My reviews are highly opinionated, longer than your average Costner film, and prone to digressions. They retell each episode from beginning to end in excruciating detail, so if you haven't seen the episode yet and want to be surprised, run away.
But if you don't get Voyager in your area, this may be the next best thing to being there. That's my hope, anyway. Agree or disagree with the rants and raves, I hope you'll have fun along the way.
Doc wakes up in the future to discover that Voyager has made quite an impression on a divided planet. Chakotay's makeup artist works overtime.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
The captain's ready room is darker than usual. She's been redecorating; her desk is now a transparent surface, and free of such trinkets as lucky teacups, personal data terminals, and overworked espresso machines. The rest of the room is similarly Spartan.
The camera pans over to the window, where Janeway stares out at the stars. Let's listen in, shall we?
"When diplomacy fails...there's only one alternative--violence."
Bridge to Sickbay. Beam a pot of Yuban to the ready room--stat!
"Force must be applied without apology," she continues, giving Sun Tzu a run for his money, confirming her pissy mood--then she turns around, addressing someone off camera. She lifts her hands up in a you-lookin'-at-me gesture. "It's the Starfleet way."
Hot dang! Janeway's been taking fashion tips from Bester on Babylon 5, and diplomacy lessons from Macchiaveli. Her jacket is the same as always, but her combadge is missing. Her shirt is now jet black, to match the patent leather gloves she's wearing. Her hairstyle is a cross between Camille Paglia and Lyle Lovett. It's too dark to note the color, but it is undoubtedly that shade of red most reminiscent of cooling lava.
Her eyes...dead isn't the right word, for there is life behind them. But there is no fire, no zest. Only an unsettling obsidian glint. These are the eyes of someone to whom nothing is impossible--or objectionable.
(I'm sure this opening shot alone sparked a dozen fanfics. Many of which included the words "Yes, Mistress.")
We see her guest. An alien, mostly human, tan as George Hamilton, with a bumpy forehead and greying hair longer than Season Four Janeway's. He flashes a greasy smile. "Then our philosophies are in agreement. Will you help us?"
Janeway regards the alien. "You're asking me to fight your war, destroy your enemy--" No anger, just a cold tone that wants to know what's-in-it-for-me.
Another diplomat's smile. "I'm asking you to intimidate the Kyrians with your technology...help me capture their leader. This ship has superior firepower. He won't risk a conflict with you."
Janeway approaches him. "We risk life and limb so your people can annex Kyrian land. Sounds like a good deal for you. What do we get?" She turns away.
His smile broadens. "A way home," he whispers in her ear.
It's the closest to human emotion she's shown yet. She straightens her shoulders, but does not turn around. "You know more about Voyager than you've let on."
"Your reputation in this quadrant precedes you. That's why we sought you out." (Way to go Ship o' Death!)
"I'm listening," Janeway says.
"There's a cyclic wormhole five days' journey from here. We know where it is, and we can help you stabilize it."
Janeway faces him. The lava begins to flow. "If you're lying..."
"How far do you have to go?" he asks, his voice dripping compassion. "60,000 light-years?"
Janeway makes her decision. "I want all tactical data regarding your little war--Kyrian defenses, the position of your own forces, everything."
The alien grins. "You'll have it within the hour."
Man, Janeway's acting wicked. What is this, "Inside Out Wednesday" on UPN?
The bridge is abuzz with activity. Janeway's Psi Corps fashion sense has spread to the whole crew. And there are some new faces: The red, blue and gold Starfleet jackets covering black undershirts are worn by Vulcans and humans--and Neelix--and a young Kazon ensign. The security boys all carry Big Bang Betsies, the heaviest phaser rifles in the Starfleet arsenal.
Leather Kate slouches in the Big Chair even more than usual. Neelix announces the approach of eight Kyrian fighters. "Arm the assault probes," she orders. "Fire at will." I guess that's Black Kate Speak for "Hail them."
"This is Captain Janeway of the Warship Voyager. Break off your attack, or I'll destroy you." She sounds bored as she takes off one of her gloves.
In response, the Kyrians return fire. The ship rocks a bit. "Shields are holding," Paris reports.
Janeway calls over her shoulder. "Chekotay [sic], any luck tracking down their leader?"
The alien stands beside Chakotay, who looks like Tom Paris during the inexplicable Bad Mood arc of season two. Hair that looks to have been cut with a garden weasel. The tattoo, which has spread like a virus to cover the entire left half of his face. (Remember when Q said, "Mine's bigger!"? Not anymore. It's like his regular tattoo on Viagra.) His posture is also slightly different, just enough to notice.
"Not yet. We think Tedran has gone into hiding," Chakotay reports, before stepping forward to sit beside the captain.
Janeway doesn't seem surprised by this. "We'll have to flush him out," she says, as though the challenge isn't sufficient to bother sitting up straight. Her idea is as subtle as it is humanitarian. "Biogenic weapons. We'll infect the most populated Kyrian territories. The doctor's nearly done working on the weapon."
Yipes. She's more hacked off about Kellin than I thought....
Even the alien, so eager to enlist Voyager's help, blanches at this approach. "Our conflict is with Tedran himself, not his people. They're innocent!"
Janeway rises leisurely and strolls over to him. His position on the bridge is slightly elevated, and he's taller than she is, but she somehow manages to look down her nose at him. "The best way to bring down a ruler is to make his people suffer." (I'm sure Saddam Hussein would agree....) She cuts off his horrified protest. "This is no time for half-measures." Her smile is steely. "You wanted victory. You're going to get it." She hails Sickbay and asks for a status report.
In Sickbay, Doc's wired for sound. Fiber-optic connections lead from the back of his skull to the ship's control systems. (Don't be too surprised; other androids can do it, Data's done it plenty of times. Why should Doc be any different?)
"We have established a data link between my neural net and the phaser array," Doc says, voice a monotone. "I am reconfiguring the beam to carry a bio-agent into the planet's atmosphere....it is ready now, Captain."
His eyes stare forward, unblinking, lifeless.
Tuvok reports that the phasers are on-line. Janeway drapes herself over her chair as she speaks. "Target the first city....and fire." That last word brings a smile to her face.
We get a view of Voyager's exterior. Suffice to say that when they left that dead arms dealer in "Retrospect," they didn't leave empty-handed. It's got more exterior gun turrets than any Starfleet vessel we've ever seen, and they look well used. Voyager looks like it was spawned by a slightly more militaristic Federation--which, judging by the outfits and the attitudes inside, may well be true. They begin to spit angry orange bursts at the planet below. This is a ship that can do damage, and it's got a crew that's more than willing to use it.
Then the assault stops. In mid-fire. Frozen in time.
If this is a Holodeck program, Tom Paris has been snarfing down way too much of that Rodeo Red's Red Hot Rootin' Tootin' Booty Pootin' Lactose Intolerance Super Cheese Chili for his own good. But not even he could be this twisted.
The camera pulls back as a voice speaks. We discover that the last few minutes have been showing on a video screen--and not ours. A man is narrating for a group of bystanders, or perhaps students. Some look like they belong to the same species as the guy who talked Janeway into the battle with the Kyrians. The man, and the rest of the people, may well be Kyrians themselves.
"The warship Voyager--one of the most powerful vessels of its time. Armed with photonic torpedoes and particle weapons, this ship of destruction could wipe out an entire civilization within hours."
