Star Trek: Voyager

"Hope and Fear"

**

Air date: 5/20/1998
Teleplay by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"It does seem convenient." — Tuvok, on apparent good fortune (as well as Voyager plotting elements)

Nutshell: Despite a number of very good characterizations and intriguing themes, it's a fundamentally pointless, deceptive, contrived, and unforgivably manipulative story.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, between last week's episode and this episode, I actually opened my mind to the possibility that the starship Voyager might actually find its ticket home in the course of "Hope and Fear," a season finale that comes hyped by the promos as "the ultimate homecoming."

Okay, well, sure—I know better than to listen to the trailers; they're over-hyped nonsense and always have been. My first thought was, "Oh, come on, anyway. The crew is obviously not getting home." But some twisted logic in my brain started churning away and it actually began to get the better of me. Ultimately, it managed to convince me not to abandon all hope that the trailers weren't simply lying to us per usual.

Consider: We've already done the "failed attempt to get home" story theme on several occasions (e.g. "Eye of the Needle," "Prime Factors," "False Profits," and even—gag—"Threshold"); doing it again would be pointless and probably unforgivable, so why would they pretend to give it to us yet another time? Maybe they really aren't kidding around this time.

Consider: We have Rick Berman, of all people, garnering a story credit on an episode, something he hasn't done on this series since the pilot, and hasn't done on DS9 since "The Maquis," which itself was used to set up backstory for the launch of this series. With that in mind, maybe he was involved in preparing something really big—maybe even a completely new direction for the series.

Consider: The plot gives us a ship that could potentially take Voyager back to the Alpha Quadrant in a mere three months, bringing the Voyager crew home just in time for the beginning of season five following the three-month summer hiatus.

Consider: We have (in an ideal storytelling world that, admittedly, strikes me as far too daring and long-term for the Voyager creators to touch) the possibility that the fifth season of Voyager could focus on the crew's reintegration into Federation society.

Consider: We have a preview that is so deceptive in its use of visuals and so fundamentally misleading that the only two foreseeable options are that (a) the lie used to hide the reset-button nature of the plot is so audacious that it would be almost too appalling to imagine, or (b) we're actually being told the truth for once and big changes are in store, possibly as the show vies for a ratings boost. For a while, I actually found myself considering option "b."

Okay, so now I just feel like a big dupe—perhaps like the entire crew of Voyager has felt each of the times they realized their ticket home wasn't a ticket home. Once again, the crew of the starship Voyager has seen a potential end to their journey, and once again it ends in utter disappointment as it slips through their fingers. I'm asking myself just what it's supposed to mean to us as viewers. Is the tension in the plot supposed to boil down to "just how can the Voyager crew be foiled this time?"

At its fundamental core, a story like "Hope and Fear" strikes me as almost completely pointless. We've seen over and over again that the crew just nods and presses on—even after a lost dream like this—where they should probably be mutinying and beating themselves with blunt objects under such emotional turmoil. (I'm not even going to start in on how many opportunities this series has abandoned concerning the exploration of normal people's emotional vulnerabilities.) Maybe I should've just turned off my brain and realized that the producers would simply go the route that deep down I knew they'd go: the Trekkian Status Quo. Nothing of any importance ever changes on this series; heck, I learned that back in season two.

But, to be perfectly fair and honest, the trick used this time around is packaged about as reasonably as it probably could've been under the circumstances, as it gives Janeway the role of calm skeptic from the outset. In the process, the story also brings about some very interesting character elements. It's almost enough to make the story workable on its own sneaky terms.

But "almost enough" is not enough, because there are so many other glaring elements here that make the episode's underlying intentions turn out to be nothing more than a big con on the audience—a con that is so seemingly precalculated that it's all but unforgivable.

The story brings This Week's Seemingly Friendly Alien [TM] named Arturis (Ray Wise) on board Voyager. His people are expert linguists. Give him five minutes with a dictionary and he can speak your language better than you. His unique abilities allow him to help the crew translate the damaged, encrypted file that was sent from Starfleet across the Hirogen-operated communications array back in "Hunters"—a message Janeway has unsuccessfully been working to crack for months.

Before too long, and perhaps too easily, Arturis (whose species resembles the Tenctonese from Alien Nation) decodes the damaged transmission, the directions of which lead the Voyager crew to a hidden experimental starship that Starfleet apparently sent as a means to bring the crew back to the Alpha Quadrant. It's the USS Dauntless, a ship that operates on a "quantum slipstream drive," capable of making the 60,000-light-year trip home in a mere three months. Might this be the end of the journey? The crew grows excited.

Strangely, maybe because I was partially duped, I actually felt the excitement the crew was feeling. Everything about the episode—Dennis McCarthy's wondrous score, the impressive sets built for the new starship, Winrich Kolbe's stellar direction over the awesome discovery of the new ship, the discussions among the crew that prove more promise of hope than we've seen in years—gives it a larger-than-life feel, as if the show were pulling out all the stops for something truly interesting. I guess I have to give the episode some points for actually having me engaged as it unfolded.

On the other hand, I'm not sure what exactly the creators were going for here. Upon seeing how the episode unfolded, the only possible intended message I can think of is something along the lines of "don't get your hopes up, because deception comes in unlikely packages and getting your hopes crushed hurts a lot." Unfortunately, that's not something I really want to see on this series, because all it does is turn potentially interesting drama into obvious rehashes of "Eye of the Needle" or other examples.

