Star Trek: Voyager
"Persistence of Vision"
Air date: 10/30/1995
Written by Jeri Taylor
Directed by James L. Conway
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"My programmers didn't clutter me up with pithy Earth trivia. They programmed me with far more important data." — The Doctor on proverbs
Nutshell: The alien sci-fi setup is reasonable and much of the imagery is clever, but the ending is unfocused and doesn't really work.
When the Voyager tries to pass through space claimed by xenophobic aliens, the crew suddenly finds itself in over its head with visions and illusions—but no explanations.
There's a sci-fi freshness to this story that I've only felt one other time so far this season on Voyager—that being the standout episode "Projections." Narratively speaking, however, Jeri Taylor's teleplay is uneven—lacking focus and direction while jumping from character to character as it tries to resolve itself. Still, "Persistence of Vision" is a vast improvement over the last four Voyager offerings.
The episode initially starts as a stressful day of scheduling for Captain Janeway, leading the Doctor to order her to run her holodeck relaxation program. But when Janeway begins seeing holodeck objects (and then later holodeck characters) outside the holodeck, the episode seems to be turning into a "Janeway goes insane" show, something which is quite entertaining for the first three acts.
Unfortunately, when the plot begins to take form in the latter two acts, the story suddenly shifts directions and tries to tackle every character by giving him or her something interesting to do. Taylor's script seems all over the map. However, thanks to some interesting imagery and a cool-headed direction by James Conway, the plot holds together and the story continues along at a reasonable pace.
The plot: Somehow, in an attempt to take over the Voyager, a mysterious alien presence is manipulating the thoughts of the crew; distracting them with elements of their own past. This causes any crew member who is unable to resist this mind control to fall into a useless, catatonic state. Such distractions include Janeway seeing her fiance Mark, Tuvok talking to his wife, Paris being called a loser by his father, and Torres allowing herself a passionate affair with Chakotay. Before long, the entire ship falls under the spell, except for Kes and the Doctor. Meanwhile, three ships come out of nowhere and surround the Voyager.
This leaves it up to Kes to attempt to reverse the alien's mind control by executing a technical procedure Torres had set up in engineering. Here, the mysterious alien takes the form of Neelix and tries to take over Kes' mind as well. Kes is able to fend off the alien's mind attack by turning it against him with her own mental powers. This causes the mysterious alien to fall unconscious long enough for Kes to revive the crew.
Once revived, Janeway goes to engineering to negotiate with the alien. "Why did you do this to us?" she asks him. He replies flatly, "Because I can." At that, Janeway threatens to lock him in the brig to prevent him from preying on other travelers. Here, the episode throws a rather unexpected and interestingly unsettling twist: The alien replies, "But, you see, I'm not really here," and then vanishes into thin air. The three ships vanish, too.
Now this kind of alien threat is fresh. It's bizarre and different—characteristic of what we should be seeing in the Delta Quadrant. It's just too bad the alien's motives are so vague and underwritten. It's also too bad Taylor's script doesn't see Janeway through the end as the episode's storytelling conduit. It should have been Janeway saving the ship in the episode's finale, not Kes. While this had the potential of being a really good Janeway episode, Taylor instead decides to spread it around. The result is a story that gives everybody some good material, but doesn't have a strong sense of narrative.
Nevertheless, I'll gladly accept "Persistence of Vision." It has some good sci-fi elements, and considering the long drought Voyager has been experiencing, this light rain is the first step to alleviating it.
Previous episode: Parturition
Next episode: Tattoo
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57 comments on this post
Thu, Oct 29, 2009, 1:45am (UTC -5)
At the end of this episode, Torres is surprised to see the Captain - isn't this the day you go to the holodeck - she asks. Clearly Janeway does this weekly.
Some people find all the role-play etc. unbelievable in a world where you can just call up an image of Jeri Ryan if you're feeling horny. But I like to analogize it to the Internet. Sure there is a ton of porn on the web, a ton of *free* porn, but still: how much of your time on the web do you actually spend on porn sites? Exactly. Not that much.
When this episode aired, less than 10 percent of Americans had access to the net. Today that number is over 80 percent! And the amount of porn on the web is exponentially more. Yet today porn is just about 1 percent of total commerce over the internet. That's right, a tiny, tiny 1 percent.
So it seems perfectly normal that a very small amount of holodeck time will be devoted in the future to masturbation (even by sexually frustrated female captains far from home). So more pool games in France (is there a french pool Facebook app?) and less porn. A starship is, after all, a place of work.
Sun, Apr 11, 2010, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Sat, Apr 16, 2011, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
HOWEVER, what is up with Janeway's ridiculous British nanny holonovel?!? I couldn't believe they used that concept the first time it showed up, let alone that they've made it a recurring theme! Are we to believe that in Janeway's deepest, most enjoyable, fantasies she is having an affair with some random widower while being a servant to his entitled brat children and facing daily shank eyes from his creepy... What is the other female character in the holonovel supposed to be, anyway? The head nanny? Janeway fantasizes about being the underling of a power hungry 40 year old virgin in the British countryside? Really? I'm not buying any of this.
