Star Trek: Voyager

“Basics, Part II”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 9/4/1996
Written by Michael Piller
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

"Sticks and stones won't break my bones, so you can imagine how I feel about being called names." — Doc to Seska

Review Text

Nutshell: Some well-executed adventure, but the episode too often feels like a pre-determined, calculated exercise.

"Basics, Part II" is a show I tried to enjoy. And, at times, I did enjoy pieces of it. It's sort of a brainless adventure romp with some well-directed action sequences that hold reasonable entertainment value. Unfortunately, the problem with "Basics, Part II" is that it is merely the painfully obvious and predictable resolution of "Basics, Part I," a somewhat entertaining episode in itself that, nevertheless, probably should never have been used as a season cliffhanger simply because of how pointless the underlying premise is.

I mean, come on. Did anybody have the slightest doubt in their mind that Voyager would be retaken? That somehow Doc, Suder, Paris, and the Talaxian convoy would outsmart the Kazon with a clever plan? That the crew would not be marooned on the planet forever?

No, of course not.

Well, one reason the two "Basics" shows aren't all that compelling is that they don't really give us many character dynamics to ponder. "Basics I" gives us an extreme situation, "Basics II" quickly resolves it, and the two shows sit there and hope that we'll genuinely care about everything that happened in the progress.

Well, I tried very hard to put aside my cynicism and thoughts of how silly the first part's setup now seemed, and, for a while, it kind of worked. Like I said, "Basics II" has a number of worthwhile moments. In fact, part two is more fun than part one was.

The show picks up exactly where the first half left off, with the crew stranded on the planet, searching for food, water, and shelter. Some of the hassles the crew faces in its new planetary environment include a primitive tribe of humanoids whom cannot be easily communicated with, and that dwells in a cave and promptly eats Ensign Hogan when he ventures too near its habitat in the episode's opening minutes. (Hogan, who has been a reliable extra character in several past episodes, finally meets his now-obviously-always-inevitable demise. I couldn't help but chuckle at the fact.)

Meanwhile, Seska and Culluh set the ship on a course for who-knows-where (so long as destruction with their newfound arsenal is possible), distancing themselves from the planet. Paris turns out to be (surprise!) alive and well in his shuttlecraft and, with the help of the Talaxians, is ready to perform trickery to retake the ship. Doc tracks down Suder (who's been hiding in the ship's vents) and informs him of Paris' plan: Suder must go to engineering and rig the backup phaser couplings (or something) to overload so that after Paris uses his hotshot piloting skills to disable Voyager's primary couplings, the Kazon will overload and burn out the phasers the moment they try to return fire. The problem: Engineering is full of Kazon, and if Suder goes down there, he will have to kill or be killed.

The one character I did care about in both "Basics" episodes was Suder. Here is a guy who is completely torn up inside, and in order to do what is right for his ship and crew, he will have to resort to violence. Suder does not want to kill again; he has worked so hard to get where he is now—to a point where his inner demons have been nearly silenced and his lust for violence quashed. Brad Dourif again carries the role terrifically, bringing the sense of detached instability and personal torment to the character—a character that we can empathize with.

The Doctor also comes across as quite interesting in this episode. The situation gives him the chance to take initiative, and his acerbic, sarcastic responses to Seska's interrogations are always amusing, especially when he claims to be the sole effort against her plans.

So as the episode switches back and forth between the A/B-stories, the show gives us some decent, albeit derivative, action scenes. The best is a sequence where Chakotay, Tuvok, Neelix, Kes, and some unnamed crewmen are forced to hide in the monster's cave after they're chased by angry members of the primitive tribe. The monster, evidently a computer-animated creation, is an impressive special effects display. (No points, however, for guessing that it's one of the unnamed crewman who will be eaten by it, and not Chakotay, Tuvok, Neelix, or Kes.) And, of course, the respectable, even if predictable, Star Trek mentality dictates that the primitive tribe and the Voyager crew will eventually become friends once Chakotay risks his life to save one of them from falling into a pit of molten lava (Oh yeah, did I mention this planet has active volcanoes?).

The scope of the episode is impressive. The planet scenes are all shot on location, and every time the crew survives one crisis, there's another—progressing from the lack of fire and water, to kidnappings, to fleeing from angry tribes, to fighting big monsters, to leaping from rock to rock across a pit of molten lava. This planet has everything.

One thing, however, about "Basics II" that really began to annoy me was how carefully every scene seemed measured and calculated to resolve the setup pieces from part one. At times, I felt more like I was watching a pre-determined, pre-programmed exercise playing out than I was watching a real story unfold. The events are tidy—too tidy. "Manufactured" would be most accurate.

For example, after the Doctor's further examination, it turns out that Seska's son is not Chakotay's son, but Culluh's. That's a cop-out—a loose end from which the writers so easily let themselves off the hook. Here it is—the source of all the exposition that caused Chakotay to turn the Voyager into this trap in the first place—becomes an issue that, with a few lines of dialog, never needs to be addressed again.

And how about Suder? Here's the only truly interesting character we can care about, and after an eye-opening scene where he phasers a roomful of Kazon in engineering and completes his mission, one of the dying Kazon shoots him in the back and kills him. That made me angry, because it was so obvious and easy for the writers to do, sealing all options concerning what to do about his life sentence in his quarters. I somehow expected this all along, but I was hoping I might be wrong. I wasn't.

And Seska? She dies an anticlimactic and arbitrary death, apparently caused by injuries from the phaser overload. Considering her villainy, Seska's death is an event that just sits and shrugs. I personally think it would've been more interesting to keep her alive and have her caught by the crew where she would answer for treason. Nope. Wrote her out of the picture in ten seconds flat.

And the damage to the ship after all this? A non-factor (despite the fact that the overload practically made the Voyager look like it was on fire). Once the crew retakes Voyager, the ship, of course, looks practically like new.

Really, under scrutiny, Michael Piller's teleplay for "Basics" looks like little more than a machine that gives us all the parts in the first half, and then brainlessly assembles them in the second half. This is too bad, because "Basics, Part II" has many strengths, including some standout performances, one of Dennis McCarthy's better scores (even featuring some themes), good special effects, and a first-rate direction by Winrich Kolbe, who sets the show at a fast pace and uses some impressive photography and interesting camera angles on the locations.

I dunno. Perhaps this show and its abrupt wrap-up is all a statement that Voyager is moving on. "Basics, Part II" is reported as the last time we will see the Kazon (which is just fine with me). I suppose as wrap-up it works okay, but a less obvious and calculated approach might have been nice.

Previous episode: Basics, Part I
Next episode: Flashback

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Comment Section

72 comments on this post

    Too true. I read somewhere that in Piller's original teleplay, the baby's father WAS Chakotay. The baby died, while Seska survived and escaped. That might have been better

    Yeah, I had read (in the last day, as a matter of fact) that Piller revealed in a chat different intentions - the baby was indeed Chakotay's, the baby would die, and both Suder and Seska would survive this two-parter. Memory Alpha has the transcript with the details:

    Interesting stuff. Who knows if it all would've worked, but the changes certainly didn't benefit this episode and the two-parter as a whole. Picardo and Dourif were solid, though.

    I never really liked Fresca, but I thought it was cool that they were able to bring her back a couple of times through the magic of holotechnology and time travel, especially because we didn't expect to see her again. If she had survived "Basics II" and escaped the ship, I think it would have been too much like Vader's just happening to be off the Death Star when it blew up: "Yeah, we're gonna see him again."

    Paris: "I do know what makes an interesting story & that's unexpected plot twists."

    Oh, you mean like, Paris & B'Elanna hooking up, Kes getting kicked off the show rather than Neelix, Harry leaving his beautiful fiancee for no reason yet going apesh!t over being apart from the chick in "The Disease," 7's parents knowing about the Borg years before "Q Who," and (the biggest doozy) Paris & Janeway having sex after going Warp 10 in "Threshold."
    Yeah, Voyager was full of unexpected plot twists, wasn't it?

    Sorry, I meant to put that on the "Worst Case Scenario" board and accidentally hit the link to this one.

    Actually, there was one scene of genuine character development this episode and that's when Cullan tenderly scoops up what he still thinks is Chakotay and Seska's baby and walks off with it. I'm almost sad we'll never see him again just when he finally exhibits something beyond cartoon villainy.

    Poor Hogan!

