Monday, May 11, 2015

Star Trek Voyager (Season 3a)

Season 2bSeason 3b

I am used to Trek shows (outside of TOS) requiring 3 seasons to really hit their stride. TNG and DS9 both became really good at the end of the third. Voyager got surprisingly good in the second season, so I came into this one with higher hopes… than I should have. This season starts out pretty weak and with some forced plot ideas.

Episode 1 “Basics (Part 2)”

We get the fully expected resolution to the cliff-hanger. And we knew that Lon Sudor would redeem himself. What we didn’t know we would be getting was the first-grade level lesson on getting along with the primitive natives on the planet surface.

Episode 2 “Flashback”

What if there were a virus that fed off of memories and strong emotions? What if it hid inside the brain disguised as a memory? That might be a really cool idea, but unfortunately not in this case. Instead we get to pay tribute to the original cast, just not in the incredibly cool way that Deep Space Nine would two months later in “Trouble with Tribbles.”

Episode 3 “The Chute”

Kim and Paris are trapped in a prison hell-hole and we have a hard time caring while we are waiting for the inevitable rescue that we all see coming.

Episode 4 “The Swarm”

An always potentially interesting look at lifeforms on a scale of starships in space turns out less than compelling. That is likely because we are more interested in the Doctor’s latest crisis. He is losing his memories because he was never intended to be a person. He is a computer, a tool. Fortunately, another program with just as much potential is willing to sacrifice himself (because he knows he is just a tool) and our Doctor will never have this problem again.

Episode 5 “False Profits”

Lest we forget, seven years prior to this episode’s airing, Trek had already sent a ship into the delta quadrant. Voyager encounters them, of course, since the vast size of the Galaxy does not make this coincidence unbelievable. And, since we are only a little over two years into the series, they still didn’t get to make their way home. Anybody surprised?

Episode 6 “Remember”

In an especially forced plot, Torres is force fed the memories of an alien traveling on Voyager. (They are a ferry now?) The whole “violation” is an effort to expose a holocaust. We know, of course, that we should care because… holocaust, but the episode fails to make a compelling argument as to why it matters to anyone in the story. Other than, you know, holocaust. It feels intellectually lazy.

Episode 7 “Sacred Ground”

This episode caused concern due to its lack of action. Would the audience care? And, though it is a slower episode, it has some fascinating ideas. The basic struggle of the story is Janeway’s attempt to figure out the religious ritual and challenge from a scientific, materialistic perspective. She basically creates a religious ritual purely based on her preconceptions and expectations of religion. In the end, she learns that some truth is only knowable through faith.

Episodes 8&9 “Future’s End”

In an obvious nod to “Star Trek IV,” the ship is sent back to (at the time) contemporary Earth. Welcome to the Nineties! Other than the fun of seeing Trek intersect with our world, and the general comedic effect that entails, there is not much more here. Time Travel stories almost always end up being a cheat. This one is even more so, as it involves a storyline where the 29th Century is behind the plot. And, to make matters worse, the 29th Century is mistaken in becoming involved in the paradox that is the “story.”

Episode 10 “Warlord”

Kes is taken over by the mind or life-force of an evil warlord who has inhabited various bodies to prolong his life and political career. This affords the actress a chance to chew the scenery, but there is surprisingly little analysis of the dictatorship.

Episode 11 “The Q and the Grey”

In a bit of a stretch for a Q episode, the Q Continuum is embroiled in a civil war of sorts, as a result of the earlier suicide. (See the last episode involving Q.) Q has decided that a Q child is needed to help them overcome their differences, and he has also decided that Janeway will be the perfect mate. Once the story actually attempts to show action in the other dimensional continuum, things fall apart and into a “Gone with the Wind” parody.

Episode 12 “Macrocosm”

Ultimately this is the inevitable Die Hard Trope that all action shows seem to eventually attempt. Add to that the interesting, but underdeveloped, idea of a virus on a human-sized scale, and you get a bit of “Alien” to boot. Fun stuff.

Episode 13 “Fair Trade”

Neelix gets a wonderful character study of an episode as he sees his usefulness on the ship running out. As he struggles to buy himself more relational capitol, he digs himself ever deeper into a moral quandary. The story even has Paris tell him his problem directly (that mistakes are only compounded through dishonesty) but Neelix has to really learn through mistakes.

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