"On this particular day in history, we were lucky. The death toll could have been much worse. By the time Voyager targeted our major cities, Tedran had already begun an evacuation. Thousands of lives were saved. Unfortunately, it was only the beginning of Captain Janeway's onslaught. As you'll see, her actions would have a lasting effect on our world."
"Even today, 700 years later, we are still feeling the impact of the Voyager Encounter."
Whoah--hold the phone, Chester. Seven hundred years? Well, I always figured there would be a few planets out there that would not remember NCC-74656 fondly. But here, it would seem that Janeway and Company have been elevated to the status of the lone Starship of the apocalypse.
* * *
"Before we continue the simulation, I'd like to answer any questions you might have," says the narrator, a middle-aged man with a voice of quiet intensity.
A young man from the same species as the narrator steps forward and asks how many were on Voyager. "We believe they had a complement of over 300 soldiers," he responds.
The young man asks, "Did they attack other worlds as well?" The narrator smiles, slightly embarrassed. "Well, we aren't certain. Records of Voyager's travels through our quadrant are incomplete, but it's safe to assume that they interfered with many other cultures, yes."
"Tell us more about the Borg drones they kept on the ship," the young man asks. We get a closeup of him and we notice that the Kyrians' nod to Trek Alienness is two small fleshy joystick knobs above the bridge of a slightly wrinkled nose. Yecch.
The Narrator smiles slightly, indulging the bright pupil (or interested spectator) despite the gravity of the topic. "Voyager had many weapons at their disposal, including species they'd assimilated along the way--Borg, Talaxian, Kazon." (Well, two out of three ain't bad.) "They were captured and made to work as part of Voyager's fighting force." (Not entirely untrue.) "Let's resume the simulation and you can see for yourself."
"It's a few hours after the initial bombardment. Janeway and her squadron are on the bridge mounting their assault." (The scene shifts on that screen from Voyager firing to Janeway in her chair.) "Now, what you are about to see is graphic and unsettling." (Oh, great--even in the future, they have content ratings.)
A yellow alien script in the upper-left corner of the screen displays translucent symbols which, when translated, read "TV-14(v)".
Janeway slouches malevolently. She asks for a status report.
A quarter of a second later, her voice rises as she repeats the "request." The security guys prepare to fire at whoever is keeping the captain waiting.
Neelix responds quickly. "Approximately 3,000 Kyrians dead."
Janeway's disappointment is palpable. "That's it?"
"The bio-agent is still dispersing through the atmosphere," Tuvok chimes in. "The fatality rate will be 300,000 soon enough."
"Best guess--one hour," Tuvok says. (How imprecise! How un-Vulcan!)
Janeway's whisper is even deadlier than her shout. "Why do you always keep me waiting, Tuvok?" she asks, the vein in her forehead throbbing "shoot to kill" in Morse.
Tuvok...grins. (Talk about unsettling....) "My apologies. Preparing to fire again."
"Double the yield," Janeway orders. The alien ambassador, ashen now, balks. Janeway gives him a dismissive gesture.
"I want them defeated but...but this is genocide!" the ambassador protests, walking over toward her plaintively. The security guys tighten their grips on their weapons.
"Defeat? Genocide? Why quibble with semantics?" Janeway rubs her temple with a gloved hand.
"This wasn't our agreement," the ambassador pleads through clenched teeth.
Janeway stands, and he draws back, afraid to catch whatever killer virus she's carrying. "We're going to defeat the Kyrians. And you're going to keep up your end of the bargain." The steel in her voice is all-too-familiar, though the actions associated with them are not.
The ship rumbles a bit. Janeway orders a Kazon ensign to take the ambassador to the brig. "I'll let you know when it's over," she says.
"Three more Kyrian vessels approaching," Paris reports.
"Eeeevaaayyde them," Janeway drawls with more relish than a Chicago Dog. "Aye, aye, sir," Paris says.
Janeway flops back down in her seat. She and Tuvok share a grin, then she returns her gaze to the forward view screen and her fingers to her throbbing skull.
A Kyrian has been captured. Chakotay and Kim try to convince him to talk.
Kim backhands the guy. Then Chakotay asks questions.
The Kyrian isn't talking.
Harry leans in, nose to nose. "I can keep this up all day. Tell the Commander what he wants to know." The Kyrian says nothing. Harry rears back and knuckles the man's noggin yet again.
Then he shakes his hand in obvious discomfort. "Maybe I can't keep this up all day," he mutters. (Evil or not--what a weenie!)
Chakotay leans in close, circling the battered Kyrian, whispering into his ear. "I'm a man of peace. My native people are enlightened...Nonviolent...Much like your own. I'm saddened that this has happened to you. If we can work together maybe we can end this conflict."
The words sound like Chakotay. But the feral eyes and the caged-panther pacing belie them. This tattooed freak boy looks more like Queequeg from MOBY DICK. One can almost picture the shrunken heads hidden under his tunic.
Funny, that in this game of good cop, bad cop, Kim is the Bad Cop.
Kim has found a way to continue his part of the play. "Stand aside, Che-ko-tay. Let me hit him." He's carrying the 24th century equivalent of a lead pipe, smacking it against his palm in anticipation.
Doc enters, and advises against its use. "That hyperspanner would cause an unacceptable level of damage. I remind you--he must still be able to speak." His delivery is mechanical.
"What do you have in mind?" the disappointed Kim asks.
Doc holds up a hypo spray. "This neural solvent--a clean and efficient inducer of pain. Far more effective than your crude attempts at persuasion." Chakotay looks uncomfortable with it, but doesn't interfere as Doc applies it to the Kyrian's neck.
That TV-14 warning was well deserved. As Doc talks and Chakotay flinches and Kim grins, the Kyrian's head snaps backwards and spasms violently. "No doubt you are experiencing a tingling sensation behind your eyes," Doc explains. "The chemical is dissolving your optic nerves."
Chakotay asks again, "Where is Tedran?" but the Kyrian is too busy turning an agonizing shade of red, sweating acid, and those two joysticks pop out and begin to glow. Still he says nothing, valiant patriot that he is. Kim smirks at the man's agony.
"The pain will increase exponentially until your cerebral cortex begins to liquefy. I can reverse the process..." he says, casting a disapproving glance at Chakotay, "if ordered to do so."
"And I want to give that order," Chakotay assures the tortured Kyrian. "But you have to tell me...where is Tedran?"
The alien gurgles.
On the bridge, Chakotay shows Janeway a map of the planet on a wall display. "He's here, at these coordinates," Chakotay says.
"Assuming our prisoner told you the truth," Janeway notes.
"Oh, believe me, he was very cooperative at the end," Chakotay says, not quite smiling.
Neelix confirms the existence of a compound at that location, underground. Janeway tells Chakotay and Tuvok to lead an assault team, and to bring Tedran "safely" to Voyager. "Yes, sir," Chakotay says, and exits.
The ship rumbles again, and Paris reports that four Kyrians beamed into the engine room. Neelix adds that they've erected force fields (fast workers) so the ship's soldiers can't break through.
"They've left me no choice," Janeway says, almost glad of it. "Computer...Initiate the Borg activation sequence."
The lights go on in Cargo Bay Two. A Borgish hand splays out as its owner awakens. Janeway's voice rings out, "Bridge to Seven of Nine." The camera pulls back...and the Seven of Nine from the "Scorpion" days is back--full-on Borg regalia, mottled grey skin, and all. "State your instructions," she says. Her orders are to stop the Kyrians in the engine room. "We understand," she says--and three other fully-assimilated Borg step forward.
