Star Trek: Voyager


3 stars.

Air date: 11/20/1995
Written by Kenneth Biller
Directed by David Livingston

"You can't possibly believe that you and I could still..."
"Don't flatter yourself. It was never that good."

— Chakotay and Seska

Review Text

Nutshell: Some significant plot holes toward the end, but Seska's return makes for an engaging action episode.

The Kazon Nistrim sect, with the guidance of the traitorous Seska (Martha Hackett) who has allied herself with them, attacks the Voyager and sends a small boarding party to invade the starship. The boarding party is able to thwart security and steal a transporter unit before making a narrow escape with the Federation technology. Janeway and Chakotay decide they must pursue the Kazon and retrieve the unit. The consequences of Federation technology falling into Kazon hands could severely affect the quadrant's balance of power.

At long last, here's a good episode. It's not perfect, but it's by far the best thing Voyager has done since "Projections." "Maneuvers" has some very engaging action/adventure qualities, and the venomous confrontations between Chakotay and Seska are priceless. Both Robert Beltran and Martha Hackett turn in strong performances.

The story launches itself terrifically with a punchy, action-packed first act in which the Kazon perform their raid and split. Right before the Kazon make their escape with the transporter unit, Seska hails the Voyager and taunts Chakotay in front of the entire bridge crew. Here, Hackett unveils a manipulative, devious character who could easily become Trek's next menacing villain. Her underhanded defection in "State of Flux" was just the beginning—and so is her theft of the transporter unit here. Seska, after a flawless raid of the Voyager, leaves behind a trail of residual engine radiation which the Voyager can follow. It seems like a rather unlikely error considering her adept maneuvering. Actually Seska errs on purpose—she has a trap in store for the Voyager.

Chakotay predicts a trap, however, and begins preparing for the worst. Perhaps, Tuvok suggests, they could use their personal knowledge of Seska to manipulate her the same way she duped the Voyager crew. But Chakotay's plan ultimately involves settling a personal score, so he ignores the chain of command and takes it upon himself to chase Seska down. When no one is looking, he takes a shuttlecraft and slips away to carry out the mission himself.

This does not sit well with Janeway, who is put in a rather difficult position when faced with the fact that her first officer has ignored her authority. In a rather sensible scene, Torres defends Chakotay by explaining to the captain that Chakotay only did this because he thought it was the right thing to do. He sees Seska as his responsibility, and by chasing her himself he doesn't involve the rest of the ship. While this may be true, Janeway points out that it isn't his decision to make. This scene, as well as the closing in which Janeway puts Chakotay on report for his improper actions, is particularly well written.

With some clever maneuvering of his own, Chakotay sneaks up on the Nistrim's ship, beams aboard, and destroys the transporter unit with his hand phaser. However, this leaves him with nowhere to run and he is immediately captured. Soon, the leader of the Nistrim, a Kazon named Culluh (Anthony DeLongis) who has formed a rather intimate alliance (if you catch my drift) with Seska, begins trying to beat Voyager's command codes out of Chakotay. This way, with the help of some other sects, he can capture the Voyager and take all its technology for a future power play in the Kazon civilization.

Naturally, hero Chakotay refuses to fold under the pain. Although Culluh proves typically bone-headed and easy to provoke at times, this torture scene proves amusing at times due to Chakotay's leering answers to Culluh's questions, which simultaneously insult and praise Seska's adeptness at betrayal. Much credit goes to Beltran's commendable performance.

The final act features the Voyager crew in their attempt to rescue Chakotay using some maneuvering of their own. The action is paced well by director David Livingston, but there are some lapses in credibility here that undermine this seemingly clever rescue attempt. The whole idea centers around Torres trying to beam Chakotay out of the Kazon ship despite a containment field Seska has surrounding him. Torres is unsuccessful, so Janeway comes up with the bright idea of beaming the Kazon sect leaders off their ship and holding them until they agree to release Chakotay. Well, fine, except that there's a big battle with phasers going on here, and—unless Culluh is a complete idiot—everyone has their shields up. Everybody knows that transporters are useless when shields are up.

More puzzling (and troubling) is why in the world Tuvok's terms for releasing the Kazon sect leaders doesn't include Culluh turning Seska over to Voyager to answer for treason. I find it extremely difficult to believe that Janeway would just forget about Seska's defection and allow her to continue assisting the Kazon with Federation information. I suppose this allows Seska to show up again in future episodes, which is just fine with me. But the story doesn't even mention her again until the next scene, which is presumably hours later. (Maybe Janeway simply had a memory lapse while caught up in trying to retrieve her first officer. Doh.) The creators really should have found a better way around this.

It's a shame Kenneth Biller's script couldn't come up with a more plausible ending, because aside from this mild botching, the episode's tactical moments are well done. I guess it's not that crucial the maneuvering isn't all perfectly executed, because the action sequences here are fresh—the most involving action in the season so far.

But what makes this episode so entertaining is the adversarial interaction between Chakotay and Seska. Seska escapes with the Kazon but leaves a recorded message behind for Chakotay. Just for spite, she took some of his DNA and impregnated herself with it. "You're going to be a father," she says smugly. This is one daring, unexpected punch in the stomach. I like it. Chakotay ends up humiliated once again by Seska—right in front of the entire bridge crew. Their next encounter should be rather interesting.

Previous episode: Cold Fire
Next episode: Resistance

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Comment Section

55 comments on this post

    Haha. I always loved the interrogation scene in this episode. I watched it last night on the Sci-Fi channel and laughed out loud again. Beltran seems to be doing his best Robert DeNiro impersonation. That's how it comes off to me anyway. Great show overall.

    This episode begins several themes that will continue throughout Voyager. First, a single, technologically inferior ship toys with Voyager at will; Voyager barely does any damage, and in fact barely attacks. This will happen again and again and I find it one of the most annoying things about the show. At least later seasons have more technologically advanced 'enemies of the week' (the Borg, for example). The fact that Voyager struggles with the Kazon (and a few other technologically weaker races) is simply pathetic.

    There are also other annoyances. Seska has left Voyager....but the crew seemingly hasn't changed any of their codes or methods, allowing her to come back and manipulate the ship at will. Kazon break into the ship...but aren't sealed behind a containment field, nor are the transporters immediately locked to prevent their escape. Surely there are security contingency plans for when the ship is invaded? As with my first complaint, this occurs again and again whenever 'enemies of the weak' board the'd think Tuvok would learn something. Perhaps worst: Chakotay is captured, and they want the command codes....why aren't the command codes immediately changed when he leaves? How hard would this be?

    While I enjoy these action episodes in theory, I just think the writers were often extremely sloppy in trying to create the dramatic situations.

    I agree with Mike, the action is ridiculous. The number of flaws is insane!

    1. How does Seska match the "shield harmonics"? Even with the access codes. Its like setting the shield harmonics to 7.5 and Seska knowing what that number was. OK obviously no point getting technical, but its incredible how weak the tactics of Voyager are. Yes they had access codes but it seems pretty easy to attack Voyager.

    2. When it is apparent that a ship is going to be rammed and boarded shouldn't they send some secuirty personnel there? And why does Tuvok have to wait for the Captains authorisation? He should be LEGGING it there!

    3. 3 Security personnel? Thats it? Shouldn't there be a team?

    4. Why wasn't there any shielding in that area? All they needed was to shield of the cargo bay.

    Security generally is TERRIBLE on that damn ship. Actually thats not true, its terrible when it needs to be. The plot of this episode needed this to happen so it happened. Its completely unbelievable and hopelessly executed.

    Is this the first episode that transporters worked while shields were up? They did it all the time in later episodes- when Voyager's shields were up, when the other guy's shields were up, whenever it was the least bit convenient... At a certain point you just wonder why they don't beam raiding parties through shields. Sigh... such potential undermined by sloppy storytelling.

    Strange that the Kazon would attack Voyager to steal transporter technology...Voyager would go on to litter the Delta Quadrant with abandoned shuttlecraft...they couyld have salvaged from those.

    I like this one- in fact on second watch I am finding the 'Kazon arc' much less annoying and more cohesive than it used to me, esp. knowing that it concludes at the end of the season.

    I gave up trying to figure out about transporters/shields. Do the Kazon even have shields? Can Voyager match it's transporter frequency to it's own shield frequency? Who knows? [Tech]

    Well, this was a good episode. But, the plot holes were large and numerous. What I mostly want to know though, is why Seska decided to impregnate herself like that. Wha?!? That pretty much came out of nowhere. What was the point?

    Anyway, this was still an enjoyable episode. Three stars.

    I felt the same way as Carbetarian about the pregnancy. Kind of funny in a soap opera parody sort of way, but the scene's tone is too serious, making it more bizarre above anything else.