Now I have to ask myself just what the point was for Starfleet to send such a large, encrypted, mysterious, seemingly important message—a message that apparently just said, "Sorry, but we've found no way to bring you back." Come on—that's absurd. Frankly, I find it more believable that a large, encrypted message would reveal the hidden whereabouts of a magical starship than it would simply say "too bad, but good luck." But, of course, this turns out not to be the case. Now I wish I had never known about the encrypted Starfleet message in the first place; it feels like a waste of a perfectly good mystery. If this is the best the Voyager creators can do with a major mystery revelation, then I'm not sure what's left to find in the Delta Quadrant that could possibly be interesting.

For that matter, Arturis' method of revenge really strains credulity. In four words: I don't buy it. It turns out he has been following Voyager around for months, "waiting for an opportunity" to hatch his vengeance. Boy, it sure was lucky for him that the crew happened across the communications array back in "Message in a Bottle," and happened to also receive an encrypted message from Starfleet command. I wonder where his Master Plan [TM] would be without these convenient happenstances. Now he hopes to lure the entire Voyager crew aboard this fake Federation ship (which does indeed have a real quantum slipstream drive) so that he can quickly deliver them to Borg space, where they will be assimilated in order to satisfy his perverse need for poetic justice. When he can't get the entire crew, he manages to kidnap just Janeway and Seven, instead.

Basically, what we have here is a plot with pieces that are cobbled together out of unlikely coincidences and prior story events that have been twisted to fit the end result. And the reason for this end result to me seems motivated more by an obligatory need for the creators to revisit the "let's get home" theme rather than to tell a real story.

That's not to say the episode is completely without merit, because working in "Hope and Fear's" favor is a great deal of stellar character work and some surprisingly effective closure. I liked, for instance, a lot of the motivation behind Arturis' need for revenge (even if the methods of his revenge are extremely unlikely). The fact that Janeway's negotiation with the Borg in "Scorpion" had negative consequences on other Delta Quadrant peoples is an interesting idea, and Arturis' pointed accusation that Janeway can't see beyond her own crew's interests brings forth some valid observations. The use of the Borg collective as a dramatic device to bookend the season also works rather well.

Characteristically, this episode continues to capitalize on the growth of Seven as an individual. Seven fearing the prospect of living in a human society is both relevant and interesting. The bond between Janeway and Seven here is played so well that it's actually moving. The argument in the astrometrics lab is beautifully acted and directed. And little moments like when Seven casts a smile in Harry's direction, or catches Janeway off-guard with a joke, make for priceless character scenes. True, the repeated use of Seven continues to demonstrate how little the creative staff seems to care about the other characters, but it's still great stuff in a vacuum.

Despite the cast's best efforts, however, the problem is that the rest of the episode falls apart at the seams. All the mechanics of the plot strike me as being carefully and deceptively manufactured so they can be initially read as a "possible way home," only so they can later be cunningly revealed as a "sinister alien plot." Given the great lengths that the story goes to so that all the clues can be read two ways, and all the plot holes that subsequently arise as a result, I am not happy with the end result of this season finale. I feel like I've watched an hour of manipulative television that set out strictly to make me care about a problem that fundamentally has no right to be cared about.

The contrivances are so pervasive that it borders on the ridiculous. After months of trying, Janeway finally happens to stumble across a way to decode the real message in order to confirm her suspicions that Arturis is lying. How fortunate. Janeway and Seven, locked in a holding cell, manage to escape so they can try to stop Arturis. How fortunate. The Voyager plays deus ex machina by temporarily adapting the slipstream technology to their own engines so they can catch up with Arturis and rescue Janeway and Seven In the Nick of Time [TM]. How fortunate. Naturally, this technology can't be used to get the crew home, because it's too likely to destroy the ship in the process. How fortunate, or unfortunate—depending upon whether you're Captain Janeway or Brannon Braga.

Sure, I'll gladly accept the intriguing, well-realized character themes that arise as incidentals, but if I look at "Hope and Fear" for what it really is, I see an episode that exists simply to bait and hook viewers with a lie and then offer them a meretricious "real truth" in an attempt to make them forget they've been misled. As for the lengths Arturis goes to in order to gain his elaborate revenge—sorry, but as Janeway said, "All of this is just a little too perfect." By episode's end, Ray Wise's performance as Arturis goes so far over the top in trying to convey tortured obsession that it merely becomes hokey.

What we have in "Hope and Fear" is some sincere and probing subplotting at the mercy of a sorely misguided premise. There are moments of the story that work, but I felt far too misled by pointless pretense to see the episode as anything more than a crafty attempt to make me care about a problem that inevitably ends the way every other analysis of this theme ends—in a failure that the crew doesn't even seem to react to. The particulars of the story being told—that of an alien out for revenge—could've been told any number of other ways, so using the theme of getting home is ultimately just a gag to get our attention. I see no reason why it should get our attention anymore.

Upcoming: Reruns as far as the eye can see, beginning with the two-part "Year of Hell." I'll be coming out with a recap and general commentary of this entire season, which you can look for sometime in June. Until then, I'm outta here.

Previous episode: One
Next episode: Night

End-of-season article: Fourth Season Recap

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46 comments on this review

EP
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
The tech-mystery setup is beyond ridiculous, but I found the charges leveled against Janeway by Arturis to be the most intriguing part of the episode. The Captain made a decision that shifted the balance of power in the Delta Quadrant, an area of space not governed by the UFP, and faced none of the repercussions of the choice, especialy since Kes blasted them an additional 9,500 light-years.
Another question that is raised again (but again, not answered) is the way in which Janeway insists upon Seven generally becoming human, and specifically, like the Captain, with her-self-righteousness in full blaze. She seems to have conveniently forgotten that she took Seven of Nine by force, much like the Borg did originally.

