Star Trek: Voyager

"Basics, Part I"

2.5 stars

Air date: 5/20/1996
Written by Michael Piller
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Why is it so dark in here? Somebody turn on the lights." — Culluh, on the illumination of the Voyager bridge during red alerts

Nutshell: Some nice action scenes and a standout subplot involving Suder, but ultimately a "foregone conclusion" cliffhanger setup with little character spark. And too much stupidity on behalf of the Voyager crew.

And so Voyager's lackluster season comes to an end with "Basics," a decent cliffhanger installment that does its job and little else—much like the series as a whole has been doing for the most part this season. And at the risk of sounding pessimistic about the series' development, let me press on with the review of the episode on hand (for I'll be writing the season's recap soon enough).

"Basics" is, to put it simply, your usual summer cliffhanger. It has no pretensions—it knows what it is. (I mean, the previews even said it was a cliffhanger for crying out loud—they didn't use to be that indiscreet about themselves.) The show is a carefully constructed setup with zero payoff—beyond that, there's little else to look for.

"Basics" is not comparable to the more spectacular nail-biting season-enders like TNG's "The Best of Both Worlds" or even DS9's "The Jem'Hadar." I'd rank it somewhere in the realm of TNG's "Descent"—it's one of those shows that you know is merely setup material and nothing else, and you accept it for what it is. Sure, standing alone, "Basics, Part I" doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot since it is, after all, only one portion of a complete story. But it's an entertaining portion at that, and its ending is sure to get its hooks into you whether you want to resist its manipulations or not.

I recommend, however, that you don't resist—the show is more fun that way. Besides...resistance is futile.

You want plot summary you say? Okay, here goes. Seska urgently contacts Chakotay, saying that her son has been born, and that Culluh has seen it is not his. Culluh is quite angry with Seska's lies to him about a baby she said was his. She tries to escape and he's hot on her trail. If she's caught, she will likely be executed and her son will be ostracized. Should the Voyager intervene? While the contempt for Seska is pretty much a unanimous stance taken by the crew of Voyager, the question becomes whether or not they have a duty to defend the rights of an innocent child. Janeway gives Chakotay full range over the decision of whether to pursue his newborn son. If he decides to rescue the son that Seska conceived without permission, Janeway will support him in an effort to track down the distress call.

One of the interesting points "Basics" brings up is the decision process Chakotay goes through. It's a tough call—how can Chakotay claim responsibility for a child that was conceived with a DNA injection completely without his knowledge? In the episode's one attempt at a character-probing scene, Chakotay has a spiritual vision in which his father offers some insights on Chakotay's personally troubling situation.

If you guessed that Chakotay decides to go after his son, you win today's prize. Still, despite the tough-to-judge arguments early in the show regarding whether it would be wise to indulge in such an emotional response over a child that was born under such manipulated circumstances, the bottom line is that it is downright foolhardy for Janeway to divert the course of the Voyager into what is the heart of Kazon territory and what may very likely be Seska's latest snare attempt. Just how many times has Seska duped the Voyager crew in the past?

But like I said, this show is about setting up a severe situation. On their new course into Kazon space, the crew finds a damaged Kazon shuttle floating in space with a wounded Kazon officer on board named Tierna (John Gegunhuber). Tierna was Seska's aide, and he says that Culluh executed her and exiled the child to a labor colony. Tierna escaped execution however, and now agrees to help Voyager travel through Kazon territory on their way to the labor colony.

Can Tierna be trusted? Well, of course not. This is a cliffhanger; his role in the episode is to lead the Voyager crew into the trap so the Kazon Nistrim can ambush Voyager with overwhelming odds.

Still, the hints foreshadowing the ambush are done quite nicely and discreetly. For some reason, minor attacks by random Kazon factions seem to focus on damaging Voyager's starboard ventral, causing damage to the secondary command processors. Imagine Janeway's surprise when this later causes the self-destruct sequence to be rendered inoperable.

I also appreciated the B-story involving Suder, the guy from "Meld" who Janeway sentenced to life in his quarters for murdering another crew member. (I thought we would never see this guy again, and it's refreshing to see the show proves me wrong here.) He feels worthless without something to do for the ship. His situation is understandable. He's a man with no purpose. I think, however, when Suder begins to get overly anxious about his project and looks unstable in front of the captain, Janeway handles the situation all wrong. Saying "excuse me" and walking away will only make things worse. Janeway should really have been more tolerant and understanding of Suder's feelings.

There's also Tierna's anomalous blood readings, which later explains why he is able to inject himself with a chemical and literally explode in a ball of fire, causing untimely damage to the Voyager. So as the Kazon vessels close in and pound on the Voyager, things look grim. Paris takes a shuttle in an attempt to double back and bring a Talaxian convoy to help them, but the Kazon open fire on him and apparently destroy his shuttle. (The key word is "apparently"—he is obviously not dead.) Voyager is boarded and Culluh takes command of the ship.

This is fun—it's a worst case scenario come true. The pyrotechnics are okay. (I still think DS9's motion photography effects leave Voyager's in the dust, although I don't understand why since visual effects guru Dan Curry works on both series.) The idea of projecting holographic ships to fool the Kazon attackers seems resourceful enough, even if a little tough to swallow. And Seska turns up not dead, and gloats over the success of her trap. (Read: Voyager crew = SUCKERS.)

Culluh lands the ship on a nearby planet where he maroons the entire Federation crew on the surface. Then he takes off, leaving Janeway and her crew on the actively volcanic and seismic planet to watch as Voyager flies away, never to be seen again (until part two). The fate of the ship lies completely in the hands of the Doctor, Suder, Paris, and presumably some helpful Talaxians. Will part two become Die Hard With a Voyager?

While this is okay setup material I still want to know one thing: Shouldn't we be way out of Kazon space by now? This is probably the series' premise's biggest plot hole—that no matter how far the Voyager seems to travel, they're still within a few days travel of the heart of Kazon space. I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. As Voyager presses through the quadrant, we should see new races—new allies and new enemies. Dwelling on the Kazon is going to be ultimately self-defeating.

But never mind that now. The question is: Does "Basics" bait its game—does it make us want to see part two? Well, sure—but only to see how the events unfold. The question of whether or not the crew recaptures their ship is a no-brainer, which, unfortunately, makes this whole idea seem pointless. Whether or not this idea holds any water is a question to be answered in September. As they always say: "TO BE CONTINUED..."

Previous episode: Resolutions
Next episode: Basics, Part II

End-of-season article: Second Season Recap

◄ Season Index

66 comments on this review

Jason
Tue, Feb 12, 2008, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
Haha. Just watched both part 1 and 2 on my Tivo. I forgot about the scene were Doc accidentally gets projected out into space with the holographic ships. "HELP! MAN OVERBOARD", and his facial expression as he dodges a Kazon phaser in Zero G....priceless. Picardo was the best!
Jake
Sat, Oct 4, 2008, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
Janeway proves she's a few cans short of a six pack when she fails to put 2 & 2 together regarding the constant attack on a specific (and supposedly non-essential) section of Voyager which disables the auto destruct.
Gretchen
Sat, Oct 4, 2008, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
Call me crazy, but I would think that some people (like Hogan) would've started turning on Janeway once the crew was left on that planet. Basically all her decisions throughout the season regarding the Kazon (including tracking down Seska's kid) have led to what happens to the crew in this episode.
Stefan
Tue, Dec 16, 2008, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
What bothers me about this episode is that someone like Culluh would have executed the entire crew. How did he benefit by leaving them alive? An explanation should have been given.
Nic
Tue, Oct 27, 2009, 8:18am (UTC -5)
Seska probably used all her influence to have the crew left on the planet rather than executed (she's not a monster, after all). As for the Kazon space issue, it's the first time they actually mention that they are near Kazon territory. Also, they made a lot of detours during the first two seasons, including going back to Talaxia in "Jetrel" and a 70-light-year trip in "Resolutions". It's still a stretch, but hey it's only a TV show.
The crew really acted like idiots in this episode, though.
Will
Tue, May 25, 2010, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Answering your questions about the special effects. Voyager didn't have Gary Hutzel.
Tim
Fri, Jun 25, 2010, 5:23pm (UTC -5)
Massacres aren’t always necessary. Even Khan didn’t feel the need to massacre the crew of the Reliant. He just left them where he thought they wouldn’t cause any trouble. And, actually, Culluh was right. The crew that he left on the planet didn’t cause him any grief. If he had just managed to take care of Paris, Suder and the Doc, then Season 3 and 7 of Voyager would have involved the Kazon Nistrim cataloging space and battling the Borg =)

