Star Trek: Voyager
Air date: 12/16/1998
Written by Michael Taylor
Directed by Les Landau
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"You created false readings!"
"That is the theme for this evening, isn't it?"
— Kashyk and Janeway
Nutshell: The plot's gear-turning is fairly evident, but overall it's a good balance of characterization, deception, and attitude.
Why is it, after several years of expectedly dumb Voyager promos, I still let myself get angry with them? You'd think I'd just ignore them at this point and let go of my anger. Well, most of the time I do.
But just look at the trashy promo for "Counterpoint," for crying out loud—dubbed by the trailers, "Sleeping With the Enemy." Is there some rule in UPN marketing that says advertising must pander to the lowest primordial demographic of the brain dead? Don't they think it's possible for us to be entertained by a story without it being over-sensationalized to the point of lowbrow absurdity? Do the producers of Voyager feel the need to strangle the studio's publicity department? I sure would if I had written "Counterpoint."
Trailer issues aside, "Counterpoint" is a pretty enjoyable hour. It's a tad deceptive in plotting terms, but only so much in that the characters themselves constantly seem to be hiding things. This is a very plot-reliant episode. Yet it's a significantly character-orchestrated endeavor. One might say that "Counterpoint" succeeds because it balances the plot aspects with the character aspects. It's a plot show that uses its people as personalities about as much as it uses them as pieces in its jigsaw puzzle.
Because Voyager meets a lot of people during its journey, we get a lot of "aliens of the week." Some aliens are people with a problem that the Voyager crew helps to solve, like the people in last week's "Thirty Days." Others are "bad guys" who serve as sources of conflict. The subjects of "Counterpoint" fall into the "bad guys" category.
I often dislike Voyager bad guys, because they're too often lacking in identity and personality—serving merely to provide the special-effects crew with the opportunity for pyrotechnics and camera shaking. But what's particularly refreshing about "Counterpoint" is that the bad guys for once are allowed to have a dynamically acerbic—rather than blandly confrontational—personality.
They're called the Devore, and they're xenophobes who don't like visitors (labeling anyone who isn't them a "gaharay"). They have tough rules for anyone passing through their space. Their most stressed rule: no telepaths allowed. Anyone caught smuggling a telepath will have their ship impounded and crew incarcerated. Ships in Devore space are stopped and inspected for contraband on a regular basis. As the episode begins, Voyager is being stopped by a Devore inspection team, quite obviously not for the first time.
The Devore inspectors are smug. They're led by an especially smug inspector named Kashyk (Mark Harelik), who claims to want to be Janeway's friend through these ongoing difficult procedures. Smug can be annoying, but here it works as a surprisingly entertaining source of conflict. Kashyk is one of the few Voyager adversaries in recent memory that I actually enjoyed seeing on the screen. A big reason Kashyk works is because of the piss-and-vinegar dynamic between him and Janeway. Janeway does not like Kashyk. But Kashyk doesn't care. He beams into her ready room and sits in her chair, telling her with a smile, "Make yourself at home."
Mulgrew's internalized but commanding performance reveals a less-than-diplomatic side of Janeway at her surliest and most sardonic; the "let's be friends" stage of these encounters has long since passed. Janeway is tired of her ship being stopped, and her resignation to cooperation does not filter through into her attitude. I liked seeing this side of Janeway.
Kashyk, meanwhile, seems to take pleasure in his work; he beams onto Voyager and instantly plays Mahler's "Symphony Number One" over the ship's comm system as a way of telling Janeway that her ship is temporarily his.
The success of the plot is more dependent on execution than in meaning: Janeway is smuggling about a dozen telepathic refugees who had requested transportation through Devore space. When the Devore inspectors come on board, the telepaths are hidden in "transporter suspension"—transformed into energy until the Devore leave. Is "Counterpoint" an analysis on obeying the laws of other cultures? Don't make me laugh. And don't go looking for moral ambiguity, because you won't find it. As far as the story is concerned, the Devore are bad people who persecute telepaths, so it follows that Janeway can break their rules if she damn well wants to. Hey, I'm game.
The episode's twist is that Kashyk isn't really the bad guy; he later comes to Janeway requesting asylum. He sympathizes with the plight of the Devore's telepathic neighbors, and he wants to help Janeway smuggle them out—which could be helpful given his knowledge of Devore space and their inspection procedures.
Question of the day: Can we trust Kashyk? Ultimately, no. The twist upon the twist is that Kashyk really is the bad guy; he has come to Voyager under the pretense of being a friend so Janeway will find (and he can subsequently destroy) the wormhole that could provide other telepaths with a means for escaping Devore space. I'm not even sure whether or not his roundabout intentions completely make sense under the circumstances (the story seems to be stretching a bit to give Kashyk a reason for going undercover to infiltrate Janeway's ship).
That's okay, because the plot is crafted carefully enough that we put such questions on hold. Kashyk's true intentions aren't revealed to us until the very end, when Janeway herself realizes the extent of his treachery. I won't explain all the plot advances that are required to get to the end; just suffice it to say Kashyk and Janeway begin working together closely to locate the wormhole, and the chemistry of contempt is replaced with a chemistry of mutual respect. (Admittedly, the chemistry of contempt was more entertaining.)
In looking back at the whole picture, we can see that "Counterpoint" is really a series of intricate, obscured mind games between Janeway and Kashyk, where we're not sure who trusts whom, or who's getting the better of whom, until the gamesters themselves have realized the nature of their opponent's deceit.
