The following is a SPOILER Review. If you have not seen the episode yet and do not want to have the plot given away, stop reading now.
This is not just a review; it's a retelling of the episode from start to finish, limited only by my ability to remember the details. I do this for my friends in uniform and those living overseas or who otherwise do not have access to the episodes as they are aired.
A hot-headed 29th-century time-traveler sends the 24th-century Voyager into the 20th-century, where they must get medieval on a corporate neanderthal. Meanwhile, Paris flirts with a cute astronomer, and Kes gets hooked on Soaps.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
Earth, 1967, the High Sierra mountains of California. The night was sultry. A lone camper is adjusting the radio by a fire, his hippie hair and forearm tattoo switching from news to the Freedom Rock station. As he bangs his pots and pans more or less to the alleged rhythm, the sky lights up in unearthly shades. Winds stirs up, the radio crackles with a less commercial form of static. The hippie checks for flying monkeys--nope, the drugs have worn off. Then there's a crash, and the hippie moves to investigate. We do not see what he sees, but we do know what he thinks: "Far out...."
Cut to the future. Janeway is practicing her tennis serve in her ready room. The door chimes, and she says Enter, just as she smashes a wicked overhand, sending the ball right at the face of Lieutenant Tuvok. Who catches the ball effortlessly. Janeway is taking the sport up again after 19 years, when she played in high school. (Her high school tennis career is covered in MOSAIC--they are apparently determined to integrate some of those novel's background details this season to ensure their canon status.) The intervening years have not been kind; Janeway says she entered a holodeck tournament at the novice level and got beat in straight sets. Tuvok offers her some pointers on her serve; she asks if he played tennis. "Simple physics," he explains. He has come to report on the monthly security evaluations. Before they can get down to business, Chakotay calls Red Alert.
A horizontal rift has appeared in the space-time continuum, looking much like a 60s-era appendectomy scar. Through it flies a very small ship, with one occupant, and--Kim frowns before adding--a Federation warp signature. They hail the ship. Its response is a hail of nasty weapons fire. A brief struggle ensues, in which the tiny ship's weapon nearly tears the ship apart, and a series of big and technical terms are thrown about in an effort to stop it. Finally, one of the babble words works long enough to get the ship to hail them. "I am Captain Braxton of the Federation Timeship Aeon," he says. He adds that he's from the 29th century, stationed on earth. "You're responsible for the destruction of earth's solar system. My mission is your destruction. You must not resist." The pounding resumes.
Well, pardon us for not going gently into that good night.
Chakotay asks if this could be possible. Janeway says she's not going to let the ship get blown up based on a 10 second conversation. Braxton doesn't seem eager to offer proof, so resistance is understandble. Somehow, Voyager's intrepid crew manages to throw babble against babble, and finally succeed in breaking off the attack. The Aeon gets sucked back into the time rift.
So does Voyager. Resistance is futile.
The obligatory flash of intense white light later, Janeway asks for a status report. Paris looks out the window. "Home," he says. The Big Blue Marble sits big and beautiful on the main screen. Janeway orders Kim to hail Starfleet command. No go; the only communications they can find is EM (electromagnetic spectrum, not subspace) traffic, which Kim puts on audio. The ship is assailed with a cacophony of phone conversations, radio stations AM and FM, television audio, modem screeches, and so on--incomprehensible, perhaps, to them, but the audience picks up on it right away. "The question isn't where are we," Janeway finally says aloud to nobody in particular, "but when are we?" She orders Kim to get a fix on their location in time. He checks the stars, and announces that they're in 1996.
Paris notes that at this time in earth's history they had surveillance satellites in orbit, so Janeway orders them to make an orbit that avoids them. Then comes the search--any 29th century stuff on earth? Yes, says Kim, there's a subspace signature. Tuvok localizes it to Los Angeles. (Venice Beach, to be precise, though they don't say that.) "We've got to go down there," Janeway announces.
She picks the away team--Paris, Chakotay, Tuvok, and herself. Paris is the 20th century buff, and can help them fit in. Tuvok, the security dweeb, can keep Paris from having too much fun. As for Chakotay and herself--you romantic conspiracy theorists, let your imaginations run wild. Janeway hands the ship over to Ensign Harry Kim, and as the away team enters the turbolift, Janeway asks what they'll need on the surface. "That's easy,"
Paris smirks. "Nice clothes, fast car, and lots of money."
Earth, 1996, Venice Beach, southern California. The cantina in Mos Eisley from STAR WARS didn't feature this diverse a sampling of species. Bikini beach babes, punkers on roller blades, admen on stilts, an infinite variation of styles and outfits, and various stages of undress. From a vantage point above the boardwalk, the away team looks on. "We could have worn our Starfleet uniforms and fit right in," notes Tuvok.
