Star Trek: Voyager

"Prototype"

**1/2

Air date: 1/15/1996
Written by Nicholas Corea
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Don't make me laugh Starfleet ... and don't make me pull rank on you either." — B'Elanna to Harry

Nutshell: A plot-oriented episode with few unexpected turns. Inoffensively standard.

When the crew finds a mysterious robot drifting in space, Lt. Torres takes it upon herself to repair the damaged unit. It's a longshot, but her adept engineering skills are up to the challenge, and when she repairs the unit, it turns out to be more than just interesting technology, but a sentient artificial being.

The unit has a name—or, more appropriately, a designation. It's called 3947, and it's just one of an entire line of sentient robots produced by a now-extinct race known as the "Builders." The units do not have the programming to repair or replace their power units—only the Builders have that capability. Since B'Elanna can successfully repair power units, 3947 thinks she is a Builder. He asks her to build a new prototype unit which could be copied in the future without the assistance of a Builder. This way his robot race could revitalize their waning population and avert their imminent extinction.

B'Elanna is drawn into 3947's situation, so she asks Captain Janeway to approve the building of this prototype. Janeway can not approve this, though, because it would clearly be interfering in their culture. That's right—"Prototype" is another Trekkian take on the Prime Directive Issue. But that's just the first cliche—the second is the Nature of Life Argument.

It's a credit to the writers that, although these are both fairly jaded premises in the Star Trek universe, they can still keep things entertaining. Even if watching Torres and Janeway argue these issues is not all that compelling, it is a pleasure to see their points of view come to the surface. Janeway's Prime Directive argument here is much better suited to the premise than in the pedestrian "Time and Again," and much more polemical than the seemingly arbitrary (and relatively ambiguous) decision she made in "Caretaker." At the same time, this gives Torres her best vehicle since "Faces," revealing a sense of creation in her character that we haven't seen until now.

B'Elanna tells 3947 she can't build the prototype. 3947 finds this unacceptable. So when the Voyager meets 3947's ship to return its lost unit, he kidnaps B'Elanna and beams onto his ship—holding her under the condition of building the prototype model. If she refuses, the commander of the robots' ship will kill her and destroy Voyager.

"Prototype" is a marginal Voyager episode. The premise is so-so, with some above-average execution. But there are some general elements about the season that are beginning to show their exhaustion here. Take, for example, nearly the entire third act. This is where Janeway tries to negotiate with the alien ship for B'Elanna's return. Where the alien ship refuses. Where Janeway opens fire. Where the aliens return fire and cause the bridge set to smoke and explode and the camera to shake.

We get another scene like this:

Chakotay: "They're firing some kind of quantum resonance charges, Captain."
Tuvok: "Our aft shields are down to 53 percent and dropping."
Kim: "Rerouting power to aft shields."

[Ship rocks]
Tuvok: "Down to 24 percent."

How many iterations of this dialogue has the series supplied, concurrent with the bridge rocking, the lights dimmed, and the red alerts flashing? I can name six instances this season alone containing such scenes: (1) The protozan beating in "Elogium," (2) the unidentified alien attack in "Parturition," (3) another unidentified alien attack in "Persistence of Vision," (4) the severe atmospheric storm in "Tattoo," (5) the Kazon bombardment in "Maneuvers," and (6) the Mokra planetary defense strike in "Resistance." The similarity in these scenes is startling. Tuvok usually makes some status report, Kim usually confirms it, Janeway gives an order, the bridge shakes and some circuits explode. I, for one, am sick of these variations of act three. Voyager has so many pointless, unimaginative battles, and the creators don't come up with any spin to make them fresh. Instead they use the same cliches that give Star Trek its reputation for inept space combat. I'm game for something new.

Then there's Paris, who I'm beginning to think is the Official Commentary Person on the Exchange of Dialogue on the Viewscreen. How many times this season has Janeway or Chakotay talked to the aliens on the other ship, and then after its over Pairs remarks something like "They're a friendly sort"? Granted, this isn't exactly a crucial element of the show or the series, but it's something that pops up enough that I thought I'd mention it for some trivial food for thought.

There's also a lot of unnecessary technobabble in the early acts. B'Elanna spouts so much technical gobbligook in act one that it begins to sound like a joke. Perhaps some of it is. One sarcastic response the Doctor has ("That's exactly what I was going to say") somewhat lessens the annoyance of the non-stop jargon, but one thing Voyager has entirely too much of is technobabble. To the producers: Decrease it. Please.

