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Star Trek Enterprise episode review – Dawn

Summary: Trip is trapped with an alien enemy pilot on a moon where the climate gets rather toasty at daybreak.

star trek enterprise dawnWith “Dawn” Enterprise returns to what it has done best so far: well told and suspenseful episodes grounded in classical science fiction plots like “Dead Stop,” “Shuttlepod One” and “Singularity,” rather than the sleazy antics of “Fusion,” “A Night in Sickbay” or “Precious Cargo.” “Dawn”‘s proximity to “Cargo,” an episode that also involved Trip and an alien crashing on a planet and waiting for rescue, is unfortunate in that it might color some people’s judgement of the newest episode unfairly. But the similarities and disparities between the two episodes do an excellent job of demonstrating what works on Enterprise and what doesn’t.

Ever since the day ST:TNG aired its pilot, one of the standard criticisms of a Star Trek episode and series has been its lack of originality. There are a distinct shortage of new ideas out there, even in sc-fi, which is thought to be the literature of the future. While science fiction is concerned with new concepts of technology, it still relies on many of the same plots that were old when Rome was young. Some science fiction shows have responded to this problem with bouts of extreme stylization and introverted storylines, but Star Trek has always been at its best when it commits itself to the core story and tells it with integrity and truth. “Precious Cargo” is what happens when your story rings false, “Dawn” is what happens when it rings true.

John Shiban, who previously wrote “Minefield,” delivers a seemingly simple script that avoids the kind of false notes that would have had Trip easily befriending the alien or ending the episode on a purely positive note as many Voyager episodes did. Instead, Trip’s demonstration of goodwill by tossing away his weapon and untying the alien and his speech on the importance of their cooperation just results in a vicious and brutal fight. Nor is there any quick-fix language solution. Trip doesn’t jury rig a universal translator or learn the alien’s language after a few phrases as Hoshi seems to every week. Rather, they get by on situational context with the words themselves being ambiguous so that even at the end with the universal translator back on line, Trip fails to realize what the alien wants.

Thus “Dawn” is a more realistic look at first contact in an Enemy Mine style reminiscent of TOS and TNG episodes like “Arena,” “The Enemy” and “Darmok.” Roxann Dawson has quickly proven herself as Enterprise’s go-to Director and avoids the bells and whistles in favor of a clean rendering of the story. For once even Scott Bakula hits all the right notes in his performance, frustrated and tense during the search but quietly threatening during his encounters with the alien Captain. Although the alien Captain has few lines and little screen time, Enterprise follows through on the slightly more complex rendering of the alien antagonist commander in “Catwalk” by having the alien Captain be both threatening and diplomatic as Archer himself is; rather than just an Alien of the Week uttering standard canned threats, but is the alien equivalent of Archer, who is thinking in ways that we can relate to resulting in a three-dimensional rather than two-dimensional character for an even minor appearance.

Enterprise’s makeup also improves from the rather bland ‘humans with slightly facial ridges’ we see every week or the shoddy Suliban makeup to the Jem’Hadar-looking alien makeup of “Dawn.” While it is derivative of the DS9 villains, it still seems more natural and alien than a lot of what we’ve seen on Enterprise thus far. Having the aliens come equipped with some sort of poison-spitting sac is also a nice touch that doesn’t cost much but emphasizes the alien nature of the character.

Other nice minor touches include revelations of more Vulcan diplomatic failures strewn about the quadrant. Phlox spending some time on the bridge, which aside from the EMH we’ve seen doctors do far more on other Star Trek series rather than keeping Phlox constantly locked up in his sickbay or confined to the mess hall. Trip’s dazed recitation of his experiences in prior episodes and his concluding note that the alien undoubtedly had similar experiences. It’s a little thing but it adds depth to a moment and a place we wouldn’t naturally expect it since in the Star Trek universe the aliens of the week all too often seem to have no independent existence prior to this episode and aren’t likely to have one after it. Dawn’s scripts gets us to think about what the alien pilot might have been doing before Trip encountered him and the Alien Captain’s dialogue with Archer causes us to wonder what his situation might be afterwards. And those are the little touches that develop a story and hit the right notes.

Star Trek Voyager review – Author, Author

Summary: A strong episode that addresses some important issues but its reach far exceeds its grasp.

The issue of the Doctor’s holographic rights has been Voyager’s most consistent and longest running arc and now finally seems to be at a

star trek voyager Author Author

Who needs word processors when you are a word processor

close at about the same that Voyager itself is ending. Unfortunately the deadline seems to have caused the writers to try and do too much in too little time. Like the Void, another strong recent Voyager episode, Author Author is at times clever, imaginative, and finally, addresses the substantive issues but it is overstuffed with material that far outstrips the forty minutes available to deal with it.

While Voyager early on displayed great facility with the Kazon arc, running it as a B-story in unrelated episodes very effectively, the later Voyager seems to prefer stuffing its return-to-Earth arc into large single pieces placed throughout individual episodes. So Author, Author has to spend time dealing with Voyager’s first regular connection to Earth AND the issue of the Doctor’s holographic rights brought to contest AND the issue of the Doctor’s relations with the Voyager crew. Each of these would have made a good episode. Together stuffed into one single episode, none of them has the time to be fully developed into a natural storyline.

And so, The Doctor’s humanity arguments are reduced to a several-minute footnote towards the end of the episode. The Voyager crew’s phone-calls are well handled but this sort of thing should have been shown to have more impact on the crew than a few quickly edited scenes of ‘phoning home’. It’s odd that at a time when the Voyager crew have the first semi-permanent connection to their families, the main topic of conversation is The Doctor’s insulting holo-program. This should have really changed things, followed up on the promise of scenes like Barclay’s “gift” of the live shot of Earth. After all, this is what Voyager has been working for all these years; it should have meant and mattered more.

For once, Seven’s family scenes were tastefully and very effectively handled with the stimulus towards change coming more from her, than from scenes with Janeway or The Doctor lecturing her on getting to know her family. Having Seven come towards the incentive to “phone home” by acting as a silent observer while Kim and Torres get in touch with their families is the kind of subtlety that the Seven arc could’ve used more of. Kim’s scenes are used for their comic potential but Wang underplays the material so that it works, instead of being an over-the-top Asian family joke as it was written. Torres’s scenes with her father also do a good job of following up on prior material–continuity is one thing Author, Author demonstrates abundantly.

