The usual. It's Paramount's playground; I'm just borrowing the equipment. Any resemblance to products, productions, novels, television shows, films, characters, public figures, celebrities, bodily fluids, et al., is purely intended for entertainment purposes.
These reviews are long, highly opinionated, and prone to digressions. They retell each episode from beginning to end in excruciating but dubiously accurate detail. If you haven't seen the episode yet and want to be surprised, run away.
But some people seem to like them, and if you don't mind your Trek with some tongue-in-cheek running commentary, hop on the fun bus and join the crowd, because Fatherly Uncle Jim's in a storytellin' mood.
Doc crawls inside Seven of Nine's head. In an unusual twist, everyone BUT Harry dies.
Jump straight to the Analysis
It's daylight on a very cold, very large piece of ground. Imagine Arches National Park during the Ice Age--frozen over but breathtakingly beautiful. Lots of snow, ice and glaciers, many in intricate formations.
Two figures beam into this winter wonderland. Their attire is bulky, warm, and about 90% pockets; they are 100% covered so their identities are unclear. Both carry heavy backpacks. One points, and they start hiking.
After several minutes of careful tromping through the snow, they reach a spot where they stop and hammer a piton into the frozen ground. They brush aside the dusty top layer of frost, revealing a translucent layer of ice. Underneath is a large object that clearly doesn't fit in with the terrain.
One of the figures slaps his chest. We hear the telltale chirp of a commbadge. We see nothing under the masked face. "We're here!" the male voice shouts over the howling winds.
The camera pans up, way up, and we see the two figures as tiny dots in the vast textured sea of whiteness. But we also see a glassy glacier, inside of which we can plainly make out the contours of a starship.
NCC-74656. USS Voyager.
* * *
The piton blinks like a beacon as one of the men takes tricorder readings. After a moment he tells his comrade, "The glacier fractures are stable." The other nods and again activates his commbadge. "We're clear to beam inside." We hear a woman's voice: "Acknowledged."
The inside of Voyager is dark, shredded, and frosted over. The two men, flashlights in hand, walk through the ghostly corridor. After a moment the two decide it's safe and remove their hoods, then their goggles, then their masks. We know these two: Chakotay and Harry Kim. But something's different about them. Gray hair, for one.
"Not exactly the way I remember it," says Harry, voice low, hollow. They sweep the corridors with their flashlights as they walk.
They reach a wall panel, frosted over and completely dark. But an ice scraper and self-adhesive battery pack soon make it operational. Harry Kim runs some brief tests, then reports the bad news. "Power grid's been destroyed. Neural gel packs frozen solid. Decks nine through fourteen are now deck ten. They've been compacted."
"Looks like they hit the ice at full impulse," Chakotay says. "The E.M.H.?"
"I'm trying to access Sickbay." But Harry gives up a few seconds later. "The relays aren't responding. I'm losing the interface. Reset the power cell." But it's a losing battle; the lights blink frantically, and the panel goes black.
Harry snorts with disgust and pounds on the wall, which causes frost to break loose and fall in a chilly cloud around him. "Come on!" he vents.
"Let's get moving," Chakotay says. "Keep an open comm link." They go their separate ways.
Chakotay reaches the bridge, which is frozen over. Inches of frost cover everything. A bluish light flashes on and off with an electric crackle, but nobody is thawed enough to react. We see bodies, caked over with years of frosty neglect. It is an eerie sight, and Chakotay is not immune.
Harry opens up a Jefferies tube, only to find it similarly frozen over, with a well-preserved extra in a yellow-shouldered uniform suffering a severe case of freezer burn. Undaunted, Harry crawls into the tube and past the crewman, barely pausing long enough to confirm his former comrade's identity.
Chakotay, depending on your perspective, has either more or less luck on the bridge. We have no trouble recognizing the deep-frozen remains of Tom Paris or the late, great Ice Queen, Kathryn Janeway--on whom the flashlight lingers for a very long time.
Harry, in Sickbay, finds no additional corpses. Whatever happened here, happened too quickly for the beds to be filled with wounded. He scrapes enough ice from a wall panel to attach another power cell; the controls begins to pulse with life.
Chakotay encounters the corpse of Seven of Nine, the apparent object of his search. She looks almost peaceful in death--she certainly landed in an appealing pose (compared to the limbs-akimbo Janeway)--though the cold has clearly taken its toll. Her frozen hair is almost golden.
He slaps his chest. "Chakotay to Tessa."
"Go ahead," the woman's voice responds.
"I found her. Lock on to the transporter relay and beam her to the lab." He places a blinking piece of equipment on Seven of Nine's neck.
We see an orbital view of the planet from what looks like the Delta Flyer. A youngish brunette who doesn't look entirely unlike Ensign Ro Laren is sitting in the Helm Boy seat. "Stand by," she says.
"Make it quick," Chakotay says. "This isn't exactly a happy reunion." She gets the transporter lock, and Seven of Nine disappears.
Harry Kim taps at the wall panel, and within seconds the air a couple of meters away begins to warble, finally resolving into the ever-familiar Holodoc. "Please state the na...ture...ovvv..." Doc's standard pleasant introduction trails off as the reality of his surroundings hits him; his beloved Sickbay is a mess.
"Long time no see," Harry tells him.
"I go by Harry now," Harry interrupts. "It's a long story. Where's your mobile emitter?"
Doc walks toward the table, in a state of obvious shock. "What's happened to the ship? The crew?"
"No time!" Harry snarls. "The emitter!" Doc points to its position on the table, in a tray covered with ice and perhaps glass. Harry smashes his fist down, sending crystals spraying in all directions. He grabs the emitter and slaps it into Doc's hand. "Here. Slap it on and let's go." He begins to walk toward the door.
"Wait!" Doc says to Harry's back. "I demand an explanation!"
Chakotay appears in the doorway. "I'll give you one. We're here to change history."
Doc's eyes go even wider.
* * *
We see seven festively colored vertical bars. The blue one in the center pulses brilliantly. The camera pans up; we discover we're looking at a gussied-up version of Voyager's warp core.
We also notice that it seems to be snowing in Engineering.
Whoops, my bad. It's just confetti. Being tossed by happy crewmen, some clapping, all laughing and cheering, in slow motion. (Why does slow-motion celebrating always look so depressing?)
We see faces we've seen before, and many we haven't--Ensign Kenny extras just waiting their turn in the shuttlecraft Kevorkian.
We see a wide-grinning B'Elanna Torres, carrying a gold-mesh covered bottle of champagne, which she waves ceremoniously as the crew cheers. She rears back and takes a swing at the railing surrounding the warp core with a fluidity Sammy Sosa would envy. The bottle smashes, it's a long fly highball to deep center. The crew goes wild.
Things return to normal speed. Even Tuvok is applauding, politely, taking mighty Vulcan slurps from his double-barreled beer hat bearing the logo, "I Brake For Logic."
Captain Janeway interrupts the hoots, cheers and woof-woofs. "Ladies and gentlemen, please.... May I introduce the next generation of instellar [sic] propulsion--the quantum slipstream drive." They cheer in unison, and she waves them down. "Four years, two months, 11 days--that's precisely how long Voyager's been in the Delta Quadrant. And during that time we've advanced the frontiers of exploration....and more importantly, we've survived. Now, it's time to go home."
The crew goes wild. Zippos raised, high-fives, hugs, kisses with European prefixes.
"Enjoy the celebration," the captain concludes, "but keep in mind we've still got a lot of work to do before tomorrow's flight. Go easy on that champagne, Lieutenant," she advices Torres, who responds with a boozy chortle.
Janeway and Chakotay leave early to let the crew Festival unhindered. They still have confetti in their hair. They walk close enough together to run away with the three-legged race crown.
Janeway shakes her head, awed and ecstatic over her new technological toy. "Quantum matrix...Benamite crystals...Borg technology...can you imagine what Starfleet is going to say?" She seems to relish the prospect of seeing the looks on the faces back home. Which, if the drive works as advertised, could be just days away.
Chakotay laughs. "I don't think we'll hear any complaints. The Federation's first slipstream drive...they'll probably nominate us for the Cochrane Medal of Honor."
Janeway smiles demurely. "I'll start working on my acceptance speech."
And, it's Chakotay with the assist! " 'I'd like to thank the Borg collective...' "
Janeway asks if he has any dinner plans. "Nothing special. Date with a replicator," he says.
"Cancel it. That's an order," she says in that You Must Comply voice of hers. With that, she sprints away, leaving Chakotay to eat her dust.
"Aye, Captain," he says crisply, with a twinkle in his eye that prompts a collective sigh in the viewing audience so profound it measured on the Richter scale.
Neelix weaves through the crowd in search of Lt. Torres, bearing a unique gift. "My contribution to the slipstream drive," he says proudly, presenting her with the world's largest ugly bug. It's furry, has wings, and looks big enough to ride. Not that you'd want to.
"Thanks," says Torres, with all the enthusiasm you'd expect her to show over such a gift. "What is it?" She's half-smirking, arms folded, trying not to puke or pass out from whatever it is she's been chugging.
"A Talaxian fur fly," Neelix says proudly. "An old spacefaring tradition among my people. If one of these creatures stowed away on your ship it was a sign of good fortune. I had this little fellow preserved. He hung in my engine room for six years."
"Cute," Torres says, taking it gingerly by the wire hanger on which the furry thing is impaled. Or is that its tail? I really don't want to know.