But I digress. Despite these annoyances, the story works, even while being one of those connect-the-dots type of stories where you can all-too-easily follow the progress from one anticipated step to the next. These steps include the arrival of another ship piloted by rival robot units, B'Elanna's successful construction of the prototype, and the revelation that these two warring robot races actually killed their Builders. B'Elanna realizes that by building this prototype she would be allowing one side to create an army and overwhelm the other—exactly what the Builders wanted to prevent by inhibiting their abilities. This gives B'Elanna no option but to destroy her prototype, despite the consequences to her or the Voyager. Fortunately, right after B'Elanna destroys the prototype, Paris comes to her rescue with his hotshot shuttlecraft piloting skills, and while the two robot ships are fighting, Voyager slips away.

How does this episode overcome a mediocre premise and a number of cliches? I'm not sure. Probably because, aside from a few isolated moments, the directing and acting is on-the-money. The writing supplies some good character moments and some nice touches, too. Best is Chakotay's line to Paris, "I'd hate to lose another shuttle." (After all the shuttles Voyager has lost, it's good to see the writers finally acknowledge it. Those things don't grow on trees in the Delta Quadrant, after all.) And Paris' response "Your concern for my welfare is heartwarming," is a good touch, reminding us of the history these two guys have. They never really liked one another. I can't remember the last time we had any character interaction between these two, and this little exchange is fun. Now it's time for a story putting these two on some mission together.

Well, enough about "Prototype." It's okay, never mind some hackneyed ideas. It makes a likable B'Elanna Torres show.

Previous episode: Resistance
Next episode: Alliances

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49 comments on this review

Christopher Alexander
Thu, Feb 7, 2008, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
While it is a Star Trek tradition that internal security is very poor, I felt this episode was ridiculous. It was OBVIOUS that the robot posed a grave threat - the survival of its race was at stake - but the crew seems totally oblivious and allows it to kidnap Torres with ease. At least they could have assigned a couple token redshirts to guard it!
David Forrest
Sat, Mar 8, 2008, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
I just re-watched this episode and while it did have some cliches in it, I did enjoy. I would given it a 3 star rating. The technobabble was a bit much, but it was okay in the sense they were discussing robotics and therefore there were going to be some long technological names. The story moves at a swift pace and the direction under Frakes was teriffic. Frakes did comment that the costumes for the Robots was awful and that could have been a little more creative, but I did enjoy the episode. The conversations between Torres and Janeway were great and we started to get a sense that Torres now respects Janeway and sees her as her captain. Overall, I defintely enjoyed this episode to recommend it.
Anthony2816
Sun, Jun 29, 2008, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
You know, if the robot had told me that the builders were all dead, I think my first question would have been, "Oh? What happened to them?"

But that's just me.
Occuprice
Mon, Jul 7, 2008, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
I was bored to tears by this episode.

Reading the season 2 reviews, I realized that I was bored to tears with most of them. Not a good season.

Season 1 was the best season I think.
Mike
Tue, Sep 23, 2008, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
Totally agree with the 'internal security' comment. After the Kazon captured transporter technology in Maneuvers (all of 2 episodes ago), you'd think Voyager would stop all transports (or use of other ship technology) by non-crewmembers. Oh well.

Also, it appears that the writers were starting to realize that Voyager being the strongest ship in the Delta Quadrant was going to be bad for drama.

And Kes gets like 2 lines....so I give this episode 1/2 star for each Kes line.
Jay
Mon, Aug 3, 2009, 11:36am (UTC -5)
The "friendly sort" bit got old fast, and it was lame the first time.
navamske
Sun, Aug 8, 2010, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
Also a tiresome cliche:

CREW MEMBER: "There's an unauthorized transport in progress."
CAPTAIN: (after wasting a second looking shocked) "Block it!"
CREW MEMBER: "I can't!" or "It's too late!"

How about they add this to their copy of "Starfleet For Dummies": If there's an unauthorized transport in progress, block it!
Ken
Tue, Feb 8, 2011, 3:44am (UTC -5)
I thought the ship was supposed to be getting home? Why does the crew pick up stray piece of chunk in the galaxy on their way back for?

The premise of this episode just doesn't work. Tuvok was right - let the power drain and be on your way. Logic does in fact work.

I just don't understand what any of this has to do with getting home. B'Elanna talks about this challenge as if it's more important than getting back to the Alpha Quadrant.

