Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Gravity"

**1/2

Air date: 2/3/1999
Teleplay by Nick Sagan & Bryan Fuller
Story by Jimmy Diggs and Bryan Fuller & Nick Sagan
Directed by Terry Windell

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"There has to be something out there. Shuttles don't just vanish into thin air." — Janeway (and we won't even touch that one)

Nutshell: Pleasant enough, but not much in terms of lasting impact.

"Gravity" is a good example of fifth-season Voyager. It held my interest, it's handsomely produced, and it's a fairly enjoyable hour. It also stands alone in a vacuum, separate from everything else.

Now that we're at the halfway point of the season, I'm feeling the need to comment on the bigger picture. It's pretty simple: Voyager's season has been engaging, keeping me interested in the crew and the stories (so far, this season has proven to be Voyager's best). The writing is generally pretty sharp, and we've avoided the bottom-of-barrel installments that have at times made Voyager notorious. My next question is, what's next? Are we just going to float out here in random respectable plot-land forever, or is there somewhere the ship and series actually can go?

I wonder, if I were the producers of Voyager, if I'd even care at this point. They've apparently found a rhythm, and they're apparently comfortable with it. And their ratings, I'm guessing, are better than they have been in quite a while (although that's just a guess). The stories seem to be working more often than not. And unlike many past seasons, I don't feel Voyager is mediocre Trek; I feel that it's pretty entertaining, if derivative in numerous ways.

At the same time, I wish the writers would follow through—something they seem to feel is completely unnecessary. I wish they would take risks—something they also seem to think is unnecessary. I wish they wouldn't settle for the conventional solid story when they could push for the unconventional solid story instead.

"Gravity" is a good example of what I'm talking about. All things considered, it's a pretty respectable hour that uses its characters sensibly, but it's not particularly memorable, and it relies on the most fundamental of the fundamentals. One of those fundamentals is the Shuttle Crash Setup. Another is the Venture Into a Character's Past. Another is the Weird Spatial Anomaly. And another is the One-Hour Romantic Theme. That's quite a number of Trekkian standbys to find in one episode, but, lest you think standbys can't be executed well, "Gravity" manages to assemble the pieces into a whole that makes a surprising amount of sense—although it does have some rough spots.

The Shuttle Crash du jour involves Tuvok and Paris ("I told you we should've brought the Delta Flyer," Tom offers helpfully), who have been sucked into a "subspace sinkhole" where escape would be impossible even if their shuttle hadn't been totaled. Realizing they may be stranded awhile, or forever, they try to make the best of a long-term survival situation. Fortunately for them, they have Doc's portable emitter. Of course, if being stranded forever really were to be the outcome here, Voyager would find itself in dire straits the next time there were a medical emergency.

Not to worry: Even though Tuvok and Paris find themselves living two months on this planet, the cleverly scripted properties of the Weird Spatial Anomaly ensure that time passes more quickly inside this subspace sinkhole than outside, meaning that while two months have passed for Paris and Tuvok, only a day has passed for the Voyager crew members, who have launched a rescue plan involving precise use of the transporter.

The crew's rescue operation is complicated by the appearance of some aliens who are determined to seal off this sinkhole in order to prevent more ships from being lost into it. They're scheduled to begin tomorrow. Janeway would like just a little more time to prepare her rescue efforts. Will the aliens grant this request? Don't make me laugh. These are Uncooperative Aliens of the Week (not to be confused with the slightly more extreme Hard-Headed Aliens of the Week, who would probably open fire on Voyager rather than just cutting off a communication effort).

Meanwhile, on the planet, Tuvok and Paris are befriended by a woman named Noss (Lori Petty), who has been stranded there "for 14 seasons." Their initial meeting is a little bizarre, involving some unnecessary silliness with the universal translator. (The language barrier itself is a decent idea, but it's dismissed so early on that it becomes a non-issue.)

