First off, my apologies for posting this on Friday and not Thursday. I had stuff on Wednesday night and had to tape Star Trek: Voyager.
Every now and then we get to see glimpses of why the opening credits mention “Based on ‘Star Trek’ created by Gene Roddenberry.”
Tonight was one of those glimpses. Gene’s ground-breaking premise, a starship crew (and a federation) made up of, not only, different races, but different species. And they could overcome anything one episode at a time.
Jump forward a hundred years (Star Trek time that is) and we find the poor hapless U.S.S. Voyager, billions of miles from home. Can the Federation’s high-minded ideals and philosophies work when you don’t have the firepower to back up your morality?
In standard Voyager heavy-handedness, it does. Preachy, but still ‘Star Trek’ down to the warp core.
[Click ‘Read More’ for full review]
Our episode begins with a quiet evening dinner with the good captain, first officer “We’re venting plasma” Chakotay, and the newlyweds Paris and Torres. Neelix is serving their third course from master chef Seven of Nine. That’s right, Seven’s in the kitchen, apron and all. Several witty barbs are traded, my favorite being:
Tom Paris: Can anyone pass the salt?
Seven of Nine: The food was prepared to exacting standards. If you need something else I could replicate something more suitable to your palette. Perhaps a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich?
Tom Paris: My mistake, it's fine just the way it is.
If you’re a chef (even an amateur one) you’ll get the humor.
Meanwhile, Tuvok has managed to stear Voyager into a gravaton surge. Those crazy vulcans, always looking for excitement. The surge turns out to be funnels that pull matter in, but never let it out. Thus we have Voyager stuck in “The Void.” Before you can say “Hailing frequencies open.” Voyager is attacked by one of the roving bands of marauders that are also trapped in the void. Voyager pushes the attack off, but not before having most of its fuel and food swiped. They are next approached by Valen. He proposes a trade. Tactical information for a few of Voyager‘s photon torpedoes. Janeway, of course, refuses stating they don’t trade weapons. Valen cautions Janeway, reasoning that morality won’t feed a hungry crew.
Chakotay and Tuvok confront the captain in her ready room, suggesting that Valen may be right and that they can’t afford high-minded ideals when they are running low of food. Problem with this scene, I buy Chakotay’s view, in fact the first officer should be a moral foil for the captain, it makes for good television. Unfortunately it’s reduced to a few paltry lines. Where’s the passion, the dialog? I’m begining to think that the writers secretly can’t stand Rober Beltran, but are too lazy to just kill his character off. And why is a vulcan arguing for the ‘logic’ of predatory practices? Anyway, the captain has an idea. An alliance of ships to get out of the void.
Meanwhile, Voyager has managed to retrieve some of fuel and burnt out warp core. Within the core is hiding a mute, but intelligent new species. Fantome, so named by the doctor after the Phantom of the Opera, is placed into sick bay to treat his wounds. His species can reflect their own life-signs and live in nearly non-existent life support. Seven discovers that he can communicate with them via tones on a PADD.
Janeway has some luck with an alliance, recruiting a few ships by sharing what little they have and enhancing their technology to make more supplies. One of their newest recruits, a species with no love for Fantome’s race, agrees to the alliance on the condition that they beam out all of Fantome’s brethren. Janeway agrees and houses the new species in sick bay (all four of them that is). Meanwhile the newest addition gives a piece of critical technology. Problem solved? Not really, they killed an entire crew to steal the device. Janeway banishes the thieves and the device with them. Better to die with a clean conscience, than live with a troubled one.
With a last minute push, and some help from Fantome and his compatriots, Voyager and the alliance escape the void. Shortly thereafter they part company and head for their respective homes.
Overall it was a good episode, if a bit juvenille in its writing. At its heart we see Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future. The Federation (or even a micro version of it) works. The fact that we can all “work well and play with others” to succeed makes good sense. Perhaps if they spent more time wrestling with the moral issues and less time with the soap-box preaching it would have made for just a little better television.
My score: 3 out of 5
Oh and kids, the next time your mom makes liver and onions, don’t ask for a PB&J. Especially if your mom looks like Seven of Nine. Strike that, if your mom looks like Seven, invite me over for dinner. I’ll eat liver and onions. Gladly.