Saturday, May 10, 2008

7.26 endgame (part 2)

Old Janeway convinces young Janeway to take Voyager home through a Borg transwarp hub, avoiding the death of Seven and 22 other crew members. But young Janeway changes her mind, deciding the world would be better served by the destruction of the hub. Old Janeway argues long and hard that the safety of the crew is more important than millions of lives, but it’s a silly argument; certainly not something on which to base the final two part episode of a seven year old TV series.

Possibly the worst part of this plot is that we are told that Voyager must stay ahead of the cascade explosion of the hub in order to survive. Then pursued by a Borg sphere, they transport inside the sphere. When the sphere emerges in the Alpha Quadrant, where, with only 30 seconds warning, Starfleet has been able to assemble 18 ships which blast the sphere to bits, revealing Voyager, intact. B’Elanna has her baby, the series ends, and the writers hopefully burn in hell for that horrible excuse for a plot.

This episode is similar to fury, where a character crewmember comes back older and mean-spirited. Didn’t they learn their lesson then? fury was one of the most hated episodes.

Quotable Quotes:

"Marriage is for the young…like your wife."
-- Janeway to the Doctor

B’Elanna: If you tell me to relax one more time I’m gonna rip your holographic head off!
Doc: I hope you don’t intend to kiss your baby with that mouth.


7.25 endgame (part 1)

It’s the ten year anniversary of Voyager’s returning to earth after 23 years in space, and we are reacquainted with the crew. Janeway is an admiral with graying hair. Kim’s hair is graying but he may still not have been promoted. Tuvok is crazy, locked away scribbling on paper (!). Reg Barclay is an ageing university lecturer. The doc (who has finally chosen the name ‘Joe’) eloped two weeks ago with a beautiful young woman. Tom and B’Elanna have a daughter in Starfleet who has just returned from a mission to talk to the Klingons. She was sent by Janeway, who obviously has a plan up her sleeve. She visits Chakotay’s grave, apologizes for all the time ‘…you have had to spend apart from her’, then intimates that she is going to make things right.

The old Janeway uses technology to rejoin Voyager, where she tries to convince young Janeway to fight the Borg.

7.24 renaissance man

Janeway and the Holodoc are on an away mission when a subspace disturbance occurs. When Janeway returns to the ship, she takes Chakotay aside and tells him that she has encountered an advanced species that claims Voyager has invaded their space and must eject and hand over their warp core. The ship is also to be confiscated and the crew marooned on an M class planet. Chakotay wants to fight, but Janeway says she is tired of fighting and insists that they agree to the demands. She cautions Chakotay not to tell this to the rest of the crew. But she is also acting strangely, talking to herself or seemingly to imaginary voices. When Chakotay confronts her, she knocks him out and places his body in the morgue. It is revealed that Janeway is actually the doctor, acting under duress to hand over the warp core to the ‘Hierarchy’ race (also seen in ‘tinker, tenor, doctor, spy’, who are holding Janeway hostage. After more crew members are disabled, Tuvok uncovers the deception, but the doctor escapes in the Delta Flyer with the warp core in a tractor beam. However, when he hands it over to the aliens, they capture him as well and do not let Janeway go. But the doc has hidden the warp signature of the vessel in a recording of classical music, and Voyager is able to track and rescue both of them.

The above synopsis doesn’t seem to be a bad plot; in fact, in the right circumstances, it could have been quite exciting. But for some reason, the episode just doesn’t work. Perhaps part of my problem is that ‘spoilers’ clued me to the fact that it was the doctor masquerading as Janeway and other crew members. Perhaps it was because there was little or no exploitation of the doctor having to impersonate various crewmembers. But the other problem is that the writing is sloppy and not clever. Here’s a good example: at the beginning of the episode, the doctor brags to Janeway that because he is a hologram, he can do many things at once. In fact, at that moment, he is piloting the shuttle, listening to music, and writing a report. However, later (as Janeway) he starts talking to himself, telling the aliens, "Stop talking to me both at once."

7.23 homestead

A party to celebrate First Contact between Earth and Vulcan, where Neelix is trying to get Tuvok to dance, is interrupted when Voyager picks up life signs – 500 Talaxian life signs – and discovers a wary group of clever Talaxians who have carved out a safe place to live within an asteroid. But aggressive aliens lay claim to the area and want to quickly and forcefully evict the Talaxians. Neelix, urged on by Tuvok, gets involved in the conflict and also get attracted to a Talaxian widowed female. With Neelix’ help, the Talaxians are able to erect a force field and remain on the asteroid. Neelix returns to Voyager but sees he is needed more on the asteroid, and Janeway, realizing that this is where Neelix belongs, appoints him as Ambassador to the Delta Quadrant. Sadly, Neelix leaves the ship, but not before Tuvok does a little dance step for him.

