Star Trek: Voyager
Air date: 4/8/1996
Teleplay by Lisa Klink
Story by Anthony Williams
Directed by James L. Conway
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"We could just skip pre-flight altogether."
"Definitely not recommended, but sometimes necessary."
"I'll remember that."
— Paris and Janeway demonstrating haste
Nutshell: A nice ending, but it hardly warrants the bland, plodding, and often-forced bulk of the episode.
When Tuvok crash-lands his shuttle on a moon (#1 Voyager cliché of the season) and his away team partner dies (an unimportant character we've never seen before who dies a dramatically pointless death), Tuvok encounters three children on the moon's surface who have also apparently crash-landed a shuttle. The children are from a xenophobic race known as the Drayans, and they're alone and scared. They believe that an entity known as the "Morrok" is going to kill them as soon as nightfall arrives. The Morrok has already caused the other children from their shuttle to vanish, they explain. So in response to the frightened kids' exasperating pleas, Tuvok accepts the role of protecting them.
But there's more (there had better be). As it happens, Janeway and the Voyager are making first contact with the Drayan officials, who haven't been in contact with anyone off their world for decades. Hopefully there can be a friendly, peaceful exchange of information such that Voyager will be permitted to mine materials from the Drayans' moons that are necessary to fuel the warp core.
Naturally, these two plot angles are connected. The episode slowly builds upon its plot until all is resolved in the closing five minutes of the episode, in which everything else in the story becomes clear. This last scene is a good one. Unfortunately, it hardly justifies the episode's first 40 minutes.
The way "Innocence's" plot quickly resolves itself is reminiscent of DS9's "Whispers," which also took 40 minutes of puzzling setup and turned it into a coherent story in its closing minutes. But there's a difference between the two episodes in that "Whispers" was interesting throughout. "Innocence," on the other hand, features lots and lots of pedestrian filler with little substance worthy of scrutiny. The show is tedious, repetitive, and boring—inducing a fair amount of clock-watching.
"Innocence" supplies never-ending scenes of the children doing obligatory child-like things. Often, the goal is obviously "cute" comedy (I know, I know—the Vulcan has to "baby-sit" emotional non-Vulcan children), but the scenes feel so worn out and predictable that they aren't funny or cute—they're just silly scenes that grate the nerves. The show supplies us with not one, not two, but three scenes of kids hugging Tuvok. Then there's also the scene that features Tuvok literally singing the kids a lullaby by a campfire so they'll fall asleep. In a word: yawn. In another word: gag. I'm not saying that I'm against cuteness (though I'll have to admit it's not a reason why I watch Star Trek), so much as that I found this particular attempt at being cute to be quite vexing instead.
Aside from the forays in cuteness, the plot takes way too long to progress. Consider, for example, when the children tell Tuvok that the Morrok is coming for them. It's obvious that the children are at least partially correct about their imminent doom, yet Tuvok continuously dismisses their feelings as imagination and fear getting the best of them—until two of the three children mysteriously disappear. This being the Star Trek universe (and, further, the Delta Quadrant) where anything can happen, shouldn't Tuvok have been a little more open to the possibilities, especially since he knows nothing about their culture?
Meanwhile, the writers waste most of the first act on a tour of the Voyager Janeway gives to Alcia (Marnie McPhail), the Drayan diplomat, and her aides. The tour is cut short, however, when Alcia learns of Tuvok's shuttle crash on the moon, which turns out to be a sacred haven for Drayans. She's appalled by the desecration of the sacred grounds, regrets having ever made contact with the outside universe, and orders Janeway to leave. But Janeway refuses to leave without her missing officer, and a series of misunderstandings has the Voyager and Drayans in a forced conflict where they're all but shooting at each other.
Since Janeway is left with no option but to team up with Paris and pilot a shuttle down to the moon herself (due to #2 cliché of the season: that the transporters can't beam through the interference), the Drayans send a shuttle after Janeway to prevent her from landing on the moon. By this time, Tuvok has repaired his shuttle and is preparing to take Tressa, the one remaining child (Tiffany Taubman), back to Voyager with him. The episode seems to be headed for a disjointed collision of plot angles, but, fortunately, a decent conclusion steps in to save some grace.
The closing reveals that the Drayans have a reversed life cycle, in which they turn into children as they grow older. The moon is a sacred place where the children go to live their final days and die. Surprisingly, this ending is the best that could possibly have come out of "Innocence." The episode ends with a mutual understanding between Janeway and the Drayans, when a hostile end to the conflict seemed imminent. The Drayans permit Tuvok to accompany Tressa in her final hours of life, which manages to exhibit some emotional power.