Kyrians scramble around in the engine room, stepping over dead bodies, when four green body-shaped clouds announce the entry of the Voyager Collective.
Necks snap. Bones break. Bodies fly. Kyrians die. Assimilation tubules get jammed into alarmed necks.
"Resistance is futile," Seven says as well as any Borg could after one impalement. Seconds after their arrival, the battle is over.
"Seven of Nine to the bridge. The Kyrian threat has been neutralized." Janeway acknowledges. "Two of the Kyrians are still alive," Seven adds. "What shall we do with them?"
I guess they could call the Peace Corps. (Or is it the Red Cross?)
[Sorry, Jeri; I couldn't resist.]
Janeway smiles creepily. "Well, you've been wanting to expand your fighting force. Assimilate them." (Borg queen, ice queen--same difference.)
Seven registers no emotional reaction whatsoever. She just stares straight ahead with that one pale grey eye sharper than any eagle's. "We understand." Brrr.
Back on the bridge, Harry enters. He leans in under the railing and whispers over Janeway's shoulder. "I just received word from the attack team," he says, grinning.
"Good news, Lieutenant?" she asks. (Hey, Evil Harry got a promotion!)
"Very. They've captured Tedran and one of his aides. They're heading back to Voyager."
Janeway gets a look I hope never to see again. "Take them to Chamber 19," she says meaningfully, "and get the Vaskan ambassador. This is one negotiation he won't want to miss."
Chamber 19 looks a lot like the Mess Hall, only it's completely empty. No chairs, no tables, no kitchen. But I understand why it was selected as Black Kate's Chamber of Horrors.
Tedran, a thirtysomething male of proud and dignified bearing, stands beside an elegant, patriotic Kyrian female. They are well guarded, and when Janeway enters the major senior staff is represented: Chakotay and Kim stand together, as do Janeway and Doc. The Vaskan ambassador is here as well as two of the ubiquitous heavily-armed Security Thugs.
The dialog is straight out of the Kyrian Propaganda Division. The genocidal captain seems almost cordial. "Welcome aboard," she says to the charming and well-manicured Tedran.
"I appreciate your hospitality. Are all your guests treated so well?"
"Well, it's not every day that we receive such an important visitor. The great Tedran...a man of wisdom and peace...a servant of his people. Well, your people need you, now more than ever," she says without irony. He tells her to state her demands. "Tell your forces to stand down, and I'll call off my attack," she says.
"I understand what the Vaskans want--more of our territory...more resources. But what do you want, captain? Why are you doing this to us?"
Janeway smiles. "He's offered my crew a way home."
"To reach your home, you would destroy ours?"
"That's right. And you'd do the same in my position." Naturally, he denies this. "Spoken like a true martyr," she says. "You're very enlightened. But are you so proud that you'd let your people die before you'd humble yourself?" She nods to the Thugs, who force Tedran and his associate to their knees. "Tell them to surrender," she says, all cordiality gone.
Tedran looks accusingly at the Vaskan ambassador. "You have shamed us all. We could've ended this on our own...peacefully...without her!"
Surrender, Janeway says. No, Tedran says. Janeway takes Betsy from one of the thugs and stands behind the female prisoner--and with the setting on slow broil, lets loose a several-second burst into her back.
Tedran looks down on his martyred comrade. "We will prevail," he pledges through gritted teeth."
Janeway stands behind him...and cooks him up medium rare. (My guess is the Kyrian historians didn't have a firm grip on phaser rifle power settings. A hand phaser on stun would have done more damage in less time at that range. But it's a brutal sight all the same, cold blooded murder at the hands of a captain with a heart as black as her fashion sense.
The dirty deed done, Janeway smirks at the horrified Vaskan. "Don't look so shocked, Ambassador. This is what you wanted, isn't it?" She tosses the rifle back to Thug #1, and the Starfleeters exit Chamber 19--leaving the Vaskan alone with the fallen bodies of his adversaries, and the tattered remains of his dignity. He had thought to bend the whirlwind to his will. He learned otherwise.
The perspective shifts to show the windows filled with stars--all but one, which shows the Kyrian narrator and his audience.
"The ensuing conflict was brief but brutal--two million Kyrians slaughtered within days. The warship Voyager continued on its way, leaving the Kyrian Dynasty in ruins. The Vaskan leaders proceeded to occupy our lands, forcing my people into subservience. It took centuries for us to undo the damage that Captain Janeway had done.
"And the Kyrian struggle for equality is far from over. This simulation and this museum are a testament to that struggle."
Interesting....I begin to notice around now that all the Kyrians are dressed in similar white-collared grey outfits, sort of Pilgrim-like in their simplicity. The Vaskans are dressed in outfits more varied in color and style, and on first glance, more expensive as well.
"I hope you found your experience here worthwhile. If you'd like to learn more about Voyager and its role in the history of our planet I suggest you explore the rest of this exhibit. Thank you for your time."
There is applause. The Kyrians applaud enthusiastically. The Vaskans, politely if at all. They all break up to view various artifacts, sculptures as well as familiar Starfleet items.
Including what looks like a photon torpedo casing. With the words USS Voyager on the side.
Proof that whatever happened, Voyager was somehow involved. And left stuff behind.
A lot of stuff.
* * *
After inviting the crowd to "feel free to test the simulators," the narrator (curator? Heck, let's call him Museum Boy) notices a teenager playing around in the innards of the photon torpedo. "I wouldn't touch that if I were you. One of the Voyager's torpedoes--25-isoton yield. It could destroy an entire city within seconds. It's been inactive for centuries but you never know." The kid backs away. "No, I'm only teasing, but, please, be careful. If we damage any of these relics they can never be replaced. The history of our people should be respected."
A young Vaskan adult says he has a question about that history. "How can you prove that it's true?" he asks.
"Take a closer look. The evidence is all around you."
"Some musty fossils and a recreation?" The Vaskan scoffs. "That doesn't prove anything." the Kyrian disagrees. A crowd begins to gather.
"You're trying to blame the Vaskans for all your troubles, the way you always do. I don't have a problem with your species. I have Kyrian friends. But I don't appreciate seeing my people being portrayed as villains in your little simulation, and I certainly don't want your history taught to my children."
Plot complication. Racial tensions are still there. The Kyrians, evidently the "underclass," have erected a Museum of Shame to inspire some cultural guilt among the Vaskans and provide some bloody flags for Kyrians to wave.
"You'd better get used to the idea," says Museum Boy, "because we've just uncovered an artifact that's going to confirm everything you've seen here. Three weeks ago our research team found a data-storage device buried nine meters beneath the ruins at Kesef. I've confirmed that it came from Voyager." The Vaskan scoffs at the big deal over another fossil, but Museum Boy (MB for short) gets animated. "The device contains active data...possibly crew logs--even Captain Janeway's personal almanac. In a few days, we could be hearing Voyager's version in their own words!"
"And what if those words tell a different story? What then?"
MB clearly finds that suggestion impossible. But he's feeling magnanimous. "We will change our views accordingly."
The Vaskan's expression suggests how much stock he'll put in that possibility. He walks away, as Museum Boy encourages the crowd to go back to the exhibit.
It's night on the unnamed planet. The museum is deserted, except for Museum Boy. He is carrying something (that artifact he'd referred to earlier?) He taps some controls at the terminal, and tells the computer to tune the simulation to the Voyager's engine room. The viewport resolves into Engineering, and he enters. He activates the "dictation" monitors; this is a historic moment.
