The following is an ALL-SPOILER Review. Teaser to closing credits, I give you the whole dang episode, blow-by-blow. If you want to be surprised when you finally see it, leave now. If you don't mind having the whole enchilada spelled out for you, pull up some shuttle debris and enjoy the ride.
I rate each episode based on how much I enjoyed it--not necessarily on how good I think it is; I leave the objective takes to others. I don't claim to be accurate or objective, though only on occasion will I deliberatly try not to be. (this week, for instance.) But with luck, you'll enjoy yourself along the way whether you agree with me or not.
So kick back and toss another shrimp on the barbie. Fatherly Uncle Jim's in a storytellin' mood.
Continued: World War II in the 24th century.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
No "last time on Voyager" preamble; we start where we left off, with a bunch of "Americans" advancing on the looming "Nazi Compound" torn out of the skyline of "Sainte Claire," which is really the corridors of Voyager. The "Germans," consisting of holographic characters and Hirogen in Nazi uniforms, also bleed out onto the decks. The battles continue.
Janeway and Seven, still clad in their yummy black Resistance turtlenecks, peer into one of the corridors and get shot at by two holographic Germans. Janeway takes them both out with her pistol. "Looks like the Hirogen have been busy," Janeway says. "This entire section has been equipped with holo-emitters. Let's get to Astrometrics."
They get there and encounter a single holographic German messing with some controls; Janeway buffaloes him with the butt of her gun before he can reach his rifle. They immediately scan the ship. "There are 85 Hirogen on board concentrated on decks two through nine," Seven reports.
"What about the bridge?"
"Four Hirogen and Ensign Kim," Seven says.
"At least he's alive," Janeway sighs, relieved. "The neural interfaces -- you said they're controlled through Sickbay."
"Yes. There's only one Hirogen in Sickbay with the Doctor, but the corridors outside are heavily guarded."
"That's our first objective -- disable the interfaces -- but we'll need help."
Seven has an idea. "We did have allies in the World war II simulation -- the French Resistance."
"It's time we mount a resistance of our own," Janeway mutters. She -- naturally -- grabs the German's rifle and runs out the door, and Seven follows.
* * *
Ensign Kim reports to "Karl," the Alpha Hirogen identified in Part One as the leader of the Hunter invasion, that the battle on the Holodeck has spilled out onto decks five through seven. "A group of holographic Americans is invading deck seven."
Karl asks for a visual of the breach, but soon the live video feed from Holodeck One ends in a burst of static. Harry says that was the last active circuit between the bridge and the Holodecks. Harry says the only way to end the program now is to blow out the entire emitter system.
Karl will not accept that solution. The Holodeck technology is too important to his plans for his people. "We could all be killed," Harry points out.
But these are Hunters; it wouldn't be any fun if there weren't some danger.
"Groucho," the young Hirogen who has been as hard for Karl to handle as Seven has been lately for Janeway, enters with a status report: he can't get back on Holodeck One without help. Karl tells him to take the Hunters currently in Holodeck Two, "the Klingon simulation."
Groucho asks if he can kill Captain Janeway when he finds her. "No," Karl says. "Bring her to me." Groucho fidgets. "This is no longer a game! This Hunt is real! We should kill the Prey."
But Karl is after bigger things. "The Voyager crew must remain alive to make repairs, or we could lose everything! This vessel, its technology!" His eyes bore into his subordinate. "You said that you understood the importance of what we're doing here," he growls. Groucho hesitates, then nods. But he doesn't look at all happy about it.
[Quick reminder: of the Voyager crew, only Janeway and Seven and Kim and Doc are aware of who they really are. The rest -- Chakotay, Tuvok, Paris, and Torres in the WWII simulation and Neelix in the Klingon simulation -- are still stuck in The Game, playing their roles.]
In the WWII program, Tuvok and Torres and Paris and Chakotay discuss the "secret compound" beyond the boundaries of the Holodeck. Its discovery was a complete surprise to all of them. A quick recon gives them some idea of what's there -- scientific equipment, strange metals, instruments they can't begin to guess at. Chakotay has relayed the data to the rear echelon pukes, who think it may be a munitions lab designing super-weapons. If so, it's their job to bomb it back to the Bronze Age.
Chakotay tells Paris to make the restaurant their command post, then he addresses the French Resistance. "You've done a bang-up job, but we'll take it from here. Tell your people to lie low and that the Americans said 'Thanks.'"
Brigitte--Torres--objects. "This is our city. We have no intention of lying low."
Chakotay is, remember, a WWII-era GI. Don't hate him too much. "Listen, honey, the time for sneaking messages back and forth is over. This is war, and you aren't soldiers."
Tuvok steps up. "He's right," he says, and Torres backs down. He turns to Chakotay. "We have weapons hidden throughout the city. Brigitte will tell you where they are." Chakotay thanks him and lets Paris and Torres work together on it as he and Tuvok work on something else.
"I can see you haven't changed," Paris says, mildly amused but more relieved to see her again.
Torres asks for a street map, and they go to a table. Torres shows him where the guns and explosives are, and explains how they got them. Paris says they can use both. Torres mentions that a large stockpile is at the Cinema Mystere. "You remember it, don't you?" she asks.
"Hmm. I'm No Angel with Mae West," Paris says. "There's heavy fighting in that area. What's the best way in?"
"We dug a tunnel that leads directly to the stockpile. Here. I'll show you. Incidentally...we saw Death Takes a Holiday."
"It was the Mae West movie. I'm sure of it! She was singing 'Sister Honky Tonk,' and I put my arm around you. And during the courtroom scene...I kissed you."
Torres says she remembers -- not the movie, but the kiss. He asks if she got his last letter, and she asks if that was the one where he asked her to leave France. "Germany was about to invade," he says. "I thought you'd be safer back in the States...with me." Paris hesitates. "But...I guess you found someone else to take care of you." He can't help but note her pregnancy.
"There's never been anybody else," she says softly. She cuts off his next question. "He's second in command of the Sainte Claire occupation. The first time he saw me, he said I was pretty. I...took advantage of his interest. He doesn't know I'm in the Resistance." She doesn't look him in the eye. "The child is his."
