Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Resolutions"

**

Air date: 5/13/1996
Written by Jeri Taylor
Directed by Alexander Singer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"We have to talk about this ... I think we need to define some parameters about us." — Janeway to Chakotay

Nutshell: A few good moments, but mostly a contrived premise that becomes a wasted opportunity with the blatant pressing of the Reset Button.

While scouting a planet for resources, an insect bite infects Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay with a virus for which Doc cannot find a cure. Somehow, by staying on the planet, they are protected from the virus' deadly effects. But leaving the planet would mean certain death and on-ship stasis could risk infection of the rest of the crew, so after weeks of searching for a cure without success, Janeway puts Tuvok in command of the ship and orders him to leave orbit and continue Voyager's journey to the Alpha Quadrant without them.

After Voyager beams down the necessary supplies for Janeway and Chakotay to build adequate shelter and the equipment to research their condition, Voyager heads on its way.

But, of course, not before Janeway makes a "poignant" good-bye speech to her crew. Sure, the speech is a decent concoction of cliches, but come on—do you really believe that this is it? That Janeway and Chakotay are going to have to live out their days on this planet that they name "New Earth"? As the trailers say, "Hold your breath for an entire hour for Janeway's farewell." Yeah, right. Funny how the previews don't even mention Chakotay's "farewell." (He doesn't even get to deliver a good-bye speech for the crew, which is too bad; it might have been interesting to hear a speech aimed at Voyager's Maquis population.)

Forgive my speech-bashing—I'm in a kind of cynical-sarcastic mood. But my mood has little to do with why "Resolutions" doesn't work as a show. The problem here is that this is yet another frustrating Voyager example of Reset Button Plotting: a show that wanders for an hour to a conclusion that means virtually nothing in terms of story or characters.

And the thing that's so disappointing is that this episode has every opportunity to do some effective character analysis and development, but it almost always refuses to take advantage of them. Consider the premise—it's a decent starting point (much better than, say, "Tuvix"). The idea of two characters forced to live alone and change their lives to fit their new situation is potentially compelling (although I thought the explanation of why they couldn't return to Voyager was quite weak. It's awfully convenient that the planet "protects them somehow" from all effects of this "incurable" disease. Also, why in the world would the ship's two highest-ranking officers both beam down and put themselves in such a position? It seems pretty silly to me. The set-up serves its purpose, but it could've been done better.)

But what does the episode do with its premise? Not nearly enough. There is entirely too much focus on scenes which, for lack of meaning, seem to be filler material, and there's not nearly enough focus on relevant characterization.

One big example: What in the world is the significance of the primate that Janeway keeps encountering in the forest? As far as I can tell, there is none. She sees it, tries to beckon it over to her, and then sighs when it runs back into the trees. Every scene involving this creature is utterly pointless. Maybe it could be helpful in finding a cure to the disease, Janeway says. After all, it has to deal with bug bites too. Well, I say, it's not leaving the planet is it? So it's probably just as safe as you are. (Janeway's reasoning here ranks alongside the 2D ring that "surrounded" Voyager in three-space in "Twisted," and the only-one-child-for-Ocampa-women notion in "Elogium.") In any case, the whole thread is a complete dramatic dead-end.

Then there's the Violent Plasma Storm Scene. Again, here's more filler that boldly goes nowhere. It seems more like an excuse for some green lightning effects and camera shaking. I guess one could argue (and I'm reaching here) that this conveys the sense that Janeway and Chakotay have to learn their new environment, but I'm not about to say that I found such an angle the least bit interesting.

And throughout the show, which spans at the very least six weeks, Janeway spends the majority of every day searching for a cure and denying that the possibility exists that a deus ex machina will, in fact, not save the day (even though we all know it will). What does she hope to achieve? Does she think she will actually find a cure even though Doc couldn't with better technology? And if she does, then what? As Paris said, it would take them about 700 years to get home in their shuttle. Would they find a neighboring society to help them? Could they contact Voyager? The episode doesn't care, simply because it knows the plot won't be going in that direction.

