Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Inside Man"

**

Air date: 11/8/2000
Written by Robert Doherty
Directed by Allan Kroeker

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I'm not that gullible." — A Harry Kim lie

In brief: A watchable but ultimately unfulfilling take on the "Voyager crew as saps" episode.

"Inside Man" has a few things going for it, but one of those things, unfortunately, is not the bigger picture. That is to say, when you have at your disposal the entire Alpha Quadrant guest cast that made "Pathfinder" such a winner last year, why waste it on a silly caper plot that doesn't advance Voyager along the lines of the continuing saga of its search for a way home?

Even worse, why waste it on yet another example of the crew being manipulated like sorry saps into believing that a shortcut home is actually going to work when in fact it would get them all killed, a la the deception in "Hope and Fear"? "Inside Man" is a collection of isolated bright ideas undercut by standard plotting and character stupidity.

And a show of hands: Do we really want to see the Ferengi again?

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The underlying premise is actually a very reasonable one — the idea that Reg Barclay would transmit a hologram of himself to Voyager as an interactive program to assist in future coordination between Voyager and the Alpha Quadrant.

Unfortunately, the problem with "Inside Man" is that it's heavy on gimmicks and alarmingly light on story. One admirable aspect of both "Pathfinder" and "Life Line" from last season — both which featured Barclay and Troi and other characters from the Alpha Quadrant — is that they were real stories with true appeal and meaning. They were not stunt episodes. "Inside Man," on the other hand, is just that — a stunt episode that doesn't mean anything to any of its characters ... not the Voyager crew members in the Delta Quadrant nor Barclay back home in the Alpha Quadrant.

The plot can basically be summarized in one sentence: Some scheming Ferengi intercept the transmission of Barclay's hologram and reprogram it to deceptively lure Voyager through a manufactured tech anomaly so they can get their hands on Seven of Nine's nanoprobes and sell them for huge profit. (No one on board Voyager, by the way, will survive the radiation when traveling through this anomaly, which makes me wonder if even Ferengi would resort to murdering 150 people to score a quick buck.)

Aside from following this premise through to its inevitable conclusion, the rest of the episode is either (a) filler scenes or (b) rehashes of Barclay's character theme that were already covered in the far-superior "Pathfinder."

Some of this is admittedly entertaining. For example, the most truthful and appropriate idea in the episode is the notion that the Reg hologram has such a confident swagger to him. It's a programmed personality that serves as the alter-ego to the programmer. (This is assuming its outgoing nature wasn't programmed by the Ferengi, of course.)

And even if most of this is rehash, I still have to confess to enjoying Dwight Schultz as Barclay. Here he gets two very different riffs on Barclay — as the real Barclay, and also as the holographic version he wishes he could be. The real Barclay is the same guy we knew from "Pathfinder" — always sure his ideas will work but unable to totally convince his boss Harkins (Richard McGonagle) that he's on the right track. But even though this may be fun, we've been here and done this. When you have a rare opportunity to use these characters, why waste time doing everything over again?

Sure, holo-Barclay is a personable fellow. But I still had to ask myself if having him do impressions in the Voyager mess hall was really the least bit necessary to the story.

And take, for example, the extended scene between Barclay and Troi on the beach. It very well might be the longest dialog scene in the episode, and yet it doesn't need to be. The amount of information we get here is secondary to the setting, as if the scene had to be drawn out unnecessarily in order to justify the expense of shooting on location rather than on soundstages. (When I'm thinking of things like that, it's an indication the dialog isn't holding enough of my attention.) And Barclay comes close at times to being reduced to the status of a cartoon character, decked out in a hat and sunglasses designed to make him look awkward. The character analysis in "Pathfinder" was far less forced, and more truthful.

The main drive of the plot hinges on some contrived facts that annoyed me. One is the idea that the Voyager crew, like brainless lemmings, would follow holo-Barclay so blindly. The proposed Instant Way Home [TM] in this episode is one mired in the typical invented technobabble, and one that would be very dangerous for our gallant Voyager crew. Radiation levels would be lethal, and yet the deceptive holo-Barclay explains away the danger as no longer a problem thanks to shield modifications and Doc's inoculations. Far too simplified, it seems the Voyager crew is prepared to follow Barclay straight to their doom. Meanwhile, we get the usual discussions among the crew about being excited about possibly getting home while also trying to keep optimism in check.

