Star Trek: Voyager

"Dragon's Teeth"

**

Air date: 11/10/1999
Teleplay by Michael Taylor and Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Story by Michael Taylor
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"When it rains, do you run from doorway to doorway, trying to stay dry, getting wet all the while, or do you just accept the fact that it's raining and walk with dignity?"
"Rain's one thing; plasma bombs are something else."
"But the principle is the same."

— Gedrin and Janeway

Nutshell: The first few acts are pretty good, with some interesting ideas and approaches, but the closing passages comprise a thoughtless mess that sinks the show.

Perhaps the toughest question at the heart of "Dragon's Teeth" is where to draw the line between helpfulness and caution, between trust and skepticism, between exercising the Starfleet way of seeking out new civilizations and in fending for yourself because those you're seeking out might want to take you for a fool and hijack your ship.

Actually, to say this question is at the "heart" of the show is probably wrong; this is an episode that can't maintain long enough focus on what's important. It ultimately can't really even seem to decide what's important. Or perhaps its most important goal is to supply a Trek show that has enough action and FX and bad guys to be worthy of November sweeps.

If I sound somewhat cynical about "Dragon's Teeth," it's because it's an hour with some ideas that hold promise and deserve better treatment than they get. A lot of that promise, though, seems to be playing second fiddle to improbable movements in the plot and action that exist to fulfill some need to create a new Delta Quadrant enemy rather than to tell the story at hand.

While "Dragon's Teeth" features some good elements, scrutiny uncovers too many moments that just aren't believable, and too many motivations that seem governed by the Plot Gods rather than believable characters within the given situations.

It all starts about 900 years ago (892 according to Harry's handy estimates), as a society known as the Vaadwaur is bombed virtually out of existence. Several hundred survivors go deep underground into stasis chambers where they expect to wake up five years later and rebuild their world. Fast-forward almost 900 years, where Voyager happens upon this destroyed world while being chased by This Week's Xenophobes [TM], named the Turei, who are determined to hunt down Voyager and force them to erase all data pertaining to the subspace corridors Voyager had accidentally wandered into. These corridors are quite the commodity, permitting travel across long distances in very short periods of time. Such a commodity, in fact, that any outside knowledge of them is prohibited.

Hiding out on the surface of the planet under an irradiated atmosphere, Voyager discovers the underground Vaadwaur survivors. In a moment of questionable judgment, Seven brings one of the survivors, a man named Gedrin (Jeff Allin), out of stasis. Gedrin tells the tale of his world's destruction, and we get an interesting recap of the Vaadwaur culture, which is revealed subtly over a number of scenes.

Among the show's strengths is the way it gradually uncovers who the Vaadwaur are and what kind of intentions they might harbor. I liked the idea, for example, that the word "Vaadwaur" meant "foolish" in an ancient Talaxian tongue—the implications of which are revealed with a good amount of storytelling care. Neelix's role in the plot as he uncovers the linguistic mystery is commendable; the cipher of last year is now actually getting some material that shows him as a useful contributor to the ship's operations.

There's also the interesting use of Vaadwaur beliefs that make for some good foreshadowing. Gedrin's analogy between falling bombs and falling rain ("Accept the fact that it's raining and walk with dignity") is a telling sign of the Vaadwaur warrior ethic, as is the Vaadwaur attitude to so easily accept death, as revealed in a scene (Torres' only scene, we must note) that draws a parallel between the Vaadwaur and the Klingons. And don't forget Naomi's reaction to the bad vibes she gets from the Vaadwaur children; in mass entertainment mediums, inherently perceptive kids who pick up bad vibes are never wrong.

Unfortunately, what I have trouble with is the fact the episode goes to these nicely conveyed lengths to show us the Vaadwaur are a potentially dangerous bunch, yet the Voyager crew doesn't stop to ask the tough questions. That is to say: How prudent is it to uncork the bottle and wake up the "dragon's teeth" when they have their own ships and outnumber your people four to one?

In fact, the placement of Chakotay's "dragon's teeth" tale hurts the overall scope of the episode. Said tale is about a slain dragon, whose teeth, after buried, became seeds that gave birth to new warriors to rise up against the enemy. A very interesting observation, I must say. But nobody seems to be listening. The episode makes the point and then the characters ignore it; Janeway agrees to help Gedrin's people escape the Turei by allowing him to wake up the remaining Vaadwaur survivors, who according to plan will escape the planet with Voyager's help, once the ship is repaired.

Meanwhile, Neelix and Seven find historical evidence that the Vaadwaur had a warlike history that once extended through the Delta Quadrant thanks to the far reaches of the subspace corridors. The Vaadwaur were eventually conquered, but Voyager might become the long-deferred next victim. The episode makes it clear for us when we see Vaadwaur characters making plans to seize Voyager and use it as their new device to become competitors in the current century.