"I'm sorry," Paris says finally. "So am I," she says.
The restaurant comes to life when a noise is heard behind the bar. Everyone in the room grabs a gun and aims it at a cabinet where the rattle is loudest.
The panel pops open, and Janeway crawls through.
She doesn't look up until she hears a chorus of familiar metallic clicks.
"Hold your fire," she says imperiously, then continues crawling until she's all the way out.
Tuvok is very surprised she's still alive, since she was in Nazi headquarters when it was destroyed. Paris asks about the "hole" as Seven crawls out; Janeway says it's an escape tunnel. Chakotay identifies her as the leader of the local resistance, and introduces himself as Captain Miller, and Paris as "Lt. Bobby Davis."
Janeway confirms Chakotay's suspicions that the funky rooms beyond are "a munitions lab," realizing too late that Americans like to blow up stuff like that. Chakotay's already ordering an air strike when Janeway moves to stop him and propose an alternative.
"I've located the generator that powers the entire complex; it's heavily guarded. But with your help I can get close enough to set off some explosives." Chakotay says his orders are to "blow the entire compound." Janeway counters that there is stuff in there that could level the entire valley. "Call for an air strike it may be the last call you make."
That's language Captain Miller can understand. He asks how she can get that close; Janeway says she's got an inside man. But she needs reinforcements to clear a path of the enemy. "Get me there, and I can take care of the rest." Chakotay agrees and assigns soldiers from "C" Company. "You'll lead us into the compound but I'm coming with you," Chakotay says.
"I work better alone," Janeway says.
"This isn't a request; it's an order," Chakotay says.
"Do I look like I'm wearing one of your uniforms?" Janeway scoffs. "I go alone."
Captain Miller is annoyed by this infuriating local but he finally relents. But he insists on being right behind her the whole way. She agrees.
Janeway speaks softly to Seven. "Even if I manage to disrupt the neural interfaces we've still got a war to fight. But we need something a lot more effective than these old firearms." She misses Betsy.
"I believe I can enhance these weapons using Borg technology, but I'll have to access Cargo Bay Two."
Janeway regards Seven grimly. "If something goes wrong and I don't succeed you'll be the only one left who knows what's really going on." Seven acknowledges, and leaves.
Tuvok approaches Janeway and asks, "Have our suspicions been confirmed?"
"Suspicions?" Janeway asks. She doesn't remember her time as "Katrine." "Is she a collaborator?" Tuvok reminds her. "I think we can trust her," Janeway says. "Are you certain? Three hours ago you were prepared to put a bullet in her head." Janeway gives him a hard look. "She's on our side," she insists.
"In your absence I may be forced to make that determination for myself," Tuvok says--and we get the feeling he's already done so.
"I've already made it. You're not to harm her. Is that understood?"
Tuvok doesn't reply.
The Germans begin attacking the restaurant. As Tuvok and Paris and Torres grab their guns, Chakotay gestures to the "escape tunnel" for Janeway to lead the way.
* * *
In Sickbay, Doc tends to a severely injured crewman and preps for surgery.
A Hirogen Nazi enters with minor burns. HiroDoc, the Hirogen physician, orders Doc to treat him. Doc protests that the crewman needs to be treated first, but HiroDoc will have none of it. "Treat the burns, or I'll deactivate your program," he says -- and he doesn't look like the type to make idle threats.
Doc protests vigorously -- and is promptly turned off. "From now on leave the wounded prey where they fall," HiroDoc tells a burly guard. "Tend only to our own."
In Holodeck Two, the Klingonized Neelix and two holographic comrades are raging drunk around a moonlit campfire. Neelix is singing the Klingon version of "How Dry I Am.": "I'm as dry as the crater at Tarpahk...in the middle of the dry season...When it's dry!"
The Klingons laugh hysterically. Neelix reaches for a skin of blood wine, but the other Klingon protests. "Share with your brothers!" Neelix rages. "It's the eve of battle."
Them's fightin' words. The Klingon draws a blade. So does Neelix. He roars and snarls like a Tasmanian devil. "I may be drunk but I can still send your soul to the next world and leave your body here to rot!" He sniffs dramatically. "Though from the stench of it, I'd say it's begun to already!" More laughter from the third Klingon as the second Klingon doubles over and..umm...makes room for more wine.
Harry, carrying a steel toolcase through the corridors, tries to ignore the gunfire ringing through the halls. But he can't ignore the barrel of the rifle held by a German soldier, aimed right at him.
But before he can react, two shots ring out and the Nazi drops.
Harry turns around -- and sees Paris and another soldier coming out of a passageway.
Harry smiles with relief; "Tom!" he says.
But Tom goes by Bobby until the implant stops working.
And in his WWII-era mindset, an Asian in "civilian" attire in the middle of a war zone could spell trouble. "Lt. Davis" is immediately on his guard. He is at first surprised that Harry speaks English. Then he's suspicious when Harry seems to be way too out of place to be who he says he is.
"Look, I don't have time for 20 questions," Paris says. "You say you're an American? All right then -- if Betty Grable came around that corner, what part of her would you be staring at?"
Harry looks at him blankly.
Five seconds later, Paris shakes his head sadly and cocks his pistol. "Sorry. Time's up." He takes aim.
"Her legs!" Harry screams. "I-I'd be staring at her legs."
Good answer, Ensign. Paris chuckles in obvious relief as the adrenaline subsides. He can and will kill, but it's clear he doesn't like to. "Bull's eye. Lucky for you." He moves beyond Harry, toward the sound of gunfire, as Harry lets out a shuddering breath.
Janeway and Chakotay crawl through a Jefferies tube.
"You're a Gung Ho kind of gal, aren't ya?" Chakotay asks. [blecch, what a line.]
"Does that bother you?" Janeway asks in turn.
"Nope. Just not used to it, that's all. The girls back home are a little different."
"I guess when it comes to my people's safety, this girl tends to get a little 'gung ho,'" Janeway admits, sounding amused. This guy she knows so well is a total stranger.