I can understand investigating things that have a reasonable chance of getting them home, like in the episode "Cold Fire". But I have to draw the line when it comes to robotic beings, rusted iron, etc. Are there sensors even configured to detect this crap at warp 9.9? Absurd.

And then make it out to be a moral issue... and that's fine, but it doesn't work for this kind of series. We've had these kinds of episodes on TNG - a series built for that sort of thing.

For a crew that needs to get home, they certainly know how to waste their time.
Destructor
Sat, Mar 19, 2011, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
@Ken- it's also part of the premise of the show that they are also trying to explore the Quadrant as they go- and it seems clear they're not constantly going at maximum warp- they're always stopping to check stuff out.

Anyway, I like this episode, it's a bit 'stock', but as stock VOY episodes go, it's enjoyable.
Ken
Sun, Apr 10, 2011, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
That's very hypocritical of Janeway to say she must do everything possible to get her crew home... and at the same time... check out every nook and cranny in the galaxy.

There has to be some standard of which to judge their exploration. If that exploration will help them stay alive, get the ship to move faster, investigate wormholes... fine. Those things support the premise of getting home.

I submit that investigating iron in space does not do this.
Carbetarian
Thu, Apr 21, 2011, 10:32pm (UTC -5)
@Jammer I am so glad you brought up the Tom Paris bit! I was thinking the same thing while I was watching this episode. Tom said his "very polite, these automated units" line and I rolled my eyes so hard I think I might have sprained my eyeballs. This show take formulaic writing to the extreme.

You know, I watched Star Trek Enterprise in it's totality a few months ago and kept up with your reviews as I went along. You did a really funny (and very apt) review of "the xindi" where you went off on a tangent about Berman and Braga creating scripts using the F keys on their keyboard in the writers office for automatic script cues. I think you had pressing F12 as the "send Archer and Crewmate to jail" button. But, man, I feel like that scenario is even more plausible on Voyager.

F1 - the crew finds some random crap floating in space, stops to check it out.

F2 - Spatial anomaly, shields drop to 15% instantly

F3 - Hostile alien

F4 - Someone gets kidnaped

F5 - We found humans/an alpha quadrant alien! Again!

F6 - Tom Paris makes what some writer clearly thought was a witty remark

F7 - unauthorized transport

F8 - ten minute long space battle

F9 - something involving the *ugh* holodeck

F10 - pointless Neelix scene

You get the idea.

It bothers me so much how they never really show Voyager deal with all the beatings it takes. The ship loses it's shields, has hull breaches and generally takes a licking in almost every episode. And yet, in the next episode the ship is always fine. It doesn't even have a scratch on it! It's ridiculous.

I always know that whatever kind of thrashing the ship takes in a given episode won't ever really matter, because Voyager is a show that refuses to really think about consequences. It makes it very hard to care about all these fourth act space shoot outs.

@Ken I agree with you on this point. It always bothered me how Voyager seems to stop for every little thing. It's like going for a drive with my mom. When she's in a certain mood, she wants to stop for everything! If we pass near a neighborhood where someone she knows used to live, we have to go drive by. If we are near a place where someone she knows used to work, we are going to alter our course to go see how the place looks now. Suddenly what should have been an hour or two with mom has turned into an entire day. And that's fine, because I love my mom.

But, if we found ourselves suddenly stuck in, say, Mexico and discovered that we had to find a way to get my mom back to Detroit and she still wanted to stop at every little restaurant or bar she ever had a good memory at, that would be a different story. I would have to say "sorry, mom. But, I'm not stopping this car to see if that guy in Nuevo Laredo still sells those churros you like.", and that is pretty much how I would feel about Janeway stopping for every little particle of rust on the way back to the alpha quadrant if I were on her crew too.

Ok, about this specific episode, did anyone else think the robot kind of looked like Lal from TNG painted silver? That's some pretty disappointing costuming. Still, the story moved well and I always enjoy Be'lanna. I agree with Jammer on this one. It was definitely inoffensively standard.

Two stars from me.
Fido
Wed, Aug 3, 2011, 9:48am (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode. I consider it one of my favourites. It was really creepy at times.
Matthias
Wed, Aug 17, 2011, 8:05am (UTC -5)
Ohoho Data is totally to blame for Torres and Janeway trusting creepy sentient robots.

