The following is a SPOILER Review for the Star Trek: Voyager episode, "Deadlock." If you have not seen the episode yet and do not want to have the plot given away, stop reading now.
The SASR [Short Attention Span Review] is the creation of Jim Wright. I usually watch an episode no more than twice before preparing its review. What the recap lacks in accuracy, I hope to compensate with creativity. The result is as much a retelling as a review.
NOTE: I reserve the right to change my mind later, but I do not reserve the right to change the content of the review once it is posted. Addenda, perhaps, but you won't see me changing a score here. However, I am working on a "Season Recap" page that will reconsider my earlier scores. Brevity lovers, take heart--the Second Thoughts Reviews will be a lot shorter than the first time around.
"There Can Be Only One." In The Highlander, the game is to kill or be killed. In Star Trek, it's a race to see who can self-destruct first. Directed by Jack Kevorkian.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Ensign Samantha Wildman, her delivery date near at hand, is eating when Neelix asks her to look at the kitchen equipment. Things are on the fritz, and Harry Kim hasn't come around yet to fix them. The first device shouldn't be too tough; the second, a replicator, has been getting more use than Wildman had realized. Apparently the promise of the ship's cargo bay gardens hasn't kept up, and replicated vegetables have been necessary. (This is a concern I imagine will be addressed in a future episode.) While Wildman probes, her unborn child gets impatient, and a few seconds later she's in sickbay yelling at Holodoc when he tells her to push.
Seven hours later, Tom Paris asks how long it takes to deliver a baby. "As long as it takes," says Janeway. Tuvok replies that his third child was 96 hours in the delivering; "I have observed that pregnancy and patience go hand in hand," he adds drolly as everyone else winces at the thought.
This is the first baby born on board, and Janeway doesn't know whether to welcome the child, or apologize to it--Voyager is a long way from home, and the Delta Quadrant makes a lousy nursery.
Paris is jolted back to work by the announcement of 20 Vidiian ships and two Vidiian planets. That's a whole mess of ugly people looking for fresh meat, and Janeway doesn't feel like obliging; they soon find and take an escape route through a Plot Complication.
In sickbay, Wildman's labor has taken a turn for the worse; the child is half Katarian, and they have head spikes. This child's forehead got caught inside the womb, and the pregnancy takes a dangerous turn. Other options exhausted, Holodoc orders a fetal transport. (I'm just guessing, but if I'd been in labor for over seven hours and only then learn I coulda beamed that puppy out of there from the start, I think I'd reprogram the dang emergency medical hologram into a serious case of something painful as soon as I could walk again.) Beam-out successful, and...it's a girl. With three wicked little spikes in her forehead. It needs some post-beam therapy, but is otherwise healthy.
Then--the plot complication. Voyager hits a speed bump, and power goes goofy. The antimatter supply is draining rapidly, but they can't figure out where to. Torres suggests initiating a proton burst, every thirty seconds, which she thinks might stabilize things. But before she can do so, they are rocked by...a proton burst. But they don't know where it came from. Power continues to fluctuate, and the newborn child's medical treatments are hindered. Every thirty seconds, a proton burst shorts out systems, weakens ship integrity, and yanks the child's life further and further from safety, despite the Holodoc's best efforts--casualties are streaming in from all over the ship, and there aren't enough hands to help everyone. Soon the power drain affects even Holodoc's program, and he starts to fade out.
Harry Kim has come up with an idea that may strengthen the interior of the ship; Janeway orders him to implement it. He meets Torres and Hogan (a Maquis who seems to be fitting in better these days, particularly after his friend Michael Jonas went too far into Seska's camp), but find the going rough. Hogan is injured by a proton burst and calls for help; Kes responds. Kim is killed by another when a hull breach sucks him into the vacuum of space. It's the kind of heroic but pointless death you believe cannot be permanent.
As Torres looks on in horror as Kim floats away and Hogan bleeds, Kes runs to assist--and disappears. Torres reports all this to Janeway; apparently Kes ran into a "spatial rift." Torres tosses a piece of damaged bulkhead into the void, and it promptly vanishes as she takes copious notes. Whatever's on the other side, she reports to the captiain, there's air there. Kes is conceivably still alive, wherever she is. But Hogan is hurt badly enough and the proton bursts continue to wreak havoc, and there's no further time to investigate.
On the bridge, Chakotay tries magnetizing the hull. It seems to work for a while, long enough for Tuvok to report the damage sustained so far. It is extensive. The ship is leaking like a sieve, people are injured everywhere, and entire decks have been evacuated. And Janeway has sustained a small but highly visible injury on her cheek, and her hair's mussed. She looks like hell.