The entire holonovel material, though, feels unnecessary. Instead of the entire circus of alternate universe doubles, we could simply have had the crew read off a few of the same lines from a PADD and spend the time on the arguments over the EMH’s humanity or the actual issues involved. After all, the comic potential and the whole concept of distorted perceptionmirror universe Voyager crew members was handled far better in Living Witness. There was no real need to do it again except as an attempt at a gag, which only distracted from the actual issue of the Doctor’s political advocacy and feelings.

It would’ve been far more effective, however, if The Doctor had made the Voyager crewmembers more true to life, but distorted in subtle

star trek voyager Author Author

It's called a mustache. They reportedly went extinct during the Eugenics Wars

ways so as to put a negative spin on their actual conduct and behavior. This would have brought home the notion that The Doctor might view the crew’s behavior differently than they themselves or the viewer do. Instead, The Doctor produces ridiculous caricatures that make him look ridiculous and the crew look petty for taking offense at such ridiculous and patently unrealistic distortions.

Certainly, literary works of political advocacy don’t tend to be very subtle and with The Doctor drafting his own Uncle Tom’s Cabin, he couldn’t have likely produced a quiet masterpiece. Still, the problem remains that most of the Voyager crew’s caricatures are excessively and inhumanly psychotic and evil while works of political commentary are more effective if they address actual, everyday evils as they appear. Political advocacy of evils as practiced by demented cartoon characters doesn’t make people re-examine their own behaviors and participate with their victims in the healing process; it just distances the problem and makes it seem unrealistic. More so, a lot of the Voyager “evil crew” are evil in ways that have nothing to do with holographic rights. They’re simply crazed and demented. Janeway phasering a wounded crewmember has nothing to do with holographic rights. Her treatment of the EMH by contrast seems almost merciful.

The plot twist of having the publisher of the EMH’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” work exploit him as a hologram with no rights is smart and politically sophisticated, while being quite true to life. Having the test of the EMH’s humanity be copyright law is also ingenuous and unexpected, even though the publisher has no chance of victory. If the EMH were a thing rather than a person, than he and all his works are property of Starfleet, which has sole authority over them. The problem is that much of this comes as an afterthought. In TNG’s Measure of a Man, the arguments over Data’s humanity forced the crew to really reconsider their feelings about Data, the arguments hit home and the answer was in actual doubt. Picard had a point but so did Riker. Here there is zero doubt.

The crew has fully acknowledged the EMH’s humanity and they’re ready to tell stories about it all day and all night. The use of The Doctor’s betrayal of Voyager as a point in favor of his humanity is a smart touch of continuity. But there is no real challenge anymore. Only the Federation doubts the EMH’s humanity and the Federation isn’t actually here, they’re far away listening-in. The final scene of the holograms breaking the proverbial rock in the dilithium mines, spreading the word about freedom, is a wonderfully inspirational final thought and the episode is full of so many similar nice moments. Unfortunately, this episode could have been put to better use if it had done a better job of connecting all these instances into a more seamless, cohesive story.

Star Trek Voyager review – Repentance

Summary: A surprisingly quiet and reflective episode on crime and punishment with a truly misleading UPN network promo.

The death penalty is an issue that has come into play more and more in recent years especially what with our new president never having met a method of execution he didn’t love and the debate over its validity and associated issues is only likely to keep on growing. The problem of course is that usually when Voyager or Star Trek in general tries to address a “timely” issue, the results often come out looking like last week’s Lineage. In other words, well-meaning and sincere but fairly one-sided and not really thought out. And while Repentance certainly suffers from these problems, its core success is as a series of quiet character pieces rotating around the implications of the difficulties of making both moral and just choices.

When Repentance drags out Jeff Kober to play yet another in a seemingly endless strings of psychotic criminals, brings in the criminals as a security problem and

star trek voyager repentance

"I'm just misunderstood. Really"

introduces the innocent man convicted only because of his race, it’s seemingly set on an inevitable course. The criminals will escape, the evil psycho will escape and the innocent man will be seriously wounded or die trying to stop him thereby commenting on the cruelty of the system. And while with a few adjustments that is the actual plot, this is not an episode where the action drives the story but where the character work drives the action which is at best a very minor point of the episode. The breakout, when it finally comes, is anti-climactic and only a way to focus the ideas into demonstrative action. The expected good and bad roles are gradually reversed with the transition being so slight it’s almost invisible.

Where most Voyager episodes are goal oriented, there’s a problem, e.g. the ship ruptured into different timelines; the characters become aware of the problem, work together to solve the problem, overcome obstacles both within and without and the problem is solved, there’s a goodbye scene and the episode is over. Even great Voyager classics like Living Witness, Memorial, Deadlock or Muse tend to work that way. Repentance though never really begins or ends, the goals themselves are mostly irrelevant and the problem can never be solved. Rather than giving us 90 seconds of cute banter between the bridge crew at peace who are then suddenly confronted with the beginnings of the crisis, Repentance jumps right into the mess with everyone hurrying about their duties as if this were NYPD Blue. It’s far more professional and a nice break from the cloying “Voyager family” routines that have sometimes come to verge on the nauseating.

Once the dilemma is set out, Repentance banks for a while. For some reason the prisoners are kept in special facilities instead of Voyager’s brig. Sure they’re dangerous criminals and all, but shouldn’t Voyager’s brig be designed to be unbreakable, intended not just for its crew but enemy warriors and what not. Indeed the advantages of the cargo bay prison is a little bit confusing. Beyond putting chicken wire on top of the cages and a hole in the force field so food can be passed through, the system provides few advantages and putting strong metal gates on the cages as a failsafe so even if the force fields fail, the prisoners still won’t be able to get out, is an idiot whose time on Star Trek has not yet come. More to the point, Tuvok’s insistence that only Starfleet guards be allowed inside the cargo bay is morally right but since we know there’s going to be an escape attempt and that therefore it’s going to happen on his watch, it makes his moral stance look foolish and incompetent. And indeed when the breakout does happen, the security personnel are easily disposed of and only the warden and Iko prevent the prisoners from escaping.

Picardo and Phillips turn in nice underplayed performances as the EMH and Neelix argue for the prisoners’ plight but the terms of the story cause them to be uninvolved. Ultimately, at the end of the day they’re still outsiders, case workers who shake their heads in dismay but whose words come off as hollow because this just has very little to do with them. Where TOS and TNG attempted to force the characters into the problem in order to comment on social issues, in episodes like Critical Care and Repentance, Voyager has trouble really getting the characters involved in what’s going on so that they seem like benevolent stick figures lecturing on matters that don’t really involve them. It would have been interesting to use Paris’s prison time for correlative experiences with Federation prisons, how does the Federation really handle its prisoners and what are the outcomes, the moral issues? Instead it’s assumed that the Federation is comprehensively benevolent and can therefore just lecture the stand-ins for 20th century America on how to do things.