    1) Why did he have to call Neelix "yes sir"? Since when Neelix had been a Starfleet officer?

    2) And why the hell didn't Neelix stay and collect these damn bones and been eaten himself instead of poor Hogan?

    And of course, the biggest question still remains alive: Why, oh why, had Janeway and Chakotay to go after Seska's baby, putting in risk the whole crew and their starship? Bad writing... :(

    Having the baby not be Chakotay's was one giant copout by the writers. And it made his vision-quest converstion with his father completely meaningless.

    The episode could have played out exactly the way it did except Doc never tells Seska it's Cullah's baby and Cullah leaves it behind in the Captain's ready room once he finds out Seska's dead.

    Then Chakotay could have raised it - either by himself or with Janeway's help. Or B'elanna's. How interesting would it be for two Maquis to raise a half-Cardassian child? Answer: very - IF the writers and producers had the balls to explore it instead of playing it TV safe.


    Both the first part and second part were ok to good but I must agree that killing off Suder was pretty stupid. An excellent character that was more worthy than being just shot in the back. Kinda reminded me of the lame death of Capt. Kirk in, Generations. I would have loved to have seen him more in upcoming episodes and if he were to eventual be killed off, I would hope that it would have been much better than what this episode had to offer.

    What's depressing is Voyager, arguably, got less ambitious after this episode and after the second season.

    I'm in the extreme minority, but I like second-season Voyager (as a whole) better than any other season. It's the only time when the creators decided to deal with the central premise of the show. There were a LOT of problems ("Deadlock" is still inexcusable and "Threshold" was ridiculous).

    The problem with season two is that the creators got gunshy about this kind of storyline because they picked bad guys who were kind of stupid. Had the Kazon been more interesting -- and they could have been, with just a few tweaks -- the second season would have been pretty good. Had a few details not been reset, the second season would have been very good.

    But instead of making the continuing storyline concept work, the creators went for less continuity. The "Hunters" arc was especially bad and the Borg were so badly neutered.

    For the rest of the series, the best we could hope for with Voyager was a good one-off episode every now and then. The continuing arcs were really bad after season two and the lack of resources/struggle to survive wasn't done with much authority. Even lines like Janeway's from part one about not having torpedoes to waste are gone from the later seasons.

    I was very angry with the deaths of Hogan and Suder. I like to see familiar faces, recurring characters and Hogan's death was senseless. As for Suder's, it's a shame because of the wonderfull arc they could have done with him. Not only was the character interesting, but the actor was stellar !

    I also don't understand why the captain would make Neelix or Kim leader of a team. Agreed, Neelix knows a lot about basic survival but he's not an officer. And Kim is just an ensign, there are many on the crew who outrank him.

    What redeems this episode are the doc and Suder. Too bad, it had a lot of potential.

    "Agreed, Neelix knows a lot about basic survival but he's not an officer."

    Like what? He wasn't able to make fire, didn't know there are bugs under rocks you can eat - and this is important - Wasn't able to keep anyone alive! His stupidity got Hogan killed (his death BTW proved he was 100%ˇright in Alliances) and partially caused conflict with the natives. The asshole would get himself killed if Chakotay wouldn't come to save his ass.

    Does Suder kind-of remind anyone else of Barclay; in terms of his facial features and his neurotic, nervous body language? He just had a Barclay look to him hehe.

    I did love the adventurous spirit of the episode, taken on a 'fun' level rather than on a serious one because as Jammer rightly says the plots' conclusions were never in doubt.

    I'm in two minds about the death of Suder and the fiery conclusion of the Kazon arc. There was a nice irony in the fact Suder dies in a pretty glorious bloodbath after all of his efforts to become a peaceful person, his end has a twang of tragedy in it. The same with Seskas' death leaving Culluh to care for a baby he might never know is the father to.

    Perhaps the writers should have went all Blakes' Seven on our asses and upped the tragic/ironic/grisily/dark ending to epic proportions! Or maybes that's just me revealing my inner Suder *gulp*!

    On the whole, a cool 2-part adventure even if it fails to be anything particularly spectacular.

    Wormtongue dies again! Poor Brad Dourif. Because of his unique look he always gets cast as the psycho evil dude since all the way back in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. He is so good at it though. This is actually the first time I have seen him as a sympathetic character, and, yeah, he was the only character I cared about in this two parter! Tragic.

    One thing that annoys me is, how did Paris survive? I guess just not showing it is enough of an explanation? And did his original plan make any sense? In the middle of a battle in which Voyager is already half-way to dead he is going to take a shuttle to go get someone to help? Huh? Voyager would be taken and long gone by the time he even got to the Talaxians. I know that this was just a way to get Paris off the ship to save it later, but it just made no sense to me.

    I really have a lot of sympathy for the writers of shows like this. They have to try to come up with original epicness regularly and fit it into a very limited format. It's no wonder that a really good result is rare.

    I noticed a problem at the end - Paris and the Talaxians beam onto the bridge, with Culluh still in the Ready Room where he found Seska and the baby. He then orders the Kazon to abandon ship, but he has no way of actually leaving the Ready Room other than through the Bridge.

    I guess he could've beamed onto an escape pod but they should've at least shown the beam out.

    @Awful--it's not terribly important, but there is another door to the readyroom which leads off to a corridor to deck 2.

    Story A: Crew on the planet.
    Awful ... just awful. Pointless and boring.

    Story B: Taking back the ship.
    Pretty entertaining, but with lots of missed opportunities for thrills and excitement. If we'd followed Suder more closely around the ship - hiding from the Kazon, killing one of them etc. - it could've been excellent. Instead we get lots of "this is what happened" explanations.
    This, to me, is a trait of the series - not showing key dramatic moments, but having the characters explain that it simply happened (or just skipping it altogether), then quickly moving on. It's terribly bad drama and horrible storytelling. A good example is the ending of an episode - how many episodes have ended without addressing what ended up happening with big chunks of the main story? It just seems so sloppy and messy.

    Not a terribly riveting episode in my eyes. But, then again, I'm afraid not many Voyager episodes are. There's just too many gaping plot holes, nonsensical decisionmaking and bad, bad writing/directing/editing of the stories to really ever make the series good. To me, that is.

    Chris, it's even worse than that. Neelix was made a team leader because of his "survival skills" which have never been seen. Neelix told Hogan to collect the bones because they might be useful (true); however, he neglected to notice they were at the mouth of a cave which usually means a predator that ate that creature. Later in the episode Chakotay tries to make nice with the natives by speaking calmly and acknowledging they can only understand his tone and not his words. What does Neelix do in this tense situation? Gets right in their faces and starts yelling. Not to mention the Kazon became Voyager's enemies only because Neelix started a fight with them in the very first episode!

    Watched this two-parter again last night. It might be the single most frustrating example of Voyager. And not just because it used the reset button, but because it was used SO BADLY.

    Think about it: Culluh and Seska get Voyager, finally. The Nistrim is apparently able to repair the entire ship relatively quickly and know how to run it (hard to swallow, but maybe Seska prepared them well enough). Then, they dump the crew on some planet.

    If you were the Kazon, what would you do next?

    I'd set course for my nearest base where I'd dissect Voyager for all its secrets. I'd make sure that whatever happened to the ship that the Nistrim would have replicator and transporter technology. I'd make sure not to delay, for fear that another sect or maybe even someone like the Talaxians the Trabe or the Vidians, would try to take Voyager from me. And, I'd certainly make sure the four ships that helped attack Voyager would be with me at all times.

    What do Culluh and Seska do?

    At warp speed, they head for some unknown destination. They must either not have gone very far or moved very fast, because Paris and the Talaxians are able to catch up with them. Granted, Suder and the doctor disable the warp drive, but it takes them a while to do it. And, without the four Kazon ships that attacked Voyager (or the four others that retreated in part one) they're an easy target. Why not keep their strength in numbers?


    Meanwhile, why are the Talaxians so OK with helping Paris? The Kazon are known for being ruthless and they hold grudges. Even if they like Paris's plan, aren't they worried about retribution? Granted, Voyager apparently gets out of Kazon space after this episode, but the Talaxians have to go on living there. Honestly, this might have made more sense if Neelix were with Paris.

