Star Trek: Voyager
Air date: 2/18/1998
Written by Brannon Braga
Directed by Allan Eastman
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"I believe you are punishing me because I do not think the way you do—because I am not becoming more like you. You claim to respect my individuality, but, in fact, you are frightened by it."
"As you were."
— Seven and Janeway
Nutshell: I do believe we have a winner.
Before I begin, I have two sidebar comments to make:
First, given the two episodes previous to "Prey," I had become very worried about the notion of creating an "arc" around the Hirogen. The Hirogen we had met in "Hunters" were utter cardboard and terribly acted, with completely unconvincing and unnecessary shouting and grunting. Although I still have some serious reservations about the Hirogen (and I severely doubt they'll ever be truly interesting), "Prey" was a turn for the better—much better, in fact. The Hirogen here aren't played anywhere near as over the top as the two Hirogen in "Hunters." From the moment "Prey" begins, there's almost a sense that the writers or director or somebody made a conscious effort to tone down the Hirogen to something that's ... well, watchable.
Second, I'd like to point out that this isn't really an "arc" the way DS9's "lost the station" arc was. "Message in a Bottle's" plot line really had nothing to do with "Hunters's" Hirogen plot line which really has nothing to do with "Prey." The only common element are the Hirogen themselves, with which Voyager has never twice come in contact with the same individuals. And the only two reasons I even expect to see the Hirogen return is because (1) I've seen the press releases, and (2) every episode ends with a captain's log where Janeway says something to the effect of "I don't think we've seen the last of them." There's really no dramatic connection, which is kind of unfortunate.
But never mind. I don't mean to start things off on a sour note, because "Prey" is, in fact, the best thing Voyager has done all season. I'd easily rank this in the series' top ten. This is a solidly constructed, very focused story that transcends the lightweight nature typical of season four by addressing a moral issue and framing it in the context of a punchy action/adventure premise.
We have more Hirogen, of course, but this time they're part of a much more probing story—and the key Hirogen character is played by someone who can actually act (fathom that!): Tony Todd. (DS9 viewers will recognize the deep, raspy voice from his appearances as old Jake Sisko in "The Visitor" and Worf's brother Kurn in "Sons of Mogh.")
The opening is atmospheric and effective, focusing completely on the Hirogen and the hunt for their latest prey, which happens to be one of Species 8472, left behind in our galaxy after the skirmish with the Borg. The two Hirogen hunt the 8472, shoot it, think they have killed it, then transport it onto their vessel. They're wrong, of course, and it tears up their ship and attacks them, killing one and severely wounding the other.
Enter the starship Voyager, who happens upon the wounded Hirogen's ship and beams him aboard for medical treatment, after a strong voice of skepticism from Seven of Nine. Janeway attempts to negotiate with the lone Hirogen, with some limited success.
Meanwhile, 8472 breaks into the ship from an access port (there's a particularly nice setup visual that shows 8472 walking along the outside hull of the ship). As 8472 begins causing havoc on Voyager, Janeway finds herself making a weighty decision concerning the Hirogen, who wants to continue the hunt for his latest "prey." When the 8472 takes over a deck of the ship and disables life support and artificial gravity, Janeway grants the Hirogen to accompany a team in finding the dangerous alien. But she doesn't want it harmed; she wants to make a peaceful negotiation.
Does this sound particularly interesting? Probably not, because it's hard to do justice to the finer points of the plot flow. But much of "Prey" is a very pleasant surprise, particularly once the 8472 alien is cornered with nowhere to run.
From a technical standpoint, this episode is probably one of the most engaging action pieces since "Scorpion II." The special effects are convincing and appropriately utilized. The use of environmental suits and magnetic boots (a la First Contact) made for a believable situation of suspense. I'm not sure exactly why, but something about the crew's search for the 8472—perhaps the sense of understated urgency in Allan Eastman's directing and the cast's acting, or perhaps the low lighting combined with the "zero gravity" effect—made the scenes build with much more realism, drawing me into them more than usual.
What proves more interesting is the heart of the show concerning the moral dilemma. Should Janeway risk making enemies with another race by saving the innocent 8472, therefore denying the Hirogen their greatly desired prey? Or should she hand the dangerous creature over to the Hirogen reinforcements so that they'll leave Voyager alone instead of coming in with phasers firing?
Well, this is Star Trek; what do you think?
Like many of Janeway's decisions, her decision in "Prey" is one that looks out for human sensibilities. But, at the same time, it also puts Voyager and its crew at the significant risk of being hunted down and destroyed by angry Hirogen—and I'm sure there's a part of everybody that wouldn't mind seeing the dreaded 8472 taken away if it meant their own safety. But this would of course not be a moral course of action, especially considering the creature's motives as conveyed telepathically to Tuvok: that it just wants to be left alone and returned to its realm. Janeway intends to do just that, even if it means angering a pack of aggressive hunters.
Not surprisingly, but very appropriately, this is where Seven of Nine comes into play. "Prey" features the long-awaited and, in retrospect, inevitable culmination of Seven's differing attitudes and actions as compared to Janeway's. As I said back in "Message in a Bottle," the kind of assertive, dangerous impulse that Seven is capable of is not something that Janeway can simply allow to happen week after week. There's a point where the line has to be drawn, and that line is drawn in the latter stages of "Prey," when Janeway requests that Seven (who would be able to quickly perform the necessary task) open a quantum singularity to 8472's realm—a request Seven adamantly refuses.
There's a dialog scene that I believe will go down as one of the highlights of the season because it's so well acted. There's energy and frustration boiling in this scene, but it boils just under the surface as the characters wrestle their contrasting points of view into the open. Janeway wants Seven to see this as a chance to reach out with compassion to a helpless being—a chance for Seven to grow and understand the reasons and origins of human values. Seven, still looking at the situation through primarily Borg eyes, thinks it is a tactical risk; she believes the 8472 forfeited its rights when it selfishly put the ship in danger to save itself from the Hirogen.
Janeway's frustration is perfectly conveyed through Mulgrew's performance. Meanwhile, I'd like to go on record saying I think anyone who still believes Jeri Ryan is merely eye candy after witnessing the dynamics of this scene is just fundamentally biased against the character, because the performance here is something I think is worth a lot of praise. It's hard to convincingly convey anger through the Borg-like dispassion with which Seven's character has been drawn, but Ryan pulls it off here, and the whole scene comes together. I can't remember the last time Voyager had me on the edge of my seat over a dialog scene, but this one accomplished just that; it's the best-conceived scene of conflicting attitudes since Janeway and Chakotay's "scorpion" argument in the first part of "Scorpion." I really like this stuff.
There's a lot of substance here, because it gets to the heart of the agenda Janeway has been battling for ever since Seven came aboard: a maternal figure trying to bring someone else into her "family." It's a battle Janeway isn't winning, and you can see how frustrated it's making her. She probably wouldn't have been forced to take the disciplinary actions she ends up taking under "Prey's" circumstances, but the emotional side of it I'm sure has been taking its toll for the months that Seven has been rubbing people the wrong way and disregarding protocol.
In a sense, the family idea echoes elements of how the Starfleet/Maquis alliance used to be before it was unsatisfactorily swept under the carpet. But with Seven the questions are a little easier to deal with because she simply doesn't understand human behavior.
Still, this wouldn't have worked nearly as well as it ultimately does if there hadn't been some real consequences resulting from it. Immediately after the dialog scene, my one fear was that the rift that had become evident would be reversed by some sort of redemption on Seven's part—some redemption that would've made Seven see Janeway's side of the story. Fortunately, this didn't happen. Instead, the opposite happened when Seven made the split-second decision to beam the 8472 and the hunter onto a Hirogen ship in the middle of a battle situation running out of control.
It's hardly a neat or tidy solution for Janeway, who watches a moral decision countermanded (effectively sending an innocent being to its death). But she can't judge the individual who violated her order the way she could any other crew member. It provides Janeway with a true challenge. Just how should she deal with Seven as an individual under such bizarre circumstances? Since Seven doesn't yet understand her own individuality, how accountable can she be for it?
