Tak Tak

Story: Macrocosm
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

It is crazy how good this show can be when it is so consistently inept most of the time. It didn’t start off great, we get Janeway and Neelix ending their visit with the Tak Tak, a really dumb alien race. I get annoyed that this show still tries to use the old TNG trick of having members of the crew on some nonsensical diplomatic mission. On TNG they were in the Alpha Quadrant, they were a major force, it kind of made sense. You want people to be away from the ship while something is happening on the ship, they went off to a conference or to some diplomatic event. On Voyager they do this but more often than not there is no explanation as to WHY they are talking to these aliens. Beyond that the Tak Tak have one of my least favorite Trek make-up…I really hate it when the noses cover up the mouth. This is something I really can’t see evolution allowing. Not to mention the Tak Tak talk with hard to watch ridiculous body movements.
Anyhow we get to Voyager and something is wrong. Its adrift, no one responds, and when they get aboard they can’t find anybody. Then they meet some weird space mosquitoes and they get rid of Neelix (who doesn’t appear for the rest of the episode which is great news, you actually consider he could be dead from that point, too bad following episodes will prove that theory wrong). So now we get some time of Janeway just making her way through the ship all Ripley like. No idiotic dialogue, just some bad assery and action. It actually highlighted how good the sets on Voyager are. It is a good looking ship. Tooo bad it is usually wasted on dumb episodes.

Finally Janeway finds the Doctor, who of course is still perfectly fine. He gives us the explanations, which lead to good scenes featuring my favorite character on this show (if it were me this show would be called “Star Trek: EMH”), and eventually reveal that the ship is under attack by a “macrovirus”. Something that infects people, and eventually the virus escapes the body and becomes like insects that grow large and continue to infect more.

Sure the episode isn’t terrific. It has many flaws, like the Tak Tak, the away mission at the beginning itself, having Neelix in the show at all, or showcasing once again what a moronic concept the biological technology within Voyager really is…and yeah maybe it kind of feels like Brannon Braga had just watched Alien or Aliens while he was down with the flu...but still it had enough good moments to kind of let you move on past its flaws and see more of the good…and that is so rare in this particular series I have to take it when I can.

NEXT TIME: Neelix’s old friend causes trouble

Q Continuum Civil War

Story: The Q and the Grey
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

I must stress that “All Good Things…” really wrapped Q as best as you possibly could. All of his subsequent appearances are pretty unnecessary. It’s like reading a book in which the last chapter wraps up all the storylines and characters arcs perfectly…and then reading an epilogue that just says “and then they all died”. It is disappointing. So where should I start with this one? So many goddamned problems.
Q visiting Enterprise kind of made sense. After that first encounter they had a kind of history. When you get to “All Good Things…” it makes even more sense, as if Q was occasionally popping in to check on the progress of Picard, Enterprise, and humanity. Q being Q he would play games with them as well, but all the while he was really watching. Makes sense right? Even though I agree that his appearance on DS9 didn’t really gel with that shows atmosphere or characters, I think that Q stopping by made sense in context. It was part of that first season when the producers sort of thought DS9 could be an easy place for familiar faces to show up, since it was a station full of people coming and going. Luckily the writers and producers dropped that idea and started to carve out its own niche without just playing the “look which friend from TNG stopped by this week” game. I can even forgive Q’s arrival on Voyager in “Death Wish” which, while a terrible episode, worked to a degree with that episode’s premise. But now Q is just gonna drop by Voyager like he used to drop by Enterprise? Why?

Why the hell would he want to impregnate Janeway after having met her once? Really? What is the nature of their relationship at this point that he would think this would work? Their rapport is AWFUL. I don’t care how much fun Mulgrew and DeLancie had making it, it is HARD TO WATCH them together. The rapport between Q and Picard was what always made Q work, even in some of the bad Q episodes. Part of the reason Q on DS9 never really worked was because the rapport between Q and that crew just wasn’t as much fun as watching Q and Picard go at it. But at least DS9 TRIED something a little different. Janeway vs. Q is essentially the same as Picard vs. Q, only she isn’t as good an actor, and they shoehorn in a so-called “sexual tension” which never really works or makes sense. So why would Q want to impregnate Janeway? Because she is a girl captain, and the writers have no clue what to do with women.

The Q Continuum should never be visited. It was best left as a mystery. But because everything we needed to know about Q has already been done, the writers of Voyager felt it necessary to go there (twice now after “Death Wish”). Visiting there just makes it seem stupid and odd and pointless. Especially because the writers have no imagination on this show, and the decide that it will always just be what our “puny human minds” can fathom. Which is like a gas station or the American civil war. All the Q do in this episode go from very intelligent to moron in every other moment. The female Q is ridiculously annoying. I couldn’t stand a single line of hers, the delivery so irritatingly smug that I didn’t even want to continue watching her on screen. It seems as if she is only there for two solutions in the end: to get Voyager to the Continuum, and to mate with DeLancie’s Q for the final solution.

