Star Trek: Voyager
Air date: 1/29/1997
Written by Jeri Taylor
Directed by Nancy Malone
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Maybe I could stand with an apple on my head and you could phaser it off."
"Sounds great. If I miss I get to be captain."
— Janeway and Chakotay, discussing "Talent Night"
Nutshell: A 100% typical exposition on the "dead captain" theme. No, thanks.
"Coda" is an episode based on an idea that has been done many times before—and much better—on Trek. The general idea is to temporarily kill a major character—in this case the captain—and milk it for all the emotional pathos it's worth.
Personally, I think I've seen this story rehashed enough times already. If you want a really good example of this theme, then you should watch DS9's "The Visitor," a tour de force on just about every level. "Coda" has none of the resonating emotion or epic moments that "Visitor" had. I think the overall problem is that once "Coda" figures out where it's going, it unfolds completely as expected and never comes close to being anything but pedestrian.
That is, of course, only after it has found its direction. The first two acts of the episode bombard us with a multitude of different ideas out of the Trekkian bag of tricks. Shortly after the episode opens (after a completely routine Neelix scene that has me suspecting we won't likely see a new Neelix come out of the recent "Fair Trade"), Janeway and Chakotay take a shuttlecraft to the surface of a planet (for reasons that are never explained). Well, no points for guessing that the shuttle gets caught in a storm and crashes, a la the unfortunate reversion to the reliable second season cliché: In the event that a premise cannot be created from a fresh idea, simply crash another shuttle and put the characters into a tough situation that way. (What is this, the fifth shuttle the Voyager crew has lost? Perhaps sixth? I've lost count.) Janeway is critically injured in the crash, but Chakotay revives her; then the two are attacked and killed by some Vidiians, at which point the scene cuts back to the shuttle where the sequence of events repeats.
At first, I figured we were in for a rehash of the time loop story—something along the lines of TNG's "Cause and Effect." The sequence begins again, but differently. This time the Vidiians attack and destroy the shuttle. Repeat again. This time Chakotay pilots the shuttle back to Voyager, where Doc reveals that Janeway has contracted the Vidiian Phage and is suffering from symptoms which caused her to hallucinate the time loop. After working 40 hours searching for a treatment, Doc gives up and tells Janeway the only humane choice is euthanasia. Practically before she can protest, he kills her with a toxic gas.
Cut back to the shuttle with Janeway and Chakotay and... well, I think you begin to get the idea.
As these events progressed and reality continued to get more confused, it seemed anything was possible. My curiosity began to percolate at this point, because the episode was just acting so weird. But just as things start to get interesting, the plot settles down into an unimpressive "exposition on Janeway's death" direction that proves less than compelling because of its predictable plot advances.
Basically, the plot boils down to a standard ghost story in which Janeway dies but her "spirit" (or whatever you wish to call it) remains to observe the crew in the aftermath. How do we know she's a spirit? Because her long-deceased father (Len Cariou) appears out of a white light and tells her she is, that's why. Janeway, being a scientist and skeptic like her father taught her (one of few nicely drawn ideas from a past episode, "Sacred Ground"), looks for every other possible scientific "phase shift" and "dimensional displacement" explanation to fit the situation.
Some of the individual ideas that Jeri Taylor's script throws us are nicely handled and performed. The idea of Kes sensing Janeway's presence with her unique mental abilities makes sense and supplies the plot a needed momentum boost. And Janeway's inability to accept that now that she's dead and her crew will go on without her is relevant, even if completely derivative.
The obligatory funeral scene is a shameless and manipulative attempt to tug at the emotions. Though somewhat necessary given the story's specifications, it feels at times like an annoying kid tugging at your sleeve. Actually I sort of liked it in a way. It made for an intriguing "what if" scene; I'm sure that, deep down, all of us have wanted to be the proverbial fly on the wall to hear what others would talk about us when remembering us. Dawson's portrayal of Torres paying respect was particularly nicely conceived and performed.
Still, none of this is really new material. We've all seen this done more effectively. And the big problem is that the story's conclusion undermines all the actors' attempts to convey a genuine sentiment.
To put it bluntly, the "revelation" that Kathryn's father is really an alien trying to coax Kathryn's consciousness out of her dying (but still slightly alive) body and into his "matrix" is stale, stale, stale. Worse yet, anyone would see it coming about a mile away, because the way the show is structured makes it probably the most predictable episode of Voyager this side of "Basics, Part II." Did I believe for a second that Janeway's father was a real spirit? No, because I just know better. Voyager doesn't believe in ghosts or ghost stories; the writers strive to explain near-death anomalies in "sci-fi" terms. Hence the alien of the week.
Once Janeway began suspecting that her father wasn't really her father, the show may as well have been over, because Cariou and Mulgrew face off in a "fiery" dialog scene that's overstated and overacted. Janeway would need to be a fool not to see through the alien's ruse given how obvious and desperate his persuasion attempts turn. Some subtlety would've been nice, but the ending certainly doesn't supply it. (Janeway's "Go back to hell, coward," fell rather flat, too. It was simply excessive.)
Another big problem is that the entire episode is really just a battle inside Janeway's mind brought on by the alien's influence. This means that nothing in the episode really happened. Everything Harry and B'Elanna said at Janeway's wake; Tuvok's solemn log entry; Kes' hope to find her captain—all imaginary happenings that never took place. The fact that all the characterization in the show is a dream proves quite frustrating.
(Before I get people telling me that "The Visitor" didn't really happen either, let me quickly point out that "Visitor" was based on a time anomaly and not an arbitrary alien-induced figment of imagination. Besides, "Visitor" was about 25 times more moving than "Coda" is, and the real issue here is that there are good ways to use a premise that exists outside conventional reality and bad ways. "Coda" is not an example of the good way.)
Also, in retrospect, what is the point of the time loop motif? A closer look reveals that the idea just doesn't fit in with the rest of the story, so why do it? It apparently serves no purpose beyond a MacGuffin to confuse the audience early on. If the whole episode would've followed this lead into a maze of convoluted surrealism I probably would've enjoyed it much more, but it didn't; it transformed into a by-the-numbers drama with a disappointing ending.
Hey, the show isn't a total loss. Some of the acting is decent stuff. Roxann Dawson's speech during the wake and Robert Beltran's scene when Janeway dies in his arms are notable standouts. Also, some of the chemistry between Janeway and Chakotay in the opening and closing are among the show's best scenes (perhaps because they were among few scenes that actually happened). I'm not saying we need to see an affair between these two characters, but the amiably-portrayed affection is definitely nice.
But if I have to witness the crash of one more shuttle on Voyager, I'll be forced to slay somebody.
Previous episode: Alter Ego
Next episode: Blood Fever
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85 comments on this post
Thu, Nov 8, 2007, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 14, 2008, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 3, 2009, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
Another wasted opportunity is the chance to get some background on Janeway. The alien of the week assumes the guise of her father, and because of his mental link with her he's able to pull out some biographical info. But her father's first name? Who knows. Her sister's? Who cares.
One of the things I dislike about modern TREK is how a wonderfully personal dramatic scene gets interrupted for the sci-fi anomaly plot of the week.
My point being this. After I watched the episode last night I felt a better idea would have been to have Janeway sustain injuries in the accident, and have a vision of her father. Something similar to "Tapestry", not that she needed to change something in her past, but she could fight for life while coming to terms with her father's death. Or we could do a straightforward flashblack a la "11:59."
