Janeway and Chakotay fall prey to a Peculiar Space Disease which they can live with as long as they don't leave an apparently uninhabited planet. While Tuvok tries to decide whether or not to disobey orders to help them, they face the possibility of living out the rest of their lives with only each other for company.
This is the Janeway/Chakotay Romance Episode. I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but I'm a big Janeway/Chakotay shipper. To be honest, I'm not sure I know a single Voyager fan who doesn't at least think they make a cute couple (though tell me in the comments if that's you!). Kate Mulgrew and Robert Beltran just have that strange chemistry that comes out of nowhere and becomes impossible to ignore, much like Josh and Donna on The West Wing. I went to a Voyager convention when the series finished airing in the UK and you should have heard the cheers when a few seconds of this episode were played during a series montage.
Interestingly, when watching the series through in order while writing these reviews, I noticed that Janeway and Chakotay's connection has actually been played down for a lot of season two. During season one and early season two, and especially in 'The Cloud', they were developing a very close relationship and a rather intimate way of working together, physically close, warm and chatty. Between Seska, Tuvok and Paris (including The Episode Of Which They Do Not Speak) they'd started to drift apart a bit over the course of season two, but this episode smushes them firmly back together again in a potentially lifelong manner.
Trouble is, it's not a good episode. The biggest problem with it is that, because this is a romantic story for Janeway, everyone involved seems to have decided she has to be ultra-feminine. Although she continues to work on looking for a cure, she changes into a bizarrely old-fashioned dress as soon as they get settled on the planet, she befriends a cute monkey and worst and most ridiculously of all this woman, a Starfleet Captain who has extensive military experience and was heading up a mission to capture terrorists in the 'Badlands', screams and hides under a table, whimpering and snuggling Chakotay, because of a thunderstorm. At least she hates cooking.
The way the romance is played out is also supremely cheesy (see: snuggling under a table during a storm, above) though at least it plays on the two leads' established characteristics, Chakotay drawing on lessons from his father about living slightly rougher than usual, Janeway fond of luxury and committed to scientific research. It all culminates in Chakotay telling a story about an "angry warrior" and a "woman warrior" that will make the lactose intolerant in the audience feel physically sick. It's sweet and nothing can completely destroy the chemistry these two have, but it's not as effective as a less over-done and over-played story could have been.
The B plot shows us Tuvok running the ship and having some problems relating to the crew. Vulcans were created to provide Captain Kirk with a coldly logical viewpoint to balance his own instincts and Dr McCoy's passionate response to everything - the entire point is that a Vulcan would not make a particularly good captain, because cold logic can't solve everything. In-universe, of course, it would be spectacularly racist to suggest Vulcans couldn't be captains, and Spock was an off-screen captain for a long time - it would be interesting to see an attempt to depict a Vulcan captain long-term, though I think it's unlikely to happen even if Star Trek does come back to TV. Much as I love Tuvok, he isn't best used here and for some reason the crew have no respect for him (Harry gets positively mutinous at one point and has to be threatened with the brig).
Bits and pieces
- Harry asks B'Elanna how the Maquis are taking the loss of Janeway and Chakotay, because the Starfleet people aren't taking it well - which is the first time anyone has mentioned the supposedly great divide in ages, and B'Elanna's response is that it's everybody's problem.
- Chakotay gives up and starts trying to make a home relatively quickly, while Janeway keeps trying to find a way to leave. An insight into their different characters, or an indication that he likes her more than she likes him?
- Chakotay staring openly at Janeway's boobs when she gets out of the bath is hilarious.
- Without Janeway, only Kes can really get through to Tuvok, which is unsurprising.
- Janeway flirting watch: Chakotay is actually flirting with her more than she with him, but she flashes Tuvok a Look at the end.
Janeway: It might be kind of interesting, roughing it for a while.
Chakotay: Roughing it? Let's see, we have shelter, furniture, research equipment, tricorders, a replicator - it's too rough for me.
Janeway: I guess I'm not used to that kind of work. My knots are getting knots!
Janeway: Is there really an ancient legend?
Chakotay: No, but that made it easier to say.
Janeway: You've come to the right person - I always have an opinion!
Honestly, it's kind of rubbish, but I can't completely hate it, it's so nice to see the romantic side of Janeway and Chakotay's relationship get some proper airtime. Two out of four cute monkeys.
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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