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Proteus
Sun, Dec 15, 2019, 12:38am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Shattered

Time travel conceits are inane from git to go: between the unavoidable grandfather and origination paradoxes and the attempts to do away with them with infinitely branching timelines in an endless cosmic sea of frothing bubble universes, I don’t know how it’s possible to sagaciously judge one as more “scientifically plausible” than another. They’re all pure fantasy, so blithely slipping the moorings of even the most counterintuitive things we think we know about the actual universe that it makes no sense to critique them in scientific - or even logical - terms.

But they’re an unfortunate staple of all sci-fi, a venerable Trek tradition, so here we are again. And since I don’t watch Trek for its science (which is generally ridiculous anyway), I don’t skip them.

And since I know there’s no point in criticizing the unresisiting imbecility of the science, I let that go in favor of seeing what other merits the episode may have. Sometimes I can enjoy the speculative what-ifs of a future possibly awaiting Our Heroes, seeing how the history we’ve seen might work itself out; sometimes I enjoy seeing possible pasts. Always I can pick up clues cues and insights about the characters (or not), and the time puzzle itself can be inherently interesting purely as a mind exercise.

But over all else, I can be entertained - or not.

This one entertained me. I found a lot to like. I always like Chakotay, and he has the perfect dogged unflappable temperament to mediate these time fragments and give them the emotional and historical logic the shattered-time pretense lacks. A nice outing for him.

I enjoyed the time puzzle, neither too precious nor too tedious. I liked the choices of past events. All the characters were shown being their characteristic selves, with a few additional insights from the juxtaposition of eras, and nothing to violate Voyager canon or continuity. And goofy as time travel is, the notion of members of the crew from various points across decades of time corroborating to resolve a single problem serves to emphasize the collegial trust and goodwill the crew developed over the voyage. (Other than Seska, yuck ptui, a character for whom I’ve never been able to scare up a scrap of regard.)

And while it wasn’t a clip show, it was a retrospective survey which gathered highlights (and absurdities) from Voyager’s long strange trip and created an overall arc for us, a review. Seeing what was to be the unimaginable future from a pre-Delta Janeway’s perspective emphasizes just how much Voyager the ship/crew have been through - and how much Voyager the show actually HAS done with its original brief (in the face of the interminable “fan” whining and bitching in these reviews and comments).

That it visited both some of Janeway’s biggest hits and a few of the decisions she’s been most critized for (and has been shown to second-guess herself for) is another nice touch. It’s a nod and a wink from the writers that they’ve heard the jeers from the cheap seats.

Which also adds a meta layer, making the episode as much about Voyager the show as Voyager the fictional ship. It’s a scrapbook shared by the writers with faithful viewers - “The Way We Were” with a slightly wry twist, but in the end an earnest and warm benediction.

Also, as typified by “Slaughterhouse Five”, the fragmented time device is a pretty good metaphor for the way human memory works, how we are all constantly engaged in integrating our memories and our intuition about the future into a coherent story about who we are in the present.

So...a pleasant enough installment for me, helping shape an overall understanding of Voyager’s narrative shape - even if that shape comprises a willful selection of random incidents arbitrarily arranged to make meaning where they may originally have been none.

But that’s ALso what we do with the stuff of our own lives - so OK.
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Proteus
Wed, Dec 11, 2019, 11:39pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Nightingale

It was a good premise to work with, and an un-stupid setup to address the idea of a true command for Harry, with real responsibility and consequences. The script even directly addressed the eternal ensign’s seven years without promotion, which should have seemed like at least an ironic sop to viewers who have felt either that HK is a character without promise (which is not the case - anyone remember how smash-face green and naive Julian Bashir was in the beginning, and HE certainly got growths, or has been badly underserved by the writers (my view).

Alas, they underserve him again. They didn’t HAVE to make him an indecisive, micro-managing, arrogant and unsympathetic middle manager. Those characteristics do not naturally emerge from earlier shows where he’s been shown to have more judgment and maturity. He could just as believably - and more rewardingly - have been allowed to demonstrate more ability here. The writers pranked him.

And they made it worse by saddling the episode with the unmotivated, unmitigated, and unconvincing B-plot.

Did the writers have it in for Garret Wang because he’d been proclaimed as beautiful, or was he a prima donna jerk to them?

I’m often an advocate for the underdog installment, but there’s little to redeem this snooze-fest.
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Proteus
Tue, Dec 10, 2019, 12:57am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Repression

It wasn’t a GOOD installment, but a combination of several elements made it “fun” and entertaining. It was a decent whodunit up front, though I guessed Tuvok before it was revealed. So I liked that the writers gave that away early, undercutting our self-satisfaction for having “got it.”

Which means something else is going on, and we have to figure out what. Then we got the ol’ split personality hustle, and could enjoy Tuvok being both the culprit and the detective, playing both roles earnestly.

Next it became a question of motivation which churned on for a few minutes, asking us to figure out why Tuvok would seemingly be attacking the Maquis, and what did it have to do with Bajoran extremysticism. Maybe Tuvok had suppressed a burning hate for the Maquis (after all, he’d been planted as a spy by Starfleet), and something had triggered his bloodlust at this late date.

But no...he’s not ANTI-Maquis, he’s activating them for a mutiny, and the crew injuries are just unfortunate side-effects. Well, whyever would he do that? And when we learn his function was engineered via remote control by the Bajoran cleric...well, okaaaaaay, but as Jammer asks about the cleric,

“What can he possibly get out of it? What purpose does it serve that helps any Maquis or former Maquis in any way?”

Three options work for me. As mentioned upthread, maybe he’s one of the South American Nazis who plotted a deluded return to power for decades after WW.II, and thinks Maquis with an Intrepid-class ship hi-jacked from the Feds would be a powerful (eventual) gathering point for a renewal of the cause.

Or maybe he just hates the Federation for what they allowed to happen to the Maquis, and finds some malicious joy in this belated act of revenge.

Or MAYBE he hated Tuvok, personally and for his undercover role, and took particularly malicious glee in breaking the vaunted Vulcan discipline - never mind how long the interval between offense and retribution. Along with this, he likely had some pride in his mind-control craft.

After the final twist that Tuvok was a remote-control agent, the plot descends into sheer lunacy, working out a mutiny played as farce. You couldn’t take it seriously, but you could enjoy the spectacle of our players in betrayals and shifts of allegiance.

Thus far I found it a suitably convoluted mind game for the viewer, with the successive reveals well paced.

The ending was simply lame, and I’d find it hard to accept that Janeway would forgive everyone so blithely. But ... all’s well that ends well, huh?

I enjoyed this romp.
________

I wish we’d had more Vulcans as core characters in the various ST series. We’ve really only gotten to know three well, but I’ve found them all well-written and compelling.

It’s hard not to consider Spock the greatest of them all, just for dignity and gravitas his example lent the race.