    If Seska wanted a child, then it makes sense that she would assume that a male from the Alpha Quadrant would be far more likely to have compatible DNA than someone from the Delta Quadrant.

    For me this episode didn't have any major plot holes..Here's my rationale: Voyager was only momentarily dropping its shields to get a lock on Chakotay and when they couldn't they would immediately put it back up..hence why they were taking more of a pounding during the battle than they normally would if they had kept the shields up. Also the Kazon ships shields were down in the part of the ship with Chakotay and that's why B'elanna was able to get a lock on him. I'm surprised this didnt cross anyone else's mind as a possibilty, including you Jammer. What do you (and everyone else) think of my explanation?

    The Seska thing is harder to explain away...maybe they thought the Kazon would never agree to that or Seska would be more trouble than she's worth or try to blow herself up or kill Chakotay before they could get their hands on them..not sure..but the shields and transporters quibble I think is easy to explain away if you accept my take. Great action episode with great twists more like mind games or digging ito characters' psychology to get the upper ahnd..reminds me of Counterpoint from S5 in that sense

    This episode made me angry.
    Once as a respecter and perhaps worshipper of Trek Tech - were Sternbach and Okuda sent home for this script?
    But most of the anger is directed at the Badly-written Bad Captain. So the cunning plan at the end was to transwarp-beam him to avoid getting pummled by 6 wussy ships - cool. But Good Captains have backup plans... In this case the backup plan was to drop out of Warp and get pummled by 6 wussy ships, then let your worst enemy to date go free - not cool.
    Fortunately in this quadrant transporters work through shields! Next time beam some corbomite warheads (and some show writers) onto those ships and put us out of this misery!

    I really enjoyed this episode - great pacing, exciting dialogue and character interactions!

    I was especially thrilled to see Seska again - the Delta Quadrant's schmexiest femme fatale. Rawr! I like both the way she's written and the way she's played by Martha Hackett! She's a complicated character - very intelligent and ruthless, but at the same time clearly coocoo for cocoa puffs. Her scenes with the captured Chakotay clearly demonstrates this - though she denies her affection for him and tries to keep the upper hand, it's clear that she's obsessed with him. In some way she reminds me a little of Catwoman as played by Michelle Pfeiffer in Tim Burton's "Batman Returns". And I like it!
    The "baby surprise" at the end of the episode was great! SO much in tune with the character that's been established throughout this episode. I'm hoping we'll see Seska again often!

    This episode was so thrilling, with all the out-maneuvering and manipulating eachother, that I can (almost) forgive it the huge plot holes.

    You guys have already discussed some of the major holes, but here's another one:
    Chakotay sneaks up on the enemy ship, planning to destroy the transporter thingie, then give himself up, expecting to die. Very heroic and incredibly dumb! By giving himself up he'll be providing the enemy with an huge opportunity to gain:
    1) Comnmand codes to Voyager by torturing Chakotay (yeah, that won't happen, because heroes don't break under torture ... right)
    2) Federation technology from the shuttle he hands to them, including ttransporter tech ("I wiped the shuttle's computer" - yeah, that's great man, they sure can't use all that hardware at all when there's no info in the computer data banks ... idiot!)

    But hey, to me the good stuff in this episode outweighs the mindless blunders ... so here's to Chakotay's baby, let's hope he/she will have the brains and looks of his/her mother!

    Another decent episode- but just that and nothing more. The writing is as sloppy as ever.

    I am supposed to believe that Seksa is a genius. She can change her appearance back to Cardassian (without any kind of advanced tech to do it), and she can break through Voyager's defences to steal its equipment, and she is apparently a top engineer, capable of interfacing two completely different computer systems and components.

    Basically, in Startrek land, every crewman is an engineer, a super scientist, and a computer designer.

    The writers simply make anything they want happen.

    Also, since Seska had somehow managed to disable Voyager and make it a sitting duck, she could have easily taken over it at this point. Or severely damaged it. Later, she does take over the ship, and Tom Paris in a lone shuttle manages to save the day.


    Quite an enjoyable episode despite the contrivances. Once again, though, it is also seemingly another example of the writers not thinking things through completely when developing a story. Jammers quibbles are of note. I do like one commenters example of shields going down long enough to attempt transport. I believe that's what they meant in "Caretaker" when they spoke of combat-transport.

    Chakotay risking himself was all fine and good, but leaving the opportunity open for the Kazon to have the shuttle, core wipe or no, was utterly foolish. I wasn't too bothered with Seska being left behind. After everything was said and done, it was a judgement call and they probably figured it would be too dangerous of a hassle considering that set of circumstances.

    As far as Seska not taking over Voyager at the outset; I can see why they didn't. Why risk the crew of one Kazon ship in a takeover attempt when you can instead steal an important piece of tech, use it as a bargaining chip in acquiring an alliance, and THEN use said alliance to overpower Voyager for the tech? Makes sense to me.

    The pacing was great, the direction was tight, and there were some really good scenes. The interrogation especially was well played out.

    3 stars.

    I'm sorry. I know a lot of people like this episode, and I wanted to like it too. Because it was pretty interesting and does provide for the continuity and sense of loneliness that speaks for the show's premise. Chakotay had quite a few great scenes. But as interesting as the show could have been, I simply couldn't get past all of the plotholes. They've all been said, well, most of them, but here they are yet again:

    1) Why did Janeway just sit around and watch what happened during the initial attack? Can't fire back?
    2) Tuvok heads to the cargo bay, WARNS the INVADERS that he's going to shoot, shoots one, then watches the rest leave.
    3) The Kazon were able to steal the transporter thingy that easily?
    4) Chakotay blows out the shuttle's computer, but its transporter is still there. The Kazon could have stolen that unit. Chakotay shoulda put the shuttle on autodestruct.
    5) Chakotay FULLY expects to die on this mission, yet still surrenders. Why not go out in a blaze of glory on the Kazon ship? Or kill Seska? Or if he doesn't want to do that, just kill himself? If he wants to protect Voyager, that seems like the best option.
    6) Transporting through shields!
    7) Nobody demands Seska's return?

    One or two of these wouldn't be a problem. Three or four and I could deal with it. But this many (and I'm sure I missed some)? It just takes you out of the story. It seems clear to me that the writer had several things he wanted to do and didn't care how we get there. So just keep pushing on and hoping no one notices.

    But we do notice. And we know that nothing matters because everyone is being tugged along by the plot. You can't even trust the characterization, because we know that the writers will be fully willing to turn our crew into idiots (a la Janeway and Tuvok in the beginning). I mean, Chakotay had some good lines, and good scenes, but it's hard to focus on them with all the problems associated with the plot. Does Chakotay really feel personally insulted by Seska's betrayal? Does he really think his actions are the only logical ones? Who knows? I just can't trust anything this episode says about the character.

    There's a ton of back and forth on this site about the quality of Voyager. Most of it tends to be regarding the overuse of the reset button. But it's situations like this that bug me more. I mean, I don't like nitpicking; Wrath of Khan is still a great movie even though Spock's code was incredibly obvious. But Voyager's scripts have a tendency sometimes to feel like rough drafts as opposed to polished final episodes. If Voyager wanted to be episodic, so be it; it's a style choice. But throwing a bunch of scenes together and only half-heartedly sewing them together with a cohesive plot?

    Agree strongly with every one saying that the hand of the writers is far too visible during the space battle at the beginning of the episode, in fact while I am a very strong Star Trek fan and love TNG, that was the flaw/decision by writers that made me more irritated than any other, both because of the wasted potential for epic naval-style star ship combat, but also due to the insult to our intelligence and to Star Trek tech continuity when the ship uses retarded tactics, barely fires back, and is thus defeated, when we know it is a very advanced in ship to ship combat. "Rascals" in TNG was guilty of this more than any other in that series, having the Enterprise be totally defeated, boarded, then everyone on the ship (all 1,000) subdued and removed from the ship by a seemingly small number of Ferengi. Ronald Moore howled in protest at that, thankfully, but was promptly ignored. I understand Michael Piled was partially to blame, and that makes for a good illustration: a writer who is known for loving to write high concept sci fi stories, but here his single mindedness to advancing that part of the plot led to one of the most sloppy opening acts and ship combat in TNG.

