The following is a SPOILER Review. If you have not seen the episode yet and do not want to have the plot given away, stop reading now.
This is not just a review; it's a retelling of the episode from start to finish, limited only by my ability to remember the details. I do this for my friends in uniform and those living overseas or who otherwise do not have access to the episodes as they are aired.
I watch the episode only once--maybe twice--before I compose a review, and I rarely don't take notes. I rely on my memory, hence the term SASR (short attention span review).
WARNING: I am also a charter member of the Wordy Muthah Hall of Fame. I'm enrolled in a Brevity twelve-step program, but these things take time.
Tuvok and Torres are imprisoned on a hostile planet, while Janeway works to rescue them with the help of an old man who thinks she's his daughter.
Jump straight to the Analysis
In a crowded marketplace, Neelix hands Janeway a vial of something as Torres and Tuvok look on. Their local garb and behavior suggests this is a stealth mission. Janeway scans the contents and tells Neelix they need the vial filled. He leaves. Shortly afterward, the streets are beset by faceless black-clad stormtroopers. Tuvok and Torres are soon subdued and carted away. Janeway kicks a few butts before getting shot in the neck. Before the men in black can apprehend her, an old guy rushes at them and kicks a little hiney of his own.
On the ship, things look grim. Kim tells Chakotay their options are extremely limited; without some tellerium (the stuff in the vial?) the engines will die, without hope of restarting them. He suggests taking down the shields. Chakotay hates the idea--they're in the vicinity of a hostile planet--but Kim says this is the last remaining option; even life support is at minimal. Chakotay finally agrees, and they get a little more breathing room.
Neelix hails them a moment later, with the tellerium and bad news about the away team. They beam him directly to engineering, where the vial's contents are immediately analyzed and employed. The mission appears to be a success; within minutes the engines are back online and systems are restored. The immediate danger past, Neelix explains what happened. The Mokra--the jackboots who run the planet--tried to capture him. Chakotay asks if Neelix's resistance contacts may have sold them out, but he doubts it. The Mokra, he says, are pervasive and formidable, devious, and smart enough to make plenty of trouble for them.
Chakotay decides to take a direct approach. They move towards the planet, and have a brief and seemingly productive conversation with Augris, the "third magistrate" or somesuch of the Mokra. He's dressed in black, oilier than a Dream Team defense attorney, and gives Neelix hate shivers. Nonetheless, Augris offers to look for the away team. Neelix urges caution; he has never seen a Mokra this chipper before.
Where are Torres & Tuvok? Imprisoned. Tuvok urges caution while Torres tinkers with the forcefield, just before she gets a nasty shock. A Klingon and a Vulcan make strange cellfellows, don't you think? I smell character development.
Meanwhile, Janeway awakens to strange surroundings. Her wounds have been tended to, but she's got an Excedrin headache and a whole lotta questions. But her rescuer, the old guy who poked the Mokra, is a few dilithium crystals shy of a working warp drive. His name is Caylem, and he's doting on her like she was his daughter. It's soon clear that's exactly who he thinks she is.
Janeway goes into Action Kate mode, machine-gunning her questions and looking for options. But getting information from Caylem is not easy; he treats her like his (adult, gung-ho) daughter, thrilled to see her, and eager for her to regain her strength. He sees their purpose as the same: go to the prison where her crewmen, and her "mother", are being held.
Chakoty meets Augris in person on the ship. The Mokra gives him yet another Delta Quadrant review of the good ship Voyager's antics--more enemies than friends, and a reputation even he'd be ashamed to have. It's not a constructive criticism; it's Augris' way of showing he knows more about them than they do about him, and Neelix again voices suspicion Augris is up to no good. Augris and the Mokra are very good at being bad. No Kazon, they. Augris asks if they've been in contact with the planet's resistance movement, and the room temperature drops a few degrees. The cautious optimism of the first meeting has taken a disturbing turn.
The next scene bears this out. Torres and Tuvok are being held captive, and Augris is right there plying them for information. Needless to say, they are not exactly elbowing each other for the opportunity to talk first. He orders their incarceration and interrogation, and a citywide search for Janeway.
Still in Caylem's quarters, Janeway notices the activity outside, as the stormtroopers mess with the populace. She wants to do something, and Caylem is way ahead of her. He's packing for the trip. No weapons--just a dress and letters he's written to his wife but never delivered. Action Kate begins to really listen to his ramblings, his frustrations over his fading memories of his wife, details of happier times they'd spent together that he recalls with difficulty. His love, and his frustration, are palpable. When he is almost utterly lost in thought, she places a kind hand on his shoulder and a word or two of comfort. He hands her a necklace, which she tries to decline, but he is a hard guy to resist.