But like I said, this doesn't redeem the rest of the episode. The ending, while nice, demonstrates how unmotivated the rest of the show is. If you think about it, the story is just a series of forced character reactions and narrative cheats that don't allow the characters to realize what is happening until the audience does. Why, for example, doesn't Alcia just explain to Janeway that Drayans have reversed life cycles compared to humans? Well, simply because if she did, the episode would be over and the conflict resolved. Rather than doing that, the show simply turns the characters into brainless pawns forced by the script into performing thoughtless actions. Thanks, but no thanks.
I can see what the writers were going for here, but with all the pointless filler and retrospective contrivances, it just doesn't work at all.
Previous episode: Deadlock
Next episode: The Thaw
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75 comments on this post
Sat, Feb 21, 2009, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 29, 2009, 6:21am (UTC -5)
See, on paper Tuvok is a very two-dimensional character. He's a Vulcan, he doesn't have emotions, he's logical. He doesn't even have the interesting twist that Spock did of being half-human. But this episode shows why he's interesting nevertheless. Tuvok's description of what love means to him, of how he misses his children, of how Vulcans seek to control their emotions rather than lack them altogether - all combine to give him a lot of depth and make him a very sympathetic character. The writing of these scenes struck me as very good, conveying much in a few lines, and Russ inhabits the character so perfectly that he really conveys his personality. And, yes, the idea of the Vulcan having to babysit very non-Vulcan kids is a bit cutesy, but I thought it worked.
As I recall, in later series Tuvok gets very under-used and spends most episodes doing nothing but give damage reports. That's a shame since, as this episode shows, he has a lot more depth than you might expect.
Wed, Jan 20, 2010, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
Jammer, go back and watch the episode now - now that you're older - and see if you don't agree with the two comments above that this episode (well, the Tuvok part of this episode) was in fact something special: kids that may have seemed annoying to us when we were 14 years younger, today come across as remarkably well behaved (and, dare i say it, lovable); Tim Russ' performance is nuanced and compelling (Kate Mulgrew's is *not*); and just about the only boring part of the hour is the diplomatic tour of the ship.
Not exactly 3.5 star "Deathwish" or "Resistance" caliber, but certainly better than the 2.5 star-rated "Prototype" and "Dreadnaught" outings.
Sat, Aug 7, 2010, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
Probably because she lacks the frame of reference that we human viewers have and would no more think of pointing out that her species' life progresses in this manner than it would occur to Janeway to mention that humans' (and other Alpha Quadrant hunanoids') lives progress and conclude in the way that they do.
Tue, Nov 30, 2010, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 28, 2011, 11:06am (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 22, 2011, 7:15am (UTC -5)
The shuttle inadvertently landing on a sacred moon raises the issue that it's not very polite to just put boots on the ground wherever you like in an inhabited system without asking for permission.
Sun, Oct 30, 2011, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 4, 2012, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 5, 2013, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jun 13, 2013, 10:41am (UTC -5)
I agree that Tuvok was unrealistically dismissive of the kids' fear of the monster. Also, I felt cheated that the kids act like kids the entire time but then right at the end their immaturity is explained by saying that they are sort of senile, but then the last kid suddenly remembers her grandchildren. Eh. Lame.
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
I'm not saying it worked 100%, but I loved the ending (which would have worked better without the mention of the grandson which was silly). But I'd say 4 stars. It's an episode I'll remember (like the one with the dead sent to asteroids, for example) - instead of most "fight or flight" and "omg catastrophe" episodes which all look the same.
Sat, Nov 23, 2013, 10:48am (UTC -5)
Perhaps Jammer should also revisit this one now that he has a kid, maybe learn that Vulcan lullaby. ;)
Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 8:21am (UTC -5)
I found Tuvok's interaction really touching in this episode, not tired at all. And usually kids acting gets pretty annoying, but they were actually good in this one.
Sure the reverse aging is silly, but no more so than the alien's language in Darmok. It just worked for me and to me it was a solid hour of Trek.
Mon, Aug 10, 2015, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
Loved all the interactions between Tuvok and the children. Loved how they didn't listen all the time! :-)
As to the ending, I thought of it as a (and I might not have the correct word here) analogy to the human aging process. Humans become more and more dependent as old age creeps in, in many cases require care just like a child does. So, while this might have been explained a little clearer, like at what age do these aliens begin to "reverse age" and how quickly does it happen? I thought the concept was pretty unique.
I also thought the ending was touching as Tuvok takes the hand of the last remaining child and walks her to the cave.
Nice story and it gave us some insight into Tuvok too.
I'll go 3 stars here.
Sun, Nov 15, 2015, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 23, 2015, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
Much like with Star Trek Generations, this episode has such a huge plot hole it seems like the writers gave less thought and more irrational emotion to it.
