Star Trek: Voyager

"Ex Post Facto"

2 stars

Air date: 2/27/1995
Teleplay by Evan Carlos Somers and Michael Piller
Story by Carlos Somers
Directed by LeVar Burton

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"My wife and I have been married for 67 years."
"I'm sure she's a fine, dispassionate woman."

— Tuvok and Lidell

Paris is accused of the murder of Professor Ren, a brilliant scientist on the home world of a people known as the Baneans. They try, convict and sentence him before the Voyager crew knows anything about the incident. His punishment is a brain implant that forces him to live out the last moments of his victim's life from the victim's perspective once every 14 hours.

I guess it's inevitable that a murder-mystery works itself into the opening leg of any new Star Trek series (Deep Space Nine did it on the third outing). But something co-creator and executive producer Jeri Taylor said in a magazine article before this series premiered still hangs in my mind. The premise of being stranded in the Delta Quadrant is supposed to be a catalyst for telling some new types of stories, she said. No Starfleet Command, no Klingons, no Cardassians, nothing we're used seeing on TNG and DS9.

But the stories so far have hardly been original. Only the pilot has come close to non-standard Trek storytelling. Most (even better outings, such as "The Cloud") have been derivative devices that play second fiddle to character development. We haven't met any new races that really impact the series—only the pilot's Kazon show the slightest hint of future encounters.

So now we fall back on the dependable murder-mystery. "Ex Post Facto" works okay for four acts, with well-written characters and dialog. The plot, unfortunately and not surprisingly, is ludicrous, with a final act that manages to blow everything before it out of the water.

The teaser proves eerie and atypical, as we enter the story as the Baneans carry out Paris' sentence. He sees himself stabbing the victim, apparently feeling the victim's pain and mortal fear.

Voyager returns to pick up Paris and Kim, who shuttled to the Baneans' planet alone to avoid provoking the Baneans' neighboring enemies, the Numuri. Voyager arrives to find Kim in the shuttlecraft alone, with no knowledge of Paris' whereabouts. All Kim knows is that Paris has been charged with murder. Shortly afterwards, the Baneans contact Janeway and agree to turn Paris back over to her with his sentence already carried out. The implant turns out to have some compatibility problems with human biology and will likely kill Paris if left in for too long. The Baneans agree to remove the implant and offer another sentence, but Janeway wants to clear Paris of an apparently unjust conviction.

This leads Lt. Tuvok to investigate the crime. Paris' alleged motive for murder appears to be Professor Ren's beautiful, young wife Lidell (Robin McKee). When Ren discovers the two embracing, an argument ensues, and Ren is stabbed. Tuvok's investigation takes him back to Lidell, who explains the events of the night in question. Lidell's sultry persona and a series of flashback narration offer some enticing film noir elements into a less than stellar story. Meanwhile, Tim Russ nails the role of Tuvok perfectly by delivering a classic Vulcan performance. Indeed, Vulcans have reentered the Trek universe through this character. And though the plot is simply an exercise in mediocrity, the performances keep it enduringly tolerable.

Unfortunately, the plot wraps up with the most standard of revelations, in which Tuvok shows that Paris has been set up by Lidell and the Numuri for "bigger reasons"—to get their hands on top-secret information they hope to obtain via Paris' brain implant. (Anyone who couldn't predict Lidell's involvement in this plot needs to take Basic Plots 101.) But Tuvok's "witness" of the murder—a damn dog, for crying out loud—manages to sabotage any remaining potential for the plot, with one of the hokiest, insipid conclusions imaginable.

Tell you what. Watch this episode to see Tim Russ in action for some good development of Tuvok. Don't watch it for a satisfying murder mystery.

Previous episode: Eye of the Needle
Next episode: Emanations

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56 comments on this review

AJ Koravkrian
Sat, Nov 17, 2007, 10:11pm (UTC -6)
A murder mystery, involving a starfleet officer and a beautiful woman, who is the wife of a brilliant scientist. Is it just me, or is there a scent of TNG's 'A Matter of Perspective' here ?
mlk
Sun, Dec 2, 2007, 4:02pm (UTC -6)
Horrible episode, if it wasn't for Tuvok and the doctors character developement it would be pure manure.

A predictable murder story with the standard alien of the week with the standard ridges on the fore head
Christopher Alexander
Sat, Jan 26, 2008, 12:43pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed Tuvok's handling of the murder mystery, but the ending was terrible. The smuggling idea was just ludicrous, and the dog was indeed painfully hokey.
Nic
Tue, Sep 22, 2009, 10:50am (UTC -6)
Jeri Taylor's comment did end up being true in the long run. However, you can't expect them to meet "many new races that really impact the series" because they are travelling. No, I think Voyager made the right choice to concentrate on character-building story arcs and leave the main plot of each episode as a stand-alone. It is what makes the most sense in this context. Unfortunately, the Kazon were around for way too long than is plausible, even when you take into account the detours Voyager made in the first two seasons (going back to Neelix's planet in "Jetrel"; returning to pick of Janeway and Chakotay in "Resolutions").
Firestone
Fri, Apr 16, 2010, 12:44pm (UTC -6)
"No Starfleet Command, no Klingons, no Cardassians..."

@Nic,
Yeh, none of those came true... Well, unless you count Starfleet in at least one ep a season from as early as season 4(?), the Klingons in Prophecy and B'ellanas human-parent Worfcomplex, Seska being a Cardassian. Oh, and not forget the Ferengi showing up... twice, the Borg becoming the major enemy and all the Vulcan misticism. Granted, it is not all bad, but the show didn't really set itself apart like BSG for example did.
While viewing the whole show again, this time on DVD, for the first time in 10 years, I feel cheated on when I see the 'lost' ship communicate with the Alpha Quadrant in only the 6th episode. Too bad, because it really had a nice premise.
enniofan
Sun, Mar 27, 2011, 8:15pm (UTC -6)
I like how in TNG era Trek every shot of an alien city is precisely the same. they all have the same buildings, antenna arrays, etc.

awesome.

re-watching some of this show now.

it's better than I remember; not great or anything, but whatever.

it's too bad TNG took most of 2 seasons to fully realize the universe it inhabited, with some truly shitty episodes.


woulda been cool if the Voyager had actually gotten in touch with the stupid, fat idiot aliens that captured and tortured La Forge in that one TNG episode. or Armus. yeah...Armus.
enniofan
Sun, Mar 27, 2011, 8:15pm (UTC -6)
oops, meant this for the previous episode.
Carbetarian
Wed, Apr 6, 2011, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
@AJ YES! That was all I could focus on the entire episode! This was just "A matter of perspective" with a different crew!