So back to the first question posed in this review: Is Voyager obligated to help these people when turning away could mean the remainder of their culture being permanently annihilated? That's a toughie, and a question that somewhat justifies Janeway's decision to be a humanist and help out. But the episode itself doesn't consider the question long enough, and once it starts showing us evidence the Vaadwaur cannot be trusted, the plot hijacks the episode and makes almost every other choice in the course of the hour irrelevant. (At the very least, I am glad that Janeway didn't cave regarding the weapons issue, and that she wisely put her ship's safety first after Neelix's discovery was made clear.)

But what could've been good analysis of a tough situation turns into a mindless wind-up action toy. Once Janeway confronts Gedrin with the historical evidence, Gedrin gives assurances that he is willing to accept peace and change in the new Delta Quadrant. Unfortunately, he's the only one. When it becomes clear to the other Vaadwaur that an attempted dupe of Janeway isn't going to help them become renewed conquerors, the plot instantly becomes "Voyager versus the Vaadwaur bad guys."

This leads to an "action" finale where the Vaadwaur launch their ships to attack Voyager, and Voyager desperately tries to escape the planet's atmosphere before they are destroyed by the vengeful pack of Vaadwaur. Apparently realizing that the Vaadwaur alliance was a mistake all along, Janeway pulls a 180 and contacts the Turei and asks for their help to stop the Vaadwaur, who obviously want the subspace corridors back. Meanwhile, Tuvok and Gedrin beam down to the underground tunnels to contact an orbiting satellite that will help the Turei penetrate the atmospheric interference and bomb the remaining Vaadwaur from orbit.

These events constitute a chaotic mess without regard for what any of it means.

First of all, Janeway's 180 strikes me as based purely on convenience, as she essentially makes a deal to help one enemy destroy the other—while the story sits by and doesn't begin to consider the consequences. Sure, Voyager is in danger, but does that mean the entire remaining Vaadwaur culture is fair game for being destroyed by an orbital bombing (including the innocent children mentioned earlier in the episode)? That in itself might be debatable given the Vaadwaur's extreme actions, but my point is that this question is the farthest thing from the writers' minds. Janeway's decision seems more a result of the Plot Gods, who make the Vaadwaur into convenient Bad Guys who deserve to die for their cold, warrior-like inflexibility. Early in the episode the Vaadwaur (through Gedrin) can be seen as people, but by the end the Vaadwaur are hopeless villains with zero depth or desire to see reason. They're hell-bent on taking over the universe, or whatever.

Meanwhile, the action scenes just don't work very well. Tuvok beams down to help Gedrin contact the satellite, but later beams up (we assume) in a manner that is executed so awkwardly that it almost appears Voyager leaves Tuvok behind. (And how would he beam up through all the interference and blocked communication signals, anyway? Convenient how the crew can't get a transporter lock on someone only when it suits the plot.) This of course means Gedrin will die alone in a cave-in, since any good-guy subset of the Bad Guys must be killed for their beliefs. But what about those beliefs? What exactly is it that makes Gedrin different from the rest of the "bad" Vaadwaur, except for the fact that he's the guest character with the most lines? By the end, he seems practically eager to go along with Janeway's teaming with the Turei, never mind that his own people will be slaughtered as a result. I don't buy it. (There's no room here for subtlety or torn loyalties; either you're with Voyager or you're not. Bah.)

Voyager's escape from the atmosphere is anticlimactic, done with an unfollowable technobabble procedure that's supposed to have the urgency of, say, fighter pilots using flight jargon as they take emergency procedures to save themselves. Unfortunately, technobabble just doesn't have the same perceived credibility. This escape sequence is a joke.

And although it's been awhile since I've climbed aboard the musical Trek bitch-train, I must point out that Jay Chattaway's notably unmusical score also didn't help matters in this final act. Are random-sounding, discordant notes supposed to constitute excitement? (Tell you what: Just let David Bell score the rest of the shows and we'll call it a season.)

The deficiencies in action might've been okay if the ideas here were worthwhile, but the action is the episode's priority.

The final scene tries to give the show some perspective, and, in theory, I liked the idea that Seven's intention to revive a culture is turned upside down into a violent showdown. But, again, it doesn't wash. The ending purports that the handful of Vaadwaur that escape are somehow going to be the new fearsome bad guys of the Delta Quadrant. Excuse me, but how? Resourceful or not, I'm with Seven: Their technology is nine centuries out of date, there's only 50-some of their ships floating around, and even with access to the corridors they're hardly invincible (otherwise, why would they even have needed Voyager in the first place?).

