The Great Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: Season 2 (part 2)

Okay, catch up with Season 1 and Season 2 (pt 1) and then on we go, with fair warning that three of the worst episodes of any Trek live in this half of the season (Resolutions, The Thaw and the mighty Threshold).

Alliances

Hey, you know what I’m really crying out for?  Another Tacotray and Kazon centric episode.  Boy oh boy I miss these ersatz klingons when they’re not on screen as much as I miss having ingrowing toenails.  Yet actually despite this baggage…this wasn’t a half bad episode, with a twist I didn’t totally see coming for once.  In fact a lot of it came down to the simple proposition: wouldn’t things be a hell of a lot easier if we didn’t stick to damned Starfleet protocols all the time?  It even brought to the fore the simmering (and underused) tensions between the Marquis and Starfleet personal, after a massive Kazon attack half wrecked the Voyager and killed Ensign Irrelevant.  Oddly though at his funeral, of the 147…sorry, 146 crew, only the full command crew plus two others turned up.  Guess only the senior ranks get to mourn, while everyone else fixes the ship.

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I know it was you Fredo!

Actually, about that.  The quite exciting opener has the Voyager utterly hammered by the kazon, and any show worth its salt (Battlestar Galactica, for example) would at least let the damage linger for sometime.  If only to show us what hardships and struggles the crew are going through to keep the Voyager flying, for example.  Yet once Ensign Nobody’s corpse has been shot out of the torpedo tubes(*) the ship seems…pretty much totally fixed.  Score another one for the amazing and omnipresent reset-switch.  Anyway the Voyager crew score an alliance (much to Janeway’s distaste) with the Trabe, the race that once enslaved the kazon.  And with a little help from the unwitting Federation almost manage to pull a Joey Zasa on the gathered First Majes.  Net result, the Kazon really, really hate ‘the Federations’ now, and Janeway smugly tells everyone it’s her way of the highway.

Particle beam of the week: Phaser (old school!)

Threshold

Oh grud, there’s no putting it off anymore.  Okay, despite being stuck in the Delta Quadrant with severely limited resources, power and engineering talent, Torres, Paris and Kim build a shuttle that can reach Warp 10 (aka infinite speed).  This means Tom Paris is everywhere in the universe at once.  Yes, even your house.  Having achieved seven impossible things before breakfast Paris hyper-evolves into the future form of the human race, a dumb lizard.  But not before kidnapping Janeway, sexing her hyper-evolved lizard self and spawning three lizardlings(2*).

And since we’re in an episode of miracles, despite only teeny-tiny DNA traces of Janeway and Paris being left behind in their lizard forms, the Doctor sorts them all out with a wave of a hand and single scene change.  And that’s all she wrote, bar a coy post-coital discussion between the captain and her helmsman as to who initiated their frenzied swamp copulation.  ‘In some species it’s the female who initiates the mating’ says Mrs Robinson…sorry, Janeway, as a thousand fanbois scrotums shrivel in fear.

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Janeway and Tom have ridden the Warp 10 hyper-lizard pleasure express

Does Threshold deserve its reputation as one of (possible even THE) worst episodes of Trek?  Yes, yes it does.  Even for Star Trek the logical consitency of a shuttle on a small ship, doing what the massed scientists of the Federation can’t boggles the mind.  And this is BEFORE we get to the lizard transformation (and back).  It is however far more watchable, like a B-movie knowing the horror that we are about to witness, and laugh at the asinine plotting.  Which is more than I can say for If Wishes Were Horses and Sub Rosa which remain god-damned unwatchable as well as being bloody awful stories.  Fingers crossed I’ve now crossed the bottom threshold (hah) of Voyager’s stories and everything from this point on will at least be marginally better.