    Also, it's amazing that the Kazon don't put up more of a fight when Paris and the Talaxians board the ship. Culluh orders everyone to abandon Voyager, but he must know that his 80-plus crew could put up a fight. Culluh's been trying to capture Voyager's technology for nearly two years. He gets it, and then gives up so easily?

    Lastly, it seems like Voyager gets back to Janeway et. al pretty quickly. So, either Seska and Culluh were dumb and didn't make it very far or a lot of time passes between Chakotay saving the native woman and when Paris flies the ship back to the planet.

    Some of the reset stuff at least makes logical sense (like the stuff with Seska's baby) even if it doesn't make a lot of sense in a dramatic way. But, like so much of Voyager, there's not enough logic or continuity.

    What a waste.

    The death of Hogan hit me.

    Not that I was bawling on my couch, but more that I was disppointed that this "small" crew of ~150ppl, which seems so intimate, gets so few recurring characters to make it feel intimate. Hogan was one of those - and yes, he looked like a nice guy to have a synthale with.

    Look at the list of recurring characters on Mem A's wiki/Recurring_characters

    And see how few Voyager recurring characters have more than just a handful of episodes compared to people like Yeoman Rand, Leeta, or even Spot the Cat. They didn't need to have entire episodes dedicated to them, but just seeing some of the same faces regularly would have helped add to the feeling of being "lost" with these same people.

    PS. Farewell Mr. Piller!

    Why would they kill off Souder and Seska?!?! The two best guest actors on the show (my favorites, anyways) and they both get offed . . . this has to be the worst decision the producers ever made.

    Entertaining and visually well done. My issues with part one effect part two but this does seem more like its own entity overall. I agree with Jammer that everything that transpires in front of us actually feels more manufactured than organic. I could almost hear the wheels turning as it progressed.

    As a wrap-up to all things Kazon it could have been better, but then the quality of writing concerning the species was never that good to begin with. So, unfortunately, as it stands, that means what we got here is to be expected based on everything before it. Kind've makes me sad. At least we are finally done with being near the "heart of Kazon space" (whatever) after months of warp travel.

    2.5 stars.

    It's interesting to see that by season 3 Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise were all force to shake up their shows. They obviously decided just like Deep Space nine did to move a more stand alone adventure show. Maybe Trek would had been a lot more easier on the creative staff if they had to produce 13 episodes a season instead of 24. After completing Battlestar Galatica Ronald Moore did comment on how grueling is was doing TNG to produce over twenty episodes a season. Manny Coto did comment on how tough it was on Brannon Braga to produce season worth of episodes.

    With the exception of Darkling, Rise and a few more epsidoes I don't mind season 3. I understand how upset fans when Voyager abanadon 80% of it's lost in space premise.

    @ Arachnea

    "And Kim is just an ensign, there are many on the crew who outrank him."

    Yeah, why is Kim always at the staff meetings with "the senior staff"? Maybe because he's a bridge officer?

    Without their communicators and universal translators how did the crew understand each other? I can imagine Tuvok knowing english but what about Neelix and Kes?

    Well, I guess you can't really expect a high quality 2nd part when the first part only rated a 2.5. Many times we see that the best part of the 2-parter is the 1st part, especially a season ender.

    Hogan - You know, I didn't want to see him go because he seemed like a good actor to me, but if you're dumb enough to perch yourself over a pile of bones at the mouth of a cave... then so be it. Jesus, Daniel Boone-Neelix didn't even notice that lunch had been served many times there.

    Seska - I would have liked to just erase this whole story line with her. I love Martha too much to not want the character on the ship. But I think her death here was probably the right thing to do. Is she going to fly shotgun forever here? I would have been better for Chakotay to have to kill her though.

    Suder - Awesome character played incredibly well by Brad Dourif. He just nails these types of parts. I was screaming "NOOOOOO!!!!!" when I saw that tree-head moving in the background. I didn't want him to die. Why hasn't this guy ever landed a leading role? Is it because he's too damn good at bit parts?

    The baby - So glad the baby didn't die. I actually felt sorry for Culluh at the end.

    I too wondered how he was going to get off the ship. The Kazon don't have transporters you know.

    I wanted to see Janeway pop one of those worm-thingys in her mouth when she was barking out that she didn't want to see anyone turn up their noses. :-)

    Funniest line?

    "CHAKOTAY: Trapped on a barren planet and you're stuck with the only Indian in the universe who can't start a fire by rubbing two sticks together. I was never good at this as a child and I'm still not good at it."

    :-) :-) :-) Nice... I laughed out loud at the screen here.

    A fun action packed season opener... couple head-scratchers, but there were some in part 1 as well. I too am tired of Aliens just popping on Voyager and seeming knowing how to run everything.

    Wonderful observation about the universal translator Toony!! That would have been a nice monkey wrench to throw in there on the planet.

    I enjoyed the actions/dilemmas on the planet. I've seen worse B stories for sure. The cavemen weren't half bad. As large as that monster was, it seemed pretty real to me. It could have come across much worse.

    2.5 stars for me.

    ...are we out of Kazon space yet?

    "Computer, what is the crew complement?"
    "There are 89 Kazon... and one Betazoid on board."

    Spoken by the writers rather than a computer and proving the writers don't know how to count. The writers can't count crew, torpedoes, available shuttles, food stores, warp cores, or any other consumable because Voyager is apparently good at being the most heavily resourced starship that Starfleet ever deployed.

    Seska was a crew member and she's 100% Cardassian, which the computer would know how to identify but apparently forgot to count. Perhaps the cuteness of the first Cardassian/Kazon baby interfered with the targeting scanners...


    It's a testament to their laziness. Or as Beltran put it "Cavalier attitude towards the show".

    [The actor felt that the people who must bear much of the blame for Voyager's poor performance are the writers. "[They] had a whole year to prepare, but they waited until the final two episodes to fix things. To me, that’s just a symptom of their uncaring cavalier attitude towards the show."]

    I enjoyed this episode but a lot annoyed me;

    Neelix. Why couldn't they have eaten him to survive? He can't find water. He can't find food (child of the 24th century Janeway does in 5 seconds though). He can't negotiate (shouting at aliens during a tense standoff while outnumbered and out-speared) and this "survival expert" got 2 people killed on that planet (Hogan and the blueshirt as they only ended up in the cave due to Neelix shouting at the natives). Its sad when the "morale officer" is doing more to destroy the crew of Voyager than the Kazon!

    Janeway not knowing why the Kazon were firing at starboard ventral when she studied the specs for weeks before taking command is a major lack of judgement right up there with Hawk in First Contact saying the Borg stopping at Deck 11 that only has deflector control on it was stupid as it wasn't a "vital system". Least he paid for his stupidity, its the crew that pays for Janeways.

    And Seska dying by exploding console was such an anticlimax. All that stuff with Chakotay and it just stops.

    Funny how no one prattled on about the Prime Directive after the natives saw Voyager land on their planet... why weren't they beamed up anyway? Surely it can't use more power than landing the whole ship. Twice.

    And I've always wondered how much precious Starfleet tech the Kazon got away with when the abandoned Voyager? They literally could have started stripping the ship or at least copy the database. I'd have laughed if when Neelix got back he found Baxial missing!

    A step down even from part one, which was no classic in and of itself. The whole thing just feels flat, and there's no tension because we all know they will be retaking the ship at the end of the episode anyway.

    What I find most irritating is how some of the more interesting plot lines are just thrown away. Suder, Seska and Chakotay's baby are tossed aside, and without even much ceremony at that. This seems like a big missed opportunity, and the episode suffers because of it. In a smaller way, even Hogan is thrown to the wolves without remorse.

    But at least there was some good Doctor action. "I'm a doctor, not a counterinsurgent" indeed. 2 stars.

    Forgive me for not wishing to suffer through Janeway's brainlessness that occurs whenever the kazar kazon whatever their name is, come around. I skipped part 1 and went straight to the end of part 2 where they, of course, got the ship back.

    " Jesus, Daniel Boone-Neelix didn't even notice that lunch had been served many times there."

    Actually he did. Hogan says that the bones looked like they were placed there intentionally and postulated that the local tribe were cave dwellers presumeably living in that cave. Neelix points out that the bones look like a "do not disturb sign" and then orders Hogan to pick up the bones at the mouth of the cave, the one with the "do not disturb sign" in front of it. What exactly did Neelix plan on using a bunch of rib bones for? A pelvis? Hogan's death was painfully forced and painfully artificial as are many deaths in tv shows.

