Star Trek: Voyager


3.5 stars.

Air date: 4/26/2000
Written by Joe Menosky
Directed by Mike Vejar

"Find the truth of your story and you won't need all those tricks. I don't know how things are done across the Eastern Sea, but here poets have become lazy; they rely on manipulation to move their audience. It wasn't always that way." — Old man

Review Text

Nutshell: Slow, self-reflective, and different. Not slam-bang excitement, but certainly one of the season's most interesting shows to ponder.

It helps knowing going in that "Muse" is Joe Menosky's farewell script to Voyager (since, as many know, the writer/producer will not be returning for the series' final season). The episode ends up being the ultimate Voyager self-reflective commentary on the process of writing for an audience. As I watched the show, I realized I wasn't so much watching people on the screen as I was watching a writer making comments through characters who were living out that same writing process. "Muse" is an allegory rolled into a Voyager tale which itself is rolled into a myth.

Menosky often uses themes of myth, legend, or history in his stories, like the society in "Blink of an Eye" or Janeway's past in "11:59" as recent examples, or the truly unique "Darmok" (a TNG classic) as a more distant one. Even bizarre power-play/mental-takeover premises like "Dramatis Personae" (DS9) or the failed "Masks" (TNG) revolved around the re-enactment of ancient conflicts that were more legendary than they were tangible.

"Muse," which centers on an alien playwright who vies to make a difference with the written word, is a return to the idea of myths while also being an oddly, almost pointedly self-aware Voyager episode. This is not an entertainment in the usual Voyager sense; it's slow-paced and cerebral, in a storytelling universe that generally prefers to be fast-paced, simple, and stylized. It's a story that seems more personal, and it refuses to supply the immediate-gratification type of payoffs.

I found it a compelling hour, simply because of the way the real writer's voice comes through as a melding of the fictional writer's experiences in telling his own story. That fictional story is of the starship Voyager and its travels, a story inspired by "actual" events. The playwright is a man on a primitive world. His name is Kelis (Joseph Will). As the episode begins, his troupe is performing the story of Voyager, as learned through the logs of the Delta Flyer, which along with its lone passenger, B'Elanna Torres, has crashed near Kelis' thinking grounds.

Might as well get the obvious gripe out of the way: Yes, "Muse" employs a major cliché by crashing the Delta Flyer—again. What's more is how by episode's end it's not even made clear whether it will be salvaged (one line of dialog would've sufficed), although we can obviously assume so simply because of the Law of the Reset Button™. (Away missions in shuttles or the Flyer are more dangerous than they can possibly be worth; when was the last time one didn't end with a crisis or crash?)

Anyway, Torres has lay unconscious for eight days (isn't that pretty serious?), and when she awakens, Kelis wants her help. He needs to write a sequel play for his acting troupe to perform, and he needs Torres to supply him with new material about this ship called Voyager. Kelis' troupe performs for the local patron, the guy who holds the power in this particular clan in this society's caste system. The world is apparently a fragmented place of often-warring factions. Kelis' patron liked the first Voyager play and wants another, and has given Kelis one week to have it ready for performance. Kelis isn't sure what to do next; he needs his muse, as it were, and B'Elanna turns out to be it.

"Muse" is patient in a way that is rare these days for Voyager. There are a lot of scenes where we've just got B'Elanna and Kelis in a room talking, which is what a lot of Trek used to be about.

I found B'Elanna's approach to Kelis to be true in its pragmatism; she isn't very nice to him initially. Kelis believes B'Elanna is an "eternal," though given the situation and conversations I never quite understood the nature of this people's belief system concerning the eternals (do the apparently mortal gods routinely fall from the sky, and are they routinely nursed back to health by the people?). B'Elanna uses her influence as an eternal—and especially as Kelis' new muse—to obtain resources she needs to repair the Flyer's communication system. When Kelis says he'll be executed if caught trespassing on his patron's grounds while looking for B'Elanna's dilithium, B'Elanna responds with, well, don't get caught. So after Kelis helps B'Elanna, she has to spill her guts in the interests of fairness, and Kelis gets his new material. The next day he announces to his actors, "I've been visited by inspiration herself." Indeed.

The alien society is perhaps excessively humanesque, but no matter—the point here is the issue of storytelling, and that's where "Muse" is insightful. The story frequently employs the common Shakespearean device of the play within a play, and we see several rehearsals that are sort of funny in their truthful, understated way.

I liked the subtle take on the actor versus the writer, which certainly happens in television production. Kelis, trying to convey Tuvok truthfully, has written an emotionless part the actor doesn't want to perform. The buried dialog here is a take on the TV actor who says, "You don't understand my character," while the writer is saying, "No, you don't understand the character I'm writing for you." At the same time, the burden of responsibility lies on the writer; it's hard to completely blame an actor if the character as written truly doesn't make sense.

Perhaps the most intriguing moments are the direct reflections on writing for an audience on a weekly deadline. When you have to turn out a script in seven days (or even less), what happens if you have no idea how the story ends? I'm not sure how often that happens in real life for TV writers (considering a staff's story break process, etc.), but Kelis' problem is that he's writing on the fly, knowing he has to come up with something that's satisfying in its journey from A to B, all the while not knowing what exactly B is. That makes the process an exercise in non-scientific spur-of-the-moment improvisation.

Hence, standby elements and contrivances. Oh, we know all about Voyager's use of those (see crash of Delta Flyer above). But so do the writers. And there's almost a sense of lament in "Muse" that stories have to utilize formula and contrivances in order to get where they need to go. There's a point where Kelis is baffled as to where his story is going. He needs something to surprise the audience—a sudden twist, a reversal of fortune. What he needs is a mechanical contrivance that's entertaining (like Icheb turning out to be a bio-engineered time bomb in "Child's Play"; one of Kelis' twists here is that Seven is really the Borg Queen). A Wise Old Man emerges from the shadows to remind Kelis that success lies in finding the truth of the story, and he says that poets these days are looking for the quick gimmick to manipulate the audience. "It wasn't always that way," he muses. (And just which road into storytelling hell is Voyager—and all of us, for that matter—driving down, or should we ask if that's the subtext here?)

Menosky seems to be doing some jibing here. Jibing himself, jibing other writers, jibing the audience (for demanding certain qualities that lead shows like "Tsunkatse" to be the highest rated of the season for reasons that aren't about matters of the intellect), and maybe even jibing the studio (for dumb-down marketing of said products strictly in terms of their would-be visceral impact). When should entertainment be art, and when should it just be potboiler silliness for the masses? (Exercise: Juxtapose Hamlet and Titus Andronicus.)

There are plenty more interesting touches here, including the in-joke where Kelis scripts Janeway and Chakotay into kissing. This is a fan fantasy you will never see carried out on the real Voyager, and we're obviously getting major winkage on behalf of the writers. What's enlightening is the conversation afterward where B'Elanna doesn't see the point of all the frivolous kissing scenes. ("Harry kissing the Delaney sisters?") How is this relevant beyond getting an easy rise out of the audience? Of course, Voyager has its own version of this: Lately I've been calling it the Voyager Action Insert—an "action" scene that exists solely for the sake of action that might appeal to a mass audience but is fundamentally unnecessary to the story actually being told. (The VAI was most recently used in "Child's Play" and "Ashes to Ashes.")

Kelis says his hope is to use love as the language to instill peace into his patron's heart, doing his part to change the ways of the world. ("The perfect play might even stop a war," he says hopefully.) Pretty idealistic, but is it plausible? The story seems optimistic on this point, though it doesn't expect overnight results. Of course, today in our world, anyone expecting to change the world with a script is probably just delusional. Perhaps the best a screenwriter could hope for is a film like Titanic, which has appeal to every demographic conceivable. Sure, a lot of people appreciate it, but it doesn't change the world.

As we rise out of the subtext and back into the "text" for a moment, I'd like to say that the routine plot regarding the search for Torres and Kim was executed with an understated solemnity that was more effective than I had anticipated. There's a lot here conveyed with looks and pauses rather than dialog, and it seemed the crew actually for once believed the possibility that they'd lost two officers. The way the episode keeps Harry completely out of the show for the first few acts also carries with it a weird sense of uncertainty; the plot allows us to wonder exactly what happened while the story involving Kelis is kept at the forefront.

I also enjoyed Tuvok's silent quest through sleepless nights as he worked to figure out ways of tracking down the missing Flyer. It shows a humanistic concern for his fellow crew members in a Vulcan-like way, which is never spelled out in dialog. His scenes are intercut with scenes on the planet where an actor fears that the Tuvok character will come off as an unsympathetic monster if he isn't allowed to act out his emotions. (Ah, but not if the writing establishes the character well.) I also got a kick out of Tuvok falling asleep on the bridge after days without sleep. After all, he's a Vulcan, not Superman.

Other touches are subtle too, like the relationship between Kelis and one of his actresses, Layna (Kellie Waymire), which turns slightly messy when Layna becomes convinced Kelis is having an affair with the mysterious woman whom she suspects is an eternal, perhaps even B'Elanna Torres herself. There's a brief, nicely acted scene where Layna confronts B'Elanna in the Flyer and asks her to stay away. A scene that could've come across as forced comes across as sincere; Waymire does a good job with a small moment.

The central crisis of the story involves Kelis having no idea how he's going to end his B'Elanna-centered play, right up to opening night, and even as the play is being performed. He needs the answer from B'Elanna, who decides to help him in the eleventh hour, just as Voyager has located the survivors and is beginning its rescue operation. (Harry turns up not long before this, having landed on the same planet in an escape pod. His role here isn't that important.)

What I thought fell a bit short was the payoff, where the real world meets the poet's world. I see what Menosky was going for here, but there's some awkwardness in the execution. The end of Kelis' play is unscripted onstage improvisation, with the real B'Elanna deciding to write the end by making her actual departure the one that also supplies the play's (ending with the spectacular "special effect" of her beam-out). But there's some off-kilter-ness to the way Layna attempts to expose B'Elanna and the way the patron assumes it to be part of the act. And most notably, I didn't think B'Elanna's sentimentality here was believable. When she says goodbye she's practically breaking down into tears, which seems a bit much. This is too clearly Menosky's sentiment rather than B'Elanna's. I didn't buy it, although I did find the entire notion of fiction meeting reality to be clever.

The episode was directed by Mike Vejar, Trek's current best. He often shows a cinematic slickness to his approach, and isn't afraid to move cameras around or even occasionally go hand-held. Here he's content to underplay, go slow, and nail down the camera, which is exactly what the material warrants.

