Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Remember"

***1/2

Air date: 10/9/1996
Teleplay by Lisa Klink
Story by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"She showed me everything—no apologies, no requests for forgiveness, just the truth." — B'Elanna Torres

Nutshell: A nicely done allegory. Sensibly written and wonderfully acted.

Star Trek has always been known to venture into social commentary and allegorical content, and with "Remember" the Voyager team comes up with a winner—the best episode of Voyager so far this season.

Trek's best stories are usually those that add up to something beyond what lies on the surface—a story that works on the outside but also has lasting impact on the inside. DS9 attempted this the same week with "The Ship," a story about a crashed Jem'Hadar warship that also turned out to be an analysis of the consequences of mistrust and its resulting death. The problem with "The Ship" was that it just pushed too hard at the end; the conclusion was bluntly overwrought and devoid of the true lasting emotional effects it needed—in my opinion, anyway.

"Remember," on the other hand, is one of Voyager's better moments. It has more of an even hand, more believable character reactions, and a bit more genuine feeling than "The Ship" had—although even "Remember" tends to push its message into the realm of the obvious at times.

The story enters a group from a race called the Enarans, for whom the Voyager crew is providing quick transport to another colony in exchange for mining resources. The Enarans are a friendly telepathic race who can share their thoughts at will, as demonstrated by an early scene where one of the Enarans helps Janeway play a musical instrument by transmitting weeks of memories of lessons in mere seconds.

About this time, and obviously not coincidence, Lt. Torres begins having very sensual and realistic dreams. At first the dreams seem to be harmless—a torrid love affair with passionate nights. A disturbing image, however, appears on the second night—that of her lover being burned in front of her eyes. By this point, Torres' curiosity is too potent to deny, and before long, she realizes these dreams mean something—in the dreams she knows who the people are, and realizes that she herself is another person: a young Enaran woman named Kirina. The dreams begin to organize into a sort of "narrative."

One of the most compelling aspects of "Remember" is the way Torres gets so personally caught up in the plight of the "characters" in her dreams. I respect Torres a lot for her actions in this episode, because she takes a stand for something she believes in, and has the strong, stubborn intensity that originally made the character interesting. At the same time, Torres never comes across in this episode as remotely wrong-headed—something that sometimes becomes equated with such words as "impulsive" and "stubborn."

Torres realizes that Kirina is in the middle of a difficult situation, and refusing the treatment that would prevent her from having more dreams, Torres says she needs to know. "I don't know what I... what she's going to do," she says, with a line that very subtly but effectively indicates how caught up she has become in living the identity.

The dreams reveal that Kirina's lover Dathan (Charles Esten) is among a large groups of Enarans who don't embrace the direction technology is going. The Enaran populace has labeled this sub-group of their culture the "regressives," and have come up with a solution that is in the "best interests" of everyone—banishment of the regressives from the planet.

Dathan is wary of this promise by the Enarans. He has heard rumors of mass execution—rumors that Kirina naively states as completely untrue. But, Dathan points out, relatives that have supposedly been relocated have not been heard from since. Are the Enarans lying about their intentions? Every dream's clues brings B'Elanna closer to unlocking the Enarans' recent history—a history with a dark secret.

As the story continues to develop on both planes, the dark secret reveals itself as a commentary on the Holocaust (hardly less than obvious), but the microcosm here is about one woman—Kirina—and the way she is coerced into accepting mass murder in the interests of "progress." The story's central tragedy builds with a slow certainty as Kirina's father (Bruce Davison) explains the "rational" reasons that the regressives must be sent away—to which Kirina begins the slow but steady process of convincing herself into accepting this situation, marked with perhaps the most simultaneously pointed and subtle line in the episode: "So it's dangerous to have them living here." Whether or not that line ends in a question mark is the whole point of the scene.