I think the reason I like VOY characters the least is because the writers were rarely fair with them. Kim's continued naivete, Paris never growing up, Torres alternating between over the top temper to maternal and soft.
Another missed opportunity: Janeway laments how she'll never get to see Kes grow and mature. Sadly, neither did we.
I can see (I believe) where Jeri Taylor was going with this. Set up a lot of confusing and mysterious circumstances to keep the viewer hooked. It works, but not in the way I think they intended. Rather than think, "I can't wait to see what happens next" I was thinking "Where in the world are they going with this?"
Tue, Jan 19, 2010, 2:02am (UTC -5)
On a side note I loved the exchange at the beginning between the Captain and Neelix. Is it just me or did it sound like they were talking about an orgy? Some of Janeways expressions and lines during this opening are classic, including the assertion that Vulcans may not make good orgy participants. It deserves 3 stars just for that!
Sat, Jan 30, 2010, 1:04am (UTC -5)
that wasn't the type of talent show they were talking about...
Fri, Mar 12, 2010, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
Sun, May 23, 2010, 8:35pm (UTC -5)
Exactly. The reason DS9 was good (save for its disappointing final season) is that it didn't obsessively try to duplicate TNG. By Voyager's third year, though, it became clear that it merely interested in being a TNG clone instead of the tale of hardship & survival it should have been
Fri, Aug 13, 2010, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
Apropos of Chuckles' tapping his wrist three times, one of the scenes of the shuttlecraft descending toward the planet in the teaser looked very much like Dorothy's house falling into Munchkin Land.
Thu, Oct 7, 2010, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 24, 2011, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
Alien boy wearing an old uniform but new comm-badge? Janeway should have spotted that one straight off...
Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 3:18am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 7, 2011, 5:43pm (UTC -5)
It never seems to amaze me that when characters go off into a shuttle to 'explore' light years away from Voyager that something bad happens. I never quite understand why the characters insist on using their shuttles most of the time.
This episode is even more suspect. Why is both the captain and the first officer on a shuttle so far away from Voyager for? This would NEVER logically happen.
Looking back, most of the reasons the writers give for sending out these shuttles is incomprehensible. Let's not mention the repeated risks. Every time they send out a shuttle and go off in another direction, something really bad happens. Sometimes limited crew members die.
So to me, any show that starts off like this - and believe me, there's a LOT - it needs to dig itself out of a huge hole. Unity is a show that managed to do it, but most do not.
Frankly, the whole "let's send a shuttle many light years away from the main ship" is a huge writer crutch they never stop using throughout the 7 years this series was on.
Anyway, the story here is pure drivel. I find it amazing that Janeway and Chakotey know they are in some kind of a time loop after only 1 repetition. It took the TNG crew numerous times to figure it out.
But essentially, the whole thing is a wash. The writers throw every gimmick possible in the first 10 minutes of the show to try and disorient you, and the show isn't serviced better for it.
The speeches the crew gave in Janeway's honor after they finally accept their death were simply horrible. Who writes these speeches? The acting was also quite terrible, but I don't blame the actors. They were probably thinking the same thing. They came off as very inauthentic, and at times, forced.
Lastly, DS9 did the spirituality/science mix the best, because all of the religious/spiritual aspects to the show had a basis in some kind of science. In this show, however, it tries to cross the line by incorporating a bit too much mysticism.
When you watch a show like "Who watches the Watchers" from TNG, you get a clear sense that mysticism and gods and the afterlife are a thing of the past - and the very idea of these ideas being practiced sends Picard into anger. So it seems rather odd that Janeway's character buys into it. We are even given clues as to how she was in her youth... and that sounds like how something would act TODAY, not in the era of Star Trek. Frankly, I think attitudes towards mysticism and the super-natural would be much different for the common person by then. It doesn't fit.
Of course, the whole episode is a huge waste of time, because none of it really matters. It leaves no lasting impression, other than that, "Why the hell did I watch this for?"
Thu, Dec 8, 2011, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
That would have been an interesting avenue to ponder or explore...
Wed, Aug 22, 2012, 6:32pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Sep 26, 2012, 12:42am (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 28, 2013, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 29, 2013, 9:40am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 27, 2013, 11:59am (UTC -5)
That's why I was so angry about the cop-out ending where it was revealed that all of those moving moments were hallucinated by Janeway. As Jammer states, these kind of episodes where a main character "dies" have been done before and I knew she wouldn't stay dead, but what a rip off to discover that Chakotay's heart wrenching reaction and the tributes to her were actually made up BY her? It ruined all I enjoyed about the episode up until that point.
Plus, the whole "maybe all near death experiences are actually evil aliens sucking people's consciousness into a matrix for nourishment" is another one of those cringe-inducing attempts to explain away spiritual experiences with a grossly inadequate sci-fi trope....another cheapening of the emotions I felt earlier.
If it weren't for the skill of the actors, this episode would be worthless. However, they were able to make me feel something despite the inadequacies of the plot, so for that I agree with the two star rating.
Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
What nobody seems to notice is what I think is the best part of all: the ending in which Janeway basically tells her log she sure HOPES this was just another one of those bizarre alien anomalies local to the Delta Quadrant and that she's left him behind for good now, but that considering what she's heard of other near-death experiences back in the Alpha Quadrant, there's really no way she can ever be sure. Might Janeway really have met a demon come to drag her to Hell?
Good question, though of course the episode has to close without answering it in order to keep from saying for sure whether Satan or something like him really does exist in the Star Trek universe, which would in turn raise complicated questions of whether that means God is there too and what kind of dealings with each of several million different sentient species in the Milky Way alone such a God would have. (Is the same guy in charge of Sto-Vo-Kor and the Divine Treasury, or are Heaven and Hell franchises or something?)
One reason I like this kind of episode so much is it's the very kind of story that the hopelessly naive humanist Gene Roddenberry never allowed while he was alive for fear of losing his foolish faith in humanity's supposed inherent goodness. "Go back to Hell, coward!" indeed!
Thu, Oct 17, 2013, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 4, 2013, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 15, 2014, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
Keeping it ambiguous would've been at least potentially interesting.
Annoying about the reset button, however...as many note, the Kes stuff, the funeral stuff...none of it happens.
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 10:48am (UTC -5)
Only worth watching for said performances and it's decent attempt at weirdness. Otherwise, it's frustrating and borderline insulting.
Sun, Sep 14, 2014, 2:40am (UTC -5)
Reading some of these reviews and the criticisms of them I'm beginning to understand why I enjoyed many of these Voyager episodes more than some people. In the first place, I saw this series before I saw TNG, so I was not constantly comparing these episodes to old episodes of the previous series (also, I think the production values and acting were of generally higher quality and the writing frequently tighter on Voyager, so while TNG may get the prize for originality, VOY beats it in terms of execution). In the second place, I don't overthink the internal logic of these plots, and I willingly suspend disbelief for the sake of enjoyment of the drama. Yes, it doesn't make sense that the Captain and First Officer would be on an away mission together - but rather than let that spoil the episode for me, I'd rather enjoy the fact that we get a glimpse in the crash scene of how fanatically devoted (and possibly romantically attached) the otherwise taciturn and reserved Chakotay is towards Janeway at this early point in the series, which is both moving and revealing in terms of what has been going on inside his character. I'd much rather have such a meaty slice of character insight and drama at the expense of perfectly consistent plot points. You might as well nitpick the fact that there aren't enough non-humanoid alien lifeforms on the show, or that 24th-century English would sound a lot different from English as we spoke it in the late 1980s and early 90s. There are endless little "unrealistic" points and elements which, if you want to nitpick, can easily reduce all of Star Trek to an absurdity. Suspension of disbelief involves, for instance, assuming there was some good reason why the Captain and First Officer were on that shuttle together - maybe because Janeway and Chakotay were feeling some chemistry at this point and she used the away mission as a chance for them to bend the rules and get some alone time together? It's just as easy to find reasons to explain these little inconsistencies instead of picking them full of holes, and for myself, I'd rather appreciate a piece of drama for the emotional payoff of the performance rather than for the intellectual satisfaction of picking it full of holes.