However, I don’t understand why you MUST have an auto-destruct sequence to destroy your starship? (ST: Nemesis had me asking this same question). I would think there’d be any number of ways to destroy your ship if you really wanted to. Hell, just stand there firing a phaser directly at the warp core…That oughta blow something up.
Jhoh
Sat, Jul 3, 2010, 11:46am (UTC -5)
This episode and the followup are why I stopped watching Voyager. When I saw that Voyager had actually been completely captured by one Cardassian chick and a race of people who had starships but still thought water was a valuable commodity, I thought that this crew was too embarrassingly stupid to support, I no longer cared if they all died, and couldn't watch any more.

It wasn't really until I found this site did I find out that there were actually a few (very few) decent Voyager episodes.
Drew
Tue, Aug 24, 2010, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
I still don't understand why the hell Chakotay goes out of his way to help Seska and a child that he didn't help to concieve??? It's so retarded, who cares if she stole your DNA to make that child IT IS NOT YOUR SON, PERIOD. So Janeway and Chakotay risk their ship and crew to go help a woman who's tried to kill them every opportunity she gets and a child that's really not even your own. Good job you dumb idiot Chakotay, thanks for proving to me again that you have no common sense at all.
Bill T
Tue, Sep 28, 2010, 12:16am (UTC -5)
The voyager crew almost left Chakotay at the hands of the Kazon. They almost left Chakotay and Janeway as victims of a bug-borne illness. Now we are to believe they would risk all their lives for a rape child? A child who might very well have been killed? And into a situation that is probably a trap? Whew, they deserved to lose their starship.
Matthias
Mon, Aug 22, 2011, 9:28am (UTC -5)
Why does the doctor even freak out about being in space?
Jay
Sat, Sep 3, 2011, 2:39pm (UTC -5)
@ Drew...

I agree. Chakotay's dad or whoever that was that gave him the advice that woefully fails in the 24th century where paternity can be a form of identity theft.
Joe
Sun, Nov 20, 2011, 9:28am (UTC -5)
"If you choose to go after it, I know I speak for the entire crew, Starfleet and Maquis alike, when I say "we'll stand behind you.""

-Captain Katheryn Janeway, encouraging Chakotay to:

-Rescue a traitor and/or her test tube baby.
-Risk getting caught in a trap (which it was).
-Go into a fortified area of enemy space (they don't need a trap).

In the end they:
-Sacrifice at least 2 lives.
-Catastrophic damage across the ship.
-Several days of travel time.
-Disable or kill a handful of Kazon ships and personnel that Voyager should have flown by and never be seen again.
-They do NOT recover the baby.

If they got back to Earth the day after this, Janeway would be stripped of rank, court-martialed, and shipped someplace significantly less forgiving than that cozy New Zealand penal colony. Janeway is hellbent on making whatever decisions get her home as slowly and dangerously as possible. This would be an excellent time to play the Prime Directive card: label Seska and her test tube baby a Kazon internal affair and keep on home.
Justin
Tue, Mar 20, 2012, 11:44pm (UTC -5)
It's a wonder that this is the same crew that managed to defeat the Borg on multiple occasions.
Laroquod
Wed, Jun 13, 2012, 8:44pm (UTC -5)
If it helps, think of Chakotay as kind of like Worf -- after all, he makes his decisions by taking electronic peyote and consulting with spirits. If he says he's gotta go back for the kid, then Janeway says they go back for the kid. Just like Picard would often respect Worf's twisted Klingon insanity. Qapla, Chakotay!
matt
Thu, Aug 2, 2012, 6:05am (UTC -5)
@ laroquod
The difference is that Chakotay never had a moment that made the viewer want to stand up and cheer the way Worf did when he killed Duras.
Although both did have an eye-rolling romantic relationship-Chakotay with 7 & Worf with Dax.
Jay
Sun, Oct 7, 2012, 11:30am (UTC -5)
The moment the Kazon revealed they had "insider information" (this time, the continuous attack on the ventral portion of the ship) it should have been obvious that they were still getting info from Seska, so she wasn't dead.
Joe Joe Meastro
Fri, Mar 1, 2013, 7:52am (UTC -5)
Perhaps this is more of a reflection on me and the fact I saw this at the crack of dawn in a insomnia-like state, but when that Kazon dude blows himself up I instantly mistook it as him transforming himself into some kind of giant! Just the way the specail effect looks, it's just plain goofy and straight out of a cartoon. When we see the circular explosion blasting through the wall; I thought it was his gigantic fist punching through the ship! I watched in awe, expecting to now see a surreal battle between the crew and a Godzilla-like mutant Kazon.

Of course, I felt a bit silly when it turned out he was just blowing himself up...

*Ahem* on a different note, I quite enjoyed this episode. A bit by-the-numbers but I like it none the less.
xaaos
Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 8:04am (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed it when Culluh slapped Janeway! She deserved that one for her moronic decision to detour just for a tube baby and risk the safety of her crew and ship.
Caine
Fri, Oct 18, 2013, 9:55am (UTC -5)
I've only read Jammer's review of this episode, not the comments .. as I write this I haven't yet watched part 2, and I don't want the episode spoiled.

I was really excited after watching this episode ... not because of what part 2 WILL be, I'm sure, but what it COULD be.

Suder, a psychotic killer, hiding in the dark as the Kazon fly away? Wow ... just imagine it:
In part 2, when the crew gets back to Voyager and beams aboard, they see dead Kazon everywhere, their throats slit. On the bridge, Suder sits in the Captain's chair - alone, in darkness, quietly. That would be SO awesome! As Jammer wrote: "Die Hard With a Voyager" ... meets "Suder of Lambs".

Janeway: "Suder ... what ... what .... what happened to Maje Culluh?!"

Suder: "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice romulan ale" *slurp* "Yipee Kay-Aye!"
Caine
Fri, Oct 18, 2013, 9:57am (UTC -5)
Correction: "Suder of THE Lambs"
inline79
Tue, Dec 17, 2013, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
"Die Hard With a Voyager" would be funny, but I think the more hilariously appropriate parody would have been "Voyager Under Siege" with Robert Beltran as Steven Seagal. That movie has a set-up as ridiculous as this episode, but at least rewards us with some mindless vengeance.

PS. Colm Meaney was in the original Under Siege!
Latex Zebra
Tue, Dec 17, 2013, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
@inline79

I just watched Die Hard 2.

Colm Meaney is in that too.

O'Brien must suffer... and some.
NCC-1701-Z
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 12:32am (UTC -5)
If Janeway had had half a brain, she would have said, "Screw this. I'm sorry, Chakotay, but I cannot risk the entire ship on the off chance that this boy is your son, especially considering the dire consequences if this ship is captured. Maintain course to the Alpha Quadrant. End of conversation."

Then, of course, there would be no two-parter. Still mildly entertaining episode, but the setup was dumb.

