Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Resistance"

***1/2

Air date: 11/27/1995
Teleplay by Lisa Klink
Story by Michael Jan Friedman & Kevin J. Ryan
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Vulcans are capable of suppressing certain levels of physical pain. Beyond that we must simply endure the experience." — Tuvok on torture

Nutshell: Very good. Standout drama with some exceptional performances.

"Resistance" is a prime example of what Star Trek is all about. Star Trek may be science fiction, but it always works better when dealing with human situations and character interaction. This is an episode that, with a few alterations, could have been written for any of the Trek series. It has nothing to do with being 70,000 light years away from home, or being lost where things are new and unfamiliar. It doesn't rely on worthless technical jargon or fancy special effects to get the job done. It just takes a few actors, gives them a decent story, drops them onto a few sets, and suddenly we have very good drama—one of the best episodes of the season.

Opening in mid-crisis with a compelling teaser, "Resistance" creates an immediate sense of urgency, as Janeway's away team beams down to negotiate with a resistance group on a backward planet. This shows Voyager in a crucial moment of need—if the crew cannot get a hold of a vital substance in the next few hours, the warp engines will never be able to be restarted. This is a fresh opening. It's been a long time since a Star Trek crew has been in such a serious situation that under-the-table negotiating becomes the only option.

In the middle of this trade, the hostile planetary ruling force, called the Mokra, busts the away team—Tuvok and Torres are arrested. Neelix manages to escape and return to the ship with the substance. Janeway is injured in the fight but rescued by a crazy old sympathizer named Caylem (Joel Grey), who thinks Janeway is his daughter.

The remainder of the episode deals with Janeway's attempts to rescue her arrested officers from the local Mokra prison, while Chakotay attempts to negotiate a truce with a stubborn Mokra official named Augris (Alan Scarfe). There are also some scenes inside Tuvok and Torres' prison cell as they wait to be interrogated by the Mokra officials.

Janeway's attempts are simultaneously eased and complicated by Caylem, who wants to help his "daughter" in her jailbreak mission. The plot takes a back seat to the very strong characterization between Janeway and Caylem. Joel Grey turns in a riveting performance as the eccentric but optimistic old man—definitely the best guest star the series has featured to date. Kate Mulgrew is also terrific, with perhaps her best performance yet. The two characters seem to be a fountain of effortless charisma.

Caylem also believes his wife has been incarcerated in the prison for years and wants to rescue her now that his "daughter" has come home. But Janeway is reluctant to take him along—he's quite a liability—but she decides it's the least she can do for him, considering how much help he has been to her.

The episode ends with some adventurous elements, as Janeway gets the chance to single-handedly go undercover to rescue her arrested crew members (something Picard could never do, because, if for no other reason, Riker would refuse to let him beam down). This is wonderfully handled by Winrich Kolbe, who plays the scene with precision that doesn't go over-the-top with excessive fisticuffs, but rather an even-handed approach, while demonstrating Janeway's ability to play a smart and determined heroine.

Similarly, the scenes featuring Tuvok and Torres are also quite good because they remain in the realm of plausibility. The idea of Tuvok screaming in pain during his torture is certainly reasonable enough, as is Torres' misconception of the Vulcan's inability to simply "tune out" the experience. The way both Tuvok and Torres remain in character is definitely in the show's favor—Torres is angry and looking for a fight, while Tuvok keeps a cool head while thinking of appropriate forms of retaliation. These scenes could have easily misfired—particularly during the jailbreak—but careful attention is taken to assure credible characterization takes precedence over the more obvious possibility of oversimplified vengeance.

The only excess in "Resistance" is the Voyager-in-jeopardy angle, which is mostly unnecessary. For that matter, Augris' visit to the ship seems a dramatic dead end in retrospect. But, fortunately, most of the Voyager's role in the plot is wisely not stressed.

What this episode is truly about is the small, two-person drama between Janeway and Caylem, which is a hands-down success. The ending, where Janeway allows Caylem to die believing he has accomplished his mission and saved his family, is a poignant moment. It highlights a character whose life has gone from one moment of suffering to the next, and, as a result, has created a fantasy to compensate for the loneliness. The ultimate tragedy is how the Mokra used Caylem's situation as an example for the rest of the people they oppress. Janeway's final words allow him the very least he deserves—to die with a certain amount of happiness and dignity.