    Voyager, like most things, is much worse in this area, but I thought I would be fair. I have heard evidence that made me believe (surprise surprise) that good old Rick "I don't care about and suck at creating dramatic art, give me money!!!" Berman to blame for the lack of concern for that issue being a consistent in multiple Trek series. This is the same man who declared that music in TV sucks, so have as little as possible and make it very repetitive from show to show because otherwise he is too stupid to be able to watch the show without the music distracting him. And here, short ship combat scenes save money so you know he was game. I acknowledge budget being a issue, but that explanation garners much more sympathy in TNG than Voyager, when it would have been much easier and cheaper to show decent ship combat. Have Voyager destroy 2/4 ships and make the boarding ships big shuttles holding 20 Kazon "commandos" (if the Kazon are capable of deserving the label) each. No need to show more than 7 of them In a given camera shot if manager wisely.

    In this episode, for example: Ok, the writers want the Kazon to succeed in their raid. Then have three Kazon Raiders attack instead of one, and have multiple troop transports as well. Have Voyager commence "Tactical Emergency Procedure Beta" or something when first fired on, under which (appropriately with being under attacking by aliens known to hostile; for all intents and purposes Voyager should have considered themselves to be in a state of war with the Kazon, given their behavior) Tuvok immediately begins shooting back, targeting weapons only while Janeway hails, then doing his best to disable/destroy the ships when the hail goes unanswered. That point is some advice I would have liked to see Picard follow as well; since it is common to target only weapons to disable them without causing many casualties on hostile vessels, why give them the advantage (and screw over any in your own crew who is injured by delay in fighting back) by slowly making multiple attempts to hail a vessel that is firing on you? Immediately retaliate to take out the weapons; that way if your hail is not answered you have not wasted valuable time sitting there like a beached whale while your ship is pummeled. (for ships such inferior firepower as to make their threat to the ship nearly negligible an exception can be made). The same princie applies to hostile troops boarding the ship. Shoot them on site! Obviously they are not going to just drop their weapons at the first sign of light resistance, despite what Mr. "Grossly incompetent for the course of the episode" Tuvok may think. And here with the boarding being done not by transporters but manually in a small vessel almost EVERY security officer backed up by all non essential males on the ship should have been hauling ass to get down to the entry point in time to stop them. It is one thing to tell your enemy to surrender before firing when he is boarding your ship if you have, say, 15 [phaser] riflemen aiming at five enemy soldiers, but otherwise, fire! You have STUN settings on your weapons, we see stun used all the time! That should satisfy any exaggerated Starfleet moral concerns valuing of life of even beings like the Kazon who the Delta Quadrant would have been much better off if they had stayed confined to the gutter the Trabe had them in, since that is clearly where they belong. Shout something like "Our weapons will only stun you if you surrender within 10 seconds, after which you will be vaporized by any hit!" while your men engaged the Kazon and after the ten seconds do set phasers to kill; otherwise if word gets around too many aliens may be too eager to try raiding your ship if it is known that you only shoot to stun, and this would serve as a good deterrent to future attacks and save lives in the long run, and further motivate the attacking Kazon to surrender.

    That all took me about 15 minutes to type, so the writers have no excuse for not being able to think up at least that or something better. And with the CGI of Voyager's time being much better and cheaper than in TNG's day they should be able to affordable pull off the battle I descrived win the extra ships. Oh, and in life and death situations Voyager should be way more aggressive with its torpedos, not focusing so much on phasers.

    @Brian: Awesome post. Starfleet should hire you. Then again, if they did, each episode would be about ten minutes long ;)

    Also, I'd like to add on to your post: Starfleet ships in this era have force field generators in all the corridors (see TNG's "Brothers" for an example) - use them to your advantage when enemies are boarding! Cordon them off and flood the sealed-off areas with anesthetic gas, or if you're not feeling particularly merciful, use a more lethal gas/beam them into space using site-to-site transport/blow them out the airlock, Galactica-style!

    "Oh, and in life and death situations Voyager should be way more aggressive with its torpedos, not focusing so much on phasers."

    I partly agree with that, but take into account that Voyager is stranded and can't easily restock their torpedoes at the next starbase. Given that (ignoring the fact that the Voyager writers didn't really pay attention to the whole stranded-in-the-Delta-Quadrant thing, which is more the writer's fault) I don't blame Janeway for being conservative on torpedo usage. I think early on an episode mentioned they only had thirty-something torpedoes left (although, of course, VOY's writers ignored that if it meant a cool FX shot during a space battle) If it were Picard's Enterprise in the Alpha Quadrant, then I'd say keep firing torpedoes till you're blue in the face. In general, I think the idea is to use phasers to weaken/take down enemy shields, then use torpedoes for maximum damage on the actual ship.

    Voyager was plenty aggressive with its torpedoes:

    Seska is back!!

    Again, going from memory here...

    I remember Seska kicking ass.

    I remember Chakotay taking it personally and stealing a shuttle which will no doubt be destroyed :-)

    I remember Seska saying she's pregnant.

    I remember Janesway chewing some serious butt at the end.

    3.5 Stars because I love Martha Hackett that much.

    You lost Manuevers AND Cold Fire to DVD issues? Now you will not get the awesome Ocampa scream :-(

    In seriousness though, that sucks, those are good!


    I'm not convinced it the DVD's. I have a cheap DVD/BLU Ray player and it just is finicky at times. Frustrating.

    I'm still trying to forget that god-awful scream!! :-) :-)

    Thanks, Robert. I'll let you know when I get my first TV writing gig haha. Nice to know other Trek fans have some of the same specific issues I do (not that that helps us get better content or anything though...) You do have a point about the torpedoes but like what was mentioned surely they can make more, yeah at one point Chekoyay made that comment about their torpedoes needing to last and what not but obviously that comment as been overridden by the writers in how Voyager fires way more then the limit he mentioned (there's acutely a funny YouTube video making fun of this specific issue). So clearly they can make more but you make a valid point about generally torpedoes being a more limited resource then phasers so it makes since they would be somewhat more conservative in their use of them... however there are many times when they are getting their asses kicked and systems disabled left and right and still never shoot any. Clearly such severe situations call for use of even a somewhat limited resource. Really any time when a battle was proving to not go smoothly with them in the clear upper hand (or when they knew from the start they were up against a formidable opponent) torpedoes are called for, at least in my book.

    Funny, recently in my current initial exploration of Enterprise I've noticed much of the same thing where they are way too reluctant to use them even when their getting hull breaches and/or know they are somewhat outclassed from the start but engage the enemy anyway, they STILL use torpedoes far too rarely, sometimes even not at all even in times when if not for some unanticipated last minute aid from X (friendly ship/anomaly/lucky event) they pretty clearly would have been defeated. Yeah they may need to be somewhat conservative too but clear life or death battles call for them obviously, as do times when they are knowingly engaging tough enemy(ies) like for example the Klingons in the Archer goes to Klingon court episode... well there they were willing to use one to blow up a big rock in the planetary ring to disrupt enemy sensors so they could run, but even with having to take that desperate measure they did not fire ONE at their enemy? What gives? (to answer my own question I'd say it's the writer's way of artificially increasing the jeopardy the ship is in and /or making an enemy look extra strong when they want to for plot reasons, but still allowing for the audience to perceive torpedoes as powerful and potential game changers for situations when they want the Enterprise to come out ahead (usually but not always I'll admit) but have to show a little more effort than usual in the battle.

    Here's another plot hole: The Kazon that were beamed into space. How is it that their bodies didn't lose molecular cohesion and explode? There is no gravity in space to hold your insides together. You would literally fall apart, your blood vessels would pop, etc... Anyone see the original Total Recall when Arnold was exposed to the Martian atmosphere? That's what I'm talking about. But the Kazons' eyes didn't even pop out.

    Pretty sure that available evidence debunks the "Total Recall" portrayal of what happens in a vacuum. In fact, I remember reading that the "lung exploding" theory was also nonsense.


    I'm not sure I'm familiar enough with the Kazon anatomy to say that's a plot hole...

    They have trees for hair.... I guess anything could be fair game :-)

    Hell, species 8472 don't fall apart in space, and our space is totally foreign to them.

    Seska's back. And in full blooded Cardassian form. Looking maternally radiant I must say. I could give this 3 stars by default for just that alone. Luckily the story gives me justification to do just that.

    I don't even know where to begin with this. That seductive yet sinister smile. I knew I would give in just because of that. I just knew I was gonna...

    Alright, back to bizness. The precision raid that happened at the beginning had me thinking initially that either the ka-zon sure are quick studies (borderline impossible, but settled for highly unlikely) or all of a sudden someone's helping them. I gotta admit I sure was surprised to see it was Seska. And giddy. I'm not supposed to root for the bad guys, am I? Because I kinda sorta did...plz forgive me, my trek brethren. She made me do it :)

    All that to capture a piece of technology. One that they quickly put to good use. Once again it was Seska's idea to do that, too.
    Starfleet, Maquis, Cardassian intel...and the writers didn't know how to use her...