On the plus side, this two-parter did lead to the excellent "Distant Origin" in season 3.
Robert
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 11:09am (UTC -5)
@NCC - You make it sound like Chakotay asked her and Janeway should have said no. It was her idea!

"CHAKOTAY: This is not my responsibility! She has no right to expect me to
JANEWAY: She knows you, Chakotay. She knew how you'd react when you saw your son in danger.
CHAKOTAY: I have a duty to this crew. I can't just leave and go looking for the child.
JANEWAY: And I'd never consider letting you go into a Kazon-Nistrim stronghold by yourself. If we do this, we do it together. That's something else Seska would know, too. "
Vylora
Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
Admittedly, this is really an entertaining episode to watch. There's some great interactions amongst major and minor characters, outstanding direction, and the best space battle on Voyager up to this point. Unfortunately, there's a few steaming piles of horseshit.

Pile 1:
- The crew has been traveling off and on for months since the last Kazon encounter. I understand the concept of species or alliances of peoples having large borders, as it were. The Federation, for example, has a boundary large enough that it would take roughly eight years at high warp to travel from one extreme point to the other. There's no indication anywhere that the Trabe were spread even close to as far as that and I highly doubt that the Kazon would be since the relatively recent uprising. They're just too unstable.

Pile 2:
- Janeway speaks on behalf of the entire crew in backing Chakotay's desire to rescue the stolen part of his tattoo. This is, of course, after some deep conversations while 'tripping' as opposed to actual conversations with said crew. Whichever writer thought this was a great idea should have packed his/her crap, moved into a cave, and ponder the musings of Dr. Seuss.

Pile 3:
- The secondary command and control alt delete processors are being smacked about like a red-headed step chicken. Logic would dictate not being fucking brain-dead and maybe actually review exactly what they're for if you can't remember. I'm pretty positive that said review would show they involve many things, including the infamous shiny apple-red history eraser button and the self-destruct sequence.

This episode coasts by solely on performances and entertainment.

2.5 stars.
SlackerInc
Sun, Sep 21, 2014, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
I have to agree that obviously it was foolhardy to go try to rescue this baby. But I think we have to forgive that, because nearly every iteration of every science fiction or action adventure show or movie involves a lot of "this is an extreme risk just to save one person, but we're heroic types and that's what we do" type stuff. I'm cool with someone making something that moves away from this trope, but as of the mid-'90s especially, it was par for the course.

And as a lot of others have also said, it was a suspenseful and fun episode as long as you swallow that much. My wife, who is not even much of a science fiction fan but watches with me and our daughter as (I had always thought, anyway) a good sport, is the most anxious of the three of us to hurry up and watch the next episode!

As for the Kazon space thing: If it takes eight years to move through Federation space (how do we know this, anyway?), I think we can forgive it taking a few months for the Kazons. Let's just assume that the heart of their territory is closer to the Alpha Quadrant than where the Voyager originally got moved; when the Voyager first encountered Kazons, they were at the farthest edge of their range, the farthest away from the Alpha Quadrant. If that's the case, it could be reasonable to still be near the heart of their territory a few months later.
Plotpecker
Wed, Mar 18, 2015, 9:26am (UTC -5)
Something always bothered me about these episodes and that isn't the plot, it's the fact that there are multiple effect scenes clearly showing both Voyager and Kazon ships exchanging phaser fire at warp.

It's a shoddy effect error, but one that crops up twice. This is evident on the first attack by the Kazon Raider. Voyager is clearly at warp in the shot prior to it being detected as the nacelles are raised. Janeway declares red alert and then in the next exterior shot the nacelles are down but the star-warp effect is still present. If an incoming hostile vessel is detected, why would you drop out of warp just so you could engage it? Voyager would likely be capable of out running a Kazon Raider with ease. Further, if you wanted to prevent a pressing attack on a weakened section of your vessel, surely an ace pilot like Paris would roll the ship such that the vulnerable portion is faced away from the line of incoming fire... It's as though someone forgot that the ship has freedom of movement and can surely roll on its axis.

In a later exterior scene showing two Kazon raiders attacking the ventral portion of Voyager, the star-warp effect is again present and again the nacelles are in their dormant orientation. Someone really dropped the ball with the warp effect as it should not be visible in either scene.
DLPB
Tue, Apr 21, 2015, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
I was rooting for the Kazon. Voyager's crew was too stupid to have the ship. They didn't even deserve to live. Going on rescue missions for Kazon... going all the way back for Seska... and Chakotay's "son". And then when it was obvious this was all a set up, they still flew on into danger.

The series should have ended here, with Voyager's crew marooned forever.
DLPB
Tue, Apr 21, 2015, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
And yes, the crew would have been executed. But the writers pick and choose when to apply logic. I just roll my eyes.
Yanks
Mon, Aug 10, 2015, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
Wow. I'm normally a defender of the questionable, but the decision here is pretty much a head scratcher.

The only reason this decision can work is if you buy this line from Chakotay's father speaking about the child:

"KOLOPAK: He knows nothing of deception. He is innocent." Isn't that the truth.

I'll grab hold of that one, it makes this episode much more palatable, that and we know Suder is going to play a key role. What could be better than the EMH and Suder teaming up? :-)

That and as I've said before, I love Martha Hackett as Seska.

So... I just love these writers trying to throw nautical term in the script...

"JANEWAY: Keep our port forequarter facing the line of attack, Mister Paris. Don't let them see our starboard ventral. "

"Port forequarter"? ... lol ... how about just "port bow" Captain, the whole ship is attached you know.

Of course, Seska's plan works and the treeheads prevail. I thought the reason to strand them was pretty good, not quite "buried alive" good, but good.

"CULLUH: A fitting end for a people who would not share their technology. Let's see if you manage to survive without it."

All in all a pretty good season ender. Many much better in Trek, but better than "Learning Curve" :-) Here's hoping the never ending domain of the Kazon comes to an end. I think they control more space than the Borg.

2.5 stars is about right.
Jay
Mon, Sep 21, 2015, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
Funny how Janeway's "work on the doctor with it" didn't get bloopered out. It should have been "work with the doctor on it"
Andrew
Fri, Oct 30, 2015, 10:12am (UTC -5)
I thought the episode recognized and punished the crew for their arrogance/stupidity (although risking so much to rescue a baby that likely was already dead was really pushing it). I missed the point that the earlier attacks damaged the self-destruct program so I thought it being inoperable was stupidity but not obviously-will-happen stupidity.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Jan 16, 2016, 8:01am (UTC -5)
As noted above, this is shamelessly a cliffhanger builder and on that level I suppose it succeeds. But it's always slightly unsatisfying knowing that you're being played in that way.

I never worry too much about nitpicking plot points but given the last episode made so much of putting the safety of the crew first and not contacting the Vidiians, why would Janeway want to risk the safety of the crew for Chakotay's baby? The crew can't be risked for the Captain and First Officer but can for a baby that he isn't even the father of? It just seems like a dumb decision, and undermines the story heavily.

On the positive side the action is good enough and it rattles along fairly quickly. The Doctor projected into space is a genius moment. And possibly the most intriguing prospect of Pt II is that stone killer Suder might be going on a Kazon killing rampage. Now that would be something to look forward to... 2.5 stars.
Luka
Thu, Jul 21, 2016, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
The writing for this episode is so lazy and unimaginative. I hate how one phaser shot to the back and Suder is dead. Why not just have him get vaporized? At least that would make it more dramatic. Tom should've been able to track Voyager and landed his shuttle on that planet with reinforcements and he and Chakotay should've led a team of Maquis back to re-take Voyager. Chakotay then chases Seska to main engineering where she has a compression rifle pointed at the warp core. Seska goads Chakotay... "you wouldn't shoot me..." then Chakotay vaporizes her to save the ship. This episode needed some kind of showdown between Seska and Chakotay. Basics only gets 2 stars from me.
Nicholas Ryan
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
Considering they establish that Kazon are nomads it's completely believable to run into them for years. It just doesn't make sense to keep running into Culluh and Seska. I guess this implies they've been following Voyager. Would've been nice if they'd just come out and say that.
Robert
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
@Nicholas - Totally agree. Kazon space could be 2 years long at maximum warp too... you don't know. Anything is believable since we have zero information. But to keep running into Seska means that Janeway keeps making long stops and occasionally even turns around.

