike - Wed, Sep 17, 2008 - 9:12am (USA Central)
Excellent review. I do think Wong's performance is even weaker than you imply ('sometimes passable' is quite nice of you). It's too bad because this is a solid idea that failed at the script and actor levels. Personally I think this should have been Paris' story. He had the motivation to return to Voyager than Kim did not -- Kim, who whines episode after episode about how much he misses Earth.

I also fear for Earth if that is the kind of security you get at Starfleet headquarters. Ankle bracelets, on-foot chase scenes, break-ins at Starfleet, stolen ships - what inept fool is running Starfleet security?
Brendan - Wed, Jun 17, 2009 - 11:55am (USA Central)
Nice youtube recap of this episode:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp8cFegY42k
Will - Tue, Oct 27, 2009 - 9:16am (USA Central)
What the... TWO stars?????? This is SUCH a good episode. Easily my favourite from season two. You're just nitpicking, which I think is the worst way to make a review. I LOVE this episode.
Mal - Tue, Oct 27, 2009 - 9:55pm (USA Central)
@Will:

I agree with you that the episode probably deserves more than two stars, but you probably have to provide us with a little more than "Easily my favorite from season two." You know, like reasons.

The good: We see Earth! Other than DS9's amazing two-parter 4x11 Homefront, 4x12 Paradise Lost, there is very little of Earth in any of the Star Trek episodes. (Who cares about ENT?). Nice to see small details like the Trans-America Pyramid and One Market. The public transportation (BART?) stops are a pretty cool touch. Evidently even the Mission becomes yuppified by the 24th century :-)

Paris - as mentioned, Tom does a great job. Maybe the show would have been better as a buddy episode (Tom & Harry), rather than a Harry (and the awful Libby) hour.

On a side note, Cosimo's (and the Sisko restaurant in DS9) always make me scratch my head - how the fuck do these businesses work in a society with no money!

The bad: As mentioned, the quick fix deus ex machina. Harry is a smart guy, why couldn't he have been allowed to figure out the solution. Just let it be a temporal anomaly. This is San Francisco, and maybe the time-stream is the 24th century equivalent of the San Andreas fault. No magic aliens required.

Nevertheless, I think the episode is a strong 2.5 stars. Not a three star by any stretch of the imagination, but still clearly better than some other Harry vehicles like 1x09 Emanations (a 2 star outing), or another alternate-time outing, like 1x04 Time and Again (also only 2 stars).


Eduardo - Tue, Jan 5, 2010 - 4:55pm (USA Central)
Restaurants can function perfectly on the 24th century if the chef is passionate about his job. He doesn't need to earn money, as long as he can satisfy his customers. That's particularly true of Sisko's restaurant. It's his life, both socially and professionally.
navamske - Tue, Jul 27, 2010 - 7:21pm (USA Central)
"[S]abotaged by some sub-par performances," indeed. Jennifer Gatti is a dreadful actress.
Ken - Sat, Feb 5, 2011 - 9:43am (USA Central)
Eduardo, the whole idea that Earth can function without money is preposterous. Passion has nothing to do with it.

Are you saying that only the talented chefs and restaurant managers can run restaurants? Who decides who is most passionate and talented?

What if there were more chefs than we need restaurants... what then? Who decides who gets to have a restaurant from who doesn't?

Who owns the land the restaurants are built on? How much land do we allocate for restaurants and for other things?

If someone wants to make a restaurant and nobody attends because the food is horrible, what happens? Without money, how would it ever go out of business as a sign that it doesn't work?

If someone wants to build a restaurant and there are already too many restaurants or not enough land, how does he go about getting his restaurant?

If there are too many restaurants and too many chefs... will they be forced to stop being a chef for the good of the planet? How does that work?

The concept of money, capitalism and property solves all of these problems easily. The fake future in Star Trek does not solve them at all - it just pretends to, even though they can offer no logical explanation as to how. After all, similar models like communism that are very similar to how people live on Star Trek didn't work... so why would it stand any chance of working in the 24th century for?

The answer: It won't. As long as we want to remain a free people who have rights by the virtue of being a human being, we can never get rid of the concept of money. Without money, rights will get violated and force will need to be used - which has and does get used in many cases in Star Trek actually (especially on DS9 - as much as I think the writing on the show is the best among all the series').
Ken - Sun, Feb 6, 2011 - 6:41am (USA Central)
Here's an episode that could have worked but didn't. It had some promise to be a 3-star episode.

The real problem is that I don't believe the motivation for Harry to get back. If it were me, I would have been quite happy with the way things turned out.

Sure, some people lost and gained in the "Accident", but that's not Kim's fault. It's not like he took an action that forced these circumstances on the various people (Paris, Byrd, etc.). The fact that he's taking this moral "high road" and is taking for responsibility for it is actually not very believable.