When Torres realizes that these memories are being transmitted to her from an elderly Enaran named Jora Mirrel (Eve Brenner)—trying in her final hours of life to expose the truth from elsewhere on board the ship (the story reveals that Mirrel was really Kirina all those years ago), the point becomes clear. The Enarans have lied to their own children. They've covered up their own history. The next generation is completely unaware of their atrocious past. Torres is furious. In a moment of impulse she confronts the other Enarans on board the ship.

I liked Torres' actions (and particularly her point that "It's not just a matter of history. This could happen again if no one knows it happened before"). But Janeway's reactions to the delicate situation are good as well. There's a general sense that "no we really shouldn't interfere in their culture, but feel free to try to convince the skeptic Enarans who have been taught this never happened."

And that's exactly what Torres does. She tries to expose the secret Jora Mirell could never afford to—again, on a microcosmic level: word of mouth, just one person to another, repeating the cycle (as demonstrated with a final scene that repeats an early scene). She's not trying to start revolutions any more than Mirell was. As Torres aptly puts it, "She showed me everything—no apologies, no requests for forgiveness, just the truth." And that's precisely what Torres hopes to do as the episode ends.

As an allegory, "Remember" is quite nicely handled, but what really makes the episode a standout is the overall vision of the production when combined with the technical credits and the small details. Winrich Kolbe's direction is absolutely stellar. Here is a script that introduces an entire new world and culture, several characters tied together in different ways, and puts them within a series of dream sequences that exist inside their own reality. Yet Kolbe keeps a firm grip on what happens and where we are. In addition, his photography technique is absorbing; in fact, it's top-notch and feels quite cinematic.

Lisa Klink's teleplay deserves high praise as well. It creates its characters efficiently and draws them intelligently. Most of all, Klink develops the true narrative strength through B'Elanna's thoughts and actions. Klink seems to have a clear idea of what the character would do in this situation; so what happens, as a result, is credible.

Still, if one element truly carries "Remember" it has to be the performance of Roxann Dawson, because her work in the dual role is impressive. There are subtleties in the performance that should not be overlooked. The story allows Dawson to display an acting range that I haven't seen before. I can't put my finger on what is so right about her portrayal, but there's something about it that really works. I think it's because when I see Kirina, I think "Kirina" and not "B'Elanna." Dawson's ability to separate the two (with a subtle aura that resides somewhere in the subconscious) is the true standout quality of "Remember."

Another reason this works is because it proceeds quietly, for the most part. The show only hits us with a sledgehammer on maybe one or two circumstances, but even then those circumstances are warranted and effective. The scene where Kirina chants along "Yes! Yes! Yes!" with some other Enarans after the slaughter of a group of regressives (including her own Dathan) sent chills down my spine.

Perhaps the one detraction from the story are the way the ideas near the end of the "dream" aspect are a bit crammed together—the show's microcosm attempts to cover years in Enaran history within minutes of screen time—but that's not a very big problem. This story is still easily one of Voyager's most "mature" stories ever, and genuinely exhibits the Trekkian moral conscience.

Previous episode: False Profits
Next episode: Sacred Ground

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25 comments on this review

Jakob M. Mokoru - Thu, Dec 20, 2007 - 3:49pm (USA Central)
Just two words: Great episode!!!
grumpy_otter - Thu, Jan 1, 2009 - 5:28pm (USA Central)
I was so impressed with Eve Brenner's performance that I tried to find out more about her. She has a long list of "1 episode" credits on various television programs. An amazing and subtle performance--she contributed mightily to the success of this episode.

