Star Trek: Voyager

“Worst Case Scenario”

3 stars.

Air date: 5/14/1997
Written by Kenneth Biller
Directed by Alexander Singer

"All I'm saying is that there is room in every good story for a little bit of passion."
"You know, maybe you're onto something. I could add a steamy love scene between the Starfleet conn officer and the Maquis engineer."
"Oh, that's realistic."

— B'Elanna and Tom, discussing story ideas

Review Text

Nutshell: Quite a bit of fun, but not nearly everything it could've been. The first half is superb; the second half is too typical, but features some clever ideas.

"Worst Case Scenario" has stretches of brilliant comic originality, and it could've been a real classic. I recommend this episode as it is anyway, but it could've been much more effective if it hadn't turned toward the more outlandish holodeck madness in its second half. By being more outlandish, "Worst Case Scenario" ends up, really, being all the more typical. But this is a good episode nonetheless, with some very clever scenes.

The first half of the episode is superb, as we're introduced to a brewing Maquis mutiny that turns out to be a holodeck simulation written by an anonymous author. Torres stumbles across the buried holo-novel while doing a routine purge of old files in the Voyager computer system. The program depicts a mutiny led by Chakotay and Seska, and is cleverly introduced. The show makes it appear as if the mutiny is really happening; Chakotay lets Torres in on the secret in the episode's teaser, and all hell breaks loose before the end of act one. Biller's script, however, subtly lets on that this is not really happening. Without completely giving away his hand, he drops hints, such as indications that this is early in Voyager's history (hence Janeway's reference to Chakotay taking command of the ship for the "first time"), and indications that this exists outside of reality (Chakotay inexplicably calling Torres "ensign").

It's the "what if" story of all "what if" stories on Voyager: What if the Maquis had really decided to take over Voyager back in the days of crew volatility? How would they have done it? Biller's script is interesting, because it plays with some of these questions, and even though it's obvious this is a simulation and not a real mutiny, the way events unfold still manages to be intriguing.

I also appreciated that Biller reveals the mutiny is really a holodeck simulation by the end of the second act. (It would've been fatal to play the joke as if it were real through the entire episode.) The story then begins asking who wrote this holo-novel and what their intentions were. And this is where "Worst Case Scenario" peaks in storytelling interest.

It's hard to keep a secret on a ship as small as Voyager, so it doesn't take long before half the crew is aware of—and individually participating in—the mutiny simulation program. The twist is that because of the controversial nature of the premise, no one wants to admit they're playing it. Janeway brings up the issue in staff meeting, where it's revealed that Tuvok wrote the simulation as a "worst case scenario" security training exercise. He had deleted it—or so he had thought—but it ended up getting buried in the system.

Now the holo-novel has a new meaning: Tuvok believes it could have a negative impact on the crew and the way they see each other. But Janeway disagrees. Being stranded in an isolated community means creating your own literary culture, so what's the harm in this self-depicting story of the crew if it's merely used for escapist entertainment?

Tuvok's holo-novel doesn't have an ending; it's incomplete, leaving everybody "hanging by a thread," as Paris remarks. Paris decides that he will pick up where the story left off and write his own ending to the story. In the episode's best and funniest scene, Paris begins brainstorming ideas in the mess hall, much to Tuvok's dismay. Paris' new ending: Janeway retakes the ship and decides to execute the mutineers. Tuvok's response (annoyed and shocked in a Tuvokian kind of way): "That is a completely implausible plot development."

Tuvok believes a story's events must flow from the actions of a character's established past. Paris thinks that if there's one thing that makes a story interesting, it's "unexpected plot twists." The beauty of this scene is the way it nods to the (extremely general) devices of writing a real story—like, say, a story for Star Trek: Voyager. I couldn't help but get the feeling that this scene was approaching elements of a self-parody.

The scene gets funnier when Torres enters the picture and tries to convince Paris and Tuvok to add some "passion"—to which Tuvok responds that they're not writing a "romance novel." Paris responds with a comment far more hilarious—because it's simultaneously obnoxious, sarcastic, and timely considering the past few weeks of Tom and B'Elanna's flirting.

Heck, even Neelix worked in most of his scenes, even if it was for the wrong reasons. Although I hate to say that it's a result of the character's own transparency, the way he makes story suggestions about his own character leads to moments of hilarity, because it displays other characters refusing to take him seriously. They just ignore his goofy remarks because they're not too important—which is surprisingly funny. When Neelix makes a suggestion "about the Neelix character," Tuvok can only dryly respond, "How surprising." I don't know why I found it so funny, but I did. I think it was Tim Russ' delivery of the line—I was just laughing so hard. (In a similar scene at the end of the episode, Neelix begins talking and all Captain Janeway can do is roll her eyes toward someone else in a look that screams of amused exasperation. I liked it a lot. Mulgrew, in fact, was a lot of fun to watch in this episode. Her expressions of restrained sarcasm and the laid-back attitude were thoroughly enjoyable.)

But I digress. It's around here that "Worst Case Scenario" becomes what might as well be a completely different story considering the massive shift in the direction of the narrative. The first half of the show is about the holo-novel and what it could mean to the crew. From here I hoped we would get more comedy continuing along the lines of what we'd already had. My hoped-for ending to the episode would've had Tuvok and/or Paris write the end of the program as planned. Then based on the story created, the crew would've been enlightened by the ideas that were conveyed. Perhaps Tuvok would've been proven right and the results of the story's mutiny would've challenged assumptions within the ship's crew, whether that be amongst the Starfleet crew, the Maquis crew, or both. Or subsets of either. I'm not saying the result would've had to lead to dissension or animosity. But it could've been funny, interesting, or even powerful.

No such luck.

Instead, we're given an all-too-typical "holodeck runs awry" paradigm, in which Tuvok and Paris become trapped in the holodeck (with the safeties off, naturally) because Seska had found and reprogrammed the simulation before she left the ship two years ago. She had set it to seal the holodeck and send her captors through a game of hell the next time it was accessed for a rewrite.

One thing that strains credulity is the reasoning behind Seska's preprogrammed takeover of the holodeck. In a word: Why? What possible motive could she have for this type of extreme programming effort? Pure sadism? Sure, Seska was deceitful, but I doubt she would take the effort to reprogram a holodeck simulation so that, in the unlikely event that Tuvok might reopen it for modification two years later, she could obtain some sort of elaborate revenge against him.

But I probably shouldn't ask such logical questions in such a preposterous plot. This half of the episode, though dramatically inept, is surprisingly entertaining. It's a series of set pieces featuring witty, sadistic humor, in which the Seska hologram sends Tuvok and Paris through a number of not-so-fun games. The "good guys" of the simulation aren't of much help—the holographic Janeway comes to the rescue with a phaser-rifle, which, due to Seska's manipulations, is prone to "malfunction." Janeway aims the phaser at Seska, pulls the trigger, and ends up vaporizing herself.

Still, my favorite (and I do mean favorite—it's so funny) is when Paris goes to the simulated sickbay to treat a wound for a simulated, safeties-off phaser shot. The Doctor of this sickbay isn't very nice. First he "treats" Paris with 20 cc's of nitric acid, and then he literally hurls Tuvok and Paris out of the sickbay. It's quite a scene—a mini-classic in my book.