In essence, Kashyk's sole intent is to gain the trust of the captain, so that she will lower her guard as a result of that trust, at which point he can make his move. Contrary to the trailers, which would like to suggest some love affair erupts between Janeway and Kashyk in the course of the episode, "Counterpoint" is not at all about love or attraction. It's about trust and exploited weakness. Kashyk and Janeway are two people caught in a conundrum of need for the other's help. The episode's Big Clinch™ comes at a crucial moment, when a perceived crisis needs to be solved using careful tactics—but also at a point where Kashyk most needs Janeway to trust him, and where Janeway most needs to be objective and cautious in regards to Kashyk's true intentions.
So at the end, when Kashyk's collaboration with Janeway turns out to be a sham to attempt taking advantage of her trust, Janeway ingeniously turns the tables and takes advantage of Kashyk's own plotting. Without going into needless detail, I simply want to say that the multiple levels of deception are nicely executed by the plot.
Deceit is the name of the game. The game is the whole point of "Counterpoint." There simply isn't much else to it. "Counterpoint" works because it ultimately makes for an enjoyable Janeway feature. It deftly reveals her human weaknesses and emotional vulnerabilities while at the same time showing her ability to remain a focused, resourceful, sensible, and intelligent captain. If the plot is an ongoing manipulation exercise where one can stand back and notice the gears turning, so be it.
I say, If you're going to have a conflict between the Voyager crew and an alien society, this is a good example of how to do it. Forget the phaser-fire and "shields down to 44 percent" standbys. Make it a battle of wits, and use the characters and their attitudes and bounce them off one another in interesting, acerbically devious ways.
Next week: A rerun, as we come face to face with last season's "Vis A Vis." Pun. Ha. I kill me.
Previous episode: Thirty Days
Next episode: Latent Image
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125 comments on this post
Thu, Feb 7, 2008, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 4, 2008, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Sun, May 18, 2008, 5:54am (UTC -5)
Mon, May 19, 2008, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 30, 2008, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
Torat was a nice break from the usual zitfaces, ridgenoses, baldies, or speckleheads we usually see.
Thu, Jul 31, 2008, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 14, 2008, 11:15am (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 8, 2008, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
Kashyk lists the telepathic members of the Voyager crew. The only vulcans listed are Tuvok and Vorik. It's been implied several times throughout the series that there are more vulcans on the ship, such as when Tuvok can't be helped in his medical condition (Endgame) by mind-melding with any other vulcans on the ship because "none of THEM are compatible." THEM. Vulcan perfection wouldn't use that word to describe only Vorik. I'm sure it was also implied in the Vorik pon-farr episode, and possibly elsewhere.
I've been meaning to watch the whole series again, painstaking analyze every scene of every episode, and make a running tally of crewmembers with names and faces, when they were mentioned or shown, how many people have died and possibly who died (if known), and see just how much of an utter mess the final count would be. :D I'm betting if I included screen captures of all the random people shown on Voyager, it would probably be over a thousand people. :)
Sat, Jan 3, 2009, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
OK, Kate Mulgrew loved it, and it is a different kind of vehicle for her talents (I think she's great), but we've seen all this before in episodes like Clues and Alliances and as such it doesn't hold a lot fo weight for me. OK, but nothing spectacular.
Sat, Feb 28, 2009, 3:12am (UTC -5)
They predate the Transportation Security Administration by a few years :-).
Wed, Mar 25, 2009, 7:48am (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 7, 2009, 1:51am (UTC -5)
But didn't you recognize the big big flaw at the end: The telepaths escape through the wormhole, but we see tuvok on the bridge during the last inspection. And as Vorik and Tuvok won't have escaped with the other telepaths they must be on bord. But where???
Tue, Nov 17, 2009, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 30, 2010, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 15, 2010, 2:34am (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 28, 2010, 12:09am (UTC -5)
Missed it again. I love this episode because if nothing else, Voyager is a masterpiece of character development. This episode's plotting and twisting is entirely at the mercy of one central feature--Janeway. Her fiancée is no longer hers. She still has the prospect of a daunting and lonely decades long shepherding to Earth--whom can she fall in love with? The "counterpoint" in the episode is the balancing act between Janeway's command duties and her ability to be a good captain and her quite genuine attraction to Kashyk. Now the feminists might bock at this but it seems clear that because he can get the better of her in a powerplay, there is a sexual tension between them. The fact that she can't really control him like she controls everybody else is the spark of the passion (it's a lot like Vash and Picard). The use of classical music (in general on this show) is remarkable and very carefully done as well.
Sun, Dec 5, 2010, 9:29am (UTC -5)
Season 5 is really showing how the series can still be very entertaining whilst keeping the bottled episode format they aspire to from around season 3/4 onwards (probably to contrast from DS9). Unlike much of season 4 which aside from Seven seemed to shove the negatives of the format down our throats, this season so far proves how it can actually be a perfectly good format and not the waste that it'd seem after watching too much DS9. Voyager's strength - now those are two words rarely heard in one sentence through various parts of the series' run :)
Mon, Jan 24, 2011, 11:03am (UTC -5)
No. They cut the episode at exactly the right moment for my money. Focussing on Janeway's face, with the suppressed tears in her eyes, regretting what might have been had Kashyk turned out to be on the level after all.