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 1:32am (UTC -5)
Paris and Janeway's Type-9 shuttle leaving the shuttlebay was considerably scaled up. This is Voyager's smallest shuttle type, yet it barely clears the space doors? Compare this to "Nightingale" for example, where several of these shuttles are seen around Voyager and a lot smaller and hence properly scaled. Even worse, is the same shot is reused for both the Delta Flyer and Baxial leaving Voyager, insinuating they're all the same size, which is impossible (as is how the DF, Baxial, the shuttles and random guest alien vessels all fit into Voyager all).
Bennett's death stuck me as odd. Just the lay he was laying relative to the shuttle made it seem like he either fell out of the shuttle as it came down (which he can't have as the shuttle is intact enough to return to space later) or he walked out after the crash and only then realized he had a broken back and fell over.
Also, Tuvok puts Bennett's body into stasis to "preserve the body". But wouldn't it have made more sense to put him in stasis BEFORE he died and preserve his life?
Thu, Jan 14, 2016, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
But having the alien race swing so violently from helpful to antagonistic to helpful again, with no real reason other than plot contrivance undermines the whole thing. 2 stars.
Thu, Jan 14, 2016, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
Tue, May 24, 2016, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 11:59am (UTC -5)
I was hoping for something grand, all I got was blah. Benjamin Buttons indeed
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 11, 2016, 2:12am (UTC -5)
As other commenters point out, it is not believable or acceptable that the aliens could not explain this to Janeway. It would have made more sense to not have them meeting and touring Voyager, with ample opportunities to divulge this information and save a lot of misunderstanding.
Still, it was an enjoyable episode with an unexpected plot twist.
Sat, Dec 3, 2016, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 3, 2016, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 5, 2016, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Tue, May 24, 2016, 6:08pm (UTC -6)
Reverse aging just doesn't work. How do you give birth to an old person?
I never got the impression that they are born "old". I think they are born like any other species, they just regress at some older age. I wish we could have known at what age this begins.
Sat, Mar 18, 2017, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 5, 2017, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 10, 2017, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
I think the writers did a good job in tying the 2 stories together -- obviously many episodes have an A & B plot but this one nicely ties them together. The ending is well done and adds a good twist (reverse aging) -- so many endings in Trek come off as weak, disappointing etc.
I don't think the 2 cliches Jammer mentions (crash landing on moon, can't use transporters) are a problem at all - I think they're perfectly reasonable.
With Tuvok spending the kid's final night with her and a peaceful agreement arrived at somewhat naturally after seeing the misunderstanding, the ending works well enough for me.
I'd give it 2.5/4 stars. Good but not great story - maybe a little slow to develop.
Thu, Jun 29, 2017, 9:09am (UTC -5)
One thing I also really liked were the first-contact moments, including the tour of the ship. I suppose it would seem boring to some--I just found the Drayans so interesting that I enjoyed seeing them getting to know the Voyagers.
What I didn't like about it was how cloying Janeway and Chakotay and the Doctor were in their interactions during the tour. It reminded me of meeting people who have no sense of social boundaries and act like overly-enthusiastic puppies jumping on you. If this is truly how first-contact situations are taught in Star Fleet, they need a new set of guidelines.
First, take it slow. Listen to what the new visitors say--don't just wait for them to stop talking so you can jump in with YOUR words.
Second, ask them what they'd like to see on the ship. Don't just drag them off to see the giant explosive combustion machine.
The whole tour was like going to my grandchildren's home. They grab my hand and drag me off to see whatever projects they've been working on. That's wonderful when you're Memaw and happy they are delighted to see you, but for adults meeting a new species, I found it a bit cringe-worthy.
But overall I like this episode very much--I thought Tuvok and the kids were adorable and I loved his lullaby. Solid 3 stars for me.
Mon, Sep 18, 2017, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 12, 2017, 11:29am (UTC -5)
Please Voyager stop doing that. It's not even Star Trek when none of the futuristic gizmos can do anything.
And if I wanted to see Tuvok babysit a bunch of 90 year old senile children, I'd...well I wouldn't do anything, because I don't want to see it. It's partly boring and partly annoying.
Plus the fact as many people said, why wouldn't the aliens have just told them 'Hey we live backwards and that moon is sacred to us because that's where we go when we are ready to die as forgetful little kids' and resolve the whole situation?
And it's pretty ridiculous that Tuvok and later Janeway was ready to kidnap what they thought was one of the kids, without the slightest clue what was going on. Other than that the kid was scared of some monster that they couldn't find.
bad episode. 1 star.
