The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"One Small Step"

by David E. Sluss

21 November 1999

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: While filled to overflowing with just about every Voyager cliche you can think of and some of the worst science ever, the show manages to tell a decent and affecting story.


HOMAGE OF THE WEEK: The typing of the dates at the beginning of the teaser and the first act had me thinking "X-Files rip-off"; the rotten science and inconsistent characterization made me certain of it...

RETROCHARACTERIZATION OF THE WEEK: Longtime readers will know that "retrocharacterization" is my trademarked term for character traits that appear out of the blue, having retroactively always been there without ever being seen. In this case we have Chakotay turning out to be an expert on NASA's Mars missions. There's never been any evidence of this, even when the subject came up in last year's "11:59"; indeed, that episode and others suggest that it is Janeway who would be more likely to be obsessed with retrieving the Ares. And certainly it's more in character for Janeway to endanger Paris' and Seven's lives with this obsession than for Chakotay to do so. Perhaps this was a "Janeway episode" re-written as a "Chakotay episode" in order to get Beltran off the dole? Chakotay as a frustrated paleontologist is plausible, I suppose, except to the extent that most of what he would be studying in the anomaly ("metallic lifeforms" notwithstanding) would not actually be paleontology. Science gaffes on Voyager -- shocking...

POOR CHARACTERIZATION OF THE WEEK: A lot of things seemed off, in addition to the Chakotay problem. The one that really jumped at me was Seven's response when the Captain asked her what she though of the inside of the anomaly: "Well, I suppose it's..." Seven never uses "filler words" like "well!" She speaks very precisely and, yes, efficiently, and would consider filler words to be a waste of time.

SOCIAL PROMOTION OF THE WEEK: Harry calls for senior officers to report to the bridge, and Seven accompanies Chakotay. Seven's not even an officer, much less a senior officer...

Paris: Chakotay's regaining consciousness.
The Cynic: How can you tell the difference?


  1. Voyager just happening to find Yet Another Alpha Quadrant Connection in the Delta Quadrant.
  2. The Ares' computer still functioning with the logs perfectly intact despite 350 years of exposure to "gravimetric radiation" and temperatures below -200 degrees.
  3. The Ares' components being sufficiently similar to the Delta Fryer's that they can be interchanged with only a thirty-second technobabble procedure.
  4. The Delta Fryer just happening to have Seven's curve-hugging spacesuit on board.

CLICHE OF THE WEEK: I'm feeling particularly magnanimous this week, so I'll put this one up for a vote too:

  1. The Space Anomaly
  2. The Other Space Anomaly
  3. The chasing, rather than avoidance, of Space Anomalies
  4. The Shuttle in Jeopardy
  5. The Obsessed Officer (I'm disappointed by the lack of a Moby Dick reference though...)
  6. The Funeral with a Photon Torpedo Tube

OLD GEOGRAPHY OF THE WEEK: After two straight episodes ("Riddles" and "Dragon's Teeth") in which Neelix's home planet was misidentified as "Talaxia," this week it is referred to correctly as Talax. And it only took four -- count 'em -- four scriptwriters to get it right.

POOR SCIENCE OF THE WEEK: The most obvious howler is the handling of the totally gratuitous dark matter asteroid. Voyager's writers obviously grabbed hold of the term from the science column in Teen People or whatever it is they read and made up their own properties for it. There are any number of mistakes, but the big one is that if the dark matter asteroid gave off electromagnetic radiation, it wouldn't be dark matter in the first place! I was more amused by The Doctor inoculating the away team against the perils of "gravimetric radiation." Even gravity is radioactive in the Star Trek universe? That's an iso-load of bullshit, if you ask me...

CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: The references to Buck Bokai and the Kings, mentioned in classic Deep Space Nine episodes like "If Wishes Were Horses" and "Take Me Out To the Holosuite" make one wonder why the writers can remember minutiae like that and not more relevant things like planet names, distance traveled, etc.

Previous: "Dragon's Teeth"
Next: "The Voyager Conspiracy"
NEXT WEEK: The Captain a traitor? I smell an elaborate hoax, followed by a reset to zero.



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This review is copyright 1999 David E. Sluss
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