I can't recall Tuvok on the bridge - and that was clearly a poor oversight - and it was a dangling thread. But had they just not showed Tuvok on the bridge for the last inspection, we could have assumed that an adult audience would work out that Tuvok and the other crew telepaths must have hidden elsewhere, and the emotional impact of ending on Janeway's disappointment with the man trumps the banality of explaining every last plot point to the nth degree for me.
Sun, Jan 30, 2011, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 31, 2011, 8:58am (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 18, 2011, 11:38pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 26, 2011, 9:32am (UTC -5)
My only question is, what did Janeway do to Tuvok and the other Voyager telepaths during the last inspection?
Sun, Jan 29, 2012, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 22, 2012, 11:02am (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 12, 2012, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
I'm astounded at how much so many people seem to like it.
Wed, May 2, 2012, 10:08am (UTC -5)
Wed, May 2, 2012, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jun 14, 2012, 6:21pm (UTC -5)
Always had a soft spot for this episode.
"You created false readings!"
"That is the theme for this evening, isn't it?"
Wed, Jun 20, 2012, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
And that final shot is eternally tragic. Janeway is without a doubt the loneliest character. She can't forge deep relationships with her own crew, but she can't afford to trust anyone else either, because her ship and crew must come first.
Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 11, 2013, 9:49pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 8, 2013, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
By far, the most enjoyable part was the 'search' sequences overlaid with classical music. Sure, it was a cheap gimmick, but the change of soundtrack imbued a powerful resonance that increased the emotional presence of the ship. Not only does this speak to the power of classical music to elicit an emotional response, but glaringly highlights the often melodramatic nature of the canned sountrack. --- contrast to Babylon 5, where every episode was scored individually using both synthetic instruments and a live orchestra. No small feat! But the emotional payoff was worth it.
Sun, Jan 26, 2014, 4:32am (UTC -5)
At least that's how I made it make sense.
Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 1:12am (UTC -5)
I can't decide if I liked the final shot of Janeway or not. A reminder of her loneliness, yes but we already know. I would like an alternative ending where she gets up out of Chakotay s chair and returns to her own with a smug look on her face.
I know the chosen one was to reflect her expression to the audience that she felt this wasn't t an ideal ending and wished she had been wrong and we had defected. Another tough day for our lady captain.
Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 8:39pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
1. Janeway appears to be genuinely startled by the revelation she has been tricked (when she is supposed to know).
2. This guy knew where the telepaths were, and wormhole or no wormhole, he wouldn't be playing stupid games.
3. Janeway and Federation just have to win, don't they?
Overall, this is one of Voyager's best.
Tue, Apr 22, 2014, 12:40am (UTC -5)
Still, it was certainly quite good overall. Voyager has been growing as a show and this season is very consistent so far. Even an episode that I find not as good as most people, I find mysel rating as very good. Glad with that and hope the show continued in that direction.
I sort of agree with the stars rating.
Thu, Jun 5, 2014, 5:33pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 8, 2014, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
My biggest problem with this episode was the romantic tension between Janeway and Kashyk. It just doesn't work. I know Janeway is lonely and Starfleet is forgiving, but I don't buy for a second that she could go from resenting this man for subverting her authority to passionately kissing him like an old lover so quickly. In time, perhaps, but this episode didn't have enough of that and it makes the whole thing feel forced.
Other than that, an intriguing and interesting story. Not for the first time, Kate Mulgrew's performance carries the day. Sometimes I feel like this lady can say more with subtle facial expressions than with Janeway's entire not-unsophisticated vocabulary. A brilliant actress. On this show, only Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo can compare. Bravo.
Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 3:07am (UTC -5)
Every now and then someone will have to persecute someone else in order to create the context of an episode. This has nothing to do with nazis and Jews: it has to do with creating dramatic tension.
Many groupings have persecuted other groupings throughout history. You might just as well argue that this is a story about Calvinists persecuting Lutherans, or Protestants in general persecuting Catholics, or vice-versa... or something else entirely, say, Turks persecuting Armenians. There are plenty of cases of large-scale, systematic persecution in human history.
In this case, the writers just needed some "good guys" and some "bad guys", that's all. I am of course not defending the nazis in any way whatsoever, but please, let's not read nazis and Jews into everything, shall we?
Not everything has to do with nazis and Jews.
Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 3:30am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
Of course there have been similar regimes and persecutions elsewhere in history, but it is an established American literary device to make the bad guys - especially when they are cardboard bad guys not designed to have moral ambiguity or elicit any sympathy from the audience whatsoever - noticeably reminiscent of Nazis. The Empire from Star Wars is probably the most well-known example in science fiction. Voyager itself has done this before, again symbolically, in "Remember", and of course literally in "The Killing Game". It's an effective technique. Decades of social conditioning have already trained most people to (rightly) regard the Nazis as evil, so bringing them to mind in a group of bad guys sends a clear message to the audience in a short time: Don't worry about understanding or sympathizing with these characters; just hate them and root for the good guys to triumph over them. In terms of storytelling, it's one step deeper than making your antagonist an animated skeleton who laughs maniacally and sits on a throne of bones. And it works.