The other big problem with the episode is Libby. The actor they got to play her is really awful. The chemistry between Kim and Libby is just... off. The dialog and the actions are totally out of sync. Some of Libby's emotional reactions are just not authentic at all, and the episode really suffers.

And as someone else pointed out, I don't understand why they couldn't just lock onto Kim and Paris with a transporter at various times during the chase scenes. Is Starfleet security really that inept? It *is* government after all, so maybe so... but this is not how Starfleet is painted in many episodes. Starfleet is supposed to be competent and exemplify the best in humanity. These security officers are nothing of the sort.

Conclusion: One Bad episode.
Elliott - Thu, Feb 10, 2011 - 10:22pm (USA Central)
Did anyone else notice the space doors were the same as the Dyson's Sphere from TNG's "Relics"?

I remember having hated this episode when I first saw it. After a recent viewing, I realise I only hate the last act. It really does spoil a lot of what happened already which (aside from Libby) is actually very compelling given it's a Harry story. There didn't need to be any action/adventure stuff...Cosimo could have felt he didn't have a right to purposefully effect the timeline again, until Harry realised he needed to go back...that who he (and Paris) had become on Voyager was worth the sacrifice of being so far from home. He could have just done it with a flick of his fingers or something, it should have taken 20 seconds.

@Ken. Seriously, shut the hell up about communism. Ask any successful capitalist if passion "has nothing to do with" his success and see what he tells you. People's worth is simply not measured in terms of currency in Roddenberry's style of communism. It's the future, it's fiction...no one has proved anything about it being impossible. It has no effect on the quality (or lack thereof) of this episode; shut the hell up.

Overall, I think a fair review. I wish they had scrapped the whole action scene for something substantive.
Ken - Fri, Feb 11, 2011 - 6:29am (USA Central)
I won't shut the hell up, as if that's any way to disprove anything I said. What I said is perfectly rational and true. It points out the flaw in what was said by Eduardo. I am only pointing out that this future would never happen - it cannot work. Sure it's fiction - but Eduardo didn't seem to think so. He thought passion was all that was needed, as if passion would solve all the logical problems with the way it works in Star Trek.
Elliott - Fri, Feb 11, 2011 - 10:50am (USA Central)
Ken

Passion alone won't make warp drive, replicators or Leola Root Stew possible either...you're on a tirade against socialism and it's pretty damned silly on a Star Trek page. You can't simply say things like "it's perfectly rational and true" when you're trying to talk down a Utopian economic system. No number of bullet points can prove it won't or will happen. It's all speculation. You just don't like it.
Ken - Fri, Feb 11, 2011 - 11:01am (USA Central)
According to Eduardo: "Restaurants can function perfectly on the 24th century if the chef is passionate about his job"

I merely said that passion would not make it function perfectly. I brought up many logical flaws and problems with this claim, to which you have not bothered to answer.

And yes, it is rational to know in advance that a 24th century Utopian economic system would not work.
Elliott - Fri, Feb 11, 2011 - 11:19am (USA Central)
Stop saying things like "I merely..." nothing you say is mere--you make grand sweeping statements that hold up to little scrutiny; there's nothing humbled about them.

If you want to play this little polemics game (which I'm sorely tempted not to play with you, because I'm under the suspicion you wouldn't like an episode of Trek unless it read like a Rand novel), then explain to me what the hell "too many chefs" is.
Ken - Sun, Apr 10, 2011 - 4:40pm (USA Central)
If passion were the only requirement to determine if you could be a chef or not in Star Trek (as Eduardo said), then it stands to reason that we may have too few or too many chefs on the planet.

If some of those chefs are actually pretty bad cooks - but they still have "high passion" - nobody is going to attend their restaurants (or at least very few... favouring the chefs that make better food).

What you're going to have is a bunch of wasted land and chefs not cooking very much while others are cooking like crazy - all for the same reward. Is it first come first serve? What if you invented the latest warp drive - should you not be able to eat at the best restaurants? Or should you let the lowly janitor get the best food just because he was there first?

There could be the case where there are simply an oversupply of chefs to meet the natural demand of them. And it doesn't stop with chefs. How can passion be used as criteria for any kind of business? It's nonsensical.

How many people are passionate about running businesses but have no freaking clue how to run one? If we allowed all of these incompetent yet passionate businesses owners their way, we'd have a pretty horrible set of services to pick from.

The idea that passion is somehow a valid requirement for being a good chef and running a good restaurant is preposterous.
Elliott - Sun, Apr 10, 2011 - 9:10pm (USA Central)
Ken: I simply must accept the fact that when you say things to yourself, no matter how stochastic and unsupported they may be, they make sense to you, they justify your beliefs, which you claim as proofs.