I don't buy for one second Janeway's line, "the repercussions could be catastrophic," which was inserted solely for the audience's benefit as a cue that we'll be seeing the Vaadwaur again. (The whole idea is the writers' toss of a coin; if the line hadn't been there, we wouldn't expect to see them again and it'd be Voyager business as usual.) I also don't think the notion, however subtle, that this was in a way Seven's "fault" holds water. While I find interesting the idea that Seven perhaps set an ages-old conflict back into motion with one action, it ultimately isn't quite so simple. After all, Janeway's the one who decided to wake up the rest of the Vaadwaur.

This nonsensical ending is really a shame, because this episode makes good use of Seven, whose appropriately interesting desire to rebuild a culture turns into a tragedy; makes good use of Neelix, whose use of historical knowledge and research goes a long way toward making him a useful character; features some well-done scenes early in the episode that maintain patience in establishing the Vaadwaur; and asks a few interesting questions regarding caution versus exploration. It could've been a great episode. By the end it's an action-packed mess.

Next week: A three-century-old spacecraft intended to go to Mars has ended up in the Delta Quadrant. And Voyager happens upon it. How very nice.

Previous episode: Riddles
Next episode: One Small Step

◄ Season Index

46 comments on this review

AJ Koravkrian
Sun, Nov 11, 2007, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
I'm sorry, but doesn't the prime directive apply here ? It's the incidents like this one that makes Janeway's claims of never having broken the prime directive completely baseless.
Pauly
Sun, May 18, 2008, 6:32am (UTC -5)
Even though we never see them again, and the episode is 100% plot driven - I find it one I like to watch over and over again?? I can't even put my finger on why I like it so much.
Aaron
Thu, Jul 31, 2008, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
Talk about an episode demanding two parts! The whole idea here is great. The first 20 minutes are great. And the last 25 minutes are so rushed and insane, that the episode falls apart. Pity.
Stephen
Wed, Apr 29, 2009, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
I'll admit that VOY definitely had plot problems throughout its run, but I always liked this episode. I think it may be that the special effects, at least for me, sell the "epic" quality that the show is going for. Sure, it fails in the present, but there are just enough establishing shots of the ruins, plus the attack in the teaser, that convince me that, even if the story as presented by the episode itself isn't very deep, there was a much bigger, and definitely much more interesting, story happening in the background. I know what matters onscreen is the only relevant part, of course, but for me what came before helps elevate what is happening now. I guess I'm more lenient to this show than you are because its something that inspires my imagination.
Ken Egervari
Wed, Dec 9, 2009, 2:24am (UTC -5)
A show like this is so frustrating... because a lot of it is very, very good. It's one of the few episodes to really grab me and hold my attention most of the way through. I liked it.

And like your review says... the ending sucks. It seems like the lesson is the wrong lesson. How many other episodes in star trek did we awaken people in stasis pods? My god... it's happened enough times that it's probably considered protocol.

And then leaving the aliens to fight off the battle for them while Voyager makes the escape... really? That seems... unethical. It just didn't sit right with me.

I wouldn't give it quite 2 stars... it's probably better at 2.5. There are worse episodes that have gotten 2 stars.

It's really too bad... because this is an episode that had promise.
Ken Egervari
Wed, Dec 9, 2009, 2:52am (UTC -5)
Oh, there's a few other things I thought up as well.

When they were fighting the ships and transported tuvok... didn't they have their shields up to protect them from the incoming fire? Isn't it established that you can't transport with the shields up? I caught this when watching it... and then as I read the review, I remembered I thought this.

I also didn't understand why Gedron was against his own people. I mean, there is so few of his race left... and he's going to kill them off? Who would be left? Ugh.

The one thing I never get with Voyager is... why are all the weapons comparable with voyagers? It would stand to reason that even 100 years of technology would give someone a MASSIVE advantage.

Let's put this in perspective. Computing systems typically become twice as fast every 18 months. When I was 19 years old (I'm 29 now), I think I had a 400mhz processor. These days, we have 3000mhz x4 processors. That's just 10 years! Not 900!

Now, I don't suspect that equating the Vaadwuar with Earth's technology 900 years ago... but come on... It's obvious that Voyager is way more superior. Those phasers on those Vaadwaur ships shouldn't even be scratching the shields on Voyager.