I really liked the design of the Dauntless, thought.
Tim
Fri, Jul 2, 2010, 8:40pm (UTC -5)
The first time I saw this episode, there was a point in which I was absolutely intrigued. They had me thinking Voyager would end up going backwards. Losing that 10,000 light years Kes had gave them. Putting them back in Borg Space (this was back before the writers decided that Borg Space was wherever Voyager happened to be at the moment). I thought that would have been a great twist. But instead we gained just 300 years and got Janeway's standard log entry at the end of the episode: "Our diagnostics tell us we can't use this technology again" (sigh)
navamske
Thu, Jul 22, 2010, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
Arturis's technological abilities here were about as believable as those of the Satarran in TNG's "Conundrum," which is to say, not very. In that episode, the aliens were so technologically challenged that they needed the Enterprise to destroy their enemy for them, yet they were able to (1) penetrate the Enterprise's shields, (2) suppress the crews' memories *selectively*, including the crew member with a "positronic" brain, (3) make one of them look human and deposit him on the ship in a Starfleet uniform, (4) reconfigure the personnel information in the Enterprise's database, and (5) presumably -- I haven't seen the episode in a while -- reduce the number of pips on Riker's collar.

The situations are not exactly parallel because we have no evidence that Arturis's species (The Linguists with the Big-Ass Heads) are technologically challenged. But still what Arturis was capable of really strains credulity. And not only in a technological sense -- Voyager has been traveling toward the Alpha Quadrant since the events of "Scorpion, Part II" (including a giant push from the departing Kes) and yet Arturis is able to keep up with them and monitor what's going on inside the ship. And if he had the technological capability to create a fake Starfleet ship that fooled Janeway, Tuvok, and Torres for a decent amount of time, he should have been able to just snap his fingers and transport them all directly to "Borg space."
Jay
Fri, Jan 28, 2011, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
@ navamske...yes, inexplicable technology is a Star Trek hallmark. Another TNG example that comes to mind immediately is the considerable degree to which Ardra and her cronies were able to affect the Enterprise and its operations in "Devil's Due", and then at the end, the episode tried to dismiss it all as just so many parlor tricks, when clearly they were far, far more.
Elliott
Tue, Mar 29, 2011, 5:24am (UTC -5)
More to come, but really, why on earth are you angry at an episode for making you believe something that later turned out differently? I mean, that's an element in almost any story. Just because it didn't turn out the way you hoped (choice word), doesn't give you the right to say it was a poor choice.
Troy
Mon, Aug 1, 2011, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
Is there a reason why Voyager sends a shuttle craft to trade/pick up supplies instead of just flying Voyager to the place? Just seems like a waste of time.

So this Artis guy can pick up any language just by listening to view words? I wish I had that ability.



Elliott
Mon, Nov 14, 2011, 11:44am (UTC -5)
"Maybe it's about the journey."

Kim in the series finale, stating at the right moment the show's premise and the answer to your question about what the point ultimately is.

"We've seen over and over again that the crew just nods and presses on--even after a lost dream like this--where they should probably be mutinying and beating themselves with blunt objects under such emotional turmoil. " I don't see the need to show such an immature reaction in the crew--and I would have a hard time respecting "normal people" who behaved this way. How would such simpering accomplish anything useful? It would be a selfish and devolved display, something inconsistent with Star Trek humans.
Nic
Sat, Nov 26, 2011, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
I remember, sometime before this episode aired, reading a fan letter to Star Trek magazine suggesting that Voyager should be brought back to the Alpha Quadrant and get involved in the Dominion War. I remember thinking that it was very unlikely that the writers would decide to do it, and also hoping that they wouldn't.

When I saw "Hope & Fear" on its first airing (keeping in mind I was twelve at the time), I remember that my biggest disappointment was that it wasn't a cliffhanger. I worshipped cliffhangers back then (and still do, but maybe for different reasons). I don't think I ever actually expected the crew to reach Earth, though, and perhaps that alone made it more entertaining.

Thirteen years later, I can see the contrivances and weaknesses in the writing that make this episode sub-par, though as Jammer mentioned, there was some good character work sprinkled here and there. I still really like the idea of Janeway facing consequences for her actions in "Scorpion", which, let's face it, was made with no consideration for its possible impact on other races, but that idea wasn't taken far enough to have any lasting effect on Janeway's character.

@Elliott: One of my favorite aspects about Star Trek is that humans have a more evolved sensibility. However, I don't think this should mean sacrificing our emotions. When one's hopes of getting home and being reunited with one's family are crushed like this, one should feel sadness and despair. That is also part of being human. "Mutinying and beating themselves with blunt objects" might be a little over-the-top (in any case I think Jammer was exagerrating for effect), but it would certainly have been more realistic and interesting -- even in the Star Trek universe -- to show the negative impact such an event would have on our characters, particularly Harry Kim, who has always been the most optimistic of the bunch. Don't you think so?
Justin
Sat, Apr 28, 2012, 3:32am (UTC -5)
@Elliott, I can't answer for Jammer, but at this point in the series I was getting a little sick of "Gilligan's Island in Space." It was a poor choice because it was an all too familiar one. The most intriguing parts of the story were the vengeance angle, Janeway having to face the consequences of siding with the Borg, and the strengthening of the Seven/Janeway bond. All of that could have and should have been achieved without yet another dashed-hopes-of-getting-home plot contrivance.