But then I don’t know where to rank Tuvok or T’Pol. I’m one of those freaks who thinks Jolene Blalock was fabulous in her role, and brought a lot of depth and dimension to our understanding of the Vulcan soul.

And I also think Tim Russ briiiantly portrays perhaps the most conflicted and complex Vulcan of them all. And one has to point out that, for all his seriousness and probity, he’s the Vulcan we’ve seen most often fail to maintain the discipline, often with serious consequences. Meld, Unimatrix Zero, and this episode are the ones that come first to mind - but, paradoxically, this most serious of Vulcans is also the most unreliable.

I like that.
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Proteus
Mon, Dec 9, 2019, 1:07am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: The Haunting of Deck Twelve

I thought this episode, like the much meatier “Muse,” was primarily a meta riff on storytelling itself - particularly a self-referential and self-deprecating bit of Voyager-mocking by the writers themselves - with secondarily a (mostly unresolved) inquiry into a minor aspect of child psychological development.

The misunderstood-intelligent-energy-alien-trying-to-communicate has been done so many times in ST that you really have to accept it more as recurring genre exercise than accuse it of redundancy. Given that, I thought this outing was executed amiably enough.

But not for a minute did I think it was to be taken seriously. The framing as a scary campfire tale told by a guardian of children - a camp counselor or fun uncle, more or less - allows for all manner of inconsistency, embellishment, and fabrication on the part of the story-teller. So I didn’t care about plot holes or improbability in Neelix’s narration.

What I wondered as he told the story was whether it was the right way to entertain, distract, and comfort children in an already spooky situation. Neelix went into the assignment more worried than anyone else that the kids would be scared by the shutdown/blackout - and I expected him to be more comforting and reassuring.

It surprised me that he went with this narration of a recent harrowIng episode on Voyager. But maybe it’s a truism that kids don’t mind beIng scared if they feel safe in the protective custody of a sympathetic adult - and maybe Neelix rightly understood that Borg kids would be more objective and analytical than scared. That THEY understood the events of the tale as a series of science problems to be worked out, and NOT a supernatural ghost story, and that it would keep them occupied during the shipwide reboot.

What caught me by surprise when the lights came back on - and what I’m surprised neither Jammer nor most commenters have mentioned - was that Neelix said at the end that it was all a complete fabrication. When all was said and done, the alien intrusion never happened!

And since the blackout shutdown condition was never explained, aren’t we left with what Voyager’s most persistently negative critics accuse the series of turning out - that is, a hackneyed and derivative incoherent tale with an abandoned premise and lots of goofy action, which means nothing in the end because it wasn’t even “true” in its fictional setting? Kinda no need for a reset, because in this episode, LITERALLY NOTHING HAPPENED.

Plot synopsis: all power and lights on the ship are shut down for no reason, and Neelix tells a fictional and meaningless campfire tale to some kids. The End.

It’s like Voyager gives its audience a literal version of what the audience complains about - and no one seems even to notice. I thought the joke was on us.

Besides which, it was entertaining enough, with a fair amount of amusing camp - and, withal, fine characterization and an engaging depiction of the REAL action. That is, Neelix telling a story: when we’re in the cargo bay with the kids and Uncle Neelix, everything rings true, and is even endearing.
___________

Also, while the pitch black of an unpowered spacecraft drifting in the void of space has to be about the loneliest, most nullifying environment I can imagine...I’m kinda with Neelix in being more disturbed by inpenetrable fog.
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Proteus
Sun, Dec 8, 2019, 12:20am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Dragon's Teeth

Said someone, years ago: “What would REALLY be interesting is to have a harmless-looking race turn out to be the fiercest and more war-like. Thoughts?”

My thought: oh...you mean humans?
_________

Episodic Epigram: a good deed never goes unpunished.
_________

Why did the good bad guy turn against the bad bad guys, and sacrifice himself so others might survive? I don’t know...to demonstrate that no culture is homogenous or inherently evil - and that Voyager ISN’T all black and white? (Also note that good bad guy acknowledged that his race fit both his first innocent characterization of it, AND the darker, more historically nuanced interpretation Neelix uncovered. And hey - that sounds like MOST cultures.)
_________

Why did Janeway switch allegiances at the end? The answer comes in an upcoming episode: there’s no difference between victors and survivors. All the protocols, directives, and nice moral perspectives pale before the sheer necessity of staying alive. We might take survival as a base biological instinct, and we might take it as a moral imperative - but if we have a choice, we take it over the alternative.

To be cynical, she (with Seven) had done their good deed by awakening the dragon’s teeth (oops...I meant “giving a destroyed civilization another shot at survival”), leaving them in at least as good a position 900 years ago. She really just restores the status quo in the land of You Can’t Save People From Themselves.

Main thing is, she gets to leave. It’s certainly not the first time Voyager has left turbulence in its wake.
____________

I felt sure when I saw so many elaborate neckridge alien suits that we would be seeing this species in several more episodes. You mean we won’t?

Dang.
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Proteus
Sat, Dec 7, 2019, 11:58am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Riddles

Ehh, stuff I wanted to mention but forgot.

I suppose it’s inherent in my comments, but I meant to specifically mention how refreshing it was to get an interesting non-humanoid alien species AND a non-hostile humanoid race in the same DQ episode. Provides some dimension.

And that apparently Jammer is immune to the pathos of Vulcans dutifully returning to the stern discipline of logic after brief vacations in the more expansive domain of freer emotional expression. He gave TOS’s This Side of Paradise a similarly damning rating - the first ST episode that unexpectedly brought me to tears. In it Spock somewhat grimly submits again to his duties and responsibilities after experiencing a liberating range of emotions. His line “For the first time in my life I was happy” wipes me out every time.
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Proteus
Sat, Dec 7, 2019, 2:48am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Riddles

I don’t read Jammer’s reviews - or any responses - till I’ve seen an episode. I’m always curious to see what his rating is. It really doesn’t matter to me what critics think, as I’m capable of responding to a creative artifact and making up my own mind. But I generally find Jammer’s reviews balanced and reasonably fair - making allowances for his inexplicable aesthetic prejudices (and sometimes the sheer momentum of his affection for one series and his animus toward another).

His reviews generally at least touch on all or most of the general themes I caught, and sometimes he points out something I’d missed, or has an enlightening perspective. And the reviews are “multi-phasic,” in that they attend to most aspects of an episode: premise(s), script, dialog, plot, characterization and development, tropes and conventions, symbolism/metaphors/subtext/social commentary, deeper moral, ethical, or philosophical import, acting quality, production quality, effects, costumes and prosthetics, pacing, music...

Very few of the respondents here cover that much ground - most of us specializing in the two or three elements we focus on, and some of us grinding the narrowest of asinine axes.

