Star Trek Voyager: Future's End, Part Two

"Everything you guys do is just a little bit off."

So, not only was I rude enough abruptly to stop reviewing Voyager aaaages ago, I actually stopped in the middle of a two-parter - shocking behaviour!

This is particularly a shame as Voyager was really rather good at two-parters. A criticism often levelled at The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine was that, while they were very good at setting up cliff-hangers, the follow-through wasn't always as satisfying. Voyager, on the other hand, was really quite good at paying off its cliff-hangers in a satisfactory way, right from this very first one.

The least memorable part of the episode is probably Chakotay and B'Elanna's mis-adventures in rural Arizona. However, the rest of the story shifts from the fish out of water comedy of Part One to focus on the main plot. Ed Begley Jr, ironically cast as Henry Starling (a man well known for environmental work playing a man cheerfully risking billions of future lives to gain more technology for himself in the present), treads a nice line between outright villainy and more insidious corporate greed. It's this structure that makes this satisfying as a two-parter; while the first part takes its time having fun with the premise, the second part focuses on the plot to produce a clearly sign-posted ending.

Voyager is frequently accused of constantly pressing the reset button, but in fact, the show was careful to acknowledge developments throughout the series. For example, here the Doctor informs Starling that he recently suffered memory loss and hasn't retrieved all his memories yet. The most significant recurring thing to come out of this episode is, of course, the Doctor's mobile emitter. He has some fun with it here, punching people and drawing gunfire, but in the long run this will be of huge benefit to his character, allowing him not only free reign over the ship but the opportunity to go on proper away missions as well. This was definitely a good addition to the show.

I'm very fond of these episodes. Part Two is, perhaps, not quite as strong as Part One - while the main plot is fine, it's not desperately compelling, so without so much time travel comedy, this second episode has a bit less zing to it. However, I really like the bittersweet romance between Paris and Sarah Silverman's Rain Robinson, and while you can always poke holes in a time travel story (if they prevented the explosion, how can any of this have happened? etc. etc.) this one holds together reasonably well. A good first two-parter for the show.

Bits and pieces

 - Tuvok and Tom working on the satellite communications thingy is a nice nod to Spock working on the radio in the all-time classic original series episode 'The City on the Edge of Forever.'

 - The Doctor diagnoses Starling with bipolar disorder based on his paranoia, but there's more than one mental condition for which paranoia is a symptom.

 - Rain pointing out the injuries the Doctor should have from his fistfight does rather highlight the fact that no one, human or otherwise, seems to sustain any injuries in fights on Star Trek.

 - Chakotay, you can't teach at a university or work as an archaeologist without several degrees and a lot of experience. Experience there's records of. On Earth.

 - The crashed shuttlecraft is specifically stated to have been recovered, which seems implausible, but less so than the usual magically reproducing shuttlecraft.

 - Oh, the 1990s: Paris is still wearing that hideous shirt.

Quotes

The Doctor (channelling Bones McCoy): I'm a doctor, not a database.

Rain (on Tuvok): Tuvok - what a freakosaurus.

Rain (on Paris): Sexy - in a howdy-doody sort of way.

Rain: Say hi to Saturn for me.
Paris: I will.

Tuvok: Given Mr Paris's alleged familiarity with twentieth-century America, it is a wonder we survived the encounter at all.

Not quite as much fun as Part One, but a solid conclusion to the two-parter. Three out of four miraculously recovered shuttlecraft.
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Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.

1 comment:

Mallena said...

My last comment got eaten by the system, so I'll try again.

You're only six episodes away from one of my favorites, Blood Fever, so keep going! Sarah Silverman... I don't see her too often, these days.

I read your article on Frasier, and I agree that it was a great show. I didn't like Cheers after Diane left, so I switched to Frasier and liked it a lot.

My favorite episode is the one where Niles is taking care of a bag of flour to see if he could handle a baby. "That's not fair! A real baby would have cried before it burst into flames," Niles says.