Any good capitalist knows that making good food is one of the least important aspects of being a successful chef and it is the reason some people (like I) object to it as a system. The fact that you casually regard a janitor as "lowly" is evidence of your caste-value system which is really the heart of your prejudice against enlightened philosophies. At any rate, part of having a society in which one may pursue being a chef without making money at it is that there would be no janitors (such tasks are relegated to the available technology). As any artist can tell you, competition between people of talent does not vanish when money is taken out of the equation. Artists don't expect to make any money doing what they do, yet they still work to do better than their peers, and if they can't or don't they don't achieve success. Now the problem is, each of these people still has to eat, so he must work some other form of labour to survive while still finding the time to pursue his art. This is silly. Why force people to waste their time when there's no need?

We can't possibly have an intelligent debate about this until you start considering carefully what you say and how you say it; your arguments are hollow and lack a cogent centre. They aren't so much easily defeated as casually dismissed.
Ken - Sun, Apr 10, 2011 - 10:58pm (USA Central)
Elliot: "Any good capitalist knows that making good food is one of the least important aspects of being a successful chef and it is the reason some people (like I) object to it as a system."

I never said making good food (or a good atmosphere, entertainment, whatever) makes a good business. You inferred this. I only said that passion alone would not do it. There is a difference.

The market would determine what they wanted in a restaurant. I can't decide that. Nobody could. It is up to each chef/restaurant owner to research their potential customers and create the kind of restaurant that would appeal to them. That could be good food, a good atmosphere or naked females dancing in front of you as you eat - who knows.

Elliot: "The fact that you casually regard a janitor as "lowly" is evidence of your caste-value system which is really the heart of your prejudice against enlightened philosophies."

That janitor might actually be amazing at his job - and maybe he is to commended for that work - but nonetheless... the work he produces is less valuable than the person who invented an airplane, a skyscraper or a warp engine. It is also less valuable than the productiveness of the owner of the restaurant who pays him.

It is not prejudice - it is a fact. I would say that it is prejudice to assume that all work is somehow equal and that all people are equal in their level of productiveness - this is absolutely false.

Elliot: "At any rate, part of having a society in which one may pursue being a chef without making money at it is that there would be no janitors (such tasks are relegated to the available technology)."

There would still be work that is less demanding and less valuable compared to others in such a society. Janitor or no, the point is still valid.

Just because technology improves, it would not change the fact that supply and demand would still exist in this society.

Elliot: "As any artist can tell you, competition between people of talent does not vanish when money is taken out of the equation. Artists don't expect to make any money doing what they do, yet they still work to do better than their peers, and if they can't or don't they don't achieve success."

What? This is absolutely false. I'm sure a whole myriad of musical bands, architects, etc. fully expect to get paid for their productive effort.

When people choose to create art, they can do so for spiritual and/or physical rewards. So much choose to self-sacrifice and not want to get paid, but that hardly describes "As any artist" as you put it.

And if artist don't get paid, how the hell are they suppose to create their art in the first place? Steal other people's money through the use of government subsidies to allow them to create their art? How?

Also, good art or bad art (i.e. talented art as you put it) is not the point of this discussion - art is only as valuable as people are willing to pay for it. Clearly society values Beyoncé a lot more than Mozart, and society values Mass Effect or even a simple pinball machine a lot more than Opera.

You might not like this fact, but value can be attached to artwork as anything else.

Elliot: "Now the problem is, each of these people still has to eat, so he must work some other form of labour to survive while still finding the time to pursue his art. This is silly. Why force people to waste their time when there's no need?"

Again, false. Who is going to pay for their food? Their housing? Is it going to magically appear on their lap?

And moreover, why do artists get the privilege of not earning their keep but others have to? Why are they entitled to special treatment for?

If artists in society got such treatment, what would be the incentive to do anything else then? Wouldn't everyone want to be artist so they didn't have to work a day in their life and could just do art all the time? If everyone did this, who would be left to feed them? And who would decide these things? Who would decide who gets to do art from who doesn't?

If government pays the artists to create the art, where does government get the money? Taxes? So each individual is now forced by the government to give part of their earnings to support artwork that they don't even like? Should the Christians have to pay for art that depicts Jesus as an evil demon that rapes children? How is that going to work Elliot?

If the artwork was truly valued by members in society, they should be able to invest in it privately - either before the art is complete (which is no different than venture capital) or afterward. The point is that each individual has to consensually trade money for art.

If nobody in society is willing to pay for art (which is highly doubtful), then that art has no right to exist in the first place.

If art is created through the theft of money from others, it is no longer art. That art should never have existed. In fact, it is a symbol of theft because that art required the use of force in order to exist. It is unearned achievement.

Elliot, what you're saying is entirely nonsensical.
Carbetarian - Wed, Apr 13, 2011 - 3:26pm (USA Central)
About these comments... It's fiction! Let it go already!

About this episode... Ugh. This episode did have some potential. I think that they could have made the dynamic they went with of wanting to get home at any cost work better if they had focused on Paris. Finding out what happens when Paris has an accident and wakes up a useless drunk in France would have been compelling. He also would have had a genuine reason to want to get back to the regular time line.