I also think the final dialog exchange served to strengthen the ending. As much as I understood Janeway's point of view and the necessary ramifications imposed (barring Seven from computer access) as a result of Seven's behavior, I had a feeling that this was turning into another "Janeway is right" ending. But "Prey" avoids this possibility by adding a little ambivalence, as Seven announces her belief that Janeway is punishing her because she is not evolving into what Janeway had hoped—and that her individuality, in fact, frightens the captain. It's an interesting and challenging way to end the episode, and it doesn't have an easy answer—partly because, in some ways, Seven is quite correct (especially considering it was Janeway who imposed this individuality upon Seven in the first place). As many undoubtedly know, I like questions that don't have easy answers.
Pretty much everything about "Prey" worked quite well. Even the Hirogen—despite the fact that Tony Todd's character was still a sketchy, half-defined personality—seemed more fleshed-out and believable. Chakotay's briefing about their entire society being "based on the hunt" may not make the Hirogen more interesting or deeper than any other member of the Stock Delta Quadrant Alien Club™, but it did manage to make their motivation seem a little more focused and a little less dramatically shoddy. But even though the Hirogen worked surprisingly well this time around, I still say forget them, because that's not where the gold is. The gold, like last time, is within analyzing the behavior of the regular characters.
But if Voyager can use adventure-oriented premises as effectively and with as much panache as "Prey" does, I certainly won't complain.
Next week: Seven of Nine seeks justice in "Retrospect."
Previous episode: Hunters
Next episode: Retrospect
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93 comments on this post
Tue, Dec 1, 2009, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
I also want to comment on Tom Paris - he was great in this episode! The way he has a weapon, but doesn't really know what the hell to do with it, and his expression when Tuvok comes to the rescue.
I was thinking at first... "Why is tom paris going?" And then the writers make Tom act the way he should. I mean, seriously... how many times do you see Tom firing his phaser and stuff? Like never.
Lastly, he has the funniest line in the entire season. The hirogen brags that "I once tracked a silicon-based lifeform through a neutronium mantle of a collapsed star."
And then Tom responds - with the best expression ever - "I once tracked a mouse through Jeffrey Tube 32."
LOL. Best line in the entire episode. The expression on his eyes and just coming out of the blue is so priceless. I laughed so hard.
Sat, Feb 6, 2010, 7:01am (UTC -5)
I feel the writers could have come up with a more reasonable basis for a fifty-fifty judgment call leading to a disagreement between the two where Seven should clearly have deferred to Janeway's command authority.
Thu, Jul 7, 2011, 9:48am (UTC -5)
The only thing that irked me on first viewing was Tuvok's sudden onset of telepathic abilities. Vulcans had never before shown the ability to communicate in this manner without a mind meld. It made Kes' absence all the more noticeable (I still think it would have been better to 'demote' her to a recurring character).
Thu, Jul 7, 2011, 9:50am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 26, 2012, 5:23pm (UTC -5)
Very good episode and i agree with both janeway and seven. I agree more with janeway and honestly 100% agree if i was in the delta quadrant. Sometimes i have to remind myself that the ST universe, the culture is the idealistic notions of today become reality. ST people are on more naive, trusting, and good side than us -from that point of view, you can understand where Janeway is coming from.
Tue, Mar 6, 2012, 4:25pm (UTC -5)
Seven's tactical assessment is 100% correct and she saved Voyager this episode - Janeway's kurt dismissal of this assertion doesn't make it any less true. I am just so glad that there is a character on Star Trek that finally understands reality. Not everyone thinks the same way. Not everyone has the same value system. Not everyone has the same moral code.
The "fiction" part of Star Trek in almost all cases is that our intrepid crew keeps surviving. They would be dead time and time again if they existed in reality. "Ah, a new species, Captain. Shall we raise shields?" "No, Number One, we don't want them to get the wrong impression." NO, NO, NO. Shields UP! Any species that gets miffed at your raised shields is probably just picking a fight. Err on the side of caution - don't bare your chest to the knife and hope for an equal dose of compassion in return.
Sat, Apr 7, 2012, 4:23pm (UTC -5)
Tony Todd played a role as a badass terrorist in The Rock movie (Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage) delivering some funny lines.
Great episode, 4 stars!
Wed, Apr 18, 2012, 2:54am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 18, 2013, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
"There's something on the wing..."
Mon, Aug 19, 2013, 6:11pm (UTC -5)
When Seven states that following Janeway's plan would have resulted in Voyager's certain destruction, the best response Janeway can muster is the profoundly feeble 'Maybe not.' That says it all, I think. Seven saved the ship.
Mon, Oct 7, 2013, 8:08am (UTC -5)
It's these episodes which really demonstrate the fact that, while Picard as a character actually went on to have a book about leadership written from his perspective, by a couple of real-life military generals, ("Make It So,") most of the time, Janeway served as an example of how any sort of leader should *not* behave.
As I've written here before, Janeway's immaturity and immorality as a leader, was by far the most negative and problematic element of Voyager as a series.
Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
As Janeway says there's a limit to individuality on a starship where there's a hierarchy. The Captain's word is law.
Granted, Seven did not choose to be on Voyager but she should be able to see how the crew works as a collective in their own way to keep the ship & each other alive. And on that ship Janeway is Queen of the Hive.
I see Janeway as trying give Seven a moral compass where she previously had none. Her decision to protect the 8472 despite the species' previous encounters is quite typical of Star Trek. Take for example Picard's decision to protect Q when he was turned mortal by the Continuum & then hunted down by a species he had tormented & who wanted revenge. Picard risked his ship then to save Q.
8472 effectively requested asylum & Janeway granted it. While 8472 would never sacrifice itself to protect the human crew as Q did on that episode of TNG, that doesn't make Janeway's decision any different from Picard's.
Consider also that 1 member of the race cannot be held responsible for the actions of the species as a whole. That particular 8472 was a soldier in a war. (A war which the Borg started in fact & which Seven conveniently ignores when talking about the millions of Borg that were destroyed.)
Now the war is over & it just wants to get back home.
Janeway has made it clear that even though her top priority is to get her crew home, she will still uphold the principles of the Federation. And to me it wouldn't be Star Trek without this.
Mon, Nov 11, 2013, 10:01am (UTC -5)
On one hand, 7 of 9 is - obviously - in the right: refusing to hand over the "prey" to the Hirogen puts Voyager at high risk ... as it turns ou at SUCH high risk that she would probably have been detsroyed had 7 of 9 not disobeyed the Captain's orders.
On the other hand Janeway is taking a stand for the morally right thing to do.
Now, some of the comments above point out that Janeway is moraaly in the wrong here, because she needlessly endangeres the ship and the crew.
I, however, would argue that Janeway is doing exactly what she and her fellow Starfleet officers have been trained to do: to protect the weak and defenseless from the violent "bully", no matter the personal cost.
As RenC pointed out in the post above this one, Picard has done it before with Q ... in fact we've seen him do it time and again in TNG.
The Starfleet officers are eesentially saying "we do not bow for bullies - you may be able to destroy us, but we will keep doing the RIGHT thing ... you will NOT dictate our actions!"
You might argue that this is stupid, because it'll end up getting you killed. On the other hand you might argue that this is the only right way to act if you want to gain any respect from other species around the galaxy in the long run.
Is it realistic? Well, I don't think I would personally have the courage to stand up for what I think is right in the face of nearly cetain destruction - but then again, I'm not a Starfleet officer, and I didn't sign up to serve on a tarship encountering dozens of species in vast, cold space.
7 of 9's position on all of this is pragmatic. Janeway's position is idealistic. Neither of those views are necessarily wrong - but from previous experience (i.e. many episodes in the past)we know exactly which position Star Trek takes!
The really great thing abput this particular episode - to me, anyway - is that it DOESN'T say that Jabeway is right and 7 of 9 is wrong! This wouls normally be the Lesson of the Day (tm) from an episode like this, but not here - this episode lets the question linger in the air.
In my own personal oppinion Janeway was in the right - but I understand how others think that 7 of 9 was in the right.
What I DON'T understand is how some people can write off Janeway's view as stupid or even immoral, when she is taking the Classic Star Trek Captain Stance (tm) here.
Mon, Nov 11, 2013, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
Frankly it's difficult to keep watching this show when the captain of the crew is religiously naive and careless with her crew's lives.
This was a good episode but for the fact that Seven alone stood up and protested Janeway's willingness to sacrifice all of their lives for an aggressive creature that had put them in danger and assaulted her crew even though it was clearly capable of communicating with them and *asking* for help. For me that is a major oversight by the writers. As usual.
