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Star Trek Voyager: Maneuvers

“What Seska did, she did to all of us. Frankly I find it a little self-indulgent of Chakotay to assume it’s all about him!”

Seska and those crazy Kazon are causing trouble again, and Chakotay is taking it personally…

As usual, I’ve mostly tried to review this episode on its own merits for anyone watching the series through for the first time, but it’s such an arc-heavy episode there are a few minor spoilers scattered about this review – if you haven’t seen the rest of the series, proceed with caution! (And, I promise, in a few weeks’ time it gets much better…)

In this episode, Seska and the Kazon are up to hi-jinks. And Janeway is unhappy about that. So is Chakotay, who runs off on his own in an attempt to put things right, which goes wrong, but of course Janeway rescues him.

OK, more details: the Kazon break in to the ship (Voyager has truly terrible security – Tuvok, I love you, but what are you doing?) and steal some technology that Seska plans to help them integrate with their own. Janeway insists on going after the stolen technology to preserve the balance of power in the quadrant, because today we care about the Prime Suggestion.

To be honest, as you can probably tell, this whole story arc leaves me pretty cold. Without wishing to spoil anything, Voyager really came into its own in season three, when they finally eased off on all this. It doesn’t help that although I’m a huge Janeway/Chakotay shipper, Chakotay doesn’t interest me all that much by himself – on top of which, this is the third Chakotay episode in season two so far (compared to two Kes episodes, two focusing more or less on Janeway, one for Kim, one for the Doctor, one shared between Paris and Neelix, and none at all focusing on B’Elanna or my beloved Tuvok).

To be fair, the opening of this episode was quite exciting, and in fact the whole thing was a bit better than I remembered, given that I don’t enjoy the arc plot. After the exciting start, we get rather bogged down in inter-Kazon politics (yawn) but the bit where our heroes find a couple of Seska-murdered Kazon who’ve been beamed alive into space is pretty creepy-fun – and our crew are so gloriously noble and na├»ve that Neelix has to point out that they’ve been executed, not killed in a transporter accident.

This episode opens with B’Elanna and Chakotay being a bit flirty over hoverball, which, coupled with the overall emphasis on Chakotay’s love life, makes me wonder if the writers were planning to go somewhere with the B’Elanna/Chakotay thing at this point (B’Elanna pointing out how embarrassed Chakotay is by having been in love with Seska certainly gets her nowhere with Janeway, who is distinctly unimpressed). Interestingly, Janeway actually considers leaving Chakotay behind and has to be persuaded otherwise by B’Elanna, which indicates 1) she’d still prefer Paris or Tuvok at this point and 2) she hasn’t developed her determination never to leave anyone behind yet.

But then it all concluded with a baby storyline, as Seska reveals she’s just impregnated herself with Chakotay’s DNA, which is apparently a very quick process using Kazon technology. Bet Chakotay regretted watching that message in front of everyone. Now, this is an entirely personal preference, but baby stories in SFF are not my favourite thing either, largely because they’re so rarely done well. This one at least isn’t a miracle baby with magical properties or anything like that (I won’t list examples for fear of spoilers, but I’m sure you can all think of some!) but it is a baby conceived through convoluted science fiction means for strange and nefarious purposes. All in all, for a Chakotay/Kazon episode, this could be a lot worse. But it could also be better.

Bits ‘n’ pieces

 - Seska is allowing her Cardassian heritage to reassert itself over her Bajoran disguise, which is a neat bit of shorthand for new viewers.

 - We get a scene featuring a man and a woman torturing the woman’s former lover, which I’m sure I’ve seen a few times before (on Buffy, certainly). Chakotay actually says the word ‘sex’ which I didn’t think was allowed on Star Trek.

 - Janeway flirting watch: Check out the smile she gives Kim when she tells him his optimism is infectious. She looks genuinely hurt when trying to ‘discipline’ Chakotay at the end.

 - Amazingly, the inertial dampeners seem to have stayed online for once. Later, Chakotay takes them offline in the shuttle.

 - Shuttlecraft count: Tuvok specifically demands the return of both First Officer and shuttlecraft, clearly aware that, well, they shouldn’t have any left by now…


Tuvok: Until now, the Kazon have never had anyone with Cardassian, Maquis and Starfleet experience. Tuvok’s way of saying ‘we’re screwed.’

Tuvok: Perhaps Commander Chakotay could use his intimate knowledge of Seska to manipulate her in much the same way she manipulated us. Tuvok again, not sugar-coating it.

Janeway: Tell me this: how do you expect me to keep order when the First Officer takes it upon himself to run off like some cowboy because he decides it's a good idea? What you did was commendable; the way you did it was not. You set a terrible example. And on a personal level, you've made my job more difficult.

Better than I feared, but still a bit dull. Two and a half out of four miracle babies.

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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