It's almost as if the writers of this show are trying to say that even the most powerful women secretly want to be motherly types who are kept by rich men. I understand that they wanted Janeway to be more maternal captain than Kirk, Picard or Sisko. But, something about this approach feels vaguely sexist. I don't know; the British holonovel just sucks. Worst concept ever.
The rest of the episode was good though. I felt it was a little better than two and a half stars. But, it wasn't quite up to three either. So, I suppose I concur with Jammer's two and a half stars on this one.
Mon, Aug 15, 2011, 9:56am (UTC -5)
I guess they didn't go with the hot and steamy affair with an Italian underwear model holonovel because they didn't want to knock the ever-lucrative nerd demographic out of their comfort zone.
Speaking of nerds getting knocked out of their comfort zone: that scene where Kes is doing some science to a console only to suddenly emit a blood-curdling scream and develop gross pestilent sores all over nearly gave me a heart attack for just how quickly and unexpectedly it went from Trekbusiness as usual to things being horribly wrong. Not recommended viewing at one in the morning.
Tue, Oct 11, 2011, 12:29am (UTC -5)
The other series' holodeck (or suite) programmes tended to rationalise their existence by their creators too blatantly--Data wants to learn about the complexities of human intrigue, so we get Doyle and Shakespeare; Bashir wishes he were a secret agent, so we get James Bond (more or less); Sisko likes baseball, so we get that dreck of an episode, "Take me out..."
Janeway isn't a secret masochist who enjoys being the victim of Victorian misogyny, she's interested in the quieter drama of household life--something denied her in "real" life.
@Carbetarian : Mrs. Templeton is the head maid. She's in charge of the house. Janeway's character is in charge of the kids, the nurse.
Sat, Oct 29, 2011, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 11, 2011, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 2, 2012, 11:10am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 8, 2012, 11:05am (UTC -5)
Mon, May 27, 2013, 5:17pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 29, 2013, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 9, 2013, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 7:44pm (UTC -5)
Sintek, if you cannot be bothered to actually read literary works, at least read their Wikipedia summaries before making pronouncements about them. Otherwise, you run the risk of appearing very ignorant. (Also, please refrain from speaking for "educated women" in the future. We would rather speak for ourselves.)
Sat, Sep 21, 2013, 2:25am (UTC -5)
Awesome telepathy battle. The women rock this episode!
Thu, Nov 14, 2013, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
I know I would.
Sun, Mar 16, 2014, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
the hell is this
Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 12:00am (UTC -5)
Besides, although I love most of The Doctor plots so far, I am getting sick of him being the only one left: "This is The Doctor to anyone on this ship, if you can hear me please reply".
Not to mention that this episode's plot once again felt like reused plot from older Trek. Blah.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 11:58pm (UTC -5)
This is a breath of fresh air after the last few clunkers and a pretty good showing in its own right. The whole "only the Doctor can save us" premise (with Kes in this instance) doesn't bother me when it's done as well as it is here. Only downside is the reasons for some of the crew slipping into a catatonic state showed a weaker willpower on their part than I would like to think that they should have.
Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
Imagine, if you will, that you bought a novel, say, The Adventures of Joe Schmoe. A couple chapters in, the character Joe Schmoe picks up another novel, say, The Tale of Bob Mcgoo, and starts to read it. So for 5-10 pages or so, you are forced to read the fictional Tale of Bob Mcgoo instead of the Adventures of Joe Schmoe like you wanted to. Then Joe Schmoe's phone rings and it goes back to him for a few chapters, but then he starts up Bob McGoo again.
Does this sound like a book you would enjoy? It doesn't matter what the plot of Joe Schmoe or Bob Mcgoo is; it's ridiculous to try to read a story within a story like that. Oh sure, there are ways that it works out: Joe Schmoe is just a framing device and Bob Mcgoo is the real story, the themes of Bob Mcgoo parallel the themes of the real Joe Schmoe story, the plot of Joe Schmoe reading Bob Mcgoo is highly relevent to the story, etc. But if it's just because the author of Joe Schmoe wanted to tell the Bob Mcgoo story at the same time, it won't work.
And that's what we have with Janeway's holonovel. Ask yourself, do you know what the plot of any of Dixon Hill's adventures were? No! TNG just tossed a bunch of film noir cliches together and called it a day. It was used to introduce us to the holodeck (Big Goodbye), comedy (Manhunt), and to provide the theme of the story (Clues). We weren't supposed to care about the plot itself, and Picard certainly didn't carry a mystery novel across multiple episodes just to fill time. For all of TNG's many uses of the holodeck (and DS9 as well), none of them were to tell an alternate story for THAT story's sake. At worst, it told an alternate story using Trek's characters (like Our Man Bashir or Fistful of Datas).