It's not long before the Romantic Theme appears, where Noss begins to fall for Tuvok. Of course, as a Vulcan, Tuvok cannot accept her love and pushes her away. This forms the basis for the Venture Into a Character's Past, as flashbacks of Tuvok's youth reveal a young Tuvok (Leroy D. Brazile) trying to rectify an emotional control problem with the help of a Vulcan master (Joseph Ruskin). Tuvok had been smitten by infatuation at a young age, see, bringing forth that schism between discipline and emotion that we suspect all Vulcans (and not just the half-human ones like Spock) have. This ties into the main plot, see, where Tom confronts Tuvok for not letting go of his discipline and his marriage back in the Alpha Quadrant, as being stuck on this planet forever may present little alternative.

But we must ask—how long will the Doctor last solely on his portable emitter? It must have one hell of a battery.

Okay, so I'm a little heavy on sarcasm here; it's meant more in jest than in disappointment. The way these routine elements come together isn't really bad at all. It's just that routine maneuvering sometimes leaves little to ponder afterward.

What works best here is the analysis of Tuvok as a Vulcan. It's plausible and true to his character, and it's nice to see Tuvok open up (with some prodding) his feelings to Tom. On the other hand, the topic of repressed romantic feelings in Vulcans is nothing new; we've seen it several times through Spock, in TOS episodes ranging from "The Naked Time" and "This Side of Paradise" to "All Our Yesterdays." "Gravity" provides pleasant reinforcement material for a Voyager audience. As a Tuvok episode, it's decent, but it also might've dared to challenge the our typical assumptions of Vulcans by asking if Tuvok's 50,000-light-year-distance from home might alter his perception just a bit.

Which brings us to the topic of Pon Farr: That seventh year is coming up pretty soon, no? (But I digress.)

One aspect of the episode that works is the chemistry between Tom and Tuvok. Tom's forceful attempts to prod Tuvok into a relationship with Noss might at times seem a little extreme, but so is the situation. Robert Duncan McNeill and Tim Russ work well together outside the normal ranks.

What doesn't work are some of the scenes involving Noss. The chemistry between her and Tuvok never entirely reaches a convincing stage, and it's difficult to understand how she comes to develop feelings for him. Also, some of Noss' gestures and speech patterns are a little, well, strange—and not in any way that the story seems to intend. Lori Petty's voice is not what I would call typical in the Hollywood arena, but the performance isn't consistent and at times I wasn't sure what to make of it. Scenes like the one where she explodes in rage ("I hate logic!") are jarring in their strangeness, and not jarring in a particularly effective way. Other scenes seem to come across more "normal."

What does work, fortunately, is the payoff. A scene in the transporter room where Tuvok and Noss part ways is pleasant because it brings Vulcan intimacy to the material in a way that is both plausible and quietly moving. When Noss says "I understand," we understand, too.

"Gravity" is an episode that doesn't demand high praise. Nor is there much to object to. It has its interesting moments as well as its derivative ones. I propose now that Voyager has found a good rhythm for this season—but that it needs to shake things up a bit to unleash something fresh.

Next week: Voyager gets ate, and must be saved by Seven.

Previous episode: Bride of Chaotica!
Next episode: Bliss

Season Index

40 comments on this review

Jasper - Sat, Jan 17, 2009 - 5:16pm (USA Central)
I would like to praise the physical portraying of Tuvok, for what it's worth. It may not make the episode better, but it was really Tuvok standing there, in the cave - not some Vulcan who you are told is named Tuvok.
In the very first shot of the intro (when looking over young Tuvok's shoulder, I immediately thought: "Hey, he looks like Tuvok. But wait, he's way younger. It'll just have to be Tuvok in his youth then..."
EP - Sat, Feb 28, 2009 - 9:01pm (USA Central)
How about Paris' skeevy suggestion that Tuvok cheat on his wife, because she's "fifty-thousand light years away?"
Tom can't even be bothered to call Tuvok "sir," despite him being an Ensign and Tuvok a LCDR, which is contrary to good order and discipline. Then again, VOY never really cared much about things like a command structure, except when Janeway needs to put Seven in her place.
Ken Egervari - Sun, Nov 1, 2009 - 11:53pm (USA Central)
I don't think cheating has the same effect that it does on other species, or namely humans. Honestly, I don't think cheating even becomes an issue for vulcans EP. Tuvok didn't even mention that it would be cheating per sae - he just said it is not the pon far. If it was, I'm sure he'd be getting it on with her. It IS the logical thing to do after all. Tom was right.