I enjoyed Tuvok and some of the other character moments in this episode. But, not enough to keep this episode from being a total suck fest. One star from me!
Matthias
Wed, Aug 10, 2011, 8:52am (UTC -6)
Apparently Kirk's reputation is now of such proportions that even inhabitants of the delta quadrant see a starfleet ship turn up and immediately get to work on a scheme hinging on one of its crew members banging a green chick.
Nathan
Thu, Oct 27, 2011, 9:01pm (UTC -6)
"woulda been cool if the Voyager had actually gotten in touch with the stupid, fat idiot aliens that captured and tortured La Forge in that one TNG episode."

Every fourth DS9 episode from the first 4-5 seasons has Pakleds in the background :)
Liam
Wed, Jun 20, 2012, 1:08pm (UTC -6)
The thing that made me do a double take when watching this video, was the fact that the writers actually were stupid enough to write a dog into the episode, without any explanation for why an earth animal just happens to have evolved on a Delta quadrant planet. There's no attempt at even a dumb explanation for it (i.e "it's a Tazolean wolfhound"), they just put a normal earth dog as a key point in the plot.

It's times like this that really demonstrate how the writers often seem like they have no idea what sci-fi is.
Milica
Tue, Jul 17, 2012, 10:45am (UTC -6)
It is interesting to see that some people are re-watching Star Trek after in 2012, after all this time. From this time point, Voyager seems worse than I remembered it, and much worse than Enterprise, which I have also re-watched recently.
Although Jammer seems to dislike Enterprise the most, his reviews for that series are much more insightful and wittier. This is not a criticism, I understand that the VOY reviews were written 6 years before those ENT ones. I guess it takes time to mature and experience. I enjoy reading all of them.
Corey
Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 4:19pm (UTC -6)
I guess I'll be the voice of dissent here - I liked this episode. And I liked "A Matter of Perspective" too. I will grant the method of transferring the important data silly - we will put in Tom's mind, what we could just transmit encrypted to Numarri ships that are apparently in orbit?

But I enjoyed Tuvok's investigation, and the dog was NOT the only evidence that Tuvok presented. I also enjoyed the little stand-off they had between the Numarii and Voyager when they tried to capture Tom.

Nevertheless, having said all this, I agree that the episode is just acceptable, and not more than that. This is certainly not on the par of "Sacrifice of Angels" - so I have to agree with Jammer's overall rating.
inline79
Mon, Jul 29, 2013, 1:51am (UTC -6)
I don't see the Tuvok development that Jammer says happens in this episode. To me he was just another boring Vulcan doing his job well. Maybe if the Tuvok and Paris conversation happened earlier than the end. Tim Russ is a great Vulcsn though.

Other than that, this episode doesn't add to this Franchise at all - clearly just a writer having a bit of fun... But come on, it's still season One!
Josh
Thu, Aug 1, 2013, 4:38pm (UTC -6)
I don't think this episode has a lot going for it, but I will say that Lidell is pretty hot. And does the stereotypical "femme fatale" character pretty well.

Otherwise it's pretty weak, as only nondescript early Voyager can be.
Caine
Wed, Oct 9, 2013, 5:00pm (UTC -6)
As others have mentioned already, this epsiode was quite clearly a "remake" of "A matter of perspective" - and that stuck in my mind all through the episode.

I do think, however, that this episode was a BETTER version of this story. I enjoy a good "whodunnit" murder mystery, and the way teh story is told fom different perspectives to give us a chance to spot inconsistencies and other clues is fun!

Sure, there are some things that don't really make much sense (a normal dog on an alien planet - seriously?!), but that's all secondary to watching Tuvok Holmes play the detective game. Fun!
Trent
Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 7:45pm (UTC -6)
I didn't mind this episode as much as you guys. Some nice character work with Kes and the Doctor made it interesting, though I agree it is otherwise simply a reheated version of TNG's "Perspective".
Andrew T
Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 1:03am (UTC -6)
This was a fairly poor episode to me. 'A matter of perspective' was 10 times more interesting than this episode to me because the holodeck made it fun. On the plus side Tuvok was pretty cool in this episode.
Vylora
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 8:10pm (UTC -6)
Not as bad as I remember it, but not good either. Let's call it the slower brother of TNG's "A Matter of Perspective". Bonus points for having an interesting idea for criminal punishment. Zero points for the dog. Minus points for being pedestrian.

Tuvok's handling of the case was a highlight.

2 stars.
Skeptical
Sun, Oct 19, 2014, 9:01pm (UTC -6)
If we're going to rip off A Matter of Perspective, could we at least have included Tom shouting "You're a dead man Ren! A dead man!"?

Yes, this is a bad episode. It's a mess. I'm surprised to see LeVar Burton's name associated with this, because part of it seems to be bad direction. His two credits in TNG were Second Chances and Pegasus, both pretty good outings, so what happened? We had boring narration and multiple flashbacks, all of which plodded along. Some of which was very repetitive. Most of it was either boring or cheesy. The scene with the wife lazing in the garden smoking a cigarette was so cheesy, such a lame ripoff of film noir, that I have no idea who thought it would work well. Were they going for a sendoff of film noir? If so, it didn't work. Maybe Burton just didn't have anything to work with here.

Oh, and the dramatic reveal scene? With everyone gathered in the Den while Inspector Tuvok revealed the culprit? Is it possible to get any more cliched than that? I fully expected the revelation to be that the butler did it, even though there was no butler. That's how bad of a setup this was.

Meanwhile, the resolution made no sense. So the Doctor was a spy for the bad guys or something. And his unique method of getting data to the bad guys was this plot? How would that even work? How would he deliver Paris to the bad guys? After all, it was heavily implied that the aliens here were not going to let Paris off the planet. They only agreed to because of the bad reaction he was having. Surely a smarter plan would work?

Also, why was Kim dehydrated in the first place?

The episode also failed to give the viewers a fair chance to solve the mystery. Tuvok presented four pieces of evidence: 1) The Paris in the memory was too short, 2) The Paris in the memory knew exactly where to stab when the real Paris wouldn't know, 3) The symbols at the bottom was the secret code, and 4) The dog was fond of the killer. Now, a good mystery gives the reader/viewer enough information to solve the mystery as well. But here? The only one of those four that we could have caught was the height issue. We didn't even see where the knife struck, so we couldn't notice that it looks like an unnatural place for a human to stab. We had no knowledge that the symbols were anything but the normal course of events. And we didn't see the dog in the memory. In other words, the mystery cheated us. We were given no chance of deducing the mystery ourselves, and thus the episode presented Tuvok as a genius detective without giving any reason for us to believe it.