I may not continue with this show after this episode, as I'm simply not enjoying the contrived way these plots come about. The writing quality is inferior to that which you can find in good fan fiction and I suspect that the writers attained their positions through some combination of political/social favor or because of lazy producers giving jobs to marginal talent within rather than seeking talented outsiders. Just way too many plot holes and way too many scenes that only work if the characters act illogically.
Sun, Feb 9, 2014, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
Exactly. I've continued watching, but it was only after a friend of mine said "Didnt you see the episode where they went through an anamoly and it made nearly everyone on the ship brain damaged and backward? You know the one where the Captain loses everything BUT her Liberalness and now just a few non damaged characters have to do their best to keep the ship running from the posts they have?" I said "No, I missed that one." He said "yeah I did too, but it explains pretty much everything doesn't it?" lol. So now, when I watch it, it's more like 'Die Hard' (or 'Die Borg' lol), Seven of Nine is Bruce Willis, and Captain Janeway and most of the rest (not the doctor) are the evil foreigners.
Seriously though, 7 just saved their butts and Janeway is like "Can we pursue?" Can we pursue??? I mean really! Come on. How utterly idiotic. What did she think they were going to do if they DID manage to catch up? "Excuse me, give us your prey back, or I'll blow up my own ship!" What an idiot.
Sun, Feb 9, 2014, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 16, 2014, 2:01am (UTC -5)
That said, of course it was a good episode. Mostly by the fact that we start seeing continuity regarding the development of Seven's character. And finally we see some consequences for her wild actions. The last scenes and the dialogues between her and the captain were a joy to watch.
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 11:47am (UTC -5)
But I do have some issue with the resolution of the plot. Having Seven countermand Janeway's orders robs us of seeing how Janeway ultimately deals with the impossible decision she faces. I think it would have been good to see Janeway either relent on her moral stance for the good of her crew or deal with the consequences of doing the 'right thing'.
Also, the episode makes Janeway out to be totally adamant, seeing the situation as completely black and white, thinking that her decision is the only right way. Now I'm NOT saying her decision is wrong by any means but I think she should have shown some sign of the pain that decision would cause a Captain. Just because she believed her decision was the moral one doesn't mean she wouldn't have wept blood at the knowledge that the likely result was the capture or destruction of her ship and crew.
It reaffirms unfair stereotypes that having ideals and taking a moral standpoint is naïve and ultimately dumb by portraying Janeway as indifferent to the likely consequences of her actions.
Fri, Aug 29, 2014, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
Fortunately, the writers chose the lesser-expected route of having Seven countermand the captain in having the aliens involved beamed away mid-battle rather than opening the rift. Unfortunately, though, instead of making it a grey-area decision; the plot followed along in a black and white matter. Where Seven was 100% correct and made Janeway look 100% foolish to the viewer (even though, technically, she was just as right). Now I understand it was just a series of events, and that, decisions such as those can lead to any possibility based on any given situation in life. I just don't know if the end result was purposely intended this way by the writers or if they didn't fully think it through. At the end of the day, it really does make it look like Seven was absolutely right and Janeway was, not only absolutely wrong, but stubbornly naive. Even though she wasn't. *sigh*
This makes it all the more frustrating for me, because, in retrospect, it almost seems as a major demerit from an otherwise great episode. It does seem like the writers fucked up again. Or maybe they didn't. Maybe they really DID want Seven to win the argument and save the day. And maybe the captain WAS correct, just the circumstances didn't allow her to be.
Thu, Sep 18, 2014, 11:33pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 27, 2014, 6:54am (UTC -5)
There are always infinite other possibilities for endings, this one sucked, 1 possible ending would be for the 'prey' to go through the singularity and then come back with a bunch of ships and annihilate the Hirogen hunters.
And why didn't the doctor stop her.
And why didn't Janeway throw 7 in the brig.
And again, why didn't Janeway throw 7 in the brig.
Janeway is a stupid arrogant hypocrite.
Janeway saw the Hirogen as a potential ally but not the 'prey', why?
Sat, Sep 27, 2014, 10:06am (UTC -5)
Justice is not blind either.
Sat, Apr 11, 2015, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
I understand that is a creature that had been hunted mercilessly, but if one can not act with compassion one should not expect to receive any in return either. It acted in its own best interest and in doing so it put Voyager and its crew at risk.
Seven was in the right here. There's no doubt about it, in my mind.
Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 14, 2015, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
Engines crippled, shields on the brink of failing, outgunned 6-to-1, Janeway had no plan and no chance other than waiting for another Deus Ex from the screenwriters.
I like the essential concept of what they were going for here but it was badly mishandled in the execution. Seven saved the ship. The end.
Thu, Oct 15, 2015, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
"The only reason the 8472 was in the galaxy was to purge it of all life."
Don't agree with this.
Species 8472 is in the galaxy because the Borg attacked them in theirs.
Wed, Oct 28, 2015, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 28, 2015, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 23, 2015, 10:31pm (UTC -5)
Meanwhile, I find it interesting to note how many commentators would throw an innocent man to the wolves in order to save themselves. Is it logical? Perhaps, in a utilitarian sense. But it certainly isn't honorable, nor is it consistent with the ideals that have been consistently shown throughout the many series. Picard wouldn't even let the Calamarain go after Q, after all. If the Hirogen boarded, held Janeway and crew at gunpoint, and grabbed 8472, that would be one thing. But to just fork him over just like that? Kirk would be ashamed...
Although it would have been nice if there was at least some possibility of Voyager fighting back. Having it be so one-sided was a bit of a copout. By now we are well aware of the artificial danger portion in the final act of any Voyager episode. If the crew had a chance to escape, or fight back, then there would be a bit more tension of wondering how this battle would end. Instead, we're simply left wondering what the shields get down to before the deus ex machina occurs.
But whatever, its a minor complaint. Regardless of whether or not it was honorable, Seven's decision was perfectly rational in her view, and I don't blame her for making it. And it brought some well-needed tension to the ship. While the Maquis never should have started a mutiny or anything silly like that, questioning Starfleet philosophy would have been a legitimate use of them. Sadly, other than Seska and the occasional whimpering from Chakotay, they never used that angle much. Seven's existence allows us to bring some of that conflict back into the show. Janeway didn't do a great job of defending herself here, but she is certainly within her rights to punish Seven for her actions. And it is certainly a delight to see some consequences for Seven's actions, even if they start to disappear quickly...
Meanwhile, the tension throughout much of the episode is real, and made for an enjoyable episode overall. In fact, it's been quite a run of good episodes of late.
Thu, Dec 10, 2015, 1:40am (UTC -5)
Plothole #2: How is it possible for Paris to track a mouse through Jeffries tube 32? How would a mouse find itself on Voyager in the delta quadrant?
Plothole #3: How did Seven beam 8472 to the Hirogen ship in the middle of a battle with either Voyager or the Hirogen ship's shields up?
Sat, Dec 26, 2015, 5:48am (UTC -5)
Loved Seven's speech at the end towards Janeway after her sentence was doled out. She didn't have a choice in the collective any more than she had a choice with Voyager. But she clearly had her own mind and it was...inspiring to see her express it. All Janeway could retort with was "As you were".
Frankly they should have mutinied back in the pilot just before she destroyed the array. That's really where the bad decisions began for this crew.
This was an awesome ep regarding Species 8472. It didn't showcase them as total monsters despite their fearsome appearance. In fact, knowing they were the ones being attacked by first the Borg and now the Hirogen we can't really fault its actions. I think of poor Ripley from Aliens whenever I think of species 8472. First impressions will dictate your actions towards a race. But all this 8472 alien wanted to do was return to fluidic space.
But I still wasn't crazy about their story in S5's In the Flesh. The storyline would have been awesome if it were another species. It didn't really fit with 8472 tho.
I never really found the Hirogen to be all that interesting. No moreso than the Ka-zon. Tony Todd, however, did essay the role quite well. Still, I didn't find them to be as nearly as fascinating as their prey.
The pacing and the storyline itself were first rate in spite of Janeway's pious posturing and decisions that nearly turned the crew into flotsam. Oh yeah, and puttng the Hirogen hot on their trail. 3.5 stars is doable.
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 9:16am (UTC -5)
But it's the conflict between Seven and Janeway that is the real highlight. It's great to see two strong characters butting heads, and the fact that Janeway doesn't win the argument through the mere force of her moral convictions but is met with a flat rejection of the idealistic approach with a flatly pragmatic one makes for a wonderful concluding scene.