Anyway, good episode, great final scene, great guest performance, great music. Also, as Jammer pointed out, great acting by the rest of the cast.
Sun, Nov 16, 2014, 8:18pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 16, 2015, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
And in this episode, Janeway (while talking to ghost-dad or whatever) screams out that she wants to hang around in order to see if Tom and Torres will ever stop fighting and get together. Is it just me, or is one of the first rules of writing "Show, don't Tell"? The series had actually been doing that, showing us the start of their relationship without making it obvious what the show was doing. And admittedly, things would break out into the open in the very next episode. But why tell it now? Why let the cat out of the bag? It's a minor issue, but one that annoyed me.
In any case, V is for Voyager commented that that he doesn't care about originality much, which is somewhat fair. But there is a difference between something unoriginal and something that is just a ripoff. Many people were reminded of TNG's Frame of Mind when they saw Projections. Personally I thought Non Sequitur should have been a Paris-focused ripoff of Tapestry, since that sort of plot fits Tom's character more than Picard. And even the last episode seemed to use several old TNG cliches, but it was just a ruse for a fresh new idea. So there is some good use of taking unoriginal plots. But here?
What was the POINT of ripping off Cause and Effect, other than the fact that C&E was a popular episode. People said that the demon thing had to show her deaths multiple times in order to get her to accept it, but why? Sounds to me that that would make a Starfleet captain less willing to believe its over, because she may be able to go back in time again. No other near-death experience or similar plot ever used something like that, so why assume that was the reason? Because the demon never said why it happened. There was never a reason it happened. The first half of the episode was literally a ripoff of C&E for no reason whatsoever. Zero. Zilch. None.
The best explanation I can come up with is that the demon was calibrating her brainwaves first, seeing if he could get inside her head and get her into the light. But that doesn't make much sense either.
The Phage scene where the Doctor euthanizes her is probably the worst example. There is no reason for this sort of thing other than the fact that it was a dramatic twist. Except, of course, since it comes out of the blue and has no bearing or meaning with the rest of the episode. You may as well have just had everyone burst into song for a Disneyesque musical for all the meaning that that scene portrayed.
And it wasn't just the first part, the last part was pretty lame too. How often have we seen this trope? Someone appears who claims to be a friend, constantly urging the hero to do a certain something. The hero has some reservations, but the mysterious new guy seems to have all of the answers. The hero goes along, for a time. But has more questions. And the mysterious guy gets more and more testy and tells the hero to just trust him. But the hero backs off more. So the new guy gets angrier and angrier. And lo, it's revealed that the new guy is not the trusting long last friend after all, but rather evil! And the hero was right to avoid doing that one thing!
Coda plays that trope exactly. There was no hint of deviation from the playbook once it started. You could guess exactly what ghost-dad was going to say and act based on your knowledge of the stock plot. Which is where the problem lies. If there was anything clever, any deviation from the norm, this might have been at least somewhat salvaged. But no, Voyager couldn't be bothered to investigate this possibility any. Just slap a Voyager coating on a generic, over-used storyline and call it a day.
The only mildly surprising part of the last half of the plot was Janeway's willingness to stick around as a ghost and stay with her crew even though she accepted the fact that she was dead. But that didn't change the plot any nor had any lasting impression.
This episode isn't just weak, it's downright awful.
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 9:31am (UTC -5)
All the other deaths were the alien picking memories out of her head and making Janeway see what he wanted her to see. If it didn't give the desired outcome, he snapped her back in the time loop and tried again. The time-loop was generated by the Alien in her head. Same with the memorial service, it's not Janeway hallucinating, it's the alien pulling memories and giving Janeway something to see that is believable to her to fit his need. Her to give up and surrender to him.
Jammer: "Before I get people telling me that "The Visitor" didn't really happen either, let me quickly point out that "Visitor" was based on a time anomaly and not an arbitrary alien-induced figment of imagination. Besides, "Visitor" was about 25 times more moving than "Coda" is, and the real issue here is that there are good ways to use a premise that exists outside conventional reality and bad ways. "Coda" is not an example of the good way."
lol ... so DS9 technobabble is better than Voyager technobabble? ... because you say so? I think it would be more accurate to say that 'Visitor' was more moving to you because you liked DS9 better. I'm MORE than sure there were millions of Voyager fans that got all teared up at Janeway's memorial service.
I enjoyed both.
Roxann nails it again! She's just awesome as B'Elanna and I don't think she gets enough credit for her performances.
Wang on the other hand just stinks up the joint. The only saving grace in his little speech was Janeway tearing up behind him. Want to know why he doesn't get much in the later years of Voyager? ... this is it.
I will agree. I thought Beltran did very well in his scenes with Kate on the planet as well. Bravo. I was moved.
I thought the EMH killing Janeway the way he did was pretty darn funny.
So, once you understand how this episode actually works, it isn't that bad. MUCH better than 2 stars for sure.
My hard point is why did the alien choose her? Was it her intellect? Was it just happenstance? Is it her spirit that will nourish him? This all could have been fleshed out a bit more.
I'll go 3 stars.
Sat, Dec 26, 2015, 8:07am (UTC -5)
And interestingly, Janeway's shuttle is called Sacajewea, named after the Lewis and Clark guide. Just think, a woman who managed to get her people where they needed to go without getting lost! I bet shuttle launch crew did that on purpose!
Thu, Jan 28, 2016, 10:15am (UTC -5)
Others have complained that the episode is unfocused but I think the constant redirections actually help to keep things fresh, as the actual themes are fairly old news. I liked the off beat nature of the euthanasia scene, that did come as something new though. All in all I thought there was more here than it seems many others did. 3 stars.
Sat, Apr 9, 2016, 2:25am (UTC -5)
Sat, Apr 9, 2016, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
Anyway, getting a new hobby would hardly undo reviews that were completed 15 years ago.
Thu, May 5, 2016, 12:47am (UTC -5)
Sun, May 22, 2016, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 5:50am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 8, 2017, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 8, 2017, 9:15pm (UTC -5)
Perhaps you will learn one day that when guys get into their 50s and 60s, they often gain weight in the mid-section.... hence why older generals and admirals and so forth are usually not the most svelte.. they are old and they are sitting at desks most of the time. Actually , it is realistic to portray an old admiral with some body fat.
And honestly, he is in find shape for a guy over 60. Nothing to be ashamed of. He was no where near as fat as Scotty in TNG.
Sun, Jan 29, 2017, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
"Perhaps you will learn one day that when guys get into their 50s and 60s, they often gain weight in the mid-section."
Learn it one day, like when I turn, say, sixty-two -- which I did three weeks ago? And BTW, I'm a sixty-two-year-old man with a thirty-four-inch waist.
Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
Anyway, this thing really felt masturbatory. Not the funeral scene, which I thought worked fine, since Janeway was established as sort of a mother figure to the crew and everybody talks how awesome a character is when they die but like quater of the episode everyone not shutting up about how she rules at everything.
And agreed with Jammer, I found the final confrontation at the end waaaay too long. You really shouldn't need that long to have a character win an debate with creepy alien guy who's whole argument is "trust me cause I say so".
Also, nitpick, but how is the guy "coward"? Like, he's certainly a malicious, amoral being but how is what he did particularly cowardly? What, did Janeway expect him to fist-fight her? What?
Mon, Mar 20, 2017, 10:19am (UTC -5)
I thought it was still a very good premise and pretty good execution. We may have seen time loop episodes before but it was still nicely nightmarish (and was mostly effective misdirection and also OK as Janeway refusing to accept her actual or phenomenon- or alien-induced death). My biggest complaint was that the false father did seem too bad guy for too long.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 1:59am (UTC -5)
It's like, "Listen up Star Trek nerds, I'm older with a skinny waist! HA! Take that!!" and the entire viewership just kinda reads it and hopes he takes his meds at some point.
Sun, May 14, 2017, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
Seriously, the scene where the doctor immediately kills her while she pleads for him not to do it is supposed to be believable to her? The fake doctor's behaviour is so completely out of the ordinary that I believe it actually breaks the plot of the episode. Not only does Janeway not question what the hell these extremely weird behaving time loops are, she doesn't even notice that the doctor in her sickbay death experience was painfully obviously not the real doctor.
If her experience was simply crashing with the shuttle -> dying -> having her father trying to guide her to the afterlife, I can see how she could have bought it. But her actual experience makes absolutely no sense. Another example is how she was supposed to have contracted the phage. The doctor speculates that - according to Janeway's story - a Videan grabbed her. But in this specific time loop this didn't happen. They sent out their tachyon burst and the two videan ships disappeared before they had any actual interaction with them. The hypothesis to explain this would be that somehow the virus was kept in Janeway's body through a time loop, even though everything else about her body was restored to the way it was. Well, except their memories, which is a problem many time loop stories have - how the hell do people retain their memory when they get reset into the exact same configuration every time? So let's suspend our disbelief - Why does Chakotey suddenly not remember any of the time loops?
I understand that the alien created all these experience so they don't have to make sense. What I don't understand is why Janeway didn't see the massive plot holes in her memories. Is her judgement affected by the alien? This is never made clear, but it's really the only explanation that makes any sense - but if the alien can do that already, why even set up such elaborate scenarios?
Look, I don't expect everything in science fiction to follow my expectations of how things should work - if there is some technobabble to explain away some weird fact of the universe, I can buy it. But it bugs me when the stories don't make much sense in-world, when the characters should know better.
Where the hell did that alien come from and went to anyway? As far as the episode is concerned, it just appeared out of thin air and vanished just as well. Does nobody find it curious where these aliens live and how one might prevent them from appearing?
Sat, May 20, 2017, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
It just didn't make sense. Why the constant deaths, what was that supposed to indicate? Death wants to snack on your soul so instead of getting right to it after you've been killed by Vidiians, he takes the time to kill you four more times and then hang out with you and play "this is your life"? Kes having her little "feeling" and suddenly everyone is rushing around trying to find interdimensional Janeway despite the fact that her dead body is right there for all to see. Guess it is good to be the Captain, I can't remember anyone else being thought to be on a different frequency after a pretty typical death no matter who might "sense" them. All the Janeway/Chaoktay interpersonal stuff comes back from nowhere and disappears into the void--he is distraught trying to revive her but that was all in her head since that was her first "death" but the rose and invite for a moonlight sale were in reality so what the hell? Picardo was the best part of the episode.
Really, I want to make Jeri Taylor watch this one again and ask her where the hell she was trying to go with it because it is a confused mess. Horror story about how Death happens? Sci-fi time loop? It was all a dream but here are some cool character moments we can't do in reality? Because it was all and none of those things.
Thu, Jun 1, 2017, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
First, I have to say I agree with @navamske. I've just seen too many older Admirals with a big belly, and have thought along the same lines as what navamske wrote. What, when Picard turns 60 he is going to be a fat turd behind a desk? Nope. Not only would the doctors forbid the Admirals to get heavy for their own health, the food replicators would adjust their calories and whatnot, no matter how much they ate, until their midnight snack was the same as eating water, calories-wise.
Second, Tuvok. Now, he's been acting like a stick-in-the-mud since the very beginning, not wanting to go to the holodeck with the other crew for parties when it is suggested/ordered he go, not wanting to try new things, not wanting to be one of the "guys" (even Spock played that instrument in the crew lounge). But he goes and reads Vulcan Poetry at a "Talent Night", and Neelix suggests to the Captain that the next time they do that, perhaps Tuvok might have something he must do on the bridge. Neelix, who has been trying to get Tuvok to do something... anything... different nearly every day of the voyage, doesn't want him at the next party because he just wasn't fun enough. And the Captain seems to go along with this. I can see how they were going for the joke here, but to my thinking this was quite rude. And not really funny.
And lastly, of course I knew it wasn't part of any reality to have Doctor snuff Janeway, so I just laughed. This part I DID think was really funny. :D
*Come to think of it, that'd be how Doctor would work in the Mirror Universe, if he existed. Great Doctor, but if there was no saving you, well, you were using valuable air... NEXT!*
Regards Everyone... RT
Fri, Jun 2, 2017, 1:39pm (UTC -5)
For fuck's sake, being fat doesn't even automatically mean you are unhealthy. What would the admirals need to be super fit for? I can't believe anybody finds this worthy of talking about.
Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 5:19am (UTC -5)
So we are on opposite sides on the issue? That's cool. But, for someone who cannot believe anyone would find it a worthy topic, then replies to it twice, well, that makes me smile. :D
Sun, Jul 16, 2017, 5:10am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 16, 2017, 8:27am (UTC -5)
Nope, you're not alone.
Sat, Sep 30, 2017, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 30, 2017, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 11:53pm (UTC -5)
This episode goes to great lengths to avoid any sort of religious jargon at all.
JANEWAY: Consciousness. Is that what you're calling me? Kathryn's consciousness.
ADMIRAL: For the want of a better word. Some say ghost or spirit.
Or what most people would refer to as a 'soul', whether they believe in one or not. But can't say that word. Not allowed. So 'consciousness' instead.
ADMIRAL: I don't know what to call it. Another state of consciousness, unlike anything we could have imagined in life. It's not a frightening place, Kathryn. It's full of joy and indescribable wonder.
I know what most people would call it. 'Heaven'. But can't say that word either. So 'matrix' instead.
For some reason it's ok to call it 'hell' though. IDK why.
This is another episode that tries to highlight how science is different than religion, and totally backfires on itself. It tries to show that when you die, if you see a bright light guiding you to cross over, 'hah! Jokes on you!, it's actually an evil alien that's going to eat your 'consciousness'. It's not a religious experience at all, it's science! So there.
But it explicitly states that there is a part of you that lives on after death, which is the foundation of most religions, and therefore proves that religions are at least partly right. And just like in 'Sacred Ground' (which says basically the exact opposite of this episode), I'm 100% sure it wasn't the writer's intent to say what it did.