The proton bursts return with a vengeance, and soon the bridge is uninhabitable. Janeway refuses to abandon the bridge until she can repair the worst breach, but unlike Harry Kim she manages to succeed before it claims her. As she flees the bridge she looks back with regret, determination--and wonder. She sees what seems like the bridge as it was, complete with people. Including herself.
The other Janeway looks back at her.
On an undamaged bridge, Janeway orders Harry Kim to scan for other life forms on the bridge. When asked why, she says she just saw herself, "and I looked like hell." Sure enough, there was an anomaly of some sort a moment before. Janeway orders them to investigate further, while she heads to sickbay, where she looks on the condition of the ship's newest member: the daughter of Ensign Wildman, being attended to by her mom, Holodoc, and Kes. The baby's fine; the treatments were successful, and the only concern is that breast feeding will become iffy once the girl's teething fangs grow in in a few days.
After checking on the child, Janeway looks in on the other patient. An unconscious Kes, identical in virtually every way to the conscious Kes. When the other Kes awakens, she describes the condition on the vessel she left. This brings up the usual Trek questions: where and when the other Voyager came from. In Trek, there are always possibilities, some more frequently turned to than others. They finally manage to narrow it down to the speed bump they hit in the cloud thingie when they were running from the Vidiians. Their sensors show that just after they hit the thing, all their sensor readings were doubled. (Did someone say "Divergence field"?) Torres and Janeway refer to a Kent State study (I'm assuming it's the Kent State) that showed that matter can be duplicated, but that antimatter cannot. They surmise that they and the other Voyager, which occupy the same space but out of phase a little bit, are sucking from the same antimatter well, which is why their antimatter levels are so hosed. Janeway and the other Kes mention the proton bursts and its effects; Kes says that the proton bursts were hammering her ship into a pulp. Janeway orders the proton bursts halted, despite Torres' protests--she doesn't want to willingly damage the other Voyager any further.
Step 1: understand the problem. Check. Step 2: Share the understanding. Janeway and Torres consider the options. It's a tricky one, but the engineer in Janeway asserts itself. She suggests whistling. The initial contact is little more than a piercing, shrill wail on all frequencies, which should get through. Once the other ship latches onto the source, they can send a very brief coded message: "set your dial to 12 gigahertz" (Who said bumper stickers for radio stations wasn't effective advertising?) The low-tech method works, and soon the other Voyager is getting whistled at, advertised to, and finally greeted by the unmarred, smartly-coiffed visage of Captain Janeway, as the bedraggled, marred, bad-hair-day'd Other Janeway looks on in amazement. (From here on out, the beat-up-by-proton-bursts, bursting at the seams, Harry-Kim-in-Space Voyager and her crew will be referred to as the Other Voyager, and Other [insert crewman name here]..)
In sickbay, Holodoc discusses nursing methods with ensign Wildman, while the Other Kes listens and weeps. Her Other Holodoc had tried to save the Other Child, but had failed. Her tears earn the notice of Holodoc. She exlains that their child wasn't so lucky. She describes what they tried; the same was tried here. But the different circumstances led to different results. Holodoc tells Other Kes not to fret overly; it sounded like they did all they could, but the situation was beyond their control. Other Kes seems somewhat calmed by this.
On Other Voyager, Other Janeway discusses the recent message from Janeway. Other Tuvok considers the possibility that it's a trick or a trap, but Janeway's description of events as they (1) saw them, and (2) guessed, seemed to add up. And they said they had Kes, who was still alive after the trip, and were working on a way to return her. They agree to try to fuse the ships back together, and coordinate the effort with Voyager.
The attempt fails. The phase shift is even worse, and the antimatter situation leaves them with only thirty minutes before both ships and crews explode in a fit of mutual annihilation. The formerly "healthy" Voyager is now in bad shape itself; the "wounded" Voyager, in dire straits. The communications are lost, but soon restored. Janeway and Other Kes equip themselves with the means to travel through the breach without getting knocked senseless, and pass through; Janeway marches into Other Janeway's engine room like a conquering general, stating they needed to have a little one-on-one.
It's not easy arguing with yourself. I know, I've tried. It's even harder when you're dealing with two different but related situations, which I haven't experienced because my life isn't based in science fiction. Janeway and Other Janeway have a choice. They've looked at options, most of which result in mutual destruction. We do learn that up to a half dozen people could evacuate from one ship to the other without things getting too unstable, but beyond that--boom. It's not an option worth considering.
Other Janeway sets her jaw and orders Janeway to return to Voyager; Janeway realizes what Other Janeway is thinking. You can't easily lie to yourself, and Other Janeway fares no better; Janeway states baldly that Other Janeway intends to destroy her ship so Janeway's Voyager can survive. They argue about it, but the best Janeway gets is fifteen minutes to come up with a better solution. (Just enough time for another plot complication, don't you think?)