Although I really could've done without this standard "crew members in jeopardy" motif, there's enough clever zip in this plot to make it worthwhile. One interesting idea is that in order to keep Tuvok and Paris from getting killed, Janeway and Torres must frantically alter small details in the program—changing the characters' personalities, adding convenient items to aid in crises. I rather liked the idea of Janeway as the literal deus ex machina.

Through all this, Martha Hackett's Seska still wears the evil grin better than anyone on the series I've seen. Her death this time around was much more interesting to see than her demise in "Basics, Part II," as Tuvok tricks her into firing a "malfunctioning" phaser. Still, Seska often suffers from the Fallacy of the Talking Killer—that is, all she has to do is order her followers to pull the trigger and she wins, but instead she delays just long enough (She says, "Fire on my order." Why "my order"? Why not just "Fire"?) to give Tuvok and Paris (and Janeway and Torres) time to act. Ah, well.

The two halves of "Worst Case Scenario," when you think about their intentions, are two completely different stories merely using a common plot device. The first half poses the question of what impact such a controversial holo-novel could have on the crew. The second half abandons all answers to those questions and becomes a thin, albeit fun, plot involving holodeck jeopardy. Overall it works surprisingly well, but it could've been so much more if it hadn't been so dumbed down.

Previous episode: Displaced
Next episode: Scorpion, Part I

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Comment Section

77 comments on this post

    Ok, this episode would have been so good if it had just been about Paris and Tuvok making the Novel, nothing major, but a nice fun episode.

    No such luck. The standard "holo suite with safeties off" is stupid, first off, Tuvok tells Paris only he can add to the novel, then just 5 mins later we find out Seska added things. How could she do that?

    And why would Seska spend hours and hours on programming the novel when she could just have killed them instantly.

    All in all the first part is a great nice family episode, the latter half is stupid. I would have loved to see Tuvok and Paris just write the holo novel, heck I could have watched a double episode of that.

    I love the character of Seska. Easily the most interesting villain on the show (funny how that honor tends to lie with Cardassians, a la Dukat- who, btw, makes even Seska look bad).

    The episode was fun and I got to see Seska again. Works for me!

    Here's what I don't understand: Why was Seska so hellbent on getting revenge on Tuvok? She claims it was because he was a spy who infiltrated the Maquis. But then again...So was Seska!

    If only the plot of this holo-novel had been the actual second episode of Voyager... man this series would've been awesome. Too bad.

    I agree 100%. The first three Acts were pure comedy and if they had continued along those lines we would've had a classic a long the lines of "In the Cards" (which, coincidentally or not, was also the penultimate episode of the 1996-97 season). Instead someone up top (I imagine) said this episode needed a "Jeopardy premise". I would have loved to see Tom finish the program by himself and see the crew's stunned reactions to his 'implausible plot developments'.

    Once again, here is Voyager in a nutshell.

    A great premise that the writers don't know what to do with.

    The opening half of the show was brilliant, and in the hands of more skilled writers could have been a great hour of drama or, if they wanted, comedy.

    Instead, not unlike the holonovel, they got halfway through and realized they didn't have an ending. I can just hear someone in the break-session yelling out "Just have it malfunction." "Brillian!" someone responds. "I'd never thought of that!"

    Of course not.

    It's only the single most overused cliche in Trek History.

    Imagine a premise like this playing out in Battlestar Galactica. Think of how they would have played the drama, and not devolved into trite action...

    On second thought, BSG DID do the mutiny story, only they had the balls to do it for real, and unlike Voyager, they played it out for almost half a season.


    I love this episode! It's fun, funny, and really pushes the 'family' theme. I laughed pretty much the whole way through.

    The holodeck didn't 'malfunction', it executed it's program as designed. I thought it was a fresh take.

    This episode showcases the lost potential of the first couple seasons of Voyager. A Starfleet/Maquis schism was toyed with for a while but faded quickly. A multi-season arc of strained comraderie ultimately descending into a battle would have been both ambitious and interesting, and wholly in keeping with the original premise of the show. But as usual they snatched mediocrity from the jaws of greatness.

    This is one of those episodes that is surprisingly good for being a frivolous episode.

    My one real complaint about the series is that there's a little too many frivolous episodes, one after the other this season: Blood Fever, Darkling, Real Life, etc.

    Still, this episode is very entertaining for what it is. It's fun. I found myself smiling and laughing with the crew multiple times. It's genuine frivolousness at least.

    I think the story starts off stronger than it ends. While the plot development with Seska taking control of the program is a bit unpredictable and interesting, it really doesn't come together to anything special. The conclusion is a bit anticlimactic.

    The first half of this story though is really quite good.

    I believe the Voyager's producers should have given Mr. Tuvok the chance to write 5-6 episodes! :)

    I loved Tuvok's line, "That is a completely implausible plot development." I love self-deprecating humor, and that line proved to me that the VOY writers were quite aware of their reputation for writing stinker episodes with silly plot contrivances.

    The Doctor - how funny is that guy. "I have several brilliant ideas." That line kills me.

    I was equal parts intrigued and annoyed when Seska turned out to be the villain. At the same time I thought, "hey great twist!" and "ugh! not her again." Not because I disliked Martha Hackett, but because Seska was inextricably linked to the Kazon, and I can't stand the Kazon. Thankfully, they were not involved with this episode.

    I think the second half was stupid, but it was stupid on purpose. Seska was too obviously Bond Villain-esque as the "Talking Killer." I also think that by poking fun at themselves, the writers sort of gave themselves permission to conclude with a deus ex machina (Evil puppetmaster Seska) as well as a Trek cliche (holodeck runs awry with safeties off). I don't know, it just works. Maybe it's not a coincidence that the writing would get progressively better in season 4.

    I've been rewatching all episodes after many years and found this one very good. I liked Tuvok lines in the mess hall. I agree with that the second part took a wrong turn. Somewhere before that I was really enjoying the episode and was asking myself, how will the novel end? Only to be disappointed with the typical.

    The ending wasn't terrible, but it could have been so much better. If we actually had Paris write the novel with Janeway executing all the Maquis rebels, it would have been very interesting. The ending was a typical plot device, but it was still done well.

    Also the scene with the Doctor was just brilliant. 20 cc's of nitric acid. Awesome. Robert Picardo is a wonderful actor. As is Tim Russ. And Robert Duncan McNeill. And Kate Mulgrew. Those are probably the four best regulars on this show. All four of them had stand out performances on this episode. Even the Doctor who had one little scene in this episode made it an extremely memorable one.

    I didn't dislike the second half, it is still kind of fun.

    I think a better second half would be a competition between Tuvok and Paris to see who makes the best resolution.
    Actually the amount of choices for second half are huge. To go with Holodeck takeover is a bit lame.
    Think Jammer's marks are fair.

    I quite liked this episode! I reckon it was under-rated!

    It was entertaining and good fun!

    I don't usually get into Voyager bashing, but yes, it would have been interesting to see Tuvok implement the dictates of poetic logic versus Paris and even versus B'Elanna, something like a double mirror universe episode like they did near the end of Enterprise... Still though, the first half was gold.

