Star Trek: Voyager


2.5 stars.

Air date: 10/18/2000
Written by Michael Taylor
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

"I was just going to congratulate you. She's not a Borg, she's not a hologram, and she's not dead. Looks like you might've finally found yourself the perfect woman." — Tom to Harry

Review Text

In brief: An average, amicable, marshmallow-consistency show in which some underused characters actually show up.

If you're looking for something substantive, you'd best look elsewhere. "Drive" is a featherweight Voyager outing — an amiable episode that will hopefully make you grin from time to time, hopefully make you glad that they've actually dealt with a character theme that has been largely ignored for the past three years, and hopefully remind you that the plot of last week's "Imperfection," while mired in overused Borg milieu, was a pretty meaty story — which this is not. The plot details of "Drive" are an excuse to give us a relationship show on a series which the now-only-peripherally-involved Brannon Braga has always maintained "is not a relationship show."

In other words, this is generally effective marshmallow fluff. Ambitious? Hardly. Reasonably well-executed on its terms? For the most part, yes. A pleasant, likable hour? I think so.

It's a rare Paris/Torres episode, with a subplot involving Harry "I'm Such a Hapless but Lovable Chump" Kim. For once we have a story that is actually about the characters, and not about the plot. Well, sort of. Sure, the relationship story involving Tom and B'Elanna may be a fairly standard iteration on a formula — but, hey, I'm glad the writers made the effort. Maybe Kenneth Biller, running the show from here on out, will actually deliver on some of those rumored reports of increased continuity and character development for Voyager's final season. "Drive" displays some possible signs of that.

Regarding the plot — it begins as a somewhat refreshing change of pace in that the aliens we meet aren't automatically shooting at us. On the contrary, Kim and Paris find themselves testing the new Delta Flyer and drag-racing another pilot in the episode's teaser. Shuttle drag racing — that's sort of an interesting idea. ("Imperfection" and "Drive" were flip-flopped from the originally intended air schedule, which I think is proven here as a dumb idea — the whole idea of establishing the "new" Delta Flyer is at least made into something of a point here, whereas in "Imperfection" it was reduced to a lame joke.)

The drag-racing opponent in the teaser is a woman named Irina (Cyia Batten, who was the first of three actors to play Dukat's daughter Ziyal on DS9), whom Harry very quickly attempts to befriend. (Place your bets now on whether Harry will hook up, but I urge you to consider his track record.) Irina informs Tom and Harry of a racing event taking place nearby. This region of space, you see, was once a big war zone, but now the formerly warring societies have established this shuttle race as a celebration for the anniversary of a peace treaty that is only a few years old.

Paris is excited about this race. Very. It's a great opportunity for him to play up one of the two character traits he's known for: the Expert Pilot. (The other trait is of course Lt. One-Liner.) Janeway thinks a race in the interests of peace is a perfect way to take a breather and to exercise Federation diplomacy, so Paris is pleased as punch about the chance ... except that in his state of pilot's rapture he forgets all about the romantic weekend he and B'Elanna had planned in the holodeck. Doh!

B'Elanna's reaction to Tom's apology is surprisingly restrained — and she even encourages him to follow through on whatever "makes him happy." Okay, guys — this is where a red flashing light and a buzzer should be going off in your head right now: RELATIONSHIP TROUBLE AHEAD. B'Elanna's response is a mix of understanding and hidden exasperation. But mostly masked disappointment. She begins to realize that perhaps she and Tom are too different to be together.

I liked Dawson's less-is-more performance. When she sulks in the mess hall, it's underplayed in a way such that her disappointment shows through all the more. It reminded me of her detachment in "Extreme Risk," an episode where her performance transcended the shallowness of the story.

Tom also comes across reasonably. He obviously cares for B'Elanna, but what exists here is a failure of communication for these two to clearly reveal their perceived relationship problems. B'Elanna feels like Tom assigns her too low a priority, but hasn't told Tom she feels this way. Tom is more than willing to make B'Elanna his top priority, but isn't sure that she wants him to overwhelm her with "mushy stuff." The way all of this comes to a head is after B'Elanna becomes Tom's co-pilot in the race in order to spend time with him doing something he feels is important. This allows issues of control and possession of responsibility during the race to be melded into the psychology of these two and their relationship.

This isn't the deepest material ever conceived, but I thought it was adequately conveyed by Michael Taylor's script and the actors. Dawson and McNeill do a good job with the material they have, but they still don't have a natural, unforced chemistry with each other that truly sells intimate scenes, especially concerning the "mushy stuff." I must confess a bit of a soft spot for relationship shows that give us a payoff after years of setup (or in the case of Voyager, occasionally acknowledged setup), so I found this mostly enjoyable even if a little hackneyed. One apt moment is when Tom stops the Flyer in mid-race to have an immediate, serious talk with B'Elanna.

All of this segues into and out of a plot involving somebody trying to sabotage the race and tear down the uneasily maintained peace treaty. (The reasons for this, once revealed, are hopelessly perfunctory, but an even bigger question I had is why golf balls in the 24th century have blinking, bleeping lights inside them — but forget it.) A sabotaged console on Irina's shuttle blows up, injuring her co-pilot. This leads Harry to volunteer as her replacement co-pilot. No points for guessing who the saboteur is; the Law of Economy of Characters basically gives you two choices: Irina herself, or gruff (red-herring) opponent Assan (Patrick Kilpatrick, who appeared as a hardened Starfleet soldier in DS9's "The Siege of AR-558"). If you didn't guess Irina, you obviously weren't paying attention to the implications of the Harry Kim attraction angle.