Which is theoretically possible at least. In multiple episodes they seem to go to places out of their way (like Rinax in Jetrel). But still... I think Seska would have to be literally following them, you are right.
George Monet
Sun, Aug 21, 2016, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
The problem with constantly running into Kazon this far out has nothing to do with the size of the Kazon territory and everything to do with travel times. If it took Voyager 1.5 years to get from the array to where they are at present in a ship that is more efficient and faster than anything the Kazon have, then the Kazon could not possibly be constantly catching up to Voyager, returning to their home systems and then traveling back to Voyager. Two ships traveling at different speeds will never catch up to each other. There is no way that Cullah, in his slow Kazon ship could travel across a distance it has taken Voyager 1.5 years to travel through in a matter of days. That is impossible. That's the big problem here, the writers constantly forget the distances and travel times involved. Many Voyager episodes are impossible and only occur because the writers constantly ignores time and space.

If it takes 8 years at high warp to travel from 1 end of the Federation borders to the other, then if you travel one end of the border to the other, you don't expect to be running into the same handful of people at one end that you encountered on the other end because it would take those people 8 years of travel to reach you.
Jason R.
Wed, May 17, 2017, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
I love how Chakotay can just conjure his dead father instantaneously with a sprinkle of a few herbs. He can then just have this totally rational, lucid conversation with dad's ghost. Truly natives are magical people, even in the 24th century.
Levi
Sat, May 27, 2017, 1:15am (UTC -5)
My problem with this episode is the conclusion that rape victims should be responsible for any resulting child. Chakotay's vision-dad basically told him that since it's his DNA, it's his son and he should take care of it. And Chakotay was basically scifi-raped by Seska.
Jason R.
Sat, May 27, 2017, 10:52am (UTC -5)
"My problem with this episode is the conclusion that rape victims should be responsible for any resulting child. "

Rape victims are responsible for their children the same as any parents. You cannot legally abandon your child just because it is the product of rape, although I suppose you could give it up for adoption (as one could if the child was born of a consensual relationship).

The key point here is that the child is a fait accompli. We are not talk about person's right to abort a pregnancy not of their choosing. The father's example (of children borne of rape by whites being accepted by the tribe) is similar as the tribes were facing the choice of what to do with children that were already born - they could either accept them or reject them and they chose the former.
DLPB
Sat, May 27, 2017, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
Rape victims are responsible for their children the same as any parents. You cannot legally abandon your child just because it is the product of rape,
---------

Excuse me. Yes, you can. Abortion in these cases is 100% legitimate and anyone with a healthy brain will agree with it under those circumstances. Not only is that child likely to grow up and find out his father is a rapist, but the mother will be reminded daily by the child's presence of what happened. It is totally selfish and unfair of you to expect that a conception through a heinous act should be treated the same as through a loving and stable union. Bonkers. NO WAY.

As for adoption. Gee, yeah, cause that really helps the child. Just being given away. We have to get away from this mental illness thinking.
Jason R.
Sat, May 27, 2017, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
"Rape victims are responsible for their children the same as any parents. You cannot legally abandon your child just because it is the product of rape"

"Excuse me. Yes, you can. Abortion in these cases is 100% legitimate and anyone with a healthy brain will agree with it under those circumstances. "

You cannot "abort" a child - which by definition, is already born.

As I stated, a rape victim cannot abandon her [already born] child regardless of how that child came into existence. There is no legal classification for children born of rape which negates their human rights (or their parents' responsibilities).

The example cited by Chachotay's dad had nothing to do with abortion. Like Chachotay, the tribe was faced with a fait accomplit - an actual child. Very much a different situation than a rape victim deciding to abort a fetus in-utero.
DLPB
Mon, May 29, 2017, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
I didn't think anyone would be arguing that point, so I have rushed to judgement here. Let's face it, a rape victim is largely going to opt for abortion if she is allowed to. And I've seen a lot of people who are against abortion under ANY circumstance. I assumed that you were talking about "child" in terms of in the womb. People use child regardless.

My apologies.
Dark Kirk
Sat, Jun 24, 2017, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
For everyone saying Culluh would have/should have just executed the crew - Culluh and the writers themselves answer that with Culluh's line as he is marooning the crew without any of their equipment. I think the line was "A fitting end for a people who would not share their technology." He saw it as poetic justice.
Markus
Sun, Jul 9, 2017, 6:36pm (UTC -5)
Is it bad that I badly wanted to see the crew all get wiped out by that lava eruption, just so I could see something of consequence happen on this show?
Dbrandodd@sbcglobal.net
Tue, Jul 25, 2017, 5:12pm (UTC -5)
3 stars. Finally a decent involving episode

This episode really highlighted how pitiful and underwhelming most of season two was. This first episode in quite a while that I actually took notice of and actually enjoyed with no hesitation.

All those earlier episodes that frustrated me by toying with the Kazon capturing the ship in retrospect was seemingly done to build up to actually going through with it here thankfully

I enjoyed the hour with its action and tension and the cliffhangers
Joshua
Fri, Aug 11, 2017, 8:09am (UTC -5)
The main problem I have with this episode is how adept the Kazon are at operating Voyager. No amount of 'training' by Seska could prepare them for operating it so perfectly within their short time frame, unless computer systems in the 24th century are that unreasonably accessible.
William B
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 9:05am (UTC -5)
I guess central to this episode is the question of whether Janeway, Chakotay et al. were right to go after Culluh et al. for Seska's baby. It's maybe the most interesting question, and so it's a bit of a shame that it gets reduced basically entirely to Chakotay's internal dilemma. The two sides really are:

1. The baby is an innocent, who is the offspring of Alpha Quadrant species and thus doesn't count as an internal matter (so no Prime Directive issues preventing Voyager from rescuing it), and it's of Chakotay's blood (if not his consent) as well as Seska's, who was a crew member;
2. Voyager will probably get captured and destroyed if they go after it unless they get serious reinforcements or have a really great plan.

(2) is the obvious rejoinder to any desire to go after the baby, so much so that it should have been shouted loudly at Janeway and Chakotay. Does that mean that they absolutely shouldn't have gone back for the baby? I'm not saying that. In Resolutions, the thing that turned Tuvok around was that the crew *wanted* to go back for Janeway and Chakotay. It's not so much that the crew is a democracy, but if every person on the ship is willing to risk their life to accomplish a certain mission, which is morally acceptable, then it makes sense for the leader to be willing to allow the crew to take that risk. If the whole or even the majority of the crew were willing to take the risk of going into a trap to save the innocent baby, well, good hunting. However this gets largely written off by Janeway's "I'm sure you know that everyone on this ship will support your decision!" deal, which is a big leap. Are we really saying that the whole ship are willing to risk death for this baby? If they aren't, does it matter that Janeway and Chakotay make the decision for the whole crew? The chain of command, I guess, means that they do get to make that call, but at the same time, the responsibility of command surely means responding, in some specific instances, to those under one. I get the sense that Janeway and Chakotay don't really reckon with how obviously doomed their attempt to rescue the baby is. It's treated a bit simplistically to have Janeway pin the whole decision down to whether or not Chakotay wants to save the baby and then have Chakotay only consider his own needs as a result. It's true that the crew does come up with various ways of countering the Kazon threat, but I feel like they should still have realized that they wouldn't be sufficient against what is probably a genuine trap. At the same time, I do get point (1) and I understand it. [Nu-BSG spoiler: I have a lot of problems with the very end of BSG, but in comparison I very much appreciate that the show made clear the risks of going to rescue Hera and that Adama deliberately made it optional because of that reality. Because of the realities of Voyager's situation, I don't think that they could have dropped half the crew off, but even some indication that Janeway's "I'm sure that everyone will support you" was a justified statement for the large, undifferentiated mass of non-main cast crew members, that the majority did support maybe risking everyone for a baby for whom they and the ship had no direct responsibility, or at least that their wishes were considered, would have helped assuage my concerns a lot.]

