Thursday, April 9, 2015

Star Trek Voyager (Season 2b)

Season 2aSeason 3a

Season 2 continues in strong form, with one complaint: the tendency to try so hard to work with ideas and concepts, that they sacrifice story and logic.

Episode 14 “Alliances” 

Under constant attack from the Kazon, Janeway is pressured to try to form some sort of alliance with a local power. This is not something she wants to do, because it will likely involve several infractions against the Prime Directive. When they begin to look at potential Kazon factions, or sects, they discover another power. A race that used to enslave the Kazon but that seems to have learned (after losing their power over them) the error of their ways. This is a seemingly ideal ally. But you shouldn’t trust just anyone. In fact, even away from home and culture, good ethical standards should inform our circumstances, and not vice versa.

Episode 15 “Threshold” 

In spite of the fact that this episode won an Emmy (for Make-Up), it is not one that was popular. Even in the production staff, there appears to be a lot of detractors. That is likely due to the story, which is one of the more stupid ones in all of Trek. The causality of Paris’ trip related to his transformation is never earned or explained. And the transformation… To claim that it is merely an acceleration of the natural evolutionary process is ludicrous. Even if you believe in the theory, this is not the way it would progress. It is a very ignorant portrayal of the process. Frankly, a thoroughly pop-culture picture of evolution—so, basically what people teach in university.

Episode 16 “Meld” 

In a preachy move, Trek takes on the argument of good and evil, and the appropriateness of extreme punishment. When a cold-blooded killer named Suder is discovered amongst the crew, Tuvok struggles to understand the killer’s lack of motivation, and mind-melds with him. In doing so, he becomes convinced that the death penalty should be exercised. He also loses his control over emotion and adopts some of Suder’s taste for violence. It is an interesting story, though, as both Suder and Tuvok (once he gains insight after the meld) are both arguing for the death penalty. And, for the record, they both turn out to be wrong in doing so.

Episode 17 “Dreadnaught” 

Torres is presented with the challenge of undoing a perfect trap she had prepared against the Cardasians, when her high tech drone turns out to have been swept behind Voyager into the quadrant. Now it is targeting random planets thinking they are Cardasian. It is a bit of an entertaining plot where one is forced to outthink one’s best laid plans. How do you defeat yourself?

Episode 18 “Death Wish” 

A member of the super advanced, god-like, Q Continuum is set free from his prison by Voyager, and he resumes his criminal efforts… to kill himself. This turns into a debate over suicide, is it a right or a crime. In predictable fashion the show sides in favor of suicide, but it does present a strong case against as well. An interesting aside, it presents a dreary picture of eternity. But one is left to counter that maybe eternity is only a threat to those with little imagination?

Episode 19 “Lifesigns” 

In an effort to save a female Vidiian from her advanced phage, the Doctor transfers her brain function into a holographic body. He then proceeds to fall in love with her.

Episode 20 “Investigations” 

Neelix starts a daily news program for the moral of the ship, and uncovers a shocking story. Paris has decided to leave the ship. He has been acting strange over the past several episodes. As it turns out, this is all a ploy to uncover the spy on Voyager (also a story that has been developing).

Episode 21 “Deadlock” 

In a high-concept cheat of an episode, everything goes wrong for the crew including a few important deaths. However, since the ship has been duplicated (through some over-simplistic appeals to quantum physics) we know all will turn out all right. The only surprise is that they have the more devastated version of Voyager be the one that survives.

Episode 22 “Innocence” 

Tuvok tries to save some kids left to die by their society, but (surprise!) it turns out that these aliens age backwards. Even though the episode didn’t set the premise up or justify the reveal, everyone could see this coming.

Episode 23 “The Thaw” 

Voyager encounters a race that had to go into suspended animation while their planet healed. They have overslept their alarm clock, though. It turns out that the virtual reality program designed to keep them entertained while suspended has taken over and is controlled by fear itself. But, when you remember that fear is just a coping/warning mechanism and not a true threat, then fearing fear itself becomes rather silly.

Episode 24 “Tuvix” 

I try to ignore the transporter when watching Trek. It is a deeply flawed concept and presents some truly troubling problems for identity. Occasionally the show recognizes this and highlights it with a story. Here they go one sillier. Tuvok and Neelix are combined into a new being. Fixing the problem is supposed to be a huge ethical crisis, but one can’t get over the utter silliness and scientific impossibilities of the concept enough to care. And don’t even begin to think about the philosophical mess or you’ll stop watching the show altogether.

Episode 25 “Resolutions” 

We jump past what would be a typical Trek story where Janeway and Chakotay are infected with a virus that strands them on a planet, and see instead the aftermath. The ship sails on and our heroes have to find acceptance that their new life will be the two of them alone, isolated, rebuilding a new normal. Of course, we don’t really hold our breath much as we know the show must go on, but it is still a compelling few minutes. Even more interesting is the way the ultimate rescue forces them to let that new normal go just as they were starting to consider it.

Episode 26 “Basics (Part 1)” 

The threat building up all season long finally comes to a head as the crew are defeated and lose their ride home…

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