Star Trek: Voyager



Air date: 2/27/1997
Teleplay by Brannon Braga
Story by Jimmy Diggs
Directed by Robert Sheerer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I will have to land the shuttle manually. Brace for impact."
"Make sure you crash it DIFFERENTLY this time."

— Lt. Tuvok and me

Nutshell: A lackluster plot further sabotaged by some pretty awful execution. A highly unfortunate occurrence.

Voyager's uneven third season takes a turn for the worse with "Rise," an incoherent mix of silly action, heavy-handed intrigue, shaky character interplay, and typical disaster themes. Coming off the heels of the pointless "Darkling," "Rise" is an unsettling entry into the third season and not much of a way to end sweeps month.

The plot begins with a rather illogical disaster backdrop as Voyager destroys an asteroid on a collision course with a planet colonized by some new friendly aliens called the Nezu. The asteroid fragments unexpectedly, and large pieces of it crash to the surface causing huge dust storms and forcing the colonists to evacuate. (Maybe next time Janeway won't wait until 30 seconds before an asteroid hits a planet before blowing it up.)

Tuvok and Neelix take a shuttle along with some of the Nezu officials to the surface to assist in the evacuations. It doesn't take long before "Rise" starts making big mistakes, beginning first and foremost with Yet Another Shuttle Crash [TM]. I was actually chuckling through the silly scene where the shuttlecraft was shaking and rocking and Tuvok was reporting that the stabilizers were off-line (or whatever). Voyager has made the Shuttle Crash into such a ludicrous cliche tha that the whole idea has become positively laughable. Why, oh why can't the writers think of different ways for putting characters in difficult situations? (Anything would be better than the Shuttle Crash.) These difficult situations have long felt contrived because there's never any apparent thought put into them. It's simply a conjured means put to an end.

And the "end" featured in "Rise" is nowhere near satisfying. Once we get the Shuttle Crash over with, the plot begins turning into nothing less than a big, lumbering mess. Since the shuttle is (naturally) out of contact with Voyager and Our Heroes have to escape before they're buried by a fallout of settling dust, Neelix observes a "tether" near the crash site—a 300-kilometer pole extending from the surface of the planet into space with a carriage to lift people from the surface—and devises an escape plan. (By the way, I'm not even going to begin on the plausibility of a "300-kilometer pole in the ground extending into space." No comment here at all.) He used to work on similar devices in his past (it's not until later that we find out that he only worked on 1/10 scale working models—typical Neelix), and thinks he can apply his knowledge of those systems to repairing the damaged tether.

Within the tether control room, Neelix is nabbed and held hostage by a woman named Lillias (Lisa Kaminir) who has taken shelter there. She holds a knife to Neelix's throat in one of the more overwrought and tensionless scenes of the type that I can remember. (Everyone knew she would release him after the commercial break and they'd become friends, so why did they drag the scene out so long?)

Most of what's wrong with "Rise" appears to be the fault of director Robert Sheerer and the actors. While Braga's teleplay is nowhere near the realm of "stellar," it isn't all that insultingly bad either—it's more along the lines of "simply standard, unambitious Voyager." What really fails here, rather, is the execution. Sheerer can't milk any tension out of any scene or situation. And most of the guest actors, to be blunt, offer absolutely terrible performances and completely flat line delivery. Ethan Phillips and Tim Russ are fine, sure, but considering all their scenes are opposite these other (for lack of a better word) bad actors, none of the scenes work.

Kaminir is passable but far from portraying an interesting character. Kelly Connell as Sklar and Geof Prysirr as Hanjuan, on the other hand, are both atrocious and manage to embarrass everyone else in just about every scene they're involved with—which is highly problematic considering how pivotal (Connell in particular) their characters turn out to be. The only decent guest star is Alan Oppenheimer as the ambassador (who appeared in DS9's "The Jem'Hadar" as the captain of the Odyssey), but, unfortunately, he has the fewest scenes.