    In reading the review and the rest of the comments, I was struck by the feeling of everyone having missed the point re: Seska's reprogramming. She knew she was leaving Voyager and left behind something she could use to help her and her Kazon allies. It wasn't about getting revenge on anyone in particular.

    I thought the episode was excellent from beginning to end, and particularly enjoyed the early interplay between the characters because it served as the perfect commentary on the rest of Season 3, and I was therefore disappointed that we didn't see all of the characters in the present.

    I really like this one. Good performances, good action, good humour. It would have been even better if the holodeck program was for real, and we actually did see a Maquis mutiny take place on the ship. But aside from a bit of silliness (why would Seska reprogram Tuvok's program, and when did she find the time to do it before 'State Of Flux' when she left the ship?) this is a really good installment.

    I loved Janeway's comment at the end 'Who says deus ex machine is an outmoded literary device?'. Or something to that effect. I felt like the writers were poking fun at themselves since they use it so often. :)

    Overall I thought it was a fun episode! Nothing spectacular, but it was interesting to see Tom and Tuvok working together. And I kind of liked seeing Seska again. (Although I don't know why she would have done this before being discovered as a spy, she didn't know when/if Tuvok would access the story again. What if he opened it before she was discovered?).

    How disappointing! What a waste of an episode!

    Sure, the first 30 minutes were brilliant. But once again we have to see a failure that makes the holodeck alive, and... yah, dumb. So we have holodecks that do not use the ship's energy and that get alive and cause trouble all the time. Pifui.

    Oh yes, the self-destruct sequence in the holodeck program will destroy the holodeck matrix which will call Paris and Tuvok. Lame.

    Score: 9/10 for the first 30 minutes. 5/10 for last 15. Overall, 6/10.

    The problem with using a plot-device (such as Holodecks Go Awry) too often in a series is it causes the few that actually work to be overlooked. Actually, in this case the holodeck didn't even malfunction. It did exactly as intended due to Seska's programming. As to the above comment, I saw no indication that the holodeck became "alive". It was simply programmed to do certain tasks under certain circumstances. Nothing more.

    Ironic how the one time the holodeck actually runs smoothly it STILL translates into chaos for the crew. Can't win for trying.

    Their was a lot of the writers obviously poking fun at themselves through some of the dialogue. I especially enjoyed how the logical Tuvok was standing for organic flow of character choices where the emotional Paris opted for plot twists for the sake of having them. Eventually, that is what this episode boils down to, but, in the end, comes to stand as a whole that is better than the sum of its parts.

    Jammer mentioned one of my favorite scenes in perhaps all of VOY. The holographic sickbay where the Doctor tortures poor Paris and then literally throws him and Tuvok out on there ass like a bouncer on a 100 pound drunk. The scene was short, hilarious, and nothing short of perfect thanks to Picardo's dry wit and understated delivery.

    Overall, it's a fun showing with a great setup and is just pure entertainment through and through. Could have the last fifteen minutes been written differently? Absolutely. However, I don't see what we did get as a negative impact. I feel almost as if the writers were speaking to us through the characters dialogue and then delivered what they intended based on those talking points. Whether they were serious with what they delivered or they were intentionally poking more fun at themselves is the mystery.

    Perhaps I read too much into it. (:

    3.5 stars.

    Unlike many of the other reviewers I didn't have a problem with the last act of the episode involving Seska. Nevertheless, the comments of other reviewers did get me thinking about how the episode might have ended if the last act had focused on the implications of finishing the holo- novel. It occurred to me that if the story had continued to focus on the completion of the holo- novel the writers could have used it as an opportunity for real character growth.
    For instance, Tuvok was concerned about the possibility that his holo-novel might inflame the old conflict between Star Fleet and Maquis crew members. What if it turned out that Tuvok was right about the holo-novel having an emotional impact on the crew but not in the way that he thought. What if they finished the holo-novel with the Maquis taking over the ship. Then we could see how Chakotay might have handled situations and conflicts shown in past episodes differently than Janeway. What if it turned out that because Chakotay and the Maquis were not bound by Star Fleet ethics or the need to explore the unknown that he was able to get the voyager crew home. The episode could have ended with Janeway reflecting on this fact which might have had an influence on her choices in future episodes.

    Ah, Martha Hackett once again. Just love her and loved how she folded into this in the end.

    Did the holo-deck malfunction or was Seska just smarter? I don't think this was a classic "holo-deck broke" episode.

    I may be wrong, I'm going from memory here as my blasted DVD won't play... :-(

    I don't think of this as a "classic" per-say, but the comedy was side splitting good and I also thought the writers were having fun poking at themselves as well.

    Just good fun... these episode are important too.

    "nitric acid" ... lol

    Did I mention I love Martha? :-)

    3.5 stars for me. It never gets old.

    Did Seska make these changes before she left the ship in State Of Flux, or during the events of Basics, when she was briefly back on the ship? In neither scenario does Seska doing something like this make sense. In the first half of Season 1, when she was a crewmember, she was certainly devious and duplicitious, but I doubt she'd have been programming violent sentiments like "when I shoot you - and I will shoot you - you'll die!" against her fellow crewmates, at least before the events of State Of Flux. And of course she left the ship immediately after those events. The other possibility, that she wrote the program during Basics, seems unlikely, since she had taken over the ship, so writing a scenario then would require believing that the Voyager crew would eventually have the ship back. Dialogue also strongly implies that her tampering happened when she was still a crewmember.

    So, I'm writing a book in which the heroes must stop a bad guy who is planning a murder in order to get rich. I'm also planning a sequel, where the same bad guy decides to join a satanic cult that engages in human sacrifices. How does that follow logically from greed? Heck if I know, but if Seska can turn from a Cardassian spy into the Joker, anything is possible, right?

    Jack, the episode specifically stated that Seska did this before State of Flux. Which, regardless of what DigificWriter says, is completely out of character for Seska. Definitely a case of the writers following Paris' random plot twists rather than Tuvok's logical outgrowth of a charachter. It was my impression back in Season 1 that Seska's escape to the Kazon was Plan B; Plan A was always to remain on Voyager and get home with the rest of the crew. She was simply giving the Kazon technology only to keep them off Voyager's back, and only escaped when Janeway and company got suspicious. Why would she want to hang out with the Kazon, for the evil fun of it? Seska is smart; the Kazon are the Pakleds of the Delta Quadrant. Nobody wants to go with them!

    So, if she preferred to stay on Voyager, why would she create a booby trap? Why should she risk getting caught while she was still on the trip? Did she really want to spend the rest of the trip in the brig just to kill Tuvok for no reason? Answer, she wouldn't. Unless, presumably, the Powers That Be demanded every episode have a perilous danger plot, and the writers had to think of something. And hey, they were bringing Seska back anyway, so why not?

    I'm thinking the writers knew that this storyline was absurd, and put in all those little winks at the beginning, perhaps as an apology for the ending. Too bad it's completely unnecessary. Not every episode needs the crew to be in mortal danger from minutes 39 to 56, yet that seems to be the norm for Voyager. I mean, mortal danger and drama and edge of your seat excitement is good, but only when the episode merits it. Have it every episode, and it loses its luster, and you just see them going through the motions. In fact, the season finale is a perfect example of when drama and danger works; we need it for the big Borg episode. You weren't going to lose any fans by making the penultimate episode a lighthearted affair.