Star Trek is quite schizophrenic about religion, sometimes saying it's nonsense and it call be explained away with science, as in 'Sacred Ground' or TNG's 'Devil's Due', and sometimes showing that there is an afterlife of some kind, as in this episode, or pretty much any episode about Chakotay, among others.
The best thing for Star Trek to have done was to never mention religion ever. Because most of the time it ends up being a big mess, and ends up contradicting itself between episodes and sometimes even within the same episode, and often leads to totally idiotic ones like this one.
And if this alien/demon thing does this all the time, why has this never happened to anyone on the ship before? There have been many people very close to death many times on this show. But he's never shown up. And of course of all the hundreds? thousands? millions? billions? of people he's tried this with, Janeway is the only one that he couldn't convince. Of course.
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 8:38am (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 6:19am (UTC -5)
If the alien could eat souls, if souls were real, there’s no rush. Though Janeway is confused by his actions and because she’s dying, she does realise eventually that if this were in any way real he doesn’t need to rush her. Even by his own lies he said he watched her and her family for months, so why can’t she do the same? She’s no idiot so she notices his lies but she’s too weak and confused to see them head on until the very end. That happens all the way through.
I love this episode. Tuvok’s obvious desperation, B’Elanna’s speech, Harry’s speech and both of them weeping 😭 I do think it cheapens it a bit that none of that was real, but i think we’re supposed to think that this is what they would do if it were real and I buy it. Interestingly Chakotay is more heartbroken in the real parts than the imagined parts. It’s not clear because of what she says about seeing things from outside being hallucinations but when he’s sobbing and Voyager will be there in a few mins, I think that one’s actually real, because that actually happened - Voyager really was on its way, Tuvok really did come and help very quickly.
I like the insights into Janeway too. That she was bed bound with depression for months 15 years ago is particularly interesting especially in light of later episodes where you see she does still have this tendency toward depression. And I like that if she really did become a ghost she’d stay with her crew.
Sun, Apr 8, 2018, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 8, 2018, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
"Sounds great. If I miss I get to be captain."
This may be the best line in the entire series
Wed, Apr 25, 2018, 9:08am (UTC -5)
This one felt like it was hurriedly written in one draft with no edits as the writer put down the plot in a stream of consciousness ...
"okay, let's redo 'Cause and Effect', nah ... let's turn it into ... a remake of 'The Tholian Web', yeah that's the ticket ... nah ... that's too obvious ... let's instead make it a redo of 'Tapestry' but this time with an evil alien that wants to take over Janeway's soul ... errr ... no strike that ... life force .... no ... consciousness. Yeah! Oops ... I've just reached my word count limit for the script. Well, that's a wrap. Onto the next script."
Wed, Apr 25, 2018, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
And why did we go through the whole time loop "Cause and Effect" thing in the first place? And then things really started to get jumbled for me when Janeway pops up and she can see herself dying. And why was Doc so insistent on euthanizing her? Are we supposed to assume this is a trick from the alien in her mind?? Like I said, a real mess of an episode.
Thought it might get interesting with Kes trying to use her abilities, but this was just a waste of time -- the scene with Tuvok and the meditation dragged.
The tug at the heartstrings of the memorial is probably the main point of this episode -- nice eulogy from Torres although Kim's was lousy (as was his acting here). I actually didn't think of DS9's "The Visitor" here as this was a weak episode and hardly emotionally moving -- nobody was as close to Janeway as Jake was to Ben Sisko. If anything, the memorial made Janeway want to stay in spirit with the crew instead of going with the alien (her father), so bad move on the alien's part I guess.
A low 2 stars for "Coda" -- not a fan of heavily contrived episodes, in this case to see what the crew would go through if the captain dies. Didn't see much crying as grieving - just a good Torres eulogy. But the ending resolution is so arbitrary and theorizing that an alien may be at work for near-death experiences is cheap.
Tue, Aug 7, 2018, 12:05am (UTC -5)
Still in a universe with mischievous Godlike entities like Q, who I think are usually benign if a bit heavy handed, there is enough room for an opposite group, feeding off life and sowing destructive potential like a more powerful Pah-Wraith.
What they should have done in the end is discover a dark reality about life and death, maybe using some scans of people to compare to Janeway and say something like the following to make this a more powerful thread/threat throughout the series:
(Later in Sickbay Janeway and Chakotay were summoned)
Janeway: Doctor, what is the matter?
Doctor: Captain, I was reviewing the scans that Mr. Tuvok had made of your "experience" with the alien entity
Doctor: I cross-referenced those readings with other readings from the last 300 years of research into the phenomenon of death states and organic death from federation scientists, I have found a pattern.
Chakotay: What kind of Pattern Doctor?
Doctor: Whatever that "entity" was, this is not an isolated incident, there's evidence to show that his species has been feeding on life forms across the galaxy.
Janeway: Have you determine where it comes from or how to stop it?
Doctor: That's the thing Captain, I cannot tell you where it comes from or where it goes after taking the last bit of energy from living organisms. All I can tell you is that when a person is at the point of death, sometimes it will appear
(Scene changes to to Janeway's quyarters, completely dark)
The Doctors final words echoes " All I can tell you is that when a person is at the point of death, sometimes it will appear"
Voila, I just created a giant mystery for future seasons or even series to explore, a faceless enemy that mankind has faced for eons even as technology has allowed us to identify it, and there's no defense. If you think the Borg are scary, try facing an existential threat like this.
That's what Voyager writers were missing, they needed gravitas in this episode, something that could engage people on a common, fear of death/afterlife. Science Fiction does not need to be just technobabble, it can also include elements of horror/mystery, like a few H.P Lovecraft's novels which touched on science fiction
Tue, Aug 7, 2018, 9:03am (UTC -5)
Dang that sounds really cool! It definitely has that "cool" factor as well as that "anything can happen in this big universe" factor that makes Trek unique.
There was a lot of potential in VOY for stuff like this but unfortunately many of the aliens were one-offs. A shame really.
I wonder if we'll see something like this in the new Picard series...one can always hope!
Mon, Aug 27, 2018, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
The crewman who sounded the bosun's whistle was in Starfleet headquarters with Barclay and Admiral Paris in the final episode when they became aware of the Borg "transwarp aperture."
Mon, Aug 27, 2018, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
Miss the point much?
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 11:54pm (UTC -5)
The plot line was ridiculous though. The combo of time loop and near death experience and alien soul sucker was just silly. I did like how Janeway told off the creep.
Fri, Oct 19, 2018, 12:06pm (UTC -5)
i didn't like VOY much on first run, i was way more of a DS9 fan. however, in the past 10-odd years of fake garbage "star trek," i have been revisiting the series and have found much to enjoy.
that being said, this is easily one of the worst episodes of the first three seasons. so many cliches: another shuttle crash, a totally WTF "time loop" sublot that goes nowhere and is inexplicably dropped after the first two acts, another fake "death" of a crew person, some kind of incomprehensible ghost-story-with-technobabble nonsense about an evil alien that feasts on the mental energy of the dying, etc etc etc. just a complete mess.
like i was saying, credit where due, i have been enjoying 90% of the VOY series on rewatch, but bad is bad - and this one is really, really bad.
Sun, Mar 3, 2019, 1:18am (UTC -5)
Thu, May 30, 2019, 6:48am (UTC -5)
This story if it is extended to its budding conclusion is trying to tell us the followings:
That the life that we are experiencing is not real and it is just an illusion, a nightmare and a hologram made by some mad alien with devious intentions.