There is a line in this episode that irked me to no end. At one point Q offers Janeway the chance to send Voyager home if she mates with him. Now this is no way to get a lady in the mood, and I respect Janeway’s denial of said proposal. She rightly points out that he has dangled this carrot before….but then she says the dumbest thing said in Voyager to date: “we aren’t looking for quick fixes, we will get home, but with hard work”. WHAT!? It isn’t as if Starfleet blindfolded the crew, shot them off into the Delta Quadrant and said “now find your way home. Work hard. No cheating”. They were sent there by a highly powerful cosmic being, what is the difference if they are sent back by a different highly powerful cosmic being? Beyond that I can’t even buy the idea that the crew sat down and unanimously voted to only get home with hard work since they probably couldn’t unanimously vote on anything. On top of which it seems as if HALF OF WHAT THIS CREW DOES IS LOOK FOR QUICK FIXES HOME! We are only in the third season and we’ve already had half a dozen chances for quick fixes and ways to speed up their trip. Almost all have failed do to it; either by being a faulty plan from the get go, or that whatever alien culture they were bartering with for speedy technology had some minor difference with the constantly intolerant Voyager crew and Janeway put an end to negotiations due to her stubborn unwilling to compromise nature. So yeah…they look for quick fixes all the time.

The whole episode from beginning to end is just bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad, and bad. Q should’ve been put to rest following the TNG finale, but the Voyager production team had now clue as how to do anything new. As a result “The Q and the Grey” has replaced “Qpid” as the worst Q episode ever. That is until I see “Q2” I’m sure.

NEXT TIME: Viruses Take on the Crew

The Art of War

Story: Warlord
Written By: Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Kes gets possessed by a former dictator who has discovered a way to body swap. While I think Lien gives a great performance as the possessed Kes, I can’t help but feel like Trek has already traveled this road too many times before. Why do I feel like every other episode of Voyager is just a rehash of another Trek storyline? Probably because the franchise had run its course in terms of standalone episodic form, and now just the same writers were rehashing the same few storylines over and over. At the same time that Voyager had already begun to repeat plots from other Treks (not to mention already repeating itself) Deep Space 9 had already started to reach out with all new plots and character storylines that would eventually reach beyond anything Trek had done previously.
I’m increasingly taken aback with the frequency in which mundane tasks are applauded when Harry Kim achieves them. Seriously, he will transport people off a ship and Janeway will say, “I’m impressed!” WHY? He did his job. Then there are things like Kes saying, near the end of the episode, how this experience “affected her clostest relationships”, then immediately decides to remind the audience just who they are (by the way it was Neelix, the Doctor, and Tuvok). It just shows how well we don’t know the characters well into our third season. By this point in TNG we had figured out what Picard was all about. He was an explorer who liked old books and Shakespeare, and archeology. I guess Janeway likes math and science…and she seems into like Jane Austen stuff…but they have kind of lost track of the Janeway/Pride & Prejudice thing. Who is Janeway? Who is Kes? Is Neelix JUST the comic relief? Then why isn’t he ever funny? I feel like we’ve gotten to know Tuvok and the Doctor. With just a little bit of Torres and Chakotay (although from what I understand Chakotay gets totally lost in the mix as the series progresses). The characters are so boring and useless. They could be replaced by anyone.

I could’ve easily seen this episode working with any other character thrown into Kes’ place…the only thing you would have lost is the “Neelix really loves Kes” plot point (but lets face it who doesn’t want to lose that in EVERY episode?)

Again Lien does a good job, but the episode is a lame duck for the most part, just the same ol’ same ol’ being explored YET again in a franchise that is meant to showcase where no man has gone before.

NEXT TIME: A Female Q

Chronowerx

Story: Future’s End, Part II
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

So it’s a battle of the witless between Starling and the Voyager crew. I really hate characters with inconsistent motives, and Starling has just that. His whole entire plan is to go to the future to get more technology for his company to release as his own (a plan that is so obvious it pains me how long it took Janeway to figure it out) yet when confronted with the possibility that his actions will kill millions INCLUDING HIMSELF. He claims he doesn’t care. YOUR DUMB PLAN IS BOTH TOO OVERUSED AND CONTIGENT ON YOUR SAFE RETURN. How could he NOT CARE if he lives to see his plan out? That defeats the point of the plan! This guy is an idiot!
I didn’t care for this two parter at all. It had too many rehashed plot devices, plot holes, and pointless plot padding scenes. For example, what the hell was up with the pointless anti-government redneck guys that were easily defeated? Or how about Captain Braxton suddenly showing up at the end to save the day? He doesn’t become the homeless guy now? Starling just dies? Voyager is forced to go RIGHT BACK TO WHERE THEY LEFT OFF? This show always manages to clean things up so they don’t have any lasting effects. Lame. The one positive is the lasting impact of Starling giving the Doctor his mobile emitter, which allows him to finally stretch beyond just the sickbay.

This episode was just as bad as the first if not worse.