"I'm resuming work on artifact 2-7-1--'the Voyager data-storage device.' I've decided to try using period tools from the simulation itself. With any luck, they'll be more compatible."
With only a little bit of tinkering, he gets the answer he seeks. The live data source is..."A hologram!"
Anyone care to guess what comes next?
Museum Boy works the Engine Room controls and within seconds the familiar (very familiar--bluish-grey shirt, combadge, and all) Holodoc appears. "Please state the nature of the medical emergency," he says, sizzling a bit as though slightly out of focus, but looking pretty good for 700 years' dormancy. The Kyrian makes some adjustments and resets the program.
"Please state the nature of the medical emergency." Ah, much better.
MB. "I recognize you. You're Voyager's doctor!"
Doc is disoriented. "What am I doing in engineering?" He looks at his arm. "Where's my mobile emitter?"
MB has his own questions. "You're not an android...."
Doc looks at him with irritation. "Of course not. What are you talking about?" Recognition dawns. "A Kyrian!" He rushes over to an engineering panel and makes an Intruder Alert.
MB tries to tell Doc that they're in a simulation. Doc eventually reaches the same conclusion.
A Holodeck? Doc asks. "No. You're in the Museum of Kyrian Heritage."
Doc demands answers. But the Kyrian is still hung up on the one answer he hadn't expected. "You...are a hologram! Uh...I just discovered your program inside this data storage device."
"That's the E.M.H. backup module." (When did they get one of these?) "One of your attack parties must have taken it from Sickbay." His tone is accusatory.
"Actually," MB says, still too awed for analysis, "we found it at the ruins at Kesef. I know this will be difficult for you to accept, but a great deal of time has passed since Voyager encountered the Kyrians." Doc asks how much; he blanches when the answer is "700 years, give or take a decade. We're not certain."
"700 years? What about my ship? What happened to my crew?"
"No one knows." He smiles. "It's safe to say they're long dead."
Doc's panic begins to set in. "And I'm some sort of...fossil?"
"No, not a fossil--a witness, a living witness to history! There's so much we don't know about what happened; but you saw it. You lived through those times! You helped to shape them."
"Doctor, you could be the most important discovery of all time!"
Doc goes into Deep Denial. He runs out the door of Engineering.
Museum Boy follows him.
And finds Doc outside (how, if he's a hologram without a mobile emitter? I dunno) with his mouth open and his expression bleak.
Kinda hard to argue with that evidence. Engineering doesn't have a museum annex.
* * *
Still in shock, Doc asks what happens now. "Will you put me on display? 'The holographic Rip van Winkle?' " Museum Boy doesn't have a ready answer.
"I want to try to contact Starfleet...If there still is a Starfleet," he adds, realizing he's got a lot of catching up to do.
Assuming he gets the chance.
"That will have to wait. There are other...issues to be resolved...You're the Voyager doctor. A lot of people are going to have questions. On our world artificial life-forms are considered sentient and responsible for their actions. You might have to face charges for your crimes. You designed the bio-weapons that killed eight million Kyrians."
As Museum Boy talks, Doc's indignation grows. "I did nothing of the sort!"
"Our evidence shows that you were a war criminal!" Museum Boy insists.
A measure of Doc's wits are back online. "Evidence? What evidence? Like this, for example?" He points to a schematic of the Warship Voyager. "Triple-armored hull? 30 torpedo tubes? 25 phaser banks? This isn't what our ship looked like!"
"We reconstructed it from a partial schematic found in the Cyrik ocean..." Museum Boy says, but admits, "which was damaged by corrosion. We were bound to get a few details wrong."
"Voyager wasn't a warship. We were explorers!" Doc says.
"Yes, I know--trying to get home, to Mars," MB scoffs.
"Earth! You see, you couldn't even get that right!"
Poor Museum Boy. That data device is turning out to be a historical Pandora's Box.
Doc demands to know what could happen to him. MB tells him that's up to the Arbiters, "but I imagine the penalty would be severe. Your program could be de-compiled."
"You've got to believe me!" Doc says. "To you, this may be ancient history." He picks up a ubiquitous (to him) PADD for emphasis and shakes it at MB, who gingerly takes it from him and cradles it like the precious relic it is (to him). "To me, it's yesterday. You called me a living witness. Well, at least give me the chance to set the record straight!"
"I want to see your version of what happened," Doc begs.
Seems reasonable enough.
Tom Paris--black gloves and all--is pacing and complaining in the briefing room. "We've already drained two phaser banks, and he hasn't hit anything!"
Tuvok's response is sharp. "If you looked at your console instead of chasing female ensigns, you'd see otherwise."
Kim defends Paris. "Tom's right. This war was supposed to be over in five minutes."
"You have a better idea, Lieutenant?" a brooding Chakotay demands.
"As a matter of fact," Paris says angrily, "I do. Fighter shuttles--a direct assault."
Ensign Neelix snorts. "Led by you? Good luck."
"Watch your mouth, hedgehog," Paris snaps.
"I haven't heard a single good idea," Chakotay grumbles.
"Well, then propose something, First Officer," Paris snarls. "Earn your rank for once!"
Way, way too much testosterone in this room.
Chakotay double-fists Paris in the gut and pounces. Harry, Neelix and Tuvok join in, and it's Hockey Night in the Briefing Room.
Janeway, standing alone at the head of the table, watches the spectacle with rapidly decreasing amusement. "Gentlemen..." she says softly.
They ignore her; they're too busy dogpiling each other.
"Gentlemen!" She repeats. Still no response from the Barbarian Boys Club.
So she says it with plasma. She fires a phaser blast at a wall panel, causing it to burst into flames.
That gets their attention.
Bad officers! No biscuit! "Save it for the Holodeck," she drawls dangerously. "We've got a war to fight." The men settle down, but continue to glare at each other.
"We've only been attacking the Kyrian military installations--a mistake," she says. "We should target the general population."
The android doctor replies in his deadened monotone, "Excellent idea, Captain. I have examined the Kyrian genome and they would be vulnerable to any number of biological weapons."
The real Doc (or his very recent backup) and Museum Boy are here as well, ignored by the centuries-dead doppelgangers. Doc is mortified by the caricatures of his comrades.
Janeway smiles at the suggestion and asks how soon it could be ready; within the hour, Doc replies. Janeway dismisses her unruly underlings and they file out.
"Pure fiction!" Doc cries. "This is absurd!"
If you count subtitles, Museum Boy's name is finally given, at only 31:48 into the episode: Say hello to Quarren. He halts the simulation. "This is a reasonable extrapolation from historic record. But if you'd like to point out any inconsistencies..."
"Inconsistencies?" Doc shrieks. "I don't know where to begin! Granted, this looks like the briefing room--but these aren't the people I knew. No one behaved like this."
"Well...aside from Mr. Paris."
Don't blame Doc too much; ritual Paris abuse is part of his programming. I think it stems back to the early days of his development, Doc's program maintenance, when Torres still thought Tom was a pig-boy.
But I digress.
"We weren't at each other's throats. We didn't talk about how to destroy planets. We helped people! We were an enlightened crew!"
Quarren's voice is stern, accusatory. "Are you denying these events took place?" Yes, Doc says. "Are you saying you never got involved with the conflict between my people and the Vaskans?" Yes, says Doc-- "Well, no, we did get involved. But it was nothing like this."
Elaborate, Quarren demands.