I also think this episode would have worked well if Harry had woken up in the scenario presented and had NOT wanted to correct the timeline. The episode could have been about the alien trying to force him back to Harry's regular timeline, or maybe even Voyager itself finding a way to pull him out of this alternate reality. Harry is always talking about how much he wants to go home. It's easy for me to imagine Harry seeing the events of the beginning of this episode as though he had just won the lottery. He's home, he's getting married, he has a great job... How cruel and dramatic would it have been for him to accept this new reality only to be "rescued" by Voyager? It would have been very powerful.

Also, in that scenario, they could have spent the last act showing how Harry deals with trying to balance gratitude that his friends on Voyager cared enough to rescue him (possibly at great risk to the ship) with the dissapointment of having his dream of getting home so aburptly snatched away from him. I for one would have welcomed that kind of depth in an otherwise boring character.

But, instead we get Kim acting like a starfleet robot who MUST go back to his reality because... Well, because it's the starfleet thing to do! I guess. I frankly have no idea why he would want to go back. Of course, there was also the matter of the terribly wooden acting and the paint by numbers ending. It was nice to see Earth again. But, all in all, the premise of this episode was completely wasted and over all the whole thing sucked.

One and a half stars from me.
Ken - Wed, Apr 13, 2011 - 7:22pm (USA Central)
Carbetarian, you're right - it IS fiction.

I believe this is what I was saying all along - there is no way the Star Trek form of government and philosophy world actually work in reality.

The problem is that some people seem to think that this show is a prediction of how humans "ought" to live. They really do think this is an "enlightened" philosophy. And yes, they'd wish we would live in the world of Star Trek as a end result.

This is actually a really big problem. They offer no proof to show this humans "ought" to live this way. They offer no moral proof. They claim that I "have't proven anything" - but quite the contrary - it really doesn't take make much to point out counter-examples which logically disprove their position from all sides - proof by counter-example is a valid form of proof (but he ignores this).

I ask him to offer a proof for his claims, but we both know that's not possible. After all, it didn't take much reasoning to disprove them in the first place.

As for the proof that we live in reality, we use reason and logic to know about that reality, that reason should be our highest virtue, that our own life is the ultimate standard of value in which we judge what is good and evil, and the proof that capitalism is the only moral system of government - these are already proven by Ayn Rand and have not been disproved...

... well, except for people disproving things she never actually said in the first place. There are lots of people on youtube that criticize Ayn Rand and I can tell they have no clue what he positions are at all. They just glossed over them and made many errors. This is extremely common. They never actually take the time to understand what she said, and some of these "critics" admit to not even have read her work - just commentary on her work. If you want to judge her work, maybe the best thing to do is to actually read what she actually said as opposed to someone's opinion on what she said.

Star Trek does not offered an 'enlightened' philosophy. It is just plain wrong.
Carbetarian - Fri, Apr 15, 2011 - 12:03am (USA Central)
Ken - Personally, I don't care about how possible Star Trek politics actually are. I also don't presume to judge whether or not Star Trek really does present an "enlightened" future. As I said, it's fiction.

What I do care about, is a good story. This episode missed more than one opportunity to be a good story. That's all I want to discuss in my comments. I'm not here to debate the moral positions of Ayn Rand. I'm here to debate the emotional validity and questionable logic of Harry Kim's desire to get back to Voyager. If you have an opinion on the actual story in this episode, then discussion is welcome.
Van Patten - Tue, May 31, 2011 - 11:25am (USA Central)
@Carbetarian

Well said - thought I's stumbled into a Politics blog in error. It's a science fiction show for god's sake. Whilst I might have some concerns over whether the economic philosophy of the Federation is viable, this comments thread, about this specific story and the author's review of it is unarguably not the forum for it.

&Ken

Have you thought about anger management?
Ken - Tue, May 31, 2011 - 11:28am (USA Central)
@Van Patten

So I say something absolutely makes sense and is true, and that suddenly means I need anger management?
Fido - Mon, Aug 1, 2011 - 9:14pm (USA Central)
This episode was totally pointless and was barely enjoyable. Sorry, but that's how I feel.
Matthias - Mon, Aug 15, 2011 - 8:50am (USA Central)
I love how in the 24th century you are free to do whatever your heart desires but if that happens to entail playing pool in the afternoon while getting mildly sauced you are immediately pegged as a loser and your life's a catastrophic failure.
rob - Mon, Aug 15, 2011 - 5:45pm (USA Central)
I actually like this episode.
Nathan - Sat, Oct 29, 2011 - 3:27am (USA Central)
What the hell happened here? Ron Paul 2012 :)


Seriously, Kim's actions seemed very off. Picard at the beginning of "The Inner Light" is how I imagine someone reacting to suddenly waking up in a different life. Kim was way too accepting and didn't try to tell other people what was going on until it was too late.