Yet another good episode (The 10th 2.5 or above rated episode in a row, equaling the record for any series in my re-watch so far). 3.5 stars.
Fri, Feb 19, 2016, 8:53am (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 7, 2016, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
In this episode, and also the next, I felt really sorry for Seven. She is basically a usefull pet that gets called upon if there is a difficult problem, but if she acts human, and rational for that matter, she gets confined to the cargo bay, and is only allowed to still work the astrolab because that suits Janeways needs. She traded one oppressive regime for the next. And in real life, the crew would have mutinied, if not earlier than after this episode. Risking all their lives to save a creature that would most likely kill them if they bring it home. There is only so much a captain can demand. Look at Captain Bligh. Technically, he was right in his descisions, because it were his to make. In the same way Janeway is right here: It is her descision to kill her crew. But she can't blame the crew for disobeying such orders. I would have loved to see her replaced, even by Chakotay, who may be boring, but at least he is not clinically insane.
If Janeway listened to her peers, changed her opinion from time to time, or even admitted to making mistakes now and then, she would not be such an unlikeble character. But with her adamant irrationality and adherence to principle when it is not appropriate, she is the single most dangerous thing that the Voyager ever encountered, and is the only reason I am reluctant to watch this series again.
And to Name is irrelevant: Well, yes, you don't do that. Under normals circumstances, and when you have a fighting chance, if the odds are not impossible. When you are already disabled and outnumbered 6:1, and the only options are to either: 1) Try to save one innocent being (the odds of succeding are exceedingly rare, remember, Torres said she needed 1 or 2 hours, and Tom said he could shake the hirogens for mere minutes), 2) Save 148 innocent lives by handing over one not really innocent being , it is not such an obvious descision anymore. If Janeway acted tortured, while ordering to beam Species 8472 and the hirogen over, and lamented how that descision was the wrong one, but the only possible option in the circumstances, then yes, I could see her as right. If she just ignores the odds and acts as if she is immortal, she is just insane.
Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 4:41am (UTC -5)
Janeway constantly projects human emotion and empathy onto alien races that obviously have no empathy. Her idea to 'save the alien at all costs' in this episode makes me wish Seven had quietly strangled her and the irrational magical medicine bag clutching Chakotay - their deaths would put the far more rational Tuvac in charge of the ship. He might be boring - but he is empathic and at least slightly rational.
Like the Borg, the new alien race (8472) appears to be devoid of empathy - they are a psychopathic civilization - and we should expect that this is common in the universe. The complex chemical systems that provide humans with compassion and empathy - also provide humans beings with a competitive and cooperative advantage - but are not necessary to allow civilization. An extremely brutal system of laws, combined with an hierarchical system of rule will allow a psychopathic species to achieve a highly advanced civilization. Most of the population would have to be a disarmed and subjected to virtual slavery - but those subjected to such conditions are also psychopaths - and they would never be able to organize a rebellion - more than that - they would never want to. Instead they would each simply seek to rise to a higher level in the hierarchy themselves.
The so called 'moral dilemma' is personal to Janeway - it is not a an ethical (logical) dilemma. The alien is powerful, hostile and extremely dangerous - it broke through the ships hull - they have proven weapons to use against it which can be used immediately - every second of delay increases the probability that a crew member will be killed, or that a vital system might be destroyed leading to multiple crew fatalities.
Janeway's first obligation is to her ship and crew, therefore the logical and ethical response is to deploy the only known weapon they have against the 8472 alien immediately - instead she asks Seven to start tinkering up a non lethal weapon. This is utterly reckless and vastly increases the danger to the ship and crew. This decision alone makes it clear she places her personal beliefs above the safety of the crew and the ship - if she was the only one at risk - then its fine to act that way, but she is clearly incapable of seeing things from a broader context.
The 8472 alien is powerful and telepathic, its an unknown quantity that might be able to crush Tuvac's mind like a bug at close quarters - or potentially it could disable, kill or even control crew members at range with its virtually unknown telepathic capability. Having it running around the the ship at a time they are facing multiple hostile ships is simply stupid.
The details of the the battle between the alien and hunters is initially unknown, but once more hunters are detected incoming, and the hunter they gave medical treatment makes it demands - then they should have done exactly what Seven did - return them both to the hunter ship. That's how they found them, and that fight is nothing to do with them - they owe neither of the combatants anything. They should have simply followed the Prime Directive and got out of there.
Janeway then tries to justify her actions by saying the alien might be useful as prisoner for intel. Kess had previously explained that the 8472 aliens intended to 'purge' the entire galaxy. The 8472 had also explained that they had no respect for any living creature that could not repel their attack. Not only did they have the capability of destroying entire planets - they had already destroyed several hundred worlds controlled by the Borg. Voyager had created an effective weapon - this was by pure chance - Seven was on board and had both the required technology, and the knowledge required. Supplying this weapon to the Federation should be the highest priority for the entire ship - it should be 'the' mission. While more intel and a living alien is certainly valuable - it is not worth risking the destruction of the ship. If the Federation was attacked - then it could conceivably be completely destroyed before developing that weapon independently.
When the hunters arrive and make their demands, it is like being surrounded by six armed men who say 'give us your prisoner or we shoot you in the head'. If you say no, you get shot in the head - but its not just Janeway's head on the line - an idea she seems to be unable to comprehend.
Her story about the wounded Cardasian is irrelevant - the Cardasians are empathic - to the contrary, there has been no indication that the 8472 aliens are. This is like watching a house burning down, and when its almost gone out - you see a small flame left. Do you run in and 'save' it? Carefully keep the flame 'alive' and then 'release' it into the nearby forest? Projecting the attribute of empathy onto psychopaths is identical to treating forces of nature as if they were living things - its absurd - just one more thing that both the writers and the Janeway character seem incapable of comprehending.
If they had opened a singularity to release the 8472 alien, what then - simply toss it through? It would probably be like beaming someone into deep space - a useless act. Were they going to carry it through aboard their ship, once more invading the plane of the 8472? Were they going to supply it with shuttle from their apparently infinite supply of disposable shuttles? That would provide it with intel. If they had created such a singularity - there seems to be a good chance that the 8472 on the other side would come straight back through at that point - guns blazing. Trying to send the alien 'home' would have potentially placed there entire galaxy at risk again - for the sake of preserving Janeway's conscience - let the galaxy burn, so long as Janeway feels good about herself.
There seems to have no acknowledgement by the writers that any of the rest of the crew might agree with Seven - as if she was wrong and Janeway always right.
This biased lens of 'morality' is not the hallmark of good writing - people should not be told what it right and wrong - far better to simply present it and let them decide for themselves.
Seven's observation that the hierarchical structure on the Voyager is the same kind of collectivism practiced by the Borg is accurate - however there is a veneer of individualism on the Voyager - ultimately Janeway has made it clear - she is the Tyrant of Space - and the lives and wishes of the crew have no value compared to her personal beliefs and feelings, and she will sacrifice their lives on the pyre of her vanity without hesitation - and the writers seem to endorse this as if it were ethical.
Sat, May 14, 2016, 10:58pm (UTC -5)
Hence, when Captain Janeway says this to Seven of Nine she takes back everything that she just said about Seven's "punishment". She is saying to go back to the way things were before I stepped into the cargo bay!
Thu, May 19, 2016, 8:01am (UTC -5)
"As you were" is a military command to withdraw an order, return to the previous position, etc. or to withdraw something just said,
"JANEWAY: Individuality has its limits, especially on a starship where there's a command structure.
SEVEN: I believe that you are punishing me because I do not think the way you do. Because I am not becoming more like you. You claim to respect my individuality, but in fact you are frightened by it.
JANEWAY: As you were."
What it means here is Seven has stepped to far in this conversation. She has gone somewhere she shouldn't and Janeway is not going to continue this debate. She has not taken back anything she said and has not rescinded anything.
Thu, May 19, 2016, 9:36am (UTC -5)
It seems just about everyone is hating Janeway and loving Seven.
The Captain is wrong and Seven is right.
Mom is wrong and the teenager is right.
Let's look at 7's first reaction to the situation presented in this story.
"SEVEN: The Hirogen vessel is a potential threat. We should destroy it."