    Is it possible that Dourif had enough of a career outside of Trek that they weren't sure he'd be available for future appearances as Suder? I agree that keeping the character around would have been preferable, but I'm wondering if they'd have been able to have him appear regularly after this.

    Points for Hogan being eaten as opposed to 100% red shirt but the poor bastard's last words were 'Yes sir'; to.... Neelix. XX@@X!!

    Didn't mind seeing the back of Seska or the Kazon, but killing off Suder was just awful. They should at least have given him a dying conversation with Tuvok and the captain where he gets some appreciation for his heroism. I really thought they were going places with Suder: can a sociopath be "cured" by mind meld and Vulcan techniques. Those are the sorts of questions Trek should be asking.

    Would have liked a Suder episode once a year... he was an interesting character. That guy played someone in B5 that was an evil person who was mind wiped as punishment and put into an order of monks and it was an interesting episide.

    They didn't have a budget to commit to someone being signed as a recurring, and I think they wanted to keep the focus on the main group and not have people pay attention to extras. They had very few recurring crew members unfortunately.

    Someone in the thread went on about how they had translators when way from the ship. There was an episode in DS9 where the Ferengi said they had chips in their ears that did the translating... one can assume everyone had that technology.... although they didn't explain how the humans without any translators could understand Quark when his chip was working.... :) Trek was against having alien languages other than Klingon and a very minimal amount of snippets from beings they met. We just have to suspend belief on that one.

    I don't get Jammer bitching about the predictability (everyone surviving, voyager saved, etc)....... what do you expect? This is a long term series and so no matter what premise you have, the ship and the main cast are likely to survive.. that doesn't make perilous episodes a joke. Sure, they could kill off a main character but that is not what they were about. Everyone survives unless their contract is not renewed.

    I do agree on the ship always being nice and fancy and brand new after the most devastating of circumstances. Show us 3 - 4 episodes where things are still being fixed and broken, etc. I know this is episodic and they wanted it to be a situation where you could watch any show and not be lost...however, they did have some recurring stuff like Kazon or Phage ,etc and certainly could have done that from tiem to time.

    I often have wondered why they chose to make Harry Kim such a dull and empty character who made no progression in the show. Even a promotion one rank up would have been something..... nobody of good merit in Starfleet stays an Ensign that long as far as we can tell. They gave him shifts running the bridge and he was considered a senior officer because he was on the bridge, yet never got promoted. Hell Tom got commissioned back into starfleet, demoted and re-promoted. was he intended to be an inside joke? Was it a slight on asian characters? was the actor so soft that they didn't care to develop him?

    Really enjoyed this episode and Part I asides from the bits with Neelix. Agreed with one of the former posters that the Voyager crew should have eaten him. The man's a walking and talking liability, not to mention irritating to the extreme. Enough's been said about poor Hogan's demise; I think it's basically the first chapter of 'Outdoor Survival 101' that you do not loiter near the entrance of an unsecured cave, least of all one with ominous humanoid bones at the entrance, which as other people have pointed out indicates a carnivorous presence. What was Neelix thinking when he ordered Hogan to pick them up - oh wait, he doesn't have brains.

    The scene where he wandered off during the night, away from the campfire by himself (another basic rule of outdoor survival that a self-professed aficionado like Neelix should have known well) and got himself caught was eyeroll inducing but oh so predictable. Then of course Kes had to go looking for him and get herself caught too, and a major rescue mission had to be mounted in order to save them both, during which Neelix throws a tantrum at one of the natives and provokes them, and jeopardises the lives of several dozen more crew members, one of whom gets eaten.

    Apart from an annoying scene where Neelix laments Hogan's death and is comforted by Kes and Janeway, there is no retribution for his actions. Imagine what Hogan and the other redshirt's families would have to be told back in the Alpha Quadrant: 'Yes your son/husband/brother is dead because an annoying and completely useless alien, whom Janeway somehow decided to take on, asked them to carry out orders which completely went against basic safety regulations/ provoked aliens due to lack of self control. Was he punished? No of course not - and he remained the darling of the crew and the captain in particular.' I want to like Janeway, I really do, but episodes like this make that very difficult.

    TBH I can't see anyone else on the ship getting away with the amount of stuff Neelix does - they'd probably be threatened with a court martial or something. The man's a menace and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever that I can see - bad cook, petty mean nature, and just generally irritating. When he delivered soup to Lon Suder's quarters I was mentally pleading for Suder to murder him.

    Speaking of Suder, the series would probably have been a lot better if the producers had cut out all of Neelix and given his screen and plot time to Suder instead, who is a truly fascinating and charismatic character, despite the fact that he's a psychopath.


    Not having the baby be Chakotay's
    Not letting the baby die
    Killing off Suder because he's "not interesting"
    Killing off Seska in the weakest way possible

    I hate Jeri Taylor - 1.5 stars

    You'd think a member of a tribe that evolved on a highly volcanic planet would know not to get stuck on a rock surrounded by lava.

    I know my comment on this review is coming a bit late, but it seems to me that the constant complaint about episodes ending with foregone conclusions is missing the point of Star Trek. Star Trek has always framed things in terms of a problem and then coming up with a way to resolve it. Granted, there are some resolutions which are copouts or cheats, or could've been done better, but it goes without saying that certain things will not change. These aren't movies after all.

    It just seems to me that complaining about Star Trek episodes having a foregone conclusion ending is like complaining about the passenger space on a motorbike or how waterproof sandals are. We know this is how it's going to be, so the review should be done with that in mind.

    So I was to believe that Seska taught them abut voyager from memory, or did she manage to download the tech manuals to her IPod? (Voyager for Dummies)?
    I saw this a few days ago and the crew looked like 1st year cadets, and yes, it was too predictable.

    She's a villain, but I thought Seska came across as awesome. Maj complained about keeping women in their place, but you can see how he had to grudgingly respect and tolerate Seska because her points were irrefutable. Sure grudging respect is not ideal, but it reflects well on Seska that she was able to gain even that. Good work Martha Hackett.

    I must echo many of the sentiments above me regarding the character of Suder.

    I have read elsewhere that Jeri Taylor vetoed the decision to keep Suder alive because she thought his character was "not redeemable". This seems to me to be an example of how people's thinking can be constrained by the metaphorical bubble that many of us are surrounded by and to which people in showbusiness seem to be particularly prone. Even if you don't believe that an alien murderer in the 24th century can be "redeemed" (whatever that means, we certainly do know that they can, in certain instances be rehabilitated in the 21st century) the question that is begged is "why does he have to be redeemable?" There is no good reason!

    The character was compelling, sufficiently different from all the other characters to be able to feature in a multitude of interesting stories and was played by an excellent actor. He had the potential to be Voyager's answer to Garak. But they killed him off because of the small-mindedness of a single person.

    Individual error compounded by systemic failure that allowed such an egregious mistake to happen.

    The worst problem with this episode, I think, is the sense that nothing on the planet matters at all. This is maybe unavoidable given the set-up. It would probably be much worse if the crew managed to rub two sticks together and create an interstellar ship that could lead to them retaking Voyager. But it just shows the problem with this set-up. The draw of the cliffhanger to the episode (it's in the title!) is the crew being stranded, having to deal with The Basics, but ultimately they are going to be rescued by the three characters who aren't on the planet, who are doing the important work on the ship. That's why the story on the planet ends up going into a "can we work with hominids...can we have peace?" warmed-over nth-iteration story. It's not as if, in one episode, they are going to make a credible story about how to build and structure a community while stranded on a deserted island, I mean, deserted planet. Even if they could do a survival story of sorts, I feel like the scope is wrong. There are lots of survival-y Trek episodes (and television episodes in general, of non-survival shows) that feature a single character or a small group struggling with their situation, and can be effective. Resolutions is controversial but it worked fairly well for me, for example. But the draw of Basics is specifically supposed to be that it's not just a handful of people but the *whole crew* stuck on this planet, and on that particular promise the episode fails miserably. How would you organize a hundred plus people? How would they react to having been stranded because of the decisions of the highers-up? Would command break down, or would it become more deeply authoritarian? Or we could do some hominid bonding stuff and some scenes where they run from a dinosaur or something. It's not that fighting monsters and dealing with locals might not be interesting to deal with in a survival story, but here they aren't really used to tell us much about the crew; the closest thing comes from the Chakotay/Tuvok conflict over whether they should treat the hominids as potential friends or enemies. The result just feels like a lot of wandering around -- epitomized maybe by the scene where Chakotay et al. are running from the hominids, go into the cave, try to pass the monster for a while, and then after the crew comes and throws rocks at the hominids, they turn back, only after the monster has killed one crew member.