My only real complaint with this episode was the alien girl's acting - she was terrible. I wonder what she did to get the role.

While they could have taken some more risks with the episode, and they could have avoided the whole alien idiots of the weak (why are they all knuckleheads for?), I thought it was alright. The ending was actually pretty good. It had a deep, understanding between the characters that translated well to the audience.
Jonathan - Sat, Mar 6, 2010 - 10:40am (USA Central)
I must agree with Jasper - I thought the boy looked very like Tuvok and was convincing as his younger version. Of course it was obvious that he must be a young Tuvok right from the start (apart from the looks, how many black Vulcans do you ever see?) but it was interesting to see *such* an emotional young Tuvok. I wasn't sure about the Vulcan Grand Master though - he didn't seem very Vulcan-like - almost emotional in his delivery! Perhaps the character is deliberately like that to engage with off-message young Vulcans like Tuvok. The real problem here, though, was that we didn't really see anything of the training that transformed him from emotional Tuvok at the start into calm Tuvok at the end. We should have found out a bit about how that transformation came about, but I didn't feel that the scenes we had were enormously enlightening.
Michael - Thu, Jul 1, 2010 - 1:40pm (USA Central)
Opening shot: Two members of one of the most enlightened races in the Star Trek universe in a medieval dungeon talking about honoring ancient beliefs. They could just as well have shown a scene from a 13th-century Franciscan monastery. (What's a very young Tuvok doing there, what's the context, what year is it... - let's not even attempt that.) Next, a chick straight out of a Mad Max movie witnesses a Voyager shuttle crash landing. Even before seeing him, you know Paris is involved because (1) he had already managed to crash more shuttles than could fit on ten Voyagers, and (2) the broad has some nice junk and who better to ravish her than the philandering Tom. I'm surprised hapless Harry "Can't Get a Lock - There's Some Sort Of Dampening Field Around It" Kim wasn't in the picture to dry-hump her.

O.K., cynicism aside, it's a marginally passable episode. The alien girl should've kept her veil on but you gotta hand it to her for learning English within a matter of hours. Why Paris is so insistent that Tuvok likes her (or SHOULD like her) is beyond me. He gets really PAINFULLY annoying in the later stages, when he berates Tuvok for his handling of the alien chick's infatuation. Had to FF that part. BTW, he (Paris) was convinced they were stuck on that planet for good, so why didn't he try to bumb uglies with the alien girl himself, rather than unremittingly trying to put Tuvok up to it? If it would've been O.K. for Tuvok (my favorite character in the series, BTW), then why not him?

WAY too much time was wasted on philosophizing, portraying inner conflicts, discussing feelings and all that B.S. at the expense of depicting conflict with the other stranded aliens, Voyager's rescue endeavors or Tuvok and Paris's attempts to survive and be salvaged. Does every other Star Trek installment really need to be about crewmembers' troubled relationship with their fathers, their search for their inner selves, their sad transient little romances, their trying to make sense of the divergent principles of common sense versus New Age hippie crap? I'll tune in to one of those cheesy South American soap operas for that!

P.S. I'm surprised Kim succeeded in teleporting the group at the end. He usually can't move a glass of water from one end of the dining table to the other, let alone transport anything. But I guess, with five minutes to go till the episode's end, another twist would've been too much, particularly when we needed those five minutes for Tuvok to resolve his vexing, intricate feelings. I was expecting to see him meditate with scented candles all over the place and, sure enough, it happened, but only for a few seconds. Let's hope at least a half hour is dedicated to that in one of the forthcoming episodes!

*sigh* What had been a very promising fifth series started going downhill fast in its second half.
Cloudane - Fri, Dec 10, 2010 - 9:36am (USA Central)
Shuttle crash - check
Plenty of quips from Ensign One-Liner - check
Hard Headed Aliens - check
Love story - check
Several lines pulled directly from Bones in TOS - check
Technobabble - check

Yep, it's an episode of Voyager all right.

