Star Trek: Voyager
"Vis A Vis"
Air date: 4/8/1998
Written by Robert J. Doherty
Directed by Jesus Salvador Trevino
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Are you intoxicated?"
"No, not at all. I was just exploring the replicator."
— Seven and "Paris"; the latter perhaps using a 24th-century drunk's denial
Nutshell: Fairly dull. The plot chews its way through an hour, but barely.
"Vis A Vis" is the epitome of Voyager mediocrity. It puts a 100 percent typical Voyager spin on an established storytelling device, moving through the plot with no real tension. There are some amusing lines and a couple interesting moments, but the show pretty much left me feeling that I'd seen another Voyager episode come and go—and nothing more. It was competently executed, I suppose, but that's probably the biggest tribute I can give it. When the credits rolled, I just sat on my couch and shrugged.
Okay, raise your hand if you didn't see this as Face/Off adapted to Voyager. That's funny—my hand is in the air. Why? Because Face/Off benefited from some emotional weight under its high-concept premise. The characters who switched identities in that film were forced to wrestle with the extreme and often terrifying consequences of accepting that identity. They found themselves inside the lives of other people and had to cope with troubling personal situations.
Voyager's take on this idea, on the other hand, is incredibly obvious—and incredibly glib. The premise isn't anything more than a means to drive an hour-long plot. And the plot is laid out ever-so-routinely on the ground such that it's like a trail of bread crumbs leading to its pedestrian finale. Follow it from point A to point B to point C, and you realize you're essentially being led down an obvious path to a payoff that has nothing to say. It's just another silly adventure, like much of this season of Voyager has been ... except that this time its characterizations are far too thin to allow the adventure to be much more than an exercise.
The plot brings this week's alien, named Steth (Dan Butler), into a tolerable but rather brainless story. Steth is something of a lone daredevil, always looking for something new in his life. He pilots an experimental ship that utilizes a technology called "coaxial warp," a means of travel that is incredibly fast—something Starfleet had apparently considered in theory but abandoned when it couldn't be made to work in practice.
The story's setup documents Steth's encounter with Voyager, who rescues him when his ship fails during an experimental test flight. With the help of expert pilot (and apparently newly skilled engine mechanic) Tom Paris, Steth works on repairing the coaxial drive. Paris takes a liking to Steth, in whom he sees part of himself—an adventurer and a risk-taker, always on the lookout for something new.
One of the big problems with "Vis A Vis," however, is the way Paris' character is utilized. Sure, we know him as the adventurous type, but there are character scenes in this episode that seem to have been scripted out of nowhere, covering ground that has been well traveled in the past. Suddenly, Paris has grown tired of his "boring, settled life" (though by the end of the episode, of course, he comes to grips with it), and he yearns for a change of pace.
I appreciated that Robert Duncan McNeill downplayed the obvious intentions of his character arc (indeed, his restraint manages to save the entire sentiment), but the story's notion is so blatant yet so ponderously conjured that it feels forced, as if the writers decided, "Hey, we need a Paris show, so let's make him bored of life on Voyager." It pains me that every Paris-heavy character analysis seems to deal with the same theme of "comparing where Paris' life was before he was part of the Voyager crew and where it is now" (including, yes, that horrendous installment known as "Threshold," as well as more recently in "Hunters"). And the resolution always comes out to be the same. You'd think by now the writers would have moved on, but instead we get yet another rehash. It's not bad writing, per se, but it's several steps shy of good, and given the "been there, done that" nature of it all, it's a perfect example of, well, Voyager mediocrity.
Then there's the early scene in the mess hall with Tom and B'Elanna, which simply had me scratching my head in confusion. B'Elanna was extremely cool-headed and reasonable about Tom being late for their dinner. Yet everything she says here is answered with Tom's wrong-headed histrionics. Why? To create a forced conflict between them that could be happily swept into oblivion by the final scene? If the reasons for his bad attitude had been supplied before the end of the show I might've been more receptive to it, but the reasoning was merely weak and arbitrary, if not nonexistent; the extremity of Tom's impatience just didn't make any sense.
But never mind. Plot is given the priority here more often than not, and as I was saying before: Face/Off. The gimmick of the week is that Steth is really a unique form-changing alien who can "overwrite" a person's DNA, taking a victim's body in exchange for his own. Boy, am I tired of "DNA can do anything" premises. It's a tribute to Robert J. Doherty, who wrote the episode, that he manages to keep the technobabble explanations to a minimum. Personally, I'd be content with no explanation, because sci-fi can sometimes be most convincing when the unknown is left to the viewer's imagination. But you know Voyager; they're never content to do anything without some sort of explanation, plausible or otherwise.