One final problem with the episode: nobody yells at Paris. We have no idea how far Riker went, but it's possible he was just being friendly in Perspective. But here? We know Paris went too far with the wife. Maybe not all the way, and he may have done nothing wrong illegally, but he was highly unprofessional. I don't care that it was a loveless marriage that just ended. If I'm on a business trip and I cause the divorce of a potential client and then hook up with the client's ex-wife, I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up fired. It would paint my company in a very bad image, just as Paris painted Voyager in a terrible light here. Paris should have been banned from any other away missions for that breach of protocol.

It also feels wrong for the character. While he is a felon, we're supposed to feel that he deserves another chance. That, deep down, he's a good guy. If he can't keep his hormones in check, then that's an image of the character that is going to have to change. Perhaps he really is an unlikeable, irredeemable jerk. So why is he here?

Far better to just assume this episode was a bad fluke and move on.
Yanks
Fri, Jun 26, 2015, 6:17pm (UTC -6)
I didn't have a problem with Tuvok using the actions of the dog to cement his case as much as I had a problem with a no-shit "dog" in the DQ. WTF??? Jesus, Tolen even called it a dog! (slaps forehead) I even paused for a second and tried to use some universal translator techobabble crap to justify it :-)

I enjoy Tim Russ' Tuvok. Outstanding character in my book. I also enjoy who-dun-it eps in trek. They are kind of fun.

I also don't think that this method of getting info to the bad guys is a bad one. Seems legit to me. Encrypted transmissions in wartime are cracked" more often than you think. Had they got Paris, it would have worked. I wonder how many other times they did this?

I enjoyed this one. Not a great episode, but not bad. I did not that Tuvok didn't say the standard "my mind to your mind" crap during the meld.

2.5 stars for me.
Diamond Dave
Wed, Dec 9, 2015, 2:02pm (UTC -6)
First major misfire of the series. Leaden direction, poor performances, stultifying pacing and Tuvok having a Columbo moment at the end where we basically get the conclusion explained to us without actually seeing any of it. At some points I wondered if it was drifting off into parody but it seems that the intent was deadly serious.

On the plus side, a good Tuvok story. But not much else to commend it. 1.5 stars.
Wilt
Thu, Dec 17, 2015, 12:56am (UTC -6)
One of the first eps where we got to see the acting chops of Tim Russ. Clearly he was able to hold his own for the entire ep investigating the murder that Paris had allegedly committed. Didn't come off quite as cookie-cutter as I expected. That final witness was something different.

And Paris was right about one thing with cant-get-a-lock kim: One day it WAS him. Twice. Remember The Disease? Alter Ego?

This ep was compared to TNG's A Matter of Perspective. But in that ep they were attempting to piece together what had happened thru the (slanted) stories of others. In this ep we already know what happened. But there was a technological slight-of-hand with the memory superimposed in Paris' head, which would be exposed in the investigation.

I don't remember being appalled with the episode. Not like I was with Threshold, anyway. A good mystery will hold my attention every time. Even tho I already knew the ending I still get immersed in the resolution scene and watching it unfold. In today's society with cams everywhere mysteries are becoming few and far between. Wonder how Doyle would have fared writing Sherlock in the 2010's...

2-2.5 stars works for me.
MartinB
Fri, Dec 18, 2015, 5:35pm (UTC -6)
Yeh terrible episode. But the thing that really gets me is these aliens are meant to be birds, with feathers and stuff on their heads, like Hawk from Buck Rogers or something. Not only does it look ridiculous, even worse than the Kazon, but we get the stupid name "Dr. Ren" Wren, get it!? Even worse than that is that the females of this avian inspired race, such as Linell, have breats. What possible use could breasts be to a bird species!? Yeh shame the dog didn't have wings...
Luka
Thu, Jan 28, 2016, 7:04pm (UTC -6)
This episode is a retread of "Matter of Perspective" as everyone has mentioned. Despite that however, I found the cinematography to be adept. The concept of reliving the events of the murder in a flashback was inventive. I also did rather enjoy the film noir elements involving the wife. Is it original? No. But it's competently filmed and moves along at a decent pace. The earth dog was out of place. The aliens were also absurd looking with those feather looking cloths glued to their heads. Otherwise it's a passable hour of entertainment.
JC
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 3:48pm (UTC -6)
Ick... let's see:

- We keep missing opportunities to see the Voyager crew's awe at the discovery of new life and new civilizations. For a race of explorers, I'm starting to become disappointed at their lack of caring. In this particular episode, it manifests as the off-screen arrival at a significantly advanced planet and off-screen introduction to their people. The Voyager crew is treating their vacation to the unexplored Delta quadrant, the farthest humans have been from home for an extended period of time, as very run-of-the-mill. Contrast with e.g. the Enterprise taking 10 voluntary days to learn about the Cytherian's in TNGs The Nth Degree despite being whisked 30,000 light years away against their will, or even DS9's infrequent exploratory forays into the Gamma quadrant (e.g. their compelling urge to explore regardless of consequences in Children of Time).

- There are chihuahuas in the Delta quadrant.

- It's good to see the Delta quadrant has a similar percentage of humanoid species with vaginas on their foreheads as the Alpha quadrant does.

- Baneans don't seem to mind Janeway and Tuvok walking around armed with their phasers in their prison (or whatever that place was). Actually, all of their law enforcement policies, at least what we see here, seem weirdly lax. Especially strange is how open Dr. Whatever-his-name-is was to allowing the Voyager crew to examine Tom given the risk of them uncovering his involvement in the conspiracy.

- I hope Voyager doesn't make a habit of declaring friendships instead of letting them evolve on their own. We're 2 for 3 now (Kim -> Paris, Paris -> Tuvok; the only organic one so far is the doctor and Kes).

"The meat doesn't taste right" just about sums up this episode of Days of Our Lives.
Justus
Sun, Mar 13, 2016, 12:36am (UTC -6)
Here is the final rule of S. S. Van Dyne's 20 Rules for Writing Detective Stories, first published in 1928:

20. And (to give my Credo an even score of items) I herewith list a few of the devices which no self-respecting detective story writer will now avail himself of. They have been employed too often, and are familiar to all true lovers of literary crime. To use them is a confession of the author's ineptitude and lack of originality. (a) Determining the identity of the culprit by comparing the butt of a cigarette left at the scene of the crime with the brand smoked by a suspect. (b) The bogus spiritualistic se'ance to frighten the culprit into giving himself away. (c) Forged fingerprints. (d) The dummy-figure alibi. (e) The dog that does not bark and thereby reveals the fact that the intruder is familiar. (f)The final pinning of the crime on a twin, or a relative who looks exactly like the suspected, but innocent, person. (g) The hypodermic syringe and the knockout drops. (h) The commission of the murder in a locked room after the police have actually broken in. (i) The word association test for guilt. (j) The cipher, or code letter, which is eventually unraveled by the sleuth.