On another note, Ray Wise should stick with stylized drama like he did in Twin Peaks. Describing his acting as "hokey" is being kind.
Caitlin
Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 1:09am (UTC -5)
I have been rewatching all of Voyager on Netflix (the last time I saw the show was when it aired during my middle and high school years!). Along the way, I have also been reading many of your reviews, Jammer.

So far, it seems like you worship DS9 and have a bit of disdain towards Voyager, mostly because it's NOT your beloved DS9...

On that note, I think it is hilarious that a Voyager episode finally manages to draw you in enough for strong emotional attachment, and you get seriously PO'ed about it! How whiney.

I enjoy your writing style and like recapping each episode afterwards, but I do wish you had had a bit more objectivity at the time. Too bad I didn't catch these when I caught up on DS9 a couple years back. All the trek shows are great, so it's kind of sad that you couldn't enjoy VOY more on it's own merit!
Nathaniel
Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 3:43am (UTC -5)
He does enjoy Voyager for its own merits.
Jamis
Wed, Nov 7, 2012, 4:00pm (UTC -5)
Clown penis.
takeiteasy
Mon, Nov 12, 2012, 11:56am (UTC -5)
I agree with Elliot and Caitlin. I am surprised you got your hopes high. Just because there is a ship, doesn't mean they can go back. It is highly experimental as per the fake message itself. Also the moment Tuvok says, it is too convenient, I knew it won't work.
Latex Zebra
Thu, Dec 27, 2012, 8:13am (UTC -5)
It's Sci Fi so I'm always willing to let more go, like the ability to create such an illusion in the first place.

Decent episode, not as bad as 2 stars but also not amazing. Maybe 3.
Domi
Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 7:51pm (UTC -5)
This could have been a great episode. It started off as a great episode. But then they blew it with too many ridiculous plot contrivances.

Jammer's criticism is interesting but focuses too much on the idea that we were faked out again on the idea of getting home. I don't have a problem with that, but I *do* have a problem when the plot is moved along by the stupidity of the main characters, not to mention galaxy-sized holes in the plot itself.

First I'll address the stupidity of the characters:

The audience is expected to believe that Janeway just up and hands over this super-secret mega-encrypted message from Starfleet to an alien they just met in hopes that he can decrypt it and find its secrets?

Then when they find out Starfleet wants them to proceed to certain coordinates, they take Arturis with them? Why would they not drop him off at his destination first? He had already decrypted as much of the message as he could.

Why would they transport Arturis over to the Dauntless? So he can stand around and do nothing? So he can spy on what they thought was highly classified, cutting-edge Federation technology?

When they discover the Dauntless is a fake, why does Janeway tell Tuvok to wait so she can meet up with them on the Dauntless? Why wouldn't they transport Arturis directly to the Voyager brig?

They identify the Dauntless as having a "Federation warp signature" but then it has a totally different type of engine than anything Starfleet has ever used? Why did this not raise suspicion?

Then there's the plot holes.

Janeway spends months trying to decode the message, gives up, tries again, and is finally able to get it just in the nick of time?

The adapted the Dauntless engine technology to Voyager in what, days? (As an aside, all sorts of major scientific breakthroughs happen way too fast and too easily on this show.)

How did the Voyager gain on the Dauntless when they were chasing each other at transwarp or whatever the hell it was called? Can you even use transporters in that realm?

Seven just happens to have the ability to walk through a force field by pressing some buttons on her ocular implant. Okay.

They managed to take Voyager all the way back to Borg space, then back to where they started, and then an additional 300 light years closer to the Alpha quadrant after that, only THEN did it threaten to damage the ship?

Geez. Instead of "Hope and Fear", they should have called this episode "Stupidity and Swiss cheese."

There are some positive aspects to this episode. The set for the Dauntless was very well done and I thought the direction was pretty good.

I also would like to take note of the exchange between Tuvok and Janeway where they discuss whether or not the Dauntless is a trap, and compare it with the exchange between Chakotay and Janeway in the very previous episode where they discuss whether leaving 7 of 9 in charge is good idea. Janeway and Tuvok have far superior on-screen chemistry, and Tim Russ's line delivery was far more believable and natural.

I am not sure if it is the writing or the acting; but probably both. Chakotay: "Tell me this isn't a mistake." Oh please. Could the dialog and delivery be any more bland?

(I think the Chakotay character could easily have been killed off and Janeway could then have made Tuvok her First Officer. It would have made a lot more sense. Or they could have made Chakotay ship's counselor. It seems that's the only thing he can do anyway.)

Despite its problems, I still enjoyed the episode. I think a two star rating is fair, but I would give it two and a half.
Grumpy
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
"I think the Chakotay character could easily have been killed off and Janeway could then have made Tuvok her First Officer."

Excellent suggestion. And it would've put Beltran out of his misery, given that he mainly took the role for the opportunity to work with Genevieve Bujold.
Lt. Yarko
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 11:38am (UTC -5)
Completely absurd episode. There is no way that this Bad Guy [TM] could have set up this deception in the way that he did. As someone else said, he would need the powers of a god, and in that case, he could probably just destroy Voyager with a snap of his fingers. What crap.
T'Paul
Tue, Sep 17, 2013, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
Well Jammer, it seemed like it got you fairly involved.

Imitating a ship with holo-technology does not require the powers of a God. And writing [TM] after something does not immediately make it witty.

Any other series would have got kudos for going back to check out the effects of the cast's interference, i.e. this episode, but since this is Voyager, when there is continuity, it isn't recognized but rather Cynically Ignored and Ridiculed [TM].