Back in the Alpha Quadrant, we learn that the Ferengi gained access to Barclay's hologram thanks to Barclay's ex-girlfriend Leosa (Sharisse Baker-Bernard), who had played Barlcay for a fool specifically to obtain information about his transmissions to Voyager. I would say "poor Reg" here, the way he's a victim of his own trusting nature, but unlike "Pathfinder" the writers don't seem to be sympathizing with him nearly as much as they seem to be laughing at him behind his back.

The conclusion is one of those races against the clock where Barclay must use his technical ingenuity to foil the Ferengi before the Voyager crew is lured through the anomaly and killed. Par for course (but I wanted a different course).

And, no, I didn't really need to see the Ferengi again. Does a single one of them as portrayed here look like he has the intelligence to come up with a plan as brilliant as this one? If not, the explanation may be that the plan isn't brilliant so much as the victims of the plan — in both the Alpha and Delta quadrants — are gullible fools. At the very least, I'll give Barclay and his team, including Admiral Paris (Richard Herd), credit for figuring out the Ferengi plot without too much slow-wittedness.

But that's not enough, because the bottom line is that "Inside Man" starts out as a promising idea that is quickly tossed aside in favor of something trivial and mundane. "Pathfinder" and "Life Line" showed true promise in telling a story arc that connected Voyager with the Alpha Quadrant, using Barclay as the common thread to hold it all together. "Inside Man" doesn't bother to be a story that we should care about; it seems convinced that Barclay and Troi are enough on their own to keep us interested. They're not.

As far as the Voyager-characters-as-saps paradigm goes, the last scene aboard Voyager is perhaps the show's most telling, in which Tom and B'Elanna pull Harry's leg with a far-fetched premise that promises another way home. And there he is, Harry Kim, still, after all these years and the immediately preceding events of "Inside Man," playing the part of the hapless chump — just as gullible and naive as he was when this series premiered nearly six years ago. Is this supposed to be a funny joke on the character? If we buy into it, I'm thinking the joke is on us.

Next week: "Being John Malkovich" — Voyager style! (In other words, "Being Seven of Nine.")

Junior-high question of the week: Why does a transwarp conduit (as depicted in animation in "Inside Man") look exactly like a condom?

Previous episode: Critical Care
Next episode: Body and Soul

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20 comments on this review

EP - Mon, Mar 9, 2009 - 7:33pm (USA Central)
I really enjoyed the portion of the episode where Tom is debating Harry, poo-pooing rather sanguinely the notion that Voyager will get home, enumerating several circumstances (i.e., prior episodes) where those opportunities either fell through or were wolves in sheeps' clothing. I think the writers were having some fun with us, the audience, on that one.

Too bad that the notion of "Voyager getting home" is a big joke as well.

As an aside, if Rom is any indication, the Ferengi are both stupid enough and clever enough to conceive of and execute the technical details of such a caper.
Ken Egervari - Sun, Dec 20, 2009 - 5:22pm (USA Central)
I'm only 20 minutes into the episode, so take what I say with that in mind.

Having said that, this episode is horrible. First, the plot starts off with yet another gimmick to getting home. Now, we know they aren't getting home... so the story's strength really depends on the execution of how they don't get home, and what the story is REALLY about. And when it come's to this story's execution... let's just say it's abysmal.

How many stories do we need where the writer's tease the audience about getting home? Can't you think of something else? Even Tom seems to think so... as the character telegraphs that every plot to devise to getting home has been some sort of trap. It's like they are making fun of the concept... yet the story is treating it 100% seriously.

As we watch, we realize all is not well after all - oh dear, like we didn't know! But the twist comes when we see that the Ferengi are behind it. Really now? The Ferengi?

I am almost want to stop watching right now, as the story has gone into a direction that I would have thrown in the garbage once the writer pitched the idea, let alone put it into production.

And now this is 2 episodes where the ferengi try and screw voyager over. My god, can't the writers think of something else?
Jason - Fri, Apr 23, 2010 - 7:54am (USA Central)
Holo-Barclay reminded me of 'Ace' Rimmer from Red Dwarf - "Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast..."
Paul - Fri, May 7, 2010 - 7:15pm (USA Central)
I don't understand why the Voyager crew do not adopt the new uniform? Perhaps I'm missing something. They make no reference to it! Surely 'oh, the uniform has changed!'. Janeway should update the uniform on morale terms alone.
Michael - Fri, Jul 16, 2010 - 8:00am (USA Central)
Harry "Can't-Get-A-Lock" Kim: "This is the best opportunity [to get home] we've had!"
Paris (deadpan voice): "That's why we'll probably end up in the Gamma Quadrant."