    The only concluding beat that seems to follow dramatically from what the crew are doing throughout the episode is that Chakotay's saving the hominids means that the hominids are able to save the Wildman baby. My wife pointed out that in effect this is the result of the crew benefiting from the fact that the hominids don't mind sharing their technology, which is really very funny. Hey, does the crew have any responsibility not to interfere in the hominids' development or something? The question is not asked, and maybe that's for the best. I mean, the thing is, these are people with language, and so as a result they maybe have enough sophistication to be affected by an alien species being brought down by a gigantic ship flying in and leaving and then coming back and picking them up. Pulaski memory erasure procedure, anyone? Oh well, whatever. I'm being a little facetious here; the realities of the situation are such that total isolation isn't an option. I'm trying to think of anything to say about it, really.

    On the ship: Paris' entry and that weird phaser thing is totally unconvincing as a way to retake the ship, especially because the fact that, you know, Culluh managed to successfully get a huge lot of Kazon ships to band together to take Voyager has already been forgotten. The Kazon lose the ship as quickly as they got it, this time from a tiny force, and it makes them look dumb, and makes the Voyager crew look even dumber for having lost to the Kazon. The Kazon take until near the end of the episode, after looking for a saboteur for a while, to seal off Starfleet voice commands. The computer apparently can count the number of people of each species but neglects to include Seska and her baby. Seska's death from...uh...I guess she died from the phaser attack thing? a weird, ignominious death for an inconsistent but sometimes interesting character. The revelation that the baby isn't Chakotay's, so as to get Chakotay (and the crew in general) off the hook from actually having to get it back, is a cheat.

    The Doctor as counterinsurgent is great, and Suder's material is strong up until he gets shot. Even there, the Doctor's casual insistence that Suder can and should kill the Kazon to take the ship back seems to me to be a bit misjudged. From literally any other character I could see it, but shouldn't the Doctor be at least struggling with the Hippocratic Oath, which surely is made absolutely central to his program? I get that he's still Starfleet and all, and as such would recognize that there are circumstances in which violence is necessary, and that it's not like *he* is the one killing the Kazon, but he still seems pretty blithe about not just supporting but actively encouraging killing. But yeah, Suder's moral dilemma is really strong and we get some sense of what he was like in the Maquis. If only he wasn't killed at the end, and could be allowed to continue....

    I think it's largely a failure as a follow-up to part 1, and as an episode in and of itself, though on the plus side the Kazon stuff is finally over. 1.5 stars -- just barely under 2.

    It was hard to buy Seska allowing the Doctor to "stay as he is for now". I'd think she'd remember his "have I been called to testify?" crack from "State Of Flux" that led to her exposure.

    Terrible episode. I'll skip over most of the terrible things in it that others brought up already and mention some of the other terrible things in it.

    Chakotay takes the dead guys suit and says he'll make solar stills from it to collect water. How would that work exactly? How does a starfleet uniform convert into a solar still? And how would that give enough water for 150 people?

    So the kid isn't Chakotay's. Seska had taken a DNA sample from Chakotay's spine in the earlier episode. Seska I guess accidentally used Cullah's DNA instead of the DNA she collected from Chakotay when she made the baby, so how did that happen? She can genetically engineer a baby from spinal fluid but, oops! she got the spinal fluid mixed up with Cullah's sperm! Or something. And she didn't ever do any sort of test to make sure who's baby it was? And a Cardassian/Kazon hybrid baby looks totally human except for one small bump on it's forehead. All that is stupid.

    EMH: 'Computer, emergency medical priority one one four. Delete the signature of Mister Suder's comm. badge from the system. There is to be no record of his being on board.'

    Because that is a medical emerency for sure. And why would he have the ability to do that at all?

    Paris convinces the Talaxians to help him by saying he has a 'plan'. And they say 'OK we'll meet you there!'. Because they wouldn't ask what the actual plan was or anything.

    TUVOK: '...I taught archery science for several years at the Vulcan Institute of Defensive Arts.'

    LOL. Whatever you say Voyager.

    The best way to rescue people held hostage by a band of aggresive armed cavemen is to walk right up to them and explain to them gently in an alien gobbledygook language that they are all going to leave, and then walk away. Yep. That would work.

    Then after the dude gets eaten by the monster, they poke two sticks at the ceiling and cause the entire tunnel to collapse in a massive cave-in. Yep. That would work.

    TUVOK: You may find nobility in the savage, Commander, but he is only interested in killing you.
    CHAKOTAY: I don't believe that.

    Because so far all they have done is kidnap two people and chase after you with spears and axes trying to kill you and then try to smoke you out of a cave so they can capture you and/or kill you, then chase after some more people with spears and axes. But no, Chakotay thinks they are nice. :) And of course he's right in the end, because, you know, Star Trek.

    Chakotay rescues that cavewoman from the lava, by walking down a slope, and jumping onto a large rock and then onto her rock. Because there is no way she could have just done that herself, or anyone else could have, like maybe her caveman friends. Not to mention forgetting that it would be about 1000 degrees celsius where she is, but lots of shows/movies ignore the temperature thing (Revenge of the Sith and Return of the King spring to mind), so I won't blame Voyager too much for that bit.

    The Kazon also used escape pods to leave Voyager, so they lost probably half of those this episode, but I guess they just made some new ones the same way they remake all of their shuttles and photon torpedoes.

    The caveman puts a leaf with a rock in it(?) or something on Wildman's baby's chest and it's cured. Because of course primitive alien caveman medicine from the other side of the galaxy would treat a Human/Ktarian hybrid baby's fever and respiratory problems.

    Part 1 wasn't very good, but it wasn't terrible. I gave it 2 stars. Part 2 is completely awful.

    Zero stars for the planet nonsense, and 1 star for the space nonsense.

    So 1/2 star overall.

    Shouldn't Janeway have immediately ordered her crew to commit mass suicide when they realized there was an indigenous alien race on the planet? They all should have jumped into lava rather than violating the prime directive by being seen by primitives on the planet.

    "And the damage to the ship after all this? A non-factor (despite the fact that the overload practically made the Voyager look like it was on fire). Once the crew retakes Voyager, the ship, of course, looks practically like new"

    One of the big complaints I have about this series is that Voyager never shows any wear or tear despite the fact it so far away from any Federation drydock or outpost. Every season Voyager is attacked some hostile alien species and yet by the end of the series it still looks the way it did in the pilot episode.

    Contrast that with Battlestar Galactica which had a far more realistic depiction of a ship and crew far from home.

    The ending was a letdown after a good Part I and many decent elements of Part II. Best of all was Suder's character showing the pain at killing again and yet continuing to do what he can to repay the Voyager crew -- this is quite a compelling character who finally dies, not unexpectedly -- but it was one of the few poignant moments.

    Basically the ending wraps up too quickly and conveniently -- a common flaw in weaker Trek episodes. So Culluh decides abruptly to abandon ship and leave in escape pods? Another boneheaded move from the cartoon villain Kazon leader. Seska's death just sort of happens -- one has to feel a lot more could have been done with that event. And as for the backup phaser overload apparently causing massive damage on the ship and yet when Janeway and crew get back on it can get to warp 8 -- no problem.

    Again, I have to be amazed (or suspend my disbelief) at what Paris can do in a shuttle. Shouldn't he have been destroyed like 3 times over??

    There are some convenient wraps in this episode with the baby not being Chakotay's, Suder and Seska dying. Clearly time for the series to move on.

    As for the natives on the planet -- I found them to be highly inconsistent. They have a leader who is like Chakotay's father -- at times they can appear to be total savages, yet Chakotay walks right up to them and rescues Kes/Neelix. The natives were unpredictable but did whatever helped the story: if action/fight scenes were needed they would be the antagonist, if some scenes of understanding a culture etc. were needed the leader would step up...

    It also seemed quite fortuitous that Chakotay and co. could create a cave-in to stop/kill the creature that killed Hogan and not get injured themselves. And losing Hogan was a bit surprising right at the start -- VOY couldn't find somebody less meaningful to sacrifice?