    Well, everyone agrees that the comedic first half was excellent, and it seems that most agree that the second half was fun as long as you turn off your brain about the illogic of Seska's sudden onset of evil and yet another Holodeck Danger setup. Could they have saved it without the danger plot? Could they have kept it a comedy? I think so.

    My choice would have been, after the little spat between Tuvok and Paris, Tuvok decides to finish the program himself. Paris argues with him a bit, and then leaves. Eventually, we see Tuvok go through the program to double check everything or whatever (maybe with Torres or someone else along as well), only for Seska to appear and declare things have changed. Somewhere along the line, we find out that Paris secretly reprogrammed Tuvok's ending as a prank. No safeties off, no artificial danger, just a little fun on the ship. Just Paris trying to prove that his flying by the seat of his plants, random plot twist plotting is better than Tuvok's logical approach. While Tuvok initially wants to quit, someone convinces him to keep going with the program. Thus, we can get much of the same random plot twists in the end, even focusing on Seska, but without the absurdity of the artificial danger. It can even end the same way, with Tuvok rigging the phaser to overload in Seska's hands, thus "winning" the program. And then the coda can be Tuvok ribbing Paris (in a very Vulcan-like manner, of course) that he should have seen that scenario coming if he thought about how Tuvok's actions would logically follow from his character instead of focus on randomness. Y'know, some good old fashioned lighthearted banter among the crew, kinda like the good old days of the original series. And not once would anyone be in danger of dying.

    Or something, I don't know. Just kill the Voyager Danger! cliche. Oh well. It was still a very fun episode, even if it turned rather silly.

    I always loved Martha Hackett as Seska. The writers for some reason didn't know how to use the character so they decided to make her a Cardassian spy?? What the what?? I found her to be more compelling as an actress moreso than Jeri Ryan. But Jeri was quite the eye candy whilst scenery chewing as an ex-Borg. And seasons 4 - 7 were watchable for that alone. So I'll call it even.

    Couldn't think of a better lead for the mutiny than chak. Never liked him much in the series and for some reason it makes perfect sense he would have spearheaded a mutiny if ever there was one.

    He must have felt he had a big "kick me" sign on him or something. It was like half his maquis crew had other intentions. But then again they were band of outlaws so he shouldn't be too surprised. Still, between Paris' selling out, Tuvok being a Starfleet spy and finally Seska as a Cardassian spy posing as a Bajoran I'm surprised he didn't have a crisis of faith. lol.

    This episode is one of those ones that gets better with time. Mind you I enjoyed the epi immensely upon it's initial release all those years ago. 3 stars is about right. I admit I would have given it a half star more, but what the hell.

    "This episode is one of those ones that gets better with time."

    I agree! Martha is that good!!

    Jammer's review is spot-on. The first half of the episode IS better than the second; yet there are some very enjoyable moments in the latter half as well.

    I thought it was interesting how much repetition they did with Paris when he went through the beginning again. Also that Chakotay was more initially reluctant to trust him than with B'Elanna (which makes sense) and then, hilariously, very reluctant after Paris switched sides a second (third?) time.

    One of the characters said they wanted to see if Janeway got the ship back. Is it that determinative? I thought it would depend on what the "reader" of the novel did to help or hinder.

    Ironically I actually preferred the second half here. I thought the first half wasted a lot of time playing back narrative we'd already seen before and it slowed the development of the story - particularly as the story was fairly inconsequential at this point. Once Seska's program took over the pace really picked up and I thought it was an enjoyable run to the finish.

    Of course it's a great joy seeing Seska again - and getting a proper death this time - and there are some great moments of humour throughout, with the 20cc of nitric acid being a real highlight. 3 stars.

    "According to the Dictates of Poetics, by T'hain of Vulcan, a character's actions must flow inexorably from his or her established traits."

    I believe this is actually a paraphrase from Aristotle's Poetics: "it is either necessary or probable that a person of such-and-such a sort say or do things of the same sort, and it is either necessary or probable that this [incident] happen after that one. It is obvious that the solutions of plots too should come about as a result of the plot itself, and not from a contrivance."

    Why oh why couldn't the authors have followed their own advice?

    It was neither necessary or probably that Seska would find the program, break through Tuvok's security, and then rig the program to sadistically torture Tuvok instead of killing him outright. Seska is an extremely cautious individual, she wouldn't give Tuvok time to escape and then expose her. She'd rig the program to kill Tuvok the moment he tried opening the program for editing and she wouldn't leave any trace pointing to her as the editor. However Seska also would never have found the program and would have never passed the security. Seska may have been a very smart engineer, but she wasn't a great genius and she certainly wasn't omniscient and omnipotent.

    In fact, the 3rd act to this episode was a deus ex machina (as we now define it), which is exactly what Aristotle was speaking out against in the cited passage of the Poetics. Personally I believe that the silliness and implausibility of the 3rd act undid all the hard work that went into making the prior 2 acts work so well.

    "Chakotay" says that "no one will be killed today" but leaving Janeway and Paris stranded in a shuttle is pretty much a death sentence. Also, this "wide beam" setting Seska mentions on a phaser would have come in handy in dozens of other episodes, funny how we never see it used.

    @Jay, check out S1's Cathexis. This is the lone episode where the wide beam setting was used.

    Seeing Harry get his ass whupping in the first scene was awesome.

    Kinda a sarcasm write on how Voyager should have taken approach on the 'real' Voyager by the writer eh? Don't have to the extreme of mutiny, but seeing some real friction, Chakotay seriously challange Starfleet idealism, etc on the 'real Voyager'' would be a nice thing to see.

    I agree the first part is good, but the pacing is a little slow, also the repetition with Paris is too long. Some of the line are good though and help a little, but I think it could be done in 15 mins instead of 25 mins just to findout it was Tuvok who created the 'holonovel'.

    I'm a bit torn about the plot twist of 'Seska taking over'. It was nice to see Seska again, i like her character. She's the only 'intellectual opponent' for Voyager, so it was good to see Hackett back.
    Will the real Seska tamper with Tuvok program if she know it? Maybe
    Will the real Seska program something like that to Tuvok program?
    That's the real problem as many has pointed. Killing Tuvok and Tom is no-use for the real Seska (alive or dead). It's very unlikely Seska will change the program to do something like that.
    Seeing as the change is taken sometimes before 'State of The Flux' episodes, which she couldn't possibly know how the event will unfold. The most likely if she found the program and decide to do something with it is :
    a) Gathering as much intelligence data.
    b) Send a secret comm signal to her allies (Kazon-Nistrim) after the program found she's not on Voyager anymore (the program assumed she's still alive) and on board Kazon vessel.

    Will that be more interesting plot twist? I'm not sure either, Kazon is already overdue and uninteresting at this point. But it is painful to see Seska transform into idiot-villain and 'talking-killer'. So either Kazon threat of someway by the program, or Paris-Tuvok collaboration will do better in my view to end this, rather than painful scene of idiot Seska.