That was why Janeway's holonovel is dumb. If you need to just show her relaxing, fine, do that. But do it quickly with a few cliche scenes, don't try to build up the whole dumb plot. Because we don't care. Nor should we care. If Jeri Taylor wanted to write a story about a British governess and a maybe-ghost mom, then she should have done it on her own time, not shoe-horned it into Trek. And I would feel the same way about any other holodeck storyline that just focused on the crew member acting out a play for its own sake, not for the sake of a greater episode.
But whatever, time to move on.
I'm kinda the opposite of Jammer here. The first part seemed to drag to me, but the latter half was great. Part of the problem is, looking back, the first part doesn't make as much sense as it should have. What was really happening? Was the alien just trying to make Janeway go insane first in order to get her out of the way? Or was he calibrating his psychic abilities? I don't know, I guess either story makes sense. All I know is, the paranoia of Janeway having hallucinations like that feels like something that we've seen before. The latter half, the war of wills, was new.
I like that they showed quite a few of the hallucinations from different members of the crew. It was cool to see Tuvok be one of the first people to succumb; one would expect him to hold out more. But his role as security officer meant he was probably more concerned with what was going on the screen than most, and thus fell first. I liked that Chakotay disappeared off the bridge filled with purpose, but never made it out of the turbolift. I liked seeing how Janeway and Paris tried to avoid their hallucinations, and did well for quite a while. And then Torres... well, that one seemed to come out of nowhere, but everyone else's temptations were fine.
I liked that Janeway ultimately failed. She wasn't telepathic or whatever or any more powerful than anyone else on the ship. The "iron will" idea is hard to believe, and seeing her human works better.
I liked Kes and the Doctor's team up. Seeing two people not used to technobabble have to deal with it was a nice tough, and it was enjoyable watching them awkwardly fuddle their way through it. And while it might get annoying seeing the Doctor constantly save the day, well, that's the price you pay for a character like that. The same thing happened on TNG with Data. And anyways, the back and forth between Kes and the alien was fun. Sure, we could assume that all her visions were not real, but you could see how Kes might be tempted. And the sores... yow! That was well directed. It got me to jump.
I like that nothing got resolved. I like that the crew nearly lost and had nothing to show for it. They are supposed to be isolated, alone, and stuck in a dangerous environment. If they could nearly all turn into zombies by this one person, and can't even catch him at the end, how are they going to survive? I think it fits the tone of the episode, providing even more paranoia. Would he ever come back? Would they have to live in perpetual worry that they will suddenly become zombies again? Of course, it's just a reset button, but still. Ignoring that, the end worked.
That said, the reset button did annoy me a bit. Neelix's comments at the beginning suggest that this was a pretty large expanse of space, and that lots of ships had trouble. So... is this a whole race of troublemakers? Or just one sociopath? If so many people were worried about this area in space, wouldn't this guy try again to prove himself? A part of me wished that this guy would have eventually been revealed as an Ocampa, as that might explain why Kes could reflect it. And it might have made the revelation quite dramatic and shocking. I don't know, it's just an idea. Either way, something more interesting should have happened in a follow up.
Sun, Mar 15, 2015, 11:38am (UTC -5)
Not every holodeck program is a procedurally generated made-on-the-fly-by-the-computer simulation. No, there are HOLONOVELS. Which may actually be written by PEOPLE! I figure Janeway found the novel in the database, and thought it would be a fun one to experience. The name she loads is probably what she titled her "saved game" or something.
Thu, Aug 6, 2015, 10:22am (UTC -5)
I remember liking this one. For those that think every minute of an episode needs to be "gripping", you should watch some old Godzilla movies. I LOVED the most recent Godzilla because the didn't show everything the entire movie.
Ah, I remember now, this is the Kes marshmallow-face episode! :-)
I thought the ending was pretty cool. Kes' powers prevail and are remarked upon by someone other than Tuvok. "You're a powerful little thing."
Technobabble didn't save the day, our little Ocampan did.
I thought "and I'd like to be able to accommodate you but you see, I'm not really here." was new and fresh and caught me off guard.
I'll go 3 stars here.
I agree Jammer, we needed a shot in the arm. the most recent group of Voyager episode weren't very good.
Fri, Oct 30, 2015, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Sun, Dec 20, 2015, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 6:40am (UTC -5)
That said, it's all a bit scattergun as it spreads the character focus around thinly. That works for Janeway, who at least gets explored in some depth, but the Torres and Paris themes seem perfunctory. The ambiguous conclusion also slightly undermines the proceedings in my view. "I'm not really here" indeed. 2.5 stars.
Tue, Mar 15, 2016, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
The quick ending and lack of explanation for the aliens, as well as Janeway and torres' final conversation (focusing on their feelings rather than the aliens), is evidence for this intent. Same with the mostly faceless alien. It's as if the alien was written to be as non distracting as possible, and specifically set up to not have the potential to become a memorable recurring species.