    She was worth a whole lot more than being sidelined as some kind of sidekick to the inept cutouts known as the ka-zon. Did anyone else find this race distinct in any way, other than lots of machismo? I didn't necessarily hate that but they sure needed a Seska for lots of reasons. Seska, on the other hand needed more than just that.

    I've never seen anyone unglue chuckles so fast. It was awesome. A good box cover for this should have been Seska with the strings and with chuckles being the good marionette he was.

    And it gets worse. at least before it gets better.

    He takes the tracking device (which looks like a something that was built for only one kind of tracking) and secretly grabs a shuttle and takes off with no kind of warning whatsoever from the ship that a shuttle has been launched and dares to brave the ka-zon's stronghold. The uncanny precision and the fact the device was left out for an easy phaser shot strains credibility like a grade 2 adductor pull.

    After a brief interlude between Seska and chuckles he decides not to be cordial. No surprise there. Kind of agree with what Seska said in S1's State of Flux. Not sure what she ever saw in him, either. Honestly, she seemed the smartest one in that crew, period.

    Which is all the more reason I can't fathom her alliance w/ the Ka-zon. I guess she honestly felt they could help her along even moreso than the federation. I just didn't know Cardassians had so much panache in the spy department. Even the way she played Culluh seemed more Romulan-like TBH.

    But from there we're treated to a scene long overdue. Found it even more satisfying than watching Tuvok choke the hell out of Neelix (close call, tho).

    We get to see the Nistrim use chuckles' face like a punching bag. Scenes like this are called so many things I've lost track. I suppose I could Wiki it or use tv tropes but what would be the point? We know it when we see it. And loved every minute of it. But why's he acting like De Niro in Raging Bull? sheez. Not even original. A minor quibble, but I enjoyed the scene completely anyway.

    Well, at least till she decided to nab some of his DNA. I guess in spite of her newfound alliances she still had some residue of feelings for this guy. Can't win em all I guess. But what was her alternative? cant-get-a-lock kim? I can almost see a photo of them. And looking similar to the one the doctor took in S5's Latent Image.

    I stayed glued to the seat for the rest of the story, that's for sure.

    Jammer, how dareth thee rank said program over forthcoming episode, Resistance. I didn't even have to resist the urge to rank that episode lower than you did. And by a lot. That one didn't even come close to holding my interest as long. This one is clearly a very strong 3.5. In fact if I had to dock it for anything it was just the way chuckles singlehandedly took out the technology they went thru all that trouble to steal that was, y'know, left wide out in the open.

    So the Kazon steal one component of the transporter and suddenly have a working version on their own just by plugging it in? No pattern buffer? No emitters? No pad? So why does Voyager have entire rooms dedicated to the transporter if it can be handled by a tiny piece of equipment? Yes we've see handheld devices before (like Tom's in Non Sequitur") but that was Earth and could have tapped into any number of transporters there. On a Kazon, I doubt they could or were close enough to tap Voyager's...

    Anyway, even with a wiped computer, there'd still have been one of those things on Chakotay's shuttle. And phasers. And tricorders. And medkits. And the warp core. Nope, nothing of value that the Kazon could have swiped in the hours Chakotay was on board.

    Tuvok really needs to sort his department out. Not only did they fail to prevent the ship being rammed and armed intruders raiding the ship, but didn't even notice the first officer flying a shuttle out of the ship! All they need to do now is get outsmarted by a couple of Ferengi... Oh wait "False Profits" isn't far away...

    Seska's return shakes things up nicely and we get an hour of big dumb fun that perhaps doesn't bear too much thinking about - as the comments above show. My big beef - Torres persuades them to go after Chakotay by justifying it on the effect on ship's morale? Please....

    But it's good to see Seska again, Chakotay loses his shit in epic style, and we get a good action conclusion. We also get a real soap opera WTF ending. There's not much else to see here though. 2.5 stars.

    "It's as if they know our access codes! By which I mean, it's as if we forgot to change our access codes after the universe's ugliest Bajoran turned out to be our old enemy - a Cardassian - and defected to our new enemy - the Kazon, because we're competing with DS9 for the title of the Alpha Quadrant's most inept crew."

    Why does a low level engineer have an access code for the widely useful "Open a 4 Meter Hole In The Shields" command, anyways?

    Tuvok: "I am trying to establish a containment field on deck 4 but the power is out."
    Kim: "Hold on let me make the power not be out."
    Tuvok: "OK now I have established the containment field. Thanks Kim, guess the power wasn't really out after all, and our advanced bio neural computer doesn't automatically provide containment field power in a hull breach emergency, and my console doesn't let me do the things I need to do to do my job. Who designed this system anyways?"
    Kim: "Wait. Why did we establish a containment field, again? Wanna drop it for a second, vent the intruders out into space, and end this?"
    Tuvok: "Lol nah"

    Later, in the cargo bay, Tuvok watches the Kazon blow through a door (was it even locked?) by shooting the keypad (it's a feature, not a bug) and makes a mental note for the next time he's trapped in a room with 4 irritable Maquis cadets.

    Chakotay: "There may be intruders in transporter room 2."
    Janeway: "I know there's a way to lock out transporter controls or set up a few force fields along the way, if only I remembered how my ship worked or... Doh! They beamed out."

    Tuvok runs into the transporter room just in time to catch the disappearing silhouette of the Kazon flipping him the bird on the way out.

    I rewatched the raid sequence with playing in the background. Highly recommended.

    Seska notes that Janeway's idea to use a tractor beam was a classic Chakotay move. That crazy Chakotay, using his Jedi mind tricks to get Janeway to order him to use the tractor beam. Typical!

    Anyways, it's a general triumph for Starfleet security engineers as a single defector from engineering makes stealing a transporter module look like child's play. The raid completes with buttery smoothness and Seska peaces out. It's too bad they didn't spray Voyager with plasma residue on their way out, or spell out a giant "PWNED" in space. Ha ha Voyager, suckaaaaaz.

    As Voyager sits, humiliated and disabled in space, I couldn't help but think that this would be the perfect time for the space worms to take advantage of it. They seemed like the type to go after black-out-drunk chicks at a party anyways, didn't they?

    Tuvok: "Excuse me, great insight here. Remember that time five minutes ago when Seska f**ked with us? Well... bear with me here... what if Chakotay totes f**ks with Seska right back! Like, that thing that just happened, but the opposite!"
    -- Camera closes in on Chakotay's mind being blown. --

    I did like Beltran nearly breaking character and giggling as Torres pointed out his poor taste in women.

    In a brilliantly written bit of Kazon dialog, we learn a little more about the relation between opposing sects. "So you desire our help to defeat Voyager? Why not do it yourself oh wait it's cause U SUK, LOL."

    I kinda hope the Kazon get replicator technology. Maybe then they can replicate some shampoo.

    Janeway: "What I want to know Mr Tuvok is how he was able to get a shuttle craft off the ship without anybody knowing about it."
    Tuvok: "Apparently pretty much everybody can. Whatever, we have at least 1000 more. I assure you captain, it won't happen again, until it does."
    Janeway: "I want a complete review of all security procedures on this ship."
    Tuvok: "Wait, I think just realized something... have I been the chief of security all this time?"

    Meanwhile, on the Kazon ship, Seska discusses taking control of other Kazon sects and promptly has an orgasm. And, scene.

    Back on Voyager, Janeway hears Torres out and comes to the conclusion that they should bring Chakotay back *before* disciplining him, as opposed to... the other way around, I guess? Or something.

    On the shuttlecraft, Chakotay fails because he spoke too slowly to the computer. He makes a mental note to save time between sentences with an "and" or two in the future.

    Voyager detects the beacon. Kim confirms it's definitely theirs, which he knows because it said so in the script.

    We get some key character development for Seska when we learn she's more of a cognac girl than the kanar type.

    In a single sentence, Torres convinces Janeway that a dead crew is better than a sad crew, and I guess their "morale officer" is too busy giving the ship's computer food poisoning to cheer anybody up, so away they go.

    While Chakotay is talking about Seska's mole and tripping balls on the Kazon ship, Torres hatches a plan to rescue him with yet another plan that would be completely impossible if not for the fact that it is easily possible (I.e. the standard cheap plan to insert risk without putting in the effort to write an actual risk). Tuvok counters with something irrelevant, Torres doesn't care, neither do we.

    Tuvok says something else that nobody cares about on the bridge. Today the Voyagers computer remembers that it can scan for individual life signs, and Torres discovers that Seska has ye olde dampening field in place. Good thinking Seska, way easier than just removing Chakotays communicator (although you never know when that whacky ship will decide that the transporter will work just fine without one on the target).

