Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Displaced"

**

Air date: 5/7/1997
Written by Lisa Klink
Directed by Allan Kroeker

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I can begin my new career as a tricorder." — Doc, on having his optical sensors reconfigured for strategic use

Nutshell: Not awful, but horribly uncompelling.

"Displaced," unfortunately, exemplifies the heart of what much of Voyager as a series has become: A plot-based show that tells nothing about the lone starship's true difficulties or identity, but rather a relatively brain-dead series of events that has no lasting effect or consequences.

Last week's "Distant Origin" may have been a little outlandish and silly at times, but at least it had some ideas and dialog that ultimately added up to mean something. "Displaced" doesn't add up to mean much of anything. It's simply mediocre to the extreme. The plotting isn't terribly bad, but it really doesn't hold anything of interest, either. There isn't a single relevant argument or insight to be found in the episode. Instead, the entire show is merely an "action-packed" example of Our Heroes versus the Bad Guys.

That isn't by any means bad by definition. I can enjoy superficial adventure as much of the next person. Unfortunately, the big problem is that even the action in "Displaced" lacks a sense of cleverness. It's just kind of … there.

In "Displaced," the Voyager crew slowly begins disappearing, one by one, being mysteriously teleported away and replaced by a race of confused people called the Nyrians. Before long, it becomes clear that the Nyrians are not the innocent-seeming party in the affair that they claim to be. As the numbers in the Voyager crew begin to dwindle, the Nyrians suddenly attempt to hijack the ship, leading to the routine phaser battles and crawling through the Jeffries tubes. Chakotay, one of the last to be taken, attempts to make a last stand by sabotaging the ship's systems, but he's completely outnumbered, and surrenders the cause after downloading the Doctor into the holographic emitter, unbeknownst to the Nyrians. (Why Chakotay doesn't arm the ship's auto-destruct sequence is beyond me, but I guess if the ship was blown up there wouldn't be a series, now would there? Then again, based on past episodes, the concept of the auto-destruct system on Voyager is so flawed that it defies usefulness: Not only can it be armed by one person, but it can be disabled by an external attack, a la "Basics, Part I.")

The entire crew, once transported off Voyager, finds itself in an Earth-like environment, where the Nyrians explain to them that they kidnap crews and steal ships rather than waging war. It's much "less costly" and "more humane"—the opposing sides are simply imprisoned in specially designed biospheres within the Nyrians' ship.

I don't want to go too far into the details of the crew's escape, because I'll just get too bored with synopsis. It involves (1) the crew's alliance with an alien from another biosphere who has learned how to access the "portals" that allow movement from one biosphere to another and also into the access areas of the Nyrians' vessel; (2) the rigging of Doc's "eyes" to find these invisible portals, which leads to a rather amusing line where he sarcastically remarks on his new career as a "tricorder"; (3) Janeway's and Tuvok's gaining access of the Nyrians' computer to acquire important technical information; (4) an extended chase scene in which Torres and Paris lure Nyrian pursuers through a frigid biosphere, which buys Janeway and Tuvok time to accomplish the feat of (5) gaining access to the Nyrians' teleportation device.

The execution of this plot consists of much conveniently acquired knowledge and average chase scenes.

Plot aside, there are some decent character bits in the episode. I particularly liked Doc's personality throughout—just his normal irascible self. Then there's the sparring between Tom and B'Elanna, which also works for the most part, especially at the very end of the show, which manages to say everything without resorting to excessive, all-telling dialog, but instead just a smile and some silence. There's also an amusing exchange early in the episode between B'Elanna and Harry regarding B'Elanna's "hostile" disposition.

Janeway is placed in the role of a no-nonsense heroine who constantly cops a confrontational attitude with the Nyrians—which could've and would've worked if it had been written with a little more charisma and a little less posturing. The ending, where Janeway gains control of the Nyrian teleporter and beams them into the frigid biosphere to force them to release the prisoners (Nyrians are vulnerable to the cold), could've been a delicious scene—but, like much of the episode, it's simply too nondescript.

We were supposed to be cheering the Voyager's success, I suppose. Personally, I felt kind of insulted at the smug, standard-issue premise of "Our Heroes save all the effete, imprisoned alien cultures by single-handedly beating the Bad Guys." Most of the crew's success, unfortunately, can be credited to the Nyrians' stupidity rather than the crew's cleverness—never a good sign in an action setting. For example, why in the world would the Nyrians leave the crucial areas of their ship unguarded? And why don't the Nyrians simply seal off the frigid biosphere that Tom and B'Elanna venture into, instead of following the two inside and freezing themselves? And after overpowering a Nyrian who has a fully-charged phaser, why don't Tom and B'Elanna pick up the phaser instead of simply walking away from it? And so on.