Ironically, "Muse" strikes me as something that's precisely what Voyager typically does not represent. It has no action, no explosions, very little use of sci-fi technology or jargon, and minimal FX used only for the purposes of advancing the story at hand. And frankly, if Voyager were like this every week, I suspect very few people would be tuning in, because we do want to see stuff gettin' blowed up (me as much as the next person). But that doesn't mean it can't be well thought out in the meantime. When something explodes and we care, that's a lot better than when we don't.

So what's the answer? Is television simply entertainment that shouldn't be scrutinized, analyzed, or held to a standard other than sheer, dumb entertainment value? Or should we demand more intellect, more patience, more depth in our stories and characters, even if it means ignoring the "wisdom" of demographics, abandoning quick payoffs, and hoping the sizable portion of us will stick it out and wait for the slower realizations? The subtext in "Muse" seems to argue that it's all about the balance between those two extremes. The hard part is finding it—week after week, on deadline.

Next week: The wrath of Kes.

Previous episode: Live Fast and Prosper
Next episode: Fury

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Comment Section

131 comments on this post

    I'll take a thoughtful story-line like this over the typical sensationalistic garbage every time. Well done, Menosky, Vejar, and all!

    This is actually my favorite episode of Voyager. It's a great send-off for Menosky, who certainly wasn't shy about how he felt writing for Voyager.

    This is also one of your best written reviews. After first watching this episode my wife didn't care for it, so I made her read you review and you swayed her.

    This episode clearly drew a lot of inspiration from Ancient Greece, so the idea of 'Eternals' having flaws (sickness, rivalry, love) like the Greek gods and demigods didn't seem strange. Similarly Kelis' belief that a play could bring about change is more plausible in an age that's less media-saturated than our own.

    Nice. I like the concluding speech by Kelis at the end, and the cast of the play bowing to the audience. Quite moving, especially given the context.

    It was fun how Kelis was also a clear "duplicate" of Shakespeare. Having to write to patrons, having his own party and writing shows that were under constant revision and rewriting. Not to mention that Seven being a Borg Queen would be exactly something he would have written, if he'd done Star Trek...

    This is the one episode of Voyager that's really stuck with me since I first saw it. It's unique.

    Along with Tinker Tenor and Living Witness, I consider this one of Voyager's best. (Then again, I like Macrocosm, so take my opinion for what it's worth.) It's unconventional, an interesting look at the crew from an outside perspective (and perhaps, in some ways, subtly Belanna's view of her fellow crew), and a fantastic ending practically begging for a follow-up, but all the stronger for instead being left to the imagination and used as food for thought.

    Surpringly a good episode, although a bit slow at parts. The ending was rather nice.

    The one thing I don't get with this series... is how does this fit into the bigger picture? What is the point?

    And more over... why does the episode happen at all? Why do any of these shuttle crash shows happen? Why are they out in shuttles in the first place? Isn't the point to go home? Why explore every nick and granny of the galaxy for?

    I know the show has brought this point up... and sometimes, it makes sense. Other times, I just don't understand why Voyager is 10 light years away as they send their shuttles out in another direction for. Why doesn't voyager just go itself?

    I just never understand this. I don't understand how shuttles have faster propulsion systems to go faster than Voyager. Makes no sense. I don't understand why Voyager can't do any of the things these shuttles do... I mean... what does Voyager do... sit around and do nothing while 2 or 4 crew members go off and do something "more important"?

    Even if a shuttle was needed to explore something Voyager couldn't... why is Voyager so damn far away for? And then they lose track of the shuttles over and over again on these episodes... never questioning why they send the shuttles out in the first place. Rediculous.

    And what's up Tuvok? Does his mini sleepless story have any point at all? Even a Vulvan thinks not sleeping for 10+ days is logical? Why isn't anyone else looking for B'Elanna and Harry? Why is it only Tuvok... where he has to spend his entire resources by himself to look for them? Don't they have a freaking crew to help?

    While the episode is good... the premise on how it comes out to be is absurd... as are all the shuttle crash episodes. It makes no sense how they came to be. None at all.

    3.5 stars; are you serious!?! Jammer, my friend, if this is 3.5 stars, then the last couple of episodes should be awarded THIRTY-FIVE stars!!! This show is totally devoid of both science and fiction (certainly 24th-century-relevant fiction); it's totally without nuance or a meaningful point. It's basically 38 minutes of Torres' interaction with a primitive thespian or about the primitive thespians themselves, with 2 minutes of her poking around the Delta Flier assaying to repair some of its functions. They may as well have shown a histrionic cast from ancient Greece rehearsing some crap from Euripides.

    Torres ends up on a medieval planet one of whose knuckle-dragging inhabitants figured out how to play the log recordings that are part of the shuttle's computer. Yeah, like William Shakespeare would've been able to reformat a hard drive in the 1500s.


    The majority of the show is mind-numbingly BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORIIIIIIIIIIIIIING to hell and back! Harry "Can't-Get-A-Lock" Kim turns up at a point - mercifully, near the end of the show - after trekking for 200km. I'm surprised he didn't sprain his ankle on a dandelion somewhere along the way. I was half expecting him to volunteer to act in the "play." Instead, it's Torres who does it. Oh, brother...

    BTW, the "aliens" show their support for the actors by clapping, just like the humans. How likely is that? Neelix The Asspain strutting around with a pot of coffee and plonking himself down next to Tuvok to give him a pep-talk. Are such scenes really necessary?? Oh, there are SO many things stupid and ludicrous about this episode that it's futile to even attempt to critique it. This kind of trash belongs in the Chronicles of Narnia, NOT A SCI-FI SCHOW!!!!! PLEEEAAASE bring back that Fair Haven dreck: Even that's more interesting than this cerebral palsy of an episode.

    The ONLY bit worth anything was the 20-second shot of Tuvok snoring on the bridge. It still has no redeeming value vis-a-vis the remaining 41 minutes.

    Zero stars. And that's being extremely magnanimous. The guy who wrote it should be exiled to Cuba.

    Only the execrable "Threshold" saves this from being the lamest episode of the series.

    I had no problem with this being a slow and quiet show. I liked the way the show made a reflection on the process of writing an episode. I was even slightly (to an infinitesimal degree) moved in some scenes.

    Regardless of this I disliked this episode because of it's often absurdly cliche, and blatantly contrived nature. If the good elements had blended more seamlessly into a reasonable, believable whole I would probably really like it. Also; at this point there has been several consecutive "special", "outside in look" episodes. At least spread them out a bit and pay some attention to the main story. Unfortunately Voyager barely has a main story to pay attention to.

    I guess I just don't like episodes that are obviously and completely constructed around a point that's trying to be made with very little subtlety or integration into the overall show. The plot is irrelevant and exists merely for the point, at least try to make the two coexist.
    Then again, this might be demanding too much of the writers. I certainly couldn't have done it better myself.

    This is easily the most tedious of Voyager episodes, and that's really, really saying something.

    Well, if some of the comments to this review prove anything, it's that the Voyager writers knew their audience all too well.

    Our resident 12 year old in "ranting about the episode having talking in it" shocker

    A quiet and thoughtful episode and I didn't really give it the attention it deserved (was distracted with other things)
    I didn't realise the story behind why this episode came about.

    It seems very clever, to put forward all these thoughts and acknowledgements of a writer's weaknesses, a bit of fan service etc, whilst making the story itself work well enough that you don't realise unless you know already that it's more a commentary than an episode.

    May re-watch.

    Of course the Flyer will be absolutely spotless next episode :)

    @Cloudane: Maybe some of us have a life outside Star Trek and go to Star Trek for a bit of sci-fi entertainment. Maybe some of us prefer to develop our characters and are interested in real-life real-world characters. Maybe some of us have a life, period.

    If you want talking, try a talk-show or some emotional drama.

    "Development" of fictional characters in a fictional world? What's the point!?

    BTW, never watched DS9. Whenever I tuned in, it was showing a scene in a bar or somesuch with a few guys yapping on about the entanglements in their relationships. Wow, rivetting...

    Michael - we're commenting on every episode of an old Star Trek series, and not a very good one at that. I don't think either of us can really make comment on how much of a life we have.

    Having said that I do get out and have friends and listen to them etc. I'm guessing you probably tell them to shut up and drink, or whatever activity it may be.

    Character development adds depth. What's the point in any theme (sci-fi, fantasy, you name it) if there's nothing to relate to? If you have stock characters with no personality, no thoughts, no insights? Seems pretty dull to me.

    I could just as easily say if you want nothing but sci-fi, go and watch a documentary.

    Hehehe True re having a life! :D

    No, real people I DO very much talk with and listen to. The keyword is REAL.

    Star Trek I enjoy for the science (O.K., pseudoscience). If it didn't have that, it might as well be called Alice in the Delta Quadrant. SNOOZERS!

    I simply don't like fiction and therefore don't care about fictional characters. I watch sitcoms for the humor, not characters. I watch action movie for the action, not the characters. I watch sci-fi for the "sci," not the "fi." It's my taste and, as the Romans used to say: De gustibus (et coloribus!) non est disputandum.

    So yeah, I come across strongly in my comments. SO what? It's my opinion. You think I'm immature for not caring about Torres' netherworld barge nonsense and finding it irritating; I can't fathom that anyone but a dreamy kid without friends to engage in fantasy-world games would find that interesting in a sci-fi show.

    If Torres had spent the 45 minutes in The Barge harping on about an ancestor of hers who was a descendant of Moses and then traversed the Biblical lineage, can you seriously tell me you'd find that enjoyable or in any way instructive?!?

    @ mike and claudaine ... red alert.. please take your meds...

    No I just find the OMG LOTS OF CAPS AND EXCLAMATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just makes things come across as a little immature. To each his own taste in sci(-fi).. carry on

    I've already had this debate with Michael. I already explained to him in another episode (I forget which one) that Science Fiction does in fact include "fiction". I also brought up the whole documentary point as well.

    Like I said in my other post, the only problem with this episode is the premise. I simply don't understand why Voyager sends out so many shuttles for, only to have them get shot down, crash or be taken hostage repeatedly. You'd think Janeway would just learn her lesson and stop sending out shuttles.

    One thing I'd like to know is what the hell Voyager is doing when all of this is going on. And not just in this episode - but in any of the episodes where Janeway decides to leave a shuttle and 1 or more crew members stranded somewhere many light years away from Voyager.

    Let's think about the practicability here... Voyager needs to get home. Doesn't sending a shuttle off in some other far off location slow the entire mission down? Don't they eventually have to meet up? How the hell is the shuttle supposed to "catch up" with Voyager? Seems to me that Voyager will have to backtrack and waste time, or wait for the shuttle.