And the 'time stream' was garbage. I think it would have been much more interesting had it switched at the halfway point to the 'real' timeline, and we saw the non-Voyager Kim on Voyager - in other words, Kims from two alternate timelines had been switched. The end would switch them back not through any action of theirs but through some Q-magnitude being realizing a mistake had been made and undoing the switch. And the day or so that had elapsed would have actually happened in both timelines, so it would be implied that both Kims would have to undo the damage caused by the other Kims.
TDexter - Sat, Jan 14, 2012 - 8:37am (USA Central)
There is no point debating anything with an Objectivist. There is no thicker-headed idealogue in existence.
Eric - Mon, Feb 20, 2012 - 8:54pm (USA Central)
"the whole idea that Earth can function without money is preposterous"

I agree. And restaurants don't make sense to me in ST either. What the hell are they doing there? If there's no money, shouldn't there just be a bunch government run cafeterias instead? Or community soup kitchens or some such?

Ken said:
"The problem is that some people seem to think that this show is a prediction of how humans "ought" to live. They really do think this is an "enlightened" philosophy. And yes, they'd wish we would live in the world of Star Trek as a end result.

This is actually a really big problem."

No it isn't. People realize that its fiction. They don't start philosophical movements based on it. There's no "Gene Roddenberry Institute", They would have to be really detached from reality to do that. Also, the infeasibility of a system without money would prevent it from ever happening, so you have nothing to worry about.


And I would argue, that when people say they think the Star Trek world would be a nice place to live, and that it seems more "enlightened" they don't think that just because of the "no money" aspect of it, but rather the fact that there's no more war or famine on Earth, or most human worlds, or even federation worlds for that matter. Education/health care seems a lot better, lifespans are higher... AND when starfleet encounters an indigeous species on a planet they leave them alone, they don't try to push them out of the way or exploit them. They have a code of ethics that I don't really see here in our world. Like when Janeway chose to destroy the array instead of using it to get home. We wouldn't do that, we'd totally use the array to get home, fuck the Occampa. Starfleet has policies (like the prime directive) that are there to protect indigenous people (species) from exploitation or outside interference, however well-meaning. There's really not an equivalent to that today. (yes, I know the PD has a lot of flaws: not the point). In that episode where they find some photonic fleas behind a bulkhead, Janeway says: "lets find a more suitable home for them shall we?" What would we have done? We would have sprayed them! (its easy to be enlightened when you have transporters), I'm sure you guys can come up with a bunch more examples. In Gene Roddenberry's fiction, he takes the position that instead of wiping out our civilization with global warming, or continuing to fight amongst one another forever, we worked together and reached for the stars! Sure, things aren't perfect, but still... compared to today, thinks look pretty good. The lack of currency is actually one minor piece of the picture. Heck, I thought ST was utopic, but for the longest time I didn't know about there being no currency! (probably because of DS9).
Ghostwheel - Mon, Mar 19, 2012 - 10:33am (USA Central)
My understanding has always been that while they do have money, it's not nearly the problem that it is today.

With replicator technology, free necessary medical care, and clean energy too cheap too meter, most people probably get some kind of basic monthly income that takes care of all their needs. Those who want more personal wealth or property than the basic allowance can work for it as independent businessmen.

The key here is to remember that scarcity just isn't the same kind of problem for them that it is for us.
Milica - Thu, Jul 26, 2012 - 7:33am (USA Central)
For me, this is a three star episode. It had my full attention for about two thirds of it, then the quality fell. I loved seeing the future Earth, this is not something we have seen much in Star Trek in general.
V_is_for_Voyager - Wed, Mar 27, 2013 - 3:28pm (USA Central)
@Will: I agree Jammer nitpicks this episode unfairly (in a way he would never do for DS9, I might add!). Nitpicking over implausible technobabble is generally a bad idea with Star Trek, since each show succeeds or fails on the strength of its drama and the technobabble only exists to facilitate that. If you want believable science, watch a documentary on the Discovery channel. If you want good drama set in a highly imaginative universe, watch Star Trek.

I love this episode and I think it is much beloved by true fans of this show. If you hate Voyager or you don't already like the characters on the show, it isn't going to do much for you. If you watch Voyager not to bash it but actually because you prefer the Voyager cast to the rest of Star Trek, this is an especially gratifying episode. Let me explain why:

In the first place, it has one of the most intriguing openings of any episode of Voyager, with Harry's face lit up by the sun as he wakes up on planet Earth, with Captain Janeway's voice mysteriously echoing in his head, as if everything that has happened so far on the show has been only a dream. As others have said, its very refreshing to see an episode set on Earth, as it gives us a rare glimpse into life in the 24th-century.

The episode is even more interesting for suggesting a darker side to life in the Federation "utopia". There is a distinctly 1984-esque feeling to the whole setting, from the constant electronic surveillance of every living being on the planet and the artificial cleanliness and feeling of all-pervading control, to the Big Brother-like way Starfleet immediately comes down on Harry when he starts poking around and asking questions.