"Displaced" is an episode that demands passive viewing. Just turn off your brain; it will definitely be better that way. Still, even with brain shut off, I cannot recommend this episode. There's just not enough cleverness to the story, even as an action show. It prompts boredom and disinterest in too many stretches.

Previous episode: Distant Origin
Next episode: Worst Case Scenario

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20 comments on this review

indijo - Sun, Nov 25, 2007 - 11:52am (USA Central)
"And after overpowering a Nyrian who has a fully-charged phaser, why don't Tom and B'Elanna pick up the phaser instead of simply walking away from it?"

As long as we're pointing out these odd bits of incompetent script, what happened to Chakotay in the final act? He completely disappeared from the episode after they discovered the portal out of the biosphere. Wouldn't it have been helpful to have him watching Janeway and Tuvok's backs while they were hacking into the Nyrian's computers?
mlk - Mon, Dec 24, 2007 - 7:23pm (USA Central)
Shoudn't the crew be more fascinated about a race of 'aliens' that look exactly like humans?
Jason - Mon, Mar 3, 2008 - 10:49am (USA Central)
Can't get over the extraordinarily bad acting on the part of the female ensign assigned to security on the bridge. Awful awful awful, but so funny to watch, especially when she gets shot and slowy crumples to the floor while the other ensign tries to catch her. Funny stuff.
Rob in Michigan - Sun, Sep 28, 2008 - 4:27pm (USA Central)
"Displaced," unfortunately, exemplifies the heart of what much of Voyager as a series has become: A plot-based show that tells nothing about the lone starship's true difficulties or identity, but rather a relatively brain-dead series of events that has no lasting effect or consequences.

Which is why, much as I like the characters and many of the episodes, in the end... it wasn't a well written show.
John Pate - Thu, Jan 7, 2010 - 4:06am (USA Central)
I found it entertaining. I liked the Bellana/Tom interaction. I get the impression the plot was built around Bellana/Tom dialogue more than anything else.

Tom was rather nonchalant at -20, presumably degrees C but I suppose it could be some other measurement scheme. (Although I believe Trek uniforms are supposed to have some kind of heating/cooling mechanism built in, I recall a TOS episode where the landing party were ordered to adjust their suit temperatures and they were simply wearing the standard stuff.)

I expect that Robert Beltran having a big chunk of running about on Voyager precluded fitting him into the other scenes.

I rather liked the conceit of Nyrian philosphy of prosecuting war without hurting the adversary, it's an amusing angle on the militarist, high handed moralising of the "peaceful" Federation. (Why don't Voyager do some of the beaming an adversary into a brig rather than shooting at them?)

Given the limitations of 50 minutes of TV, it worked well enough for me.
navamske - Fri, Jul 9, 2010 - 7:04pm (USA Central)
Part of the problem was that it's hard to perceive as threatening a group of people, some of them older men, running around in KKK uniforms of various hues. I imagine that looking nonthreatening was part of the Nyrians' desire to maintain the initial fiction that they were innocent victims of this mass-teleportation mishigoss, but once that was over, it was difficult to perceive them as intimidating bad guys.
Nic - Thu, Dec 16, 2010 - 9:45am (USA Central)
The Nyrians should have appeared on Jay Leno's "Stupid Criminals" segment. Is the Voyager really more valuable to them than all the energy they will need to provide life support to 150 for the rest of their lives? It seems to me that they could have used all their resources to build their own starships, it would be a lot more efficient. And it always makes me laugh when Janeway says "They can't last long at -20°C we've got to get them out!" It's such a Southern California notion. The worst thing that could happen to a human at that temperature is getting frost bite after 30 minutes.

I gotta say though, the first Act was interesting - it's really too bad that in the second Act the original premise is sabotaged and turned into another Stupid Bad Guys Take Over the Ship scenario.
Elliott - Mon, Oct 31, 2011 - 10:20pm (USA Central)
Ms Klink wrote mostly winners in her Trek career :

Resistance
Hippocratic Oath
Innocence
Remember
Blood Fever
The Omega Directive

but "Favourite Son" and this make her look like a total bore of a writer. I suppose her two-faced-ness is not nearly as egregious as Braga's, but it's a bit frustrating watching this bore of an episode. It's not bad enough to ruin the momentum which carries us to the next season (and includes enough character details, most especially with Paris and Torres, to justify its existence), but it's hardly worth repeated viewings.

2.5 stars is as high as I would go.
Jay - Fri, Feb 17, 2012 - 4:00pm (USA Central)
It was amusing when Janeway was viewing all the various names of the environments on the display panels...in English.

