Saturday, October 24, 2015

Star Trek Voyager (Season 6a)

Season 5bSeason 6b

Episode 1: “Equinox (Part 2)”

We briefly ask ourselves if Janeway is capable of sacrificing her ethics just as her counterpart has—not as he did to save the crew, but rather to punish his betrayal. However, this is Star Trek and our characters don’t have those kind of flaws for long. For that matter, it is Star Fleet so the other captain comes to his senses as well.

Episode 2: “Survival Instinct”

Seven is targeted by other drones whom she at one point kept from escaping the collective. They want her to help them out now that she is no longer Borg and, as if there was any suspense… she does.

Episode 3: “The Barge of the Dead”

An interesting look at Klingon religious beliefs, but also at the whole idea of faith in the materialistic Trek universe. Most people will likely point out that this whole plot just occurs in Torres’ mind. However, it isn’t that simple. At one point she even has a conversation with Chakotay about the plausibility of her experiences. “I accept there are things in the universe that can't be scanned with a tricorder.” That is a great, honest response from a man of science who is also a spiritual man. He then has her address her situation rationally all the while not denying its potential reality. In the end, Torres treats her experiences on the Barge as real, and learns important lessons for her life.

Episode 4: “Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy”

The Doctor begins to experiment with—and lose control to—the concept of day dreaming. Coincidentally a new alien race gains access to Voyager through his interface. Hilarity ensues.

Episode 5: “Alice”

Paris becomes possessed by a ship that can interface directly with the pilot’s brain. This is a cautionary tale about allowing anything any level of control over our minds.

Episode 6: “Riddles”

Tuvok is injured and reduced to functioning at a child’s level. Neelix helps him to cope and to function with his emotions, but when the status quo is inevitably resumed it doesn’t seem to have any impact.

Episode 7: “Dragons Teeth”

The crew form an alliance with a species that has access to special special travel, and that might shorten their trip. However, when the ethics of this species are revealed to be evil, Voyager will not sacrifice their standards for convenience.

Episode 8: “One Small Step”

In another one of those unlikely coincidences, Voyager becomes trapped in a pocket where an early Earth-Mars mission was also trapped. (All the way on the other side of the Galaxy.) There are also several other ships trapped in this space. Trek sometimes feels like a VERY crowded space. There is even mention in this episode about how space is largely empty (by definition) and yet there are so many planets and Warp-capable aliens in the Trek Universe it could never conceivably be our own.

Episode 9: “The Voyager Conspiracy”

Seven of Nine overloads her mind with information and is forced to create stories—conspiracies—to try to connect all the data. This is an interesting look at the nature and mindset of people obsessed with conspiracies. It also shows the only cure: trust. If you lose the ability to see or trust your own understanding of reality, you have to choose to trust someone else who can. And in a universe that overwhelms with its unknowability, one must choose whether to trust the creator or not.

Episode 10: “Pathfinder”

In a departure for the series, we get a story back in the Alpha Quadrant. Barclay is trying to establish communication with Voyager, but everybody seems to think he is relapsing into his Holodeck Addiction. He is, but he also happens to be right. In the end it is hard to decide what this show is trying to say. Addictions are bad and need to be dealt with, but sometimes people need to be trusted more?

Episode 11: “Fair Haven”

This is one of those annoying stories where a character falls in love with a holo-program. In today’s environment it is doubtful it would be looked upon so favorably as it is here. The reality is too close to home. The one interesting commentary this episode makes is when Janeway realizes the danger when she sees it is too easy to simply adjust the program every time she is unhappy.

Episode 12: “Blink of an Eye”

An interesting concept for a story. Voyager gets stuck in orbit around a planet where time flow runs faster than in the rest of the galaxy. Every second of normal time is a day on the planet. We get to see entire civilizations advance in the span of days, and the Doctor gets sent on a mission for a quarter of an hour and ends up experiencing three years of life on the planet.

Episode 13: “Virtuoso”

At this point it is hard to remember that the Doctor is merely a computer program. Because he isn’t. He is a fully fleshed out character and it stretches suspension of disbelief to the breaking point, the amount of emotions, insecurities, and free will that he exhibits in the course of the show. It requires a lack of intelligent thought to truly see his character as a case for artificial personality; or, as an argument that we are merely sophisticated machines. That said, he is one of the most entertaining characters on the show. Just not an algorithm.

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