The following is a SPOILER Review for "Non Sequitor." If you have not seen the episode yet and do not want to have the plot given away, stop reading now.
The SASR [Short Attention Span Review] is the creation of Jim Wright, who watches the episode no more than twice before preparing the review. This gives me the opportunity to review and recap with a combination of memory and creativity (when memory fails). The result is an experience that is similar to, but not exactly the same as, the actual episode. Consider it a revival of the ancient oral traditions passed on through the generations. I make no claims as to accuracy, but I hope I got enough of it right to keep your attention.
Harry Kim wakes up in San Francisco, the love of his life by his side, with a great job and a huge apartment with a beautiful view. And he has a problem with that.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Instead, he hears the voice of Libby, the girlfriend he'd left back on Earth. Opening his eyes, he discovers himself in bed. Looking around, he sees the nicely-preserved Transamerica building and Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco, California, out a very large window that--if I may speak freely--I envy any Ensign for being able to afford.
Libby tells him to get ready for his big day; he's got a meeting at 0900 that apparently he's been worrying about for weeks. He has no idea what she's talking about, but complies when she tells him to get dressed while she fixes breakfast.
Harry returns dressed for duty, and he is still wearing his yellow Starfleet uniform and his Ensign rank. He asks what the date is, and she tells him 49011. (Which I'm guessing is sometime around early August, 2371 AD, to you and me). Harry is still confused, and starts thinking aloud--something that usually gets him in trouble (see "Emanations"). Now, I'm still single so I don't know a whole lot about women, but I do know that if you don't want her to be mad at you, don't stand attention and refuse to tell her anything but your name, rank and serial number.
When Harry mentions Voyager, Libby gets mad. "How can you joke about that? Danny was your best friend; they only had the memorial for Voyager two months ago!" Ensign Danny Bird was Harry's best friend, but Harry didn't understand; Danny hadn't been posted to Voyager. Libby gives Harry the skunk eye until he leaves the apartment for his meeting, looking thoroughly confused.
We get a view of San Francisco, late 24th century. Specifically, the Mission District. No cars, but BART looks like it survived the centuries in some form. The streets are definitely not asphalt, but I see some crumbling concrete curbs to let you know San Francisco hasn't forgotten its pedestrian roots. Though come to think of it, I don't remember seeing Lombard Street, so maybe some things have changed. I bet the bicycle couriers of that century are grateful.
As Harry walks around aimlessly (he doesn't seem to know where his Big Meeting is) he runs into a friendly Italian restauranteur, with whom he is obviously acquainted. Or should have been. Cosimo (sp?) hands him a Vulcan Mocha and gives him a few more details about his big meeting, his girlfriend--who is now his fiancee, and his current posting. It seems Harry is designing runabouts for Starfleet, which surprises Harry, who handled Ops on Voyager.
Before Harry can get any more information, his coworker/friend--whom this Harry doesn't know--grabs him and spirits him off to Starfleet Headquarters, where they're soon facing more brass than an antique shop. His partner begins the presentation of their new shuttle, which apparently has a "dilithium fracture" problem. A problem which Harry, "the most brilliant engineer I've ever seen," has somehow addressed. Except this Harry hasn't got Clue One about any of this. When his turn comes to speak, he says "I don't feel well" and asks that the meeting be postponed. His partner, irritated, says, "you'd better be dying."
Harry looks like he'd like to.
Harry somehow manages to find his office, viewing his diplomas and awards, and his schematics for the shuttlecraft he helped design. "I must be good," he mutters to himself. He calls up his service record, and learns that in this reality detour he was denied his request for posting to Voyager, which went instead to his friend, Ensign Danny Bird. When his posting fell through he transferred to Engineering, where he excelled, earning the Cochrane award for advances in warp theory. All in only the 8 months since he graduated from the Academy.