Wed, Nov 1, 2017, 11:20am (UTC -5)
I think he's a great character. He's a wonderful reminder of why Vulcans are so awesome. This episode was about Tuvok taking care of those kids and how much it made him miss own children. I found it quite heartbreaking. And hearing him sing? I loved it. I don't believe we've ever heard a Vulcan sing before.
I also loved him trying to teach the kids Vulcan meditation techniques. You could tell he was heartbroken, but hiding it as any good Vulcan would. Those kids were stand-ins for his own.
I thought the ending was a good twist and I loved that Tuvok held her hand as he helped her walk into the afterlife.
Maybe it's because I'm watching this episode for the first time as a nearly 30 year old, or maybe I'm just a big softie, but I found this episode lovely. Wonderful character work for Tuvok.
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 2:52am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 23, 2017, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
I just watched it again and I’ve seen it before. WIth twist endings like this, sometimes it’s fake and they spring it on you out of nowhere. But not in this. Right from the beginning, the “children” are clearly describing what the woman at the end describes, and it’s only because we (reasonably) assume they are children from their appearance that we don’t realise they’re old. The first things they say is that their parents are all dead - but they don’t seem particularly upset about that as they would have hoped to outlive them - and that the attendants are dead, but that the attendants are not their parents. There’s more but that stood out to me as it’s the first things they tell Tuvok about their situation.
I agree with everyone who thinks it’s ridiculous that the woman didn’t tell Voyager about their aging, particularly when she was talking to Tuvok and he asserted that he was protecting Tressa. If she could say at the end that we age the other way around, she had to have known it when she was speaking with Tuvok. It’s silly. And she apparently takes a long time to realise Tuvok was trying to help the “children” and doing very good job of it. They had failed! The shuttle crashed and two “children” died alone, presumably terrified. The two who die when Tuvok is working presumably went to their deaths happy and content, and we know Tressa did. But why did it take so long to send more attendants? Janeway wasn’t checking in on Tuvok’s shuttle that often but she had no reason to, they weren’t on an important mission with vulnerable people.
I really like seeing Tuvok as a father here. He obviously deeply misses his children though of course he denies it. His lullaby was nice too
Sat, Mar 10, 2018, 6:43am (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 27, 2018, 1:00am (UTC -5)
Not a great ep, but a good showing overall.
Wed, Dec 12, 2018, 1:19am (UTC -5)
Not great but decent in spots especially the plot involving tuvok and the kids. The drayans were okay as aliens nothing outstanding or fresh but fair enough that I didn’t mind them. More interesting was the scenes with tuvok and the mysteey of what was going on with the kids. I don’t care how biologically realistic it may be i liked the idea of a species aging in reverse
I also thought tuvok had a good showing and the interactions were Vulcan but sweet too
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 10:46pm (UTC -5)
The idea of it as a time when we become like children facing an unknown "monster" and wondering if having more "faith" would bring peace has a depth that may not be appreciated by those who have not (yet) been there.
Unless the Morrock happens to come very suddenly for you, I think you will someday understand.
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 11:18am (UTC -5)
One of the Voyager's shuttles has crashed (OMG!). While the gold-shirted pilot whom we've never met is critically injured, the other occupant, Tuvok, is just fine. The extra actually puts in a pretty convincing little performance as he dies, but no time for that; a little girl who looks suspiciously like Lulu Hogg from “Cold Fire”) emerges from the forrest, spying on Tuvok and his dead friend. It should be noted that emotionless Tuvok chose to offer some emotional solace to ensign Dead Meat as he watched him expire. Tuvok understands emotions remarkably well. I couldn't help but smile when the girl tried to escape after he caught her:
TRESSA: Let me go!
TUVOK: Will you run if I do?
It's all so matter of fact. The girl, Terrace or whatever, says her parents are dead and that her ship crashed here. Those two facts are unrelated, but Tuvok has no particular reason to assume they aren't. I really do love when Tuvok gets to be exceedingly Vulcan. Terrace asks why he is preserving Ensign Dead Meat's body for burial. A human would probably scoff at the question, amazed that a person wouldn't implicitly understand the custom of funeral rites, but Tuvok treats every question equally, with no indignation, frustration or impatience to get in the way. It is revealed that there are two other children stuck on this moon with Terrace and Arnold Schwarzenvulcan here. One by one, like a scene from “Barney,” they run up to Tuvok and embrace him. Oh boy! How, wacky!
Act 1 : **.5, 17%
Well, the Voyager is both fully repaired and functional, but also in dire need for some minerals. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Janeway has sent shuttle scouts to some moons around a planet of Druids or something. Obviously, this is what Tuvok and Ensign Emmy Nomination were up to when they crashed. Janeway and Chakotay swap stories about first contact foibles. Janeway mentions that she always envied the Captain's prerogative to meet aliens for the first time, slotting in nicely to her arc about being a science officer at heart, and not-quite-a-captain in practice. Chakotay says that he accidentally propositioned a delegate when he was a young officer. The interaction is amiable and just interesting enough to pass my threshold of entertainment.