Particle beam of the week: Radiometric therapy

Meld

Another episode I’ve seen before, and unlike the preceding one not a bad little tale at all. Like Dwight Schultz’s guest appearance enlivened last season’s Projections, this time we get Brad Dourif turning in a fabulously coldly sociopathic/psychopathic turn as Crewman Suder.  The murder mystery is soon done with(3*), as Suder admits he did it because the other guy looked sideways at him.  Ouch.  After Tuvok performs a highly questionable mind meld, it’s time for the psychodrama as the resident cool Vulcan starts to come unglued.  I was impressed as Tuvok attempts to deal with the boiling desire to kill by replicating Mr Neelix on the holodeck and strangling him to death.  Finally, someone on the show is willing to give the viewing audience the scene we’ve always wanted – perhaps we could see this each week as Tuvok goes through his ongoing therapy?

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“Hey Mr Vulcan, put on a happy smilaaaargh”

As character studies go, this wasn’t a bad one.  It was also a fun little investigation into the abilities of Vulcans to repress their emotions.  I assume lots of them use the holodeck trick to murder in simulacrum those who annoy them.  Or at least I’m going to assume they do.  I suspect, given this IS Voyager that Mr Tuvok’s PTSD from this whole experience is going to go unreferenced after this point.  Sigh, shame, as again it would enrich the character who appears to have a ramrod up his arse.  Although, I do recall that we’ve not seen the last of Mr Suder…

Oh and there’s some crap subplot about Paris running a replicator ration gambling ring in Sandrine’s.  Couldn’t give too hoots about it, although it’s good to see the former lizard transwarp genius pioneer is back to being good old untrustworthy Tom again.  Almost like the previous episode never happened.  Perhaps I did dream Threshold after all!

Particle beam of the week: Radiogenic particle emissions

Dreadnought

Oh right, the other episode this season where Torres rescues a broken killing machine from deep space and fixes it right up.  That went so well last time, I could only assume this one will be a zinger too.  And it turned out, actually, that I rather enjoyed it, possibly at least in part because Torres is one of the characters that I quite like.  I wasn’t overly convinced by the rationale for the Cardassian missile being in the Delta Quadrant, as it’s feeling mighty Deus Ex Machina that “It was the Caretaker” is coming out as the excuse for pretty much every Alpha Quadrant object they come across.  Still, it’s a solid enough episode all in all, even if it’s not one that I’ll be rushing back to watch again.

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Like the episode, Dreadnought the missile is okay looking, just not that thrilling

In the background Tom Paris continues his descent into the ship’s resident bad boy, and that sneaky crewman Jonas continues to sell out the Voyager to the wannabe-Klingons.  It’s almost like Voyager is dipping its toe into serialised rather than episodic fiction!  W00t.

Particle beam of the week: Thoron Shock Emissions (ouch!)

Death Wish

Oh my lord, a genuinely great episode of Voyager that I totally enjoyed.  And all it took was Q (and Q2) to come to the Delta Quadrant.  This one has everything – totally over the top Q powers (“Let’s hide in the big bang!  No wait, as a Christmas ornament!“), a trial and a Will Riker cameo.  it also contains, after “Take that cheese to sickbay” my single favourite Voyager quote, and appropriately it’s from Q upon meeting the dreary Mr Tacotray

Facial art. Ooh, how very wilderness of you.

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“Just think. We could leave Neelix here, and no one would ever find him”

Q, I have really missed you and am looking forward to your future Voyager appearances already.  I’m also impressed after bantering with Picard, getting punched by Sisko, that you decide to try and seduce Janeway.  Way to go man, and not at all coming across as a potential cosmic super-rapist.  Anyway, after the trial has Q2 allowed to become mortal he goes through with his plan to top himself (with the aid of Q) so as to shake the Q Continuum up a bit.  Which, considering how moribund they appear to be when we visit them during the trial, can only be a good thing.  So cracking dialogue, some great Qing and a downbeat ending, this episode went to show that Voyager can be, when it tries, a really enjoyable slice of Trek.  More like this please.