Despite the great life he seems to have here, he still has concerns for his ship of posting, the life he remembers having the day before. He asks the computer if "any disruptions in the space-time continuum have been reported in the last 48 hours." (Sheesh, my computer can't give me an accurate list of my appointments....) Computer says there weren't any. He asks about Voyager and is told it's classified. But having served on the ship, and all else being equal, he inputs the codes he remembers and gets right in. Everything sounds right, except he's not on board. But his best friend is.
Soon, Harry is back in the Mission District, wishing he'd paid more attention before he left his apartment. Fortunately he's close enough that Cosimo nabs him to ask how his meeting went. Harry says, "I wasn't feeling well so I came home early." Cosimo gives him some friendly advice about his life, his fiance, et al., concluding with the most important information: how to get back to his place. Now, I have some restaurants I frequent, I even feel chummy with several of the servers. But none know where I live. Cosimo is quite the informed guy, though his infectious enthusiasm may answer most of the question as to how he knows so much.
Harry returns to an unusually dark apartment. Odd, since it was light out just moments before and the room's got a monstrous window in it. Libby hears his voice and calls out, and comes in wearing a towel. She and Harry talk a bit, and it leads to Harry saying, "tell me you love me like I've been away a very long time." She does, and asks him where he's been. He tells her, in a way that's real romantic when it's just pretend (as she thinks it is) but is kinda spooky (when seen from Harry's perspective). Romance wins out, and we cut to commercial before the FCC gets involved.
Back from commercial, the reunited lovers are asleep. Harry can't sleep long, though, and begins wandering around the apartment. He finds his clarinet, the one Captain Janeway said his mother told her had been left behind and could she please send it, but Janeway had had to say no. Now it's back in Harry's hands, and he holds it with a smile of recognition. But soon Harry is up and hacking away at the home computer while Libby sleeps, trying to learn all he can about the Voyager that in this reality left without him. He discovers that there is one other person who didn't make it to the Badlands.
Tom Paris. Convicted of Treason and sentenced to eighteen months (!)
Libby awakens, and soon they get into an argument. Harry, whose strange behavior that morning has left her worried, does little to placate her. When he opens up to tell her what's going on, he doesn't do a very good job of it; I've been watching the series since the beginning, and I wouldn't have believed him. Libby suggested he seek professional help. Harry didn't bother to argue with her (which explains why he's engaged and I'm not), but did leave quickly.
He told her he had to go to Marsailles, France. "Why?" she asked. "I have to see Paris," he explains. "But you said you were going to Marsailles," she responded. Fortunately, before this degenerates into an Abbot and Costello routine, the scene shifts...
To a familiar little tavern in Marsailles, right down to the pool table. The first Holodeck program we saw run on Voyager, brought to life. But without all the "great hustlers in history." As Harry reminisces with this connection with his reality, a pool cue snaps him out of his reverie. On the other end we see Tom Paris, out of uniform and under the influence.
"Tom!" Harry says. "Who the hell are you?" Paris retorts. "We met on Voyager," Harry says. "I never set foot on that ship," Paris says. He had intended to--had jumped at the chance when Janeway offered him the early release--but an unfortunate misunderstanding with Quark and Odo on Deep Space Nine (bar fight over Lodi crystals?) led to his incarceration and Starfleet Command's revocation of his parole. Harry tried to persuade Paris that they had indeed served together, and shared a few of Paris' choicer anecdotes and sayings. Paris was almost persuaded until Harry asked him to come with him to Starfleet Headquarters to run simulations so he can figure out how he got here and how to get back.
At that point, Paris balks and says Forget It, I'm not never going back there. Harry tells this Tom that his Tom once told him that he didn't know what would have happened to him had Janeway not given him a chance to redeem himself, but that Harry knows. Paris asks what, Harry says "a loser, and a drunk." Paris takes a drunken swing, misses, and Harry face-plants him into the felt of the pool table, gives one final parting verbal shot, and leaves, unaware of the eyes and ears of interested third parties.
When Harry returns home, it is to Libby, his partner, and two armed security people. They wonder why he's been acting so strangely--and illegally--breaking into confidential records with "forged" passwords, visiting traitors to the Federation, and the like. Harry goes quietly, figuring he doesn't have much choice.