Janeway and Chakotay are decked out in conservative yet comfortable informalwear--Janeway in a cream-white outfit, Chakotay in the ever-popular t-shirt and blazer. Paris has jeans, a muscle shirt covered with a blue Hawaiian floral print, and Tuvok...Vulcanz in the 'Hood. No 108 year-old should be forced to dress like that.
Tuvok and Paris check out the shoreline, while Janeway and Chakotay stroll the boardwalk. Their goal: the subspace signature, which is somewhere within a 100 meter radius. Chakotay tells Janeway, smiling, "well...you got us home!" "Right place, wrong time," adds Janeway. They chat like young lovers as they gawk at the sea of primitive humanity, wondering if any of them might be their distant ancestors, hoping against hope that it isn't the ones with more body piercings than A Man Called Horse. Chakotay considers looking up his ancestors; one, he says, is a schoolteacher in Arizona. (Could that make him Navajo? They cheated in "Sacred Ground" and didn't tell us his tribe after all the rumors that they would.) They bump into a babe on skates, who apologizes and skates on. "She could be my great great great great great...great grandmother!" Janeway says in wonderment. "She's got your legs," he says cheerily. Janeway says this entire region was knocked under 200 meters of water in the Hermosa Quake of 2047 (note to Starfleeters: if you use the metric system in Los Angeles in 1996, people will look at you funny, unless it's liters of Coke or grams of...coke). It's now (in the 24th century) a huge coral reef, home to myriad undersea species. (Martin Sheen and Ed Begley, Jr. will be thrilled to hear this.) As a pair of neon-spike-haired retro-punkers stroll by, Chakotay can't help but add, "there are some interesting species in this century." They share a horrified look at their planet's past. (It coulda been worse; they could have met Club Kidz.)
On the beach, under the boardwalk, Paris and Tuvok disagree over the relative merits of hazardous UV levels. Tuvok would prefer to keep his shirt on and his molecules un-irradiated. Paris doesn't mind soaking up the 'rays and getting a bitchin' tan. Tuvok notes the idiocy of exposing one's skin to dermal mayhem. Paris notes, "deep down, you Vulcans are just a bunch of hypochondriacs." They find nothing on the beach front, and head back for the captain and first officer, who meanwhile have zeroed in on the source. A shopping-cart homeless guy, digging in a garbage can.
* * *
At the famous and gorgeous Griffith Observatory, we get a view that isn't on the tour. A grungy and ill-lit office, covered with B-film posters, sci-fi paraphenalia, clutter, electronic equipment, computers, half-eaten Chinese takeout, a Godzilla with a belly you shake up and it snows inside...
And a brunette, olive-skinned twentysomething woman of Trek-friendly proportions. (This is southern California, after all. The inordinate kindness of mother DNA, or its equivalent weight in silicon, is a residency requirement.) Her feet are kicked up, she's feeding a sip of caffeine-in-a-can to the glass-gut Godzilla. She's observing the computer screen with one eye.
The computer beeps. It's found something she wasn't expecting. "No way!" She mutters, and the feet hit the floor and she begins typing. A few screens later, the familiar globe of earth with an orbiting something appears. "Way," she corrects herself.
A blonde guy in the onset of middle age places a computer chip on a glass table. "It's crap," he says, and in 20th century technobabble goes into detail, chewing out the chip's manufacturer. He has a computer he wants to debut in a few months, but with the chip given he might as well rename it from Super Max Speedy PC Ultra Pro Plus 97, to Edsel. We get the impression that he's very exacting, but not very nice. He's probably unpleasant by nature.
His intercom buzzes. He humiliates his unseen assistant for a while, until he's told the call comes from Griffith, from someone saying it's urgent. He dismisses the chip-maker, and takes the call. It's from the young woman we just saw; she introduces herself as Rain Robinson ("Rain?" I bet her parents were hippies), an astronomer working on a project he (Mr. Henry Starling) is funding. She sounds quite intimidated to be talking with the guy, for good reason. He lacks warm interpersonal skills. In lay terms, he's a real weener. "Anyway, you said you wanted to be notified immediately if we located a gamma emission that matched the frequency profile you gave us...well, I did. So I am."
Starling perks up. He asks if she's told anyone; she says not yet, but she's eager to. He douses her enthusiasm, and specifically tells her to do nothing more than continue to monitor, and to report only to her. But he gives her a small carrot. "All the same, I'll put some champagne on ice." He asks if she thinks ET likes chateau beauf or something like that. She says if not, she's got a six-pack in the fridge.
Any bets on who of the away team will warm up to Rain first?
Starling hangs up, takes off his jacket, and grabs a glass of water. We note the tattoo on his forearm. (If not, I hoped you taped it; go on, go back to the beginning of the episode and check the hippie. We have a match.)