    I just don't see any reason why Voyager can't do the things the shuttles do. I never understood this. And let's not forget, just about every time they send a shuttle somewhere, something bad happens. I mean really, how many times does the shit need to hit the fan where they finally say, "Okay, maybe we shouldn't be sending out defenseless shuttles 30 light years away from Voyager anymore."

    It's just annoying. You'd think the writers could think up another premise, but they've been doing this crap since Season 1 or 2 constantly, like leaving Chakotay alone in the Delta Quandrant in Kazon space, as just an example.

    You'd think the crew would just like to get home.

    That's really the only blemish on otherwise good episode. If you take it in isolation, the show is good. But in the context of the series? It sucks.

    Meh, this episode had its moments (the Chaokotay/Janeway scene for instance) and the rehearsal scenes were good. I've done a bit of acting and I empathise with the guy who thought playing Tuvok would make him look like a bad actor. But as a whole, I just wasn't that interested in it. Maybe if it had focused on another character than Torres - I must admit I just can't warm to her even though I think Dawson's one of the better Voyager actors.

    Then again I loved Tsunkatse, so what do I know?

    Jammer: Torres has lay unconscious for eight days (isn't that pretty serious?)

    It depends on how long a day would be on this planet. For all you know, a day might be 2 earth hours long.

    Loved this ep!! A unique story (although slightly spoiled by the fact it's hot on the heels of another episode that's about people impersonating the Voyager crew...oopsie), well told and surprisingly self-aware. I think Joe Menosky was definitely taking a few parting shots at the nature of the TV beast, and perhaps Voyager in particular. I found it clever, insightful and compelling.

    As Jammer said (great review btw), this style of storytelling is perhaps not aimed at Voyager's target demographic (exhibit A: Michael's response above!). But heck, this is what I'm looking for in my Trek. I love intelligent TV and that's one of the reasons I love the previous incarnations of Trek and struggle with Voyager and Enterprise. This episode seemed very Trekkian and I'm glad to see any break from the usual formula and mindless action scenes. Like the best television, it has a pertinent message and it makes you think.

    If Tuvok's snoring scene had been featured in the previews, it would be the most accurate teaser a Star Trek episode ever had.

    Good episode. I didn't really care for the end, but it certainly kept my interest.

    I thought it was a quiet but interesting episode. I admit I was also planting seeds in a tray to grow seedlings for my garden while I was watching it but I don't think that enhanced the experience in some actiony-adventurey way. lol

    I do vaguely remember that when I was a kid, this episode coming off as booooring... but today I see some of the meaning behind it, instead of only looking at the surface.

    As for the characters debate in the comments... personally, if I don't like the characters I won't be interested in a show. (Incidentally, that's exactly the problem with a book I'm currently reading. I have no interest in the characters so I'm not enjoying the book, even though it's filled with descriptions of sci-fi 'splosions. But I digress.) It's not because I don't have any friends or have no life, as Micheal would suggest, but because that's what pulls me into the story. I don't need it to go too far, (I gave up on Stargate Universe after a half a season) but I don't care if the characters live or die, I don't care how they get out of whatever mess they're in this week.

    Seems Micheal would prefer watching a modern "remake" of Captain Proton, or a screensaver depicting robots shooting fireworks, but I'd get bored of that fast. To each their own, not everyone has the same taste, but Trek is generally supposed to be about more than things going 'splody. Might want to try another show, there's plenty more.

    Cappo - I agree with your point verbatim... if the audience doesn't feel that they would lose something if one of the characters is suddenly gone, then why would they care what happens at all? This is one of the reasons I loved Firefly so much, in that the series established their characters so well right out of the gate, it was a thoroughly captivating show.

    I really liked this episode, as it felt more like a good TNG outing than standard Voyager fare... even better knowing what drove it into existence. Unfortunately there was one directorial flaw that sent my nitpicker into overdrive and actually distracted me WAY more than it should have... particularly in the first few scenes, the Flyer was supposedly lying at a sharp angle... this obviously would lend to the perception that it was a particularly nasty crash this time... but, why, oh WHY did they have all of those candles burning if they were just going to tilt the camera to bring this across? All of the flames being perpendicular to the deck and not to the "real" horizon completely destroyed the illusion, and my sub-conscious immediately started playing the theme to the 1960's Batman series in my head.

    Sheesh, if some of these comments prove anything, Jammer, it's that a lot of people evidently *do* watch Star Trek just to see things blow up. They evidently can't handle anything more thoughtful than that.

    I just want to say that the old man's improv during the final act was phenomonal. I was laughing and clapping with how he just completely "fixed" every scene for the Patron haha Same old man that lectured on lazy poets these days haha!

    I really liked this episode, a bit far fetched on some things, but overall a great episode.

    Jammer, I agree with Josh that this is one of your absolute BEST reviews that I've read, and you've got some damn good ones. Truly insightful, in-depth, and thought provoking. I don't recall that I particularly liked or disliked "Muse" when I first watched it, but now I am really looking forward to re-watching it armed with the perspective you've provided. Mucho kudos and thanks for the brain candy.

    I love this episode- it's definitely in my top five, if not my favourite VOY episode of all time. I am stunned by the posters above who gave it zero. It's whip-smart, meta-reflexive, funny, touching, amazing script and performance from Dawson. I just love it. It's almost an apologia for all the crap VOY has given us this season, but I think it's also about Star Trek itself- the 'play that can bring peace'. Star Trek really did change the world, and I think Menosky's swansong was a tribute to that idea. I love this episode. 4 Stars.

    It's funny that DS9 and VOY both had episodes with the same name, and both were steaming piles.


    Tuvok hadn't slept for 10 days and I remember hearing Janeway saying they are looking for them for 2 weeks (I think). So she should have been out for 8 normal days or so at a minimum.

    But how the alien saying "8 days" from his perspective will be translated to us in 'earth' days? Is it earth days? BTW when they talk about days in StarTrek is it earth days? What about Vulcans and Klingons, they follow earth days in the ship?

    About character development, etc, I watch Star Trek because of SCI-fi and it is fascinating about star ships, future technology, etc. I too love the characters but I don't need them talking forever to establish their character. It should be part of the story plot and not standalone scenes for the sake of character development.

    I am not much of an action fan, just a little bit for story sake. But I like more science and technology.

    Jammer's reviews are more about character development and most of the time I don't agree with the ratings. The only reason I am reading this is because I can read episode by episode since I am watching it for the first time and don't want to read or discuss about episodes I haven't seen. This and cynicscorner are two places I know which I can read episode by episode.

    B'Elanna beaming (read: disappearing) in front of the audience is clearly a violation of the Prime Directive.

    I enjoyed this episode quite a lot. It reminded me A LOT of TOS in its tone and story while simultaneously being one of the most original stories Voyager told in its entire run. I found the scene where Chakotay informs Janeway of the content of the Delta Flyer's distress call to be very real and Janeway's stifled sob after Chakotay leaves the room nearly brought tears to my eyes. It's that sort of realistic depiction of human emotions that Voyager, and actually Trek in general, could have used a lot more of. I also ADORED the whole classical Greek theater motif of Kelis' plays. I think it would be quite a treat to see a few of Trek's greatest stories depicted in that genre.

    I always enjoy reading Michael's comments. I tend to follow along his way of watching SCI FI. i like the temporal changes and mysteries and plots.

    while i can enjoy shows like this episode, it is not my most favorite or memorable.

    i like the "Macrocosm" shows better.

    1.5 Stars for entertainment. 3 stars for depth of a show.

    With a title like, "Muse," I fully expected this episode to be about Jeri Ryan's character, Seven of Nine.

    Maybe the REAL difference with this episode is that Seven has no dialog for a change. (JK!)

    (sigh) I remember when I was satisfied with sci-fi that had no real character development. It was back when I was 12 and Empire Strikes Back had just come out. To be young again...

    I fell asleep during this episode. I guess that's all I have to say about it. :)

    The comments about "earth days" are landing smack in the middle of one of my biggest gripes with Star Trek.

    In a galaxy populated by thousands of sentient species, Earth customs seem to be suprisingly universal. This episode ("Muse") alone shows us a few of them: "a day" seems to universally be an Earth day, although we are quite frequently dealing with species from other planets; the customs of (from a human point of view) completely alien species are exactly the same as human cuatoms - in everything from using applause to show your appreciation (as seen in this episode), also including standing ovation; and the list goes on and on and on, from the "universal translator" (try coming up with a good explanation as to how THAT thing actually works) to aliens from worlds that have never heard of Earth calling a flower something like a "Talaxian Petunia" (or whatever).

    An ENORMOUS amount os stuff in Star Trek doesn't make any sense. At all. And that's not even including the weird psudoscience.
    While I aknowledge that it DOES seem necessary to ignore lots of the obstacles between cultures and species from entirely different planets in order to get the story moving along, a lot of it just seems so incredibly ludicrous, that I'm having a hard time ignoring it in order to enjoy the stories.

    The funny thing is, that I (of course) had the same gripes with Next Generation and DS9 - but both of those shows frequently made me buy into the story and the characters in such a way, that I forgot the general shortcomings of the Star Trek universe.

    I'm afraid Voyager very, very seldomly plays that same "trick" on me. This epsiode is an example of that. I kind of liked it. Nothing more, nothing less. I wasn't seduced, swept away or thoruoghly entertained. It's just ... kind of there. Meh.

    I know what you mean Caine. More often than not, voyager aimed for lowest common denominator in terms of plot and challenging its audience, or lack there of. Other sci-fi shows of the day, such as Lexx, Farscape, and Babylon 5, didn't have the big budget of Star Trek, yet were able to push the boundaries of the genre to provide 45 minutes of thought provoking entertainment.

    However, if one can accept the conceits of the voyager universe, that species are all bipedal and breath the same mixture of o2 ect... This episode stands on the shoulders of previous Star Trek plots --- STOS the conscious of the king, and stTNG Darmok --- all episodes dependant on dialogue and abstract human ideals, minus special effect.

    I left out some episodes while watching the entire series on DVD:

    If I watch a Sy-Fy Series I want to see new ideas, new technologies, new lifeforms, new places ....
    What I don't want to see is the VOY-Cast playing WW2 scenes, or being part of a black/white movie, or becoming citizens of an old fake Irish town and I don't want to see any more aliens being the exact copy of humans from a certain era in world history!!!

    That was my problem with this episode as well:
    Torres having the hundredths or so shuttle-crash of the Voyager Bridge officers - playing theater with the local Greeks or Romans or what so ever.
    I don't need that - so I passed it.

    Then I reed this high rating here and thought I give it a second chance ... and you won't believe it but it was ... BORING !!! ;-)

    Sorry ... maybe it's somehow interesting when you know the background of the writer ... but besides that it was meaningless for me!

