The following is a SPOILER Review. If you have not seen the episode yet and do not want to have the plot (and everything else) given away, stop reading now. (But you probably know that by now.)
I reserve the right to be wrong, and to change my mind later. The following is my opinion at the moment I wrote it. And boy, do I have opinions. Kick back, roast up a s'more, because Fatherly Uncle Jim's got a story for ya, which may or may not resemble the episode that actually aired.
B'Elanna Torres sings the blues like you wouldn't believe. Voyager encounters the poster species for welfare reform.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
Hey, look, it's Cargo Bay Two! If you're tuning in late this season--yes, we're on Voyager. And that blonde bombshell in the silvery powder-blue catsuit snoozing in a Borg alcove? She is indeed supposed to be there. Her name is Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix 001. Twenty years ago, before the Borg assimilated and adopted her, she was a smiling five year-old named Annika Hansen.
But you can call her Seven of Nine.
She awakens as the now-familiar noise of the cargo bay doors opening is followed by the appearance of Commander Chakotay. Who, as you may know from "Unity" and "Scorpion," doesn't like Borg.
"What's up?" asks Chakotay.
"You're the officer in charge of duty assignments?" Chakotay nods pleasantly.
"I'm lonely and bored," says Seven. She's used to being logged on to the Collective mind and chatting away with a billion buddies in Borg Cyberspace while her body was ordered around as needed for whatever tasks Borg are assigned to do. Toting barges, lifting bales, assimilating unsuspecting species by the continent.
Now, her mind is severed from the collective, and the voices in her head all belong to her and her alone, and the experience is frighteningly new to her. All that Borg hardware embedded in her software is being taken out because her human body is rediscovering its implant-free glory, casting off the microscopic and macroscopic shackles of alien technology, and what once sustained her now threatens to destroy her. And to add to her frustrations, Captain Janeway--the one who ordered her link to the Collective severed, who ordered the Doctor to strip her for parts -- also ordered her confined to Cargo Bay Two in absolute isolation until she can be "trusted" to play well with others.
Bored, because there's not much to do in the cargo bay. Lonely, because she has nobody to talk to.
She asks for work.
Chakotay asks if she has anything in mind.
As a matter of fact, she does.
Ensign Vorik (remember him?) Is fussing with a leaking fuel injector in Engineering while B'Elanna Torres stands over his shoulder and yells. He finally manages to plug the hissing, steaming leak.
"That's better," says Torres, who whirls on her heels and marches to the next crisis.
Vorik, taking his life into his hands, follows, offering sage advice about overhauling the coolant systems. Torres says it's a good idea; "we'll start tomorrow." Vorik asks why wait.
"Not. Today. Vorik."
Logic dictates that Vorik shut up and run while he can. Vorik is a logical being.
Tom Paris arrives in engineering to witness the tail end of the exchange, notes the high-strung Type-A chief engineer he's come to see, and takes a deep breath before approaching. She doesn't notice him.
"Good morning!" he says pleasantly to Torres' back; she's hunched over an engineering console. He hands her a padd with helm control data, which she takes with a quick Thank You before burying herself back into the console.
"We still on for dinner?" he asks tentatively. She says she has work to do. He asks if she had given any thought to "tonight," whether she planned to go through with it.
Torres says she gave it some thought--and decided not to. Though for "one sentimental minute" she considered giving it a try and bowing to obscure Klingon rituals.
"Heaven forbid you should get too sentimental," Paris notes wryly.
Torres leaps into a rousing chorus of the Delta (quadrant) Blues:
I woke up this morning
Didn't set my alarm
Said I woke up this morning
But I forgot to set my alarm
Got a funny kind of feeling
That this day gonna try do me harm
Well I got in the shower
But the showerhead was on the fritz
Yes I stepped into that sonic shower baby
But dat ole showerhead went on the fritz
[Paris asks] Must have been sorta hair-raising
[Torres says] so I pounded the dang thing to bits.
And so on. Folks was calling in sick, so work didn't get done. Equipment up and died, her baby done left her, Ensign Carey's got the meanest dog in town. "So I'm having a bad day," Torres concludes, "and I may be a little testy."
By the tone of her voice, Paris knows she will gut him if he dares agree with her. "Think about that dinner," he says, beating a hasty retreat.
As Paris is leaving, Chakotay is entering. Paris stops the commander and whispers, "be careful." Chakotay looks confused at first, but then notices Torres...and activates his personal shields.
Chakotay approaches Torres with news that he just had a nice chat with Seven of Nine, who has a hankering to be put to work. Torres is not interested. "In Engineering," says Chakotay. He explains to the shocked Lieutenant that the Borg use transwarp--which is faster than warp--and Seven of Nine has offered to help them adapt their engines to accommodate transwarp.
Torres asks what Seven really wants. Chakotay says she's likely bored and lonely and is looking for something to do and people to do it with.
Torres' glare almost penetrates the shields. She accuses him of a rare case of naivete. "The bottom line is, I don't want her in my engine room." Torres exudes confidence; her arms go from crossed to hands-on-hips, just like she learned in Janeway 101. I dare ya, she says wordlessly.
"The bottom line is, I'm giving an order and you're going to follow it. Lieutenant."
Hands leave hips. Proud bearing deflates in an instant. Eyes plunge to the floor, then return to eye level sheepishly. "Whatever you say, sir," she whispers meekly, and he leaves.
Torres sighs. Add another verse to the B'Elanna Blues; it's just one of those days.
* * *
In her ready room, Janeway gives Seven of Nine her final interview before letting her work in Engineering. She gets Seven's assurance that she won't try to contact the Borg again, then tells the young ex-Borg that she's decided not to post guards in the workplace. For now, she'll be trusted--but she's expected to do things the Starfleet way, and to follow every order Torres gives her.
"I Understand," Seven of Nine says.
Janeway brings up the issue of the Borg's "designation." "Seven of Nine" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, Janeway says; wouldn't you prefer to go by your human name, Annika?
Always pushing, the Captain is.
"Seven of Nine is the only name I've known," Seven of Nine says, her voice breaking a little for the first time. (A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but a boy named Sue will kick your butt if you laugh at him.)
Janeway is visibly disappointed, but relents. "How about shortening it to something like...Seven?"
Seven of Nine considers this. "Imprecise...but acceptable."
Thank goodness; I know I'd prefer to type "Seven".
Tuvok calls; he says a ship is approaching.
Janeway smiles at Seven, then exits. Seven watches her go.
It appears to me that Seven was checking Janeway out. Her eyes sweep downward, then up again; her eyebrows dance like Groucho Marx's, and her mouth quirks up in a smile.
But maybe I'm reading too much into it.
Tuvok reports that the incoming ship is the Hyundai Excel of spacecraft--barely functional. There's a rag in the fuel intake port where a seal should be. The forward sensors are highly-polished duct tape and a dentist's mirror. A bumper sticker reads, "I brake for roadkill." Tuvok says the ship isn't warp-capable at its current power levels.
Apparently, Kes' "gift" was to fling Voyager over to the wrong side of the tracks.