And so to forge a link, Voyager falls back on its standard, Seven of Nine who can be involved in the problem because she’s a Borg. The analogy between her and Iko is debatable since while Iko wasn’t really sane or in control of himself before, he did make decisions in his own way and execute them. Seven was just the drone, a limb of a vast collective, who made no decisions and had no mind of her own period. Still, Seven seeking absolution through Iko indicates that Seven has modeled quite a bit of her human character on Janeway. After all, Janeway used Seven as absolution for stranding her crew in the Delta Quadrant and Seven is just following in her footsteps with a series of prototypes that seemingly ended with Icheb. But Jeri Ryan’s performance is the weak point in Repentance. She was never a great actress, but here she just seems to be phoning in her Seven repertoire. Watch Seven as cold but defensive, Seven involved and vulnerable and the result is that she never actually seems to be interacting with the rest of the actors, let alone Jeff Kober.

Fortunately Seven is only one of several characters being focused on in Repentance and all the rest do excellent jobs. Kober does his usual good run through of the psycho and then the ex-con trying to go straight. He’s done both on television many times but he still manages to do solid work even while buried underneath some gruesome makeup and stilted dialogue. The actor playing the Ikanian prisoner manages to be perfectly sincere all the way up to the end. With the clumsy use of makeup, facial mobility is practically frozen and the actor has to do virtually all his work using just his eyes to convey sincerity and then guile. Janeway is thankfully mostly uninvolved though her continued insistence on the Prime Directive is mildly odd since the civilization in question is an advanced spacefaring culture and there’s certainly nothing about the Prime Directive that says she can’t grant asylum to an alien from an advanced spacefaring culture. If there were, the Romulan defector from “The Defector” should have been tossed back to the Romulans and Worf should have never been raised by humans.

The Warden never really gets a chance to articulate his position, instead he’s forced to speak in nasty cliches that make him out to be the bad guy at least early on. Part

star trek voyager repentance

They're already in prison, do they have to be tortured too?

of this ties into the writers difficulty with presenting the tough-on-crime approach side of the argument in the first half of the episode, which leaves the warden looking sadistic and mindlessly mean. The second half of the episode with its reversals allows him to play a more complex role but while Repentance can recognize the validity of the victims perspective, it has trouble doing the same for law enforcement. Are we really supposed to buy him making a complete turn merely because Iko aided him in a prison escape? A cynical man might even conclude that Iko knew he wasn’t going anywhere and that the ship to rescue him and was simply hedging his bets for a pardon.

But that is a key fault in the use of Repentance as a vehicle for social commentary because no one thinks anything through beyond skin deep and as a result, the ideas don’t really go much deeper than the letters section of USA Today. The Doctor declares that all killing is wrong even though he’s on a starship equipped with huge phasers and photon torpedoes; Seven takes a utilitarian approach until she gets to know the prisoner and forms an emotional bond with him; Neelix never really grasps the issues but has a sense that things are unfair and need to be dealt with; Janeway as the bureaucratic official is mildly sympathetic but it’s not really her problem and she’s not prepared to make it her problem. These are a very effective sketch of character portraits and speak to the complexity of finding a moral and just solution to problems of crime and punishment but they’re not much use as a commentary on social policy except to essentially say “well these things are complicated” and while that’s certainly true it’s in part because no one really tries.

The characters hold ideas but no one really pushes them to the limits. Repentance has no beginning or ending as I said, its start and finish is really just a few ordinary

star trek voyager repentance

"Next time Voyager tries to rescue us, we open fire."

moments in the lives of Voyager. The prisoners themselves are just passing through Voyager and the crew knows that. They may cause complexities but there’s a certainty in the air that those complexities won’t endure and won’t really sink their hooks into the crew. While this does articulate the tragedy of the condemned, it doesn’t really connect with the material. The EMH is unabashedly for the prisoners because of his programming and Neelix is just a sympathetic and naturally kind person, Seven has an ulterior motive that has less to do with her being a sympathetic outsider and more to do with her looking for redemption by using other people as receptacles for her kindness. This is a more cynical and plausible approach that grounds the relationship in a kind of reality and produces the only plausible connection for an emotional bond in which the Voyager crewmember receives something, instead of being the patronizing philanthropist and just giving. As a result, the prisoners in Repentance come to seem much more real than the Voyager crew; while the Voyager crew will go on to new adventures next week, the condemned lives have come to an end and all the crew can use that for is material for a life lesson.

Unlike Critical Care, Repentance is an effective look at the social issue. It offers different perspectives, an intriguing notion about repentance via brain micro-surgery, a dilemma that has no real resolution and for those not very well versed in the issues, a quick grounding in the basics. Like Critical Care though, it never manages to make the Voyager crew really connect with the issues, but it succeeds by dumping Critical Care’s goal-oriented “Gosh isn’t this awful” sanctimonious tone and instead presents a series of character portraits and really develops the “prisoners” so that they can stand on their own rather than the patients and the Docs of Critical Care who only existed in relation to their relationship with the EMH. Ironically enough for a show that often drones on monotonously about the miracle of the “Voyager family”, Repentance for the most part presents its characters in isolation, drifting apart from each other and each gnawing on just one edge of the dilemma; allowing it to succeed by going against the grain.

Next week: Klingons, Klingons, Klingons and more Klingons. “There will be no peace with the Federation as long as Janeway lives.”

Star Trek Voyager review – Flesh and Blood

Summary: Borg, Klingons, Romulans, Jem’Haddar, Breen and Starfleet…Oh My.

Voyager’s last November Sweeps episode is a two parter that with the combination of Nightingale manages to bring this portion of the season to a more dignified and weighty end. The ep is filled with space battles, every prominent Alpha Quadrant species, and the Hirogen who were themselves the subject of a previous two parter and a moral dillema. What is unusual about Flesh and Blood is that it is ultimately a Doctor character development story, rather than a threat to Voyager story or a Seven of Nine conflict story as most of the recent two parters have been. Since the Doctor is Voyager’s strongest character and Robert Picardo Voyager’s strongest actor, this is a major step in the right direction.

