Harry Kim wakes up in San Francisco, reunited with his girlfriend and enjoying a thriving career based from Starfleet headquarters. Naturally, he realises immediately that something has gone terribly wrong.
I really, really like this episode. I have no terribly academic or critically insightful reason for this. It’s a Harry Kim episode, the plot doesn’t entirely hold together and very little of it actually takes place on a spaceship. But I love it. I love seeing 24th century Earth and San Francisco (rarely see on any Star Trek series, never mind on Voyager). I love stories about parallel universes and roads not taken. I love episodes that heavily feature Tom Paris (and I quite like Harry when he’s not getting weird diseases or chasing unsuitable girlfriends). And this episode contains one of my all-time favourite terrible one-liners (see Quotes).
This is the first episode screened that was actually shot for Season Two rather than held over for Season One, but despite or perhaps because of that, it’s a continuity-fest. We meet Harry’s girlfriend Libby, now his fiancée, we see him pick up and smile at the clarinet he left behind, we’re reminded of Harry and Tom’s encounter with Quark in the pilot and, in a touch that’s both fun and economical, we get to see the real Sandrine’s – which, of course, looks exactly like the holographic version. All these little touches keep the unusually small and largely self-contained world of Voyager feel real, and at this still relatively early stage, the show is just now starting to feel properly lived in.
The parallel universe/timeline/whatever it is that Harry finds himself in here allows us a rare glimpse at the lives the crew left behind when they were flung into the Delta Quadrant. At this stage of the series, that glimpse is at its most poignant. Enough time has passed that the crew’s absence has left a substantial hole (apparently Starfleet don’t bother to wait five years before declaring people dead, they go ahead and have a memorial service after eight months). However, things haven’t changed so much that both the crew’s lives and those of their families have evolved into something entirely different from where they started. Harry and Libby’s scenes together are very sweet and the loss of their relationship reminds us of the inherent tragedy of Voyager’s premise.
There are a few odd bits and logical inconsistencies in the plot. You’d think if you were in Starfleet you’d be more used to weird stuff like alternate realities and less quick to judge anyone claiming to come from one as crazy or a spy. The fact that Alt-Harry switched over to engineering and started winning prizes and designing shuttlecraft within eight months makes me wonder if his middle name is Mary Sue. Making the café owner part of the plot was a good idea, as otherwise Harry’s questions about how long he’s been coming there and where he lives really would be a bit too crazy. But the episode has some really nice character moments for Paris and especially for Harry, an under-appreciated character who here gives up his soaring career and beautiful fiancée to help Danny Byrd and Paris. He doesn’t get enough credit for that.
I love alternate reality stories and I love the Paris/Kim bromance, so this episode is practically made for me. It’s simple, it’s fun and it’s grounded in the premise of the series. Excellent stuff.
Bits ‘n’ pieces
- Harry drinks Vulcan mocha, extra sweet. That doesn’t sound like a very Vulcan drink. Surely putting chocolate in coffee, and then adding extra sugar, is completely illogical.
- Libby asks Harry if he thought about her the whole time he was away and he says he did, every day, every nanosecond. He doesn’t tell her he’s been going on double dates with the Delaney sisters.
- Libby seems really nice. It would be nice to think she and Harry might find each other again someday.
- I want to live in a world where you can pop over from San Francisco to Marseilles in a morning.
- Regular character cast death watch: Harry seems OK, but it's implied Alt-Paris was blown up just before the timelines were fixed, so that's regular cast death #6, and the second for Paris.
Harry: So, this isn't the past. It's the present. San Francisco. This can't be a dream, it's too real. It's too clear. So what does that leave. A holodeck? A hallucination? Some kind of trick? At least Harry seems to have watched the odd episode of Star Trek, even if no one else has.
Harry: Just tell me you love me.
Libby: I tell you that every day. Aren't you getting sick of hearing it?
Harry: No. In fact, pretend I haven't heard you say it in a long time. Pretend that we haven't seen each other for months.
Libby: OK. I love you, Harry. Welcome home.
Libby: Where are you going?
Harry: Marseilles, France.
Libby: What for?
Harry: I've got to see Paris.
Libby: But you just said you were going to Marseilles.
This amuses me far more than it should amuse a sane person.
Cosimo: We exist in what you would call a temporal inversion fold in the space-time matrix. It's not necessary to understand. This could be Star Trek’s motto.
A refreshing change of pace. Three and a half out of four extra sweet Vulcan mochas.
Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.
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