But if that's the case, it still wasn't well done. The problem was that too much time was spent building up the encounter and the hallucinations. The consultations with Neelix were irrelevant as was the aliens policies towards outsiders. We didn't need screen time for that. We didn't need half the episode of the captain in sickbay trying to figure out what was wrong, we didnt need the extended build up, we didn't need kes' dragged out attempt to thwart the aliens. This was all a waste of screen time when it *should* have been dedicated almost entirely to various characters hallucinations and their effects.
Either that or the episode should have dropped the character development completely and gone the direction of developing a new Delta quadrant species instead.
Either way, it didn't do justice to any purpose. Jammer was spot on with the observation that the writing was all over the map.
I didn't dislike this episode, but I do think it was a wasted opportunity because of its lack of commitment to any specific direction.
Wed, Aug 17, 2016, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 4, 2016, 10:42am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 4, 2017, 5:56am (UTC -5)
Tue, May 30, 2017, 4:26am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 27, 2017, 7:13am (UTC -5)
To whom is such a question important? Some saddo from the internet who wants to get his rocks off to an episode of Star Trek?
I agree with this review in its entirety. A solid, very dark episode with fantastic imagery, reminiscent of TNG-era weirdness, slightly let down towards the end by dragging the whole crew into it. Janeway teaming up with Kes would have been awesome as they literally bounce off each other in this episode. Trek could have done with more creepy aliens whose motives are never explained beyond "I will do these things to you because I can" - that motive is horrible and frightening enough without doing what American writers usually do and dumbing it down with a lengthy explanation.
Tue, Jul 4, 2017, 1:11am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 19, 2017, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
Personally I would like to know who, in the enlightened 24th century - a time when humans want for nothing and don't have to work for a living - has the job of cleaning what must be absolutely vast amounts of jizz off the walls and floor of the holodeck at the end of every day.
Thu, Jul 20, 2017, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
I'll see myself out now.
Tue, Jul 25, 2017, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
A thoroughly entertaining hour with wonderful atmosphere. The Botha are one of the few interesting races VOY came up with
Sun, Aug 20, 2017, 1:28am (UTC -5)
My memory of Voyager starts in the latter seasons and were mildly entertaining but this first season is awful. Of course TNG and DS9 started slow, but this is the worst. Tell me it gets better.
By the way, the stupid holonovel seems like an amalgam of Jane Eyre and The Turn of the Screw. I'm hating it.
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
It's a bit soon after Projections to have a holodeck-related reality-bending episode, but Janeway seeing bits of her holonovel bleeding into her life on the ship is executed fairly well, and at least gives a reason for this holonovel to have been going on. What really struck me is how precarious the ship is; we are introduced to the whole roster of Janeway's duties at the episode's beginning to emphasize how disastrous pulling her from the voyage as a whole would be, so that when she seemingly starts to crack up Janeway *and* we know how important it is that she holds herself together, and it strengthens Janeway's increasing panic about what happens if this is just her going crazy (and the way that seems to worsen what may be hallucinations). Melgrew is great throughout. The gothic tone of the holonovel works here, and I like sense that the (not actually) mystery of the book (i.e. that the mother is alive) is about a "character" who is not supposed to exist (the mother, within the frame of the holonovel) also mirrors the way the holonovel characters, who are not supposed to be real, start to invade Janeway's actual life. And for this part of the story, the underlying idea that she's afraid that she's betraying Mark by...what, responding to the kiss from a man in the holodeck?...sort of makes sense. I don't think the issue is really that Janeway actually takes the holo-kiss that seriously -- this is mostly the equivalent of getting emotionally involved in a book or TV show or video game, after all -- so much as the way her feelings respond reminds her of 1) her own loneliness, and 2) that on some level she has started to let go of Mark. She mirrors the husband, who is married (as Janeway is engaged) but is treating his (apparently living?) wife as dead to have an affair, and that opens up a door for Janeway -- even though Mark is alive, is he starting to be *effectively* "dead" from her, in terms of being completely out of her life? The housekeeper's and children's anger and feelings of betrayal over Janeway-as-Lucy "replacing" the (not actually dead?) mother maybe works as a psychological representation of Janeway's guilt over herself giving up Mark and starting to consider, at least subconsciously, other options, even the option of letting herself truly feel unattached to a man on the other side of the galaxy.
And then things go full on out, with the beam and everyone's fantasies, and they don't really tell us much interesting. Janeway's encounter with Mark is too simplistic for what should be a more complex set of emotions, and by making her feelings "explicit" it actually removes some of the complexity that we could read into the earlier scenes, by implying it's *just* her feelings of guilt about kissing a hologram. Tuvok misses his wife; Paris has disappointed his dad. Thanks for the memos. Based on Non Sequitur, I choose to believe Kim was just lying when he said he saw Libby on screen, and I think he more saw his greatest fantasy, which, as we know from Non Sequitur, is the spacetime continuum being back to its correct alignment after a shuttle accident. The revelation about Torres' feelings for Chakotay feels totally unearned -- yeah, okay, so I detected a certain charge in some previous scenes at times, but the chemistry isn't *that* strong and, more to the point, the way Torres eventually reacts in the scene with Janeway feels overdone; is it that horrifying a revelation? (I forget whether this revelation goes anywhere, so. We'll see.) The Kes stuff was maybe okay, and also reminded me of the end of Night Terrors (where it was down to Data the AI and Troi the psychic when the rest of the crew was very nearly out of commission), but basically didn't tell me anything about her, and nor do I even really get how this "mirror" thing of hers is supposed to work (she...somehow sent the image of the holo-hallucinations back into Janeway's head, and so she could...send the weird burning white stuff back onto Neelix?...but Janeway didn't cause the holo-hallucinations, and wasn't injured by the knife when Kes sent the knife-wielding maniac into her so...wait...what...).