Finally, it's interesting that you should bring up "Prime Factors". I actually never thought Gath was as creepy as most others seemed to, probably because I found his accent amusing. I also thought it was plausible that Janeway was developing feelings for him during that episode. Ultimately, Gath never did anything but show her kindness; even when he did deceive her about the transporter technology (he was never going to give it to her or anyone else), it was only in an effort to get her to prolong her stay so she and her crew would decide for themselves that they didn't want to leave. That doesn't excuse lying, of course, but it's a far cry from a man who practically spent half of "Counterpoint" slapping Janeway with his generative organs. Besides, if I remember correctly, "Prime Factors" included a "kissus interruptus" scene (Gath and Janeway were about to kiss, but somebody walked in or something happened to distract them and ruin the moment). That's another American literary device, used by writers to signal that nothing happened. These characters like each other, they might be interested in taking it to another level, but it hasn't happened yet because their kiss got aborted. I can believe that; it doesn't move so fast (or give the viewer whiplash) as the Janeway/Kashyk thing did.
Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 3:46pm (UTC -5)
"Captain's log, supplemental. After WEEKS of playing hide and seek with the Devore inspectors our goal is near. A transport vessel that will take our passengers to a wormhole leading out of hostile territory. "
Emphasis mine on "weeks".
In their first meeting that we see...
KASHYK: Captain Janeway, report to your Ready room.
KASHYK: Good morning, Captain. I took the liberty of playing this music throughout your ship. I thought it might help your crew relax. Sometimes these inspections can be stressful.
JANEWAY: How thoughtful.
KASHYK: I've replicated some coffee. Black, as usual?
We start off weeks into this series of encounters and he knows how she takes her coffee. This bit of the script respecting itself makes me overlook anything "too fast" about this relationship.
It's light years ahead of nonsense like Meridian, the Outcast or the Disease. When episodes like Rejoined or Counterpoint start off with 2 characters who are supposed to know each other for a while (either Dax's ex-wife or in this case someone Janeway has been working with for weeks) the staple Trek "hour long romance" is way more forgivable.
Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
I don't think there's anything wrong with seeing the episode as possibly allegorising an aspect of the Holocaust, but, as Andy's Friend pointed out, there's no reason it has to be THAT event over any other than happens to resonate more profoundly with a particular viewer. When allegories are good, this is the case, there's a built-in ambiguity which elevates the allegory from social commentary to archetype.
Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 9:50am (UTC -5)
Love how Janeway "changes the music" at the end.
Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
@Nasendrea: I will defend allegory in television any day. Allegory is part of what made TOS great television. The frequent use of allegory is part of why TNG later became the best Star Trek around. But more than that, we need stories that are larger than life. We need stories that are eternal. We need ― as Elliott would put it ― myths. What did Stanisław Lem write in “Solaris”? “We don’t need other worlds. We need mirrors”.
So, just as Elliott, I don’t mind reading the Devore allegorically. Of course not. My point is simply, that a Russian will most likely see the Devore’s “totalitarian methods” and think of Stalinist totalitarian persecution, rather than Nazis. A Spaniard might think of Franco’s political persecutions. An Armenian might think of the stories his or her grandparents told of the Turkish persecutions, and how they barely escaped alive hidden somewhere, and that’s how they met each other and fell in love. In Latin America, in places such as say, Chile or Argentina, many people might think of the persecutions by the secret polices there ― for a Chilean, for example, the Devore agents could just as easily be Pinochet’s DINA as they could be Nazi Gestapo.
My point is, quite simply, that this could be the story of any large-scale, systematic persecution, anywhere. What we see is persecution. Not a specific persecution, but the act of persecuting. What we see here is universal.
People whose family or country didn’t suffer Hitler’s regime are lucky if they’re in a position where all they can think of is Nazis and Jews. For in many, many other countries, people will watch this and think of their own persecutions in recent history. We need mirrors, indeed.
Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 9:36am (UTC -5)
One of the reasons I think DS9 has aged the best is because I feel like a lot of the episodes have BECOME allegories for recent things (see Homefront where Mr. Sisko refuses the blood test and compare to things like the Homeland Security Act/Airport Screenings). Regardless of what a writer had in mind, when you hold a mirror up to the human condition and you make it a really damned good mirror it can ring true as an allegory for things long past and things to come. If we see ourselves or something else we recognize in the reflection, it's a good allegory, even if it's not what the writer had in mind.
This was a good episode, and a rare (in my opinion for the later seasons) fine hour for Janeway. I'll give it 4 stars.
Thu, Jun 26, 2014, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
One plot hole though: Where did Tuvok and the other telepathic members of Voyager's crew go during the final inspection? They couldn't have been in the shuttles heading for the wormhole.
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 11:32am (UTC -5)
The only thing I can come up with is they didn't look for them because Janeway already told them they were dead.
"Kashyk: I've examined your crew manifest from our last inspection. Commander Tuvok, Ensign Vorik -- Vulcans. Ensigns Suder and Jurot -- Betazoids, all telepaths, and yet for some reason you neglected to mention them. Janeway: For a simple reason -- they're dead. "
Sat, Oct 4, 2014, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 1, 2015, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
I guess the only other explanation is that they hid on a shuttle that used a shield modulation that the Devore couldn't detect. I know it doesn't matter, because no one really cares where Tuvok and the other Voyager telepaths are, but still...
Sun, Jun 21, 2015, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
Dr. Eric Gablehauser!
Mon, Sep 21, 2015, 10:26pm (UTC -5)
So, in the end, may be Kashyk kept his part of the deal... the only way he could.
