Archive for January, 2013

Trekathon 636: Endgame, Part 1 (VOY)

January 31st, 2013

Admiral Janeway tries to save Voyager from 16 years in the Delta Quadrant (out of 23).

A great episode with a couple of small missteps. About half the episode is spent in the ‘future’, and other than some dodgy special effects makeup it’s everything that you would want. The ‘present’ Voyager part is also strong, setting up a potentially interesting conflict with the Borg, and showing some real growth in Paris and Kim’s characters.

The main missteps are a silly ‘Paris is panicky father from central casting’ bit towards the start, a bit of a Klingon brick wall 2/3 of the way through the episode, and some George Lucas-level romantic dialogue between Seven and Chakotay.

But really it’s all setup. But it would be nice if Voyager can take a terrible season and at least make a decent fist at a good ending.

636 down, 101 to go.

Trekathon 635: Renaissance Man (VOY)

January 30th, 2013

The Doctor goes rogue to save the Captain.

A few bumpy moments, but overall a clever story that actually makes some good use of the Doctor’s holographic abilities. As lampshaded at the start of the episode, in many ways the Doctor is the most capable crew member, as demonstrated by his successful takeover of the ship. Unfortunately his judgment is still a bit lacking, as demonstrated by his gullibility.

The main weakness of the story is in that gullibility though. It’s one thing to be gullible, quite another to be gullible while people are shouting the truth at you from the sidelines. The Doctor isn’t that stupid, is he? But for me that was made up for by the action sequences in the chase with Tuvok, which make good use of the hologram.

635 down, 102 to go. And just one story (two episodes) to go in Voyager.

Trekathon 634: Homestead (VOY)

January 29th, 2013

Neelix falls in love and leads a revolution.

Even knowing that this is the last season, and only three episodes left after this one, it was a surprise to see an actual ‘series changing’ thing happen. Neelix’s departure is earned here. We get a good review of what he means to the crew, and why he might want to stay. And we see a situation that is realistically more tempting to him than Voyager. It’s nice plotting.

But not nice writing, unfortunately. The conflict between the Talaxians and the miners is painted in such broad strokes that it renders the conclusion obvious. It’s lazy writing, just setting up a simple conflict that doesn’t create any ethical dilemmas. Real people (and, I suspect, real aliens) are a lot more complex than the miners are given credit for here.

(Oh, and another misuse of the Prime Directive. Urk. Plus more evidence that Naomi Wildman’s mother has been completely forgotten).

634 down, 103 to go.

Trekathon 633: Natural Law (VOY)

January 28th, 2013

Tom Paris gets a speeding ticket.

OK, fine, that’s just the idiotic B-plot. Perhaps if the humor it was so obviously played for had worked I wouldn’t have been so annoyed.

The rest of the episode is pretty standard ‘noble savage’ stuff, with Seven of Nine learning another lesson about the ‘value of primitive cultures’. There are some nice portrayals of first contact anthropology, but that’s not enough to sustain the story. The final act, with the previously reasonable aliens turning colonialist, suffered from a bad case of the logic gaps. Maybe the very powerful starship could be allowed to leave before you start surveying your new area.

633 down, 104 to go.

Trekathon 632: Friendship One (VOY)

January 27th, 2013

Voyager gets its second real mission in the course of the show.

Not a bad defence of the Prime Directive, although I think that it’s a bit unfair to really blame Humanity for the planetwide catastrophe that this kicked off. It would be nice if people remembered that there are quite a few non-Humans in the crew. The subtle racism of the Federation is actually growing a bit disturbing at this point.

My biggest problem with the episode is the ‘quick fix’ at the end. It makes the problem less significant if technobabble handwaving can magically cure the planet. It would be a much more interesting dramatic situation to deal with if the problem was irreversible, and Voyager was honestly faced with the choice of delaying the return home to make amends for earlier generations errors. But maybe I’ve just been watching too much Battlestar Galactica.

(The first mission, by the way, was the one at the start where Voyager was hunting down some rogue Maquis. You know, the premise.)

632 down, 105 to go.