I don't feel enough attention was paid to the fact that unlike your standard should-we-cure-the-virus-or-not prime directive ethical dilemma ROBOTS DON'T DIE and giving them the ability to procreate at will means they can expand their numbers exponentially until the galaxy runs out of metal ore.

Angular
Wed, Oct 19, 2011, 4:58am (UTC -5)
This episode was so-so. The roboter ideas didn't really look fresh for me, but then it hasn't been done in Star Trek I guess, at least not too often.

The technobabble in Voyager was annoying not only because it was too much, but also because it is often inconsistent and seemingly made up on the fly. The writers were doing a really bad job in that regard.

Space battles become really annoying after a while. No matter how technologically evolved the alien space ships are, Voyager will always be in mortal danger but it also has a fighting chance every time. Voyager is as powerful as the story needs it to be. Instead, the writers could have tried to adapt the story to Voyager's power more often.
Justin
Tue, Mar 13, 2012, 12:09am (UTC -5)
By-the-numbers sci-fi story + By-the-numbers Trek writing = mediocre episode. BUT add great acting and direction and it becomes a fun hour of television. I like this one.
duhknees
Mon, Jun 11, 2012, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
This blog site has really influenced my Trek viewpoint. When they were first out, I hated (HATED) DS9 and its space cowtown premise, where every few days some local rowdies had to be rounded up and dealt with. I also hated Sisko and his "I'm having an anxiety attack" method of acting. But now I can appreciate its arc and character growth as superior to the Reset Button mentality of TNG and Voyager. Think of how great Voyager could have been if, instead of examining every nook and cranny of the Delta quadrant, in a paler version of TNG, we showed a ship growing progressively beaten down, held together with chewing gum and baling wire, where the focus was always on getting a few miles closer to home. The prime directive would have to be somewhat battered, and morality would take a back seat to forward momentum. Characters would grow more irascible, less Star Fleety, and there'd be a lot more pairing off. But it could have been a great series.
DG
Sat, Dec 15, 2012, 7:16am (UTC -5)
@ duhknees

I couldn't agree more.

While I still really hate Sisko (To the point where, when I ran an RP in DS9 universe, Sisko was the first one to get... removed...), the *rest* of the universe is awesome!


On this: "Oh god what have I done?" WTF? Srsly?! wow...
Sintek
Sat, May 18, 2013, 3:39am (UTC -5)
I'm convinced Weyland-Yutani was one of the founders of Starfleet. Why else do they never learn that studying obviously malicious aliens and technology should be done before you reactivate them on your ship?
charlie
Tue, May 21, 2013, 5:40am (UTC -5)
Janeway: "Unfortunately extinction is often the natural end of evolution."

Four words: WHAT THE FUCK, BITCH???
lucy
Tue, May 21, 2013, 5:49am (UTC -5)
@duhknees
"the Reset Button mentality of TNG"

Examples, please
Nathaniel
Wed, May 22, 2013, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
@Charlie

In response, she says: "Two words. Dear Doctor."
charlie
Wed, May 29, 2013, 6:35am (UTC -5)
@Nathaniel

Is that supposed to be some kind of defense to what Janeway said?
Nathaniel
Sat, Jun 1, 2013, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
@Charlie
No. Just pointing out that that her version of the Prime Directive is shamefully consistent with later Star Trek productions.
ian
Thu, Aug 1, 2013, 12:48am (UTC -5)
The first unit was the voice of Dr. Theopolis from Buck Rogers by the way...
inline79
Fri, Oct 11, 2013, 7:39pm (UTC -5)
As an engineer, I could relate to B'elanna's drive to repair and create - it's a wonderful feeling when things are brought back to "life". But as an engineer I also watch lots of robot-apocalypse movies so I saw through this plot from minute one. Being the Chief engineer of a starship she should have known better and designed in some clever after-warranty destructor timer like Samsung engineers do today.
Chris
Mon, Oct 14, 2013, 3:24am (UTC -5)
@charlie
"Janeway: "Unfortunately extinction is often the natural end of evolution."
Four words: WHAT THE FUCK, BITCH???"

As harsh as it sounds, she's right... species that don't adapt to their environment and such and thus evolve, more than likely will go extinct...

Natural Selection...

However, in the case of these robots, I'm not sure... but in a biological organism, it's true.
Jons
Tue, Nov 19, 2013, 8:53am (UTC -5)
That's two episodes I didn't watch in their entirety because the premise bored me to death.