ROTFLMAO!!!

It's a pretty good show though I agree that resuscitating the Ferengi (of all!) is bemusing.

Great to see Troi again; she would've been close to 50 at the time of the airing of the show. Looks great though, which is a huge boon considering that otherwise her conversations with Reg about his FEELINGS (*puke*) would be excruciating!!

The biggest surprise, yea shock, of the show: Harry "Can't-Get-A-Lock" Kim actually got a lock for once (on Seven and holo-Reg)!! Champagne for everyone!! He's still a schmuck though.

Loved the last couple of minutes of the episode!

Anyway, I'd give the show three stars; I quite enjoyed watching it.
navamske - Wed, Oct 27, 2010 - 7:21pm (USA Central)
"Sure, holo-Barclay is a personable fellow. But I still had to ask myself if having him do impressions in the Voyager mess hall was really the least bit necessary to the story."

Maybe not absolutely necessary, but it did establish the hologram's ability to do impressions, perhaps making the later scene in which he vocally impersonates Seven of Nine believable. Even without the setup, though, I doubt anyone would have been surprised by holo-Barclay's ability to do that, especially right after he fried Seven's synapses by putting his hand inside her head.

I thought the final scene in the mess hall was terrible. Harry is a chump, but there's a difference between teasing and cruelty. I wouldn't value Torres and Paris's "friendship" much after that.
Jay - Sun, Mar 13, 2011 - 11:29am (USA Central)
After DS9's "Business As Usual", you have doubts that Ferengi would kill 150 people for enormous profit?
Cloudane - Mon, Apr 4, 2011 - 6:06pm (USA Central)
@Jason: I LOL'd. Ace Rimmer is exactly who I was thinking of as well :)

I didn't like the return of the Ferengi, mostly because they were the same sneering lot from TNG, not the more developed ones from DS9 (not that the Ferengi-centric episodes of DS9 weren't cringeworthy either mind you.)

Harry's character got assassinated good and proper this episode (if it's possible to assassinate the lifeless). The guy FINALLY gets a lock and it's a) offscreen and b) quickly outdone by Paris's bullying. Poor guy.

Another star rating I agree with. 2 for entertainment, but not really worth more than that - too much stupidity, too many Ferengi.

Also it looks like Marina Sirtis alongside Dwight Schultz is in for the rest of Voyager as a recurring character. Well then we need a new excuse as it's getting as silly as seeing Worf in every TNG movie was getting. Chasing her out to her vacation is MUCH more plausible than the Enterprise happening to be in sector 001, but what next? I hope they reassigned her from the Enterprise in later episodes to concentrate on helping Barclay try and get Voyager home. Otherwise it'll just get ridiculous.
Captain Jim - Sat, May 26, 2012 - 10:09pm (USA Central)
I usually agree with Jammer's assessment, but this is one of those rare times when I don't. Honestly, he seems to be down on the episode primarily because it isn't the story he'd like it to be. I really don't think the Voyager crew are acting like saps here; I thought the deception was pretty believable. I'd give it three stars.

And Paul, as far as the uniforms are concerned, I always assumed that acquiring the latest Federation uniform wasn't important enough to warrant that much use of the replicator, which we know required a significant drain on Voyager resources.
Chip - Mon, Jul 16, 2012 - 10:07pm (USA Central)
This episode was a nice mixture: Star fleet HQ, , a beach resort, two Barclays and, perhaps best of all, Deanna Troi. The leadup of believability of the "barclay-gram" worked. But the quickness in which the real Barclay discovered the Ferengi was the problem, and how Voyager figured out what was wrong, leads me to bellieve a few scenes wound up on the cutting room floor.