Particle beam of the week: Primordial baryonic particles (BANG)

Life Signs

The tl;dr version: the Doctor has a love affair with a hologram.  The longer version, the Doctor essentially cures death, by transferring the neuroelectric brain impulses of a dying Vidiian female (Pel) into a holographic body.  Nice to see all the sick-bay holoemitters can easily sustain two holograms at once, which makes me wonder why they don’t have two EMHs running around there normally.  The rest of the episode, is pretty much vanilla Star Trek – a non-human (the Doctor) learns about this Earth thing called love, while the non-hideous Pel hologram remorseless runs down the line “You only love me because my face is rotting off in this body!“.  Actually, that latter bit is true because Pel looks as terrible as all the other Vidiians.

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“And if we use the dermal regenerator…oh, sorry, your nose just rotted off”

Anyway, aside from this yawnsome romance plot the only other highlights are the ongoing Skype between Marqui traitor Jonas and the Kazon, and Tom Parris pushing Mr Tacotray over on the bridge. Bad Tom, off to the brig with you to think about what you’ve done (aka Well done Tom, please do it again – falling on his arse is the most interesting thing Tacotray’s done all season).

Particle beam of the week: Neuroelectic impulses (I think)

Investigations

My irritation with Neelix reaches new levels of annoyance as we kick off this episode with the first appearance of A Briefing with Neelix.  I remembered this from the first time around, and if anything it possesses even more smug-faced gittery than I recalled.  Anyway, finally the grumpy Tom Paris storyline comes to a head as he leaves the Voyager to (spoiler alert) go undercover with the Kazon…although his spy craft seems limited to hacking their computers the second Seska and they leave the room.  Never heard of surveillance cameras Tom?  Hence, shockingly he’s rapidly found out and has to leg it back to Voyager with the name of the crewman who’s been supplying the Kazon with titbits of information over the past few weeks – Micheal Judas!  Sorry, I mean Jonas.  At least this bit of the story lets Tom do a spot of Kirkery action.

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Do it quickly, Jonas! It’s not like anyone will miss him

Meanwhile, the A storyline sees Neelix tracking down the spy on Voyager due to his hitherto unmentioned and rather basis journalistic ethics.  After stumbling across (planted) evidence that it’s Tom, the Captain has to explain her cunning spy plot.  Hilariously no-one told Mr Tacotray, so his sour reactions to Tom’s incompetence, poor time keeping and mild pushing would look natural.  He looks so genuinely pissed off when he finds out that I couldn’t help but giggle.  Now Neelix knows what’s really going on, his investigations out the spy and punt him into an unexpectedly conveniently open plasma relay.  PUFF!(4*)  There goes Jonas, well murdered Neelix.  Although to be fair, Jonas almost managed to murder everyone’s least favourite Talaxian earlier in the episode.  Close, but not cigar mate!

Particle beam of the week: Energised Warp Plasma (leaking)

Deadlock

With Tom back on board, looking well groomed and with ready access to a watch, the Voyager flies into a magic space cloud so as to avoid a hoard of rampaging Vidiians.  And like every mysterious space cloud we’ve ever seen in Star Trek’s many incarnations, this proceeds to basically fuck everyone’s lives up by duplicating the ship.  Before long Harry Kim’s dead (again), which is a bit rich as for the past half a dozen episodes or so he’s had bugger all lines or anything much to do.  Even in this episode, his only moments of glory are falling out into space (boom!) and then his quantum duplicate agonising over existential questions with a smugly grinning Janeway (who handwaves all his worries away as the credits need to roll).

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Go on, snog her!

In a plot slightly reminiscent of Red Dwarf: Demons and Angels, the two Voyagers end up working together to defeat both their mutual entanglement, and then a sudden cluster-fuck of Vidiians.  Actually, despite Harry Kim pratting himself to death, this is a half-decent and enjoyable episode.  The highlight of the episode – two Kathryn Janeways argue the finer points of who’s going to blow up their ship first.  I was amused that one of the Janeways appeared to be sporting the exactly same facial cut that Kate Mulgrew wears as Red in Orange is the New Black.  Anyway while dupli-Harry and a dupli-baby Naomi Wildman pop across to the non-explodey Voyager, we get to witness the massacre and organ extraction of most of the key cast members.  Well done you organ vampires, that was particularly unpleasant – especially as you all got blown up shortly afterwards.

