The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Body and Soul"

by David E. Sluss

17 November 2000

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Fair warning: the language in this review is a little bit coarser than usual.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Bleah. The novelty of Seven's situation (and Ryan's imitation of Picardo) wears off in a hurry, leaving behind only a lame story.


BODILY FUNCTIONS OF THE WEEK: For a Franchise that in three decades has never shown a restroom, this episode was right on the cutting edge, with hard-hitting depictions of Larry's body odor, homoeroticism, and Tuvok's thwarted attempts at masturbation. I'll give a lot of credit to the writers for finally addressing Tuvok's Pon Farr, and for dealing with it in a fairly logical and even tasteful fashion, with Curly being supportive and helpful rather than lecherous. One problem I have with the portrayal of Pon Farr here is that it is "too easy." By coincidence, this week I just happened to catch the Sci-Fi Channel's rerun of "Amok Time," the Original Star Trek episode that introduced the phenomenon, and in it, Spock would have died within a week had something not been done. In this episode, Tuvok had the shakes and was embarrassed by the situation, but I never got the sense that Tuvok's life was at risk. But the biggest problem I have is that since Pon Farr is as much psychological as sexual, apparently requiring a mind-meld between partners, how could the "mental masturbation" of the holodeck provide Tuvok relief? We see Tuvok begin the process of joining minds with the re-creation of his wife, but of course no actual joining is possible with the T'Pel hologram. Are we to believe that Pon Farr, a madness that drove Spock to kill his Captain, can be faked out by an elaborate jerk-off? And for you continuity buffs, I seem to recall that in the third season episode "Blood Fever," the holodeck solution was attempted during Vorrick's Pon Farr and failed miserably, as it frankly should.

OVERACTING OF THE WEEK: Since masturbation was a theme this week, I imagine a lot of folks will be coming all over themselves in praise of Ryan's performance this week, but I can't say I was impressed. Her imitation of Picardo became quite irritating after a while. Part of the problem is that if you watch Picardo's performance in the teaser, as the Doctor speechifies about the creation of life, it's clear he is overacting, apparently in preparation for Ryan's overacting in imitation of him. In short, Ryan and Picardo really aren't all that good this week, which is unusual, and this week's schtick was tiresome.

CLICHES OF THE WEEK: Take away Ryan playing Picardo playing the Doctor, and you're left with a stock Trek story: Our Heroes inadvertently break the laws of an inflexible Forehead Alien society. Yawn. Fortunately for our heroes, this week's Forehead Aliens have the same faults as Starfleet, such as useless brigs that can't detect the appearance and disappearance of a photonic in one of the cells, security personnel stupid enough to fall for the "sick prisoner" trick, and control consoles that explode and maim people.

GOOD CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: In an exception to Voyager's rigid adherence to the principle of episodic amnesia, someone remembered that Seven can get tanked on synthahol, something last shown in "Timeless" a couple of years ago, and that's splendid. Of course, why the alien captain would get drunk as well is a bit of a mystery...

TECHNOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: As the Delta Flyer is being captured, Larry reports that the subspace communications system was knocked out. Later, Seven drugs the alien captain and hurriedly communicates with Voyager using the subspace transceiver. So when and how was the communication system repaired?

Previous: "Inside Man"
Next: "Nightingale"
NEXT WEEK: A race in such dire straits that they want Larry in command? This I gotta see...



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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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