This episode's resolution was cliche seventy years before its air date. That's impressively careless plot design.
mephyve
Mon, Aug 15, 2016, 9:16am (UTC -6)
Finally an episode I could actually watch from start to finish. Let's hope though that Mr. Parris doesn't become another Miles O'Brien; always wrongfully convicted.
Gin
Fri, Aug 26, 2016, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
Not a bad ep. Not terribly original tho, being a typical whodunit trope.

I have a gripe with the scene regarding the doctor lecturing Tuvok about mind melds. He condescends to him as if somehow Tuvok (as well as every other Vulcan) is unaware of the dangers of it. If memory serves correctly Vulcans have been doing this for at least a few hundred years prior to humans even developing warp capabilities. They are in fact even more well traveled than humans. Now all of a sudden humans have become the geniuses of everything in the Alpha Quadrant. At least that's how the writers seem to be writing them. Now they feel they have the right to tell others, such as Vulcans, how dangerous their practices are in spite of centuries of using those same capabilities - yet somehow they're still alive, well and thriving.

I'd rate it 2 - 2.5 stars for Tim Russ' kickass Vulcan portrayal. Pity they never paired him up with the late Leonard Nimoy for an episode or two.
JohnC
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 12:19pm (UTC -6)
Several silhouettes of Lidell's body with backlighting of her sheer outfits. Someone took a lot of time and effort setting up those lights and cameras. Plot or no plot: 3 stars. :)
Strejda
Sun, Jan 29, 2017, 7:18am (UTC -6)
You gotta give to Voyager-instead of just having aliens be guys with rubber forehead like TNG, they added guys with goofy hats!

Yeah, this one is a stinker. It's been compared to matter of perspective, but the noir movie homages make me think more of Necessary Evil and boy, does this one pale in comparison. I know it's not trying to do the exact same thing, but the noir aspects there came naturally and would work fine even if you are not familiar with them. Here, it comes across as forced and silly. That scene where Tom describes what happened has him talking like a hard-boiled detective out of nowhere (both him and dude's wife stop talking at all like real people in that scene) and it's really hard to feel that sorry for him when he would jeopardize their mission like that. Yeah, he had second thoughts, but he initiated the flirting in the first place.

I think the problem is that there is just huge tonal dissonance-on one hand, the episode is trying to be a cheesy hard boiled mystery and on the other, it's just stuff as usual, so the hard-boiled mystery stuff comes off as out of place. Or maybe the episode wasn't meant to be cheesy and the writing was just poor. Either way, the result is all over the place.
Ildaf
Sat, Feb 11, 2017, 6:00pm (UTC -6)
Aaah.. I guess with Kirk-Riker-esque personality resemblance for Tom, this one episodes couldn't be avoided.

A federation officer suspected having an affair with the scientist wife, and then killed the scientist. The officer in question also spent time and a night with his fellow officer on the station... i mean the house. The premise almost like a carbon copy to 'A Matter of Perspective'. Well, at least Geordi contribute something to solved the mistery.. while poor Kim just sorta happen to be there..

Good show for Tim Russ, but I don't see any character depth or development here. It just Tuvok show doing his Vulcan-thingy, and it's not even that special given the stupid plot the stories thrown at us.

There are some major issue though :
* No Baneans people notice the symbol-whatever thingy on Paris planted memory? Aren't that memory supposed to be reviewed by the court, police, or whatever justice system for the trial and execution (planting memory)? No one suspect anything?
* Seems sending a message/communication to Numuri is a piece of cake thing, as evidence shown by how easy the Agent/Doctor telling Numuri-patrol the progress of Tom Paris case without anyone know. If sending message is that easy, and the agent/Doctor already have the data. Why goes the trouble of planting it to Tom, then smuggling it the hard way? Just send the data right away via your transmission, you idiot! (And Mr. Vulcan, can't you see how illogical this is?)
* Send a shuttle planted with live amuniton enough to blown space-ship along with your officer is a good idea eh? At first I thought they're going to fool them by faking live-sign and remote the shuttle. Well, I guess they are lucky Tuvok deduction is right that Numuri want Tom huh. Because if it's wrong and Numuri shot the shuttle.. BOOM, Janeway just send two of his officer to their death (not entirely out of character for Janeway anyway)
* The shuttle was boarded on the Numuri vessel cargo bay. Boy, they sure lucky the Numuri people is such an idiot that they don't scan the shuttle beforehand or raise shield right after the shuttle is on their cargobay, so Tom and his side-kick can't be beamed back to Voyager (after all the workhard to get Tom)
* Or maybe Numuri DID raise shield after they got the shuttle. But on this instance (because it was not Kim who operate the transporter?) Voyager can easily get a lock to their officer, maybe even passed through their shield while at it. If that's the case, wouldn't be the last time anyway. We'll have this again on 'Maneuvers' and 'Dragon Teeth'

I'm no dog expert, but was that a chihuahua on the Delta-Quadrant? (sorry, can't help).

The stories are mediocre at best, even barely watchable without the plot hole. Without the hole, it's a 2 star. I take .5 star for the hole and some stupid thing going on.

1.5 star
Mertov
Sun, Feb 26, 2017, 2:06pm (UTC -6)
I am a sucker for murder mysteries and for Tuvok who happens to be my favorite Voyager character, so I enjoyed watching the episode on TV back when it was aired just as I enjoyed watching "A Matter of Perspective."

Now, in retrospect, I have to agree with some of the criticism here about the Chihuahua and the Doctor-Whatever's careless plan to somehow collaborate with the enemy. Still, this is one of the best episodes of the early part of the otherwise-mediocre 1st season.
Cajun
Tue, Feb 28, 2017, 7:43pm (UTC -6)
Gotta admit, I liked the wife calling Paris out for being smug about not smoking. Kinda reminded me of Nog telling Jake that "if you don't need money, you certainly don't need mine."
Stuart M
Mon, Mar 6, 2017, 5:35pm (UTC -6)
Another poor episode of Voyager, this story could've been (was) told exactly the same in Tng. The whole point of Voyager should have been their journey home, the scavenge, the blending of the 2 crews. Not incidental occurrences on random planets for no reason.

Why were Kim & Tom even in the system alone? what were they and Voyager both doing that required them to seperate?
Stuart M
Mon, Mar 6, 2017, 5:47pm (UTC -6)
"Evasive pattern Beta 140....dual attack mode"

"Initiate attack maneuver kappa 140"

Since when has a Starfleet capt called attacks from a playbook?
Peter
Fri, Mar 10, 2017, 10:41pm (UTC -6)
After sci-fi, I love film noir. That said, what was fresh in the 1940s can't be replicated "as is" without coming off as a spoof. That said, neo-noir, where noir elements are remade into modern stories, done right, can still work well. That's how you get movies like The Usual Suspects, or Body Heat, or even Basic Instinct.