Tuvok looks almost amused. "Mr. Neelix, you are an unending source of astonishment."
"Why, thank you, Mr. Vulcan!" Neelix says, patting Tuvok on the arm before returning to his power-mingling.
We notice Seven of Nine, champagne flute in one hand, staring quizzically at her other, as if the hand belongs to someone else. Or as though it's changing shape/size/color/state.
Doc is the first to notice. "Seven?" he asks.
"My visual processors and motor cortex--they are malfunctioning," Seven reports, worried.
"Sounds like a problem with your cortical implant," Doc says. "We'd better have a look." Seven begins to stagger toward the railing. "Hold still!"
"I cannot [hiccup] comply," Seven mumbles.
Doc's tricorder readings confirm the obvious. "You're intoxicated!" he says, surprised.
"Impossible," Seven insists, voice slurred.
"Your blood synthehol level is .05 percent. How many glasses of champagne did you consume?" Synthehol?!? They didn't replicate the real stuff? Sheesh. What would Scotty say?
Anyway. Seven claims she only had one drink.
Doc smirks. "Obviously, the Borg can't hold their liquor. Come to Sickbay." He takes her by the arm, keeping her on balance as they head for the exit. "I'll give you some inaprovaline to counteract the effects."
"I was simply trying to perfect my social skills as you instructed me to do," Seven says ruefully.
"And you're doing a fine job," Doc assures her.
Seven stops. Her eyes are half-lidded. She pats Doc on the chest. "You have always been of enormous assistance to me, Doctor. You...You are my mentor."
Doc seems a bit taken aback by the affectionate attention. "Yes," he says, flustered.
"We are as one," Seven says, taking comfort in the thought. "We are as one!" she repeats for the room, prompting a few giggles.
Harry, watching the two walk by, looks a trifle jealous at first, then chalks it up to the celebration and breaks into a low chuckle. He sees Tom Paris slaving over a hot engineering station, seemingly oblivious to the festivities.
"Did you see that?" Harry says to his buddy, who merely grunts. "I think our drone did a little too much celebrating. Speaking of which, when are you going to join the party?"
"In a minute," says Tom, not looking up.
Harry takes a swig of Chateau Faux '47. When Paris doesn't come up for air, Harry looks down to see what he's working on. "You're running a warp core diagnostic, now?" he asks, surprised.
Tom stands upright, stares Harry in the face. He doesn't look like celebrating. "Harry, I think we built an Edsel," he says, shaking his head sadly.
"A what?" Harry's not up on his famous mid-twentieth-century American automobile marketing flops.
Tom tries again. "A lemon! A disaster waiting to happen!" He switches tactics, leaves the cliche for the technobabble. "I ran a simulation last night and I discovered a .42 phase variance in the slipstream threshold."
".42? So it'll be a bumpy ride!" Harry says, laughing off Tom's concerns. "We've flown through worse."
But Paris' concern is palpable. "If we get knocked out of that slipstream mid-flight...it could overload the quantum matrix," he ends softly. That would, it seems, be bad.
Harry forgets his champagne; his voice drops to a whisper. "Did you tell the Captain?"
"Not yet. I didn't want to spoil the festivities until I was sure."
Harry sighs heavily. "Tom, if it'll make you feel better we'll go to the Holodeck right now run a few more simulations. It's probably just a sensor glitch!" He gives Tom an encouraging grin, and off they go.
Tom and Harry are all alone on the Holodeck-simulated bridge, at their usual stations. (Torres is in the shuttle bay, turning off the safety protocols and stepping out into the vacuum of space with a live nuke strapped to her back, soul-kissing a starving anaconda. Apparently her banana pancake smile therapy is going nicely.)
While at full impulse, Paris kicks in the slipstream drive. The bridge begins to rumble. He takes his hands off the controls as the view screen coalesces into the diamond-lane tube of spatial distortion we saw in "Hope and Fear." Welcome to slipstream.
"Power output is steady," Paris reports.
"Shields down to 73 percent," Harry answers. "Looking good."
But a few seconds later, the stream slips straight into FUBAR. "We've got a phase variance--point one. Point two." Harry tries several things. No go. "Point four." Paris wants to shut the drive down, but Harry's got more ideas.
None work. The ship rattles even more. "That slipstream is collapsing!" Paris calls out. The computer begins to call out warnings; soon there's a hull breach on deck ten. Then structural integrity is out the window. The bridge is shaking violently.
"Computer, freeze program!" Paris shouts, and the shaking stops.
Harry wants to try it again, refusing to give up. "I think if we reroute emergency power to the deflector a little earlier..."
"It won't help," Paris says, walking over to Ops. "23 simulations, 23 catastrophes. This is no sensor glitch."
Tom sighs. "We've got to tell them."
Harry's shoulders sag.
The gang's all here in the engine room. A few look hung over. The floors and railings are still littered with confetti.
B'Elanna Torres, singed and glowing and breathing heavily but otherwise none the worse for wear, wipes anaconda saliva from her mouth. "That can't be right! We tested this engine molecule by molecule."
"I'm sorry, B'Elanna," Tom says.
"I wish to examine the results of the simulation," Seven says tersely. Tom gives her a baleful look. "Holodeck Two--run them for yourself. That is, if you don't mind being vaporized a few dozen times." B'Elanna's eyes light up at the prospect.
Chakotay speaks up. "I looked at their findings, Captain. If we try to take that flight in the morning we'll be in escape pods by afternoon." Heh--y'all should be so lucky.
"It would appear we have no choice but to cancel it," Tuvok agrees.
Tom's demeanor changes. "Either that, or...we can try it Harry's way." He walks over and stares at Harry, who appears less than eager to speak up. But Janeway seconds Tom's motion, and Harry has no choice.
"I've got an idea," Ensign Kim says at last. "It's tricky, but I think it could work. The trouble begins about 17 seconds into the flight. The phase variance kicks in and the slipstream becomes unstable. What we need is someone in a shuttle to ride the rapids in front of Voyager."
B'Elanna catches on immediately. "Yes! They could map the threshold of the slipstream as it's forming and send the phase corrections back to us. That is a great idea, Harry."
"Now, here's the tricky part. The shuttle will only be a couple of seconds ahead of Voyager. That doesn't give auto-navigation much time to compensate."
Janeway looks to her favorite Helm Boy. "Tom?" she prompts.
Tom winces a little. "Couple of seconds?" he says, noncommital. Odd that he'd hedge now, after prompting Harry to suggest it in the first place. (Did they test this idea in the Holodeck first?)
But now Harry's switched roles, as eager as Tom is hesitant. "We can do this, Captain! Put me on that shuttle. I'll get Voyager through the slipstream."
Harry notices the silence of his audience. He begins to stare each down in turn. "What choice do we have? Take the drive off-line? Months of work for nothing?"
"We built a highly experimental piece of technology," Tuvok suggests. "There were bound to be setbacks."
But Harry's on a roll. "The Benamite crystals at the heart of this engine have already started to decay. It could take years to synthesize more! I don't know about the rest of you but I didn't do all this work just to be stopped by a .42 phase variance."
Ensign Kim notices he's standing nose to nose with Captain Janeway, whose blazing eyes bore holes into him. He backs down. "No offense, Captain."
"None taken," says Janeway, probably the only person more eager to get home tomorrow than Harry himself. "All right, Mr. Kim...You've convinced me. Prepare a flight plan and have it on my desk within the hour," she says, brushing by Torres on her way out of the engine room.
Janeway turns back. "I'll let you know what I decide." She leaves.
Harry pumps his fist, and points at Paris with the universal you-da-man gesture. Tom gives him an encouraging grin.
Janeway's quarters are dark. Candles and her flaming red hair are the room's only illumination. She is reading a PADD.
The door chime rings, and she admits entrance. "Commander," Janeway says, her voice silky smooth and husky as Kes in the swollen-tongued throes of Elogium. "I hope you've got an appetite."
"Famished, but I assumed you called me here to talk about the slipstream flight." Chakotay has a PADD of his own.
"No reason to cancel our dinner plans. I've programmed a dish my grandmother used to make back on Earth--vegetable biryani." Chakotay takes his seat as Janeway pours the...looks like water. Could be vodka, though. Either way, I'm sure she added caffeine.
"Sounds delicious. I didn't know you could cook."
"Normally, I draw the line at a pot of coffee," Kathryn says with a shy smile, pouring herself a glass. "But tonight is a special occasion."
"Our last night in the Delta Quadrant. I'd say that's special enough," she says softly. She sits, gives Chakotay a measured look.
"You've made your decision," he says after a moment, sounding surprised...but not much. He knows Janeway well enough by now to know the sort of risks she's willing to take.
"We launch tomorrow at 0800. You and Harry will take the Delta Flyer. Voyager will be right behind you." She's going to let Chakotay pilot the Delta Flyer? They're doomed!
Chakotay takes a deep breath, lets it out slow. "The crew will be pleased," he says with false enthusiasm.
Kathryn leans on her elbows. She locks on with her ocular tractor beams. "What about you, Chakotay? What do you think about my decision?" Her voice is barely a whisper, but it penetrates every cell of Chakotay's being.
He hates this part--disagreeing with the captain. He picks up his PADD. "I've analyzed Harry's flight plan. The theory is sound, but there are just too many variables. If something goes wrong in that slipstream..." (Did they run simulations on this?)