Chakotay's philosophy seems much more rational given the circumstances. He wants to build a home—accept that the disease is not curable and move on. And that's the one interesting question "Resolutions" brings up—the subject of moving on, and the nature of the relationship which will form between Janeway and Chakotay in their isolated society of two. After weeks of denial, Janeway realizes that they have to discuss the personal effects of their situation, and where the future will take them. Janeway's line, "I think we need to define some parameters about us," was one of the episode's few genuinely interesting moments, and Chakotay's response, "I'm not sure if I can define parameters, but I can tell you an ancient story," rang very true. Subsequently, Chakotay's "ancient story" was terrific—a standout in the episode. It was moving and personal—something we don't get to see much from the character, and Robert Beltran shined.

Unfortunately, the writers settle for a compromise with the ambiguity of showing Janeway and Chakotay holding hands and then fading to a commercial break, leaving much to the imagination in terms of subsequent discussion or otherwise. As ambiguous as this scene is, the matter does not feel closed or complete. The only idea conveyed here is that the series has a knack for raising intelligent, interesting questions, but that it can't effectively deal with them.

The B-story centers around Voyager's troubles adjusting to life without its captain and first officer. One option arises—contacting the Vidiians and asking for medical assistance in treating the disease. But given the destruction of one of their ships in "Deadlock," Tuvok doesn't think this would be prudent and abruptly closes the case. This leads to a conflict between Tuvok and Ensign Kim, who thinks they should at least try to contact the Vidiians through Dinara Pel, the Vidiian who Doc treated in "Lifesigns."

It's nice to see Kim actually do something for a change, and I appreciated that he actually fell into conflict with another character for probably the first time in the run of the series. Still, Tuvok's actions feel a tad overstated—he turns on a dime from an adamant "no" to "well, okay" after a two-minute discussion with Kes. And while it's also ironic that Tuvok's logical assertion of the situation turns out to be correct—that the Vidiians do indeed set a trap for Voyager after agreeing to help them—it allows for yet another routine, boring battle confrontation where Voyager is able to get the Vidiians' vaccination and escape overwhelming odds with the use of a convenient antimatter container that Torres improvises on cue.

This all amounts to very little. The filler is wearisome. The dialogue is mostly routine. The discovery of a cure is a foregone conclusion, as is Voyager's return to retrieve the captain and commander. So all the episode comes down to is characterization, but the creators botch it because they so carefully tiptoe around the interesting subjects for fear of having to actually deal with them later. The final closing in which Janeway and Chakotay are back on their bridge is completely unrevealing of anything except a return to the status quo. The biggest consequence seems to be that Voyager lost a couple months of travel time.

Push that reset button.

Previous episode: Tuvix
Next episode: Basics, Part I

Season Index

23 comments on this review

Chris Langert - Wed, Oct 17, 2007 - 9:27pm (USA Central)
"So all the episode comes down to is characterization, but the creators botch it because they so carefully tiptoe around the interesting subjects for fear of having to actually deal with them later."

B-I-N-G-O and Bingo was his name-o!!!

VOY pulls that crap like no other trek series did, not even ENT. (ENT's speciality was in destroying continuity.) No trek series was immune from it, but DS9 was more immune than all others by many light years.

Anyway, when it comes to tiptoeing and then ignoring and resetting, this ep of VOY may be just about the worst ever (though "Human Error" gives it a run for its money). The greatest offense though, is in *how much* potential was lost. It would have been absolutely grand to see a Janeway-Chakotay romance develop (and in "Human Error" and "Endgame" Seven could have been with Harry instead of Chakotay, and much more believably). Oh well, at least it wasn't utterly godawful, and I can certainly imagine lots of ways it could have been. Not a total waste of time, but god, what it *could* have been...
AJ Koravkrian - Wed, Nov 7, 2007 - 3:06pm (USA Central)
You are right. The story that Chakotay makes up is terrific...and when Janeway and Chakotay hear about the cure that Tuvok is bringing, we even see regret on their faces. It seems almost like a crime to create something so beautiful and then press the reset button! They keep hinting about possible J/C throughout the series only to spring that Seven/Chakotay crap on us. I mean where the hell did THAT come from ??