    2.5 stars for "Basics, Part II" -- definitely not as strong as Part I especially with the quick/convenient/miraculous wrap up of all loose ends, rather unsatisfying. Sad to see Suder go after all he went through. VOY tried to go all-out on "Basics" and had some good ideas but the action scenes in Part II didn't have the same edge as in Part I. The survival aspect didn't really get a chance to take hold as it seemed like whatever time the Voyager crew was on the planet, it went by quickly. The second part also suffers from high predictability without enough plot twists.

    Part 1 is better, but this held my attention and was enjoyable.

    Liked that Suder redeemed himself before death. He was a very interesting character, so sorry to see him go, in that regard. But this was a good ending for him. Hogan on the other hand, was an interesting character whose end wasn't so fitting.

    The on-ship stuff was better than the on-planet stuff. The savages were pretty boring.

    Am again mystified by the reset button criticisms . . . yes, of course I knew they'd get their ship back, but I always knew Kirk and Spock would make it back to their own time, Picard wouldn't stay as Locutus, Earth wouldn't be destroyed by the Xindi, etc., etc., etc.

    I didn't think "it's not Chakotay's" baby was a cheat, since we learned Seska was lying about everything else . . . it made sense, it was part of the set up. She already knew she was pregnant and used it to set up Chakotay. Her "I used your DNA to impregnate myself" story was pretty wild (I mean . . .why bother?). It made much more sense for it to be Culluh's.

    Looking forward to the rest of the season.

    Well, at this rate I might get to TNG by the time my teeth fall out. Is everyone excited about Picard?


    Teaser : *.5, 5%

    We pick up on Planet Palpatine or whatever with Ensign Wildman stumbling about with baby Naomi. Chakotay, the ethnic one, offers his sage advice about not wasting water. Oh yeah, WATER! That's supposed to be super rare in the DQ, right? One touch I love is how a couple of the extras are carrying around big sticks even though there are no trees in sight. Basics, people. Sticks.

    Janeway's team discovers a cave which she deems worthy of “making camp.” Meanwhile, Hogan and Neelix discover some humanoid bones at the mouth of another cave. I normally think SFDebris is way too harsh on Voyager, but he is completely right about Neelix here. He notes that the bones are likely a warning of danger, tells Hogan to collect the entire ominous skeleton for “tools,” DROPS the one femur he was holding onto the pile and runs off so that Hogan can collect all of the bones by himself in the shadow of the ominous cave of ominous warnings. Fucking hell, Neelix. So naturally, this means Hogan is eaten by a steady cam, no doubt the land-eel we saw teased at the end of part 1.

    Act 1 : *.5, 17%

    The episode proper begins with the reveal that Chewy, I mean Tom isn't remotely dead. He's still in his shuttle, fixing things while Caligula's patrol vessel is still trying to take him out. While making his customary quips to NO ONE, he easily blows up the Kazon ship and carries on. Wow, what drama.

    The crew examine Hogan's remains on the now twilit planet. Kes placates Neelix' stupidity, per their idiom. What works here, as usual, is Kate Mulgrew. She says, “there's no time to worry about blame,” but let's be honest here; Janeway is feeling guilty. She's been undulating between her desire to foster community and shepherd her crew home in the wake of her controversial decision since “Caretaker.” And now, with her entire crew stranded on a planet that seems to be quickly eating them, she must feel like a complete failure. She barks out orders, clearly desperate to stave off the inevitable. Stay out of the tunnels. Make weapons. Eat these worms. Just. Don't. Die.

    On the Voyager, Seska brings her baby to the sickbay and the Doctor gets to flex his character development.

    SESKA: Tell me, is it within your program's capabilities to lie or be deceptive?
    EMH: I've learned that a bedside manner occasionally requires me to, how should I put it, soft-pedal the truth. But bald-faced lying, calculated deceit? I don't have much experience with that sort of thing. But my programme is adaptive. If you really need me to be deceptive, I'm sure I could learn.

    On an R-rated version of this show, I think Doc would have started bragging about the penis he added to his programme in “Lifesigns.” Anyway, while Seska is assuaged (I suppose Michael Jonas couldn't have been bothered to keep her updated on him), there is a rather surprising retcon trotted out: the baby isn't Chakotay's at all, it's actually Caligula's. Apparently, Kazon technology is so shitty that they can't even do DNA tests. Besides the Doc's antics, one character touch I like is Seska's obvious disappointment at learning she failed to conceive with Chakotay. Whatever her tactical reasoning, this whole baby drama was clearly personal for her.

    After she leaves, the EMH monologues in his “medical log” (Medical Monologue? That might become a thing). He gets some fun lines.

    EMH: What am I supposed to do? Lead a revolt with a gang from Sandrine's? Conjure up holograms of Nathan Hale and Che Guevara? I'm a doctor, not a counterinsurgent. Get hold of yourself. You're not just a hologram. You're a Starfleet hologram.

    He asks the computer about the crew complement, and it chooses to respond in the form of (inaccurate) racial profiling. There are 89 Kazon and 1 Betazoid aboard. I guess Seska and her baby don't count as crew, but the boarders and the murderer do? And I guess Caligula is so god damned stupid that he hasn't thought to scan for Voyager crewmembers before cruising off into the sunset? Yeesh. Well luckily the medical hologram with no rank has the authority to delete Suder's record of existing entirely. Ironic.

    On Planet Whatever, the crew is collecting eggs, worrying over Naomi...Chakotay is engaging in jilted ethnic stereotypes that I feel *have* to be deliberate parody.

    CHAKOTAY: Trapped on a barren planet and you're stuck with the only Indian in the universe who can't start a fire by rubbing two sticks together.

    Now, if I had some poker chips, that would be something...Yikes. Anyway, Captain Sampson gives up a lock of her hair to the cause and Chakotay is able to get a fire going so the crew won't die quite as quickly. Neelix decides to look for some rocks—alone, because he's a moron. Kes goes looking for him but gets snatched by one of the locals. What the hell am I watching?

    Act 2 : *.5, 17%

    Meanwhile, Paris has made contact with those Talaxians who should have been around before this mess started. He pleads with them and somehow convinces them that he can devise a clever plan to retake the Voyager somehow. Anyone care to guess how this story ends?

    Suder makes his way to the Sickbay and the EMH starts babbling about their counterinsurgency strategy. Suder himself is...distracted.

    SUDER: I'm going to have to kill some of them.
    EMH: It is possible. Violence might be required to retake the ship.
    SUDER: I've worked so, so hard over the last few months to control the violent feelings. I'm almost at peace with myself. I mean, I see the day coming when I could be.

    EMH: We must do this together, Mister Suder. If you don't trust yourself yet, then trust me. I will help you anyway I can. One hologram and one sociopath may not be much of a match for the Kazon, but we'll have to do.

    Actually, from what we've seen the Kazon are probably over-matched in this fight.

    Well, with Neelix and Kes captured, the stranded crew have something to do, I guess.

    CHAKOTAY: This is thoughtful of you Tuvok, but my tribe never used bows and arrows, and I've never even shot one.

    This HAS to be parody.

    So it seems the natives have surrounded Neelix and Kes where they proceed to sniff and prod them. I would have awarded four stars to this scene if one of them threw a bone into the air and we smash cutted to the Voyager. Anyway, Commander Spirit Walker just strolls up them and speaks in a calm, condescending Hollywood fantasy tone that is supposed to remind us that he's the ethnic one, and we have a DEEP respect for the ethnic ones (please pay no attention to the natives hopping around like baboons). They...negotiate for an exchange of prisoners or something. Neelix starts screaming at the native leader when it seems they might just keep Kes, because his job is to be a useless as possible.

    They walk, then run away as the Voyager back up crew arrive and start shooting the natives with their improvised weapons. What the FUCK am I watching? The Indiana Jones crap continues as the crew hide in one of the forbidden tunnels, hoping the natives won't follow.

    Act 3 : **, 17%

    On the Voyager, the warp drive has stalled and Seska, the only Nistrim with half a brain, realises they're being sabotaged. Suder is given a thoron dildo or something to help him stave off tricorder scans and is tasked with getting some weapons. Tough break.