Janeway puts the newcomer on screen. Rhamin of the Caatati, he calls himself and his people. He's dressed in rags, and his first act is to apologize for his appearance. He speaks slowly, as if it's hard to breathe over there, or as if he's too weak from lack of food. He tells Janeway that they were once a proud and industrious people, before the Borg came along and assimilated all but a few thousand of them and thirty or so of their ships. Now, they're suffering from a lack of ... well, pretty much everything. They need food and clothing, medical supplies, and thorium isotopes which powers all their equipment. He asks plaintively, humbly, plucking all the famed Starfleet heartstrings.
Janeway smiles and tells him to fax them a list of their needs, and "we'll see what we can do."
In Engineering, Seven works on her transwarp project while Vorik gathers thorium isotopes. Torres checks his progress (never looking his way--her eyes are fixed on Seven) and then dismisses him.
Torres approaches Seven, arms crossed, coiled like a cobra, and asks if she feels any remorse when she hears stories like the Caatati's.
Seven considers the question. "No," she answers finally, evenly.
"That's it?" Torres asks. "What further answer do you require?" Seven asks. Torres says she's looking for a justification, an acknowledgment--anything. (Torres, remember, takes stuff like this personally--see "Remember.") Even--heaven forbid--guilt?
"Guilt is irrelevant," notes Seven.
"Heartwarming," says Torres, glaring.
Seven says the deflector modifications to set up the transwarp doohickie should be ready in a few hours; in the meantime, "I think it would be best if I waited in my alcove."
"I think you're right," Torres says.
Next verse, same as the first.
In the mess hall, Torres picks at her food, then slumps back sighing into her chair.
Neelix approaches tentatively, hand behind his back. I notice a lot of people are doing that today--don't get too close, she might bite.
"If I ever saw a job for the morale officer, it's sitting right here," says Neelix cheerfully. "I'll bet I can help." Torres says he's facing a big challenge; a deep dark cloud of funk hovers over her, flashing lightning.
"I enjoy a challenge," Neelix says, producing a silver bowl of...something. It looks like a bowl of tiny shark fins in blood-soaked waters.
"That's supposed to make me feel better?" Torres asks, unimpressed, arms folded.
Neelix says it's blood pie, for the Klingon Day of Honor.
Torres looks at him sharply, almost in panic. She asks if he's been talking with Tom Paris.
Neelix insists he hasn't. "I make it a point to know these things. and If I'm correct many Klingon families traditionally serve blood pie on the Day of Honor." He is Morale Officer, after all.
"I appreciate the gesture, Neelix but I've decided to Ignore this...particular tradition. No blood pie, no examining my behavior over the last year to see If I measure up to Klingon standards." Her tone sounds resentful.
Neelix looks disappointed, but respects her decision. But he offers her a suggestion, despite her lack of enthusiasm.
He notes that she internalizes her anger and stress, lets it build up until the only way to release it is to go postal. Torres admits he has a point.
"I'm offering to be a pressure valve," Neelix offers. (What a coincidence! Vorik was offering to install some of those in Engineering back in the teaser. I smell a metaphor! (Or is that a simile? Dang.))
Torres looks at him funny. "What?"
"You may use me to blow off steam. When you're angry, come see me. Call me names. Insult me; question my parentage. I won't take it personally, and you won't need to keep things bottled up inside anymore." He seems a little too excited about the idea, if you ask me.
Torres is genuinely touched by the offer. "That may be the nicest offer I've had in a long time. Thank you, Neelix. You're sweet, but I'm not sure I could do that to you."
"I'm here if you need me," he says, and rises to leave.
Torres stops him. She asks, hesitantly, if he thinks she should go through with the Day of Honor rituals. Neelix says he always thought traditions were good things, worth preserving.
Torres needs to talk, and the self-appointed safety valve did offer, so she lets go. "I've been thinking a lot about the rituals that my mother taught me, and...they don't seem quite so hateful as they did when I was a child. Maybe being so far away from anything Klingon has changed me," she says.
Neelix says it couldn't hurt to go through with the ceremony. (He's obviously never seen a Klingon ritual in action.)
"I don't know what effect it'll have on me," she says. "That's what's frightening." She sighs, then makes her decision. "All right. Bring on the blood pie." Neelix smiles and places the bowl before her with a flourish. She shows him the spoon, then digs in.
Jell-O Pudding, it ain't. She makes a face, but gives Neelix a courageous smile. Neelix smiles proudly, not waiting to see if B'Elanna manages to swallow.
For once, I don't think it's Neelix's cooking she's struggling with. There's a lot of meaning in that mouthful, and tradition is sometimes hard to swallow.
Torres enters the Holodeck. It looks like your average Klingon cave, gussied up for a special occasion.
Torres isn't dressed for the occasion. She's still in her uniform when she marches in and starts looking around sharply in every direction, not quite sure what to expect.
"Qu'pla! What warrior goes there?" Torres whirls around to see a Klingon, at least a head taller than herself, in traditional warrior dress. He approaches her, his long curly tresses looking well-oiled and ready for battle...or an 80's-era Monsters of Rock concert.
"My name's B'Elanna," Torres says, pronouncing it "bay-lahna". Her eyes go as wide as Big Gulp lids.
"Have you come to have your honor challenged?" the Klingon asks grandly.
"I guess so, Yes." Ooh, that's impressive.
"Are you willing to see the ceremony through to the end?"
B'Elanna forces a little bravado into her voice, but she's still shaking hard enough to properly
mix a Bond martini. "That's the idea, isn't it? What do I do?"
"It will be a lengthy ordeal," the Klingon says. "First you must eat from the heart of a sanctified targ." Another Klingon brings a dish with meat on it. (Targ: the other other white meat.) Torres' stomachs are still churning from the blood pie, and hesitantly takes a piece.
Pak lohr! Commands the Klingon. (I believe that means L'Chaim.) Torres pops the meat in her mouth and chews grudgingly, as the first warrior nods his approval.
"Yes... the heart of a targ brings courage to one who eats it. Next you will drink mot'loch from the grail of Kahless. Drink to the glory of Kahless, the greatest warrior of all time!"
Torres grabs the golden grail and takes a hearty swig--and chokes. It's no coincidence that mot'loch sounds a lot like Mad Dog.
The Klingon notes her achievement with approval. "Kahless defeated his enemies on the field of battle and built a mighty empire. How have you proven yourself worthy?"
Now, you'd expect a Worf or a Kurn or a Gowron to be able to go on for days about their honor and valor and warrior's heart. In "Children of Time," Worf taught his descendants that enemies came in all forms--from the hunter's prey to adversaries on other planets, to time itself. Unfortunately, Torres doesn't think like that, or she'd have handled this part of the ceremony a lot better.
"Um, I haven't built any empires, and I can't say that I've personally defeated any enemies In battle but you have to realize, I'm not living among warriors."
Let's see. B'Elanna battled her pride to win Janeway's respect in "Parallax." She engaged in a battle of wits and wills with herself in "Faces," and came away from it wiser and nobler and proud of both her human and Klingon heritages as a result. She battled a modified Cardassian dreadnought of her own manufacture to the death, fulfilling an obligation of honor. She whupped Vorik's sorry Vulcan butt and her own raging hormones in "Blood Fever," fended off the advances of numerous suiters aboard Voyager, slew the demons of genocidal tendencies and ignorance among the Enarans in "Remember."