    Menosky does a good job with the story by creating good drama, and entertains well. Aside from them cut, copy, paste approach, shuttle crash, stranded 30 light years away, I enjoyed the thespian style. Contrite ending violating the Prime Directive by 'ascending' via the transporter. In front of a Bronze age culture no less. Aren't the writers ever look ing at a Star Trek encyclopedia or a writers bible?
    This was one of the better episodes of Voyager.I certainl agree with Jammer on his ep. Review.

    MEta-fiction is hard to rate, some people like it and others hate it.

    I am also a fan of the Scream series, because the producer understands the issues with horror story writing and the genre. For that movie series, you can enjoy the story and the meta references within it.

    A story within a story is an ancient tool of writing; it is introspective, but entertaining for thought if you like to dig deeper in to minutia.

    Star Trek is a hybrid of high thinking stories and low brow action, which our comments prove. Some of us do like high concept stories like these and others prefer action sequences with torpedoes, shields, and "It's a good day to die!" repeated a million times.

    What Star Trek does well is blend both to create entertainment, look at the movie Star Trek: "First Contact", a perfect blend of action and higher ideals of our first meeting with an extra-terrestial species.

    For me, I give this episode 9.5/10 as a meta story and 3.5/10 as an action story.

    This episode isn’t a masterpiece (there are a few too many convenient events) but it’s pretty close. The novelty of hearing the captain’s log recited by a Greek chorus was itself worth the price of admission, but of course there is a lot more going on here.

    Yes, writing is a constant tight-rope walk between pleasing your audience and actually saying what you want to say. It’s very difficult to wholly accomplish both, most of the time you end up falling on one side or the other. But then, that’s why when it actually happens, you can appreciate it for its genius — because it’s so rare.

    It didn’t occur to me while I watched it that the « searching for lost cremates » scenes on the ship were more realistic than usual, but Jammer has a point. Why isn’t it always like this instead of the boring procedural scenes we usually get?

    This is certainly not a bad episode. But I really do not understand how much people seem to like it. More, I let a sudden laugh happen when I read Jammer saying:

    "So what's the answer? Is television simply entertainment that shouldn't be scrutinized, analyzed, or held to a standard other than sheer, dumb entertainment value? Or should we demand more intellect, more patience, more depth in our stories and characters, even if it means ignoring the "wisdom" of demographics, abandoning quick payoffs, and hoping the sizable portion of us will stick it out and wait for the slower realizations? "

    It makes you feel that this episode was super philosophically deep, intellectually challenging, intrinsically demanding. Well, it was not. I would not go as far as to stay it was dumb or flat, for sure. It had some good mind-food to offer. However, I fell that the evaluation Jammer did was caught in that trap that, in times of Hollywood action silliness, equalizes slow to deep. What is in line with the unfair critics he usually made (in this review as well) about Voyager lacking these paced thoughtful moments. Having a faster pace, more action, explosions or FX never refrained Voyager from delivering some of the best character development in all Trek. The problems this show perhaps had (an many of which correctly pointed by Jammer's reviews) have, however, nothing to do with such characteristics.

    Sort of nice episode. No more than that.


    The opening lines:

    “Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home.”

    ― Samuel Butler (1900)

    “Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
    of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
    the wanderer, harried for years on end,
    after he plundered the stronghold
    on the proud height of Troy.
    He saw the townlands
    and learned the minds of many distant men,
    and weathered many bitter nights and days
    in his deep heart at sea, while he fought only
    to save his life, to bring his shipmates home.”

    ― Robert Fitzgerald (1961)

    “Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven
    far journeys, after he had sacked Troy’s sacred citadel.
    Many were they whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned of,
    many the pains he suffered in his spirit on the wide sea,
    struggling for his own life and the homecoming of his companions.”

    ― Richard Lattimore (1965)

    ...and Robert Fagles (1996):

    “Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
    driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
    the hallowed heights of Troy.
    Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds,
    many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea,
    fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home.”


    The Opening lines:

    CHORUS: “Captain’s log, stardate 53896.
    B’Elanna Torres has requested permission to take the Delta Flyer and search for dilithium.

    Shining Voyager, far from home,
    far from the gleaming cities of Earth!
    Headstrong B’Elanna Torres and
    young Harry Kim speed away from Voyager
    on the Delta Flyer in search of their treasures.”

    YOUNG HARRY KIM: “I've timmed the sails,
    but the sea is rough.
    Maybe we should return.”
    what I am doing.”

    CHORUS: “A wave as high as a mountain
    struck the Delta Flyer. […]
    Young Harry Kim left her side,
    and B’Elanna Torres was thrown against the rocks.
    The rocks of our very shore.””

    KELIS: “Which is where I, Kelis the poet, found her.
    Broken, dying.
    She told me her story.
    And now I’ve told you.”


    PATRON: “An excellent conceit, that you discovered her yourself. But now that B’Elanna Torres has come to our shore, what will happen? Does Captain Janeway come searching for her, or does she give her up for lost?”

    … “Here the townsfolk on the shore of the sea were offering sacrifice of black bulls to the dark-haired Earth-shaker. Nine companies there were, and five hundred men sat in each, and in each they held nine bulls ready for sacrifice. Now when they had tasted the inner parts and were burning the thigh-pieces to the god, the others put straight in to the shore, and hauled up and furled the sail of the shapely ship, and moored her, and themselves stepped forth. Forth too from the ship stepped Telemachus, and Athena led the way. And the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, spake first to him, and said: “Telemachus, no longer hast thou need to feel shame, no, not a whit. For to this end hast thou sailed over the sea, that thou mightest seek tidings of thy father ― where the earth covered him, and what fate he met…” (The Odyssey, Book III)

    People may not realize that this episode is taken straight from Greek theater. Many will recognize the chorus and the masks, but there are three types of plot twists that are included. Two were described by Aristotle – the reversal of fortune (Peripeteia) and the moment of recognition (Anagnorisis). Then there is the Deus ex Machina at the end.

    "that lead shows like "Tsunkatse" to be the highest rated of the season for reasons that aren't about matters of the intellect)"

    Tsunkatse was the highest rated show of the season becasue it had The Rock in it and Smackdown (on the same network) drew 6 million viewers a week.

    Great review :)

    I loved this episode!

    BTW: The Delta flyer would have been beamed to a cargo hold.

    B'Elanna's emotion at the end reflected that Kelis had gradually worn down her indifference. She had come to care for his goal (as evidenced by her bending the prime directive), and was genuinely touched by his goodbye (after all it is a case of meeting people you like and will never see again).

    Overall: nicely acted!

    I loved that the play within the play was purposely imperfect, as it felt more genuine.

    "...and the viper in her nest" 7 of 9: "Queen of the Borg" lol (nice)

    Waymire: Best supporting actress in this episode. Sad she passed so young; I would have liked to see her in a lead role in something.

    Great supporting acting overall: From old man to the Patron (who looked like a little boy glued to the set of his favorite cartoon). Even the audience acted well ie (One man stands at exciting part... or waiting to clap in the first play until the patron gave " permission" with his response. Many small touches in this episode.

    Bravo, refreshing and fun!

    Okay. I agree with everything being said by those who like it.
    A few problems for me:
    I must agree, Jammer. 8 days unconscious is serious. Very serious.
    She would've been suffering from all of the terrible effects of starvation and dehydration, not to mention possibly a concussion (or worse)...untreated coma with no nutrition, sitting tied to a chair in your own waste?
    Because I don't recall Kellis the Poet changing out B'eLanna's bedpan.
    And B'eLanna suffers no adverse effects from an 8 day coma? C'mon.
    I really hate that I have to live with that BS just so Capt. Jane can fret over Harry's status. 8 days was an egregious error. Ridiculous.
    And then it's 10 days?
    And Harry has been grooming himself pretty well. Couldn't they have given us some stubble or some grime or ANY indication that this guy is roaming the countryside, traveling by night, for a week and a half, an alien in hiding on a strange, relatively undeveloped world.
    Uh. The B'eLanna thing....unconscious for 8 days? Puhleeeeze.

    I didn't like this episode one bit. A play? A shakespearean play based on the adventures of Voyager and B'elanna in particular? Yawnfest.
    I'll admit, I didn't quite get all the actors vs writers details this episode obviously alludes to. I'm one of those people who doesn't need to know what goes on behind the screens.
    I don't need to see how magic tricks are done, how awesome actionpacked scenes are put together, how they make big explosions seem real etc etc. It completely ruins the whole point of it.
    This whole episode feels like that. A look behind the scenes of an ancient play of some backwater aliens trying to grasp the concept of a civilzation millenia ahead of their time. And it's a mess. A jumbled, boring, confusing mess.

    Big waste of time. Could not care less where it was going or how it ended. I like my sci-fi a little more flashy. If that's shallow, when then that's shallow. I like flash over substance for my entertainment. Sue me. While Star Trek is not generally all that flashy (Abrams movie reboots notwithstanding), it still delivers on this front often enough to warrant watching. I suppose that means I have to take the good with the bad and stomach the occasional episode I know I won't like, like this one. So be it, then.

    Rather than grabbing the low-hanging fruit of mocking the whiny manbabies who can't stand any sort of introspection, I'll just ask: how the hell did this Iron Age dude access the ship's logs in the first place? Pretty sure he doesn't have Starfleet clearance. (Also I guess the computers themselves utilize the universal translator. Makes sense.)

    I loved this episode, easily 4 stars IMO. Menosky is a great writer, and he clearly was trying to make a point with this script, in that today's audiences don't want intellectual, make-you-think stories, they just want to see phasers, torpedos, running fire fights, and as Jammer says, stuff getting blowed up. I enjoy action scenes as well, but only when they serve the plot, not run over the plot... Enterprise needed more stories like this, instead of the nonsense that Berman and Braga kept writing.

    I might have liked this episode better if it had been focused on any other character other than B'Elanna. I like the character in and of herself but for whatever reason I just cannot get into the B'Elanna centric episodes. I doubt that I will rewatch this one much.

    If I had to pick a favorite Voyager episode, this is it. "Living Witness" is undoubtedly the best, but this one I love for (probably) mostly personal reasons. I think my history of studying and acting in theater is why I love it so much. That it first aired while I was in undergrad surely helped, too.

    Maybe Kelis' ideals are a little overstated, but I can't help but think that most writers hope they can change the minds of their audience, so I didn't have a problem with it. If anything, I'd rather creative minds be ambitious than not.