"There was a meeting in this room but it wasn't about battle tactics. It was about a dilemma we were facing. We had negotiated a trade agreement with the Vaskans. We were dealing with a representative, Ambassador..."
"Daleth. Exactly. Everything was going according to plan...until...we were attacked...by your people, the Kyrians. They'd picked that moment to start a war and we were caught in the middle."
"The Kyrians were the aggressors? No, that can't be right." Quarren is dubious.
"Captain Janeway met to figure out how we could extricate ourselves from the conflict and maintain the trade agreement with the Vaskans. We weren't on their side, and we certainly never attacked you!"
Quarren tells Doc to save his objections until he's seen the simulation in its entirety. Doc sighs.
The grand finale: Janeway shooting Tedran in the back, tossing the phaser rifle to Thug #1, and filing out of Chamber 19, leaving the martyrs' bodies as a final benediction to a shameful chapter of Kyrian/Vaskan relations.
Doc and Quarren watch the curtain close.
Doc's voice trembles with emotion. "Somewhere--halfway across the galaxy, I hope--Captain Janeway is spinning in her grave."
He turns toward Quarren. "You've portrayed us as monsters. The captain's a cold-blooded killer; the crew's a gang of thugs; and I'm a mass murderer!"
"Calm yourself," urges Quarren, irritated that Doc would kick dust up in the presence of dead Kyrian heroes, simulated or not.
"Why should I?" Doc rages with righteous indignation. "I'm about to be hanged for crimes I didn't commit!"
"Tell me your version of events," Quarren says.
Doc walks up to the male corpse. "I remember this man." His memory is clearly not a kind one.
"Tedran. He was a martyr to our people."
"Some martyr. He led the Kyrian attack against Voyager."
"You're lying!" Quarren shouts.
"I was there!" Doc counters.
"You're trying to protect yourself!"
"And so are you! From the truth!" This draws blood; Quarren flinches.
"Isn't it a coincidence that the Kyrians are being portrayed in the best possible light?" Doc continues. "Martyrs, heroes, saviors. Obviously, events have been reinterpreted to make your people feel better about themselves." His voice is both sad and bitter. "Revisionist history...it's such a comfort."
Quarren's voice trembles. "We were not the aggressors in the Great War. We were the victims. The proof can be found anywhere on this world. The Kyrian people are being oppressed to this day!"
Doc sighs. His voice is soft and as sympathetic as he can make it. "The problems in your society are none of my business. I'm just telling you what I saw 700 years ago!"
Quarren looks furious, but even more shaken. "I don't believe you, and neither will anyone else." He begins tapping at the controls of the data module. "I'm deactivating your program," he says when Doc asks.
Doc panics and pleads. "Wait! Please. I...I can prove to you I'm right! The medical tricorder--the artifact you have on display. If you just let me..."
He never gets the chance to finish. He sizzles out of existence.
Quarren trembles. "Lies," he mutters, forehead vein throbbing.
* * *
It's a beautiful, cloud-kissed day in the 31st-century nameless world that hosts the Kyrians and the Vaskans. Some folks are out jogging, giving their Kyria-Vaskaler systems a good workout.
Inside his quarters, Quarren begins dictating. "I've reexamined the data module, and from what I can tell, the doctor was telling the truth--at least about one thing. He is a hologram--a backup program. We always knew he was an artificial life-form...but we thought he was an android."
"If we were mistaken about that...I wonder if we might also be wrong about Voyager itself."
"Another question: why would a hologram designed for medical purposes be programmed to lie so readily? From the moment I activated him this doctor has insisted that he's innocent. At first, I...didn't believe him."
Quarren has more on his mind, but seems unable to find the words. "End dictation."
The museum is open, and people are milling about, when Quarren enters bearing the Doc in a Box. He activates the recreation and calls up Sickbay, and enters. He reactivates Doc.
"Please state the nature of the medical...oh. it's you," he says.
"You've given me a lot to think about," Quarren says, more amicably than his previous demeanor.
But Doc is still on edge. "Really? I thought you'd heard enough of my...lies."
"I judged you too quickly. I'm sorry." Doc, still wary, asks why the change. "Time to think."
Doc accepts this, then changes the subject to his next annoyance. "For your information, I don't appreciate being deactivated in the middle of a sentence. It brings back...unpleasant memories."
And distant ones. He gained control of his on/off switch way back in Season One. He's come an awful long way since then, and a good deal of that growth has come since he was given the basic freedom to choose when to be active. It's easy to see why that would be so important to him.
Quarren's in a far more accommodating mood today. "It won't happen again."
"Good," says Doc, still in a spewing mood, "because if you don't stop treating me like a second-class hologram I won't cooperate with your investigation. I'm perfectly happy to lie dormant in that module for a few eons."
Quarren finally lets his irritation show, and says he didn't come to argue; Doc asks what he does want. "I don't know. To talk, I guess. About what really happened 700 years ago."
"Are you sure you're willing to listen to a mass-murderer like me?" Doc asks.
"I'm...willing to keep an open mind. That's the most I can promise." He shakes his head. "Try to understand my point of view. All my life, I thought I knew the truth. There was never any doubt."
"I never meant to throw your beliefs into doubt," Doc says sincerely. "But I can't deny what I know to be true."
"I realize that now," says Quarren. "And I want to know the truth. And I want the arbiters to know it, too."
Doc is pleasantly surprised. "Well...the stage is certainly set. But I'll have to rewrite the characters and revise the plot a little. I'm quite adept in the art of holographic programming. If you'll give me access to your technology maybe I can create a simulation of own...show you what happened."
Now that is the Captain's ready room the way I remember it. Plants, lights, trinkets and bric-a-brac, the skulls of vanquished species (the Hirogen didn't take everything with them when they left...)
Janeway's hair is more like it was last week. When she turns around after staring out at the stars, she's got a smile on her face and glove-free hands.
"Don't worry, Ambassador. We've got plenty of medical supplies and we'd be more than happy to share them with you." That's our Cap'n Kate.
"Then we agree," the familiar Vaskan ambassador, much less sinister now, replies. "In exchange, we'll provide you with as much dilithium as you need."
"That's very generous, ambassador!" Janeway says gratefully, patting his arm.
Daleth, the ambassador, says they should hurry with the exchange. "We've been conflict with the neighboring species, the Kyrians. They've been threatening to attack us. War could break out any day. We've tried every diplomatic option but the Kyrians are a violent, stubborn people." (As an ostensibly objective observer, I'm inclined to agree.)
Janeway smiles big. I mean, real big. We're talking out of character big here, the sort of all-teeth smile that can get a person named an honorary Osmond. But Doc's doing the programming, so a little literary license is probably to be expected; he needs to sell a whole new Voyager and crew to the wary Kyrians. Gleaming teeth, fresh breath, and all.
"No problem. I understand what you're going through," she says. Her gaze flicks briefly but meaningfully toward the door of her ready room, no doubt in Tom Paris' direction. (Like I said, Doc wrote it.)
Daleth laughs. "I wish I could make you one of our diplomats. You might have better luck resolving this situation."
Janeway joins her laughter with his. "Under different circumstances..." She hails the Doc, tells him of her agreement with Daleth, and has him put the medical package together. Of course, Doc's anticipated this, and the supplies are bundled up and ready to go.
Efficient as always.
The cheerful moment ends when the ship rocks and Tuvok calls Red Alert. "Captain Janeway to the bridge," he says.
Janeway motions to the ambassador, and they exit the ready room.