Hmm, how could this episode have got a 4? Ah, I know, the prophets transport Voyager to a battle between Jadzia Dax and the Jem Hadar during a Klingon wedding using a previously unknown orb and Weyoun recruits the Kazon and the garbage scow aliens into the Dominion. Because that's good science fiction. Who wants to see new aliens and new planets every week in a new part of Space? Heaven forbid we have "Gilligan's Island in Space" ... let's have the same aliens every week for the sake of "realism" or drag out a war over four seasons for the sake of continuity.
Nick
Fri, Nov 1, 2013, 8:07pm (UTC -5)
Ok no one has made the connection.....

This episode is almost a carbon copy of the TOS episode: The Mark of Gideon. In TOS episode, we get an alien culture that goes through incredible lengths, to the point of straining credulity to create a 'double' of the Enterprise. Kirk is lured with the intent to be a sacrificial lamb, to save a dying people. While in this Voyager episode, the Aliens motivation is pure revenge, he still requires capturing the individual (mainly Janeway) to sacrafice them to the Borg to appease his tortured conscience.

I find many of the criticisms of Voyager centre on the fact they're noncontinuous, bottle episodes, or self-contained plots. Perhaps it's because I found DS9 incredibly tedious toward its end - I'm of the opinion the much lauded Dominion War is nothing more than a cheap rip-off of B5 far superior story arc.

Regardless, this episode provided a great set-up, a bit of mystery, some action, a motivated villain, plenty of exposure for Seven and Janeway interactions, interesting special effects, and a firm conclusion (who doesn't love staring down a bunch of Borg cubes?). What more does one want in a Voyager episode? For a season closer it could have been a whole lot worse, at least they stayed away from the holodeck this time.
Bb
Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 5:14am (UTC -5)
Hey T'Paul, it's not Jammer's fault you are morbidly obese.
Trent
Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 8:28am (UTC -5)
Bb, don't be rude.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 5:21am (UTC -5)
'How would such simpering accomplish anything useful? It would be a selfish and devolved display, something inconsistent with Star Trek humans.'

Much as it is related to a different episode. How about Janeway creating a biological weapon against 8472 in Scorpion that she intends to share with the Borg!

Lets be totally honest. All this stuff about Trek values is horse crap because apart from TNG... Maybe iBorg... all of the other shows had the crews/Starfleet acting questionably from time to time. Sikso & Janeway both have their good and bad points when it comes to being benchmark Trek Humans. Kirk... Don't like to include a series from the 60's as it portrays him as a bit of a thug and a womanizer.
In all honesty Only Picard stands up to the morals that Trek set out to portray.
Elliott
Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 11:25am (UTC -5)
@Latex Zebra :

First of all, you are conflating three different though related topics in your comment to me; 1) human psychological evolution 2) 24th century human morality and 3) Federation law.

Janeway's decision in "Scorpion" is absolutely up for debate on the morality front--it is at best one of her patented "amoral" decisions where getting the crew home trumps other concerns. It is, legally speaking, unclear. Based on what we saw over on DS9, I don't really know if Starfleet or the Federation would penalise her or not. At any rate, they ended up promoting her.

My comment, which you quoted, was meant to point out that human psychology does change and evolve and it is only a philosophy replete with conservative, reactionary cynicism which refuses to acknowledge this. Humans (when taken together as a species) don't think the same way now that they did 400 years ago. External stimuli like scientific discovery and internal conflicts over God, politics and society have pressured the psyche of the species forward. Just as with biological evolution, there is every reason to believe this trend will continue. Of course, there are large swaths of outliers--there are many people on our planet whose psychological evolution is centuries behind the west's (not that this is a slight against them, but we have lived through and moved past many of the tribalist, geocentric, not to mention woman-hating, fear-baiting, bible-beating oligarchies which still persist in many parts of the world, and in the aspirations of individuals in our parts of the world, too). That humans of the future are psychologically more evolved is not an arrogance nor is it any guarantee that humans will always make better choices, but it does change the expectations we place on people. We hold them to higher standards because we can and should. Jammer and others criticise this notion in drama because it doesn't seem "real" enough--the psychologies of the characters don't fit with our current expectations of our fellow man, but this is THE FUTURE. The tech changes, the sciences changes, the humans also change.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 6:28pm (UTC -5)
I get what you're saying and yes if you look at mankind now compared to 400 years ago we've evolved massively in how we treat each others... Well some of us have. Some places/people are still massively backwards.
You jump forward a few hundred years and yes people, we hope, will have evolved even further but basic human emotions still remain.
I like the fact that O'Brien carries mental scars from a brutal war with Cardassia. That, though I've not fought in any wars, gives me something I can relate too. I like the fact that Riker had Dad issues and like Riker I've sorted that out.
Whilst I appreciate from a moral perspective we want to see the future as a bright and hopeful place. It can't be so disconnected that it is alien to us. The beauty of Trek is that is able to do both. Present the kind of problems that we face in a futuristic slant and show, mostly, positive solutions.
I also like that Kirk is a womaniser, Picard is hellbent on revenge, Sisko is willing to cross the line in the hope of saving the alpha quadrant and that Janeway bends/breaks the the rules when it suits her to get her crew home.
These people are real and we can relate to them and that is why I love Star Trek. All of it, even the massively flawed Enterprise.
Nonya
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
Well, you can nitpick the episode all you like, but I still say it's greatest flaw is that it's boring. So boring...
HolographicAndrew
Sat, Oct 18, 2014, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode a lot and I'm not a fan of most of the season 4 Seven centric episodes. The villain was interesting and brought up some past events. Not exactly a groundbreaking episode but seemed solid to me.
stallion
Thu, Nov 6, 2014, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
I remember watching this season being in high school and loving it. After watching it twelve year I still enjoyed it. The only episodes I skipped where Concerning Flight, The Killng Game, Vis A Vis and Demon. My favorite episode for this season are Living Witness, Prey, Message in a Bottle, Year of Hell, Hunter, Scorpion, and the Gift.

