Underrated Trek:Scientific Method (VOY)
Welcome back to Underrated Trek, where I take a special look at Star Trek episodes that I loveâ€¦which may not be the most popular or even liked most. It’s easy to love a great episode, and it’s easy to like a “so bad it’s good” episode. But what about a mediocre at best episode? That’s what I wanted to discuss today, and episode of Star Trek Voyager which is only ok…but also happens to be one of my favorite episodes of the series! I give you:
This episode has some real memorable moments that I love. But does that make a really good episode? Let’s discuss it.
Things I Hated:
Ok to be fair this is by no means a perfect episode. For instance you could argue it’s a rip of at least two TNG episodes. “Schisms” had the crew being experimented on without their knowledge. Also “When Silence Has Lease” had an alien threaten to maim or kill half the crew in the name of scientific curiosity. In fact that episode even had a death kind of similar to the death we get in this one, though Picard’s reaction is a tad different than what Janeway does. And yes the plot is a kind of silly. How can these aliens be “out of phase” and performing experiments on the crew? So if it’s silly why does the episode work? Because the atmosphere sells it and it’s a very tense episode.
At one point the experiments start to have strange affects on Chakotay and Neelix. Chakotay ages and Neelix has spots for some reason. At first, when we see Chakotay lose his hair the scene is chilling! Then it gets silly when he and Neelix sit and compete over who looks goofier. It’s clearly make-up and if the characters aren’t going to take the situation seriously than neither are we. The worst part is we never see them restored to normal at the end of the episode. This also makes the aliens look like idiots, what low opinion of the crew these aliens must have not to figure they would catch on after these very obvious and bizarre physical changes started occurring.
The aliens piss me off. But I don’t mean that I hated them because they sucked (though it’s true we don’t learn a lot about them, as villains they are not the best I can’t deny it). I hated them because I wanted to punch that one in the face! That one scene when Janeway confronts the alien in the brig and she couldn’t care less about the harm they are inflicting to satisfy their curiosity (in the name of helping others). The episode touches on the old debate of using lab animals in scientific experiment, but of course lab animals are not intelligent. Does that mean it’s still wrong? Would have been better if Voyager truly explored this rather than glancing it.
Thinks I Liked
Tom and Torres spend the episode making out like horny teenagers. This could easily be annoying but it works for two reason. One, Janeway calls them out on it and tells them to act like senior officers. Two, it’s more than likely that the aliens were playing with their hormone levels making their actions forgivable. And the last scene of the episode is the two and is a very sweet moment where they realize that while there hormone levels may have been risen, they do still love each other.
Tuvok has the best line in this episode. A clearly exhausted Janeway is chewing him out for the lack of protocol on the ship. She orders him to straighten out the officers under his command. Tuvok responds, “Shall I flog them as well?” . Janeway realizes he is taking her mood on him and the two have a very nice moment where she apologizes, and he says he will join her for a glass of wine on a holodeck trip. One of the things never talked about on Voyager is the deep friendship between Janeway and Tuvok which is really shown here.
The mystery is very well done. At first the episode seems fairly routine. We have Torres yelling at Seven, the Doctor telling Janeway to relax more. Then things get weird as the crew begin to get odd things happen to them. First we see Torres and The Doctor finds tags have been left on the DNA in people’s bodies. We’ll ignore how stupid that it is. When Torres is almost killed and The Doctor is almost deactivated, he fixes Seven of Nine so she can see the phased aliens. Then things get tense. What she sees is very alarming. The aliens are all over the ship and are doing all kinds of weird things to the crew. Jeri Ryan has a great moment when an alien is doing something to her and she has to pretend to notÂ be aware of them. Somehow she pulls off being scared and standing stoic at the same time. Seven can see the aliens and the crew with all sorts of odd things hooked up to them, including Janeway who has pressure needles boring into her skull. The Doctor seems to be echoing the feelings of the viewers when he says “This is worst than I imagined”
So two scenes really make this episode for me. The first comes when Seven of Nine is trying to reconfigure something to take the aliens out. Tuvok becomes aware, and since she was still new at this point he doesn’t trust her. So she grabs his phaser and fires at the alien, revealing her. She then aims the phaser at the alien’s head and says in a dead serious voice that if any of them try incapacitate her she will kill the alien. The alien simply responds “I believe you”. It’s one of my favorite seven of nine moments, and possibly the first time I saw how kick ass she could be in the series (only her 7th episode). I found this clip in a compilation video someone made, so the link is HERE. It’s a quick scene and feel free to not watch the rest of the video if you want.
But of course the big scene comes at the end and what Janeway does to solve this mess. The aliens are perfectly content with what they are doing and promise it will not stop. When an unnamed ensign is killed on the Bridge, Janeway decides she has had enough. She takes the helm and dives Voyager right into a binary pulsar! The alien (and no they are not named in the show) tries to get Janeway to stop, but Janeway has locked the ship in and they cannot stop her. Janeway says that after having a headache and sleepless night’s for four days, this is the result. As Voyager comes close to being torn apart, the aliens panic and flee the ship. Voyager does come out unscathed, barely, as Tuvok comments that he has never see her be so reckless. It is one of the best Janeway scenes and I love it. You could argue that Janeway is a bit out of character here, but that’s kind of the point after what these aliens have done to her. Mulgrew did a great job in this episode as we really feel her fatigue. I know many hate Janeway (god forbid a female captain be tough….why is it when a woman is strong on TV she has to be a bitch?) but I always thought she rocked, and this scene is a great example why. So since I found the clip, why not share it? I usually don’t link to videos in these articles but this one was to tempting. See it HERE.
Fast Forward Moment
Voyager had a thing for featuring pointless hologram programs and desperately trying to include them in show. The early episodes had a recurring thing with Janeway in a holonovel, before the creators realized no one cared about it. Then season two the crew hung out in a beach program..for no reason. And this episode has more of that silly holodeck nonsense, this time it’s an already established Leonardo DaVinci program the doctor hides in. Yawn. It adds nothing to the episode except giving Picardo a chance to dress in relaxing clothes for once.
Final Thoughts-I just really liked this episode, while it has it’s silly and even stupid moments the stuff that works really, really worked. Maybe it isn’t Voyager’s best but it’s far from their worst.