I can see their fears of this turning into a soap opera if they follow through with this romance, but that just shows their own limitation as writers. Very disappointing.
Tim - Mon, May 5, 2008 - 11:20pm (USA Central)
See I loved this episode. Because, to me at least, it was obvious that Chakotay and Janeway were really starting to have feelings for each other. And on the planet, that would have been okay. But back on Voyager, where she was the Captain and he was the first officer, it would have been totally inappropriate. So they had no choice but to bury the whole thing. Which made it kind of sad.
grumpy_otter - Wed, Jul 2, 2008 - 4:36pm (USA Central)
I agree with most of Jammer's review and the comments. This episode got its two stars solely because of Beltran's "Warrior" speech. If a man had said that to me, I would have been on the floor in about two seconds. The rest, eh.

I just wanted to add that Seven should have ended up with the Doctor. My only consolation about the Seven-Chakotay crap is that it was in an alternate future, so didn't happen (didn't didn't didn't!!!).

impronen - Mon, Jul 28, 2008 - 4:21pm (USA Central)
Definatly a weak episode. The monkey was the thing that did it for me. Complete waste of time. And I actually found the story about warriors utterly boring. I fail to see the purpose of it and it seems not to have any real effect on things. Kim standing up against Tuvok is the only thing that makes it worthwhile but otherwise, just crap.
Mike - Thu, Oct 16, 2008 - 6:51pm (USA Central)
Wow, I'm surprised at all the hate for this episode, which I enjoyed a lot.

1) AJ is right - Chakotay and (especially) Janeway are half-regretting having to leave the planet at the end. This is really interesting for Janeway in particular, as she has always been the most adamant about returning home. But when the crew is out of the equation, she half wants to stay and start a life with Chakotay. We learn something about Janeway that is apart from her usual Captain role, and that is almost unique in the series. Once she's no longer a Captain (and she's out of the uniform and in those atrocious dresses), she really changes personality in a very interesting way.

2) While the "Reset Button" issue is a problem in Voyager, I don't think you should blame "Resolutions" for that. This episode breaks real ground in exploring Chakotay's feelings for Janeway. It's always been a bit unclear why C accepts Janeway's leadership, and the Starfleet way, so quickly. Here with his Warrior story, he makes it clear that he is madly in love with Janeway, and is willing for that love to be unrequited. That is serious character development action. It's not the fault of "Resolutions" that the C/J relationship barely gets explored later on, and C himself becomes a minor character in season 4 onward.

3) Ok, the monkey is cheesy. But it's apparent at the end that the monkey represents the lost possibilities of living alone with Chakotay. I agree that this isn't the best metaphor ever, but it's not completely random.

4) The Tuvok vs. the Crew narrative is also fairly interesting, although it's true that it's been covered before. ST likes to make it clear that Vulcans shouldn't be Captains, and once again Tuvok shows why. It's also interesting that Kes is the one who changes his mind - one wonders if this implies his feelings for her which have as yet gone unexpressed. Unfortunately this also gets lost in later seasons; obviously Kes is gone is season 4, but it's not really present in season 3 either.

To sum (sorry this is long) - I'm fine if you dislike the episode, but it's not a Reset Button example. It's not as if the ship was 2/3 destroyed, and then fully functional by the show's end; or as if they've run out of shuttles, but boom they magically have more shuttles. This character development stuff could have been explored later on, but it wasn't - that's not "Resolutions" fault, that's the fault of the writers of later episodes.
Bill T - Thu, Jan 15, 2009 - 1:22am (USA Central)
To me, the absolute worst thing about this episode is its placement in the season. Janeway and Chakotay get stranded, living in a primitive environment, and eventually and finally rescued, with a poignant moment on the bridge that they were returning to a life in space. And next week THE ENTIRE CREW (basically) gets stranded, living in a primitive environment etc etc. Man oh man.
Nic - Tue, Oct 13, 2009 - 11:16am (USA Central)
As has already been mentioned, this episode is the prime example of wasted potential. The whole reason for the contrived plot (which in general I don't mind if it puts our characters in interesting places) was to address the Janeway/Chakotay attraction, but all we got is one scene where Chakotay shares his feelings, and as you said is so ambiguous we don't know how Janeway feels. I don't mind that once they were back on Voyager they decided not to pursue a relationship, but we deserved to see a scene where they talked about it.