Particle beam of the week: Proton beams

Innocence

is this our second shuttle crash this season as the plot setup?  This time it’s Tuvok and Ensign DOA, rather than Paris and Neelix.  But don’t worry, because there’s a load of kids there to keep him company during his journey of self discovery.  As things turn out, they’re not young, cute kids sent here to be eaten by a terrible unseen gribbly, but old, dementia riddled eldsters sent here to die a dignified death.  At the hands of a terrible unseen gribbly.

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Don’t worry – you’ll all be dead soon

I’m not sure if that makes it any better actually.  Anyway, Janeway and crew spent most of the episode dealing with the slightly odd Benjamin Button-race elders (youngsters) who have about eleventy-million taboos that the Voyager team keep breaking.  Eventually Janeway forces the issue, and we find out the truth about this backward aging race.  I guess this was supposed to give us insight into Tuvok the father, rather than the officer but frankly I’d rather watch Tom Paris turn into a lizard again, than endure a repeat viewing of this one.

Particle beam of the week: Atmospheric Electrodynamic turbulence (so…lightning?)

The Thaw

When I say the highlight of this episode is in the opening (Harry Kim playing his clarinet) then you know you’re in for an utter stinker.  Although, we do at least learn that the walls on Voyager are paper thin and not sound proofed, as Harry’s neighbours keep banging on the wall and pleading with him to knock off that awful din.  No wonder the ship nearly flies apart every time it gets shot – it’s made from balsa wood!

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Suddenly DS9 If Wishes Were Horses doesn’t look half so shite

Anyway, the plot revolves around the frozen members of a dead race who’ve been locked into a version of the Matrix that appears to have been ripped off from Patrick Trougthan’s Doctor Who.  Honestly, i thought I was watching the Mind Robber.  There’s a creepy clown (played by an utterly wasted Michael McKean) inside this simulated world, who doesn’t want anyone to leave because he’ll cease to exist.  So he keeps executing people to give them heart attacks in the real world.  Yeah, he’s not the most-compiled programme in the mainframe.  There’s a whole load of negotiating between the Doctor, Janeway and the Clown, and finally some subterfuge as the survivors are removed from the system under the latter’s red nose.   And then we fade out the spotlight as the Clown ceases to exist.  Probably the best bit of the episode, as the rest is utter dreck.  Also…did the Voyager crew just dump the survivors on their dead world?  Seems like a bag of arse if they did!

Particle beam of the week: Nothing. It was all a dream…

Tuvix

Fuck me.  Even Sisko would call this stone cold, and he once conspired, lied and murdered his way through the greatest episode of Trek there is.  Janeway executes Tuvix.  That’s the denouement of this tale, and I may never look at her the same way again.

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Her blood runs deep and cold

Okay, the rest of the episode is the usual Voyager daft, Neelix and Mr Tuvok are merged into a new being, thanks to the transporter and a magic space orchid.  No really, a flower.  Anyway, cue lots of scenes wherein the new being is not just the sum of his parts, he’s better than them.  He can cook better than Neelix, and he’s a better tactical officer than Tuvok.   Does this matter?  No, because Janeway (and Kes) decide they need their original crewmen and lover (5*) back.  Needs of the many (or the two) over the one then it is.  Good for the Doctor who refuses under the ‘do no harm’ stipulation in his programming.  And so there we are, in violation of Starfleet’s charter to “seek out new life”, Janeway uses the medical transporter to de-fuse the two merged beings and marches out of sickbay, a momentary look of doubt her only stoney-faced lapse.

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Half Vulcan, half Talaxian…and a costuming nightmare

Typical Voyager cop out here, as I would have liked to hear Neelix and Tuvok’s reactions to the death of a sentient being just so they could come back.  But no, as per normal, let’s sweep any complex questions and emotional impacts under the carpet.  Random thought: Does Tuvix only wear the one uniform for all the weeks he’s aboard?  As it never changes from its freaky merged looking one throughout.