This one, I want to slap B'Ellana, or more precisely slap the actress and her ridiculous over-acting. The way she's almost crying for the robot at the beginning, you'd think it's her husband!

Ridiculous. I love Voyager, I hope it's going to get better again...
K'Elvis
Sun, Mar 2, 2014, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
Another solution would be to give the prototype robot new programming. 3947 seemed open to possibilities that the other robots were not. Create programming that is of a more peaceful nature, and hardwire it into the power source. Then, give it to both sides. Of course, there wasn't time for that.

But the robots should have enough information to get a head start, if they have been monitoring what Torres was doing.
Liam
Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 11:21am (UTC -5)
I'm a little confused by this episode. Aren't the robots passed warp technology? If so how is it interferring with their natural evolution.

1) Preventing a volcano from exploding and destroying developing civilzation violates the prime directive.

2)If the civilization has the technology to ask the federation for help it can they save them no violation of Prime Directive.

Janeway here I think needed to ask the question is this species Warp capable? If so then help them. The vulcans did for humans.
Ric
Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 3:33am (UTC -5)
Ha, pretty comendable premise. But in fact so many flaws that it gets on the nerves. One of them is precisely the inconsistente way they have used the Prime Directive in na episode heavily based on it. Like: "Torres my darling, we cannot interfere saving their lifes. Oh yes, but we have brought one of them to life like gods, and with my authorization! Holy crap!".

Another is pointed by Liam just above: ha, these robots migth have warp tech. What would be helpful as hell and also let officers much more free without stepping on the Prime Directive. But did someone thought of learning if they had before making decisions? Nope, who the hell needs warp, right?

Still, there was something powerfull in the oldschool way the look of these robots. And paradoxically, something juicy in the "lesson" Torres learns about why the heck there is a Prime Directive. This was quite interesting and a relief, considering how DS9 for instance seems to exist in a parallel world where there is no Prime Directive at all...


Finally, talking about DS9 and Voyager comparison, I have to congratulate the comment made by @duhknees. Well done! Although I still didn't watch Voyager to the end and although I still think DS9 got really bad from the end of season 5, Voyager totally had the potential do use a "shades of grey" tone, a darker tone, much better than DS9. Voyager would have been an ideal instalment to explore trully interesting dubious moralities that emerge when the crew becomes isolated for too long. When they have to fight and help others in a hopeless scenario. When they loose (btw they should loose sometimes) crew members all the time they find planets offering good live conditions. Officers like Sisko go crazy in DS9 (even becoming religious from the nowhere), start doing all sort of things that would be reason enough for going to prison (like destroying entire planets). And the lazy excuse is alway the high pressure they were under because of being in the eye of the confront. What means: by expieriencing what they were there in the station for... While Voyager had the true potential for a great Trek show powered by real moral ambiguity without having to completely disrespect usual Starfleet and Federation portrayal as DS9 did in the end. While in DS9 some viewers even seem "human condition" talking louder - what btw is philophically silli and the ultimate disrespect to Trek as it is in any other show - in Voyager, shades of grey cast by a real continuity could deliver the debate on how people individually sustein their values when they stay too far and for too long from the social environment where their ethics were forged.

Of course, I digress, because it was not what happened to Voyager. Unfortunatelly. Voyager missed a very good oportunity, and the fact the comendable premise of this episode in what regards Torres dealing with respecting the Prime Directive againm, ends up not having real significance in the next episodes. Sad.
Vylora
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 9:00am (UTC -5)
Pretty decent Torres stuff. Otherwise, it is typical filler that is watchable enough with a few nicely conveyed character moments and some by-the-numbers plotting.

2.5 stars.
Charles
Wed, Oct 8, 2014, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
Apart from the unsufferable character that is Belanna, I actually enjoyed this episode, and it is one I have remembered many years after I first saw it.

I thought the premise was very "old-star trek". But at least there was an attempt at creating new aliens, with an interesting backstory, and I thought it worked. I'd give it 3.5 stars.
Skeptical
Sat, Dec 6, 2014, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
I'm with Charles here; I wonder if the idea was specifically to mimic the era of the original series. I mean, the idea of robots who killed their inventors, only to continue on the war their inventors started is about as 50s or 60s style sci-fi cliche as you can get. Same with the look of the robots. I know a lot of people complain about it, but, well, it kinda fits the theme. Like I said, this has a very retro feel to it.