This poor sap. I'm beginning to think the writers take some sadistic pleasure is teasing him with potential girlfriends who are, of course, not what they seem. Of course Irina is the saboteur. It's inevitable. If she weren't, Harry might stand a chance to hook up, which simply would go against everything about the Harry Kim (Not) Getting the Girl rule. (Hey, at least the writers are consistent!) If this guy isn't a walking poster boy for the theory "nice guys finish last," then I don't know who is.

Structurally, I thought the way the climax was executed, with the crosscutting between the Tom/B'Elanna and Harry/Irina dialog scenes, worked pretty well, explaining the sabotage plot while Tom and B'Elanna face their communication barrier. I should probably point out that only on Voyager will you likely see a marriage proposal happen in the middle of a speeding attempt to move a bomb from A to B during a 30-second countdown. (This isn't the usual gratuitous Action Insert, but instead gratuitous full Action Integration.) Peace is maintained, Irina is exposed, Harry is still a chump, and Tom and B'Elanna live happily ever after.

The episode ends with an off-screen wedding and then a scene on the Delta Flyer, in which an enormous conceit of cuteness was taken in having "JUST MARRIED" written on the back end of the Flyer. I sort of enjoyed the idea of the two teasing each other about the last name (marital struggle #1: "B'Elanna and Tom Torres" or "Tom and B'Elanna Paris"?). Whether or not you like this — or any of it — may simply depend on whether you've ever liked the idea of Tom and B'Elanna together. I'm one who always sort of liked it, but didn't find great insight in the way it was executed. Such are my feelings for "Drive."

Next week: The trailer claims mutiny, but somehow I doubt it. Maybe it's "Worst Case Scenario, Part II."

Previous episode: Imperfection
Next episode: Repression

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

82 comments on this post

    This episode begs the question: What the heck does a nice girl like B'Elanna see in such a nitwit like Paris?

    I thought this episode could have been more fun without the whole "Moonlighting"-like relational squabbling between TP and BLT. Dialogue like that is nice for 90210. Not so much Trek.
    I had to smile, though, when it turned out that Harry's new crush was a xenophobic assassin. If the writers aren't going to have him grow beyond his Trek Bible Bio, at least they're consistent.

    I enjoyed this one a lot because it was so amiable and focused on the two characters I have a lot of time for - Tom and B'Elanna. I think they have great chemistry together and both put in a fine performance. It doesn't have to be 'meat and potatoes' all the time, a light soufflé now and then makes for a pleasant change.

    I could have done without Neelix hijacking astrometrics and electing himself big-game play-by-play announcer. Dang that guy has a big noisey trap.

    The race was okay, but Belanna in that racy outfit was better.

    Ummm... anyone else notice that Belanna claims that Tom was expelled from the academy even though this contradicts his biography from the series premiere! Maybe she was thinking of his alter ego Nick Locarno.

    At the start of the show I thought "Oh, god, this is gonna be about Harry "Can't-Get-A-Lock" Kim either getting some booty or screwing something up, as usually." (I REEEAAALLY don't like Kim: He has no personality, excels at nothing and usually succeeds in effing up whatever he lands his hands on.)

    But no: It's about Tom Paris acting out a juvenile boyish fantasy (racing) with a 24th-century twist AND Harry "No-Lock" Kim screwing up.

    But sarcasm aside, I thought Torres supplanting "No-Lock" was really sweet of her. I also liked the jumpsuits they wore, especially the gray vs. white contrast. But much of the Paris-Torres sparring would be more suited to some third-rate soap-opera than a sci-fi series. It was nice when they reconciled though and, call me sentimental, but i really enjoyed the soppy ending, mainly because it didn't come across as contrived.

    Neelix succeeds in being a massive pain in the ass in every single scene. On the other hand, Irina has a nice ass, so they pretty much cancel each other out.

    Stupidity peak: Paris and the Morse Code. Tantamount to a N.A.S.A. astronaut being able to recognize and decipher a flag semaphore message. *sigh*

    Overall, a watchable and rather entertaining episode. I'd give it 2.5 stars.

    Paris was expelled from Starfleet Academy? I thought his troubles started later, with he Maquis. RDM's pother character, Locarno, was the one that was expelled.

    Don't know if it's ever been confirmed, but I always thought it was meant to be the same person. I remember he had a remarkably similar backstory about having done something stupid that led to the death of his team mate, or am I misremembering. They changed his name because Nick Locarno was already claimed by another series, or some such.

    Anyway, average fluff really. And alas, poor Kim yet again. Pleasant enough but far from amazing.

    I'm a little disappointed that after all those years of buildup they get an off-screen wedding. I was looking forward to watching Lt One-Liner snarking his way through the marriage vows.

    Hold the phone - they got married at the end? Clearly I blinked and missed that.

    It wasn't shown but at the end the shuttle was towing 'just married' stuff (lol) and it's confirmed in the next ep.

    It did seem a bit of an anticlimax skipping all the stuff normally considered important and just 'ending' like that, but without spoiling Voyager's grand finale too much... erm, let's just say, get used to it :)

    They did the wedding in Course:Oblivion. It was actually their dupes, but they still probably figured why do it twice.

    I'm with Damien on this. Love the Tom and B'Ellana pairing, it is unusual and unexpected that's why I love it. I love how the actors handled the characters. I wish they did more with these 2 in the series instead of this being a seven show.

    Does it ever get on anyone else's nerves that space opera series writers always forget about intertia? Its like they think that you stop as soon as you shot off your engines. Yeah, yeah, I know, that "inertia dampers" hogwash... still, they never turn them off for their own benefit. Once you reach top-speed, you wouldn't need to use your engines at all until the next sharp turn.

    Without inertial dampening field, the crew would be mere splatters on the aft bulkhead at the slightest (for a starship) acceleration.