Anyway, the Druids are beamed aboard, described as xenophobes who have made an exception to their traditional custom out of curiosity about these travellers from across the galaxy. Alcia, the Druid leader, greets them with a “blessing,” which prompts Commander Spirit Walker to respond with what I'm going to hope is an actual Indian language of some kind, demonstrating that humans too can be superstitious morons if decorum demands.
During a tour of the Engine Room, Alcia condescends a bit to Janeway regarding her appreciation for advanced tech. It seems the Druids here had their own Alixa (hmm...I wonder if that's intentional...) who won over their whole society and convinced them to give up technology on an agenda-specific basis. Overall, this stuff is pretty dry and annoying, let's go back to Tuvok-the-babysitter.
Generally, I have very mixed feelings about these interactions. On the one hand, these kids are fucking irritating, both in how they're written and performed. But what really charms me is the way Tuvok respects and nurtures them. One might say he treats these children no differently than he would anyone else, probably because the gradient between how emotionally immature and intellectually deficient adult and child non-Vulcans are barely registers to him. Life among non-Vulcans is an exercise in patience.
The children warn him that they cannot remain on the moon at night:
ELANI: We can't be here when it's night.
CORIN: That's when the Morrok comes.
TUVOK: Is that some species of animal?
TRESSA: The Morrok is what takes you when you die.
Act 2 : ***, 17%
The tour of the Voyager continues. Janeway expounds upon Federation values and Starfleet's mission as they enter the Sickbay. After some nonsense, we get something character-adjacent for the EMH:
JANEWAY: You may be even more interested to learn that this man isn't really a biological lifeform. He's a computer generated holographic projection.
ALCIA: My people believe that physical matter is only an illusion. The body is not the true self, only a representation.
JANEWAY: One of our greatest philosophers, Plato, wrote that what we see around us are only poor shadows of ideal objects which exist on a higher plane.
Alcia doesn't actually understand Platonic thought as she confuses what Janeway calls a “higher plane” for spiritual silliness, but we can blame Janeway for misrepresenting him. At any rate, Kim calls down to inform them that Alcia has a call which she takes in the Doctor's office. Is someone going to show her how computers work or will she just mediate or whatever until the knowledge rains down upon her like mana?
Janeway starts to think about how to pivot this pleasant tour into negotiating for minerals (the same, it might be noted, they were looking for in “Tattoo.” After all, the warp coils may have been fused to the point of inoperability last week, but they still need that polyferranide. Yeah.) Ah, but Alcia emerges to inform her that there has been an emergency, that they have to leave and that the Voyager should go on its way.
Tuvok pursues a line of deduction with the children, trying to determine what this Morrok is and why the children are so afraid of it. But Tuvok is also a father and has experience teaching children how to suppress their emotions. I'll put this out there now: I'm a left-wing gay commie upstart bastard, but I find many of the “leftie” approaches to parenting eye-roll inducing to say the least. Who knows? Maybe when I'm a father, I'll turn into jello-soup and let them walk all over me, but as a teacher, I have always found that children respond best to being respected as full persons whose emotions need to be put in their place. Emotions are important and obviously, we aren't Vulcans, but relying upon them as a guide is self-evidently foolish and I think children can, on a subconscious level at least, recognise that they are more productive/fulfilled when they can learn to interact with their world logically.
ELANI: Do you live your whole life without feeling anything?
TUVOK: More accurately, we strive to control our feelings.
TRESSA: You don't get scared, ever?
Some of the patented 90s Kids bein' Kids stuff that follows does grate the nerves, but Tim Russ manages to hold the hole thing together better than the material should allow. Eventually, we get the question about how an emotionless father can love his children. The response is a low-key echo of what we saw in “Sarek” and “Unification”:
TUVOK: My attachment to my children cannot be described as an emotion. They are part of my identity, and I am incomplete without them.
The meditation instruction is interrupted by the approach of a Druid vessel. Oddly, the children are afraid of their own people, citing the fact that the Druids sent these children here specifically, it seems, to be consumed by the Morrok.
Act 3 : ***, 17%
Hedging his bets, Tuvok consents to hide the children from the Druid search parties. After they avoid detection (in a scene which tries and fails to feel tense), the children explain that they have been sent to this moon, as children are, to complete a final ritual and be killed by the Morrok. Their sacred texts suggest the children should be at peace with this custom. Based on what we saw on the Voyager, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that the Druids are some sort of backwards cult, whose superstitions lead them to kill their own children, as illogical as this would seem. Tuvok determines to return the children to the Voyager until he can figure out what's actually going on, and we get another group hug. Yay....