Then there's the reliance on "disaster" themes—putting characters in extreme situations without the benefit of decent drama—as Tuvok, Neelix, and the Nezu have to cope with a new problem when Dr. Vatm (Tom Towles) launches the carriage pod before Neelix can repair the systems, forcing everyone to begin improvising on the fly as they begin their ascent. Most of the plotting in "Rise" is simply forgettable, but as the episode progresses Braga piles more and more extra baggage onto the story, introducing a contrived "murder" angle when Vatm dies due to apparent poisoning; lots of scenes of "dissension" among Our Heroes, mostly badly performed; then an "intrigue" angle as the Neelix/Tuvok plot ties into Voyager learning the "asteroids" are actually artificially-created devices that, as Chakotay puts it, "aren't hitting their planet by chance."

Then there's the "character theme," which boils down to Neelix trying to impress Tuvok and consistently being dismissed because Tuvok doesn't like him. (Come on—this is the same after-school special type of material that arose between Neelix and Paris in last season's "Parturition.") Strangely, this is the only angle of the story that comes close to working, since both Russ and Phillips seem genuinely into the idea. Neelix's actions strike me as pretty childish (which like much of what he does in this episode is pretty much in-character, reassuring me that it's a general problem with Neelix and not necessarily this installment). When Tuvok refuses to acknowledge Neelix's gut feeling, what does Neelix do? Being the only one who knows how, he refuses to pilot the carriage any further until Tuvok agrees with him. This strikes me as rather wrong-headed on Neelix's account (although Tuvok doesn't come across a whole lot better under the story's attempts to put some blame on his dismissive attitude toward Neelix)—but it's admittedly the only scene in the episode that caused me to sit up and take note.

With all these story elements tugging at each other, Braga merely proves that more is not better; although I still think it potentially could've worked if the transitions between all the different elements were done more effectively. The way Sheerer clumsily moves back and forth between the plot angles hurts a lot, and made me say "so what?" on several occasions. The story, while definitely not good, might've worked okay if not so haphazardly assembled.

The action culminates with a couple obligatory fight scenes (punctuated with some fairly lousy special effects sequences) when Sklar is revealed as a traitor in cahoots with a group of aliens that sent the "asteroids" to the planet in an attempt to force an evacuation and claim the planet as their own. On the roof of the carriage Tuvok finds a data pad containing technological information about the bad guys' ship, which conveniently allows Voyager to defeat the alien bad guys—in a stock battle scene of alarming ineptitude.

"Rise" is so much of a mess that the final scene features Neelix basically explaining the entire plot and making the connections that would've been obvious under stronger storytelling. If the story hadn't been so choppy and badly performed then maybe the plot could've been simply "okay"; unfortunately, it covers so much ground so unsuccessfully that it ends up being a big waste of time. I wouldn't go so far as to say the story is insultingly bad and lacking in substance the way "Darkling" was (although it was quite mindless). But in another respect "Rise" is much worse: It holds very little entertainment value. (For at least "Darkling" was sporadically amusing with Picardo's portrayal of Evil Doc.)

What I said for "Darkling" also applies here: This episode is watchable, but nothing more.

By the way, "Shuttle Crash" is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures Corporation.

Previous episode: Darkling
Next episode: Favorite Son

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42 comments on this review

Sun, Dec 23, 2007, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
Boring episode, I found myself having to force myself to watch at times, altough it was nice to see Neelix bleed.
Big Jones
Thu, Mar 27, 2008, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
C'mon. It wasn't that bad. Time spent in the company of Tuvok is always good. The majority of the episode was spent in Neelix/Tuvok's perspective, so i didn't have a big problem with the lack of explication about what was going on. I was just along for the ride to the ionosphere.
Sun, Aug 3, 2008, 8:53am (UTC -5)
Partly a rip off of "Flight Of The Phoenix", people stranded after a plane crash in the desert convert the larger plane into a smaller jury-rigged plane on the instructions of a nerdy guy. It turns out all the aviation knowledge the nerdy guy has is from making models. To spite this and the gratuitous shuttle craft carnage, (which is a great point about Voyager)I still kind of thought this was one of the better episodes.
Tue, Dec 23, 2008, 8:28am (UTC -5)
I rather liked the idea of the sky tether--it reminded me of Robert Heinlein's 'Beanstalk' from "Friday." Of all the various transport devices in the Star Trek universe, I thought this one was pretty interesting. Unfortunately, they couldn't come up with much that was fun to do with it.
John Pate
Wed, Dec 30, 2009, 9:13am (UTC -5)
Although the shuttle craft crash in large numbers, presumably Voyager can recover at least some of the bits for re-use. And, in any case, later on they build the Delta Flyer - twice - and that's only a special effort because they design it themselves from the ground up.