Anyway, I'm not all that concerned with "DNA overwrites" or "coaxial warp drives"; what makes "Vis A Vis" so bland is that the swapped-identity story is put to surprisingly little imaginative use. It's mostly reduced to stock clichés. Once Steth steals Paris' body and assumes his role on Voyager—leaving the real Paris behind, stranded on the coaxial vessel with no one aboard Voyager the wiser—the story becomes conventional and predictable. We have scenes of "Steth" wandering the ship—although it seemed he knew where to go and what to say far more often than he should've. We have the obligatory scene where "Steth" seduces B'Elanna—which is neither believable nor interesting, and doesn't come back to mean anything whatsoever later in the story. And, of course, there's "Steth's" improvisation when he's close to being found out; in a reasonably and deceptively executed scene, he switches Paris' body with the captain's.
But there's just no substance here. The story brings no attitude to the material; it just drops it in the audience's lap. There are no characters pondering their fates. No real consequences of Steth or Paris being genuinely confused or out of their element—except maybe for extremely brief moments where the real Paris realizes what has happened, and mentions to another alien who is in a similar dilemma (Elizabeth McGlynn), how much he wants to be back in his own body.
The story misses its biggest opportunity by keeping Janeway, who has been transferred into Paris' body, unconscious (and therefore out of the story) until after the alien body-switcher has been captured and everyone has been magically returned to their own bodies. Can you imagine the acting possibilities of McNeill playing Kathryn Janeway? That alone would probably have been more interesting than anything else in this episode.
The one saving grace in "Vis A Vis" is the use of subtle, effective comedy. There's one reasonably amusing scene of "Steth" looking for sickbay, as well as some good lines when he interacts with the Doctor and when he has a brief conflict with Seven of Nine (while slightly intoxicated). But most of it is depressingly by the numbers. After a mundane ending sequence that is terribly anticlimactic, the whole episode seems to write itself off as trite little lesson for Tom Paris: He should've spent more time with B'Elanna rather than working on his holographic 1969 Chevrolet Camaro. Only on Star Trek: Voyager will you get a lesson like that.
Next week: UPN has gotten in an awfully bad habit of showing promos for shows that aren't Voyager (Love Boat: The Next Wave, starring Spencer For Hire? Please. When will it end?), so I'm not exactly sure. I think it has something to do with the Voyager computer going on the fritz.
Previous episode: The Killing Game
Next episode: The Omega Directive
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71 comments on this post
Fri, Jan 11, 2008, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 26, 2008, 11:02am (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 26, 2009, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
The show would have been good if we had reasons for these behaviours. It would have been better if Tom had been acting this way for a few episodes prior at least. Although the thought of that sounds like a ripoff of when he already did that in season 2 to go undercover.
Which I guess leads me to your next point - this all covered ground. It sure is at that.
It's episodes like this that make Voyager the sucky series it is/was. I don't care about the face off plot device. For me, any well-written character story can work well if they do it properly. This show demonstrates them doing everything horribly wrong.
The only thing I'd change in your review is to give it 1 star. It's not even worth 2.
Sat, Jun 19, 2010, 6:02am (UTC -5)
Well, I knew what caliber this episode was going to be the minute the opening scene had Paris tinkering with an ancient automobile in a 1950s U.S. setting. I mean, there is a HUGE number of present-day astronauts with an interest in the 17th century who would know how to shoot a bow and arrow or how to shoe a horse, so it stands to reason that there would be one in the 24th century with an interest in 20th-century American cars. Lame and unimagiative beyond belief.
Voyager really sucks ass...
Sat, Jun 19, 2010, 6:50am (UTC -5)
Acushla moya: Can we beam the pilot out?
Harry "Who?" Kim: Too much interference. (
Sat, Jun 19, 2010, 6:51am (UTC -5)
Acushla moya: Can we beam the pilot out?
Harry "Who?" Kim: Too much interference. (== There's a shocker! Did this guy ever manage to beam ANYTHING ANYWHERE?!?)
Paris: The coaxical core is breaching.
Tuvok: We should vacate this area of space at once.
Paris: We can't just leave him like this!
So, according to Paris, saving one - potentially hostile - individual's life justifies endangering the lives of 150 (or however many crew members Voyager was down to by this point).
Who writes this stuff!?!
Fri, Sep 16, 2011, 9:05am (UTC -5)
Paris: The worst thing we've treated lately has been an ingrown toenail.
Me: WHAT? Don't you remember that just LAST WEEK the entire crew was brutalized by the Hirogen?
And an honorable mention to the stupid line of the week:
Paris: Looks like a coaxial warp drive.