Meanwhile, our young Miss Robinson finds that some directives just make no sense, so she says Heck With It and sends the standard SETI greeting to the UFO. "Anyone up there?" she asks.
On Voyager, Torres gives a damage report to Kim. The big problem is with the transporter; they can't do a long-range beamout. The only way to beam up the away team is to take the ship down. (I wonder why shuttles weren't considered.) As Kim considers this, the officer at Ops tells him that they're getting an EM burst from the planet. Harry says to put it on screen, and we finally get to see the SETI greeting message.
Pretty cool. Nice and multimedia, multilingual, etc. "Shall I answer?" "Absolutely not," says Kim, forgetting the correct answer: "Hhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllll no!!!!" But hey, go easy on him, it's his first day in command.
As the entire away team follows a lone bum around while he puts up crudely-penned End of the World signs with duct tape, Kim gives them a ring and explains what just happened. Janeway tells him to beam Paris and Tuvok over to the originating coordinates, but Kim explains the transporter difficulties. Janeway tells Tuvok and Paris to get there the old-fashioned way. Paris says it's too far to walk--and nobody walks in L.A. anyway--and the public transportation system bites. "We need wheels," he says. Janeway tells him to do what they need, but be careful not to disturb the timeline.
Janeway and Chakotay follow the bum into an alley, the guy's little corner of home--a stripped banana-colored Vega, trash cans, and spray painted warnings that the end is near. At first, the old guy freaks when he sees them, convinced they're here to take his stuff. Janeway assures him they couldn't care a whit about his stuff. The old fart considers her for a moment. "Voyager," he says, pulling the word from a thousand years away (give or take five centuries). Janeway seems to catch on. "Captain Braxton!" She says. His mind back in the future, Braxton's tone turns accusatory. "This is all your fault! You wouldn't let me destroy you. Fools!" he spits.
Well, nice seeing you again, too. Janeway finds the source of the subspace signal: a 29th-century combadge. It's a solid black, sideways Starfleet symbol, complemented by a silver wedge to form an elongated football.
Braxton continues to rant about everything being Voyager's fault. But his persuasive and interpersonal skills haven't improved since their last meeting. Then he runs to his little banana republic and screams because someone stole his Pringles (at least, I think that's what he said). Janeway asks how long he's been here (30 years) and why Voy arrived at a different time (pure chance). She asks why he's so certain the 29th century solar-system conflagration is their fault.
He grabs a big lump of chalk and decides to put his ravings into terms his mere 24th century forebears can understand. He draws an A. "A - There is an explosion in the 29th century. Debris from Voyager is found." (Dang--they must have impressive search equipment in the 29th century to find some hull debris after an entire freakin' heavily-inhabited SOLAR SYSTEM goes Foom.) "I go back to the 24th century to stop you. B - Voyager prevents me from destroying you, destabilizing my equipment and throwing me back to the 20th century. C - someone from the 20th century steals my timeship and launches it. It goes back to the future, but makes a critical mistake that launches a temporal explosion...and we jump back to A."
Janeway asks if he can prove this. Apparently, the Southland's Pringles-nappers aren't interested in chronometric data, because he still has his notes from immediately after the crash of his ship. He manages to show after some too-techie jargon that if the ship isn't properly calibrated before it jumps back to the future...Boom.
Chakotay asks, rhetorically, if they can find who stole the ship. Braxton knows. He has a name, and news clippings. Starling. Braxton has followed the man's career, and considers him armed and evil.
Unfortunately, for the captain of a timeship, Braxton is a bit of an incompetent. He can't function in 20th century society, ending up in insane asylums, sucking thorazine and shock treatments, hanging with Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt and generally losing whatever sanity he brought with him to the 24th century from the 29th. Every 500 year jump in the past seems to take a toll on his IQ. (I mean, come on--Rembrandt "Cryin' Man" Brown has handled the fish-out-of-water syndrome a lot better than this loser.) He just can't keep his mouth shut about the future, which among all but science fiction fans is an invitation to not take you seriously.
Chakotay still can't understand why Voyager shouldn't at least try to stop Starling. Braxton points to the A-B-C chart. By doing anything, they cause the catastrophic event. He won't entertain the possibility that their inaction could just as easily lead to it.
But you can expect Janeway won't take that for an answer.
While Braxton argues, the police arrive. They call him Captain; he's apparently a minor eccentric celebrity among the good citizens of Venice Beach. They ask him if he's been putting up signs again; Braxton denies it. He calls them quasi-Cardassian totalitarians (so there are Cardassians in the 29th century?) Then he tries to get them to listen to reason, and introduces his friends from the future--who say nothing in his defense. Braxton runs away, with the cops in hot pursuit. Chakotay and Janeway head for Starling and his company, Chronowerx.