This episode, unfortunately, was just an exercise in cheese. To begin with, the femme fatale was just not believable as a deadly trap for Tom Paris. How few eligible women are there in the voyager crew that he will fall so hard as to abandon duty, ethics, and professionalism the moment a bored trophy wife with a feathered headdress and wrinkled forehead says more than a few words to him?

Then you have the whole convoluted plot, with the mcguffin here being enemy spies using the thought-implementation murder punishment process as a vehicle to conduct espionage. How does that work? What if Paris had ignored the scientist's bored wife? What if the authorities had refused to let the Voyager crew take Paris off-planet? What if one of the trial officials had noticed the strange coded messages like a news cast crawl across a murder victim's "memory engram?" Was that not reviewed to convict Tom -- but it was only noticed later by Tuvok?"

I just didn't buy any of it. Spoof noir if you want -- The Big Lebowski certainly did it brilliantly, but if your aim is to be serious, this episode is a casebook study of what not to do.
Real Ric
Thu, Jul 27, 2017, 7:22am (UTC -6)
Coming from DS9 I enjoyed this episode more than "The Phage" and a couple of others.

Sure it asks you to suspend disbelief a bit (such as Chihuahuas in the Delta Quadrant *but* they have spikey fur!) but overall I would happily watch this again.
William B
Sun, Aug 27, 2017, 12:37am (UTC -6)
In addition to the criticisms others have raised, I think the episode fails to make use of some of the potentially interesting ideas it puts forward -- the basic concept of a criminal having to re-experience his crime from the victim's perspective over and over for the rest of his life is really interesting (and brings to mind DS9's Hard Time), but nothing comes of it, in terms of what the effect really would be on a person for the rest of their life. (Maybe it's not clear what could be done with it, but it's probably the most interesting idea in the show and it's a shame it wasn't explored more.) The other thing is that this episode, by referencing Paris' previous jail time, should have been to some degree been about sussing out how trustworthy Paris is; imagine some scenes between Tuvok and Kim where Harry defends his friend and Tuvok carefully picks apart Kim's arguments and points out how little they know about him -- and, indeed, how little they all know about each other. Paris' bad boy schtick is reduced here to being a "walking hormone" (as Neelix called him in Phage) and that's fine, but if you're going to have a main character as a potential murderer this early in the series, it would have worked to toy a little with the possibility that we don't really know yet who these people are. As is, I do appreciate that, unlike in A Matter of Perspective, the episode seems to conclude that Paris definitely did something somewhat improper, so that he deserved some blowback, if not to the scale of what he got; the problem is, as people have said, the seduction scenes are particularly painful, and given that she seemingly drugged him anyway, pretty pointless. What was up with that eclipse dialogue? Seriously, though, I don't quite get why it's hard for Paris to not sleep with a married woman on a strange planet for, like, three days.

Even the things I like about this episode fall apart under closer inspection; for example, I *like* that we saw the symbols at the bottom of the screen all episode and were led to believe it was normal for the aliens, but the way in which their plan manifests is ludicrous, and, of course, surely those symbols would have been visible in the trial. The height difference between Paris and the femme fatale is neat and I appreciate that it's something the audience can discern, but why would the alien doctor, with his ability to reprogram the memories so completely as to replace his face with Paris', not also get the height right? As others have pointed out above, the idea that the doctor and the femme fatale waited around for some schmuck to beam down from outer space (from the Alpha Quadrant no less) to frame him for murder is ridiculously convoluted. But even if we accept that premise, why exactly did the doctor and femme fatale need to go through the whole farce of having the husband discover them together so that the doctor could stab him in his heart? I presume that scene was real rather than wholly fabricated, or else the height difference wouldn't matter, but why play out this weird idea like this? Particularly when the fabrication also apparently includes that whole "I know about you, Paris!" exclamation from Ren?
In particular, it's unclear whether the doctor and the wife were *actually* having an affair or if they were both spies, and if they were spies, why was it necessary to kill Ren, anyway? We *know* that the Numuri can get transmissions from the doctor since he had Paris' face on a padd; how could it have been necessary to jump through these hoops to send them Paris? Also, I love the idea that the dog loves the doctor even though he killed Ren, and that Tuvok anticipated that and hinged his case on it.

Points, though, for Tim Russ' performance; Tuvok's investigation ends up being enjoyable to watch despite not really making any more sense than the rest of the episode. 1.5 stars.
Sklibby
Thu, Sep 7, 2017, 12:28am (UTC -6)
So much plot holes. So many convoluted nonsense. So many dog. So much bored.

1/2 star

And since I didn't notice anyone else mention it...

They put 40 TONS! of explosives into a type-6 shuttle (which it's clearly seen to be in the episode). That is the equivalent of a fully loaded semi-truck, including the truck. Into this:

'At 6m long, 4.4m wide and 2.7m high, the standard [type-6] shuttle had a mass of 3.38 metric tonnes'

So they put nearly 11 times the weight of the shuttle into a shuttle with no cargo bay, and that was clearly empty other than Kim and Paris when it was captured and boarded, and into which it would have never fit no matter what to begin with. Or maybe the explosives have the density of a neutron star and are microscopic. Yeah that's it.

memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Type_6_shuttlecraft?file=Shuttlecraft_goddard.jpg
sklibby
Sat, Sep 30, 2017, 1:00am (UTC -6)
messed up the link

memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Type_6_shuttlecraft?file=Shuttlecraft_goddard.jpg

40 tons of explosives in that baby! Oh yeah!
sklibby
Sat, Oct 7, 2017, 1:59am (UTC -6)
Me again! Sorry.

The link keeps messing up and adding a space. If anyone actually wants to see it just remove the space in '.j pg' at the end and it'll work. I'll try again though.

memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Type_6_shuttlecraft?file=Shuttlecraft_goddard.jpg
Neely Fan Forever
Mon, Oct 9, 2017, 3:17pm (UTC -6)
Can't believe that the concluding witness was a frickin'dog! Seriously? It was quite good until that. The reveal ruined it completely.
Ruth
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 9:10pm (UTC -6)
What I love about this episode is that they considered the poor dog so ugly he could pass for an alien dog. I feel for him! I wonder if they could put me on Star Trek as an alien without prosthetics too.

I’ve watched this a few times now. I hadn’t realised what bugged me about the text in Tom’s memory before I read the comments here. If they could verify that it was secrets they should have seen it in court. I totally understand that Tom would not have realised but the courts should have. Unless only the semi edited version was shown in court, and the doctor edited the secrets in before implanting it.
Rahul
Wed, Jan 24, 2018, 6:56pm (UTC -6)
The familiar murder mystery turns out to be quite predictable with a bit of a silly ending, but it's not that bad. The "star" of the show is Tuvok, who does a good Vulcan, here as the investigator/detective. Was kind of disappointed in Paris for not being more vociferous about his innocence -- could have been more like Scotty in "Wolf in the Fold" about not remembering.

