Date: September 11, 2020
Season 1, Episodes 8 and 9
Musical Accompaniment: Ambient Worlds presents Black Panther music
Interstellar News: I wrote a big long thing about all the horrible things that have happened on this date on my Facebook, I’ll give you to tl;dr here: Be excellent to each other, party on dudes, live long and prosper, and my the Force be with us all.
“Emanations” in TL;DR: Voyager thinks they’ve discovered a new element but it’s really dead humanoids who look like Frodo after he’s been stung. Chakotay is adamant about respecting the dead and this culture when subspace distortion appears and when they try to beam out Kim is gone and a dead body is in his place. The EMH revives Ptera who thinks she’s in the afterlife and is disappointed and scared because this is not what was promised. She just wants to go home or die trying, and she winds up dying again in a transporter accident. She and several other dead bodies find their way onto Voyager where they are simply transported to one of the nearest asteroids.
Kim is sent to the Vhnori home world where they believe he was sent from the great beyond. They explain how their death ritual works and what is expected in the afterlife and Kim tries to not give too much away as it’s a First Contact situation. He meets a man named Hatil who is being asked to not be a burden on his family, but he’s not read to die so he and Kim switch places. Kim dons the burial shroud while Hatil runs off to live his remaining days in the mountains. Kim “dies”, is transported to Voyager, and the EMH revives Kim where Janeway gives him a few days rest.
Kim: Are you saying you think they do have an afterlife? That the energy field is where they exist at a higher level of consciousness, just like they believe?
Janeway: I’m not certain, but I am certain about this. What we don’t know about death is far, far greater than what we do know.Janeway being all wise and shit.
“It’s so easy to become jaded, to treat the extraordinary like just another day at the office, but sometimes there are experiences which transcend all that. “: This reminds me a bit of “Half A Life” where those who are older or a burden on their family are asked to end their lives. There are three stories here and they all get happy endings, actually. Ptera died, was resuscitated, became beyond scared and confused, and died again. She started and ended the episode in the same way and hopefully this time she was reunited with her brother. Hatil begins the episode apprehensive but who is he to ignore what his family wished? He’s clearly willing to do anything for his family and he doesn’t want to cause them worry, so when Kim offers him the ability to satisfy his family’s wishes you can see his face light up with glee at the chance of living more without being a burden on his family.
Kim’s story is by far the most compelling because we know him and he’s so damn green. He realizes he’s in over his head and he’s hoping that this swap with Hatil will work. He has great faith that Voyager is still looking for him and the EMH will revive him and all will be well. He’s so optimistic and youthful and Janeway’s chat with him at the end is fantastic because it’s so true. I remember when I first started working as a faculty member, I had been a teaching assistant the four years prior, and one of the other, older faculty commended that I was too young to already be that cynical. I’m very glad Harry Kim still has light and wonder in his eyes about exploring the galaxy and he’s not like 23 year old me who was already over First Year Fred. 7 vaculoes for Kim and Kes who is proving to be the most empathic person on the ship.
“Prime Factors” in TL;DR: The combined crew is finally acting as one when they receive a distress signal, only it’s a race called the Sikarians who want to offer shore leave for the Voyager crew. Gath is quite taken with Janeway and Kim gets to know Eudana who introduces him to a transportation device that can transport up to 40,000 light years away. Kim, being who he is, gets suuuuuuper excited and they ask if the Sikarians can beam Voyager or share their technology, but it’s totally against their laws. Janeway decides to try for diplomacy and orders the crew to do nothing, but Seska and Carey keep working on Torres to try to do something. Janeway offers the complete Federation library of stories in exchange for them beaming Voyager away and Gath says he’ll talk it over. Gath’s assistant, Jaret, offers Kim a proposition: he’ll give them the matrix in exchange for the stories because Gath’s never going to help them. Janeway says no as it’s truly against her and Starfleet’s principles to skirt the law and then she and Gath get into an argument and Voyager is asked to leave. They pack up but Tuvok is the one to beam down and make the exchange with Jaret, only for Torres to find out the matrix won’t work. Torres and Tuvok confess and Janeway can only tell them she’s disappointed and they had better never do it again.
Janeway: You can use logic to justify almost anything. That’s it’s power, and it’s flaw. From now on, bring your logic to me. Don’t act on it behind my back.
Tuvok: You have my word. My logic was not in error, but I was.Janeway and Tuvok discussing logic so… logically.
“After all, it doesn’t hurt to theorize.”: This is a great vehicle for showing how the Maquis and Starfleet crews are really working together because you have Carey (Starfleet) and Seska (Maquis) working together because they just want to get home to their families and they don’t care much about what laws they violate. Torres is the one who surprises everyone, even herself I think, that she has become the person who takes responsibility so she can look at herself in the mirror and know who she’s looking at. Kim shares his feelings and gets laughed at equally by both sects of the crew and he also goes to them first to share his thoughts before going to Janeway, as he’s starting to think of them as his friends. Tuvok is supposed to be the big surprise but you can see that he is willing to do whatever it takes to help Janeway, he just doesn’t think through it well enough. Unfortunately many people use logic to its extreme to justify things that are not really justifiable.
Janeway is left with the toughest call ever… does she get the crew home at any expense or does she continue to obverse new worlds and gather all she can on the DQ so that when they return they can say they ran a clean Starfleet ship? In the end it doesn’t matter because the matrix was never compatible anyway and wasn’t going to work and Torres does what she knows best, shoot the damn thing to stop the ship from blowing up. It’s a great story about being on the other side of someone’s Prime Directive and it’s done very well in most places. Also, Tuvok gives the absolute best eyebrow raise… he can give The Rock a run for his money. 8 gondolas for this episode, just don’t fall out!