"We're being fired on by three ships," Tuvok reports.
Daleth recognizes them. "The Kyrians."
Janeway orders a hail. "This is Captain Janeway of the Starship Voyager. We are not your enemies. Please break off your attack."
The incoming fire continues. The ambassador urges retreat, and Janeway tells Paris to back away. "Yes, ma'am," he says.
Tuvok reports that intruders have invaded Engineering. Janeway places a call, but gets no response from B'Elanna. (Yes, Paris gives an appropriately worried look at the captain here. If they weren't being chased by three ships he probably would have led the charge himself, but he stays at his post and worries himself sick.) She sends Tuvok down to investigate.
In Engineering, the Kyrians step over the wounded and the dead. Seven of Nine is the only crewperson still on her feet and not nursing a wound. I notice that a few of the Kyrians are limping.
The Kyrians are a raiding party. "Take as much of their technology as you can," says Tedran, a bit less spit-shined than in Quarren's version., weapon in hand.
"You will fail," a defiant Seven of Nine says nearby.
Tuvok and Security enter, weapons aimed.
Tedran takes a hostage by the arm. Seven, naturally.
Tuvok and his team lower their weapons, and the Kyrians cover each other as they exit engineering.
"Tuvok to Janeway. The Kyrians have killed three of the engineering crew; they took Seven of Nine and one of the injured crew members (nameless and speechless, so no doubt safe) hostage. They're now on deck two, section 32."
Janeway acknowledges. She looks at the ambassador and says it seems she's fated to be a diplomat after all.
She turns to Kim. "Tell the doctor we have casualties. Have him meet us on deck two."
Janeway, Daleth and Doc exit the turbolift. "Janeway to Tuvok. We're approaching section 31." (Isn't that the Starfleet Black Ops group? Go team!) Tuvok tells her the deck has been secured; Janeway orders him to send three security teams down and to seal all access points.
The ambassador has his own weapon--gotta talk to Tuvok about that one. "How typical of the Kyrians," he says. "They fight the same way they live--deviously." (Accurate representation--or counter-propaganda?) He looks mad enough to fire.
She looks down the corridor to see Kyrians, dragging Seven and a male crewman, running away. They stop long enough to be seen, then run into the mess hall.
"Janeway to Tuvok; the Kyrians are in the mess hall. We're going in."
When they get to the door, Doc speaks up. "I'll go first and draw any fire if need be."
"Your crew is heroic, Captain," Daleth says unnecessarily.
"I happen to be invulnerable to phasers--but I appreciate the compliment," says Doc. Janeway nods, and he leads the way in.
Doc enters first, and Janeway and Daleth follow. Daleth tries to talk to Tedran, but the Kyrian is as dangerous as any cornered animal, Seven looks to be his first victim if the shooting starts.
"Tedran, this is between us. Leave them out of it!" Daleth urges.
Tedran accuses the Vaskans of making an alliance with aliens and using the ship to destroy them. (Old habits--particularly 700 year old habits--die hard. The Kyrians were using victimhood as an excuse to go on the offensive even then.)
"We were trading with them, nothing more," Janeway assures him.
"We wouldn't need help if we wanted to destroy you," Daleth says, not helping.
"We didn't realize you were fighting with the Vaskans," Janeway says. "Now, lay down your weapons and I promise you won't be harmed."
In through the door come the security types, armed for bear.
Tedran, who never saw "Retrospect," doesn't know the first rule of interaction with Seven of Nine. If you are determined to get on her bad side, don't stand too close. When the security guys enter, Tedran is distracted long enough for Seven to knock the weapon out of his hand, then double-fist him in the sternum. She's long gone before he knows what hit him.
Daleth, knowing a juicy target when he sees one, opens fire, hitting Tedran in the same place that Seven did. Only this punch is lethal.
Janeway yells No! And lunges for Daleth's arm, but it's too late.
"He's dead," Doc says after a brief scan with a medical tricorder. The other Kyrians are already being led away under guard.
"Computer, freeze program," Doc says. "A tragic, needless death--but, as you can see, Voyager was not responsible. After Tedran was killed, Voyager was attacked by nine Kyrian ships. My program was disabled--most likely when they stole my backup module. The next thing I knew I was standing next to this gentleman seven centuries later," he says, pointing to Quarren.
His audience, two Vaskans and one Kyrian woman, regard this image from the past. "Very entertaining," says the Kyrian frostily.
Doc flinches. "Your holo technology is new to me. I had to extrapolate in a few places. But this is an accurate re-creation."
The Kyrian woman is inclined to disagree. "Perhaps. Or perhaps it's the fabrication of a war criminal who's afraid for his life."
"Do you have any evidence to support your explanation?" an older Vaskan male asks in more reasonable tones.
"In fact, I do," Doc says. "I've confirmed that this is the same tricorder I used to scan Tedran at the moment of his death. If I can access the bio-readings inside I can prove he was killed by a Vaskan weapon, not by Captain Janeway."
I just realized that, to prove his case, Doc has to make both the Kyrians and the Vaskans angry. Rather than have a mutual villain to point to (the Black Kate of the museum simulation that even the Evil Ambassador Daleth was scared of), they are faced with the possibility that the Kyrians attacked Voyager and drew first blood, and that a Vaskan killed the "Martyr" Tedran.
But the Vaskans seem more curious than angry. "Can this be done?" the Vaskan male asks. Quarren says he thinks so, with Doc's help.
But the Kyrian woman has a big-league burr in her saddle. "I fail to see what this would prove. Tedran died on Voyager, a victim of a conspiracy to oppress my people. The weapon used, who fired it--this is all beside the point."
But the Vaskan is more inclined to listen. "Was there a conspiracy? Did Voyager really help my ancestors to start the Great War? or were Kyrians the aggressors as my people have always believed? This casts doubt on everything."
"But it doesn't change the fact my children can't attend the same academies as yours or that we are forced to live outside of the city center."
"Today's problems are not at issue here," says the Vaskan. "This is about history."
Doc speaks up. "Look, I don't know who started your war. All I'm saying is Voyager wasn't responsible!"
The Kyrian arbiter looks harshly at Doc, and at Quarren. "I can't believe that you would cooperate with this murderer. You of all people--you built this museum." Quarren admits that the facts aren't quite so straightforward anymore. "We shouldn't be listening to this hologram," she insists. "I want him arrested and charged for the crimes we know he committed."
The Vaskan looks uncomfortable. "That's not your decision to make."
"No, it's not, is it? I'm only on this commission because you needed a token Kyrian." Quarren objects; it's not about race, he says sternly. "It's always about race!" the arbiter says with a wild-eyed Revolutionary look, then turns on the Vaskans. "You seize every opportunity to keep yourselves in power."
The Vaskan, uncomfortable with the vehemence of the Kyrian arbiter, nevertheless sides with Quarren and the Doc, and gives them permission to proceed. Quarren, no fan of the Vaskans either, bows his head stiffly and says Yes, Arbiter.
As Doc walks by the Kyrian, she speaks to him in a low voice. "You'll pay for your crimes," she promises. Given the look in her eyes, I'm inclined to believe her.
"700 years and I'm still caught in the middle of your little dispute," Doc notes wryly when it's just he and Quarren in the recreation of Sickbay. "One might have hoped for a bit of social progress in the interim."
"Change never comes easily for us," Quarren admits.
"Hmph. that's an understatement," mutters Doc, back to a degree of his old humor.
