Star Trek: Voyager
Air date: 3/3/1999
Teleplay by Bryan Fuller & Nick Sagan
Story by Bryan Fuller
Directed by Anson Williams
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"The 'demon'-class planet—one of our more interesting missions." — Chakotay, speaking for himself
Nutshell: Better than its predecessor, "Demon," but still deeply, deeply flawed, with a cynical nature that disheartens.
To its credit, "Course: Oblivion" is an episode with more implicit ideas than it probably deserves to possess. I mean that. This show sometimes asks interesting questions. Unfortunately, the story can't stay focused, the answers are ultimately not very interesting, and what it takes to get us to those answers is so dubious that the show ends up coming off as desperate and meretricious. I wanted to think about some of the consequences of this episode, but the more I thought about them, the more infuriating the story's underlying foundation became.
On knee-jerk-reaction terms, I object to the very existence of this episode. It has the audacity to be a sequel to "Demon," one of the most ridiculous episodes of Voyager ever made. I'm forced to ask why the writers would want to remind us of an episode so incoherent and devoid of any reasonable train of thought as to follow it up with a sequel. (I'd think damage control—forgetting it ever happened—would be the more appropriate answer.)
In objective terms, however (I have a duty to be fair to what we have here rather than complain about what came before), I must say this episode has about 10 times the substance of "Demon," and manages to be bad without descending to the depths of utter garbage. If that still sounds like faint praise, that's probably because it is.
As the nature of the plot began to unfold, I felt a great dislike for this episode, but it hooked me in with more intrigue than "Demon" or last week's laughably inept "Disease" could muster. It's clearly better than both. But all comparisons aside, the story still has serious problems, and I still think it was a mistake to make this episode considering the large quantity of nonsense we have to swallow to make the story remotely workable.
For starters, based on how it plays out, this strikes me as one of the most cynical episodes of Star Trek ever conceived. Here's a plot that builds its story around a set of people merely so they can be destroyed—and for what? For some large ironic statement? To pose an interesting "what if" premise with a tragic ending? There's evidence of an attempt for both, but not enough effective utilization of either.
The episode opens with a deception that I'm not even sure how to feel about—namely, the marriage of Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres. Like with most episodes, I went into "Course: Oblivion" with no idea what it was about (other than what the trailer told me, which, as usual, was nothing) and no expectations. Therefore, the marriage struck me as iffy (motivated by a lot of off-screen courtship, I presumed), but real. Then the evidence began to appear: This ship was less than two years from home, the dialog revealed a host of adventures we'd never heard of before, etc.—and it became clear this was not the Voyager crew we knew.
When B'Elanna suffers and eventually dies from a mysterious sickness, the investigation begins. Early on (which is decidedly a good thing), the episode drops the major revelation on us: This Voyager crew is the copy of the real crew that was created in "Demon." Every individual on the ship used to be some sort of biomimetic silver fluid that obtained sentience when Voyager interacted with them in the previous episode. Somehow, the ship itself was also replicated. Now, enhancements to the warp engines, we learn, have caused this "sickness" ("Each and every one of you will disintegrate," Doc says helpfully)—leading to the crew's reversion to their original biological state where the only hope for survival might mean returning to their original environment.
The episode's plot holes are massive—full of facts that defy reasonable explanation and take the sci-fi aspects of Trek into purely arbitrary fantasy. I like to think I have some imagination and an ability to grant a few details in the name of drama, but the nonsense presented here goes so far over the line that we're forced to resign to a story with basically no rules at all. Correction: The rules are conjured at will to dictate whatever crazy way the plot wants to go.
For instance, not only did the biomimetic silver fluid (or whatever) copy the entire crew, but the entire ship and all its technology as well—and without the real Voyager crew's knowledge. That's a stretch I'm not willing to so easily grant. Are you telling me that this crew had no way of suspecting for some 10 months that they used to be a metallic fluid? And that every piece of technology on the ship was replicated perfectly? There's also the issue of memory, which is cast aside with a casual, "Oh, apparently we just forgot we were copies and resumed our lives as if we were the real thing." Later, memories of "the metallic past" resurface when it helps Chakotay form an argument challenging the captain's decision. How conveeeeeeenient. This all makes me want to utter an eight-letter word that begins with "bull" (I'll resist that urge, however, in the interests of maintaining a G-rated review; those over the age of 10 can just pretend I said it).
This doesn't require suspension of disbelief; it requires willful embracing of credulity.
If you can grant these ridiculous details, the episode might improve some, but I still had major problems. First, there's entirely too much emphasis on technobabble rather than drama. (In that regard, this episode feels like a throwback to season two or three, whereas season five has generally been able to maintain focus on the human aspects rather than the technical junk). It also didn't help to have reminders of other notoriously awful shows. Not only are there ideas from "Demon," but also aspects all-too-reminiscent of "Threshold" ("Making the ship go faster will disfigure and kill you!") and "Twisted" ("The ship is morphing and deforming!"). This all may be beside the point, but the fact I was too distracted by the fantasy tech details is a sign the story wasn't working.
Fortunately, unlike "Demon," this episode at least tries to think about a few issues. The most interesting aspect of the show is probably Paris lashing out after B'Elanna has died and the truth is learned. Finding out you literally aren't at all who you thought you were (and further, that you're going to die), has got to be pretty tough, and Paris' rage and his shades of nihilism prove somewhat enlightening. Unfortunately, there isn't enough of it; the issue is raised and then only sort of half-developed.
Instead, the writers rehash the Janeway Decision Theme—with the question of whether to keep going and risk death ("I promised this crew I would get them home!") or turn back and head for the "demon" planet in the interest of survival. While this is more interesting dramatically than the tech stuff, it's like the millionth time we've seen Janeway agonize over this issue, as Chakotay offers the reasonable arguments taking the other position. (Although, here it seems like something of a no-brainer: Either turn around, or everyone dies. Hmmm...)
Dramatically, I found a lot of the story's twists to be depressingly cynical. B'Elanna gets a well-played deathbed scene that proves more affecting than most Tom/B'Elanna scenes to date; both Dawson and McNeill reveal a genuine chemistry. Unfortunately, I'm forced to wonder why the marriage is even there. To make us care about characters, only so the universe can be turned on us in a notion of "things are not what they seem"? Nothing is more frustrating than good characterization that technically isn't real.
But let's grant the marriage gimmick as simply a neutral fact for a moment. The next dose of cynicism comes with the story's dependence on pointless conflict to ease the ship along to its inevitable destruction—namely, the Hard-Headed Aliens of the Week™. When Voyager finds a possible alternative "demon"-class world, it's of course being mined by aliens who wouldn't think of letting anyone come near it. They immediately open fire so we can get our requisite dose of weekly camera-shaking and bridge-set pyrotechnics.
After that failure, the situation becomes increasingly grim. Even with the warp engine enhancements, it will take weeks to get back to the original "demon" world, and members of the crew are dropping like flies. Much is made of Janeway's idea of a time capsule, so if the crew doesn't survive there will at least be a record of their existence. Well, the crew doesn't survive ... and neither does the capsule, which is destroyed by a technobabble problem that is so arbitrarily manufactured that it doesn't prompt from me a reflection upon tragic circumstances but rather anger for shameless audience manipulation.
But that's not all. Next the episode will have us believe that while on its doomed course back toward the "demon" planet, with only minutes before the ship will be ripped apart, the duplicate Voyager happens within range of the real Voyager. (I won't even bother questioning the odds of such an occurrence.) The real Voyager arrives in range of the duplicate Voyager just a bit too late—or, rather, just in time to see a field of debris and wonder what happened to the mysterious ship to which they never came close enough to contact.
So, given all of this, what exactly is the point, or at least the intent? My guess would be some mix of nihilistic angst and tragedy or something, but the story doesn't create such emotions fairly; it simply manipulates us with bland, near-random turns of the plot, creating this duplicate Voyager crew with a host of contrivances and then putting them at the mercy of a universe that wants to toy with and finally crush them by way of still more contrivances. If that sounds cynical on my part, it might be—but I get these vibes from what I believe the show portrayed through its scornful treatment of the characters.
Why should we care about them if no one—except possibly those destined to die—learns anything? More specifically, why should we care when the real Voyager crew, which comprises the real emotional core of the series—doesn't make the discovery? And why bother getting so close to the moment of payoff just to snatch it away? Think of the possibilities of the logs surviving the duplicate crew's destruction. The real drama could've been in the real Voyager crew facing the psychological consequences of learning about this duplicate crew's set of adventures—getting a taste of who they might've been if given a set of slightly different circumstances. (The Tom/B'Elanna marriage provides a very good example of such.)
Leaving this all in the audience's lap, in my opinion, is not nearly enough, and simply ends up being a waste of time. In short: There needs to be a surviving witness in the story for there to be dramatic context (like Harry's message to himself in "Timeless")—otherwise, what did we just see and why?
I get the feeling that the writers were going for some sort of thoughtful, introspective ending, where the real Voyager crew not being the wiser about the duplicates constitutes some sort of poetic irony. I'll grant that as a possibility, but I don't find it at all satisfying under the circumstances. Tragedies work better when you genuinely care about those being tortured; here the cynical nature of plot—which just jerks us around—all but makes that impossible.
"Course: Oblivion" is an episode that pretty much rubbed me the wrong way at every turn. In its defense, I'll admit that it tries to do some things that are unconventional, and it raises a few interesting issues. And its title is perfectly appropriate. Unfortunately, the way it goes about doing it is mean-spirited and false, and all that stands in the hour's wake is a barrage of technical jargon, weird-looking makeup effects, and a sense of audience manipulation that is not at all appealing. Unlike the brain-dead "Demon," this show has ideas. They just aren't very good ideas.
Next week: A rerun of "Extreme Risk."
Previous episode: The Disease
Next episode: The Fight
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223 comments on this post
Mon, Dec 10, 2007, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 12, 2007, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
This is a polarizing episode, which is odd, since it's not controversial in any typical way.
Thu, Feb 7, 2008, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 7, 2008, 10:37pm (UTC -5)
And just as an aside, of all episodes to make a sequel to, why pick "Demon"? Lottery?
Tue, Feb 19, 2008, 7:37pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 1, 2008, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 1, 2008, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 1, 2008, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
Intellectually, this episode is a joke. How did the duplicates create an identical Voyager? In Demon, the duplication is biologically based. How were they able to breathe oxygen? Wouldn't the Doctor only have memories dating back to when the duplicate Voyager was formed? This episode had way too many holes in it.
Mon, Apr 21, 2008, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
Sun, May 18, 2008, 6:14am (UTC -5)
Science Fiction is exactly that - fiction. Too often people talk about bad sci-fi plotting, but don't forget it is just fantasy.
Tue, May 27, 2008, 2:47am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 2, 2008, 10:19am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 10, 2008, 4:58am (UTC -5)
Especially the part about "good characterization that technically isn't real". This is something that really makes me mad. WHY can't we have scenes with impact on the real voyager crew, why do we always have the mighty reset button. The actors surely could deliver great and engaging episodes, but the material is just not there. So their talent is wasted on episodes like "Course Oblivion".
I can understand why someone might like this episode. But for me, the plotholes and point of this episode (NONE!) is just too much to take.
Tue, Aug 5, 2008, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
Nevertheless, I found it moving (for reasons others have discussed so I'll leave it there). I liked that they tried to salvage the stupidities of 'Demon' - Jammer complains about the reset button all the time, but 'Demon' at least had consequences for another episode. I also liked the Janeway characterization - she has proven to be quite reckless in seasons 4 and 5, and in this episode we finally see a real consequence to her recklessness (well, real for the metal crew, anyway). Basically, I think this episode allows us to learn things about the characters that we couldn't otherwise, because they've never been in such a situation.
So, I understand the negative reviews, but honestly I think the positive aspects of the episode outweigh them.
Wed, Aug 27, 2008, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
In "Demon" if you actually pay attention you will notice that objects do indeed also get duplicated (clothes, Borg implants etc..) and don't forget Seven Of Nine also gets duplicated - meaning knowledge of the Borg and Voyager - enough to duplicate the ship.
I'm sure I could find problems with many other arguments too...
Theres still loads of holes but duplicating the ship isn't one in my opinion.
Tue, Oct 7, 2008, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 19, 2009, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 17, 2009, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
Problem is if any contact had of occured, maybe they could have used the "enchanced warp drive" and got home, it could have even led to a far superior finale.
the possibilities are endless, or at least they were. i would give it three stars simply because it was original.
However as John Pate said, Demon was set up to lead to course oblivion. This follows jammers line that the writing seemed to make janeway more season 2 or 3, perhaps both were written earlier.
So that would mean that the poor demon voyager crew, we created to be killed :(
It also begs the question, which voyager crew were we watching for the whole season.
Wed, Apr 1, 2009, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
Once she realizes that the crew are duplicates and that their survival depends on returning to their native environment (which is clearly established as being closer to them than Earth), what does she do? Does she do the sensible thing and backtrack toward their real planet of origin? No, she keeps going toward Earth, a planet they have zero chance of reaching in time.
Her reasoning: "I promised this crew I'd get them home."