It's all how you look at it, you know?
Naturally, the Klingon isn't impressed by her answer. "Then how do you expect to distinguish yourself?" he asks.
"I don't know," Torres says defensively. "I guess I'm doing the best I can."
Oh, just jab me in the hiney with a pain stick.
"Huh! a pitiful reply," notes the Klingon. "Let us proceed. A warrior must endure great hardship." (At this point, Torres should have described her day.) "To test your mettle you will endure the ritual of 20 pain sticks. After that, you will engage In combat with a master of the bat'leth. Finally, you will watch every film Cory Feldman ever appeared in. Starting with the Cory Haim collaborations."
Survive that, and you'd have a reason to crow about honor. Or at least endurance.
Torres is in no mood, however. "You know, I don't think so. I didn't want to do this before you described it." She turns to leave.
The Klingon grabs her by the arm and holds her fast. "Not until you have completed the ceremony, p'tahk."
Bring on the painsticks, boys. Before Torres can vehemently deny any affection for the musical stylings of John Tesh, two Klingon warriors enter, sticks in hand. The red-tipped wands glow brightly when they strike flesh, and two or three connect solidly with B'Elanna's. At first, she screams and grunts and slumps to the ground.
Then she gets mad.
Torres may be a full head shorter than all the warriors in the room, but she's suffering from a really bad case of Stormy Monday. By the third painstick, she takes matters into her own hands. Twenty seconds later, every holographic Klingon is nursing an injury, the stack of Cory Feldman videos lie in smoking ruin, and Torres is out the door with her apologies to the chef.
They call it Day of Honor
But trouble is on her mind
Oh they call it the Day of Honor
But trouble is all she can find
Cuz when you're knee deep in tradition
You just wanna leave the day behind.
Back in her quarters, Torres is scrunched up in a fetal position on her couch, hugging a large throw pillow.
Her door chimes; against her better judgment she lets in the visitor. Naturally, it's Paris.
"I tried to find you before," Paris says, concern etched on his face. "But you were on the Holodeck." Torres admits it without enthusiasm. "You know," he continues, "You left it running. There was a Klingon in there who didn't look too happy."
"Really," Torres says, screaming at him nonverbally to change the subject.
"Yeah, and he was nursing a whale of a black eye. Looks like he had a run-in with someone having a really bad day."
Smooth, Helm Boy. Couldn't have said it better myself.
"That's very funny," says Torres, with the enthusiasm level of someone who's just sat through Rock and Roll High School Forever. The room chills.
Paris asks how it went. "It didn't," says Torres; asking if he'd mind changing the subject.
As it turns out, he would mind. You just know this is gonna get ugly.
"You have been like a spitting cobra all day and it's getting boring." Oh, man. There aren't enough flowers in the quadrant to get you out of this hole, dude.
"You know," he continues, insisting on making her bad day all about him, "we designed that Holodeck program together, and I think you owe me the courtesy of telling me what happened."
Torres finally shows a spark of life. "It was ridiculous, meaningless posturing. Honor, dishonor--what does it matter?"
"It matters because it's part of who you are. You've been running away from that your whole life."
Now Torres is really angry. "Who are you to tell me that?"
Someone who's been running away from something his whole life, silly.
Don't believe me? Just watch.
Paris gets his wounded puppy look. "I care about you but if you're going to keep pushing me away then there's no point in my staying around, is there?"
"Fine," says Torres, "just leave me alone."
"Oh, don't worry," says Paris, about three seconds from wondering what the heck just happened. "If this is the way you treat people who try to be your friend, you'll be alone, all right." He storms out of the room.
We don't get to see him banging his head against the bulkhead. But you just know he is.
We do get to see Torres seem about to call after him, watch the door close behind him, then hug her pillow all the tighter, clinging to the one thing in the universe that hasn't turned against her today.
If it wasn't for bad luck
I wouldn't have no luck at all
* * *
Voyager flies through space, tailed by three smaller Caatati ships. For the record, the hull looks completely Borg-free now.
In Voyager's conference room, a Caatati addresses Janeway, Tuvok, Chakotay, and Neelix. Unlike the first Caatati, who was apologetic and reluctant to ask for help, this guy has no such inhibitions. He could be doing late-night Sally Struthers commercials, this guy. He wears his squalor like a bludgeon, and his description of his people's condition is like the jaws of life clamped onto the wallets of the wealthy.
"There are over two hundred people on our three ships alone," he says. "Every one of them suffers from malnourishment, but it's been hardest on the children. Every parent sacrifices for their child but even so, there's not enough food. If you could hear the crying of the babies you would have as much trouble sleeping at night as I do."
He is here, apparently, because their wish list of requested items came back from Voyager with fewer lines checked than they liked. They're back for another round of collection plate passing.
Tuvok asks if they've considered relocation to a planet where they could grow their own food. The Caatati (Lumas?) says that they've considered it, but "we haven't been welcomed anywhere. Because we have no resources, everyone treats us like vagrants--even criminals."
Chakotay expresses his sympathy, but says that Voyager has limited supplies itself (and they don't generally belabor the point to anyone who passes by). "We can't possibly provide enough for all your people," he says.
(For those playing the home game--Voyager is still on replicator rations, and growing its own food out of actual necessity. There are around 150 of them on board, living lives more spartan than Starfleeters are used to.
But there are 200 Caatati nearby, and thousands more likely not too far away. Chakotay's not kidding; there's no way they can give the Caatati all they are asking for. Because it should be obvious by now that they're asking for a LOT.)
The Caatati adopts his most pathetic appearance. His stomach grumbles. His shoulders stoop. His threadbare clothes begin to disintigrate on command. "Forgive me," he says, "but from my perspective, you live in luxury. You don't suffer from debilitating diseases." (No, just debilitating ratings--oops? Did I say that?) "You have many sources of energy" (most of which are on the fritz or underpowered at any given moment.) "replicators" (which must be rationed carefully.) "Your crew Is very well fed." (Janeway should have had Neelix whip up a batch of Leola Root stew.)
The Caatati lowers his head in shame at being in the same room with such greedy people. "Apparently, keeping your bellies full is more important to you than helping those less fortunate."
You know, when we first saw the Caatati I felt sorry for them--few species survive the Borg with anything approaching their former state. But this guy just threw that away.
The Starfleet folk are too diplomatic to say anything, but Neelix isn't Starfleet. "That's unfair! These are the most generous people you could hope to meet. But if we gave supplies to everyone who asked we wouldn't have anything left!"
The Caatati is unmoved. He says nothing, but silently dares the crew to play topper with him and his people on the misery scale.
Janeway makes a unilateral decision. Whether she's touched by this display, or suffering a bit of liberal guilt, or just really eager to get this sniveling weasel off her ship, I don't care to guess. "Neelix, how much food can we spare?" She asks. Neelix says they could spare a few hundred kilograms for each ship. She tells him to do so, and to check with the doctor for spare medical supplies. Neelix acknowledges.
