Archive for December, 2012

Trekathon 605: Good Shepherd (VOY)

December 31st, 2012

Janeway finds out that three of the crew are ‘broken’, and decides to fix them.

So, let’s get this straight. Voyager has a crew of around 160? They’ve been stuck in the Delta quadrant for 6 years? And somehow Janeway is only noticing now (because of Seven of Nine) that three of them aren’t very good? Hasn’t she been keeping up the regular performance appraisals? Sounds to me like someone isn’t doing their job.

Still, it was nice to see that there are those in Starfleet who aren’t a good fit for it. And the episode doesn’t really provide much of a ‘fix’ in terms of their ability to actually perform well, other than a small amount of ability to respond in a crisis. But Janeway’s approach is deeply flawed. The best approach to underperformance is not a high pressure camping trip.

605 down, 132 to go.

Trekathon 604: Child’s Play (VOY)

December 30th, 2012

Voyager finds the parents of one of the Borg children.

This episode puzzled me for most of its duration. Why are we spending so much time on this character who we don’t know? Shouldn’t we have more focus on Seven in this plot? And then at the end I realised – he’s a new member of the crew. It’s been so long since that’s happened (Seven of Nine was the last) that I didn’t even think of it as a possibility. That realisation lifted the episode a few notches in my mind (from ‘bad’ to ‘OK’), as now we were at least learning a little about someone who would be back.

But I’m not a fan of this overall plot arc. Seven has a lot to learn, and I’m not sure that ‘embrace your maternal instincts’ is the best way to prod that plot forward. Still, on the plus side at least the usual backsliding in her character is being avoided a little this time around.

A couple of final asides: The Voyager Science Fair? Someone misses Captain Picard Day. Also: OMG it’s Sterling. He must be bad…

604 down, 133 to go.

Trekathon 603: Ashes to Ashes (VOY)

December 29th, 2012

A Voyager crew member returns from the dead.

So, an alien race that reproduces by reanimating the corpses of other species?

Can I be the first to say – Ick!

Unfortunately, the show doesn’t have the history to make this work. Imagine for a second an alternate Voyager, where some second-tier crew member that Harry had a crush on was seen in several episodes, and then dies in an away mission. Then her return here would have been a big impact, and we could believe that she might stay. That would have been a good episode. But we don’t care about the returned crew member, and so the plot doesn’t work. It’s just another Harry Kim hopeless crush.

(Oh, hey those ex-Borg kiddies are still around. That’s surprising, there isn’t normally that much continuity… Unfortunately, it’s a painful ‘Seven learns to be a parent’ sequence).

603 down, 134 to go.

Trekathon 602: Spirit Folk (VOY)

December 28th, 2012

Back to Fair Haven, as the holograms malfunction.


I really did quite enjoy Fair Haven. But now we head straight into standard Holodeck Malfunction plot A – the holodeck characters become aware the crew are different, and do something about it. It’s predictable and tiresome, and begs the question ‘why don’t they reset things, or at least have proper backups’. What was nice about the prior visit was that an interesting story could be told without the recourse.

The problem is, it’s just not an interesting question. It’s like asking ‘what if the programs inside my computer came alive’ – it was interesting exactly once (Tron), and after that it’s been silly and dull. Simply put, if the holodeck has to malfunction for your plot to work, it’s a stupid plot.

(Quite apart from the fact that, even with the skimpy justifications for the safety protocols, there is simply no reason why the computer running the holodeck should ever allow itself to be damaged physically by a shotgun in the holodeck).

602 down, 135 to go.

Trekathon 601: Collective (VOY)

December 27th, 2012

Voyager discovers a Borg collective made up of children.

Remember Muppet Babies?

I would like to make one thing very clear. Muppet Babies are the only time that you can possibly do that kind of ‘what were they like as children’ show. It only works because they’re so bizarre. Nothing else could possibly work. No, not even Mickey Mouse.

So you can probably guess that ‘Borg Babies’ isn’t going to work. ‘Borg Sullen Teenagers’ is no better either. The acting is dreadful, and the writing is worse. We don’t learn anything in particular about Seven, and the great moral conflict is reduced to the Doctor going ‘look at the cute baby. You don’t want to kill the cute baby do you?’. Luckily enough, Janeway is too smart to fall for that one.

601 down, 136 to go.

Trekathon 600: Tsunkatse (VOY)

December 26th, 2012

Seven of Nine is involuntarily enrolled in Fight Club.

