Wow, hi. I’ve spent the past week sick, which meant no exercise, which meant no Star Trek. Also, no writing in general, really. I was so beaten down I couldn’t concentrate on word-making for a while, so I’m only now writing about the two episodes I watched before I was struck down… as well as the one I watched today in my tentative return to physical fitness.
The episode before this reminded us that the Malon exist — you know, those industrial jerks who dump their radiation in other people’s space. And here they are, causing problems. The premise of this episode takes, uh, some liberties with science: A Malon waste courier barrels out of control and threatens to explode, which is fine, but somehow the ship’s explosion will wipe out everything within a radius of three light years!? That seems, uh, excessive. The solution the crew seizes on involves steering the ship into a star where it will incinerate, but I kind of feel like any sort of volatile materials that can nuke things three light years away is probably going to do bad things to some puny star. I dunno.
The central character for this episode: B’elanna Torres, who continues her struggle to keep her perpetual anger in check. And she saves the day in the end by… keeping her anger in check for a few seconds before clobbering a dude. Sure.
I did enjoy the set design in this episode. The abandoned, out-of-control Malon vessel looks hot, oppressive, and deadly. The toxic zombie POV shots don’t quite work, but this might be the closest I’ve ever seen Star Trek get to something like Alien. The episode didn’t quite land, but it had its moments.
“Someone to Watch Over Me”
I’ve mentioned a few times that Voyager bugs me when it introduces big shifts to or developments in the status quo out of nowhere. Premises that work in some other Trek franchises don’t quite click here, and I think it’s because Voyager flirts with a sort of ongoing continuity but doesn’t entirely commit. There’s more episode-to-episode progression for characters and the general storyline than in The Next Generation, but Voyager doesn’t go all-in the way Deep Space Nine and the later seasons of Enterprise did.
I mention this because “Someone to Watch Over Me” really highlights my irritation with this tendency. The central plot impetus — Seven of Nine continues her quest to reclaim her human heritage, i.e. emotions — is something that’s been building for a while, but the storyline here — the Doctor suddenly becoming moonstruck by Seven — would have worked a lot better if it had happened over the course of a few episodes rather than landing out of the blue.
If you can get past that problem, though, this is a pleasantly melancholy episode. It’s nice to see Seven actress Jerri Ryan allowed to expand her range of emotions beyond “perturbed stoicism” without having to go crazy with it, and you can’t help but feel for the Doctor as he struggles (and fails) to navigate the tricky line between “coworker” and “romantic candidate.” But it feels like such a significant development in the two characters’ relationship — even one that goes nowhere — deserves a little more room to breathe than it gets here in this single episode.
Uh, well… this was a weird one with which to come back into the series after a week off. The bulk of this episode takes place in the year 2000 and doesn’t involve the crew of Voyager; it’s about Janeway’s many-times-great-grandmother Shannon O’Donnel (played by Kate Mulgrew even though the dialogue makes a specific point of mentioning that Janeway barely has any of O’Donnel’s DNA). It’s a strange episode. The final scene is very sweet and shows how close the command crew has become, but the flashback parts… I dunno.
One thing that makes it weird is that Janeway has gone her whole life believing O’Donnel was a NASA astronaut who fought against the tide of popular resistance to help establish one of humanity’s great architectural works, a tower in Indiana built to celebrate the new millennium. Over the course of the episode, we (and Janeway) learn that O’Donnel washed out of the space program, found herself adrift and homeless, and actually pushed in favor of public sentiment concerning the construction of the millennial tower against the one holdout against it. It’s one of those “evil developers try to buy up a beloved town to knock it down and put up something new” plots, except the developers bought everyone out well over market value and only one person is opposed to the idea. His resistance threatens to undermine the entire venture.
And that’s the other thing that makes this episode weird: That man — who turns out to Henry Janeway, Janeway’s many-times-great-grandfather — is played by Kevin Tighe, better known as Anthony Cooper, John Locke’s horrible father in Lost. That role loomed over my viewing of this episode, so I kept expecting him to do something slimy and cruel. Which of course he didn’t, because this was a different show. His part in Lost just, you know, left an impression.
I don’t know. The flashbacks lacked any sort of tension, since there was never a question that the guy named Janeway would end up getting together with Janeway’s great-etc.-grandmother, and the Voyager crew mentioned the millennial monument, so that was clearly going to be built. All this episode really accomplished was to dismantle the captain’s admiration for her ancestor, the one whose misrepresented feats inspired Janeway to join Starfleet. Again: A weird episode.