The Caatati doesn't argue further. He seems to realize it's the best deal he's likely to get. "Thank you," he says, grabbing Janeway's hands and shaking them vigorously. "May the gods smile on you and your crew." Janeway asks Tuvok to take him to the transporter room, and gives a sigh of relief when the Caatati exits.
Paris and Seven of Nine exit a turbolift together, on their way to engineering. He asks her for tips on navigating through a transwarp conduit--something he's never done before. (I take it they're happiest never mentioning "Threshold" again.)
Seven bluntly tells him "you have no idea what you're doing," and says she'll be doing the flying.
"I am a quick study," Paris offers with a hint of his Inner Rogue smiling through to the surface.
They pass by Tuvok and the Caatati, going in another direction. The Caatati asks what species Seven of Nine is--stacked and packed as she is, tall as a Wookie, it's not a stretch to think she wouldn't be taken automatically as human.
Tuvok tells him she's a human who used to be Borg. Smooth move, Logic Boy.
The alien reacts faster than if he'd yelled all-you-can-eat buffet. "Borg!" the Caatati yells, and lunges in Seven's direction.Tuvok and Paris restrain the guy as he peppers Seven of Nine with questions about where she took and what she did with his family. (Well, you can't blame him for that.) Despite his haggard state, he's remarkably strong if it takes a Vulcan and Paris to keep him at bay.
For her part, Seven regards him with no obvious reaction. No guilt or remorse; no pride or dismissiveness. She just listens as if she's a third-party. Which, in her perspective, may well be true, given her "we" and "this drone" references to herself.
Tuvok tells Paris to take Seven away, and wrestles the animated Caatati towards the transporter room. "I lost everything!" we hear the alien cry. "My home, my family!..."
As they continue along the corridors, Paris apologizes for what just happened. Seven doesn't understand; "he didn't injure me." Apologies seem irrelevant. She notes that there are those on Voyager who react pretty much the same way to her--a certain half-Klingon engineer, for example.
"Well, I'm not one of those people," Paris assures her. "We all have a past. What matters is now."
Seven, for whom cliche is irrelevant, says, "I'm uncertain what you're trying to say."
"That...if there's any way that I can help you adjust to your life here on Voyager, please ask me." The cynic may suggest that Paris, still miffed with Torres, is looking for greener pastures. The eternal P/T optimist would claim that's udderly ridiculous, that he's just being nice to a fellow outcast who could use a friend, just as he did three years earlier.
Either way, it seems, the offer is relevant. "I will remember your offer." Paris smiles kindly and continues down the corridor; Seven looks after him, momentarily deep in thought, before following.
In the engine room, Seven announces that all is ready.
Torres says they're only going to "take a peek." They'll open a transwarp conduit and grab all the sensor data they can, then close it back up. "We're taking this one step at a time," she says.
Vorik says the tachyon matrix modifications are on-line. Torres hails the bridge and says they're ready to go, and want helm control transferred to Engineering, which Janeway approves.
Torres tells Paris they need to be going past warp tw--
"Past Warp Two, I know," Paris says, cutting her off. They share a look that burns a hole in a passing yeoman.
"Oh, my gosh, they killed Kenny!" Ensign Stan yells, pointing at Paris and Torres. "You bastards!"
"Kenny always gets to die," rasps Ensign Cartman, between mouthfuls of Cheesy Poofs. "But he keeps coming back."
"Yeah," agrees Yeoman Kyle. "How does he come back, anyway?"
"In all those screwed-up shuttlecraft."
"Oh yeah," says Ensign Stan.
"Screwed up shuttlecraft kickass," says Cartman.
Torres tells the computer to transport Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny to the Cochrane in Shuttle Bay One.
(Oops. Sorry. My tape got messed up.)
Torres and Paris stare at each other. She's not happy about having a Borg in her engine room, she's not happy about exploring technology she knows nothing about with her wee bairns (she's developing quite an Engineer's brogue with her technical lingo, I think) being used as guinea pigs, she's not happy with Tom for their recent tiff...and she's not at all happy with Tom working side by side with the Borg,
Especially one looking that good.
The nacelles tilt upward, and soon Voyager is at warp.
They kick in the deflector's tachyon matrix, but Seven says nothing is happening. She recommends switching to a "higher band." Torres stares hard at Seven, then nods sharply. Vorik makes the adjustment.
"That did something," Paris says. Seven reports that the expected subspace field is forming.
Then all Hell breaks loose.
Lights dim. Annoying warbling sirens go off. Janeway calls from the bridge. Countermeasures fail; they shut everything down but tachyons continue to flood the warp core (a bad thing, apparently). Stuff starts to explode.
Janeway orders an evacuation of the engine room if they can't get things under control immediately. Torres acknowledges, and when Vorik announces with typical bland logic that his efforts have failed to stop the tachyon flooding, she orders everyone out.
Seven stays at her station. "I can help," she says. Torres makes it an order, and Seven immediately complies.
Paris stays behind, moving quickly to Torres' side. "You can't order me; I outrank you." He smiles warmly, and Torres doesn't argue; she seems grateful for the help. They try to stop the insanity.
The insanity wins. Where's a safety valve when you need one?
Paris drags Torres out of Engineering, knowing she won't quit until she dies, which is what will happen if she doesn't leave. Torres struggles at first, then acknowledges, and orders Engineering sealed--and the warp core ejected.
In the corridor, Torres and Paris join the other members of Engineering as the door seals. Torres slumps to the floor in a classic Duck and Cover.
We get a nifty exterior shot of a circular portal opening on Voyager's underbelly, and the long pulsing blue cylinder of the warp core dropping out. It spirals away.
Torres hails the bridge. "We've dumped the core," she says, her voice hollow. On the bridge, Janeway and Chakotay share a shocked look as Harry's eyes go wide.
The channel's still open as Torres looks up at Paris and whispers, "welcome to the worst day of my life."
Had a fight with my boyfriend
Then my transportation broke down
Said I fought with my boyfriend
And my vehicle just plain run down
Got a funny kinda feeling
That ole Lady Luck just ain't around.
* * *
Torres orders Vorik and Nicoletti ("cold hands, cold heart?" "Not when she plays the oboe") to work on the impulse engines.
Janeway arrives for a status report. With the warp core millions of kilometers away and impulse seriously damaged, all they have now is thrusters. They're still assessing the damage, so there's no estimate of when they'll be moving again.
Torres' day has gone badly enough that a little impertinence probably won't make matters much worse. "So much for opening a transwarp conduit," she tells Janeway, expressing her disapproval with the idea from the very start. "I sent the Borg back to her alcove. We won't be needing her in here anymore."
Janeway's Look is reprimand enough, though she wisely postpones the argument (and you know they'll have one, from that look) until after her chief engineer has put her ship back together. She tells Paris to take a shuttle and tractor it back.
Torres says they'll need to fix the core before throwing a tractor on it, so Janeway sends her along as well. Paris and Torres share a baleful look, both dreading and needing the time alone together.