"It could be our only chance to use the quantum drive," Janeway reminds him.
"True, but if you showed this data to any Starfleet engineer they'd think we were out of our minds. We can find another way home. We've waited this long--"
"Long enough," Kathryn interrupts, too quickly, then softens her tone. "We've waited long enough. I know it's a risk...probably our biggest one yet...but I'm willing to take it."
Now comes the big question. Janeway asks it tentatively. "Are you with me?"
This isn't Scorpion. This is just their lives on the line, not the entire galaxy's. He gives her a thin smile. "Always." He sets the PADD down.
Kathryn rises from her seat, walks around the table, and puts her hand on his shoulder. She whispers into his ear. "Speaking of risks...are you ready to try some home cooking?"
Chakotay smiles up at her. "I'll alert Sickbay." Janeway touches his cheek affectionately. Darn near intimately.
We see the discarded PADD on the dinner table.
We see the same PADD, now covered in frost.
I guess we know how the flight turned out....
But I got a whole lot more questions.
Like, where are they now?
Better yet--when are they now?
* * *
"15 years?" Doc asks on board the Delta Flyer. "Give or take a few weeks," says Harry.
"Where are we?" Doc asks. Chakotay fields this one: "In the Takara sector, just outside the Alpha Quadrant."
Wow--ask a simple question, and you get results. I like this season. We even know everyone's name so far.
"Except for us...dead," Harry says. It's hard not to notice this Harry's a lot surlier than his younger self.
"We think Captain Janeway tried to make an emergency landing on this planet," Chakotay says. "The ship must have been too heavily damaged. They were all killed on impact."
"You've been buried inside a glacier for the past 15 years," Harry concludes.
Doc's memory returns, bit by byte. "You two were here, on the Delta Flyer, ahead of Voyager. You made it!"
"All the way back to Earth," Harry says sourly, stripping off his winter wear. "We got home, Doc--and all it took was killing everyone we cared about."
"Harry!" Chakotay says sternly. Harry's return look is icy.
"Starfleet certainly took their time finding us," Doc says, changing the subject.
"Starfleet," Harry snorts with disgust. "Starfleet gave up their search for Voyager over nine years ago. We had to find you on our own."
Doc's look is uncomfortable; there's something here that's not entirely right. "Well, I don't know what to say except...thank you. I suppose I'd have stayed in that deep freeze forever." The thought genuinely disturbs him.
"We're not here to salvage your program," Chakotay says. "We're here to prevent this disaster from ever happening." Doc's eyes go wide.
Harry is now mostly out of his winter clothes, and is putting on more comfortable attire. "You see, Doc--15 years ago, I miscalculated the slipstream threshold and transmitted the wrong phase corrections to Voyager. Boom!" (Did they get "boom" from me? Nah. Couldn't be. But if Janeway ever calls her phaser rifle Betsy, I'm demanding residuals.) "They were knocked out of the slipstream and sent to an icy death. 'Thank you, Ensign Kim.'" Harry's face is as dark as I've seen it since "The Chute." This is not a happy guy, and I begin to see why. So does Doc.
"But I've had a long time to rethink my mistake--and now I know how to fix it. So...we're going to send Voyager a new set of phase corrections." He stands, and puts on a leather jacket--not unlike Mr. Sulu's in Star Trek III. (Well, okay, not all that not unlike--but they're both leather, and the "renegade officers out to rescue their comrades" themes do parallel.)
Doc's confused. "Isn't it a little late for that?"
Chakotay takes over. "We've found a way to communicate with Voyager in the past, just before the accident."
"Better late than never," Harry chimes in.
"A message back through time?" Doc asks. Exactly, says Chakotay.
Which leads to the next, inevitable question, which Doc is kind enough to ask. "How?!"
The thawed corpse of Seven of Nine is pulled out of a storage compartment. I had no idea the Delta Flyer was so big...how many rooms are in this thing?
Doc stares at the dead half-Borg. "I don't understand!"
"One of her cranial implants is a transceiver designed to communicate with other drones," Chakotay says.
"That's right. It's called an interplexing beacon."
"We want you to extract the beacon and determine its translink frequency," Chakotay says.
"That shouldn't be a problem. She looks reasonably well-preserved."
"Good. That'll tell us where to send the message. Now, the hard part--we need to know when to send it. Can you access Seven's chronometric node and pinpoint the exact moment her cybernetic implants disengaged from her organic systems?"
"Her time of death?" Doc asks. "Down to the millisecond, if possible," Chakotay confirms. Doc agrees to try.
Harry slaps Doc on the shoulder. Hard. Doc winces; that's his holo-emitter arm. "I told you he'd come in handy," Harry says, looking not unhappy for the first time tonight.
"You said you'd found a way to communicate with Seven in the past. How?" Doc asks.
Harry holds up a finger, reaches into his bag of tricks. He pulls out a small case. "Behold...Salvage component 36698...a Borg temporal transmitter."
"Starfleet intelligence found it in the wreckage of a Borg cube in the Beta Quadrant," Chakotay explains.
"We stole it," Harry adds, almost gleefully. Wow...Harry's a long-haired rebel! He's gone Maquis.
The doors slide open, and in comes the little woman. Well, she's actually kinda tall. "Trouble. Long-range sensors are picking up a Federation vessel," says the woman we saw piloting the Delta Flyer. "I entered a low orbit and remodulated our shields but it won't be long before they find us. Six hours if we're lucky," she adds when Chakotay asks how much time they have.
The other shoe drops for Doc. "Let me get this straight...You're fugitives?"
Harry snickers. " 'Galaxy's most wanted.' We stole the Delta Flyer, too...Right out of a Federation shipyard. We're wanted on two counts of high treason and conspiracy to violate the temporal prime directive." Captain Kirk would be so proud! I know I am. Way to go, Evil Harry!
Doc, though, isn't quite so jazzed. "Wonderful. Out of the icebox and into the fire."
Chakotay feels the plot has been advanced far enough. "We don't have time for this. Get started." Doc acknowledges. Chakotay, standing intimately close to Tessa (the Janeway Zone), tells her to get dressed for beam down; they need to retrieve Voyager's sensor logs. Off he goes.
Tessa gives a winning smile to Doc, who is scanning Seven of Nine's corpse. "Hello, Doctor," Tessa says.
Doc looks up, confused. "Do I know you?"
"No, but I feel like we're old friends," she says sincerely. She introduces herself as Tessa Omond as she puts on the metallic thermal jacket. "It's an honor to finally meet Voyager's infamous E.M.H." She smiles shyly.
" 'Infamous'?" Doc asks, mildly offended.
Harry looks up from what he's doing at the computer. "I've told her a few horror stories." He half-smiles, but one suspects a bit of tension between Harry and Tessa. Jealousy, perhaps?
"Actually, they've always spoken very highly of you," she says.
Doc rolls his eyes. "Uh-huh...And how did you get involved with Bonnie and Clyde here?"
Tessa smiles, swings her arms in an aw-shucks manner. "Oh, I've had an interest in Voyager for a long time."
"They're having sex," Harry interrupts bluntly.
"Pardon?" Doc casts Harry a dour look.
"Chakotay and Tess. They're a couple; joined at the hip." Yup, I think jealousy may be at play here. Harry's got an attitude; Chakotay's got a woman. He's moved on with his life in the past fifteen years. Harry, clearly, has not.
"I see," Doc says, awkwardly.
"The truth is, Doctor," Tessa says, ignoring Harry's jab, "I didn't want Chakotay or Harry to have to face this alone. I thought I could help."
Chakotay arrives. "Ready?" he asks. Tessa nods. "Stay warm," Harry says. Tessa smiles and takes Chakotay's proffered hand, and off they go.
Doc wonders what he's gotten himself into. Not that it was his choice.
On the bridge of Voyager, Tessa complains. "These controls are a little clumsy. I thought you said this ship was state of the art."
"It was at the time," Chakotay says neutrally. The ship's not much to look at now.
After a few minutes, Tessa reports limited success. "I've located the sensor logs, but...the computer is denying me access."
Chakotay heads for his old chair. "My command codes should still carry some weight." When he sits in it, a shiver passes through him. He looks again at the corpses of Paris and Janeway, mostly Janeway, impossible to ignore entirely. He endures the chilly moment, then begins entering controls on his console. "Hmm...Looks like there's an active file here." He orders it played.
We hear the voice of Captain Janeway, static-filled but basically audible. "...should our luck run out...I'd like to say for the record that the crew...Voyager...acted...distinction and valor..."
Tessa notes Chakotay's haunted look. He's staring at the frozen body to which the voice from the past belonged. "You okay?"
Chakotay's voice is hollow. "Yes. It's just...the last time I was in this chair they were all here...alive." His gloved hands clench the arm rests.
"We're here to get them back," she reminds him, taking a seat nearby, placing a hand on his shoulder and leaning in close for support.
Chakotay shakes off his haunted look and gives a quiet burst of tension-relieving laughter, grateful that Tessa is here. "Can I see that tricorder?" She reaches into her pocket and hands it to him. He taps in a few commands and places it on the computer. "It's downloading. Give it a minute." He springs out of his seat, eager not to be in it anymore, the burden of where he is and what he's doing weighing heavily on him. It's a bit like grave-robbing. (Oh, yeah, they took Seven--it's exactly like grave-robbing.)
Tessa senses he needs to talk, but opens gently with, "I don't supposed we have time for a tour?"