All that said, I generally either more or less agree with his overall assessments, or at least understand where he’s coming from. All of which may explain (at least to me) my befuddlement when our judgments of an episode diverge wildly. This episode is a case in point: I was fully expecting to see a solid 3.5 or even 4 - as I was appalled to see (as examples) 4 stars for Barge of the Dead, and 2.5 for Alice (too high).

But then I remember we must have very different perspectives; he wrote these reviews in his 20s, as a college student, no doubt with a touch of intellectual hubris. I’m in my 60s, feel like I’ve had my intellectual pride beat out of me over the years, and have become more forgiving and less demanding of others along the way. I wonder how Jammer would rate these episodes now, from his more mature perspective.
__________

I really think this episode is an example of Voyager (in Tom Paris terms) firing evenly, robustly, and smoothly on all cylinders. It’s a rather quiet episode, well-paced and consistently engaging. Characterization is spot-on for everyone, Tuvok and Neelix are written intelligently and sensitively, Russ and Phillips nail their roles effectively (and affectively), and new character dynamics emerge naturally.

Russ plays the damaged patient perfectly, with mannerisms, postures, expressions, speech, and affect that read both tenderly and movingly real to anyone who has seen people go through such experiences. And the ever-supportive, well-intentioned Neelix nails the truly empathetic and responsive caregiver, becoming the only member of the crew to insist on providing the “human” touch for a prickly character, even when he is discouraged from - or at best patronized for - doing so. Doc finally tolerates Neelix’s homely ministrations as much to humor him (and get him out of the way) as from any confidence Neelix might do any good.

And as much as the rest of the crew depends on Tuvok, respects him, or sometimes values his strength and insight, they’re all content to wait for medical science to provide a miracle cure - partially so they can get the cloaking frequency from him. It’s not clear that they CARE for Tuvok the person as much as they recognize they NEED their Vulcan tactical/science appliance.

Only Neelix, the one guy on board Tuvok least respects and enjoys, cares for him personally with touch, voice, and sensory experience when Tuvok is comatose and useless to the others. Only Neelix (with advice from Seven as DISpassionate as it is COMpassionate) takes the conscious but broken and childlike Tuvok as he finds him, where he is, rather than pushing him to recover to his old self. When Tuvok is frustrated with himself and near despair, aware of his own cognitive and developmental disorders, it’s Neelix who has the patience, insight, and compassion to encourage him to become this new personality which has emerged.

I found it all both realistic and moving, and very much appreciated this interplay and the mutual insight between these odd-couple characters. Yeah, it reminds us of Tuvix, but for my taste it’s more real and better done.

Neelix’s bittersweet support of Tuvok undergoing full restoration to his customary personality carried radical ambivalence, pathos, and more than a little self-sacrifice. He all but knew he would lose this new friend with all his unexpected potential, but also knew not only that part of Tuvok would always feel the loss of his original nature - but that Tuvok was vitally important to the survival of Voyager, which needed his Vulcan logic and strength more than his newly poetic Vulcan soul.

In this sense, Neelix sacrifices his new friend for the good of the many; it’s ironic that touchy-feely Neelix makes a very Vulcan decision, while the Vulcan submits to it only when given the Vulcan-irrelevant promise that Neelix would still be his friend afterward. Everyone on board owes Neelix a heavy debt of gratitude for his warmth, compassion, insight - and, ultimately - clear view of necessity and steely resolve.

I get that Neelix has sometimes been badly written, seems frivolous, and could be annoying. But I’m with the posters above in considering him the heart of the ship, and indispensable.

I may be pre-disposed to this sentiment, as he reminds me in essential ways of my maternal grandfather. He wasn’t annoying, but he was soft-spoken, kind to all, considerate, emotionally perceptive in an unassuming way, gentle, humble, and patient. He also had unexpected strength and endurance of character, great physical and emotional courage, and an unbreakable will which was flexible only in means, never in ends.

After his stroke, and for the 8 years it took his body to run down, he was unfailingly polite when we visited the nursing home - while wringing his hands in despair that he didn’t know who we were, just that he was supposed to know.

So I guess the episode caught me there too, as some of broken-Tuvok’s behavior and mannerisms also reminded me of him.
____________

But that’s only the prominent, character plot. I also thought the subplot with the “xenophobic” aliens was very well done, in an understated way, with less conflict and less technobabble than usual.

I found the cloaked, tentacled aliens more cautious, secretive, and defensive than hard-headed or bellicose. Yes they surreptitiously gathered intel on unknown ships passing through - but certainly no more invasively than Voyager has often done. A case can be made that there was no intention to hurt Tuvok, that had he not caught the alien in the act, he would not have been fired on. And if the culture that knows them best can consider them mythical - but for one rogue Mulder who has documented all of 12 incidents - they can’t be much of a threat.

I like that they remain mysterious; it seems to me that interstellar spacefaring humans (should there ever be such a thing) will have far more similarly inconclusive encounters than shootemup space battles with violent foreheaded humanoid bipeds.

I guess I consider the Neelix-Tuvok material the cake here, and the alien encounter the icing. The yummy sprinkles would be the completely altruistic Naroq, who is consistently straightforward about his motives and agenda, with never a hint of subterfuge or betrayal - and whose somewhat self-sacrificial gesture at the end brings about a win-win-win resolution for three species.

The plot doesn’t dwell on it, but - as he gave up his cloak-busting tech - it would seem his deepest motivations were indeed exploration and intellectual curiosity, not military dominance. Presumably he goes home with enough images, hard data, and sensor logs to prove that the shadowy species exists, and establish at least something about them. Whether the rest of his society can be satisfied with that, or whether they turn his research against the mystery race, we can’t know.

But that’s science. Explorers never have much control over society’s use of their discoveries.

So, overall, a humane and generally harmonious episode featuring creatures of goodwill, working in good faith through tragic circumstances. Seems about as Trek as it gets.

But OK, I could have done with a little bigger cherry on top of the cake at the very end. The writers might have let Tuvok remember and acknowledge more of the emotional journey he and Neelix had made. Not anything too dramatically overt, but a half-smile, a wink, something. As I’m watching through in order, I can’t conclude there’s a hard reset at the end of Riddle; I can still hope future character dynamics between these two will incorporate something of this episode’s rapprochement.

I am grateful, though, for “Sundays/Sundaes.” The homophonic verbal logic may indicate Tuvok 3.0 retains some of the creative spark of Tuvok 2.0.

AND I can entertain the notion that “Sundays” COULD mean that on one day a week, Tuvok might bake some confections with his buddy Neelix.
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Proteus
Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Alice

By “script” in my penultimate paragraph above, I more specifically meant “dialogue.”

(Sure wish these posts could be edited. By habit I’m a relentless self-editor.)
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Proteus
Thu, Dec 5, 2019, 11:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy

A fine-tuned comic delight, chock full of delicious details and delightful character turns. You couldn’t take your eyes off the screen for fear of missing something.

