The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Good Shepherd"

by David E. Sluss

18 March 2000

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: A fair episode, but one that seems to just stop rather than end.


RECYCLING OF THE WEEK: "Lower Decks." 'Nuff said.

BUDGET BUSTING OF THE WEEK: They picked this episode to blow this year's F/X budget on? Seriously, the number of new shots in this episode, of Voyager, the Delta Fryer, stars, planets, aliens, etc. is incredible. And while I admit that the results look very nice, I do think the symbolism in the teaser (top of the ship, bottom of the ship) was played way too obviously.

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: Janeway waxes poetic in her log about all of the "tantalizing anomalies" in the cluster. It just never occurs to these people after being nearly destroyed by dozens of anomalies over the years that when they actually manage to detect one from afar, they should just stay away.

POOR PLANNING OF THE WEEK: The "good shepherd" got exactly what she deserved, frankly. Taking three greenhorns and no experienced crew on an away mission to a place known to have spatial anomalies seems like incredibly poor judgment. Janeway didn't really have to take them all on the same away mission, did she?

FOOD FOR THOUGHT OF THE WEEK: The story of Voyager's three worst crew members brought several thoughts to mind. First, how could Paris, Kim, and Chakotay have been overlooked in this contest? Second, all three of the misfits were Starfleet; none were Maquis. Obviously that hasn't has mattered much since about Day Two, but it's interesting that the Maquis refugees fared better than these three, albeit largely invisibly. Third, whatever happened to the four or five scrubs grudgingly made part of the crew in "Equinox, Part II?" Think they've been on a lot of away missions lately?

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK: The three misfits were actually well-played for the most part, unusual for a series that often seems to get some of the worst actors in Hollywood as guest stars. The performances are especially noteworthy given the rather two-dimensional characters the actors were given to work with: the Neurotic, the Screw-up, and the Brainiac. I actually wouldn't mind seeing these characters again, particularly since they didn't get much closure here; a flash of light, and they're peacefully asleep in sickbay while Janeway pontificates about how she successfully rescued them. Thanks, but I'd like to judge that for myself...

NEW PHYSICS OF THE WEEK: We were treated to more scientific hoohah regarding dark matter this week. While deuterium seems to have been mercifully abandoned as a plot device this year, it seems to have been replaced by dark matter as a real world substance being woefully misused by Voyager's writers, who also used it in the form of a "dark matter asteroid" in "One Small Step." Of course, dark matter isn't really a bizarro, dangerous substance (unlike whatever the science adviser is taking); it's just matter that is difficult to observe. But bizarro is the order of the day this week, and so we have dark matter critters attracted to antimatter, kidnapping and inhabiting people, and tearing off deck plates. And even within Voyager's increasingly fictional universe dark matter isn't treated consistently. In "One Small Step," the dark matter was attracted to electromagnetic energy, but not, apparently, to antimatter, since Voyager didn't seem affected by it in that episode. But here we have talk of dark matter comets being lured by antimatter. Whatever...

NEW ENGINEERING OF THE WEEK: That escape pod seemed to be way out of scale for the apparent size of the Delta Fryer, especially considering that there were more than one on board. I guess even when Paris, Kim, and Chakotay aren't running the Fryer, it's still a clown car...

NEW ENGINEERING OF THE WEEK RUNNERUP: For the first time, I think, on Voyager, we've seen crewman having to bunk together, with at least two other people in Billy and Seles' quarters. But Voyager has 15 decks and only 150-some people and a hell of a lot of windows, shown strikingly in all of the new beauty passes of Voyager this week. It seems like there ought to be enough room on the ship for everyone to have a bit more privacy.

INEFFICIENCY OF THE WEEK: With all of Seven's examples of inefficiency on Voyager, I have to wonder: Why do crewmen have to personally carry specifications, orders, requisitions, etc. all over the ship? What's wrong with Torres getting on the comm and telling Mortimer personally to crank up the juice? For that matter, why wouldn't Torres have access to the power controls right there in engineering?

CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: Not much, nor was much required, I suppose, but it's worth noting (barely) that Paris still has his television set.

Previous: "Child's Play"
Next: "Live Fast and Prosper"
NEXT WEEK: Villains impersonate Voyager's crew, but their competence and professionalism give them away.



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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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