The Voyager tracks Tuvok's overdue shuttle to the moon where a Druid vessel is already in orbit and ignoring hails. Alcia herself finally responds to berate Janeway for desecrating their sacred whatever. Janeway tells Torres to make the transporters work, damn it, because it would be better not to piss off the Druids further by setting down a shuttle. Oh? Does she actually think that there's a chance in hell Alcia will give her the polyferranide after this, or have the Plot Gods demanded a sacrifice in blood?
On the moon, the Druids have abandoned the shuttle crash—because this desecration of their sacred whatever can just remain here, right? The presence of Ensign Two Days From Retirement in a statis field doesn't indicate that the other crewman might return for him? God these people are dumb. Anyway, the kids are still kvetching about the Morrok, so Tuvok consents to sing them to sleep. This is a nice callback to “Persistence of Vision,” where the establishment of Tuvok's musical abilities provided an all too brief peek into his relationship with his family.
“Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home
Told stories of the lessons learned
And gained true wisdom by the giving.”
I'm a sucker for ironic song lyrics.
The children fall asleep peacefully, but only one of them awakens in the morning, the other two having somehow vanished during the night.
Act 4 : **, 17%
Tuvok leaves Tressa alone and armed in the ever more-repaired shuttle while he investigates the cave for clues. Within, he discovers the other children's clothes—several sets in fact, not just the two of the kids he had been caring for. He returns to Tressa to deliver the bad new (another hug). Tressa is quite certain that she will be the next to die.
A little later, Tuvok is finally able to make contact with the Voyager in orbit:
JANEWAY: We read you, Tuvok. Are you all right?
TUVOK [on viewscreen]: Yes, Captain, but Ensign Bennet is dead.
JANEWAY: We know.
[and we don't give a fuck] It's at this point that a big opportunity is wasted. Tuvok, having accepted that Tressa's claim that her people are trying to kill her, intends to get her off the moon and to safety. This decision has prompted Janeway to abandon her stance that they should respect the Druids' customs and laws (WHY?) and help Tuvok escape. If Janeway were solely intent on protecting her crew regardless of the infractions against these aliens, she wouldn't have waited 'til now to launch a rescue, and if she were determined to keep the peace no matter what, she would have ordered Tuvok, reluctantly, to leave the girl behind and take the shuttle home. Tuvok would naturally not abandon Tressa, meaning we'd have Tuvok violating orders and sacrificing his good standing with his captain and best friend in order to protect a child, something whose logic is rather nebulous, tying this whole thing back into the theme of the episode. But instead, the consistency in Janeway's character is sabotaged in order to make Tuvok's decision easier and rush the ending. Too bad.
Instead of that interesting stuff, we get a scene where Janeway and Paris make a “cold launch” of a second shuttle.
“Hey Mister Paris, the last time you and I were alone in a shuttle together, things got interesting.”
“If I learned anything as a science officer, it's that sometimes, you've got to make room for a little pointless fun in the midst of dire missions. Now take your pants off!”
Act 5 : **, 17%
Tuvok manages to launch his shuttle while Janeway's approaches the surface. Druids are closing in on all sides. Oh NO!!!! Anyway, Alcia makes contact with Tuvok—I guess now they can scan accurately enough to determine that one of their kids is aboard his shuttle even though they haven't been able to get a fix on them for days. Okay...
ALCIA [on monitor]: You're holding one of our children. I want to speak to her.
TUVOK: She believes you intend to kill her. Is that true?
ALCIA [on monitor]: The child is confused. I only want to help her.
TRESSA: You want me to die.
For drama's sake, or whatever, Alcia isn't at all more specific about what she means, she just insists that Tressa leaving this moon is unacceptable because GOD or something. Demonstrating even more logical behaviour, Alcia determines that the best way to protect the sacred cargo that must not be desecrated is to shoot at it. Brilliant!
Anyway, all parties converge on the surface, Tuvok's shuttle being forced to land. We FINALLY get the big reveal that the Druids age Benjamin Button-style. The resolution to the plot is really fucking stupid, but Tuvok manages to rescue things somewhat:
TRESSA: You said you would protect me.
TUVOK: I cannot protect you from the natural conclusion of life, nor would I try. Vulcans consider death to be the completion of a journey. There is nothing to fear.
The episode ends on a somber note as Tuvok and Tressa enter the cave together as the sun sets so she can complete her journey, fearlessly.
Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%
This episode fluctuates wildly from quite good to absurdly bad. The plot itself is really, really forced and I was reminded many times of “Heroes and Demons,” where the crew had to be dumbed down in order for the story to unfold. At least here, it's mostly the aliens who behave like idiots instead of our regulars, but I remain disappointed by the way Janeway was written, lacking the kind of sturdy development we've seen from her most of the rest of the season.