In the average episode, so many of the little touches, the bits of dialogue and the subplots get cut away to fill UPN’s bottomless greed for commercial time, but a

star trek voyager flesh and blood

See... video games are evil

standard episode like Flesh and Blood stretched out to the length of a two parter leaves plenty of room for all that stuff which lets F&B feel more like a usual Star Trek episode, instead of the rushed affairs Voyager episodes have become under their reduced screen time. The Hirogen get the chance to have their moments of reaction time to Voyager’s actions, which is nice since an enemy which doesn’t react to what you’re doing especially if you’re blowing their ship to bits isn’t very interesting. B’Elanna’s interactions with the Cardassian holographic engineer are kept in, otherwise her behavior at the end would have been as confusing as the end of Dragon’s Teeth. Part of the problem though is that sometimes F&B seems like Dragon’s Teeth with Holograms or taking up the plot of the two parter that never got made and Dragon’s Teeth indeed would have made a much better two parter than F&B did.

The space battles are interesting and well done. The nebula is once again an annoying trick, especially now as even Trek retreads like Andromeda have borrowed that bag of tricks. But this seems like something we’ll be seeing over and over again for the next twenty years so there’s little point in complaining. Picardo’s acting is top notch and even the usually abysmal Mulgrew shares some surprisingly effective scenes with him. Surprisingly little use is made of the Starfleet holograms. Considering that the Bajoran hologram retained a whole lot of Bajoran elements to his psyche, it might have been very interesting to pit Starfleet holograms operating from a Starfleet point of view against Janeway. Bizarrely enough this never happens and instead we focus on the overused Bajoran “I’m an oppressed but spiritual” victim routine as if that hadn’t gotten tried after only one year of DS9, let alone seven.

The Bajoran did have the potential to be a stronger character with his extinguishing the flames for those he killed, but in service of the cliched plot he’s suddenly turned into a raving lunatic. This character might have been stronger if played by a stronger actor. Next week’s rerun features two DS9 actors, might have been nice if they’d saved one of them to play the Bajoran leader or brought over Mark Alaimo or Andrew Robinson for the job. B’Elanna’s Cardassian rant is intriguing because it feels as if something may be being set up here for when Voyager is closer to the Alpha Quadrant.

Quiet, careful direction sets off a story flawed by the same rot that has been eating into Voyager for seven years now and the name of that rot is Kathryn Janeway. Scorpion, Dark Frontier and Equinox were all driven by some bizarre irrational obsession Janeway got into her head and dragged the crew along for wreaking unnecessary havoc and causing complications that would never have been spawned by the decision-making of a sane Starfleet Captain. Unfortunately Flesh and Blood is no different. Like its predecessors Scorpion, Frontier and Equinox it manages to salvage a lot of good from the rot producing strong and memorable episodes but the Janeway Factor confines its storylines and plot to fairly predictable parameters and like a wrecked ship trapped and orbiting an insane planet, the laws of physics that govern Voyager demand an ending featuring Janeway wearing a halo and the rest of the story has to be crushed into shape to fit.

The bizarre Janeway obsession that governs Flesh and Blood is Janeway’s notion that she is responsible for giving the holodeck technology to the Hirogen, hence she has to hunt down and finish off the holograms. Now in the previous Hirogen episode, The Killing Game, the Hirogen took over Voyager and killed and maimed its crew for sport. As a peacekeeping gesture, Janeway gave them the technology so that they could relieve their hunting instincts without using humans or associated sentient aliens as targets. Logically if Janeway should be feeling guilty for anything, it’s that she handed over a piece of Starfleet technology that has the potential to produce sentient beings, including one such individual already existing on her own ship, to predators who would hunt them and torture them for sport. That this technology also included templates of Starfleet officers is truly sickening. Yet historically Janeway rarely feels sorry for the victims in a situation but tends to side with their oppressors and so obviously her concern is that the Hirogen are being killed by the holograms. (One wonders if her response would have been any different, if her non-sentient Irish bartender boyfriend had been in the mix.)

Despite the Hirogen making it clear several times that they don’t want her help, Janeway insists on butting in anyway and ending the bloodshed, namely the killing of the Hirogen by their former slaves, thereby trying to save the Hirogen species for themselves. The fact that the Hirogen are big boys with lots of firepower, a big fleet and actually captured Voyager the last time Janeway got on their bad side doesn’t seem to cross her mind. Neither does the possibility that since neither side has asked for her help, that she should just stay out of the conflict. To Janeway apparently feeling moral responsibility for something, means she has undisputed authority over it and the right to shove everyone else into line and into agreeing with her solution to the problem. This is a very understandable perspective for a lunatic completely out of touch with reality, but a questionable one for a Starfleet Captain to operate under. Fortunately since her Stepford crew tends to fall in line, except for the Maquis and 7 of 9, this isn’t really a problem.

A professional Captain might have checked the Hirogen’s story before joining them in the hunt. After all Janeway’s failure to check the Borg’s story in Scorpion kept the

star trek voyager flesh and blood

Giving advanced technology to people who kill for sport... who knew it could go wrong?

Borg alive causing the genocide of hundreds of Delta Quadrant species. But then again how can you not trust the veracity of good honest people like the Borg Collective or the Hirogen Hunters? A professional Captain might have put some effort into getting in touch with the Holograms before trying to finish them off. After all escaping, stealing a ship and fighting space battles are pretty calculated acts suggesting intelligence and purpose. Furthermore, last season in Fair Haven Janeway risked her crew rather than shut down a holodeck full of non-sentient Irish villagers. A professional Captain would have guessed that confining a few dozen Hirogen warriors in the mess hall with little beyond Neelix in the way of security is an awful idea.

Finally, a professional Captain would have recognized that there was indeed a conflict and tried to resolve it by working with both sides, instead of taking the side of your own enemies and those of the slave owners and trying to enforce your will by force. Janeway’s failure to do this forces the Doctor into the role of traitor. But since the Doctor can’t be allowed to leave Voyager and Janeway can’t admit that she was wrong, this leaves us with the inevitable option that it is the holograms who must be discredited. Along with the borrowed Breen and Jem’Haddar, F&B borrows a page from DS9’s disposal of Dukat by turning their leader into a irrational religious fanatic thus forcing the Doctor to turn traitor second time and make a groveling apology to Janeway. Janeway then bizarrely completely dismisses the entire issue as an error in judgement.