Sat, Jan 23, 2016, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
The flip side is that it was very well directed and well acted. Mulgrew's barely disguised contempt about the whole proceedings matched with the guest's smugness, and their growing warmth and snapping back to coldness was effective as well. The opening shot was fun, and for the most part everything moved at a rapid, enjoyable pace. It may have been a relatively simplistic adventure episode, but it was a strong, well paced simplistic adventure episode. And the full plots within plots worked well for what it was. I can live with that.
The one thing that really bugged me, though, is the hard-headed aliens of the week. Because, morality wise, this episode was all over the map. We are clearly supposed to relate these aliens to being jack-booted fascists, meant to hate them and their actions, and meant to sympathize and cheer with the Voyager crew from the get-go. And yet:
- Border control and security is a real issue. Everything is subject to search when entering a sovereign nation's land here on Earth, and no one bats an eye about it. Cargo ships are routinely inspected. So why is the thought of someone inspecting Voyager so horrendous?
- Flight deviations are a real issue. Lots of countries allow planes to pass through their airspace, but they need to follow the flight plan. Try diverting your plane toward Washington DC some time and see how fast fighter jets are on your tail. Again, the episode presented this as oppressive, when it actually makes sense.
- Janeway is smuggling fugitives! Whatever happened to the Prime Directive? Regardless of the morality behind it, we generally agree that nations have the right to control their borders. It may be a bad idea, it may prove the nations are idiots, but if they don't want telepaths in their land, who is Janeway to decide otherwise?
- Just what the heck are all these telepaths doing going through their space? I mean, if Germany suddenly declared that they don't want any French people in their country, well, maybe that means they're a bunch of jerks. But then, once that happens, wouldn't any French people who want to go to Poland just go around the country?
- Worst of all is Janeway's hypocrisy. She hates these Devore folk for their border security. She can't believe that these people would dare step foot on HER ship and impede HER voyage. Then, she locates the shuttle containing a professor who could help them. Except the prof says he's busy to talk to her and just wants to leave. So what does she do? She KIDNAPS him!!! Talk about your violations of civil liberties! The episode makes no mention of it, brings no attention to it. If Janeway thinks she has the right to beam someone out of his own ship, obstructing his own path, just because she wants to talk to him, she's just as much a fascist as the hard-headed alien of the week. Y'know, between this and the solitary confinement bit of last episode, I'm thinking the Federation is starting to look like a nightmare more than a utopia.
So yeah, part of the reason I wouldn't rate this three stars is because the aliens annoyed me. So how would I have done it?
Decades before, the Devore came across a group of refugees by another race, a race devastated by the Borg. This race was well developed, and was actually holding its own against the Borg at first. They were also closely allied with a second race of telepaths. Because they were telepaths, the first race found it hard to hold on to secrets. Unfortunately, one telepath happened to be friends with a major defense contractor or something of the first race, and inadvertently learned quite a bit of the first race's defense technology. And he ended up assimilated by the Borg. Which means the Borg learned of the first race's technology. And then adapted to it. And then attacked. And then won. Thoroughly.
The Devore know of the Borg. They know they have to stand up against them. Their technology is superior in many ways, and so as long as the Borg don't assimilate it, they can survive. Any highly placed person in their military comes equipped with cyanide capsules that break at the first site of nanoprobes in their bodies. Every ship has multiple layers of self destruct options. They are desperately concerned about their own security. They know just a tiny, single slip up would mean the end of their civilization. They want to be secure at all costs. Yet when they heard the story from this other race, they know that, even if they can trust themselves with security, they can never trust telepaths. Hence the reason for the ban. Hence the reason for the authoritarian approach. It's their only hope of survival.
Maybe their ban against telepaths is still wrong in that situation (and their extreme punishments are probably still wrong), but isn't it a bit more debatable? Aren't they a bit more sympathetic? Maybe Janeway rescued these refugees without knowing they were telepaths, and then couldn't bring herself to turn them over. We could still have the exact same story, just with a bit more moral ambiguity.
And maybe change the rest of the Devore to be less of jerks. Maybe it would have elevated a good episode to a great one.
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
The use of a classical score this time is noteworthy and perfectly integrated though. 2.5 stars.
Fri, Mar 4, 2016, 8:20am (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 4, 2016, 8:28am (UTC -5)
Read the comments above and watch the episode.
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 9:48am (UTC -5)
The other thing that annoyed me was that this actually looked like Janeway was about to finally get it in the neck for her stupidity and niavete - she is always saved by deus ex machina - at least she managed to use her wits to get out of this one.
If she had actually been properly prepared and in control of previous events in which she did apparently stupid things - then her character would have been a superstar hit .. this episode only highlights what could have been - but definitely isnt.
I'm not buying it - Janeway isnt smart enough to have pulled this off, never before has she had a hidden ace - she never needed it - because the writers never follow through with realistic consequences for her character.
Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 9:03am (UTC -5)
You should buy it and stop pretending to be a hater. She did it right in front of your eyes and you still refuse to accept it.
Sat, Apr 30, 2016, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 25, 2016, 11:53am (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
Decent episode with 3 let downs.
1. Janeway appears to be genuinely startled by the revelation she has been tricked (when she is supposed to know).
**** She didn't know, but she was prepared if it was a con job ****
2. This guy knew where the telepaths were, and wormhole or no wormhole, he wouldn't be playing stupid games.
**** He didn't know where they were until JAneway told him ****
My favorite VOY episode.