    However... aren't they only supposed to be INSIDE the ship? The ship should still coast though space, just like in the TNG episode when they were towing the Constellation.

    More ridiculous holodeck spatial if Doc could be on a golf course while Tom and B'Ehlanna are wherever they are.

    Really though, since Doc is just a hologram he could really do whatever he wants if they made one of those yellow plastic cube things that the TNG crew put Moriarty and the Countess in...

    @ Jay...well, Doc is a hologram. Technically they could build some kind of poor man's holodeck (like the yellow box that they put Moriarty and the Countess in at the end of "Ship In A Bottle") that only he could use, and to his heart's delight.

    @jay. I was thinking the same thing. the wedding on course:oblivion is the only wedding we needed to see.

    @michael, i think i enjoy his comments more than jammers reviews.

    i am suprised Michael liked the mushy stuff. Michael reminds me of Fred Savage on "Princess Bride." lol

    finally, if you watch this episode in 2013, does it make you think of the Boston Marathon bombing?

    I just want to know: what is so awful about Neelix??!!?!

    I think his character is complimentary and shows more depth of emotion than some of the others. For that matter, I think Quark was an amazing character in DS9. I just don't get all the hate.

    I've always had a soft spot for the Tom Paris shows. I even saw some merit in the admittedly silly Threshold! I think its his under-dog status and everyman charm, and I enjoy the fact he has a lot of relatable quirks and a very normal personality.

    Its just a shame that the writers all too often either ignored him or ruin his interesting love of the 20th century by constantly ramming it down our throats. Another failing is that we really needed to see Tom and Torress as more of a couple with a vibrant relationship, and not just when the plots forces it.

    The good news is that this is a very good Tom episode which allowed him to shine at his brightest for a change. This was fun, natural, cool, stylish, tight and layered with all the right emotional cues which make great entertainment.

    The only thing I would have liked to see was at least a glimpse at the actual wedding, even a montage over the closing credits would have been satasfying. All in all, 3.5 stars.

    Hmm, the problem with Neelix... it's actually a good question, he's just sort of annoying?

    I think it's that he's so absolutely unrelentingly cheerful at all times, often when it seems inappropriate. There is only so much one can stomach of a "happy go lucky" sort of character.

    I know its rather silly to bring this up, but Trek would be a whole lot more interesting if the ships moved on a 3-D plane as opposed to a 2-D plane...something to ponder. ;)

    In the way BSG (and to a lesser extent Star Wars) render space combat as fighter planes and aircraft carriers, Star Trek seems to render space combat more as a navy metaphor...with your large, slow moving cruisers firing cannon volleys like the Enterprise, or your cloaked ships standing in for submarines. I think that's where the 2-D bias originates, when you're thinking of space as an ocean it's easy to get stuck in that mindset =P

    Not saying it's good or bad mind you, that's just how I see the way Star Trek "thinks" (and it's not a hard rule or anything, things like Bird of Preys or the Defiant, when they're decloaked anyway, are a bit more in the fighter plane category).

    I liked the scenes between and Seven and B'Elanna in this and the last episode. They make a little more sense if the episodes are flipped… First, in this episode, you have Seven inadvertently giving advice to Torres, and Torres quietly taking that advice. Then, in the next episode, you have Torres giving heartfelt advice to Seven. It was a nice development of the relationship, which until now has shown us Torres blowing up at Seven and generally being frustrated with her. It fit with the rest of the episode, a calmer, more secure B'Elanna. Makes me think back to Barge of the Dead, that maybe she really has changed and developed as a character.

    I liked this episode for its cheesy but sweet story. I've always enjoyed the B'Elanna and Tom relationship for the most part, although I didn't like when it became a vehicle for us to just see them bicker. It's especially fun to watch because my husband and I are a lot like them! I'm kind of glad it didn't show the wedding, although it did make the end of little confusing – you don't realize that they're married until you see the last shot of the Delta Flyer. I much prefer church weddings myself, and the Starfleet ones always seem a little dry to me. The version of their wedding in the episode when they were actually metallic slime didn't do much for me - glad they didn't try to reprise it. But maybe they could've given us a five second shot at the end of this episode with people smiling and toasting Tom and B'Elana in the mess hall, presumably at the end of the ceremony? It would've gotten the point across more clearly before the scene in the Delta Flyer.

    I'm 12 minutes in to it, and so far I have just one question. Tom walks into engineering to talk to B'elana, and she asks him if he's packed. If they're just going to the Holodeck, why do they need to pack?

    Not so bad at all. Actually, surprisingly engaging.
    The conversation between Paris and Torres when just stops the Delta Flyer to debate their relationship, was interesting to watch.

    It was not an awesome episode, for sure, but a good enough one.

    For what its worth, I loved this episode, but I think it might be hard to really enjoy it unless you have a Paris type personality.

    This episode was good but could have been better. The very concept of a race in space was a relatively fresh idea and very interesting to see brought to the screen. The Tom/B’Elanna stuff was nothing surprising, but still good.

    What I thought really didn’t work was the constant cross-cutting in the final act between the romance scene and the plot « revelations » regarding Irina. This may be one of the worst editing choices made in Star Trek. And although I thought Cyia Batten made the best Tora Ziyal, her performance here wasn’t all that convincing. Really, they should have just dropped the entire sabotage subplot and focused more on the excitement of the race itself. That being said, I did appreciate how the guy who was so obviously set up as the Hard-Headed Alien of the Week [TM] turned out to have done nothing wrong.

    Why are relationship based romantic comedy type episodes fluff? Relationships can be just as deep as anything else. And the occasional levity or gentle competition in the episode does not prevent the show from having substance. "Depth" is an inherently subjective term anyway. Does a substantial show have to be dark and cynical?