I can understand the complaints people have like Voyager running into another object from federation space, how arturis was able to find voyager and etc, but I was still able to enjoy season 4 as a whole. Tom and Torres as two of my favorite characters and I enjoyed their story arc. I also enjoyed the Doctor and Seven relationship.
Moegreen
Thu, Nov 27, 2014, 9:05am (UTC -5)
Crazy ol' Leland strikes again. 'The Surrey with the Fringe on top!'
Jen
Mon, Jan 5, 2015, 9:50am (UTC -5)
There were some things about this episode I liked. Like others have stated, Janeway's actions do not exist in a vacuum. I'm sure the alliance with the Borg and other things that Voyager has done has negatively impacted some species in the Delta Quadrant. It would have been interesting to see several species band together with Arturo to put Voyager on trial. Through the course of the series Janeway gets incredibly self-righteous and sanctimonious. No other Captain has been quite as extreme as Janeway in this respect. Even Picard, who was a stickler for the rules, wasn't self-righteous.

I also liked the progression of the Seven/Janeway relationship, although it is overused and at the expense of other characters.

My biggest complaint is that Voyager always encounters promising technology that could get them closer to home and it is always abandoned because something is incompatible with Voyager's systems and just forgotten. This quantum slip stream actually works but can't get them all the way home without destroying the ship? Why can't it be modified so that it takes 5-10 years off the trip? Maybe that wouldn't destroy the ship. The same thing happened in Threshold. Why can't they run simulations at warp 9.9999 for a limited time to see if it shaves 10-20 years off? Why is it all or nothing? Also, in Timeless, problems with the slip stream started 17 seconds into the flight - there was a differential or something. Their answer: take the drive offline completely and never work on it again. Really? How much more distance did they cover just using the slips stream for 17 seconds versus warp 6 for the same amount of time?

It just gets frustrating that the crew always takes an all or nothing approach to getting home. If they can't get all the way back to the Alpha Quadrant then the technology isn't worth it. It is also very contrived that none of the crew work on any of these problems further after declaring something is incompatible. This is the same crew that took only a month to figure out how to get to warp 10 in Threshold.
Robert
Mon, Jan 5, 2015, 9:54am (UTC -5)
"My biggest complaint is that Voyager always encounters promising technology that could get them closer to home and it is always abandoned because something is incompatible with Voyager's systems and just forgotten. This quantum slip stream actually works but can't get them all the way home without destroying the ship? Why can't it be modified so that it takes 5-10 years off the trip? Maybe that wouldn't destroy the ship."

Isn't this the quantum slipstream tech they use in Timeless, 6 episodes later?
Vylora
Mon, Mar 16, 2015, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
While I agree some ideas in this episode were pretty good, I can't help shake the feeling of "been-there-done-that" upon viewing. A lot of dialogue worked despite a few obvious weak spots, the pacing was decent, and the villain was slightly intriguing (if not a bit over-the-top at the end). It's unfortunately hampered by one too many contrivances and a tired premise that should have either been utilized with stronger writing behind it or simply ignored all together. It also holds the unfortunate distinction of being a season finale. Episode placement isn't a criteria one way or the other, but it is always sad to end on a low note.

2 stars.
Shannon
Wed, Aug 12, 2015, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
2.5 stars... I would have allowed them to travel in the slip stream for 12 hours, taking them another 3,600 light years closer to home, and setting up Season 5 in a very different region of the galaxy. But that's just me, and I'm not a writer (as too many who post here seem to think they are, but I digress)... This wasn't great, but it wasn't as bad as Jammer is making it out to be. Although he did make a good point about getting them home and spending Season 5 reintegrating into Federation life, but one can only wonder. And I really could care less that they weren't spending time on the other characters, many of whom generate big yawns. Seven, and her relationship with Janeway, was just ripe with story lines... Onto Season 5!!!
John
Sat, Dec 19, 2015, 8:46am (UTC -5)
Shannon - Wed, Aug 12, 2015 - 3:16pm (USA Central)

"2.5 stars... I would have allowed them to travel in the slip stream for 12 hours, taking them another 3,600 light years closer to home, and setting up Season 5 in a very different region of the galaxy. But that's just me, and I'm not a writer (as too many who post here seem to think they are, but I digress)..."

Shannon, do you know what your attitude reminds me of? There was an episode of the Simpsons in which the family went to Congress because they wanted to change a law. So they wrote their own law and attached it to another proposed law that was about to be voted on via a paperclip. Then just as the Congress was going to vote on it, one of the congressmen noticed the extra sheets of paper talking about a very different subject. But he then shrugged it off, accepting that they must vote on that unrelated matter as well because, in his words, "after all, it is paper clipped."

Your respect of professional writers just because they have certain papers behind their names and disrespect of people with imaginations as good or better than them just because of a lack of paperwork strikes me as autistic. It's how you can fool a computer by separating two identical things by designating one as "official" and the other as "unofficial" due to a technicality.

Do you truly believe that the people here lack good imagination or writing skills just because of a lack of official paperwork? Do you truly believe that the Voyager writers have access to some magical mental space that is denied to the rest of us just because they took some writing classes and have "writer" stamped next to their names?