I love episodes like this where brains win the day. Enterprise was at it's best when it did this.
JANEWAY: "Computer, change music selection. Mahler's Symphony Number One, Second Movement. Maybe this will help you relax."
JANEWAY: "Well, you gave us the specifications. Seemed a shame to waste them."
Love it. The use of classical music just adds to this episode.
4 stars easy in my book.
Mon, Aug 15, 2016, 12:50am (UTC -5)
Last week Janeway busts down Paris to an ensign and puts him in the brig for violating the Prime Directive.
This week she admittedly violates the Prime Directive but then says, hey, the Admirals are all friends of hers, so she isn't worried.
This just doesn't seem right.
Mon, Aug 15, 2016, 10:33am (UTC -5)
Janeway was just making conversation with Kashyk. I don't think the PD means for her to allow telepaths to be mistreated. Here instincts were correct and honorable.
Tue, Sep 6, 2016, 5:53am (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 23, 2016, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
In TNG it's stated as a fact that the prime directive has nothing to do with being sympathetic or honorable towards species in need. In "Homeward" we're told directly that an entire civilization should be allowed to perish rather than violating the PD. Smuggling a few refugees through alien space against their laws is strictly forbidden and supersedes all of the Federation's other laws and guidelines.
AA is quite right that the hypocrisy is palpable, but to be fair I wouldn't call it hypocrisy simply because if continuity is simply not a thing (i.e. the writing staff has no central control) then each episode is basically a piece of stand-alone fan fiction with slightly or completely different personalities for the main crew each show. That being said, even aside from the PD issues, which are massive, there is also the issue of Janeway needlessly endangering her ship and crew through an illegal and dubious plan to save a few refugees. This hearkens right back to "Caretaker" and proves that whatever Janeway is supposed to have 'learned in "Night" has been eliminated from continuity already. I would never trust a Captain who endangers the lives of everyone by interfering in local politics and laws.
Mon, Oct 31, 2016, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 10, 2016, 7:20am (UTC -5)
Good. 3 stars
Mon, Feb 20, 2017, 10:29pm (UTC -5)
This was a great episode.
Tue, Feb 28, 2017, 3:29pm (UTC -5)
and Kashyk was fantastic, until he was outplayed.
Fun, stressful, enjoyable episode. :)
Sat, May 13, 2017, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
He did. He knew the cargo room and the means by which they were being hidden. He could have seized them at any time.
Tue, Jun 27, 2017, 11:33am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 9, 2017, 6:38am (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 20, 2017, 9:35am (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 20, 2017, 9:41am (UTC -5)
I do wish Voyager had crossed paths with Professor Torat and his hilarious puffy nose again though...
Mon, Oct 9, 2017, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 6, 2017, 12:16am (UTC -5)
This was boring
Mon, Jan 1, 2018, 8:33am (UTC -5)
An extra 1/2 star for Torat.
2 1/2 stars from me.
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 10:43am (UTC -5)
The other thing I have to say here is that it was ridiculously obvious that the alien was playing Janeway, but given how stupid Janeway is, I sort of assumed she fell for it.
Mon, Mar 12, 2018, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 22, 2018, 5:43am (UTC -5)
I know superficially it looks like Kashyk betrays Catherine in the end but it should be remembered that Voyager tried to evade detection, with Kashyks help, by the remote scanner but due to an unexpected problem triggered in engineering by the first scan they were detected... ONLY then did Kashyk suggest he go back to his warships. At that point, he says he could keep the inspection short but I sense that once he got back he realized he had to take a different tac... he had to be seen to be taking the hard line... there is also reference to the warships having gained knowledge about the refugees. The way I read it is in order to protect Voyager and Catherine Kashyk slowed things down so the refugees could get away, he then told Prax not to speak of the incident again. He also played Tchaikovsky during the inspection - the music Catherine wanted to share with someone. Perhaps he was acting in a way to make her hate him, so she would not come back for him, remember she had said she would wait for him if they got to the wormhole. Or a 'telepathic' message to her to say it was hopeless for him - he was trapped in his world ( this is what I have to do to save you). He also said her offer to go with Voyager was tempting.
Maybe I am too much of a romantic but it could be interpreted this way and makes it much more open ended.
Mon, Mar 26, 2018, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
I like the plot with its deception and mindgames and I was reminded of the film "Life Is Beautiful" with how Janeway hid the telepathic refugees from the Devore (Nazis vs. the Jews) and ultimately got them to the wormhole. The classical music also helped remind me of that film -- just brought about a wonderful atmosphere despite the danger of the inspection. One gets an expectation that somehow it will all work out -- but how?
How it works out is clever and well written -- the episode almost makes one believe Kashyk is actually true to his word (but then if he was, there wouldn't be too much of a plot). So somehow we're expecting the treachery but how it plays out is enjoyable to watch -- I'd call it done in a classy way. No need for violence or brutality -- just a good battle of wits.
Great episode for Mulgrew here -- the romance with Kashyk forms naturally (gazing at the nebula, working late etc.). Janeway is lonely for sure and Kashyk plays her but Janeway's not a total idiot either. Gotta love her various facial expressions including her obvious disappointment at the end.
The part about the professor who knows the wormhole better than anybody else was also whimsical, supporting the overall tone of the episode. It also serves to get Kashyk and Janeway to cooperate on something building up their "romance". Good little addition to the episode.