"Nothing to apologize for. I'm the same way with my men. There's not a day goes by when I don't think to myself, 'I'm going to get 'em back safely even if I die trying.'"
Janeway's voice goes soft. "I know the feeling."
She stops at a juncture, and explains that they're going to enter some caves that run under the town. "We're going to meet our contact there. I should warn you -- there are eccentric people who live in the caves -- but don't be alarmed." She taps a few controls, and they go in.
I always suspected Klingons were French cavemen.
Neelix and his two drunken Klingon buddies sing some traditional drinking-before-battle song. In terms of raw talent, I'd say Neelix offers no competition to Seven of Nine, but could give Shatner a run for his money.
Janeway and Chakotay break up the festivities and give a cordial hello. Neelix is instantly on guard. "Who are you? How did you get past our battle lines?" he demands. Janeway says they're friend and allies. "Sent by what house?" he demands. Janeway makes one up. "Toh-maag," Neelix repeats drunkenly. "I never heard of it," and says it's not their battle anyway.
"Maybe not...but we'd be honored to fight alongside such great warriors," she offers. Neelix doesn't bite. "If you prefer, we'll take our weapons elsewhere," Janeway says, and turns to go.
"Wait!" says Neelix. "I'll consider your request...but first, prove your fortitude." He tosses the skin of blood wine to Chakotay. "Drink! San-roh t'patoh-cha!"
"I guess my French is a little rusty," Chakotay says, looking suspiciously at the wineskin.
"Don't drink it," Janeway cautions. "It's twice as strong as whiskey. I'll be right back," she says, and leaves him alone with the French way-underground while she searches for an access panel.
We hear, but do not see, the exchange. Neelix and the Klingons laugh derisively when Chakotay refuses to drink. He says he'll drink after they win. They call him a weenie.
Janeway finds the controls and taps furiously. A second later Doc materializes. "Captain. Is...Is it you?" he asks, unsure if his efforts in Part One were successful.
Janeway acknowledges. "We've got to disable the rest of those interfaces." Doc says it will take time to disable them all through the console in Sickbay. Janeway has a quicker solution -- nuke the controls. With what? Doc asks; Janeway hefts a WWII-era duffel bag filled with dynamite.
"Holographic explosives?" Doc asks. Janeway explains that with the safety protocols off-line, "they're as good as the real thing." She smiles like she's truly enjoying herself, and leads the way. Doc, bemused, follows.
She rejoins the Klingons, who are urging Jell-O shots into Chakotay's hands. He extricates himself as politely as he can.
Neelix notes Doc's presence. "Another of your 'warriors'? He's a frail looking thing." Doc is, naturally, offended.
Janeway tells Doc to stay here while she does more damage to her ship. "With the Klingons?" Doc says, unhappy. "Believe me," Janeway says, "it's peaceful compared to Sainte Claire." She and Chakotay take off.
Neelix grunts, drools, and punches Doc in the shoulder. Doc protests. Neelix grunts and drools some more.
Yep...Neelix is a Natural Born Klingon.
Tuvok, Torres, and Paris fire into the street from the restaurant, ducking the incoming fire. Things are looking desperate -- the enemy is setting up a machine gun across the street, Torres says.
Seven crawls in from the "tunnel" and begins making modifications to the holographic explosives at the bar.
Tuvok notes her entrance, and confronts her. He's suspicious, as expected. "Where have you been?" he demands. "Obtaining supplies," she answers. He asks what she's working on. "German technology taken from their compound. I can use them to enhance our weapons."
Tuvok accepts this...for the moment.
On the street, Germans -- Holographic and Hirogen -- run for cover under a barrage of automatic weapons fire. One is the SS Lieutenant with the penchant for art and the father of "Brigitte's" child. The other is Groucho, the insubordinate subordinate.
Groucho says they've pinned down several Voyager people, but they're dug in tight. He asks for some heavy Hirogen weapons. Karl nixes the idea; it could further damage the ship, and the Holodeck in particular. "Use hand weapons," he commands. Groucho says he'll need more men, then. Karl says they're on the way.
While Chakotay rigs an old-fashioned time bomb with dynamite and an analog clock, Janeway discovers that there's a level-nine force field around the surgical console. Chakotay, naturally, doesn't know what she's talking about. "I'll explain later," she says, and tells him to set the bomb for five minutes.
HiroDoc reports that Hunters are dropping like Prey -- five fatalities in the last hour -- and urges Karl to engage the safety protocols. But it's too late for that; they're not working. HiroDoc asks for a few more medics.
He hears something, and ends the transmission to the bridge. He goes to investigate, and finds himself staring at Janeway and Chakotay, both armed and aiming at his head.
"Get him out of here," Janeway orders.
"There's ten pounds of dynamite under the floor set to blow in less than three minutes," Chakotay says. "Move."
HiroDoc complies. Janeway begins tapping away at the controls, and notes that "Auxiliary Systems 0470" reads, "SICKBAY SECURITY FIELD AUTHORIZED ACCESS ONLY."
Karl tries to hail Sickbay. After two failed attempts, he sends down reinforcements.
Janeway deftly manages to disable the security field, and begins protecting her handiwork.
Chakotay holds a pistol to the Hirogen doctor's head. Then he notices two Hirogen in full battle armor converging on him.
He gets off one shot, but the doctor easily disarms him and heads back inside Sickbay.
Janeway notices his entry too late; she reaches for her pistol, but HiroDoc shoots at her first, wounding her leg (this is a leg-centric week of television, isn't it?). She cries out, but manages to escape inside a Jefferies tube before he can finish her off.
He heads for the terminal. He notices what Janeway's done -- disabled the force field -- and begins tapping in controls to override.
"ACCESS DENIED," the system blinks, mocking him.
He takes a few steps back. He knows this is not good.
Five seconds later, five minutes is up.
Sickbay goes Boom. Hirodoc is added to the Hirogen body count.
In a little restaurant in Sainte Claire, Paris and Tuvok and Torres grab their necks in pain...then they once again become Paris and Tuvok and Torres.