Particle beam of the week: Deeply confused transporter particle stream

Resolutions

I didn’t think it was possible but I think I’ve found an episode worse than Threshold.  Yeah, I know.  Janeway and Tacotray get abandoned on a planet to fare for themselves after getting bitten by a mysterious incurable bug, that only the local environment can stave off.  Cue much wilderness adventures, a monkey and Tacotray actually admitting that one of his classic “My people have a legend…” stories is a load of bullshit designed primarily to get Janeway into his log-cabin.  Yes people, there is a long, drawn-out moment of sexual tension between Janeway and her Number One afterwhich it is strongly…and I can’t underscore this enough…strongly implied that the pair of them make the shuttle-bay with two docking struts.

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Oh gawd Kathy, no. Don’t do it!  He’s history’s greatest monster.

If that’s not enough we’re also forced to witness Janeway taking a bath (!) and another of Tacotray’s vision quests.  One was to many back in Tattoo, now they’re just taking the piss.

The B-story, such as it is, revolves around acting-Captain Tuvok agonising over ignoring Janeway’s last command, and searching out the Vidiians for a cure for the Captain.  Which in the end he does, they double cross him, but the Doctor’s old rotting-face squeeze sneaks the cure across and all’s well.  That is aside from the most awkward moment ever when Tacotray and the Captain return to the bridge and have to basically forget they shagged like wild animals in heat.  Luckily, this is Voyager so the big ol’reset switch means that by next week (just like Tasha and Data) never happened.  Tom Paris and now Tacotray, Janeway’s slowly turning into Kirk…Harry Kim better watch out, Captain Robinson might be knocking at his door next!

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Now in total denial

Particle beam of the week: Atmospheric Electrodynamic turbulence (so…lightning?)

Basics (Pt1)

I gotta confess to half enjoying this one – at least when we got to the showdown between the Kazon and the Voyager, finally some starship shooty action.  The basic plot sadly revolves around the Seska/Tacotray/Baby thing, with Voyager being led into a trap, that’s not a trap, while rescuing a Kazon warrior who’s actually the trap thanks to his explosive blood and amazing syringe hiding toenail.  Go watch it if you don’t believe me, 30mins in – how the hell does he pull something that long and thick out of tiny toe nail?

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That’s one hell of a splinter

Anyway, yah-boo-sucks to the Voyager crew as the Kazon capture the ship and rather than spacing the lot of them, dump them on a planet that’s a tad volcanic and inhabited by lizard men.  Luckily the (slightly less) murdery Mr Suder and the Doctor manage to stow away on the ship, and Tom Paris might just have escaped in a shuttle too, so I’m expecting some real Die Hard action in Pt2.

Come to think of it…where’s Naomi Wildman?  She wasn’t on the planet, so maybe there’s four people who can save the day.  Shame one’s a baby.  Oh and Kes’ amazing psychic powers which would have been totally useful in defending the ship are instantly forgotten about.  Nevermind, this was actually a half-decent season finalé (better than Learning Curve by a country light-year), and the bit where they accidentally project the Doctor into space cracked me up.

Particle beam of the week: Externalised holoemitters

And that’s it for season 2, and what have we learned?  That Janeway will sleep with or execute anyone, that Harry Kim barely gets any screentime for half the season and there has been far, far too much Tacotray/Kazon-centric plot.  Thank the maker after Basics Pt2, the Kazon are pretty much done with. Oh, and of course, if you want a cracking, funny yet intelligent episode – call Q.

Now having watched this season Janeway, Paris and Harry have gone up in my estimation, Neelix, Kes and Tacotray remain on my shit-list.  The rest…meh.  Think I might take a Luke Cake shaped break now before cracking on with S3.  See you on the Delta Flyer, y’all.

*To the traditional bagpipe version of Amazing Grace I assume
2*Who are cruelly left behind by Tuvok, who assumes a random planet in the middle of nowhere is the best place to leave the spawn of his commanding officer.
3*145 crew and counting
4*144 crew and counting
5*I’m assuming Neelix and Kes are intimate.  It’s sorta implied, but not very heavily.  I try not to think too much about it, as I ran out of fresh bed sheets last time *shudders*