    I was surprised Janeway chose evasive pattern omega 2. I wouldve picked omega 3 or even beta 8 myself but what do I know?

    Anyways the episode ends when Voyager suddenly gains the ability to transport through everybody's shields. Janeway writes "next time, transport Seska and the enem captain off the ship *before* the raid ends" on a post it note and sticks it to the picture of that guy and her dog.

    Janeway puts Chakotay on report, because that makes sense for a Maquis officer. Wait until Starfleet here's about this, Chakotay. So Chakotay learns a lesson, and that's that.

    Oh yeah, PS Seska raped Chakotay. Just thought we'd squeeze that one in real quick. And, the end.

    I actually didn't mind this episode. There was just a lot of contrived situations. I think the lesson learned is to just watch these for the general stories, not the details. The more I watch Voyager in the same way I watched TOS, the more I enjoy it. There's a lot of good stuff in this series, but it does demand a forgiving audience.

    How do the less technologically advanced Kazon ships catch up to Voyager? If two ships are traveling through space, the slower ship will never catch up to the faster ship. This is a repeating problem with Voyager, the writers are constantly forgetting the differences in speed and distance between their actors. We will see the same huge problems when Seska reappears, when Voyager catches up to the Equinox, when Voyager finds a colony of Talaxians way too far from their homeworld of Talax for their technology to allow, when Harry's new love of his life catches up to him after being turned into a Kobali even though the alien species and the girl had both been 30,000 light years away when they catch up to Voyager after traveling for just a couple of hours.

    The writers are constantly ignoring problems of time and space, especially distance. It is supposed to take Voyager 70 years to get home, but apparently if she was using a Kazon or Kobali ship she'd have been home for dinner the first day she was brought into the Delta Quadrant.

    I know the Kazon will continue to dog Voyager, but there is no way that the Kazon both have the energy to constantly pursue Voyager across 10,000 light years and the technology to actually catch up to Voyager and then return back to their home systems, only to once again catch back up to Voyager.

    Watchable (**) Admittably I haven'r much affinity for any one on this crew so unless the story deals with my favorite sci fi themes (time travel, alternate realities, holodeck) the episodes won't score very highly for me.

    Voyager didn't change the shield access codes after Seska left the ship?!?!? And really, why would Seska have ever known them?

    I'm mostly unconvinced by the inter-Kazon fighting -- especially when we get to the "ah yes, you brought them here, but WE will band together without you" stage of the inter-sect-ionality meeting which really makes this part of Delta Quadrant seem in poor shape with these squabbling guys being more or less the power. I can only assume their organs aren't worth anything or else the Vidiians would obviously have already started farming them. Culluh comes across as a complete dolt throughout, of course, but Voyager doesn't come across much better, nor Seska in the end. The plot holes are of course numerous, from the Voyager's continued failure to change command codes (remember in TNG's Gambit, where it's stated they changed the command codes immediately after Riker's capture?), to the idea that Chakotay wiping his shuttle's memory would render all the technology inside it worthless to not asking for Seska back as term for release of the Kazon (WHAT). The universe-breaking ending where they beam through shields, after proposing and then dropping another universe-breaking idea (of doing transport *at* warp without stopping) is really shockingly short-sighted; why doesn't Voyager just beam everyone out in every single battle from this point forward? The plot holes are a particular problem because (as the title indicates) this is an episode *primarily* about tactics ("maneuvers"), and so the plot is most of what this episode has to offer.

    The other major element is the Chakotay/Seska thing, and the episode mostly paints this as the story of a vindictive ex who continues to mess up our protagonist's life; she's been exposed as Not A Nice Girl After All, has a new boyfriend whom she's manipulating, is planning elaborate revenge, still plays seduction games, and at the episode's end she (amazingly, improbably) reveals that she's pregnant by him, which in Voyager terms means she took his DNA and impregnanted herself with it. To what end? There are maybe some possible explanations -- say Seska believes the Voyager won't leave human DNA and Chakotay won't leave his blood child, even one which he did not consent to in any way, in the middle of the Kazon fleet -- but we are given no indication here of what they are, and it mostly just plays out that Seska is just *that* vindictive and obsessed. Martha Hackett does what she can with a sort of flattened character since her last, better appearance in State of Flux, and there are some good moments -- I particularly like when she says that she's not a monster while threatening to have Chakotay tortured in order to get the command codes so that she might manage not to kill everyone on board when taking the ship -- and she does look fine in Cardassian makeup. For Chakotay, this episode does make him look like an idiot; we get several scenes explaining why he went off (between him and Torres, then Torres and Janeway, then him and Janeway), none of which really get far beyond "he feels responsible; he was embarrassed," and none of which are really sufficient to get at how crazy him going off on basically a suicide mission really is. Janeway mutters something about breaking protocol, and *come on*; he almost died to get back a transporter pod thing, and if *that* is the standard (that any technology must be removed at the cost of one's life), maybe Janeway should seriously consider blowing up the ship right then. Maybe we're meant to believe that Chakotay really thought he would survive and only went to that beacon and capture for an absolute last resort, but it doesn't really play that way when he gets to the Kazon ship, and I feel like it should be obvious that a kamikaze mission for the ship's first officer will have a big enough impact on the ship that he damn well should have talked to the captain about it; the scene between him and Janeway again seems to elide over the fact that he nearly died and that that was basically the plan.

    The episode does have a certain zip and energy which somewhat redeems it, but I don't think I can go above 2 stars.

    Oh the plot holes. So many.

    They discover a federation signal from a probe.

    TUVOK: According to the encryption key, this particular code was not scheduled for implementation until stardate 48423.
    KIM: That's a month after we left Deep Space Nine.

    Seska got that code signal how exactly?

    Then the Kazon attack and beat the crap out of Voyager. They can't go to warp, they can't transport, and their shields are able to be penetrated easily. Why not just keep the attack going and take the whole ship then? Or better yet why didn't they form a small alliance like they do later and bring more than one ship and take Voyager even more easily.

    And when they bust through the shields there is this.

    JANEWAY: How the hell can they do that?
    CHAKOTAY: I don't know.
    CHAKOTAY: It's as if they know our access codes.

    So if Seska knows the access codes, why do they try and get them from Chakotay later?

    And this.

    CHAKOTAY: I'm betting Seska's figured out a way to shield the module from our transporters. We might have to destroy it instead.
    TORRES: How do we do that?
    CHAKOTAY: We borrow a trick from Seska's book. Remember how we disabled the computer core on the Cardassian frigate orbiting Bajor?
    TORRES: Seska modified an anti-proton beam to penetrate its shields and hull.

    So why didn't she do her trick again and disable Voyager's computer core?

    And Seska can build a complete transporter system, from memory apparently, except for this one tiny module, which I guess she forgot how to build? Really. Ok then.

    Chakotay takes a shuttlecraft. And that's a security breach?

    JANEWAY: What I want to know, Mister Tuvok, is how he was able to get a shuttlecraft off this ship without either of us knowing about it.
    TUVOK: Apparently he was able to override the lockout command.

    You mean the first officer on the ship doesn't have the security clearance to know the lockout commands for a shuttle? I would think the XO would be able to take a shuttle whenever he felt like it. He should have asked for permission first, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't be able to take one. And what good are lockout commands if they can be overridden in so easily anyway?

    Janeway calls for a meeting and they discover Chakotay missing within a few minutes of him leaving.

    JANEWAY: Where's Chakotay?
    TORRES: He was in Engineering helping me modify the coil scanner. He said he'd be right up.
    JANEWAY: Janeway to Chakotay. Computer, locate Commander Chakotay.
    COMPUTER: Commander Chakotay is not aboard the ship.

    But somehow he has a gotten a three hour lead on them? I guess they sat around for three hours contemplating what to do before finally deciding to go after him.

    Then they chase after Chakotay at maximum impulse. He has a three hour lead in a pitiful little shuttle. Why not just go to warp 9 and they would catch him in about 2 seconds?

    So they are beating Chakotay for the codes (which they already had?). Because they need them to defeat Voyager I guess. But they didn't know Chakotay would come and be captured. They were expecting Voyager to show up and wouldn't have had the codes needed to defeat them that they were beating out of Chakotay. But with 7 ships they could defeat Voyager anyway, so why do they need the codes? They beat Voyager with codes and one ship earlier, but now they can't, because they have more ships and no codes. Or something.

    And then they want to transport Chakotay when as Kim says, they are going 2 billion miles a second. So they are at least 30 seconds or more away when Torres tries to get a lock on Chakotay, but can't because of a dampening field. That means they are at least 60 billion miles away if not more. So the range of a transporter is now at least 60 billion miles instead of the normal 24,000 miles. Of course it is. For them to even attempt a lock from 24,000 miles away they would be about .000012 seconds from the target when going 2 billion miles a second.