I didn't really enjoy this episode much as I was distracted by all the clichés unfortunately. Add to that Tuvok's emotional control being visibly (subtly, but visibly) cracked in just 2 months with a fairly uninteresting Chick of the Week which I find to be a little insulting to his character, and I can't say I rated this episode particularly highly. It wasn't completely offensive, but grated a lot too.
Elliott - Sat, Apr 16, 2011 - 3:18am (USA Central)
An emotional episode about an emotionless man (sort of)--now that's compelling. This is for Tuvok what "Counterpoint" was for Janeway. Season 5 is really the apex of this series for its greatest strength which was character. Do I give a damn about any of the surrounding jargon? Magical shuttlebays, stupid aliens, implausible anomalies, inconsistent technology...nope. Never have, never will. Do I care about a character I know enduring a superhuman level of pain, painted on a beautiful and convincing canvas. You bet. Do I learn something about myself. Sure do. Do I see like a faint brushstroke upon his countenance the change this experience paints for Tuvok. Hallelujah I do!

Season 5 followed by 6, 4, 7, 1, 3 and 2 creating a very interesting arc for Voyager's development which perfectly suites its length. TNG peaked right at the end of season 3 and pretty much faded out after that, with season 7 a little better than 6 (of course the journey from 1 to 3 was extremely hefty). DS9 "peaked" I suppose during season 5, followed by 2, 1, 4, 6, 3 and 7 making it incredibly uneven--with two humps which flittered out into its worst season amongst them all.
Elliott - Thu, May 12, 2011 - 4:29pm (USA Central)
I would also like to point out, for the record, that this episode received the same score as DS9's "Q-less" which borders on unwatchable. Tell me there's no bias here.
Iceblink - Wed, Aug 3, 2011 - 1:23pm (USA Central)
It's nice to see Tuvok get a turn in the spotlight (I found he'd really been side-lined following Seven's arrival), but this was a really mediocre episode. The moment I saw yet ANOTHER shuttle crash I think part of me switched off. It's a tired old premise and this brings nothing new to the table. I didn't find the relationship between Tuvok and Noss at all involving and it wasn't helped by Lorri Petty's frankly dire performance.
David - Tue, Feb 21, 2012 - 10:53pm (USA Central)
Elliott - please start your own Star Trek review page. I find myself agreeing much more with your perspective on this series than Jammer's - and with most of the nit-picky comments below his DS9-does-everything-better critiques.
Rosario - Mon, Apr 2, 2012 - 12:52am (USA Central)
Tom Paris is just getting increasingly unwatchable. I can't believe when I read people praising his character development. He's a child, always throwing tantrums. He was exhorting Tuvok to throw away his control and abandon his life on the FIRST NIGHT. Just like in Thirty Days he was crying for someone to stay and talk to him within the FIRST MINUTE. Torres is attracted to this PUNK? That's what he is, nothing but a PUNK and I wish something or someone would slam his face up against a wall every episode, every time he opened his mouth with a smart-ass comment, or yet another un-helpful remark, or when he's rolls his eyes or pouts. I was begging Tuvok to do this! My favorite character did not step up to the plate for me.
Since he did not snap and snap Tom's neck, I didn't expect the ending. I expected just another *awkward moment*. But when he mind-melded with her that was just beautiful - brought a tear to my eye.
Breaks my heart to have to rate what could have been a great Tuvok episode at a mere .5 stars because Tom Paris had to ruin every single scene he was in.
Justin - Thu, May 3, 2012 - 8:16am (USA Central)
I thought Lori Petty did a great job as Noss. The oddness of her voice helped her performance, I think. It made her seem more alien.
Nic - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 10:26am (USA Central)
Yes this episode is certainly better than "Q-Less" (and five times better than "Move Along Home", for that matter). But in all fairness, when you look at the 10-scale ratings, "Q-Less" got a 5.5/10 and "Gravity" got a 6.5/10, so Jammer seems to agree with us at least a litte.