You do know that all you need to be a writer is good imagination and the proper talent, right? You don't need "writer" paper clipped to your name in order to unlock an otherwise inaccessible part of your brain. Your worship of "credentialism" in many ways makes you a sheep as you follow those who are "officially" in power based on their own luck and ceremonial technicalities.

I strongly suggest you employ a less autistic and more human interpretation of the importance of the almighty "credential."

Credentials were made for humans. Humans were not made for credentials. Think about it.
John
Sat, Dec 19, 2015, 9:04am (UTC -5)
Latex Zebra - Mon, Feb 10, 2014 - 5:21am (USA Central)

"Kirk... Don't like to include a series from the 60's as it portrays him as a bit of a thug and a womanizer."

There is nothing wrong with being a "womanizer," if by "womanizer" you mean a man with a healthy sex drive who enjoys sleeping with multiple women. Just like there is also nothing wrong with being a "manizer" if you're a woman.

In fact, Kirk's healthy sexuality was one of best things about him, as it showed an entire generation just leaving the sexually oppressive and puritanical 1950s that there is nothing wrong with leading a sexually open minded lifestyle. I never saw Kirk disrespecting a woman he slept with for a reason relating to the sex, nor did I ever see any of those women complaining about that aspect of him.

I weep for our current prudish feminist culture trying to take us back to the sexual dark ages.



JC
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 6:59am (UTC -5)
EP, you touched on something I was just about to comment on. Took the words out of my typing. And almost 7 years ago to boot.

Rewatching this ep I suppose S5's opener Night did at least show a regretful Janeway whom finally began to question her actions and her judgements. I think this ep was a good catalyst for that. But given all that had happened to this crew before this I'm surprised it would take this long for her to have a crisis of faith. In her self-imposed exile chuckles became the acting Captain.

Plot holes are par for the course in too many of these eps so I won't go into those. I tend to look at the overall picture of where they were going with the ep. In this one they were showing an alien individual hell bent on revenge against Voyager due to their part in ending the Borg/8472 conflict. An ending which allowed the borg to refocus their efforts on other planets for assimilation, such as Arturis's.

Quite the revenge it was too. Playing with their emotions before setting them up to be assimilated by the borg. Given Voyager's actions which led to the end of the conflict and subsequently his race's assimilation it was not hard to see his point of view on it. Not so easy to forgive and forget planetary genocide.

Since once again there is no basis of comparison to draw from concerning his race for all we know they could all be bland in their emotional spectrum and expressing those emotions. Not necessarily Vulcan-like, but maybe low key. I don't know. That's why I didn't say much about his acting.

And of course we would never see them again. In their defense however, they were all assimilated. Arturis just closed ranks.

I probably would have raised it a half star at least just because the S5 opener actually had her rethinking things in light of all this. I'll say this much. It's a far cry from the Captain we saw at the end of S1's Prime Factors. She was rapidly becoming quite the pragmatist wasn't she?

2.5 stars works.
Skeptical
Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
I suppose if I was watching this at the time, it might be more upsetting about the homeward bound plot (or failed homeward bound plot). Honestly, I don't even remember this episode; I think at this time I was no longer watching the show week to week. But, knowing what we know now, this episode does its job nicely, plotwise.

I mean, it's no secret that this is now Star Trek: The Seven of Nine (and Janeway) show. She had by far the most episodes devoted to her this season (as expected for the new girl, especially the popular new girl) and had the most character development this season. Really, the arc of this season was about her becoming a part of the crew. So, needless to say, having the season conclude by showing Seven finally accepting becoming a member of the crew makes sense. She got to butt heads with Janeway one last time and work with Janeway one last time, so it worked.

Basically, I liked the episode in general, despite the silliness of letting the guy come along to the brand new experimental Federation starship, or the fact that they magically managed to stay in the slipstream until getting a little bit past where they were last time, etc.

One problem/issue I did have was Janeway's defense of the Federation, or lack thereof. Seven gave this big rant about how Janeway was no different than the Borg, no better than a different form of coercion. And Janeway just stood there and took it. What?

The perfect defense of Seven's accusations is to say that she doesn't HAVE to follow Janeway, at least not when they get back to the Federation. There are hundreds of worlds and billions (trillions?) of people in the Federation. The vast majority aren't in Starfleet, maybe the majority don't even like Starfleet. Once she gets to the Federation, Seven will be free to explore her new individuality however she please. That's the beauty of individuality, you don't HAVE to be exactly like Janeway! You don't have to conform to the ideal soviet citizen comrade.

But Janeway didn't bring that up. Was that because she was just stunned by Seven's accusations, and didn't have a good defense? Is it because she is not the enlightened philosopher like Picard, and never really thought about these issues before and can't come up with a Picard speech at the drop of a hat?

Or is the Federation and Janeway really that insidious, really that demanding of conformity? Is there an evil collective beneath their bright bubbly cloying face? OK, I assume that wasn't their intention, but is it the innate biases of the writers? Did they not really understand the desire to be an individual? To not necessarily conform? C'mon, this is Star Trek, the home of nerds and geeks back before nerds and geeks weren't cool! Surely they can understand that one should be able to go against the grain of conventional wisdom?

And yes, it's a big issue, because Seven's fear of joining Janeway's collective is the heart of the episode, and indeed the season. That conversation should have been the pinnacle moment of the episode, but instead it just fell flat. Too bad, because otherwise I think this would have been a great one.
Jason R.
Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 12:05pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode because for once there was a sense of Janeway and Voyager's actions having broader ramifications to the universe.

