FORMULA: Duet + The Alternate + Ties of Blood and Water
WHY WE LIKE IT: James Sloyan's performance.
WHY WE DON'T: The Kes-Neelix Hallmark card romance.
REVIEW: Meant to be Voyager's version of Duet, with a national guilt over concentration camps replaced by America's national guilt over dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it's not quite as resonant because the writers forgot what made Duet so good. That episode was really just two people talking. This episode seems to go out of its way to introduce technobabble elements and effects sequences that quite simply divert attention from its main thrust.
Because at its core, this is a good story. James Sloyan is impeccable as Jetrel, even if initially too close to Dr. Mora for comfort. He knows his invention has made him a monster and has accepted his coming death as justice. He stands as a monument to blind, amoral science and knows it, even if he chalks it up to scientific inevitability. The scene where he doesn't apologize to Neelix - because how could he ever - is a standout. Neelix as his adversary is petty, but justified, and his descriptions of metrion cascade victims are harrowing.
Neelix meets the man responsible for a weapon that killed over 300,000 people, including his family, a man hungry for redemption. There's enough juice in that conflict to last us the whole show. Unfortunately, both characters are saddled with extra material that just doesn't work. Turning Neelix's righteous anger back on himself because he was a consciencious deserter and using that to motivate forgiving Jetrel at the last minute is psychobabble I don't think even Troi would have touched (good nightmare sequence though, almost justifies the Sandrine's sequence). And the so-called romantic scene in which Kes hands out this pop psychology revelation is very badly written, with the two "lovers" coming off as pretty happy Neelix is going to die from space cancer.
Jetrel, for his part, tries his best to be Aamin Marritza by keeping a couple of hidden agendas close to his vest, but since it all comes down to using the transporter (what's Janeway doing letting him look at her technology?) to recreate the vaporized victims of the metrion cascade, the last act falls apart pretty quickly. When even Janeway doesn't think your technobabble makes sense, you're in trouble.
LESSON: When there's no possible shot, call a safety. How that relates to the theme of the episode, I have yet to figure out. (SAFETY!)
REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Almost a Medium-High, but it makes a number of missteps.