Now, a vessel approached Voyager, fired nothing, has week/intermittent life signs onboard and Seven's reaction is to just frakin blow it up? .... and everyone is on Seven's side here? sure.... she's beaming with reason here.
Captain Janeway deals with this situation appropriately. ... about as "Star Fleet" as it gets. She rescues an injured Hirogen, provides medical aid. Nothing wrong there.
She figures out who this big fella is hunting... then species 8472 gets into the ship, is seen in engineering (where it doesn't kill anyone BTW).
Then she receives a demand from the Hirogen. "Let me continue the hunt or I'll kill you" .... yeah, like she's supposed to allow that.
After trying to find it, they do and the Hirogen tries to kill it, then gets stunned by Tuvok.
The Tuvok melds/read it's mind with this thing.
"TUVOK: It's ship was damaged during the conflict with the Borg. When the other members of its species retreated into fluidic space, it was left behind. It has been trapped in the Delta Quadrant ever since. Alone, pursued by Hirogen hunting parties. It has no desire for further conflict. It only wants to return to its domain. It is dying, Captain."
So our Captain is proven right once again. This actually makes TOTAL sense. 8472 wasn't their enemy, the "provoke a fight" borg were. They were just thrust into that situation. This is a perfect opportunity to hand species 8472 an olive branch. Oh that's right, the Hirogen say they will kill everyone. ... so screw this sentient helpless injured dying creature. .... yeah, that's the Star Fleet thing to do. Let's just side with Seven and kill the damn thing...
Then we have this wonderful exchange between Janeway and Seven.
She tells a war story, blah blah...
"SEVEN: No. Your decision is tactically unsound. We will be surrounded by Hirogen ships in approximately two hours. If we do not surrender the creature, they will destroy us. A lesson in compassion will do me little good if I am dead.
JANEWAY: It is wrong to sacrifice another being to save our own lives.
SEVEN: I have observed that you have been willing to sacrifice your own life to save the lives of your crew.
JANEWAY: Yes, but that's different. That was my choice. This creature does not have a choice.
SEVEN: It invaded our ship, put our lives at risk to save its own. In my view, it has already forfeited its freedom.
JANEWAY: I'm giving you an order. Report to Deflector Control and begin working on creating a singularity.
SEVEN: I will not comply. I have agreed to remain on Voyager. I have agreed to function as a member of your crew. But I will not be a willing participant in my own destruction or the destruction of this ship.
JANEWAY: Objection noted. We'll do this without you.
SEVEN: You will fail.
JANEWAY: And you have just crossed the line. End of debate. Report to the Cargo Bay and remain there until this is over. Is that understood?"
Janeway gives her every chance to see why she is making this decision. To read some of the comments above, you'd think all Janeway did was barking out and order and massaging metal balls in her hand while demanding strawberries.
Seven is the stubborn self-centered teenager here. Janeway sent her to her room.
As the plot thickens, they need more nano-probes... Seven complies without any hesitation.
Now, as the circumstances unfolded where the force field weakenes and 8472 and the Hirogen resumed their fight, I think Seven's actions should be supported here. This is where I have trouble with the ending and how it unfolded. Janeway's conversation at the end condemned Seven's actions where I think some discussion of how things happened should have taken place. Seven didn't go up there with the intent of beaming them off the ship.
The only thing Seven should have done was informed Janeway of the changed circumstances as she was preparing to take action (beaming them off the ship).
Seven should still be "grounded", but for refusing to help earlier, not her actions under duress at the end.
Overall this is a great episode. I'll go 4 stars even with the miss-step at the end.
Thu, May 19, 2016, 11:42am (UTC -5)
SISKO: "Worf. We don't put civilians at risk or even potentially at risk to save ourselves. Sometimes that means we lose the battle and sometimes our lives. But if you can't make that choice, then you can't wear that uniform."
This isn't the Boy Scouts or a High School field trip. It's frakin Star Fleet!
I just know Picard stated something similar, but I don't feel like looking it up right now.
Fri, May 20, 2016, 6:07am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 8, 2016, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
Just because one's the "mother" and the other is the "teenager" doesn't mean the mother is right.
7 of 9 was taken aboard the ship against her will, humanized against her will, and forced to be a member of the crew against her will because Janeway decided that 7 of 9 didn't have the right to make her own choices so long as they were choices that she did not agree with. Picard would never have done that - in the end he would have recognized that she was ultimately a child of the borg now, and let her go back.
So here we are in a situation with a person on the ship who has been shanghaied and forced onto this ship against her will, and thus far she has mostly followed the captains orders... but she is not star fleet and she is not obligated to follow the captains orders whatever Janeway may think because she is still a prisoner there against her will.
As far as the Sisko and Worf example, I also thought that was incredibly stupid; especially given the fact that Sisko poisoned an entire world to get Eddington to turn himself in.
Thu, Jun 9, 2016, 9:00am (UTC -5)
Is mom always right? Of course not, but that's completely irrelevant here.
Seven was wrong and irrational here. Clearly proven above in my post.
... and has already thanked Janeway for saving her from the collective.
What was incredibly stupid? Sisko's actions to capture Eddington are a completely different ball of wax here... not sure how you can make the comparison. Sisko didn't kill anyone... he "smoked the out".
Sat, Jun 11, 2016, 10:05am (UTC -5)
I dont know if it applies to aliens though since the constitution only affects a certain country. but then again when youre space travelling they probably widened their fundamental principles.
Thu, Aug 4, 2016, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
The age old quote "War is Hell" is something Starfleet doesn't seem to understand, it's a dog eat dog unvierse out there, either you do what you need to survive or you won't be surviving, Seven of Nine saved the crew and the ship. The quote from Spock "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the ONE" is very important here, one viscous, slaughtering alien who got trapped away from his home because he was an invading xenophobic, is not worth an entire ship full of people who have been trapped away from home for years because of an accident.
Mon, Aug 29, 2016, 3:16am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 7, 2016, 4:51am (UTC -5)
3.5 stars sounds about right.
The scene in engineering was unnecessary. Species 8472 attacks a room full of people and nobody is killed? It could be argued that it didn't have any animosity towards the voyager crew, but then why attack them at all? That scene just didn't sit well with me.
Sat, Dec 31, 2016, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
If I had to choose a most memorable line or moment from Voyager, that would be it. Janeway has a point when she says that the ability to show compassion, even in wartime, is part of being human. I agree with her on principle, and this would be the ideal opportunity to teach Seven of Nine that lesson...
...IF a bunch of Hirogen ships weren't coming to destroy them unless they got their prey back. But the Hirogen are coming, and we have no reason to believe they won't carry out their threat, and therefore this is neither the time nor the place for charity. Seven is absolutely correct in her assessment. She goes directly against orders by sacrificing the invader, but in doing so she saves the ship and the crew. Janeway didn't have a third party threatening to kill her if she saved the wounded Cardassian, so what gives her the right to preach to Seven about humanity in this situation? And in such a patronizing manner, too. As Seven observes, "a lesson in compassion will do me little good if I am dead."
'Prey' is a very strong, intelligently written episode of Voyager. It uses the Hirogen more effectively than anywhere else (thank you, Tony Todd) and continues a minor story arc from 'Scorpion'. If these standards had been applied to the rest of the series it could have been something truly special. Three and a half stars is about right.
Fri, Jan 27, 2017, 3:13am (UTC -5)
The writers should have made the situation more ambiguous, but Voyager was far too outgunned to keep Janeway's decision sane. One thing is to protect the prey even if there is risk, but we are not talking just "risk" here. In this case the outcome was clear, they would die protecting the prey. Doesn't make sense, and makes Janeway a dangerous individual, not someone you want as a captain.
Sat, Feb 11, 2017, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
Not everything has to be dealt with by diplomacy. Opening a rift to fluidic space is a stupid decision. Kill the alien, shove it out the airlock, leave the hirogen in space with a tank of air, or in an escape pod. Be on your way.
Anything else is dumb.
Sun, Apr 9, 2017, 7:12am (UTC -5)
I appreciated the cargo bay scene at the end a lot too. Imagine if somebody pulled that shit on Picard when given a direct order? They would've been confined to quarters MINIMUM. I'm actually surprised she still allowed Seven in stellar cartography to be honest.