Yet, week after week, every other species' weapons are comparable to voyager... without fail. I mean seriously... they have little dinky ships... they are nomadic, spread out races... they only occupy 1 world... and they have ships to match. I can never believe it. The federation is composed of hundreds of worlds, is it not? At least dozens... over the course of what... 300 years or so? Are you seriously trying to tell me that 300 years and several dozen worlds can't make better shields and weapons than some lonely races out in the backwater delta quandrant? Give me a fucking break!
Nic
Fri, Feb 12, 2010, 10:57am (UTC -5)
According to Brannon Braga, this episode was initially planned as a two-hour telemovie, but he and Menosky decided while writing Part One that it would work better as a single hour. By the time the compressed version of the script was finished, their opinions had turned around again - but it was too late to re-expand the story.

This probably helps explain the messy second half of the episode. A two-hour show would certainly have given us enough time to explore all the issues that were raised in the first two acts.
Michael
Wed, Jul 7, 2010, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
I don't know why everyone is so scathing of this episode. I liked i enormously and, as someone said, it's one of the few shows that kept me riveted for much of its duration.

The premise and plot were great. There was no extraneous philosophizing, moralizing, sermonizing and analyzing. I personally don't need every loose end tied and everything to fall into place. Voyager left the two species to battle it out; so what! The denouement was that neither race was completely good or bad; no black and white. I thought that was what we wanted: Isn't Voyager often criticized for a simplistic moral polarization?

As for the holes and inconsistencies... *sigh* Hasn't it been established a billion times already that that's part and parcel of Voyager? If it wasn't so annoying at times, it would be almost part of its charm! :D

3-3.5 stars to this one.
Jay
Sun, Sep 4, 2011, 7:25pm (UTC -5)
How can the Vaudwarr know for sure that there are corridors still unknown to their enemies after nine centuries?
Jay
Sun, Sep 4, 2011, 7:29pm (UTC -5)
And...does Neelix live with the Wildmans?...he comes (presumably) home to (presumably) his quarters (at least he acts like they're his quarters) and Naomi is there, in (presumably) her bedroom.
Robots4Ever
Sun, Nov 27, 2011, 5:52am (UTC -5)
This worked for me. There were few sentimental interludes apart from the odd hint of Seven trying to join the human race. The revival of the guy from stasis seemed a better of the two evils. Events then unfolded, not necessarily as the only script choice, but one that had sufficient air of plausibility to carry through.

One issue is the corridor and a missed opportunity to go back home so easily lost.
Just Another Trekkie
Sun, Mar 25, 2012, 5:49am (UTC -5)
Another great review.

Anyone else notice the resemblance between the Vaadwaur and the Cardassians?

It seems to me to be a cop-out to have all the most frightening-looking races also be the most war-like.

What would REALLY be interesting is to have a harmless-looking race turn out to be the fiercest and more war-like. Thoughts?
Zero
Sat, Apr 7, 2012, 12:46am (UTC -5)
So this is very minor... but.

Janeway says, "What I wouldn't give for a Betazoid right now." But they had a Betazoid! In "Counterpoint" they have TWO Betazoids!!!
Captain Jim
Tue, Apr 10, 2012, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
Second episode in a row where I've thought Jammer was too harsh. Certainly there were some shortcomings, but all in all I found it a very entertaining hour.
Destructor
Wed, Jun 13, 2012, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
Agreed with the people commending the 'epic' feel of the episode. Yes, the knowledge that the Vadwaar were never encountered again does hurt the episode some, but as an ominous 'Part 1', it does a pretty good job of showing unintended consequences. I like it.
Billy
Sat, Dec 29, 2012, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
This episode packed so much I can't believe it wasn't a two parter - or an arc.

I loved the SFX with Voyager trying to take off from the destroyed city, eventually leaving a war zone behind.
Nina
Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 7:25am (UTC -5)
I kept wondering if the Vaadwaurs’ neck ridges were re-used Cardassian ones, just twisted the other way.
Jo Jo Meastro
Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 11:54am (UTC -5)
Jammers' review pretty much says what I had thought, which was basically; a good episode that got spoilt by a rushed and fuzzy conclusion.

Making it a 2 parter probably would have been best to allow the story room to grow and maintain its depth and intrigue.

I still enjoyed it, I just wish the ending to Dragons' Teeth had been at least more sharper and with more *ahem* bite. Perhaps a trip to the dentist was in order *bows head in shame*. 2 or 2.5 stars sounds right to me.
azcats
Mon, Aug 12, 2013, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
1. yes, didnt Janeway open up stassis units with the "the Clown" and "Amelia Earhart?"
2. fun episode, but it was ended abruptly. i REALLY enjoyed the premise. the beginning was very intriguing.
3. jammer always gets on voyager when janeway says "we will see them again." but yet they dont. so at least they dont follow script. lol
4. I agree with Jay. it looked like Neelix was coming home from a long day at work and Naomi is there? that was weird.

this was 4 star entertainment. 3 star overall episode!
Nic
Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
@Just Another Trekkie: they actually did do that in the season 4 episode "Nemesis".