Voyager does loopy comedy amazingly well. I was entertained from git to go.
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Proteus
Thu, Dec 5, 2019, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Alice

Yep, nope.

Obvious Christine nod, appropriate for Tom the Car Guy...but left under-developed. The menace never felt visceral. Ehh.

Moderately interesting concept in the neural interface of man and machine, but it’s been done better, and this brought nothing new. Ehh.

The tease that the “particle fountain” (quasar?) was “home” to the AI piqued my interest...like maybe a sister race to the wormhole aliens was doing business in the DQ, and one of the energy beings had somehow run out of motive capacity far from his vortex and so had infiltrated/taken over/possessed an innocent little space runabout (I imagined it sounding like George Jetson’s coupe), but needed to socially engineer a meatbag pilot into pairing up to get it home. But the story did nothing with that notion, so I was left to imagine it on my own.

Ehh again.

And the rote, pot-boiling, by-the-numbers script proceeded via an endless string of the hoariest cliches. Sometimes Voyager attains such sublime heights...and then there are pedestrian messes like this, putting the dopiest lines in the mouths of actors we know are capable of so much better. It must have made them wonder sometimes why they even came to work.

Overall, a simply inane episode.

Ehh.
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Proteus
Thu, Dec 5, 2019, 2:03am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Barge of the Dead

Ehh. Mediocre episode. 2+. I could have lived with a 3, but I’m in indignant reaction to Jammer rating it so highly.

And yet, while rating it so highly, he couldn’t even notice that it COULD be a payoff for the bitchy, confrontational bad B’Elanna mood he’s so frequently objected to over the past half season? Could it POSSIBLY be the writers were planting hints ahead of time that something’s wrong with B’Elanna? I guess the proof of that pudding won’t be known till we see if there’s a kinder, gentler B’Elanna in subsequent episodes, but I’m willing until then to give the writers some credit for gradual character development.

And I do think the episode provides significant - and convincing, well-supported - character development.

It’s just that the means of getting there are so very transparent, the “symbolism” so transparent - and fergawdsake (so to speak), Tuvok even TELLS us we’re to interpret the visions symbolically, metaphorically. That it’s NOT literal. Given that orientation, the episode leads us by the hand, does all the interpretation for us.

Is B’Elanna human, Klingon, Starfleet, Maquis, daughter, lover, engineer, believer, blah blah blah? Well, clearly, like all of us, she’s a mixture of identities and roles, DUH, she’s ALL of them.

Her problem, for whatever reason (and who are we to judge her right to inner conflict?), is that she hasn’t successfully reconciled and integrated the roles. She’s a psychological battleground. So what does she learn as she flings her weapon in frustration into the monster-writhing chaos of the storm-tossed deeps?

Why, to STOP FIGHTING. Enough with the inner turmoil. Accept all her roles.

So I like where she goes psychologically, and even that she gets there through the metaphoric agency of mythopoeic symbolism - it’s just that it’s all about as subtle as Pilgrim’s Progress. I guess I like my mythic tales a little more ambiguous, even a bit vague and mysterious - not so slavishly, by-the-numbers allegorical.

It’s just not a surprise to me that psychological processes can dress in symbols and proceed as mythic role-playing. The execution and the production were all defy enough - and it was great to see B’El in full Klingon raiment - but the dream sequence itself just seemed ploddingly sophomoric.

I don’t object that B’Elanna worked out her conflicts in Klingon religious terms; I don’t think her scientific bent and overt hostility to her Klingon-ity makes that unrealistic. On the contrary, it seems appropriate. It doesn’t matter that she has consciously and rationally rejected belief in the literal reality of Klingon mythology; she was inculcated into the true religion as a child - sent to religion school, as it were - so those images are burned into her subconscious. She can’t escape them.

And both of her “near-death” experiences can be fit into a rigidly scientific and materialist context - if we can accept that the entire episode, from her bang-up shuttle landing at the beginning clear through to her waking up at the very end, are all part of the same near-death/coma fever dream. (This gets Janeway and the Doc off the hook for idiotically trying to recreate such an experience, and fits in with several other ST episodes where characters are subjected to multiple levels of sleep/dream, during some of which they believe they’re really awake - and during which the audience is intentionally deceived.)

In such a reading, there is no debate about whether the Klingon afterlife is “real.” It’s simply that B’Elanna is “dreaming” the whole thing. We don’t need clues that it isn’t real, because we all know what it is to have dreams which seem to us, at the time, to be perfectly real. We’re experiencing everything from her perspective - including the interactions with other crew members toward the middle of the episode, when we believe (with B’Elanna) that we’re “awake” in Voyager’s literal reality. It’s during these interactions that B’Elanna’s rational, engineering mind comes to the fore, and she presents arguments with herself about varying interpretations and roles of religion and its relationship to reality. (And they’re only mildly interesting observations, fairly pedestrian questions.)

So...during her extended vacation from reality, her unconscious mind works up a little psychodrama for her, in the guise of the mythology imprinted on her as a child, wherein she works out internal conflicts relating to identity, her relationship with her mother, etc.

And all that sounds pretty good, really - a pretty strong brief for a prime-time TV show to illustrate the common grounding of myth and religion in the deep psychology of the human mind, and put it all in a defensibly scientific comtext. I feel like I ought to have liked the episode better than I did...

I just keep coming back to the transparent, predictable, color-by-numbers imagery, symbols, and plotting employed for the dream sequences - which take up most of the running time, and are the focus of the episode. The Wizard of Oz is more entertaining.

I’m not a Klingon-hater, but maybe the reason the episode falls flat for me is that Klingon religion is good with retribution, guilt, shame, stalwart discipline and honor - but low on grace, freedom, and transcendence. One feels no sense of the divine. There’s no mystery, no at-one-ment. By comparison, the Great Link seems a better metaphor for spirituality.

The most affecting theme of the episode for me is actually the opening-up and surrender to vulnerability demonstrated at the end when B’Elanna embraces Janeway. It suggests the resolution of one of her deepest issues, the one which pre-dates the Starfleet/Maquis conflict - which is that she was rejected (or at least abandoned, and to a child what’s the difference?) by her father, then resented and pulled away from her mother till both of them rejected each other.

Psychologically, she’s a motherless child - and the scene suggests to me that she’s both come to terms with own mother, and now accepts Janeway as her spiritual (or at least substitute) mother. Thus her first emotional opening is to Janeway - before even Tom. I liked that.
________

But I have a question. If the bargemaster killed the Klingon gods...who then had the power to condemn him to an eternity running the River Styx ferry?
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Proteus
Tue, Dec 3, 2019, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Relativity

What happens in the Delta Quadrant stays in the DQ?
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Proteus
Sun, Dec 1, 2019, 2:00am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Equinox, Part II

I wasn’t moved, annoyed, edified, instructed, or enlightened by this 2-parter. I wasn’t quite bored, but neither was I greatly entertained.