So nice of the Nyrians to translate their displays into English just in case the prisoners escaped and wanted to read them.
Justin - Wed, Apr 4, 2012 - 1:47am (USA Central)
I disagree with the nutshell. I found the episode to be not horrible, but awfully uncompelling. I did like the inherent insidiousness behind the Nyrians' takeover of Voyager. And as always, even though it's at best a mediocre episode, it's worth watching for various character interactions. At times that was the only thing keeping me compelled to tune in each week and why I am now re-watching them, one by one, via Netflix. I like these characters. Even Neelix.

@Elliott, those are all indeed classics (except "Blood Fever"), but Lisa Klink wrote the teleplay on most of them. She's only given story writer credit on 2 episodes. Not that there's anything wrong with that. She's obviously a good writer when collaborating with others, but she's relatively weak as a writer of original stories.

@Jay, the panels in English thing was what bugged me the most about this episode, too.
Justin - Wed, Apr 4, 2012 - 10:46am (USA Central)
Another thing that drove me nuts about this episode is Tuvok's line, "we will have to bypass their security measures," or something to that effect. Oh, OK. How convenient. If I ever decide to rob Fort Knox I'll be sure to do that. Because it's so easy.
duhknees - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 11:27am (USA Central)
Too bad they didn't hook up with even more prisoners --
it would give them a chance to reuse costumes, not to mention brush up Voyager's image in the Delta quadrant. And avoid the dismissive wrap-up in the captain's log, something I always hated about TNG.
stargazer - Wed, Oct 3, 2012 - 5:44am (USA Central)
@ Jay & Justin

You probably missed the part where Tuvok says to Janeway: "If the Nyrians downloaded Voyager's cultural database, you may be able to tap into the translation algorithm."

So, this explains the english language on the panels - they simply translated it by putting it through the translation matrix of their own database that had been previously downloaded into the Nyrian computer system.
Jay - Tue, Jan 15, 2013 - 12:55pm (USA Central)
@ stargazer...

I'll listen for that line if its in there, but that assumes I'll watch this episode again...
xaaos - Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - 6:41am (USA Central)
When Janeway was beamed out by the Nyrians, Neelix sounded, asking something like "captain, are you there?".

But hadn't Janeway's combage been teleported as well along with her?
T'Paul - Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - 8:03pm (USA Central)
In my collection this comes after "Worst Case".

Because of this, I see this episode as the last so-so one for a while, thanks to Scorpion 1 & 2, etc.

RenC - Thu, Oct 10, 2013 - 4:04pm (USA Central)
@xaaos
When Tuvok & Janeway finally find the trans-locator device on the habitat station they discover that it has a maximum range of 10 000 light years. He says that explains why the crew was transported one by one - because the trans-locator was at its maximum range.
I don't believe the com badge range is that far so even though Janeway still had the com badge it would have been useless.

I think the aliens removed the crew's com badges when they got to the habitat to prevent the serarated crew groups from communicating with each other.
Jons - Sat, Nov 30, 2013 - 12:45pm (USA Central)
Well, I think you're being a bit too hard on Voyager here. Were there many things that were a bit silly? Sure.

But overall I found it enjoyable, with a nice "mystery" in the beginning, then interesting ideas. Maybe I'm less severe than you because I've watched it for the first time in 2013, and therefore many things about this show are so 90s that it's impossible for me to take it seriously enough to have expectations that high.
Ric - Sat, Apr 12, 2014 - 9:39am (USA Central)
In the first minutes, when they found out that Kes was not aboard, the first thing I thought was the following. Will it be too hard in the 24th century to program the ship's central computer to detect and inform when people leave the ship without previous authorization or without informing the ship? That is something that has always bothered me in diferente Trek shows.

But in Voyager it gets even worse. It is impressive how often the security measures of Voyager show to be simply absent. How easy is for anyone to steal a shutlecraft, to beam up or down without authorization, and so on. Blah.

I was also bothered by Torres turning The Doctor's voice out. This is really na unethical behaviour if they now consider The Doc a being, right?

And what about Trek shows once again showing the crew easily operating computers used by a totally diferent species that they have just met?


Sure, finding out that they were within a ship was nice. But a good surprised for 2 seconds. In the end, a weak episode, meaningless, silly, with all sort of those distracting problems. I will forget this in 15 minutes. And I will not regret that.
Vylora - Wed, Aug 27, 2014 - 1:06am (USA Central)
A few nice moments of dialogue and the closing scene are highlights in what is otherwise an inoffensive, pedestrian, and, frankly, boring episode. Both the Nyrians and the wayward crew are made to look inept more often than not.

Watchable, but ultimately forgettable.

2 stars.

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