Seven notes their distress. She rushes over and briefs them as they begin to regain their bearings.
"We're on the Holodeck under attack. You must..."
But because they weren't firing at the Germans for the last several seconds, there was nothing to prevent the enemy from rushing in. Nazi Boy, Groucho, and two big Hirogen guards, need to say nothing.
Seven levels her pistol at them, then realizes that resistance is suicide. She drops her weapon.
* * *
Paris and Torres, Tuvok and Seven, are seated on the restaurant floor. Groucho reports to Karl that they've grabbed control of the restaurant, captured the crew, and have found an access corridor to the Holodeck. "Seal it," says Karl.
He asks about the captives. "Four. Their neural interfaces have been disabled. I will make the kill." The boy's been itching to kill since the evening began...
"No. They are not Prey; they are hostages. I'll need them."
Groucho is tired of all this not killing, but complies. He signs off and asks for help sealing the hatch.
Meanwhile, the hostages chat. "So, what do you think?" Paris asks. "A boy or a girl?" Seven points out that it's a projection. Torres scoffs. "Unfortunately, it's a very good projection. I feel 20 kilos heavier." she winces. "It even kicks."
Tuvok says he doesn't recognize the program; Paris does. "He's wearing a Nazi uniform. We're on Earth during the Second World War." He explains that Nazis were "Totalitarian fanatics bent on world conquest. The Borg of their day -- no offense," he adds hastily to Seven. None taken, she says graciously.
Nazi Boy looks unhappy as he stares at Torres. She, not knowing "Brigitte's" history, is annoyed. "What are you staring at?" she demands.
He makes her get up. "You deceived me," he rages. "Really?" she says, bored. "I should've seen through your flirtations," he seethes. "If you say so," she sighs. "The thought of you carrying my child disgusts me!" he spits. "You're not the only one," she agrees.
He slaps her.
Paris immediately rises to her defense. "Look, I don't know what went on between the two of you, but it's obviously over now."
Nazi Boy can't help but notice Paris' vehemence. "I see you're acquainted. Do you find her as attractive as I once did?" He looks at Torres, and his voice grows soft. "I'll miss our nights together..."
"Pig!" Paris mutters, and advances. Nazi Boy quickly aims a pistol at Paris' head.
Groucho tells him to put the gun away. Nazi Boy doesn't waver. "Now," Groucho says.
Just to prove a point, Nazi Boy takes several seconds to comply, before putting away his weapon and marching away.
"Funny," says Paris once the danger has passed. "He doesn't seem like your type."
From Torres' reaction, he's just lucky the Hirogen have been ordered to keep him alive.
As Doc works the Holodeck controls from the Klingon mountain, Neelix -- looking Klingon, but acting Talaxian -- says the Klingons are waking up from their nap. Doc says he's established an interface with Holodeck One. "I want to monitor what's going on over there in case the crew needs my help."
The Klingons start saying q'apla! And we all know what that means. Neelix asks what they should do. "Not having a cure for Klingon hangovers I couldn't tell you."
The Klingons meet them near the console. They still think Neelix is their Great Warrior, so they tell him their battle plan. Neelix wishes them luck with it. "You will lead us into battle, Great Warrior," they say. He says he'll coach from the sidelines. One Klingon puts a knife to his throat. "Lead the attack...or die here by my hand," he says.
"You heard him," Doc says wickedly. "Don't argue with the man, run along! I'll reattach any severed limbs; just don't misplace them." Neelix gives Doc a helpless look, but takes the bat'telh in hand.
But then the Klingon hands the standard Klingon dagger to Doc and tells him to cover their flank. Doc takes the weapon unenthusiastically.
"Q'apla!" the Klingons shout, leading the way.
"Q'apla," Neelix mutters miserably, following.
"Tally-ho," lilts Doc, waving the blade like a baton, bringing up the rear.
Karl sits in the Hirogen-decorated Ready Room.
Janeway enters, flanked by the largest, ugliest, and best-armed of the Hirogen. You'd think they were guarding Species 8472, rather than the short but spunky redhead who kicked their invincible butts back to BoogerSpace.
"Leave her," Karl says, and they comply.
"I see you've done some redecorating," Janeway notes.
"Your attempt to retake this vessel was...inventive," Karl admits. "From the day I seized Voyager you put up a dauntless fight. But your fight is over now. You're going to help me shut down these simulations and repair the Holodecks."
"No," says Janeway. "We'll destroy this ship before we surrender it." (We haven't heard that threat since Season 2...even though they've lost control of the ship at least a half dozen times since then...but I digress.)
"Don't threaten me, Captain," Karl says dangerously. "I've faced far more intimidating Prey than you." His voice, however, suggests that's not entirely true, and they both know it. "If this fight continues, I promise you I will hunt down and kill every member of your crew."
Janeway shrugs. "Well, by then this ship will be damaged beyond repair -- and there won't be much of a Trophy left, will there?"
"Perhaps I should kill you and find someone who will cooperate," Karl mutters.
"Good luck. You'll get the same response," Janeway says with Absolut [sic] Conviction.
He believes her -- and is intimidated. "You don't realize what's at stake," he says intently.
"I know what's at stake: your sick little game!" Janeway scoffs.
"This is not a game!" Karl rages. "I'm trying to create a future for my people."
"Future?" Janeway asks. "I don't expect you to understand," Karl says. "You are Prey."
"You underestimate us," Janeway says...and Karl admits he probably does.
Never, ever mess with a redhead.
"I'm listening," Janeway says. As far as she's concerned, she's in the position of strength. And from her perspective, she probably is. The ship's mostly dead already. Killing the ship all the way accomplishes her goals, not the Hunters' -- and to accomplish it, all she needs to do is let events run their course.
Karl sags into the chair, and speaks like a supplicant. "My people are Hunting themselves into extinction. Your Holodeck technology might offer us an alternative, a new way of life. Instead of scattering ourselves across the quadrant in pursuit of Prey, we could simulate the Hunt and give ourselves a chance to rebuild our civilization."
"And confine your killing to Holograms," Janeway says, awareness dawning.