Anyway, I'd say that this episode is a step up from the other "arc episodes" this year -- that includes Maneuvers, Alliances, and Investigations. Michael Piller is not a perfect writer by any means, but he seems to have a very good handle on structure and there is something about his episodes (even when misguided, as in Tattoo) that feels more in control than most episodes. I like that this episode does pay off the season's storyline and finds a specific emotional throughline in Chakotay's relationship with his father (which pays off Tattoo), the crew's knowledge of Kazon culture (which pays off Initiations), and the history with Seska. I think had the episode done a better job of showing the crew's loyalty to Chakotay rather than just having Janeway tell us, it would pay off Resolutions, too.

It's good I guess that the starboard ventral attacks went somewhere -- Kim says that they're going to sustain damage to secondary command processes, and it's damage to the secondary command processes that halts Janeway's self-destruct order. But I can't help but feel frustrated at how poorly designed these ships are. The auto-destruct shouldn't be so easy to take offline.

The Suder subplot really is a highlight; I haven't yet talked about Meld, but suffice it to say I really liked it, and I really like the material with Tuvok and Suder here. I find the scene with Janeway particularly effective, even if I roll my eyes a little at Janeway meeting with Suder over his aeroponics plan after they've already started into Kazon territory (not the time, captain!); the way in which Suder's good intentions quickly run up against his impatience and explosive emotional reactions and lead to him making small but still clear transgressions is heartbreaking to watch. He is trying, but anything that suggests disrespect triggers something in him, which in turn thwarts even his genuine efforts to do something good for the ship. I especially appreciate the way Tuvok tries to keep Suder on task without betraying his greater loyalty to Janeway.

In some ways, a cliffhanger is only as good as the resolution -- and knowing where things are going in Part 2, I don't particularly feel that the shock ending, with the crew having to fend for themselves without technology, is really earned, as a result. In fact Culluh's statement that it's fitting that the crew go without technology because they didn't want to share it is in some ways fitting, and the idea of the crew having to make do completely without is an appealing way of re-examining the basic setup of the premise; more in Part 2. I also think that there's some implication that it was Seska who pushed for the crew to be left alive (since she made some noises to that effect in some of her scenes earlier in the season), so I don't find Culluh's not killing them all to be that implausible.

It's an okay but unexceptional end to the season, with some problems. 2.5 stars.
William B
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 9:20am (UTC -5)
On second thought, I might go down to 2. As others pointed out above, that Janeway et al. seem to continue interpreting the "starboard ventral" as a nonessential system when it ends the possibility of autodestruct is another indication of how dumb this crew is. In fact after the second (or *maybe* third) attack on the starboard ventral they should have turned around; the moment they recognize that the Kazon are working together and are doing something they don't understand, they should have realized that not only were they going into a trap, but that they didn't know what kind of trap it was and were already being outsmarted. More to the point, Janeway has repeatedly said she'd blow up the ship (i.e. kill every member of the crew) rather than give up their technology, and the idea that they are risking the capture of the ship for that baby also never comes up -- doesn't Janeway's responsibility to prevent tech falling into Kazon hands count to her as a higher moral obligation than the baby, even if her crew's lives doesn't?

Really, despite Janeway's remarks at the beginning, they should have just let Chakotay go off in a shuttle, possibly with a handful of volunteers. Even that is basically throwing their lives away, in practice, but I do understand the idea that the baby is an innocent, etc. It's just so clear that Voyager didn't have much of a chance, and the only way this ep makes sense is if everyone was willing to die on the chance of saving the baby, which is implausible to begin with but could have made sense if it'd played out that way. The crew's ideas seem so puny in comparison to the threat, and it's only Paris coming up with the idea of getting the Talaxians at literally the last moment that even makes any sense. Getting reinforcements surely should have been step one?

I guess I'll downgrade to 2 stars.
Dave
Fri, Sep 22, 2017, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
I suspect a lot of the crew is second guessing their choice not to stay on the planet with the 37s...
Brad
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 6:12pm (UTC -5)
I'll keep this short, because that is really all this episode (really, any episode with a Seska scheme) deserves - too much stupidity from the crew to be enjoyable.
Skamper
Tue, Oct 17, 2017, 2:27am (UTC -5)
As far as the baby goes, the decision to go after it was foolish at best. First of all, there is no proof that the baby is Chakotay's whatsoever, besides Seska's word. And risk 150 lives to go save a baby that may or not be his, and may or not be a trap? No way. And what were they going to do when they got there, kidnap it? Even if it's Chakotay's baby, they were just going to go there and rip it out of it's mother's arms and raise it on Voyager? Or kidnap both the baby and Seska? Either way, not something a captain should do. Stealing babies isn't very Starfleet.

And Chakotay 'talking' with his father. Either Chakotay is totally insane, or his religion has the true answer to the afterlife, or it was somehow metaphorical, with Chakotay talking to himself, which would also make him sort of insane. None of which are good.

If Seska or the Kazon were so intent on capturing Voyager, why didn't they do this a long time ago? All it took was a few raids, then an assault to take total control of Voyager. At least make it so they had some new information or something. And as others have said, including me, apparently Seska has been somehow following Voyager for months now, or else they would be nowhere near them.

Someone also please explain how Neelix knows every single fact about every single race, and planet, and moon, and plant and whatever else, within 1000 light years of his planet?

And I thought this humorous-

JANEWAY: Hold your fire, Mister Tuvok. They may have torpedoes to waste. We don't.

LOL. Since they have already fired off more than they ever had.

And why would the Kazon be fooled by holographic ships that just miraculously appear in the middle of a battle? I could almost halfway understand it if they had the holoships around before they contacted them, but in the middle of a fight? Silly.

How did that Kazon suicide bomber pull a three inch needle out of his toenail (when he had removed the toenail first, in case anyone forgot)? One of those futuristic collapsible syringes I guess.

Boy those Kazon ships were HUGE! Like 1000 times the size of Voyager. How didn't they capture Voyager 40 episodes ago?

And Paris managed to escape in a shuttle in the middle of a huge space battle. Whatever.

Also, finally, why did they not notice the serial killer in the hydroponics bay? They found everyone else.

I'm really getting sick of Voyager's silliness.

2 stars.
Skamper
Tue, Oct 17, 2017, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
Here's my scores from highest to lowest.

Projections - 4
Tuvix - 3.5
Meld - 3
Coldfire - 2.5
Resistance - 2.5
Initiations - 2
Persistance of Vision - 2
Prototype - 2
Alliances - 2
Deathwish - 2
Lifesigns - 2
Deadlock - 2
Basics Pt. 1 - 2
The 37's - 1.5
Twisted - 1.5
Maneuvers - 1.5
Dreadnaught - 1.5
Resolutions - 1.5
Tattoo - 1
Investigations - 1
Innocence - 1
Non Sequitur - .5
Parturition - .5
Elogium - 0
Threshold - 0
The Thaw - 0

Average rating - 1.65

For me this season was all over the place, but mostly bad. Tuvix, Meld, and Projections were the only 3 episodes I truly liked.