Chakotay smiles sadly. "Afraid not. Besides, I left my quarters a mess."
He turns to look at her. "In just a few hours, if all goes as planned, we'll have changed history. The past 15 years...erased." She is a stark reminder that not all those 15 years were bad. Not bad at all. "We don't have to do this."
Tessa makes a face. "Now you tell me." She looks away.
"I'm serious," he tells her.
Tessa's eyes bore into his. She's no Kathryn Janeway, but we do see some of the same fire, same inner steel. "So am I, and I have no intentions of backing out."
Chakotay turns away from her. He seems to want to speak, but hasn't the words. Tessa calls his name, molding it with nuance of concern, affection, call to duty.
"Look at me," Chakotay says, turning around to give her the chance. "Last minute jitters, cold feet...I don't know what to call it. Ridiculous, isn't it? After all these years, working toward this moment--and when it finally comes all I can think about is losing you." He takes a step toward Tessa.
Tessa stares at her feet. "Your heart has always been here, on Voyager. That'll never change." Clearly, she loves him, would love to be with him, but knows that even if his body is with her, his heart is here. She puts on a brave face. "This is where you belong. And who knows? Maybe we'll meet someday." She takes a step toward Chakotay.
"But if we don't...?" He takes a step closer.
Tessa closes the rest of the gap between them. "Then I'll miss you all the same."
They clasp hands. It's an odd place for a tender moment, but strangely appropriate given what has stood between them all these years. Whatever time they have left will be the closest they have ever had together, knowing it could be their last.
Harry is talking to the wall. "...means all of that has changed. You owe me one." Doc calls to him for help. "Got to go." He hits a control, ending the recording.
Doc gives him a quizzical look. "What was that all about?"
"Oh, nothing. Letter to a friend. How does it look?" Doc is holding a skull fragment in his hand. An eyeball stares out at the screen. Alas, poor Annika...
"No damage to the infrastructure," Doc says. "But I'll need an isoprobe."
"Way ahead of you, Doc." Harry begins looking for the tool.
Doc, realizing this Harry is far different from the eager young ensign he remembers, treads carefully. "So...what was it like? Your homecoming?"
Harry shakes his head bitterly. "Antimatter fireworks, long-winded dignitaries, a Vulcan children's choir. Oh, we got medals pinned to our tunics. Chakotay gave a speech commemorating the Voyager crew. Brought a tear to everyone's eye. Admiral McIntyre even wanted me to marry his daughter."
Doc grimaces. "At least you weren't buried under twenty meters of ice."
Harry's voice is deadly; the look he gives Doc is lethal. "You don't know how many times I wished I was." (Janeway, Seven, Torres, Neelix, now Harry...the Season of Pain Tour continues!)
Doc is taken aback by the intensity of Harry's response. "I suppose it must have been difficult with all your friends and colleagues left behind," he offers, truly sympathetic.
Harry snorts. " 'Survivor guilt.' Yeah. I heard a lot about that from the counselors back at headquarters." He changes the timbre of his voice, mocking the counselors he's endured since his return to Earth. " 'You must learn to accept the fact that you lived. Embrace life. Move forward.'" He shakes his head with disgust.
"I signed on to the first deep space vessel I could find. We tried to calculate where Voyager might have fallen out of the slipstream. Four years of searching. We were close. I could feel it! Then, Starfleet Command said it was time to end the search. 'Low probability of success.' All those admirals who shook my hand at the homecoming--I went to see every last one of them...begged them to keep the search alive. Pretty soon even Admiral McIntyre stopped returning my calls. So I resigned from Starfleet."
The inevitable question: did he retire as an Ensign?
Doc changes the subject. Harry's even creepier than Seven's skull. The boy is clearly obsessed, and has probably been leading the charge for this High Treason mission. "For the record, Seven's translink frequency is 108.44236000," Doc says softly.
"Could be our lucky number," he says happily--talk about mood swings. "I'm encoding it now."
Doc searches for a little of his old acerbic self, but he's just going through the motions. "When did you embark on your life of crime?"
"The second I heard about this little gem," Harry says, patting the case with the Borg time thingie.
"Mr. Kim," Doc asks carefully, "did you ever stop to think about what you're trying to do here? Altering the time line may make things worse. At least you and Chakotay survived! Why tempt fate?"
Why indeed? Harry's eyes turn white hot. "This 'time line' only exists because I made a mistake 15 years ago! The crew trusted in me and I let them down!" At least the crew inside the glacier are resting in peace. A state, clearly, Harry hasn't experienced in a long, long time.
The computer chirps a warning. "Tactical alert. Vessel approaching, bearing 1-8-4 mark 7." There we go; I knew we'd get a 47 eventually.
Harry checks the computer. "They've found us." He hails Chakotay. "Starfleet's on an intercept course. It's now or never."
"We're on our way," Chakotay says.
Harry locks onto Doc's eyes. "If you're having doubts, let me know. I'll take your program off-line. But if you're with us we tempt fate together."
"To aid an honorable thief, or to spend eternity in cybernetic oblivion?" Doc considers the question, then smiles bravely. "Let's tempt fate."
Harry pounds Doc hard on the shoulder, twice, eliciting another wince from Doc.
Starfleet's on the way...Let's get ready to rrrrummbbuuuulllll...!!!
* * *
Captain's log, Stardate: 52143.6. With any luck my next log entry will be made in the Alpha Quadrant. But should our luck run out, I'd like to say for the record that the crew of Voyager acted with distinction and valor.
Whoa. Deja vu.
We see Delta Flyer traveling in space, just ahead of Voyager.
Chakotay and Harry, inside the Delta Flyer, rattle off the pre-flight check.
"Shield generators?" Chakotay asks. On-line. "Plasma flow?" Stable. "Com-link?" Secure.
Chakotay's in a good mood. "Lunch?" Harry blinks, then grins. "Salami sandwiches."
"Feel up to this, Ensign?" Chakotay asks. Harry's voice is confident: "Yes, sir!" Chakotay hails Voyager and says all systems Go.
Janeway acknowledges. She taps her combadge. "All hands, this is the Captain. Take your stations, secure all systems, and stand by for the jump to slipstream." She takes her seat.
"I've established a telemetry link with the shuttle," Seven of Nine says.
Janeway nods. "Match their course and speed," she tells Tom Paris.
We see Delta Flyer traveling in space, just ahead of...wait, isn't that a Galaxy-class vessel?
Ah. We're back to the future.
"They're gaining on us. 200,000 kilometers and closing. You call these evasive maneuvers?" she asks. She has a point--but then again, Chakotay is doing the flying. Bad things happen when Tattoo Boy is behind the wheel.
"I'm doing my best," Chakotay grumps. Yeah, that's what worries us. "Harry--status!"
"The Borg transmitter's on-line," Harry reports, "but I'm still waiting for the Doctor to give me the temporal coordinates." Doc says he should have it momentarily; he's still trying to hack the programming in Seven of Nine's meatware (in other words, gather the needed data from the Borg chips in her sawed-off skull.) The artificial eye stares at the screen accusingly. "Just a few more minutes," Doc says.
"Speed it up. We've got a Galaxy-class starship on our tail." Doc grumbles that he's working as fast as he can.
Tessa says they're being hailed. "You want to talk to them?" Chakotay figures it'll buy them some time, so he accepts the call.
Hey, wait--I know that dude! I'm used to seeing him with his VISOR, but after First Contact I guess that image no longer applies. He's also a bit grayer than I remember. "This is Captain La Forge of the Starship Challenger. You seem to be in quite a hurry." You could say that, Chakotay says.
"Why don't you shut down those impulse engines, drop your shields, and let's talk about this face-to-face," Captain La Forge says pleasantly. "Mind if I take a rain check?" Chakotay says with equal cordiality.
"As a matter of fact, I do. We know what you're about to attempt and we can't let that happen. So the Federation Council is willing to make you an offer--hand over the Borg transmitter, stand down your vessel, and the charges of conspiracy will be dropped."
Tessa shakes her head. "That's not much of an offer. If we succeed, those charges will never have existed in the first place."
"If you succeed," the captain says, "countless lives will be affected."
"We're here to save 150 lives--our crew," Chakotay says earnestly.
La Forge nods. "I understand. And I might be doing the same thing if I were in your position. But I've got my own crew to protect, not to mention 15 years of history. So...I'm asking you again. Stand down, and return the transmitter."
"You know I can't do that," Chakotay says.
"And you know I have to try to stop you," the captain says. He clearly doesn't relish his task, but he does his duty. He served as chief engineer under Captain Jean-Luc Picard, after all.
"Yes, I know," Chakotay says. He nods his head respectfully. "Good luck."
"Same to you," Captain La Forge says, and appears to mean it. The verbal equivalent of saluting with rapiers just before a fencing duel.
The channel closes.
"They're targeting our engines," Tessa reports.
"Shields to full. Stand by weapons."
We see Delta Flyer traveling in space, just ahead of Voyager.
"Voyager to Chakotay," Janeway hails. "Prepare to enter the slipstream." He acknowledges.
"Engage," she tells the helm. Tom Paris punches a button, and the ship begins to rattle and hum. (Insert favorite U2 joke here.)
"Slipstream velocity in four, three, two..." Paris counts down.