    Meanwhile, baby Naomi is now sick for some reason, because there aren't enough artificial conflicts in this story. Did I say artificial conflict? Well Chakotay's party is now being smoked out of their tunnel by the natives, deeper into the ominous tunnel...I'm getting bored typing this stuff. Everything on the planet is just plot beat after plot beat. I'll say this though, the music is quite a bit more interesting that has been typical of Star Trek for many years.

    Act 4 : **.5, 17%

    Suder continues to elude the Kazon search parties and sabotage the Voyager. Paris manages to make contact with the EMH with instructions on how he will be able to tech-tech the ship's phasers to make Tom's inevitable success more...inevitable.

    Suder then brings a Kazon he was forced to kill back to the Sickbay so he could be hidden. The effect on the quasi-reformed psychotic is quite visceral. He performs a Vulcan meditation to quiet the voices.

    In the readyroom, a report to Seska and the baby. She sees right through the subterfuge for all the good it will do.

    On the planet, Tuvok is suggesting they make more weapons to deal with the locals, but Janeway doesn't like the idea of perpetually foregoing diplomacy, which is good, and Chakotay has some new age bullshit informing his opinion, which is stupid. Oh, and because there aren't yet enough artificial threats, there's now and EXPLODING VOLCANO!!!! about to flood their camp with magma. Wow.

    Seska confronts the EMH, convinced that he is behind the sabotage. They spar a bit, which is pretty fun. Finally, she locks out Federation voice commands and shoots a panel, disabling the Doctor's programme.

    Act 5 : *.5, 17%

    Tom and the Talxians have begun their attack while Suder is left with a recording from the EMH, triggered by his attempt to activate his companion. Having been informed that his wish from part 1, to make amends for his transgressions, has been fulfilled, Suder's arc is complete.

    On the planet, one of the natives has been stranded on a rock above a river of lava, but thankfully, Chakotay's magical Indian powers allow him to rescue her and provide the lynch-pin to the new alliance between the crew and the natives. Weren't they going to give him this woman as a prostitute wife a couple scenes ago?

    In what I assume is meant to be an ironic twist, Tom hen-pecks the Voyager much the same way Seska had in part 1 with his shuttle, forcing Caligula to engage the back-up phasers, which of course, means Suder's up to complete the Very Important Task. This begins with him killing every single Kazon in the Engine Room, which is admittedly impressive. The skill needed for this comes like second nature to him, but the toll it takes on his soul is very clear. But right before he can push the magic button, one of the Kazon who wasn't *quite* dead yet, mortally wounds him.

    The phaser overload causes the inside of the ship to get fried real good, which...yeesh. Many of the Kazon are dead, but the baby has just been woken up from his nap I guess. Seska dies trying to reach him, and Caligula takes the baby with him as they escape into some novels I'm sure no one wanted to write.

    On the planet, the natives put a leaf on the baby's throat which helps her out, I guess. And just in time for the Voyager to make its return to the planet. All things aside, it's a pretty epic shot of the ship with a sweeping inclusion of the Voyager theme. In a better episode, this would have been an impressive climax.

    We close out with Tuvok wishing Suder's corpse farewell and Chakotay putting Seska in a bodybag. Wow, what a resolution!

    Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

    How's this for a timely comparison? This reminded me a bit of “The Rise of Skywalker”—not that Basics I was anything close to as good as “The Last Jedi,” but Basics II is completely uninterested in exploring themes, developing relationships or engaging on any level with its audience beyond spectacle. The plot is *resolved*, there are a couple of interesting moments, and that's it.

    As others have noted, the best parts are probably Suder and the Doctor. Suder's tragic little story gets about as fitting an end as we could expect. Remember this line from “Meld,”

    SUDER: I can promise you this will not silent your demons. If you can't control the violence, the violence controls you. Be prepared to yield your entire being to it, to sacrifice your place in civilised life for you will no longer be a part of it, and there's no return.

    A stronger ending for him would have been for him to survive the encounter, but commit suicide before the Talaxians boarded, but between Dourif's excellent performance and the directing taking momentary breaks from its frenetic pace to dwell on his reactions, this worked for me.

    The Planet Plot was a complete waste. Instead of, as I hoped, having these characters deal with the weight of their choices—Janeway and her struggle between community leader and pragmatic captain, Chakotay struggling with consequences of his relationship with Seska (oh, and convenient that the kid isn't his anymore, so all that talk with his father didn't matter at all, I guess)--instead of any of that, we get land-eels, offensive natives, volcano silliness and Neelix getting people killed. This is Star Trek; I don't expect to actually be worried that the crew isn't going to be rescued, but I want to see them make use of their isolation from the ship. “Basics” could have referred to the basics of human psychology as well as the basics of survival. But this was not to be.

    The most disappointing aspect of this story for me is how it unceremoniously casted off Seska. I already lamented how they flattened her character into almost nothing in Season 2, but I was hoping for at least a token resolution between her and Chakotay. A braver ending would have seen Suder accidentally kill the baby and mortally-wound Seska. After all, they should know each other. Killing an innocent baby would be the impetus for Suder's suicide and this would have given a foundation to a final conversation between Seska and Chakotay before she perished. Overall, a big disappointment, despite some good production values.

    Final Score : ** (barely)

    An excellent analysis as always, Elliot! Glad to see you're back.

    Good write up Elliott. Looking back on what I wrote, I see I couldn't think of what they *should* have done on the planet, and your suggestion of going to the "basics" of psychology makes some sense. Obviously what they did planetside is bad either way. It occurs to me that it may have worked better to fold in aspects of Resolutions into Basics 2 - - instead of focusing on a Survival Story for ten minutes and then a Can We Ever Get Along With These Savages? story for a few more, have the setup in part 1 be that they clearly do have enough basic tools to survive on the planet, and so the issue is what happens when they no longer have a ship to run (and thus time to think).

    One of the things Part I suggested was that Culluh wanted to punish Janeway for not giving him replicators. The episode was also maybe attempting to show the Voyager crew having to live like the Kazon and the Kazon living like the Voyager crew. Culluh thinks it's all a matter of tech, but Culluh is too stupid to use the tech he's given and squanders any such advantages, whereas Janeway and Chakotay can make peace with other random tribes rather than playing the endless musical chairs of internal war that the Kazon do. It's not just technological superiority that makes the Voyager crew, well, better. I guess that could work, but peace with the Ewoks isn't really all that impressive here and the Kazon are so hopeless that it's not exactly a compliment to come out on top of them.

    I’d give it 2, maybe 1.5 stars. And that’s ONLY for how well Suder was portrayed, and to see his redemption completed was pretty strong stuff. But the stuff on the planet? Yawn. And on top of that, you take Hogan, who started off annoying (like Neelix), but eventually became more and more likable (like Tom), and eventually became one of my favorite side characters.... and you kill him off screen like some Random Randy Redshirt? That, plus all the weird veiled Native American digs, it just didn’t live up to expectations for me.

    Also, forgive me if I’m wrong, but in order to have Chakotay’s baby, she stole his DNA which would mean she would have to directly fertilize her egg with that specific DNA sample, making it impossible for the baby to be anybody’s BUT Chakotay’s. That’s not just lazy, it’s dumb.

    Voyager kills off 3 of its 4 most interesting recurring characters (and writers all but forgot about the 4th, Carey) to serve a mediocre plot. Actually, Hogan’s death barely even had anything to do with the plot, and Seska went out with a bit of a whimper given all the intrigue with her character leading up to it.

    At least Suder’s end was interesting, though it feels like there were still a lot of possibilities they could have explored with that character.

    It was already straining credulity seeing the Kazon and Talaxians this far into the journey home (or the Vidiians in the previous episode) so to some extent this had to be the end of a chapter, but it was quite a bit of a letdown, which makes it a fitting way to kick off Voyager’s weakest season.

    Just saw this episode last night. I agree with many posts written here. But I enjoy the episode every time I watch it. I did feel bad for Hogan, and yes, it only brought the point up that when they need to kill a "major" character, they pick my favourites: Hogan, and then later, just before getting back to the Alpha Quadrant, Carey.

    On first viewings, I missed the grieving moan given by Culluh on seeing Seska dead. Kazon for the most part were not interesting to me. Exceptions were the young Kazon Kar played by Aron Eisenberg, and Anthony De Longis' Culluh. He always amused when he acted chauvinistically, even slapping Janeway for daring to ask a question. Yet we know he cared about Seska. And once on Voyager, he stomped around some more, complaining about Federation females, making his mourning her death all the more touching. Great job by DeLongis.