Chakotay: Coaxial what?
I can understand stumbling over "Coaxial", but come on, Chakotay, "warp drive"?
Sun, Sep 18, 2011, 9:13am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 29, 2012, 12:06am (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 25, 2012, 9:48am (UTC -5)
That was a truly bitchen Camaro.
The Benthan ships were equally bitchen. These were still the early days of CGI being regularly used on Trek shows and it's fun watching the technology progress as I rewatch the series.
I wonder what happened to Tom's credit rating after he had his identity stolen.
Roxann Dawson was so obviously preggers that they all but stopped trying to hide it. I don't get why shows always try to hide pregnancies. Why didn't they just write it in that B'Elanna gets knocked up by Tom? They're such a great couple and it would have been fun if they'd had a shotgun wedding.
Wed, Oct 31, 2012, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
If they had approached it more logically, and less practically, there would have been at least one or two assistants from the science division, i.e. those in blue uniforms, which we know there are plenty of on Voyager (among the initial 150 crew members), who would either permanently or temporarily provide assistance to the Doctor.
Nevertheless, it was sometimes quite entertaining to see Tom in a situation where he is forced to be Doc's nurse and be bossed around by him. :)
Tue, Jul 2, 2013, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
And, yeah. Could the results be any less interesting? Usually body switching stories have funny consequences. NOTHING interesting happened in this episode at all.
I was really struck with how poorly the alien handled being in Paris' body. You'd think that if he had been doing this trick for some time, he could have been less of a doofus at it. How far did he think he was going to get trying to be the pilot of a huge starship like that?
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 9:06am (UTC -5)
Tom's "sudden" existential crisis does have some background history in the character. Just because it's not "subtly" hinted at over 10 previous episodes doesn't mean it's not there.
And as for his interest in 20th Century cars, what, he has to be interested in something more high brow? Russian literature? Renaissance art perhaps? Leonardo Da Vinci like Janeway? Come on, we all have our interests... for example commenting on Star Trek pages from over a decade ago.
As for the story and the alien, well, not ground-breaking, but it did explore some interactions between characters, and as I said, not every episode can (or should) be pure gold.
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 11:18am (UTC -5)
Paris's interest in 20th-century trivia is, from the 24th-century perspective, risible. It has nothing to do with being high-brow; it's to do with sheer probability.
Imagine a N.A.S.A. astronaut of today being a votary of 16th-century embroidery, to the point that he/she would be able to knock off a delicate lace tablecloth using the pattern unique to a mountain village in the Catalan region of Spain. Likely? Yeah. Right.
It's nothing but utter laziness on the scriptwriters' part. Because, naturally, if Paris's interests lay in something out of the, say, 22nd century, they'd need to use a lot more imagination to figure out what it is and how it might work. This way all they have to do is haul into the studio some old banger from the parking lot and smear some grease on Paris's hands and clothes. How novel...
I'll also make another, tangential, observation. You seem to have a chip the size of a hubcap on your shoulder. Let me clue you in on a couple of things. Firstly, this is not the website of Amnesty International. Secondly, just because people don't see things your way does not make them cryptofascists who latently condone racism, rape, bullying, etc. You need to chill and take a break from you "struggle" a la Che Guevara... - that is SO last century.
Sun, Sep 29, 2013, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
I think a better analogy would be would an astronaut being interested in ancient theories about space or space travel, or even early aircraft? And I think the answer would be yes.
As for the chip on my shoulder... well, we all have a range of opinions, which we debate... no one needs to swallow mine if they don't want to, and neither are they fascists if they don't agree with me, I don't recall suggesting that. I try not to directly criticize people for their opinions unless I feel they need a civil rebuttal.
But I do feel honoured to have caught Michael's attention ;)
Wed, Feb 5, 2014, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
And then there's Michael's point about Paris risking the ship and the lives of the entire crew to help one alien life form, which was badly written to boot. On the bright side, Dan Butler did a great job and the alien woman was played by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, a great actress and singer. She's on a lot of the Silent Hill soundtracks. :D
Wed, Apr 16, 2014, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
Not to mention that once again, the security measures of Voyager are worth nothing. The alien can so easily access the central computer and a lot of bio info on Paris. Pathetic.
Oh, in a last note, the first scene of the alien-Paris and The Doc shows again that he is not very good in psychology...
Sun, May 18, 2014, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 14, 2014, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 15, 2015, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
Which would be fine, were it not for one thing. There's nothing to tell! Tom's life on Voyager is fine. He's doing great. He's being responsible, has a steady relationship and gets on well with everyone aboard. What's there to focus on? The fact that he suddenly gets bored of his life? Give me a break. Nothing even changes. Tom doesn't gain a newfound respect for his life of routine and stability on Voyager because he never lost it to begin with.