It's hard to miss. It's a big building with "Chronowerx" emblazoned along the rooftop, and its corporate logo is the 29th century combadge.
Meanwhile, at Chronowerx....
Starling is assuring some professor on the phone that the Griffith findings are preliminary, and that "we're not at the little green men stage yet." Having sufficiently defused the professor's enthusiasm, Starling hangs up, and rants to his assistant, Dunbar (I prefer "thug.") Starling is furious; he calls Rain a little brat, because she emailed a friend at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory,) who told his professor at Cal Tech. Starling tells Thug to go to Griffith, get all the data Miss Robinson has gathered so far...and to get rid of her. It's a touchy situation at the moment, and he blames it on the Rain.
Before Thug can leave, Starling tells him that the orbiting folks may show up soon, so he'd better take The Weapon with him. Yup, he's not a nice guy.
A big blue, brand new pickup truck with no plates pulls up to Griffith Observatory. Tuvok is complaining to Paris about the ethics of stealing a car. Paris refuses to call it stealing, preferring "test drive." Tuvok thinks they should have taken a cab, for the sake of the timestream. "Somehow I doubt that taking a test drive will alter the course of the universe," says Paris, who always has had a problem seeing the Big Picture. Had he been on the bridge when the SETI call came, I can't see him saying "absolutely not" when asked about the reply.
They enter the observatory, blow past the sign that says "employees only, do not enter," and walk into the currently unoccupied room with the posters and the clutter and the leftover takeout food and the snowglobe Godzilla. Paris starts rifling through the paper on the desk, confirming that this is the place. Tuvok chides him. "I will not lighten up on this matter. Thus far I have tolerated your impulsive methods. At times, they do work to our advantage. But discretion is also a virtue--we must leave things exactly as they were." So saying, he reshuffles the star charts in their proper order and plants them in their prior place on the desk, using Zilla as a paperweight.
Their tricorders confirm that they've been tracked...by its warp emissions, something nobody in the 20th century should know about, let alone know how to scan for.
Rain enters, pizza box in one hand, half-eaten slice in the other, and the two intruders quickly pocket their tricorders. She notices them, reads the sign to them, and seems eager to see them gone.
Recall that Rain is a babe. And that Paris is a Babe-hound. He locks tractors, sets phasers on Flirt, and tries to establish a lock.
"Sorry, we got lost at the Saturn exhibit on the tour," he says, adding further wackiness to the Starfleet Pilot Gets Lost folklore begun with Sulu and Chekov in the woods in Star Trek V: The One We'd Like To Forget. She provides directions, and her look strongly suggests she hopes they'll follow them immediately.
Ooh, her shields are up.
Paris calls her lab "groovy." She repeats the word under her breath as if it were smothered in Spam and Broccoli. In flirting terms, Paris is piloting his shuttle into a black hole. Paris asks what they do here. "We watch the skies," she says. "For what?" "For extra-terrestrial life." Her face has a go-yon expression.
Paris tries a different tack. "By the way, my name's Tom Paris." he flashes the Smile that Launched a Thousand Lawsuits. Humoring him, she shakes her hand and gives her name. "Your curves don't look so great," Paris adds, leaning in close, looking right at her.
When in doubt, go for the gratuitous double-entendre.
"Excuse me?" she demands. Her curves look dang good to me.
"This is a Fourtier Spectral Analysis?" he asks, pointing at the screen, pointing out the curves to which he had been originally referring. Sudden embarrassment overtakes her, and she begins to consider him with something warmer than Absolut Zero. She says it is, suddenly impressed. "You might get better resolution if you adjust your amplitude parameters," he says, and she finds herself agreeing with him, and not just to be nice. "You may also try a theta-band filter," he adds.
"You know a lot for someone who can't find his way past Saturn," Rain notes, not unkindly.
"I majored in astrophysics."
"Starfleet Academy." Whoops. Tuvok gives him a mental demerit.
"Never heard of it."
"Ummm...It's an east-coast school."
Sensing he's almost past her shields, Paris walks towards one of the yellowed movie posters. "Orgy of the Walking Dead? That's a classic!" He gushes, and seems to mean it. It's nice to know that Joe Bob was right--the drive-in will never die. "Did you see the sequel...Bride of the Corpse?" She stares at him. "Let me guess--you majored in B movies." But she can't help but feel impressed, and a little tingly--he knows his astrophysics, he knows his cheesy flicks, and he's cute. "Something like that," he grins; her heart's been boarded by the Starship Troopers o' Love.
Tuvok interrupts. We should be going, he says; our friends are waiting for us. Paris seems disappointed; he's had a genuinely good time with her. She seems disappointed as well. "Well, I guess we gotta go," Paris says, and they turn to go.