Luckily, the writers realized that they had botched the introduction of the Vadwaar and they never appeared again.
Lt. Yarko
Fri, Aug 23, 2013, 12:38am (UTC -5)
Unbelievable that Seven would open that stasis pod. She would know better by then. That was just silly. And, how stupid are the Vaadwaur? "We are weak. Let's attack our only hope of success!" The Klingons wouldn't even be that stupid. What a strange episode.
LT. commander holman
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
A update zero-
Voyager did have two batazoids but in the pilot the female helmswomen (can't remember her name) was killed when the caretaker flung them into the Delta Quaternet and suetter was the other who was killed by the kazons In basics part two so fyi janeway was correct in her statement when she said she wished there was a batazoid aboard...
mwallace85
Wed, Feb 5, 2014, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
@ LT. commander holman - yea those 2 betazoids where killed BUT what Zero is referring to is the Voyager Crewman who had to hide in Counterpoint as they had telepathic abilities, we know of Tuvok and Vorik but what species where the other crewmembers? don't know of any other telepaths in the Federation so where they not Betazoids??
Dave in NC
Fri, May 30, 2014, 2:31am (UTC -5)
@ nwallace85: Next Generation had a telepathic Starfleet crewmember in the episode with the skeleton in the nacelle of the Enterprise D. I don't know the species, but he had a big forehead.

domi
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 1:40am (UTC -5)
I found this episode to be interesting considering the complex political and ethical factors involved. Although the "alien double-crosser" was a little bit predictable, the episode still had plenty of suspenseful and unique elements. It's hard to understand why this episode got a lower rating than the shallow and cliche-filled "Alice".
Eli
Fri, Sep 5, 2014, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
Interesting setup. It seems very similar - almost a remake of Space Seed. I don't think anyone else mentioned that. But, it's certainly not a boring rehash. There are a number of interesting twists in this story not present in Space Seed.

I agree with almost everyone that the setup is better than the payoff. The struggle between the two species and the mystery of the subspace corridors was interesting (though somewhat unexplored). However, it seems the writers put the Voyager in such a ridiculously vulnerable position that the climax required a massive leap of logic for the ship to survive. It seems hard to process why Gedrin would abandon his whole race so quickly. It was also confusing to me who was in charge of the Vaadwaur.

It's been said that here that Janeway wasn't following the prime directive. However, I have some refutations of that argument (and bear with me I'm not quite as much of an expert trekkie as some of you):

1) In general given that the Voyager is stranded in the Delta Quadrant and in unknown territory, it seems there are many instances where "breaking the prime directive" is a matter of perspective. Voyager may need to interact with species more vigorously than a Federation ship that is part of a vast population of intermingling species ready to help one it.

2) I thought that the Federation was stricter about interactions between species with no warp technology, but less restrictive about interacting with more technologically advanced species. I think both of these species would qualify as more advanced.

3) I suppose it may seem dubious ethically or even logically to awaken the sleeping people. But, the Federation and/or Voyager often seem to see themselves as benefactors of species in vulnerable situations. I don't know what the rule of benefactors are under the prime directive exactly, but the general intent of helping someone in need is not necessarily a violation of the prime directive.

4) Lastly, some have criticized Janeway for switching sides simply because it was "convenient." I disagree with this accusation. She was simply operating as any diplomat or representative of a country would when dealing with other potentially hostile countries. Initially, the Turei appeared more threatening, but later the Vaadwaur was the greater threat. Initially, the Turei threatened Voyager, the Vaadwaur did not. Most importantly, there are many occasions in this episode where it's clear Janeway is simply trying to ensure the ship will survive. It's too harsh to equate survival (or self-defense) with convenience.
navamske
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
Things that annoy me, though I understand they are necessary dramatic devices:
-- When a denizen of the Delta Quadrant refers to "the Delta Quadrant" or even to "this quadrant." The notion of dividing up the galaxy into quadrants, let alone what those quadrants are called, is an Alpha Quadrant–centric construction. Suppose extraterrestrials came to present-day Earth and said to us, "You're the first aliens we've encountered here in the Stenhegen Ellipse" -- we would be like, "WTF?"
-- The assumption that every planet's year is the same length as an Earth year. Kim said the Vaadwaur city had been destroyed 892 years before. Then they wake up Gedrin and tell him he's been on ice for 900 years. Imagine if they'd shown him a calendar (or the equivalent) and he said, "No, I was right when I put Jisa in the stasis tube -- we've been sleeping for five years." Maybe a Vaadwaur year is 180 Earth years. (I don't know much about astronomy: Maybe it's a given that an M-class planet, which virtually by definition has to be in what present-day astronomers call "the habitable zone," will have a year comparable to Earth's. But even an alien species on a planet that takes ~365 days to revolve around its sun might not call one revolution a year -- a "year" might be when they complete 180 revolutions!)
Robert
Mon, Oct 6, 2014, 8:28am (UTC -5)
I'm assuming that if their universal translators were as good as Star Trek's they translate Stenhegen Ellipse to Milky Way Galaxy as easily as they can translate the words dilithium and warp drive.