It is assumed that Delta Flyer is within the slipstream field that Voyager generates. They have given no hint that the Flyer has a slipstream drive of its own. In either case, both are caught up in the slipstream, and immediately they jump to Ludicrous Speed.
Delta Flyer is jostled by weapons fire. "Shields down to 62%," Tessa reports. Chakotay orders return fire. "Direct hit. No effect on their shields. We're no match for them, Chakotay." Keep trying, he tells her.
In the lab section of the Delta Flyer, Harry leans over his incredible time-traveling Borg transmission unit of science, as Doc continues his effort to extract data from Seven's cranium. (It is nice to realize that, fifteen years after leaving her behind, what Harry came back for was her mind....)
The Challenger's weaponry causes power outages. Harry gets moody. "I don't mean to be a pest, but we're losing power back here!" he shouts. Tessa switches to emergency backup, and his shouted Thank You is grumpy but heartfelt. "Doc, I need those temporal coordinates, now!"
Doc winces while he works. "Badgering me won't help," he says.
We see Seven of Nine with her intact skull modestly concealed under skin and hair, alive and issuing status reports. "I'm detecting a phase variance--point one, point two..." Janeway looks to Paris. "Helm?" Tom says he's waiting for Harry's adjustments.
"Point three," Seven of Nine adds. Janeway tells Harry to hurry the heck up or they'll have to shut the drive down.
"We're on it, Captain," Harry assures the captain.
"The threshold is fluctuating," Chakotay says. He's piloting the Flyer. This spells trouble...
"Okay. I can do this," Harry tells himself. (Didn't they practice this on the Holodeck?) "I'm compensating for the spatial gradients...Deflector geometry stable. Got it!"
On Voyager, the helm console beeps. "I'm receiving the phase corrections," Paris says, and begins making the needed adjustments. The ship's turbulence lessens somewhat. "The phase variance is decreasing," Seven reports. Tuvok adds that shields are holding, and Janeway breathes a sigh of relief. "Looks like we're on our way."
Shyah, right. As if. Just when things are going well, Lady Luck delivers a swift kick to the nacelles. Voyager gets rocked. Hard.
"The phase variance is increasing," Seven of Nine reports. "Point three...Point four." The rumbling intensifies.
Janeway calls Harry. "What's happening? The phase variance is still increasing."
Harry is sweating big time. His idea didn't include a Plan B. "I-I'm not sure, Captain. It should be working!"
"I need an answer, Harry; we're running out of time."
Harry looks from side to side, up, anywhere that elusive answer might be. "Let me try recalibrating the sensors," he says.
On Voyager, they hear Harry talk, but his voice becomes less and less audible. "...might be... Drive.... Corrections."
Then there's nothing. "We've lost our com-link," Tuvok reports. Paris says the telemetry link with the Delta Flyer is also down. "The slipstream's destabilizing," he reports.
"Shut down the drive!" Janeway orders, leaning forward in her chair so her order reaches the helm faster. But despite his best efforts, Paris discovers he can't. "There's some kind of overload in the quantum matrix. I've lost helm control."
Doc sets down Seven's skull. "I have it! Her cybernetic systems were terminated on Stardate 52164.3--Borg time index: 9.43852." Harry enters the desired numbers into the transmitter.
Doc's a bit shocked by the value Harry chooses. "You're encoding the transmitter for time index 9.40?" Uh-huh, Harry replies, deep in concentration. "That's less than four minutes before Voyager was destroyed! We're cutting it a little close, aren't we?"
"This is no ordinary phone call, Doc," says Harry, tapping madly at the controls. "We're talking to yesterday. Timing is everything. I want to make sure Seven of Nine gets the information at just the right moment. There!"
The transmitter properly programmed, he goes to the Delta Flyer's computer and begins entering new commands. "I'm bringing up the new phase corrections. This was where I failed 15 years ago, Doc."
He returns to the transmitter, and carefully waves the pen-like tool over it. "This time will be different."
Carefully, he activates the transmitter.
Seven of Nine gets a funny look on her face. "Captain, I am receiving a transmission."
Janeway gives Seven a funny look. "You said the com-link was down." Tuvok confirms: it is down. But Seven says the signal's coming through one of her cranial implants. "It contains a new set of phase corrections," she says, surprised.
"Does Harry know how to access your Borg systems?" Janeway aks. (Take this any way you want, folks...) Seven says No, but Janeway decides Harry's a smart boy and may have figured out a way. "Enter the corrections!" she orders.
Seven enters the corrections.
"They're not compensating for the phase variance. The slipstream is collapsing."
Uh oh. I bet that danged Talaxian Fur Fly got stuck in the dilithium matrix.
Janeway orders "Full power to the deflector," but Tuvok says it doesn't do diddly.
"Our hull is buckling!" Paris reports. Janeway shouts out orders: "Shields at maximum! Hold her steady, Tom."
"It's no use," Paris says. "We're losing attitude control. Inertial dampers off-line!" (Now, I always thought that running at high speed with inertial dampers offline meant that instead of people, you'd have puddles of goo--the human body ain't supposed to go Mach 90, even if man-made equipment can.)
"What about the Delta Flyer?" Janeway asks.
"There is no sign of them," Seven of Nine reports. "They must have remained in the slipstream."
Still inside the slipstream, Chakotay looks at his readouts bleakly. "Voyager's been thrown into normal space!"
"Harry lunges at the controls. "Alter our slipstream course! We've got to go back." He reaches for the console.
Chakotay grabs Harry's wrist with an iron bear-claw. Harry winces in pain. "We can't!" Chakotay shouts. "Even if they survived reentry at this velocity, we wouldn't."
Harry looks at Chakotay in horror. Panic fills his voice. "What are you saying? We've got to find them!"
"Ensign, there's no choice!" Chakotay's voice and fierce gaze suggest he will break Harry's arm if he doesn't back off. All they can do is ride this slipstream through to the end.
Harry collapses on the floor of the shuttle, the terrifying magnitude of his failure starting to set in.
Voyager, out of the slipstream, drops faster than Newt Gingrich's approval ratings, the nation's morals, Ally McBeal's grocery bills. Take your pick.
Paris gives Janeway a You Are Here update. "Captain, we're just a few parsecs from the Alpha Quadrant."
"Not exactly how I wanted to cross the finish line," Janeway grumbles.
Meanwhile, the ship is getting the crud kicked out of it. Tuvok reports the damage. "Hull breach on decks five through ten. We're losing life support. If we don't land the ship we're risking structural collapse." Consoles are exploding all around them.
"I'm reading a planet, nine million kilometers ahead," Paris shouts. "It's class 'L'!"
Janeway makes her decision. "Do it."
Hey, look, it's an ice planet! That ought to be a good place to land... but it's getting really big, really fast.
"We're coming in too fast!" Janeway realizes. "Reverse thrusters. All hands, brace for impact!"
We get the JanewayCam...and we see the icy vastness of the planet they're about to call, er, home.
The underbelly of the ship shaves off the top hundred tons of ice from a glacier. And it's all downhill from there.
Next to the saucer section of the Enterprise-D in Generations, you have never seen a cooler crash landing of a Federation starship. In some ways, this is even more impressive, since we see stuff on the ship reacting violently to the deceleration trauma (exploding nacelles, etc.). Imagine a thousand-ton skier barreling down a mountain with its boots on fire.
By the time the ship comes to a halt, you don't have to be Doc to give the prognosis on Voyager and all hands...
She's dead, Kim.
* * *
Back in the future...
Harry Kim realizes something odd. "We're still here. Why are we still here?" His voice rises anxiously.
Doc doesn't understand. "Mr. Kim?"
"The new phase corrections didn't work!" Harry determines, and he begins to panic.
"Are you certain?" Doc asks.
"If Voyager had gotten through safely we wouldn't still be here trying to save them," says Harry, telling us which branch of temporal theory he subscribes to. He checks the Borg equipment. "The transmitter's functioning. Seven must have received our message...." He slaps his chest. "Chakotay--problems!"
"I can see that," mutters Chakotay. They're still getting pounded by the Challenger.
"Our engines are down," Tessa says. "They're locking onto us with a tractor beam." He suggests thrusters, but she says they have no effect.
Chakotay walks over to Tessa's station. "Do we have enough power to send a plasma surge through their tractor beam, break ourselves free?" he asks.
"I think so," Tessa says, "but the E.P.S. relays have taken heavy damage. It could destabilize the warp core." In other words, give us liberty or give us death. Or maybe death by liberty.
Chakotay looks deeply into her eyes. "If you want to beam over to that ship I'll understand."
Tessa smiles gamely. "And let you have all the fun?"
Chakotay smiles at her. He runs back to the pilot's chair. "Harry, we just bought you a few more minutes."
"I'm no time travel expert," Doc says to Harry, who is pounding the computer controls like 150 lives depended on it, sweating profusely, "but can't we just call Voyager again? The past isn't going anywhere!"
"That's not going to help if we don't know what to tell them!" Harry fumes. He goes over to another station to triple-check his calculations. "The slipstream kinetics look right. Hyper dimensional progressions...Perfect! Maybe it's the deflector geometry." He's locked into a personal hell of minute details with world-shaking implications.
Delta Flyer knocks loose the tractor beam from Challenger and basically floats away on wimpy thrusters. "We're free," Tessa says.
But her predictions were correct, Chakotay discovers. "The E.P.S. relays are overloading. Harry, we're looking at a possible core breach in less than three minutes."
He's greeted by silence. "How's it coming back there?" he demands.