Now it’s nice that F&B does actually address the issue of the Doctor’s betrayal in the episode, unlike DS9’s first war arc which ignored Odo’s betrayal of DS9. But really, the Doctor’s actions caused some serious injuries among the crew and almost blew up the ship killing everyone on board. This isn’t just a violation of protocol, it’s treason, mutiny and a whole range of other level one charges. Admittedly the Doctor was right in opposing Janeway and Janeway is the real traitor, but in the context of the show it would be hard to imagine the majority of the crew who don’t have B’Elanna’s StarfleetMaquis understanding of multiple allegiances ever trusting him again. From their perspective what exactly separates the EMH from Mike Jonas, after all Jonas was just manipulated and led into error by Seska too. SpockData characters have always had a lot of immunity from consequences often breaking down or being driven by strange possessions, but on Voyager both Seven and the Doc seem to have a certain condescending immunity attached to their actions as if they’re too stupid to be responsible for the outcomes of their own choices.

The real divide in F&B doesn’t come about because of the Doctor’s actions. He’s merely the pawn of a predictable plot caught between two different sides. The Hirogen who want to enjoy the fun of torturing and killing their holographic slaves; the slaves who want freedom and a good dose of payback. Neither side much wants peace at this point and Voyager has no real role in this conflict beyond the fact that both sides hate Voyager. Janeway coming in on the side of the slavemasters forces the Doctor to do what he feels is the right thing. The problem is that the slaves themselves are far from the Starfleet saints the EMH wants them to be. F&B castigates them for this but it seems that they’re behaving very realistically. They’re rebels fighting a war behind the lines against those they consider their oppressors, they’re not nice guys but neither are the Hirogen.

Starfleet morality is a very noble thing, but if you’re powerless, on the run and hunted by ruthless predators the only thing Starfleet morality will get you is a quick death. Like all codes of government Starfleet and Federation morality is meant to restrain the great powers of government and the military that the Federation possess. They’re not necessarily meant to be foisted on everyone at gunpoint and certainly forcing the holograms to abide by Federation morality, while making no such demands on the Hirogen is absolute lunacy. It’s like asking one side in a war to disarm, while letting the other side keep on doing what they’ve been doing before.

Janeway claims a moral responsibility for giving the Hirogen the dangerous technology they used to get themselves killed. Except of course as the saner members of the crew point out, it’s not the technology that’s evil but its application. If Janeway had given the Hirogen toaster ovens, they no doubt would have managed to kill each other using them too. Worse Janeway is taking responsibility for the choices of sentient adult beings as technologically advanced as her who are in fact older than humanity itself, she takes this to a head by then taking responsibility for the Doctor’s choice. In Good Shepherd, Janeway recites a parable that casts her in the role of Jesus. Now she seems to be taking the godhood thing seriously and treating everyone else as outgrowths of her own will. Worst of all despite all her moral posturing, Janeway shows no concern about leaving the same technology that produced a few hundred sentient beings to be tortured and mutilated, back in the hands of the Hirogen.

Although hologram rights are the underlying issue here, Janeway refuses to address it denying the holograms, equal sentient status without actually opening up the issue to debate. If holograms can’t by nature be sentient beings then why does the Doctor have any rights and autonomy on Voyager at all? And if Holograms are indeed family pets then just what was Janeway sleeping with in Spirit Folk exactly? And if the Doctor really is an equal member of the crew and the bartender a valid companion, then on what basis does Janeway deny the Hirogen holograms themselves based on the Doctor, equal rights?

But then again Janeway’s morality is no more rational than any of her decisions. She will time and time again ignore logic and reason in favor of emotional appeals. She time and time again claims that Voyager is a family, but Voyager is not a family it’s a Starfleet vessel filled with crew which is ordered to abide by Starfleet regulations. It is not her own private domain. Situations such as this should be governed by Starfleet regulations or by reasoned decisions based on Starfleet principles. Instead Janeway’s moral reasoning seems to consist of high pitched self-serving rhetoric coming out of the childish notion that if she can just find the right slogan and say it just the right way, that magically this will make her decisions right. While this works for a certain portion of the audience in a TV drama, Star Trek has the fandom it does not because its Captains were men who repeated the right slogans but because they were people you could respect. Captains like Kirk and Spock who genuinely searched for the right thing to do, questioned their own actions and listened to their first officers.

These are all ideas foreign to Janeway who wants nothing more than to be a martyr. To sit back in her chair and sigh about how hard her job is, how much she carries on her shoulders all the while climbing further up on her own self-made pedestal positioned well above her crew. To her, commanding a Starship is a form of omnipotence which allows her to exercise absolute judgement and her pips like a pope’s hat renders her judgement infallible. And this is why she needs her crew’s mistakes, so that she can absolve them of their sins against her and confirm her superiority. She’s not part of a team or in charge so much as the head of a matriarchal family. As the Doctor learned when he programmed his own holographic family, having a real family is hard. But Janeway’s fake family are professionals paid and trained to obey her orders and if there’s any trouble well she can always blow up Voyager… again.

Next week: Reruns…well aren’t all Voyager episodes reruns anyway?

Star Trek Voyager review – Critical Care

Summary: The EMH battles an alien HMO.

This season has been plagued by an array of episodes that are technically well made, with excellent direction, spectacular production values,

star trek voyager critical care

"My diagnosis indicates this is a topical episode"

good concepts and good acting but seem to end up amounting to very little in the end anyway. Critical Care is such an episode in that it hits all the right notes but ends up having very little content and nothing that really stays with you once the show is over and the ten o’clock evening news comes on. Critical Care is a fairly good episode on its own terms. The problem is that its terms aren’t particularly wide or ambitious. It is not much more than meets the eye. In a word, the episode is obvious, its crisis, its moral dilemma and its resolution are obvious and ultimately not very interesting or convincing.

Critical Care makes the right choice by instantly leaping into the story from the first second. Rather than featuring scenes of the Doctor’s abduction, CC reconstructs pieces of it for us as the crew works to trace back the EMH and the thief who stole him. But then, it doesn’t have much choice as this is an episode pressed for time. As with last week’s installment, there are minor holes in the plot that can be traced back to the extra minutes UPN cuts out of Voyager to allow for more commercials. With that said, the addition of the “Voyager deals with amusing con artists” bit–which stops being funny about halfway through–is completely necessary and more than a little inexplicable. Not only does this feel like a faded retread of Live Fast & Prosper from last season but the humor of the piece skews the dark tone of the episode so that neither the comedy nor the drama work very well.

Certainly the rest of the cast needs their screen time but if they really wanted a smuggler comedy episode so badly another one could have been written while the crew could have been tasked with a more serious storyline than Tuvok Neelix routines (the Neelix food big routine is also borrowed from Live Fast & Prosper) or better yet, the screen time could have been given to the main storyline. The absence of an active Voyager search for him might have made his isolation and his conflict a whole lot more plausible, while the current version makes it clear to the audience that he will be rescued as soon as Voyager untangles the MIB rejects cluttering its viewscreen.