We get a cool exterior shot of a shuttle leaving Voyager (I just can't praise the special effects folks enough for the work they've done so far this season). It's quieter inside the shuttle than it is in the vacuum outside. Conversation is kept to a minimum, and the controls appear to be the most interesting things aboard, judging by where Paris and Torres are looking.
They pass through some ion turbulence, which shakes them up a bit.
Paris changes course as Torres slumps back in her chair with arms folded. The dark cloud over her head looks like an angry bunny. "I wonder what else can go wrong today," she says miserably. "If we get this core back, I'm going right to bed and sleeping straight through till tomorrow. Get this day over with."
Paris tells her to look at the bright side--once you've dumped the warp core, the day can't possibly get worse. Torres laughs bitterly; "Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm asking for this trouble somehow. Or maybe it's just a string of bad luck."
They soon find the warp core signature, but it's accompanied by another--a Caatati ship. They arrive to find the aliens putting a tractor on the core, claiming salvage rights--and threatening to fire on them if the shuttle Cochrane gets in their way.
Torres fires a disruptor beam at the tractor, which works briefly--until the Caatati blast them with some antimatter feedback through the beam.
Zefram Cochrane may have been the father of warp drive, but his shuttle, frankly, is a wuss. The computer promptly reports that the thing is going boom in 2.5 minutes. All efforts to reverse the damage fails, and structural integrity fails. The shuttle is ready to blow.
Torres and Paris grab the vacuum suits, and get dressed in record time. Paris tells the computer to contact Voyager, but it's not functioning. Fortunately, the transporter is, and after Paris attaches his umbilical to Torres, they beam out.
In the back of the Cochrane, Ensign Kenny stands up.
"Hey, look, Kenny's okay!" Stan says.
Tom and B'Elanna materialize in deep space, several kilometers from the Cochrane. They watch as the Caatati ship moves swiftly away with their warp core, not bothering to claim salvage rights on the two well-fed Starfleeters.
Ten seconds later, Tom and B'Elanna watch as the Cochrane, and all aboard, perish in fiery death.
Paris and Torres...alone at last.
Here comes Trouble again
Smilin' like She was my friend
Here comes Trouble again.
* * *
Paris attempts to contact Voyager through his suit's communicator. Torres says it won't possibly reach that far. Tom says, hopefully, that whenVoyager fixes its impulse engines they'll be found soon enough. Torres, not the passive type, says there has to be something they can do. Paris suggests tying their suits' comm units together to "create a phased carrier wave" that Voyager could read and know it's them.
"Good idea," says Torres. "Let me access your controls."
Paris smirks. "Thought you'd never ask." Fortunately, Torres smiles.
That vibration you just felt was a hundred P/T'ers--"Paris/Torres Relationship Freaks," to the folks on the Mir--jumping up and down simultaneously.
Grabbing the umbilical that connects them, Paris and Torres move closer together until they're in each others' arms. Paris grabs her full around the waist, anchoring her to him so she can access the controls on his arm's comm unit.
I SAID, DOWN. Take a deep breath. The hour ain't over yet. Pace yourselves, girls.
Torres begins fiddling with the comm controls on the arm of Paris' environmental suit. She tells him to hold still, and wishes for a bit of equipment more sophisticated than her heavily-padded fingers.
Paris, useless for the moment while Torres works, decides to brighten her day. Or at least his own. "Why is it we have to get beamed into space in environmental suits before I can initiate First Contact procedures?"
Torres smiles coyly. "Why is it if we're alone for more than 30 seconds you start thinking about contact?"
Paris smiles big; she's playing along! Yee-hah! "That isn't fair," he protests too much. "The other day in Engineering, I must have gone...oh, four minutes before I started thinking about it." Torres' smile warms the surrounding space by a good ten degrees.
Okay, girls, you've earned it. Squeal at Will.
Torres finishes the adjustments, and lets er rip. A tooth-shattering screech erupts in Paris' helmet, as Torres apologizes. As the noise subsides, he says he hopes it's still that strong by the time it reaches Voyager.
Meanwhile, all they can do is wait. In each other's arms.
Voyager is pretty much dead in the water. Time now to repair...and to investigate What Went Wrong.
Seven of Nine is summoned to Janeway's ready room. Janeway offers her something to drink; Seven says she still gets her sustenance from the Borg Alcove. Janeway notes that the Doc says she'll soon be ready for real food--or at least for Neelix's approximation of it. But in the meantime, I don't blame Seven for avoiding the ingestion of anything; with the level her suit's corset is ratcheted to, anything going in isn't going to stay there for long. Besides, getting out of that suit for the exit process of digestion has got to be an all-day activity.
Janeway tells Seven that whenever there's an accident, there's an investigation. Seven says that is prudent. Janeway says that the recent accident in engineering needs addressing, but that Torres is gone. So Seven, as the resident authority on transwarp, gets the hot seat.
Janeway rattles off questions at warp speed. Seven answers each coolly, with no hint of distress. Vorik was handling the deflector and tachyon part of the experiment. She was monitoring the transwarp frequencies.
Janeway asks if Seven at any time accessed the deflector controls. It finally sinks in for Seven that the questions seem quite pointed. "You believe I'm responsible for the accident...that I deliberately sabotaged the ship. You're like the others; you see me as a threat." She says it matter-of-fact, without any emotion. But her comments sting a little.
Janeway admits having some suspicion; they've dealt with tachyons before without having any problems like this. Seven states simply that she is unaccustomed to deception. "Among the Borg, it was impossible; there were no lies, no secrets. I assure you I had nothing to do with the accident in Engineering."
Trust is something Janeway takes very seriously. She considers Seven's words, peers into her eyes. The edge goes out of her gaze. Janeway sits on her couch, and when she looks at Seven again they're filled with compassion. "I believe you," she says.
"Thank you," says Seven, as her composure slips a little. In front of Janeway, we see a less controlled Seven of Nine. Whether sees Janeway as a mother figure or a Mommie Dearest, we probably won't know for a while. But at this moment, she's opening up. "I am finding it...a difficult challenge to integrate into this group. It is full of complex social structures that are unfamiliar to me. Compared with the Borg, this crew is inefficient and contentious...But it is capable of...surprising acts of compassion." Her face is reflective, filled with wonder. She has trouble meeting Janeway's eyes.
Mama Janeway smiles kindly. "Unexpected acts of kindness are common among our group," she says with maternal pride. "That's one of the ways we define ourselves."
Seven asks if there's anything more. Yes, says Janeway; we still have to figure out what happened in Engineering. And instead of interrogating, Janeway begins investigating, and putting Seven to work.
I guess Engineering's not losing a Borg after all.
In Deep Space, Paris and Torres now float about a meter apart.
"This isn't anything like the simulations we had at the Academy," Torres says. "They felt peaceful...like floating in the womb...but right now I'm feeling a little sick to my stomachs."
Paris chuckles. "You dropped out too soon. In the third year there's a six-week course of actual space walks so you can get used to them."
"I never would've lasted till the third year. If I hadn't dropped out they would've asked me to leave."
Paris' voice goes gentle. "I wish I'd known you then."
"You'd have hated me," Torres says.
"I can't imagine a time I wouldn't have found you fascinating," he says.
The stars themselves sigh.