I'll give you the year thing though, at least DS9/Bajor weren't on 24 hour days. I always liked that.
Charles
Tue, Nov 11, 2014, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
I'm just going to complain about one thing: the whole "their technology is 900 years old!" "oh I can't use these controls, I'm 900 yo too late"- which makes NO SENSE.

Civilizations across the universe haven't evolved at the same time or at the same pace even. There is no such thing as an alien race with technology that's "900 years older" than another's unless they've had at some point the same exact same technology. For all they know the Vadwar were a billion times more advanced 900 years ago than the Federation is now.
DLPB
Fri, Apr 17, 2015, 7:25am (UTC -5)
Sigh. It gets really tiresome having to disengage my brain in order to get any kind of enjoyment out of a story. The whole story is littered with issues. The writers simply get anything to happen and don't care for logic, but, in this episode, one thing annoyed me more than anything else:

Voyager is attacked and heavily damaged. It needs to touch down on a planet for repairs. They revive an alien species (which is conveniently on the random planet) that may be hostile. Seven concludes that most humanoids are hostile.. and yet still does it. WHY?

In fact, forget the revive portion... the minute they land, Janeway starts her do-gooder speech about how there might be people who need help. HEY, REALITY CHECK - YOU AND YOUR OWN PEOPLE NEED HELP AT THE MOMENT. Only a complete retard would start seeking out people to help when their own ship is damaged and there is an enemy hovering overhead. It's just so damn basic and stupid from the writers.

Enter the real world.
Xylar
Mon, May 25, 2015, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
Seems like towards the end, Janeway is making a mountain out of a moleheap. If there are only 50 or so Vaadwaur ships in existence for a total of 600 members, then no matter how resourceful or tenacious they are, they're going to die.

If they don't get pwned by some other aliens due to inferior technology then nature will slowly kill them. Give it 3 or 4 generations and see how many of them are left then. It's only a matter of time before they become extinct. Even if they had the luxury of quietly settling down and trying to revitalize their culture, they would fail because there's simply not enough of them. 600 is not nearly enough to maintain an entire species for very long.
But they don't have that luxury. They are stuck desperately fighting for their survival in corridors that other species have since taken over in ships that are 900 years out of date. They're doomed, no matter how you look at it. This is a problem that will take care of itself, if you give it enough time. No need to make any real fuss about them.
dg54321
Tue, Aug 4, 2015, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
In STO, it's shown they do survive, with a little help from an alien species you heard of last in early TNG....
Skeptical
Wed, Mar 2, 2016, 9:38pm (UTC -5)
Well, looks like there's a consensus on this episode, and count me in. It was a great setup with lots of potential, but the ending was completely flat. So, apparently the plan was originally to make it a two-parter, then cut it to one episode, but couldn't get it to work so just said screw it and gave us the best they could do. They wanted to go back to a two-parter at the end but couldn't. My question, though, is could they really make anything out of the Vaudwaar and the Turei the way they are presented here.

It's unfortunate that the Turei are the hardheaded alien of the week and the Vaudwaar were presented as pure evil. It's pretty unique, something really only touched on with Living Witness - what do you do with enemies from centuries ago? What Living Witness did correctly was to provide nuance to the alien races, showing that the caricatures in the history books weren't necessarily identical with reality. But here? Neelix and Seven came up with stories and legends about the Vaudwaar, and they were 100% accurate. Where's the excitement in that?

Let's look at a real world example for a moment. What do you think about the old Persian empire? If you had just watched 300 and took it at face value, you would say they were the monstrous conquerors that the freedom-loving Greeks heroically resisted. If you were reading Jewish history, you would say they were the messianic liberators who defeated the oppressive Babylonians and allowed for the restoration of Jerusalem. Which one is true? Which one paints a full picture? But here, all legends are 100% true, and all races are 100% evil. Surely there were some better options here?