    The numerous references to classical theater were fantastic (Greek chorus, masks, etc). Admittedly the plausibility is low here, but I never get hung up on whether it's believable that a planet on the other side of the galaxy would develop its culture in any way analogous to our own so long as the story is worthwhile, and this story definitely is. Besides Star Trek always uses alien societies to reflect on our own, so this worked for me.

    So yes, several scenes that show the acting process in a realistic way, a cool storytelling device, and even using sci-fi technology as a special effect! Winner!

    I agree with those above who liked this episode. Great review Jammer.

    @Ken - I believe Voyager has shuttles constantly scouting for sources of fuels and food in different directions than Voyager. They all meet up at some designated rendezvous point, somewhere down the "road" so to speak. This way they can cover more territory. I doubt Voyager is just sitting in one spot waiting. For example: At the beginning of Memorial, Paris tells Janeway that after 14 days, they scanned 15 planets and that they have a Cargo-hold overflowing with dilithium ore.

    However, I had a huge problem with Torres' use of the transporter in front of these aliens. Kelis was already contaminated by discovering the shuttle and an Eternal, but who would believe a guy whose job it is to make up stories. Fine. But, with Torres Ascending to the Heavens, in front of the Patron no less, she is reinforcing their beliefs in Eternals. Those who have seen the TNG "Who Watches The Watchers" knows that this is the worst violation of the Prime Directive there could be. These aliens are now not only going to believe in Eternals, but also about other species, the Borg etc... - Janeway should have wiped the short-term memories of all the witnesses and reprimanded Torres severely. Just another example of Janeway's incompetence as a captain. Picard - she is not.

    I wanted to enjoy this a lot more than I actually did in the end. It's got a really clever twist to a bog-standard shuttle crash idea and has meta up the ying-yang. The final scene is something of a triumph.

    But in all honesty I found the rest of it to be not all that interesting. I surely don't need explosions and actions every week, but I do like to be entertained. And this wasn't that entertaining to me. I suspect it's because I never got on with Menosky's flights of fancy (I hated Darmok, so what do I know, right?). 2 stars only.

    I didn't know this was Joe Menosky's last episode, although it does make sense. It was pretty self-referential at times, and a bit self-congratulatory regarding the importance of writers. That's something I tend not to like. Ah well, Menosky gave us Darmok, he's earned the right to be self-indulgent.

    The choice of B'Elanna as the Muse of this poet was perfect for two reasons. For one, she's Maquis, not Starfleet, and so doesn't have the affection for the Prime Directive that others might have. If that was Picard down there, he would be more deeply concerned with the impact he was having on the society than his own predicament. But Torres, what does she care? She pays lip service to the Prime Directive, of course, but it's not ingrained into her like with the others. Thus, she can give more information to the poet, and care about the poet, without struggling too much with her internal philosophy. Only Paris or Neelix would have been comparable (and Seven, I guess, but she might not have even paid lip service to the PD). But neither of them would have worked, because they are too extroverted. Torres, being the standoffish character with a disdain for others, was the only one who could grow to care about what this poet was doing.

    And that's important, because those interactions between the two made this episode what it was. Perhaps I'm a bit biased here, because I came to care about the episode more and more as it went forward at roughly the same pace that Torres did. Like I said, I tend to take a negative view of writers writing about writing. So I was worried about this going in. But their interactions, and the way they were both so dependent on each other, despite neither one fully trusting or understanding the other, won me over. Sure, B'Elanna's over-emotional speech at the end was probably too over-the-top, but I'll let it pass.

    It helps that the episode seemed to do all the little things right, a rarity for Voyager. The scenes on Voyager were well paced and had the emotional weight that the potential loss of Kim and Torres deserved. One bit I liked was the emphasis on the actor playing Tuvok, questioning whether the audience will understand such an emotionless character, and then switching back to the real Tuvok, where we can see his intense emotions buried beneath his calm exterior. B'Elanna's attempts to fix the shuttle were likewise well done, eschewing the usual technobabble and waving blinky lights around for spreading random wires around and needing specific metals to connect everything. And Harry's return felt very natural too. So basically, everything clicked.

    And most of all, I liked B'Ellana. It's refreshing to see an episode focusing on her that's not about her Klingoness or temper. I mean, it kinda is about her standoffish nature, but it's far more subtle than the likes of Juggernaut. She's simply sarcastic and aiming to shut down conversations as fast as possible. But eventually, she ends up getting around to listening to his play. She ends up talking about it, giving advice (and not just about telling what the real Voyager is like). And in the end, when she realizes that the poet can't finish his story without her help, she decides to run back and help. It not only works thematically, but works with the plot as well. In the first play, we learned that the poet inserted himself into the story. So it makes sense that the story ends with the poet as well. A touching ending that won me over just as much as it did the audience of the show.

    Like Darmok, I wouldn't want this sort of show to become common on Trek, but as a one-shot it worked very well.

    Unlike Darmok, these primitive aliens apparently speak and read fluent English. This isn't a unique contrivance for Voyager, or Star Trek altogether, but it works best when you barely notice. This time it was really noticeable for some reason.

    One of my personal favorites.

    Fantastic review Jammer.

    Couple reason I enjoy this one. It's a B'Elanna episode for starters. As always Roxann's right on the mark. Another is Kelly Waymire. She just has such a great screen presence to me. Love her in Enterprise as Crewman Cutler and loved her here as well. So sad she left us early.

    I love how our Maquis/quick tempered/half-Klingon Chief Engineer handled this situation. I'm not sure she would have reacted so maturely early on in the series.

    Just a classy episode. Touching ending.

    I'm also VERY pleased Mr. Joe Menosky has been added to our new series coming up in January. He's penned some trek classics, of which I think this is one.

    4 stars from me.

    Didnt hate this episode but did find it pretty slow. It was very watchable in no small part due to the fact the poet guy and some of his crew were rather easy on the eye :)

    When I saw this was the next episode I almost skipped it. It's been a few years since I last watched voyager and my memory isn't what it could be, but I had the feeling this was a dud.

    But then I checked and saw that Jammer gave it 3.5 stars, so I thought I must have been mistaken.

    That was my real mistake. This was truly awful. I wish I'd gone with my gut.

    I'm stunned that so many people enjoyed it. Each to their own I suppose...

    @mephyve: what's gotten into you? I expected you to hate this even more than i did!

    Poet guy: "I believe the right kind of play can turn the mind from violent thoughts ".
    The reverse is also true. This episode made me want to punch someone.

    . 5 stars

    Clapping, standing ovation, greek tragedy elements, human social organization and monogamous sexual conventions, 8-day coma without water and no renal failure, non-stubbly Harry, shuttle crash trope, zero character development, jealous girlfriend without a real resolution, primitive alien accessing logs: way way too many distractions to allow any appreciation of the pseudo-deep message that has impressed the lowest common denominator crowd here. Weak episode.

    @Yanks--I am so sorry you mentioned Kellie Waymire--I too really loved ehr performance in this. To learn she is dead is almost too tragic. Well, she left behind at least one amazing performance.

    I'll join the chorus (yuk yuk) of those who love this episode, and I'll also admit I can totally say that I completely understand why some don't like it--AND THAT'S OKAY! We don't have to like all the same things! Wouldn't the world be boring if we did?

    I love how the writers comment on writing in this--it is too hilarious. Watching it, i feel like the writers think i am smart and can get hints. A nice change from the moments when the writes explain things TOO much.

    For me the greatest and most amazing moment of character development is when Tuvok admits he has not slept for days. I honestly didn't think he cared THAT much--it really moved me. When he snored on the bridge I felt nothing but sympathy.

    What I thought was incoherent was the nature of these people. Are they space-faring? At first it seemed not, as Kelis apparently thought that the references to "captain" and "ship" were nautical. The whole notion of considering the Voyager crew to be mythic creatures ("Eternals") would suggest an unfamiliarity with the concept of space travel.

    And B'Elanna seemed at first to be playing along with this idea. But then she said the words "starship" and "Starfleet". So does Kelis actually understand that Earth is another planet, and not some land across the eastern sea?

    There was a more practical problem: if the Delta Flyer' s power was failing, how was the universal translator operating? We just had an episode in which Ballard was speaking Kobali on the ship, and B'Elanna couldn't understand her (which raises the separate question of why the translator wasn't working then). So how could B'Elanna and Kelis understand each other on a powered-down shuttle? Do the com badges have this translating function? Even if they do, that doesn't explain how B'Elanna could read the note that Kelis wrote in his own language.

    I am perfectly willing to accept the ubiquity of the universal translator. But there's no way to reconcile this story even with that.

    This episode was so full of itself and the ego of the writer, that everything 'realistic' was lost in the shuffle (or as 'real' as star trek can be anyway). A shuttle crashing yet again? no problem. 8 day coma? no problem. Harry crossing 120 miles of wilderness on an L class planet in 8 days with just a tricorder pointing in the right direction? no problem. A planet on the other side of the galaxy that is exactly like medievel England, complete with Shakespeare? no problem. And on and on.

    The thing that pulled me right out of the episode completely was when Torres asks Shakespeare to get her a thin sheet of tin and bronze alloy plated with gold, as if she would even ask him in the first place, and then he comes back the next day with one. lol. I couldn't get one of those made nowadays in less than a week probably. But apparently they just have them lying around on his primitive planet.

    Just like the dilithium, which of course he recognized immediately from a crystal looking thing on a computer screen as 'winter's tears'. The screen alone would have made him shit himself just seeing it. And I know that when I see a picture of a crystal I can identify the specific one it is and exactly where to find them, especially if it is located in only one spot that I would never know about because I wasn't allowed to go there ever in the first place or risk being killed.

    And why was the flyer out of dilithium anyway? It hadn't been running for over a week. What, they only carry the exact amount of dilithium to last exactly the length of their original mission, and if you go past that by a few hours you're screwed I guess? And apparently they have no food on the flyer either, since Torres had to bargain for some with Shakespeare. Maybe they use a replicator, but the escape pods have at least a weeks worth, and there should be 2 escape pods left on the flyer. So the whole situation there makes no sense.

    And Shakespeare listened to some log entries and knew every detail about everyone on the ship? Would the logs even mention that seven says 'you will be assimilated' and 'I will comply' etc. and that Tuvok is a vulcan with no emotions, and that there is a subtext of a love between Chakotay and Janeway, and that Harry was interested in kissing the twins, and that Paris and Torres are in love? etc. etc. Even if they did, he discovered all of that in the thousands and thousands of log entries, that he somehow knew how to listen to, and somehow could understand, despite 90% of it being technobabble that he wouldn't comprehend in the slightest about warp signatures and transporters and away missions and tritanium and holodecks and EMP's and alien monsters that eat starships and on and on, and wrote it into a play and rehearsed it and performed it, all in a week. oh yes.