In Scorpion, Janeway helps the Borg defeat a mortal enemy, judging that Species 8472 is the greater threat. This is based on a single telepathic emanation to Kes over a space of three seconds, from presumably one individual. On that basis, Janeway chooses to alter the balance of power in the entire Delta Quadrant, helping a malevolent force survive. We even later find out that the Borg were actually the ones that started the conflict!

I was cheering when Arturis calls Janeway out on this. Damned right it wasn't her place to do what she did, in a quadrant she knew nothing about! What about the Prime Directive? Chacotay even calls her out on this in Scorpion, accusing her of self-serving logic. We later even learn that Species 8472 aren't nearly as malevolent as they seemed initially, and they can be reasoned with after all.

So yeah, Janeway is a war criminal and this episode's only flaw is that she once again escapes from her just comeupponce.
Chrome
Tue, Jan 26, 2016, 10:25am (UTC -5)
This is a pretty good episode. I liked the way Janeway was cautious from the onset, because really any viewer would be so at this point in the series. I also liked the way Janeway and 7 came together, and especially 7 being dealt the choice of a "human" life or a "Borg" life.

The teaser must have been extremely misleading for Jammer to review this the way he did, but I'm sure he knows by now you can never trust a trailer.

As for the message of this episode, I think it was coming out of 7, where you choose between a trusted vessel and a long relatively safe ride home or a new vessel and uncertainty. This is episode's full of contrivances, but at least it's entertaining and on point with the series' premise.

3 stars.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
A big disappointment after a good start. Yes, we know they're not going home but at least the Dauntless offers the opportunity to move them into a new area of space and offers some exciting possibilities. The first half of the episode is genuinely engrossing and offers some nice new tech to look at.

And then we discover the alien plot... This is where it falls apart, because the rest is now fairly offensively contrived. Yes, there's an interesting element with the events of Scorpion being looked at from another perspective. But it plays out poorly, and the accompaniments - the slipstream drive works on Voyager, now it doesn't ever again eg - fairly laughable.

We get some good character stuff with Janeway and Seven but overall this isn't the best. 2.5 stars.
icarus32soar
Fri, Feb 19, 2016, 9:11am (UTC -5)
Come on Justin, Ray Wise is the best thing in this ep apart from Seven of Nine, who again tells Janeway where to get off with her endless romanticism about Earth. Gotta absolutely love Seven.
Latex Zebra
Fri, Feb 19, 2016, 10:13am (UTC -5)
@John - I think Kirk, and yes indeed he had a healthy sexual appetite, was more a product of the 60's. It suited is character well even if looking back I can't help think he was a bit of a blaggard!

The point I was trying to make is that the TV program will always be a product of the time it was created or what was happening around it. As such pushing one series as more moralistic than others isn't really fair.

The Man
Tue, Feb 23, 2016, 11:49pm (UTC -5)
I totally agree Jen, Janeway becomes arrogant and self-righteous to the point of throwing those in the brig who disagree with her. And somehow the writers try to play this off as making her one of the legendary captains of all time which is silly.
Ivanov
Thu, May 12, 2016, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
I genuinely felt sympathy for the "bad guy" in this episode. Because of Captain I'm always right Janeway his civilization got assimilated with only a handful of others left (and god knows how many other civilizations) I'd imagine there's a lot of people who curse Voyagers name as they fled in terror from the Borg Collective. I hope the poor guy was able to kill himself before the Borg got him.
Ruth
Tue, May 17, 2016, 4:08am (UTC -5)
Janeway getting the true message isn't a plot hole or too convenient. When Chakotay finds her in the mess hall she's complaining that 'every time I piece together a datablock, 10 more come unraveled' which I wrote off as Trek computer stupidity until later. It's more like it's a jigsaw puzzle and she's been shoving all sky coloured pieces together roughly until she gets to a bit that proves she got that part wrong so she has to tear it all up and start again.

The alien is basically stupid because he is blinded by revenge and also too sure of his superiority over the Voyager crew. He faked his message, then pieces together everything except the real message and makes up an excuse that even he can't find enough there to realign. In doing so he's basically given Janeway the borders of a small jigsaw and all she has to do is fill it in, which is much easier for her. That's how she does it and it's all there in the episode

Also, Harry and Tuvok got there at the same time she did, so it was only additional nails in his coffin. I'm sure they would have got the message eventually anyway even if they had beaten her to the punch.
Yanks
Fri, May 20, 2016, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
I'm going to have to watch this one before I comment.

I can't seem to remember it... which doesn't bode well for the pending review :-)
Yanks
Mon, May 23, 2016, 8:28am (UTC -5)
I guess I don't dig the story as much as Jammer does. Although it was miiiiiighty convenient this super language dude shows up when they needed him to decipher the message. I think Janway or maybe Tuvok should have been a little more suspicious.

There were great touching moments in this one. Especially between Janeway and Seven.

"SEVEN: You were correct. My desire to remain in the Delta Quadrant was based on fear. I am no longer Borg, but the prospect of becoming human is unsettling. I don't know where I belong.
JANEWAY: You belong with us."

snif, snif.... I know, I'm a sap.

I'm glad Jammer mentioned we got a little smile out of Seven in this one... I'm always looking for pics of Seven and her beautiful smile.

I think if I was Janeway I'd do some more research on this "quantum slip drive" thingy... :-)

Not a classic season closer by any stretch, but our guest star was a very good performer and I felt for his people.

3 stars from me.

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