It's a letdown that we don't learn more about this alien, but it's sort of neat all the same that it seems to just be one guy with some powers and a technological apparatus (a Wizard of Oz type) pretending to be a whole territorial species.
So I found the tone okay at the episode's start but mostly wasn't happy with the result. I guess we'll see how the show pays off Janeway's gradual disconnection from Mark. If this were like TNG's Eye of the Beholder, where the whole nightmare about the Worf/Troi romance being doomed ends up being kind of pointless in light of the show never actually exploring it except through various fantasies, I'd feel particularly negative about it, but I guess it's possible there's some real development here for Janeway, in at least starting to realize she's moving away from Mark. I guess I'll say 2 stars. The season isn't really shaping up that well so far. (I haven't written about Projections yet, so I'll say I liked it.)
Tue, Sep 26, 2017, 12:14am (UTC -5)
And the whole thing was a little confusing. Were the Bothan ships real or not? They did real damage to the ship, but they were actually hallucinations? Or what? Was the whole episode only a hallucination by the entire crew? Was the Bothan real and made them think he wasn't at the end? Is there even such a thing as a Bothan? Maybe it's all some trick by a Q or something.
I guess that was sort of the point of the episode. That all this stuff happened with no explanation for any of it, but that seems like sort of a cop out. They went through all this, and what was it and why was it done? Who knows?
Thu, Sep 28, 2017, 3:04am (UTC -5)
I like what you write, and I appreciate the thought that goes into it, but I think you are seriously overanalyzing the reasons why any of the writers wrote what they wrote. Yours is very much an 'after the fact' analysis of what the episodes are about. Which is fine, but you are attributing far too much to the writers, who I can almost 100% guarantee did not put anywhere near as much thought into the episodes as you do.
I'm not telling you to stop what you are doing, because it's an interesting analysis of Star Trek, I'm only saying you shouldn't defend the writers because of what someone more insightful thought after the fact. :D
Too bad you weren't a story consultant on some of these. It would have helped.
Thu, Sep 28, 2017, 8:52am (UTC -5)
I don't think that changes the critic's job, but it is interesting.
Thu, Sep 28, 2017, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 24, 2018, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
No idea how it was going to end or where exactly it was going for over 3/4 of the episode and all that BS the viewer goes through ends up with a whole lot of nothing at the end.
It basically came down to Kes's telepathic abilities to reflect back the hallucinations on the alien's image of evil Neelix. Pretty lame stuff. And then Janeway asks the alien why it's doing this nonsense and it replies because it can. We need better than this -- pure and simple. No way to punish the alien or understanding its greater purpose.
So the alien has this ability to know what every crew member's "weaknesses" are and it renders them into a catatonic state -- bit of a stretch; however, an entire crew being rendered useless isn't totally out of the question by Trek standards. Is this alien supposed to be the equivalent of Q?
Barely 1.5 stars for "Persistence of Vision" -- probably 3/4 of the episode is a big WTF for me, just hallucinations and it ends with a BS payoff including a big reset. Pretty much a waste of an hour other than scratching the surface for various crew members' deepest desires/fears/emotions.
Fri, Feb 16, 2018, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 1, 2018, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
I think people are focusing too much on the awkwardness of Janeways lusting to the weird holodeck character. I mean, it's nowhere near as bad as that time Geordi Leforge actually fell in love with a woman in the holodeck.
This episode easily gets 4 stars from me.
Sun, Oct 7, 2018, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
A lot the hallucinations / WTF stuff seem to be twists on stuff like "Frame of Mind", some holodeck gone wild episodes, and maybe even a bit of "The Naked Time" with people's past/true natures coming to the fore and being used to make them catatonic.
The ending with some random alien screwing around with people's minds because he can and the crew wondering if any of it happened etc. -- the whole reset bit is a big disappointment. Maybe what the crew get out of it is seeing a side of themselves they know is there but that they'd rather keep under wraps.
And where do things stand with the xenophobic Botha aliens whose space Voyager is trying pass through? Were they just conjured up by this 1 alien?
2 stars for "Persistence of Vision" -- a weird sci-fi episode that doesn't have the substance to back up the atmospheric effects of hallucinations, playing on the crew's past weaknesses - it's all a bit much for some random alien to come up with. Too much suspension of disbelief here and a disappointing ending leaving this as a "who cares?" episode.