    Another absurd episode from this absurd show where the writers just don't care about what they are actually writing about, just as long as they can force a 'moral' down our throats. And oh my. What an original 'moral' it was too. Violence is bad. Oh really.

    1 star. Mostly for the Tuvok scenes.

    "In a galaxy populated by thousands of sentient species, Earth customs seem to be suprisingly universal."

    This is a bit of a problem. It is generally canonically accepted now that Vulcan orbits the star 40 Eridani A, which is an orange star smaller than our Sun. Thus, a year on Vulcan is probably only about half of an Earth year, so Vulcans' longevity, adjusted for their own "year", could mean that they really don't live any longer than humans do.

    OK episode with some imagination but ultimately I'm not that impressed. Mostly wooden guest actors although Dawson always does well when she's acting the main character.

    The first time Kelis shows up I thought it was Keanu Reaves making a guest appearance. In any case, that Torres is left tied up in a chair after a crash landing for 8 days and seems to take it pretty well doesn't jive with the fiery half-Klingon.

    The whole whatever about writing a play and trying to find the right ending, the old man's words about how writing a play used to be etc. didn't do anything for me. I just found this episode slow and somewhat frustrating for long stretches. But what was interesting was the ancient race trying to portray Voyager's adventures from their own perspectives through the play. That had a certain simplicity and imagination to it.

    I kept thinking and waiting for the episode to really pick up but the ending was underwhelming with the other lady trying to claim Torres is an eternal and the patron getting involved in the play. It seemed like it should not have worked out to achieve whatever effect.

    And the whole idea of an "eternal" -- is that supposed to be something like a divine being to this alien race? But then Kelis ties the "eternal" up for 8 days and then it helps him write his play? Bizarre. Some things didn't play out as one thinks they should. I thought this could have turned into that Stephen King book "Misery".

    The scenes on Voyager with the search and Tuvok not sleeping were compelling enough.

    2.5 stars for "Muse" -- the strong part of the episode is Dawson's acting although I think it should have been written differently (showing more anger/frustration). There is the bit about peace in the end from Kelis, which came across as a bit trite, but it is well-intentioned and I think that is a uniquely Trekkian quality about some episodes. Overall not very satisfying or significant.

    @Ferdinand Cesarano: I think it's established in the series that by Voyager's time, combadges also serve double-duty as universal translators. So the shuttle's computer being off-line would not have been a problem. That said, I particularly dislike how often the universal translator is misused throughout most of Star Trek. Quite often it's portrayed encountering a totally foreign language, from a newly discovered species, and making perfect translations on the fly.

    Not to mention the fact that it most also be somehow using holographic projection to make sure that the alien's lips match perfect English. And it ensures that facial expressions and body language never TOO foreign to the bearer of the UT. It's lazy writing, and only a few episodes actually deal with the concept of first contact, without over reliance on the UT.

    It feels like a lazy hand-waving way to get around the actual formidable challenges Voyager or the Enterprise should encounter every time they meet a new species. I get that the writers can't get too bogged down in this kind of detail, but it's never really paid more than just lip service (if you'll forgive the pun).

    OK... while we’re on the subject of the Universal Translator, my favorite part is how when they first hail a brand new species it works right off the bat before the other species has even said anything.

    Now *that’s* some damn fancy technology right there.

    But yeah, we all get it. The show would be tedious if every time they met a new species, 20 minutes was devoted to them spewing gibberish at each other until the UT could accumulate enough data to function.

    I’m OCD enough to kind of let these sorts of things bother me, yet whimsical enough to usually be able to ignore them. But not always. The hailing a brand new species and the UT working right off the bat gets me every time. haha

    I like this episode and the general meta-commentary, and the way the episode dances back and forth between the play-Voyager and the real one. Self-indulgent? Sure, but that's appropriate for a send-off for Menosky (even if he does write Unimatrix Zero, which, uh, let's count this one as his last real one), who can't help but compare himself to the Bard when he exits (see also opening Emergence with The Tempest). The idea that storytelling can Change The World is a starry-eyed hopeless dreamer romantic's attitude, and, hey, it's part of the Trek mythos that Star Trek helped change the world, so we can maybe let them get a little carried away. B'Elanna mostly is a good presence in the episode, too, and I appreciate that the episode elides her Klingon-ness almost entirely.

    However, the episode still runs into problems with the ending: not only is B'Elanna's insistence that she must go and fix the play's ending weird in and of itself, and not only is the depth of her emotion unearned, but I really can't even make out what her transporting away is supposed to even mean. Is she trying to show that she was a real alien all along? Wow the patron with special effects? The most likely explanation I have is that it really is a combination of the two, and that she really does want to show that she's a magical creature for these puny mortals, which will give the play some heft by showing that there really is a real Voyager fantasy place where dreams can come true, but you know, I know she's not the most dutiful rule-follower, but I'm straining to think -- isn't there some kind of...first...order...about revealing yourself to be an alien or god to some pre-warp civilization? Given that this is a metanarrative episode about Star Trek, you would think that one of the defining rules of the franchise would maybe come up, when relevant. It's weird of course that she had already let her forehead ridges (and lack of whatever the people on this planet have) go without comment, but at least there was some hint that maybe she was supposed to be just a normal person with a weird head, that that's the way things were Over There, rather than being an actual Eternal or whatever the transporter beamout would seem to suggest.

    I think on the metafictional level, though, I think maybe the ending is actually meant to be between Menosky and Voyager, the characters and the show: Menosky, as the poet, actually gets a chance to meet and be saved by the fictional character, who leaves him behind, back to his life. It is touching, in its way.

    It's a little slighter than I'd remembered and I find the ending unsatisfying, but still a strong showing -- 3 stars.

    good episode. It actually painted belanna in good light and gave her some needed character development as she tries to forge peace between the land she is in and the unseen neighbor. 69 stars out of 71.

    Very interesting review..thank you for the extra depth...excellent commentary on your part.

    I mostly enjoyed the episode, but found the ending a little confusing. I didn't really see how B'elanna disappearing made any sense in the plays storyline, but maybe I missed something.

    I generally DO like an occasional episode that show us a bit of depth of character, or something that is playfully different. I love sci-fi, but I only buy into it if I care about the people and, as long as every episode doesn't turn into a soap opera, I enjoy a little excursion into something unusual or insightful.

    On the negative side, (Its possible someone already mentioned this, I didn't read through everyone's responses), the thing that jarred me out of the story was that B'elanna could read the note that she was given by the messenger. Uh, either he can write in her language, or she can read his. What?! Lol.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed it.

    A couple of things:
    - Beaming out in front of a not advanced civilisation: they were already believing in “Eternals”. This didn’t change much. It did help if it prevented a war.
    - universal translator: it has long been established that when it works, it works flawlessly as if everyone speaks English. It is a standard Trek convention so that a story can be told in 40’
    People shouldn’t get stuck in trivial issues and instead should try to enjoy the fiction part. Otherwise, Wikipedia has some amazing articles that are highly scientifically and historically accurate ;)

    At first I was quite afraid of the episode being boring but it won me over. Reading in the review that this was the last episode written by a longstanding write of Trek makes everything come together. The basic story of the episode is that of the struggle between a writer and the need to a satisfy a needing patron who demands a new spectacle every week. It seems Menosky knows the Trek audience quite well, judging from the angry comments if the people who missed their hardcore “science” dose for a week ;)
    This was at at the of the sixth season out of seven, so the show can be allowed some self-reflection and the writers comparing themselves with Aristophanes and Shakespeare :)
    More explosions and technobabble next week!

    Interesting concept, well done.

    Our guest star does a good job.

    I was confused about how B'Ellana survived eight days in the shuttle, unconscious . . . I guess I can assume our rescuer managed to get some liquids down her.

    I liked the way the "play" was done.

    Well done! Haven't read the review or comments yet but am quite curious to do so, as this was an unusual outing. Later, gators.

    Comments on the commentary:

    --I liked Tuvok's sleeplessness and snoring. I think it helped make a point the episode repeated in various ways: Caring isn't ultimately expressed emotions (kissing, crying). It's expressed by effort, by actions, not lip service.

    --The use of the shuttles in Voyager: I've always had the impression that this was to allow the shop to do several things at once: Get supplies, explore, etc.

    --The UT: No use worrying about this aspect.

    B'Elanna is awesome and I thought she looked hot in this episode, therefore I liked it.

    A very good episode. Different-and I wouldn't want the entire series to be like this, but it makes a nice change. I like how the episode ends without telling us the patron's reaction. Will he lay aside his pride and warmongering ways? Let us hope so, but we will never know.

    I too liked Kelly Waymire-I always thought she was quite talented-and cute too. A shame about her early death, but I believe in the bible's promise of a resurrection, so soon she can live again.

    Despite the lack of flashy things one associates with sci-fi, this episode is typical Star Trek to me. It is entertaining, and also shows us that we can put aside pride and violent tendencies if we decide to.

    I don't have the problem with Harry Kim that many have here, so I didn't mind his last minute appearance-in fact worrying/wondering what happened to him for most of the episode adds spice to the show!

    When this episode came up during my rewatch, I pondered momentarily the idea of skipping it. In all of 90s-era Star Trek (TNG, DS9, and VOY) the only episode I generally skip is TNG's Shades of Grey. I can enjoy the bad ones for their badness and generally don't get as flustered about it as others do.

    So why do I dislike this one so much? I'm still not really sure. I consider it very boring, but not because it's talky and non-action-y. I like plenty of episodes that fall into that category (The Measure of a Man, The Drumhead, The Inner Light, Family, Duet, The Wire, Far Beyond the Stars, Living Witness, Author Author). I applaud them for not inserting a space battle with the hard-headed alien of the week this time. Maybe part of it is that I don't care for theater or theatrical acting. In that case perhaps the scenes of Barclay and Riker acting for Crusher's plays in TNG are short enough that they don't bother me. Picard's "bad" acting for DaiMon Tog's sake at the end of Ménage à Troi is a highlight of the series ("My a fever.") The similarly bombastic style of Kovat, Chief O'Brien's public conservator in Tribunal is also fun and silly. I guess this episode was just too plodding and serious?

    It might also be that I'm not a fiction writer. I do some writing, but it's of an historical nature, documentarian, so this tale of inspiration and contemplation just doesn't resonate with me, I guess. I'd much rather watch the previous episode, Live Fast and Prosper, for all its campiness and wink-winks to the audience, despite its clichéd tropes and plot holes.