    Plus the many plot holes I didn't mention that other people brought up above.

    One plot hole I can overlook. Maybe two. Or even three. But about fifteen? No.

    1 1/2 stars

    3.5 stars

    One of the stringer and more gripping season 2 episodes and one of the few episodes by Ken Biller I liked—the rest of his stUff isn’t very good

    It pretty much had it all. It got right down to business within seconds rather than spending time on filler teaser scenes.

    The Intrigue of a Federation signal employing codes that weren’t in use at time of Voyager disappearance., the raid on voyager was tense and exciting, enjoyed seeing Seska and the Kazon and their efforts to take Voyager, Chakotay going after seska, belanna’s imploring janeway to go easy on Chakotay, seskas ckefer tactics and countertactucs, janeway sides to beam the sect leaders to bargain for Chakotay and I enjoyed the cliffhanger.

    I blame Tuvok.

    We can imagine that once Seska joined the Kazon her "command codes" were changed, but we know she was close to the rest of the crew. It's possible that she had stolen Torres or other engineers command codes previously and used those which hadn't been changed. Then presumably, after the first attack they change all the codes.

    Why then, when Chakotay is captured wouldn't they change the codes? It seems like an incredibly simple security precaution that should apply to anyone in starfleet.

    Tuvok clearly didn't implement a very stringent security regime, which is a shame because it makes it look like he's terrible at his job and goes against what they've set up so far.

    In response to Skimpy's comments, a couple of the plot holes are briefly mentioned in the episode. They can't go to warp because of the ship lodged in the hull (Though as my girlfriend immediately noticed, the exterior shots show zero damage, where's the big hole in the hull?).

    Oh and we also learnt that they can get home a lot faster than they're letting on.

    2 billion kilometres a second is their warp speed. A light year is roughly 10 trillion kilometers. It would take them 5000 seconds (less than an hour and a half) to cover 1 light year. They should be able to get back to earth in under a week! Even if we assume a British trillion (a million billion instead of a thousand billion) it would only take them just over a year to get back home...

    Some very poor writing there. "2 billion" sounds great, but it wouldn't have been difficult for the writers to have checked how it fit with the canon.

    Scratch that above comment! I was thinking Voyager was 75 lightyears from Earth, they are 75 years at maximum warp.

    @ TB,

    You're still right despite your mistake. Assuming 1.5 hours to progress one light year, the total distance to home should be no more than 40,000 light years, as the galactic radius is roughly 75,000 LY and it's never mentioned that they are on the outer reaches of the spiral arms. At 1.5 hours per light year, that means 5 years and change to get home at maximum warp. All things considered, way off from the original estimate of ~75 years. So their figure of 2 billion km/s is off by a factor of at least 15.

    Enthralling episode -- great plot ideas with some flaws of logic/execution. The real strength is the character performances -- mainly Chakotay and Seska -- but Janeway/Torres have some good moments too as it relates to Chakotay's insubordination. The Kazon are Voyager's primary enemies at this stage of the series and while, on their own, they are overmatched, Seska's treason is an equalizing factor though I still struggle to see how she could be so capable and Voyager not aggressive enough defending itself.

    The flaws: Ballsy (and unrealistic to me) move to crash a shuttle into Voyager to steal the transporter module. How did Voyager fix such a hull breach and be able to go to warp so quickly? And towards the end Torres trying to transport Chakotay through shields and a Kazon dampening field is an oversight from the writers. And I guess this is possible in the 24th century: Seska can impregnate herself with Chakotay's DNA? Quite the way to end the episode -- making Seska come across as a manipulative psycho with one more serious stab at Chakotay. Some "Fatal Attraction" like vibe going on here...

    Aside from those flaws (and others I didn't mention), the pacing, plot action, and character interactions are great. Seska/Culluh are fun to watch. Culluh comes across as particularly dumb, however. Seska is a master manipulator -- have to wonder what her ultimate motives are. She goes from doing anything to get home to (presumably) being satisfied stuck in the DQ with the Kazon. It's good for the series to have such a villain.

    The torture scene was edgier than normal for VOY -- Beltran's performance is better than usual. I feel like it was a take on other torture scenes -- perhaps like Chain of Command, Part II with Picard gaining an advantage on his torturer.

    Great also to get more color on the Kazon -- they're not just stock villains. They have their scenes and their characters (mainly Culluh, I guess) get developed. Wonder if we see the other Kazon leaders going forward...

    I liked Janeway's gut vs. better judgment discussion with Torres -- she has to go after Chakotay for what effect not having him would have on the Voyager crew. Mulgrew's acting is on point here in these types of situations -- the dressing down of her subordinates is well acted/written -- like in "Prime Factors". The whole personalization of the feud with Seska is believable and as Chakotay was Maquis, I can see him willing to sacrifice himself after being massively humiliated -- so this is a good dynamic for the episode because of what it puts Janeway through.

    A strong 3 stars for "Maneuvers" -- we have to look past the transporter/shields issue to enjoy this one as the ending resolution is contingent on that. Tuvok comes across as sloppy in his duties but aside from some of these holes, there's plenty to enjoy in this episode. Seska as a villain is terrific, the dynamic with Chakotay works well, and Janeway has to discipline her 2nd in command. No doubt one of VOY's best efforts so far.

    There's just too little verisimilitude in this episode for me. Almost nothing that happened could have happened. What's the word for the opposite of verisimilitude? Where everything that happens reminds you that what you're seeing the work of someone who got a plot outline and didn't even bother trying to justify any of it?

    This is one of my least favorite Trek episodes. It's insulting and prompts flares of rage and frustration every few minutes. An actively unpleasant experience. Neither this nor the upcoming Kazon content make it into my head canon. The species strained credulity early but were acceptable but have now become the toys of a lazy, obstinate game master.


    I liked this episode for entertainment, but the plot holes some of you mentioned are inescapable.

    Rather than even asking for Seska to be turned over to them, why didn't they just beam her over with the Kazon bigwigs and say that they are not going to return her as she is from the Alpha Quadrant and needs to stand trial for treason?

    And besides DS9 *(and maybe Enterprise), all of Star Trek seems to have the problem of not firing back (well Voyager and TNG) It always amazed me in Yesterday's Enterprise how Picard took MULTIPLE hits and when he finally fires back, they blow up a Kligon bird of prey! Why didn't they sweep phasers on them before?

    I can actually picture Voyager being overwhelmed by 6 ships of lesser tech, but at least make it look like Voyager is fighting!

    And the whole thing with the command codes makes sense too (what you guys said about changing security codes). I just have to pretend that Seska somehow figured out how to bypass this since she is familiar with Federation tactics.

    Seska herself is nutty as a fruitcake! The Kazon obviously see her as inferior, so why bother joining them? I don't see what her objective was? As I said before, if she admitted from the beginning that she was a Cardassian spy, I am sure Janeway would have forgiven her as she did the Marquis-they are all 70 years from home and all in this together!

    Well, I just try to enjoy the show and not dwell on the absurdities

    After the Kazon steal the transporter thing and beam off the ship, they somehow configure the transporters to longer work. So the V'ger crew can't beam the thing back. Leaving aside the issue of how the Kazon, who were pretty much ignorant of transporter technology, could accomplish this, why didn't the crew use the transporter in a shuttlecraft?

    Teaser : ***.5, 5%

    We begin with a feisty Chakotay and Torres being called to the bridge in the midst of a game of hoverball. He rather casually demonstrates how well he knows her and her foibles—a nice little touch of characterisation. When the pair arrive on the bridge, Tuvok and Janeway reveal that the Voyager is being hailed by a Federation signal. Intriguing.

    Act 1 : **.5, 17%

    The properties of the signal indicate that it had to have been sent after the Voyager's arrival in the DQ. So, Janeway has them track the signal to a beacon within a nebula. Before they can proceed, a Kazon vessel emerges and begins firing, inflicting significant damage. It seems to be able to match the blah blah frequency to the Voyager's shields, creating an opening in them. A smaller ship emerges from the nebula, passes through the rift, and jack-knifes into the hull.

    The Kazon aboard the smaller ship manage to evade Tuvok's security team long enough to steal a transporter module and beam themselves back to the larger vessel. So, all of this action stuff is pretty effective if you don't think about it too long—very much like the capture and escape sequences in TNG's “The Hunted.” For my money, whether one can overlook the plot contrivances—and there are many more to come—is determined by the story's ability to explore concepts and themes which justify the mechanics of it. “Twisted” didn't make any god-damned sense AND the story wasn't about anything. Let's see how this plays out.