Voyager always irks me because it CAN be a pretty friggin' awesome show, it just never lasts for very long. If nothing else it appears the series does indeed have more than "10 good episodes" like I've said time and again in the past :D
Wed, Jul 26, 2017, 5:53pm (UTC -5)
Great review Jammer -- "Prey" for sure is one of the best VOY episodes as it touches on a lot of what makes Trek great: the moral/ethical dilemmas, difficult questions/decisions, decent action scenes, and trying to exemplify some human values (compassion).
OK, so after "Hunters" the Hirogen were also to me, as Jammer said "utter cardboard and terribly acted." But here, focusing on 1 Hirogen we have a character and we get to understand it a bit more. I didn't realize at first it was Tony Todd from "The Visitor" - but now it makes a bit of sense with the deep voice.
As many have said, great to see the shot of the 8472 on the outside of the ship. The 8472 as being more powerful than the Borg was a real winner for me in "Scorpion" so it was a thrill to see it again given its capabilities and how different it is as an alien race. It also brought out something from 7 of 9 who is a far better addition to the cast than Kes.
Now the real meat of "Prey" is between Janeway and 7. OK, so I understand Janeway's trying to teach 7 to be more human, learning compassion. Fine. But the captain has no logical plan for dealing with the Hirogen ships and protecting the 8472. I think it's fine for her to lecture 7 on following orders, but I also don't blame 7 for her actions to save the ship (though how could she transport the 8472 and the Hirogen with shields up -- small loophole). Both Janeway and 7 were really well acted here on both occasions when the captain gives the order and 7 refuses and in the end when 7 questions Janeway on shaping her individuality.
Personally I think Janeway needs to be more pragmatic here. She should sacrifice one life (the 8472) to save her own crew. It's fine to have strong ideals etc. and to take 7 of 9 under her wing, but if she had it her way, VOY would end midway through S4.
"Prey" gets 4 stars for me. Really enjoyed everything about it -- great action scenes, great lines/acting and good use of all the Voyager important crew members (very little Neelix). Only minor nitpicks (Janeway's hard-headedness, the transporting of the 8472/Hirogen) but this episode ticks all the boxes of what makes Star Trek so good.
Sat, Sep 16, 2017, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 18, 2017, 8:24pm (UTC -5)
Why is it that every time Seven (who is supposed to not understand humanity) and Janeway (who is supposed to be the guideline on human ethics) are in disagreement over some human trait, I tend to side with Seven?
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 5:50am (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
She had two choices, either give them the 8472 and let them kill it, or don't give it to them and they kill everyone on Voyager including 8472. And of course she chooses the second. They had no chance of winning the battle, so sacrificing the entire ship to keep some sort of moral integrity is insane. To paraphrase Seven 'what good is morality if you're dead?'
Even Picard would have given up 8472 when he realized there was no hope of saving it. Maybe, just maybe, if it would have saved 8472, but it was dead either way. Janeway is the worst captain ever.
Nonetheless, a good episode.
Thu, Sep 20, 2018, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
But hard isn't impossible, so looking past my Hirogen-hate: Good ep. Loved the Janeway and Seven scenes, really nicely done.
Janeway is in a much different position than Kirk or Picard or Sisko ever was. Archer was in a sorta similar position when he was desperate to save Earth, though Janeway's position is much more ambiguous and lonely.
She has to be a leader, though her authority is no more based on Star Fleet's backing than US currency is based on the gold in Fort Knox. She is ALONE. Not just Voyager, but she herself, is infinitely vulnerable in the Delta quadrant.
She has to be be something of a mom to her crew of homeless orphans. She also has to keep order and enforce discipline while knowing she can't actually afford to lose the help and support of any one of her limited team members. She needs all hands on deck, all warm bodies in their seats - ideally.
Of course Janeway felt compassion for a wounded, abandoned creature who just wanted to get home.
Sat, Nov 10, 2018, 5:22am (UTC -5)
It was a neat idea having the Hirogen hunt species 8472. But was hoping for something a little note interesting going on
The hunt onboard voyager was mechanical. Didn’t do a lot for me in terms of suspense or excitement or being all that involving
The visit to the Hirogen ship was insightful. The vat of chemicals breaking down the bodies. The severed head courtesy of 8472. Learning more about the Hirogen culture —nomadic, traveler grear distances, life centered around the hunt. Hirogen having almost as resilient a physiology as 8472
Tuvok substituting for Kes as 8472’s telepathic mouthpiece
Janeway punishing seven I guess is good for those fans who live for that sort of thing but I could take it or leave it.
Wed, Nov 21, 2018, 10:27pm (UTC -5)
Sisko would probably have given the creature to the Hirogen. And Picard would likely have done what Janeway did.
They are both right-janeway's principle vs seven's hard realism.
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 2:19am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 9, 2019, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
I think this episode is set up to be the pragmatist vs the idealist. But usually the idealist is the protestor speaking truth to power while the pragmatist has the power. I think of the nuclear freeze advocates during the Reagan years vs Reagan. I also thing of that Jack Nicholson court scene in A Few Good Men: "You have the luxury of not knowing what I know; that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, *saves lives*. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. "
There are two problems in this episode. First, the captain of a ship in the middle of nowhere surrounded by enemies does not have the luxury of being the idealist, and in this particular case the situation was set up so that there was zero chance that Voyager would survive the final battle. Second, a story like this needs the idealist to be the one without the power and the pragmatist to be the one with the power. Janeway has all the power and her actions here seem more like Ahab destroying his boat and crew seeking the whale. As Seven says, there is no morality in suicide, and in Janeway's case she's decided that the death of her entire crew, which she has described as a family in prior episodes, is worth defending some principal. That is not even idealism; that is lunacy.
It would have been much more interesting if Voyager had some chance of success in the battle rather than being ridiculously overmatched, and if Janeway was the one who wanted to hand over the alien and someone else on the crew objected.
Thu, Apr 11, 2019, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
Jammer continues to be a true Trekkie, because in his review, he understands that the narrative goal here is not survival or pragmatism but the proliferation of human idealism. He says "Seven does not understand her humanity yet", and in the show's terms, this is obviously true.
Ironically, there are too many pragmatists on this message board to appreciate it, people who believe that humanity being itself is also humanity doing the rational thing. Further up, Amagnonx made the right pragmatic points. Human sensibilities are a particular characteristic of species with social development which sees its empathy as a general good, not just a useful tool for in-group bonding and cooperation. Strategically, this is insane, and it's probably why history has so irrevocably favored "morally compromised" power structures. Seven was clearly right: you don't suicide yourself and your people because your emotional programming flinches.
Of course, I just watched Tuvix a few days ago. Janeway can be brutally pragmatic... when her friends are on the line and the lifeform whose existence is keeping them away is ungallantly trying to avoid summary execution. You might call this inconsistent writing, but while I still like Janeway, it really is just a human doing what humans do, complete with biases, selective empathy, and a tremendous sense of unearned intellectual superiority. Janeway is a person, which means she's a mess. I wish the writers had been aware of what a wonderfully flawed character they had created.
Thu, Dec 26, 2019, 8:59am (UTC -5)
Of course, this would put Voyager in Fluidic Space... but I would rather be in Fluidic Space with a member of Species 8472 that you had just rescued, rather than in normal space surrounded and about to be blasted into smithereens by six Hirogen hunting vessels.
Join an enemy you just saved by bringing them back to their home... or get blasted and lose it all?
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 9:13am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 9:58am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 11, 2020, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
I liked how RenC pointed out that Picard faces a similar moral dilemma when he grants Q asylum and puts the entire ship and crew at risk to protect crew from aliens that want to kill him and who are threatening to destroy the Enterprise.
Yanks later brilliantly noted how Sisko once took Worf to task saying: "We don't put civilians at risk or even potentially at risk to save ourselves. Sometimes that means we lose the battle and sometimes our lives. But if you can't make that choice, then you can't wear that uniform."
Janeway's decision has plenty of precedent in Starfleet/Star Trek lore....that you don't just turn wounded aliens over to murderous thugs, just because they are threatening to kill you, too, if you don't comply.
And there are several other episodes, even in Voyager, where this moral dilemma plays out.....where an innocent being, or even a being who has attacked the ship, is afforded protection by Janeway and Voyager, even at great risk to the ship.