I haven’t watched through the end of the series yet, so don’t know how Janeway’s arc of characterization (as opposed to character arc) will end - but if the obsessive, judgmental, something-like-vengeance she pursues here is as extreme as she gets, I’ll consider it reasonable for a person with the character traits we’ve come to know, when placed in this situation. It was interesting to see her go this far, but it represents only an incremental development, neither surprisingly new nor a change in direction.

I thought every interaction with Chakotay was dead-on. I think the two characters have demonstrated a coherence of temperament, a shared ethical and moral core, and Chakotay is often not only her sounding board, but a valued additional or alternative perspective. When they are in agreement about matters of morality, ethics, command, and heading (as they usually are), she is confident they are right. Both are generally confident in each other’s probity and judgment - enough to cut each other some slack and reserve censure when one feels the other has gone (or is headed) out of bounds.

So when Janeway realizes she has departed the bright circle of agreement they usually share, she knows it - and, headstrong in the moment of the emotional duress she is giving into - feels defensive about it. That comes with additional reflexive anger at her own reaction, and that anger provides more fuel for the fire. She KNOWS she’s stretching the cords that bind them, likely senses when they threaten to break - and, as Chakotay remains a fixed and implacable center of moral gravity - she is drawn back into the circle.

The scene at the end was enough to satisfy me that she recognized and admitted she’d almost gone beyond the pale, and to reassure me that Chakotay would not have departed the circle had she gone further than she did - that he would have relieved her of command if necessary.

Which is an interesting contrast to Equinox’s first officer, who ultimately mutinied because his captain belatedly regained his moral center - kinda suggesting, in a quiet way, that Janeway was fortunate to have such a fundamentally decent man as FO, and Ransom was partially undone by having a very different sort. We might even speculate that, had Ransom had a more morally sound FO, there might not have been sufficient moral latitude on the Equinox to allow alien-burning in the first place.

But I recognize I’m only drawing inferences the episodes allow me to make, but do not explicitly illustrate (or perhaps even intend).

Because, again: while the story did not offend my sense of what’s reasonable for the characters in this interesting situation, neither did it provide any psychological epiphanies or philosophical insights.

It seemed merely workmanlike, and business as usual.
______

I do have a couple of observations about Equinox’s EMH/our Doc (and 7/9).

In contrast to several posters above, if we accept a fully sentient, hologrammatic AI in the first place, I find it perfectly believable that “deleting the ethical subroutine” would result in the behavior depicted. (Leaving aside the improbability of such a program’s code being so easily accessed.) It also seems an obvious metaphor for sociopaths or extreme narcissists - people who can seem completely normal but for behavior suggesting they’re MISSING some psychological component that most other humans seem to have.

Also, most Trek medical procedures seem to take just seconds, or no more than a few plot minutes - especially those involving Seven and her digital bits. So it seemed odd to me that the memory-extracting, brain-damaging procedure Doc was doing for Ransom could take “an hour more” (as Doc said), when it had clearly already gone on for some time. And given that Doc and Seven were reprising the duet singing both had enjoyed in the past, I had the sense that, missing subroutines or not, Doc was simply stalling for time, and NOT meddling with Seven’s brain. I took the singing as a way for him to reassure her (without saying it in so many words) that he would not hurt her, and was playing Cap’n Ransom.
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Tue, Nov 26, 2019, 12:17am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Warhead

I’m surprised no one has compared the Bomb and Doc to the dynamic duo of R2D2 and 3-CP0. Bomb did the cute bleeping and blooping, Doc in his manic, anxious-to-please mode handled the interpretation. I thought that by turning that lovable duo into something more menacing, ST was taking a sly tongue-in-cheek jab at Star Wars.

And I’m sorry, but 32 anti-matter bombs detonating in a full spread till they saturated the screen in the overload white of a supernova was well worth the (free!) price of admission.
______

My critical judgment is apparently impeded, but I continue to like most Voyager episodes better than y’all avid Trekophiles.

Whether we’ve seen similar plots and concept pieces before (how many kinds of stories can humans tell, anyway?), and despite obvious logical inconsistencies and plot conveniences, I found a lot going on conceptually to make this a worthwhile episode. There are the obvious meditations on our duties to other sentient life forms, the question of when AI can be considered sentient, and cautionary notes as to how (and if) we will control advanced AI. The tenor and immediacy of these questions change over time as our technology advances and the specific issues become clearer - so a sci-fi consideration from one decade deserves a follow-up years later.

The self-sacrifice of the newly-minted ethical AI seemed both too sudden and too pat - but on the other hand, as Bomby said, it was still fulfilling its purpose: only the target had changed. And if we buy the Dr Strangelove theme that an accidental launch might trigger a resumption of hostilities, the Bombs achieve their builders’ goal for them by keeping “their people” safe. So, plausible enough.

I also appreciated the command-structure questions Springy mentions.

AND, for my money, Harry grows as a commander in the course of the episode, taking responsibility for the questionable decision he let Doc talk him into, and turning it around. Did he sound a little desperate and over-the-top when trying to talk the bomb out of destroying Voyager, with seconds to do it?

Geez, I dunno. Wouldn’t you?

In the end, he got it done. Good character ep for Mr Nice Guy.
_______

Not that it matters, but the 4-star rating system is just not granular enough to do justice. In strict letter grade equivalents, it’s essentially A (100%), C (75), F (50), you didn’t even show up (25), and just drop dead (0). This episode is far better than a 2-star 50% F to me, and better than a 3-star 75% C. It’s at least a low B, somewhere between 80 and 85.

I feel like I need at least 0-10 - and, if I’m feeling obsessive enough, 0-100 - to grade with enough discrimination.
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Mon, Nov 25, 2019, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Relativity

The future timeship is cool. Very sleek user interface, handsome uniforms. And it was nice to see Voyager at the shipyard, and Seven without her crescent and starburst facial wackadoodles.

Also, I always admire her posture. She has what you might call a regal bearing. One look and you know she’s forthright, honest, brave, earnest and reliable. An exemplary human, and one whose many fine character attributes we might all do well to assimilate.

An utterly inconsequential and frivolous episode. Something like a sci-fi pot brownie, but with mild weed, creating agreeable warmth in the digestive tract and a mild buzz - with the hint of a headache. You don’t take it seriously while it’s happening, and you won’t remember it in the morning.

To the best of our knowledge, the universe does not permit the paradoxes of time travel.

Neither should fiction.

NEXT.
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Mon, Nov 25, 2019, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: 11:59

Also living in southern Indiana, I guess I agree with cheerful RandomThought’s (and others’) objection to the notion that such a project would logically displace the downtown of a small Indiana town rather than being built in a cornfield. But more fundamentally than that, it seems a stretch that anyone would opt to build such a massive project in an area of such low population density, and of such slight tourist interest in the first place. (Santa Claus Land at Holiday World is more in keeping with Hoosier development ideas.) They’d never begin to fill the commercial spaces proposed, much less populate the tower.