Another wasted potential was with the Kim/Tuvok conflict. First of all, Tuvok should have worn a red uniform. It's like the writers were saying "Look, WE know they're coming back, YOU know they're coming back, so we're not even going to go through the trouble of changing his uniform". Also, I don't think Tuvok would have been convinced by Kes (that was the easy cheesy way out), I think he would still follow Janeway's orders, which could have Kim & co. could have MUTINIED! This would have provided for fantastic character development, especially for Kim.
However, the one thing I don't agree with in your review is the plasma storm scene. I don't think it was filler, I think it was what Janeway needed to force her to stop researching a cure. I think that however low her chances were she would still have continued, it was in her nature. So destroying her equipment in the storm was part of making her accept her new life.
Given all of the above, this could easily have been a two-parter. Hell, it could have been a SEASON FINALE!
Elliott - Fri, Aug 27, 2010 - 6:58pm (USA Central)
This episode solidifies for me the great paradox of Voyager as a series. The simple answer is (not so simply) there is a kernel of truth behind the characters and premise of the show in the contexts of sci-fy, star trek, drama and mythology. Frequently and unfortunately, the writers often convolute the point by trying to hard to "make" something, but when they release the reigns, the truth behind the story shines through (as is actually discussed in season 6's "Muse"). What is the premise of Voyager? Well, it is manifold, but it centres around the idea of home. What is it? How does it change? Why is it important? And of course, will we ever get there? Here is an opportunity for the two leaders of the disparate crews to redefine that notion for themselves. No one looks up to them for guidance or strength, their responsibilities are only to themselves. There is a very deep tragedy here; Voyager's burden of returning home resonates when the "reset button" which receives so much criticism palpably destroys a very real happiness. It is similar in that regard to season 7's "Workforce"; many see the reset as a naïve writers trick on Voyager, but how else could its premise be fulfilled? In order to achieve its ultimate goal, the crew must sacrifice their freedom to choose alternate paths, as must we all.

This is a continuing issue which goes back and forth continuously and wonderfully throughout the many coloured seasons until it is finally brought to task in the series finale (5 years in this episode's future). The writers definitely did the show disservice on many occasions for this series, but the truth of the mythology makes it one of the best incarnations of Roddenberry's vision (compare to DS9 which was all about making a statement [Gene was wrong, guys]--it was more focused in a literary sense, but mythically dead--thus we got "What you leave behind" which apparently is nothing).
Destructor - Mon, Mar 28, 2011 - 7:17pm (USA Central)
Disagree, disagree, disagree! I *love* this episode, I love it! While I agree that the writers could, and should, have explored the seeds this episode laid, as a standalone it is a very fine piece of character development, deepening both Chakotay and Janeway. All the bits that Jammer found so boring are actually just part of the drama, it just unfolds slowly. And I thought the space battle at the end was easily the most tense battle of the season, and it was awesome to see Tuvok being such a badass Captain during the battle.

I think Chakotay's speech WAS actually a good conclusion for the relationship- that, only by fighting for her, not by being her lover, could he find peace for himself. I think this is a wonderfully romantic notion- somewhat tainted by the pointless, awful 7/C relationship in season 7- but that is five years from now and does not effect the quiet power of this ep.
Matthias - Mon, Aug 22, 2011 - 9:19am (USA Central)
See, I knew Chakotay was making half of that indian crap up as he went along, finally he admits it. Also apparently he doesn't even have a first name. I know I'm late on that one considering we've had one person he used to sleep with and one person who fantasized about it both simply call him Chakotay but he was a commanding officer to both so it kind of slipped under the radar.
Also also pleeease don't tell us about the backrubs you used to give your mother while in the actual process of giving someone a sexy backrub.