With Quarren's help, they replicate a needed instrument. "This diagnostic tool should help me get past the initial encryption sequences. Too bad we can't re-create B'Elanna Torres," Doc says wistfully.
"Torres...the chief transporter operator," Quarren struggles to remember.
"Chief engineer. You might want to make the correction in your history books."
Quarren asks what Torres was like. "B'Elanna Torres...intelligent, beautiful--and with a chip on her shoulder the size of the Horsehead Nebula," Doc says, unable to resist the jibe. But his features go soft. "She also had a kind of vulnerability that made her...quite endearing."
[Kasey, I think Doc just played your "five character attributes" game.]
Doc realizes that he misses her, and all his crew-mates. "From my perspective I saw them all only a few days ago. But in fact, it's been centuries." (Okay, we get it!) "And I'll never see them again."
"Did they ever reach home? I wonder."
Quarren says he wonders the same thing. "From as far back as I can remember. Ever since I was a small child, the first time I heard the name Voyager it conjured up my imagination."
"Even though we were the bad guys."
"That didn't matter. I was too young to understand the implications. The fact you were so far from home, traveling across the stars. Oh, I found it all very heroic. I suppose Voyager is what made me fall in love with history."
I started out this episode not liking Museum Boy much...but he's grown on me.
He's grown on Doc, too. "If it means anything to you," he says softly, "you would have made a fine member of our crew."
The ship rocks.
Wait, they're not on a ship.
The museum rocks.
"I hope that's part of the simulation," Doc says, but from Quarren's look he knows better.
Doc and Quarren exit the simulation and enter the main museum floor. They see a large group of angry people armed with sticks and white-flashing bomblets doing major damage to the exhibits. They're moving too quickly to note the facial characteristics, but from the non-Puritan clothing I'd say they're angry Vaskans.
Doc and Quarren look on in horror.
* * *
The destruction continues.
Quarren recognizes one of the vandals, the young Vaskan who confronted him early in the episode. He begs the young man to stop, but the guy's unmoved. "We know about the hologram! This museum's filled with lies!"
"Stop! Listen to me!"
"We've listened long enough!" The young man shoves him aside and resumes whacking stuff to pieces.
Quarren despairs. "They're using photon grenades. We've got to take cover," he says.
The next day, Doc and Quarren search through the rubble that had been the museum, looking for Doc's tricorder--the one with the evidence. The inside of the museum is quiet now, but outside the sounds of warfare are clear.
Quarren, who has just arrived, gives Doc an update. "It's getting worse. Protests, vandalism...Two people have been killed. Don't worry. They've cordoned off the museum. We're safe for now." But Quarren's look is haunted.
Doc also looks sickened by the news. "That's not what I'm concerned about. Two deaths, a race riot, all because of me?"
"You were only the catalyst. The pressure's been building for years. It was only a matter of time before something set it off." He asks about the tricorder. "It's crucial that we [find it]. The Kyrians are demanding you be punished for your crimes but the Vaskans want to hear your version of events and continue the investigation."
"What's going to happen?" Doc asks.
"I don't know. The Vaskans are more powerful, but the Kyrians are very angry. They're talking about another war."
Doc swallows hard. "Then there's only one solution. Delete my program," he says earnestly. Quarren looks at him, amazed. "I've become a kind of symbol for this conflict. As long as I'm around your people are going to keep on fighting. I'll show you how to decompile my program. You can say I was damaged in the attack last night. No one will hold you responsible."
"I can't do that to you."
"Then I'll do it myself!"
Doc shakes his head. "I'm a medical hologram...programmed to do no harm. But I'm doing harm on a global scale! Ever since you reactivated me, I've been concerned with clearing Voyager's good name. But that's not important now. There's more at stake!"
"A few days ago, I might have agreed with you. But what about the facts?"
"Facts be damned!" Doc shouts, slamming his hand on the staircase railing. "Names, dates, places--it's all open to interpretation. Who's to say what really happened? And ultimately, what difference does it make? What matters is today and the future of your people."
Quarren is a historian, and he values the truth. "Doctor, you were there. You can't deny what happened."
"I can...And I will. Tedran was a martyr for your people, a hero a symbol of your struggle for freedom. Who am I to wander in 700 years later and take that away from you?"
Tedran's anguish rises to the surface. Those joysticks above his nose start to wiggle. "History has been abused. We keep blaming each other for what happened in the past. If you don't help us now, it could be another 700 years!"
Doc can't argue with this. Painful as the events surrounding them are, as a doctor he knows that they need to treat the root of the problem rather than the symptom. His jaw sets. "Let's find that tricorder."
They continue searching through the rubble and the shattered bits of Voyager.
The camera pans around--and we see into a wide-screen portal like the one into the Voyager simulation.
A woman stands at the control panel now, with six bystanders. All have the Kyrian Pilgrim-style collars on, but their outfits are now of the Vaskan multi-colored variety. None wears the sackcloth grey of Quarren.
Some of the people in that room are clearly Kyrian, and some Vaskan. And a couple...could be a blend of both.
"It was a pivotal moment in our history," the female narrator says, looking down on the museum and the treasure hunt of the ancient past. "As a result of the Doctor's testimony a dialogue was opened between our peoples. Eventually, we found a new respect for our divergent cultures and traditions. The efforts of people like Quarren--" (stickler's note: it took them a mere 57:20 to mention Quarren by name) "--and the Doctor paved the way for unity."
The room full of people, of both species, nod sagely, serenely. Definitely a caffeine-free environment these days compared to what Doc and Quarren went through.
"Quarren died six years later, but he lived long enough to witness the Dawn of Harmony."
She walks over to a wall that has a plaque with Doc, arms folded in an official pose, and a page of text in an unfamiliar language. "And the Doctor...Well, he served as our surgical chancellor for many years--until he decided to leave. He took a small craft and set a course for the Alpha Quadrant, attempting to trace the path of Voyager."
"He said he had a longing...For home."
As the tour continues, the camera focuses in on the Doctor, the fondly remembered hero of two formerly antagonistic races, whose rift he healed with his courage and his devotion to the truth.
First things first. The simulated crew, grossly distorted, are nevertheless not played for laughs. The differences may be briefly amusing to note--Janeway's hair, Chakotay's tattoo, Tuvok's evil grins, Doc's lifeless android delivery--but the depictions are so dark, it's as easy to cringe as to laugh. These aren't alternate-universe characters; these aren't "Tuvok's training videos." These are the real deal--as viewed centuries later by the losers who blame them for 700 years of history.
There were some amusing scenes: Evil Harry, saying he can "keep this up all day," only to hurt himself more than his victim on the next punch. The men of Voyager bickering and brawling like idiots. Janeway slouching more than usual. The Psi Corps Casual attire. But they are more than overwhelmed by the truly dark moments: smirking genocide, cold-blooded murder, bad cop / worse cop / Robocop. The scene where Doc injects the captive with a "neural solvent" is truly horrifying, and Janeway shooting two people in the back, execution-style, is nearly as disturbing.
"Worst Case Scenario," an episode which used a similar device, was amusing because of the reactions of those within the simulation. The cruelty of the characters in the Seska scenario were amusing, despite the danger. (Doc injected acid into Paris then, too, I recall. But he lived.) Here, the results of the events depicted are quite real--the Great War and the second-class citizenship of the Kyrians for centuries. The Kyrians, apparently in much better shape before Voyager came alone, were definitely worse off afterwards. The tragedy of these simulated scenes is that they had very real consequences for two species.