Back on Voyager, Janeway calls Other Janeway with another option. Other Janeway considers it, but determines it won't work. Suddenly, the raining turns to pouring as a Vidiian vessel approaches. It's a big puppy, and Voyager is in no shape to defend itself. To say nothing of Other Voyager. The Vidiians only see one ship; they lock on with their weapons and let er rip. Both ships brace for impact...
Other Voyager is unhurt.
Voyager is not.
The choice was always, which ship has the better chance of surviving? The tables are turned, and Janeway's words come back to haunt her: "If I were in your place, I'd blow up my ship." The fact is, she would, and she does. She asks only that the other Captain (1) get the ship back home, and (2) take Harry Kim and the baby along for the ride. The assumption: that Other Voyager only suffered two deaths. At least, only two worth mentioning. Janeway orders Kim to get the baby and jump ship; Kim protests, but Janeway won't take anything but "I'm outta here" for an answer. She sets the self-destruct as the Vidiians flood her ship, and mutes the warning. In five minutes, Voyager is set to explode.
If HMOs had aircraft carriers, they'd look like Vidiians. They invade Voyager easily, and treat Tuvok and Paris and others like organ banks open for withdrawal. There's no question any longer: Voyager is worse off. Ships can be repaired; people, not so easily. Other Voyager is now the Darwinian front-runner.
Holodoc takes Wildman's baby into hiding as the Vidiians invade sickbay, methodically analyzing and extracting all the organs they can find. Ocampan physiology is deemed a treasure trove. The post-partum Ensign Wildman is considered even more so, and a feverish search begins for the child.
Harry Kim comes in the nick of time, phaser blazing, cutting short the organ harvest. Holodoc hands him the baby when he learns all is clear, and Harry explains the situation. Holodoc gives final instructions to Harry for Other Holodoc, and off they go.
Vidiians arrive on the bridge, encountering no resistance. Janeway rises regally and welcomes them aboard. This catches them off guard, but one of the underlings discovers the countdown.
"3 ... 2 ... 1 ... have a nice day." Foom.
I was disappointed; the sound effects on my television were underwhelming, as were the visuals. I've grown accustomed to spectacular starship death throes, but this one was more of a fizzle. But it did the job; the Voyager went fireball, taking the Vidiian ship and all hands with it, leaving Other Voyager in empty space, bowed but not unbroken.
In sickbay, Other Tuvok -- well, no more Others now, the Others are gone -- Tuvok asks Janeway if she would have nuked her ship as the other Janeway had done. She considers this and talks about the inner turmoil, the doubter and the doubted, yada yada yada. They talk as if the two ships and crews were so different; the understated fact is that they were only one crew right up to the time they became two, and the differences between them weren't all that great. (More on this later.) Janeway is tortured, partly (I'm guessing) because she didn't get to follow through and be the one to perform the noble self-sacrifice. She's threatened to blow up the ship countless times before, even set the autodestruct once ("Dreadnought"). In one sense, it's the easy way out. It may not be home, but at least it's heaven. Or Hell. Either way, the journey's over. (The religious implications of this episode are enough to send any seminarian scurrying for cover.)
Ensign Wildman has her child again. If she's confused by any of this, it's overwhelmed by her joy. Holodoc smirks, boasts, and asks if the other Holodoc had a name to go along with their shared genius. I guess the name his recent Vidiian girlfriend gave him didn't stick. She was a sweetheart, but she comes from a group of people you would rather remember from a distance.
Harry Kim is a stranger in a strange land. Like Steven Wright, "Everything had been stolen and replaced with an exact duplicate." It's not his Voyager, Janeway isn't his captain, yet she is, and it is, and he's got a headache. It's all a little weird, he confesses. "We're starfleet officers," Janeway replies with a smile. "Weird is part of the job."
You can say that again.
We've seen this story before, in various forms. It's a new spin, but not an original concept. Trek has been duplicating and destroying ships and individuals for decades. I hate to say it, but it's pretty much Much Ado About Little.
The ship's condition isn't great to start with; Neelix mentions the disappointing production of the gardens. They need to repair and replenish the power supply for the replicators, or they'll starve to death somewhere along the road. They're not self-sustaining yet, and they may be decreasingly so over time.
Then the plot complication comes along, hammering the ship to within a micrometer of its life, taxing resources further, beating that once-impressive Warp 9.75 (or something) maximum speed into a bare crawl; after a couple of years they're still facing the same darned species over and over. I'm sorry, but they should have been out of this area long ago. With Next Generation-era ships, maximum warp takes you a long way away in a very short time. They're going nowhere fast, and the original promise of all new species all the time, seeking out new life and new civilizations, has mired itself into the Same Old Thing. We have Vidiians instead of Ferengi and Kazon filling in for the Cardassians (with the help of a Cardassian) and we're stuck in a rut.