Rain stops them. "I run the laser show on Tuesday nights; I could save you some tickets. 'The best stars in California are right over our heads,' you know?" she's nervous; she's taking a risk she's not used to, I'm guessing.
Paris looks at Tuvok, and reluctantly declines. She seems crushed; Paris had been full-court pressing her at first, then...nothing. Can't blame her for feeling hurt. They leave, and she drops heavily into her chair. She sulks, until her computer gives her something else to think about--wild accumulation of on-screen gunk, followed by a skull-and-crossbones and the notification of utter hard-drive hari-kiri. Her emotions change once again, and she looks toward the door where her recent uninvited guests just left.
As they leave the observatory, Tuvok says he grabbed all the data on her computer and then caused it to wipe itself. Paris seems bummed at the action; he's taken a liking to her, and doesn't seem to want to see her hurt. She'd done good work and he thought it would have helped her career. "And ended ours," Tuvok notes. Tuvok adds a question: "What does it mean, 'groovy'?"
Before he can answer, Rain comes bursting from the doors of the observatory, yelling after them. "Red alert!" Paris yells, and they double-time it back to the pickup.
Rain triple-times it. Carrying a backpack. (Why? There must be a reason. Foreshadowing, perhaps.) She yells at them, suspecting they've done something to hose her hard drive. She demands to know what Tuvok's got in his pants.(Gratuitous double-entendre. Can't get enough of it.) "I beg your pardon?" Tuvok asks. She is referring to his tricorder, which she saw him pocket when she walked in on them. Paris apologizes, but "we don't have time to explain."
The background view of Thug, wielding Phaser, seems to confirm this. When he fires, vaporizing the test-drive vehicle faster than any 24th-century phaser could and leaving the three of them out in the open, Rain shuts up momentarily. A brief firefight ensues; Tuvok, a crack shot after 110 years, covers the escape of Paris and Rain to her car, a blue-primer Volkswagon Bus. (Why am I not surprised?) Tuvok finally lands a lucky shot, and knocks the 29th-century phaser out of Thug's hands. Oddly, after the first obliteration, the high-tech phaser doesn't dissolve anything else. Apparently he had it set for "utility vehicle."
As Tuvok runs away, his four-square knotted handkerchief falls off his head, exposing his pointy ears. He grabs it and hightails it for the van, which is already moving. He makes an impressive escape that would have fit into any Spike Lee movie. All that was missing was the bass-thumping Shaft score.
Vulcanz in the 'Hood, indeed.
* * *
On Voyager, Kim checks up on the project he's assigned to Kes and Neelix. They've got a monitor screen with a number of television screens up at once, and they're flashing rapidly. Kes says they've set up the computer to search for key words. We see shows and commercials both familiar, Paramount-sponsored, and gratuitous. Can't blame 'em, though; at least there was no sign of Tesh. So far they haven't found what they're looking for, but they have discovered a fascinating form of entertainment: soap operas. Harry says he can't imagine enjoying any story he can't be a part of. Kes chides him gently, telling him he's been spoiled by the holodeck. "There's something to be said for getting swept up in the narrative," she says. Kim tells them to keep up the good work, but warns them (with a smile) not to get too swept up in the narrative. He leaves them to discover the paternity of Jessica's baby among two twins. As we hear the familiar organ-heavy soundtrack and the lame but engaging dialog, we see the looks of rapt addiction by the two aliens, and we relate completely. (For me, it's Beverly Hills 90210.)
At Chronowerx, Janeway and Chakotay have discovered that the Tricorder makes an excellent multipurpose tool for breaking and entering. They take a brief tour of Starling's office--the certificates and degrees and honors and photos and magazine covers and Gumped "Nixon Meets Elvis" shot re-rendered into "Nixon Meets Ed Begley, Jr." (Knowing Mr. Begley's political views, I'm sure this little souvenier is a keeper for sheer irony value.) "He's build himself quite a corporate empire," Janeway notes. "Wealth, celebrity--and an ego to match."
They find Starling's computer. Janeway turns keyboard jockey, but it's obvious to Chakotay she's not the typing, er, type. "Turn-of-the-millennium technology wasn't a required course at the academy," she says when he laughs at her two-fingered typing. She adds her editorial on the mid-morning of the computer age: "bone knives and bearskins." Chakotay doesn't take visible offense. I did; have you ever tried programming a bearskin? All the same, this bearskin is password-protected, full-GUI, and has a multi-terabyte storage capacity.
Janeway gets the bright idea to turn the tricorder to the task, and within seconds the correct password is entered ("ECOWEENIE") and they're up and running.