[You! In Oklahoma! WAKE UP! I told you, you gotta breathe or you'll miss all the good stuff.]
Don't make me turn this review around.
Just when things seem to be looking up for B'Elanna, everything gets all shiny. But not in a good way. Unprotected by the shuttle's shielding, the two officers are jolted pretty hard by ion turbulence.
Adding insult to injury, Paris' suit starts barking warnings at him. His oxygen is leaking out.
He begins to gasp as the computer counts down the levels of his vital oxygen.
Torres takes an emergency hose and connects her suit to his. "We'll have to share mine," she says. "Are you getting air now?"
Paris' breathing quickly returns to normal. "Yes....Much better, thanks." He notes her concern. "What's wrong?"
"The turbulence must have damaged my suit, too. I should have at least 24 hours worth of oxygen but there's only about a half hour left." They share a look, and an unspoken word. It's best left that way; the TV-PG rating wouldn't accommodate it.
I think at this point even the Caatati would feel sorry for poor B'Elanna.
* * *
While Janeway and Seven pore over the Engineering data, Ensign Vorik calls in and announces that impulse power should be available within the hour. Seven then finds the relevant data that shows the accident with the warp core truly was that--an accident. Janeway breathes a sigh of profound relief at that news.
Chakotay enters with news that a signal from Tom and B'Elanna just came in, and they seem to be in trouble. Janeway tells him to make preparation to retrieve them as soon as impulse engines are back online.
When it rains, it pours. Tuvok calls Janeway to the bridge. A Caatati armada has arrived on the scene.
Talk about a busy fifteen seconds of screen time.
Janeway has the Caatati put on screen. The little weasel is looking a good deal less miserable than before--and a lot less sympathetic as well.
"Hello, captain," the Caatati says pleasantly.
"You've brought some friends," Janeway says, showing the whites of her eyes to deadly effect.
"Needy friends. We're hoping you'll offer us more supplies."
"I made It clear last time that we couldn't provide you with enough for all your ships."
"And I had to accept that because your ship is more powerful than ours. But the situation has changed, hasn't it? You seem to be at a disadvantage now. We have your warp core. You can't escape. I'm hoping that will make you more generous."
You know, when the Caatati had said that they were considered criminals by folks around these parts, it was never brought up whether those folks might have been right. It would appear that they are. When someone holds out a hand for a donation, and holds out the other hand with a gun pointed at you, it's not called begging.
It's called robbery.
Janeway repeats that they gave all they possibly could. She demands their warp core back, "and we'll be on our way."
"One of our ships might not seem threatening to you but I assure you, 27 can inflict considerable damage," the Caatati said, blowing all sympathy out the airlock. "We are desperate." No, they're pirates. "Prepare to send us food, weapons and your entire supply of thorium. And that Borg you're protecting--we want her, too. There are many who would enjoy a chance to repay one of them for what they did to us."
Dude, you just messed with the wrong woman.
Paris and Torres are now nose-to-nose, connected by the tether and the oxygen line, separated only by their suits and the vacuum outside. Paris lowers the oxygen ratio to extend their breathing time. Torres says she's groggy; Paris explains that's from oxygen deprivation.
"And you're lowering it?" Torres asks. "We have to try to make it last as long as possible," Paris says.
Torres laughs weakly, bitterly about the irony of it all. "The Day of Honor is the day I'm going to die." Paris tells her to stop that sort of thinking, but Torres says they need to face it head-on.
So, they break out the deathbed confessions and questionnaires. Tom says, "You didn't think much of me when we first met." Torres agrees; "That's putting it mildly. I thought you were an arrogant, self-absorbed pig."
"Flattery won't get you any more oxygen," he rasps. He then asks the question he's dreaded. "Do you think I've changed?"
"A lot," Torres says. "Now you're a stubborn, domineering pig." Aw, shucks.
Her breath catches, sorry she said it. "I'm just kidding. There I go again...just pushing you away. you were right about me. that's what I do...push people away."
"Well," says Paris, who knows all too well what she means. "It's a surefire way of not getting hurt."
Torres slips even deeper into misery. "What a coward I am," she says. Paris shushes her, and they fall silent.
Then, as best as their situation will allow, they fall into each others' arms.
Voyager is orbited by a swarm of Caatati ships.
There goes the neighborhood.
Chakotay recommends they power up the spank rays and kick some welfare reform hiney. Harry, looking pointedly at Seven of Nine, suggests they give them something. (He's still smarting from that back-handed rejection she gave him last week.) Janeway says there's nothing they can send over that can possibly satisfy them now.
Seven offers to go.
Keep those dirty thoughts to yourselves, people.
Sheesh; kids today.
Janeway says Thanks, but no thanks. Seven, bewildered, says she's just offering to do what's best for the group. Janeway says she's part of the group now, and she plans to protect her.
Mama Janeway tags Action Kate, who steps into the Big Chair. "No more talking; let's roll up our sleeves and kick some booty. Tuvok?"
"Spank rays at maximum. Shields, however, are almost gone." Janeway orders power redirection, and tells the crew to get ready for battle.
"Umm...that might not be necessary," Seven says, interrupting Action Kate before she can say her beloved "Battlestations."
Janeway looks at her. "This better be good," her eyes say.
Seven says that Caatati technology is based on thorium energy. Give them enough, they could become self-sufficient. Harry points out that Voyager doesn't have that much thorium to give.
"When the Borg assimilated the Caatati the survivors lost their ability to replicate the isotopes," Seven explains. This is the kind way of saying that the Borg didn't bother assimilating the shallow end of the Caatati gene pool. They took the scientists, engineers and great thinkers; they left behind the phone cleaners, the network executives, and other induhviduals. "I have retained that knowledge. I could design an energy matrix that would produce thorium in large quantities."
"If you've had this knowledge, why didn't you say so?" Chakotay asks.
"I am not accustomed to thinking that way. Borg do not consider giving technology away, only assimilating it."
"And what do you suppose made you consider It now?" Janeway asks softly, probingly, looking proudly on her newest adopted offspring.
"I am not certain," Seven admits after some hesitation.
Mama Janeway tags in and smiles warmly. "Maybe...It was just an Unexpected Act of Kindness." She tells Seven to work with Vorik to build the energy matrix while she does some fast talking with the Caatati.
As Seven leaves the bridge, her face betrays her thoughts. "You learn something new every day..."
Seven of Nine places a small, but no doubt efficient, device on a table as Janeway and a Caatati
look on. "This matrix will produce 944 grams of thorium per day," Seven explains.
"Now you can power all your systems and begin to rebuild your replication technology," Janeway interprets; this Caatati seems particularly slow on the uptake. I'd give him even odds against a Pakled. "Will you allow us to leave?"
The Caatati looks at the device, still not comprehending the magnitude of the offer. "One device isn't enough for all our ships," he complains, still insisting on believing that the crew isn't giving them all they want. (Oh, gee, like the rest of us do. Life sucks, pal; wear a helmet.)
Seven patiently explains that they're not just going to give them a fish; they're going to teach them to fish. "Using this matrix as a template you can construct as many as you like. We can provide you with components and specifications."