That God(s) is not a father figure who is trying to help us and show us the right direction in life but a dubious cruel character who is dissecting animals in a laboratory while eating a bologna sandwich with a cool conscious. Or perhaps a bully kid with a magnifying glass tormenting all the ants (us).
That even after you are supposedly dead the perturbing continues with some devilish being coming after your consciousness as fuel or food.
And finally if you are going to die remember, that never follow the alien pretending to be your loved ones, toward the light since the whole setup is a charade to carry you to the dimension of more suffering.
Mon, Jun 17, 2019, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Then it surprises you with a top notch if not brilliant last 10-15 minutes, often thanks to a clever twist and/or intriguing element in combination with Janeway kickin' ass.
Still, there are many episodes better than this one, which I would probably skip if I would ever do a rewatch (God forbid!).
Fri, Jun 28, 2019, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 17, 2020, 10:24am (UTC -5)
What did work was the "demon" trying to capture Janeway to "hell". That was great and should have been explored more in depth. Had the story made this the main focus and had Janeway perhaps actually gone to "hell" this could have been an epic episode.
Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 2:39pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 10:10am (UTC -5)
"I like the characters, I enjoy watching them interrelate, and good character moments can salvage a weak plot. This is just a fun adventure show."
I feel the same way about VOY. It really is "just a fun adventure show". The sci-fi is rarely great or even good and it's not too often that we really hit on some quality stories, plots but I enjoy the cast's various interactions. Neelix doesn't really bother me either ;)
Just saw "One Small Step" again yesterday and feel that this is almost good enough to be in my all-time top 50 Trek episodes. When VOY really pulls it all together, it can be fantastic and can tell some tales that are hard to see the other Treks telling. I also think VOY did humour really well -- maybe, probably better than any other Trek series for me.
The thing about VOY is that when I first started watching it, I really liked it a tad more than I do now as I've realized that, as a series, it never hit the heights TOS, TNG, DS9 did but I used to think, in my first 1 or 2 viewings of the series that it was largely on par with TNG, DS9. Now I think it's a bit weaker overall, but I still love it.
Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
And Neelix doesn't bother me either. Like so many, I found him very annoying at first, but I've since learned to appreciate the character and Ethan Phillips' performance. Episodes like Jetrel and Fair Trade showed us that a lot of his annoying cheerfulness and exuberence is a front covering a pretty insecure and angry person with a selfish streak, but beneath it all he has a good heart and a lot of loyalty. Yeah, he makes some dumb mistakes, but what Trek character doesn't?
Thu, Apr 30, 2020, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
Sat, May 2, 2020, 12:48am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 10, 2020, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
I didn’t much care for the first two acts being a rehash of Cause and Effect before switching to the afterlife story.
Voyager did this mid story switcheroo in so many episodes, I strongly suspect it was two writers working separately on each half and only sharing what the midpoint needed to be.
Sun, Nov 15, 2020, 10:59am (UTC -5)
Janeway and Neelix are speed-walking down a corridor discussing all the fun the crew had at yesterday’s talent night. Janeway herself performed “the Dying Swan,” a choreography depicting a creature struggling against, and ultimately succumbing to death.
JANEWAY: Everyone had a lot of fun.
Okay then. Janeway and Chakotay continue the tradition of sending senior most officers together on routine shuttle missions alone where they they still can’t stop talking about talent night and Janeway’s dying swan. Despite the ludicrousness of the set-up here, I am once again won over by Mulgrew’s and Beltran’s chemistry and the lived-in humanity of their performances. This whole thing is a big load of DBI, but I’m just less annoyed by it because these feel like real people having a conversation instead of actors demonstrating to you that they are characters. Considering what we saw in “Resolutions,” I can easily imagine Janeway having arranged this absurd little mission so the two of them could get some alone time without arousing suspicion.
Anyway, they run into some space weather, naturally, and the consoles start a-sparking. After a few seconds, the cabin is filling with toxic gas and the shuttle is (unconvincingly) crash-landing on a planet. Well, this space-capable vessel is torn up badly, but the unbelted and un-airbagged Chakotay barely has a bump on his head. Captain Black Swan however appears to be seriously injured.
Act 1 : ***, 17%
Beltran gets another opportunity to show his stuff, which manages to be melodramatic without descending into maudlin territory. He carries Janeway out to the planet and pleads with her to stay with him, performing the obligatory CPR. And in a final cheese-tastic flourish, Janeway miraculously awakens, calling Chakotay’s name. Yeah, these two are definitely fucking. While they make camp and prepare for “Resolutions Part Deux,” Chakotay notes phaser burns on the shuttle’s hull. Before long, they identify the weapons as Vidiian and detect some approaching lifeforms. They take cover in the ubiquitous cave set and are met by a dozen Vidiians holding weapons. Despite her (empty) threats, Captain Dying Swan, erm, dies, having been pretty gruesomely strangled by one of the Vidiians. Two for two, Captain.
And then, Janeway and Chakotay find themselves back in the shuttle talking about talent night. Unlike the clearly inspirational “Cause and Effect,” we skip over all the intrigue (although that would have been really derivative) as the pair realise after only seconds that they’re in some sort of time loop. Eh, I guess it pays to be genre-savvy.
In this iteration, our heroes detect the Vidiian vessel and try (and fail) to outrun/out-manoeuvre it. After another few seconds, the warp core explodes and we find ourselves back on Groundhog Day.
Act 2 : **.5, 17%
This time, the pair detect not one but two Vidiian vessels headed their way. However, they are able to make contact with the Voyager this time and manage to get Tuvok up to speed before emitting a tachyon burst (tachyons are are like Windex for time anomalies).
Janeway’s burst of time magic erases the Vidiian vessels and so she and Chakotay make a happy return to the Voyager and step onto the bridge. After a few moments of conversation, it becomes clear that no one except Janeway has any memory of the time loop. Chakotay claims they ran into and escaped from the Vidiians.
So Janeway checks herself into sickbay where the Doctor has grim news; he’s diagnosed her with the Phage. The EMH’s explanation for how and why Janeway has become sick is extremely vague and...not entirely plausible, but this is by design. With that professional devotion we’ve come to expect, the Doctor pledges (again, echoing “Resolutions”) to work night and day until he can develop a treatment for her.
The captain is lain to rest--literally, and awakens days later covered in lesions.
JANEWAY: Have you? Is there any hope of a cure?
EMH: I regret to inform you that I have been unsuccessful.
JANEWAY: Then what's the next step?
EMH: I've given that a great deal of thought. The prospects are unpleasant, Captain. You face a lingering, painful death marked by increasing periods of dementia and eventual insanity.
JANEWAY: I see.
EMH: I've come to the conclusion that there's only one humane course of action.
JANEWAY: What's that?
Ope. Spoke too soon. The conversation escalates horrifically as the Doctor erects a force field, pumps the room full of poison gas, and we see the swan die yet again. But of course, that leads us back to the shuttle and flirtatious whispers of talent night.
If they had cut to commercial right here, it would have been an effective twist. It has been much longer since the last loop ended and the preceding murder was so engrossing and weird that we were effectively distracted from the conceit of the plot. The jarring juxtaposition of this reset was effective. But then we have to keep going with the shuttle encountering a glowing space anus. Chakotay suggests, like a lunatic, to fly into the thing for no reason. Janeway refuses and the shuttle explodes. Again.