Nevertheless, a ege-of-the-seat and enjoyable episode. 3 1/2 stars.
Chip - Tue, Jul 17, 2012 - 8:41pm (USA Central)
P.S. Re the comment above about (Troi) Sirtis' age: She was 45 when the episode was filmed.
Destructor - Mon, Dec 10, 2012 - 8:28pm (USA Central)
I got a laugh out of it. 3 stars.
Leah - Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 7:35pm (USA Central)
I liked it, though the Ferengi were not the adversary I was hoping for. I did feel really bad for Reg though. What I do find more than a little annoying is that his boss keeps pooping all over his ideas. What happens every other time you've done that? What...oh yeah, he was RIGHT! You'd think these guys would have learned by now.
Em - Sat, Aug 3, 2013 - 7:23pm (USA Central)
One thing that peaked my interest in this episode was the reference

" the Romulans have been interested in voyager for years"

This is probably a reference to 'Eye of the needle' which was the Romulan from the past. It looks like someone in the Romulan government read the messages and didnt tell, naughty, naughty!
azcats - Thu, Aug 22, 2013 - 3:48pm (USA Central)
1. i agree with michael and some others. this was a fun episode.
2. ferengi didnt have a big part in the episode, so i dont know why everyone is complaining (and i dont enjoy ferengi episodes)
3. it was either them or the romulans wanting the ship.
4. i did find the beach scene too long, and a bit boring. i guess they just wanted her in a bathing suit?
5. i was frustrated that Barclays boss wrote him off again. really? again?
6. i did like the ingenius way of fooling the ferengi.
7. i always enjoy when the crew gives each other a hard time. i almost always enjoy the last scenes of voyager episodes.
3 Star
DPC - Wed, Sep 25, 2013 - 3:58pm (USA Central)
Best of all, the Starfleet guy (Barclay's supervisor who is still there despite being proven wrong time and time and time again) says it takes about 2 hours to go 7.8 light years. 30,000 light years away is Voyager. A high school algebra problem will readily prove it will take about 7692 hours to reach Voyager. Now I'm no expert, but 7692 hours does not translate into 30 years...
Jo Jo Meastro - Fri, Oct 11, 2013 - 10:11am (USA Central)
The Ferengi reminded me of the ones in TNGs' early days when they were potrayed as an actual threat, mostly due to the fact they came close to successfully carrying out their scheme and apparently didn't mind the fact it left 150 people dead (including children)! In a way it was refreshing because they've rarely appealed to me as comic relief, but at the same time they're still the weakest part of the episode.

I really enjoyed a lot of it, especially the focus on Barcley and the nice balance between excitement and character drama with genuinely amusing moments completing the package.

Its just a shame there weren't any long term consequences for such an event of a show; a story crossing the audience to Earth and back deserves to go beyond a fun, well-rounded adventure even if it is still very enjoyable.

I think the writers should have taken a risk and actually let Seven break through to the Alpha Quadrant alone and alive. That would have been interesting.

A solid 3 stars from me.
Jo Jo Meastro - Fri, Oct 11, 2013 - 10:26am (USA Central)
Seven in the Alpha Quadrant could only last for 1 or 2 episodes and still have been enough. She'd have to deal with her humanity, face her surviving family and go through a lot of painful yet ultimately beautiful growth and add to the stunning testament of Voyagers' journey. Her commitment to the crew and interaction with their loved ones would be enough to get her on the round back to the Delta Quadrant, sci-fi plotting could easily take care of the rest! I really would have liked the writers to go there, shows like Farscape prove what could be achieved with some daring.

One last observation: why did Barclay have his nose painted blue on the beach scenes? I can only guess it was futuristic sun screen or fashion statement, it definitely made him look cartoonish as Jammer pointed out!
Alessandro17 - Sat, Oct 26, 2013 - 11:25am (USA Central)
Simply preposterous. Wherever you put Ferengi they are supposed to make you laugh (except in DS9, where in some episodes they are taken more seriously).
Except that this is no laughing matter.
Besides, how can an accomplished scientist like Janeway and all the others be so gullible?
Jos10 - Mon, Oct 28, 2013 - 6:44pm (USA Central)
DPC - The admiral said it would take 2 hours to go 0.7 light years. That will be 2.86 hours (approximately) to go 1 light year.

2.86 hours/lightyear*30,000 lightyears (or 35,000, depending on the episode) = 85714 hours

85714 hours/24 hours day = 3571 days (rounded)

About a little less than 10 years (about 9.8 years). This is at full speed for that ship. Not sure how fast that ship could go, but it is over 3 times as fast as Voyager. Has technology improved that much?

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