I notice that you wisely did not address the silly little sub plot of Harry being attracted to one of the Enarans--it just distracted from the brilliance of the main theme.
EP - Thu, Feb 19, 2009 - 8:36pm (USA Central)
I won't ding the episode for the razor-thin premise of telepathic linkage, since far worse episodes have abused such a thing far more egregiously.
I won't ding the episode either for using Torres as the psychic conduit, considering nothing about Mirrel's story seemed to favor the selection of Torres over any other female cast member.
But why not throw in a little ambiguity? Torres has absolutely ZERO direct evidence of the story that has been implanted in her head. That she is compelled to believe in those experiences without question is supported only because the script demands that she be right. Why not show the regressives' warts? That they actively interfered with the dominant powers? Perhaps even resorted to violence to demonstrate their resolve? Otherwise, it's far too easy to manufacture sympathy for the regressives, who are presented with the same folksy agrarian mystic of the Ba'ku from STIX.
If you can't tell, I really hated the Ba'Ku, by the way. :-)
Matrix - Wed, May 19, 2010 - 12:00am (USA Central)
The scene with Torres confronting the enarans was really good! I'll have to watch this one again.
On a side note, did anyone when they first heard of this episode's title think of star trek's more famous use of the word remember, and that voyager has it's own resident vulcan. Yeah, that's how I thought the story was to go. ;-)
navamske - Wed, Sep 29, 2010 - 7:20pm (USA Central)
Nits: (1) It strains credulity that a person could remove a medical monitoring device without the Doctor's -- or at least Sick Bay's -- being notified. (2) In the dream (or memories, whatever they were), B'Elanna was an Enaran. I don't have a problem with the fact that the other characters in the dream didn't see her Klingon ridges, but why wasn't she wearing one of those ugly shmattas on her head like the other Enarans? (3) Is it that hard for the Star Trek writers to think up original alien names? You got Kes from Voyager and the Kes (from the planet Kesprytt) in TNG's "Attached," you got Dax from ST:VI and the various Daxes from DS9; here you got Jor Brell (think Jo'Brill from TNG's "Suspicions") and Dathan (think Dathon from TNG's "Darmok"). (4) On top of everything else, you got Pinky Petersen from "All in the Family" making music with a giant trackball.
Greg M - Thu, Feb 3, 2011 - 2:37am (USA Central)
Navamske,

Regarding point two, have you ever watched Quantum leap. I think everyone saw her as Kirina, yet we saw her normally. Not sure if that's a valid nitpick.
bigpale - Thu, Feb 17, 2011 - 12:39am (USA Central)
I'm rewatching all the Voyager episodes, and while this one is certainly one of the shows better moments, I felt that it -- like so many others on the show -- fell apart some at the end.

The show reached a great climax with Torres discovering the identity of Kirina, but then the subsequent confrontation and the "murder" plot twist just felt forced, and even a little convoluted.

It is a nutshell of Voyager: A great sci-fi premise that can't maintain it's focus, and falls apart at the end. It had the potential to be a **** show, but it falls to ***.

Great acting by Dawson though.
LWG - Sat, Apr 9, 2011 - 4:29pm (USA Central)
The viewer can understand B'Elanna's position, but I'll bet it didn't win her points in popularity with the crew. She had no proof, and because of her outburst in the mess hall, they lost out on an alliance, a trade agreement, AND shore leave. Or at least that's how it would seem to the rest of them. I'll bet they weren't too happy with her.
Alex - Mon, Mar 19, 2012 - 2:17am (USA Central)
I believe that the set up of this episode is very similar to TNG's "Violations", which is what fueled my expectations while watching the show. In fact, the actress who plays Jora Mirell appears in the TNG episode. It seems somewhat unfortunate that "Remember" follows an earier script so closely; "Violations 2.0" anyone?

That said, I did appreciate the great acting and powerful allegory. One tidbit that I'd like to add is the manner in which the Enarans deny even the plausibility of their wrongdoing. This happens both in memory sequence--when Korenna's father repeatedly denies any abuse on the part of the Enari regime, as well as in present time--when Jor Berel rebukes the captain's inquiries. "I find it impossible that any of us could be doing this purposelly... it just isn't done... I assure you we have strict ethics." are his stubborn and dismissive responses at suggestion that one of the Enarans could be responsible for Belana's psychic "dreams". To me, this furthered the theme of denial and suppression of truth among the Enarans.

There is almost a stubborn about this denial
Ghostwheel - Wed, Mar 21, 2012 - 11:37am (USA Central)
I find it very difficult to believe that these atrocities could occur on a planet of telepaths. With everybody sharing thoughts, feelings, and emotions, wouldn't that blunt any uncompromising differences between them, take the edge off, so to speak?