What's special about this episode is less the events of that encounter that sparked the Great War, events that might have been interesting in themselves, but the "sequel" seven hundred years later. That event, which appears to have involved the theft of a lot of Voyager's technology, might have been like any number of past episodes: hard fighting, ship gets the snot kicked out of it, they somehow manage to beat off their attackers, and they are on their way again. Could be interesting. But this is one of those episodes that explores the consequences of such an encounter. What's particularly satisfying is that this is a story only Voyager could tell; it's ideally suited to its setting.
It's also topical, has a strong Trekkish social message, provides a great guest cast, and offers a nice twist at the end that caught me completely off-guard and reaching for the Kleenex. It belongs on my shelf with the Best of Episodic Trek.
The question arises, which societies might the Kyrian / Vaskan cultures be related to? I'd probably make someone mad for guessing, so I'll let you pick your own. We could almost use the generic case, and refer to them as the currently-Ins, and the formerly-Ins. The victors get the spoils; the Vaskans are clearly better off in the 31st century than the Kyrians. They can live in the cities, their clothing is more expensive, they can go to the best schools. They seem fairly civil for the most part, in the way that the victors can afford to be. The Federation wouldn't let this planet join, but they're probably better off than the Kazon were under the Trabe before their revolt. There is peace in the sense that there is absence of armed conflict. But not in the sense that the differences between species have been resolved.
The Kyrians, for their part, are not very pleasant. Their attire may be plain, but they wear their suffering proudly. They never let the Vaskans forget that their current position on top of the heap was due to a conspiracy with The Ship of Death, or that they have to rely on the "kindness" of the Vaskans for what they have rather than have the opportunity to compete for the planet's bounty on equal terms. One suspects that the Kyrians live better under the Vaskans than the Vaskans would under the Kyrians. But they are still unequal, and as long as they are, the peace is tenuous.
Enter Doc. Devoted to truth, protective of the honor of his comrades (well, maybe not Paris), but also sworn to Do No Harm. The dilemmas he faces, the sacrifices he is willing to make, the courage to do the right thing in the face of tragedy. The touching ending, where the battle over historical accuracy is itself put in historical perspective, fogged up my glasses. In a season where happy endings haven't been all that common, it's a real pleasure to get an episode that provides one--even if one had to jump centuries ahead to find it.
This episode works well because of the performances of Picardo and Henry Woronicz (Quarren), individually and together. I just can't say enough good things about Picardo; it's a shame that Trek series tend to be ignored by the Emmy committees aside from the (well-deserved) technical categories. Trek has been fortunate to have landed terrific actors in the "new life" roles: Nimoy as a Vulcan, Spiner as an android, Auberjonois as a Changeling, Picardo as a holographic being. Perhaps it's natural that they'd get some of the best stories, since delving into the nature of existence is a great source of drama. But it's to their credit that these actors have done so, consistently and convincingly, and endeared themselves to us as a result.
The regular cast did seem to enjoy the chance to play their characters with a touch of malice. Tuvok's smile alone was worth it. Chakotay's tattoo kinda freaked me out, but not half as much as his hairdo--but Beltran played it with a much-appreciated intensity. (Imagine this Chakotay getting chummy with Kellin...) Wang was amusing as Evil Harry; Ryan was chilling as the Borg Seven of Nine. Mulgrew as Evil Kate could have made Xena weep.
Dawson was sorely missed; Evil Torres would have been way cool. And if only Kes were still around. I would have really enjoyed a return of that Warlord outfit of hers. But I guess "Keiran" and "Kyrian" would have just confused people.
Phillips and McNeill weren't given as much to do as Evil Neelix and Evil Harry, though they held their own in the melee, growling and hurling invective on cue. I'm sure "warthog" will make it into a review soon, if it hasn't already. (I just checked; it made three appearances, but not since "Elogium.")
But the impressive thing about the "historical" simulation was that, despite the obvious inaccuracies, some of the character interactions held true. Harry and Tom sticking together in a fight; Janeway and Tuvok getting along well; animosities among the menfolk, exaggerated to be sure, but not without some precedent. Chakotay's detailed words about his peaceful background, clashing with his imagined conduct in the fabricated interrogation scene. It's a nice reminder of who these characters really are by contrasting them with their caricatures.
There were some problems with this episode, which stem not from the episode itself but from continuity issues. Chiefly, the "backup" of Doc's program, which has never existed before--in fact, it's been widely presumed, based on other episodes where doc's program was in danger of being lost irrevocably, that no such backup COULD exist. Maybe they picked up some more 29th-century technology or something.
It's a bit of a cheat, but it's less irritating to the drama junkies (who care less about the how of it than about the result) than to the continuity buffs (who keep a running inventory of the ship and crew in multi-megabyte relational databases).
Less easy for me to pass off is the habitual exclusion or delay of introducing the names of the guest characters. This episode was already into the epilogue before we heard anyone call the historian--the main dang character in this episode--by his name, Quarren. That is extremely frustrating. There are crew characters we may have never seen, who we nevertheless know are there, because they have been given names. The Delaney sisters were legendary without ever being cast.
Yet we've had guest stars, some of whom spend a great deal of time on screen, and we don't hear their names until halfway through the episode--or in this case, longer. Or even never. There will always be room for "Thug #2" or "alien teenager." But if someone's got lines, they should be given something as basic to their character development as a goldang name. And we should be let in on the secret.
So start those signature drives and ink-colored ribbon campaigns now. No justice, no peace, until all guests are forced to wear "Hi, my name is" stickers on their costumes.
Is that so much to ask?
Those complaints aside, I did have some questions. But these are more issues of curiosity than consternation.
The first is, the Kyrians appropriated an awful lot of stuff from Voyager. This, and "Concerning Flight," combine to deprive Voyager of a lot of its technological reserves. I'm guessing they were lucky to get out of the area intact, and according to Doc they lost at least three crewmen (all in the high-fatality Engineering team). No wonder Paris is becoming quite the engineer lately.
I'm not sure about the holdings of the Kyrians and the Vaskans. The tone of it seems to be that these two races share the same planet--and no more. They have ships, but it's not clear whether they have warp capabilities. One would assume so since they're trading with Voyager, but the politics on this planet feels very, very local. Even centuries into the future, the planet seems to be the focus, and the rest of the quadrant seems to be ignored. Yet Doc takes off in one of their ships on a course for the alpha quadrant.
Related to this: The thought that 700 years (and more) later, the Federation hasn't extended out this far. This seems to contradict both Q's comment in "Death Wish" and the presence of the colonel in "Future's End". Now, the galaxy is a big place, so perhaps this planet was simply still unexplored. If Voyager made it home, it my have recommended an Avoid classification.
You'd think Starfleet's technology would have advanced in seven-plus centuries to the point that the alpha quadrant would be a much shorter trip, or at least a quick phone call. His stated purpose was to find out what happened to Voyager; as soon as he found a contact with Starfleet, he could learn the answer. But perhaps following their route home is part of the quest. A whole spinoff could be based on Doc following in Voyager's footsteps, noting the long-term impact of their presence along the way.
However, all this is irrelevant to the story, which takes place almost entirely in a museum. The journey here is in time, not space.
This was Tim Russ' first directorial job on Voyager. I look forward to more from him. Kudos also to Brannon Braga; if he can bring more episodes like this to the fifth season, there's a lot to look forward to.
On a 4 star scale, I'm giving this one (* * * *).
Next week: Voyager lands on one hell of a planet.