More mysterious is how they make so little of retro-engineering the Doctor's C29 mobile emitter and the Borg tech from the various Borg corpses and encounters they've had.
Fri, Mar 26, 2010, 11:33am (UTC -5)
Pretty average episode, but enjoyed Neelix's work here. Not a character I normally like with his usual vacuous statements and over doing of his family's death (which he bores everyone he comes into contact with). But here, he stood up to Tuvok (ok in a childish way), but he was sure he was right, and as Tuvok did tend to dismiss him (understandably on his part eh?) he didn't have much choice. I didn't understand the plot with who was on who's side but I don't think you needed to. Luckily.
Yes, well observed that this was a sci fi Flight of the Phoenix - it really is.
Fri, Oct 1, 2010, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
The entire premise of this episode is faulty. Doesn't the Prime Directive forbid even benign interference in a civilization's "natural evolution," even if that "evolution" results in the civilization's destruction? Cf. TNG's "Homeward." Yes, they were fake asteroids, but nobody knew that going in. I hope the excuse isn't "That wasn't actually their planet; it was just some colony they had set up."

Also, doesn't a space body, whatever it was when it was a space body (asteroid in this case), become a meteorite when it strikes a planetary surface?
Thu, Oct 14, 2010, 11:52pm (UTC -5)
why is neelix the only one who knows how to pilot a friggin elevator?
Sun, Oct 24, 2010, 11:01am (UTC -5)
I can't help but laugh every time I see the scene in sickbay with Neelix trying to put his backpack on and Doc saying "Mr. Tuvok seldom acknowledges MY brillance." That was pure comic genius.

As for the rest of the episode... well, there are too many plot holes to even count. Experienced or not, how could Neelix be able to learn alien technology so quickly? Why would Sklar betray his race? Why would - oh, never mind.
Wouter Verhelst
Wed, Feb 16, 2011, 5:30am (UTC -5)

I've read many of your reviews, and often find myself agreeing with them, and your score, /after/ reading the review, even if I didn't agree with your score beforehand. But there's one thing I vehemently disagree with, and that's your dislike of Neelix.

I find Neelix very much to be a multi-layered personality. I don't think he's someone who's fully coped with the loss of his parents and his sister yet; his often lightheaded jokes seem to me to be nothing more than a way to camouflage the sadness that is still in his heart. When he dies in "Mortal Coil", it seems to me that he's not so much sad about realizing there's no afterlife, as he is about realizing he won't see them again.

The contrast of Neelix against Tuvok is also something that, I think, works very well. In this particular episode, we see it get to a head. Neelix has been putting up with this dismissive Vulcan who wants nothing to do with him for a very very long time, even though he considers him a friend (and Tuvok knows this). When he believes there's something important on the roof, Tuvok believes he's just being silly, and dismisses him without even considering the possibility that he might be right. That just pushes the built-up tension to the surface, and Neelix and Tuvok get into an argument. Not at the most convenient of times, I'll grant you, but these kinds of arguments often do.

Also, I don't see his stopping the tether carriage as childlike. If the party inside the carriage wants to go and investigate what's up on the roof, that needs to happen when there's actually still air outside, since I don't think there are any space suits in the carriage. Granted, someone could take a shuttle from Voyager and do it that way, but that takes time, and we're in a crunch here. Neelix doesn't actually say it with so many words, but his "we're not moving until someone checks" does make sense in that light.

I'll grant you that the acting and directing wasn't stellar; but I do think that based on Neelix and Tuvok's history, the interpersonal conflict presented here seems very believable in my eyes, and would warrant more than just 1.5 stars.

Oh, and regarding the technical feasibility, you might want to check the wikipedia page on 'Space elevator' :-)
Wed, Feb 23, 2011, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
I was gratified to see you acknowledged the HORRIBLE acting of the guest stars in this episode. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Kelly Connell makes the guy that plays Travis Mayweather seem like Marlon Brando.
Wed, Mar 16, 2011, 12:38am (UTC -5)
@navamske : The PD doesn't apply here, the civilisation is warp-capable and they asked in an official capacity for assistance from Voyager as a unified planet (no internal conflict) from a natural disaster. Were the civilisation pre-warp or had they known there was a political conflict, the case would be different. The Enterprise helped civilisations with natural disasters dozens of times.