The real crew not turning against the real Janeway in the "Basics" two-parter was ridiculous enough, but one of the faux crew should've done their part to sabotage the faux Voyager's systems after hearing faux Janeway's reasoning for not doing the obivious.
Fri, Apr 3, 2009, 5:39am (UTC -5)
To be honest, I think this is one of Voyager's best episodes. The duplicate Voyager's story is probably the most sad out of any Trek story ever, and I think it works. Voyager works best when you don't think about things, and because of this I think that Course: Oblivion is, quite honestly, awesome..
Fri, May 8, 2009, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 29, 2009, 8:55am (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 27, 2009, 9:18am (UTC -5)
To highly an error in the review (sort of), there were some hints that this was not the voyager crew way before they mentioned the crew was 2 years away from home.
For example, Tom is a lieutenant and not an ensign (remember, his rank got taken away?). Tuvok and Chakotay also mention encounters that we know never happened, unless we are led to believe the show doesn't share all the encounters with the audience and only the more important ones.
Still, the episode is totally pointless. What was the point of it all? It's not even good.
There's also the problem that they have 3 weeks "left to live" so to speak... so they head to the demon planet. Now, Voyager's gained 10 years or there on their trip, so it's hard to know where they are in the grand scheme of things... but if it takes this ship 2 years to go home and they got 3 weeks to head back to the demon-class planet... shouldn't they not be able to make it? And shouldn't voyager be... like... a really far away still? We are talking about 40 or 50 years away from the alpha quandrant still, no? 3 weeks or no, I don't think these ships should be anywhere near each other.
That, and many other reasons make this episode horrible.
Thu, Mar 11, 2010, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 22, 2010, 10:42am (UTC -5)
It doesn’t help matters that it is a follow-up to one of the worst episodes (“Demon”), but I have to say that when thinking back about Voyager (in a good way), this is one of the episodes that springs to mind.
Having re-watched it again during my box-set run through, I still really like it. In fact I think it would have benefited from a little more ambiguity and the reveal of this ships origin should have been held back until a lot closer to the end of the episode.
A solid 3.5 stars in my book.
Thu, Apr 15, 2010, 10:56pm (UTC -5)
But I do remember that I wanted a sequel to this and living witness where future doc came back in time and rescued them, taking them back to his 700+ year future storyline, allowing these versions of his friends to finally make it home.
Sat, Apr 17, 2010, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 26, 2010, 9:22am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 2, 2010, 10:56am (UTC -5)
Paris chooses the 1920s Chicago for his honeymoon destination. Makes perfect sense, as I'm sure most of us, given the choice of just about any location in the Star Trek universe, would select 16th-century England. *sigh* Extreme laziness on the scriptwriters' part. I'm surprised he didn't choose a Hollywood motion picture studio from 1999.
As far as the premise of the episode, too many take this stuff seriously. Continuity, character-development, logic...? Look, Star Trek is makebelieve; a T.V. show whose main purpose is revenue generation. It's not a documentary! Once you remember that, you watch it for the fun factor derived from a sci-fi series. And in that respect, this episode was good. It makes no sense and has no head or tail and leaves more questions than answers, but - as someone here said - it tries something different. It's entertaining and full of action. 3/3.5 stars.
Apart from Paris' honeymoon, Janeway's idiocy persists. Yes, she should've turned back, of course; she should also have torpedoed the mofos who started firing at them for very flimsy reasons. But no, "I'm not going to destroy them because of a misunderstanding." Yeah, try that when you're getting mugged or when someone tried to jack your car. And lastly, there's another Voyager shaking through the quadrant, and the real Voyager never gets wind of that?!?
Altogether though, a good, thought-provoking, interesting episode.
Mon, Sep 6, 2010, 6:30pm (UTC -5)
As it didn't bore me, I'd give it 2 stars.
Mon, Sep 6, 2010, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 17, 2010, 4:58pm (UTC -5)
A very depressing ending, but I wasn't offended by this episode, I sort of liked it (and yes I liked FF7 for having the courage to screw with its audience with the death of Aeris. No it wasn't the height of sophisticated drama, but like this episode, it got us talking about it did it not? This shouldn't be done often, but it works for me).
At first before the Big Reveal I was certainly annoyed by what seemed like a Timeskip involving the re-promotion of Paris, engagement to B'llana, invention of a better warp drive that would get them home by the end of the series (how convenient) etc. When the reveal was made it was a relief in a way and was the first instance of the episode seeming to say "ha, sucker" at me for trying to analyse it. Oy.
I found myself amused by how it went in some cases:
- The marriage vows.. "You stood by me when most people would have run for the nearest airlock. You were willing to see past my shortcomings, and take all the bumps and bruises that come along with it."
Funny how that pretty much describes Voyager as a series and how I've stuck with it (unlike some). Sometimes (like the previous episode) I do wonder why, but I don't think I'm ready to marry it yet!
- When you have a Captain Kim, you *know* the ship is in dire (and probably fatal) Trouble!
"There's some sort of dampening field around my command skills and personality. Trying to compensate. No use."
But anyway, I found it a break from the norm and an insightful story in its own little way. I didn't think it was the next Inner Light or anything, but as a viewer I wasn't offended by being toyed with (which seemingly offended Jammer greatly). The episode poked its tongue out and said "sucker!" - I took it in good humour (when I wasn't busy being depressed) - cheekyyy!
Weird really, a combination of humour (from being duped so much) and deep dark depression. It was ok.
Fri, Dec 17, 2010, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
And the directing/effects when Things Start Going Wrong at the end of the wedding ceremony were nice.
Sat, Apr 16, 2011, 4:10am (UTC -5)
The clones or whatever are copies of the originals...this series has dealt with this issue most frequently in the form of holograms...
So, what does that mean. What part of our nature makes us real, makes us matter? Being the "first ones"? the ones who get to live?
We're all going to die. Maybe something of us will be left behind, maybe not. What matters is HOW we lived, not matter how it was we came to be.
I've barely known any other episode of Trek to deal with an issue like this, and the fact that it's even a followup to a dangling consequence from a previous episode is a welcome albeit unnecessary bonus. The details of by just what means the clones came to be, etc. is completely unimportant. Get over it.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011, 10:06am (UTC -5)
Does it? To whom? What's to say the "how we lived" bears any consequence on the "grand scheme of things"? Who says there IS a "grand scheme of things"?!?
Fri, May 6, 2011, 3:22am (UTC -5)
I'm just saying, if the writers had been able to raise these issues and deal with them in a way which didn't offend people's conception of science or coincidence or cynicism or whatever, then that would be great. But as I keep saying, Trek is mythology. Myths always employ some sort of "device" if you will which defies natural law as we know it. If one is obsessed with things like continuity or plausibility or whatever, these devices will grate and distract, but myths teach us things that no other kind of story can.
Sigh...I miss the days when I didn't realise so many people hated this show sometimes.
Wed, Jul 13, 2011, 4:45am (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 8, 2011, 5:04am (UTC -5)
And the overall premise is not only pointless, it's depressing and quite twisted. It's like watching one of those slasher movies where the only reason people watch is to see people suffering and die and get some kind of kick out of it. This is one of the most illogical, misconceived, twisted and depressing episodes of Star Trek I've ever seen.
I recall this was about the point I gave up on Voyager, even though I forced myself to keep watching a while longer. I started re-watching recently, determined to watch with an open mind and desperately wanting to like it more this time...but with so many ill-conceived, terribly written episodes like this I can see myself abandoning ship before the end again.
Fri, Aug 26, 2011, 11:03am (UTC -5)
I won't reiterate what others have written here. We already know what the problems are. But I have to comment on the aspect that kept me from being able to even mildly appreciate this episode: their uniforms and hair didn't degrade.
The writers want us to accept that Voyager was COMPLETELY copied. Every molecule. And that's why EVERYTHING on the ship is falling apart. Except their uniforms and hair.
It's a little thing compared to the other glaring flaws in the story. But maybe because it's such a little thing, it infuriated me to no end. The writers want us to buy in emotionally to a storyline that ultimately won't matter to our story. But they don't make that same commitment themselves. It's lazy writing.
(Even Odo's uniform and hair fall apart in "The Die Is Cast". It's not like we haven't gone here before! Then again, it's a little like Geordi and Ro being able to run through walls as "ghosts" but not falling through decks as they walked. Which also still annoys me.)
Sat, Sep 3, 2011, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
I let that wall/floor thing bother me at first, but I "decided" that it must have something to do with the gravity plating in the floor ;)
Sun, Sep 4, 2011, 9:52am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 11, 2011, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
I remember enjoying Voyager a lot when I was a kid. But, watching the show now as an adult has been almost painful. I'm honestly not even sure how I've managed to make it this far in the series. Voyager is so often pointless, badly written and boring.
Although I freely admit that this episode was essentially pointless and was arguably badly written (with it's many plot holes), it was not boring. For that alone, it is better than 75% of what this show put out during it's 7 year run.
Mon, Nov 21, 2011, 2:53am (UTC -5)
Television is "pointless" to quote many of you--all series and episodes--none of this is happening or will happen--none of it matters--except good fiction is supposed to make us think about ourselves, our goals and our fears and beliefs--all of which this episode accomplished in spades.
Tue, Nov 29, 2011, 5:45pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 19, 2012, 8:43pm (UTC -5)
Watching it again with my wife 15 years later and two things are clear:
1. We both bawled our eyes out at the fate of the duplicate crew. It provoked a reaction. That alone is a pretty impressive feat for Voyager.
2. It's clearly an existentialist premise. So they all died and the actual Voyager didn't get their logs. So? You're going to die, too, and no-one will remember you after a few generations. Does that freak you out? Good! This episode is just everyone's life in fast-forward. We decay, we resist, we die, we are forgotten. This is probably the bleakest piece of televised Trek. It makes DS9 look like happy-fun-time land. We should applaud it for being so bold.
As for those who questioned Janeway's dedication to get back to Earth, c'mon. Let's say you went to the Doctor and he said: "Sorry to say, but you're a copy, you're not actually you." would you just stop being yourself? Could you, even if you wanted to? I found everyone's reactions pretty sanguine. It doesn't matter that they were copies, they THOUGHT they were real. That's all we ever do.
Four stars, Jammer.
Mon, Feb 20, 2012, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 22, 2012, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 21, 2012, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 21, 2012, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
I'm not trying to belittle the joy of reviewing or people's personal experiences, but trying to define what is desirable or not in artistic expression, seems a bit conceited sometimes.
Something that struck me watching this episode is the trepidation Trek has towards sexuality (Neelix and Tom discussing the honeymoon) and also the way extras are not developed as secondary characters, making the Trek world breath more, be more believable on a character level. That's something better done by BSG or Lost.
It was cool for Chakotay to carry an argument with "alternate" Janeway, as she relents in going back to the Demon planet. I also admired that Janeway refused to attack the miner's ship, and tried to prevent the disintegration of the silver blood Voyager, without sacrificing who (she thought) she was. What more can any of us do, sometimes?
Tue, May 22, 2012, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
Stories can do many good things: heal, console, inspire, enlighten. I enjoy Jammer`s reviews, and enjoy reviewing myself, but it seems selfish, with all that`s going on in the world (poverty, war, greed), the things that the Star Trek world has solved, to talk about how entertained (or not) we are.
I won`t continue to moralize: anyone reading this is aware about our world. I find it ironic, though, that the baseness of human behaviour, i.e greed, betrayal and graphic violence or torture, would be considered aesthetic, and entertainment.
There are many aspects of BSG I enjoy, for example, but the violence and shock tactics in storytelling begs the question: is this entertainment? So, I am not immune from the irony.
To be fair, Jammer finds this episode cynical, whereas I suppose I find the process of review sometimes cynical. - Dean
Sat, Jun 23, 2012, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 18, 2012, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Am I to believe that everything that happened to Voyager between Demon and this episode happened to the clones only.. so all the borg stuff never happened. borg didnt detect them as clones and whatnot. And that they went so far ahead to home and could back track in no time. How could the clone ship and people take off BEFORE voyager and real voyager not know.
This was stupid. Makes me want to stop watching the remaining seasons and episodes
Tue, Sep 18, 2012, 11:47pm (UTC -5)
Now, as to why showing their gruesome fate was necessary...sorry, I don't have an answer to that.
Fri, Oct 26, 2012, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 26, 2012, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 6, 2012, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
This episode left me feeling fairly empty inside. It was depressing and I hated it.
Sat, Dec 29, 2012, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
I didn't really mind the plotholes - I was too concerened about the crew that I love! And I did feel empty inside by the end - like my heart had been ripped out.
It takes a lot for a 45 minute episode to do that!
Mon, Feb 4, 2013, 3:47am (UTC -5)
Sat, May 4, 2013, 10:41am (UTC -5)
But beyond that, the make-up mess made no sense. Their faces are pussing and peeling but they're still wearing skin tight uniforms. My wife laughed out loud at Seven peeling and melting away while still in her cat-suit. Really, it was just ridiculous, and pathetic to watch them around the ready room table discussing their situation with that glaring contradiction. After a while I started to laugh at it as well, and I take my Trek seriously. But this one was just beyond the pale and without redemption. I'd give it half a star for trying something different, but like Twisted, they should have canned the whole thing at some point realizing the premise and presentation just weren't working
Tue, Jun 18, 2013, 10:25am (UTC -5)
Because of all this, I give 3 stars as it works for me as a brave, memorable, highly unusual, moving tragedy despite many imperfections.
