"Don't let the memories die."
B'Elanna receives dream-memories from a visiting alien.
This episode is a fairly basic and straightforward social issues metaphor, but lifted by a great performance from Roxann Dawson and a compelling story for the guest aliens of the week.
Although the Regressives appear to be based loosely on the Amish (living in a settled village and choosing not to use available technologies), this episode is a metaphor for holocaust denial, with the Regressives being taken away, supposedly to be 're-located' but actually to be killed, and the Enarans on Voyager insisting that they were re-settled and killed each other. In 1996, when the episode was written and filmed, holocaust denial was in the news, because holocaust denier David Irving was (unsuccessfully) suing author Deborah Lipstadt over her 1993 book on the subject. It's a deliberately obvious metaphor, but it's rather nicely done for all that.
I like that B'Elanna realises something weird is going on quite early on. Much as having weird nightmares happens to all of us, she very quickly decides that bizarrely vivid dreams about the telepathic aliens currently visiting the ship are not a coincidence, nor the products of her own subconscious. Unlike some earlier series of Star Trek, during which I frequently find myself quoting Galaxy Quest and yelling at the screen "Don't you guys watch the show?!", the crew of Voyager frequently demonstrate their awareness of historical encounters with aliens, technology gone wild, random space anomalies and so on, and use it to help them understand their situation, which is quite satisfying.
The story is really nicely played. Roxann Dawson pitches her voice higher and plays young Korenna quite differently from B'Elanna, albeit with some similarities (which makes sense given that presumably Korenna picked someone like her to give the dreams to). The actors playing the Enarans all play complex characters well, especially Bruce Davison as Korenna's father Jareth, who has to be fatherly and apparently well intentioned enough to convince Korenna to turn against her lover, while also sinister and threatening enough to be a leader in a calculated genocide.
This episode is largely preaching to the converted - I sincerely hope that the vast majority of viewers would not be inclined towards holocaust denial anyway. But it's a great episode for B'Elanna - even though the dream memories are not hers, her reaction to them is a great moment for her, and her frustration at her limited ability to do anything about the situation is palpable. By using B'Elanna as our way in, the episode is also able to make us care about the aliens of the week in a way not always achieved in other stories that are more about guest aliens or their civilizations than about the crew we know and care about.
Bits and pieces
- Harry Kim has, once again, found someone to flirt with among the alien visitors. And, once again, a political disagreement with the alien visitors dooms the romance - not that the fact Voyager is continuously moving in one direction wouldn't have doomed it anyway.
- Paris and Kim wear actual suits to a mixer with the Enarans - as do some of the Enarans, and Janeway is in a rather nice suit-like white outfit. This is a vast improvement on the usual alien coutures of patchy waistcoats and/or long tunics. They still haven't discovered patterns or denim though. Why are there no other planets in the universe that wear denim? This is clearly Earth's most valuable commodity.
- Even better is B'Elanna's gorgeous blue leather (or PVC that looks like leather) outfit in the flashbacks. I suspect it's only the fact that she's playing a Nazi analogue that allows her to wear leather, also not usually seen in the Star Trek universe, but whatever, it is an absolutely gorgeous outfit and possibly the most memorable thing about this episode. It's reminiscent of Rose's later blue leather jacket that I desperately want from Doctor Who.
- The Enarans still have silly bits of cloth stuck on their heads that we're supposed to believe are part of their anatomy, though. Voyager has a real thing for this. At least on Next Generation the bumpy foreheads looked more plausibly biological.
- According to Memory Alpha, this idea was originally intended as a Troi episode for The Next Generation, but it works really well as a B'Elanna episode - B'Elanna may not be particularly sensitive to telepathy, but the Enarans can clearly communicate this way with most people, and she is just the sort of character who would storm into a diplomatic event accusing their alien guests of mass murder.
B'Elanna: If you say a word about this to anyone...
Chakotay: I know. You'll rip my heart out and eat it raw.
Doctor: I don't think satisfying your curiosity is worth risking brain damage, Lieutenant.
Janeway (to Tuvok): I wonder how long it's been since I did anything that surprised you?
A really nice character piece with some great costumes. Three out of four stylish alien suits.
Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.