Far worse, though, is the fact that CC wastes the two strong actors it hired to play the hospital administrators in favor of the two weak and virtually indistinguishable actors playing the doctor and the patient. While in medical melodramas the drama may come from doctors lingering over their patients, in Star Trek the drama comes from confronting villains and alternate points of view. But in CC we hear little from the administrators except some vague references to famine and ecological problems and get nothing in the way of background for the society and culture. There is very little plausible explanation for the second administrator’s shift to supporting the EMH in a conspiracy to assault and nearly murder his superior. His dialog suggests that there may have been a scene or two with him that was cut in favor of more scenes of the EMH with the dying young man, scenes that have all the dramatic impact of pizza commercials.

star trek voyager critical care

"Cure patients? That's crazy talk."

This is a big mistake and demonstrates the failure of post-Roddenberry Trek to discuss moral issues in any real way. And so CC feels that it has accomplished all the moral dialog it needs just by showing suffering people and a scene or two of callous administrators. It never deals with the core choices being made here. Are the administrators and the entire system really completely callous and corrupt or is there some practical basis for such a vicious triage system. By never dealing with the issue, the episode essentially bases its entire moral code on suffering people and the need to cure them. This may be enough for the Doctor and his oath but it does not satisfactorily address the issue.

Finally, the Doctor’s “solution” is manufactured and depends on asking the audience to swallow the premise that his actions have caused 3 out of 4 members of this system to rebel against it and that by the time he’s departed, a solution is already in place. To swallow the idea that this really is a solution we need to shut down our minds and go with the episode’s unstated idea that the only reason the administrator was denying treatment was because of a lack of empathy and that once he experiences being a patient, he’ll change his ways. This would be ridiculously idealistic even by TOS or Earth Final Conflict standards; on Voyager it’s completely implausible. In this way CC is reminiscent of David Gerrold’s TOS episode, The Cloud Minders which has Kirk forcing the elite to work in the mines at phaser point. CC’s only real superiority to Cloud Minders is that Kirk’s actions occurred under the influence of toxic gases, while the EMH has the episode’s most powerful and effective scene back on Voyager in which he ponders the morality of his actions.

Unfortunately the fact that the episode’s most effective scene takes place not in the episode’s expensive alien setting but back on Voyager speaks quite clearly to certain essential failures in the episode. It’s nice that Voyager is addressing contemporary moral issues, it would be nicer if they put some more thought into it next time.

Star Trek Voyager Life-Line Review

Family relationships in Star Trek tend to be dysfunctional probably on the theory that watching a dysfunctional family is a lot more interesting than watching a functional one. Not to mention that father-son/mother-daughter/brother-brother conflicts are a cheap and easy way to add depth to a character and suck the audience in with soap opera, fighting and the eventual tearful reconciliation. It began with Spock and his father, Riker and his dad, Picard and his father figure of an older brother, Data and his brother, Troi and her mother, Odo and his mentor and Paris and his father to name a few. Science Fiction, especially Science Fiction on TV should be grounded in human drama that the audience can relate to and there’s nothing that more people can relate to than family problems. While Star Trek may not have taken the route of Lost in Space, the former competitor of the original Star Trek, there’s been no shortage of family drama and of substitute fathers and sons. Life Line is only the latest chapter in Star Trek’s troubled family saga, but unlike most of them it is a good one.

We last and only saw Dr. Zimmerman, the creator of Voyager’s Emergency Medical Hologram program, on a DS9 episode in which Bashr has star trek voyager life linebeen chosen to serve as the model for an updated version of the EMH. His role there was limited to comic relief and a minor bit of villainy as he tied together the main two storylines by exposing Bashir’s genetically engineered secret and tried to lure Leeta away to the Jupiter Station where Life-Line takes place. While Dr. Zimmerman in “Dr. Bashir I Presume” may have been a minor character, in Life-Line he quickly comes to dominate the story much as he dominates everyone in his life. Fortunately for him most of the people in his life are holograms, in a humorous twist on the horror movie mad doctor who populates his laboratory with his fiendish robotic and undead creations, Dr. Zimmerman has populated his laboratory and his life with holograms, holographic flies, holographic lizards and even a holographic companion. (Little wonder that he wanted Leeta so desperately.)

Taking this into account it of course makes perfect sense that he also has a holographic son in a distant land, a son he has already rejected but knows nothing about. In the ancient archetype of fairy tales and the continuation of the EMH’s six year exploration and growth the Doctor who has risen from a lowly position to prominence, he has sentient status, he has found love, a calling, he can paint, dance and sing and now what he needs to close the circle is to confront his father. Janeway isn’t likely to authorize a visit back to the Solar System just for the purposes of closure but an opportunity comes up. Dr. Zimmerman has the futuristic equivalent of cancer, he’s dying and there’s a chance for his son to save him and to get a little personal growth time in too.

Janeway’s first response is oddly callous. Voyager’s EMH clearly has access to new techniques beyond the abilities of the Federation’s doctors and it’s probable that he can do for Dr. Zimmerman’s fatal disease, which she brushes off unfeelingly as a small illness, what no other doctor can. It is only the EMH’s passionate plea to Janeway not as a doctor acting for Dr. Zimmerman’s pressing medical needs, but as a feeling person acting on behalf of his own psychological needs that Janeway agrees. This follows a questionable but commonplace pattern with Janeway placing personal and emotional issues above actual real and tangible problems. Meanwhile the Doctor giddy with the possibilities of the trip ignores Janeway’s warnings about Dr. Zimmerman’s personality and his head still swimming with his own needs and fantasy images of Dr. Zimmerman comes face to face with the reality of his father who doesn’t seem to care about him or anybody else.

This of course is where it gets interesting because the confrontation between Dr. Zimmerman and the EMH isn’t simply father and son as star trek voyager life linewith Spock and Sarek or even creator and machine as with Data and Dr. Soong. This is the practical core of the battle of wills between them and it is Counselor Troi, who unlike Pathfinder is finally given something useful to do here, who analyzes and acts to even the balance of power between them. The struggle between them may have underlying emotional issues but it’s the struggle of doctor against doctor with specialties that only apply to each other but not to themselves. But the only possible practical medical relationship is one way. The EMH cures Dr. Zimmerman, it’s what he wants to do, it’s what he came here to do but it would mean having Dr. Zimmerman admit that the medical and emotional balance of power is on the EMH’s side and that’s the one thing he can’t do.