Many have commented that the actress who plays Libby leaves something to be desired, but I think she plays her character just right: there is something plastic and artificial even to Harry's relationship to his girlfriend, and this fits with what we know about his character. Harry was a goodie-goodie straight A student on the path to a successful and promising career, and it makes sense that this kind of guy would end up in a relationship with a status conscious, superficial and controlling girlfriend.

Not only that, but the fact that all her "love" for Harry immediately seems to fade as soon as he starts acting unpredictable (messing with his career) reinforces both the creepy, 1984 aspect to the story and also the fact that Harry belongs on Voyager. Reviewers who complain about the lack of passion between Harry and his girlfriend, and who go on to say he should've wanted to stay on Earth, miss the point entirely: Harry belongs on Voyager, not just out of a sense of duty and obligation (although these are some of Harry Kim's defining virtues) but also because he has found real warmth and the strength of a true community on Voyager in a way he never could've found in his sterile, by-the-numbers career or Earth.

Another great and subtle characterization is added by Harry's "friend" Lieutenant Lasca. This individual belongs to the same class of ultra-ambitious career climbing plastic slimeball who, like Libby, immediately turns on his friend the instant Harry begins to act unpredictable in a way that might become a career liability rather than an asset. The untrustworthy Lasca instantly spots an opportunity to turn the situation to his advantage, as he moves to ingratiate himself with Starfleet command by spearheading the investigation into Harry's unorthodox behavior. The accusations of alien influence or Maquis sympathies illustrate to what degree the Federation utopia (dystopia) lives under a subtly oppressive atmosphere of paranoia.

There is also, I must say, an even more subtle suggestion that Lasca would be moving in on Harry's girlfriend behind his back. Mark Kiely gives off a vibe very similar to Tony Goldwyn in "Ghost," as the kind of slimy yuppie whose outward virtuousness masks an ambitious ego-driven opportunist. Maybe this is the reason we hear no more of Libby later in the series: in the real timeline, Lasca moved in to "comfort" Libby and took her away from Harry. Maybe this is just me, but I definitely got this vibe from the whole situation.

Regardless, hypocritical insincerity and rigid conformity of the other characters up to this point are contrasted splendidly by the appearance of the unruly and rebellious Tom Paris. In many ways this is Rober Duncan McNeill's episode, since it reveals the most about his character and since it is he who ultimately saves the day. When we first see him, he has become a caricature of himself as he was at the beginning of the series -- and it's great to see some more of cavalier, cynical, antisocial Tom Paris from the beginning of Season 1. This scene includes a neat little reference to DS9 and also poignantly shows us, in "It's a Wonderful Life" style, the sad fate that would've befallen Tom Paris had he not met Harry Kim and been stranded on Voyager.

Indeed, it was a selfless interest to protect the young, naive Ensign Kim from being cheated which originally pulled Tom out of his self-absorbed cynical wallowing -- and in this episode it happens again, as an even more cynical and hard-bitten Tom Paris is once again redeemed by his sympathy for Harry Kim's plight. The best thing about the episode is the way it suggests that, even in a different lifetime on another world, Tom and Harry were destined to become best friends. Anyone who has ever had a friend who is like a brother will be moved by the moment when Harry, betrayed by the people he trusted and hunted animal by Starfleet security, is saved by an intervening fist thrown by the bar-brawler Paris which decks the Starfleet cop.

The technical details of the return home flight are irrelevant -- I actually applaud this episode for keeping the technobabble to a minimum by having it casually summarized by the entertaining and likable Cosimo character. It's not important that we know how or why any of it works -- what's important is how it affects the drama, how it pushes goodie-goodie Kim to defy everything he was taught to follow out of loyalty to his shipmates, and how it further cements the bond between Harry and Tom. The very exciting action climax neatly ties us back to the almost-forgotten ghost voice of Captain Janeway in the opening moments of the show, as Tom takes his greatest risk yet and actually gets killed trying to return Harry to his timeline.

When we finally see the Voyager bridge, like Harry we feel comforted by the familiar setting and are glad to be back. This ultimately explains why Harry would rather be on Voyager: his old life was hollow and phony, and he has only truly found himself in the comaradarie on Voyager. There is a nice little acknowledgement of his debt of gratitude to alternate-timeline Tom, and his faith in his friend is doubly renewed by the knowledge that even in an alternate reality, his friend comes through for him.

Trust and loyalty are the main themes of this show: the way Harry's girlfriend, his colleague and his superiors on Earth are untrustworthy and don't trust him, and the way he trusts his friends on Voyager and they trust him, even to the point of risking death -- Tom risking death to save Harry, and Harry risking his career and death in order to be back fighting shoulder to shoulder with his comrades lost in space.

"Non Sequitur" is one of Voyager's best episodes and in many ways acts as a dry run to the even more dramatic Season 5 episode "Timeless," which also features uses the character of Harry Kim to surprisingly dramatic effect and ends in a shuttle explosion resetting a fatal timeline. The atmosphere is very subtly dystopian, the show builds sympathy for its main character through isolation and confusion, there are some great guest appearances, the music is uniformly excellent, the whole story is intense and dreamlike, and it builds to a very tense conclusion which affirms some great things about the characters.