Mon, Jul 29, 2013, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 7, 2013, 9:47am (UTC -5)
2. i also like Jo Jos posts.
3. and i really like Ian's last post.
I am amused at how these conversations. when you read them, it feels like one conversation, but then you realize it is taking place over 6 years.
I really like this episode. I am sure many people noticed the plotholes or items that didnt make sense, but i like it takes until 26 mins before we know they are from the Demon planet.
I know some people see this as a "reset." but i dont think it is. there was no reset for this crew. they got one chance. they tried and they died. nothing to show for all their work and effort. and i agree with another reviewer...you just want that "capsule" to survive so badly...
very interesting episode. i love that it is tied to a previous episode, good or not.
not sure how this did not entertain most people.
Thu, Aug 8, 2013, 1:00am (UTC -5)
I do not tune into Voyager to see everyone suffer and die in gruesome, horrible ways. It was almost sadistic, the way the show draws out the pain and sense of hopelessness, the camera dwelling on their skin falling off, all the deteriorating bodies.... So awful! If you wanted to sicken me, writers, you succeeded.
If a character's death has meaning and purpose in the story, I understand and accept it (although I'd still rather not spend half an hour watching them suffer). These deaths had no purpose at all, except to torture anyone in the audience who was invested in the characters, or foolish enough to believe that at least some would survive. I was that foolish, and so I watched it until the end. I regret that now.
Yes, I'm going to die. So is everyone I love. Perhaps I will suffer a great deal before dying, who knows. I don't need to be painfully reminded of that, nor do I wish to dwell upon it.
One of the reasons I love the Star Trek franchise is because it's ultimately uplifting, and that's why I've come to enjoy Voyager more than DS9. More episodes like this and I will have to revise that opinion.
I take back what I said about "Disease" being the worst Voyager since "Threshold." I would rather watch it ten times in a row than watch this once. At least I can laugh at "Disease" as opposed to being immersed in misery.
If you "enjoy" this episode, fine, have fun.... but I'm never going to put myself through the anguish of watching it again.
Thu, Aug 8, 2013, 5:10pm (UTC -5)
it makes me wonder if you have gone through some hard times in your life.
sometimes you feel more alive when you witness death.
if anything, watching this episode makes you realize how much you care about the characters. and it makes you think what if something like this happened to the real crew?
but, yes, star trek usually has an uplifting message and comraderie that is fun to watch. but sometimes, shows that make you feel something more than warm fuzzies is good.
this is why i enjoyed M*A*S*H and Scrubs so much. there is so much laughter, but so much seriousness. You care more for the characters when you see the sadness they have to deal with, also.
Fri, Aug 9, 2013, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 9, 2013, 10:52pm (UTC -5)
Daring and moving, it's desperate feel always hits home as far as I'm concerned. And the fact that no one will ever know about this doomed crew (hence the title) is EXACTLY why the story is so strong and tragic, and what makes this episode so powerful.
Have the duplicate crew's logs found, and you end up with just another milked down script like so many others in the series.
Sat, Aug 10, 2013, 2:59pm (UTC -5)
I guess that informs my opinion on shows that have no modicum of hope. What makes me feel more alive is seeing people overcome tragedy, not succumb to it. Even shows involving a character's death works if something positive can be derived from it. Here, there is nothing.
You are right that the fact I was so upset reveals how much Voyager has made me care for the characters (even their clones because they possess those characters' essences). This show is far better than its reputation in some online quarters would suggest. Of course, it's all subjective, eh?
Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 20, 2013, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
As Elliott so often says (years ago yes, but still) NONE of it is real, not warp drive, not transporters... If we can accept those then it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to accept the rest. The premises for "The Inner Light" and "The Visitor" are pretty sketchy too.
I agree with those who say this was a good exploration of hopelessness, thus the destruction even of the "time capsule", and of what it means to be human - especially when it is a biomimetic fluid doing the exploring.
I didn't find the first part of this too offensive, and definitely was not offended by this one. I thought it was a bold and original idea, and deserves credit as such.
Having said that, yes, some minor details like the amazing resilience of biomimetic hair and uniforms could have been polished up, and the hard-headed aliens were frustrating, but I think that was what the episode was going for, the utter hopelessness of their fate.
Wed, Sep 25, 2013, 12:40pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 3:04am (UTC -5)
The was one of the most cynical, depressing, fatalistic, exploitative Voyager episodes yet. It consciously sacrificed the ethos of established Trek conventions to appeal to base emotions, such as the grotesque fascination felt watching the duplicate crew literally disintegrate over the course of an hour. It was practically torture porn.
In many respects this episode reminded me of the ST-TNG episode "Conspiracy", which was equally derided as being a one-off, ultra-violent (by ST standards), exploitation exercise.
What could have elevated "Oblivion" to achieve the standards of well establish Trek ethos? For one thing, Trek needs humanity - we were watching duplicates composed of silver goo after all- if the Original Voyager crew had confronted the alternate crew half way through the episode, that would have provided plenty of dramatic situations with resonance. All kinds of moralistic questions could have been asked.
Hopelessness, futility, and entropy, are not subjects regularly covered by Trek. This is probably for a good reason as there is ultimately nothing to be gained by the audience, other than inducing a temporal instinctive reactive disgust (like gag reflect) toward witnessing sentient beings fight a hopeless battle for survival. What's next, filming an episode of the good doctor performing euthanasia for an entire hour? (The Cardassian "Hologram" torture episode comes close...)
1/2* for the gooey special effects
(duplicate Seven still looked sexy even as she was disintegrating).
Sat, Nov 30, 2013, 7:49am (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 13, 2013, 10:47am (UTC -5)
It's novel to have taken the end of one story and make something new out of it. Or certainly not typical, for Trek or most shows in general.
It makes sense that the ship is a duplicate, it was exposed to the same silver goo - and I'll pretend all the crew and ship were submerged to allow the duplicates to be made, since "Demon" had some silver touching B'Elanna's thumb and only the thumb was duplicated.
It's nice to see there can be civilizations on planets other than class-M types.
Characters realizing they're duplicates and the resultant arguments works sometimes, but fails at others.
The plot holes and cons to the story are BAD. Kim whines about "being ourselves" - except they're duplicates that will delay in the normal environment. Even Janeway orders a simulation of their class-Y (class-Why?) environment just to prolong a life that, well, isn't.
Chakotay was given some of the best dialogue, as was Janeway's assumption-driven response to counter his claim that they shouldn't be there (and her opting not to destroy the alien ship out of 'misunderstanding').
Futility, entropy, etc, are rarely covered in Trek due to its optimistic tone. Segues into episodes like "Course: Oblivion" are refreshing because there's no reset button to return to the status quo (unlike "Year of Hell", which is a far better episode in all aspects).
And seeing the crew die en masse is grizzly. Especially slowly as everyone gets tired from the disintegrating.
Great f/x as well...
The ending where the real Voyager finds it is poignant. They don't know what the ship was, and our knowing what it was... but yet, they couldn't scan the "wreckage" (silver balls) and determine the origins being a class-Why planet and realize it was their own duplicates all along?
And Jammer's points are all well-made. The most poignant (IMO) being the logs not being available for the real Voyager to get. It'd be an interesting experiment in how the real characters would respond.
Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 6:09pm (UTC -5)
Two episodes later in "Think Tank" Voyager will be seeking a possible fuel source.
Anyway, I really enjoyed this episode despite the fact that my mind works as displayed above. Somehow I found it easier than usual to simply accept this at face value as shallow entertainment and, on that count and isolated from analysis about plot holes and meta issues such as the purpose of telling the story or how it fits into the theme of Voyager, it succeeds.
The topic of the survival of the crew is, oddly, basically unexplored up to this point in Voyager ("Shields down to 28%" does not count as peril, nor does "I've isolated a compound I can put in a hypospray which I'll then inject into necks to solve the crisis of the previous 42 minutes") and seeing them as mortal beings definitely put a new spin on the show. I wish this, like Demon, would have been a two parter because it also had issues that could have been explore more deeply which would have benefitted it: crew loyalty to a captain who isn't really the captain, going on in the face of imminent doom, going on after losing close friends, interacting with Hard Headed Aliens(TM) from a desperate perspective of imminent doom - how far do Starfleet morals go when those who profess them are fighting to survive? If they'd have made Demon and this a four part mini-arc I think they would have been absolute classics (Demon also suffered from not exploring potential themes, for lack of time).
Alas, I still had a great time watching this episode. 3 stars.
Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
Wife and I just watched it as we're going through the whole series (and all the other treks series). when it was over we just looked at each other and asked "what was the point of that?" and started laughing. seriously, all they needed to do was let the real crew get the probe or even receive one message from the duplicate crew and figure out who they were to bring it around to being relevant to them.
Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
I have to say; it actually ages far better than much of Trek's other pieces with weird concepts. Course: Oblivion is not an episode per se, but a Eulogy for someone that no one actually knew.
This Voyager crew had adventures, fought the good fight, and characters that could have been fun to watch. We never got a chance to know them and neither did the Star Trek Universe, except for a minor footnote from Janeway's log on a destroyed ship.
This concept I dare say is also a good eulogy for Star Trek itself, at least classic TOS-Voyager timeline. At times, the shows were entertaining, dramatic, and honestly brilliant like certain parts of this episode. There were plot holes and story devices that made it stupid after a while. Now, we have lost it and few if any one outside us old fans remember the older series. New fans only know about JJ Abrams "Star Trek", the loud action adventure flick without depth like Voyager itself was attacked by critics of its time as.
Jammer, I think the reason why people are starting to like this episode more over time is that they are realizing how classic Star Trek had written its own Eulogy into an episode.
When viewing it like that, you get a different depressing sadness over how this episode works.
Wed, Apr 23, 2014, 1:00am (UTC -5)
Even though, some issues raised here were powerful enough to make me think and enjoy the set up moderately. In the end, it certainly is another episode underrated by Jammer, but I would not give a constellation of stars as well.
Fri, May 9, 2014, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 24, 2014, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 31, 2014, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 11, 2014, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 11, 2014, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 11, 2014, 8:55pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 13, 2014, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 28, 2014, 11:23am (UTC -5)
I was glad that the chaos of the universe won out, even though that's not the outcome my heart wanted. A rare success for the writers.
Sat, Dec 6, 2014, 7:26pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 15, 2014, 8:12am (UTC -5)
were doing fine. The theme of parallel universes is common in science fiction, but here the two parallel universes are in one universe, and almost encounter each other. If the survivors of the duplicate crew did meet the real crew, they would have realized that, however meaningless their existance was, in the other universe their existance was fulfilled. As someone said, whether the episode was plausible or not, it did succeed in making us think about existance and meaningfulness.
Sat, Feb 28, 2015, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode because this is how these crew members would act if the situation were really happening. The real Neelix would have acted the same had Janeway passed, respectfully and silently (at a loss for words).
It's haunting, every time I think of it.
Fri, Jun 19, 2015, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
This episode is particularly intriguing to me because of the huge diversity of reaction it receives from the commenters on this site. I find myself torn in terms of the illogical plot lines with holes so huge you could pilot a Borg cube through them and not scrape at all, vs. the utter entropic and gut-wrenching finality of it all when the duplicate crew simply de-molecularizes with no trace, no record, no nothing.
I give it *** for being innovative, unique and bold.
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 5:36am (UTC -5)
The crew deteriorating at different rates despite different external appearance? Things could be happening internally.
Adapting to ship's atmosphere? Adaptation.
The ship being copied? "Probe goo" infiltrating the ship after contact and relaying info. Then combining with the info of the various copies.
Where did the anti-matter supply come from? This is an unforgivable act of license.
As an existential experiment, it's an okay episode.
Voyager is a fun show. Weak SF. Ok "syfy".
Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:05am (UTC -5)
First they were able to save life's and to change the universe. They had missions and adventures on their own off screen. That means that they were able to help aliens and now thanks to them people lived and were changed due to them. Their influence on the universe will remain forever as their consequences of their choices.
They also had the chance to love, to laugh, to breath and to be happy. No matter how brief it was, their lives were much better than as mindless silver blood. At the end even if voyager never saw them, even if they were a footnote, they proved that what a matters is our choices to accomplish our goals,. Their brief happiness and their enhanced warp engine proved that
Ergo their lives weren't in vain.
Mon, Oct 5, 2015, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 6, 2015, 1:49am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 30, 2015, 6:43am (UTC -5)
Its parent episode S4's Demon gets unending flack, yet this dreck hits home? I wasn't buying what the ep was selling. Found this one to be as tasteless as Threshold. Knowing this crew was reverting back to a liquid forn because that biomimetic gel that gained self awareness was losing it's cohesion being so far away from that demon-class planet didn't make for very compelling storytelling. Seeing it even vaporize into nothingness at the end didn't generate even the slightest twinge of emotion except thank God it's over. Maybe its because the planet it spawned from remains perfectly intact. And more where that came from. I wouldn't be surprised if it continued to replicate itself and sent out more 'Voyagers' like a product on the assembly line, or more like a needle scratching thru a record.