    Further, on a side note, I like that characters like Quark and Neelix that provide humor and contrast to the show. In my view, Neelix is not as interesting as Quark, but he's a fine addition to the cast of characters.

    Overall, I thought the show had a good balance of romance, humor, competition, diplomacy and mystery. I think those elements complement each other rather than undermine each other.

    I'd give the show at least 3.5 stars.

    My only quibbles: 1) the romantic scenes could have have been a little more direct and therefore could have had a little bit more of a payoff. I feel like the writers and the actors were terrified of coming across as corny. But, you have to "go for it" in romance at some point. You have to take a leap of faith that the audience will support your sincerity and go along with it.

    2) I know the show is only around 40 minutes, but they completely sidestepped the handling of the punishment of the conspirator. The ending, as a whole, was rushed.

    Very good episode.

    Re: azcats: the conspirator element is actually more unnerving when you think about it than the characters (other than Kim perhaps) seem to think it is in the show. Boston marathon is one recent example of what could happen in real life if a terrorist used a sporting event to hurt people.

    This does leave me conflicted because it is the one element in the show that could potentially topple the other elements. That's why the situation should have been addressed in the show's ending.

    Ultimately, I think it is, after all, a TV show, and the fact that the woman appeared to be relatively independent in her actions does soften some of the horror of the situation.

    Perhaps the fact that the writers took that element of the story quite that far is the biggest flaw in the episode. (That is to say, the writers decided that the conspirator not only wanted to kill one ship, but also many innocent bystanders.) This theme, therefore, risks being too serious to be an afterthought.

    But I still hold that it is a very solid episode in that so many ingredients were effective. Every cultural work is flawed somehow. I guess that's why the subjective nature of our tastes is important to our views. We all chose to tolerate some things and not others.

    I meant: kill one person or destroy one ship, not kill one ship...

    it would be great if we could edit our posts, oh well

    While I do like this episode for at least being visually different, I can't help but notice that the race itself is pretty boring. Normally racers are focused for every second on what is going on with their vehicle, but Tom and B'Elanna have so much time to talk about their love life as they go, and they just casually "deploy thrusters" as though they're scanning some kind of anomaly and have all the time in the world.

    This reminds me of The Great Race, when Tony Curtis stopped his car just before the Eiffel Tower to propose to Natalie Wood. Except then it did not save their lives.

    I couldn't stand Neelix at the beginning of the series with the whole jealousy thing, but I actually enjoy the character now. Sure, there are some times when I have to roll my eyes at him or get annoyed, but don't we get that way about everybody sometimes?! I really enjoyed the hyped up play-by-play, and got a good laugh out of the Tuvok insertion.

    Enjoyable episode to me. Glad something finally happened between real B'Elanna and Tom.

    The dragrace was a cool idea. The relationship turmoil ... not so much. I've honestly never really cared whether B'elanna and Tom are good together or not. Episodes that focus on the matter aren't bad per se, but I don't really care about the outcome either.
    Whether they stay together or break things off, it's all the same to me.

    It also comes as no surprise that Harry falls for the cute alien chick. At this point, we don't even need dialogue to know that's going to happen. The second she beamed aboard the flyer and I saw she was cute, I knew Harry was going to be into her. It's just become that predictable.

    I'm curious how her sabotage was intended to work, however. She apparently set some sort of rudimentary timer on the Flyer's fuel conversion unit and was betting on it to explode at the finish line. But how did she know the flyer was going to win? What if the flyer ran into trouble and was slowed down? They would just blow up in the middle of the course, with no damage done to anyone but themselves and possibly some other competitors. Just feels a little wonky for a sabotage plan. Could have easily backfired on her in many different ways.

    This episode came out one year after The Phantom Menace. I was expecting more of a pod race, with more action, ships spinning out of control etc... We could have even had a few of the terrorists taking pot shots at the ships like in Phantom Menace.

    But alas, the title was right. It's called Drive, not Race.

    This also reminded me of the pod race in The Phantom Menace - what's immediately clear is the giant leap in FX that this episode demonstrates.

    Otherwise, this is a properly lightweight outing in the main. It's amiable enough in the main, although all the relationship stuff is pretty shallow and it never really seems to be tapping into any deep emotion. And it's odd that the wedding is never shown - although that's almost made up for by the cute little Just Married on the Delta Flyer. 2.5 stars.

    A reasonably satisfactory conclusion to the Torres/Paris dating storyline. They didn't shy away from the rather weak emphasis that was placed on them throughout the past three years, but welded their somewhat rocky relationship into the story. Sure, it's rather awkward to think that they got married after not communicating to each other for three years, but hey, it's Hollywood.

    In any case, Gretchen asked what B'Elanna sees in Tom. The other side of that is what does Tom see in B'Elanna?

    Let me ask you a question; what is B'Elanna interested in? We know Tom is interested in fast cars, fast ships, 20th century pop culture, and creating holodeck settings. Harry is interested in playing the clarinet, playing that Vulcan chess game I'm too lazy to look up, and being Tom's sidekick. Chakotay is interested in anthropology, boxing, being boring, and spirituality. But Torres?

    We have nothing about her interests. Engineering? Other than Prototype, her interest in it has barely been shown, and she hasn't used that interest to help the ship (the way Tom did by designing the Delta Flyer). Being Klingon? Before Barge of the Dead, it was clear she didn't even like being Klingon. Sports? We see some in Extreme Risk, but that seems to be due to her being depressed and bordering on suicidal. Socializing? She's had antagonistic relationships with the Doctor, Neelix, and Seven, and tends to have a perpetually pissed off attitude in the show. So what does she do? What is she interested in? How does she spend her downtime? I have no idea.