Trekathon 631: Author, Author (VOY)

January 26th, 2013

The Doctor writes the great Holo-Novel.

There’s a lot of different plot going on here! First, the Doctor turns out to be a terrible writer, who is lucky that defamation law appears to have been weakened in the future. Second, we have a ‘is the Doctor a person’ legal dispute that harks back to some of the great TNG episodes. And Third, we have a ‘Seven learning to be a person’ subplot that for once isn’t too forced.

I enjoyed everything – the Doctor’s novel is appropriately hamfisted, but still based somewhat in truth. And the legal dispute is quick, but has some satisfying philosophical discussions. It’s all pretty good.

But it could have been great. For instance, why not play the contrast between a hologram who has become a person, but has no rights, with Seven’s still-developing own humanity. Or the crew could have spent more time reacting to their portrayal by the Doctor. Or perhaps we could have seen a bit more of the other EMH’s and their new life (the 30 second coda is unintentionally chilling). Missed opportunities once again.

631 down, 106 to go.

Trekathon 630: Q2 (VOY)

January 25th, 2013

Q’s back, looking for some baby sitting.

Q must be the most unreliable plot device in Trek. Some episodes are great (All Good Things in particular), some are quite bad (Qpid). This episode recapitulates that in microcosm – it veers from good (Q’s final test of his son) to dull (the extended training montage) and the bad (various bits of sulking). With a bit more space Q-Junior could have been an interesting character – but that would have taken multiple episodes, just not possible in this show.

But there isn’t enough Q. The real charm of these episodes is the scenery chewing antics vs Janeway (or Picard), and we spend too much time with Sulky-Q, not nearly enough with real Q. What we do see is just enough to make me wish for a different Q episode to this one.

(I agree with Q-junior: I would have failed Icheb too, but for not keeping to the time limit more than anything else. And I thought turning Engineering into a night club was genuinely pretty funny).

630 down, 107 to go.

Trekathon 629: Human Error (VOY)

January 24th, 2013

Seven tries to learn how to be a real girl.

Or, to put it another way, Seven of Nine does exactly the same thing that Barclay got in so much trouble for (making holographic replicas of crew members). Except this time rather than freaking out, the Doctor encourages her to keep her holodeck program. Seems like a lot of a double standard to me.

There’s a nice callback to a previous episode, and Seven’s developing relationship with holo-Chakotay is nicely done. But it’s fatally undermined by the fact that it’s a hologram, and hence simply does not count. But I loved the piano music, a great change from the usual soundtrack, so I’ll be a little more forgiving than usual.

The B-Plot was pretty underwhelming. Missiles fired at them. And then they stop it.

629 down, 108 to go.

Trekathon 628: Workforce, Part 2 (VOY)

January 23rd, 2013

The Voyager crew stumbles towards rescue.

The idea of using the aliens to drive the action in this half of the episode was a good one. But it’s a decision that makes it more difficult for us to really care about what’s going on, as everyone pretty much gets rescued without having to do very much. Well, Janeway gets to use her ‘skill’ of nearly blowing up the reactor, I suppose. But I enjoyed the alien investigator discovering the vast conspiracy.

But opportunities are missed. We could have learnt something about B’Elanna as she recovered her memory. But instead we just get a recapitulation of a few things about Tom. She does have a life outside her husband, you know. And Janeway’s farewell to her temporary boyfriend was strangely unemotional.

628 down, 109 to go.

Trekathon 627: Workforce (1) (VOY)

January 22nd, 2013

Almost all the crew is kidnapped and brainwashed to work in a factory.

I’m a sucker for ‘in media res’. This episode has a great mysterious start, with Janeway, Seven, Tuvok and Tom all working in a strange alien factory, with a good 10 minutes before any explanations start. The truth, it turns out, is a bit dull – there’s a labor shortage, so someone is going around kidnapping additional workers.

But what do we learn about everyone? Tuvok has no sense of humor. B’Elanna and Tom love each other even when brain wiped. And Janeway no longer in command can relax and live, just a little. That is, nothing.

(I do have to apologise – someone did remember the Emergency Command Hologram after all…)

627 down, 110 to go.