Tom is a little bit restless so an alien takes over his body and runs amok with it for a little while until the he and the crew sort everything out and things go back to normal. Big whoop. Who knew Tom could be just as boring as Harry?
Tue, Oct 20, 2015, 1:15am (UTC -5)
Also, our body-shifting alien uses his not inconsiderable powers to... woo B'Elanna and get drunk. Think Big, Buddy.
Wed, Dec 9, 2015, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
And then, when we finally got a chance to give him a day in the limelight, the characterization is all wrong. Tell me, when first started dating someone, would that be the time to start feeling restless and distant? Would that be the time to retreat into your own little world and hobbies? Wouldn't this be the honeymoon phase of the relationship? If you saw someone who's been in a relationship for a few months act like this, you would assume that the relationship was headed for disaster. Yet we know this relationship lasted. And there was no indication that their relationship was rocky before this episode. In other words, this episode was an aberration.
Even more so was his anxiety to get away from Voyager. Time and again, this show has reinforced the idea that Voyager is the best thing to ever happen to Tom. It allowed him to break free of his past and regain his stature as an actual upstanding member of society. That Tom likes his place on Voyager was even a big part of the "getting in contact with the Federation" storyline. So now he doesn't want to be on Voyager? I don't think so.
Now, in fairness, maybe this was just an idle fantasy on Paris' part, and that's reasonable. Certainly people have these fantasies, even people who like their jobs. And in fairness, Paris lived a lot of his life as a rogue, so certainly there is some part of himself that misses it. But, well, those are usually idle fantasies. Is it really worth it to have an entire freaking episode, the only one that focuses on Paris this entire year, to show that sometimes he daydreams of getting away? How is that worth an episode?
Frankly, none of Paris' actions this episode made much sense given his larger character arc.
OK, so I said I didn't want to comment on the episode itself, but, um, let's say you were a shapeshifting freewheeler who likes fast cars and living life on your own. If that's the case, would you really want to go steal the identity of a soldier and go into the military? Isn't that the opposite of being a freewheeler? Geez, what a maroon.
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
Otherwise there was no real sense of peril, the misdirection to Janeway was about as clumsy as they get, and even the laughs weren't too special. 1.5 stars.
Mon, May 23, 2016, 8:04am (UTC -5)
Not all thaaaaaaat bad...
Nothing great either.
Jammer said it all.
Darn, I could have spared myself and just wrote this without watching it :-)
I'll go a little higher than Jammer with a 2.5 stars.
Wed, May 25, 2016, 8:01am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 10, 2016, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 10, 2016, 11:53pm (UTC -5)
Advanced Subspace Geometry is the ONE course Tom paid attention to? Why that one? Was there a hot teacher?
Then they meet an alien whose ship is damaged. Knowing nothing about the guy, they immediately beam him aboard Voyager, despite the fact that it was HIS ship that needs repair, so why does he need to be on Voyager? The repairs are going to take place on his ship.
Tom gets sent over despite not being an engineer. Just because he asked. That's after a bizarre exchange between him and Chakotay where Tom asks to go to the alien ship, then Chakotay dresses him down for neglecting his sickbay duties, so Tom requests to go to sickbay, so Chakotay denies the request and sends him to the alien ship. ?????
Then we get a dose of Tom's Relationship Problems. Then the guy alien starts turning back into a girl. Sex change gone wrong?
Eventually it turns into a body swap episode. How does some random alien plan to pass himself off as a Starfleet officer? He doesn't, and it's all downhill from there.
When I hear "coaxial warp drive," I think of a coaxial cable. It somehow seems so analog.
Mon, Aug 29, 2016, 4:25am (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 29, 2016, 4:49am (UTC -5)
"Hey I just got raped by a guy who looked just like you. Let's make out in the back of a Camaro."
Mon, Aug 29, 2016, 5:38am (UTC -5)
Dude or dudette: CHILL. If you want to post S.J.W. rants, take it to Tumblr.
Mon, Aug 29, 2016, 7:50am (UTC -5)
He / She / It has been posting a ton of nonsense on this site over the past week+, I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you!
Tue, Sep 27, 2016, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
You'd think with their technology they'd have developed some sort of high tech collision safety system to stop bridge personnel from being catapulted out of their seats every battle.
Mon, Nov 7, 2016, 10:22am (UTC -5)
Also, what's with the line from the captains log: "The doctor has found a way to return Tom, Steth and me to our own bodies". I would have preferred to hear that they had convinced the alien to switch back, but instead it's just sick bay magic. Strange.