Every now and then there’s a ‘writer obsession’ I just don’t get. A good example was all the lounge numbers in the last season of Deep Space 9. Another very common one is the ‘noble art of boxing’ trope that pops up again and again – for instance, a terrible Battlestar Galactica episode. I just don’t get, and also movies like Million Dollar Baby. As a result, what little this episode could possibly offer is completely lost to me. I just don’t care about the training and learning about how to win the fight.

There was the germ of a good idea here, in terms of Seven fighting to hang on to her new earned humanity. But it’s lost because we’re not told about the stakes of the fight until after everything is resolved, and so all we know of the inner conflict is there and gone in mere seconds.

600 down, 137 to go. Trek notches up its sixth century, just one more to go (the eighth century would, approximately, come around three years into a hypothetical future series).

Trekathon 599: Memorial (VOY)

December 25th, 2012

Returning from an away mission, some of the crew have memories of a massacre they participated in.

Voyager is a very frustrating show. Sometimes it picks up the easiest plots, and puts barely any effort into turning them into shows. And then sometimes it decides to try and dig in to incredibly difficult and touchy terrain. There are some vague similarities to Remember, but that’s more about a long suppressed event being discovered. Here it’s about how we recognise and continue to mark difficult parts of history. It’s not really very far fetched – the idea of any good memorial is to make you relive in some way the events of the time. And they can be incredibly confronting (see the US Holocaust Memorial, for instance, or one of my favourites, the Paris Holocaust Memorial on the Seine).

It would have been better perhaps to spend a bit more time in the final act dilemma, dealing with the issue of repairing the memorial or not, because we spend so much time seeing the ‘memories’ of the different away team members that we never really have a chance to see their full reaction to what’s happened.

599 down, 138 to go.

Trekathon 598: Virtuoso (VOY)

December 24th, 2012

The Doctor becomes a star. Sadly, not the type involving flaming gas and fusion reactions.

Ouch. What a stinker. Not convinced? A few selections from the dialog:

  • “We want to learn more about the algorithmic expressions you call music” (which is pretty much ‘what is this thing you Humans call love” with a funny hat on).

  • “This isn’t sabotage, Seven, this is fan mail.”

  • “What about the simplest equation of them all, one plus one”

Then there were the groupies. With Swedish accents.

One bit I did like: the Doctor’s farewell with Seven, who is just angry about what the Doctor is doing. I know how she feels.

598 down, 139 to go.

Trekathon 597: Blink of an Eye (VOY)

December 23rd, 2012

Voyager orbits a planet where life moves a lot quicker.

Almost pure science fiction, of the Asimov and Clarke type, in a way that works well within the structure of Voyager. While I didn’t check everything with a stopwatch, the time passing on the planet always seemed to make sense, never slowing conveniently for the plot. There’s actually a lot going on here – it’s a story about the development of religion versus science, it’s a story about first contact and fighting against aliens you don’t know, and they even slip in a quick story about one of the crew living a life separate to the ship. (It would’ve been nice if the Doctor had actually had 80 years on the planet, but then the parallels to Inner Light would have been blatant, not subtle).

The one tweak I’d suggest, as a reader of too many James A. Michener novels, would have been to try and create some connection between the different time periods. Michener’s trick is usually to have the same families appearing time and again, and that could have worked here. But given the time constraints (see what I did there) that might have made things a bit too complex to work on screen in one hour.

(I particularly enjoyed the ‘research theologian’ in the first sequence for the natives, who establishes who the new ‘god’ is, and the appropriate sacrifice, in only minutes. You just don’t see that kind of efficiency often in theology).

597 down, 140 to go.

Trekathon 596: Fair Haven (VOY)

December 22nd, 2012

Janeway has her first holo-crush.

I spent most of this episode dreading the inevitable ‘holodeck malfunction’, where the storm makes the character self aware, or they leave the Holodeck, or something like that. But it didn’t happen. Instead this is an adult science fiction show about the implications of holo-technology, and the ethics of having a relationship with someone who isn’t ‘real’. I was surprised, to say the least.

It took a lot of courage to write an episode where, basically, not much happens. There’s a little bit of false jeopardy at the end as they exit the storm, but it’s secondary to what’s really going on in the episode. The core of it is letting us have a glimpse of Janeway in a way that, as the Doctor points out, she’s not allowed to by the rules of command. Good stuff.

596 down, 141 to go.