Previous episode: Maneuvers
Next episode: Prototype

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17 comments on this review

Mal - Mon, Nov 2, 2009 - 12:28pm (USA Central)
Resistance is the best episode Voyager has had up to this point in the show. The last scene with Janeway and her dying "father" brought a tear to my eye.

A quick word on Alan Scarfe: that voice! one of the few bright spots in Babylon 5's The Lost Tales.

I could have done with a bit more play between Torres and Tuvok (maybe something along the lines of Ezri and Worf at the end of Season 7 of DS9, or even O'Brien and his imaginary friend in DS9's AMAZING Hard Time). I would have also loved to know a bit more about the world itself - as in TNG's The High Ground. This could have replaced the stupid Voyager scenes.

Still, a great hour of TV.
Jeffrey - Mon, Dec 14, 2009 - 5:45pm (USA Central)
While I enjoyed the feeling of danger in the teaser, I didn't care for the character of Caylem at all. I thought Joel Grey's performance was quite annoying. From the moment Caylem first appeared in the episode I immediately thought "Oh God, there going to keep this guy in the whole episode aren't they?" And indeed they did, much to my chagrin. In fact, (I admit this is rather petty on my part) I've only watched this episode once because I disliked Grey's performance so much.

But I will probably watch this episode again to give it a second chance.
Tamerlane - Mon, Oct 11, 2010 - 9:08pm (USA Central)
Finally: a deeply-moving episode of Voyager!

I loved the final scene between Janeway and Caylem - as the mother of a little girl myself, I really identified with Caylem's unwavering commitment to his 'daughter'. And Kate Mulgrew did a good job portraying grief, compassion, strength (and even love?) in an understated yet powerful way.

Does anyone else think Tuvok and Torres would make an unbeatable crime-fighting team?

My better half and I are watching Voyager for the first time (on DVD) - it seems like there's a hell of a lot of spatial anomalies or episodes that are either a bit meh or wtf. Please tell me there are more eps like "Resistance" and less (far less) than, say, "Elogium".

BTW: Jammer, congrats on getting hitched!
Destructor - Sat, Mar 19, 2011 - 1:11am (USA Central)
Disagree. Was boring the first time, and boring the second. Just an exercise in tedium from my perspective- nothing interesting or thought provoking.
Carbetarian - Tue, Apr 19, 2011 - 10:26pm (USA Central)
This was an odd episode for me, because I saw everything coming and still managed to really enjoy it. I stayed teary eyed through the entire last half of the show. I mostly credit the actors for this story's success. But, the writing this week was also very good (FOR A CHANGE!).

Compared to the mediocre crap Voyager usually puts out, this is easily a four star show for me. They needed to do more episodes like this one and less like the 37's, elogium, non sequitur, twitsted, cold fire... Ok, less episodes like the majority of season 2.
Brian - Tue, Jun 28, 2011 - 4:56pm (USA Central)
It's interesting to see this kind of situation when in the last series Janeway refused to go with an underground group to get technology they needed. While in this episode they were in danger of losing the warp engines surely being 70,000 light years from home is pretty serious too.

The show seemed to want to have a Janeway determined to stick to the principles of the federation except when the script required her to do otherwise.
Jay - Wed, May 30, 2012 - 11:48am (USA Central)
The contrivance can't be overcome...the one time Voyager has this problem that makes them never restart their engines again (!), this planet happens to be right here.
Paul - Tue, Oct 1, 2013 - 2:29pm (USA Central)
This is certainly a decent episode, but I wasn't particularly moved by the Janeway stuff. Mulgrew did a good job, but I didn't think the writing was all that interesting.
Caine - Sun, Oct 13, 2013 - 2:10pm (USA Central)
What wonderful performances by Mulgrew and the guest, Joel Grey. Played with real heart. Brought tears to my eyes at the end.