"With the safety protocols off-line, the pursuit is just as challenging," he says.
"Well," says Janeway, "I understand what you're trying to do. But then...why have you been torturing us? Why have you thrown my crew into one brutal simulation after another?"
Karl looks almost apologetic. "I've been studying your behavior as I do with all my Prey -- but your Holodecks allowed me to go further. To explore your culture, your history. I must admit, I've learned a great deal."
Janeway's interest is piqued. "How so?"
"Your people have faced extinction many times, but you've always managed to avoid it. You seem to recognize the need for change."
Janeway groks. "Yes. You've got one of those moments running right now on the Holodeck. We called it World War II."
"One of your most difficult eras," Karl agrees. "And yet you survived."
"It wasn't easy," Janeway says.
"You are a...resilient species. I admire your cunning," says Karl -- his highest praise. It's something he can't say about his own species at the moment.
Janeway suggests they end this. In exchange for a cease-fire and the return of her ship, Janeway will give the Hirogen the Holodeck technology they need. "It would be...cunning for you to agree," she says.
I do believe the Hirogen has met his match.
Voyager is still flanked by four Hirogen vessels.
In the WWII simulation, Groucho the young and disgruntled Hirogen Nazi sips from a glass of wine. "Synthetic. And undrinkable. I am tired of this simulation."
Nazi Boy, the holographic German, asks to speak with him. "And these holograms are becoming annoying as well," Groucho grumps.
Nazi Boy wants to execute the prisoners. Now. Groucho explains that the Kommandant (Karl) says No. Nazi Boy asks to speak freely for a moment. "The Kommandant has been acting strangely the past few days. He's been questioning German superiority. Perhaps we shouldn't follow his orders so...blindly."
He may be a simulation, but his eyes are spooky -- they burn with an almost hypnotic intensity.
And it's not as though Groucho doesn't feel the same way. But orders are orders, and one doesn't cross the Alpha without good reason. "You will do as he says...as long as I tell you to," Groucho says firmly.
"I don't know how much longer I can stand being trapped in here," Nazi Boy complains.
"Perhaps you would enjoy some entertainment," Groucho says. He walks over to Seven and orders her to sing. "I will not," says Seven. Groucho grabs his pistol and aims it at her head. "Sing...or you will die."
Seven stands. "Then I'll die."
Tuvok, seated next to her, rises. "Seven, you are a valued member of this crew. The logical response would be to grant his request."
"Logic is irrelevant," Seven drawls, and Tuvok winces.
Two [clap]...two [clap]...TWO cliches in one!
Seven regards Groucho. "One day the Borg will assimilate your species, despite your arrogance. When that moment arrives...remember me."
Groucho has no response to that. A wise but doomed Jem'Hadar once observed about another indomitable soul (Worf), "I cannot defeat this man. I can kill him -- but I cannot make him yield." The Hunters are discovering the same thing -- Federation folks may be fragile of body, but they possess an astonishing capacity to not only resist...but to annoy.
Karl calls Groucho from the bridge. "I've come to an agreement with Captain Janeway. Call a cease-fire."
Groucho is flabbergasted. So is Nazi Boy.
So is Tuvok.
"It's true, Tuvok," Janeway says. "Our first order of business is to call off the troops. I want you to find Chakotay and have him convince his soldiers to pull out of the city." Tuvok acknowledges.
"Order our Hunters to end the fighting," Karl orders.
"This is madness! We're winning this battle!" Nazi Boy seethes, but Groucho cuts him off with a crisp Heil Hitler hand.
"The future of our people, our civilization, depends on this agreement," Karl says urgently.
Groucho hesitates. "Acknowledged," he says, and signs off. He orders his Hunters to do as the Kommandant says. Release the captives, and prepare to withdraw.
"I have always thought highly of you," Nazi Boy says fervently. "But the Kommandant is a fool. He doesn't understand. He's never embraced the Fuhrer...or his vision. One does not cooperate with decadent forms of life. One hunts them down and eliminates them. The Kommandant speaks of civilization. The ancient Romans were civilized. The Jews are civilized. But in all its moral decay, Rome fell to the spears of our ancestors...As the Jews are falling now."
The young Hirogen says nothing; he listens intently. Emboldened, the Nazi continues. He points to the hanging swastika flag. "Look at our destiny! The field of red. The purity of German blood. The blazing white circle of the sun that sanctified that blood. No one can deny us, no power on Earth or beyond -- not the Christian Savior, not the God of the Jews. We are driven by the very force that gives life to the universe itself!"
I'd be offended...but I remember how this war turned out.
His eyes bore into the Hirogen's. "We must countermand the Kommandant's orders. Stay and fight. We must be faithful to who we are!"
Fascinating, isn't it, that one of the most passionate monologues all season is given in defense of the Third Reich?
Ironic, is it not, that the young Hirogen finds himself defying orders and committing his people to self-destruction because he's been convinced by a computer-generated simulation that Aryans (from which the Hirogen do not descend) are the Master Race? A claim that didn't last another year before the Allied "peace through superior firepower" doctrine carried the day?
Just goes to show the devastating, tangible power of words...for good, and for ill. Young Hirogen fails to learn the lessons of history.
His destiny -- is to repeat them.
But for now, Nazi Boy wins. Groucho listens, and changes his orders.
* * *
Chakotay orders a cease fire over the army-issue comm phone while Paris helps the Americans fall back. "Well, the word is out," he says at last.
"Whether it will be acted upon is another question," Tuvok says.
"Oh, they'll follow orders. I'm their commanding officer, remember?"
"Keep it moving! Keep it moving! Get the lead out of your pants!" Paris yells at a squad of GI's running the other way, following a jeep. He and Seven are walking together down a cobblestone street. As the soldiers shout their Yes Sirs, Paris chuckles...and snaps his chewing gum.
"Mid-20th-century American slang," Seven observes.
"You got a problem with that, sister?" Paris says, grinning.
"You're enjoying this simulation. I find that peculiar, given the circumstances."
"Loosen up, baby doll!" he says, then smacks his gum again loudly. "The war's almost over."