    "Who says deux ex Machina is an outdated literaly device?" -- Janeway
    Don't worry Captain, they listen to you. You'll get plenty of that coming. In fact, right after this episodes you'll have it as one of your crew. A built-in 'Borg knowledge assimilation number xxx' and 'Nanoprobe Magic'. Not to mention a literally plot-armor for series-finale. :D
    At ease Captain.....

    I'll go for 3 stars if halfway to the end the stories go with proper plot and conclusion. But with Seska turned into dumbed-down-villain, I have to take .5 stars.

    2.5 stars for me

    Seska is a lot better as a Bajoran Maquis than a Cardassian. This episode was a lot of rewarding fun even though the jeopardy section felt a little contrived and routine.

    Hello Everyone!

    Some thoughts on the episode that I had not seen addressed above.

    I liked Chakotay as the bad guy, and I mean the acting. I thought he did a good job with voice inflection, the way he looked at them, a different type of facial expression. At the beginning of the episode, I was thinking this was the Chakotay they should have had on the ship all along. Not inciting mutiny per se, but just having more of an edge. I've thought they gave him too much of a fondness for Janeway, so he always seemed to simply smile and go along and not give alternative points of view, or play devil's advocate, as often as a First Officer should.

    The wide beam phaser. I seem to recall reading somewhere, and it might not be canon, that the wide setting drained a phaser pretty fast and it didn't have much distance. Certainly in some settings they should have used it, especially in the past when the bad guys are coming off the turbo-lift onto the bridge. Actually, I'd think they would "sweep" more. They seem to shoot a beam straight, and never move. I'd draw the weapon from my left hip and fire a beam sweeping left-to-right across anyone or anything that might be there, perhaps similar to using a machine-gun instead of a handgun. Now that I think of it, that would give them an advantage over races that used weapons that fired a pulse. And thinking back, that is what Jake Sisko did at the end of "Nor the Battle to the Strong" when he brought the ceiling down.

    Why not have the computer just finish the story? Keep the first part pretty much the same, then have the computer do some random variables, but still stay within the context of the novel. Then past a certain point, depending on their actions, the story would always end somewhat differently. Sometimes the other race would indeed come in to save the day (or have the other race actually be evil and try to take the ship). Another time there might be some romance somewhere. Or have the Maquis or Feds just simply win.

    Lastly, and this is more thoughtful and morbid, there should be more dead crewmembers in this holo-novel than just Seska. Presumably, Tuvok made this early on in their voyage, and unless he programmed it to give them a random made up crew (apart from the senior staff), people like Durst should have been there. Tracking down some actors for a cameo might have been difficult, but Durst would've been perfect. However, that would have made it much more difficult for them to enjoy the program...

    Enjoy the Day Everyone! RT

    Along with most, I dug the first half (two-thirds?) of the episode before the Seska reveal, and then soldiered on through the final half (third?) garnering some amusement but feeling frustrated. The first section really was a lot of fun, both in seeing B'Elanna and Tom's reactions to the program spinning out and then especially the Tuvok/Tom disagreements; my favourite moments are the ones actually that suggest Tom and Tuvok's different views on storytelling, first being Tom's exasperated "Who writes this stuff?" when he finds out that the "holonovel" contains an extended sequence where the protagonist has to hang around in the brig for some indefinite length of time due to the author's apparent commitment to realism, and Tuvok's shocked "That is a very implausible development" when Tom suggests that Janeway retakes the ship and executes the mutineers. Both are hilarious, and they also get the meta points about the war we can imagine behind the scenes between the artistic impulses toward logical development and (partly network-dictated) excitement and plot twists. The too-many-cooks scene in the mess hall was indeed a highlight, and it suggests how fun it can be just to see these characters hanging out with each other (and again works on the meta writing-a-story frame). I haven't read about the history of this episode, but I can imagine it basically starting with the writers wondering what a Maquis-takeover story would have looked like in season one, and the different impulses to take this alternate-Voyager story in different directions being mirrored by the crew's reactions.

    I have to say, though, even there, the episode leaves me feeling a bit disappointed, because the obvious question seems to go unasked. Jammer points out how funny Tuvok's reaction is when Neelix has some ideas about the Neelix character (and it is), but really, Neelix is expressing what should be a very obvious reaction: why, exactly, did you write me this way? Is this what you think of me? Chakotay makes a reference late in the story about not wanting to be the villain next time and they all laugh, but I feel like this is really the core issue that this group of people would really be thinking about. Tuvok, who is committed to character consistency and verisimilitude, apparently created this simulation because he viewed it as plausible based on what he observed of those around him. And he *was on the Maquis ship*. The curiosity early on could maybe have curdled once people realized it wasn't intended as escapist fare but as a training exercise based on what Tuvok saw as a plausible outcome. Shouldn't Chakotay and the other Maquis wonder what this implies about how Tuvok sees them -- and there's also the open question of whether Tuvok is in some way right. Did Tuvok see something in Chakotay in the others in those early days that even they didn't see in themselves? And is it possible that they've even *lost* something, in the process of being "domesticated" by Janeway? Tuvok suggests that this story is potentially dangerous and Janeway tells him to lighten up, and that they need outlets, and I think they're both right. I don't really require that tempers get raised very high, but I would have loved to see some kind of reevaluation where Chakotay and B'Elanna realized how much things have changed since they first got on the ship and dealt with their mixed feelings about Tuvok's portraying them (especially Chakotay) as smart and competent but disloyal antagonists. The story can be not-dangerous because the time for this possibility of a mutiny has long passed, but even *that* is interesting and I would have loved to see it discussed. That Tuvok had Chakotay say that they aren't going to stop and investigate every spatial anomaly was a scream, and even suggests that Tuvok could imagine some possible objections to Janeway's command decisions. There's just so much room here for further exploration besides the initial shock/thrill of the scenario and then the "writing decisions" meta stuff, as great as those were.

    The good thing about the Seska-ending is that it ends up kind of bringing in more levels to the "writer meta" model: Seska plays the heavy because Voyager episodes "need" conflict and danger, and so we get a contrived writer who wants to kill off the characters, the writer-as-sadist, contrasted with Janeway the writer-as-benevolent-god who tries different contrivances to help the characters because the writer also cares (and needs the characters around for next week). It's still cute on a meta level, and I like how there's a vague suggestion that even character consistency and logical progression (Tuvok) and excitement and entertainment (Paris) end up getting shunted aside in favuor of pure character torture (Seska) and deus ex machina resolutions (Janeway), which is itself a kind of cute Voyager meta-commentary on some of the less-than-stellar episode endings. That's not nothing. And yeah, the scene with the Doctor and the nitric acid is funny, and Tuvok's successfully deploying the exploding phaser rifle is good too -- in that it follows from Tuvok's character and so is true to his writerly philosophy. But still, yeah, this makes no sense with what we know about Seska the character, and even if we accept Seska-the-evil-holodeck-demon as premise the neverending toying with them and the necessity of, apparently, her following the ever-changing rules of her own program just comes across as absurd. Not great. Mostly though it's a disappointment because the false-jeopardy is less interesting than what we had seen before, and we don't get either a resolution to the interior-story of the mutiny nor, really, to the philosophy-of-writing conflict between Tuvok and Tom.

    So it's kind of a disappointing ending but it's still an entertaining episode overall. 3 stars.

    I certainly don't like this as much as everyone else seems to. The first part was interesting, but slow and fairly boring, and the last part was ridiculous.