The entire reason Voyager is in the Delta Quadrant is because Janeway placed the protection of the Ocampa over the welfare of the crew.....even though it was not their responsibility to do so, and it was the Caretaker who violated their rights and dragged them to the DQ, killing dozens of Voyager's crew in the process. The Caretaker kidnapped Voyager, killed its crew, and Janeway still granted the Caretaker's requests to protect the array from the Kazon, even at mortal risk to Voyager. That was still the moral thing to do. It was the Starfleet thing to do.
Now while there are plenty of fine arguments to be made for either choice in "Prey," and whether one agrees with Janeway's moral choice or not.....on a Starfleet vessel, ultimately it is the Captain's choice to make. Whether the Captain decides to give in to a bully's demands and sacrifice an innocent being to save their own ship, or whether they should sacrifices themselves for the moral principle.....that is the sole decision of the Captain. You cannot have random officers and crew, much less non-Starfleet personnel, substituting their own personal judgments for that of the Captain's.
So I agree with Janeway here.....both in her decisions to protect the 8472, and her discipline of Seven for insubordination.
But I think Joey Lock also made a very interesting point with his comment....."Janeway's logic in this episode is the very reason the Federation almost lost the Dominion War back home, it's the Federations peace loving "Do not harm anyone" attitude that allows species like the Borg, Hirogen, Jem'Hadar, Species 8472 etc to walk all over them, because they portray weakness and a vunerability, their morality."
I don't personally agree with the sentiment behind that, but I understand it and I know a lot of people would feel that way. And I think that mindset is precisely what is at the heart of what Starfleet has become in the new Star Trek: Picard series......that kind of morality of openness and welcoming inclusiveness can leave you exposed to those who do not share your morals or value your inclusivity.
The understanding of Starfleet and the Federation through 50 years of Trek is that, yes, there may be short term or individual consequences, but long term we are better off opening our arms to other, welcoming the alien seeking refuge, and protecting them from harm. But after the Borg, the Dominion War, and a series of other attacks and calamities, it is understandable that frightened scarred people have become weary of Starfleet's open arms policy and no longer want to be the sort of people who welcome the injured 8472 at all costs. The people who would now rather turn an alien over to hunters rather than stick their neck out for someone who isn't exactly an ally. Seven's mindset in "Prey" is exactly at the heart of the Federation's behaviors in ST:Picard......though I say this having not watched any of the new episodes with Seven's character yet.
Wed, Apr 29, 2020, 9:37am (UTC -5)
First, I'll share my big pet peeve with "Prey": That the Voyager crew constantly refer to that Species 8472 as *IT*. Like it's an android, or an amoeba, or a quasar. Every other life form is a she, he, or they (meant in the plural AND the contemporary "no gender known or asserted"). Species 8472 is not only a sentient lifeform, it is a SUPERIOR lifeform compared with every other lifeform whose world's are currently members of the Federation. Physiologically superior, intellectually superior, and technologically superior to US.
It was as though the Voyager crew took on the language of the Hirogen! The Hirogen see all lifeforms beyond their own as prey—as "it". But surely humans should not—especially given all that characteristic empathy folks in this thread have noted. Don't know the gender of, or IF there is a gender for that member of Species 8472? Use "they." Or heck, keep saying "the member of Species 8472" even, sans pronoun. Not "it."
My thoughts on a few other scenarios noted in the above comments:
Regarding Species 8472's prior stated purpose of coming to our galaxy to "purge all life," since they didn't have experience in this realm—and maybe didn't know it/we existed until the Borg burst through that rift—they may not comprehend that the Borg do not represent the manner of ALL Milky Way beings, or even the profound diversity among them. It would therefore be easy to stereotype as "Galaxy beings are hell bend on "assimilating", i.e. destroying us, therefore our survival depends on our wiping out Galaxy beings."
Considering Star Trek's overall (very annoying!!!) habit of ascribing characteristics, cultural norms, values, etc. to a WHOLE PLANET OF BEINGS based on the 5 or 15 or 500 they encounter in one tiny geographic region of a planet or of space, it's surely not out of the questions for other beings to similarly stereotype What if the first aliens from another world arrive in Romania? Or Namibia? or Samoa? Very distinct cultures and peoples. So why does Starfleet stereotype every planet based on a tiny sample group? Species 8472 may just be doing the same—they don't know any better. Yet.
Regarding the Kes plot hole noted, as to how Species 8472 got so far away from where Voyager encountered them in that Borg battle... we have no idea how expansive (in terms of across how much "space turf" covered) it had been. Voyager encountered that battle site, or the aftermath. But perhaps there were many more. Perhaps also, the rift splintered into other parts of the Delta Quadrant.
Also, given that we know Species 8472 is far more advanced than not only Starfleet, but also the Borg—and that the Hirogen are, mostly, as well—it's not such a big stretch of imagination to see that both of these (Hirogen and 8472) would be capable of traveling such distances much faster than a Starfleet or Borg vessel. Hence... 10,000 light years away, there they are.
While we do learn more about 8472 in future episodes, just focusing on what we know to this point, of episode "Prey," I don't know that we can truly know to call them a "psychopathic" civilization or beings. For all we know (at this point in the saga) they were just talking tough, based on what they knew Galaxy beings (i.e. The Borg) to be like.
To infer they are monstrous as a value system, for wiping out Bork worlds and threatening to kill all life forms (if it's NOT just big talk), then we need to look in the mirror ourselves. We destroy insect colonies all the time. Are we "evil"? for not wanting roach or termite or wasp infested homes? To Species 8472, The Borg Starfleet, etc., may be lifeforms at that level, when compared to them. The Borg (roaches/termites/wasps) invaded their home, and they came to eradicate them.
Fri, May 1, 2020, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
I'm glad people are defending Janeway. The criticism of her often smacks of bias. I do wonder sometimes if there is a gendered aspect to it. Not necessarily, but with some.
It has been rightly pointed out that Sisko and Picard often get to make inspiring Star Fleet speeches about ideals and the greater good. It is part of what makes Trek what it is, and its fanbase a largely decent bunch. Janeway never really had that luxury, often inconsistently written, or having to deal with unique situations on the hop.
This week, unlike in say, Tuvix, she is not the pragmatist, but the idealist. A wounded 8472, alone, requires her protection, and give it she will. She puts her crew in danger, but there is an ideal to uphold. There is room here for debate, and no easy answers, but people dismissing Janeway as crazy, arrogant or hateful, where they would likely label Picard impassioned or principled, are being a bit typical.
They are Star Fleet, they get to carry phasers, keep the peace and arbitrate the law in space. If they don't like what comes with then they don't get the badges and the phasers. Alas Janeway gets no such speech here because the episode is a vehicle for a compelling showdown / tiff with her daughter protege Seven. Most can appraise this, but for some "I hate Janeway.. blah blah."
Yet when she applied pragmatism to Tuvix to protect two crewmen, she's not a realist, but a murderer. Go figure. (I'm not asking for a rationale, I have read the Tuvix page, and she was 100% correct). It was a lousy situation, and she assesed the crews needs and owned the decision, and thus the guilt for it all. Without a word of complaint. Because she is a hell of a captain.
Sun, May 10, 2020, 12:11am (UTC -5)
Lol, OK. My comment on pronouns was not about any human political correctness. It was noting that voyager crew refers to a superior being or life-form as "it"—which is typically what we use to refer to creatures that are way lower down on the evolutionary ladder than we fancy ourselves to be as humans. Species 8472 aren't "things", not insects or rats or a fungus. They're potentially like "gods" compared to us—at least what we (through voyager crew's eyes) know of them at this point in the series. They don't need to be "humanoid"—indeed, humanoid beings are inferior to Species 8472. (I'm not clear about the Hirogen tho. Sure, they can hunt a lonely stranded individual, but i didn't get a sense from this how a Hirogen fleet would fare if they went to fluidic space to fight armies of 8472s.
They are superior beings, not pets, not bacteria, not rocks. So using a term that we use for "inferior" things isn't in line with how we would expect this "enlightened" crew to talk.
Sun, May 10, 2020, 8:33am (UTC -5)
You'll note that in Star Trek there is a convention of assigning "it" to superior beings on occasion: V'Ger comes to mind. It's not just for "inferior beings."
I do take the point that there's an Othering inherent in labelling something as "it." But I do also wonder what motivates this rhetorical framing of Species 8472 as superior to us, evolutionarily speaking, rather than just differently evolved. There's a SF trope of assigning "superior evolution" to vicious, monstrous beings (i.e. Ash does this in Alien, Dr. Carrington of the "space carrot" in The Thing from Another World), but it's usually assigned to quasi-villains who openly admire something that lacks "human weaknesses" like empathy and emotion.