3 stars for "Counterpoint" -- not much to not like here. Certainly expected some kind of twist at the end but how it played out was very satisfying. Even the technobabble can be swept under the rug without issue. Solid guest performance for Kashyk as the enemy of the week -- even his stiff right hand man did his part well. Really had a different vibe to it that was refreshing and great character episode for Janeway as we see her vulnerabilities but also her strengths.
Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
Hell, today one is allowed to identy as whatever gender they feel appropriate at the time, so I'm not so sure Ma'am or Sir wouldn't be acceptable in the 24th century.
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
I'm guessing the error happens because overzealous leftist writers think that "sir" sounds superior by default and therefore it is more "fair" for it to be used for everyone. However, the there no actual military basis for that conclusion.
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
"or by how they would address someone in a civilian context (men: sir, women: ma'am)."
I wonder if even this makes sense. In a civilian context "ma'am" is short for madame, and is part of a modern tradition of addressing everyone as if they're gentry or nobles. It's akin to "ladies and gentlemen", which literally means "rich people and nobles". And yet I'd find it awfully rich for a female military officer to be addressed as "Madame." Can you imagine that? "Yes, Madame! Of course, Madame!" But that's what ma'am means. I wonder, especially in this modern age, if it wouldn't just be more convenient for any officer to be a "sir" and for it be be gender non-specific.
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
I just gave ma'am as an example of something we use colloquially in the U.S. for politely addressing a woman. Ma'am isn't required, though even in the noble person of context of yore that you're describing, you've got to admit that ma'am still sounds better than sir for a woman.
Just an aside, I've met women who hate to be called ma'am because they think it makes them sound old, but in a military situation I doubt they'd care. If they did, I would bet there would be some sort of instruction like "address me as Commander while on duty" or the like.
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
Either I am imagining that or have a good memory about one obscure scene.
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 5:15pm (UTC -5)
Thanks Jammer. I looked it up and you're right! While calling Janeway sir is in fact Starfleet protocol, she's already told the crew from the onset that she prefers "Captain" or even ma'am over sir. Interesting!
Fri, Apr 13, 2018, 11:05am (UTC -5)
"JANEWAY: Mister Kim, at ease before you sprain something. Ensign, despite Starfleet protocol, I don't like being addressed as sir.
KIM: I'm sorry, ma'am.
JANEWAY: Ma'am is acceptable in a crunch, but I prefer Captain. We're getting ready to leave. Let me show you to the bridge.
JANEWAY: Did you have any problems getting here, Mister Paris?
PARIS: None at all, Captain.
JANEWAY: My first officer, Lieutenant Commander Cavit. Ensign Kim, Mister Paris.
CAVIT: (human male going grey) Welcome aboard.
(He shakes Kim's hand, then Paris' reluctantly and walks away.)
JANEWAY: Ensign Kim, this is your station. Would you like to take over?
KIM: Yes, ma'am.
(Rear of the bridge, on the right as we view it.)
JANEWAY: It's not crunch time yet, Mister Kim. I'll let you know when. "
Fri, Apr 13, 2018, 11:10am (UTC -5)
Right, but the point still stands that Janeway would prefer to be addressed a certain way and in this episodes one of her officers ignores her entirely, which is either disrespectful or lazy writing.
Fri, Apr 13, 2018, 11:38am (UTC -5)
The word "sir" is uttered 5 times in the episode.
NONE at Janeway.
3 occurances from Prax to Kashyk
The last from Vorik to Torres. B'Elanna has never mentioned it being an issue with her and as we know, it IS included in Star Fleet protocol.
So now that I've actually researched this, I don't see what all the fuss is about.
Fri, Apr 13, 2018, 11:45am (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 13, 2018, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
If "sir" is in fact completely acceptable even when addressing females, then why was the Harry-calls-Janeway-sir scene ever conceived, written, and put into that episode.
So you may be right, that I shouldn't be upset every time Janeway is called sir. Starfleet protocol...but that calls into question the scene I described above.
Fri, Apr 20, 2018, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 20, 2018, 5:29am (UTC -5)
The Devore are what a race might need to become if people who looked exactly like regular people had mind powers and an intent to use them. If that conflict escalated far enough then, at the end, either the telepaths or the normals would be hunting down the last few...and for very different reasons.
We're kind of indoctrinated by Star Trek to believe that telepaths are beneficent but I can't help but think of the Psi Corps from Babylon 5 as a route that telepaths could take. What if some of the telepaths in this episode were calling normal people "mundanes" and intent on ruling over them just a few years prior? What if this group of refugees are actually infiltrators intent on gaining access to civilian population centers and turning them?
Mon, Oct 8, 2018, 11:09pm (UTC -5)
Noticed that Janeway finally exercises her long unused sex drive, and it's in the same ep that features talk of how you can't keep something suspended indefinitely without killing it.
The actor did a great job in his two-faced role, and there was good chemistry between him and Mulgrew.
Loved the little lizard alien and his huffing and puffing.
Sun, Nov 18, 2018, 1:00am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 15, 2019, 11:39am (UTC -5)
4 Stars. A perfect episode.
PS. The end did NOT feature Tuvok on the bridge.
Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
- most episodes of Voyager just utilize Janeway as a leader or mentor (and not always a good one). This ep utilizes her as a leader, a scientist, and a woman. Janeway has rarely been fuller or more three-dimensional than here. I wish she'd been written like this every week. Michael Taylor magic, again.