One thing that really annoyed me, though:
At the end, in the prison, guards and heroes get into a firefight. Joel Grey's character stabs the leader of the guards ... and then the guards just retreat, leaving our heroes completely alone? Um ... what? "Hey, the boss isn't here anymore ... to heck with this prison break, let's go get some burgers!"
Whut?!
Amanda - Mon, Feb 10, 2014 - 1:01am (USA Central)
Correct me if I am wrong, and this goes for any episode where they lose a comm badge, How the hell can Caylem and Janeway communicate without her universal handy dandy comm badge?

Aside from that the episode grew on me as it did for Janeway. Caylem seemed pesky at first but grew to sympathize and care.
SlackerInc - Thu, Feb 20, 2014 - 11:30pm (USA Central)
Good point about the language issue. I too wondered where the guards disappeared to; and it also bugs me that Janeway could pass for a member of the population despite having a different nose. It's already a little difficult to swallow the idea that other than The occasional exception like Neelix, everyone looks so much like humans with some minor facial difference. But then to say that even this facial difference is not noticeable to the local population is just too much.

My 10 year old daughter posed a good question: if the planetary force field was so sophisticated, how did the Voyager away team get down to the surface at the beginning?

Overall, I found this episode meh, overrated.
Corey - Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - 7:34am (USA Central)
This episode seems to have many fans, Jammer included, but I found it to be predictable, the characters wholly stereotypical. That said, I liked the way the episode reminded me of old Trek episodes, in which Kirk would typically beam down to a planet and singlehandedly kick butt.
MissOldSoul - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 - 3:10am (USA Central)
This episode is problematic to me for so many reasons, and yet I still thoroughly enjoyed the dramatic performances between Janeway/Caylem and Tuvok/Torres.

Aside from the oversights already mentioned in other comments above, my biggest peeve is the teaser intro itself. Voyager has been in tough situations before, but when has Janeway ever condoned putting the entire crew in jeopardy by means of a covert operation without first attempting diplomacy? It was odd to see Chakotay attempting to pursue diplomatic channels (not only because he did so very poorly but mostly because he's not the captain!). I think the writers took some liberties with Janeway's character in that sense. She's way too level-headed in every episode leading up to this for me to suddenly believe that she woke up one morning feeling daring enough to go on a dangerous away mission (in what seemed to be) completely out of the blue. A bit more backstory in the beginning would've helped this episode make sense. It seems almost like the storyline was slapped together in order to highlight the dramatic scenes right away rather than honor the detail that makes the entire Star Trek franchise so interesting. So in a nutshell: I was confused, then I was intrigued, then I was annoyed, then I was moved to tears. And now I'm just confused again. Wth just happened? lol
Ric - Thu, Mar 27, 2014 - 2:55am (USA Central)
Very good episode, indeed. I also thought it to be deeper than average so far, what was welcome. Acting was also pretty good. I sort of enjoyed the crazy man and how said his character is if you think of it. Also, the dialog after the torture session on Tuvok was powerful.

The only goofy things for me were the Darth Vaderish soldiers in black, and the fact that it seems now that many diferent species in the quadrant are characterized just by some diferente stuff in their noses. I don't know, maybe it just some Bajor fashion across the galaxy.
Dom - Mon, Jun 16, 2014 - 9:25pm (USA Central)
My problem with this episode is that it violates the Michael Pillar rule. For TNG, Pillar famously advised that shows should be about the main characters, not guest characters. The guest actor in resistance did a good job, but I feel like I didn't learn anything about the main characters. Janeway did a good job, but throughout the episode she was acting as Caylem's daughter, so it's not like we actually learned more about Janeway as a character. I did enjoy the Torres and Tuvok scenes, but wish there were more.
Fred - Sat, Aug 2, 2014 - 11:51pm (USA Central)
not to mention, an amazing musical score.
Vylora - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - 8:48am (USA Central)
One of the better executed episodes so far this season. No major turns in plot for the sake of itself; just good storytelling from beginning to end. The plight of the old man was touching and tragic. Unfortunately, in this viewers opinion, the episode was not as touching and tragic as it seemed to want to be. I can't put my finger on it, so I won't.

It is well done, though.

3 stars.

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