Ah, but now things change. We return to the planet surface with Chakotay and his melodrama, trying to force Janeway back to life. But there’s also Spirit Janeway, watching herself die in his arms. I take back what I said about being genre-savvy. I have no idea what genre this is any more.
Act 3 : **, 17%
As non-corpse Janeway realises she can’t touch anything or be heard by Chakotay, Tuvok makes contact and promises to beam them up immediately. Uh huh. So how is Ghost Janeway supposed to get back to the ship? Your guess is as good as mine because we just jump cut directly to the sickbay with corpse Janeway on the biobed and ghost Janeway in observance. Doc acts like himself again, managing to get a weak pulse, but it seems to finally be over. He notes her death in the log, Chakotay sulks off and Kes is sent off to the lab. Janeway pursues her, hoping her Ocampan mind powers might be able to sense what tricorders cannot. And indeed, when Kes walks through her, she notes Janeway’s presence.
Based on this experience, the senior staff hold a briefing where it’s decided they will put all their efforts into ghost-hunting. This is...absurd, but Janeway is pleased to see that her crew won’t let her go, so sound the happy French Horns. While Janeway monitors Torres and Kim in Engineering (they’re configuring the ship to scan for ghosts with science), the glowing space anus appears again out of which steps Admiral Every Republican Senator. Janeway identifies him as “Daddy” (good thing Chakotay didn’t hear).
Act 4 : **.5, 17%
After mulling it over during the commercials, Janeway has become sceptical of Admiral Daddy (who is also invisible and intangible to the crew). He claims that she, like he many years before, has died and that this is the afterlife.
ADMIRAL: I went back to you, and your mother, and your sister after I died for a long time, until I realised it was futile. That's what happens when dead is unexpected. One's consciousness isn't prepared to let go.
Blegh. A lot of times in fiction, a writer will attempt to circumvent the impossible (that the incomprehensibility of the numinous cannot be explained in material terms) in order to make the audience *feel* the numinous. Great art manages this feat, to transport the observer or listener in a way which can be felt as transcendent. This scene seems intent on making death and heaven and hell seem incredibly boring. Jery Taylor can’t come up with anything more than “it’s full of joy and indescribable wonder.” What insight! And my what tension! See, Admiral Ghost Dad wants Janeway to enter the space anus with him, claiming that it’s the portal to heaven, and this is the best he can do. In the same vein, he describes a bout of depression Janeway suffered as a child when he died:
ADMIRAL: You spent months in bed, sleeping away your days rather than confronting your feelings. I'm not sure what would have happened if your sister hadn't forced you into the real world again.
This is just so vague and lazy that it utterly fails to connect us to the characters. This kind of flyby backstory is anaemic compared to the simple scene between Janeway and Chakotay in the shuttle. What a waste.
But I would also be remiss not to point out that he casually mentions that people in the 24th century apparently still believe in ghost stories. I can tolerate that silliness coming from Ro in “The Next Phase” because, well, she’s a Bajoran, and their sadistic wormhole overlords have programmed them to be credulous for many centuries. But the idea that humans haven’t evolved beyond that numb-skullery is some bullshit. DS9-level immersion-breaking bullshit.
Sigh...anyway, the Swan’s next step is Tuvok’s quarters where he is attempting to guide Kes into having another vision or whatever. But this time, Janeway’s presence is completely unheard. Frustrated, Kes breaks the meld and Tuvok concedes that they must accept the Captain’s death.
To the accompaniment of a lovely viola solo, Tuvok makes a private entry in his log, lamenting the loss of his dear friend. It’s nicely done, but it fails to dig down. Obviously, Tuvok isn’t going to get emotional, but we saw in “Alter Ego” how powerful his sublimated feelings can be if properly written and explored. I believe in his and Janeway’s deep friendship, but I need something more than just stating that it exists to be moved or enlightened, some admission by Tuvok of what exactly he has lost. Otherwise, it’s just a little cheap.
We then transition to Janeway’s memorial the next day. Torres is speaking. Where Chakotay’s teeth-gnashing was a bit over the top and Tuvok’s log was a little thin, I think this scene hits most of the right notes.
TORRES: In the beginning, I fought her...I kept looking for a hidden agenda. I actually believed that she'd set me up to fail. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong...She saw a worthwhile person, where I saw a lost and hostile misfit. And because she had faith in me I began to have faith in myself. And when she died, the first thing I thought was that I couldn't do this without her. That I needed her too badly. Her strength and her compassion. But then I realised that the gift that she gave me, and gave a lot of us here, was the knowledge that we are better and stronger than we think. I wish I had said these things to her.
I’m going to spoil the ending (because it sucks) and explain why I think this scene works. Janeway is not quite dead but is being fed images as she lay dying in order to convince her to give up on recovering. Some have interpreted the fact that what is supposed to placate Janeway is the crew falling over itself to sing her praises and inflate her ego, but I don’t think that’s it at all. The early iterations of her “death” were meant to shock her into believing she had died, had fucked up in some way to lead to her own demise. But that didn’t work. So this ghost story portion of the script is about giving her closure. She needs to know that Chakotay loved her, that Tuvok values their friendship, that Torres appreciates what she did for her and so forth so that she doesn’t feel like a failure. In the larger arc of Janeway’s character, I actually think this is an important piece.
I also just find the execution quite good. Dawson, Mulgrew, Beltran and even Wang are convincing in their measured grief. Harry, it should be noted, tells a story about picking space blueberries that I wish had been part of an episode we had actually seen, like we had with Torres’ story, but it’s still nicely conceived. So Janeway’s body is launched into space and Chakotay instructs the crew to honour her memory and move on. Admiral Daddy makes another plea for his daughter to join him in the paradise of the vague and her gaze continues to follow the path of her own corpse.
Act 5 : *, 17%
ADMIRAL: The only thing that keeps you is your refusal to leave...You always made it hard for yourself. If there was a rocky path and a smooth one, you chose the rocky one every time.. .I was hoping you wouldn't have to go through that. It's a horrible existence, Kathryn. As time wears on you begin to see how potent, how destructive, loneliness is.
I’m about to rip into this episode as it gracelessly tumbles off its mediocre perch, but it’s difficult to imagine a more succinct and prescient snapshot of Kathryn Janeway’s character than the dialogue above.
All right, on to the tumble. So Captain Swan refuses to abandon her crew, even it means haunting their journey as ghost for the next seven decades. Because Plot, Admiral Ghost Dad starts to get dyspeptic at her refusal to enter the space anus with him. When she flatly tells him “no,” we see a POV of the Doctor treating the Captain back on New New Earth or whatever, along with Tuvok and Chakotay looking concerned. The following exchange is as bad as the worst parts of “Heroes and Demons,” where the crew had to act lobotomised in order to pad out the episode and painfully explain details of the plot to each other that the audience had already figured out. Here again, Janeway makes the “Resolutions” monkey look like Guenther as she pieces together what’s actually going on.
JANEWAY: I was right. I heard Tuvok and Chakotay and the Doctor. You're an alien. You've created all these hallucinations, haven't you?
I mean, if Clunky were a fragrance, they could have gassed the Norman trenches with that fucking line. Anyway, Daddy outs himself as a vague evil soul-eater. We are meant to believe that Janeway’s refusal to accept her own death is exceptionally rare which...I like Captain Janeway, too, Jery, but this is trying way too hard. Janeway tells the Admiral to go to hell, because this so-called climax required a comedy scene. He retreats into the anus and Janeway finally awakens fully. It’s amazing how much nuance Mulgrew is able to give the drivel she tasked with delivering here. Thanks for trying, Kate.