A good, solid, emotional episode. But I wonder why the writers decided to ditch Neelix so close to the end of the show. It might have been nice for the entire crew to ‘get back’ to Earth and say goodbye – together.

Watching for the second time, I wondered why, in the second to last scene when crewmembers are lining the hall, why the main crew was not all lined up on the same side of the hall, so Neelix could slowly walk by each one and get a reaction. Instead, for some inexplicable reason, Kim and Seven were on the other side of the hall and only show up in the background. Weird.

7.22 natural law

Chakotay and Seven are in a shuttle, on-route to a conference, but Chakotay wants to check out the scenery, and while deviating from his flight plan, crashes into a previously undetected energy barrier. With the shuttle disabled, the only alternative is for Seven to punch a hole in the barrier and crash-land. Trapped inside, they find they share the space with a primitive indigenous tribe called the Ventu. Seven is uncomfortable, but of course Chakotay is right at home, learning to communicate through sign language.

On the outside, Voyager has learned that the barrier was erected by aliens who visited the planet long ago and were attempting to protect the Ventu from the Ledosians, who were intent on exploiting their lands and conquering them.

In the meantime, Tom Paris has been ‘punished’ for reckless piloting and is forced to take a long review course and exam, led by a Ledosian instructor who wants to prolong Tom’s pain.

With help from the Ventu, Seven lowers the barrier, and Chakotay is beamed out. But a Ledosian expedition enters, and the Ledosians want Janeway to leave the technology and keep the barrier down. When Janeway refuses, the Ledosians attack Voyager and disable their transporters. Janeway calls on Tom, who gleefully breaks off his lesson to fly down, beam out the Ledosian party, destroy the technology, and get out just before the barrier closes again.

While not great, at least this episode again felt like ‘Classic Trek’, attempting to teach a lesson within an action framework.

7.21 friendship one

Voyager’s first official Starfleet mission in seven years is to track down and bring back an ancient earth probe called ‘Friendship One’, launched 377 years earlier as a sign of good will, and sent, heavily laden with technological info and greeting messages, to the outer reaches of the galaxy. Upon finding it, however, Voyager also finds a decimated planet, with only a few very sickly survivors still very angry that the technology from the probe which they used caused their destruction when a reactor exploded. They take Tom Paris, Neelix, and Joe Carey hostage, and when Janeway doesn’t meet their agro leader Verin’s demands fast enough, they kill Carey. With a clever plan, the hostages are rescued, and Tom’s efforts to save a baby lead the way for cooperation. By combining their resources, the problem is solved.

The ‘hostage’ theme works well here – Tom is sincere and effective. And it’s a positive development that the Voyager writers finally realized that killing off a regular character has dramatic impact.

What I didn’t understand was why Janeway had to be convinced to help these people – that didn’t ring true to her character.

The Big Nit again (I love this one):In the episode ‘mortal coil’ Seven brought Neelix back from the dead and stated that she is able to revive ‘drones’ that have been dead for up to 72 hours. Why doesn’t she attempt to revive Carey?

7.20 author, author

Using just 11 minutes of available data stream per day, the doctor has managed to transmit his holonovel and negotiate a publishing contract, although he still needs to make a few alterations. When the crew takes a look at it, they are offended – the characters look almost identical to them, and they behave deplorably – many people will believe the novel is based on truth. Uncharacteristically, the doctor doesn’t see or care about the problem and only cares about fighting the good fight for his fellow Mach 1 EMH units – who have been condemned to a life of menial labor because of supposed deficiencies. With the help of Paris, who creates a similar holo-novel which shows a doc-like character in a bad light, the doctor agrees he should change the character’s appearance. But the publisher has gone ahead and published the novel without permission, stating that because doc is a hologram he has no rights. This leads to a court case, continued each day in the 11 minute periods available, and eventually won by the doc. The final scene is of a number of Mach 1 EMH units, working at a mining base, trading information on a new holonovel which makes for interesting reading.

This feels like a remake of Voyager’s ‘living witness’ and the Next Generation episode ‘The Measure of a Man’, but it’s inferior and way overplotted, with too many of the crew out of character, and much implausibility.