Couple of things that undermine the episode are the "femme fatale" unhappily married to a brilliant and much older scientist (major cliche) and the hokey scheme of the aliens trying to steal secrets by capturing Paris for memory implants encoded with information. Maybe some might find that a brilliant idea...I don't know. And then the dog let's the proverbial cat out the bag at the end -- something Tuvok was counting on...

There was some intrigue with the Numuri being devious -- trying to get Paris through hook or by crook. I liked the teaser -- might be something Braga came up with -- although I wondered right off the bat what the alien script was that was part of Paris's vision.

Barely 2.5 stars for "Ex Post Facto" -- not a bad idea to throw in a murder mystery, but why should it be so cliche? Definitely cheesy at times and I'm left wondering what the hell Voyager is doing with these alien races purely acting as human proxies in so many ways. Tuvok's duties as an investigator are an interesting dimension to his character and the series, perhaps like Odo. I guess Paris had the memories removed from his brain somehow -- perhaps another medical miracle from Doc who got some additional character development in this episode.
DLPB
Fri, Mar 30, 2018, 5:05pm (UTC -6)
You're a dead man, Apgar! A dead man.

Not a bad episode... but certainly not a good one.
Springy
Tue, Aug 7, 2018, 1:33am (UTC -6)
Surely our feathered scientist having the name Ren (wren) is no coincidence. A silly ep and the worst so far.
Elliott
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 12:15pm (UTC -6)
Teaser : ***.5, 6%

A dark and stormy night...A beautiful woman kissing Paris in the rain....from our perspective, the woman's husband catches the two and is outraged. All of this is in black and white, with alien characters around the frame. Paris, in technicolour, is seeing this unfold with us, as the camera focuses upon his eyes. The husband warns Paris that he's going to tell Janeway about this incident and black-and-white Tom stabs the man in the abdomen, killing him. In full colour, the premise is laid bare:

BENEAN: Let the record show that the sentence of the court has been carried out. For the rest of his natural life, once every fourteen hours, Thomas Eugene Paris will relive the last moments of his victim's life. May the fates have mercy on you, sir.

The teaser is quite captivating. The homage to Noir is far more overt than in “Necessary Evil,” but it remains to be seen how this will complement the story.

Act 1 : ***, 21%

The EMH continues mentoring Kes on her medical studies. She asks him if he's chosen a name for himself, but the Doctor explains that Holograms “aren't capable of choosing.” The ensuing conversation is a bit reminiscent in philosophical content to discussions in “In Theory,” and “Hero Worship”; the two debate what processes are involved in decision-making and whether the Doctor's programming differs enough from Kes' chemical memory to warrant categorising these processes differently. So the content is derivative, but the tone is everything, highlighting the unique friendship these characters have developed. The EMH mulls over a few familiar doctor names from history, but none quite seem to fit.

KES: Take your time. After all, you will be that name for the rest of your life.
EMH: I never even considered that I had a life.

Deep cut. Janeway calls to turn the EMH on—a nod to continuity as the Doctor controls his own activation sequence now. She informs him that a shuttle is returning with a single, weak lifesign—either Kim or Paris. It's Kim of course, as Paris is still on Planet Dorothy Hughes. A dehydrated Harry narrates a flashback of the events to Janeway. When the flashback begins, a meeting between Kim, Paris and a scientist called Wren—because bird aliens QED—I'm immediately reminded of “A Matter of Perspective.” We have the exuberant older male scientist, the neglected wife who would just love to entertain some guests, the promise of splendid tech...

The trio arrive at Wren's home, greeted by the ugliest dog you've ever seen. The wife, Labial, greets them and Paris is immediately pulling a Kirk, eye-humping the woman with little to no subtlety. Kim is quite jealous that his paramour has eyes for someone else:

PARIS: What are you looking at?
KIM: Not the same thing that you're looking at, that's for sure.

These two are really giving Garak/Bashir a run for their money. The hideous hound yaps at the lovers until Labial feeds it. Over dinner, Geordi...I mean Kim tries to keep the conversation on the up and up, but Riker...I mean Paris just can't keep his Penis from doing the talking. There's some backstory about the Bird People; they're at war with the Numiri, who I assume all look like cats. We also learn that it was this very conflict which convinced Janeway to send these two alone in a shuttle rather than risk confrontation on the Voyager herself. Paris recounts his amazing piloting abilities just in time for Labial to excuse herself. A self-conscious Wren suggests the trio being their “work.”

Harry continues to narrate—Tom got “bored,” he says, with the dry technical gibberish (which we are mercifully spared), so he slipped out, presumably to chat up Labial. All Harry knew after that was that they got together the next day, and that night, Wren was murdered. Kim tells Tuvok and Janeway that Kim was detained and interrogated and finally released without Paris. So, Janeway has the Voyager set sail for Bird World.

Act 2 : **, 21%

Neelix is called to Janeway's ready room. He warns her about the Cat People or whatever they look like. Neelix tells a stupid joke which only he finds funny. Please stab me in the neck. Janeway really wants to know which hats these two species wear, so she can decide which stereotypes to play up in her negotiations. Nice to see Trek just kind of embrace its own formulae. They encounter a Numiri patrol vessel. Neelix is confused as to why only this one small ship as appeared to greet them. Catman is curt, but non-confrontational with Janeway. According to Neelix, this interaction was suspiciously friendly.

Janeway and Tuvok beam to the Bird People's security centre. The minister explains to them that Paris has already been tried, convicted and punished for murdering Wren. Janeway is incensed that the victim's own memories are used in the trial, before the punishment is administered—which we saw in the teaser.

Later, Paris is brought out to chat with Janeway and Tuvok. Emotionless Tuvok asks the pertinent questions: did he kill Wren? No. Did he rob the chicken coop? Well...yes he did. Paris picks up the flashback from where Harry had left off...for no discernible reason, his narration switches to Raymond Chandler mode, as does the dialogue between him and Labial. This Noir bit is really, really forced, complete with pretty hokey dialogue. This isn't quite as bad as the exchange in “Prophet and Loss,” but it's close. Before he can continue, Paris is struck with another bout of his memory punishment, causing him physical pain. A Bird doctor enters and explains that Paris' human physiology is to blame for the side-effects. Janeway asks to bring him back to the Voyager, and promises not to leave orbit since she intends on proving his innocence.

Act 3 : **.5, 21%

The EMH explains that the memories are actually causing brain damage, which Janeway determines might allow them to appeal Paris' sentence. But Tuvok warns that the legal alternative would be lethal injection. Tuvok asks the Doctor to set up a lie-detector for Tom when he regains consciousness. His objectivity is a splendid character touch—his thoroughness reminds one of Odo, but without the emotional suspicion or agenda of the Changeling.