So it's a Torres episode, and how did it work? I'd say it did ok, but nothing spectacular. The first part of the episode, with her obsessing over the robot, came out of nowhere. Does she get this emotional about every new piece of technology? She was practically bawling over the dumb thing. Scientific curiosity I can see, but this seemed over the top. After that, however, things started to fall in place for her. Her initial willingness to try to create the prototype goes along is reasonable enough, and her sense of betrayal by her kidnapping is believable as well.

The best Torres scenes were while she was working on the prototype. It was pretty believable that she would lose herself in her work, and so the scenes where she was practically cheering over the work that she was being forced to do against her will actually worked despite being a bit disturbing. Given that the show was doing everything possible to declare that building the prototype was the "wrong" course of action, we had the hero of the show desperately trying to finish it. And when she completes her task, she's completely happy about it, despite the fact that she was forced to do it in the first place.

Which, of course, makes her "what have I done?" moment work as well. Like I said, it's believable that Torres would have ended up so wrapped up in the task, so single-minded in her pursuit of a technical problem that she would forget the ethical ramifications. And the sense of accomplishment at finishing such a task momentarily overrode her common sense. I mean, yeah, the matter-of-fact way the robot explained how they killed their inventors was a bit cheesy, but like I said, this whole episode felt old fashioned.

And so you feel a bit sorry for Torres, and for the prototype. It's not the prototype's fault that this perpetual war is ongoing, and yet Torres killed him anyway. Is this a case of murdering an innocent "for the greater good"? Does the episode consider such a dangerous ethical ramification? Of course not, that would be too meaty. But I did like the way that scene was portrayed. The prototype's innocent repetition asking for input worked to solidify the fact that, well, none of this was his fault. And the tension of the scene, with a battle going on and the robot's calm demeanor in explaining everything and the fact that Voyager was going to simply grab Torres and bug out (explicitly leaving behind the mess they helped create) meant that Torres really didn't have time to decide the best course of action. So she kills her own creation. Because that's all she could do to stop a perpetual war.

That could have been heavy material. But it's still decent material, at least. If only the first half of the episode was as good as the second half.
eddie
Fri, Feb 13, 2015, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
The problem with Voyager is that no one stops to think things over. Janeway took all of five seconds to decided that she wasn't going to allow helping the robots reproduce and that's that. She had good reasons... there was a lot they didn't know. But how about stopping for five minutes and asking the robots some questions (i know that ruins the SURPRISE that they killed their masters and were still at war but who didn't see that coming...)

Someone above mentioned that their first question after learning The Builders were dead would have been "what happened to them?" Even though the answer is pretty obvious in tv land, one could also see a scenario where The Builders died from war attrition and depletion of their resources. The next question should have been about what the robots had done since The Builders died. Maybe you find out they are fighting a never ending war with the other robots. Maybe you ask the robots what they expect would become of them if Voyager helps them reproduce and they win their war against their enemy... suddenly, the robots realize how empty their existence would be without their enemy. Without Builders to give them a new purpose what would be the logic in continuing to exist. Now you trade the tech to help the robots to reproduce and offer to become their New Buiders. stick around, help them destroy their enemy so that when they are done, you can step in and give them purpose... YOUR NEW ENEMY IS WHOEVER WE SAY IT IS. Now Janeway has an armada of ships crewed by killer robots to escort her all the way to the alpha quadrant. When you get to the alpha quadrant you offer them a some planets in the federation... they don't need M class atmospheres. Sure... there's some ethical and prime directive issues here. But it's Janeway. She's done far worse for less. Hell Janeway could have shown up in the final season of DS9 and have her killer robots wipe out the Breen, Dominion and more importantly Cardassians, thus the Maquis crew achieves vengeance against their enemy.
DLPB
Sun, Feb 15, 2015, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
Hell Janeway could have shown up in the final season of DS9 and have her killer robots wipe out the Breen, Dominion and more importantly Cardassians, thus the Maquis crew achieves vengeance against their enemy.

----------

HAHAHAHAHAHA! I love it! That definitely should have happened, what a missed opportunity!!!
Hal Berstram
Tue, Feb 24, 2015, 5:15pm (UTC -5)
If you can get past the ludicrous conceit that the Voyager crew would try to resuscitate an artificial life form they know absolutely *zilcho* about (Tuvok's "this is a security risk - understatement of the century!) then this was actually a good episode - maybe 3 stars. The robots looked reassuringly "Buck Rogers" - I kept expecting that little guy who went "biddledediddledediddlededeee" to pop his head round the door (Tweaky, was it?) one thing this episode proves is that the writers of "Nemesis" never watched Voyager. Mr Data is alive and well several decades after TNG in this timeline...
Yanks
Mon, Aug 3, 2015, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
HAHA... I think the builders should have read Isaac Asimov's Three Rules of Robotics :-) They just might still be around. Thought the same thing watching Ex-machine.