    So if you delete a holoprogram, it doesn't get deleted at all. The computer just pretends to delete it I guess. So there's that. I know that's how it basically works nowadays, but apparently they never overwrite anything in the future, even after 2 years or more.

    And it makes no sense whatsoever for Seska to have altered this program. What if Tuvok had reactivated it while she was still on board? What if he never reactivated it? She was taking the chance that she would somehow be off the ship and that he would reactivate it after that. That doesn't make much sense.

    And why would she be that mad at Tuvok anyway? For betraying and spying on the Maquis? Like someone else mentioned she wasn't a real Maquis in the first place, so what's the point?

    How is it that a holodeck program can alter all of the other systems on the ship, shutting down transporters, and communications, rigging things to explode, etc.? That is idiotic.

    Did the Doc inject Paris with holographic nitric acid? Or can the holodeck synthesize actual chemicals like a replicator? I had this problem with the Doc Family episode where they were eating in the holodeck. Is it holofood? If the holodeck acts as a replicator, just use it to make all the food they need instead of using replicator rations, or whatever else they need.

    If Seska can do all of this, why make it so they can still rewrite parts of the program at all? Why have it so they can get a fire extinguisher or change Chakotay's behaviour or simulate an attack by the Rukani or all the other stuff?

    How did Janeway know what changes to make? Because she was watching whatever is going on in the holodeck program on a little tv screen, that btw just happens to be the exact same shot we are looking at as we watch it? lol. Maybe that's been done before, but I don't remember it. That would have been very helpful in about 30 other Star Trek episodes. Who's directing Janeway's tv version, the computer? Silly.

    If Seska could disable so many systems on the ship so easily and set the holodeck to explode and who knows what else, using a hidden holodeck program, why wouldn't she have set it up so all of that stuff happened at some other time? Like when she was trying to capture Voyager all those times? Maybe using a program she knew people would use, like parrises squares, or something more common than some strange program that may never be used ever again.

    And why bother with all the running around? If she wanted them to die, just have a giant rock land on their head, or surround them with Borg or whatever as soon as Tuvok restarts the program.

    Why would Seska program the simulation to end if her character dies? Since she wanted to kill Tuvok so badly, why not have that rock fall on his head if her character dies? There is no reason for it to end just because of that. Makes no sense.

    I give the first part 2 1/2 stars and the end a 1/2 star.

    So 1 1/2 stars overall.

    Fun episode, but I can't get past why the Cardassian spy, Seska, would exact revenge on Tuvok. According to Torres, she opened the file and altered it about a month before she left Voyager. So either she stumbled across it like Torres did, or knew about before she left. In any case, she had enough animosity toward Federation spy Tuvok to alter Insurrection Alpha and punish Tuvok in the event that he would revisit the program.

    Did she develop empathy towards the Maquis? Possibly. She had spent so much time with them and she may have picked up some of the anti-Federation attitudes of the Maquis. But this was directed at Tuvok for betraying the Maquis.

    The writers of this episode didn't follow logic. According to "The Dictates of Poetics" by T'Hain of Vulcan, a character's actions must flow inexorably from his or her established traits. It makes no sense why Seska would exact revenge on Tuvok


    She was a sleeper agent who had forgotten or not yet aware she was Cardassian. I'm not about to go back and watch Seska episodes to find out, but I will take this opportunity to say that the holodeck is a death trap; it can replicate working phasers, nitric acid, holographic characters with super-human strengths (the Doctor, in this episode and others) and a power grid that can overload and blow up. Starships seems to be safer back when recreation was limited to playing cards, lutes, and singing.

    One thing I really liked was, even as the villain and even as written-by-Seska (!), holo-Chakotay still seemed pretty attracted to Janeway. Too bad that wasn't taken further later.

    This holonovel idea is a nice twist on the holodeck gone wrong concept and this is a fun hour of VOY, however it went south with the "second part" of Seska trying to kill Tuvok/Paris in true villain style. Seska is a great villain and using her again is fine by me, but it gets too farfetched when she has devised a way to re-write changes being made by Janeway and affect the whole ship through holodeck subroutines. Didn't Voyager's holodeck programmers learn anything from TNG?? Seska is plenty devious but I have a hard time believing she'd go to such extents to trap Tuvok -- who knows when he'd even try to reenter the program.

    Thought it was pretty cool how Paris went in as an ensign and replayed the holonovel parts that Torres did -- you see the different reactions from Chakotay as well as the ones that move the plot along the pre-programmed plan. And the fact that this becomes a hot item on the ship is great considering how much boredom the crew must endure. It's like an augmented/virtual reality game -- perhaps somewhat prescient.

    But what is even more cool is that the writers may have been parody-ing themselves. Loved the crew's reactions to Neelix. For an episode to reflect what (I presume) almost every VOY fan thinks about some of the characters is terrific. So there's definitely some unique qualities to "Worst Case Scenario" as characters had some good lines reflecting the stereotypes as well.

    That Janeway calls it "harmless fun" because she's playing it too -- maybe the captain should exercise better judgment but the first part of the episode was really supposed to be comedic. The Seska vengeance part felt like it came out of left field.

    2.5 stars for "Worst Case Scenario" dragged down by the Seska, the holodeck programming queen part, and unable to maintain 3-stars quality throughout. It's good fun though and VOY is perhaps the most creative of the Trek series with a good holodeck episode here. Seska's motives for wanting to actually kill Tuvok are unclear and extreme and to think she went through considerable effort to program the holodeck was the wrong conclusion for the episode.

    If this hasn't been asked above, I imagine it's been asked somewhere on this site - but could someone just remind me what the actual benefit is of being to disengage holideck safety protocols so that people can die?


    As an engineer would say, "it depends..."

    But seriously, holodecks are one of those highly theoretical aspects of Trek that I just overlook for a great story. (Sorry to say, but I haven't seen many great or even good stories on VOY - just my opinion).

    Lots of fun at first, especially the big surprise reveal that Tuvok wrote the program! Went downhill with the Seska-takeover stuff, though. Just made no sense and was all over the place. Would have worked better of it had stayed lighthearted.

    I really liked this episode! At first, I thought it was an earlier episode shown out of order (I'm rewatching this for the first time since it aired), and then enjoyed the whole holodeck experience. A lot of funny moments-Tuvok's sarcasm is GREAT! I actually kind of wonder how Vulcans stand working with humans!

    The Seska reveal made sense to me-I can see her doing this if she knew she was leaving anyway.

    And of course the scene with Paris working on continuing the story and having to put up with Tuvok, B'Lanna, and Neelix was hilarious!

    I like this episode for its quirky humor and lighthearted fun. Definitely feels like the second half was written after dinner. The Staff meeting scene is classic. Given Janeway’s typical pragmatism I was surprised she’d allow the holodeck to be used in this fashion and overrode Tuvok. How do they know what holodeck files have been run and how many times? There are no “personal” holodeck files? Hmm.

    What’s interesting about the episode is it’s rating at 3. I try to balance this and Distant Origins at the same level. They are both great showings and as one who watches Voyager constantly (I cycle through every 4-6 weeks), these are two that I look forward to in S3 in repeat. Macrocosm is a 3rd episode that qualifies but is rated much lower.