    I think this is a side-product of Voyager's lack of characterization. Not only did the show have an overabundance of technical people (Torres, Kim, Seven), but their lack of interest in two of those three meant they were relegated to nothing but technobabble. In the end, the writers just seemed to stop caring about B'Elanna. And because of that, it's hard to see how this relationship survived. Practically everything was seen from Paris' perspective. We had Torres building him a tv set. We saw them go on dates in the holodeck that he picked out. We saw him getting in trouble because he spends too much time on the holodeck. We never really see what she brings to the relationship. She is always the one reacting (both positively and negatively) to Paris' actions.

    The only two times you could really feel what Torres was thinking in this relationship was Alice and here. First, Alice ended up providing a nice summation of Paris' obsessions, courtesy of Harry. Yes, Tom gets obsessed with random projects at times, and jumps into them to the extent that he ignores practically everything else (including B'Elanna at times). But the two constants he has is his love of piloting and his love of her. I think that episode showed that she accepted that part of him, showing understanding that he does get these projects stuck in his head, and is willing to live with them even if it annoys her. The fact that she is able to do that shows a lot more patience and understanding than we normally give her credit for. And probably shows just how much she cares about him.

    Then we have this episode. Where she is really understated about things and feels she needs to break up with him. And we see that she doesn't really want to, but just thinks its necessary. And it is, in part, because she thinks Tom doesn't prioritize her. She wants a permanent relationship but fears that this is all just more fun for Tom. That's the one reason I can kinda see their marriage being so fast. They both wanted it, they just both thought the other didn't. Again, the fact that she accepted Tom's mistake with such understatedness shows the depth of her relationship, and is far better than what we expected to happen (her blowing up about it). Likewise, the fact that throughout the episode, it was clear that Tom cared more about how Torres was feeling than the actual race. That, too, may have influenced their decision to marry so quickly. Yeah, still weird that they went 3 years without figuring this out, but whatever.

    I enjoy this one.

    It would have been a turd I think had B'Elanna gone off on some temper tantrum. I really like the way they (she) play this... once again Roxann sells the story. Has she ever had a bad acting day on Voyager?

    I think not.

    I too think her conversation with Seven was a good one.

    Cyia Batten, IMO, was the best of the three actresses that played Ziyal. She also played the Orion Slave girl Navaar in ENT: Bound. I always enjoyed her but I don't think she has the screen presence that Kelly Waymire did.

    Loved the Neelix play-by-play of the race along with Tuvok getting into it as well.

    Poor Harry :-) I wish she hadn't been the terrorist and joined Voyager for the remainder of the series.

    There really nothing to gripe about in this episode. Why did it take 3 years for them to get married? What's the rush? Why marry at all?

    I'll go 3.5 star here.

    This episode would've have been good without the Tom/B'elanna rubbish.

    Oh and Harry's crush of the week was cute..

    2 stars.

    Rawson/Torres looks very hot I have to admit in the racing suit.

    So Janeway is going to risk the Delta Flyer that they just rebuilt, the lives of first 2, then 3 crew members, use up (supposedly) precious resources, and lose valuable time on the way home, so they can compete in a race?

    Janeway is the worst captain in the history of starfleet.

    And some alien they just met installs a device on the flyer that turns out to be a bomb, while somehow sabotaging an important system, and noone notices? They don't do any sort of diagnostic on the flyer before the race or anything? They don't inspect the part? nothing?

    The suits looked alright though. 1 star plus another 1/2 star for the suits.

    Glad to find out this episode was filmed before “Imperfection.” I thought I noticed Tom wearing a wedding ring in that episode.

    And I’ve always wondered why B’Elanna wasn’t more involved in Tom’s holo adventures. I would have thought that a pilot and a chief engineer would have found sharing those episodes interesting as well. There were times during the three years worth of episodes that I couldn't tell if they were still together.

    2 stars

    I know this was the season Ken Biller gave fans what they thought they wanted and had been missing in earlier seasons so I'm sure somebody out there was heavily invested in the tom and belanna relationship. I was not one of those folks. I thought they had zero chemistry so that part of the story was meh.

    The B plot sucked. I mean of you're going to do a B movie plot like a space race you should at least make it be exciting. This was not. I mean they stopped in the middle of the race. And Harry was long passed being a lost cause as a character

    Ouch . . . Startrekwatcher! LOL! I just watched this episode, and I enjoyed it like I did the first time around.

    Tom was my favorite character on Voyager, and I loved all the episodes that centered on him - Threshold, Alice, the Chute, etc. I think this was a nice way to advance the Tom/B'Elanna relationship. B'Elanna was open to Tom about her feelings on their relationship, and Tom made it clear that he prioritized her over everything.

    And I will never truly understand the hate for Neelix. I thought he did a great job narrating the race. He made it fun.

    Neelix was missed potential. While I do generally like his character, I think he could have been a very popular character if the writers had really given him more depth. We get flashes of it here and there, more obviously in "Mortal Coil" and more subtly in "Memorial", but too often he's written as simply a goofy babysitter. This is a character with amazing potential.

    He's part of an endangered species, having lost his entire homeworld and family to a brutal war, he's a veteran from the most destructive war his people have ever faced. While I'm not opposed to his outwardly cheerful disposition (everyone has their own ways of coping with grief), why didn't we see more of the tough bad-ass that Neelix would necessarily have to be at this point in his life? When we first meet him he's so happy to have a bath because he's been scraping by just to survive; he couldn't even fathom having enough water to "waste" on things like a bath. Yet we very rarely get anything from him other than goofball, jealousy over a woman he's known for less than a year, and the occasional mention of his sister. And he adapts so quickly to Voyager you'd think he's spent his whole life living in the Federation wanting for nothing.