Night has fallen on the city of angels. The strip was made for cruisin', and that's what Paris, Tuvok, and Rain are doing. She is not doing so happily. She has questions, demands, and a temper Torres would love. She wants to be taken home, and promises to blow the roof off the van and start screaming at the top of her [gratuitous bosom joke deleted] lungs. Paris manages to talk her down while she's drawing her yawping breath, before she can unleash it. She slumps down in the seat, sulks because Paris' logic has some merit--we tried to save your life, the guy with the boomstick seems willing to end it. Paris claims that they're "secret agents," the thing in orbit is a "soviet spy satellite for a massive KGB operation". Rain points out scornfully that the Soviet union dissolved five years previously, the KGB no longer exists. "That's what they'd like you to think," Paris says, suddenly remembering that he only got an A- in late-20th century culture, though he aced the B-movie unit. (So along with Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Susanne, Roger Corman and Ed Wood are also The Giants....) She is not satisfied with his answer. Tuvok changes the subject.
Rain comments on Tuvok's ears and his funky laser weapon. He says the weapon is classified, and the ears are...a family trait. Paris says they're sensitive about it, but he blissfully avoids the "freak rice picker accident" that Kirk used the last time Vulcan ears were exposed for native viewing. For the moment, she's content to make their lives miserable but not to call attention to them. The van continues to slide down the mean streets of L.A.
* * *
Back at Chronowerx, Janeway tells Tuvok that since she got her captaincy she's done all she could to make sure she stayed far, far away from space-time anomalies. "Future is past, past is future--it all gives me a headache." (After meeting the Starfleet Time Cops in "Trials and Tribbleations," I don't blame her. I hate those guys.)
They are making progress; they've been through much of Starling's database, and discover that he has been responsible for most of the major advances in computer technology during the past 30 years--developing the first "isograted circuit" in 1969, two years after he stole the timeship, apparently based on his crude understanding of the underlying technology. The more he learns, the more he profits. And it appears to them that earth's computer age shouldn't have happened as early or as fast as it did--that Braxton and the Aeon are responsible. (I noted that none of the computers shown were running Windows, so perhaps they're in an alternate timeline. I've heard of integrated circuits, but not isograted circuits. And though the computer seemed fast enough, the screen resolution could have been better and the GUI seemed a tad confusing. Imagine a world where Macs are everywhere. [shudder])
They find plans for a launching bay, indicating that Starling is planning to take the ship for a test drive. This is not good. They look further, and call up to the ship and ask Kim to get ready to download Starling's database. He says it will take a minute. Meanwhile, they find something that may reveal the location of the launch bay. Janeway selects the menu option, and the 29th-century-shielded map of the world at the back of the office comes down, revealing the contents of the office next door.
The time ship and launch bay.
As Janeway and Chakotay look on, Starling and Thug (with weapon) appear and offer greetings, welcoming them to the 20th century.
* * *
Starling tells them he knows they're from the future, as he expected someone would eventually show up. He also suspects they're here for the ship. He knows about their ship in orbit, though he doesn't say that he doesn't know much about them other than that. He mentions that Thug has "met" their two friends.
Janeway does what she can to tell him the consequences that would occur if Starling takes the ship on a test flight into the future--the solar system will blow up. "How do you know this?" he asks levelly. "We spoke with its previous owner." As Janeway talks, Starling looks a little put out--he is used to being in total control, and her revelations are introducing variables he hadn't had to consider before. Not that he seems to care about the consequences; he only seems to care that they care, and will try to stop him.
Janeway's combadge chirps. "What is that?" He demands quietly. She explains it's a communications device. "Answer it," he orders. He towers over her; he's a tall dude, and she's relatively tiny, though she talks tall and isn't used to flinching. She's the captain of a starship.
And he's a captain of industry. It should be an interesting battle of wills.
Janeway answers it; Kim says they're ready to transmit. Janeway says Do It. Starling notes almost immediately that his screen is going wacko (why in the heck do they show a download as the files being loaded on the SENDING machine? Yeah, it looks good, but that ain't how it works. Grumble.) Anyway, Starling notes that his files are being retrieved on his screen, and assumes that this means the starship in orbit is downloading the files. So he grabs the combadge and says, "if you don't stop the download, in five seconds I'll kill your captain." Kim obeys, but not before they downloaded over 3000 gigabytes (Damn! I gotta get me that kinda network access speed.)
On the ship, Kim and Torres argue briefly on the bridge about what to do now. Torres wants to swoop in and rescue them. Harry said that's exactly what the captain told him NOT to do. She points out that lives are at stake. Harry considers this, then launches Operation Bunjee.
Starling sees what was grabbed (again, how?) And notes that among the data retrieved was his flight plans. He immediately changes them. He does intend to launch, and he doesn't intend to be stopped. Janeway points out that she has a starship in orbit that has the power to vaporize the entire building. "And you as well," Starling says. "If necessary," Janeway says, her eyes burning into the back of his skull. "Captain, you've got some cajones" he says with some admiration. (If Braxton was his only prior association with future beings, I can see why he'd be impressed with someone with a backbone.)