@Wouter Verhelst : thank you for putting so eloquently what I've always loved about Neelix. There is a value to all people, and Neelix is a wonderful person who hides his deep pain (which in many would make one cynical and menacing) with saccharine humour. People who dismiss him as "annoying" really miss the entire point of his character. It's so sad how this show went (and goes) over so many people's heads.

It's not a great episode for the reasons you mentioned (directing and guest acting), but the characterisations of Tuvok and Neelix make the whole endeavour worth watching. And guess what? The interactions they have here play deeply into their character development over the next four years, but hey this series doesn't have any continuity because of the all-important shuttle count. God knows how important that is.
Captain Jim
Mon, Mar 21, 2011, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
I have just re-watched this episode for the first time in years and find myself much in agreement with Wouter Verhelst. It certainly isn't among the most memorable Voyager episodes, but is nowhere near as dreadful as Jammer portrays here (IMO). And I think it's far better than Darkling. Rather than 1 1/2 stars, I'd give it 2 1/2. I found it quite engrossing and entertaining.
Sun, Apr 1, 2012, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
For the record, I'm not a Neelix hater. I'm not exactly a fan either. The only time he's interesting is when he has to confront that inner pain that is written into his character. It's the fun-loving, easy going facade of the character that's annoying. He's not funny, he's not particularly endearing, and he offers virtually no witty repartee of note. Bones he is not to Tuvok's Spock. The whole "Mr. Vulcan" thing is the perfect example. The jealousy over Kes angle is another egregious example of how overwrought and badly written the character could be.

Most of the time, though, I'm able to ignore these annoyances, particularly if there's a good story going on. This particular episode? Not so much. I'm waiting for Naomi to start her rapid aging process. Ethan Phillips and Scarlett Pomers had decent chemistry on screen.
Mon, Jun 4, 2012, 10:20am (UTC -5)
You realize that if they rapid-aged Naomi, it wouldn't be Scarlett Pomers anymore...?
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 11:01am (UTC -5)
@wouter verhelst -- Thanks for defending Neelix. His character is too often misunderstood. His desperation to be needed and loved is always there under the annoying cheerfulness. Phillips shows that even when the script doesn't seem to call for it. I loved how Neelix stood up to Tuvok, and the scene in the mess hall at the end was adorable.
Sun, Sep 30, 2012, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
When Voyager first started I was very excited to see how several characters would evolve, Neelix being one of them. At very first I liked him, then I found him annoying, and then I found him VERY annoying. Then after watching "Fair Trade", something happened to my view of, Neelix- I felt sorry for him. Feeling sorry for him then made me like him again and brought a clearer understanding to his character.

So now we come to this episode, "Rise". And while it wasn't the best episode by far, I did find myself caring about this loud and annoying alien who very much wants the approval and friendship of a crew mate who any viewer knows, doesn't like him. Kudos to telling Mr. Vulcan how he really is, Mr. Neelix. Kudos.
Thu, Oct 4, 2012, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
Watched this turd for the first time since it aired on TV. I fell asleep 2 times, but i didn't seem to miss anything.

Sucks hard.
Sat, Apr 13, 2013, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
I love Tuvok, he is my favourite Star Trek character. But in this episode he was a prick!
Lt. Yarko
Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 12:56am (UTC -5)
This episode has so many problems. The biggest one: A huge dramatic point is made of the fact that they are going to run out of air halfway up the tether. Then that problem utterly disappears! They even have the door open for quite some time which would make the problem multitudes worse for everyone, except maybe Tuvok. Did the writers forget about this aspect of the plot? Did they not understand WHY air supply in a high altitude vehicle is critical and that keeping that door open would mean death for everyone inside? Tuvok even mentions that they would all have died if that one dude had opened the door. I watched again the scenes that developed the air supply problem and it was made clear that the injection Tuvok gave them was only supposed to be a temporary fix. They were going to run out of air and DIE if the remaining working air thingy couldn’t be enhanced. Then, no one ever worked on that problem. Also, how was The Bad Guy able to survive on top of the vehicle to fight with Tuvok if Tuvok was the only one capable of breathing out there? The Bad Guy throws Tuvok off the vehicle and sort of saunters over to the data thingy without showing any signs of struggling with breathing.