Also, we alREADy have communities capable of sustainable settlement. They’re called “small farm towns in the Midwest.”

As a native of the Midwest, I found the town itself , its apparent demographics, and its geography rather vague and contradictory. It had very much the vibe of a northern Indiana small city (and there IS a Portage there). The fender-bending scene looked to be set in a city of 15,000 or more - a Columbus or Bloomington would have been believable. But one line refers to going “up” to Bloomington, which almost has to set it south of that location (because otherwise, you’d go “up” to Indianapolis.

The night scenes do look more like small-town southern Indiana - but I lived here at that time, and I’m unaware of any 2-story bookstores in any town down in these parts. THAT looks more like an urban thing. Also, unless it was Evansville, one of the towns across the river from Louisville, Terre Haute, or Bloomington itself...there would certainly be no towns with TV stations putting news crews on the street to follow such a little drama.

If the production folks had REALLY wanted to localize it convincingly, a shot of a town square and courthouse would have screamed “Indiana” at the top of its cinematic little lungs. For that matter, Huntingburg (which had hosted Hollywood for “A League of Their Own” and “Hard Rain” in the 90s, would have made the production welcome.

Also, 13-14 year-old Janeway Junior couldn’t have casually walked into a sports bar looking for Shannon. Geez.

So yeah. It’s Hollywood getting the small town America of Flyover Country wrong-wrong-wrong, building it out of tropes, tripe, and stereotypes. We’re used to it, but it’s still annoying. Couldn’t they even bother to look at a map and give it some thought?

What was historically right: the cars, the way the ignition failure of the clapped-out 80s wagon sounded and behaved, and the dirty frosted windows. I felt right at home in those scenes. Also, Interstate cookies do suck.

Incomprehensible: why would a show which aired in May 1999 set a massive fictional building project just 18 months into the future? The Gate would already have to have been well into advanced planning by the production date - and, well, it just wasn’t. Odd.
_______

But all those niggling niggles aside, I’m ok with a quiet episode. I think Janeway herself delivered the line which gives her ancestor’s story relevant emotional resonance. In the disappointment of realizing Shannon had not been the important personage she’d previously thought, doesn’t she say something to the effect of “yeah, my great ancestor was a failure who couldn’t follow through on her ambitions, and now I’ve failed by losing my crew halfway across the galaxy”?

I’ll agree that Shannon and Henry didn’t have smoldering chemistry. But I think that’s consistent with the tired, second-chance vibe of the episode. At the moment, neither is where they must have thought they’d be in life, and yeah one looks forward and the other looks back (another element tying in with the NY’s eve theme).

But they’re both literate, intelligent, articulate people with wide-ranging interests, they enjoy each others’ company (in a limited social/cultural environment where there are not endless options), and Shannon feels something for the good kid, whose personality speaks well of Henry’s values. They like each other, and they recognize a good solid thing when they see it. Neither, as they say, is getting any younger. They’re mature and world-weary enough to be beyond lust-fueled passion.

Love doesn’t have to consume. The family picture from decades later suggests that they made a good life for themselves. That’s believable.

And yeah the episode is quiet. But does drama always have to be dramatic?
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Mon, Nov 25, 2019, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Someone to Watch Over Me

I laughed, I cried.

I did both at once and didn’t know why.

This was simply sublime. Achingly, supernaturally well done, with a pitch-perfect, sensitive, perceptive script that seemed to come right of the characters’ souls and superb production. Consummate work from Ryan, Picardo - shoot, virtually everyone involved - brought it to life (though maybe Tom and B’Elanna just filled their stock roles).

The wry humor, the song ... good lord, the song! A sentient hologram and a Borg refugee sing a crusty old bit of cornball Americana cheese to a heartless MIDI bandbox accompaniment - on a starship no less - and I’m watching alone in my living room, laughing and clapping and tearing up. What the hell is WRONG with me?

Jonathon Baron nailed the emotional core in his 2015 post, above: “The mixture of Doc's earnest pedestrian self-help book style instruction and Seven's essential autism creates a moving interplay of two flawed, wounded people. What makes it work is that only one of them is truly aware of this.“

And, I would add, that he’s perceptive and sensitive enough to let it go gracefully to further the well-being of another.

What an amazing piece of work. I’m watching all of Trek through, following the Chronology Project, and binged through the last ten DS9 eps yesterday, finishing late last night. Of course I was dazzled and wrung out, and felt like I was saying goodbye to some of the best friends I ever had. Loved it.

But after all that sturm und drang, this episode comes as a refreshing relief, light with alluring shadows, a kind of valentine message, all heart.

The B plot is, for me, equally wonderful and truly told. Neelix was perfect. I’ve been in a similar situation, and the dynamics were all well captured. The ambassador reminded me very much, physically, of the guy involved - a great bonus for me.

The one discordant note in the episode was the ambassador’s borderline entitled angry comment when Seven rebuffed him. I was glad he passed out and the interaction didn’t become the diplomatic disaster I think most viewers expected from the setup. I’m glad we didn’t go there.

Making up for that sore thumb, it was a great touch that he didn’t remember it later, and that Seven bore him no grudge the next day, even offering her nano-probes to sober him up. Such a Seven thing to do, perfectly fitting her character.

A last benediction was the colony’s leader’s dispensation to the ambassador, giving him after-the-fact permission to have sampled some of the by-paths of the narrow way. That’s also true to life, and in keeping with the quiet, accepting grace of a superlative episode.

Gives me hope for our species.
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Mon, Nov 25, 2019, 2:16am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Juggernaut

I’m with William B and Springy on this one. I think they’ve nailed the psychological core, which gives the episode some structure which bridges some of the (minor, in my view, for ST) plot holes. I don’t think it hurts to revisit B’Elanna’s demons if it’s plausible that she still harbors them (as I think it is).
______

Aside from the all-too-obvious environmental message, I’m curious about “toxic waste” in space. As I understand it, most - maybe all - of space is toxic. Every star (never mind supernovae, neutron stars, pulsars, quasars) are sources of radiation which would be lethal to us, even through our atmosphere, if earth’s spinning molten iron core didn’t create a magnetic shield. We don’t really know how we’re going to shield spacecraft well enough to get humans to Mars in healthy enough condition to burrow underground to escape the same radiation which would kill them on the surface there.

So I’m having a hard time understanding how we can pollute space, esPECially with radiation, given that space makes a helluva lot more of it than we do. So yeah - launch it into the gravity well of a star and forget about it.