Tuvok beams down to chat with Labial, who greets him, disgusting dog in hand. At one point, he accuses her of being “dispassionate”--having chosen to remain in the house where Wren was murdered. She responds by throwing herself over the chez lounge and pulling a Basic Instinct. While we get some backstory on Tuvok—he's been married 67 years—Labial admits to choosing to end her marriage after becoming attracted to Paris. That...is absurd, and cartoonishly telegraphed to be a motive for murder. Anyway, now she picks up the threads of the flashback from Tom; they were caught in a “cloudburst.” Got to love that natural dialogue. Tom is clearly horny for this woman, but seems hesitant to commit infidelity. Sigh...while I'm glad those Ferengi cod-pieces never made it into the show, I think the producers should have been more open to Gene Roddenberry's attitudes about sex. This extremely conservative position about monogamy that is so baked into the show that Paris *considering* making out with Labial implies he might be guilty of MURDER is super anachronistic for me. It's just sex, people. Labial insists she saw Tom kill Wren—though we don't see this in the flashback. Then Tuvok is called back to the ship.

Paris has woken up. The EMH concludes that Paris is being truthful when he says he blacked out after he and Labial went inside after the cloudburst. Before things can go further, Tuvok is called to the bridge where the Numiri are attacking. Chakotay is the helm, presumably preparing to kamikaze the Voyager if need be. Neelix takes the opportunity to brag about being right in telling Janeway the Cat People are aggressive. Yeah, thank you for that. Anyway, Chakotay and Torres pull “an old Maquis trick” to outmanoeuvre the Cat People. Janeway says this little trick isn't exactly original and Chakotay responds:

CHAKOTAY: Besides, out here in the Delta Quadrant, every old trick is new again.

Interesting. The trick works; Janeway takes the opportunity to flirt with her XO again and Neelix warns that more Numiri will be on their way. Given the urgency, Tuvok concludes that in order to expedite his investigation, he will have to mind-meld with Paris when he has another bout of Noir.

The EMH objects to this plan in an amusing scene, but Tuvok is committed so Janeway allows him to proceed. So we relive the black and white flashback yet again. In Tuvok's mind, he closes in on Paris' and Labial's heads, and later the little characters on the bottom of the screen, with the rest blurred. Tuvok has solved the mystery, it seems, and he asks to talk to Kim about Wren's research, which he think will provide him the motivation for this deception.

Act 4 : *.5, 21%

The security minister tells Janeway that he consents to have the memory implants removed, but she and Tuvok are actually deceiving him, claiming that Paris will have to be shuttled to the Bird Planet due to being weakened. In said shuttle, Kim and Paris briefly discuss the pitfalls of romance. To their expectation, the Numiri appear and tractor the shuttle.

PARIS: Hey, Tuvok, I know it's a little late to ask, but you're sure you've got the logic of this thing worked out?
TUVOK: If I am incorrect, we will know it shortly.

Cute. The Cat People capture and board the shuttle, with a photo of Tom in hand, ready to capture him too. But the pair are beamed away, before Janeway makes contact. She has loaded the shuttle with dynamite and threatens to destroy their vessel if the shuttle isn't returned. Clever. So, with that out of the way, Tuvok asks everyone to meet “at the scene of the murder” because, again for no reason, the plot demands we switch to Noir mode.

So, all the people gather in Wren's living room and Tuvok explains that Wren's memories were altered, that Labial was lying—having drugged Paris. He goes on to demonstrate that Paris is too tall for the altered memory, that Paris somehow knew exactly where these Birds' hearts are located when he stabbed Wren, and so forth. The symbols in the memory were actually Wren's military tech equations...and finally we get the most ridiculous clinching evidence, the ugly dog which greets the actual murderer, Doctor No-Name as though she recognised him. We get some maudlin closing moments between Labial and Tom, and yeesh, what a let-down.

Making up slightly for this idiocy, is the epilogue, where Paris confesses to Tuvok that, despite the dispassionate manner in which Tuvok pursued the truth here, he's made a new friend in Tom.

Episode as Functionary : *.5, 10%

The story is littered with clichéd tropes, even ignoring the Noir bits; the older man with a hot young wife, the adulterer considered morally-suspicious because marriage is sacred or whatever, the we're friends now resolution that comes out of no where...then there are the Noir bits themselves. I think the intention was to contrast this over-the-top window dressing with Tuvok's hyper-rational investigation. The problems are 1. the Noir stuff is inconsistently applied and doesn't have an in-Universe explanation (contrast to Odo's log in NE providing the detective narration device), 2. the Noir stuff is all superficial (contrast again where the effect in NE was to explore the theme of semblance in the characters and DS9 itself), 3. the mystery's resolution is painfully stupid. Didn't the writers learn anything from “Aquiel”? Stop solving mysteries with dogs!

Paris, the EMH and especially Tuvok get some decent characterisation, but the series has done much better. Another saving grace is the absence of technobabble—although in its place we get a lot of really corny dialogue, so this is really more of a wash. Not a useless episode, but there are more unpleasant bits than good ones.

Final Score : **
William B
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 1:42pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott:

I generally agree with you here, but I think I might demur a bit about the adultery thing. Certainly I agree that making out with a horny married woman isn't nearly morally equivalent to murder. If anything, that Paris has probably been caught in flagrante delicto before with probably not that much ill effect would help to show that he's not going to panic and go stabbing a jealous husband; he's probably learned how to work to defuse a situation by now. But I think that lots of places on Earth *do* have very strong taboos against adultery, where jealous spouses can get violent or whatever. Even if the Federation has a more Roddenberrian take, and Tom sleeping with some married person would make their spouse dislike him but not lead to a violent escalation, it shows really poor judgment to do this type of thing in an alien culture, because why should we expect that Random Alien Culture X will have a Roddenberry attitude about it?

As you pointed out in the Destiny page, Trek is primarily allegorical. In principle, if it weren't allegorical, we coudl say that there's no way for Paris to know *what* issues are hot-button ones in another society, because every alien species would have a whole complex civilization that might be wholly different from anything else, and so kissing someone might be equally risky to snapping his fingers or any random action -- i.e., if it's a wholly blank canvas, then there's no way to know what the taboos are. But, allegory and all, a lot of human cultures have had a taboo about adultery, to some degree or another, and so Paris should know better than to jump into bed with random hot wife, in the same way that it would be reasonable for a 20th century Paris to know not to jump into bed with a random hot wife in a foreign country he doesn't know much about, since he doesn't know if this is one of those common cultures that have taboos against adultery. You're a little sarcastic about violating the sanctity of marriage, and, okay, but I guess the point is, lots of places are not very sarcastic about it, and even if those people are wrong or jerks for it, it's not exactly a wildly outrageous, unthinkable concept Paris couldn't reasonably anticipate would be coming at him. "Don't violate the sanctity of some aliens' marriage while on an away team couple of hours stop-off" seems like a pretty reasonable expectation.