You really don't want to know, tattoo dude.
"Great! Just great!" Harry rants, voice cracking under the strain. "It took me ten years to make these corrections. I can't fix it in three minutes!"
"You've got to try!" Doc says, trying to shout through Harry's self-absorption.
Harry's staring bleakly at the computer screens. "I can't! It's not working. Why won't it work?! " He slams his hands on the console.
He runs away from the panels, away from everything. "I killed them!" he wails.
"Control yourself!" Doc shouts.
"They trusted me, and I killed them!!!" Harry's face contorts with debilitating guilt.
Doc grabs Harry by the shoulders and whirls him around. He's clearly furious. "Mr. Kim! I didn't spend all those years in an ice bucket so I could listen to you berate yourself! If you want to wallow in self-pity, fine! Do it on your own time!"
Harry's nearly hysterical now. "Don't you see? History's repeating itself! I destroyed Voyager once, and I'm doing it again!" He's on the verge of tears; spittle flies from his mouth as he speaks.
Doc drops his voice to a harsh whisper. "Somebody has got to knuckle down and change history--and that somebody is you."
Harry breaks free, runs away further, hides his face in the corner. "It can't be done, Doc. I told you." Defeat chokes his words.
Doc chases after him, talks right into his ear. "No, you told me you can't correct their phase variance. All right. We have to accept that! But what about sending Voyager a warning? Is there a way to get them to abort the slipstream flight?"
Hey, whoa, hold on a minute. Did I just hear Plan B?
Somehow, this sinks in. Doc's lateral thinking is just the piece Harry has been missing all these years. He's been stuck in with all the trees looking for that pesky forest. But he begins to see the light. "Yes. Yes! I could send a phase correction which would disperse the slipstream entirely."
Doc translates for those playing the Home Game. "If we can't get the crew home, we can save their lives!"
But they don't have much time. The computer starts the sixty-second countdown to oblivion by warp-core breach.
"Can you eject the core?" Chakotay asks. Tessa says she can't. "Emergency systems are off-line." She leaves her station, walks to the pilot's chair.
"La Forge to Delta Flyer. Our sensors are reading an overload in your warp matrix. Lower your shields. We'll beam you out of there."
Chakotay fields the call. He addresses Captain La Forge, but his eyes see only Tessa. They clasp hands. "I appreciate the offer, Captain, but the answer's No. I suggest you get to a safe distance."
"Harry, now would be a good time," Chakotay says urgently.
And wouldn't you know it...the batteries run out on the Borg cell phone. Doc notifies Harry, who quickly diagnoses the problem.
Harry slams his hand down on the table in frustration. His head drops...to right about eye level with the Doc's portable holo-emitter.
Ding ding ding!
"Your emitter! It's got its own power source."
Doc flinches at the thought of Harry's idea, but understands that success means a new lease on life. "Would it be enough?"
"It's our only chance." Doc nods. "Glad you could join us, Doc." Doc slaps Harry on the arm. "It's been a pleasure." They share a manly, brotherly smile. Then Harry yanks the emitter off of Doc's sleeve, and the E.M.H. goes poof.
Fortunately, all equipment in the 24th-century (and beyond) is inter-connectable. All Harry has to do is slap the thing on the Borg emitter thingie, and the phone springs back to life.
Harry resumes entering commands furiously into the computer. "Chakotay, I'm giving this one more try."
Chakotay and Tessa hold hands and hope for the best.
"Warning: warp core breach in ten, nine, eight, seven, six five..."
Harry hears the confirming beep that the transmission has commenced.
The computer shows the message has gone through. Harry's eyes light up.
"Yes! YEEESSSSS!!!" Harry clenches his fists and shakes them at the sky, rearing his head back in a barbaric yawp of triumph. Fifteen years' worth of burdens are lifted in an instant.
An instant later, the Delta Flyer goes Foom.
Inside the slipstream.
Seven of Nine gets a funny look on her face. "Captain, I am receiving a transmission."
Janeway gives Seven a funny look. "You said the com-link was down." Tuvok confirms: it is down. But Seven says the signal's coming through one of her cranial implants. "It contains a new set of phase corrections," she says, surprised.
"Does Harry know how to access your Borg systems?" Janeway aks. (Take this any way you want, folks...) Seven says No, but Janeway decides Harry's a smart boy and may have figured out a way. "Enter the corrections!" she orders.
Seven enters the corrections.
Paris notices a change immediately. "Captain, the quantum drive just went off-line! We're dropping to impulse."
Tuvok confirms. "Captain we've lost the slipstream."
The Delta Flyer finds itself in normal space again. Soon, it is joined by the mother ship.
Chakotay frowns. "The slipstream collapsed. We were thrown out right along with Voyager."
Harry furrows his brow. "Our comm system's back up." he slaps his chest. "Delta Flyer to Voyager. What happened?"
Janeway doesn't look happy. "You miscalculated, Harry. We entered the exact phase corrections you sent to Seven of Nine. They shut down the quantum drive."
Harry looks like a dog watching Jeopardy. "Captain...I didn't send any corrections to Seven of Nine."
Janeway and Seven share a look. Paris looks over his shoulder as well.
Janeway finally recovers enough to speak. "She received a message through one of her cranial implants. It wasn't you?"
Harry shakes his head.. "No, ma'am."
The bridge of Voyager is utterly silent as this news sinks in. The theme from Twilight Zone begins to play.
Captain's log, supplemental. Our slipstream flight may have been brief but it took nearly ten years off our journey. I've given the order to dismantle the quantum drive until the technology can be perfected. Despite the setback, we have a renewed sense of momentum. It no longer seems a question of if we get home, but when.
We see Engineering, corridors, the bridge. All bright and shiny and filled with life...and devoid of icicles. Chakotay sits in his chair, and Paris mans the helm.
And where's Harry? In the mess hall, alone, in the dark, poring over the data from their recent wild ride. He's not happy about what he's discovered. He looks downright bleak about it.
Janeway enters. Harry, noticing, stands crisply at attention.
"At ease," she says, waving for him to sit back down. "Am I interrupting?"
"No. I just came here to try to figure things out."
Janeway looks at the screen. "Phase corrections."
Harry nods. "The corrections I sent you were wrong," he says softly. "If you had used them, Voyager would have been heavily damaged. Maybe even destroyed. What I can't figure out is who sent the other phase corrections to Seven of Nine." He can't even look at the captain, he's so ashamed.
Janeway smiles enigmatically. "Looks like we've got a guardian angel."
Harry winces. "I wish I could believe that." His voice cracks.
"Believe it. His name is Harry Kim."
This gets Harry to look up, astonished. "Captain?"
Janeway grabs a seat and sits on it backward, straddling the back of the chair like Madonna in the "Open Your Heart" video. "Seven found a Starfleet security code embedded in the transmission--yours. "
"I'm telling you, I didn't send it," Harry insists.
"Not yet," the captain admits. "The transmission had a temporal displacement. We believe it originated from the future--ten, 20 years from now. We can't be sure." Oh, what the heck--split the difference.
Harry starts thinking about stuff. As he talks, Janeway rubs her throbbing temples, as she usually does when folks try too hard to figure out the logistics of temporal mucking-about. "Wait a second. If I sent a message from the future and changed the past...then that future would no longer exist, right? So...how could I have sent the message in the first place? Am I making any sense?"
Janeway continues to rub at her temples, but smiles sympathetically. "My advice in making sense of temporal paradoxes is simple: don't even try. To me...all that matters is that somewhere, somehow...sometime, you come through for us."
Harry still clearly has a hard time accepting that he's just gone from scapegoat to savior. The captain hands him a tricorder. "Well, if you won't take it from me--take it from you. Seven found a log entry encoded into the telemetry. From Harry Kim...to Harry Kim." She pats him on the shoulder, gets out of the chair, and walks toward the door. But she stops half-way, and in the course of the next ten seconds she gets the sweetest, proudest, most motherly smile anyone could ever hope to receive from someone whose opinion they truly value.
Harry's still pretty darn numb. But, alone again, he finally opens up the tricorder, enters the necessary commands into his laptop, and connects the two.
And he stares into his own face. Give or take fifteen years.
"Hello, Harry. I don't have much time, so listen to me. Fifteen years ago, I made a mistake. And 150 people died. I've spent every day since then regretting that mistake. But if you're watching this right now, that means all of that has changed. You owe me one." Ensign Kim hears Doc on the recording asking for the elder Harry's assistance. "Got to go," Old Harry says.
The transmission ends. Young Harry squeezes his eyes shut, and in that instant seems to see his life flashing before his eyes. He experiences fifteen years of guilt...but when his eyes open, that burden has been lifted.
He owes himself one. No more guilt over his mistake. Whatever he did wrong, he can take comfort in knowing he never gave up until he set things right.
Happy 100th episode, folks. Aside from the X Files, no other American network science fiction show has reached this milestone. (I say American, because Dr. Who did it in the UK, and there may be others I'm unaware of; and I say network, because quite a few syndicated series have done it, TNG and DS9 and Babylon 5 among them.) It's a significant accomplishment, and I offer a hearty Congratulations (and Thanks) to everyone associated with the show.
This is also one of the few episodes of Voyager that includes Rick Berman in the writing credits. This is a rare treat; the others were the pilot, "Caretaker," and the fourth season finale, "Hope and Fear." It may be no coincidence that "Hope and Fear" also included the use of slipstream drive, which makes this a follow-up. The direction and guest appearance by TNG's LeVar Burton only added to the "Major Television Event" feel.