Janeway isn't buying into his delusion that she is his daughter; she's grateful for his help, but she doesn't want him to get hurt--or get in the way. He begs her to let him join her on the trip to the prison to visit her mother. She's not budging...until the Mokra kick the door down and force her hand.
Soon Janeway and Caylem are walking the streets, skulking in the shadows to avoid suspicion, looking for resistance members, Mokra are everywhere, hassling the pedestrians, looking for resistance members. Augris spots someone trying to be inconspicuous, and accosts him. Caught dead to rights, the resistance guy is on his way to prison until Caylem rescues him. Hopping through the crowds, acting like a senile goofball, dancing with nearby hookers to the delight of everyone within eyeshot (who were understandably tense with all the heavily-armed government muscle and the Top Thug within arresting distance), including--strangely--Augris. He laughs at Caylem's antics, adds to his humiliation by giving him a cantaloupe skullcap, and revels in his dominance over the pathetic creature, he and his men oblivious to the guy they recently apprehended, who takes advantage of the diversion to scurry to safety.
In the prison, Torres continues to look for a way out. She hears screams, and her face goes ashen--the screams belong to Tuvok.
On the ship, Kim and Neelix and Paris and Chakotay analyze the planetary defenses, which are distressingly formidable. They have been unable to find the away team, and determine it will take a beamdown to locate them. Chakotay gives Kim the assignment. Kim accepts the assignment without a word, and a look that speaks volumes. All consisting of two words: WHY ME?!?!?
Perhaps I'm speaking out of turn, but that's my question as well. (Like that's ever stopped me before.) Chakotay's throwing an awful lot of responsibility on his shoulders. He's an ensign; there are those with more experience, higher rank, and more specialized expertise. Lt. Carey, for example, who was Janeway's first choice for chief engineer. Granted, Kim has proven his ingenuity, and he's worked closely with Torres in the past. But it almost seems that Chakotay is dumping too much on him throughout the episode, including much that isn't in his realm of expertise. From an acting standpoint, I'm sure he's not complaining. More screentime, more lines, more opportunity to stretch the character. And he did a good job of projecting his reaction to the assignments: "Thanks for the vote of confidence. I think."
Planetside, Janeway and Caylem meet with the resistance guy who escaped. Janeway explains what she wants: info on the prison, and help getting her people out of there. The resistance guy scoffs; nobody escapes from the prison, and besides, he has people he'd much rather get out than her people. Caylem calls him a coward; the man returns the scorn and tells Janeway to not put too much faith in the old man's tales of bravery. (Few details; they'll come out later, we can safely assume.) Janeway comes to Caylem's defense; "he saved me earlier, and he just saved you." Action Kate won't take no for an answer; she wants weapons. Resistance guy...resists. Then he asks for some quid pro quo; "you want weapons? I want money." She has nothing to trade, she says; he points to her necklace. "I can't," she says; it's not hers to use. "Yes it is," Caylem says. So they strike a deal. They'll meet in a few hours and trade arms for ornaments.
Several hours later, three hours after the rendezvous hour has passed, they wait in the shadows. Caylem spills the story the other man had alluded to; his wife had been a leader in the resistance, and had urged him to join the cause. He was concerned for his family, but he was also afraid. He finally agreed to meet them for a raid, but he never did. His wife was still waiting for him when she was arrested, he says, speaking to Janeway as a man confesses to his daughter, a plea for understanding and forgiveness. Janeway is touched, and embraces him tenderly.
Janeway sees a man in a blue vest as their contact was told to wear. They walk up to him, but before they conduct the transaction Janeway notices the man's shoes (just like a woman, eh? -- IT'S A JOKE!!! Don't hurt me) and she walks past the guy. When they're safely back in the shadows, Caylem asks what was wrong. She tells him the shoes were military, and it was probably a trap. He compliments his smart daughter as she thinks furiously for a Plan B.
A rule in fiction: If you introduce a hooker into Act One, you'd better use her by Act Five. Janeway notices the gaudily-dressed hoochies she'd seen earlier, and Action Kate gets an idea.