Would telepaths act like psychopathic war criminals?

Could such an event remain at all secret on a planet of telepaths?

(While Suder is a Betazoid, he claims he can't even feel his own emotions, much less somebody else's, so clearly something is wrong with his native teleathy.)
Justin - Sat, Mar 24, 2012 - 2:55am (USA Central)
@Alex, I too was reminded of TNG's "Violations" when I first saw "Remember" back when it originally aired. They are quite similar except for one distinction - "Violations" sucked.

"Remember," on the other hand, was riveting, poignant, and extremely well acted. Jammer's review was spot on describing Dawson's ineffable performance as Kirinna. Possibly her best acted episode of Voyager's entire run.
Paul York - Thu, May 10, 2012 - 1:47am (USA Central)
I was very moved by this episode. It exposes an old injustice that has been covered up. Yes, the Holocaust comes to mind, but so does any number of atrocities, including the genocide of native North Americans and the mass extermination of feeling sentient non-human animals at the hand of man under various pretexts and excuses and using various rationalizations. The rationalizations used by the oppressor in this tale are common: self-preservation used to justify the murder of others, and then the pretence that that murder did not occur. Unfortunately such things continue on Earth in various ways. Think of Palestine, where an entire group of less technologically astute "regressives" is being decimated and marginalized slowly by another group to acquire land and water. Brilliant episode. Great social commentary. I have a deep appreciation for the Voyager writers and producers for this one.
Peremensoe - Tue, Sep 25, 2012 - 11:16am (USA Central)
This was a staggering episode.

Not perfect--it seemed a bit rushed to me, and IMO could have been developed into two parts. There could have been a better design for the Enarans, and more explanation of the terms of their telepathic ability.

But this was among the *very* best I've seen from Voyager. The similarity to "The Violated" is superficial; this is much weightier (strange to say that about a Voyager episode over a Next Generation, but there it is).

The execution scene, and B'Elanna confronting the Enarans, are a couple of the rawest moments ever in Voyager.
Peremensoe - Tue, Sep 25, 2012 - 11:18am (USA Central)
(Oops, of course I mean "Violations.")
Eithnepath - Sat, May 18, 2013 - 6:57am (USA Central)
Great ep. Shame they didn't have more political courage and made the allegory a bit more transparent--isreal/palistine.
Michael - Wed, Jun 12, 2013 - 12:48pm (USA Central)
What an ineffably boring, interminable episode.

I guess Jammer and most people commenting here like these ponderous shows where a character goes on a mental trip of some kind. As for me, I can't stand them. I watch sci-fi for lasers and phasers, spatial anomalies, and the much-maligned "technobabble." If I want psychological drama, there are dozens f other genres and media that provide that.

FAIL.
Ian - Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 4:26pm (USA Central)
First off the allegory is either the Native-American experience or the Holocaust.

To those few who posted here that it somehow represents the Israel "palestinian," situation you are REALLY deluded.
The only way to make THAT comparasion would be if the regressives mentioned here outmumbered the other Enarans 30-1 and had launched FIVE wars of exterimination against them and decades of merciless terrorism as well. All to keep the Enarans from having only a small bit of land that historically belonged to them, after THEY had been ethnically cleansed everywhere else...

Too bad Trekkers are prone to mis-information like too many others...
Elliott - Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 7:42pm (USA Central)
@Ian :

This is a forum for you and others to voice their opinions about Star Trek, not the Israel-Palestine conflict. This is the 3rd or 4th post I believe in which you've mistaken this site for some sort of Zionist platform.