I disagree that Tuvok is any more condescending to Neelix than he is to anyone else who shows signs of emotion. That fact made Neelix’s blow up seem even more childish. Neelix reminded me of religious people who get emotionally upset when someone simply questions their beliefs. (A muslim got quite upset at me once when I suggested that perhaps Mohammed wasn’t a prophet of God. He told me that I was insulting him. I was clearly not, however.) As an aside, in my opinion, the only Vulcan who didn’t condescend to emotional people was T’Pol. She was quite rational about the emotional people around here. Spock was pretty good about this too, although some of his comments about human emotions came out a bit snide.

Oh, and to the people who are saying that we who are annoyed by Neelix are misunderstanding him: No I'm not. I completely understand his history. That doesn't change the fact that while I am watching the show, his is the only character that makes me cringe in annoyance often. He IS annoying even if I understand why. However, I am not convinced that a person with his past would be that annoying. He is written to be practically incapable of recognizing that people around him are bothered by him. I have known people in real life who are sort of like this (never this extreme), but they can usually take a hint. Even if YOU don't find Neelix annoying (which you seem to do -- you just grant him the context of his past), that doesn't mean that people who do find him annoying are clueless. I believe that he was deliberately written over the top and allowed to be acted over the top in an attempt at humor by the producers. But, as you can see, many people find that kind of thing annoying rather than funny. I don't blame the actor for this, by the way. Even if Ethan Phillips would choose to play Neelix over the top, it is the responsibility of the production team to make sure the actors are giving them the performances that they desire. The Neelix character came from the same place as Jar Jar -- a production mind that thought that shrill, cloying, and overbearing are funny. For many people they are not. Neelix is fine when he is played more low key. It’s just too bad that he is rarely played that way.

Wouter Verhelst
Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 3:13am (UTC -5)

I agree that the episode has many problems. But the interpersonal conflict between Neelix and Tuvok works, in my opinion.

Is Neelix an annoying character? I can see why people think so, even though I don't agree with that sentiment. Even so, annoying people do exist in real life, too. The fact that Neelix is annoying in and of itself doesn't make him unrealistic as a character. I don't think that people who find him annoying are necessarily "clueless".

That Tuvok is condescending towards everyone in the carriage is completely irrelevant. Personally, I can tolerate condescending people for a while, but if I have to live with them for a long time, eventually my patience runs out; and if I believe I'm right about something and people are just dismissing me out of hand, the limit of my patience will be reached much earlier.

Both are true in the case of the Neelix/Tuvok interaction here: Tuvok isn't condescending just in this episode, the two have a history, while Tuvok doesn't have that history with other people in the carriage (they're throwaway characters) Additionally, it's Neelix who came up with the idea that perhaps there's something out on the roof, and Tuvok doesn't even entertain the possibility.

Is an emotional outburst, as Neelix had one in this episode, the most productive way to solve the problem? Most likely not. Is it a human, understandable, and believable way? Absolutely.
Sat, Jul 27, 2013, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
Tuvok didn't dismiss Neelix's desire to examine the roof. He simply said they would examine it after meeting up with Voyager. That makes perfect sense; they could use Voyager's tools and scanners to find the device as opposed to scrambling around in barely breathable air with a pretty big drop if one happens to stumble (or get attacked by conspirators).

Neelix's tantrum was childish and unfair to Tuvok, but in character for him. His low self-esteem causes him to be hypersensitive to perceived slights and he doesn't seem to consider long-term ramifications of his actions.... Like the fact that stopping the vehicle and opening the door endangers everyone. While I understand why he acts that way, his issues make him a liability.

I don't blame Ethan Phillips. I was an avid fan of "Benson" as a child and therefore he (and Rene A. from DS9) will always have a special place in my heart for their respective roles of Pete and Clayton. He is a talented actor. When given good material, he does quite well. He just was written poorly most of the time.

I did crack up at the "you have to have the last word" gag at the end.
Wed, Sep 4, 2013, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
I've always really liked this episode and I agree with Wouter and the others. The Neelix/Tuvok dynamic works, and it's a completely novel type of episode for Star Trek. Instead of the standard Voyager-based action we have an episode largely set on an orbital tether(!) featuring a multitude of guest stars (who I thought were fine) and plenty of intrigue and action that keeps the viewer interested and makes sense (as opposed to the Voyager Action Insert). It's a very novel episode and excellently paced.
Wed, Sep 11, 2013, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
Come on... give some credit for originality here... the orbital tether was a good, sci-fi idea. The bombard-the-planet-you-want-with-asteroids isn't an awful idea either.