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 10:59pm (UTC -5)
Janeway has a busy morning. On her way to Engineering she receives a call from Paris, letting her know they're about to enter Bothan? space. Return of the Jedi joke...we're walking...Neelix accosts her in person about meeting this new alien species. She tells him to fuck off and proceeds to her meeting with Torres and Kim. Apparently, the EMH shared his experience in “Projections” with the crew and they're trying to set up remote emitters for him for real now. Janeway is here to observe their first test of the system. Something goes a bit wrong as Dr Ego Maximus materialises about 4 inches tall. Janeway lays into Kim for wasting her god-damned time and Tuvok calls in to call for for his own pound of flesh. The EMH, despite his stature, decides to pull rank and order the captain to report to the holodeck and unwind. This is basically a Star Trek right of passage.
So Janeway puts on her period dress last seen in “Learning Curve.” Before she departs for the holodeck, she takes a moment with her photograph of Mark, her fiancé, a lovely moment as portrayed by Mulgrew. On the holodeck, Lord Sideburns seems to sense Janeway's loneliness and steals a big kiss before declaring his love for her.
Act 1 : **.5, 17%
We pick right up with the limey little brats entering the room, followed by Malcorian scientist, Romulan commander and stuffy British stereotype #7 Mrs Templeton. Much like in “The Big Goodbye,” we just kind of live in this world for a while. And like that episode or the Sherlock Holmes scenarios, it might be understandable to loathe this break from the 24th century world we are supposed to be watching, but personally, I judge the execution in these matters. The guest actors and Mulgrew do a fine job with this Gothic plot. There's a “Jane Eyre”-ish mystery regarding the dead wife and the fourth floor. Right as she's getting into it, Chakotay calls to inform her that it's time to meet with the Bothans.
So she changes and arrives on the bridge. Neelix fills her in quickly—these aliens are just kind of lazily xenophobic and very mysterious. Maybe THEY know what's on the fourth floor! Hmm? Well, the head Bothan hails—the image on the viewscreen is backlit so the alien's face cannot be discerned. He says he'll send a ship to “evaluate” the Voyager and cuts the transmission. Paris gives his usual quip and the crew speculate on this guy's motivation. Neelix suggests to Janeway that they continue her briefing in the mess hall. She looks around the room to Tuvok and to Kim and to Chakotay, begging for a way out of this nightmare scenario but receiving no lifeline.
The Morale Officer shows off his buffet which includes a tray of cucumber sandwiches identical to the ones in Janeway's holonovel. But he's not done—he serves Janeway her tea in one of the porcelain cups from the programme as well. Well, these may have just been coincidences, but as Janeway is returning to duty, she starts hearing Sideburn's voice and sees little Beatrice in the corridor.
Act 2 : **.5, 17%
Janeway's first thought is that Torres' and Kim's experiments with the EMH are responsible for these images appearing around the ship, but they have to let her down. They decide to humour her and run diagnostics on her programme, so Janeway is sent back to the holodeck to resume the novel. So, we get right back to the kissing. Unwilling to deal with this shit at the moment, Janeway deletes Lord Sideburns.
With the diagnostic turning up empty, Janeway returns to the mess hall to verify her memory of the event. It turns out there weren't any cucumber sandwiches or Victorian teacups. Resigned to troubling prospects, Janeway checks herself into sickbay to be scanned. The EMH's scans turn up empty as well, but something is giving Kes a case of Hokie Pokie. Then, the little girl shows up again screaming at Janeway about her dead mother. The Doctor doesn't see her, but Kes seems to, and somehow causes the image to vanish. They consider the possibility that her mental exercises with Tuvok (c.f. “Cathexis”) have something to do with it.
Janeway is sent to her quarters, where she replicates some ice cream and starts having hallucinations again. She hears a man's voice and a dog barking—Mark and her pet. The voice of Mark gives her shit over her attraction to Lord Sideburns and finally Mrs Templeton enters her quarters with a knife and attacks. Then it's revealed that Janeway has been in the sickbay the whole time, her delusions having taken over completely.
Act 3 : **, 17%
Well, this is pretty serious, so Janeway puts Chakotay in command and briefs him about the laundry list of tasks she had pending. He returns to the bridge and meets with the Bothan, who remains as unpleasant and enigmatic as before. Tuvok cuts the transmission, noting an odd scan and the alien responds by having two other ships decloak and all three begin attacking the Voyager. There's a brief and rather gutless battle sequence that finally ends when the ships surround the Voyager, but just then Janeway returns to the bridge to assume command. This proves to be a less than great idea as the alien steps into the light and reveals himself to be Mark.
Act 4 : .5 stars, 17%
Well, the delusions are spreading—Paris sees his father, Kim sees Libby, Tuvok sees his wife...naturally the second black Vulcan in Star Trek history *has* to be married to the first one...little by little, throughout the ship, the crew are entering catatonic states. Torres explains that there's some quantum whatever happening that's causing the hallucinations. Grand.