This episode is big. Big leaps forward, big implications for the future, big performances, big effects. And, as with most big things, at its core it is a very intimate story.
Getting home--this is of course the Big Question for the series. Harry's done it three times: "Future's End," "Non Sequitur," and now. Each time, the conditions weren't quite right. In "Future's End," he was in the right place at the wrong time. In "Non Sequitur," he was in an alternate reality where one of his friends took his place on Voyager, and that friend is now lost in the Delta Quadrant--but Tom Paris is here, and never got that big chance to redeem himself. In those episodes, Harry worked hard to set things right. He put his duty to his crew above even his personal yearning for home.
It happens again here. Harry and Chakotay make it home alive--right place, right time, right space-time continuum, right dimension, right everything--but at the cost of their ship and all hands aboard. Harry, who pushed hard to press forward with the slipstream drive effort, and Chakotay, who expressed the most ardent reservations, are the only two survivors of their four-plus year, 70,000 light year journey.
Technically, that means Game Over. But in Star Trek, of course, there is always room for second chances. The impossible just means you have to work a little harder. And you might have more opposition. In this case, Chakotay and Harry break all the rules of time, space and the Federation in order to "set things right."
Right for them, anyway. By changing history, all that's happened in the fifteen years since the death of Voyager gets reset to square one. Of course, from our perspective, the fifteen years of dead crew is the wrong history, the one we choose not to accept. Things are "back to where they should be" when everyone on Voyager is breathing again, safe and sound if still far from home. And who's to say? History's written by the winners, after all.
Of course, "Year of Hell" was an example of how mucking about with the time stream can turn very, very wrong. Doc brought this up, and Chakotay has first-hand experience, though only we remember what happened in "Year of Hell." In a sense, "alternate" history has meaning only to those who know what the alternatives were.
That's the audience's role. We get to see the Road Not Taken when it actually was taken, before they backtracked, often wiping their own memories. We are the witnesses.
Though we prefer to not be the only witnesses.
In "Year of Hell" I remember complaining bitterly because nobody on the ship retained any memory of what they'd been through. This was a departure from many, many prior episodes in Trek, where someone, somehow, did in fact remember. Reset buttons are fine, even necessary at times, but the Witness Principle demands that someone, no matter how minor, remember. "The Inner Light" in TNG has an entire society, long since dead, inscribed in the heart of one man, Jean-Luc Picard. The rest of the crew has no idea what the captain experienced, but he does. He is the Witness. In "Unforgettable," Chakotay manages to write himself a letter before his memory fades entirely, preserving a written record for himself to find. In the first season episode "Time and Again" and TNG's "Yesterday's Enterprise," there was a witness of sorts (Kes and Guinan) who didn't have facts, but they did have that gut feeling that something was wrong then, but another gut feeling that everything's okay now. "Year of Hell" had none of that. ONLY the audience has this memory. Had even one person on the show been there to remember, no matter how minor their role, all my objections would have disappeared.
In "Timeless," a record is kept. Harry sends himself a message from the Road Not Taken. That heart-breaking time line is honored as well as given a proper burial. A lesson is learned. An Old Harry learns his lesson, and breaks the rules in order to save Young Harry the trouble of relearning it the hard way. Young Harry will forever live with the sight of his older self, and the knowledge that he did screw up severely. But he can also take heart in knowing that, thanks to the miracle of science fiction, he eventually redeemed himself.
"You owe me one." What could he have meant by that? What would Harry owe himself? Most likely, to not squander the second chance at life. The elder Harry was consumed by guilt--we saw it on his face when he and Chakotay continued on to Earth with no idea what happened to Voyager other than it got left behind, and most likely in trouble. The instant realized he had run out of time, Harry was changed. The desolate look on his face in the Delta Flyer, unable to go back and change things, to set them right, spoke volumes. "Young Ensign Kim" died at that moment. Harry eventually made the change to spare Young Ensign Kim that heartache; in the altered timestream, he dodged the bullet, and he knows it. But the favor owed is to take that knowledge and learn from it, move beyond it, rather than relive it every waking moment and destroy himself with guilt.
Old Harry saved the crew that Young Harry couldn't. But only Young Harry can decide whether to save himself from the burden of his error. Old Harry can't do anything directly about that. But he can demand it from Young Harry as a favor. Nobody knows better than Old Harry how important it is that Young Harry forgive himself.
We've seen this obsessiveness in Harry before. In "Resolutions," Harry led a mutiny against Tuvok to force his hand and make contact with the Vidiians to get a cure for Janeway and Chakotay, and he succeeds. "Non Sequitor" was previously mentioned; Harry committed mutiny against Starfleet Command to get himself back on Voyager where he belonged, even though he had everything that he dreamed about while on Voyager. In the effort to Set Things Right, he took the other victim of the alternate reality, Tom Paris, under his wing. The normally shy Harry becomes the big brother to the normally dynamic Tom Paris, who here is an embittered drunk who never had the opportunity to redeem himself and become the Hero he dreams of being the way the Real Tom did....and gives Tom that chance.
Harry, the typically naive, overeager young Ensign-for-life, can become a force of nature when his chosen identity is at stake. He places a lofty priority on loyalty, even over personal gain. He forgot that, to an extent, in "Timeless." His other high priority, "get home," temporarily made him a bit nuts. He could taste home. If all went well with the slipstream drive, they'd be home in a day. That is an intoxicating prospect, and Harry (and Janeway) is willing to take chances and jump into the breach on an act of faith. "I can do this." This act of hubris is what dooms Harry to his fate, and makes this episode his.
What is the problem here? They have a drive that they've checked down to the very molecule (as Torres states), but which they didn't test thoroughly. Likewise, when Old Harry tries to change the past, he has his calculations down to the last decimal, but he still misses the Big Picture. It takes a third party to step in and change his entire way of looking at things, in this case Paris (for young Harry) and Doc (for old Harry).
And why do they catch what Harry misses? Their own self-interest. Tom catches the problem because he's the pilot--whatever the engine does, it's still his helm that will do the steering. He wants to take the engine for a test drive, where the initial problem is discovered. Likewise Doc, who helps Harry see a more appropriate solution, has his own interests at stake: he cares less about Harry's calculations (where he can't help), and more about living (where he can provide options Harry's too myopic with grief to notice). Each plays an important role: they show that Harry needs to pay more attention to what's happening around him, in such a way that Harry Gets It.
Chakotay's role is less certain. We know almost nothing about what he did in the interim between coming home and giving the Eulogy of the Year, and committing High Treason. We know he's got a new woman in his life, grown some gray hairs, and that his heart never truly left Voyager, though he came close enough that he would have left history as it was for the love of Tessa Omond. One gets the feeling that Harry Kim is leading the charge of this mission, though he still gives some deference to Chakotay--perhaps the only person the last fifteen years he can still listen to, because nobody else can understand.
This older Chakotay has some grief of his own. He let Janeway wine and dine him into agreeing to a plan he was very uncomfortable with. He lived with the burden of knowing that he let the ship and crew and captain down by not standing his ground. Granted, Janeway's hard to say no to. But when his concerns are shown to be valid, he must live with that. I imagine this is why he's so willing to help, however good the life he's got.
Several people have mentioned that it seems odd that they'd spend so much time testing Paris' theory, but not Harry's. This is one of my chief nits to pick. The night before the flight seems an odd time to be finding all this stuff out. It adds to the tension, yes, but it's a bit of a cheat.
Another question that nags: if the drive becomes dangerous after 17 seconds, why not just use it for sixteen seconds, then leave the slipstream, update their calculations from their new location, then jump in for another sixteen seconds, then leave, and so on? If they can traverse hundreds of light years for each second they're in there, why not "puddle jump" their way home? Given the speed of the slipstream drive (however long they were in the slipstream, it couldn't have been more than a minute or two), and the distance traveled in that period, it would only take about ten jumps to make it back with an absolute margin of safety. It's not adequately explained how the slipstream drive works. Is the engine only successful as a one-shot deal? Will all the limited supply of "benamite" (as opposed to last week's abundant supply of "benomite"?) be used up in the creation of the slipstream? Would they not be able to make it all the way back that way? They ended up 10 years closer to home; if they gain even a day beyond that, they're still that much closer. And if the puddle-jump method IS feasible, they can still be home in time for dinner.
The slipstream drive itself seems to be a marked departure from the one used in "Hope and Fear." In that episode, Voyager didn't need to make that many adjustments to what they had to create a slipstream, and were able to stay in the stream for a couple of hours, enough time to head toward Borg space, rescue Seven and Janeway, and turn around, and still end up with three months off their journey. Had they spent all that time in the slipstream headed homeward they might have gotten a couple of years in that couple of hours. According to Arturis, the ship would have taken *months* to get them back to the Alpha Quadrant. With this slipstream drive, they gained ten years in a minute, and expected to be home in a day (though actual travel time was more like five to six minutes at most). Clearly, they've got a second-generation slipstream device that is orders of magnitude faster than the original, and some rules are bound to be different. (The third generation will likely do the trick. I am encouraged that this week, as in "Hope and Fear," they don't entirely abandon the technology--they simply go back to the drawing board. They know its potential. It could well be that when the time is right, this will be the equipment that gets them back.