Plus there were some excellent Tuvok-Neelix moments here.

Neelix is no Jar-Jar... that's lazy and unfair. Jar-Jar is a racist caricature, Neelix is perennially cheery, and perhaps annoyingly so, but probably a necessary distraction on the "ship of the damned" that stirs up the typical Starfleet interactions (in addition to the not so uptight Maquis). There's all sorts in the world (galaxy) and interacting in society means interacting with them and putting up with them. Life would be a tad grim without this variety.

I'd prefer him than another stick-up-the-arse TNG take-yourself-too-seriously type.

Plus he was right in this case about his "hunch"... where's the credit for that?

Finally, isn't it accepted that the materials for building a shuttlecraft can be replicated? I think it's fairly realistic that a shuttlecraft can be damaged in all manner of circumstances, and I'm pretty much positive that it has been established in recent Star Trek that such vehicles are mostly built of replicated materials, not ordered from a factory somewhere.
Tue, Oct 29, 2013, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
I Don't love this episode and do agree there are a lot of problems, but I do not get all the hate this one seems to get. As has been said, I also think for the most part the Neelix/Tuvok works, and I have always appreciated that there seems to be a play on trying to improve the moral of "Galileo 7." Although G7 is a far superior episode over all, it always annoys me that in the end no one acknowledges that it's combination of things or a middle ground that wins the day. Instead it pretty much comes out and says The Racist-irrational people are right, and no one really pays for disrespecting the order of command. While this episode is inferior, I do appreciate that it tries to show a more rounded pro/con of a Vulcan command. Here Tuvok and Neelix learn to respect each other, instead of the odd ending where everyone patronizes and laughs at Spock. To reiterate I love G7 but I do appreciate that this episode tries to deal with the one part of that G7 that knocks half a star off of the score for me. (My Opinion: G7 4.5 Stars, Rise 2.5 stars)
Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 10:16am (UTC -5)
It isn't a bad episode, but it certainly isn't well written or directed either. Lazy directing and writing is easy to spot... for example:

Neelix says he can barely open his eyes... Tuvok gives him some motivation, and the next minute he is wide awake and saving the day. A good director would have made sure that this was acted properly.. that you could see how hard it was for him to carry on when injured so much.

That's one example of many in this episode and beyond.
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 6:31am (UTC -5)
the only plot hole is the shield modulation frequency of the alien ship. How could this information be in the hands of a scientist on the planet?
Why would it even be disclosed to anyone, except the alien ships personell, for that matter?

I'm tired of seeing voyager get outgunned all the time, and get saved by a last minute miracle. Also I'm tired of seeing voyager always take the first hit (or multiple hits), before they begin pondering what to do.

The breathable air is another hole, but i'll forgive it. Lets assume at some off-screen point they fixed it.

In overall though, it was an original episode, and worth 2,5-3 stars.

Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
While I thought "Darkling" deserved the benefit of the doubt for its entertainment value and the Doctor's apparent (and endearing) naïveté in improving himself; I find this episode an exercise in mundane plotting replete with contrivances and second-rate performances.

There's nothing about this episode that ever strives to be anything more than the sum of its underwhelming parts. Most of the performances read like a first rehearsal based on a rough draft. The idea of a space tether is certainly fresh in ST (though it is a genuine theory in scientific circles) but is merely used here as a backdrop to a bad story. And the pairing of Tuvok/Neelix seems forced out of script necessity for our benefit rather than being an organic part of an unfolding story.

One can add all of the interesting ideas in the world to an episode; but don't forget about plotting, dialogue, performance, and overall storytelling quality as well. What is here isn't overly-offensive, but it is trite and tiresome.

1 star.
Sun, Oct 19, 2014, 8:52am (UTC -5)
As often, I disagre with you Jammer.

I really liked this episode, it was different, and you who are always asking for "character developement" / storyline, well you've got one here! The premise is almost irrelevant. the whole show is about the Tuvox-Neelix relationship and a "long due" elaboration on their rapport. I thought the outburst was really well acted and justified for the character, and really liked the final dialogue as well.