Four stars in my book.
Corey - Thu, Apr 25, 2013 - 5:25pm (USA Central)
I also thought this episode was really about loyalty as well. Harry believes the Voyager crew need him, and I don't think he could comfortably accept the "good life" if his best friend Tom Paris has to now live his life as a loser on Earth, rather living his life on Voyager, which Tom has said in an episode, "Voyager is the best thing that ever happened to me."

As V_is_for_Voyager mentioned, Tom risked his life and his freedom to rescue Harry, and also to return Harry to his time-line. The final scene where Harry basically acknowledges what a great friend Tom is, I often found moving.

Anyways this is basically entertainment, and on that purpose this episode does the job well. I would give it 3 stars.
alan - Mon, May 13, 2013 - 6:30am (USA Central)
V_is_for_Voyager:
"I agree Jammer nitpicks this episode unfairly (in a way he would never do for DS9, I might add!)."

NO FUCKING KIDDING!!! The way Jammer criticizes episodes like "Time's Arrow" & "A Fistful of Datas" while basically drooling over "Past Tense" & "Our Man Bashir," episodes which tell the SAME DAMN STORY, is just sick.
Paul - Mon, May 13, 2013 - 2:51pm (USA Central)
@alan: "Sick"?!!

Come on, dude. Jammer clearly prefers DS9 to the other series, and his reviews show that. But you know what? That's fine -- this is an opinion site.

It's far from sick that he expresses his opinions.
alan tossed my salad - Thu, May 23, 2013 - 4:17pm (USA Central)
alan,

you are more subtle than most trolls here. Comparing two TNG turds to good DS9 should get you attention.
alan - Wed, May 29, 2013 - 9:29am (USA Central)
alan tossed my salad,
I'll keep that in mind if & when I compare 2 TNG turds to good DS9
Steve - Thu, Sep 5, 2013 - 4:07pm (USA Central)
I agree with the characterizations of Libby amd Lasca; they're taking advantage of Harry's naive goody-two-shoes nature, and they won't for an instant consider Harry's strange behavior as anything but an annoyance and an impediment to their own ambitions.

What I don't understand is Harry's lack of intelligence in discerning just what the hell happened to him. He thinks holodeck, he thinks hallucination, but he doesn't consider alternate reality until much later than I think he should.
inline79 - Fri, Sep 13, 2013 - 1:49pm (USA Central)
I'm with Steve and V on the "realism" of Libby. Maybe we've all known (or been) that person with the trashy girlfriend/boyfriend that everyone thinks is not good for them.. this seems to be Libby. My first thought when I saw her was "Don't you have A JOB? Shouldn't you also be somewhere other than AT HOME?" Apparently not, and Harry is just the guy who's happy a girl actually likes him.

I'm going to be the first to point out it's preposterous for a Lt and Ens to be designing starships on their own...

Would have also been cool to see what decision in Harry's life caused this reality. Did Harry lose a coin toss to Byrd? But that's a bit too TNG's "TAPESTRY"...

Aside from the ending not living up to the rest of the episode, I enjoyed it very much; I liked seeing life in 24th Century San Francisco. It deserves more than 2 stars. For much of the first couple of acts I was convinced aliens had created this from Harry's mind to get him to solve the secrets of dilithium fracture, or he was in a parallel universe. Great stuff.
Jason D - Sat, Feb 1, 2014 - 7:46am (USA Central)
I've been meaning to watch more Voyager, picked it up with this episode, and was shocked at how silly and clunky it was. I can't believe there's actually a debate here as to whether the reviewer is being fair. Why? This episode is a clunker.

If anything, Jammer is being generous about the acting. I couldn't believe how ridiculous everyone came across. Most of the time I felt I was watching actors playing make-believe than characters in a story. Felt more like that than anything I've watched in a long time (and I watch tons of TOS). Harry sounds like a kid pretending to be some sooper-serious action hero. His fiancee sounds like a different person in each scene until it's time for some emotion (which is when she sounds like an android falling apart).

I thought there'd be an extra-cool explanation for Harry's situation to justify the fakeness of it all, but no. Only explanation I see is very bad writing served up with mediocre acting and direction. Sometimes Trek has a neat idea that burns up in the atmosphere or plows into the ground. Either way, the failure is spectacular. This episode is a neat idea that just slowly evaporates before your eyes (if you can keep 'em open). One star.
Corey - Sat, Feb 1, 2014 - 6:32pm (USA Central)
Ken's trumpeting the virtues of capitalism, a system in which 80 percent of the world lives on less than ten dollars a day, a system which has more slaves today than in the 1800s, a Pozi system which breeds more debt than can be paid, a system in which there is always more debt than currency in the world, a system which breeds poverty, in which the money flows one way, a system which necessitates a continually expanding GDP, guarantees cycles of booms and bust, bankrupcy, unpayable interest, and a system whose energy requirements are wholly unsustainable.