You keep mentioning your once-proud people. Time to start thinking about becoming proud again.
The Caatati finally realizes that this deal is better than the one they were demanding at gunpoint. And not only that, but that the savior of his people is the person he wanted to exact revenge on.
The Caatati takes the power matrix. "You're free to go," he finally says. "And thank you." He grasps the hope of his people protectively and exits.
Seven seems surprised. "You're welcome," she says, and walks him to the transporter pad.
Janeway leans against the table and smiles proudly. Her little girl is growing up.
Paris and Torres are latched onto each other, and the angle and position of their bodies suggests an outline not unlike that of a Starfleet combadge. Or the Ace of Spades. Whatever.
The computer is announcing oxygen warnings again. Torres shakes Tom awake, urging him to open his eyes. "I was having a dream," Paris says groggily, his eyes still mostly closed.
"There's something I have to say," Torres says.
"Me to...I'm glad the last thing I'm going to see is you," he whispers.
"I've been a coward about everything--everything that really matters."
"No, you're being a little hard on yourself."
"No. I'm going to die...without a shred of honor. And for the first time in my life that really bothers me. So I have to tell you something."
The computer chirps another oxygen warning.
"I have to tell you the truth," Torres says urgently.
"The truth about what?" Paris asks, still not quite awake.
Torres struggles for several seconds to find the words. "I--I love you."
Paris' eyes go wide. He's as fully awake as he can be now. His life--past, present and future--flashes before his eyes in that instant.
"Say something!" B'Elanna begs.
"You picked a great time to tell me," he says.
Is he telling another joke? Is he saying it with or without irony? Why didn't he say I Love You back? Or did he, with gestures, with teases, with a thousand glances?
Fanfic authors: start your engines.
Torres looks at Paris. Paris looks at Torres. His mouth makes a valiant effort to smile, but he's just too weak. Hands reach to touch the other's visor, so close yet so far. Heads move to shoulders, and Paris places a padded palm on armored back. They expect to be found in this position--by Voyager, or by some species millennia hence, they cannot know. But they will be found together. At last, both look to be utterly at peace with each other, if not with themselves.
I know a few Greek astronomical myths that ended up like this.
Torres' closed eyes do not see the image we see reflected in her faceplate--the mothership come for them. It's a welcome sight.
"Voyager to Tom Paris," Janeway's voice pipes into Paris' suit. "Tom, do you read me? Respond."
Paris slowly opens his eyes. Weakly, he responds.
"Prepare to beam aboard," he hears.
Just before they sparkle away into nothingness, we see Torres smile.
It wasn't such a bad day after all.
Oh, man, where to start.
Ah, what the heck. Let's start with the star-crossed lovers.
What can you say? This puppy viewed like a fanfic. Paris and Torres at each other's throats, pushing away before the other can push them away, until there was no more air, no more excuses, no more distractions...and finally they realized there was little time left to say what they really felt. So they said what they could, knowing it could well be the last thing they ever do.
Was it enough? Reaction from my email so far seems to be mixed.
I'll say this. It kicked the snot out of "Resolutions" in my book.
For one thing...no monkeys. That's always a plus.
For another, they've been leading up to this moment. It didn't come out of nowhere. It didn't feel forced. They've been planning and prepping and moving towards this episode (or something like it) for nearly a year. The two characters voted most likely to conceive just couldn't postpone the inevitable much longer.
And after three straight episodes of no hot P/T action, and no platonic interaction, the P/T Hormone Brigade was gettin' antsy.
So...there ya go.
I imagine things will only heat up from here.
The arguments between these two are always frustrating. They act like wounded children sometimes, so very alike, yet with differences that seem determined to keep them apart. Torres would prefer to avoid her Klingon side; Paris seems driven to help (or make) her explore it. (Funny; she doesn't seem determined to plumb the depths of Paris' childhood terrors. Maybe eventually.)
You watch them, you want to smack them upside the head, give them a little two-by-four relationship counseling.
Tom: "She's always pushing me awa--"
Tom: "Let me rephrase that."
Ya gotta love these two. It's not an option. The writers, producers, they've sworn an oath. You will love these two, or else. They killed Kes because she was married to Paris in another timeline. They welded Chakotay to Janeway's hip to make that whole "Persistence of Vision" nightmare goes gently into that good night. The Delaney Sisters haven't been mentioned since "The Chute." Vorik blew any chance with Torres when he scrambled her chemical balances.
There's nobody left. It's each other, or the monastery.
But one word of advice to Tom Paris: never tell the woman you love that her problems are "boring." There ain't enough Haagen Dazs in the galaxy to extract you from that doghouse.
Now. About this Day of Honor.
It's not just a proud Klingon tradition we're only now hearing about. It's also a marketing ploy to sell Trek novels.
Somehow, the whole Day of Honor thread did absolutely nothing for me. If they want to try again next year, and make a real attempt at it, I might be more amenable. But this time around it was pretty much a mess, a paper-thin cartoon-cutout Klingon thingie. I have no attachment to the Day of Honor after watching this episode. Perhaps the books will help.
But they shouldn't have to.
It's an interesting idea in theory. A time to reflect on one's accomplishments. A time to ponder what it means to be Klingon. We have many similar traditions in earth cultures, from religious fasts and feasts, to New Years resolutions and birthday lists ("by the time I'm thirty, I'll have done the following..."), from personal goals to employee evaluations and academic report cards.
For a culture that defines itself by honor, a day dedicated to determining one's honor and perhaps redoubling one's dedication to it, it makes sense.
It's too bad they couldn't portray that better here. When Worf did Klingon stuff on the Enterprise, he brought a majesty to it. What could have been overdone (and, to be honest, it often was) still came off as sincere. What we didn't understand, we could still see meant a great deal to Worf. Torres saw it as a ridiculous spectacle, though...and thus, so did we.
Seven of Nine seems to have made quantum leaps forward in her reassimilation efforts. Gone was the emotionally tortured mostly-Borg of "The Gift." This Seven of Nine seemed under amazing control, even detachment. Her walls cracked a few times, but for the most part Jeri Ryan played the role far more understated than in her first two outings.
You get the feeling that every week in the near future will be designed to Teach Seven Something. This week, she learned about Unexpected Acts of Kindness. Chakotay was unexpectedly supportive of Seven of Nine, after his hostility and Borgophobia of "Scorpion" and "The Gift." (I understand there's a reason for this--the episode next week was originally intended to air this week. Ah well.)
Paris, perhaps not so unexpectedly, offered Seven his friendship; he knows all too well what it's like to be the least popular person in the room. She seemed bewildered at first by his gestures, but it touched her even so, as her later talk with Janeway showed.
Harry...I'm not so sure about. He was getting chummy last week, but seemed ready to give her away this time around. But maybe I read that wrong.
Janeway, of course, wants to be in Seven's corner. Like Paris, Seven is her personal reclamation project. (They're already recycling Borg parts from her...)
