Neelix decides, in his self-appointed position as morale officer, to start a daily news show for the ship, but finds himself distracted by an unexpected departure and some small-scale espionage.
Hmm, that description makes this episode sound a bit more exciting than it actually is.
This episode resolves a couple of story arcs that have been bubbling along in the background for a while. Paris' restlessness, insubordinate behaviour and attempts to start gambling rings turns out to have been a long-term con enabling him to leave the ship, get picked up by Seska and the Kazon, and find out who has been betraying Voyager - all of which would be more exciting if the audience hadn't known for months it was the spectacularly uninteresting Michael Jonas.
Neelix suddenly decides to become an investigative journalist for the duration of this episode, and of course he proceeds to get in the way and nearly ruins the whole thing. The venom in Janeway's voice when he tells the entire ship Paris is a traitor and she tells Tuvok to "Get him up here now" is brilliant. Still, it's a nice way in to the resolution of this particular arc and it keeps things moving briskly.
The TV show conceit also handily allows the characters to express their feelings to the whole crew all at once. Neelix's sadness and how much he sticks up for Tom at the beginning are really sweet (there's an excellent awkward man-hug too). Neelix may be annoying, but his loyalty and the extent to which he cares for his friends must be his best and most endearing qualities. His tribute to Tom is corny but nice, and the most memorable part of the episode. Paris' apology later on is quite sweet too.
This episode also brings up some interesting character dynamics between Janeway, Tuvok and Chakotay. The coded and careful way Janeway and Tuvok talk to each other in front of Neelix early on is brilliant and really shows how close they are and how well they work together. Janeway and Tuvok share a conspiratorial look again while watching Neelix's tribute to Paris, while Chakotay sits and watches it alone, cut out of their confidence. Later, when they have to reveal their plan to Neelix and Chakotay, their body language speaks volumes. Tuvok stands between Chakotay and Janeway, and while Tuvok confidently defends his lack of trust in Chakotay (couched as not wanting to make him betray a former Maquis crewmate, because Tuvok is still kinda prejudiced and thinks it must be a former Maquis), Janeway just looks supremely guilty. She eventually, rather sheepishly, defends the decision as the result of needing a convincing performance, thus implying it's Chakotay's acting ability she doesn't trust rather than his loyalty. Chakotay, however, is clearly less than impressed and this is one of a relatively small number of episodes in which he and Janeway seem really far apart.
Bits and pieces
- Neelix's TV show is one of those things invented to serve a particular purpose in this episode and never seen again. Which is a good thing really, because it's hideous.
- It's also unusual in a culture that normally treats television like an exotic relic of a bygone age, since they all prefer holodecks.
- Neelix intimates that a Lieutenant in gold has been snuggling with a Crewman in blue. A few minutes later we see Harry say 'see you later' to a crewman wearing blue we've never seen before. Let the fan fiction writing commence!
- Of course, that might just have been an attempt to reassure the audience, with Paris about to jump ship, that Harry did actually have other friends.
- And actually, the Star Trek wiki Memory Alpha reveals it was a cameo by the then Crown Prince of Jordan. So... I'm guessing the juxtaposition was unintentional.
- Neelix does pretty well for himself in a fist fight.
- This episode wraps up a lot of the Kazon storylines, but reminds us of one big one left hanging - Seska is still pregnant and claiming the child is Chakotay's.
Paris: I'd like to apologise to anyone that I might have offended. Especially Commander Chakotay, I gave him a pretty hard time. Not that it wasn't a certain amount of fun, mind you.
Neelix: I'd like to apologise to the Doctor for not getting around to him once again today. But I promise you he'll be here tomorrow with lots of fascinating information about the Bolian digestive system.
Better than I remembered, but this episode suffers from a fatal flaw in the arc plotting - it would be much more exciting if we didn't know the identity of the traitor (and if we remotely cared about him). Two and a half out of four fan fiction stories about Harry and that random blue-uniformed crewman.
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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