    I have been really enjoying rewatching VOY episodes (and seeing some for the first time) after so many years and then coming here to read all the comments to see how people's perceptions of the episodes may have changed over time.

    I thought this episode was a lot of fun. I was surprised how many comments I read through before seeing someone mention that hilarious line about not stopping to examine every pointless anomaly - - this epi was sooo meta and a sly wink to many fan criticisms. It felt like the actors really enjoyed doing this episode as well, there was some extra deliciously sarcastic flair from all the main cast.

    I really liked Skeptical's ideas for changing up the plot. Removing the IMMINENT DEATH aspect really would solve so many of the implausible elements. That Seska might tinker with the program just to mess with Tuvok makes more sense than trying to kill him--even removing a few failsafes to freak them out works, but ultimately they'd find a way to escape without outside intervention. As others have noted, it would have been a perfectly fun character study within the hologram limitations, no need to go to extremes that strain credulity. I was howling over Skeppy's query about who was directing the hologram episode Janeway was viewing onscreen.

    All that said, still an entertaining lark of an episode and I enjoyed the character interactions, humor, and meta elements immensely.

    Voyager would have been 10x better if this episode was the real storyline and Chakotay and Seksa were in command.

    From Encyclopaedia of Galactic Expressions

    "Computer, halt turbolift!"

    - used when one party feels a conversation has suddenly entered disconcerting new territory. A more archaic version may have been "Time out"'.


    Honestly, this time around I can tell when 'computer, half turbolift' is coming - whenever two people walk into a turbolift having a conversation, and it goes to a two-shot of them continuing the conversation inside the lift. It never fails.

    A good episode. This was one of Chakotay's best...and had this been more of a norm for him he would have been an interesting character. Here he's independent, rebellious, and decisiveness. Typically he's flat, subservient to Janeway and a bland group-think character whose only purpose is to tell Janeway how wonderful she is.

    The first part of the episode was the best. The last few acts were a bit weak though. The old "trapped in a holodeck" regime was so cliche...and it devolved the episode into a simple survivalist story that was a bit one-dimensional and uninteresting. Had the "trapped in a holodeck" storyline been axed, this would have been a great episode.

    I'm often swimming against the stream on this board as I am easier on Voyager than most of you, but this time out, I agree with the bulk of the reviews and Jammer's.

    We were headed toward four-star GOLD with this episode until the holodeck malfunction. Thanks to that trip up on the landing, it gets demoted to silver.

    I honestly don't know why they didn't do more "community building" / character development / comedy episodes. Just forget the peril. Yes, most weeks, you need peril. But this show would have gone as epic if that had possessed the courage to ditch peril and just let the battle of the holonovel play out.

    And on such long journey home, it totally makes sense that they would sometimes be in empty stretches of space, with nothing going on.

    I wish there had been more community/camaraderie/comedy capers, not fewer. And full-on.

    And it would nicely counterbalance the extreme intensity of the upcoming, high-stakes episode.

    For once I agree with the review here. I initially turned this off a few weeks ago, but decided to give it another shot. I found the first half really fun; and Tuvok hilarious in the middle part of the episode. The Seska aspect was a mistake - a lost opportunity for a story that just needed a good, non-lazy rewrite. As with most holodeck stories, I always find it absurd that technology with safeties THAT easy to disengage would be allowed on any ship.

    Seven of Nine is in this Episode! ... (Worst Case Scenario)

    Did anyone spot Jeri Ryan as a Maquis Henchman in one of the final scenes?

    As Tom and Tuvok are brought before Seska and Chakotay in the holodeck cargo bay, Seska says "bring Paris and Tuvok over here.." and two mutineers grab them, {freeze frame at 39:56 (Netflix)} The mutineer/Maquis leading Tuvok by the arm is ... JERI RYAN. albeit, not dolled up, she looks a little rough around the edges, but that's her (uncredited). She is squinting and has no lines, but there is no mistaking Jeri Ryan's face, cheekbones, and blonde hair.
    Has anyone ever asked her about this?

    It is definitely not uncommon in the Star Trek franchise to have actors play numerous characters.

    Its only 2 more episodes til she makes an entrance as Seven, maybe she was on set and wanted to jump in a scene?

    Isn't it more likely that she was there as an extra and some Paramount exec caught a glimpse of her and said "hey, our ratings are dropping and we need some T&A in the show. What about her?"

    Jeri Ryan wasn't plucked from sublime obscurity to play Seven. She was already a regular on a short-lived cable TV show, Dark Skies (had a bit of a cult audience at the time, as I recall) . It's odd that she would be moonlighting as an extra.

    This reminded me of "Peak Performance": an intriguing premise that deteriorated into another "the ship is in danger" situation. Why couldn't they have had the battle exercise play itself out? And why couldn't they have let Paris and Tuvok finish the program?

    Something else... why would Seska do this? At the time she found the program, her cover was intact. If Tuvok had returned to his work, that cover would have been unnecessarily blown.

    I don't know if anyone posted this comment earlier (I can't read every one of these comments), but just a month ago, Mark has posted my biggest problem with the episode: Seska is depicted as Bajoran in the program - this presumes she is still under cover and on the ship - was she already planning to abandon Voyager at that point? Was this made live days before she betrayed them?

    Cause otherwise, she's off in Jeffries Tube 7-Alpha recalibrating warp plasma manifolds one day when all of a sudden, Tuvok contacts the bridge to advise that a Seska hologram just told him that she reprogrammed the holodeck to murder him... That doesn't seem like something that would go well for real Seska.

    Also, it's awfully convenient Seska reprogrammed the simulation right when Tuvok abandoned it, such that he never re-opened it to continue working. Or did she find this program months after he abandoned it? In which case she should have seen the "last modified" date and realised he was not likely to re-open it.

    This episode was perfectly fine the way it is. Funny enough this review and the comments mirror the episode how everyone is suddenly a writer and think they can come up with a better second half of the show.

    As far as Seska's motives go I'm gonna believe this was her still keeping up the Bajoran Maquis disguise. Exacting revenge on Tuvok makes sense. She probably thought it would gain her more support of other Marquis members for an actual attempt to take over Voyager, but once she was found out to be a Cardassian she had to improvise and leave.

    I loved this episode. Firstly very clever opening. I loved the Holodeck programme as a concept of a Mutiny.

    Indeed, I would actually have liked to have seen an attempted Mutiny in an actual episode which could have been a thrilling thing to thrash out.

    Agreed that the first part of this episode is excellent - 4 stars, the second half such a let down. Experiencing different ideas of how the crew members would have completed the story would have been good holodeck fun.

    Aside, at some point shouldn't Star Fleet ban the holodeck from its vessels. It has proven to be the most dangerous technology at their disposal.

    >Aside, at some point shouldn't Star Fleet ban the holodeck from its vessels. It has proven to be the most dangerous technology at their disposal.

    I'm not a fan of holodeck episodes (with a few exceptions, "Worst Case Scenario", "Author Author", and "Living Witness" if you can count that). I've always wondered why it's even possible to turn off the safety protocols. I know Picard put them to good use in First Contact but apart from that rare instance, well, they cause more trouble than they're worth. You shouldn't be able to turn them off.