I can understand that there are economic reasons for this--it takes time and money to invent a species, give it costumes and makeup and eyebrow ridges or weird ears or funky hairstyles or whatever, and not bring it back a lot to recoup the investment. Each series has had its recurring races and species--Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi, Bajorans, Cardassians, Changelings, Native Americans, Celtiberians. But what each series has promised in one form or another, only the original series was consistently successful at: inventing new species time and time again. The other series have introduced new species, but even TNG, which was ostensibly out to explore strange new worlds and seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before...was frequently little more than a warp-capable Rescue 911. "Jean-luc, that planet over there is out of alignment. Go fix it. Next week, zap the pollution from that other planet...." Discovery gave way to chivalry in a very crowded alpha quadrant.
With Deep Space Nine, we have a similar situation. A wormhole to a whole new quadrant of the galaxy, with abundant opportunities for exploring new life. And what do we get: the Dominion, the Founders, and a whole galaxy that was better left undiscovered. It's no longer unknown, but it is unsafe. You know what awaits you on the other side of the fence, so you stay on your side.
That's two exhausted quadrants of space. Then we have the Delta Quadrant, a fresh start, a Federation ship all on its own way the heck out there...and it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.. Same nemesis, different costume.
What I'm saying is, fix the dang ship, put the pedal to the metal and get the heck out of Dodge. Warp Nine Thousand yourselves away from all the baggage of the first two seasons, the Kazon and the Vidiians and Seska and the Caretakers and seek out fresh territory. Just think: We know that there are at least two Ferengi and the Borg homeworld out in the Delta Quadrant. You want familiar? Head thataway. Find new villains, new allies, SOMEONE who hasn't heard of the rogue Starfleet vessel yet.
<cough> er, end of Rant (have I ranted on this subject before?).
We have a tortured Janeway; we see her calm, cool and collected; we see her ruffled and bloodied by her own decisions, and alive by the same decisions. In one of the first episodes Chakotay asked Janeway if she would willingly have allied herself and her crew to a subordinate role on a Maquis vessel; she stated that it is the captain's prerogative to not answer such questions. Here, Tuvok asks a question that could have received the same answer, but we get to see her agonize after the fact, to no needful purpose. Self-doubt is not a trait a captain should share with anyone. Even Kirk, who had his share at times, was very careful who he shared himself with--almost always Spock and McCoy. But there was a past between those three that we felt as strongly ourselves. We expected them to share such intimacies.
I haven't felt that groundwork between Janeway and Tuvok, or anyone else. Torres probably comes closest, because they're both engineering types and think much the same way. I'd like to see it between Janeway and Chakotay, because I think it's crucial that they become a team. They have too many secrets between them, and too little evident trust. As for Tuvok--I think he needs to loosen up a bit. He's the first full-time, full-blooded Vulcan we've had to watch, and he doesn't impress. He's too...blah. He's decades older than Janeway, but still a Lieutenant. At his age, Spock had already retired from starfleet as a Captain and had moved on to Ambassador. In too many ways, he's played like the Holodoc without the bravado. All that's missing is the "it's not in my programming." Vulcans were much more interesting in Spock's heyday, which technically Tuvok is old enough to remember. Logic was Spock's religion, his passion. Tuvok is a logic automaton, dispassionate to the point of coma. He has the potentially fatal character flaw of being uninteresting. "Meld" was a step in the right direction for Tuvok, but he needs more of that. I'm generally against messing with a character's head, but it worked to good effect with Spock. Throw in a good Pon Farr or something.
...and thus endeth Rant 2. Sheesh. Stop me before I vent again.
What have we learned? One, the Vidiians have some big ships, and these doctors make house calls. Two, clouds in the Delta Quadrant are more likely to have plot complications than silver linings. Three, Voyager is in serious need of a friendly starbase and several weeks' repairs and replenishment. Four, Baby on Board--look for lots of subplots involving the new child. Five: Harry Kim is not THE Harry Kim--he's another Harry Kim, but there's no real difference unless the writers want to make something of it. I hope not; just move on like O'Brien did. A difference that means nothing is no difference.
Kinda messy, as episodes go. If Seska wants to take over Voyager, now's a good time.
On a 0-10 scale, I'll give this one a 6.25. Way too much techobabble, and the climactic Voyager Death scene was pretty lame--a firecracker in a wind tunnel. (I had my subwoofer turned up to11 for that scene, and the neighbors didn't even feel the need to complain.) And Janeway needs a true confidant something fierce; she didn't even warm up to herself.
Copyright © 1996 Jim Wright