I really enjoyed this episode. I thought B'Eleanna waited a little long to agree to build the prototype. Voyager was taking one hell of a beating while she was blabbing with 3947.

I also really enjoyed 3947's voice and verbal expression. I never in a million years would have guessed that it was Rick Worthy. - Bravo!

Interesting dilemma. I'm not really sure the prime directive applies here as Janeway insists, hell - Data (mentioned in this episode) isn't even recognized as being sentient - so how does the prime directive apply here? Both her and B'Elanna where both talking of robots as life-forms, not sure that's Starfleet's viewpoint.

I don't know that the costume was so bad... the "blah" nature kind of it added to it's uniqueness and diverted more attention to the face; which added to the episode I think.

Very interesting reveal at the end. That really added to this episode.

3.5 stars from me. I just watched this last night and enjoyed it as much as the first time I saw it.
fhatthewuck
Fri, Oct 9, 2015, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
"Trekkian take on the Prime Directive"
Hurr yase, that was a very Star Warsian take on the Force
Diamond Dave
Mon, Jan 11, 2016, 6:10am (UTC -5)
Fresh take on a fairly standard killer robot premise. From the inventive opening - one of the best yet in my watch through - to a nicely twist laden plot to some good action scenes this was a thoroughly enjoyable hour. Throw in some watchable performances and a slightly retro feel and we have a winner. "Cross your fingers" indeed. 3.5 stars.
Justus
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
The last thing Torres did before the prototype came on-line was adjust its flux capacitence. Too bad the technobable was about robotics instead of time travel :P
JC
Thu, Mar 17, 2016, 9:22am (UTC -5)
I can't really figure out why Torres is so obsessed with the robot.

Also, Janeway *really* needs to be more on top of those quick transporter overrides. I think that's twice now that she could've saved Voyager a hell of a lot of trouble. (And really, shouldn't that be Tuvoks job anyways? Guess they never looked over those security protocol reports he was supposed to put together in the last espisode.)

JC
Thu, Mar 17, 2016, 9:53am (UTC -5)
Frakes seems to have a knack for breathing life into even the most mundane of stories.
Yanks
Thu, Mar 17, 2016, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
JC,

Agree WRT Frakes. "One Take Frakes" does an awesome job in the director's chair.

Skywalker
Mon, Jun 27, 2016, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
Heh, a lot of the annoying stuff Jammer notes about the episode — the excessive technobabble, the idiotic refrains of the same bridge battle scenes — this stuff didn't bother me as a kid. And I was wondering why the little kid version of me didn't mind.

Then I remembered: that's exactly the kind of stuff I made up when I played and used my imagination as a little kid and pretended I was a starship captain or whatever. If you have seen the Pixar movie Up, you'll remember that little Carl in the beginning plays with his toy airship in the exact same way.

So basically, my conclusion is that the VOY writers have the creative skills of preadolescents.
George Monet
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 12:59am (UTC -5)
""Janeway: "Unfortunately extinction is often the natural end of evolution."
Four words: WHAT THE FUCK, BITCH???"

As harsh as it sounds, she's right... species that don't adapt to their environment and such and thus evolve, more than likely will go extinct...

Natural Selection...

However, in the case of these robots, I'm not sure... but in a biological organism, it's true."

Extinction is more often the result of external influences which alter the environment to something outside of the environment that the creature has adapted to. Thus extinction is the opposite of the natural end of evolution. Evolution has no natural end unless it ends in the ascension of a sentient species to a new type of existence. But extinction is never natural.

I gave up on this episode as soon as Tuvok proposed a great idea and then Janeway decided to be an idiot. I threw in the towel when Belana said, "but where do I get my hands on a polymer plasma composed of elements I didn't even know existed 24 hours ago." This is impossible. It is completely impossible for there to be elements that anyone is Starfleet does not know about. Furthermore, why can't they cool off some of the plasma, replicate the polymers (polymers can't exist as a highly energetic plasma as the molecules would break apart) and then heat the polymers up until they had a plasma again? This series had some of the worst technobabble ever. At least "iso" is used consistently as a derogatory word rather than taking its scientific meaning.
Peter G.
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 2:02am (UTC -5)
"I threw in the towel when Belana said, "but where do I get my hands on a polymer plasma composed of elements I didn't even know existed 24 hours ago." This is impossible. It is completely impossible for there to be elements that anyone is Starfleet does not know about."