    The first real clue I had that the episode wasn't showing "real" events (aside from this mutiny making little sense given the apparent strength of crew relationships over since the show's start) was Kes. And her short hair.

    For a few episodes, she'd been long-haired, which suggests this took place somehow in the past. I figured it was either "some kind of" temporal offshoot or figment of someone's imagination.

    I was happy to actually feel some tension and uncertainty in the execution of the story overall. Too bad it evaporated as quickly as its shallowly expedited end scene.

    "Without completely giving away his hand, he drops hints, such as indications that this is early in Voyager's history (hence Janeway's reference to Chakotay taking command of the ship for the 'first time'), and indications that this exists outside of reality (Chakotay inexplicably calling Torres 'ensign')."

    Fake Chakotay calls her "ensign" because in the simulation she's not Torres. She's the same character that Paris was when he ran the program.

    The first part was good, if too repetitive. Why didn't Paris' very different reactions cause the supposedly adaptive Chakotay character to alter his actions due to his aroused suspicions of the Paris-"ensign" character's loyalty?

    My main problem with this, though, is that Seska's advent actually brings up why Tuvok never revisited the program after she and later another crewman actually did mutiny. Why wouldn't Tuvok use this program again, adding in the new knowledge about Seska and the power she had, even after leaving the ship, to affect crewmembers loyalty?

    Conversely, it would have been interesting if Tuvok had programmed evil Seska to appear to harass anyone who tried to alter his training program. It would show his subconscious suspicions of Seska's true character as well as being a hilarious meta comment on writers not wanting their ideas toyed with. He might let it play out to teach Paris a lesson. (No need for the fake "safeties off!" Jeopardy.)

    I also expected the former Maquis to be more troubled by this program of Tuvok's than they were. It should have stimulated some "what if" conversations among them. Just as it definitely triggers a wistful "what if" reaction in the viewer. What if Chakotay had been allowed to be more alpha? The writers apparently thought a female captain couldn't handle being challenged by an alpha male so they made every single male on Voyager beta. The only "alpha male" regular to challenge Janeway turned out to be 7 of 9, who they disguised by empasizing her female sexuality in the skintight uniforms.

    Like most Voyager episodes, this one was all about the unfulfilled potentual.

    That wide beam phaser setting would have been really handy at AR-558...

    It's like Ronald D. Moore wrote the first half of this episode and Alex Kurtzman wrote the second half.

    Its almost as if the writers give us a little nod, admitting they should have explored the Maquis vs. Voyager Crew thing more throughout the series, instead of just burying it after the third episode.

    The beginning of the episode was brilliant and thoroughly entertaining. I really wish that the ending of the episode would have simply been revealing how Tuvok and Paris decided to end the novel and perhaps some reactions from the crew as to how they like the ending. Or perhaps they rewrite the ending a couple times to try to find a better one.

    I've grown tired to the whole "hostage to the holodeck" plot line. They're simply is just no way that there is not a big power cut off switch outside the holodeck by this point in Star Trek.

    Occasionally exploring what their entertainment might be like in that time period and being stranded in the Delta quadrant would have been very interesting. The thought of holo-novel it's quite interesting. I really liked how different people were describing where they were able to go in the program. I also liked it how when people got too far out of what was predicted that the program simply restarted.

    I'll admit that originally I really liked the episode up until it's revealed Seska reprogrammed the simulation to kill whoever is playing the program.

    That's beyond ridiculous. When would she have the time? And did she know she would become eevil?

    Makes no sense.

    It took me a while to realize the show was mocking itself. Tom literally says "who wrote this?" and the characters spend a lot of time discussing the plausibility of various plot developments.

    Ironically, I think the actors just sell the story so well that it's hard to see the irony.

    I think this episode proves that just watching the characters interact and go about their lives can be fun and worth watching. It's really weird to say that with a likeable cast, a story doesn't need conflict to be interesting and entertaining, but it's kind of true. I think Paris and Tuvok having conflict about writing the program would have been enough. Everything before the Seska reveal was 10 out of 10 for me. I really didn't care much for how the story changed. It was like adding conflict for the sake of adding it. This story didn't need that. It was already good where it was going.

    I was expecting the ending to be another fake out, B’Elanna or nelix writing in the seska twist, only being revealed at the end and met with both Tom and Tuvok finally being in agreement with a resounding “no.”

    Instead the whole crew in danger thing sorta sucked the energy out of what was really working for this episode. The odd couple routine with paris and Tuvok, especially with Tuvok’s growing proprietary attitude towards his Holonovel/training simulation, was enough to build the entire episode around. Heck, make that a two parter, I’m down.

    Also, the holodeck is a menace! Again! I can’t imagine how Starfleet operates given that every ship in their fleet is constantly dealing with killer holo-programs.

    Seska's gambit (reprogramming the simulation) does seem far-fetched... until you remember the DS9 episode Civil Defense. This is *exactly* the kind of twisted contingency programming Cardassians love to do! Sure, it still feels highly unlikely and not a great use of time or effort. But I can build headcanon around Cardassian school children being trained in subterfuge and control tactics that involve elaborate programming, "just in case..."

    As with any episode of Star Trek, if you want to go looking for plot holes to poke holes in you’ll find them. It’s often hard to turn off the internal editor that tells you how you would write the episode rather than just enjoy it for what it is but in this instance, in particular, it feels rewarding to just accept it as fun, and in places even witty (such as the self aware, self parody that jammer mentioned that I believe was explicitly intended rather than just coincidental).
    It’s a fun episode that I’d give 3.5 stars.

    Agree with the reviewer and many commenters: Great start, then devolves into the usual “Holodeck jeopardy” scenario that ST has been doing to death since TNG.

    But: what different, better direction should the episode have taken?

    Could we have had some lower-decks Maquis get stirred up - as Tuvok feared - to feeling discontent about Janeway and her Starfleet / Prime Directive nonsense? I can’t imagine that going anywhere, this late in the game. What would Maquis malcontents do: they have no power base; they can’t sabotage the ship they’re on, and it would be boring to have them retread the Seska arc and make deals with an eenmy race.

    It could have swung into full meta comedy, with Pris/Tuvok doing a smart send-up of Star Trek tropes as they bicker over the writing of the holo-novel. (Paris: “I know! Janeway’s loyalists steal the shuttles and crash *every single one* on different M-class planets, which all have weird atmospheric phenomena and hard-headed aliens! But they’re all rescued in the nick of time, except for some crewman that nobody knows very well. Or Neelix.” Tuvok: “Mr. Paris, that is not only implausible but lacking in imagination or entertainment value.”)

    Or perhaps drama and pathos: Torres confesses to Chakotay that in addition to the Tuvok simulatuon, she came across the not-quite-deleted personal logs of Seska. Through them, Torres and Chakotay see a surprising Seska: a patriotic Cardassian spy, who sincerely fell in love with Chakotay. But who had bad experiences in the Delta Quadrant that pushed her to increasing isolation and bitterness - while Chakotay and Torres failed to help or care.

    How could they have made it better? By making it the last episode of series 2 leaving the audience to think the Maquis takeover is for real. Could have been a two parter with a cliff hanger, would have been better than what we got in the Basics two parter.

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