Dr. Zimmerman rejects the EMH and the EMH responds by talking about his self-sacrifice in coming here and quickly becomes angry in turn. There’s a practical medical issue here but by starting out confusing the medical and emotional issues the Doctor has guaranteed that the analysis, probing and resolution of both are going to be intertwined throughout the episode. In other words the EMH can’t possibly cure Dr. Zimmerman until they deal with the emotional issues that brought the EMH here in the first place. Moving on to the second stage of the father-son confrontation, the EMH makes things worse by insisting on having Dr. Zimmerman submit to his authority and giving him orders. The Doctor is trying to dominate him and Dr. Zimmerman responds with even more anger and abuse. The EMH’s father is not meeting his emotional needs and every time Dr. Zimmerman looks at his holographic prodigy he is reminded of his personal egotistical failure.

Dr. Zimmerman is a man who has populated his emotional life with his own holographic creations. His pets are holograms, so is his companion and in the end so is his son. He is dying and it is painfully clear to him that his life can be summed up in his relationships with illusions he himself produced. His one shot at immortality, painting his face across thousands of holograms forever serving the Federation long after he himself is gone is a lost dream. The EMH is the reminder of his ultimate failure both as a scientist, and as a human being. As a scientist he couldn’t manage to create a functional organism built on solid principles. As a human being he tried to perpetuate himself through science rather than through humanity (a common enough theme in Star Trek) and his children turned out to be idiots. The return of the EMH has the potential to redeem him on both levels. The accomplishments of the EMH are an extension of his work and the humanity of the EMH is a testament to his own humanity to his ability to create human qualities in a machine and to even have it surpass him in this department.

This is the fundamental irony that underlies Life Line. Much like a Philip K. Dick novel, the EMH really is far more human than Dr.

star trek voyager life line

Zimmerman. In his compassion for others, his ability to feel and express those feelings, in his relationships with people he displays far more humanity than his creator. On a human scale Dr. Zimmerman, the inventor of holograms is much closer to being one himself. Pinocchio is not only a real boy but he’s achieved what Data never did, he’s far more of a real boy than his creator ever was or will be. When the EMH first confronts Dr. Zimmerman with this reality he can only feel threatened by it. He’s not a man who deals well with people. He likes holograms because probably like Janeway’s barkeep boyfriend they are controllable and predictable. It’s why he can let them and no one else near him. Now he is forced to deal with a hologram who has gotten near him but has the same emotional demands and needs as a real person. And the rebellion spreads to Haley, his companion forces him to acknowledge his feelings for her.

The inclusion of Barlcay in the triangle of Dr. Zimmerman’s household is no accident too. Like the master of the lab, Barclay suffers from problems he deals with by substituting holograms for people. Together with Haley he serves as Dr. Zimmerman’s surrogate family and paralleling the relationship between EMH and creator, Haley also seems far more human than Barclay to the point where we even initially mistake her for a human being. In the vein classic Science Fiction, Life-Line is the story of machines who feel more than people and both times Troi is brought in (Pathfinder and Life-Line) she is there to counsel the people. Barclay seems to have taken her advice to the point of finding himself a surrogate abusive father figure who shares several obvious traits with him so that two people unable to relate to the world at large form a family relationship. He is of course only marking time until the return of the “real son”, the one who can help save his father allowing Barclay to move on to the next stage of his emotional development.

Halfway through the episode we arrive at a stalemate. The EMH wants to save Dr. Zimmerman but also wants his respect and approval, his affirmation as a being. Dr. Zimmerman wants to be saved but doesn’t want to be helpless in the relationship and the forced recipient of the EMH’s emotional baggage and needs. The issue is a practical medical one. In this relationship the EMH matters and has all the power while Dr. Zimmerman has none and that she sees is one of the major sources of his resentment. She learns from Haley that Dr. Zimmerman once saw the EMH Mk1 as more than just a machine, but as a son too, the perpetuation of himself. The creation of the EMH was something he invested himself in emotionally and when that investment failed he cut himself off from it and the EMH’s independence and actualization is something he cannot accept unless he can have a part in it. The EMH may have been his creation but he has surpassed his original programming and Dr. Zimmerman himself. So there exists an emotional and medical stalemate.

The EMH wants emotional affirmation and offers medical assistance in return. Dr. Zimmerman wants both and can offer nothing in return because he can only care about those things which he feels are fully his creation and under his control. Role playing obviously won’t do it here so Troi cuts through the Gordian Knot by disabling the Doctor, forcing him to need Dr. Zimmerman medically and to be vulnerable which lets Dr. Zimmerman be vulnerable in return. By healing the EMH, Dr. Zimmerman reexperiences his failure and breaks through it by grappling with his original failure and recreating him in a sense. He now accepts the EMH as his creation and his prodigy but immediately and predictably tries to change him. This leads to the final confrontation and resolution of their relationship.

Meanwhile appropriately enough on Voyager Janeway and Co. face the threat of the ultimate big daddy in the form of the Federation and star trek voyager life lineAdmiral Hayes looking over their shoulders and threatening to shatter their happy little home. While the EMH has been off in the Alpha Quadrant renewing his family ties, Voyager will soon be forced to renew theirs and it might not be an entirely happy reunion or at the very least much like the EMH’s, it might be a problematic one. Voyager has desperately sought Earth, the Federation and home but soon enough they might get what they wanted and discover that maybe they didn’t really want it after all. in the DQ Voyager has independence, its crew have filled positions and taken on roles they might have trouble carrying on in the Alpha Quadrant. Like the EMH, the Voyager crew have carried an illusory ideal of big daddy and Life-Line suggests that like the EMH in upcoming episodes they may be due for a big disappointment.

All in all a good episode that offers us a nice look at the Federation and its scale against Voyager’s individual journey. After all Dr. Zimmerman can’t even remember Voyager’s name, let alone care about its crew. The Jupiter Station in the opening shot is beautiful and makes you wonder what the Federation might look like in Series V with top of the line special effects. Dr. Zimmerman is a bit too over the top and strikes some false grouchy notes as compared to his Ds9 appearance but Picardo is at the top of his game to the point that his Dr. Zimmerman, a guest star easily dominates everybody including Picardo’s own EMH in every science they’re in. Barclay and Troi are mostly outsiders in this story, supporting characters with practical roles to fill and through their familiarity also help us care about the story though little would change if they were gone. The single Voyager scene emphasizes possible coming frictions with the Federation nicely set against the background of the Doc’s own homecoming troubles. With few lines, Haley nevertheless manages to be an interesting and disturbing presence while the actress suggests depths and complications in her relationship with Doctor Z. that the episode never shows us. In and of itself Life-Line isn’t particularly ground-breaking but it’s a nice story told well which is more than good enough for your average Wednesday Night.