It beats out season 1 which I had as an average of 1.53, mostly due to those 3 episodes. Though I only had one show last season with a zero score, Cathexis, and this season I had 3 zeros.
Lufferov
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 8:58pm (UTC -5)
What I found ridiculous was the conversation in the meeting room regarding holographic projectors being impossible, and the Doctor countering that with the fact that they would only be very basic holograms, not capable of projecting something as complex as his matrix into space. Something which Bellana states they can't even do on the ship. Yet later on, exactly the thing they said would be impossible is done when the Doctor is sent out into space...
legraf
Tue, Mar 27, 2018, 1:40am (UTC -5)
Nice point, Lufferov, missed that!

I'd add one more silliness - I know ST:Voyager is trying to avoid being too dark, but I am sure that if Kazon were boarding a mid-battle Voyager through the shuttle bay as they did here, there would be massive casualties on both sides before Kazon made it to the bridge. All those armed Starfleet and Maquis types would be fighting - yet here the Kazon made it to the bridge in ... perhaps a minute? Less, I think. Half of the (anonymous, completely irrelevant) crew should surely have died in the fighting. Yes, power was out, things had gone badly in a flash, but... these people aren't supposed to be civilians, and they had no reason to expect mercy from the Kazon. I feel they would have gone down fighting, even after hope was gone.
Rahul
Wed, Mar 28, 2018, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
A decent wrap to VOY S2 with one confrontation to end all confrontations with the Kazon -- who I thought were gone for good as Voyager should have passed their space by this point in the series. Nevertheless, it's good to see familiar enemies like Seska/Culluh back again and closing the loop on Chakotay's baby. The episode benefits from their presence, some good battle scenes, a bit of intrigue and the ending predicament for the Voyager crew marooned on a rough planet.

I really liked the Suder character here -- a serious sociopath. The part where he blows up on Janeway was good and I think Janeway did the right thing in excusing herself. No point trying to smooth things over with a recovering psycho. We're wondering where this "B-plot" is going and how it ties in with the "A-plot" if at all -- but there's a Part Ii of course.

Another good, subtle part was Chakotay's dream and his father telling him to accept the child -- it's not the child's fault -- and that his people's women were raped by the white men but kept their children.

The intrigue of why the small Kazon ships kept firing on a certain part of Voyager was a mystery as was the Kazon prisoner's mysterious red blood cells disease -- interesting pieces of a larger puzzle.

The part with Doc getting projected into space was needless and dumb. Yes, they hadn't tested the holographic ships (which I think should never have worked in distracting the Kazon) but injecting this humor here was inconsistent with the episode for me.

A few nitpicks/flaws of course: Why wasn't Paris's shuttle blown to bits? This Kazon oversight is part of them consistently portrayed (certainly Culluh) as not being too bright. But yet, how do they quickly learn to run Voyager, land on a planet etc.? These are definite head-scratchers.

Good enough for 3 stars -- although I don't get the title "Basics". Culluh is a fun, but stupid character and Seska can be annoying although she's a worthy foe. I would think Voyager should have been prepared for a boarding party and the ship is taken quite easily -- if Janeway wants to blow up the ship, why not go down in a phaser fight (blaze fo glory)?. In any case, "Basics, Part I" was a good episode overall with good pacing and a solid plot.
Vic
Thu, Aug 9, 2018, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
On this episode you can see how the writers forgot that the voyager crew was composed of various species that are normally speaking different dialects, yet when taken to the planet and com-badges removed (which most likely hold part of the universal translator) they can easily communicate with each other in good old universal English. Even if most of the crew spoke English, how does Neelix whose learning curve is a bit lower learned and master the English language in such a short time
Timtim
Sun, Aug 12, 2018, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
I'm re-watching Voyager after many years and after getting to this episode I find it's a wonder they didn't just can the series entirely at this point. A dull season that ends in the most ridiculous manner possible.

The crew comes across as laughably stupid in losing the ship to Seska and the Kazon. Despite obvious signs of a trap, they just keep meandering forward, no one even considering what damage to the "secondary command processors" even means.

Why is the ship still near the Kazon at all? The pilot episode explains to us that the ship has a maximum cruising velocity of warp 9.975. Are we to believe that the Kazon, who still haven't figured out how to produce water, somehow have warp technology that puts the Federation to shame?

This episode, and most of the second season, really exemplifies the Star Trek writers fatigue the series was facing at the time. It's a shame, because the series concept was an interesting one, but its execution left a lot to be desired.
Springy
Tue, Aug 28, 2018, 6:57am (UTC -5)
Really enjoyed this season ender. Lots of action and loved the Suder stuff and the horrible Kazon actually boarding the ship.

Janeway handled Suder exactly as she should. He's still a murderous psychopath and plainly not well in control of himself. He steps out of line; they're done for now. You don't reason with someone like Suder when he's on the edge. You get out of the way and hope he gets the message that he's out of luck with you unless he controls himself.

I loved how he kept saying he wanted to do something for the ship, and all the Suder/Tuvok interplay.

The self-destructing Kazon was very well done. The actor really sold it.

Of course I knew the crew would somehow be back at the helm, but it was still exciting and I liked forward to part 2.

Three stars.
Sean Hagins
Fri, Aug 31, 2018, 12:56am (UTC -5)
@ Joe Joe Maestro:

I did too! I thought he was becoming huge as well! Glad to know I wasn't the only one.

Actually, I really liked this episode. So good to see the Betazoid murderer redeem himself too. Too bad he died in the end-he would have been a good addition to the crew after rehabilitation
Trish
Sun, May 5, 2019, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
Okay, am I really the first person to wonder while watching this episode why when obtaining water was supposedly the top priority, Chakotay didn't figure out that he could have made a still from uniform fabric (whatever that magical 24th century fabric may be) until Hogan permanently vacated his?

You mean the same captain who sacrificed a lock of her hair as tinder for their campfire would not have taken off her jacket, as Ensign Ro did to give it to a Bajoran child in a refugee camp?
Elliott
Fri, May 10, 2019, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
Guess who got to meet Robert Picardo last night! 😁

Teaser : ***, 5%

Resident serial killer Suder is pleased to show his mentor/would-be-murderer Tuvok a new hybrid flower he's managed to create in his lock-down quarters. This is a subtle foreshadowing regarding this story's McGuffin, a being forced into existence by genetic tampering to service the needs of someone seeking to change the paradigm of his life. We learn that the events of “Meld” have stuck with the whacky Betazoid, giving him both a sense of calm and purpose, as well as an interest in horticulture. This is a nice touch of continuity with “Sarek”/”Unification;” Suder has retained “the best parts of” his meld-partner. This also fits in nicely with Janeway's sentiment from “Meld” that the Federation's criminal justice system is designed to reform, not punish. Suder wants to make more substantive contributions to the Voyager from his confinement by way of making that tiny vegetable garden we saw in “Cold Fire” more productive. Yeah, I think any gains in that department would be a good idea. Tuvok agrees to discuss the idea with Janeway, but Suder is...er, a bit too eager.

On the bridge, the crew runs across a Kazon message buoy. The message is from Seska; it turns out her baby has been born and, upon discovering its parentage, Caligula did something bad to her and to it. Seska begs Chakotay to help for the sake of “his son.” There's a lot to unpack with this, but we will get there. As a teaser, I think this is pretty effective. In my re-ordering of the series, season 2 began with “Initiations,” a rather bland and ineffective story true, but one which saw the Kazon arc begin in earnest. As a season finale, seeing a culmination of the arc seems like the right way to go.