    I weirdly liked this a lot, even though on its face it doesn't seem that interesting... the way it gradually became about the creative process as a whole was just engaging. Perhaps because I did not expect that to be the theme of the episode, but it's a unique and interesting theme that works here.


    Torres manages to land on a planet full of luvvies.

    Luvvuies who manage to speak in a slightly damok style and one manages to annoy the almost Seven rivaling Torres for hotness in her figure hugging grey under uniform. And annoy her he does with just about every word he says...'Vulcan!' Grrrrrrrr

    To be or not to be!

    @Ken Egervari (very belatedly)

    If I may address one of your concerns of why Voyager goes-a-exploring along the way, I have a real life example about the famous BOUNTY vessel, in which Fletcher Christian led a mutiny and Put Captain Bligh and twenty of his crew adrift in a 21 foot launch in the Pacific ocean. Too long to relate the entire story here of course, but Bligh managed to sail in that little open boat over 3600 miles to safety with the loss of just ONE man! The point here is that in spite of the sheer terror of their predicament, Bligh still drew maps, charted islands, studied and recorded new plant and animal species, measured coastlines, etc.
    You see....he was a commander but also a professional...a scientist. This type of professionalism was and is today expected conduct of the true professional. Contrast that with Captain Edwards....the man charged with bringing in the mutineers.... Edwards just sailed to and from the island of Tahiti (near where the Mutiny took place) without so much as a look out his cabin window....and lost his ship to boot!

    This episode is interesting, but for my personal reflections it was marred by having one of my least favorite characters in Torres.

    In a way, after reading through the past comments I wonder if even some of the most serious detractors of this show might have all written more favorable reviews if they had known what was in store for the future of this great show. After Voyager and then Enterprise, there was the drought and then this travesty of an imitation called ST Discovery (my apologies to those that may like this show). For me, I have the rest of the series (VOYAGER) to view for the wonderfully first time!! So even if there is a less than great episode I will probably rate it as a work of a modern Shakespeare!

    I thoroughly enjoyed "Muse". I liked watching the play within a play, and how Kelis used the Flyer's records to write his plays. (Why is some of that information in the records anyway?) Kim's part may have been unnecessary, but seeing B'Lanna happily greet him by name made me think back to when she was calling him "starfleet". Quite a change after all they've been through as one crew. And the fact that B'Lanna found the kissing extraneous, when it was she who wanted more romance in Tuvok's holonovel from "Worst Case Scenario". And Kelis' last lines, talking about Earth as a place where hate had no home, almost moved me to tears, wishing it were so. Sometimes Trek writers really know how to touch my heart, schmaltzy as it is.

    I didn’t mind the episode, I just didn’t really understand that playwright’s own obstacle- isn’t “Janeway” showing mercy on the “Queen of the Borg” for the sake of both societies a clear enough conclusion? What exactly did B’lanna’s appearance add or clarify?

    "(Away missions in shuttles or the Flyer are more dangerous than they can possibly be worth; when was the last time one didn't end with a crisis or crash?)"

    One could argue that there were many away missions that were uneventful, and were never shown as episodes.

    This is the second time in a row now, that we get an episode with barely no Seven; but instead it's all about B'Ellana, and thank God for that!

    A beautifully paced story with a wonderful theme and a flawless performance by Roxann Dawson. I really like B'Ellana and unfortunately I feel many of the episodes focusing on her lacks in story and execution. Therefore "Muse" is a real delight.

    3-3,5 Stars.

    After barely stomaching Alice, I was wary of watching this. I always loved B'Ellana the character, but the writers made her very one dimensional for no good reason. I don't count her interactions with Paris as a positive - he's been a wet noodle of a character from the start and ought to have been tossed out an airlock early on. That said, Dawson gives a hell of a performance here in a unique story that has given me more respect for Voyager. I can't fathom why they sidelined so many excellent actors. Is there even one Chakotay episode? There are dozens about the doctor who is an emotional infant and rarely has a scene I'd call challenging. I found the story inventive and unpredictable, which is what I love about SF. Fearless writing that, I'm sorry to say, was rarely seen outside of DS9.

    I would have given it 1 star, but after reading your review, you’ve swayed me up to 2. Knowing this was Joe Menosky’s Voyager swan song, that feels about right. Menosky has written some of my Trek all time favorites and all time duds, so right in the middle is fitting. I appreciate what he did here, and the acting was great, it was just a little too on the nose for me. I found it to be rather pretentious as well. Not a terrible episode, but the pedestal you put it on is a little too elevated.

    This is one of the best. A thing about these so called "science fictions" on TV. There is no science in them, but technobabbles and excuses to blow up in unrealistic ways to satisfy certain juvenile impulses that we all have.

    The fictions are more important and this writer always put fiction first and spectacles last. Darmok is another.

    @Nathan Tue, Apr 1, 2014, 1:53am
    I was also thinking that they breached the prime directive by beaming up B'Elanna in front of a pre-industrial society.

    It's things like this that make me sympathise with people who think Janeway flip-flops on her ideals. Don't get me wrong, I like Voyager but I can see their point.

    Very different, I enjoyed it. They really need to keep tethers on the delta and those darn shuttles. Have they ever flown one without a crash?

    This is one of the best written episodes in all of Trek. Menosky expertly blends science fiction, Greek theater, and a metanarrative about writing for network television while adding new facets to the characters of Tuvok and B'Elanna. Oh, and he also manages to wrap everything up with an optimistic Trekian message. All in a 45 minute script.


    Jammer said: "But there's some off-kilter-ness to the way Layna attempts to expose B'Elanna and the way the patron assumes it to be part of the act. "

    The patron makes that assumption because the events parallel the common theater tropes that Kellis listed.

    From the script:

    KELIS: That's exactly the problem. Where is the mistaken identity, the discovery, the sudden reversal? Mistaken identity, a character who is someone else. Discovery, the moment when that identity is revealed. Reversal, a situation that turns from good to bad in a blink of an eye.


    Jammer and others also have a problem with Torres being emotional at the end. Torres has been plagued by doubt and self recriminations her entire life. Now she has met someone who literally thinks she is an inspiration, a Muse, a goddess, someone whose mere words can bring about peace. I can see how someone who has always hated herself could get emotional when meeting someone who not only accepts her, but venerates her.


    Some people mentioned a possible Prime Directive violation by B'Elanna at the end when she beams up in clear view of the audience. Take note of this comment by Victoria G:

    "People may not realize that this episode is taken straight from Greek theater. Many will recognize the chorus and the masks, but there are three types of plot twists that are included. Two were described by Aristotle – the reversal of fortune (Peripeteia) and the moment of recognition (Anagnorisis). Then there is the Deus ex Machina at the end."

    "Deus ex Machina"

    From Wikipedia:

    The term was coined from the conventions of ancient Greek theater, where actors who were playing gods were brought onto stage using a machine. The machine could be either a crane (mechane) used to lower actors from above or a riser which brought them up through a trapdoor.

    B'Elanna was just giving the audience exactly what they expected.

    P.S. R.I.P. Kellie Waymire

    Loved it, thoughtful, different, VERY meta.

    Thanks for your comment Bob (a different one), quite interesting

    Also RIP Kellie

    Thank you very much, Facundo. This really is a very underrated episode, imo.

    p.s. One odd thing about this one - what happened to John Schuck? He's an actor with an extensive resume and has made numerous Star Trek appearances, but he's little more than an extra in this episode. I think he has only one line in the entire script outside of the chorus scene. Odder still, he gets a billing in the opening credits.

    Memory Alpha says that there were numerous rewrites during filming so maybe he lost some lines. If that's the case, it's a shame that they couldn't have given him the part of the actor playing "Logical Tuvok."

    Here by way of search '"Muse" best Voyager episode ever'.
    I disagree with the author's claims we all want splozhuns. Nope. Nope. Nope. Depends what you call 'entertaining'. Seriously, I'm so bored with the 'action' sequences i simply mute the TV and play with the phone til it's over? Who's the implied majority who can't think? Better train them up- the future of human civilisation depends on it, because using them as factory fodder for capitalism is just working so well, isn't it 😜
    I love this ep's devotion to the ancient art of storytelling. What a great premise (unmentioned in this article): how would a Star Trek story come across if told in a formalistic ancient fashion with zero frills? Kind of Lars von Triers Dogme style.
    It honours our history beautifully.
    I also disagree that you can't change the world with storytelling. In fact, you can ONLY change the world with storytelling. It's the scripts people live by -what they believe is possible/ appropriate/ expected of/ by people- that directs their every life decision! That includes people in positions of political/ economic etc power.
    The trick is: how to tell the story, to whom and to what for?
    The best STV ep ever.

    ""(Away missions in shuttles or the Flyer are more dangerous than they can possibly be worth; when was the last time one didn't end with a crisis or crash?)"

    One could argue that there were many away missions that were uneventful, and were never shown as episodes."
    Stef, beautiful 👌😄😄

    I love this episode like crazy, although I fully understand why some people do not.

    My favorite part is B'Elanna raising two middle fingers to the Prime Directive at the end and beaming off the stage in front of the entire audience. Listen, B'Elanna Torres ain't Starfleet. Not really, when it comes down to it. And you just KNOW she didn't put that part in her report to Janeway. If you don't get a good chuckle out of that, I don't know what to tell you. She recognized it was a dramatic moment to make her exit and she took it. Oh and also how the magistrate afterward looks back at the actress who'd just called B'Elanna out for being an actual "eternal" and she just makes this gesture like "TOLD you!" Amazing.

    Listen, yes, I know it's something she really shouldn't have done. It seems relatively harmless, but the harm it may cause isn't always foreseeable, and that's the whole idea behind the Prime Directive. But the whole episode isn't really structured as being very "real." I mean, in the universe of the show, it's really happening, yes. But you know what I mean. I love that for once, rather than stringently playing by the "rules" and doing the right thing that show knows it should have done, instead it just winked at the audience and said "eh the hell with it, let's go with fun." I'm willing to accept that everything works out for the best for that society anyway despite the violation of the Prime Directive, like the show asks me to believe. Let's give this episode that supposition so that we can have our fun. The show can't ask this of us every time, or even multiple times, and expect us to respect it, but it can ask it of us once. Why not?

    "as learned through the logs of the Delta Flyer, which along with its lone passenger, B'Elanna Torres, has crashed"

    I clearly recall Janeway telling Seven soon after she joined the crew that "I'm not accustomed to sending an away team of one".

    @Jaxon - Harry was on the mission as well. He'd taken an escape pod before the flyer crashed. He comes along later on in the episode and finds Torres having landed somewhere else on the planet.

    @Nathan (April 1, 2014) "Contrite ending violating the Prime Directive by 'ascending' via the transporter. In front of a Bronze age culture no less. Aren't the writers ever looking at a Star Trek encyclopedia or a writers bible?"