Janeway nods--and sparkles. Chakotay notices it first, grabs a chair, and knocks the phaser out of Thug's hand before the transporter grabs him as well. Starling yells for Thug to kill them, but it's too late; they're out of reach. But for the record, they did leave behind a communicator and a combadge.
Voyager swoops over the Southland. It's a beautiful, surprisingly smog-free view of The City.
Janeway orders them to maintain low altitude so they can try to grab the ship, and orders the preparations be made. She compliments Kim; "you have an impeccable sense of timing. Not bad for your first day in the Big Chair." He beams.
Starling furiously works the keyboard. The tricorder is plainly visible. What he's doing, I don't know, but he seems to be expecting something. Thug tells him the forcefield is down, and Starling hears him say that something's happening to the timeship. Starling looks, notes the Transporter effect, and shouts, "they're trying to teleport the ship!" His voice sounds more anticipatory than angry for some reason. He returns to the keyboard and the fingers fly.
On Voyager, Torres announces that the transporter beam is fluctuating.
Starling's computer begins to flash with images we soon recognize as coming from Voyager's computer. He's a smart cookie, and the chips are pure butterscotch evil.
Kim says that their main computer is being accessed, and says the transporter beam is the downlink.
Starling laughs with enterprising evil, as he continues typing.
Torres complains that she can't seem to disrupt the data link without also disrupting the transporter lock. Janeway notes that he is using 29th century technology and they may not be able to outmaneuver him with their gee-whiz gadgetry.
As ship's systems begin to be interfered with (is Starling's computer controlling the ship?) She finally orders the transport be terminated. But not before over 20% of their main computer has been copied or moved.
Starling hails them. He reads their files, knows the ship's stats and its launch date, expressing surprise at (1) its size, and (2) its amazingly primitive technology compared to what he's got. He accesses another file. "Now this is interesting...." he says, but Janeway cuts him off in mid-brag.
Chakotay reels off the damage report. "Nothing we can't handle," he says, but he's still a bit worried.
Kes calls. "I can't find the doctor..his program is missing."
Starling finds himself looking at Holodoc. "Where am I?" Holodoc asks. "Welcome," says Starling, dollar signs in his eyes.
Neeelix hails the bridge. "I've picked something up on HARD COPY," he says. Kim explains the assignment he'd given Neelix. "I'm patching it through--you need to see this." The bridge forward screen shows a post-sunset Los Angeles skyline, with a big but recognizable object moving quickly. A voice says some local guy with a camcorder in an outdoor barbecue picked this thing up about an hour ago, and authorities say it's not a weather balloon, spy plane, etc., and they're looking into it, etc., yada yada yada.
Damn those rare smog-free L.A. nights.
Janeway looks pissed.
To be continued....
This show was a lot of fun. As an expatriate Angeleno, I enjoyed the outsider's tour of my old stomping grounds.
My chief complaint was with Braxton. What rear-eschelon bureaucratic puke gave this doofus a time ship? I wouldn't entrust my shopping list to this loser. Granted, he may be overcome with grief at the destruction of the solar system, but he had no sense of follow-through when he thought, "hey, that's Voyager debris. I'd better go back with my time-folding ship and blow them to smithereens before they can make the 70 year journey back to the alpha quadrant." Hello? Duh!!! Absolutely no finesse. My only guess is that with the destruction of the solar system, Braxton--a file clerk with delusions of mediocrity--promoted himself to captain, took a time ship on a test drive, and went charging where angels would at least do some research before treading.
I know I'm being hard on the guy, but I'm sorry--he's a doof. Even I would know that I'd not be making any friends by claiming to be from the future, even if I was. You're just asking for shock treatments and a visit from Mr. Pharmaceuticals. He had no survival skills, few social skills, and an attitude that cries out, "resist me!" Lassie could have taken the ship from him.
Pairing Paris and Tuvok for the away mission was like pairing Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. It generally worked. But I though Tuvok's attire was ludicrous. He should demote or beat the snot out of Paris on general principle. Janeway and Chakotay look like a real couple (and a cute one at that) and they seemed awfully chummy throughout. If you're rooting for them to intensify their relationship, this episode should have made you happy.
The whole soap opera addiction thing was funny, and understandable. Soaps do not require higher brain functions; they appeal to the basic emotions. And if you've never encountered them before, they can be. I've had my bouts of General Hospital and Days of Our Lives addiction, and even now I'm a sucker for some of the prime-time soaps.
It could have been worse. They could have discovered TALK SOUP. Intergalactic Skunk Boy infestations can be nasty.