I did like the temporal displacement idea, it seemed a plausible way to explore what happens to crewmembers who are stranded for months with no hope of resuce.
duhknees - Fri, Jul 13, 2012 - 9:10am (USA Central)
Reading over the comments, it seems all the complaints with this episode (except the idiotic pleas for more boning and the uninformed dissatisfaction with Petty -- seriously, guys, this is Tank Girl!) could have been remedied by making this a two-parter. The extra time could be spent by having B'Elanna react to the fact that Tom is having to suffer for a longer period of time, to the worry that they might have given up on Voyager, and to demonstrating that the language problem was more of an issue than they have time for in this condensed episode. It would also give more time with Petty, whose mercurial style needs more space to breathe in. Here, she just seems inconsistent, due to the heavy-handed editing. And yes, I would like to see some of the things Tuvok had to do to overcome his emotions. It would also make Tom look like less of a jerk, because more time had gone by. The difference in time between the two scenes just doesn't come off in one episode.
Curtis - Thu, Aug 2, 2012 - 4:34am (USA Central)
I really hate this episode. The whole 'love story' thing is repulsive. Just because you're stranded means you abandon your existing life within a few days? Just because she's female and you're male means you are required to get it on? WTF? Why is Tom hounding Tuvok over his buried feelings? Just because someone has feelings doesn't mean you act on them.

Maybe if they were stranded for many years a relationship could naturally develop as it becomes more unlikely that they'll be rescued. But this is all too rushed and comes across as cheating.

In another episode when Tuvok must work through his Pon Far with a hologram he states that the treatment was effective, "but no substitute for my wife." THAT was Tuvok, this is not. The love story/feelings nonsense shoehorned in ruins what would otherwise be an interesting episode.
Curtis - Thu, Aug 2, 2012 - 4:48am (USA Central)
And one other thing, she loves him and he makes it clear that he's not interested. Sorry lady, that means you're out of luck. But she goes off about hating logic and all this like that crazy woman in that episode of TNG that kept yelling at Picard "LOVE ME! WHY WON'T YOU LOVE ME!" So Tuvok is supposed to love her too because she loves him? Huh? That's just creepy. A relationship has to be between two willing parties. Then, to make matters worse, Tom interrupts Tuvok's meditation yelling at him for not loving her back. Tuvok has the right to love, not love, act, or not act as he sees fit without Tom treating him like a child. The more I think about this episode, the more I hate it.
Elliott - Thu, Aug 2, 2012 - 9:58am (USA Central)
@Curtis: I really hope your comments stem from being young and therefore inexperience with this kind of situation. Tuvok loves his wife in his Vulcan way perhaps, but he definitely has feelings for Noss and had no reason to believe he'd ever be rescued (repeat: ever). All his Vulcan gibbering to Paris about not reciprocating her feelings was a cover. That was the purpose of the flashbacks--to demonstrate just how susceptible to love Tuvok is. How is one to explain to someone that not acting on his emotions, strong as they are, are the only way he can survive psychologically? To do so would open up another portal of vulnerability, admitting fear. Tuvok's choice to meld with Noss in the end reveals the level of intimacy with which he finally regarded her, and was as much an act of love as a Vulcan can muster.
Curtis - Fri, Aug 3, 2012 - 4:35am (USA Central)
@Elliott: Whether or not I'm 'experienced with this kind of situation' is irrelevant. Do I believe people fall in love or have difficulty with feelings? Of course. Do I believe Tuvok would suddenly have all these feelings for Noss in the episode? Not for one second. And sometimes, just because you have feelings for someone doesn't mean you have to act on them. We all know Vulcans have emotions so it's nothing new. I could see Tuvok respecting Noss and becoming unique and special friends but true love? No way. Even if it was love, Tuvok had the right to cover it in any way he saw fit, just like we do in real life all the time.
Elliott - Fri, Aug 3, 2012 - 10:51am (USA Central)
@Curtis :

First, people absolutely do fall in love suddenly. Vulcans? Well, they're described as having feelings many times greater and more intense than humans, so I would be surprised if on some level they didn't fall in love suddenly--a lot.

Second, the feelings he developed grew over the course of months, not suddenly.

Third, you're right that the circumstances in which one finds himself dictate whether he should act on certain feelings. The situation in the episode is that Tuvok, Noss, Paris and Doc were going to spend the rest of their existence together. What would be the point of resisting, says Tom, with literally zero hope for a reunion with their previous lives?