    Chakotay is able to capture the Kazon with a tractor beam before they can escape, prompting a call from Caligula. Oh, and Seska is there, too, partially-restored to her Cardassian appearance. Through some tech tech, she and the Kazon break free, leaving Chakotay quite personally humiliated in front of the bridge crew.

    Act 2 : **.5, 17%

    NEELIX: I've never seen the Kazon do anything like this before.
    TUVOK: Until now, the Kazon have never had an advisor with Cardassian, Maquis and Starfleet tactical experience.

    Neelix questions Janeway's choice to pursue Seska and the Nistrim over the theft of a single tech component. This provides the opportunity for Janeway to state her case plainly, something that's been needed since this story's prequel, “State of Flux.” Despite her misgivings, Janeway stands by her choice not to upset the political structures of the DQ, as established in “Caretaker.” For his part, Chakotay is quite certain that Seska is toying with them, leaving an obvious means of pursuit after schooling them on tactics. He's even willing to overlook Tuvok's unintentional dig about “intimate knowledge.”

    Torres has devised some sort of plan involving a light-up fleshlight to neutralise the stolen tech. Chakotay decides they're going to need to employ a little Maquis improvisation to pull this off. Their conversation turns again to the personal, as Torres recognises that his position as cell-leader to these Maquis and his sexual relationship with Seska make him specifically culpable for letting things get to this point, even though Seska has successfully fooled them all. I have mixed feelings about the scene in general. The ideas expressed are appropriate and the actors sell the material, but it bears the mark of many an early DS9 episode in being far too self-aware of its own character beats. It doesn't feel as natural as other scenes between these two, such as in “Parallax.”

    Meanwhile, Caligula is bragging to another Majh about his recent acquisition. He wants help from other sects in order to capture the Voyager entirely and seize its wondrous tech. The other Majh taunts him for his poor leadership; it seems that Seska has joined up with the sect which has used up its goodwill and its resources. Seska diffuses some male posturing by sticking her tits out and suggesting some time to think things over. Well it turns out her actual plan was to use the transporter to beam the Relora leaders into space. The Voyager runs across the bodies, providing a pretty chilling visual. Once again, Voyager gets a lot of mileage out of horror imagery.

    Act 3 : ***, 17%

    Neelix proves useful for a change, using his knowledge of the Kazon's markings to explain to Janeway and Chakotay about the likely political implications of this execution-by-teleporter. Janeway calls a meeting to discuss (likely non-Maquis) options for getting their flashlight close enough to the Nistrim to work, but it seems Chakotay has tensed up and once again taken a shuttle out on his own.

    Caligula, fragile male ego that he is, needs his sex-mommy Seska to explain to him how beneficial to his plans this little execution is. She has also taken it upon herself to contact some of the smaller sects in his name. It is here that we get the confirmation that the Kazon are intensely—one might even say cartoonishly—patriarchical, as he is incensed that she and her vagina would deign to take such bold action. For a Cardassian spy, it has to be difficult for her to put up with this nonsense, but she plays her part and appeases his ego in a scene that is, again, clumsily overt in its sexual undertones.

    Far better is the scene that follows. Torres takes it upon herself to try and explain Chakotay's behaviour to Janeway. The captain is rightly pissed at him for not only defying her command but also being rather narcissistic (“self-indulgent” in her words) in assuming this whole endeavour to be about himself and Seska.

    TORRES: I know Chakotay. This is his way of taking responsibility. In his mind, he's trying to protect the rest of us from a dangerous situation which he created.

    Janeway empathises with this and admires Torres' tenacity, so she agrees to consider the personal dimension to this behaviour—something Chakotay would never admit to himself—when disciplining him, assuming they can rescue him. What I like about this is how it harkens back to B'Ellana's own experiences thus far on the Voyager. Chakotay went to bat for her and Janeway promoted her to chief engineer instead of locking Torres away for punching Kerry in the face. Even though I have made my feelings on the Maquis quite clear, it's examples like this which make me scratch my head when people complain that the Maquis' history has little to no bearing on the series. We are nearly half way through the second season, these people have been a crew for a year now, and still Chakotay has enough of that residual Maquis instinct in him to defy orders. No, the Maquis aren't staging a rebellion nuBSG-style, but who is to say that this was the *only* viable way to tell this story? Chakotay's history with the Maquis is every bit as relevant to his characterisation as Kira's history as a resistance fighter is to hers.

    Anyway, Chakotay's shuttle reaches its Kazon target and he tries to sneak past the Nistrim sensors. Seska sees through his trick, but Chakotay has a contingency plan of his own. Again, Seska has to hold Caligula's hand through the manoeuvres. Chakotay manages to make the shuttle's tech useless...erm somehow, but also gets himself within phaser range of the module, destroying it and sending out a message buoy to the Voyager.

    Act 4 : *.5, 17%

    Chakotay is roughed up a bit, shackled, and left alone with Seska, who begins the standard “I'm a bad guy” stuff. She offers him a drink, paces around and takes credit for bringing out his more aggressive impulses. In some ways, though it lacks the political layers, this conversation mirrors that between Dukat and Kira in “Indiscretion.” But, while the ideas show promise and the actors do their best, the dialogue and especially the blocking do not pass muster here. Seska comes across as rather “crazed” as she manically paces about, grabbing Chakotay's face one moment and insulting him the next. What's appealing about her character is the way she carefully and subtly manipulates those around her, preying on their ideals. This stuff is, well, hackneyed and kind of pointless.

    Meanwhile, the Voyager encounters Chakotay's beacon whose message indicates that he doesn't want the crew coming after him. In a weird bit, Tuvok seems to endorse the idea, implying some sort of malicious grudge that is so very un-Vulcan, I'm rather offended by its inclusion. Torres, of course, wants to rescue him. She makes an explicit appeal to emotionality and convinces Janeway to go ahead with the rescue, despite the mounting odds against them. It goes unstated, but it would certainly work against Janeway's longterm goals of uniting the crew under one banner if the Maquis leader turned first officer risked his life to defend *Federation* principles and the Federation captain left him for dead.

    We pick up with Chakotay being brutalised by Caligula while Seska watches. He's trying to beat “the Voyager's command codes” out of him. Uhuh. So, we all know what this is right? This is the military plot equivalent of writing “tech tech” into the script which gets swapped out for biometric quantum inversion matrix capacitance or whatever. I understand why this thing might bother you, but again, for me, so long as the script isn't focusing upon the nonsense (just like in the tech plots, so long as we aren't trying desperately to *explain* made-up science), I really don't care. Caligula wants a thing from Chakotay which justifies not immediately executing him. This could easily have been something like a profile on Janeway and her psychological weaknesses, or the latest security measures discussed between him and Tuvok, or Neelix' recipe for Leola Root Stew, which could be used as biological weaponry. Biller got a bit lazy and wrote “command codes.” And yes of course, in a military strategic sense, this is kind of ridiculous. Of course, the Voyager should have had these codes changed immediately, but it's really just a plot point, not an exercise in flawless military logic.

    Anyway, this contrivance provides Robert Beltran the opportunity to chew the scenery a bit, while also exploring why he takes Seska's betrayal so personally. After all, she infiltrated his rebellion, stole his secrets and betrayed his adopted family, but worst of all, they used to FUCK. High-minded stuff here. Caligula has a minion inject him with some sort of truth serum or LSD. Seska convinces him to let Chakotay stew for an hour and pokes his neck with something before leaving the room.

    Act 5 : **, 17%

    Telemetry from the gathering Kazon forces leads to a discussion on the bridge. The idea of an alliance between sects is unusual, by Neelix' accounting and Tuvok sees the tactical risk of engaging the coalition as insurmountable. So it's time for a crazy plan. Torres wants to beam Chakotay out (through the shields) at warp speed because, you know, she's a Maquis and the Maquis are badasses or whatever.

    The Kazon coalition, an auspicious group of sect leaders whom...we have never seen before and know next to nothing on Caligula's ship to discuss this impending conquest of the Voyager. He offers the council of morons “proof” that he can access the Voyager's systems by having the hostage Chakotay brought in. Of course, when the ship approaches and the Kazon weapons don't penetrate the shields, this kind of undermines the whole thing. B'Ellana is playing a game of transporter ping pong with Seska, trying to grab Chakotay through the dampening field, which is much more difficult than beaming through both sets of shields, don't you know?

    After more tedious fighting and technobabble, Janeway finally has the bright idea to beam the council of morons—who of course are NOT protected by the magical dampening field—to the Voyager directly, and leverage their release for the return of Chakotay and a cessation of fire. Tuvok demands the return of the shuttle as well, but Seska can stay with the Kazon oafs. That's a far worse fate than being thrown in the brig, ins't it?

