"Tuvok, has anyone ever told you, you're a real freakosaurus?"
Still stuck in 20th century Los Angeles and with the Doctor programme-napped, the Voyager crew must stop a 20th century computer mogul from trying to fly a 29th century time-ship with disastrous consequences.
After an initial episode mostly concerned with having fun in LA, this one needs to wrap up the plot. It isn't a particularly inventive plot, mostly involving chasing Ed Begley Jr around LA before he can accidentally blow up billions of people. It's perfectly fine as plots go, though, and the tension between Starling's lack of expertise but far superior technology and Voyager's better know-how but much less sophisticated technology keeps it interesting.
There's an underlying metaphor in this story about Starling's willingness to risk the future for the sake of the present, highlighted by the casting of environmentalist Ed Begley Jr as Starling. Janeway assures Starling that no one in the 24th century would do so, but Starling is not remotely concerned about what might happen in 900 years' time. Rain Robinson also admires how Paris cares about something more than his own 'little life', reinforcing the message that it might be better to think in broader terms than immediate profit and gain. It's Star Trek's idealism in a nutshell.
Meanwhile the fish out of water comedy, though reduced, continues, and Tom and Tuvok remain in their hilariously awful 1990s outfits throughout, so like Part One, this is good fun. B'Elanna and Chakotay getting kidnapped by racist conspiracy theorists is less fun, but their rescue by Tuvok and the Doctor, with the Doctor standing there and taking bullets like Superman, is a nice little scene. There's also a really interesting character beat in there when Chakotay says he used to consider himself a freedom fighter and thought violence was the answer but doesn't believe that any more, which is just begging for an episode to be considered properly.
The most enduring consequence of this episode is that the Doctor gains a 29th century mobile holo-emitter (it's Rimmer's light bee from Red Dwarf, but he wears it on his upper arm). This means he will no longer be restricted to the sickbay and the holodeck, which really opens out the story-telling possibilities for the character, and is a very good idea, while the fact it's from the 29th century keeps it a little bit vulnerable and means no one can start giving mobile emitters to any hologram they feel like giving them to.
A criticism of earlier Trek series had been that two parters were often made up of an exciting Part One followed by a disappointing Part Two, but Voyager didn't tend to suffer from that problem. Part One is a little lighter and Part Two more focused on action, but both parts of this whole are equally satisfying.
Bits and pieces
- Episodes that never happened: Not exactly, as most of this did happen, but the Captain Braxton Voyager encounters at the end of the story says he never experienced this timeline, so call it two and a half so far.
- Chakotay thinks, if they get stuck in 1996, he could go be an archaeologist and teach at a university. With no qualifications, no references and no expertise in 1990s archaeological equipment? Have fun trying to get a job, Chakotay.
- Tuvok (on Rain Robinson): She and Lt Paris appear to be bonding on a cross-cultural level. Well, if that's what you want to call it...
Doctor: I'm a doctor, not a database.
Doctor: I am footloose and fancy free!
Still good fun and introduces an important and useful future plot device in the mobile emitter. Three and a half out of four pieces of 29th century technology.
Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.