Otherwise a passable episode.
Wed, Nov 16, 2016, 2:20am (UTC -5)
Also, did the alien not have an opportunity to assume Seven's body? He did grab her arm. Why not assume the body of the enhanced woman? Or for that matter B'Elanna? Speaking of B'Elanna
IS no one else concerned that B'Elanna had sex with the alien? No consequences?
Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
B'Elanna's violation by the alien was very conveniently ignored. No biggie for the writers, apparently.
Agree with @Broadlake re seatbelts on shuttles and the bridge. Not to mention, maybe a fusebox so the panels don't explode.
Tue, May 23, 2017, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
But even given that, this episode wasn’t at all compelling. There wasn’t even good techno-babble. And the alien may have also been a pilot, but didn’t Paris have to log into the computer with his own password at some point? How would the alien know that? And it doesn’t even matter. Time’s up, episode’s over. Doc’s fixes all off-camera and the reset button is hit. Hopefully we’re due for a better episode soon.
But I’ve got to agree with whoever about the comment about Paris’ duties in sickbay. It was one thing when he helped out because he had some basic first-aid knowledge. But the stuff Doc wants to teach now, I have to believe there’d be a better candidate than the ace pilot of the ship.
Fri, Jun 9, 2017, 5:30pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 24, 2017, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
"Guys, I have a great new idea for an episode:
Picture this: it's Tom and Bulldog from Frasier, right, two bros working on mechanics together, bro-ing out for the first three quarters of the episode. Tom is getting really angsty with B'Elanna (uh oh, trouble in paradise, am I right!!), but he's not really telling her why, nor he is talking about it with his new bro, either. He won't confide in anyone, so the audience to say, "I should stay tuned to find out what's happening with Tom!"
Of course, we won't get too 'in depth' with this, because it's boring and sad feelings would make the audience sad, so we will make sure to interrupt any moments of personal reflection with some unrelated shenanigans.
The ironic thing is, ok, get this, Tom doesn't want to be tied down to a settled life, even though he is on the other side of the galaxy running into new and life-threatening adventures every week! Get it?!
So Bulldog is a body snatcher, right. He hops from body to body, but he is also doing the hopping really often, like every few days. He's not even in the new body long enough to do anything interesting with it, before he ditches it for the next body! Because get this, he has DELTA ADHD!
But even though he ditched some chick's body at the last stop he made, he keeps transforming into this chick by accident and trying to hide it from Tom. We obviously won't have the time to explain why this is happening, but it will make the viewers go, 'hey, what's going on around here?' and that means they won't change the channel. Genius, right?!
Then Bulldog steals Tom's body and keeps angsting out, in the same way Tom was before, only slightly more exaggerated. Chilling!
In the end, when the crew finds out what's going on and catches Bulldog, he will have nothing to say for himself. He won't say, "I did it because of blank," or "I care about blank" or "I've always wanted to blank someone else's girlfriend while I was in their body." No, he just shuts up and is quietly led away by authorities. And you know why? Because the episode was really about Tom and how much he has learned to appreciate B'Elanna. Awww!!
Wed, Aug 2, 2017, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
Also, I don't know how Voyager can just meet an alien (Steth) and allow him to wander around the ship, just get all kinds of help from Paris without doing any kind of background checking on him -- maybe they found nothing, but it seemed rather sloppy of the Voyager crew to not have any kind of suspicion.
It's pretty obvious the whole time Steth is planning some kind of nonsense. The episode was loaded with stupid technobabble and the whole DNA switching thing was silly. Steth is annoying -- not sure what he really wants to do. Part of him envies Paris' life but then gets frustrated with it. The interactions between Paris and B'Elanna were forgettable, forced, poorly acted and in the end meaningless.
The ending with the shuttle craft scene and how it gets disabled didn't make a lot of sense to me. If it was a Voyager shuttle, how could it do the coaxial warp thing before getting disabled? It was just disappointing every step of the way for me.
I'd rate "Vis a Vis" 1 star. Really a forgettable episode, an hour I won't get back.
Wed, Aug 23, 2017, 2:15am (UTC -5)
I periodically do a binge-watch of Star Trek on Netflix, and am now slogging through my 2nd run through of Voyager. I've enjoyed almost all the episodes, even the dumb ones (and there have been plenty. haha)
I think the difference is between those who watch with a critical eye, and those that watch to be entertained. I like to think I'm smarter than the average bear, but I have no problem firing up Netflix and hitting play on the next Voyager episode and turning off most of my critical thinking and just enjoying a group of people I am fond of going through some adventures.
