Thursday, July 2, 2015

Star Trek Voyager (Season 4a)

Season 3bSeason 4b

Season four of Voyager starts out with a lot of plots that feel minor, and the screenwriters seem more interested in pursuing character lines. A relationship is developed between Paris and Torres, for example, but even more times is devoted to the character of Seven. She is the Borg who is relearning to be human, and clearly the focus of the series at this point. There are a couple episodes that revolve around interesting ideas, but also several that flounder a bit.

Episode 1. “Scorpion (Part 2)” 

The idea of a wholly “other” reality is actually a novel idea for a parallel universe story. What is really at stake here is getting the crew through their “bargain with the devil” intact, and trapping Seven on the ship as a new part of the crew.

Episode 2. “The Gift” 

A pretty nebulous plot designed to get Kes off the show while at the same time lessoning the Borg threat going forward. Interestingly, it also puts the ship in a whole new area of space, so the threats and interactions from here on out will be new.

Episode 3. “Day of Honor” 

Not a lot of time is devoted to the interesting aspect of this story: the dangers and trappings of charity.

Episode 4. “Nemesis” 

This is one of the more compelling ideas explored in this season. Propaganda and warfare. How do they work? How does one maintain logic and reality in the face of societal conditioning? Unfortunately, the episode is not that entertaining.

Episode 5. “Revulsion” 

This show is becoming increasingly enamored with the artificial intelligence ideas. Here we get an A.I. that is repulsed by biological beings.

Episode 6. “The Raven” 

Seven’s origin is explored, in a bit of implausibility considering where they are in the Delta Quadrant.

Episode 7. “Scientific Method” 

Here we get an interesting and creepy horror story of sorts. How would we like being lab rats? That aspect isn’t really explored much, though.

Episodes 8,9 “Year of Hell” 

In the end this is just another time travel story that one imagines will not matter (and never occur) in the end. Such a shame to waste good acting and compelling moments in a story that does not matter one bit.

Episode 10. “Random Thoughts” 

An interesting take on freedom and controlling violent tendencies in culture. It successfully addresses the dangers of sacrificing freedom, the way prohibition increases allure, and the quandary that society has controlling base impulses.

Episode 11. “Concerning Flight” 

Trek has done the “hologram-that-has-no-idea-it-is-artificial” story to death, albeit not on this scale. The more interesting idea might have been to have the computer version of Da Vinci travel through time to meet the real one. It is preposterous to think that the artificial one really resembles the historical one in any way.

Episode 12. “Mortal Coil” 

Confronting mortality is tough enough, without having to witness our own demise. Here Neelix faces that challenge and also is confronted with a prospect of no afterlife. This episode contradicts other versions of death in Trek in an effort to propose a scary, existential worldview. Yet even their attempt to say “this is all there is” is unsatisfactory. They propose a secular immortality through the memories of society, since there is a universal instinct that we continue. If this one brief life is all that there is, then ultimately the message Neelix hears is true—there is no point. Secular thought tries to insist on an ethical benefit to Christian-type ideals in spite of no meaning. It is quite a stretch. Death as an end is the boogey-man that secularism does its best to ignore.

Episode 13. “Waking Moments” 

This episode rounds out the first half of season 4 on a high note. An entertaining puzzle to be solved, even if not that philosophically intricate.

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