    The original airing schedule would have made a lot more sense. It was a bad call to swap this and the last episode around - another in a succession of bad calls which I think made Voyager such a tough show to love for so many people.

    Tom throwing the race annoys me. I know its the big romantic gesture to show how much Be'lanna means to him, but its not fair on the other people who worked on the Flyer to get it ready for the race, and, considering they're leading at the time, its disrespectful to the race and the other competitors

    Some idealistic fun with the race between species but more important is the Paris/Torres romance and the ups and downs it goes through. That's pretty typical stuff you'd see in a non-sci-fi show. And Harry Kim, since this is a relationship episode, gets played by an alien chick wanting to sabotage the peace between the races.

    Nothing profound here but I thought the idea of a space race between the species is a good idea and it gave the Voyager crew another chance for some light-hearted acting. The idea of some cheating, sabotage, treachery is obviously needed -- it can't just be a normal race.

    Nevertheless, I thought the stuff between Paris and Torres was decent -- Paris is true to the character of being extremely determined when he gets an idea (whether its racing or proposing to Torres as the shit's hitting the fan). And Torres is a fun character with her fiery nature -- although she was more subdued here but still one to wear her emotions on her sleeves.

    2.5 stars for "Drive" -- enjoyable hour of VOY. Just a bit convenient with meeting all these aliens and getting on with the race. No idea what happens to the chick Harry falls for or what happens to the relations between the various alien races -- the episode really downplays that whole major plot device and ends up with the Delta Flyer having "Just Married" painted on it and flying away. Basically, the Torres/Paris romance has gotten to the next level from this episode.

    After the (largely botched, but hey) closing to the Unimatrix Zero two-parter and the two-hankie Imperfection, it's a good time for a fluffy episode, and this mostly fits the bill. Unlike other possible sporting events, a shuttle race is entirely believable as something that different cultures would be interested in (as opposed to the baseball thing where a racist Vulcan had to be invented) while also having something of a sci-fi hook (unlike the wrestling Tsunkatse thing), albeit not that huge of one. Some of what makes this enjoyable is just hanging out with this cast and these characters, and the episode mostly has a pleasingly relaxed feel, epitomized by the way the crew gathers in astrometrics to watch the race and even Tuvok becomes mildly invested.

    The episode's real lean meat is the Tom/B'Elanna story, and I guess here I'll say that I find the leads likable and that some of the dialogue lands, but mostly I feel unsatisfied with this as their Wedding Episode (!). Throughout the relationship, there have been periods where Tom ignores B'Elanna to work on his own flyboy or whatever obsessions (Vis a Vis, Alice, that time in Memorial where he gets distracted by the TV, ho ho) and periods where B'Elanna pushes Tom away while he tries hard to make an emotional connection (most of season three, "Klingon" eps like Day of Honour and Barge of the Dead), and then the occasional episode like Extreme Risk which manages to portray both. This one also tries to do both, but somehow the two elements here never quite gel -- at first Tom forgets about B'Elanna because of the possibility of the shuttle race, and then later on he reveals he has been not pushing things because he was afraid she wouldn't like the mushy stuff. Those two things don't *quite* have that much to do with each other, in that I don't really think Tom's insensitivity is because he was afraid to show too much feeling for her, but it's something of a valiant effort to stitch together two long-standing traits that we have seen in the relationship in an attempt to make something fully coherent about them. Reading the vacillation between Tom losing interest in B'Elanna over whatever new toy he has and B'Elanna's frustration with that, and Tom begging B'Elanna to let him in and her pushing him away, as being the result of a cycle of pushing back and forth and disappointment seems to sort of make sense, though, I dunno, it still feels to me a little like two parallel tracks of the relationship that rarely actually seem to make sense enough to occupy the same episode, and when they do (Extreme Risk) it doesn't really seem to make sense. But still: while I don't think this episode is very deep or insightful about their relationship, I guess it doesn't undermine it exactly either. I like that when Tom realizes he'd forgotten about his and B'Elanna's date, he offers to drop out of the race and B'Elanna says it's fine, both keeping their emotions (regret, disappointment) low-key, and even B'Elanna's considering breaking up with Tom doesn't play out in melodramatic fashion at first but as a reckoning with the possibility that their relationship just isn't going anywhere. Tom's melodramatic stalling at the end of the race -- ending the *shuttle*'s motion so that he can propose that he and B'Elanna's relationship *can* finally go somewhere -- breaks the low-key tone but in a basically character-consistent way. The jump to "just married" is maybe reasonable given that this is the Final Season and all, but I think that it would have maybe worked better if B'Elanna hadn't wanted to break up with him earlier in the episode.

    Harry is a sap as always, yeah, but I like that he does get the chance to figure out Irina's plan and so gets to play the hero a little bit. I enjoyed making fun of Harry as much as everyone back when the show was on, but I'm finding I have a little bit more of a soft spot for his character now. It's true that Wang's performances aren't regularly compelling, but he could be good when the material was interesting (Timeless, e.g.) and mostly he was stuck with a character that the writers never had much interest in doing anything with. So it's nice that even in the midst of the standard Harry-is-a-loser plot he does get to do some day-saving.

    The Irina motivation stuff -- uh, something something peace -- uh, whatever. Not every alien plot has to matter much but this really does feel especially perfunctory.

    Barely 2.5 stars -- watchable but nothing special.

    Paris episodes, ranked by quality and Paris-ness:

    Lineage (late-Paris/Torres works for me)
    The Chute
    Worst Case Scenario (ensemble piece but he has the most material really)
    Author, Author (Doc show but he has a lot of material)
    Day of Honor
    Blood Fever (Paris/Torres stuff)
    Non Sequitur (I like the Paris stuff in this otherwise lame episode)
    Gravity (mostly a Tuvok show of course, but a key and decent supporting role)
    Thirty Days
    Bride of Chaotica!
    Time and Again
    Ex Post Facto
    Vis a Vis
    Investigations (does this even count since they shuffle it to Neelix?)