Nice work Ken. Roddenberry's future isn't unreasonable, it's necessary.
K'Elvis - Thu, Feb 27, 2014 - 7:56am (USA Central)
Kim should have gone directly to Starfleet rather than sneaking around. By making himself look suspicious, he gives them no reason to believe him. Temporal anomalies aren't at all unknown in the Star Trek universe. Getting back to Voyager shouldn't have been his first priority, he could have done a greater service to Voyager by informing Starfleet that Voyager was not destroyed, but instead lost in the Delta Quadrant. Him winning over Paris made no sense - why should Paris believe him? What did Kim think he was going to accomplish by tampering with his ankle bracelet? It just puts him in a ridiculous footrace.

As far as Star Trek's economy, it is presumably quite different than the economy of today. What not using money means isn't clear, and that probably is for the best.
Daniel - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 - 1:57pm (USA Central)
Decent episode, but lazy resolution, ridiculous ending and overall premise.
DLPB - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 - 2:01pm (USA Central)
Also, Ken is right. Star Trek's whole idea about the future is ridiculously flawed and laughable. It always has been. That's what happens when a leftist creates a TV show.
HolographicAndrew - Sun, Jul 20, 2014 - 9:09pm (USA Central)
The debate that happened here about Trek's society is kind of funny. It's a fantasy, we don't have the details about how it works and trying to make it into a modern day political debate is absurd.

Anyway, whoa that's a harsh rating. Watching Voyager from the beginning I found this one quite good. It goes off the rails towards the end but I still found it pretty satisfying.
Yanks - Mon, Jul 21, 2014 - 7:41am (USA Central)
Wow... interesting comments here :-)

I guess I'll have to go and watch this one again. I don't remember it being as Jammer reviews.

@ Corey.

Let true Capitolism run. all those "problems" you list are caused by progressive governments "helping" and "protecting" everyone.

Gene's "utopia" was created when the US began it's "war of poverty". It's all liberal think tank crap that has no real application on real life. We (the US) has spent over 1 trillion dollars on this stupid war and the numbers reflect it has had no impact what-so-ever.
Elliott - Mon, Jul 21, 2014 - 7:50am (USA Central)
Yanks: I don't think we can be friends anymore--this isn't the Red State Blog. "Pure" capitalism is as fictional as pure anything. *Unregulated* capitalism is responsible for a gross majority of our current economic problems; inequality, lack of growth, crumbling infrastructure, and debt can pretty much all be traced to corporate interests trumping common good.

And Star Trek was created in the middle of the Cold War. Being a socialist could get you incarcerated fairly easy. Gene's was definitely not a vision which jelled with the Zeitgeist
Robert - Mon, Jul 21, 2014 - 8:12am (USA Central)
Although Star Trek tends to lean liberal, I cannot imagine how one can see the economy of Star Trek (Gene's Utopia) as representation of anything other than a post-scarcity economy. If a government still has poor people in a post scarcity economy it's an evil government.

Literally we're talking there is unlimited land (at least the amount of jackasses that get their own colonies across the stars would suggest that) and most goods can be replicated at the press of a button.
Elliott - Mon, Jul 21, 2014 - 8:15am (USA Central)
@Robert: agreed, hence why the Maquis are self-centred assholes
Dave in NC - Mon, Jul 21, 2014 - 11:30pm (USA Central)
It's been awhile since I've seen this episode, but I definitely can say that the actress who plays Libby's performance is so legendarily bad that among my Trekkie friends it's become a running joke. The way she plays her, it almost seems like Libby's a little . . . slow.

I'll have to rewatch it (not sure if that's a good thing or not haha), but they way I remember the episode playing out, Harry had way more chemistry with Tom than with his beard in San Francisco.
Katie - Mon, Jul 21, 2014 - 11:46pm (USA Central)
What is so fictional about capitalism? It is people consensually trading with one another. People give up things of what they perceive are lesser values for things they perceive are greater values. Is this really so strong? That is exactly what it is.

As for Corey and Elliot, capitalism isn't what we have right now. It's hardly unregulated and is nothing even close to what capitalism is. There is so much regulation, from both right and the left (even more from the right under Bush) that one could hardly call it capitalism. Every year, the state gets bigger and bigger. There's nothing capitalistic about what we have right now, so if you think capitalism is at fault, you're criticizing the wrong thing. This is not capitalism.
Elliott - Tue, Jul 22, 2014 - 12:43am (USA Central)
Katie, you just described barter not capitalism. Capitalism requires, well, capital. Something with assigned value rather than intrinsic value. When you don't sufficiently regulate this faith-based economic system, those with power manipulate the capital standards to benefit themselves. Capitalism is fine, but you have to dam the waters or you're liable to drown

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