- Mark Harelik would have made a great Cardassian; Kashyk is a classic narcissist. I love that William B picked up on this.
- with the script, performances and use of music all so sublime, it's easy to overlook how well-directed it is.
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 5:45am (UTC -5)
just came here after the STP discussions... and yes, I agree, the directing is spectacular here. Those angles! Voyager is shown here as it is never shown, the customary sets are looking spooky, weird and full of mystery. Another thing: the Voyager sets are so tastefully constructed, they are so unique in comparison with the design of the Kurtzman-era Trek, where the sets convey the feeling that you are on a generic starship of a generic franchise.
Third: this whole episode just reinforces the theatrical, and why not, operatic feeling of the 90' Trek. It just has that force of cohesion, force of invisible frames which keep the material together.
Mon, Mar 9, 2020, 3:13am (UTC -5)
Excellently put, both of you.
Wed, Mar 25, 2020, 7:22pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 13, 2020, 2:37am (UTC -5)
What stands out for me more than the episode itself is the comment section. Some really interesting and thoughtful observations. I never thought of the interpretations Chris P and Green Tree Sky offered, but they really make a lot of sense. Food for thought.
Like others, I loved Torat. Why did they go so much further with his makeup and prosthetics than they typically do, I wonder? They did kind of kidnap him: that was ethically pretty shaky.
But I guess I have a different understanding of the Prime Directive than most of you do. I always thought that was only about not interfering with prewarp civilizations.
Fri, Aug 21, 2020, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
Excellent plot twists and turns. Also, the human side of Lameway was shown but, this time, very well and very movingly. Sci-fi at its best and certainly one of top 10 Voyager episodes, if not even top 5.
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 9:10am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 16, 2021, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
I have to say I thought Janeway fell for him, I owe her an apology. He was right her selflessness makes for an easy target but in the end she never trusted him and was always one step ahead. This is where I knew Captain Janeway was no slouch.
The only part I didn't like was them transporting the alien from his ship because he didn't want to help lol what? Janeway you have people boarding your ship and forcing inspections on you and your crew, you know how wrong it feels to be violated like that so why do it to him? Other than that 4 stars.
Tue, Feb 16, 2021, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
Absolutely. One of my biggest gripes about VOY is how inconsistently Janeway was written. I would have liked the show a lot more if Janeway had been written like this more often.
Sat, Mar 6, 2021, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 25, 2021, 3:55pm (UTC -5)
Well, the answer is quite simple.
All humanoid species have *some* degree of telepathic aptitude. Even humans. We see this as early as the second pilot for TOS, Where No Man Has Gone Before, with Gary Mitchell. When the Devore come on board at the start of this episode, they line the crew up and scan them with handheld devices. From this, we can infer there's a threshold set for telepathic aptitude, the scanner is determining where the person falls, and any individual that exceeds it is arrested, and anyone below is fine.
We know from a later series (Enterprise) that not all Vulcans can mind meld. T'Pol can't, for example. Also, Romulans are an offshoot group of Vulcans, and they can't mind meld, nor do they have telepathic abilities. Mind melding was known to Vulcans since before the Schism because Surak could do it, so it stands to reason not all Vulcans who couldn't do it would leave to become Romulans. That was only two thousand years before Voyager, and with the longer lifespans of Vulcans, it's not like that's enough generations for the two groups to diverge significantly biologically, anyway. So we can assume melding and Vulcan telepathy arose in a geographically and genetically isolated population (Surak's people, the people of the Forge) and after the Romulans left, it proliferated some among the remaining population, owing to it being a dominant trait and cultural selection of mates gave preference to the people of Surak who had led the Reformation movement.
So anyway, all this is to say, it seems obvious that the third Vulcan on Voyager, the later seen unidentified female, does not possess telepathic abilities in excess of the Devore threshold, and therefore does not need to enter the transporter buffer.
People like to nitpick on Voyager all the time over details like this one, but honestly, in this case I think it's fine. We can give them a pass.
Now about that missing Betazoid, on the other hand . . .
Wed, Aug 4, 2021, 12:10am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 15, 2021, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 15, 2021, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 15, 2021, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
Is that pretty much the same thing Scotty did on the Jenolen?
Thu, Dec 16, 2021, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
I thought it worked great. This episode is like a Shakespearean or even classical play full of elaborate subterfuge and character ambiguity. Kashyk's entire time onscreen, except at the very very end of the episode, are him putting on a facade for Janeway and the rest of the Voyager crew. So in-universe he's acting, as a means to ingratiate himself to them. Even if he's not acting in-universe, he so loves his job that I can totally see him behaving this way for that reason alone.
Fri, Apr 15, 2022, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 19, 2022, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 20, 2022, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
Sat, May 28, 2022, 3:30pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 29, 2022, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 8, 2022, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 12, 2022, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
One example I can think of is cable TV. Back in the 80s and 90s with analog cable you could flip through the stations as fast as you could push the button on the cable box (or remote). Now with digital you have to wait a moment for each station to buffer, so you can't flip through them nearly as fast when looking for something to watch. That's a downgrade in user experience, but it also allows an order of magnitude more stations to be shoved down the same wire, on top of internet and phone signals. Overall a net positive.
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 6:23am (UTC -5)
Good episode overall though.
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