Soon he's facing an unpleasant admiral, explaining the universe as he knows it. The admiral has other possible explanations, less favorable to Harry. They slap a security anklet around him and tell him not to leave the planet until further notice.
On the way back home, he runs into Cosimo again. Cosimo, we learn, is actually an alien (Cosimo. Cosmic. Get it?) and he's there to watch over Harry as he makes the transition to this new reality. It seems that a freak series of occurrences combined to yank Harry from life as he knew it and into a "time stream" that the aliens know about, but apparently not much about. They don't know exactly what happened, so they don't know how to get him back. (It's nice to see a non-omniscient well-meaning but troublemaking alien for once.) After an unsuccessful attempt to convince Harry he could have a happy life here, Cosimo hands him a Pog that can help him at least find the time stream. The rest is up to Harry.
So Harry, naturally, begins removing the anklet as soon as he returns home. Libby catches him, and is none too pleased; in her eyes, the man she wants to marry has gone completely insane. He tries to explain, not much better than before. The one that finally seems to work is, "if you know me, you know I won't give up when I'm doing what I know I have to." When he gets the monitor off his leg, the security folks beam in (nice stealth transporter, I thought), armed for bear and none too pleasant. We see Libby has at least begun giving Harry the benefit of the doubt when she covers his escape out the window. (Am I the only one who has a hard time believing that in the 24th century they'll still be using those rickety fire escapes?)
Harry escapes ugly, but he escapes. Smacking one security guy on the fire escape and dodging another down the streets of San Francisco, he is eventually taken down but is saved by the unexpected appearance of a not-as-drunk Tom Paris. Apparently Tom doesn't like being called a loser, or maybe he was missing those famous San Francisco Irish Coffees. He was there to help in any way he could. And he has some friends in high places, it seems; he has a personal transporter, and he knows how to use it.
They beam into Harry's office, where he unlocks the docking codes for the shuttle he's been working on. After dodging phaser fire from those pesky security guys for a few seconds, they beam onto the shuttle and fly out of space dock, with a starship on their tail. They get fired on, and the situation seems grim, but Harry locates the time stream and begins scouring his mind for the details of the original mishap. Scanners on? Check. full impulse? Check. But no sparkles. Then he remembers: he was transporting out when the universe pulled the rug from under him. But do they have time to pull it off?
Harry manages to remember that the shuttle has some special property, tachyon plasma or something, that when vented disrupts whatever it touches. So they vent, and the pursuing starship is slowed long enough for transporting to begin. Harry did try to argue since Paris would be killed by the critical warp core breach and pounding by the starship, but Paris argues that if this works, life will be back to normal and Paris will be with him on Voyager. When logic fails, Paris shoves Harry onto the transporter pad and energizes.
The shuttle explodes. Tom Paris, Drunken Loser, is no more.
Harry hears the same words he heard at the episode's beginning; after an initial disorientation he realizes he's back on his original Voyager shuttlecraft, which is not in such good shape itself. We see what we had earlier only heard, and watch in suspense until we see Harry safely aboard Voyager again, telling a bewildered Tom Paris, "I owe you one."
First things first. Voyager has lost two shuttles already this season.
How many do they have left?
Second, I feel for poor Harry Kim. He's obviously a bright guy, but he has an unfortunate habit of thinking aloud, and not thinking things through before speaking. It got him in trouble on "Emanations," and it gets him in trouble here. By acting crazy at first (in the eyes of his friends and loved ones), he was in a poor position to be trusted when he finally gathered his composure. One one hand, it bugs me; on the other, it's probably a good thing because as an ensign on his first tour of duty, he doesn't have some of the skills that a more experienced officer would. When he's disoriented, he hasn't yet learned how to keep his mouth shut until he can do something about it. He's human, and though that's rare in a Trek show, it's comforting all the same.