    Most Tom episodes worthwhile are relationship-related -- Tom/B'Elanna of course, but also his friendship with Harry, his relationship with the Doc -- and those have a mixed record but basically I think lead to some worthwhile stuff. Tom as a character in isolation works less well and usually those episodes are middling to terrible.

    Confession: it's 2018 and I have been binge-watching Voyager since 1:1 on January 1st. And my binging has accelerated mainly because I want to see how Tuvok dies (I have two theories, please don't blow it for me). Amidst the barrage of episode consumption, I must have missed something: didnt Tom and B'Elanna get married on Voyager about two seasons ago? I distinctly remember the mess hall ceremony and Seven not being good at throwing rice. I plead futility and possibly stupidity here, so help me out: haven't they been f**king married already?

    "because I want to see how Tuvok dies (I have two theories, please don't blow it for me)"

    If I may ask, since you don't want anyone to blow it for you, where did you learn about Tuvok dying?

    "Tom and B'Elanna get married on Voyager about two seasons ago?"

    That was in Course: Oblivion in season 5, and it was not the real Tom and B'Elanna, but biomimetic copies, who got married.

    William B: thank you! I knew I missed something. That was the silver blob Tom and B'Elanna that got married. And all this time I thought...

    A friend told me he dies. Which I though was terrible of him to tell me, mid-binge. Perhaps he is messing with me. Perhaps I should reassess my friends. :)

    You're welcome! And your friend either spoiled you or is messing with you, so, either way, not the *best* of friend behavior (though, not exactly what I'd call cause to cut someone off either!). :)

    Poor B'Elanna is trapped in a horribly abusive relationship, with someone who displays no actual affection for her. Horrible writing.

    I don't remember if it was the Doctor or Neelix, but one of them said how the holodeck vacation location would make Risa look boring, and I thought, how the #@!! would they know? The Doctor was a generic computer program before Voyager, and Neelix lived 70,000 light years away. I doubt either of them had been there, unless on the holodeck maybe.

    I'm enjoying this show, but it's taken me over a year to watch it because I get frustrated with inconsistencies. How does the ship begin and end with 150 on board after seven years? Janeway celebrates Tuvok turning 100, but isn't he more like 120? He served on Sulu's ship over eighty years ago. How has Voyager and the Delta Flyer survived seven years of battle? Speaking of battle, aren't there any nice aliens in the Delta Quadrant that don't doublecross Janeway? And the aliens on TNG and TOS are very distinctive from each other, so why do most of the Delta aliens only have different foreheads, noses, and/or ears?

    Forgive all the questions not related to this episode. I've only been a fan of Star Trek for two years (since they started showing episodes on BBC America for the 50th anniversary, and I am hooked and a little obsessed.


    Don't forget Voyager's infinite shuttlecrafts & photon / quantum / whatever torpedoes too!

    "I've only been a fan of Star Trek for two years (since they started showing episodes on BBC America for the 50th anniversary, and I am hooked and a little obsessed. "

    Welcome to the fold! Watch TNG season 3-5 immediately, and all of DS9 when you can. Voyager is terribly inconsistent but it's a Picasso next to Discovery.

    This episode would have been 4 stars if it had not been for that ridiculous 24th century putter the Doctor was holding. With that prop, the episode falls to a well-deserved 2 stars.

    Hi Del_Duio,
    Thank you for the warm welcome! So far I have seen 1-3 TOS, 1-7 TNG, 1-part of 7 Voyager, and a few Enterprise. I wish BBC would show some DSN so I can acclimate to it!
    I missed (thankfully) the First movie, but have seen all the rest except the last half of the last movie. I couldn't handle it after Troi's mind rape on her honeymoon and what I knew would happen to Data. Except for the wedding, I pretend it never happened.
    I do like the rebooted three movies ok. It's jarring how different rebooted timeline Enterprise is from TOS. I do like how they kept a version of the original outfits.
    PS this was longer but my phone died and I didn't have the heart to retype it all. I miss my desktop internet. Long story :-)

    I genuinely find it amusing how the writers were by this point trolling committed viewers mercilessly.

    “Remember how the ship is trapped tens of thousands of light years from the Federation and they’ve only got like 37 photon torpedoes, that definitely can’t be replaced until they get back home? Yeah, well screw you, you tragic basement-dwelling virgins. We’ll just make Janeway launch one of those precious torpedoes as a starter pistol.”

    My god what does Tom see in B'Elanna? She is annoying, selfish, self-absorbed and snobbish and possessive.

    Yes I know this is a response to a post made years ago. But I have to ask @ Cloudane... what in the world are you talking about in this post? You don’t mention the subject and you don’t even tell us who ‘he’ is??

    “Don't know if it's ever been confirmed, but I always thought it was meant to be the same person. I remember he had a remarkably similar backstory about having done something stupid that led to the death of his team mate, or am I misremembering. They changed his name because Nick Locarno was already claimed by another series, or some such.”

    Nolan C, Cloudane responded to a comment by Jay immediately before his. That and the TNG season five episode “The First Duty” adequately explains his comment.

    Alternatively and in brief: Nicholas Locarno was a character in the aforementioned TNG episode played by Robert Duncan McNeill, who was a Starfleet Acadamy cadet and star student pilot who got booted out of the academy for orchestrating a stunt that got a fellow student killed and for subsequently trying to cover the incident up.