Now don't get me wrong, I still chuckle or holler out at the really silly stuff. I was screaming that Voyager musta left Spacedock with more shuttles than crew members when most of you all were still crying over Tasha Yar's sad, sad demise.
But anyways... I have a routine, now, when I watch these ST shows binge-style: watch the episode, read Jammer's review and all the comments, then read Memory Alpha's behind the scenes stuff, then watch the next episode and repeat.
Of course, once I hit season 4 of Voyager I also have to start reading the Cynic's Corner reviews of Voyager, as well. (And seasons 6 and 7 of DS9). You think Jammer can be harsh... hahaha... Jammer is Neelix on laughing gas compared to the Cynic's Corner reviews.
Last, but not least, I love the comment section here at Jammer's cause you'll see people replying to stuff from years earlier. Sometimes, those people respond back and it's like, "Wha?? You checking the comments every week for years to see if you got a reply??" Who knows... maybe they do. Overly critical Trekkies can be weird.
Oh yeah, to CinYin up there... howdy. Nice post, kinda amusing. Well written, and good use of sarcasm. I have to give it at least 3 stars. I look forward to you maybe one day responding, say by 2019. And by then I'll be back around to my binge watching routine and will see this and it'll be like using the Hirogen communication relay to myself.
Wed, Aug 23, 2017, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
What I always took from this episode was that Tom was suffering from depression, I don't believe it is a stretch in explaining Tom's out-of-character behaviour and attitude; missing meetings/duties, arguing/short temper, over emotional, feeling persecuted by B'elanna and Chakotay and the Doctor, focus on the negatives more than the positive (such as working in sickbay), dissatisfaction with life generally etc, which were quite obvious to me throughout the episode.
For whatever reason, whether it is neurochemical, emotional, or more specifically the routine of life on Voyager (which kinda contradicts Message in a Bottle where Tom says how much he enjoys life as opposed to his previous one, but anything can happen).
That is why it would have been far more meaningful for the episode to end with Tom addressing this directly, and even tell B'elanna how he's been feeling. It seems unresolved and unfinished, and something more serious has been brushed off lightly.
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 11:52am (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 10:45am (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 9:09pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 30, 2017, 5:13am (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 2:05am (UTC -5)
Paris' strange behaviour others already talked about. But I agree. It came out of nowhere.
The alien ship is about to explode, and only Paris knows that to create a warp whatever in the whatever will save it. Right. It's a theory from starfleet that doesn't work, and the aliens get it to work, sort of, but they don't know how to stop the ship from blowing up, but Tom does? Silly.
Why did the alien start morphing between one body and the last? If he switched consciousness, that has nothing to do with DNA, and that wouldn't happen. If he was switching DNA, that has nothing to do with consciousness. The episode seemed to want it both ways. That makes no sense. It should have been a mind swap and nothing to do with DNA. Not that any of it makes any sense at all anyway.
A minor point, but one that bugged me, was that one of the reasons Torres was mad at Paris is because he didn't show up to 'recalibrate the plasma manifolds'. But why would he? That's her job, or another of her staff, not Paris' job. Did she think that was a date? lol.
And this alien takes over Paris' body. Fine. But how would it know how to pilot Voyager? How would it know any of the stuff that it did? It even flattered the Doc to get out of sickbay duty. How would it know that would work? They made it seem as though the alien knew everything Tom knew. But yet it couldn't find it's way to sickbay to begin with. Either it knows everything or it doesn't. Stupid.
Near the end, Tom was choking Janeway. But they had already switched bodies. Which means that the alien was in Janeway's body, and that Janeway was in Paris' body. So why would he still be choking her? Janeway, in his body, would stop the instant they switched. Makes no sense.
There are other stupid things as well, most of which others brought up, but I'll move on to the two most important thngs.
First of all, they now know how to make a fully functional coaxial warp drive, that lets them fold space and travel anywhere in an instant, a la Dune (or now Discovery), and it is never implemented on Voyager, or even mentioned again. Screw you Voyager. You suck.
And secondly and most egregious of all, is the fact that Torres was raped. RAPED!!! Seriously. She was raped. No one seemed to care about this. An alien raped B'Ellana. Raped her. Paris didn't care. Torres didn't care. Raped! Nothing said about it. That alone gives this episode -3 stars. And for all the people whining about rape in the episode about Seven and her false memories of someone stealing her nanoprobes, that wasn't rape. This was a rape! A real actual rape. And no one cares!! No one in the show, and no one, other than one or two in the comments. Insane.
1/2 star from me. Did I mention that Torres was raped!? wtf?