The idea of being the only two people on a wild, alien planet for life was kind of fun to toy around with but that was pretty much all I got out of this one. Engineering remembering half the crap on the ship is wildly destructive if pressed into service as a makeshift weapon was kind of a nice change of pace from Voyager getting its butt kicked at least.




V - Sat, Jan 14, 2012 - 12:29am (USA Central)
Tuvok made a badass captain during the battle-reminded me of those scenes in 1700s? British navy battles where the captain is unflapably strolling on the deck giving orders and not sweating through cannon balls hitting the ship.

But of course the best part of this episode is the Janeway/Chakotay relationship and how J is more than that Captain we know. I'm with a few people here - 7/C was an alternate timeline... I'm in denial, cause it shouldn't have happened! Should b 7/doctor and J/C. Just as EVERYBODY knows uhura is to spock! Glad tng and the new star trek managed to fix the love angle. .
Jay - Tue, Jan 31, 2012 - 1:19pm (USA Central)
How is going toe to toe with the treacherous Vidiians in probably the most intricately planned out battle sequence of events since BOBW2 remotely a reset button?
Ghostwheel - Mon, Mar 19, 2012 - 8:00am (USA Central)
There are so many plot holes in this one, you could steer a Borg Cube through them.

Janeway is pretty cavalier about Tuvok and the rest of the crew disobeying her orders. It was pretty clear she didn't want one hundred fifty lives endangered by organ traffickers on the off chance that the crew could beat back the Vidians and save her and Chakotay.

Kim rallying everyone around his personal opinion that Tuvok should be pressured to change his opinion is only a step away from mutiny. Is this how Starfleet officers behave? Don't like the Captain's orders, so go around the ship and talk everyone into confronting the Captain into changing his mind?

Also ignored is that an engagement with the Vidians could easily cost lost lives. How many dead crew members are worth getting Janeway and Chakotay back? How many Vidians is it acceptable to kill in order to effect their daring escape and get away with the cure for two people? (While it's true the Vidians made the decision to betray Voyager, that was entirely predictable; the crew knew that contacting them would result in battle and killing.)

Zero stars for complete failure to explore or even acknowledge these points.
Ghostwheel - Mon, Mar 19, 2012 - 8:36am (USA Central)
The point about Janeway's cavalier attitude above is that it raises a question: if you disobey a Captain's direct orders but get a good result, does that excuse the disobedience?

What does Starfleet protocol say? If this kind of behavior is allowable, it will only encourage officers to disobey their Captains whenever they believe themselves to be in the right. Could Starfleet as a whole function like that? Can any starship function like that?

That the characters never once consider these issues speaks to grotesque oversight on the part of the writers and editors.
Justin - Tue, Mar 20, 2012 - 1:14am (USA Central)
There is one big thing about this episode that that both the review and the comments above failed to point out:

That poor monkey.

"Feel free to use the house," Janeway said. Yeah, but then she and Chakotay made a big show of DISAPPEARING right in front of his eyes! The poor little guy couldn't handle it! Gee, I guess the Prime Directive doesn't apply when it comes to freaking out little tree-dwelling primates, does it??
duhknees - Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - 9:13pm (USA Central)
I used to be kind of annoyed with Chakotay's self-righteousness, but that story ... Oh, my!
Grumpy - Sun, Feb 17, 2013 - 6:40pm (USA Central)
A lot of reviews and comments on this site decry the Reset Button (ENT "Vanishing Point" also comes to mind) without much agreement on what it means or how it shouldn't be used. Jammer offers a broad definition here: "Reset Button Plotting: a show that wanders for an hour to a conclusion that means virtually nothing in terms of story or characters."