The scientific inaccuracies the first one got slammed for became even more farfetched and unbelievable with this one yet somehow it made for better storytelling? Maybe it was the story and not the ridiculous scientific leaps that gave it more strength with reviewers.
Maybe I just couldn't get past the premise that it was nothing more than a gel that gained self-awareness and sentience thru genetic duplication of the crew. Knowing that the emotions this ep is supposed to evoke just doesn't work for me. Because there are no long term consequences to this voyage. And I mean that with both this biomimetic gel and the real crew. That lack of continuity makes it hard to get too wrapped up in standalones knowing the clock will be reset by next week's ep.
I could barely give this one half a star. At least it wasn't an all out assault on your senses like Threshold. But it was cutting it close seeing half liquefied visages that could barely speak.
Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
1. Tom and Torres' marriage: How is it possible for marriage to even exist in the 24th century? Marriage is nothing more than the economic merger of two people. But there is no money in the 24th century and no private property. So what exactly is being merged from a legal point of view? In a world without money, what is the thing that makes marriage exist apart from a simple informal relationship? What are the distinctive characteristics that give marriage its definition and existence? The only other answer I can come up with is religion, but that's gone too in the 24th century (at least for humans), and this wasn't a Klingon ceremony.
2. The conversation between Torres and Seven in the Jeffries tube: Torres asks Seven when she'll get married. Seven responds that she is against monogamy because monogamy is suffocating, limiting, and boring. And then Torres says, "so you plan to be single," and then Seven responds, "If by single, you mean engaging in multiple sexual relationships with multiple individuals, then yes." Okay, seriously, how the fuck is a Borg drone more enlightened and less clueless than a mainstream 24th century person like Torres about the existence of open relationships and polyamory? Torres seems to indicate that the 24th century has regressed to the 1950s or the 17th century New England colonies when she implies that it's either being monogamous or celibate. What the fuck? Why are these characters acting like my ancestors instead of like my descendants? Have they truly become so closed minded about sex? That's chilling!
3. These metallic creatures breathing oxygen and existing in temperatures comfortable for humans: So in the Demon episode, when one of the creatures beamed up to Voyager, he immediately began suffocating. Why he didn't also freeze to death after going from 450 degrees Fahrenheit to 72 degrees is beyond me, but anyway, all of a sudden these creatures can breathe oxygen and exist in normal human temperatures? Janeway mentions that they need to reset environmental controls to mimic the demon planet exactly, which tells us that they hadn't up till now. And since the plants that Neelix brought on board without replicating are fine, it means that we are not in 450 degrees, and it also means that this crew has gone on away missions in normal class M oxygen planets. Pure horseshit!
4. The existence of the Doctor: Assuming they could replicate him, how did he get his fake memories from before Demon? And how could they replicate him in the first place? In any case, there was no direct download of his memory files. Again, pure trash!
5. The "enhanced warp drive:" Huh????? Don't they know that if they go Warp 10 they'll become giant metallic lizards? This wasn't a slip stream drive or any type of trans warp. This was a completely undefined, unexplained, and mysterious "enhanced" warp drive that could get them to Earth in just two years???? These are the worst writers in Hollywood!
Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
"It's nice to visit this quiet corner of the net, and the great reviews of Star Trek. But ... we must lead pretty comfortable lives to critique shows the way we do:"
Is there something wrong with leading a comfortable life?
"at least the most we suffer from sometimes is boredom. Another way of saying this, is that there's a hidden conceit in writing tv reviews: that we are the center of the universe, and tv exists to entertain us, and should do so. Isn't that kind of like spoiled children?"
Are you saying that TV does NOT exist to entertain us? Then what is the point?
Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 5:41pm (UTC -5)
"Stories can do many good things: heal, console, inspire, enlighten. I enjoy Jammer`s reviews, and enjoy reviewing myself, but it seems selfish, with all that`s going on in the world (poverty, war, greed), the things that the Star Trek world has solved, to talk about how entertained (or not) we are."
So if everyone on the planet is not happy, no one can be happy without guilt? Well that's rather bipolar of you. You extreme Marxist types really ruin everything. This whole "everyone or no one" mentality is as morally and intellectually bankrupt as any other aspect of socialist thinking.
This is why I'm an atheistic libertarian instead of a "secular progressive." You "progressives" have more guilt and suicidal self-hatred inside you than the worst Catholic, Puritan, and Muslim combined!
May I suggest that you put down the razor blade that you are about to use to slash your own evil white wrists, and convert to a belief system with less masochism? Catholicism perhaps? I agree with Richard Dawkins that religion is child abuse, but the "progressive liberalism" is the virtual equivalent of child murder.
To any white parent reading this: Please, don't raise your children to be guilt ridden suicidal masochists who hate themselves just because of the way they were born! Religion has done so much damage already to human self esteem. There is no need to add philosophical Marxism to make the bullshit collective guilt even worse.
If you don't want your kids to end up like Dean over here, understand that individualism is the answer to all guilt. We are not responsible for starving children in Africa. Everyone in this world not having fun doesn't take away everyone's permission to have fun!
To all of you: Live and enjoy life and never let conservative religion or the even worse "liberal progressivism" hold you down in masochistic misery!
Being happy AND white isn't a war crime. Always remember that PLEASE!
Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 5:58pm (UTC -5)
"And the overall premise is not only pointless, it's depressing and quite twisted. It's like watching one of those slasher movies where the only reason people watch is to see people suffering and die and get some kind of kick out of it."
As a super horror movie fan myself, I think you don't really understand the human condition. Us horror movie lovers don't want to see people suffer and die so that we can get some kind of sadistic "kick out of it." It's about the exploration of the entire human condition and looking straight in the eye of both good and evil.
Most movies outside the horror genre are hopelessly politically correct and lack the courage to explore the darkest parts of humanity in all their nakedness and unapologetic horror. To deny their existence is illogical, as that is what gives them power.
By contrast, when you take the worst aspects of human nature and courageously put them on screen in the form of a horror movie, you are taking their power away in real life via not only an act of catharsis but also via an act of enlightenment. You are trapping the bad inside a world of fiction.
To explain this better, watch the horror movie "Wes Craven's New Nightmare," which explains this brilliantly. It's like free speech vs. physical violence. If you ban it, or censor it, or suppress it, the genie is out of the bottle and the horror will become real. Plus you will also take away decent people's coping mechanism of controlling their own fears by trapping them on a screen and laughing at them.
Horror movies are therapeutic both for human monsters and those who are decent among us. Plus, their rawness and naked lack of political correctness allow them to boldly explore an aspect of the human condition that every other genre insists on denying, which makes horror not only courageous, but also providing a useful service to humanity by looking evil in the eye and taking away its bite.
Seriously, watch Wes Craven's New Nightmare.
Thu, Jan 28, 2016, 5:06pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 1:02am (UTC -5)
However, what bugs me now, and annoyed me when I first watched this long ago...... was.....
The travelling BACKWARDS and still coming within 22 light years of the real Voyageur! So the real Voyageur stayed within just a short distance of the Demon planet for 9 or 10 months it seems. Amazing. ANd this "enhanced warp drive"... so this ship is a copy, yet they were able to invent a new warp drive that would take a decades long journey and turn it into two years.........
Voyageur always frustrated me due to this. They would tell some really good stories, but just destroy them with the complete lack of thought in areas of continuity. I still to this day do not understand why the writing team didn't seem to remember what happened previously in the serious and why they had to have hundreds of blatant continuity gaps throughout the 7 year run.
Fri, Mar 4, 2016, 3:59pm (UTC -5)
But damn me if this doesn't work. As a call back to an earlier hanging plot, this is really some inventive story-telling off of the highest of high concepts. And yes, it is bleak as hell - Janeway desperately clinging to the concept of Earth when she is not and never was that person is just one of the genuinely affecting elements. These people thought they were real only to have everything taken away from them. The conclusion follows that theme to the max - there's nothing left to show they even existed.
The tragedy is that the enhanced warp drive would have worked for the real Voyager, but they never get to see it, or even know it existed. Yes, it's a massive contrivance to have them in the area at all - but at least the story had the balls not to give us the saccharine ending. 3 stars.
Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 7:41am (UTC -5)
I believe, THAT, is, the point.
Our life, if no one remembers it - knows what we did, knows what we accomplished... It will ultimately end as the mimic-Voyager did. Just a footnote on a report, that it was found destroyed, and no one even knows what the vessel was before it disintegrated.... from dust to dust.
It also, in a way, kind of serves as a spiritual sequel to one of the TNG episodes that had the Enterprise-D create a non-carbon-based lifeform that was based off the ship itself... I.e. Enterprise-D's baby. I personally wondered whatever became of that organism and the answer may perhaps be found in this episode of Voyager where Voyager had a "similar" experience, though it was more of cloned, along with her crew, than a baby. That said, the Enterprise-D's baby was said to possess the data logs and information, memories of the Enterprise-D crew, and Captain Picard guessed that whatever it became, that baby should reflect the spirit and character of the Enterprise-D. So there you go, this episode does do a type of spiritual sucessor to that.
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 8:31pm (UTC -5)
I still enjoy it, no matter how contrived or heinous the logical plotholes are, because the overall narrative is great. It's not for everyone, not for Star Trek Fans who want "good happy endings", but it is a good meditation on our actions and consequences.
Fri, May 27, 2016, 9:03am (UTC -5)
This is a top tier Voyager episode for me.
As we all know, one can dissect any episode and find flaws. There are no perfect star trek episodes people.
Everyone says Janeway should have turned around once she knew.... based on what? These things weren't even sentient until Voyager set down in their goo. This goo was made into Janeway so the initial reaction is more than plausible. She did change her tune, found a Y-Class planet, blah - blah.
The "logical" details are not what this episode is about. This is the ultimate character piece.
Those that like it, I think, do so because they are endeared to these characters. I still to this day get emotional watching our heroes "melt". Neelix's reaction to Janeway's "death" gets me every time. For those that complain that Trek isn't "dark" or "real" enough, this certainly should quench your pallet.
Then no record at all of their existence? So sad. I would have loved to see the real Voyager somehow figure out what happened. It would have been neat for them to recover the capsule, it for a short period.
This is one of those episodes you don't forget because it was so damn heart-wrenching.
I know Jammer would have had the same reaction to a DS9 episode similar to this where all his heroes die a meaningless death.
4 star episode for me.
Tue, Aug 9, 2016, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
Regarding plotholes, that doesn't bother me much with tv shows as long as the characters are good and the stories interesting. Also, science fiction shows do tend to have lots of plotholes anyway. I should know, since I'm also a Doctor Who Classic (and some new Who) fan and also a Blake's 7 fan.
Sun, Aug 14, 2016, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
Anyway, huge plot holes here. How could the warp engines function at all if the stuff they're made of can't withstand the radiation from the warp engines?
Tue, Sep 6, 2016, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 30, 2016, 11:55am (UTC -5)
"Harry Kim as s sex addict"
-Reduces a passionate affair to: "sex addict". Check.
"Marriage is nothing more than the economic merger of two people."
-Defines other people's marriages for them, insisting there is no inherent value in them other than monetary. Check.
"how the fuck is a Borg drone more enlightened and less clueless than a mainstream 24th century person like Torres about the existence of open relationships and polyamory?"
-Takes a personal opinion about polyamory in the present and implies that someone in the future must hold his current opinion in order to be enlightened. Check.
Conclusion: Apparently in order to count as "futuristic" people of the future are expected to hold the personal opinion of one person in the present, and also to reject any belief that anyone has had in the past. "Progress" apparently means never sticking by any conviction from the past, and yet paradoxically means sticking by convictions of people right now who are 'already enlightened.'
Sat, Nov 12, 2016, 3:07am (UTC -5)
Interesting to see just what has to happen for Harry to get a promotion.
Mon, Nov 14, 2016, 4:31am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 24, 2016, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
What previous episodes (since Demon) COULD have been experienced by these Voyager copies?!
I wonder if that could not have been the original intent. By killing off copies they could simply "write off" some past episodes they would have wanted to remove from canon. When were we watching the real crew, and when were they the copies?
This could explain how Voyager's "reputation" seemed so skewed and prominent the Delta Quadrant.
Fri, Nov 25, 2016, 12:43am (UTC -5)
But with this rule we could undo "The Disease"! (Although that episode at the very least gave us one of Jammer's funniest reviews ever)
Mon, Dec 5, 2016, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
As you yourself said "Why should we care about them if no one—except possibly those destined to die—learns anything? More specifically, why should we care when the real Voyager crew, which comprises the real emotional core of the series—doesn't make the discovery?" It seems that you use that statement as a criticism, however when I hear those questions, it just makes me admire and appreciate the episode. If you don't view it that way, I'm not sure there's any way to make you see it differently. It just seems like one of those things where either you're intrigued or affected by the concept, or you have an instinctive revulsion, an automatic need to deny it. You certainly don't have to like it, but there are definitely going to be a bunch of people, myself included, who do. I was quite impressed that the doomed crew didn't get to leave a record, or contact the real ship; that is what took the story from good to great.
You said a few times that this is one of the most cynical episodes of Star Trek you've ever seen, so maybe it's the cynical people who can really appreciate it. You mentioned that the episode treats the characters with contempt, that it operates unfairly. Again, while this might sound like legitimate criticism to you, these sound like great points in its favor to me.