Torres looks in horror as Tuvok is returned, badly beaten, to the cell. Her first impulse is to strike, but Tuvok cautions her and she backs down as the guards leave. She feels a mixture of impotent rage and shocked sympathy; she hadn't realized before that Vulcans could truly feel pain, and says as much. Tuvok mutters that even Vulcans have their limits, beyond which it's futile to resist and they must accept what's happening to them and react like any being in pain. Torres asks if he doesn't feel some anger, desire to lash out at their attackers. He doesn't answer, but he does suggest that when physical resistance is impossible, they still can and do resist by refusing to answer.
In the dark back entrance to the prison, two guards grumble. It's not exactly glory duty here. From the shadows comes a welcome vision: Janeway, hair down, a scarf draped around her neck, looking and talking the part. The guard's not very bright, but he knows it means trouble if their lieutenant shows up. "He won't find us," she rasps seductively. They find a quiet corner, where Caylem buffaloes him. Action Kate turns Bond Girl, grabbing the first guard's weapon and gunning down the other guard before he can react, and within seconds has opened the entrance to the prison.
The family that slays together, stays together.
She tells Caylem to stay put. "But I saved your life! You said I'm not a coward!" She acknowledges that he saved her life, "and now I'm returning the favor. Don't follow me." Off she goes.
On board Voyager, Kim tells Chakotay the defenses are gonna be hell to punch through, but he has an idea--bombard the planet with stuff, and slip a transporter beam through. They'll detect it, but they won't be able to track it because of the sensory overload. Chakotay orders Paris to prepare a rescue team. The operation seems to be working, but before they can beam the planet hits them back--hard. Augris hails them, calls their recent efforts a hostile act, and tells them they have two minutes to withdraw before the fourscore and seven high-calibre spank rays pound them into subatomic particles. All indications are that this is not an idle threat.
Meanwhile, Janeway is armed and on the loose, knocking out prison defenses and causing all sorts of confusion. Torres and Tuvok take advantage of the situation and fight back against their captors. Torres gets to pound some flesh, and Tuvok gets to use the patented and much-missed Vulcan Neck Pinch.
On Voyager, Kim notes the chaos. Action Tom urges Chakotay to give them another shot at beaming down; he figures it's a prison break of some sort, and even if their own people didn't orchestrate it, they might as well exploit the opportunity. Chakotay eventually agrees, but reminds Paris of their time constraints. (Again I wonder why Paris is allowed to go; as the Hottest Pilot Around, Paris would seem better placed in his pilot's seat, where dodging cannon fire would seem to me a priority. He's a pilot, not a SEAL.)
Janeway runs into the resistance while looking for her people, and they point her towards them. They soon run into Caylem (what, you expected him to stay put?). Shortly thereafter, they meet up with Tuvok and Torres, also armed and on the move. They're about to leave, but Caylem insists they go rescue her mother, so Janeway gives T&T directions and takes off with Caylem.
They don't get far. The halls are alive with the sounds of jackboots.
Augris is in the thick of the well-armed Mokra. "I spent all that time looking for you, and you come to me."
The ship is being pounded hard. Kim suggests they go polar; there's an EM storm at one of the magnetic poles. It's wreaking havoc with their tracking systems, so it may do the same to the cannons The storm's dissipating, but it should give them a few extra minutes. Chakotay so orders it.
Augris fills in the remaining details of our man Caylem. His wife has been dead for over twelve years. His daughter died a few years later in a rescue attempt. Caylem has tried this before, rarely getting far. Augris leaves him a free man as an example of the cost of resisting the Mokra. Augris tells Caylem that he's sacrificed yet another woman to his folly; he orders his men to take Torres and Tuvok; he'll interrogate Janeway personally.
Caylem didn't take that little bit of bubble-bursting well. In a brief struggle, he buries a knife in Augris' belly, then saves Janeway's life by taking two blasts from Mokra guards while the resistance cleans up the minor thugs.
The look on Augris' face suggests his disbelief that he would die thus, stuck like a pig by a man he deemed beneath contempt, his utter victory turned to ultimate defeat.
Caylem has the benefit of dying words. Janeway rushes to him, holds him close, and grants him a final kindness--calling herself his daughter, telling him he saved her mother, that they are both well. They love him. They forgive him. They are proud of him. He dies with a smile--and Janeway's tears--on his lips.
The coward has become a hero today, many times over. The resistance men look at the man they had loathed, and swear his deeds will not be forgotten.
Epilogue: The ship's repairs are mostly completed, Kim reports to Janeway.