1) What if this remnant wasn't the only remains of the Vaudwaar empire? What if there were other survivors who managed to escape, settle down, and eventually ally with their neighbors, including the Turei? (I mean, seriously, who holds 900 year-old grudges? Then, when our military-minded Vaudwaar wake up, someone could call the peaceful folk over to try to convince them to settle down and join them in a new civilization. All the while the sleep-Vaudwaar try to convince their cousins to join them in their war.

2) Or perhaps there were other survivors of the Vaudwaar, but they were enslaved by the Turei? Now, the newly awakened Vaudwaar might be military minded, but don't they now have a legitimate reason for restarting the war? Instead of sleeping for 5 years in order to restart the war after the alliance started fighting amongst themselves, maybe they did truly just want to live in peace. But after seeing what the Turei did to their cousins, they couldn't help but become enraged.

3) Perhaps the Vaudwaar were never that militaristic to begin with? After all, "foolish" isn't the word I would use for an overtly warrior-like race. Maybe their empire was a combination of militaristic and economic that just expanded too fast. Give them a bit more nuance then just evil empire. Then, when they reappear, they try to negotiate with the Turei, like Janeway did. They try to be reasonable, but the Turei refuse. It's only as a last resort that they prepare for war.

4) Or maybe we can make the Turei more of the good guys. Seriously, if a bunch of Vikings suddenly appeared, would we be scared of them? Perhaps the Turei, 900 years ago, felt it was justified to perform genocide, but in the time since then their ancestors believed the action to be heinous (if anyone has read Speaker for the Dead, you know what I'm talking about). Now, with the reappearance of the Vaudwaar, they have a chance to make amends for their past sins. Yet these Vaudwaar vividly remember that all their friends and family were killed by the Turei, and aren't too ready to forgive and forget. These Vaudwaar launch a vicious attack on the Turei despite the peaceful overtures made, and now the Turei have a tough decision to make: do they defend themselves and complete the genocide they decry, or stay true to their new morals in the face of an implacable enemy?

That's just what I came up with in 5 minutes; I'm sure you can come up with your own. All of them can still include Voyager getting stuck in a reopened war that they didn't mean to restart. And all of them probably ending up better than the by-the-numbers ending we ended up getting.

Still, that shot of Voyager flying through the atmosphere with those tiny ships all surrounding it, firing phasers in every direction, was pretty freaking cool.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
I find agreement with the majority here in thinking that this was a strong idea hampered by a somewhat rushed conclusion. There is a slightly jarring turnaround from Janeway, not least of which she seems perfectly happy to let the Turei try to wipe out the Vaadwaur to the last man, which seems a little out of character even if they are aggressive and militaristic.

But the build up to the revelation about the Vaadwaur is nicely done, and well plotted. It's here where the episode breathes a little more and it benefits for it. And I have to say that Star Trek finally seems to have found a way to use a kid without it being like a fingernails on the blackboard experience - the little scene with Naomi is a really good one here. And indeed some nice use of Neelix too.

As a straight actioner the conclusion is enjoyable enough though, and the FX in this episode represent a giant leap forward. 3 stars overall.
Robert
Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
@Dave - Scarlett's Naomi was definitely one of the best guest roles on VOY. Not counting Jake/Nog (who were a bit older) she is by far and away my favorite "Trek kid".
Bryan
Fri, Mar 25, 2016, 3:32am (UTC -5)
Such a frustrating and annoyingly cynical episode...

The bulk of the episode is a bunch of spurious-sounding hints and foreshadowing that the Vaudwaar are Secretly Evil Aliens, from mythology, folklore, even little girls' intuition... it all feels so forced, out-of-place, and oh so unnecessary since this is one of Voyager's favorite plot types that we've seen so many times before that we've already come to expect it. If that's not enough, the snake-like design doesn't exactly inspire confidence (as they conspire in shadows I half-expect them to add "yesss, Cobra Commander"). Frankly, if this is the sort of episode it has to be, it feels fresher when the plot whiplashes you with a surprise 180 rather than string us along with this contrived gobbledygook because I doubt many folks at home are congratulating themselves on piecing it all together before the Big Reveal: "I felt like they had to be going somewhere with the obscure mentions of ancient Greek myths and Talaxian folklore that would otherwise seem to be disrespecting these aliens to their faces for no good reason...but it was Naomi's keen insight that clinched it for me, cuz, well, that girl's never wrong!"