I'm not going to insist you got the 'wrong' answer with the rating you chose to give it. I'm sure you honestly didn't enjoy it, but I just wanted to add my voice to some of the others here, stating that there is definitely going to be a significant number of fans who will enjoy this episode. I personally can't stand lobster, but I wouldn't try to make the claim that lobster is an objectively bad food.
Oh, and as far as plot holes relating to science go, I've seen a lot of Star Trek episodes over the years, however I don't think I've ever seen even one single episode that was what I would call 'believable'. It's always seemed rather arbitrary to me what technologies and plot devices people will categorize as 'reasonable' and 'unreasonable' and in fact, I think people tend to decide stories they dislike for whatever reason are scientifically implausible, rather than the other way around. You're either willing to suspend disbelief, or you aren't, but that really has more to do with the audience than the story.
However, I still really did hate 'Threshold'.
Sat, Dec 17, 2016, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
Completely agree that this episode is for the Cynics like Year of Hell Part 1
Voyager should have tragic baggage, after all those years of space battles, mind control, and borg attacks, people died non-stop. the ship should be a grim graveyard to remember those we have lost and serve to inspire those that remain.
Of course, I am also a fan of the Walking Dead, which take this bleakness to a whole new level that most commentators on the site would likely be less inclined to favor.
Sun, Jan 22, 2017, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
I felt such a sadness seeing Janeway as she walked around the bridge, so very slowly, nothing working in her favor.
Her dying at the end before the rest of the bridge crew was so depressing.
Besides the plot holes in this story I did enjoy it. I also enjoyed reading every comment and the reviewer on this site. Very thought provoking. Thank you.
Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
If they were able to travel thousands of light years in weeks, why would they bump into Voyager so close to the Y-planet? Chronologically, the episode would have to take place not long after Demon. Otherwise, they traveled more than 25,000 light years in weeks and would have been weeks from reaching Earth.
Tue, Feb 14, 2017, 2:35am (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 2, 2017, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
Stupidest episode with the largest plotholes ever. The ship? The doctor? The away missions? It's all so stupid.
Fri, Mar 17, 2017, 5:26am (UTC -5)
and another handful of people complaining like crybabies.
okay first and foremost. It's called a story. For all we know, Between Dark Frontier and Course Oblivion, that could have all been the time of the duplicate stuff. I agree there are some plot holes, but what story doesn't have plot holes. Star Wars Force Awakens says hello.
As for the duplicated ship, B'lanna's Finger got covered just a little bit and the Silver blood duplicated almost the entire finger so it's certainly plausible as someone else pointed out that by the ship submerging in Demon, and at that point is when the blood became conscious and sentient, that when voyager was released and left, another voyager emerged (off screen)
like i said there there are plot holes but what ever.
@Paul Allen yo really need to cool your jets. obviously you're probably some TNG fanboy and that's why you're giving all this hate. WHATEVER.
Wed, Mar 29, 2017, 2:56am (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 5, 2017, 10:07pm (UTC -5)
No one else remembers it happening that way? Hmm, I wonder why...
No stakes, no epiphanies, no reflection.
No tragedy, & no drama.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 10:47am (UTC -5)
In many respects it reminds me of Futurama's "Jurassic Bark", where Fry's dog dies after 12 wasted years of waiting for his master. It's a brutally sad episode and the ending comes out of nowhere and just leaves you feeling utterly desolate and miserable, and I respect it so much for doing that. Not that I could ever watch that episode again, mind you!
Mon, May 1, 2017, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
I find this episode to be almost extraordinarily painful to watch for two reasons. One, this is a very likeable crew who hold true to who they really are: Janeway clings to her Starfleet discipline and her mission to get everyone home, which is literally falling apart before her eyes; a distraught Paris falls back on his renegade ways; Chakotay remains the steadfast and compassionate voice of the crew; and to the last moment, Harry Kim is literally trying to hold the ship together. Tragedy isn't just impending, it is haunting Voyager's crumbling corridors. People we love are dying horribly, and we gradually realise that nothing can save them.
Reason two is that, as usual for Bermaga-era Trek, we see a one-off episode featuring huge progression that will be reset afterwards. The duplicate Voyager has an advanced warp drive that has cut nearly sixty years off their journey. Tom and B'Elanna are married. In their interactions, the characters are not simply prisoners of the plot, they seem more real, deeper somehow.
Literally the only thing spoiling it is the predictable aliens of the week who simply shoot at Voyager. Honestly, how braindead is this, and it happens in nearly every episode. Voyager needs something desperately? Here come the hostile aliens. Isn't Trek supposed to be about communicating with new species?
This episode is hard to enjoy because it is a tragedy. And it hits very hard. There are some things you can't win. That's life. No-one survives life. Within a few decades of an average person's death, there will be no-one left who remembers them. Does that mean nobody's life has any context? To even suggest that reeks of nihilism, and misses the point of life: do the things you enjoy with the people you love in the time you have. If you do this, does it matter if no-one else will ever read your diary? Really?
Fri, May 12, 2017, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
This episode did everything The Inner Light didn't do: it asked us to invest in this crew and their plight, then killed them all off, and no one knows who they were or what they did. Just a random curious cloud of deuterium vapor. I'm stuck somewhere between being angry and just shaking my head in disbelief.
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 2, 2017, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
The point is sometimes pointless, like Time Travel Episodes "Yesterday's Enterprise" did it matter that "alternate" Picard sacrificed his entire crew and ship to save a ship from the past that he had just hoped would "potentially" create peace between Federation and Klingons. When "real" Enterprise sees the Temporal rift closing, not realizing what he did to save the federation and billions of lives, did that not matter.
Voy "Course: Oblivion" and TNG's "Yesterday's Enterprise" comes from the same narrative branch of Star Trek "Alternate" possibilities storyline. Why do we consider TNG's episode classic for their sacrifice that no one will know about (even Tasha won't know since she's dead according to Sela) versus condemning voyager's episode for exploring a character story with the same alternate potential themes?
I'd argue that both episodes deserve equal eye of judgment for what it means as a story rather than judging it based on whether it is part of the main continuity or not, because as pointless as this episode might be, the same arguments could be used for Yesterday's Enterprise as well that many including Jammer and myself consider the epitome of classic Star Trek.
Sun, Jul 2, 2017, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
With Course: Oblivion, the point seems to me to be very much that what happens to the alternate Voyager doesn't affect anything else. The real Voyager doesn't find out about them, and in that sense they're similar to the real Enterprise-D not learning of their alt selves' sacrifice. But the real Voyager is also apparently completely unaffected by them. We can maybe presume for ourselves that the alt-Voyager left some sort of lasting impact on the universe, but the narrative doesn't (unless I'm forgetting) supply any evidence of such. Apparently, the rest of the universe would be unchanged if this alt crew never existed. That's a bitter pill to swallow and I can see why people find it not worth taking. However, what C:O does is attempt to affirm that the alt-crew's lives meant something, *even if* it has no impact on any one else. If a tribe lives in total isolation on some island, and then eventually is wiped out without a trace by some volcanic eruption, does that render their lives pointless? I'd say no, and that is the episode's argument. That is actually very different from YE, which gets much of its strength from demonstrating to us how much what happened to the Ent-C and the alt Ent-D/Tasha meant to the whole narrative. That doesn't make C:O's themes better or worse than YE's, but I think it means that the "pointlessness" of C:O is much more important to it, whereas what happens in YE is not only not "pointless," but is shown to affect the entire world of Trek.
As to whether C:O executed the idea well that the alt-crew's lives still had meaning, even if they fail to achieve their goals, live on, or even affect the real crew -- I dunno. I saw it half my life ago. I think it stayed with me more than most Voyager episodes, for what that's worth, but I'm by no means sure that it didn't suck. I'm not so much defending it or condemning it as giving a take on what I think it was attempting.
Mon, Jul 3, 2017, 9:50am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 3, 2017, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 15, 2017, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 15, 2017, 5:04pm (UTC -5)
The episode started out alright but once we got the reveal that all the weirdness established early on was because these were the mimetic aliens--well the episode cratered
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 6:34am (UTC -5)
Mimetic Silver Goo (MSG) Chakotay and tuvok search the database for (MSG) Voyager's history to try and EXPLAIN why some items on (MSG) Voyager were NOT de-molecularizing . In the episode, they both clearly come up with a ten month time line of items that are NOT de-molecularizing. Infact, this is the very reason that they are able to theorize that they are copies from the demon planet. (later confirmed on B'Lanna's dead body)
Circling back to the clothes, the fact that the clothes were not de-molecularizing simply means that they were not wearing the original garments (uniforms) created on the demon planet. (ewww by the way if they were) Instead, they must have "replicated" clothing in the last ten months with "real" resources from another planet.
HAIR. I did notice a slight differance with their hair as the episode progressed. Perhaps, since the cells in hairs are already dead, the hair faired better than living tissues.
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
It was absolutely tragic, emohasised by the "real" crew finding nothing of note at the scene. The real Voyager rushing to the aid of the duplicate one felt very poignant and the scenes did seem to convey a sense of speed.
And it was real for them. That’s the thing. An infant sentient species that duplicated an experienced race, whose urge to get home was so strong... gets me every time.
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 4:38pm (UTC -5)
It was a character study, and a pretty powerful one at that. It took aspects of each person's personality, and cranked them up to 11 when faced with impending doom.
The main critique I've read through this amazing comments section (really impressive btw!) that it was all for naught, that it didn't affect anything and that it is completely able to be lifted out from the rest of the series (like almost every other Voyager episode, lol) without any effect on anything, doesn't really ring true for me.
Whether or not these characters are remembered by anyone doesn't matter. In our own lives, whether or not we are remembered by others doesn't matter. That's an illusion we have about ourselves, propelled by our own egos. Fast forward through time; long, universal time. All of us will ultimately be forgotten; our entire solar system and galaxy will be forgotten. The meaning of our lives while they went on remains unchanged.
This deep truth holds in this episode. We get a glimpse of some of our most beloved characters and how they would actually have acted in these truly dire circumstances, including their brutal and terrible ends, without having to end the series due to having no one left. I thought it was brilliantly done.
As I mentioned above, pointing out plot holes in Star Trek, is in general, laughable and infinite. It is an endless, and I do mean endless, source of entertainment and discussion, as this comments sections shows! But I have to end on this note; Oblivion is a winner for its emotional content and deep, thought-provoking material about the nature of our own existence and some of the big questions surrounding our finite nature.
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 7:06pm (UTC -5)
I rarely agree with any comments I read on here (because I like to be contrary), but yours just gets right to the crux of the matter and takes no prisoners in the process.
This ep: 3.5/5
Ky’s comment: 4.5/5 (.5 deducted for lackluster screen name).
Thu, Jan 4, 2018, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
Anyway, another tragic element is that the alternate crew were actually largely better at being the real crew than they were, in some ways -- Tom and B'Elanna's relationship was further along, the crew successfully integrated more advanced warp engines and were much further along, Tom's rank suggests he didn't become a terrorist to attempt and fail to protect an ocean, etc. For the most part, I found the scenes surrounding the Tom/B'Elanna wedding and her death (and Tom's loss of hope in the process) to be affecting and effective. The Chakotay/Janeway conflict was well-drawn. I'd say it's a high 3 stars; I won't go higher because I somewhat agree that the episode is manipulative in some obvious ways (the coincidence of this Voyager getting so close to the "real" one being high on the list), and I agree that having a sequel to Demon was an odd choice.
Wed, Jan 10, 2018, 1:13am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 10, 2018, 1:17am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 19, 2018, 11:58pm (UTC -5)
If it's trying to entertain, it fails.
Janeway finds out they are goo, and still stupidly keep going towards Earth for no reason, then changes her mind and goes back the other way, too late of course, and they all slowly melt. The end. Even the fake Janeway is a terrible captain.
Fri, Jan 26, 2018, 12:38am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 27, 2018, 8:03am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 29, 2018, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
Oblivion is a winner for its emotional content and deep, thought-provoking material about the nature of our own existence and some of the big questions surrounding our finite nature."
I second that. Very well written, sir!
Mon, Mar 19, 2018, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
2) But let's grant that gaping continuity chasm and get to the meat of "Oblivion". It would have been far more interesting AND entertaining if the real Voyager had encountered the fake one. Picture the real crew trying to figure out where their doppelgangers had come from (Parallel universe? Time travel? Alien deception?), then learning that they were their "demon" duplicates, and then learning about their "illness". Janeway would have had to confront the inexplicable and highly questionable decision she made at the end of "Demon" to allow her crew to be copied in the first place (not unlike her giving the Hirogen holodeck technology in "The Killing Game" and then having the consequences of that decision come back to bite her in "Flesh & Blood"). In this case, she would be ultimately responsible for the fake crew's demise by allowing them to exist in the first place. And consider that that guilt would be amplified by, first, acquiring the quantum slipstream drive technology that the fake crew had successfully developed (Yay! We can go home!) and then being unable to risk using it when it's connected with the fake crew's mass deaths. The story consequence trifecta.