    I, like you so many years ago, lament that the writers apparently never did take the time to index their own episodes. A decent index would have allowed them to increase the number of continuity references in their scripts enormously, while at the same time obviating discordant retcon stumbles. Such improvements would have made a lot of viewers happier. Although a lot of the mistakes are just funny and allow us to harmlessly nitpick them as a hobby, IMO.

    Glad to see the prime directive violated -- B'Elanna Torres' "ascending" gave this Bronze Age culture a visual rush of precisely the kind of phenomena it already seemed to believe in.

    @Jeffrey's Tube (June 22, 2021)-- good & valid point that B'Elanna "ain't Starfleet"... wouldn't it be interesting to have a character who aced everything at the academy, but who walked out after bombing on a prime directive pop quiz.

    An exploration of what the Maquis attitude about the prime directive might have been, would have made for a good episode or two, had the writers chosen to do that back in olden times (pre-2001).

    Add me to the list of episode-likers. It was quiet and controlled, devoid of extrovert-catering. Loved the ending sequence especially. Clearly this was inspired by ancient Hellenic culture...specifically warring city states in the pre-classical era, styled maybe like c. 630 BC...patron modelled on Cypselus of Corinth perhaps? although I can't say what theatrical traditions had developed specifically in Corinth at this juncture. Not a student of theatre.

    "Muse" is a good show! And it establishes as canon that some Vulcans do snore. Jammer's review is 'spot on.'

    I like Jammer's review and I see the merits of the ep from his perspective, but how does he miss the major flaw that ruins what Menoskey was going for? Jammer and others admire it being a "character show" and like the understated emotion of the crew searching for B'Lanna while the stand-in Ancient Greek poet details the same story from an outsider's viewpoint.

    But where in this is B'lanna's emotion or motivation? Her drive to fix the Flyer and leave could be due to pragmatic survival issues and nothing else going by the script.

    Why isn't she having moments like Paris, Janeway, et al, fearing she'll never see those she cares about? Why isn't she in danger of hyperventilating at the thought of how important she is to the Voyager actually making it home, or caring about what they're doing to her engine room in her absence? She comes across as a the only stock character in a quiet character show about her. And, bizarrely, she seems to have deeper feelings about the poet she just met than everyone on Voyager.

    This ruined the episode for me, though I wanted to love it. I've always been impressed how fiction can, in fact, have a sometimes profound effect on people to the point of changing cultures (look at the effect Trek had on advancing technology, or culturally the famous scene of a white man kissing a black woman). In history I think of Ivan Turgenev writing A Sportsman's Sketches which after reading it caused Tsar Alexander II to free the serfs. The written word can indeed be powerful.

    This really was something special.

    One good thing about having previously skipped episodes that sounded awful ("stranded during an away mission, Torres finds herself for a young poet's art"), I've at least left myself in the position of having personal "lost" classic episodes.

    @Chattering Chaingang

    I'll agree Torres was acting strangely, but I assume she was delirious from injury, perhaps feverish.

    I don't think there's anything that directly indicates this, but she was unconscious for a week, suggesting a coma. Her all but complete disregard for the Prime Directive might point to that. Perhaps her inability to fix the Flyer's com system suggests this as well, despite being a famed Starfleet engineer.

    Plus, this world is steeped in dreamy archetypes, perhaps based on Greek archetypes. The Poet has an uncanny ability to convey the world of Voyager, even if imprecisely. The jilted lover behaves powerfully but obliquely.

    And of course for Voyager, the trailer was ridiculously misleading:

    Was that footage of the Flyer before crashing actually filmed then cut, or was it just taken from another episode?

    I never understood why Voyager's trailers were almost always misleading and way over sensationalized.

    It's a TV show, not a one off movie you might trick people into watching.

    And if a deceptive trailer works by bringing in viewers, those viewers aren't likely to be pleased. Meanwhile, a viewer who might have wanted to watch this quirky quiet episode may skip it.

    "I never understood why Voyager's trailers were almost always misleading and way over sensationalized."

    It certainly wasn't limited to Voyager. The TNG promos were awful, always showing any battle, danger, or heightened drama or conflict, no matter how ancillary to the actual story. The trailer for Hollow Pursuits is a classic. It goes on about the Enterprise speeding to destruction out of control. Can the crew shut down the engines in time to avert disaster? No mention of Reg Barclay whatsoever, you know, the A plot.


    What I really like in this episode is it just feels like a starship in operation.

    Losing a shuttle in the vast regions of space in an entirely unknown region isn't solved in a couple minutes of technobabble.

    Tuvok staying awake for days isn't relevant to the resolution, nor is Neelix all but demanding he go to bed. In weaker scripts, somehow that would be key. Here, it's just an officer worried about a lost crew.

    Even Janeway having to ask Chakotay how long Harry could survive in an escape pod is excellent. It certainly feels like a retcon because Janeway would usually have that information on the tip of her tongue. In the actual situation of Voyager in the Delta Quadrant, I do believe Janeway would have this information down cold, but it is nice to see how the captain would usually need this information from her XO.

    I do believe Voyager had a much longer weaning period than TNG and DS9, but imho, it had a fantastic late series run. Seven was part of that but it wasn't just her.

    IMO this is one of "Voyager's" greatest episodes, and a good parting-shot by Joe Menosky, one of Trek's most interesting writers.

    What I liked most about this episode was its self-reflexivity: this is essentially an episode in which a guy writes a script in which a character uses a heavy-handed monologue to convince a warlord not to massacre his enemies.

    To me, this encapsulates one of Trek's best features: the ability of a good, righteous monologue - often employed by Kirk or Picard - to save the day. Yes, that's hokey, and arguably naive or overly optimistic, but I like Menosky's enthusiasm for this very Trekkian trope.

    The episode's final cut-to-black is also particularly strong. We're never actually sure if the writer's sermon has any effect. For all we know, he's swiftly massacred by his patron. In this sense, you might say the cut-to-black both questions and preserves a certain kind of optimism (Schrödinger's utopia!).

    Beyond this, I thought the episode had a bravura quality. It takes skill and daring to set an entire episode almost entirely on just two sets. I wish modern Trek was more open to doing this- science fiction has a long history of conjuring whole worlds and cultures with just a few, simple gestures. This leads to a certain intensity when done right.

    On my recent rewatch of Voyager, I've noticed Torres has far more great episodes than I previously realized. Torres is almost up there with the Doc, Seven and Janeway in terms of excellent scripts dedicated to her. In contrast, someone like Tom Paris arguably only has one or two (The Chute? What else?).



    This is quite ingenious because it runs on a TOS level conceit, of an Athens on another world, yet treats it earnestly with decades later production skill.

    It's completely meta but without the slightest moment of mocking the original show. I don't think a late 60s tv show with its inherent weaknesses should be unflinchingly worshipped, but this is a very nice way to do update it.

    A truly great episode of Trek and among the best of Voyager's entire run. There are so many layers to this story's meta-textual ideas (including the elusiveness of artistic inspiration, the internal and external pressures artists navigate, and the challenges of working within prevailing social constructs), but the grandest of them is one that draws from the very essence of Trek. Stories, at their best and most enduring, are myths with archetypes who have the unparalleled ability to stir our hearts and our minds; to imagine different and better paths; to change individual lives and transform societies; to preserve the hope and dream of human betterment.

    4 stars unequivocally.

    "Blow" is an irregular verb. The correct sentence would be "... stuff getting blown up."

    Thanks, but I will continue to use "blowed up" until my inner child has fully growed up.

    A wonderful episode and it's ok that it doesn't work for all viewers.

    What does work for everyone is Jammer Reviews, happy to see people posting so many years after these Trek episodes premiered.

    It's crazy, I've watched this a couple dozen times-- in under a year-- and it always works for me. Despite having about the worst premise possible for me... it might as well have been "Neelix takes knitting lessons in Fair Haven".

    The even crazier thing... I loved it without getting any of writer Menosky's meta subtext about this being about the challenges of writing for the actual show.

    I'll apologize to Jammer: I never read his review on this until just now and so I posted without reading it. I certainly don't usually do that. I don't recall why, I suspect I thought the review was ridiculously long for a stupid sounding premise, then posted because I was thrilled.

    This episode is like a Mandelbrot plot. No matter which part you look at, it's interesting and no matter how deep you look at it, it's interesting.

    I like the plodding weird ones at times because I'm polymorphously perverse, but you're right, they should change the name of that little ship to the Delta Crasher.

    A thoroughly ridiculous episode. Not sure what some of you are seeing in it. It's not science fiction or entertaining.

    What we see in it is good writing. If you've been watching a lot of post-DS9 Trek recently you may have forgotten what it looks like.

    The episode is working on multiple levels. There's more going on than just another show about a crashed shuttle. Read some more of the more thoughtful comments in this thread and give it another watch.

    Actually, I despise post trek. If you think this episode was well written sci-fil you have very low standards. it's hardly Cause and Effect - or any number of great episodes. This one is a meandering bore fest - and a pretentious one at that.


    Agreed. If you were to tell me the premise of this episode, I would have no interest in watching it & you couldn’t convince me that something like this would even work. Even as I watched it, I kept wondering “How are they pulling this off so well?”

    The writing was great, but they also cast competent actors in the guest star roles (something that Trek can be very hit-and-miss with). And the main cast all turned in solid, believable performances, as well. 👏👏👏

    From earlier posts, the issue of the Prime Directive ...

    It's a good point that Torres isn't Starfleet because I'm sure an officer would be court martialed from that transporter stunt at the end.

    In a broader sense, I'm quite happy the episode didn't get into the horribly tiresome Prime Directive morass. Done to death and then some.

    But while I love the episode, it strikes me that this civilization may be a poster child for why the PD exists in the first place. Getting some "A Piece of the Action" vibes here:

    Kellis showed a dazzling ability to learn Starfleet tech. He learned to talk to the computer well enough to run the logs and figure out a surprisingly accurate account of Voyager's plight. He lives in a world without even electricity.

    He also makes notable intuitive leaps, such as realizing the Flyer has a "memory" and that "winter's tears" is dilithium.

    This gets worrying when you realize that Kellis's Patron would almost certainly want to learn more about what happened to Torres, and that he likely has the means to get it out of Kellis.

    This is a special episode I think and a clear 4 star for me.

    You can nitpick details but the premise was so excellent that it outweighs any criticism.

    It's clearly science fiction too, not sure where people are getting that's about a futuristic alien interacting with a bronze age culture through the retelling of stories which are science fiction to us.

    Top 5 VOY episode.

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