And Seven, looking so human but thinking so alien, had to learn this lesson to save the ship. Whatever her role (most likely passive, receiving the data as part of the Collective) she didn't feel much at all toward the Caatati. No remorse, no guilt...no sympathy. But while Janeway may rightly point out that Seven thought of reintroducing the Caatati to their thorium technology (something Voyager might be able to use also? They could use more power, certainly) as an "unexpected act of kindness," there was also a Borg reason for doing so: it was efficient. The group didn't have to fight, the aliens gave them back their warp core, everyone was happy.
But still--not a bad breakthrough for the character. Mama Janeway has a right to be pleased.
The transwarp conduit effort was a failure this time around, but the investigation ruled that it was an accident. I have no doubt but that Janeway will insist on trying again, and that we may well see Voyager getting some form of Transwarp soon, and either speeding their journey home, or enabling them to make bigger jumps in case they're in a really tight spot. It's just a guess, but it wouldn't surprise me if Transwarp becomes part of the toolbox eventually. It wouldn't get them home in an instant; my guess it would still take years to get home.
But years beats the heck out of decades.
It's not impossible; Enterprise made use of Borg transwarp conduits in "Descent." The technologies are not inherently incompatible.
Okay. The Caatati.
The easy comparison would be between the Caatati and the Permanent Welfare Class or the victims of mass tragedy anywhere in the world, but it doesn't really fit. But let's consider the parallels.
The Caatati suffered a catastrophe--all but a few thousand of their kind were assimilated, along with the best of their technology and the knowledge to produce it. Its likely that those spared were those least likely to now how to fend for themselves except on the pity--or weakness--of others.
We don't know how long ago they were assimilated, but within the last twenty years is likely, since Seven of Nine had the knowledge, and I frankly don't see the Caatati lasting long on their own. Eventually, their tactics will piss someone off enough to respond aggressively.
Someone like the crew of Voyager.
And it takes a lot to tax their generosity.
They started off innocuous enough--they explained their recent run-in with the Borg, apologized for the intrusion, didn't appear in force, and asked for whatever the ship and crew could spare. A reasonable request, which few concerned citizens would deny.
Then they come aboard, see the appearance of wealth around them, and they revise their expectation. They turn on the hard sell. They play up their misery, dare anyone to say "we suffer too," and lay on the serious guilt. "How dare you sit there in your comfortable clothes and full bellies while people you just met are starving."
There may be some taken in by that logic. The late-night infomercials and certain non-profit group mailings depend on their ability to shame you into action. It's at once sad that it takes that level of emotional manipulation to get people shocked into action, and offensive that the people it HAS worked on in the past usually get more of the same, making you feel like scum if you don't donate everything you own to their particular cause.
Here's the problem. There are far more causes than there are resources. You have to pick and choose, or you'll have nothing left. And good luck getting any sympathy from the very organizations that hit you up for cash while you still had some to give.
There's a mistaken belief among the Caatati that you can never give them enough. They limit themselves only by their ability to take. What they cannot get by pure charity, they obtain by hardcore guilt. What they can't shame people into giving, they take by force. They're so wrapped up in their problems, so convinced that their only means of survival is by working within the system ("we're beggars, so we'll perfect the craft of begging,") that they closed their minds to other options. They took; they gave nothing in return.
Sometimes pure charity is needed. Sometimes a tragedy strikes, and all you can do is pour your heart out to the sufferers. But that's a temporary state; you do that too long, and you take away pride. And when that is gone, they can't conceive of any life other than what they're left with. They don't like it, but they can't escape their mindset.
What Seven of Nine gives them is more than just technology. It's a completely different view of themselves. She restored to them technology that their people had created. She not only gave them the device, but the materials and the knowledge to make and use it. The sad thing is that it took convincing for the Caatati to realize the magnitude of her offer. They're so busy thinking, "it's never enough, we need more," that they didn't realize that with this, they could MAKE more. As many as they needed.
But I worry that they are so wounded by their run-in with the Borg that all Voyager will have done is give these poor-me pirates the means to take even more from those in this part of space.
If we see them again later, and they're still taking--I say we blow the little weasels away. Put 'em on a planet, take away all their technology, tattoo stars on the bellies of half of 'em, and let 'em duke it out.
They don't look like Sneetches for nothing.
People are generally good, I think. They want to think of themselves as good, at least. Voyager gave freely. Then they gave till it really hurt. When the Caatati continued to push, though, they prepared to fight back.
Okay. Enough politicizing. If I've lost your vote for higher office because I'm for pragmatic compassion...oh well. Feel free to ask me for money. But if I give and you wrinkle your nose and call me a greedy puke for not giving more...I'm getting Republican on your hiney.
Okay, one final thought. It seemed appropriate to throw in some blues lyrics, because if anyone had a right to sing the blues this week, it was B'Elanna. Talk about a bad mojo day.
Looks like I've still got something to say. And perhaps I ought to go back and edit my original thoughts, but a postscript seems more appropriate.
They called this "Day of Honor." I suggested this episode could equally have been called "Stormy Monday," or "Delta Blues," or something equally blues-related. Torres had a hellaciously bad day.
A bad day on the Day of Honor. Well, it's pretty much what the holo-Klingon was proposing, wasn't it? Pain sticks, titanic battles with bat'telh masters, and long hikes in the fart swamps of Cesspool VI.
For someone without honor, the herculean trials could give him or her something to feel honorable about. And certainly, when getting your butt kicked, you start to ask "why me?"
Eventually, knee-deep in your own lactic acid-soaked innards, that question may well be answered.
B.B. King once said, "The Blues ain't nothing but a good man feelin' bad." The Blues is a way of acknowledging your troubles, expressing them, and (hopefully) moving beyond them. Likewise, the Day of Honor seems to be about measuring your progress, and reflecting on where you want to go from here.
In that sense, B'Elanna had her Day of Honor. She endured trial after trial, took the best shots Mala Fortuna could lob at her, and if it took a bit of a miracle to survive the effort, she would have died having run the gauntlet with nothing to be ashamed of. She hit the point where there was nothing to do but consider where she was, who she was, and what she would change if given the chance. And in what little time was left to her...she did. She expressed her fears, she named the trait she would most like to change (running away before she got hurt)...and she said the words that made her as vulnerable as if she'd bared her throat to a full-blooded Klingon.
It may not have been strictly Klingon...but then, neither is she.
* * *
Bottom line: an interesting episode. A lot going on, and a lot of it didn't get completely resolved--that's a good thing. The Paris/Torres romance has taken the next step, and Seven of Nine is learning to apply her Borg knowledge in new situations, as well as re-learn some long-suppressed human emotions. She's intriguing, to say the least.
On a 0-10 scale, I'll give this one a 7.25, or (* * *) . I'm grading a little harder this season, but it was still a solid (if occasionally frustrating) effort, with some nice acting all the way around. Particular kudos to Mulgrew, Ryan, McNeill and Dawson. And honorable mention to Phillips as Neelix, for giving SOME life to the Day of Honor idea.
Next week: Chakotay remakes PREDATOR, and learns a lesson about hate. (Quick guess: he'll discover that Hate is Bad.)
Still aching for more on this episode? Check out Julia's, or head on over to the lounge where Kris offers her musings from the comfy chair.
And, if you're looking for more, DangerMom's the first out the gate with her "Day of Honor" epilogue.