You have to feel sorry for Harry. On an average day, he would have been locked in his office with his coworkers, and could have gotten a handle on his situation before he went too nuts. He wouldn't have avoided the confrontation with Libby before he left the apartment, but he would have been able to gather his wits in the privacy of his office. Here, he was bounced from person to person, each giving him information overload before passing him on to the next guy. By the time he does have an opportunity to gather and process the data, he's already dug himself in deep with everyone who matters.
You have to admire his dedication to get back where he belongs, but I think I'd have been at least a little tempted to stay. And I think I'd have tried to pass the word that Voyager is alive and well, if a long way from home. I'd have tried to debrief with Starfleet Command; they knew he had the access codes, it would likely have not taken much to convince them that he knew things no ensign not serving on board the ship could have. Then I'd have learned all I could so I could brief the crew on my hoped-for return.
I'm sure Harry thought of all this once he got back, and kicked himself for not thinking of it sooner. A few messages of comfort to those who were unaware of the fate of their loved ones on Voyager, any information he could take back with him. Hindsight is 20/20. I found myself playing the "why didn't you..." game while watching this episode. It made me mad that Harry was making things so hard on himself, and yet it was true to his character. He can't help himself; that's who he is.
This is the second time Harry has been thrust into a situation nobody expected, and wasted no time causing upheavals. In "Emanations" he appears in a society that has been beaming its dead to "another plane of existence" and is the first to return therefrom. He proceeds to cause doctrinal turmoil among the philosophers and personal doubts for a man set to be beamed to Valhalla, even though he's just crippled, not actually dead. In "Non Sequitor," Harry says things about Voyager and Paris that nobody cares to believe, because he was acting irrationally when he started saying it. In the process he torpedoed a promising career in engineering and got a version of Tom Paris killed, though he at least died nobly, putting the lie to Harry's assertion that all this Paris would ever be was a drunken loser. he also broke his fiancee's heart, lost the trust and respect of a coworker who (it seems) thought the world of him before the error, and put the taint on all his work to date because of his association with a Maquis traitor (Paris). Not bad for two days' work.
Of course, the assumption is that, when the time stream was restored (a longshot, but this is Trek; you knew it would work) none of that actually happened. the Kim in that reality is still doing what he was doing before Our Harry came along, still engaged, still an engineer, and thrilled with his life. While our Harry is back where he feels he needs to be, though not necessarily where he wants to stay.
It's at least possible that, once this concept of time streams has been introduced, they will try to use that knowledge to get themselves home. It remains to be seen if they will.
Did I like this episode? Not much. It bugs me when Harry is taken out of his comfort zone, because he's woefully inadequate to the task. He manages to make it home each time, but you know a Janeway or a Tuvok would be much better equipped to handle such a situation. The real problem is, Harry doesn't seem to learn from his experiences. For me, a good episode means something happens, at the end of which the universe hasn't changed all that much, but the characters have. A good example is when Picard's mind was hijacked by an alien probe and he lived out an entire life as one of their people, their way of insuring the perpetuation of their culture. The events changed his life, as we saw in at least one subsequent episode. And over the seven seasons of The Next Generation, we saw tremendous growth in Picard, from a gruff child-despiser to one who was genuinely tender towards children. He faced many episodes that, in large or small ways, tracked his growth in this regard.
We didn't see that kind of change in Harry after "Emanations." At the very least, I'd like to see him take up engineering as a secondary assignment; the assumption is that he has a real talent for it, because even though it was a different reality, it was mostly the same Harry Kim. He and Torres are a good match as friends, and he did seem to learn enough about the shuttle design the Alternate Harry had been working on to perhaps put it to use on Voyager.
I like Harry's character. He's a good guy, but still green and prone to rookie errors. I just don't expect him to stay that way forever; he's too smart, talented, and resourceful. Even Wesley Crusher grew up eventually.
On a 0-10 scale, I'll give this one a 7.00. Solid, but frustrating.
Next week: Don't ask me. I couldn't figure out the teaser.