Why is that? New synthetic elements are being created/discovered all the time, some of which can only exist for a fraction of a second. Maybe there are some really advanced stable ones, who knows. It's not impossible. The odds that such heavy elements would be naturally occurring would seem to us to be astronomically low, but impossible goes too far since we know about zip about physics compared with what we don't know.
George Monet
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
"Why is that? New synthetic elements are being created/discovered all the time, some of which can only exist for a fraction of a second. Maybe there are some really advanced stable ones, who knows. It's not impossible. The odds that such heavy elements would be naturally occurring would seem to us to be astronomically low, but impossible goes too far since we know about zip about physics compared with what we don't know."

Yes, new synthetic elements to us in the 21st century. Voyager takes place in the 24th century. We in the 21st are only scratching the surface having just gained the ability to smash nuclei together fairly recently. Voyager takes place several hundred years in the future inside a galaxy with hundreds of different species on thousands of different planets, all doing AI assisted scientific research. That is why it is impossible. Plus, even if we don't have a sample of a new element, we can still postulate as to the element's properties. In several hundred years we will not only be able to postulate but to know with a fairly high degree of certainty what the properties of only hypothetical elements will be. That is why it is impossible for Belana to see a polymer created using elements she has never heard of. Because by that point in time, there won't be any elements left that those in Starfleet don't know of either because all of the plausible elements will have been synthesized or hypothesized. The Federation even knows about the existence of the Omega atom, something that the builders of these robots probably did not know about since they did not use Omega as an energy source. This means that in terms of scientific achievement in materials science, Starfleet has outpaced the Builders so it is really impossible for the robots to use elements that Starfleet doesn't know about.

Considering that the technology of the robots wasn't even that sophisticated, it is also impossible that the Builders were more technologically advanced to such a degree.

But all that aside, this episode just didn't work because these were robots, not people. They were built by people to perform a task so they aren't a new species. They are just computers running code written by an actual living species, nothing more. So every time the robots or Belana complained about the robots dying out, all I could say to the tv was "So what!?" These are robots, not people. They weren't even sentient robots considering the fact that all of their actions were explicitly stated to be directed solely by the programming they received from the Builders. If anything, Voyager should have hastened the destruction of all these defective machines in order to protect the actual people in the area.
Peter G.
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 10:04pm (UTC -5)
"Voyager takes place several hundred years in the future inside a galaxy with hundreds of different species on thousands of different planets, all doing AI assisted scientific research. That is why it is impossible. Plus, even if we don't have a sample of a new element, we can still postulate as to the element's properties. In several hundred years we will not only be able to postulate but to know with a fairly high degree of certainty what the properties of only hypothetical elements will be. That is why it is impossible for Belana to see a polymer created using elements she has never heard of."

Yes - but. You are thinking of regular elements that consist of stacking together more protons, neutrons and electrons. Sure, maybe in 300 years we could conclusively assess all the possibilities there. But what about stacking together other particles into coherent elements? What about other types of space, like subspace? Apparently subspace has its own set of principles, and even has resident beings who live there. Does 24th century starfleet really know much about subspace at all, or what sorts of particles can exist there? They didn't even know warp drive damaged it, so we can imagine they've barely scratched the surface of understanding that, which in turn (since we assume subspace is a substrate of regular space) means understanding of space itself, being interrelation with subspace, is also incomplete. And then we get into other weirdo 'dimensions', like fluidic space and who knows what else. B'elanna never said what kind of element it was or where it might have come from. Maybe this species pilfered it from some extra-dimensional or advanced race that had access to it. My point is - who knows. I'm totally on your side to nitpick stupidities that take the place of actual plotting, but of all the nitpicks in the series to go after this one seems to me a little narrow.

"But all that aside, this episode just didn't work because these were robots, not people."

Yep, I'm with you on your general objection, the above nitpick-pick aside.
mephyve
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 4:57am (UTC -5)
This felt like a Dr. Who episode to me. The robots reminded me of the Daleks (***)

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