But I can’t find anything in real science about “theta radiation,” so it’s one of those Trek things we just have to accept and go with. But a “by-product of anti-matter reactions?” I thought the point of such reactions was that matter and antimatter were annihilated, yielding nearly 100% of the energy of both. No doubt radiation across a wide band is produced...but wouldn’t it dissipate rapidly in the vast expanses of space, contributing negligibly to what’s already zipping around there?
_______

FWIW, I didn’t think seeing B’Elanna’s bare back at the end was gratuitous or constituted any sort of “degradation” of women. I think it was necessary to contrast the dirt and grime she’d accumulated (both physically and emotionally) during her visit to the belly of the beast with the comparatively clean and unstained condition she might attain after her shower. It also serves to remind us of her vulnerability, and contrast it with the strength she’d shown in doing what had to be done to survive.

That’s all compliments of Ripley’s similar strip-down toward the end of Alien - which is, yeah, yet more evidence of this episode’s debt to that movie. But I can live with that.
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Mon, Nov 25, 2019, 1:22am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Think Tank

I don’t think seeing the tankers as con-organisms denies Seven either motivation or growth. I think she just saw through them (though not immediately), and any attraction they might have had then evaporated. I ascribe to Peter’s take on her likely psychological arc through the episode.

I’m not sure it was so much their Borglike amorality and parasitic efficiency which were initially attractive to her, but rather the notion of a smaller, less authoritarian collective of more individually gifted, diverse, and seemingly altruistic beings who could collaborate at a more telepathic level, while retaining individuality. Kind of an ideal middle ground between the Borg hive and the less efficient human “team.”

They turn out to be not as smart, honest, or altruistic as it first appeared - and she’s come to value not only those virtues but also the human relationships she has built on Voyager.

Also, Ryan surely had a contract for the whole season, so we knew she’d stay.

I enjoyed Alexander’s work in the episode, especially the soft-spoken measured pace and his quiet demeanor. It worked equally well when I thought for a few minutes we might finally have met truly benevolent aliens, and it worked for icy implacable menace when his real character was revealed.

I wasn’t distracted by ghosts of Seinfeld because I didn’t realize the connection till I read it here. But I once had breakfast with Kirstie Alley on the Amtrak Southwest Chief and didn’t realize till later that day who it was. As with Alexander in this episode, I just knew there was SOMEthing familiar about her.
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Sun, Nov 24, 2019, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Think Tank

I think (see what I did there?) we were all taken in by the TOSsy and truly alien nature of the exotic think tankers. We bought that they were really more advanced, more intelligent than mere humanity, and thus we were disappointed in the shallowness of their subterfuge and how easy it was for Team Janeway to outwit them.

But given that the episode suggets they create the problems they can then solve - and perhaps both fabricate evidence and pad their resume - aren’t we justified in concluding that they aren’t the advanced geniuses they present themselves as? That it’s easy to look smart solving a puzzle you created?

They’re clever and they’re devious, and they have a bag of tricks with which to impress and elude, but they’re not next-level entities. They want Seven to join their ring of grifters for any number of good reasons, none of which have to do with exploration, pursuit of perfection, or the life of the mind.

They’re nightclub-act clairvoyants and mediums running a protection racket with a good front. They’re high-tech hustlers on a shakedown cruise, and this was a Trek take on “The Sting.”

The episode set US up by employing truly alien aliens, whose otherness promises types of intelligence we can’t imagine, motivations we can’t understand. Thus it takes us awhile to realize we’ve been taken in by a good old-fashioned scam.

Once Janeway realizes that, she knows it doesn’t take supreme intelligence to beat them - that the Voyager collective could put their humanoid heads together and come up with a serviceable solution.
______

But why were there references to “paradoxes”? I didn’t see any - just puzzles and traps. That apparent misuse of the word took me out of the story more than any other discordant element.
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Sun, Nov 24, 2019, 12:51am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: The Fight

I liked that Kid Chaos’ face was full of stars.

I liked aliens who self-identified as too different for humanity to communicate with. While I understand that the Babel Fish facilitates faster dramatic exposition, and that it’s cheaper to use humanoid bipeds with forehead prosthetics than to hire real aliens, this epIsolde at least acknowledges what would surely be the rule rather than a rare exception if we ever did make contact.

CJB said “Hey, an alien race that can only communicate by punching Chuckles in the face? I'm all for it. :-)”

And while I like Chakotay and think he gets a bum rap in these comments, I got more entertainment value out of that post than from this entire incoherent pastiche of an episode.

Though I did like the Doctor’s rants, especially the one gleefully/ragingly detailing boxing injuries.
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Sat, Nov 23, 2019, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Course: Oblivion

It didn’t seem a good episode as I watched, but I find myself wondering why I don’t think so.

Yes, implausible science and near-incoherent plotting, and at least a semi-dirty trick on the audience - plus bad-zombie-movie makeup. But there are decent performances, consistent with developed characterizations, and even character growth (Janeway questions her own decision and Harry gets to be captain).

AND, in the long cosmic view, the ending is a perfect metaphor for the net result of all of our lives - of life itself - of the universe itself, eventually burning out, devoid of light and heat, husks of stars and planets drifting ever further apart till none are even with light-range of another (were there still photons to go traveling). And, it goes without saying, none to tell the tale. Oblivion indeed.

I generally think I have the spiritual fortitude to deal with the bleak emptiness of the prospect that there IS no meaning or purpose to any of it, other than what we make ourselves. In other words, the meaning of life ... is life ... and when that’s gone, so is meaning.

But actually seeing this conclusion presented visually - motes of dust drifting away from each other, with no evidence to provide the slightest reminder of what once was - I find it unsatisfying. Not unsettling, just ... flat and without affect.

Which in turn reinforces and demonstrates the very point the arc of the story just made: It. Just. Doesn’t. Matter.

I don’t think that’s nihilistic, and it doesn’t depress me. I value and enjoy my life, principally for the various meanings I’m able to create through consciousness, sentience, relationships, creature comforts, sensory delights, brief moments of seeming transcendence, artistic expression. And MAYbe the ending’s reminder of the ultimate end of all things could motivate me to make the most of life, like right NOW

- which begs the question whether one-finger-padd-tapping my casual reflections on a 20-year-old tele-drama, for a dubious audience far removed in time and place, is the best use of my time. My best answer to that is that I’m choosing to contribute in some small way to a self-selected community of minds similarly connected.

Which isn’t a bad train of thought to have left the station of such a curious episode.

And my response to the ending teaches me that maybe I prefer a dark tale telling an existential truth to include at least a little light in the end. As I can’t immediately recall any other fiction which kills off every character and suggests their lives were utterly meaningless and pointless, I guess I owe this episode thanks for that epiphany.

Which further leads me to reflect that it was a stunningly bold artistic decision on the part of a prime time network TV show. And I know the writers inTENded that statement, because they underscored it by making the fate of the time capsule such an important element of the last act - they wanted us to understand that, in the end, not even memory remains.