The bottom line of "Oblivion" was that there wasn't any point to it. It wasn't the real characters, so what happened to the fake crew was meaningless. And the real crew never even knew they existed. It evokes the expression, "If a tree falls over in a forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" In this case, the answer is a depressing "no" - except for the unfortunate audience.
Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
So the whole duplicate Voyager to the finest detail is beyond any reasonable belief -- that they're all the silver fluid. How could they survive for 9 months away from the demon planet? Forget it -- useless to spend time thinking about that one. VOY pushes the limit sometimes and here it's beyond acceptable.
The questioning of Janeway doesn't make sense to me if the reason for questioning her (as Chakotay/Paris did) is because she's a duplicate. Well, so are Chakotay and Paris as well as the whole ship. Their memories etc. are all supposed to point to following her orders. Yes, Janeway's desire to get the ship to the Alpha Quadrant once she realizes she's a duplicate is the wrong decision since home is a demon planet.
But to me the whole act of questioning Janeway, Paris reacting to Torres' death, and the poignant scene near the end with Janeway/Kim/Neelix/7 are all just contrivances to get the actors to act a certain desperate emotion -- the actors pull if off, but it turns out to be pointless ultimately.
So in the end the real Voyager shows up and has no idea what happened to the duplicate. All that emotional stuff we saw had no lasting purpose -- it might as well been a holodeck romp.
1.5 stars for "Course: Oblivion" -- giving credit mostly for the duplicate crew dealing with difficult decisions, emotions however ridiculous the cause for them are. Some good acting performances for the characters Janeway, Paris and even Harry Kim. But I just don't know what the point of this episode is. As the episode wore on, it was running out of time to find the solution as everything kept going wrong -- they couldn't even launch the time capsule. And even attempting to contact the real Voyager doesn't work and the real Voyager has no idea what happened. Pretty disappointing. But next episode starts with a clean slate!
Sun, Apr 8, 2018, 10:28am (UTC -5)
In spite of the name I did remember it as interesting and that is still my opinion. I admit that it is not a favourite.
Mon, Apr 16, 2018, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 4, 2018, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 22, 2018, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 25, 2018, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 27, 2018, 1:14am (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 20, 2018, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 5, 2018, 1:28am (UTC -5)
I have not really read the Jammer review, I just sort of skimmed it.
I have not read any of the comments.
This episode was so painful to me when I first saw it, I (for the first time in my all Trek re-watch), skipped it.
I do recall they talked about what they'd done before, being honest to the original crew, after they found out. And something about making "something" the real crew could find, which turned to mush or something. Then their life forms vanished for good, which the "real" Voyager found later... their "lives" and exploits gone forever...
It was the most painful episode of Trek I ever watched, and not in a "good" heartfelt way. It was an abomination and should be burned with fire.
And I am not kidding. Burn this one.
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 12:27am (UTC -5)
I did enjoy the wedding, but it went downhill from there.
Tue, Nov 27, 2018, 4:16am (UTC -5)
The part I don't understand is how the "demon" planet duplicated Voyager. I mean, yes, it did have it in its grasp for a long time when it was sinking, but when Voyager blasted off, we saw the crew copied, not the ship!
That aside, seeing them all melt away and die was sad. I like watching this as escapist TV, not to feel depressed!
Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 12:24pm (UTC -5)
People are up in arms but this is sci fi folks, there's always an answer, just make it up.
Here are some questions that ill attempt to answer, take it or leave it.
How did the liquid copy Voyager? Easy! The same way it copied the crew. Voyager sank halfway into the stuff, it got Tom Paris from just his hand. We know nothing about what the liquid can and cannot do and truthfully, neither did the original crew. The demon episode only shows us what they went through at the time, it doesn't show us necessarily what the liquid is capable of or doing and the whole "can't survive away from the planet" thing is an example of scienctific answers which can be wrong. That was a hypothesis disproven by this episode.
How does Voyager survive in space/the crew survive on away missions? Evolution or maybe it was capable all along and the crews hypothesis was incorrect, as I mentioned. I'm going with a combination of both.
Why did the copies leave the planet? Kim and Harry had an incredible draw to the the planet in Demon yet in Oblivion, they're off heading to Earth. Again, this is explained and even exampled in the episode. The entire human crew have a massive drive, a built in instinct to head back to home that is copied along with their memories. Janeway refused to turn around even as her crew is dying and Paris wants 20s Chicago as honeymoon. The pull towards Earth beat out their connection to the Demon planet. You can nitpick and say well the doc and 7 shouldnt be affected but again, later on we see how much 7 wants to head to Earth as everyone else, she's been influenced as much as the originaI 7. As for the doctor, he likely doesn't care either way but again is going along with the flow of the crew. I think this instinct, this drive to head to earth completely overrode their connection to the planet, causing them to forget their origin and setting them toward their doomed course.
2 years from earth!??? WHAAAT????! Why not? This crew has gone on a different journey as the original crew. They're working with an ENHANCED warp drive here. It's not difficult to think that they won some technological lottery (I'm saying they got very lucky) that the original crew missed. Keep in mind that they had the original crew ahead of them while heading BACK to the Demon planet, this means that when they reversed course, the original Voyager was heading towards them, this pans out; they were in fact way ahead of the original Voyager, travelling incredibly fast and would likely have gotten to Earth first.
Why the sad ending? I think the implications of changing the original Voyagers course and choices would have been obvious and too great. For example, Voyager would have either gotten their hands on the Enhanced Warp Drive or tried to head to wherever the copies got it. We just have no idea how this information would have influenced the original Voyager and therefore, it wouldn't have made sense to have them get it. Which I agree is depressing, tragic and just plain sad, but no more than day, 3m people, an entire species being wiped out by the Borg or an inhabited planet being destroyed by a black hole or exploding star...in other words, these things happen. It just hits home more because this is a copy of our fave crew.
I found the episode at the very least, interesting. I liked both episodes as improbable or impossible as their storylines are.
Wed, May 29, 2019, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
Like, yeah? That's the point. It has no more plotholes or reliance on suspension of disbelief than any other Star Trek episode, and whether or not you like it depends on if you don't mind some existential horror getting mixed into your optimistic sci fi. A lot of the performances in this episode were great, and while I wish there was a bit more focus on Paris' nihilism, it was believable and, honestly, kinda sympathetic, because I feel like I'd act the same way in this situation.
Personally, I loved it. Four stars.
Fri, Jun 14, 2019, 6:47pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 4, 2019, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
This episode was a ground-breaking idea in terms of bending the imagination and crossing the "what if" barrier. A Twilight zonish episode! We got to see a Star Trek without the safety nets. We got to feel their pain and fear of actually not able to pull one out. This show made us really grieve for them and share their helplessness....and mourn them. And best of all we feel the sense of great loss of them losing everything. Plotholes....so what. It is the imaginative license that has always saved Star Trek.
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
“This episode is hard to enjoy because it is a tragedy. And it hits very hard. There are some things you can't win. That's life. No-one survives life. Within a few decades of an average person's death, there will be no-one left who remembers them. Does that mean nobody's life has any context? To even suggest that reeks of nihilism, and misses the point of life: do the things you enjoy with the people you love in the time you have. If you do this, does it matter if no-one else will ever read your diary? Really?”
Looking past any writing problems, the episode causes one to explore their own situation - and how closely our lives resemble theirs. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Sat, Aug 17, 2019, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
But they did affect the lives of others. They helped other people in need that the real Voyager didn't. Regardless of their fate, their help and charity lived beyond them.
Thu, Sep 5, 2019, 2:01am (UTC -5)
Even if the real Voyager had got there before this event what would they have done? I'm sure it was mentioned (something about DNA blah blah blah) but would they have just scooped up the crew and ship in some vast test tube and returned to the one star rated planet from the Demon episode and then they would have been ok?
I'm still wondering what I just watched.
Tue, Sep 10, 2019, 12:40am (UTC -5)
1/2 star from me.
Tue, Oct 15, 2019, 8:25am (UTC -5)
Directed by the guy who played 'Potsie' from the tv show 'Happy Days'. I'd rather watch that for some legit substance.
Jammer is right. This is 1 star, just for the people showing up on the set.
Tue, Oct 15, 2019, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 2, 2019, 2:23am (UTC -5)
The ending was among the best I've ever experienced (JUST saw it for the first time tonight) for a Star Trek episode
Jammer is awesome and I got a lot out of his reviews (and agree with a lot of them) but I think I personally got a lot more out of this episode than most people - one of my favourite Star Trek episodes - bitter-sweet high-concept sci-fi of the most thought-provoking sort
Sat, Nov 23, 2019, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
Yes, implausible science and near-incoherent plotting, and at least a semi-dirty trick on the audience - plus bad-zombie-movie makeup. But there are decent performances, consistent with developed characterizations, and even character growth (Janeway questions her own decision and Harry gets to be captain).
AND, in the long cosmic view, the ending is a perfect metaphor for the net result of all of our lives - of life itself - of the universe itself, eventually burning out, devoid of light and heat, husks of stars and planets drifting ever further apart till none are even with light-range of another (were there still photons to go traveling). And, it goes without saying, none to tell the tale. Oblivion indeed.
I generally think I have the spiritual fortitude to deal with the bleak emptiness of the prospect that there IS no meaning or purpose to any of it, other than what we make ourselves. In other words, the meaning of life ... is life ... and when that’s gone, so is meaning.
But actually seeing this conclusion presented visually - motes of dust drifting away from each other, with no evidence to provide the slightest reminder of what once was - I find it unsatisfying. Not unsettling, just ... flat and without affect.
Which in turn reinforces and demonstrates the very point the arc of the story just made: It. Just. Doesn’t. Matter.
I don’t think that’s nihilistic, and it doesn’t depress me. I value and enjoy my life, principally for the various meanings I’m able to create through consciousness, sentience, relationships, creature comforts, sensory delights, brief moments of seeming transcendence, artistic expression. And MAYbe the ending’s reminder of the ultimate end of all things could motivate me to make the most of life, like right NOW
- which begs the question whether one-finger-padd-tapping my casual reflections on a 20-year-old tele-drama, for a dubious audience far removed in time and place, is the best use of my time. My best answer to that is that I’m choosing to contribute in some small way to a self-selected community of minds similarly connected.
Which isn’t a bad train of thought to have left the station of such a curious episode.
And my response to the ending teaches me that maybe I prefer a dark tale telling an existential truth to include at least a little light in the end. As I can’t immediately recall any other fiction which kills off every character and suggests their lives were utterly meaningless and pointless, I guess I owe this episode thanks for that epiphany.
Which further leads me to reflect that it was a stunningly bold artistic decision on the part of a prime time network TV show. And I know the writers inTENded that statement, because they underscored it by making the fate of the time capsule such an important element of the last act - they wanted us to understand that, in the end, not even memory remains.
Because of all of that, I forgive them for capitalizing on our long familiarity with (and affection for) this crew. We wouldn’t have cared about people we didn’t know existed in the first place. And, yes, they softened the blow by revealing early on that this wasn’t REALLY our Voyager, and they let us guess that the real ship and crew would be alive and well elsewhere in the quadrant. So they painted their bleak scenario at a remove (rather than, say, having Voyager disintegrate into nothingness in sight of Earth). But the existential point stands - AND they killed off a ship of sentient beings, all of whom we knew and understood.
So it may be one of those episodes whose philosophical argument is worth the apparent clumsiness - and emotional flatness - of the plotting and execution. Such episodes are certainly very much in the Trek tradition, whether or not they contribute to an overall arc.
On (slightly) less momentous grounds, the episode meditates on what comprises human identity, seeming to come down on the view that it’s the persistence of memory. It doesn’t explicitly ask how much appearance or physical form contribute, particularly to the way others perceive us. But it builds it in implicitly: before our characters die, they are disfigured and deformed in ways that already push us away from them - or, rather, test just how good we are at looking beneath the skin.
Any serious Trill episode, and even Changeling episodes, ask some of the same questions, and they’re good questions: how would we accept those close to us if they returned in different forms - after something like a brain transplant into another body, or a consciousness upload into a computer? To what extent are these mimetic reproductions identical with the originals? Other than the life-support issues, does the fact that the substrate supporting these creatures’ human biology and consciousness has changed differ much from the fact that all the cells in our bodies are changed out every seven years or so?
Finally, several interwoven tragedies inherent in the life arc of these mimeticlones bear mention.
Start with the nature of their genesis as sentient beings. For once, Voyager wasn’t meddling in the affairs of other species or toying with the prime directive. No matter how unlikely or fabricated the crisis, in Demon, they were out of fuel. They had no choice but set down on the demon planet with its hostile environment. (They were being forced to make a bad episode there.)
It’s hard to lay blame on the crew for interfering. The crew are, in this instance, blameless creatures pursuing their own survival. Again setting aside the unlikeliness of the science, the mimetic fluid on the planet had evolved a remarkable capability, but was pre-sentient, and not even conscious in any meaningful way. Their ability might be considered an exponential extension of the mimetic tricks of a cuttlefish. Let’s say they’re analogous to early multi-cellular life on earth. There is potential.
Our hapless heroes stumble in looking for deuterium, come into contact with the fluid, give it an advanced model of life to emulate, and in a few hours it jumps over millions of years of what might have been its own evolution had it remained undisturbed. Suddenly it has form, it is sentient, it has a complex invididual and social life it was clearly unprepared to deal with, so it deals with consciousness and everything that goes with it in the only way it can - by BECOMING that life form. What other models did it have? What evolutionary memory did it have?