NEXT TIME: Kes Possessed by a Rebel

Henry Starling

Story: Future’s End
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Some weirdo from the 29th century shows up out of nowhere and claims Voyager is part of some future explosion and must be destroyed.

1) His plan is ridiculous.
2) He could easily be causing the very explosion he claims he is trying to prevent
3) It leads Voyager to be caught in a time stream and sent back to 1996, thus starting the very chain of events the moron from the future wished to prevent (see #2).
So I don’t get it, did they totally wipe out time travel mechanics in Starfleet by the 29th century? Voyager’s crew is now in 1996, and despite getting a vague warning about causing some time-explosion in the past, they decide to GO DOWN TO EARTH. There they meet Henry Starling (played by Ed Begley, Jr.) a millionaire who made his fortune creating computer technology from the technology he salvaged from the very time ship that came to destroy Voyager. They also find the captain that tried to kill them, he is now homeless and a madman, and they let the cops take care of him so he can not derail their plot too much. It all eventually leads to a cliffhanging showdown in which Starling downloads information from Voyager and disrupts its functions, causing it to be caught on video camera in the Earth’s atmosphere…duh duh DAH!

It is filled with time travel plot holes so big you want to yell at Braga and Menosky for an hour, but at least if you turn off your brain it moves well and lacks the usual overbearing technobabble. It seems to get very high praise from the production team, but then again they tend to only praise the crap in Voyager (and later Enterprise) and find disappointment in many of their stronger episodes….go figure.

NEXT TIME: Aeon

Meaningless

Story: Sacred Ground
Written By: Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Kes disrupts a shrine on an alien world, she is put into a coma, but the culture on the planet refuses to help as they feel she is being punished for sacrilege. Janeway decides to go through a ritual in order to find a cure for Kes’ condition.
The episode TRIES to showcase a conflict between science and faith, but most of it just falls flat. It is boring and slow and for a good chunk of it you feel like it is going nowhere. There are plenty of slower episodes in the canon of Trek, but many can successfully build up to something and have a lot more to say. I think this one tried, but it just didn’t do it for me.

It also once again showcases many of the flaws of Voyager. The characters are not easy to relate to. Janeway doesn’t come off as likable or even consistent. She is stubborn when the story needs her to be, and she is lackadaisical when the story wants her to be. Here I find she just doesn’t have a strong enough character base built up at this point to make her “change” at the episode hold a lot of meaning. I also tire of characters being in a near-death-with-barely-any-hope situation. It has happened in this series far too often, not to mention the many times on TNG and even a few on DS9. It is such a lame and tired plot device by this point I just rolled my eyes.

NEXT TIME: Flung Back to the 20th Century

Memories of a Genocide

Story: Remember
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Torres is having vivid dreams, and they seem to form some kind of narrative. This is happening while a group of telepaths are on board. Soon the dreams change from being a simple love story to one of terror and eventual genocide.
It is actually a really good episode, and Dawson’s performance, both as Torres and in the dreams a Korenna, are pretty teriffic. The only flaw I could find was the explanation as to why Torres was chosen…it just seemed like anyone could have been picked for the memories, and yet the person sending them is like “you’d believe”. There is no specific reason given as to why she alone would believe. I would have created some kind of bond between Torres and the women sending the memory, just to give it a bit more tangibility.

In reading about it I did find something sort of telling and odd in Brannon Braga though. He was disappointed in this episode because he wished it had been made on TNG when he first thought of it, because it would’ve been closer to Schindler’s List coming out. It seems like he didn’t think he had a strong enough story to stand on its own, and that he was really just trying to mimic other acclaimed work. Fortunately I think the episode is better than he gives it credit for, purely because it does properly stand on its own. (look at me actually giving Voyager some praise).

Mostly I can’t complain though, it is a solid episode, with a good message and a decent conclusion.

NEXT TIME: Kes commits sacrilege on an alien world

Penitence

Story: False Profits
Written By: George A. Brozak & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

TNG once made an episode called “The Price”. If you remember my review of that, or can find it in the archives you can see I wasn’t a huge fan. It was a lame episode. But even at its best it was only going to be average. I can’t see many people popping it on their Top Ten lists NOR do I think they would be many clamoring for a sequel. But with the good ship Voyager wandering aimlessly through the Delta Quadrant where the two Ferengi from that episode supposedly ended up, and DS9 having proved that the Ferengi were redeemable…the folks behind Voyager decided to give their crack of the whip on a Ferengi-focused episode.
Unfortunately the results are as expected. They don’t really do anything new or interesting with the Ferengi (yea they love profit, we know…but DS9 had already begun to dig deeper with that chestnut so you’ll have to try harder) and it doesn’t really have a decent plot that hadn’t already been done elsewhere better (“Who Watches the Watchers” is a far better example of the consequences of interfering with a pre-industrial society). Then it goes even further to punch Voyager fans I nthe gut by once again giving them an easy way to get home but managing to have some minor problem fuck it all up so they gotta keep on trucking.

When all is said and done I can’t recommend this episode, it just feels uninspired, especially after the previous episode was so good.

NEXT TIME: Korenna