There’s a coda...sorry...in which Janeway and Chakotay try to convince us that there was some sort of point to the last 45 minutes before absconding to the holodeck. Oh just get back to the fucking, you two. It’ll make the fans happier that way.
“Twist” makes sense it just sucks. Very good score. Very good acting. A lot of good pieces, horribly assembled.
Episode as Functionary : *.5, 10%
Voyager is undeniably more episodic than its sister series ended up becoming, but the irony of episodes like “Coda,” is that 90% of the value of such stories is in their contribution to the series as a whole, whereas the experience of watching the episode itself is not great. There as several good moments sprinkled about this story, a lot of good pieces...some great acting, a well-above-average musical score, and some very important character insights for our protagonist. But as a self-contained unit, it seems like there was absolutely no direction here. The “twist” does more or less make sense--the universe isn’t broken by this information and revisiting the meandering plot of the preceding 4 acts doesn’t reveal many holes. But it doesn’t carry any deeper meaning, inspire any interesting questions or utilise thoughtful metaphor or imagery. Except for the final act, none of this is awful to sit through, really...which is damning with faint praise, and there are threads to pull out which will factor into later stories in interesting ways. On the whole, it is on the low end of mediocre for Star Trek. Not impressive.
Final Score : **
Fri, Nov 20, 2020, 3:59pm (UTC -5)
He looks more like El Hefty's Chief of Staff...
Mon, Feb 1, 2021, 4:08am (UTC -5)
Janeway is injured in the crash. The alien invades her brain and makes her think she succumbs to her injuries, but she fights her way back to life with some mouth-to-mouth from Chakotay. So he strangles her with a Vidiian. But now she thinks she’s in a time loop and refuses to stay dead. He tries blowing her up, then giving her the phage and having the Doctor murder her, before he decides he needs to come at this from a different angle, and tries the ghost plan. Janeway is the one who has Kes sense her presence, and the alien shuts that right down afterwards. It’s a show about what a fighter Janeway is - maybe not great, but certainly not nonsensical.
Thu, Feb 25, 2021, 5:04pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 16, 2021, 8:32am (UTC -5)
This episode suffers from what a lot of this series seems to suffer from. Which is- they start with a totally fine premise, and then they veer off into wacky territory. It feels like the writers are either totally bored with Star Trek and need to create overly complex plots to keep themselves from totally checking out, or (most likely) they are just cashing a paycheck at this point and trying to fill runtime.
Its true at this point Star Trek tropes are well established, after TOS and TNG. DS9 managed to be a subversion of DS9. VOY, in my opinion, seems to work best when its an unironic return to TOS tropes, fun, episodic, with straightforward plots. But coming off of the heels of TNG the writers seem to want to do something more without any clue of what that should have been. It doesnt subvert the Star Trek tropes. It doesnt bring in new ideas from other sci fi. Instead, it just mashes a bunch of Star Trek tropes into one plot in a way that can only be interesting to die-hard fans....
The original time-loop premise is a totally fine if overdone Star Trek plot. But doubling down on the sexual tension between Chaktoay and Janeway, or (probably better) exploring the idea of if Chakotay would let Janeway die so he could become captain and have Marquis control of the ship would be a totally good idea for an episode. But then halfway through we veer off into an exploration of just.. Janeways confrontation with death? Which.. yes thats also a totally good idea for an episode. But the budget just isnt there, so much of the action is just Janeway spouting exposition.. and they didnt devote enough time to it!! The funeral felt like a bad imitation of Star Trek IIs funeral. What a mess.
That doesnt even touch on the fact the writer doesnt bother giving exposition about The Phage and other aliens that the audience should really have a reminder about at the top of the episode. Just a lazy, mess or writing all around. This series has me actually considering finishing Discovery instead... at least the effects are good to mask the horrible writing.
Wed, Apr 21, 2021, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
>which would in turn raise complicated questions of whether that means God is there too and what kind of dealings with each of several million different sentient species in the Milky Way alone...
I doubt there's that many sentient species in the Milky Way, the Federation only has 150 planets and Borg have only encountered about 10,000 species (if we are to go by species 8472 being new in Voyager "Scorpion".
>Or perhaps a bully kid with a magnifying glass tormenting all the ants (us).
When I was 10 I use to burn the ink on newspapers using a magnifying glass. One warm summer's day I decided to take the magnifying glass to the garden and burn some ants. It seems so cruel to me now at the age of 36.
If aliens came to earth they could be so far ahead of us technologically that they view us as ants.
Alien 1: Look at the 3rd planet in this system, it's got humans crawling all over it.
Alien 2: Humans? That's disgusting, lets fire down some cosmic rays and give them all cancer!
Lets hope aliens mature as they grow up (assuming they do grow up) and not let their kids near us.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 4:38am (UTC -5)
While this episode meanders, I enjoy it because Kate Mulgrew nails it big time, even as her world spirals out of control and sense: reliving the same scene, the Doctor doing harm, and her "daddy" having a strange agenda. The ending makes me wish Janeway/Chakotay could have happened, too.
Mon, Sep 26, 2022, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
* If the alien was indeed creating the illusions then why would it make Janeway think that Kess almost detected her? That doesn't help his cause.
Sun, Jan 22, 2023, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 3, 2023, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
> Why have the Kes thing give her hope?
Of all the things to criticize ... why this complaint came up so often just astounds me.
Think about it for a moment without some agenda to rag on Voyager. Don't be charitable. Just be open-minded. The answer is obvious.
The alien wanted Janeway to get her hopes up and have them crushed, to have the one thing she thought could be plausibly be a sign of hope end in total failure, to show that it was tried and failed. That she could not communicate with the living through a psychic person.
If that never happened, Janeway would just say "I am going to keep trying to reach Kes -- that's something I haven't tried yet." Also, Janeway could have said "this feels fake -- Kes is partially psychic and you're telling me she never felt anything ever at all ?!"
The alien only messed up the verisimilitude at the end, when he was desperate, when he had to (or felt he had to) beg and badger Janeway into giving up her will to live, instead of his keeping in character as the ghost of her dead father.
If there is criticism ...
I would much rather see complaints of some of the non-Mulgrew/Beltran/Picardo acting. I don't think the acting was bad, but was lesser than the heavy hitters' performances, and people criticizing the performances is fair game.
I would much rather see criticism of the episode's choice of using Vidiians as a cheap baddie in the beginning.
I would much rather see criticism of the time loop itself. It seems like a stretch to say that these were multiple attempts and angles by the alien. It feels more like a ripoff of TNG "Cause and Effect" that got rewritten twenty times in the first half.
The "what about Kes?" thing a borderline bad faith criticism. You may as well say that Tuvok's wooden delivery of lines is an unexplained plot hole. You may as well say that having a female captain was a sin in and of itself. Oh, wait, that *does* happen quite a bit -- even if the criticism is hidden with plausible deniability. The double standards on Janeway are bizarre. Was Janeway less consistently written than Kirk or TNG-era Picard? Yes. But almost every individual behaviorshe does that gets flak has precedents in Kirk, Picard, or Sisko.
Long story short, Voyager has flaws that we may weigh differently or count differently, but the bad faith criticisms are annoying.
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