In behavioral terms, humanity imprinted on it. In religious terms, mankind took the “clay” and created a sentient race in its own image. Voyager brought these creatures into being - but through no intention, no fault of its own. To what extent is Voyager responsible for them?
Frequent posters bemoan the lack of consequences and connectivity between Voyager episodes - it doesn’t get much more consequential than this. At the end of Demon, we’re invited to wonder what kind of life this new species can make for itself on that beastly planet. Now we (but not Voyager’s crew) are privileged to find out.
Their development make complete sense. Because they have created themselves in the form of the only example they have, they literally beCOME Voyager. Along with their bodies, they have all of Voyager’s crew’s personalities: thoughts, desires, ambitions, motivations, affections, skills, memories, intentions. And Voyager’s driving force is to get back to earth.
What would be more natural - more tragically inevitable - than for this species to mime itself up a duplicate Voyager and head for “home”? Its creators’ will becomes its own. It devotes itself to doing its creators’ bidding, with no more memory of its fluid pre-history than we have of the primordial soup from which our ancestors oozed.
And in so doing, the species inevitably dies. It dies after living a life that was not its own - a life, in fact, that was never intended to be.
A life bestowed on it accidentally by mere mortals trying to survive. Who can never learn what they have wrought.
That right there is a tapestry of textured tragedy. Not bad for a bad episode of Voyager.
Sat, Nov 23, 2019, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
Your review is probably 100 times more thoughtful than the episode itself is. I would like to suggest that your good ideas here are coming from you, not from the episode. It's like, imagine a chef serves you up a pile of dirt. Someone clever might react by pointing out the chemical details of the sediment in it, how it points to amazing details of how humans came out of the last ice age, and how its undramatic 'flair' can even serve as commentary on our expectations out of cuisine and how shallow we might see the process of eating only to set ourselves up for eating yet again. A clever person could think of all that, but it wouldn't change the fact that a chef has had nothing else to offer up but a pile of dirt in place of a meal. Amazing things can be gleaned from very little; such is life and our amazing brains.
I rest my case.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 6:32pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 24, 2020, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
But I actually think this could be a two parter. It was very fascinating to see the mimic Paris and Kim having the same personalities with the same arguments as their real counterparts desire being fully aware of what they are. Potatoes’s and Kim’s arguments were both compelling.
Same for all the characters. They should have turned around right away yet were literally programmed to try to reach earth.
Also, I was happy the reveal was pretty early on. I rolled my eyes at first when Chakotay said the demon planet was one of their most interesting missions and assumed it was just a wink wink to the audience, but am grateful in the next scene it was confirmed.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
“Potatoes’s and Kim’s”... um, “Paris’s and Kim’s”.
After re-reading some comments, it is amusing to ponder how their replicators work... what exactly have they been eating? It converts energy to food... so does that food have their flaw? If they eat it long enough (gradually replacing the cells in their bodies), are they cured?
Haha, best not to think about such things too much if you like the episode.
Sun, Mar 8, 2020, 8:20am (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 5, 2020, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Apr 11, 2020, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 28, 2020, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 12, 2020, 5:47am (UTC -5)
I remember my first watch, being thrilled that there was another version of the crew, then the slow doom of realising they will likely fall to bits before they can confirm their legacy, their purpose. Watching clones, in this case a cosmic accident, try and come to terms with the hopelessness of their existence, is really quite profound. For a show slammed for it's reversion to the mean, it could be really quite... well, mean, sometimes!
Totally understand it is too bleak for some. I guess it depends whether you intellectualise stuff like this to process it, or get stuck in the empathy and sadness of it. Jurassic Bark is actually a good analogy. I was furious after Jurassic Bark, because it's a fricking cartoon. I prefer the doom of Course: Oblivion because it sets itself up honestly and engages with themes of eternity, futility, and oblivion. Jurassic Bark just pulls a last minute switch to trick you. To kick your ass going out the door. Give me the Luck of the Fryrish any day.
By the way - I love the scene where Tom tells a ribald comment to Neelix about the honeymoon, and the shocked delight on Neelixs face is wonderful, like he had never heard a rogueish joke before. Ethan Phillips doesnt get enough credit for making Neelix very the guileless sort that he is.
Sat, Jul 4, 2020, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 4, 2020, 5:05pm (UTC -5)
I just rewatched the ending to “Demon” and the duplicate crew is standing in a crowd watching the real Voyager leave. They didn’t know they were duplicates then? Also if they are exact duplicates, why hasn’t the original crew figured out “enhanced warp?” They needed a Demon class planet to survive, but all their away missions on M-class planets went ok? The entire ship was degrading but they expected their time capsule to not degrade? In the entire quadrant they just so happened to find the other Voyager with minutes left? The Doctor never noticed that the crew now needed a different atmosphere to breathe, an atmosphere he said himself couldn’t be safely replicated?
I understand the emotional payoff of this episode, but with all these ridiculous plot holes, it comes of as manipulative rather than authentic. 1 star
Tue, Jul 7, 2020, 4:55am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 7, 2020, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 7, 2020, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
The other Voyager didn't follow the same path for 99% of their journey (because we heard about a bunch of interesting different adventures that the dupe crew had that our crew didn't).
They didn't leave at the same time. They probably didn't even leave from the same place nor at the same speed. This isn't alternate universes, after all.
Mon, Aug 3, 2020, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 7, 2020, 8:43am (UTC -5)
As a "what if" scenario watching Voyager deal with a no-win scenario, there are some interesting ideas in this bleak episode, so it's not a total loss. But one and a half stars feels fair. In terms of quality t's below average, but not bad. It just needed some relevance for the real crew, in my opinion.
Sun, Aug 23, 2020, 7:49am (UTC -5)
A propose of nothing in particular, a duplicate means an exact copy, including the axons, neurons, synapses, etc., which is where our memories, self-consciousness, and everything that makes us us reside.
Anyway, a very interesting episode, very enjoyable and parts of it certainly made for a difficult watch, especially the degradation of Voyager and its crew, much as I'm vocally cynical about not caring about any of them.
Wed, Sep 23, 2020, 6:54am (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 12, 2020, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 4, 2021, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
I don't know if it was just the second half of the episode, but I truly started to feel for the deuterium crew once I started the episode back up. Seeing them reach a new home only to turn back and ultimately fail in doing even the simple task of storing and transmitting the records of their brief lives was unexpectedly moving and emotional. The shot of the disintegrated deuterium Voyager was also rather spectacular. Since I wasn't watching the time, I actually expected the original Voyager crew to rescue them so that deuterium Kim could tell their story before dying in Sick Bay. It was definitely an "oh, damn" moment for me.
Couple of notes:
1. I really liked the prosthetics the show used to show the deuterium crew's deterioration. It was sufficiently, for lack of a better word, goopy. Great job on that.
2. I read some of the above comments about plot holes and logical inconsistencies. While those are usually an important part of watching Star Trek for me, especially in DS9, I think the emotional core of this episode is strong enough to ignore whatever logical problems this episode may have. Especially since the deuterium crew was consigned to literal annihilation.
Wed, Jan 6, 2021, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 14, 2021, 7:09am (UTC -5)
I wonder what would Jammer think about these Voyager episodes now.
Sat, Mar 6, 2021, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
The show opens with the wedding of Tom and B'Elanna. He slips the ring on her finger and says it's a symbol of their eternal love. Here's where I would begin to change things: the two rings would have to be items not created by the silver stuff on the Demon planet. Let the fact that they are not breaking down be one of the clues that unravels the mystery.
Skip to the end. Instead of having Harry, Seven, and Neelix being the final remaining survivors at the end, I would have went with Tom and B'Elanna, holding hands as the ship disintegrates around them. The real Voyager arrives and finds nothing, but the camera slowly moves in on the two rings floating together in space for eternity.
Sun, Mar 7, 2021, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
Maybe something could have been written by it.
What I do feel is the episode's ending was terrible because nobody from the real voyager knew this happened and there was nothing left behind. Your idea , or something like it, would have changed the outcome of this to something that mattered.
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 7:28am (UTC -5)
You could say the same about a lot of (modern) art. And you might feel that way about it, which is fine, but one of the key aspects about modern art is INTENT. A pile of dirt meant to be an exquisite meal is just a failure. A pile of dirt served for dinner, but meant to be a pile of dirt, actually has *some* artistic value. It is meant to create reactions / thoughts / emotions. Not great art if you ask me but still art, at least in my book.
I personally found this episode wonderful, for several reasons:
1- it is different, it stands out. Bleak, no happy ending, no technobabble saving grace etc. For that alone it is worth watching. Watching VOY episode after episode just felt like the same recipe served over and over again. This in a weird way is refreshing.
2- it makes people think about their life, and life in general (see all the comments on this website)
3- fake within fake becomes real: the duplicate mimetic voyager in the TV show actually has the most realistic fate — failure at everything it attempts and ultimately death (even though that crew was ‘better’ at pretty much everything compared to the original crew). So much has been said about how unrealistic voyager is, they should have a hard time finding resources, etc etc. Well there you have it, this is the realistic fate of a voyager lost in the delta quadrant. They dont make it home because the ship and the people decay and cannot find the resources on the way.
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 7:50am (UTC -5)
You can always deconstruct any metaphor and invent a context in which it means something new. My point was that the profound 'meaning' found in something puerile is an artistic invention of the critic, not of the author. You're focusing on the author's intent. I'm saying that even if the author outright lacks intent someone clever can always pretend they had one anyhow. That doesn't make it so. I have to evaluate art in the theatre all the time, and I get to know pretty well when a work has meat in it versus when it's a piece of fluff. The mental gymnastics of a reviewer don't always reflect legitimate content.
Wed, May 5, 2021, 8:48am (UTC -5)
Absolutely, I do agree with your point that in some instances the critic will create more meaning or value than there actually is in the work being reviewed.
I am just not sure that is the case here. Or at least not completely. @Proteus’ reflexion indeed probably goes much deeper than the writers ever thought. That being said, this episode (as I remember it) is so depressing — it portrays a facsimile Voyager crew being unsuccessful at everything they try, ultimately leading to their death — that I would contend their story arc, with all its dramatic weight, was the intention of the writers. This is what triggered people to reflect on it in many interesting ways (with all the posts above), so I do think this episode definitely has something to it!
Thu, Jun 17, 2021, 5:12am (UTC -5)
When silver Harry Kim sees the unknown ship approaching on sensors he knows silver Voyager has but moments left to survive. In a desperate attempt at securing posterity, Harry Kim tries to send the unknown ship logs, newest-first. Only a few files are sent before the silver Voyager disintegrates. When they are received and decoded by true Voyager, they turn out to be the Doctor's photographs of Tom and B'Ellana's wedding.
Thu, Jan 6, 2022, 12:02am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 6, 2022, 8:31am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
I went into this episode knowing it was a sequel to "Demon" (thanks to the comment section on this website about "Demon"), but nothing else. For that reason I had expectations which were not met - which is not inherently a bad thing, but it leaves me feeling mixed about this episode.
When I learned there would be a "Demon" followup, I was excited to see how different the lives of the parallel crew were. I expected VOY's crew to have to visit them for some reason like needing some information from a dead crew member whose clone still lives. I figured there would be some interesting conflicts and character commentary when they came back to the Demon planet and confronted their clone selves. The clones seemed really keen to reproduce, so would the planet be populated with tons of children of random crew members? Would the clones have grown to resent Voyager for giving them sentience, perhaps because they were filled with a desire to go to Earth which they could never realise?
There were lots of interesting story potentials with Voyager's crew meeting their own clones. That's why I was thrown off that the whole point of this episode is that they never meet. I get why some people find it poignant. But I just experienced emotional whiplash going from almost crying at the wedding and the bedside scenes with Tom and B'Elanna to realising that the interesting potential of clones meeting each other was never going to happen. So overall this episode just left me feeling disappointed.
Sun, May 22, 2022, 11:30am (UTC -5)
And if you want to look at it philosophically, the "real" Voyager and crew aren't real either. It's a TV show. What gives them a sense of consequence is that we, the audience, watch them on TV. By that yardstick, that goes for the fake Voyager and crew as well.
3.5 / 4 stars, with 1/2 star off only because of the once again ridiculous ignoring of the distances traveled and how on earth could the mimetic Voyager catch up to the real one.
Sun, May 22, 2022, 11:57am (UTC -5)
That should probably have been "how in the delta quadrant" ;-)
Wed, Jun 22, 2022, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
I'll have to declare it a Trek classic.
The "sci-fi" background is magnitudes worse than "Spock's Brain".
But this one has the most meta nature I recall in Trek. Look back at comments that are over ten years old, considering whether someone or anything they do will be remembered.
I am trying to find a nice way to say it, but can't: it's quite possible some reviewers have passed on.
It's a powerful concept that gets paradoxically more powerful as time progresses.
In other notes:
"By the way - I love the scene where Tom tells a ribald comment to Neelix about the honeymoon, and the shocked delight on Neelixs face is wonderful, like he had never heard a rogueish joke before"
I agree, Neelix's reaction there was wonderfully charming and reads just like you say. Personally, FWIW, I thought Phillip's acting was fine to great, and he could well handle meaty material. I just didn't like the goofy Neelix character.