Because of all of that, I forgive them for capitalizing on our long familiarity with (and affection for) this crew. We wouldn’t have cared about people we didn’t know existed in the first place. And, yes, they softened the blow by revealing early on that this wasn’t REALLY our Voyager, and they let us guess that the real ship and crew would be alive and well elsewhere in the quadrant. So they painted their bleak scenario at a remove (rather than, say, having Voyager disintegrate into nothingness in sight of Earth). But the existential point stands - AND they killed off a ship of sentient beings, all of whom we knew and understood.

So it may be one of those episodes whose philosophical argument is worth the apparent clumsiness - and emotional flatness - of the plotting and execution. Such episodes are certainly very much in the Trek tradition, whether or not they contribute to an overall arc.
________

On (slightly) less momentous grounds, the episode meditates on what comprises human identity, seeming to come down on the view that it’s the persistence of memory. It doesn’t explicitly ask how much appearance or physical form contribute, particularly to the way others perceive us. But it builds it in implicitly: before our characters die, they are disfigured and deformed in ways that already push us away from them - or, rather, test just how good we are at looking beneath the skin.

Any serious Trill episode, and even Changeling episodes, ask some of the same questions, and they’re good questions: how would we accept those close to us if they returned in different forms - after something like a brain transplant into another body, or a consciousness upload into a computer? To what extent are these mimetic reproductions identical with the originals? Other than the life-support issues, does the fact that the substrate supporting these creatures’ human biology and consciousness has changed differ much from the fact that all the cells in our bodies are changed out every seven years or so?
______

Finally, several interwoven tragedies inherent in the life arc of these mimeticlones bear mention.

Start with the nature of their genesis as sentient beings. For once, Voyager wasn’t meddling in the affairs of other species or toying with the prime directive. No matter how unlikely or fabricated the crisis, in Demon, they were out of fuel. They had no choice but set down on the demon planet with its hostile environment. (They were being forced to make a bad episode there.)

It’s hard to lay blame on the crew for interfering. The crew are, in this instance, blameless creatures pursuing their own survival. Again setting aside the unlikeliness of the science, the mimetic fluid on the planet had evolved a remarkable capability, but was pre-sentient, and not even conscious in any meaningful way. Their ability might be considered an exponential extension of the mimetic tricks of a cuttlefish. Let’s say they’re analogous to early multi-cellular life on earth. There is potential.

Our hapless heroes stumble in looking for deuterium, come into contact with the fluid, give it an advanced model of life to emulate, and in a few hours it jumps over millions of years of what might have been its own evolution had it remained undisturbed. Suddenly it has form, it is sentient, it has a complex invididual and social life it was clearly unprepared to deal with, so it deals with consciousness and everything that goes with it in the only way it can - by BECOMING that life form. What other models did it have? What evolutionary memory did it have?

In behavioral terms, humanity imprinted on it. In religious terms, mankind took the “clay” and created a sentient race in its own image. Voyager brought these creatures into being - but through no intention, no fault of its own. To what extent is Voyager responsible for them?

Frequent posters bemoan the lack of consequences and connectivity between Voyager episodes - it doesn’t get much more consequential than this. At the end of Demon, we’re invited to wonder what kind of life this new species can make for itself on that beastly planet. Now we (but not Voyager’s crew) are privileged to find out.

Their development make complete sense. Because they have created themselves in the form of the only example they have, they literally beCOME Voyager. Along with their bodies, they have all of Voyager’s crew’s personalities: thoughts, desires, ambitions, motivations, affections, skills, memories, intentions. And Voyager’s driving force is to get back to earth.

What would be more natural - more tragically inevitable - than for this species to mime itself up a duplicate Voyager and head for “home”? Its creators’ will becomes its own. It devotes itself to doing its creators’ bidding, with no more memory of its fluid pre-history than we have of the primordial soup from which our ancestors oozed.

And in so doing, the species inevitably dies. It dies after living a life that was not its own - a life, in fact, that was never intended to be.

A life bestowed on it accidentally by mere mortals trying to survive. Who can never learn what they have wrought.

That right there is a tapestry of textured tragedy. Not bad for a bad episode of Voyager.
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Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: The Emperor's New Cloak

Worf was funny.

Ferengis carrying a heavy nothing was funny precisely until the invisibility spell machine flickered into visibility (I suppose because we're stupid), and from there on went from dopey to dopier.

I liked how BIG the Worfship was, that's worth half a snicker. (I can't even tell you which side he was on, or I would have identified the ship that way.)

Kira and Ezri looked great; Visitor does Entertaining Psychotic Hot Bitch better than Boer. Their kiss was a major so-what now - but bold for prime time in '99. (And they probably thought they could get away with it in an "alternate" universe.

Which universe, in this ep, makes no sense of any kind, even in the context of previous alt-uni episodes, some of which have at least had dramatic weight - and most of which have been visually and "characterfully" entertaining. This one, not at all. No motivation, no plot logic, nothing. I couldn't follow the shifting purposeless loyalties - and I didn't care.

Bad. Horribly bad. It's not that they were going for something (even something stupid) and missed it. It's that they weren't shooting for anything at all, and achieved less.

HOWEVER. Quark's prayer to his Ferengi idol was as smart an exposition/commentary as Trek has ever done in such a short scene. That might have been worth the free price of admission -

but not quite the time I spent watching what I must consider The Worst Trek Ever - or, in the MU, the best Star Drek Episode of All Time.
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Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Bride of Chaotica!

Sez Top Hat: “One could certainly point to someone like Ursula LeGuin as a writer who works right on the margins of both concepts.”

Definitely.

Furthermore, him sez: “I think it's possible to say this: Star Trek as a franchise is, in general, more interested in the appearance of fidelity to actual science than actual fidelity. That said, it is fundamentally ABOUT science -- as in, scientists and engineers are venerated as heroes, scientific solutions are taken seriously, the scientific process is explored -- in a way that affiliates it with science fiction more strongly than something like Star Wars, of which none of the above can be said and fictional technologies are treated as purely imaginary.”

Very well articulated, and I agree 100%. ST is in every way a more thoughtful franchise than Star Wars, and I much prefer it for that reason.

Trek is probably as much ABOUT science as a mass market audience would tolerate. There have been more space battles with hostile aliens than I would hope there would be in its imaginary future - not to mention wars - but we unevolved humans do thrive on conflict. ST depicts us as we are - as well as we might like to be.
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Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Bride of Chaotica!

“to flippantly compare it to Saturday morning serials or to just throw up your hands and shovel it into the fantasy box wholesale is really unfortunate.”

Yesnomaybe. I’m not concerned to “correctly” put ST - or any other fiction - in a genre box, I’m just taking it as I find it. I didn’t mean to insult Trek; I seem to like more of it, more consistently, than most posters here.

Maybe because I’m not concerned with genre constraints.
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