They both duck as gunfire whistles past them. Paris swallows his gum, poor fella.
"So much for the cease-fire!" Torres yells as they duck for cover and shoot back..
In the Klingon simulation, Doc notes with concern the mounting casualties among the crew in the WWII simulation. He says he's going to transfer over there; he recommends Neelix take the long way.
Neelix wonders what the two of them can do.
A holographic Klingon belches loudly between swigs of blood wine and mouthfuls of raw meat.
Doc gets an idea. "Even half drunk, Klingons are among the best warriors in the galaxy.
"But they're already in the middle of a war with the house of...uh, whatever it is," Neelix says.
"Then you'll just have to convince them that there's a more important battle to be waged."
"You're their 'Great Warrior.' Lead them!"
Neelix tentatively approaches the Klingons. "Ahem...Pardon me, gentlemen. I wonder if I might have a word with you." The Klingons ignore him.
"They're Klingons, not kittens!" Doc reminds him.
Neelix launches up the stone steps, grabs the meaty bone from one of the Klingon's hands and thrusts it into the fire. "You will listen!" he shouts at the top of his lungs, spittle flying from his mouth.
Janeway and Karl puzzle over the task of shutting down the Holodeck simulations.
"Sensors indicate you've placed holo-emitters on decks five through twelve? No wonder the system breached. You've turned Voyager into one big Holodeck!"
"Can you shut it down?" he asks.
"Yes, but I'll have to initiate an overload. We'll worry about making repairs later." She hails Ensign Kim. "Harry, I'm going to need your help overloading the holo-emitter network. I'm transferring optical processor control to you now. Start charging the secondary power relays. We'll use them to trigger the overload." Harry acknowledges.
"Move away from the controls!" Groucho, the Hirogen Seven, says as he enters the -- whatever room they're in. He's still dressed like a Nazi, and is carrying a German rifle.
Karl is still dressed like a Klingon -- not in the prepared-for-all-environments Hirogen body armor that would make traditional bullets laughably inadequate.
"Why haven't you ordered the cease-fire?" Karl demands.
"Move away from the controls," Groucho says.
"Listen to me!" Karl says.
Groucho shoots him.
Then he shoots him again just to emphasize the point. Karl dies.
Forget Betsy or Kovin's electro-bastard death rays. Just pass out some good old-fashioned AK-47's!
"What are you waiting for?" Janeway asks, wondering why she hasn't joined the Alpha in death.
"I am a Hunter. You are my Prey." Now that the formalities are over..."Run."
He gestures to the open door and begins chanting. One-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three...
Janeway doesn't need to be told twice. She beats a hasty retreat, as well as her wounded leg will allow. A few seconds later, the new Fearless Leader of the Hirogen rams a bullet into the chamber and follows.
* * *
A night battle is raging in Sainte Claire. The Allies are losing; the Germans are closing in on the city.
Paris complains that the "crude" 20th-century weapons aren't helping things much. And Tuvok says that 20 more Hirogen have blocked off the breach in the Holo-grid.
Chakotay checks on Seven's munitions efforts. "I'm modifying this explosive device [hand grenade] to emit a photonic burst. It'll be harmless to organic tissue but it should disrupt all holographic activity within 20 meters." Chakotay says he'll try to buy her some time.
Groucho doesn't waste time running; he just walks inexorably forward, tracking down his prey. Janeway, limping, struggles to reach a Jefferies tube hatch. She finally manages to close it behind her.
A few moments later, Groucho reaches that corner. He senses from the minuscule change in heat near the handle of the hatch that she's been here. He opens it and follows.
You gotta admit, the boy knows how to Hunt.
Janeway, on the other hand, is unarmed, wounded, and alone.
The poor Hirogen doesn't stand a chance.
Harry finally manages to put all the holo-emitters into overload mode. Just to keep things interesting, he sets the detonation to go off at an arbitrary nine minutes. Don't ask me why.
Nazi Boy leads a squadron of German soldiers (all holographic) through the streets toward the Americans' position. He barks orders in German.
Chakotay hears them coming and asks Seven to hurry. She completes her modifications, pulls the pin, and prepares to throw --
And gets shot. She falls, and the grenade tumbles away from her. Paris lunges toward it, but it goes off before he gets there.
Several allied soldiers disappear, along with all of their weapons. (It's a nitpick, but the surroundings themselves do not disappear.)
Nazi Boy and a large number of Germans train their weapons on the crew. "Surrender," he says, daring them to resist so he can pull the trigger.
Janeway limps through the corridor, breathing heavily. She notices a dead holographic soldier on the ground...his legs are missing. (More leg references!) That's odd...she notices that the emitter seems to have a blind spot. She drags the soldier backwards, and his gams magically reappear.
She begins hauling debris.
German soldiers take Tuvok, Paris, Chakotay, Torres, and the wounded Seven prisoner. Nazi Boy orders Torres released to his custody.
"I will spare your life, for now -- but only because you are carrying a German child."
Groucho tracks Janeway into a dead end. He hears the rattling of twisted metal. He sees her behind a pile of stuff.
"Please don't do this," she begs. "I can be of use to you. I can help you repair the ship. "Don't kill me!"
And discovers in shock that his Holodeck rifle is dissolving.
Janeway springs forward and slams a metal pole down on his neck. He reels, giving Janeway time to grab the rifle and level it at him.
Prey, Hunter...role reversal.
Groucho makes tracks--the first Hirogen we've ever seen run. Janeway, spitting fire, pursues.
Nazi Boy orders the captives thrown against the wall for an impromptu firing squad.
"Your deaths will serve the glory of the Reich," he says formally. "Prepare to fire."
They never get the chance. Like a bizarre Python sketch or the "French Mistake" scene from Blazing Saddles, a horde of drunk and giddy Klingons rush into Sainte Claire, waving bat'telh blades and yelling Q'apla!
Chakotay and the others waste no time; they rush their captors for a little hand-to-hand combat.
Groucho reaches the end of the road. The deck he's on leads to a gaping hole, beyond which is the fiery battleground of Sainte Claire. He looks down and can see his holographic allies getting impaled on Klingon crescent blades, karated into dreamland by Tuvok, and otherwise losing the battle.
