The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager


by David E. Sluss

29 October 2000

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: Contrivance Central; an episode in which virtually all characterization, logic, common sense, and good taste are tossed out the airlock so that we could have our yearly Maquis Episode.


MYSTERY OF THE WEEK: The whole Maquis "situation" is one of the more sordid elements of Voyager's history. The series began with the promising idea of conflict(!) between different factions of a divided crew, but that got steamrolled quickly, and within a half-dozen episodes, the "Maquis" crew members were as goody-goody as everyone else on the ship. It's really too bad that this idea went down the crapper, but it's gone. So why is it that the writers choose to dig up that plot corpse about once a year, turning characters into "Maquis" again through some contrived or phony means (see "Worst Case Scenario," "The Voyager Conspiracy," etc.)? I just don't know. Twenty-five episodes out of the year, there's little (usually no) mention of the fact that there are Maquis aboard, but for that one show we get to break out the Maquis Leather Costumes and talk about "his crew" and "her crew." And note that in this episode, Chakotay started talking that way even before Tuvok put the whammy on him. And that, whammied or not, Chakotay, Torres, and company took up the cause rather enthusiastically. It just doesn't make any sense.

MYSTERY OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: Where was Martha Hackett as Seska? Given the "pigs can fly" nature of most of this week's plot devices, it's strange that she wasn't shoehorned in somehow.

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK: Oddly enough, even as the writers' sense of characterization and logic, already at alarmingly low levels, went completely awry, their regard for continuity seemed to soar. The Paris/Torres marriage from last week's "Drive" was actually remembered, and, in a minor miracle, the reported distance from the Alpha Quadrant was pretty close to correct. I do think Voyager should be a little closer than 35,000 light years, but still, it was nice to finally see a reasonably correct acknowledgement of Voyager's progress, however belatedly. We even had a couple of long forgotten minor characters reappear, namely Tabor, last seen in "Nothing Human" two years ago, and Chell, not seen (to the best of my recollection) since the first season closer "Learning Curve." Pigs can fly, apparently...

CONTRIVANCES OF THE WEEK: This could be a real bandwidth buster, so I'll limit myself to the big ones:

  1. How in the hell could Vedek Teero have sent this subliminal message in the first place? Even if you argue that he used mind control to get people to do things for him, and even if you factor in Starfleet's laughable security and general level of incompetence, it's a stretch. Besides, he would have to know a lot of things that wouldn't be common knowledge, such as the fact that Tuvok, Chakotay, etc. are alive and on Voyager in the first place, the fact that Starfleet has been in contact with them, the exact schedule of Starfleet's datastreams to Voyager, the fact that a message to Tuvok was included in the latest datastream, and so forth.
  2. The Vulcan mind-meld has become an all-purpose plot device, one which can be contorted to fit any plot, no matter how outlandish. And so we have a mind meld that allows people to walk around in your mind ("Flashback"), a mind meld that allows people to walk around in other people's minds ("Unimatrrix Zero"), and now, a mind meld that enables a Vulcan to completely reprogram a person. Tuvok made Chakotay, Torres, and the others revert back to their Maquis ways, to the point that Torres didn't even seem to care about or even be aware of her marriage. And then, in the blink of an eye, he made them all better. Come on, this is ridiculous. Remember when mind melds used to be hard, almost as painful for the melder as for the meldee? Voyager's writers obviously don't...
  3. Janeway talking is enough to break Teero's spell. Any particular reason why that would work? Why would everyone assume at the end that he's All Better and totally free of Teero's influence? I know, I know, it's the end of the hour.

OLD ACQUAINTANCES FORGOTTEN OF THE WEEK: Any reason why some of Voyager's other telepaths weren't brought in on a consult? Unless Janeway's gotten them all killed, Voyager had the sucker Vorrick and a few Betazoids on the crew, as of "Counterpoint" a couple of years ago.

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: "Holodeck safeties were online." That's got to be right up there with "Harry got lucky last night" and "Chakotay's thinking" as one of the least-spoken sentences on Voyager. And yet somehow it turned out to be true. On a side note, I hope the movie theater isn't going to become this year's "holodeck theme." Anything is better than Fair Haven, but still...

TELEGRAPH OF THE WEEK: If the identity of the attacker was supposed to be a mystery, then someone blew it, because it was pretty obvious early on that it was Tuvok. Specifically, when the Doctor reported that the first victim had neural trauma and a bruise on his shoulder, it seemed pretty obvious that we were talking mind meld/neck pinch. But the Doctor, his diagnostic subroutines sabotaged by Writer Fiat, flubs the diagnosis, even though he's had plenty of experience monitoring mind melds (see "Unimatrix Zero," "Flashback," etc.) Other telegraphing included the holodeck "afterimage" which looked pretty clearly like someone about to begin a mind meld. Speaking of which...

QUESTIONABLE TECHNOLOGY OF THE WEEK: I can't say I buy this notion of "photonic displacement" leaving behind an afterimage that can be viewed hours or days later. Even if some special holodeck hoohah were to permit such a thing, I don't see how Tuvok's image could still be seen, when Torres and Paris had stood in the exact same place when they discovered Tabor. It seems to me that if anyone's "displaced photons" should show up, it wouldn't be Tuvok's.

STARFLEET UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: Starfleet security lives down to its reputation once again, as Tuvok is permitted to keep his communicator while locked up in the brig. But without it, we couldn't have had a mutiny, right? So to hell with good sense, we've got a Story To Tell.

MAQUIS UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: Chakotay fumes about Torres leaving her partner and not thirty seconds later goes looking for her in the cargo bay without his partner only to get himself "comatized" -- not that you could tell...

MAQUIS UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: Given what we've seen of the Maquis -- I mean the real Maquis, and not these converts to the Cult of Janeway that we largely see on Voyager -- does anyone believe that they would have tossed out someone for experimenting with mind control? They would have given him a medal, not the boot.

Previous: "Drive"
Next: "Critical Care"
NEXT WEEK: Voyager takes on medical malpractice; writing malpractice continues to be ignored.



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