I generally don't like Neelix, but in this episode the whole thing worked. I also liked the idea of aliens invading other worlds cleverly, not by force but by ruse...
Mon, Aug 17, 2015, 11:38am (UTC -5)
Jammer, while I agree that the performance of the guest actors wss not very good (to be nice), I will say that this is a good Tuvok/Neelix plot. As you said, visuals are almost laughable at times.

It's totally in character for Neelix to act the way he did. He LIVES to please folks, Captain on down and he gets no "love" from Tuvok (because he's Vulcan or course). I guess what we learn about Neelix here, is that he does required some level of acceptance/appreciation for his efforts.

I just watched this again last night. I do have one question for the brain trust here. Why was that "pad" on the roof? Who put it there, for who?

Also, it was pretty darn funny that Tuvok struggled so to get that PAD out and then Sklar just easily turns the knob as it comes right out! :-)

The ending in the mess hall was pretty darn funny.

I'll go 2.0 stars.
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
Voyager is in mid-battle when Neelix and company reach the top, and Janeway tells them to stand by to transport, and then suddenly Tuvok is on the bridge at tactical. Did they drop the shields in the middle of a battle (bad)? Or did they beam through the shields somehow (worse)?
Tue, Dec 8, 2015, 10:39am (UTC -5)
I don't have a problem with the space tether, as it's a concept being explored right now as a viable means of moving cargo (and potentially people) to and from the International Space Station. And I didn't mind the Tuvok/Neelix dynamic that was unfolding. But I must agree, this was one of the worst directed episodes of Voyager ever. Braga's teleplay was okay, but Sheerer's directing was awful. The guest actors were terrible, the plot movement was choppy, and I never felt engaged with the story. Could have been so much better, but the production was so bad I'd give it just one star.
Thu, Dec 10, 2015, 8:12am (UTC -5)
For the record, I rate it higher than Threshold.

I think the problem with the Tuvok/Neelix interaction is I kept basing it on human values. Neither Tuvok nor Neelix are human so it's difficult to say if this scene was as serious as it would have been if it were a human he were interacting with like, say, Paris. Who also had his own issues from what we saw in S5's Gravity. Or better yet S1's Ex Post Facto.

Anyways Neelix was really the only talaxian we had seen so there was no baseline comparison to begin with on how they tend to act. It's harder for me to really say.

So I guess I default to human emotions but that's not really an accurate or fair assessment either since neither are human. Tuvok was full Vulcan and the choices made were not based on emotional context or a 'funny feeling' as Tuvok put it. Condescension would be based on an emotion akin to a superiority complex. He didn't come off as that. His temperament didn't change, in fact whether it was swift, decisive action or quiet, contemplating moments. I can easily put his performance in the Hall of Fame for Vulcan portrayals in the ST mythos.

Neelix as one reviewer well put it seemed to have this strong need to be accepted on some level by everyone. Including a Vulcan who does not express emotions. His actions in this case were dead wrong and downright dangerous. That I did not like in the least. I really wished they hadn't let him come along on the mission. His headstrong ways could have easily been the death of all of them. On a mission you don't have the luxury of acting like a child when something isn't going your way.

In this case the lift was prematurely launched and things had to be done quickly and completely without being so careless with the feelings because of a perceived condescending that never occurred. Watching the scene it wasn't even close. It was just a talaxian that demanded to be heard at a moment where survival should have been a priority. And whining for acceptance to a Vulcan, to boot.

I generally enjoy Ethan Phillips' work. But Neelix was not one of the better characters he's played.

With that being said, I am surprised that Tuvok completely dismissed what the dying scientist was saying. It was certainly plausible that if there were anything to be hidden it would be on the Maglev's roofside. As to what could be anyone's guess but it wasn't entirely illogical nor out of the question. He didn't need Neelix's childish outburst to come to that conclusion. Something else I slight the writers for.

As willful as the aliens were themselves (the female one had Neelix at knifepoint and the other one was a hotheaded caveman. BOTH wanted to toss the scientist out the Maglev door!) they had quite the audacity to attack Tuvok when they knew nothing about either of them. Why be so quick to take the hypersensitive talaxian's side? Tuvok was maintaining a cool head and stuck to the objective which was to position the carrier lift to transport range. Another source of contention for this ep.