While A Matter of Perspective is a better episode in almost every respect, one thing I didn't like about AMOP is that I thought that it would have made sense to suggest that Riker really did make some judgment errors that led to the problems, because it seems like a good area for character growth for Riker to realize that his harmless jovial extraversion which is often just on this side (or just on the other side) of flirting could get misinterpreted. This episode makes the lesson a little more explicit, though there's a lack of follow-through. Even if Paris knows that he's a bad boy with a heart of gold and that just because sex isn't a big deal to him, that others, especially on other planets, might look at his behaviour and see him as being more flagrantly disrespectful and even cruel than he intends. Even if mature Roddenberryan husbands wouldn't get very hurt if their wife slept with a space sailor coming to call, lots of husbands will, and Paris should really know better than to antagonize someone they're supposed to be diplomatically/sciencely dealing with, or else he's going to be constantly getting Voyager into trouble with people they're supposed to be befriending.
Peter G.
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 1:58pm (UTC -6)
@ William B,

"As you pointed out in the Destiny page, Trek is primarily allegorical. In principle, if it weren't allegorical, we coudl say that there's no way for Paris to know *what* issues are hot-button ones in another society, because every alien species would have a whole complex civilization that might be wholly different from anything else, and so kissing someone might be equally risky to snapping his fingers or any random action -- i.e., if it's a wholly blank canvas, then there's no way to know what the taboos are."

Maybe it would be fair to assume that Paris knew she was married and had also taken the precaution to scout the planet's dating rules before proceeding, so that he'd know that adultery was frowned on but not a high crime? He'd still be risking alienating a new species, but on the other hand he'd at least be covering his own butt.

If we don't give him credit for that research then things are much worse, potentially worse even than you paint it. There are places on Earth right now with dire consequences for infidelity, like it or not. I imagine that in some place or another it could be considered a capital crime; in fact I believe I saw a play recently about how that is exactly the case in some places, where stoning can happen for both involved parties. So if Paris actually hadn't done his homework then just for the adultery alone (even assuming this is an allegory) he could have been looking at the death penalty for his actions, and then we'd have a prime directive episode. But unlike in Justice, here there would be no legitimate reason to stop them applying the penalty. In Justice the issue was an overly-harsh sentence for an irrelevant mistake, not well marked, and applied to people who meant no harm. But here none of that applies and so the fact that it was all fabricated is almost sad because I'd like to know what Janeway would have been willing to do in the case where Paris really was guilty and they were going to lose their helmsman for it.
William B
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 2:11pm (UTC -6)
@Peter, that's a good point. "Overly harsh sentence" would still apply if adultery were a capital crime, but it would still be a lot more *predictable* (which is important) than the extreme sentence in Justice, which sort of fits the Blue and Orange morality trope. This ties in with the allegorical thing I was mentioning.

I guess to an extent, there *are* places in the world, including in certain states, where there are extremely strict property laws, so that the Justice "do not walk on grass...UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH!" scenario is itself still not 100% outside the realm of human understanding, but it's very close, to the point where to the extent that it's an allegory at all, it's for places with rules that are genuinely impossible for an outsider to predict. Whereas here, yeah, I think that making adultery a capital crime would be wrong, but it becomes more of a Prime Directive judge-not situation. Anyway I assume that as it happens, this society has no *legal* rules against adultery that would actually apply to Paris, or, at least, ones that are not so severe that they wouldn't waive them when they basically found out Paris was being set up as a fall guy for a murder scheme. I more meant that it's reasonable to assume there are big social taboos than official legal restrictions, but it's something hopefully Paris thought about.
Peter G.
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 2:19pm (UTC -6)
@ William B,

""Overly harsh sentence" would still apply if adultery were a capital crime"

It's relative to what the damages are. I would call a sentence overly harsh that is either out of proportion or simply has no proportionality at all to the offence. Stepping on a the wrong blade of grass has nearly zero in damages to detail, as the gardener can come and fix it in one minute. But let's say you stepped on the one blade of grass they'd been cultivating for centuries that would create an antidote for their plague. Putting aside why it didn't have high security, at least in that case one could cite significant damages that resulted from the crime.

In the case of infidelity we'd need to know something about the culture in question to assess damages. If we assume something vaguely commonplace in a fairly conservative country on Earth, we might suppose that a proven infidelity will destroy the marriage, shame the entire family, possibly harm their respective friendships and business relations, and in general stand as a threat to trust in the institution of marriage itself, which subtly threatens everyone. Should that be a capital crime? Maybe not, but we can at least least some *significant* damages resulting from it, which I would say is categorically different than disturbing some lawn work. In Justice we're given a silly example of whether to respect local laws, and frankly even the Edo Guardian agrees that it's silly, so it's not much of an example. MAD Magazine lampooned this plot, it was so silly. This episode could have been a much better example of how far a Captain will go in respecting local laws.
Elliott
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 2:42pm (UTC -6)
@William B & Peter G:

So, just like in “The House of Quark,” I don’t really hold this issue against the episode’s rating per sae. A lot of this is just symptomatic of the time in which the episode was written. The episode wasn’t interested in considering what cultural elements characterise the Baneans—they’re just humans with feathers. I just find the idea that Paris’ and the wife’s willingness to violate assumptions about monogamy makes them both so morally questionable that it begs the question whether they are capable of murder. This is just really trope-y and lazy way to drive the story. That’s what I object to most.
Elliott
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 2:46pm (UTC -6)
I’ve long since come to peace with not being able to edit comments on this site:

Allow me to correct those last sentences:

“I just find the idea that Paris’ and the wife’s willingness to violate assumptions about monogamy makes them both so morally questionable that it begs the question whether they are capable of murder [ridiculous]. This is just [a] really trope-y and lazy way to drive the story. That’s what I object to most.”
Peter G.
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 3:09pm (UTC -6)
We got it :)
William B
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 4:58pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott, oh, yeah, I agree with that.

I think the lazy trope-y element does have some value, though it's pretty poorly executed, though. On the surface, Paris and the wife are both the same. But actually, Paris is just sexual, not that respectful of cultural taboos, and is at worst sleazy. The wife presents as "sleazy" but is actually a murderer. There's a kind of acknowledgment in there that the surface similarities are far less important than the differences in their character, and Paris himself is a good example of someone whose inner worth eclipses whatever superficial badness he has, even though that badness is a problem.

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