    In the epilogue, Janeway tries to wrap her mind around Chakotay's choices. There are echoes of the closing scenes from “Prime Factors” here, which is to the story's credit.

    JANEWAY: Tell me this. How do you expect me to keep order when the First Officer takes it upon himself to run off like some cowboy because he decides it's a good idea? What you did was commendable. The way you did it was not. You set a terrible example. And on a personal level, you've made my job more difficult.

    In a final twist, a final message beacon is discovered with a message from Seska. She informs him that she impregnated herself with a sample of his DNA she stole during his imprisonment. Those Cardassian villains love to make babies with their enemies, don't they?

    Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

    Like with the previous Chakotay/Kazon story “Initiations,” this 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. The Chakotay arc works rather well. His choice to join the Maquis in the first place was won borne of emotional short-sightedness (a common trait among the group). “Tattoo,” despite its myriad problems, gave us some insight into how Chakotay came to be such a directionless and passionate man. This mode of thinking is exactly what allowed Seska to infiltrate his ranks and gain his confidence. Then, when she betrayed his new crew, he repeated the mistake and made things personal. And in the end, his choice leads to an extreme violation of personal liberty, being forced to procreate (essentially rape) with his nemesis.

    The general idea of moving the pieces around with the Kazon to set up the inevitable changes that having the Voyager in their space, despite Janeway's efforts, is also pretty good. The Voyager is actually unifying the Kazon by its presence and the temptation it offers. However, the good that this offers the series is severely limited by the incredibly superficial and corny portrayal of Caligula and the rest of the Kazon. Only Seska appears to have any layers to her and that's mostly in retrospect to her previous appearances on the show. It's all far less than it should be, but for a season that has been mostly shitty thus far, it's a welcome shift to more substantial storytelling.

    Final Score : **.5

    I've never understood, whilst Voyager gets photon turbo lasered to within a few percent of destruction by shady cackling wry smiling 'bad hair guys of the week' they dont, as others have noted, just transport some explosive device directly to the engine room along with Neelix and get the hell out of there.

    I like this Seska chick though.

    I didn’t care too much for this episode until the last twenty seconds when Seska REALLY plays the psycho ex girlfriend card. Should be interesting to see where that goes

    While the Kazon will never be epics, I'm upping my evaluation of them. I was pretty entertained.

    Whatever the plot holes in Cold Fire before and this episode Manuevers, at least they both work off and advance previous stories (Caretaker/Ocompa and Kazons/Seska) instead of another episode spacial distortions and such.

    Any Seska episode is worth a viewing.

    It's episodes like this that really use Beltran and Chakotay well, and which make me appreciate both the actor and the character. It's a shame that the writers could not find as much to do with him later on as the series moved into the later seasons. Once again the character is at his best when the writers use his Maquis history and conflicts to drive the story, and putting Seska in a position of influence among the Kazon makes a great recipe for conflict that is logical, given Voyager's situation. Great episode, and it probably should have come earlier in the season.

    I was about to leave a positive comment about this episode, but after reading Jammer's review and the many comments here pointing out the show's many plotholes I've changed my mind. Damn it Voyager, you did it to me again!

    Since I can't be positive, I might as well get a couple of gripes out of the way.

    1) The Kazon are only one step above the Ferengi as antagonists. Their ridiculous design is the biggest hurdle, but they are often written as schmucks, too.

    2) I get the Prime Directive rule about sharing technology, but I'm not a fan of how it was applied to the Kazon. They are a warp capable society, and you can gain their allegiance by giving them a damn food replicator. You don't want to give tech to one sect because it would upset the balance of power - so why not just give it to all the sects?

    I mean i doesn't even make sense that a species with FTL capabilities would even have this problem, but whatever.

    And don't even get me started on Janeway giving the Hirogen holo technology. After she's accepted the EMH as a sentient being. After all the hand wringing about sharing tech.

    First off, I enjoyed the episode immensely. It was a bucket of bolts, but somehow it handled well.

    Secondly, Thank you JC (March 16, 2016) for a thoroughly enjoyable lampoon of Maneuvers. Many good points. For example: "Kim: ' Hold on- Let me make the power not be out." LOL alot.

    Really gets one going:

    Torres (climbing out of 40,000 metric tons of Kazon shuttle poking into Voyager) : "They modified the bow to puncture our hull."

    Janeway (to herself) : "No S___t, Ya think?"

    Neelix: "I never saw the Kazon do anything like this before."

    Janeway (again to herself): "Well, why don't we send you and Kes to Kazon summer camp so that you can see what else they do."

    [it would have been nice if Starfleet had derived something inside the Kazon 40k metric ton shuttle stuck in their hull which would be of use in going after Seska. It apparently held nothing of value in that regard.]

    Instead we get this:

    Tuvok: "Perhaps Commander Chakotay can use his intimate knowledge of Seska to manipulate her, in much the the same way she manipulated us."

    What ensues is a full 4 - 5 second shot of Chakotay turning left to right with a smirk of ingenuity on his if he is thinking of the perfect revenge:
    "Time to implement operation 'Whitman's Sampler' ! "

    I could go on to make fun of Culluh's over-the-top delivery of his lines, some of which actually worked for the episode, but what really got me was Torres' soliliquy on the quantum resonance oscillator -

    MacGuffin alert: 'if we can get the coil scanner close enough to the oscillator we can beat Seska ( who clearly a 'Professor Moriarty to the 18th power' in this episode') at her own game!!!!! Bawahahaha!!!

    [ I won't even get into what the coil scanner or whatever Torres is holding, looked like. Egads. Do the do this stuff on purpose?]

    "Oscillator" is just funny to me...after a while I started hearing "alligator" instead and all higher thought vanished. I was rolling in the aisles.

    3.0 stars for flow and performances; 4.0 stars for the laughs.

    Is Voyager trying to get home or is it just circling around in the Delta Quadrant looking for trouble?

    A lot of Star Trek -- every show, every movie -- is preposterous. But we cut them a lot of slack because without transporters, universal translators, tricorders, holodecks, and the like, there either wouldn't be a show or it would be so difficult and expensive to produce, it wouldn't be economic to do it.

    But one of my major reservations about this process is that Trek too often trivializes the vastness of space. I understand why every other planet must have sentient beings (who will look a lot like humans in fancy makeup) and why every planet location will look identical to some location in Southern California. We can live with that .. grumble, grumble. But there are times, Trek, and Voyager in particular, just falls apart into some tangle of nonsensical technobabble about the time-space continuum.

    Now, most of the time direction and distance can be ignored. Pick an Enterprise, any letter will do, and set it "We are on a mission to XYZ ..." and we won't bother about how far that is or how long it took to get there. If the story is strong and the acting and direction is good, then none of that will matter. But not with Voyager.

    We are given that Voyager is some 70,000 light years away from Section 001 (Earth). We know that, even travelling constantly at maximum warp, something like 4 or 5 light years per day (Einstein and the Theory of Relativity be damned), it will take it decades to reach home.

    But that's where the premise of Voyager has a problem. They aren't 'constantly travelling at maximum warp.' Instead they seem to be circling around not going much of anywhere, and this episode presents that problem in spades.

    They left Seska with the Kazon back months ago. If they're making any progress towards home, that way several hundred light years on the path. How is it that now, here we have Seska and the Kazon again? It just doesn't work.

    Another point along the same lines is when Kim talks about trying to do a transport when the ship is travelling at "2 billion kilometers per second." Come on. That's 1.2 billion miles per second, but they present the actual transfer as if it's a lazy handoff with no particular urgency. The writers are just throwing numbers around for effect without a shred of logic in doing so.

    As noted above, if the story, the writing, and the execution is all strong, we will overlook a lot. But the basic premise of Voyager presents a problem no other show has had.

    At the other end of the scale is Deep Space Nine which centered around a single, relatively stationary location. That allowed building a community that in turn allowed a library of recurrent stories to be developed. That worked, and with the writers and cast of that show, it often worked brilliantly.

    Voyager, by contrast, is just another "ship on the prowl" show and its credibility thin when it doesn't seem to be going anywhere except into the Hall of Fame of "technobabble will save us again."

    This is a terrific episode.

    A lot of VOY's early episodes are underrated. This is one of them.

    Imagine if Chakotay had been given something to do throughout the rest of the show. Still, at least he appeared in Prodigy, and Robert Beltran (unlike Sveen if Nine) had the integrity to reject a return in Star Trek Picard after the writers grimderped his character.

    Oh... and this is one of the only compelling Trek episodes which shows you what might happen if Starfleet technology ever fell into the wrong hands.

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