These are technical issues, which shouldn't detract too much from a very character-oriented episode. But the questions did come easily, and I've noticed them mentioned elsewhere.
The other technical question was relatively minor: how did the Delta Flyer get caught up in the slipstream? This wasn't explained. And here's a question: if the Delta Flyer can run the rapids in a way Voyager herself cannot, why not equip the Flyer with the slipstream drive, let it jump home, grab all the benomite (excuse me, benamite) it needs, and become a taxi service? At five minutes each way, they can still have everyone home in time for the evening news.
And...I seem to recall a TNG episode where the mother ship navigation was actually CONTROLLED by a shuttle, which flew in front to avoid bubbles of Ugly Matter. Why rely on a manual transmission and independent navigation when they could just let Paris pilot the Flyer, slave Voyager's console to it, and let him do the navigating for both of them?
Like I said--questions abound. But the point of the episode is that Harry screwed up because he didn't ask more (and more diverse) questions. If I'm making excuses for the writers, so be it. But in some ways, the episode is actually served by these oversights.
Harry's travails this week parallel Janeway's in "Night." And to a lesser extent, Janeway this week. Janeway has been living for the last four years with the consequence of her decision in "Caretaker." She cuts corners because she senses she's on the verge of making up for it, and trusts her crew to compensate for lack of planning for every contingency. She hopes for the best. Which is exactly what she did four years before; I know with absolute certainty that the Captain Kathryn Janeway of "Caretaker" had every intention of being home in a matter of months (at most), not years. She had faith in herself, in her crew (the Starfleet part of it, anyway--her faith in the Maquis crew came later), in her ship, in Starfleet Luck itself. Kirk, Picard--they traveled farther, faster, and still made it back to where they were supposed to be.
But perhaps she forgot that for every Kirk and Picard, there's a Decker, a Finney, a Garrovick--captains and officers who weren't so lucky. And in the last four years, Voyager's luck has hardly been stellar. They've survived, yes, but they lost out on opportunities that always seemed to work out for the legendary Enterprise captains.
Just as Janeway spends four years regretting, and seeking to atone for, her decision in "Caretaker," Harry spends fifteen years regretting, and seeking to atone for, his decision in "Timeless." It's ultimately Janeway's decision, but she's too dead to do much. I think the final scene, with Janeway and Harry, puts the focus where it needs to be: on the two officers who argued hardest for their course of action, and the two who most realize how lucky they are to have this second chance.
For J/C folks, this episode has stuff to cheer for, and to not. We get a fairly romantic dinner for two with Janeway and Chakotay (home cooked, just like mom used to replicate), and the manner of her invitation no doubt caused some hearts to skip a beat.
It did seem rather sudden, and a tad out of character, though. One friend put it this way. "Are we supposed to believe that the only thing that gets Janeway hot is the thought of leaving the Delta Quadrant? Fast ships? Hello!" [Note: It worked for Tom in "Threshold"...] "She's ignored any type of romance for years, (except for that minor hot tub incident a few years back) and all of a sudden she is throwing herself at Chakotay....well, at least what passes for throwing with her. I was surprised she wasn't wearing some skimpy, lacy thing when Chakotay came to dinner. But then, we didn't get to see that far. She ordered him to dinner, ordered him to eat, and then probably ordered him to fulfill her as a woman. Wham bam thank you Number One. She's good for another four years...."
My friend's not known to mince words. But she does bring up the paradox in the J/C dynamic. Nobody is entirely sure what the nature of their relationship is. Purely professional? Just friends? Any mutual interest at all? "Resolutions," where that "minor hot tub incident" occurred, brought up some interesting possibilities, but there was no concrete follow-through. Here, Janeway almost seems to be buttering Chakotay up, a seduction to agree to her course of action. We never got so much as a kiss; we got a home cooked meal, a face touch, and an awful lot of purring. There was an overt sexuality to the scene.
Counterpoint that with the more subtle gestures between Chakotay and Tessa--the easy holding of hands, the thoughtful, lingering gazes. I've heard some say that they didn't "buy" Tessa, but I did. There's a suggestion that they've been together for a long while. Harry distills this relationship down to the one question everyone wants to know about Janeway and Chakotay: "They're having sex." Doc didn't really want or need to know that, and I'm sure there are those in the audience who didn't either. As for me, I didn't need to be told; it was fairly obvious that they were a couple, joined at the hip, and so on.
Why can't it be this clear for J/C? Probably because to some degree, ambiguity works better than certainty. The Homecoming Eve dinner possibly suggests something about Janeway: she's been saving herself for the end of her mission. But if that mission is almost over, what could happen then? Would the Angry Warrior and the Auburn Queen find their Happily Ever After on Earth? This is one hint at what what Janeway might be thinking about where their relationship is headed, once they're back.
Or not. Like I said, ambiguity. Whatever you're rooting for, you're probably right. Fishism.
One technical issue: In "Caretaker," they were left 70,000 light years from home, more or less. So where are they now?
Let's do some math. After four years, assuming the rough guess of 1000 light years per year, they should be 4,000 light years closer (maybe as much as 4,250) of standard travel. In "Hope and Fear" they got three months closer (250) in an hour. In "Timeless" they gained ten years (10,000) in a minute. In "The Gift" they gained 9,500 light years in a minute or less. In "Night" they shaved off another two years (2,000) in a matter of minutes. And when Astrometrics was built, they figured out a way to shorten their trip by following a new flight plan, by as much as 5,000 light years.
That adds up to as much as 31,000 light years, leaving them 39,000 light years away. What was a 75 year journey, basically a lifetime (though non-redshirt humans in the 24th-century typically live well past 130), is now cut almost in half (meaning most get home in the prime of life). It's been rough in spots, and they've left a trail of corpses along the way, but as she said in her address to the crew, they've got a lot to show for themselves.
Janeway's comment that the goal is more in sight now than ever, that they have a renewed sense of confidence about their ability to get home (no longer if, but when), is understandable. And an appropriate message for their hundredth episode. We can look back and be impressed that we made it this far, and can look forward to the rest with optimism.
You've come a long way, baby.
This episode calls to mind several past efforts. The jump back and forth between times has an "All Good Things..." feel to it. The "needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many" rebel mission has all the trappings of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Chakotay and Harry go where they are explicitly forbidden to go, and despite the onus of High Treason hanging over their heads, they place first loyalty to their Voyager family. This is very Kirk and Company of them. We saw a bit of this from the Enterprise-D crowd in First Contact ("I believe I speak for everybody when I say, to hell with our orders") and even more so, I hear, from next month's Insurrection. Trek crews are supposed to break the rules--even the Prime Directive--when the situation is sufficiently dire.
The special effects were phenomenal. The crash scene was particularly effective--we got some darned impressive closeups of Voyager as it plowed into the ice. The most impressive special effects are those that leave you less impressed with the effects than with the drama of the scene. Voyager's death throes looked pretty darned authentic. Thumbs way, way up.
Performances: outstanding. The differences between Young Harry and Old Harry, between Young Chakotay and Old Chakotay, were believable. Garrett Wang, in particular, put in a terrific performance as Old Harry. This, and "The Chute," are two of Wang's best performances ever, and it's probably no accident that both deal with Harry Kim under enormous pressure. You know how I've griped about his lame jokes. Well, Old Harry's bitter jests are far more effective. Harry works well with an actual edge. He does a good job when he's anguished, and frustrated, and bitter. His final moment as Old Harry, that final "Yes!" and look of supreme relief, was inspiring. It's a great performance, one that is long overdue.
Bob Picardo's Doc was also nicely effective. He had to play the fish out of water, who has very little time to adjust to his new reality. One minute, he's turning off his program, the night before homecoming. The next thing he knows, it's fifteen years later, everyone's dead, and he's assisting in High Treason, and two people he knew well are now very different. As the Doc, he manages to reach Harry in a way nobody else was able to. His selfless acts in the future will not be remembered by anyone, though his presence is heard on the transmission. Similar to Tom Paris in "Non Sequitur," Doc sacrifices himself (by giving up his emitter) to save himself.
Doc is also there for one of Seven of Nine's nicer moments: we actually see a tipsy ex-drone. Half-lidded, staggering, swearing eternal friendship to the designated walker kinda drunk. "We are as one," indeed.
Tom Paris wasn't the joke-a-minute guy we're used to; this is a more serious, thoughtful Tom. His concerns are borne out, but he does more than simply say "it can't be done"--he suggests alternatives. He is an integral part of the process, and he does it well. McNeill's performance is excellent.
Likewise with Mulgrew. Her final scene in particular with Wang is very, very nice. I'm in love with that final smile of hers.
Guest stars were good. I liked Harnos as Tessa, earnest and loyal and in love with Chakotay for the long haul. LeVar Burton had his hands full as director, but seeing him as Geordi was a nice nod to the character, and to TNG, however brief his screen time.
All in all, this is one of Voyager's strongest episodes ever. I'd rank it up there with "Drone" for the season.
On my four-star scale, it's (* * * *). If you believe in five stars, call it (* * * * *).
If you won't get bent out of shape and wonder what the "real" score is, what I really want to give it is 47 dang stars.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I don't give a flying flip about stars. I just care how much I enjoyed an episode--and I liked this one a lot.
Next Week: Seven of Nine, meet Sybil. Take your multiple personalities, and doh-se-doh...Swing with the Klingon...bow to the Ferengi...