Sun, May 10, 2020, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 21, 2020, 11:19pm (UTC -5)
What was interesting to me was the four-way conflict here. You had:
Hirogen vs. 8472.
Federation vs. Hirogen.
8472 vs. Borg (represented by 7 of 9)
8472 vs. Federation
Hirogen vs. Borg (briefly)
Federation (Janeway) vs. Borg
Each of the four represented species or groups had a particular point of view consistent with previous Trek history that put them all in conflict with the other three.
I was fascinated with see it play out. And the effects were stunning. Just shy of four stars.
They've definitely upped the risk factor for Season 4: Borg / 8472 / Krenim / Hirogen / Dream Invaders. That's definitely a more formidable set of opponents than the Kazon and random spacial anomalies.
Tue, Aug 18, 2020, 9:35am (UTC -5)
Hooters of Nine's exchange with Lameway at the end is applicable to many situations, not least the latter-day imposition of political correctness on our society, where "diversity" is encouraged so long as it's diversity of everything except opinion. Beyond that though, the entire episode was well made; others have ably enumerated its strengths.
I'll just add that any show that stokes controversy and pushes the envelope, provoking disagreements and discussion, is well done. Difficult moral questions, no simple answers, blurred lines... Gosh, why was it that only one out of every ten Voyager episodes was like this!?
Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 8, 2020, 7:54am (UTC -5)
Janeway’s attempt to manipulate Seven into being compassionate was very poorly timed, and absurdly transparent. Seven’s “No !” was a welcome douche of common sense and prudence, When Seven opposes her unwisdom, Janeway defends her self-contradiction by (1) raising her voice (a frequent sign that the speaker is losing the argument, and knows it): and (2) resorts to special pleading. When she loses the argument, she switches ground again, and orders Seven to do what she wanted. The exchange was indeed “fascinating”.
That is not a criticism of the episode, but of the imprudence and illogic of a character in-universe. My sympathies were with the wounded Hirogen, and I thought Chakotay was needlessly aggressive to him. The 8472 was a very formidable enemy, as that species is seen to be in other episodes; and Janeway and Chakotay ought to have had the sense to listen to a hunter of 8472 who knew what he was talking about. Sometimes the nasty guy knows better than the good guys what he is talking about. Starfleet personnel can be too self-assured at times. The disaster of Wolf 359 should have cured them of that.
The episode is also a comment on the Prime Directive - if Janeway had bothered with it, the events of the episode would not have happened. The episode is a contradiction of Captain Archer’s behaviour in “Dear Doctor”, when Phlox and he choose to let a species die rather than give them the cure they need. The PD is an effective plot device - as a moral principle it is lousy, because it is treated so inconsistently. No wonder Janeway ignores it.
Seven is never afraid to talk back - for me, this is one of her most appealing qualities. Janeway should have acknowledged that Seven saved the ship from almost certain destruction. The episode is not one of Janeway’s best.
Sun, Sep 27, 2020, 5:59am (UTC -5)
Okay, so this is fantasy TV show, but I still hope for a slim of realism: the universe runs on utterly impersonal mathematical laws without mercy. You are one ship on the run and with a very slim margin of survival.
Sun, Sep 27, 2020, 6:07am (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 7, 2020, 7:22pm (UTC -5)
I actually see Janeway's behavior in this episode as morally reprehensible... just not for her choice to save the 8472 creature.
I could see Picard in this situation making a very similar decision to save the alien, even if it came at the expense of his ship and possibly his life, but with one key distinction: he would make an announcement on the intercom of his decision, and allow for any crew members on board to leave the ship, as it would likely be destroyed. This way the crew had the choice on whether they were willing to sacrifice their lives on a moral stand or not, and if necessary, he would pilot the ship by himself to do it.
Janeway, instead, made a unilateral decision to save the creature, and imposed that decision on the crew, even in the face of direct opposition, even at the cost of all of their lives. She did this directly with Seven first by using persuasion, then by ordering her to do it: she gave a false choice then used her authority to force the decision. This is not the first time in the series that Janeway has done this either.
You cannot force someone to do the right thing, when you do that you're just a tyrant. This is a continual problem with Janeway, and I think the primary reason why people side so clearly against her in this episode, and probably why they dislike her in general.
Mon, Jan 18, 2021, 10:52pm (UTC -5)
That individual 8472 member entered our galaxy as part of a military force, a force which also attacked Voyager.
I'm guessing this episode is supposed to be some sort of vague analogy for U.S. POWs left behind after Vietnam. Well, at the risk of seeming unpatriotic, maybe don't send your military into someone else's territory in the first place if you don't want to suffer the ramifications of being left behind in a region that is no less than hostile toward you.
I'm no military strategist, but launching a counter-attack against an invading force on their own turf seems to imply your territorial defenses are sound. 8472 should have protected it's own "borders", which it was clearly more than capable of doing. The moment they chose to enter our galaxy, they were on borrowed time. This was nothing more than a "delayed combat fatality" in my eyes.
In short, 7 of 9 and the Candyman were right.
Sat, Jan 30, 2021, 11:34am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 30, 2021, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
I don't think it's a coincidence that some of Chakotay's best moments are when he comes into conflict with Captain Janeway.
Sun, Jan 31, 2021, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
>Janeway was a moron in this episode. How many times has she nearly gotten the entire crew killed or sacrificed a way home to help complete strangers or obey alien laws?
In 1x10 Prime Factors if Janeway had transported Voyager 40,000 light-years nearer to home, or in 3x05 False Profits if she had ignored the Ferengi and gone through the wormhole, she would have never freed Seven of Nine and would have never defeated species 8472 thus saving the galaxy.
Fri, Feb 26, 2021, 11:20am (UTC -5)
That's like the Defiant stopping to help an in distress Jem'Hadar ship. It doesn't make any sense.
Janeway is risking the whole crew for this alien that 1. broke onto the ship causing a breach 2. attacked crew members 3. Is being hunted by the Hirogen who have them outshipped.
I get showing compassion but this seems pretty dangerous. They are in a unique situation in the Delta Quadrant where the same rules shouldn't apply, or at least not be as black and white as Janeway tries to make them seem to Seven.
Sometimes I think she tried so hard to uphold her morals and commitment to the uniform that she forgot they were on their own far from home and didn't have the luxury to be the perfect little Starfleet officers.
Thu, Mar 4, 2021, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
I'm really, reaaaaallly tired of this "Janeway as an alpha-male badass" routine. Kate Mulgrew's performance is only slightly more subtle than Shatner's in Turnabout Intruder. For God's sake, stop swaggering around like you're swinging a pair the size of cantaloupes.
Thu, Jun 17, 2021, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
>We destroy insect colonies all the time. Are we "evil"? for not wanting roach or termite or wasp infested homes? To Species 8472, The Borg Starfleet, etc., may be lifeforms at that level, when compared to them.
I don't think that species 8472 are so far advanced compared to the Federation that they view them as insects. I would reserve that comparison for energy beings like the Organians. The thought of aliens being that much more advanced than us is kind of scary, lets hope they are peaceful and don't view us as insects or vermin. Who knows, perhaps we will evolve in to such powerful beings that we are like gods compared to aliens. I'd like to think that we become peaceful gods with compassion for other beings.
Over all score for this episode is 5/10.
Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 27, 2021, 9:38am (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 25, 2023, 5:57am (UTC -5)
The boast about tracking someone through a neutron mantle or whatever has to be just that. What could possibly survive an enivronment like that? Even in science fiction that seems a little too unlikely.
Sun, Apr 9, 2023, 10:16am (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 23, 2023, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
The problem here is that the writers undercut the dilemma by stacking the odds against voyager to such an extreme degree. The hirogen ships were going to destroy voyager with absolute certainty, and in that light janeway’s behavior was irresponsible and stupid. If voyager had had at least a decent chance of duking it out and winning it would have provided a better foundation for the conflict between seven and Janeway. But that’s really a writing problem not a Janeway problem.
Also, I would have placed a top priority on gutting and salvaging the hirogen ship. Voyager had it available for a good while before things went sideways, seems like examining the weapons, shielding, and propulsion tech would be kinda valuable.
Thu, Jun 8, 2023, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
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