Of course Tuvok had the right to act as he chose, but it's not about rights, it's about feelings. With no society, no order, no rules left, the only conclusions one could draw about Tuvok's behaviour do not justify it. It's only because we learn of the psychological danger to his Vulcan brain that allow us to empathise with him and understand his journey.
milica - Sat, Oct 20, 2012 - 3:44pm (USA Central)
Funny how half way across the universe aliens look exactly like humans and humans don't even notice the similarities...
Jay - Mon, Dec 3, 2012 - 2:34pm (USA Central)
@ milica...

Yeah, that is a Trek staple. Sometimes they throw in a forehead thing, bu sometimes not even that.

It was most obvious to me in TNG's "The Inner Light"...they were 100% human, which sucked a lot of poignancy out of it.

Grumpy - Mon, Dec 3, 2012 - 3:38pm (USA Central)
Re: foreheads

Tangent here, but Trek would've been immensely improved if the aliens had been cast with anyone other than SAG's whites actors. Even a foreign accent would've helped. In the case of, say, the Bajorans, constant reminders of foreignness (beyond wrinkled noses and religion) would've emphasized their different agenda. As it was, viewers had to stuggle to remember that Bajorans weren't straight-up Federation, like Trills with different makeup (ugh, Trill). Or Neelix: if he had been less vaudevillian huckster and more Tonto, his role as a local inhabitant of an unfamiliar corner of the galaxy would've been clear in every episode.

Give credit to TNG's "Code of Honor." They may have been grotesquely stereotypical, but at least they were more exotic than, say, those wusses in "The Hunted."
Jammer - Mon, Dec 3, 2012 - 9:20pm (USA Central)
I'm sorry, but I will never give any credit to TNG's "Code of Honor."
Jay - Tue, Jan 15, 2013 - 1:39pm (USA Central)
^ nor should you...
Elphaba - Mon, Feb 4, 2013 - 7:20pm (USA Central)
Oh hey Ticking Clock, Uncooperative Aliens, Romantic Hour, Shuttle Crash, Vulcan non-emotion, the power of Technobabble to save the day, all in this together, obviously must be saved because of Plot Armor main characters episode! We missed you!

It's like they just threw all the Trek cliches into one bucket and came out with this episode. Or more like all the Voyager cliches. All that's missing is some Fun with DNA! xD

I was genuinely shocked that Tuvok's love interest didn't die though, so I'll give it that. I like that he melded with her at the end, though. The most intimate thing a Vulcan can do with someone.
Dean Grr - Thu, Mar 21, 2013 - 1:45pm (USA Central)
Jammer, first, congrats on the new addition to your family! As a reader, wishing you all the best!

...

I think the intro to this review sums up Voyager nicely. I don't agree 100%: I like having standalone stories, and a noble crew, that doesn't get jaded by time and experience. DS9 is more true to life, while Voyager is closer to fairy tale or mythology, with idealized (or at least more static) characters. I get a lot of "real" life everyday, and found DS9 and it's successor of sorts, BSG, trying to drag it's characters (and audience) through hell just to see the reaction: DS9 in a much softer way, though (Quark? Rom?)!
There's quite a difference between the family life of Chief O'brien, for example, and the despair that Chief Tyrol goes through (although they both go through hell - O'brien, though, only once per season ;).

...

A thought about Tuvok (and what prompted this entry): I suspect Tuvok was underused partly because his relationship to Janeway was often an uncontested one: not the case for Kirk and Spock. Entire episodes were dedicated to the personal conflict between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Without that tension, Tuvok did not have as many stories to tell, or drama to be part of.
Paul - Thu, Mar 21, 2013 - 2:25pm (USA Central)
@Dean Grr:

Here's the problem. If you want a show about the wonder of exploring space, set it in the Alpha Quadrant. That's what TOS and TNG were, and they were great.

But the fact that Voyager never seemed to run out of crewmembers, shuttles, torpedoes, etc., when it was the only Federation ship for tens of thousands of light years was just stupid. It made no sense AND it pissed away the whole premise of the show.

What's sad is that the first two seasons of Voyager sort of tried to use its unique premise. There's a line in an early episode about how Voyager only has 38 photon torpedoes, for instance. The second season was about the only attempt at a sustained storyline. But the Kazon were boring villains and the creators never really went all in ('Deadlock' is a great example of hesitant storytelling). After the second season, Voyager became an episodic exercise in frustration for much of the next five seasons.