She is lost in thought, and dismisses him. Her eyes speak volumes as she holds
the necklace Caylem gave her.
Okay. First the raves. The guest stars here were excellent. Joel Grey as Caylem created one of the more moving characters I've seen in this series. The chemistry between Janeway and Caylem made the episode for me.
Augris was also powerfully portrayed. Unlike some characters we've seen, you get the feeling he belongs in a position of power, love him or hate him. He projected cunning, intelligence and menace. He'd make a great villain in the next DIE HARD sequel; a formidable foe with traits you can grudgingly admire even as you loathe.
Janeway here has a lot to deal with. All alone in unfamiliar and hostile territory, saddled with a deluded and potentially (though unconsciously) dangerous "ally" who believes her to be his daughter--a relationship we find it hard to imagine her accepting (Captains prefer the Parent role, I think), Janeway shows her resourcefulness. When I call her Action Kate, I say it with fondness; it's not a criticism. I don't think of science officers as captain material; it's good to see those Captain characteristics employed to such effect.
One exception to this. Though Janeway looked breathtaking as a Painted Woman, it seems a little demeaning to turn her into a love merchant to get past the guards. Yes, it's a time-honored method in American literature, but the "I am woman, hear me purr" HAD to have been tried on that planet before, and you'd think guards wouldn't be that stupid. That said, I still fell in love with her instantly in this scene. I've always had a soft spot for redheads, and Janeway is to die for. Just ask Caylem.
Torres and Tuvok didn't have a great deal to do here, I'm afraid. The "character development" didn't go very deep; we got some superficial stuff about how Vulcans deal with torture, and Klingons deal with incarceration. It seemed a bit contrived to me, but I won't begrudge them the screen time.
Chakotay finally gets to warm the captain's chair, and we get to see more of his command style. His assignments seemed odd but not inconsistent; give the guys with name billing the job. He and Kim haven't done much directly together, and I wonder if they like each other much; there seemed some tension between them that went beyond the stress of the situation. Ironically, Chakotay seemed to be getting along much better with Paris, with whom there is little love lost. Perhaps he was overcompensating. Even so, I think Chakotay and Kim and Paris were fine here. Neelix had his moments, but for the most part it was to warn us of his suspicions about the Mokra.
I don't recall seeing Kes or Holodoc.
The complaints about Kim's heavy burdens and Paris' leading a rescue mission extend to other reservations I have about where people were, and why. In an obviously hostile situation, what the heck is Janeway doing on the planet? Neelix's being there is obvious; he had contacts in the resistance. Tuvok, as security chief, also makes a lot of sense. But Janeway and Torres would seem much better placed on the ship during the engine crisis. We never hear why they're there, other than to advance the plot when the Mokra invade the town square.
This isn't to take away from the performances, which were excellent. I just wonder why people were where they were, when "protocol" would dictate they shouldn't have been. Captains venturing into harm's way has been proscribed since the first season of TNG, and Picard always had a reason (which we got to hear) for leaving the ship. It's a lead Janeway has followed, until now.
My other complaint about the episode is a general criticism of the 24th century: everyone talks too darn soft. I could barely hear Caylem at times. Perhaps it's the station, but I've noticed this on all the series from TNG on. Some characters generally talk louder or more resonantly than others. Chakotay is often hard to understand without pumping up the volume, as is Torres and Paris. I suggest they turn down the microphone sensitivity a notch and tell everyone to project more. It's a minor point, but it's been bugging me for a while.
Other than that, I thought this was an excellent episode, and I admit to wiping my eyes when Caylem died and when Janeway clutched the necklace at the end of the episode. It reminded me of the end of TNG's "Inner Light" when Picard, after living a lifetime on a long-dead world purely in his mind, plays a small recorder that he had learned to play on that world. It's a symbol with deep significance, an object that conjures decades of memories and of roads not taken. Perhaps we'll see the necklace again, when the time is right.
A word about titles, particularly one-word titles. I miss the titles of the original series, many of them taken from history or Shakespeare. Today's titles are rarely more than three words long, and are more utilitarian than expressive. Perhaps it's a reflection of the times. Here the title is descriptive of the theme--Resistance--but it seems dry.
Finally, it's nice to see a world that proves itself a match for the vaunted Starfleet ship and crew, a world with good guys and bad.
On a scale of 0-10, I'd give this one an 8.00, mostly because of Janeway and the guest stars.
Next week: Stephen King's "IT" in space.