Even stated so negatively, the Reset Button is not bad in all its forms. In the simplest sense, episodic stories start with the status quo, such as a detective who's always ready for a new case. This becomes more egregious when events demand more follow-up than is given in subsequent episodes, as with the damage sustained in VGR "Deadlock" or DS9 "To the Death" or the life-altering experiences of TNG "The Inner Light" or DS9 "Hard Time." Sometimes follow-up is pre-empted within the story, whether by a magical "I wish none of this had happened" or, say, a judge decreeing that no one will speak of Armin Tamzarian ever again.

The latter resets are part of a broader category of a deus ex machina solving the characters' problems for them. This is why most "it was all a dream" stories feel like resets: waking up wipes out any adventures inside the dream. So writers struggle to make these stories relevant by how they reveal what characters would have done in real life. For instance, "Frame of Mind" shows Riker resisting interrogation, even though he did so unconsciously (he's just that badass!). Braga tried the same trick in "Projections" and "Vanishing Point" to varying success.

All that said, does "Resolutions" depend on a reset button? Well, the Janeway/Chakotay relationship never receives the necessary follow-up (and, contrary to the title, is not resolved here, either), but that's Voyager for you. As for the rest of the episode, the crew struggles mightily to rescue their beloved captain (and the other guy), so that's actual drama. We knew the episode wouldn't end with Janeway marooned (or that Sato wouldn't completely dematerialize), so restoring the status quo is to be expected.

Which is to say that "Resolutions" does not deserve criticism for its reset button. When issues are raised but not revisited, blame subsequent episodes, not the story that raises them. Abuse (as opposed to fair use) of the reset button occurs not only when an episode restores the status quo but when the entire journey is revealed as a waste of time or a shaggy dog story. In this case, Jammer is right to point out that "Resolutions" raises issues without the courage to explore them fully: "they so carefully tiptoe around the interesting subjects for fear of having to actually deal with them later." But jerking the audience around isn't the same as a reset button; it's just phony drama.
Starpollo - Sun, Aug 4, 2013 - 7:53pm (USA Central)
I absolutely loved this episode. But as a science fiction writer, I would have done at least two things differently:
1. Harry should have led a mutiny, which is always an interesting scenario to explore, especially when dealing with the circumstances.
2. After the warrior speech, J should have kissed C which should have led directly to a love scene. It had already been hinted at anyway. Chakotay trying to stare down her towel when she got out of the bath for crying out loud! He wanted her!
In conclusion, J/C forever, and J/7 was utter crap.
Bb - Tue, Jan 14, 2014 - 5:20am (USA Central)
Were I a woman, that speech would have made me wetter than a slip-n-slide, too.
Dave in NC - Fri, Feb 7, 2014 - 12:42am (USA Central)
I'm rewatching the series in sequential order and I just saw this episode for the first time. I was entertained, especially by the crew's near mutiny.

I thought it was pretty obvious that Chakotay and Janeway did the nasty, which definitely will change the way I watch the rest of the episodes.
Corey - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 - 9:39am (USA Central)
I disagree with the negative review and comments. I found this to be a tense and touching episode, and the "reset button" only added to the poignancy. Janeway isn't just "reset", but is tragically whisked away from family/home life. She's tragically "relegated" to the role of captain/mother, a "victory" that is bittersweet.
Amanda - Sat, Mar 8, 2014 - 7:51am (USA Central)
I disagree. There was no reset button. Look at Mulgrew's face in the final shot. She's trying to be the reset button :-). But we know better. And their unshakable friendship is dabbled throughout the series thereafter.

"I can see their fears of this turning into a soap opera if they follow through with this
romance, but that just shows their own limitation as writers."

mmm, actually blame Mulgrew on that note and the writer's lack of ability to pull off a complex connection beyond sex. If the writer's weren't hinting at sex but a beautifully orchestrated connection between j/c as comrades out of the gate vs tossing her in bed, I think Kate might have more readily gone along for the ride.

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