Star Trek Voyager: Deadlock

"We're Starfleet officers. Weird is part of the job."

Voyager is split into two, but only one ship can survive.

At the beginning of this episode, Ensign Wildman finally gives birth (she must have been pregnant for at least two years at this point). We get confirmation of her husband's race - Ktarian, apparently characterised by forehead ridges, sharp incisors and scaly skin (and, presumably, extremely long gestation periods). At least future C-sections are rather easier on the mother - though, as it turns out, dangerous for the baby if your ship suddenly loses power.

This leads to some serious trauma for poor Wildman as Voyager starts falling apart almost as soon as she has given birth. The episode is allowed to run for quite a while before revealing the two-ships premise, which is really effective, as we have no idea what's happening or how badly or permanently damaged the ship is. When Baby Wildman dies, there's no way of knowing it isn't going to stick - though we are fairly quickly reassured this isn't necessarily the end when the baby's death is immediately followed by Harry's (his second death in the series so far). That's the first clue that there may be a way out of this - though the final twist, in which the damaged Voyager is the one that survives, means there are still some fairly heavy consequences for the ship.

This is our first glimpse of Voyager and her crew in real trouble. Janeway, we discover, keeps working on her ship with little regard for her personal safety. B'Elanna's reaction to Harry's sudden death is nicely written - she screams "Harry!" as he falls, but professionally reports to the bridge that "Ensign Kim is dead". Alone out in the Delta Quadrant, Voyager can't get help from Starfleet or put in for repairs if they're damaged, and at the end of the episode Janeway mentions how frustrated B'Elanna has been at her using Engineering as a bridge for days on end. It's a great use of Voyager's premise and allows us to see the characters under real pressure, which is always revealing.

Rather than being in parallel universes, the two Voyagers are duplicates of one original - which is why Harry has exactly the same memories as his counterpart and never has to bring up the experience ever again (hey, at least they think of an explanation for these things). Both Janeways want to save as many people as possible and both are willing to sacrifice themselves and their crew when it looks like the other ship has a better chance of survival - whether that's comforting for their crew or not is hard to say.

The drama in this episode plays really well and it's effectively designed and put together. The first glimpse of the second Voyager is really cool - through all the flames and chaos on the bridge, Janeway sees a ghostly image of everybody sitting in their places, with everything intact. Then we cut to the second Janeway seeing a phantom image of the first running off the bridge. This is also probably one of the best uses of the Vidiians, who are properly scary here. I'm glad it was them, creepily harvesting everyone's organs, who over-powered the second Voyager, rather than the Kazon.

Bits and pieces

 - Poor Ensign Wildman's labour is followed by the entire crew. While I have no personal experience in this area, labour seems like something most people would prefer to keep fairly private until it's all over.

 - Janeway is very sweetly parental in this episode, pacing like an expectant father while Wildman is in labour, rushing to comfort her when the baby dies, and apparently she's been making a blanket for the kid as well.

 - Janeway gets to play with the self-destruct again for the second time in five episodes, and even thinks to mute the voice warnings (Vidiians are brighter than Klingons).

 - It's hard to say how to count the regular cast deaths in this episode. On the one hand, everybody on the second Voyager dies except Harry and Baby Wildman. From the surviving ship's point of view, however, only Harry and (as yet unnamed) Baby Wildman die. Let's separate this out. So far, Total Cast Massacres = 1 (the second crew in this episode). Regular Cast Deaths = 9 (Harry in this episode, 8 in previous episodes). Baby Wildman does eventually get a name and appears quite a lot, but she probably doesn't count as 'regular cast'.


Doctor: Push, Ensign.
Wildman: You push, damn it! I'm sick of pushing!

Tuvok: I have learned that pregnancy and patience go hand in hand.

Janeway (re the other Janeway): She even knew that when I was twelve years old, I walked home in a thunderstorm over 7km because I lost a tennis match.

Janeway: Please don't make me call security and have you escorted off my ship, because you know I'll do it.

Janeway 2: Just make me a promise, Kathryn. Get your crew home.

Doctor: I am programmed to be heroic when the need arises.

Harry: This isn't really my ship, and you're not really my captain, and yet you are, and there's no difference. But I know there's a difference. Or is there? It's all a little weird.
Janeway: Mister Kim, we're Starfleet officers. Weird is part of the job.

I really like this one. Three and a half out of four phantom Janeways.

Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

As usual, you brought the episode back for me, Juliette. I remember really liking this one, too. And I loved the screencap you chose.

I can confirm that the last thing I wanted when I was in labor is an audience. :)