But then there were several sublime moments around Tuvok, the lullaby being the highlight. Tim Russ really gets to show his mastery of the Vulcan portrayal which never even hints at being emotional (the way early Data and Spock often did), but is still engaging and dynamic throughout. I very much liked how logic led to catharsis here; Tuvok made the most sensible decisions at every step with the information he had been provided at the time. When it became clear what was really going on with the children and their dying, he immediately pivoted to helping Tressa accept her inevitable death, and this reversal feels fully consistent with his relationship with her throughout the episode because there is no emotion clouding his judgement. Obliquely, we see how good a father Tuvok must be, despite our preconceptions about the role love is supposed to play in parenting, and this further informs our understanding of the Vulcan culture. This isn't a great episode overall, but it is a great Tuvok vehicle, and for that reason alone, I recommend it.
Final Score : **.5
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 5:17pm (UTC -5)
Even in a Trekverse where warp travel and time travel are possible, I can't accept the biological ridiculousness of the "aging backward" concept...starting out old and fully realized and growing smaller and somehow less withered and "spent" as you age, on both the macro- and the micro-, or cellular level.
Did Mork and Mindy invent this concept, or is it even older than that?
Anyway, I find it at least as offensive as what Jammer calls "Fun with DNA".
Sat, Mar 30, 2019, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
Would you consider Author! Author! From S7?
Mon, Jun 24, 2019, 4:05pm (UTC -5)
As the episode played on, I became totally consumed by the story and felt as though I was sitting on my head and not on my butt, but instead of feeling awkward for being upside down I was enjoying it very much.
What a great feeling to be born old and then grow younger as time goes by and instead of forgetting our youth as we grow older we overlook our old self as we mature younger.
We are all share this awareness of the directions of time’s arrow which states that everything comes after the beginning but here we start from the end going to the beginning. Wow!
The interaction between Tuvok and the kids was virtuoso and story was astounding and powerful especially at the end when Tuvok decided to stay with the 96 years old kid in her death-bed.
The diverse elements together brimming with intriguing concepts was stimulating treat for both the eyes and the intellect. This episode was unique and a true spiritual experience for me.
Wed, Aug 21, 2019, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 17, 2019, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
#2 Bitter Dregs
What I liked most was Tuvok’s matter-of-fact Vulcan manner of talking with these children as adults. We’re too big firm guilty of coddling children and underestimating their ability to reason. He had mixed results, like we all do, but that didn’t invalidate his method. That gave him the best possible result in the final scene, when he was able to combine his situation with his love for his own children and respect for the end of life. One of the best Tuvok episodes.
Thu, Dec 19, 2019, 6:36am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 10:46pm (UTC -6)
"It would be interesting if there were a way to know whether there is any correlation between liking this episode and having at some point actually faced one's own death, or accompanied someone else on that journey.
The idea of it as a time when we become like children facing an unknown "monster" and wondering if having more "faith" would bring peace has a depth that may not be appreciated by those who have not (yet) been there.
Unless the Morrock happens to come very suddenly for you, I think you will someday understand."
I might add that this episode might be more palatable to you if you have had kids as well.
Great points Trish.
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 8:01pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 30, 2020, 9:30am (UTC -5)
As for the plot, once again it's a "standard" Voyager episode. It's not stellar, it's not bad, it's a reasonably engaging plot with a twist ending that uses the last five minutes to make sense out of everyone's actions. I don't know that I'd go three stars, but two and a half at least, for slightly above average.
Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
While the episode in general was acceptable "Trek" at best, the ending really got to me as so many of us face a possibility of dying alone. If only we all had a Tuvok to see us through at the end.
Thu, Apr 9, 2020, 7:18am (UTC -5)
I’ll be your Tuvok. Everyone here is your Tuvok. We are in this together 🖖
Thu, Apr 9, 2020, 7:59am (UTC -5)
The final act WAS good and that was a cool twist....but it wasn't enough to save the episode. Had this episode been reduced to a much better paced 15 minute subplot and the kids made to be less annoying it could have worked.
Sun, Apr 19, 2020, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
During the reveal, one the natives claims that her people feel a calling towards the cave, yet the three children spent the entire episode frightened by it, and even right then and there, the girl does not want anything to do with it at first (only to magically remember everything seconds later, because otherwise the ending would have involved and unfortunate firefight between the Voyager crew and her people).
I agree with the person above that this twist feels disconnected from everything that came before it, and even the Memory Alpha article suggests that it was tacked on after much of the episode had already been written, because the original writer initially had no idea how to wrap things up.