Act 1 : **.5, 17%

We continue in medias res with Chakotay and Janeway alone in the ready room. As I said, the dynamic between them is radically different now that “Resolutions” has aired. The two discuss this baby and the implications of Seska's message in strikingly intimate terms.

JANEWAY: She knows you, Chakotay. She knew how you'd react when you saw your son in danger.

Janeway mentions that Seska obviously knows that Chakotay wouldn't be allowed to go after the baby on his own. In “Initiations,” Chakotay going off in a shuttle on his own proved disastrous (although, they should have realised that beforehand anyway). And while Chakotay going off to solve his problems in “Manœuvres” was perhaps less disastrous (they managed to keep the transporter tech and the shuttle out of the Nistrim's hands), it ended with him having his DNA stolen and Tuvok forgetting to demand Seska be handed over to the Voyager.

This brings us to the next sticking point:

JANEWAY: I'm not going to resume our course just yet. I want you to think about it, Chakotay. This has to be your decision. If you choose to go after him, I know I speak for the entire crew, Starfleet and Maquis alike, when I say we'll stand behind you.

On the most basic level (haha), this is a plot contrivance to shunt all of the story beats into the emotional arc of one character, Chakotay. Structurally, it's just simpler that way, rather than trying to contend with the whole crew weighing in on the decision. We saw just last episode how unwieldy such attempts can be. However, there are thematic echoes to other important episodes which have led up to this point. In “Deadlock,” alt-Chakotay mentions that he's surprised at how nervous he was while Samantha Wildman was in labour, even though the child wasn't his own.

JANEWAY: In a way, this child belongs to all of us.

I said in that review that I appreciated the way this tied into the thread from “Elogium,” and Janeway grappling with the prospect of fostering a real and entire community aboard the Voyager. We saw in (what I'm calling) season 1's finale, “The 37s,” how tempting the prospect of a real community must be for this crew. So here we have another baby which “belongs to all of them” in probably mortal peril. Letting Chakotay deal with this crisis on his own would not only contradict Janeway's command decisions (c.f. “Manœuvres”), but also undermine her attempts to be a community leader. But of course, the decision as to whether it's worth the risk to the family to go after this baby must be Chakotay's because, as we saw viscerally in “Tuvix,” this is an issue of consent. Chakotay was violated by Seska. It needs to be up to him to accept whether this baby is actually his son before they can proceed. All of that said, it seems really silly that they wouldn't have discussed this issue before now. Talk about procrastinating.

So, Chakotay holes up in his quarters and embarks on a vision quest to talk to his father. The Chakotay/Kolopak relationship has demarcated the beginning, midpoint and now finale of the whole season. Interesting choice. Thankfully, this vision quest tones down the offensiveness from “Tattoo” in several ways. The panflute music is absent, and an older Papa Chakotay speaks to his son in personal terms that don't attempt to cobble together a cultural backstory for the RTP. I say the offensiveness is toned down, but of course the back-to-nature silliness of Michael Piller is by no means absent. Papa Chakotay is pretty rigid in his morality, which is that a new life is cause for celebration, end of discussion. His view is definitely not one I agree with, but credit where it is due: the “pro-life” argument he makes—that the baby is innocent of all the intrigue, deception and weirdness which led to his conception—is a valid one, and serves as a counterweight to the arguments from “Tuvix.” However, in the end, the decision IS Chakotay's. Some women who are raped choose not to abort the foetuses that might develop as a result, and even raise them. That this is something THEY might choose does not negate the concept of choice or consent. One detail of Papa Chakotay's story that was probably left out (although, who knows given the fictitiousness of his tribe?) is that the women of his tribe who were raped and impregnated by consquistadors probably did not have a say in whether they accepted those children. I'm guessing the men of the tribe forced them to for their own reasons.

So, with the character questions answered for the time being (and thus some camouflage provided for the plot), the crew begin their preparations. Neelix makes contact with a Talaxian military group in the area who are willing to help out for some reason. Kim, Torres and the EMH devise plan to create sensor echoes of Talaxian ships and some holographic trickery to help sell the illusion to the Kazon (did I mention I met Robert Picardo last night?).

JANEWAY: Please, Doctor, your suggestions on any subject are always welcome.
EMH [on monitor]: Really? In that case, you may expect several more on a variety of matters in the near future.

Lol

After a while, the Voyager intercepts a Kazon shuttlecraft with a single weak lifesign. He's beamed to the Sickbay where the Doctor and Kes get to work saving his life. Chakotay recognises him as one of Seska's aides from his time aboard her ship in “Manœuvres.” The man, Terracotta or whatever, grabs Chakotay by the shoulder and dramatically informs him that Seska is dead. Dun dun dun!!

Act 2 : **, 17%

Terracotta explains how Caligula had her throat cut immediately after that message buoy was sent and how he himself only managed to survive by bribing a guard and lucking out. Mhm. Sounds plausible. Terracotta is incredulous that they would attempt to rescue the baby, who's going to be raised as a slave on a planet called Gema II, but Chakotay has already completed the character beats for that decision, so that's that. The Doctor is able to confirm that the man was in really rough shape, that if this were a deception, it was a hell of a risk for this guy to endure what he did. Right. Because the Kazon are not about taking stupid risks to advance their cause. That's why they definitely didn't get themselves melted into the bulkheads of their ship to try and activate a replicator in “State of Flux,” or fly a shuttle directly into the Voyager's hull in “Manœuvres,” or hold a meeting with their mortal enemy, the Trabe, in “Alliances.”

Chakotay still doesn't trust him, but they're moving ahead anyway. Huh? Okay, well Terracotta lays out a route for the Voyager which would bypass the Nistrim fleet and get them to Gema II. Neelix is on hand to confirm that this definitely not a trap. Thanks for the input. Ah, but Terracotta has the codes to the defence net, which overlay a series of lines and circles on the LCARS. The dramatic music seems to make us want to think that this guy is being truthful. After all, he entered information into the computer and it showed them an image that confirms his story. He MUST be telling the truth! So, when he says there are rogue Kazon sects roaming about this part of space, we must also believe that this is true. I mean, he's so credible!

Lo and behold, one of these rogue Kazon raiders ends up attacking the Voyager, causing damage to a few systems including the secondary command processors. They shoo it away and begin repairs, moving out of comm range of the Talaxian army (shudder). Given this brief respite, Tuvok asks Janeway to keep her appointment with his prisoner/protégé. The two of them visit Suder and he expresses his gratitude to them both, and she asks him to explain his vegetable proposal in more detail. Once again, Suder's eagerness gets the better of him. While Janeway is friendly and open to the idea, she's not ready to sign on the dotted line just yet. He presses and she turns her nose down and him and walks out, curtly. Both reveal some understandable but regrettable flaws in this interaction. Suder feels like a new man, ready to take on the world with his Vulcan quasi-discipline and vocation, but he seems to have forgotten that he KILLED A MAN FOR LOOKING AT HIM THE WRONG WAY. This isn't someone people are likely to just forget about and lend uncritical support to. On the other hand, Janeway, in a position of privilege, once again falls victim to her White Feminism (c.f. “Alliances”). Suder shouldn't treat her this way, this is true, but her haughty reaction to him isn't going to help in his rehabilitation or make him a productive member of her community again.

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

There's a brief montage where Janeway explains that there have been three additional attacks by the “rogues.” The attacks have targeted the secondary command processors and so, although none of them have posed a serious or immediate threat to the Voyager, they ought to be incredibly suspicious of this activity. It might be a good idea for someone to explain just what the fuck these processors do.