If this episode is taken as an allegory to that particular situation (which it very easily can, as well as those you mentioned and some others), I think we can all appreciate that the characters and cultures were not portrayed as black and white, good v. evil. The situation is complicated and there are points to be made by either side, but the first step is honesty.
Kevin - Tue, Dec 17, 2013 - 1:36pm (USA Central)
I thought this was a very powerful episode, but the confrontation at the farewell party was a bit much for me. I have a hard time believing Janeway would have tolerated that kind of interruption and outburst - she's much too diplomatic for that. Also, even though Trek is much to saintly to let it happen, I thought that this would have been one of the best episodes of any series had it simply ended with the scene where the children are being taught that the holocaust didn't happen. The idea that a society could go through that and then actually cover it up and move on was truly chilling. If the writers had simply let that stand and force viewers to process those ideas in the raw...wow.
Corey - Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - 6:19pm (USA Central)
If anyone reads Ian's comment and regards it as fact, I'd urge them to read Einstein and Ghandi's comments on the Arab/Israeli conflict, and study seriously the cause of the 1948 war, the Suez Crisis (UK, France and Israel trying to steal Sinai from Egypt), the Six Day war and the 1973 war, none of the latter fought in Israel or for Israeli territory. One should also study the massacres commited by everyone in the in the 1930s (Brits vs Arabs, Arabs vs British Empire, Zionists vs Arabs etc), and read Chomsky's papers online on the illegality of Israel's formation (the UN Security council never agreed).

As for this episode, one of the season's best, but I think it's also the kind of stuff that DS9 did better in S1 and S2. Note also that Jammer opens his review by mentioning that Trek does social allegory and politics well, but actually it rarely seems to do this. TNG has a couple very great political episodes (Drumhead and First Contact leaps to mind), and DS9 as well, but mostly Trek favoured Technobabble over politicobabble.

@Peremensoe: Which one was Violations? That Troi mind-rape episode? Didnt a similar thing happen in DS9 with OBrien's wife being mind-invaded? It seems each Trek series has a mental-invasion episode. I cant think of any better than Remember though.
Trekker - Fri, Mar 28, 2014 - 7:53pm (USA Central)
Best Star Trek "genocide" allegory; it is not commenting on the details of mass murder or concentration camps, but the simple acceptance that "a group of people" were unworthy to live along with another group.

In human history, we've made many similar claims and done many mass genocides based on this premise.

It does not need to be about Jews vs Germans/Aryans, Muslims vs Ethnic Bosnians, Armenians vs Turks, traditional cambodians vs Pol Pot loyalists, and on...

I can name even more, but it is a simple fact that we are far from achieving the enlightenment that Star Trek promises.

9.5/10
Ric - Tue, Apr 1, 2014 - 3:49pm (USA Central)
Excelent episode, with a fantastic ending. Sure, mind-invasion episodes are not new in Star Trek. But this one was helded with a soft nice touch, and a such a feeling of powerlessness in last part. Really good.

As of the comparison with Israel-Palestine, I regret to have read Ian's comment and strongly second Corey's suggestions above.
kapages - Mon, Jun 16, 2014 - 11:18pm (USA Central)
Trekker got it right. This is Star Trek.

Of course, Belana is not acting as a senior officer but as a teenager.
Even if she did feel she was right, the confrontation should have been performend only with the captain's consent.
Robert - Thu, Jul 17, 2014 - 11:08am (USA Central)
@kapages - A senior officer could have maybe handled that better (as she acknowledged) but she didn't even finish her Starfleet training and even in Starfleet I doubt they teach you to feel less angry at genocide.

Also, I have to wonder if that's why she was chosen, because she looked like if she got pissed off enough she'd deal with it loudly.
Vylora - Sun, Aug 24, 2014 - 8:38am (USA Central)
One thing that I've always appreciated Star Trek for was its ability to tell any kind of story. First and foremost it is a show about people; humans and aliens alike. It just happens to be in a futuristic setting. Therefore it makes sense that it can have episodes with nearly unlimited opportunities for plot and subject matter. An extremely well-written allegorical episode, such as this one, only serves to remind me of said appreciation.

Really great dialogue and performances, beautifully directed, and a plot that is very nicely thought out. It also helps that the guest stars hold their own quite well and enhance the experience. Nearly a classic Trek outing and one of Voyager's best thus far.

3.5 stars.

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