Chakotay arrives in Engineering to assist Torres, but it looks like the two of them are the only ones left conscious. This leads to the two of them fucking in her quarters—in her mind of course. Yeah...On the bridge, Owen Paris is berating his son over his endless failures in rather stilted dialogue, propped up only by an inventive score. When Janeway enters the turbolift to go to Engineering, she sees that Chakotay has succumbed to whatever. But Mark is there too now, guilt-tripping her over getting her corset in a twist on the holodeck. This seems to break through her defences and she submits to the delusion.
Act 5 : *, 17%
In sickbay, Kes and the EMH conclude that actually THEY are the only two left. Thankfully this doesn't lead to more ill-advised boning. Instead, the Doctor sends Kes to Engineering to complete Torres techno-whatever solution. Along the way, Kes herself starts hallucinating, seeing Tom badly burnt and pleading for help. She ignores him and makes it to the Engine room. While the EMH brushes up on technical manuals, Neelix shows up—obviously another hallucination. As she tries to save the day, she begins hallucinating these painful growths, but she channels her chi or whatever and reflects the pain back to Neelix, whose illusion is finally disrupted and revealed to be the prune-faced Bothan. She activates the quantum and ends the mass hallucination. Torres seems unruffled for having bee interrupted from her nasty sex dream and calmly points a phaser at him. Janeway arrives as the Bothan expresses his surprise at how powerful Kes' abilities are. She asks him why he did all this...and his only answer is “because I can.” Then he says that he's not really there and vanishes completely.
In the epilogue, Torres confronts Janeway. Obviously her little tryst with Commander Spirit Walker has her wondering whence the motivation for any of this. Janeway concludes that in the end, it's better to confront buried feelings that try and suppress them. Sure.
Episode as Functionary : **, 10%
This episode isn't so much bad as it is a complete mess. There are at least three different stories in here, all of them worth exploring, but trying to tell them all at once creates the sensation that nothing has finished cooking—the ideas are severely underdeveloped.
1. We have the enigmatic alien who, like Loki, pushes the crew out of their established order and forces them to confront deep-seeded feelings.
-Kim misses Libby. That's about as far as that goes.
-Tom feels the shadow of his father in everything he tries to accomplish. This is slightly more interesting.
-Tuvok misses his wife. The introduction of his musical talents is sort of interesting but goes no where.
-Kes definitely has buried feelings for Paris and resentment towards Neelix for the way he treats her. This I'm happy to see, even if it's barely on the screen.
-Torres wants to fuck Chakotay....the less said about this, the better. This is straight-up “Fascination” material.
2. We have an exploration of Janeway's loneliness, which is very welcome. Season 1 worked pretty well in establishing the big picture conflicts regarding her role as captain, but now we're finally addressing the personal issues. Her longing for Mark and her dogs, and the accompanying guilt that goes along with her escapism in the holodeck all work to create vulnerability in the character, something the producers were loathe to do given their trepidation over how to portray a female captain.
3. We have, I believe, Jeri Taylor attempting to do “Sub Rosa,” but properly. While none of the material on the holodeck is what I would call riveting, it displays a competence and a respect for the protagonist that was sorely missing from the TNG story, and she gets to play around with the Gothic genre.
Any one of this ideas would make for a decent episode, possibly even a great one—and the ideas are connected, I don't want to undersell it—but trying to do all of this at once creates the feeling of being totally ungrounded. Who is the protagonist of this story? Is it Janeway or Kes? What is the message we are to be considering from Prune-face's little adventure? What insights to we have into all the non-Janeway characters with respect to their hallucinations? Because the episode is so crowded, we can't really say, making the whole thing feel like a waste of time. This feeling of wasted opportunity tends to bleed over onto the other elements of the story, which aren't actually offensive in their own right—the Botham's enigmatic non-answer goes from intriguing to annoying, the Gothic characters go from competently executed to distractingly stupid, and Kes' mental powers go from potential character development to plot element. As usual, things are held together by solid performances all around, especially from Mulgrew. And this week, we had an above-average score to boot.
Final Score : **
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 1:55am (UTC -5)
Way better than the previous few episodes of dross. As someone here noted, I also got 'sub rosa' vibes plus bonus typical American 'this is how we think britsh people really are' squabbling over cucumber sandwiches and what not, dont you know :D.
Sat, Jun 6, 2020, 6:51am (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 29, 2020, 9:35am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 23, 2021, 1:12am (UTC -5)
Besides, the whole theme of the show is basically about ghosts indirectly. It's a magic battle disguised as a psionic battle, but this is on all fronts a ghost story.
It would have been more interesting, and more focused, had Janeway and Kes teamed up. Perhaps Kes protecting Janeway, while Janeway takes the dialogue of the doctor? But still, the most satisfying way to deal with a villain is to reflect his energy back at him and turn his strength against him.