Lessons of history, mate...
Neelix waves on another batch of Klingon warriors. "Fight on!" he yells.
Doc urges them on with a Harvard-accented cheer. " Oa'pla, gentlemen! Oa'pla!" he mispronounces, then winces as rainwater falls on him from the canopy over his head.
Paris gets his butt kicked by Nazi Boy...but before the latter can pull out his pistol and finish the job, he is knocked to the ground by a very large Klingon warrior.
Mr. Master Race gets an inkling of what the ancient, decadent Romans must have felt when thrust earthward and found themselves looking up at the titanic, long-haired barbarian horde swinging their mighty Teutonic swords. His face goes white, just before he's chopped in half by a crushing swing of the bat'telh.
Reich this, dude.
Groucho watches his future end. There is nowhere left to turn.
"This Hunt is over," Janeway says, and he turns around to find her leveling the rifle on him. "Tell your Hunters to stand down."
Groucho advances, but Janeway raises the weapon. "I'll use this if you force me to."
He thinks about it -- then he charges.
It is immensely satisfying to watch him not only bleed, but to fly backwards -- and fall screaming to the hard ground below, where deceleration trauma ends his short an ill-conceived reign.
Harry watches the last ten seconds of the countdown. He breathes a shuddering sigh of relief when it finally reaches zero.
The fighting stops when all the soldiers -- allied, German, and Klingon -- disappear. Why the town doesn't disappear is anyone's guess.
The five crewmen look at each other. "It's over," Chakotay says. "Let's go."
Captain's log, Stardate 51715.2. The damage to Voyager has been extreme. Both sides have taken heavy casualties and it's clear that no one is going to win this conflict. The fighting has reached a standstill and the remaining Hirogen have agreed to negotiate a truce.
Janeway, bearing a compact but interesting device, marches ahead of Chakotay, Tuvok, and a team of heavily-armed security types toward Cargo Bay Two. They are in their Starfleet uniforms again.
The Hirogen approach the cargo bay as well, dressed in their traditional Hunter armor.
"What is this?" the new head of the Hirogen asks when he sees Janeway's "gift."
"An optronic datacore," Janeway says. "You can use it to create Holodeck technology on your own vessels. I made a promise with your leader before he died that I would give this knowledge to the Hirogen. Take it."
The Hirogen hesitates. "His ideas were unconventional. I do not share them."
Janeway smiles thinly. "Was he any more unconventional than you are? Calling a cease-fire with your Prey? Only a few days ago the thought of speaking with us on equal terms would've been inconceivable, but here we are."
Janeway tries another tactic. "Accept this...trophy. You can use it to create a new future for your people...at the very least, you can hang it on your bulkhead."
He accepts the device.
The Hirogen ships break away, leaving Voyager to the daunting task of repairing and rebuilding...yet again.
The first thought that probably came to your mind as the episode ended was this.
What just happened?
Did Janeway just give Federation technology to a species that hadn't been able to develop it on its own?
Isn't Janeway's refusal to do so the reason that the Kazon harried them for two dang years?
Isn't that a major-league no-no?
More or less.
But this hasn't been quite the "I'll nuke this ship first" rule that it was those first two seasons. In "Concerning Flight," Voyager left several tons of Starfleet technology -- medical, transporter, weapons -- on the pirate planet. Chakotay even let a small-time local walk off the ship with one of their compression phaser rifles.
They'll fight rather than let someone take their stuff. But if it's a gift -- well, that's something else entirely.
Janeway gives the Hirogen a choice -- treat it as a trophy, or as a chance to adapt, and perhaps to survive.
If the decision is iffy, I'll say this: I doubt Starfleet would prosecute Janeway for it. The Hirogen are warp-capable, and unlike the Kazon they got that way on their own. And given the Hirogen penchant for turning off the safety protocols, they'll either put it to good use or they'll die in droves putting it to bad use.
Like most two-part episodes, the conclusion isn't quite as satisfying as the first part. But it helped that both parts aired the same night. I enjoyed it more for having the whole thing presented at once, without having to wait a week to see how it turned out.
One nice twist was that the initial agreement to end the conflict fell through. The dissatisfaction in the Hirogen ranks was put to good use. We've seen throughout the arc that the Alpha Hirogen is often questioned, but almost never disobeyed. Ironic that the Alpha, who sought to learn from humanity the skill for survival, introduced his underlings to humanity's dark side and its penchant for self-destruction, and infected them with the concept of mutiny.
The World War II setting is interesting. The German captain's lengthy and impassioned speeches were enough to sway the young Hirogen, but not enough to impress the elder -- he had seen through the arrogance, had studied the outcome, and had found the Master Race theory wanting. When he lashed out against the Nazi in the first part, he also criticized his own culture, which he suspects is as doomed as the Reich if they don't change their ways. Judging by the actions of the young Hirogen he commands, his concern is justified.
Janeway has now had her "Starship Mine" episode. Through blood, sweat, tears, intellect, compassion and cunning, Janeway retook her ship. She took advantage of her resources and the situation to win back what was left of her ship, and to establish a shaky but honorable truce with a species that could kill them, but discovered it could not conquer them.
This is a first for Voyager. The Kazon still hate their guts. The Vidiians still want their guts. The Borg would react the same as always to them -- "life as you know it is over." Species 8472 would as soon kill them as look at them. The Krenim treat them differently now only because they have no idea what happened in all those other time streams.
For the first time, Voyager faces off with a mighty, malevolent species -- and fights it to a draw. The combatants walk away from the fight voluntarily, nursing their wounds and thanking their lucky stars it's over.
As the Alpha Hirogen said--"Your species is resilient, and cunning." Voyager's crew would have fought to the last crewman, to the last breath, as armies throughout human history have done. Going down for a cause you believe in -- and maybe for a good cause.
But it's okay to stay alive in a good cause, too.