    The difficulty of retaking the ship without causing catastrophic damage, or at least without the departing Kason stripping the damaged ship of vital technology or even deliberately sabotaging it, is grossly underplayed.
    My elegant solution: During the Kason occupation of Voyager, besides whatever mayhem Suder carries out, the Doctor should have flooded the air ducts with a Kason-specific pathogen he quickly improvises. If that seems too brutal, it wouldn't even have to be a lethal microorganism - just some disease that slowly but surely causes the Kason to waste away, interfering with their thinking process, thwarting their plans, and which, ultimately, "softens them up" to the idea of peacefully relinquishing control of Voyager when the original crew shows up (perhaps Janeway promises a cure in exchange for the return of an intact Voyager).

    Bleh, at least it wraps up the silly Kazon and absolutely insanely implausible Seska. The Kazon came very close to destroying Voyager— the series.

    The Kazon reeked of cheapness, and that they are even still in the story line in the THIRD season is cheap too. Has Voyager made ANY progress toward Earth by this time?

    The whole planet plot was obviously irrelevant filler from the get-go.

    And yes, I agree, the only interesting thing here is Suder.

    While DS9 mastered the art of developing guest stars into great secondary characters, Voyager excelled at killing them. It seems like Voyager loves to kill off its crewmen like the good old redshirts of TOS. Brad Dourif did a wonderful job as Suder, and to see his character arc continue as he redeemed himself and perhaps even rejoined the crew one day would have been rewarding. Hogan was a likeable character...similar to O'Brien...and killing him off was just dumb.

    Also, does any Federation ship ever win a battle? It seems that they let other ships pound the living shit out of them, consoles blow up (fuses weren't invented until the 27th century), engines are always disabled, and their weapons have no effect.

    This episode had so many flaws lol, 1st of all, why would the ship's computer allow an alien species that just invaded the ship to lock out the command codes? How could a shuttle's phasers cut through Voyager's shields? How could the sensors detect things hundreds of light years away, but then have a BLIND SPOT underneath the ship? The whole ship short circuited after the phaser couplings overloaded, yet they repaired it as good as new in a few hours? But yeah a star fleet computer would TOTALLY allow alien intruders to lock out the computer!

    To begin with, I totally agree with recent prior comments: by Skater777 & Michael Miller, insofar as Basics 1 & 2 while fun in a way, were hard to take in.

    Patent, unremitting stupidity at every turn. Given that the writers want to telegraph Voyager's terminal ill-preparedness, it probably would have been a good idea to have Janeway in the holodeck in Victorian garb arguing with that witchy housekeeper when the Kazons burst in. Better yet, the witchy housekeeper turns into Seska, freaking out Janeway for a few seconds while swinging a brass candlestick at her head before the Kazons burst in.

    As much as I like volcanos, the part on the planet reminded me of a kid's show I saw a long time ago. It had a rubber dinosaur suit-guy and a nubile girl in tattered skins I think. There were some other people too, but they were less watchable. Every Saturday morning, they got into a predicament. Poor Hogan! He was doing so well up till that travesty with Neelix and the bones. At least no one had to get eaten in the kid's show.

    But for me the ignominious end of Seska in near total darkness, took the cake. After all those episodes where we viewers had to suffer through her obnoxious line "Hello Chakotay" the writers consign her to oblivion without a parting line. I sense a backstory in which the actress' agent quibbeled over compensation, and got her killed off ad hoc.

    Yep, and it also just seems silly how every random invading alien species masters control of the ship, including repairs, virtually instantly. Like in "displaced" they instantly knew how to operate and fix all the bridge systems. Also that scene where Chakotay is rescuing that caveman girl who's stuck on the rock when the volcano erupts, wouldn't the 2300 degree magma burn you to a crisp if you get within a foot of it? But he just hops over it like its nothing. And what setting did Sudor have his weapon on when he shot up engineering? Like seriously be sure they are all dead, set it to maximum and vaporize every one of them, not just casually toss the weapon into the pile of bodies and turn your back! And assuming the Kazons had their weapons on kill, would he really have those few seconds to hit the panel? But yeah I can't stop laughing at a 24th century, warp-driven, starship equipped with subspace systems and interstellar scanners with a BLIND SPOT underneath it. LOLLL

    Good thoughts. Oh man! Don't remind me about Sudor....he of all people should have known better than to let his guard down. I think he was probably distracted by thoughts of ordering 2300 degree magma take-out. LOL

    Just a note on Brad Dourif. In March 2023, he passed his 73rd birthday. IMDB has 173 acting credits for him. It also lists 3 projects for him as "upcoming." The man has been working steadily since he was Billy Bibbit in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" 48 years ago (1975). That role earned him an Academy Award nomination.

    I was not to convinced regarding his character and characterisation in his first apperances. It was somhow to "flat". In this episode though, his fight with his inner demons and his dilemma was executed very fine. I did not now he was Billy Bibbit. That was excelent performance. A magnificenct sceen when Nurse Ratched / Louise Feltcher / Kai Winn had the showdown in cuckoos nest. RIP

    Watching voyager all the way through for the first time, I keep wanting to maintain an open mind, but the writing and plotting is just so shoddy there’s really no salvaging these first two seasons. The plot holes, loose threads, lack of coherent continuity, and constantly stupid decisions are so numerous it’s brutal.
    The fact that seska’s baby turns out to not be chikotay’s kid essentially means that voyager set out on a mission to kidnap someone else’s child. Granted they didn’t know that when they started, but at this point believing anything seska says is the height of stooopid. By now janeway has lost all credibility as captain and I find it incredulous that the crew wouldn’t begin expressing some level of concern over her terrible decisions.
    There’s just too many head scratching writing choices to get into and above commenters have probably mentioned them all, so I’ll just finish by venting my intense dislike of neelix. Why in the world would he have the authority to form a team and take a command position while they were stranded on the lava/caveman planet? I mean, poor hogan even takes orders from him and calls him sir! Wha?? Aside from being a total idiot neelix is the self appointed ‘morale officer’ and barely tolerated ships cook, he has no business giving orders to anyone let alone ranking star fleet officers. It’s just…blech.

    This episode was on again a few days ago.
    The most laughable part is actually:

    Doctor: "There's a Betazoid on board? Who is it, where is he??"

    24th century computer with bio-neural circuitry:

    "Please re-state a single question."


    Then of course the 24th century AI bio-neural circuitry star fleet issued computer will readily and willingly lock out all the command codes of the crew when an invading alien species simply tells it to do so. Jesus Christ, it's easier to invade and commandeer voyager than to login to my Gmail account from a different device. Why didn't the doctor lock out the command codes first, if an alien species can? I agree with all the points about Nelix being a total moron, I thought they managed to pull blue shirt guy up though or didn't they? Oh yeah and run into a cave where there's definitely a dinosaur-eel-snake fusion when you can just keep running away from the natives. And as someone mentioned the species evolving on a volcanic planet not veing able to leap across the rocks like Chakotay did. And the shuttle veing able to destroy an entire kazon supership, yet their smaller ships can take over voyager in 10 seconds. Why didn't more crew members hide in the Jeffrey's tunes. Why the fuck did Tuvok randomly teach archery science for several years WTF, of all specialties that what a Vulcan scientist would choose??? Please. Perfect points everyone! I personally find the dumb computer the best though. AI brain-style circuitry computer that runs a starship but can't keep track of 2 questions and has left safety protocols than Gmail and other stupid internet verifications LOL

    I'm not sure how everyone else felt about this episode, but I think it is pretty good. Neelix's people come in handy too-although if they are that friendly, why didn't Voyager use them before for supplies (if they are willing to fight for Voyager, wouldn't they be willing to sell some food/fuel? Voyager seems to scavenge for this a lot-especially food)

    I do remember Suter dying at some point. I guess it makes more sense thematically than knowing he is locked away for the rest of the show. I was sorry to see Hogan die (I guess that should have been mentioned in the first part) I always got him confused with the guy who was a traitor (secretly contacting Seska)

    I really like how Chakotay befriended the tribe by saving the alien girl. I guess I can understand his suspicion, but I don't like how Tuvok was dismissing them as being unrepentantly hostile

    The Sarlacc-type monster was pretty cool. A shame he killed another crewman in this episode.

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