I simply see this as a rather fun and compelling ghost story. Not every episode needs to be a rock'um sock'um physical fight & phaser battle.
True, I'm a bit disappointed that we learned nothing about the intruder. Properly dealing with him might've made an interesting final scene.
But on the other hand, if you ignore pent up negative energy and thoughts for too long, sooner or later they will turn on you.
Just consider this a ghost story and everything is fine. And besides, that was a brief, but great, esoteric battle at the end.
Sun, Jan 31, 2021, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
It wasn't real Neelix, 0 stars
Therefore, 2.5 stars
In a parallel universe, they made a version of Sub Rosa where Neelix bangs a scottish space ghost.
Sun, Feb 28, 2021, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
Good episode. The alien's cruelty and unexplained motivations reminded me of TNG's "Schisms."
Jammer said: "It should have been Janeway saving the ship in the episode's finale, not Kes."
That's actually what I like best about the episode. Everything is totally set up for Janeway to save the day and seeing her fall into catatonia was a real surprise. It was nice to see Kes get a chance to play hero of the day, too.
p.s. I really like Janeway's holonovel hair-do.
Sun, Feb 28, 2021, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
I swear the Kindle Fire has the worst keyboard in history.
Fri, Jun 25, 2021, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
(1) Tired and irritable captain needs a vacation. From "The Cage"
(2) Illusions mistaken for reality. From "The Cage"
(3) Crew being neutralized by means of illusion with threat of the ship being taken over by an alien.
From "And the Children Shall Lead"
(4) Defeat of up-till-now victorious alien through usurpation/surpassing of its power by member of the crew. From "Plato's Stepchildren"
Greek mythology binds the ideas together. The notion of the mirror image being a key to victory seems attributable to the myth of Perseus and Medusa. Kes is the mirror, and her pain is reflected onto the hideous alien, which is tuned to stone so to speak and defeated (the idea that moral ugliness must be faced to be defeated was picked up already in "And the Children Shall Lead", where Kirk as we know, refers to the enemy as "Gorgon").
All of this material is ably mixed together in an interesting way, which makes for a reasonably good episode. The denoument "I was never really here" was a nice touch. But think of Malachi Throne (Commodore Mendez) disappearing at the end of "The Menagerie". 3.0 / 3.25 stars despite all the recycling.
Sat, Sep 4, 2021, 8:53am (UTC -5)
1. The idea of Janeway being overloaded with work and responsibility
2. The funny scene with the shrunken doctor
3. Janeway's holonovel, which cleverly lets her act out a domestic life denied to her (and in which someone else gives the orders!)
4. Janeway's melancholic pining for her husband
5. Janeway's mental breakdown scenes, beautifully acted, and one in which she shockingly collapses in sickbay.
6. The gothic, ghost-movie vibe, which only becomes hokey in a few brief moments.
7. The very original alien villain; this is an alien who takes over an entire ship by himself, and creepily hides under everyone's noses. There's a real sense of intrusiveness to this guy. He gets disturbingly up close.
8. And look how clever his tactics are: he takes out the captain first, concocts a fake "first contact" meeting with phony ships, plays to Chakotay's fantasies of being in charge, disables Tuvok and the bridge crew...the guy is very systematic and insidious.
9. The great imagery of the crew paralyzed, standing like motionless monuments.
10. The scene in which Janeway confronts her husband in the turbolift, and powerfully confronts her feelings of loss and (in a sense) marital betrayal.
11. The alpha quadrant finally feels alien and dangerous. Indeed, the villain is a God-like entity common in TOS; The galaxy feels mad and lawless again.
12. The villain offers no explanation as to his methods or aims. This is good. I prefer no closure to trite closure. The unknown is oft more interesting than a rote explanation.
I'd say the only bad thing about this episode - as in most Voyager episodes - is its BOMBASTIC ACTION CLIMAX and ANNOYING-AS-HELL TECHNOBABBLE. This show really is relentless with its hokey techno-jargon. TOS avoided technobabble almost entirely, or would boil its technobabble down into a single line, but Voyager goes on and on, and too often its techno-solutions are plucked out of the air like magic.
This overly perfunctory, deus-ex-machina quality is on full display in this episode. Though well acted by the Doc and Kes, the episode essentially climaxes with Voyager farting out a magical warp bubble. It's silly.
If I had to end this episode, I'd simply stick Janeway and her husband in a room and have them talk it out. If you prefer the more bombastic route, have everyone succumb to the alien, except Janeway, who flies her ship into a sun to suicidally kill the intruder. The intruder then reveals the sun is itself an illusion, and mockingly departs, like some deranged Loki.
Anyway, I think you guys are underrating this episode. It helps flesh out Janeway's loneliness, and has a pretty neat villain. I'd say it's a good dry run for "SCIENTIFIC METHOD", a similar, more successful later episode.
Fri, May 5, 2023, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
Where Janeway flings the ship into TWO suns at once to kill the intruder(s)! Bigger! More radiation!
Sun, May 7, 2023, 11:28pm (UTC -5)
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