It's a shame, because I for one enjoyed seeing Tuvok as a father in this episode. He really makes the whole Vulcan philosophy work. All too often is it portrayed as some misguided tradition that his race practices because they're too afraid of confronting their emotions - or at least one may get such an impression from looking at Spock alone, simply because for Spock, as a half-Vulcan, this philosophy could have never been a perfect fit. But Tuvok faces no such issues, and he really manages to show the, well, the logic behind it all. :)
Mon, Jun 29, 2020, 12:24am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 29, 2020, 7:20am (UTC -5)
What's illogical about believing that someone has a soul that survives death?
The Vulcan Science directorate got over their skepticism of time travel, what's to say they haven't found some logical reason to believe in a soul?
Mon, Jun 29, 2020, 8:12am (UTC -5)
"What humans refer to as a soul has never been observed, therefore it would be logical to assume it does not exist"
Mon, Jun 29, 2020, 9:08am (UTC -5)
This comment is almost too dumb to even be worth addressing. There is the well-established Vulcan katra which is essentially a soul. In ENT's "Awakening", Archer gets Surak's katra passed on to him from the Syrranite leader.
So I think it is perfectly logical that Vulcans would believe in some kind of soul that survives death and actually dealing with it physically is part of Trek canon.
My impression is Vulcans are a deeply spiritual race, which is not contrary to logic. The logic thing is adapted as an alternative to emotion, which can be highly illogical.
Mon, Jun 29, 2020, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 29, 2020, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 29, 2020, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
"Are there any indications that Vulcans believe in an afterlife? Clearly a kind of transmogrification of the soul is possible but that's extremely rare. So is it generally assumed that a Vulcan's katra dies with its bearer?"
We don't know anything about what they do with katras after they're saved. Maybe it's better we don't know! Now that I think about it, putting katras in jars reminds me of the Soul Hunters in B5.
Sarek seemed clear that without someone being present at a Vulcan's death the katra is lost, so it doesn't just (according to them) go to the afterlife by itself. That being said, the fact that intervention is required to continue the katra past death doesn't imply it isn't an afterlife, it just means conditions must be fulfilled in order for that to happen.
Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 3, 2021, 8:25am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 2, 2021, 10:06pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
It was important, I think, that the cave of the Morrock was actually the point of legendary beginnings for these people....no need to fear. Quite touching.
3.0 stars...lump in the throat stuff.
Sat, Jul 10, 2021, 3:46pm (UTC -5)
>Tuvok had clearly bonded with Tressa and wanted her to become a surrogate for his own children whom he may never see again. Sadly, he meets her at the end of her life and the only role left for him to play is as escort to her final transit.
This is why reset episodes can be a good idea. Without the reset, if the girl had stayed aboard Voyager with Tuvok there would be no tragedy. It's a similar thing with the episode "Riddles" where Neelix loses a new friend due to the reset.
Sun, Jul 11, 2021, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
"This is why reset episodes can be a good idea. "
Never had the problem that some seem to have with resets. Thanks for the recommendation of "Riddles", an episode I have yet to see.
Wed, Dec 8, 2021, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
"But I agree with some comments here that the girl "aging backward" may have been a deception by those aliens, and no harm would have been done by bring her aboard Voyager just in case."
Well, we're essentially talking religion here, and the aliens are rather zealous and private about these matters. Well, up until the end. It kind of makes sense but the episode didn't pull it off very well.
When Tuvok put a shield around the red shirt's corpse, anybody else think this was a nod to TOS "Galileo Seven"?
Thu, May 25, 2023, 8:47am (UTC -5)
The second piece of nonsense was the aging backward idea. Again, I won't repeat the objections to it, which others have stated better than I could. But inherent in it is that ALL old people become demented, and that simply isn't true. In fact, most do NOT. Not to mention that the aged "child" is so much smaller than the younger "adult" and where did that mass go?
Third, I couldn't believe that the humans simply accepted - immediately and without question - this explanation from the Drayans, which must have seemed as ridiculous to them as it does to us.
Tim Russ's performance as Tuvok-as-father was priceless, especially the lullaby, which he sang as if embarrassed but determined. The children were presented realistically, which is a credit to the director. But there was no excuse for him not to let the children sleep in the shuttle. It might have been cramped, but it would have been logical. Also, since it was later stated that the children were instinctively drawn to the cave, locking them in the shuttle would have allowed a storyline where they were thwarted and the results of that. Of course, if the ending was tacked on at the last minute, that option was lost.
When you're enjoying an episode and in the last 10 minutes start saying, "Oh no! Oh NOOOO!" that's bad writing. I wanted to give this a plus for the Tuvok story, but the ending destroyed it for me.
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