Seven's introduction in the fourth season made Voyager a better episodic show than it had been. But only occasionally was Voyager ever great -- and usually, when it was, it happened in a single episode set outside of the main Voyager universe ('Timeless', 'Living Witness').

Enterprise, for all of its flaws, was at least more ambitious overall. Voyager, though, was just a waste of time.
Grumpy - Thu, Mar 21, 2013 - 8:37pm (USA Central)
"...only occasionally was Voyager ever great -- and usually, when it was, it happened in a single episode set outside of the main Voyager universe ('Timeless', 'Living Witness')."

I'm not as eager to defend this series as, say, Elliott, but in fairness what Paul says about Voyager's great episodes applies to TNG as well, namely "Yesterday's Enterprise" and "The Inner Light." Even my personal favorite, "Cause & Effect," is only "real" in the last act. The same syndrome applies to DS9, for those who exalt "The Visitor" or "Far Beyond the Stars."
Paul - Thu, Mar 21, 2013 - 9:17pm (USA Central)
@Grumpy: Um, no.

Several of DS9's best episodes ("Call to Arms", "The Dogs of War", "The Jem Hadar", "Chimera") were decidedly part of the core story that didn't take place in a secondary reality.

TNG was more episodic and didn't have the serial concept that should have been part of Voyager. And even "The Best of Both Worlds" was definitely "real". So was "Measure of a Man", "Q Who" ... I could go on.
Elliott - Fri, Mar 22, 2013 - 10:30am (USA Central)
@Grumpy & Paul:

Well, GEOS lists DS9's top ten as "Far Beyond the Stars, Duet, Children of Time, Trials and Tribble-ations, The Die is Cast, Hard Time, Improbable Cause, Necessary Evil, The Wire and A Call to Arms"

I would definitely add "Chimera" to the list. My point is of all those episodes, only "A Call to Arms" is dependent upon ongoing continuity, even if they're part of "reality" (a rather useless term in my book when dealing with fiction). Yes, continuity plays a rôle in most of them, but the success of the story doesn't live or die on that fact. They could (save "Call") all have easily been episodes of any of the other Trek series with only minor alterations. I would say the same is basically true of the best episodes of every other series as well. In TNG's case, many of the best episodes would not be so memorable if not for the extraordinary acting of Patrick Stewart, but we can assume they'd give those stories to Nimoy, René Aubourgenois, Andrew Robinson, Kate Mulgrew, Robert Picardo or...um...Phlox I guess.

This is probably the most concise argument I can make in Voyager's defense: given that, in all but the most rudimentary of ways, Voyager did not utilise the serial storytelling potential which was so heavily emphasised and part of its billing, its success depended almost exclusively on its ability to create interesting and affecting episodic television. Every season had its bumps and bruises, but each and every season has at least one episode which stands as one of the best the franchise ever produced (1. "Faces, Jetrel," 2. "Death Wish, Projections," 3. "Distrant Origin, Scorpion," 4. "Year of Hell, Living Witness," 5. "Timeless, Drone, Dark Frontier," 6. "Tinker, Tenor, Barge," 7. "Workforce, Author, Author." Without Voyager, we wouldn't have them. Many, many of DS9's "episodes" would hardly be worth the time if not for the fact that they amount to telling part of a larger story. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not as though this is a prerequisite of television, even with a "premise" (as it's mistakenly named) like Voyager's.
Paul - Fri, Mar 22, 2013 - 3:01pm (USA Central)
@Elliott:

You've got to be joking.

"Every season had its bumps and bruises, but each and every season has at least one episode which stands as one of the best the franchise ever produced (1. "Faces, Jetrel," 2. "Death Wish, Projections," 3. "Distrant Origin, Scorpion," 4. "Year of Hell, Living Witness," 5. "Timeless, Drone, Dark Frontier," 6. "Tinker, Tenor, Barge," 7. "Workforce, Author, Author.")

If you really think Faces, Jetrel, Distant Origin, Year of Hell and Workforce come close to "The Visitor", "The Inner Light" "Best of Both Worlds", "City on the Edge of Forever", "Space Seed", etc. ... then I think you must be ridiculously drunk.