Star Trek Voyager Fury Review

What does God need with a Starship?

It was the question Kirk asked in ST5 and it was one question among many possible and obvious questions Janeway might have asked Kes in Fury but never did. Why does Kes need a starship since when we last saw her she was an energy being on a higher plane of existence. In Fury thought she’s merely a more powerful and demented version of Kes. It’s certainly a strange way to say goodbye to a beloved character, but then nothing about the Kes issue has ever been simple.

Like ST5, Fury has a strange plot with metaphysical twists that makes no real sense and like STV it takes us into the strange hall of mirrors star trek voyager furywhere fictional characters and plot lines meet real world actors and producers. It is inevitable that Fury will not be taken simply as just another Voyager episode but a commentary on Kes and Jennifer Lien the real world actress who plays her and her removal from the show.

From the start the return of Kes clearly boxes the writers into a corner. They had gotten rid of her through the expedient of sending her off to a higher plane of existence and giving her some amazing powers. There was no real plan to have her return because that would have raised the question of why she wouldn’t simply send the crew home and end the show as a result. Clearly there were two choices, to either take away Kes’s powers or to turn her into an antagonist so that the question of her sending Voyager home would never even come.

The obvious choice and the easy choice would be to deprive Kes of her powers and have her stay on Voyager temporarily until she recovers. That would have made for a feel good story in which Kes could have gotten back in touch with Neelix, Tuvok and the Doctor. You can almost see Neelix with the Welcome Back Kes cake and the entire crew hugging each other. There would be a nice moment between 7 of 9 and Kes to diffuse any lingering thoughts in the minds of the viewers on the subject of Lien’s departure and Voyager could have sailed on happily with everyone satisfied. But despite the common accusation that Voyager always makes the easy and obvious choice when telling a story, here Voyager took the most difficult and baffling road.

Instead of a warm homecoming Kes returns as an aged, crazed and violent specter haunting Voyager. She casually employs deceit and violence, betrays Voyager and plots to have everyone killed in a horrific and brutal manner. Unselfish and compulsively caring is the core description for the Kes character and this new version of Kes is completely selfish caring for nobody but herself. In short she seems to have nothing in common with the Kes anyone remembers.

When she wanders Voyager interacting with her former friends and crew mates her mind is clearly elsewhere and we almost see Paris, the EMH and Neelix as she sees them, a tiresome amalgamation of obvious repetitive traits that quickly wear on you. It takes all of her best acting abilities just to pretend that she likes these people and cares. What is disturbing here in not that she hates them which would show at least some emotional engagement but that she simply sees herself as a stranger among them and doesn’t care very much whether they live or die. The closest she comes to responding to them as human beings is her violent outburst when dealing with Neelix’s dinner arrangement.

Voyager’s escape from her plots comes through the form of Tuvok’s vision, premonitions of the future. At first there is a casual slip about the Delta Flyer, scenes of Naomi, 7 of 9 and the Borg and finally he sees the Kes Apocalypse itself in action. The timing is curious. Tuvok served as a kind of mentor to Kes and was passed on to serve that role to 7 of 9. In his vision he sees the unborn future Kes is here to destroy, Naomi, leading him to the image of 7 of 9 Kes’s successor. Tuvok’s premonition really is not only that Kes is here to destroy them all but that in the good version of the future, Voyager will be Kes-free. Aided by Tuvok’s vision and an oddly tech hobbled Kes who seems to be relying on transporters and computers like a more ordinary intruder, Janeway kills Kes who apparently isn’t on enough of a higher plane to survive a phaser set to kill. Above Chakotay freed from the suffocating moralizations of Janeway fights the good fight against the Vidians in a well executed battle scene from longtime James Cameron associate and director of Tinker Tailor, John Bruno. The battle scenes and the Vidians and John Bruno would have been better served by getting their own episode. With Kes dead, Janeway is as usual not satisfied until her opponents admit they’re wrong and so she covers up the entire encounter until Kes’s return with a brilliant plan involving old Kes chiding new Kes for being so nasty and mean. “It was your own choice to leave Ocampa.” old Kes sanctimoniously declares “and it was your own choice to leave Voyager.” (Though the extent to which these were really under her total control is questionable) And of course we can’t help but wonder if the last is really directed at the character or at Jennifer Lien or in some subtle way at the audience.

New Kes having already forgotten all about the time she was drugged and kidnapped by herself and then made a holorecording telling herself star trek voyager furyto get lost (wouldn’t you?) and though she seemed to remember everything else about Voyager instantly repents and realizes she doesn’t want to kill everybody after all. All she needed…well what was it she exactly needed? What was her motivation? She rants something about Voyager deluding her with ideas about exploration which isn’t particularly enlightening. If you have a sweeps episode dedicated to a returning cast member who tries to kill everybody, the least you can ask for is a coherent explanation. Too bad we don’t get that, instead we get the questionable sight of a senile, aged and slightly friendlier Kes flying away on her spaceship to potentially terrorize other life forms and civilizations.

As a means of neutralizing lingering issues about Kes’s departure, this episode was probably the worst possible way to go about it. Jennifer Lien might have enjoyed returning to kill everybody and the scenes of Kes striding around while things blow up all around her look good, but what’s the point? Fury might be seen as a way of acting out the suspicions of some viewers and then resolving them. Kes returns enraged at her abandonment, read firing, and begins to wreak havoc but is dismissed by a younger version of herself who points out that it was her decision to leave in the first place. As a resolution this is more then a little weak. And treating this episode on the level of a normal episode with a plot is completely pointless. So what are we left with? Director Bruno decided he had a comedy and just as in Tinker Tailor he does a great job of directing the EMH’s humorous scenes and Kes’s encounters from her perspective. The opening birthday scene works great as a way of spoofing Voyager’s tense openings and steely exchanges between Janeway and crew and its repetition reminds us of Voyager’s family feeling while the tension sets us up for the encounter with Kes that we know is coming. Lien does a great job as usual even if she has no idea of what she’s doing or why. Even Paris and Neelix have some nice scenes. Continuity is held up here with plenty of neat references and Voyager’s entire history is altered with a snap here. But beyond the gimmick of Wrath of Kes and Return of Kes, there’s no actual episode here just a bunch of scenes strung together which is what Voyager is often accused of being but rarely is.

Tuvok: “I have hallucinated but only under deep meditation.” One wonders if there was any deep meditation involved in the creation of this episode?

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