Wow, I'm rewatching as I write this. It's really remarkably profound:
Chakotay tells Janeway that crew is starting to remember their existence before Voyager and want to return to it. Janeway protests that they had no real existence they could appreciate-- they were pools of silver goop without sentience.
Well, what is the difference between being in some primordial soup and being a life form that wants to stay alive?
Would we choose to "save our lives" by returning to being random proteins in goop?
Mon, Jul 11, 2022, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
There's a funny moment when Wang points out that McNeil acts EXACTLY like Tom Paris when it's revealed the crew we're watching fakes. "This is stupid. This isn't the real crew, why am I supposed to care?"
It's funny because he really goes on and on about it.
Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
I haven't made it to this point in The Delta Flyers yet but it doesn't surprise me that McNeill would act that way. While he's a very thoughtful and gracious person, always giving praise where it's due, his "actor ego" does show through pretty hard. Basically no show can ever be a 10/10 if it doesn't prominently feature all members of the main cast. If the guest stars get too much screen time it's no good because there's not enough of the regulars. If it's all a simulation or alternate reality, then it's no good because it's not "our" crew.
I get it, but also I don't get it. Jonathan Frakes once said Trek fans want good action. That's pretty silly. Even 13 year old me wasn't that brain dead. SFDebris countered that what Trek fans want is good stories. I tend to agree more with that. McNeill would seem to think that characters are more important than story. Again, I'm not saying I disagree, but I don't necessarily agree either. Characters are important, but a great story doesn't require everyone in the main cast to have a pivotal role, or guest characters to stay sidelined where they belong.
Many of the best Trek episodes were format breaking and focused on just one or two characters. Think TNG's First Contact, The Inner Light, or Tapestry, DS9's In the Pale Moonlight, The Visitor, or Past Tense, and Voyager's Timeless, Living Witness, or Distant Origin. I also don't buy the "why should we care about these people" rhetoric. That's been levied against TNG's Parallels too. "If there's infinite multiverses then nothing matters." That's nonsense, it matters to US in OUR reality. That there's others where things happen differently is irrelevant. Same for "these aren't really our characters." They're already fictional to begin with. Sure it helps when it's the ones we've grown to know over time, but it's not required.
Sun, Jul 31, 2022, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
That the technology and all of its data was duplicated without anyone knowing or remembering.
That the copies are breathing class-Y atmosphere on the ship without a computer telling them so; or worse, that they somehow adapted to breathe oxygen but forgot.
That they created an enhanced warp drive that the original Voyager never thought to create in order to catch up to them to foment an abysmal ending.
Anything is possible in the sci-fi universe as long as there is some attempt at even the most shallow explanation because then you can suspend your disbelief and enjoy the episode. In this episode though, that's impossible.
Sun, Jul 31, 2022, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
I can almost handle the writing.
The really painful part was the excesive face-distorting make-up. I hadn't seen anything that bad since the opening scene of the TOS episode "Miri."
Sat, Sep 24, 2022, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
1) We're supposed to believe that Voyager (the ship) was duplicated with neither the original Voyager crew nor the duplicate crew being aware of it, even though we know from "Demon" that the duplication process is instantaneous.
2) The duplicates have been breathing an oxygen atmosphere, which, among other things, are what fooled them into thinking they were the genuine Voyager crew. Yet in "Demon", it was established that this was impossible. Tom and Harry suffocated immediately on contact with oxygen.
3) Janeway orders a simulated class Y atmosphere to be created on the ship to slow degradation, when in "Demon" it was established this was impossible, not only because of the impossible complexity of that atmosphere, but because it would destroy the inside of the ship. Recall that Seven was trying to beam an atmospheric sample onto the ship and the whole transporter room exploded. The challenges of duplicating the atmosphere safely was what created the dilemma of leaving Harry and Tom on the planet (before it was known they were duplicates).
4) The simulated Voyager is capable of all its functions, including matter/antimatter containment, plasma conduits and ultra-high velocity travel, yet some pithy warp core radiation is causing everything to revert to the mimetic substance. Colour me unconvinced.
Honestly... did the writers of this show ever bother to look back at previous scripts to make ANY attempt at continuity? Even in this separated two-parter that relied on content from ONE single previous episode, they couldn't have tried to be the least bit self-referential?
It's true, sci-fi creates some wonderfully unusual conditions whose purpose is to drive human dramas, but those conditions still need to be reasonable in order to not be totally distracting from the human drama.
This episode pisses me off.
Thu, Nov 10, 2022, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
Instead, the episode was absolutely pointless.
Mon, Mar 27, 2023, 11:08pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, that's interesting. (I guess there must have been some kind of site redesign that nuked all comments before 2007.) Personally, I did like it quite a bit (3.5 stars) and was surprised to see the negative review. But as you say, it's polarizing just because people disagree about its merits, not because of some kind of controversial subject matter or whatever.
My heart ached to see the probe destroyed, but I definitely think the ultimate futility of their quest to at least be remembered is an affecting, tragic scenario that makes the episode more powerful. Although I suppose there were people they interacted with on their--different--adventures that would be able to testify. Will there be upcoming misunderstandings as the real Voyager encounters species who met the duplicate crew? (BTW, how did the duplicates enhance their warp drive, anyway?)
@Ken Egervari: "Tuvok and Chakotay also mention encounters that we know never happened, unless we are led to believe the show doesn't share all the encounters with the audience and only the more important ones."
This is what I assumed was going on, although I was surprised they had time for such wild adventures that weren't even up to the significance to share with us! LOL
@Cloudane: "When you have a Captain Kim, you *know* the ship is in dire (and probably fatal) Trouble!
'There's some sort of dampening field around my command skills and personality. Trying to compensate. No use.'"
BWAHAHAHA! That was harsh. And very funny.
@Elliott: "Based on the way many of you seem to formulate your complaints, one would have to dismiss nearly every single episode of Trek for its implausibility: Warp drive? bah--utter nonsense. Transporter buffers--what dribble!
Television is 'pointless' to quote many of you--all series and episodes--none of this is happening or will happen--none of it matters--except good fiction is supposed to make us think about ourselves, our goals and our fears and beliefs--all of which this episode accomplished in spades."
@Destructor: "It's clearly an existentialist premise. So they all died and the actual Voyager didn't get their logs. So? You're going to die, too, and no-one will remember you after a few generations. Does that freak you out? Good! This episode is just everyone's life in fast-forward. We decay, we resist, we die, we are forgotten. This is probably the bleakest piece of televised Trek. It makes DS9 look like happy-fun-time land. We should applaud it for being so bold."
Also cosigned! A very wise observation. (And the very next comment was Jammer recommended "Synecdoche New York", which happens to be one of my top ten favorite films of all time.)
@azcats (in 2013): "I am amused at how these conversations. when you read them, it feels like one conversation, but then you realize it is taking place over 6 years."
Now sixteen years! And I've been around for, I think, at least half of that.
@T'Paul: "The premises for 'The Inner Light' and 'The Visitor' are pretty sketchy too."
I'm not familiar with "The Visitor", but that's absolutely true about TIL (which is deservedly universally beloved). The idea that this pre-warp civilization's probe could overwhelm the Enterprise's defenses and give Picard decades of experiences within a few minutes is patently absurd. But we go with it. It's called suspension of disbelief.
@Muninn Crow: "It just seems like one of those things where either you're intrigued or affected by the concept, or you have an instinctive revulsion, an automatic need to deny it. You certainly don't have to like it, but there are definitely going to be a bunch of people, myself included, who do. I was quite impressed that the doomed crew didn't get to leave a record, or contact the real ship; that is what took the story from good to great."
Well said: my sentiments precisely. I get the feeling that most of the people who dislike this episode didn't find it boring--they were offended by it, by the same powerful writing that thrills those of us who loved it.
There are a couple movies that explore similar themes. I'm tempted to recommend them to those who enjoyed this episode, but the problem is that a great deal of the enjoyment of those films comes from the surprise of learning that the protagonists are actually copies. Ah well.
@Bob (A Different One): "Skip to the end. Instead of having Harry, Seven, and Neelix being the final remaining survivors at the end, I would have went with Tom and B'Elanna, holding hands as the ship disintegrates around them. The real Voyager arrives and finds nothing, but the camera slowly moves in on the two rings floating together in space for eternity."
That's actually pretty good! Maybe you should write for TV. :)
@Daya: "Only a few files are sent before the silver Voyager disintegrates. When they are received and decoded by true Voyager, they turn out to be the Doctor's photographs of Tom and B'Ellana's wedding."
This is good too! (I assume you were joking when you said you thought that was supposed to be the original ending.)
@Silly: "But this one has the most meta nature I recall in Trek. Look back at comments that are over ten years old, considering whether someone or anything they do will be remembered.
I am trying to find a nice way to say it, but can't: it's quite possible some reviewers have passed on.
It's a powerful concept that gets paradoxically more powerful as time progresses."
I have thought this many times about old comment sections--and as you say, it becomes more powerful as the Internet era ages. One of the things I loved about the sadly destroyed IMDb message boards (I will never forgive Bezos) was that you could go to the board for some decades-old, relatively obscure film and find a decent number of comments but they were posted years apart. However, thanks to email notifications, you could actually reply to a years-old comment and get a reply! There were these slow-motion discussions. But then if I replied to someone a decade later and got no response, I did wonder if they were still alive. (Ironically, after replying above to some comments more than a decade old, the person I'm replying to now posted only a few months ago, and is actuarily much more likely to still be inhabiting this mortal coil.)
As you say, though, it's all the more meta in this case.
Thanks BTW for clueing me into the Delta Flyers pod!
Tue, Mar 28, 2023, 8:46am (UTC -5)
Actually, the opposite. There was a redesign in 2007 that added the commenting feature, which before that point did not exist. For the first 12 years, this site had only my reviews.
Thu, Mar 30, 2023, 5:07pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 30, 2023, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 31, 2023, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Apr 29, 2023, 5:58pm (UTC -5)
However, after a stroll through the comment thread, what I find really interesting is a sort of pattern that the pro and con camps fall into. It appears that some people have the ability to compartmentalize their intellectual and emotional viewing perspectives. This camp says things like “just don’t think about it and enjoy the story for what it is”. Yet the opposing camp seems to operate with their intellectual and emotional functions intertwined. This group likes world building, continuity, and complex planned out plotting. They will ruthlessly savage any and all plot holes(my camp btw).
This isn’t to say that there’s a right or wrong perspective here. I just find it interesting how different peoples thought process’ can be.
As to the episode, a few thoughts:
- it plays more like an episode of the twilight zone than Star Trek in my opinion. Totally insulated in its own tragic story.
- even Janeway’s duplicate is a bad captain. As a character study, this episode functions as an indictment of Janeway. She basically kills her crew.
- the biggest waste in this story is how paris’ growing insubordination is just forgotten. In light of the revelation that these are all duplicates, a reevaluation of their assumed social hierarchy would seem natural. Captain Janeway isn’t really a captain here, she’s sentient space goo, just like everyone else on board. They are in actuality all on equal footing, none of their status has been genuinely earned. I would have found this tale far more engaging if that had been more of the focus.
Sun, Apr 30, 2023, 9:44am (UTC -5)
>it plays more like an episode of the twilight zone than 'trek in my opinion. Totally insulated in its own tragic story.
I prefer episodic sci-fi like the Twilight Zone, the Outer Limits, or early series of Sliders. It's why I don't care for Discovery or Picard. Some of the best Trek episodes are self contained rather than serialized story arcs.
Sun, Apr 30, 2023, 9:54am (UTC -5)
FYI: Gene Roddenberry delivered a eulogy at Rod Serling's memorial service in 1975.
Sun, Apr 30, 2023, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
In "Demon", there were Harry and Tom duplicates running around without any memory (at first) of themselves being duplicates. The goop generated beings canonically can delude themselves.
There's a host of absurdities in Demon, but that's for that episode's page. This episode just assumes that's canon and runs with it.
The silver goop being able to fully duplicate all the functionality of Voyager, down to the warp core and the Doctor's emitter... yes that's rather remarkable, but there's nothing really known about it. Maybe it's primordial Q goop.
Tue, May 2, 2023, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
I too enjoy standalone episodes, not everything has to fit into world building arcs. But very few(if any) trek episodes end with the finality of the crew melting into goo puddles. That’s sort of what I meant by it feeling like a twilight zone ep. I can imagine rod sterling’s over narration:
“submitted for your consideration, an ordinary starship, with a not so ordinary…melting face problem..”
Tue, May 2, 2023, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
In the first episode the mettalic fluid started with nothing and in this it finished with nothing.
In itself I had no problem with that. In many ways I liked the idea of a short expanding bubble that later on implodes and dissapear.
I also liked the feedbak to stand alone episode that is a little bit longer back.
The approch and concept was great. It is fine the so many liked it. But the way it was executed did not really work for me.
Wed, May 3, 2023, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
>“submitted for your consideration, an ordinary starship, with a not so ordinary…melting face problem..”
Made me laugh, sounds like something you would hear in a Futurama anthology episode.
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