So what's the takeaway message from this episode?
a) Don't free strangers from eternal limbo lest they turn out to be ungrateful bastards desperate to screw you over?

b) Ensign Wildman had a change of priorities following her near-death experience or f'ked off to Alastria or something because Naomi would be pining away in a small dark room all alone all the time if not for the tepid company of Seven by day, and nightly visits from Neelix, who has apparently moved in with her?

c) An enemy of my enemy is my friend...unless that friend turns out to be my enemy too...in which case the old enemy becomes my new friend...unless the new friend gets unexpectedly wiped out by the new enemy...in which case....??
John C. Worsley
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 11:54pm (UTC -5)
Per @VOYSynopsis on Twitter:

"S06E07 #VOY: Janeway wakes an aggressive army from stasis, incites a war, flees, and blames Seven! Chakotay cites unrelated mythology."

Yep. That about sums it up.
Kubershark
Sat, Apr 16, 2016, 10:36pm (UTC -5)
I actually liked this episode a lot and would give it 3 stars. The weakness are well explained in the review and comments while there's something that hits home about an attempt which opens the door to a severe betrayal. Also, the 'stasis' tubes may have some grounding in fact. Found D.T. very thought provoking!
Kubershark
Sat, Apr 16, 2016, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
That's "attempt to help" in my review above.
Yanks
Mon, Jun 13, 2016, 9:54am (UTC -5)
Well, Seven screwed up.

... and we spend the rest of the hour understanding the ramifications of the screw up.

This episode made me thing of "History will be written by the victors" ... and "there are two side to every coin".

I enjoyed this one. To read some of the reviews you'd think Janeway went down there and popped open on of the alien-sickles.

But of course, all the "subspace corridors" are destroyed.... no help for Voyager there. :-)

3 stars from me.
Hunter
Mon, Aug 1, 2016, 9:56pm (UTC -5)
It's implied in this episode that the Talaxians were a space faring race 900~1000 years ago when the Vaadwaur were at the height of their power. This bothers me. It's like the thing with the Bajorans having conquered space flight some thousands years before (I can't remember the exact numbers). Why must nearly every alien race in Star Trek be that much older than the Federation? Sometimes it just feels like the writers think '900 years' sounds better than let's say, 90 years.

Del_Duio
Tue, Aug 2, 2016, 6:55am (UTC -5)
@ Hunter:

I think they said in the DS9 episode 'Explorers' that the Bajorans had achieved space flight but only as far as those flimsy sail ships would allow them to go. Even the journey to Cardassia Prime was very dangerous, IIRC.

So while they could have had space flight forever, maybe they weren't very good at it.
Robert
Tue, Aug 2, 2016, 8:51am (UTC -5)
@Hunter - I'd rather believe that the Talaxians had space flight 900 years ago than that their history is so poor they can't remember a powerful conquering alien race from 90 years ago. It'd be like us nearly forgetting Hitler and the Nazis already (Hitler died over 80 years ago).

That said, I'm not even certain that the episode does imply they had space flight.

NEELIX: I took the liberty of preparing a large assortment of Delta Quadrant dishes. Hopefully, there's something here that you'll like.
GEDRIN: You're Talax-ilzay.
NEELIX: Talaxian, but you're right. My ancestors referred to themselves as Talax-ilzay in the old tongue.
GEDRIN: The old tongue was new when I met your race.
JANEWAY: You travelled all the way to Talaxia?
GEDRIN: And farther. Our corridors took us to many worlds. I'm curious. Have you heard of us, the Vaadwaur?
NEELIX: Oh, I'm afraid there aren't many records from that period, but vaadwaur is a word in the old tongue. It means foolish.

The fact that the Vaadwaur visited ancient Talaxia doesn't necessarily mean the Talaxians were flying around in warp vessels. They could have an international space station (like we do). Or they could even have been totally grounded and encounter aliens anyway (like the Mintakans). Certainly most races are not as careful about First Contact as humans.
Hunter
Wed, Aug 3, 2016, 6:15am (UTC -5)
@Robert

Yeah, but there is also this line:

NEELIX: In dozens of ancient folk tales of my people, there's a common theme - they describe a phantom army that appears out of thin air, destroys entire colonies, and vanishes in the blink of an eye.
SEVEN: Subspace corridors.
NEELIX: Exactly.

It's probable they were space-faring at that time and low-warp capable. Memory Alpha also seems to support this theory.

My problem is I find it difficult to comprehend how so many space faring races are staggeringly older than the Federation while still being so backwards technologically. Sure, not everyone ends up like the Dominion (also at least 1,000 years old) but it's just a nitpick I have with how the different races are commonly portrayed.

But I guess much like Earth history, long drawn out periods of limbo really can alter how fast a civilization develops.
AA
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
Voyager Drinking Game: Take a drink every time someone says the word "gravimetrics." Or maybe not. You'll be sloshed by the end of the episode.
AA
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
Voyager seems to be trying to break some kind of record for turning people against their own kind. Seems like way too many in my opinion.

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