I always enjoy Tim Russ' Tuvok. But truthfully there is no chemistry between he and Neelix. He and B'elanna had much more chemistry. S2's Resistance and S6's Barge Of The Dead were examples of that. He also had great chemistry with Jeri Ryan's Seven Of Nine. At least there was consistency as only a borg and a Vulcan can muster.

On another note as far as Spock's ways I always keep in mind that he was himself half human. Issues he took up had an underlying passion to them that you would not see in a typical Vulcan, such as in TNG's Unification. I think that was the source of all the arguments between he and his father Sarek. The fact that he chose to 'embrace' his Vulcan side is a very real human attribute. So appeals to his emotions were not surprising in the least. Just confirmation that even as a half human feelings sometimes get in the way.

Overall I rate it 1 to 1.5 stars. The execution left a lot to be desired.
Wed, Jan 27, 2016, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
I like Tuvok and Neelix so i don't under rate episodes featuring them like others do
Diamond Dave
Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 5:17am (UTC -5)
I liked the Tuvok/Neelix interaction and thought there was some useful character development here, even if it was along the lines of a Sesame Street type "and so they learned to respect each other" outcome.

It's just a shame the rest of the episode was so dull, and as others have noted that seems to lie mainly with the execution and performances rather than any fundamental problems with the idea. You have to wonder whether the FX budget for this one was running low too, because they seemed to be having something of a shocker this week. 1.5 stars.
Wed, May 11, 2016, 1:05am (UTC -5)
Episode was a good one I used to hate neelix but started to like the character after a while I actually get aggravated at kes for pushing their past aside for no reason they tend to do that a lot on star treks breaking up couples without reason an without resolve. I can see Janeway breaking protocol at will she's not like Picard she's more emotionally sound and not a stickler for rules. But air technicalities were off with air and acceleration . Also transporting with shields up is impossible in all other seasons and usually adds to problems on other episodes . But if they clarify all problems in all episodes we would never get stories just loads of technicalities .
Sun, May 22, 2016, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
I wonder how a 300 km tether was actually built. It certainly wasn't carried atop a land vehicle. Maybe it was by air ship and deposited to the ground or it was built by section and fitted all together to form one whole piece. As for the story, it is very forgettbly boring.
Wed, Jun 8, 2016, 2:40am (UTC -5)
I feel it necessary to mention that the space tether is in fact plausible. It was once theorized as a way to get people into space in the 50's and 60's. The idea is that if you launch a rocket laying out a cable, once it reaches orbit it acts as a counterweight and centrifugal force pulls the cable tight, providing you with a rail to space essentially. The trouble is that no material on Earth can handle the forces that would be put on a cable like that. But hell, this is Star Trek, we got weird alien metals for days. Just want to point out that the idea, with some fake metal, is indeed plausible.
Wed, Jun 8, 2016, 7:22am (UTC -5)

Yes, the technology wasn't there in the 50's/60's, but I believe those little carbon nano-fibers could get the trick done now.
Nicholas Ryan
Fri, Aug 19, 2016, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
"By the way, I'm not even going to begin on the plausibility of a "300-kilometer pole in the ground extending into space." No comment here at all."

Hasn't modern scientists established that this is completely feasible? They call it a space elevator.
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 16, 2017, 12:35pm (UTC -5)
I really should rewatch episodes in which they are together or at least this one before making this judgement, but going by what I remember-I just don't see the supposed condescension from Tuvok towards Neelix. Lack of patience certainly, annoyance and skepticism regarding his abilities but I really can't recall Tuvok somehow picking on Neelix or even behaving unreasonably. Yes, he doesn't like him and I relate to Neelix's frustations, given that he really wants his respect and friendship. Problem is, it's not like Neelix has just been trying to reach him and befriend him. He constantly acts as if he knew better what he needs and how he should behave and frankly, I think most people period would find his antics annoying. And if he just wanted Tuvok to loosen up, fine, but stuff like him making him a Vulcan soup and then changing it to make it super spicy or him wanting to do a Vulcan holiday but also wanting to change it up cause he personally doesn't enjoy it, those are less actions of an insecure man wanting to be liked and more of a self-obsessed jerk wanting to be liked. TBH, Neelix may like Tuvok more than he likes him, but respects him about the same.

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