The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager


by David E. Sluss

8 May 2000

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: An unnecessary and difficult to swallow episode. And to think we almost made it through a season without time travel...


MYSTERY OF THE WEEK: Was there any reason this episode needed to be made? Kes had a fine send-off in "The Gift," and this only serves to undermine it. It's like the reverse of what happened to Tasha Yar: Instead of a second farewell episode to make up for a crummy one, we got a lousy goodbye that sours the taste of a good one.

IF YOU CAN'T SAY ANYTHING NICE... OF THE WEEK: I've been a bit lax about sprinkling in some positive comments, so: The recreation of Voyager's crew as they were in the beginning is largely convincing (with some exceptions noted below). The depiction of the Doctor here is particularly worth some praise. It was actually kind of nice to see the pre-superhuman Doctor, who participated in meetings only by vidphone and was shut down when he wasn't needed or was becoming annoying.

WELFARE RECIPIENT OF THE WEEK: Josh Clark, reprising his role as assistant engineer Carey and delivering exactly one line, even less than in his previous public assistance role in last year's "Relativity." Perhaps I've forgotten, but has it even been established that the Carey character is dead? If not, then why does he only show up in flashback episodes? Of course, one could ask the same question about Samantha "Voyager's Crack Whore" Wildman, who hasn't appeared in nearly two years of Voyager's "real time."

RETROCONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: Have Voyager's writers become so bored with Voyager's present that they keep having to meddle with Voyager's past? First, last year's "Latent Image" retroactively and inexplicably placed an Ensign Expendable into Voyager's history. Then, this year's "Ashes to Ashes" retroactively and inexplicably placed another Ensign Expendable into Voyager's history. And in between, "The Voyager Conspiracy" and to a lesser extent "Equinox" tampered with the very beginning of Voyager's "storyline" (such as it is). But this episode has got to be the most egregious offender, as a fair amount of what has been shown in the last five-and-a-half years now has to be called into question. Why? Well, think about it; Old Kes did change the timeline, because she made Janeway, Tuvok, and Young Kes aware of some aspects of the future, and through some Trek Paradox Mechanism, those changes remain still. Otherwise, Voyager would be locked in a temporal loop:

  1. Old Kes attacks, goes back in time, gets killed; Past Janeway et al plan for her future attack.
  2. Old Kes attacks, and thanks to a bit of preparation and a sanctimonious Present Janeway speech decides not to go back in time.
  3. Because Old Kes doesn't go back in time, the Past Janeway knows nothing of Old Kes' imminent attack and can't plan for it.
  4. GOTO 1.

Since that didn't happen, and since Tuvok and Janeway retain their memories, as evidenced by the closing scene, we have to conclude that a "Tasha Yar paradox" exists. Like Yar, who in the Trek timeline died in a tar pool (Next Genration's "Skin of Evil") and went back in time to die on Romulus (Next Generation's "Yesterday's Enterprise," "Redemption"), Kes got happy and flew back to Ocampa to die a couple years hence and remained pissed and went back in time to be killed by Janeway. Everybody got that? Now here's the thing: with everything that Past Janeway, Past Tuvok, and Past Kes learned, can we really believe that every episode since has taken place exactly the same way? Would all those heartwarming mother/daughter Janeway/Kes moments have been the same with Kes and Janeway knowing that Janeway had killed an older version of Kes? Wouldn't Tuvok have felt a sense of deja vu or even recognized Seven of Nine outright when he first saw her, three years after his (never really explained) premonitions? The list goes on. The effect of this kind of story on continuity is very insidious, but of course it's been obvious for a long time that no one at Voyager's offices cares about that.

RETRODISCONTINUITIES OF THE WEEK: If that analysis went right by you (and frankly I don't know if I understand it either), there are other, more obvious continuity glitches here. Take, for instance, this anti-Vidiian laughing gas that Wildman and The Doctor cooked up. Now that we know it existed, what explanation is there for why it was never deployed in all those Vidiian episodes from the first couple of seasons? Chakotay's interest in anthropology has only surfaced recently ("One Small Step," "Blink of an Eye"), but it's shoehorned into this episode as Chakotay is shown to be an expert on Vidiian culture; one problem: where, in the boondocks of the Alpha Quadrant, under constant attack by Vidiians, Kazon, etc., and with no Memory Alpha in sight did he come up with that information? Oh, and Kes' people were referred to at least once here as the "Ocampans" when it has always been the "Ocampa."

TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: As Janeway speechifies Old Kes into submission in the final scene, she says that Kes traveled back in time "three years"; shouldn't that be five? I know the timeline's mucked up, but really...

NEW GEOGRAPHY OF THE WEEK: Here we go again. Kes flew to Voyager, and intends to fly all the way back to Ocampa, in a shuttle? Yes, it's another instance of all those big jumps Voyager has taken (including, oddly, Kes' own boost in "The Gift") not being taken into account.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES OF THE WEEK: Holoemitters in engineering? Since when? Medical equipment that can't detect goof-ups, such as Kes' turning up Tuvok's brain juice too high? Why not? Sensors that don't automatically notice intruders, extra people, or (given Starfleet's Temporal Displacement Policy) tachyons on the ship? Say what?

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: The whole impetus for Kes' unlikely actions here is that she can't control her powers, but everything we're shown suggests that she controls them just fine. For instance, she turns the warp core into a time machine, tosses people around psychokinetically with precision, disguises her appearance, and breaks into Voyager's secure database... Oh, wait; anyone can do that. Never mind...

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: After thirty year's of friendship, Janeway only now goes to the trouble of finding out Tuvok's birthday? And not even a cellular peptide cake looks as vile as that thing she gave him...

Previous: "Muse"
Next: "Life Line"
NEXT WEEK: A Next Generation crossover sweeps onto your screen, but despite the shameful name-dropping in the preview, I doubt that Captain Picard will be making an appearance. Wait... haven't I said this before? The temporal loop got me! Helllllllllppppppppppppp!



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