The 60's hippie versus 90's flower-grandchild is an interesting conflict. And you can bet she'll add to the Paris/Tuvok dynamic in Part II. I only hope her VW Bus survives. For some reason, when I saw Rain Robinson, I thought of Dr. Bambi from the X-Files Alien Cockroach episode. She's smart, but that's not why she's here. In this B-movie sf/spy knockoff, Paris Needs Women.
What can you say about Ed Begley, Jr.'s Henry Starling? He's evil. He's opportunistic. He's environmentally unfriendly. He poses with Nixon. He's a 20th-century robber-baron with 29th-century tools. He will be a worthy adversary. I hope he dies painfully. Or ends up bunking in the banana boat with Braxton.
The time-paradox stuff is headache-inducing, so I won't bother. I'll suspend disbelief long enough to accept it, if that means I won't have to study temporal mechanics. You don't read me for the technobabble, anyway. I'm a people person.
As far as mucking about in the past is concerned, Janeway and Voyager are in deep. They ended up on prime-time TV, hovering over southern california for the glitterazzi to photograph and scan at length. They may as well park it at Six Flags and charge admission. I think Federation ships should have cloaks, if only for situations like this. Look how well it worked for Kirk and Company to have a cloaked bird-of-prey; they planted it in Golden Gate Park and nobody was the wiser.
A word about the Eugenics wars. I have some suspicions that the computer advances in this storyline do not parallel the 1996 we're in. So it's possible they're in a timeline where, because of the arrival of the timeship in 1967, the Eugenics Wars never came about. Who's got time for world conquest when you've got Pong? I imagine in this timeline, Khan is hooked on his Sega Saturn, slacking at a McJob and scoping out Betties at the Timbuktu Terrace Mall. Obviously, in this 1996, the technology doesn't exist to send out a bunch of Baby Boomer megalomaniacs on a generation ship. Though we are using a space shuttle to put Gene Roddenberry's ashes into space (this is true). That's close enough for jazz.
Yeah, the Eugenics Wars was mentioned in the original Star Trek series, and 1996 was the year the Botany Bay was launched to exile these cherubic Napoleons to deep space. It may be one of the few instances when Roddenberry overestimated the technological progress of mankind. Thirty years ago, computer monitors on Star Trek were lava lamps. Today, we're using actual computers. (Well, Macs. Close enough.) I think we can forgive him for hoping for our conquest of space to be further along than it actually is. On the plus side, we have 18" minidishes that beam hundreds of channels of entertainment to millions of average consumers. And we did just launch a cost-effective Mars probe in the past week, so we're not giving up on space just yet. We're just learning how to do it cheaper. I imagine man won't walk on Mars until the toilets cost less than the average Hyundai.
All in all, I enjoyed this episode. I have no dang idea how the conclusion will turn out. The plot wasn't obvious, the conclusion isn't utterly inevitable (it could end in a number of ways), and the cutoff point included some nice suspense. I approve wholeheartedly. The writing was also light and funny, but not farcical. The usual "you're not from around here, are you?" moments aren't too obvious, and stem mostly from Tom's effort to show off how much he knows about the late 20th-century, which is less than he originally thought. But probably still more than the average American teenager.
As for "right place, wrong time," I hesitate to mention the obvious to the good Captain: take your damned ship on a slingshot ride around the sun. Worked for Kirk. It'll work for you. You'll be home (right place, right time) before you can say "United Colors of Benneton." I imagine whatever happens, they'll end up back where they started before they can do any self-propelled time travel.
This episode even has the mainstream television reviewers buzzing. I'm gonna rave, and give it a 9.25 on a 0-10 scale, or (****). It was a bang-up hour of television, and I can't wait for the conclusion.
Next week: Will Henry Starling launch the ship that spells the end of the future? Will Voyager die trying to stop the evil computer genius? Will Jessica's baby's father be Alex, or his evil siamese-twin-by-a-different-mother, Gunther? And what about Naomi? These and other questions answered, next week.
I rarely print feedback on my reviews. But since I took so much flack for my review of "Resolutions," mostly because I utterly failed to notice the subtle Janeway/Chakotay dynamic, I figured I might as well admit my ignorance of same this time around as well. So, without further ado, let's give the microphone to Helen Anthony, who will fill in the blanks left by my little romantic blind spot....
As always - a good review, but such a "guy" review. Nothing about how Janeway and Chakotay were glued at the hip (and was his hand on her back, or just very close?).
Nothing about him calling her Kathryn.
Nothing about her hand on his chest?! Come on, even *guys* had to notice that.
Oh, no. You noticed that the thingy on Starling's desk is "password-protected, full-GUI, and has a multi-terabyte storage capacity" and all you give us J/C fans is that they were "cute and chummy". *sigh*
I plead No Contest. I missed all those cool little signals. I saw they were together, said "cool," and didn't think much more about it. I'll try to do better next time. And if I don't--you J/C Romance Brigadeers, let me know and I'll give you equal time.