Thu, Dec 28, 2017, 10:10am (UTC -5)
The science part of every single Voyager episode doesn't make any sense ever, so don't even bother to nitpick how the bodyswitcher guy is able to do his thing, or how they were able to reverse it. I'm still trying to figure out how "holograms" work.
That out of the way, I enjoyed seeing an episode about Tom Paris, one which Seven of Nine had no part to play. Yay!
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 11:25am (UTC -5)
B'Elanna: it's ok you missed our date is everything ok?
Paris: YOU DON'T CONTROL MEEEEEEE!!!!
This has to be one of the worst interactions in the entire series.
Sun, Sep 23, 2018, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
Tom was acting like he'd already been taken over by an alien entity before he actually was. That was never really explained and was odd.
A mediocre offering, but at least no Hirogen.
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 11:39am (UTC -5)
"Coaxial is failing!"
" Shunt power to the Blu-Ray conduits, and re-route the signal tto the HDMI relay!"
"I can't get an RCA cable lock!"
"Computer, access Special Features Audio Commentary, authorization Kim-Four-Seven-Delta-Berman, enable."
Sat, Jun 29, 2019, 4:58pm (UTC -5)
Which is why I have to disagree with the score on this. It has the funniest and most truthful statement in that whole series. And yes, I know everybody loves “The Doctor”. But I find him to be the most obnoxiously overbearing pedantic boor on the entire show. And yes, Robert Picardo is a fine actor who plays that character well. But this exchange is classi
CHAKOTAY: I've been reading a report from the Doctor. You didn't show up today.
PARIS: I was a little busy this morning. Saving someone's life, as I recall.
CHAKOTAY: Is there something wrong, Tom? Anything bothering you?
PARIS: Nothing is wrong. Since when is not wanting to spend time with the Doctor a capital offence? You'd have to throw the whole crew in the brig for that one.
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 11:11am (UTC -5)
- Why would the Captain's *personal* logs be accessible to *anyone* other than the Captain? And even if they were accessible to bridge officers for some bizarre reason, we know from a zillion previous episodes that voiceprint identification is not sufficient. An access code is required, and this alien did not have any of Paris's access codes. Furthermore, it's never explained how he is able to gain access to encrypted Voyager computer files merely by waving his alien PADD in front of the console.
- We're expected to believe that the alien bodysnatcher learned the nuances of Golf in a few hours, including the purpose of a sandwedge? Sure, if he/she were Data, or Seven of Nine, this might be plausible. But it's a major plot point that the alien thief doesn't possess that degree of intelligence, and isn't that quick of a study. He/she demonstrated some decent improvisational ability ("Oh, I was just checking to see if there was a more efficient route between Sickbay and my quarters") but not enough to avoid raising red flags with half the crew. The impression that we got was that the alien didn't *have* to learn how to impersonate people super convincingly, because his/her tenure in their bodies was usually short enough to get by on boldness and charisma alone. The period of the alien "being Steth" was perhaps an exception, but test pilots don't have to interact with people much. In fact, a major point of the episode was that their lifestyle doesn't involve developing deep or long-term ties with people.
- So, are we just not going to talk about* fact that it's strongly implied that the alien bodysnatcher, posing as Paris, boned B'Elanna? It seems like they just casually inserted that implied rape into the script, mainly for comedic effect. I don't think the audience bought his seduction for a minute, in light of his increasingly erratic behaviour, so this plot point only served to make B'Elanna look gullible and imperceptive.
*I guess people did talk about it farther down in the comments than I had read when I posted this.
- The fact that "alien bodysnatcher posing as Steth" kept reverting to the appearance of his previous victim (the alien woman) suggests that the "DNA graft" is not permanent. That suggests that perhaps this situation could have resolved itself of its own accord, with the victims' DNA starting to revert back to their own (even if it took up to a year for this to happen). Even this theory really only makes sense if the alien was reverting back to his/her natural form, not merely the previous victim's form. Perhaps the alien woman we saw was the natural form...it's unclear. Regardless, the science in the episode could have been a lot less eye-rolling and implausible if they had just left DNA out of it, and made it so that the alien tranformed your superficial outward appearance to match someone else's, much like the Founders/Changelings are able to. It would make a lot more sense why faux-Paris went to such lengths to avoid being scanned by the Doctor in that instance. As written, the episode suggested that his DNA should appear exactly like Paris's, so why was he so worried about getting a checkup?
Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 11:21am (UTC -5)
- Without Paris's access code, the alien probably also can't do things like access B'Elanna's quarters when she is not there, or override what is probably a built-in replicator system default to produce synthehol rather than alcohol.