Voyager hands over Holodeck technology -- not because it's a condition of the truce, but because Janeway believes the Hirogen can become a better people as a result, and she considers it a promise worth keeping. Humanity eventually had to move beyond the point where survival came only by the death of others. It's impossible to settle down and farm and harvest, to build and to grow, unless there's some measure of peace. Janeway gives the Hirogen the choice to continue as they are and risk their own eventual extinction, or to learn to re-channel their need to Hunt.
20th-century humanity still hunts. For food, for sport, and sometimes for spite. But for most of us, hunting is no longer the difference between eating well or not at all. We satisfy our urge for the Hunt through other means -- vicariously through films and television and books first-hand through actual hunts, board games, computer simulations, war games, competitive sports, etc. We establish rules. We try to"play the game" correctly, and we frown on (or worse) those who don't.
However...a society may well be diagnosed by the games it plays. It probably doesn't speak well for us that some of the most popular computer games and other visual entertainments are anarchic, visceral bloodfests. The young Nazi's diatribe against the "decadent civilization" of Rome is telling. Rome came up short because it got lazy, nasty, and brutish. Its entertainments got ghastly--gladiator matches to the death, feeding people to lions, etc. They were caught up with bread and circuses, fattened and dulled and ripe for slaughter.
But decadence and desperation also marked Germany after World War I. The Nazis rose to power by speaking out against very real concerns to the population--hyperinflation, starvation, corruption, decay.
Anarchies often lead to dictatorships. The farther the pendulum swings, the more extreme the eventual swing in the other direction will be. If the Hirogen are "sick" as one reader said, for wanting to hunt virtual prey...I suggest they visit an arcade.
Because the Hirogen is us.
The interesting thing is, the Hirogen were playing a game in the World War II simulation. But to the humans who fought it, it was anything but a game. The harder edge of the crewmen living it was a subtle reminder that by making the crew think they were someone else, the Hirogen changed the dynamic to their disadvantage. Janeway or Tuvok would never kill Seven. But Katrine and the bartender wouldn't hesitate to kill the lounge singer. Too much was at stake to not keep that option open. The crew, by thinking they were occupied French or invading Americans, became a whole lot meaner, because the task of fighting the Third Reich was far more desperate than the plight of a single ship and crew struggling merely to stay alive.
In short: In WWII, they weren't just fighting for their lives. They were fighting for Humanity. Good vs. Evil. Freedom, or a thousand years of darkness under a blood-red flag.
The Alpha Hirogen notes that humanity often took itself to the brink, but managed to pull through each time. But not without cost. It's ironic that the Dominion War is going on in the Alpha Quadrant; humanity (and the other species) are fighting for survival yet again. And though it may be humanocentric to say so, it's easy to understand why the Dominion and the Borg and the Klingons and Romulans seemed to equate Humans with the Federation. No species is quite as adamant about surviving, and surviving Free, as Man. They'll giddily share these enlightened concepts with anyone who asks, and many who don't. But they're a sleeping leviathan that will attack with apocalyptic rage when forced to wake.
The Borg have taken individuals, but have yet to conquer the Human collective. The Dominion's mighty attempts are doomed to fail in the long run. Because humanity will never give up -- never, never give up. If pushed to the brink of extinction, they will roar back with a vengeance. Like David Banner, meek unless pissed off -- then a few insane minutes as the incredible Hulk, then afterwards a "sorry I trashed the place, are you okay?" They survive because they believe absolutely in the indestructible "I"...but also in the ever-expanding "we."
There are two ways to destroy an enemy. Neutralize the enemy...or neutralize the enmity. Both methods reduce "them." But only the latter method expands "us."
This is exactly what the Hirogen are missing, and what the Alpha so desperately desired to change. The WWII metaphor is exactly this: the allies won, so humanity survived. By playing Nazis, the Hirogen were on the side that would have resulted in a cultural dead end. Which is where the Alpha sees his own people as they currently are.
It was a nice touch that Janeway and Seven were, for a time, the only people in "Sainte Claire" that knew what was really going on. The two had no choice but to work together -- and it was at least a little amusing that they did so by working separately. Common goal -- different locations.
The acting here was superb. Mulgrew was particularly impressive, as was Garret Wang. Picardo and Phillips were nicely amusing. The Hirogen Commander and the Nazi captain were also very well played. The young Hirogen as well. It's hard to emote through that much makeup, but the voices carried well and the eyes did the roles justice.
The special effects were terrific. I say this almost every week, but I just cannot say enough good things about it.
Those all-black Commando outfits worn by Janeway and Seven...I'll pay cash money to see those again.
Paris' gum-chewing and wartime slang -- mildly amusing. But I was quite impressed with his brief scene with Harry as the still-brainwashed GI. McNeill played him as a very different character -- more subdued, battle-weary, no-nonsense. When he aimed the gun at Kim and was on the verge of firing, you knew he'd fire. But you also knew he would have nightmares about it afterward. Determined, but sad. McNeill played Lt. Davis as a decent guy who kills because he has to, but he clearly doesn't enjoy it. This makes for an interesting counterpoint to the Nazi -- about Paris' age, not dissimilar in appearance, but polar opposites in demeanor.
The down side:
The pacing was a bit off compared to the previous week, but it did move along fairly well until the last fifteen minutes or so. The resolution was a tad abrupt, and the concluding scene left several questions unanswered -- what's the extent of the damage, how many Voyager lives were lost, what the Voyager/Hirogen relationship is at the end (do all Hirogen have a hands-off policy now, or is it only these four, or do they even have that? Is there a nonaggression truce, or is there some cooperation to be looked forward to?), how have the relationships been altered by this, who's going to handle a shipload of people with numerous repressed memories from their Holodeck Lives, etc.
In short -- there wasn't any indication of Where We Go From Here. It ends the Freaky February month of episodes, cedes the following week to a rerun...and we have neither closure nor anticipation for what may lie ahead. Even a small hint would have been welcome.
Oh well. Unfortunately, that's a fairly common complaint. Loose ends are almost tradition.
On the four star scale, I'll give this (* * *). A decent, ambitious follow-up to the first part, but not quite at the same level.
Next week: a rerun of Random Thoughts.