Meanwhile, the EMH is frustrated that Terracotta's odd blood polycythæmia isn't clearing up. He and Chakotay mix it up a little, Chakotay pulling out his “Learning Curve” toxic masculine bs by pinning the Kazon to the wall by his windpipe. His suspicions have apparently reached their apex, so it's time for the plot gods to strike. The red alert klaxon sounds and Chakotay reports to the bridge. They repel the latest attack, but Kim notes that Deck 12 and the “Starboard Ventral”--which has conveniently replaced “Secondary command processors” in the parlance—is a giant mess. Finally, they decide to reverse course and re-assess their options. Good.

Terracotta, meanwhile is sent to quarters and given a meal by Neelix. This dovetails nicely with a stop by Suder's quarters for dinner time. We see that he is not processing his rejection very well at all, reverting to that quiet and dangerous shadowy figure he was in “Meld.”

Well, now that the Voyager has reversed course, the rogue duck-pecking Kazon vessels have been replaced by a eight large warships headed straight towards them in a Cardassian attack pattern. How they avoided being detected by the sensors is anyone's guess. The Plot Gods are a fickle sort.

Act 4 : *.5, 17%

So, they implement their echo-displacement thingy and set up the holographic Talaxian ships. All the Very Serious Fighting includes a memorable gag with the Doctor being accidentally projected into space. While the eye candy is going on, Terracotta is alone and unguarded in his quarters—I mean, what else would you do with him with the suspicion so high? He pulls back his big toenail, which is pretty gross, and reveals that it's actually some sort of little needle device, not unlike the poison applicator we saw in “State of Flux.” And of course this is something that the EMH would not notice after days of close examination. Nah...Anyway, he injects himself with the little needle and this causes his whole body to explode, like a gigantic bomb. Well, the Voyager crew was good enough to house Terracotta in a spot within the ship that would make this explosion as detrimental to their systems as possible, so the holographic lights go out, and the Voyager finds itself overwhelmed. Paris volunteers to take a shuttle out and retrieve the Talaxians—because now would be the time for that, not BEFORE they began this mad quest. However, Tom's shuttle is destroyed and so now Tom Paris is dead. For ever. Mhm.

Given all the damage and the boarding parties now crowding the ship, Janeway repeats her counterpart's actions from “Deadlock” and orders the self-destruct. HOWEVER, those secondary command processors' function was to enable voice commands that blow up the warp core, I guess, so Janeway Pi is futile. The bridge is boarded and the crew forced to its knees.

Act 5 : **.5, 17%

Caligula, Seska and the baby enter and gloat a bit. Despite the tiredness of the set-up, she's back to her amusingly acerbic ways.

SESKA: Hello, everyone. What do you think of your son, Chakotay? He has your eyes, don't you think? Thank goodness he doesn't look too human. You all have such weak foreheads.

Cute. Caligula reveals that he's under the impression that Chakotay raped Seska—well before she defected to the Kazon. Those aliens and their whacky gestation periods, huh? One of the braver choices in this scene was having Caligula backhand Janeway to the ground, finally letting loose his 4chan grossness in an overt display of misogyny.

The crew is rounded up in a fairly visceral display. The Doctor turns himself off for the time being and Suder is revealed to have survived the explosion and is hiding in the Jeffries Tubes. While Caligula has never been impressive as a villain, I did get a chuckle from the way he tolerates what, to him, is Seska's incessant hen-pecking. I mean, she's telling him to do basic military stuff and he's acting like she's pestering him about mowing the lawn. It's stupid, but amusing.

Finally, the Voyager arrives at a hostile planet in the Hanan system and Caligula lands her, echoing “The 37s,” which became the season opener, but was planned to be the season 1 closer. Either way, it's an effective way to highlight the contrast. What was then a (overly proud of itself) majestic event, is now the harbinger of doom.

CULLUH: A fitting end for a people who would not share their technology. Let's see if you manage to survive without it.

This isn't inspired or anything, but it does hearken back all the way to “Caretaker” and “Alliances,” in that the Kazon are a people driven by a culture-wide inferiority complex. They rose to relative power by overthrowing their oppressors, the Trabe, and stealing their technology. When the Voyager arrived in their space, they refused to share their own advanced resources and even allied with their mortal enemy. The notion that depriving the crew of their special technologies would be extremely satisfying for him rings true.

Janeway immediately sets out to try and find the BASICS for survival, water, shelter, food, tools, etc. She divides the crew into teams—two of which are headed by Harry and Neelix because...anyway...the complexities of the series are seemingly stripped away as the now desperate crew watches their ship fly away. For ever.

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

This is what I wrote in my summary of “Manœuvres”:

“[T]his episode does some important and mostly good things with characters and concepts, but is hampered by execution issues. Much of the dialogue and plot points are rushed through without being thought out to their full potential, creating several unnecessary frustrations.” Aside from the cliffhangery aspect and the bits with Suder (which are good), “Basics” so far is that episode on steroids. The action elements are fine. As I've maintained, these points usually tend to bore me anyway, but the plot does not hold up to a lot of scrutiny. There are a number of contrivances both with Seska's intricate and improbable plan and with Janeway and co.'s reaction to it. The story goes to great pains to portray all of them as Very Clever, savvy and somewhat cynical, but it just doesn't hold up in execution.

The opening acts drew on a great deal of the material that has built up to this finale, moreso than any finale of TNG or DS9 so far (“Basics” aired the same day as “The Quickening”), except maybe “Redemption.” The character interplay with Chakotay and Janeway and with Tuvok and Suder was quite good. Even Chakotay's vision quest managed to bypass most of the pitfalls from “Tattoo” that made that episode so vile. The problem is that this episode is way too interested in executing the contrived plot and being “cool” than in exploring those relationships, which have always been Voyager's strength. Jammer compared this to “Descent” which I think is apt. That story began with a bit of interesting character study but quickly became about The Plot and spent its goodwill. Now, the setup for Season 3 is a hell of a lot more interesting than what we had to hope for in TNG's Season 7, but the writers seem overly proud of this fact and force us to dwell on the cliffhangery aspects for way too long. Here's a shot of Janeway's face. Then Caligula. Then Seska. Oh here's the Doctor. Here's Suder. Did you see the land eel? And the alien neanderthals?

In order for this story to really work as an intense and impactful season finale, it needed to add a new element to the Kazon arc which it is culminating. A new insight in the Seska/Caligula relationship, perhaps, or an unexpected alliance between the Kazon and the Talaxians, maybe. The development of the Kazon as a species has been way too anæmic to just rely on that backstory to carry the episode, and I feel like the writers have forgotten what made Seska interesting in Season 1. I'll have much more to say on how this story affects the season overall in the Recap.

Final Score : **
Dave in MN
Sat, May 11, 2019, 9:05am (UTC -5)
@ Elliott

Very cool!!!

Did you have a chance to chat with Robert Picardo? Any Voyager or Orville related insights?

Details please!!!!!
Springy
Mon, May 13, 2019, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott

Exciting! I join David in MN in being interested to hear anything you'd like to share about your encounter with Picardo.

Nice review of the ep, though I liked it a bit better than you did, I'd say. I really like Suder as a character - well written and acted , so I go easy on the Suder eps.
Elliott
Tue, May 14, 2019, 12:32am (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN & @Springy:

Thanks guys. There's not a whole lot to tell I'm afraid. He's in a play at a small theatre in the building where I have one of my singing gigs here in New York. I ran into him before his show and did my best not to gush too embarrassingly and he was gracious enough to pose for a photo. My boss and I are both Voyager fans (I find TNG and VOY are popular amongst my musician colleagues who dig sci-fi) so we geeked out a little bit when we found out he was hanging about. The play is running a few more weeks, so I may try and engage him again.

Regarding Suder, I agree! But he doesn't get a lot of screentime in this half of the story.

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