- While I agree with previous posters that an obsession with 20th-century internal combustion engines is probably too specific and obscure of a hobby to expect a 24th-century person to have, we've been having to accept it since "The 37s". Yeah. Remember Season 2? I try not to. :p
Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 2:05am (UTC -5)
A minor point, but one that bugged me, was that one of the reasons Torres was mad at Paris is because he didn't show up to 'recalibrate the plasma manifolds'. But why would he? That's her job, or another of her staff, not Paris' job. Did she think that was a date? lol.
I *definitely* took her suggestion to 'recalibrate the plasma manifolds' to be an invitation to Paris to go make out in a Jefferies tube. I think Biggs-Dawson did a good job conveying the subtext there.
It might seem like a strange suggestion given that they are now an item, and can just go to each other's quarters and do more than just make out. But it is consistent with their relationship being in a honeymoon phase, and them therefore wanting to get their hands on each other whenever they can. Plus in the lame "Chakotay goes into the dream-alien world" episode, it's shown that they sometimes are on opposite duty shifts and can't meet up except for breakfast.
Tue, Oct 22, 2019, 11:14am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 4:46am (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 27, 2020, 4:48am (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 6:08am (UTC -5)
No way would that be rape. All that is required for sex to be consensual is the ability to express consent and to indeed consent. There is (as yet!) no requirement that the partners furnish their resumes to one another and provide satisfactory references.
As for the episode, yes, dozens of risible plot holes but more than watchable and has some funny moments.
Tue, Feb 2, 2021, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 2, 2021, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 3, 2021, 3:59pm (UTC -5)
I also noticed (I think it was this episode) that Paris had oil stains on his overalls when he left the holodeck. Did he replicate oily clothing for authenticity? That's some serious dedication to his craft.
Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
Now on to serious matters...Nobody fares particularly well as events move forward.
(1) On instant replay, the body switch imposed on Tom by Fake Steth is a violation of Tom's personhood and qualifies as the introductory rape scene in this episode. I know that violation is a mainstay theme in a lot of (all?) Sci Fi, but I had hoped that just once, things would play out more straightforwardly....where Tom would think he was in a simple bromance with a fellow gearhead and then awaken to the fact that he needed to fight off the advances of an alien female with funny ears before B'Elanna's feelings were hurt. That's naive me, ever hoping for another dose of fanciful relationship high jincks, instead of what we got.
(2) As for the 1st scene between B'Elanna and Fake Tom, viewers might reasonably assume that the kiss which ends the scene culminated in extended canoodling, and possibly miscellaneous naked stuff off screen. Since it isn't really Tom, this qualifies as rape, or ellicit seduction/sex by deception or similar fraud. However, it is remotely possible that in the unwritten part, B'Elanna terminated the kiss and handed Fake Tom the sand wedge and likely told him where it should be used. At least naive me hoped that's what transpired.
The more upsetting scene between B'Elanna and Fake Tom is their 2nd encounter (the one with the picnic lunch in the largest hard plastic picnic basket ever manufactured). In it, B'Elanna is physically abused by Fake Tom , who uses a brutal throat grip against her before being summarily discarded by him. This is a distubing scene. The fact that that event goes unmentioned in a report to the captain is a real lapse (in the script). Seven reported Fake Tom's violent verbal threat and intoxication and we know this because it is called out in the screenplay, but the mistreatment of B'Elanna is dropped entirely.
(3) Finally Janeway herself is attacked and then becomes, you guessed it, Fake Janeway. Her maniacal laugh in the shuttle brought a smile, but the whole thing really wore me down. Although mispronunciation of Camer-O was cute at the end, all I really wanted was, you guessed it, another dose of fanciful relationship high jincks, instead of what we got.
Best scene: Seven putting Fake Steth on the spot after catching him in her cargo bay accessing the computer. Some other good scenes, but not bolted together very well.
Sun, Jan 30, 2022, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
The Paris / B'Elanna stuff went from cringe 12 year old stuff to 'wait, did she just shag an alien pretending to be Tom?'
Sun, Mar 13, 2022, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
Tue, May 3, 2022, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
Agree. Don’t see why people use the word rape. People misrepresent themselves all the time to have sex. While it’s absolutely terrible it’s not rape. Words have meaning and the misrepresentation of this word in this way dilutes it and insults those that were subjected to an extremely violent experience. It is not at all the same.
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 6:43am (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 1, 2022, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
Later when Paris and Janeway swap, the alien is now in Janeway's body, and also wearing Janeway's uniform (note the pips on the collar for example), so it's no longer simply a body swap but a transfer of consciousness from one host body to another?
Wed, Dec 7, 2022, 3:42am (UTC -5)
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