Some of the Voyager episodes you mentioned were genuinely great. "Timeless," "Living Witness" and "Author, Author" were Voyager at their best. But the others are mid-range fair, and "Year of Hell" is a perfect example of what Voyager could have been if the creators had any guts.
Elliott - Fri, Mar 22, 2013 - 6:30pm (USA Central)
@Paul: I didn't say "Distant Origin is as good as the Inner Light". I listed 15 episodes of Voyager. It's fair to compare them to 15 episodes of TNG or any other series not all of them against the top 2 from that series. Voyager at its best is Trek at its best and its greats deserve the same accolades from fans as its parent and sister series.
Jo Jo Meastro - Sun, Jun 16, 2013 - 12:47pm (USA Central)
I found myself nodding with agreement all the way through reading the review. The subtle, sensible and quietly compelling character work for Tuvok was good but it's a bit too nonedescript to really take off (especially with such a standard conventional story). It's a respectable outing with merit (good performances, even-handed direction, exotic planet sets etc)...but rarely did it step up a gear to make it something truly emotional and striking. 2.5/4 is my verdict too.
ProgHead777 - Thu, Jun 20, 2013 - 12:45am (USA Central)
Within a few minutes of appearing on screen I became convinced that Lori Petty was attempting to channel Leeloo from the movie The Fifth Element (which came out a couple of years or so before this episode was produced) with her performance in this episode. Whether that choice was hers or was that of producers/director/other powers-that-be is an open question.
navamske - Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 2:56pm (USA Central)
Sex and intimacy in the twenty-fourth century must be different from what they are today. When Riker was host to the Trill, he had sex with Beverly Crusher. When Sisko was in the mirror universe, he had sex with Mirror Jadzia. I don't see how these events could fail to change significantly Riker's working relationship with Crusher or Sisko's working relationship with Real Jadzia.

One small thing I liked about this episode was that instead of putting a wacky forehead on Lori Petty, they just put sparkly stuff on the sides of her face.
beej - Mon, Jul 29, 2013 - 1:28am (USA Central)
I had to laugh at Tom's suggestion that Tuvok forget any hope of rescue, and his wife along with it, and build a new life with alien girl.

A new life, on a crapsack of a desolate world, with exactly two other people and intermittently a hologram, huddled in a crashed spaceship hiding from ten times as many enemies, praying that the force field never becomes non-operational, and with only some hideous looking giant spiders for food.

Sounds great, Tom.
azcats - Mon, Aug 5, 2013 - 2:20pm (USA Central)
I have been reading these comments since season 2 as i have been going through Voyager series. I think is is amazing that this website was up in 1995. and that Jammer made those reviews over 18 years ago. it seems that he let comments appear in 2008, or these comment sections would be huge. in any case, i think this is the FIRST episode recap where i saw Jammer respond in the comments section...of all episodes...hmm. my 2 cents. I always love time and space anomalies. it was used very well to make time pass. yes, I agree with BEEJ so much on his comment about "new life."
Nancy - Wed, Aug 7, 2013 - 6:50pm (USA Central)
I typically enjoy Tom Paris. He's funny and sympathetically portrayed usually. That said, he was very obnoxious in this episode. If I had feelings for a guy but decided not to act on them, I would NOT appreciate someone (even a friend) literally SCREAMING at me that I HAD to act on those feelings or I'm being unfair to the guy. Relationships have to evolve naturally; if a person has to be harassed and scolded into participating in one, he/she isn't ready for it.
Nick - Sat, Nov 9, 2013 - 3:59pm (USA Central)
This episode reminded me of TOS The Galileo Seven...minus any semblance of drama or immediacy. The TOS classic had Spock in his first command, threatening monsters attacking a crippled shuttle craft, a race against time to escape the surface and outrun the ticking clock, AND the moral dilemmas of command for Spock - including ramifications of sending fellow crew members to their deaths.

Sure, the TOS didn't have CGI, was stuck with primitive and even corny looking sets, even suffered from overwrought dialogue, but the STORY was solid and riveting from start to finish.

Lori Petty was cute however.
Jdjdbc - Wed, Jan 15, 2014 - 5:11am (USA Central)
I'll take Trek's too human aliens over Farscape's muppets any day.

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