    It’s widely accepted that the character of Tom Paris is based on Locarno and indeed he was originally intended to BE Locarno. However this idea was nixed because the writers who created the original character would’ve been due a royalty payment for every appearance on Voyager. So instead the Voyager team used the same actor, tweaked the character’s background slightly and renamed him.

    That Irena was the "bad guy" was broadcast from minute one, in part by bad acting from the actress, and in part by the fact that Harry had a thing for her. As Tom is always reminding him, he's not good at choosing potential partners.

    But other than that, I liked it very well. I liked the idea of the race and the way that whole thing was handled, including Neelix doing the color commentary.

    And the love story part was very sweet and Tom's proposal was reminiscent of how B'Ellana first declared her love - when their lives were in danger!

    An enjoyable episode.

    I have to say, I agree with the people who say they don't understand what Tom sees in B'lanna. She has an abrasive personality, she doesn't really share Tom's interests, and she's not very attractive at all (in my opinion) Still, it was good they got married.

    I do feel bad for Harry. He always seems to get the short end of the stick

    I don't get either why people dislike Neelix, Harry, and to a lesser extent, Chakotay. In my opinion, the person who was most annoying in this episode of Tuvok! Trying to do a weekly report when it was obvious everyone in the room was into the race-an unemotional Vulcan doesn't mean purposely being a killjoy!

    Kind of blah. The only part I liked was the ending.

    Meh...the slowest race in history. Shouty nasty Paris snaps at the delightful Torres in that Seven rivaling 'race suit' - 'me pilot, you do as I say'

    Where did they get hold of all the DC10 cockpit parts for the flyer?

    Harry 'I'm useless with women' Kim fails to convince with his creepy alien chat up lines, but not quite as creepy as a certain Mr La Forge.

    A bit dull, the only highlight is Torres in that race suit.

    Seemed very un-trek, also had to rewind it because I thought Torres said 'I'm wet' for some reason. Happy to report I heard it wrong. Very wrong!

    I thought it was humorous of Tuvok's line when he changed his priority direction amidst his security report efforts when Janeway finally asked about it and Tuvok said...later...if that's permissible....

    Seven was not in this enough. Oh well....can't have everything....

    Oops my name should be Tim-1 (above) to pay attention to my editing.

    While I am here I have to admit that I had thought Paris and B'leanna were already married. I have never been a big fan of B'elanna, but her acting and the situation of her character softened me to her a bit in this episode.

    Wow I surprised at just how much I loved this one. I’d even say one of my favorites of the series. Reminiscent of Wacky Racers, Death Race 2000, Mario Kart etc. I wish they would have shown a few more of the racers and their personalities just to add to the fun a little. That’s only a minor gripe though. Still was a great episode

    Seems like so many shows, especially from Voyager, do everything they can to break the suspension of disbelief. In this one a race on a mere 2.3 billion km (or 2.12 light hours) course goes through a gas giant, 2 pulsars, a nebula , a red giant and some odd stuff called a Moebius inverter. In real space you would need to travel thousand of light years to come across all of that, in this star trek voyager episode you have it all in 2.3 billion km, which is not even 2.2 light HOURS (up to you to calculate how many hours there are in a year, for conversion to light years distance) . For comparison Uranus distance from the sun is 2.9 billion km, or 2.7 light hours.
    The least I would expect from Star Trek writers is that they have their astronomy well figured out. Alas, apparently, they have no clue...

    Excellent observation above ... a remarkable amount of stuff in small area of space. I liked the episode. I think I would have liked it even more without the political intrigue. Just a flat-out space race would have been great fun, really.

    "The least I would expect from Star Trek writers is that they have their astronomy well figured out. Alas, apparently, they have no clue... "

    Yep, see this comment I made about Scorpion Part 1:

    "Near the beginning when the 15 Borg cubes approach Voyager, Ensign Kim says they're 2.1 light years away. They then immediately show up on-screen right behind Voyager and pass them, despite being at impulse speed. Full impulse is apparently anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 light speed, so if they were 2.1 light years away, it should've taken the cubes anywhere from 4.2 to 8.4 YEARS to reach Voyager. Even at warp 9 it would take about half a day to travel that distance. Oops."

    One of the worst episodes in this series. Totally at odds with the tone and spirit of the Star Trek.

    If I was a crewman, the second some senior officer on Voyager started giving away complex tech to fix up someone's astro rat rod, I would mutiny. How many people have died fighting off innumerable threats to preserve Voyager's supplies? We are a starship trying to get home, not Pepboys.

    Since the Doctor is a hologram, it seems that in his case, they could concoct a contraption like the one the Enterprise crew locked Sherlock Holmes and the Countess in for the Doctor's holographic pleasure. He could have the total run of the thing.

    Star Wars Episode 1 came out the year before this episode. Guess the writers were inspired by a little pod racing.

    I actually enjoyed this as a bit of a "lost" episode for me. I rarely got much out of Tom's "relationship" episodes and his with Torres tended to be monotonous.

    I was really burned out early in the series by Tom and Neelix fighting over that two year old.

    But I liked this. There was still plenty of that relationship here but at least it went somewhere.

    And I genuinely didn't guess where the plot was going. To me it seemed like they sidestepped a lot of Voyager cliches.

    For example, I expected Harry and the alien girl to have an ongoing pitched battle. But, nope, he subdued her then worked the problem.

    Tom and Torres dropping out of the race at a very lucky moment to deal with their relationship was its own kind of cliche, but it wasn't a Voyager cliche so it felt fresh ;)

    The race might well have been inspired by Phantom Menace, but at least this did it right and focused on the story instead of endless monotonous race fx.

    Just caught this one on Pluto TV. Say what you want about the episode, but few moments in this series were more sad than Belanna’s response after Tom claps back at her after she gets them to the lead in the race.

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index