Star Trek 481: Non Sequitur

481. Non Sequitur

FORMULA: Parallels + Quantum Leap

WHY WE LIKE IT: What if.

WHY WE DON'T: Reset button. Sigh.

REVIEW: Another Brannon Braga episode whose events never happened, Non Sequitur perverts my favorite line from The Changeling into the title of this piece of irrelevance. I'm not saying that there's nothing here to entertain, but once again, it's limp because it doesn't matter. Worse, as a Harry Kim episode, it should make Harry more interesting and cooler. It doesn't really, and I'm not even sure he's even acting in character.

Harry wakes up in a parallel life in which he never got lost with Voyager and instead became a hotshot runabout designer. He's got a fiancé we knew nothing about (which we should have, every time Tom Paris asked Kim to double-date), but he's ready to chuck it all away because one of his friends got zapped to the Delta Quadrant instead, and of course, because without him, Paris got a raw deal as well. This is the interesting bit of the what if scenario. Without the bonding moment at Quark's in Caretaker, he would have gotten into an argument with Quark, one thing would have led to another, and he would never have gotten his second chance. So he's a drifter and ne'er-do-well hanging out at Sandrine's instead. And also ready to chuck his life away on the notion that maybe things could turn out better on Lost in Space II.

The whole thing is caused by Kim's shuttle intersecting a "time stream" (it's this season's "event horizon" as far as I'm concerned - see Parallax) where temporal aliens live. And while this is revealed by the character of Cosimo, one such benevolent alien disguised as a coffee shop owner, even they don't know how to reverse the effects to the timeline. In fact, Kim and Paris' actions are even more reckless given that there's no guarantee his plan to recreate the accident will work (and how he even detects a "time stream" when it's an entirely new phenomenon, isn't explained). So we have Kim, the most homesick of the Voyager crew, leaving the love of his life, a promising career, and the chance to tell Starfleet that Voyager is still out there; and Tom Paris essentially committing suicide on a technobabble premise and no guarantees. There's a way to write Kim's ultimate sacrifice, but it's all way too easy here (especially with a mistrustful Starfleet on their heels).

It's nice to San Francisco (though it's mostly shots stolen from the movies) and the real Sandrine's. The exterior shots add value to the episode as well. But is there any doubt watching this that Cosimo is "behind" it? At least he's a sympathetic guest star, unlike whiny Libby and the Starfleet jerks. Whatever. In the end, the reset button is pushed and we have yet another episode erased from the timeline. Have you been keeping count? That's 2 in 5 episodes this season (and 3 in all over the first 20 episodes).

And may I say I hate Voyager's extremely short teasers? They're basically just twist revelations without any kind of set-up, and if you switched channels 20 seconds too late, you're already in the theme music. I detested them on first-run, and they are still very unengaging years later.

LESSON: Kim and Paris were always fated to be friends, (but Harry and Libby were never meant to be). Slash fic writers, to you keyboards!

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-Low: Watchable, especially to see alt-Paris, but the magic solution really grates.


De said...

The heavy reuse of previously produced shots also contributed to my dislike of the episode (among other things). Most egregious was the escaping runabout, which was shot-for-shot identical to the Enterprise-D's escape from the Dyson Sphere in "Relics".

Austin Gorton said...

"Worse, as a Harry Kim episode, it should make Harry more interesting and cooler. It doesn't really..."

Let's be honest here; does any episode ever make Harry more interesting and cooler? :)

Anonymous said...

One more for the Alternate/Parallel/Fictional versions of crew more interesting than the real thing. At the very least for the Paris, but I'd say also for the Kim, since, as teebore mentioned, the real one isn't all that interesting.

Poor Kim, though. It's not like he did anything all that wrong, ever, but spending seven years as an Ensign is going to kill his Starfleet career stone dead. But even when Paris screws the pooch hard, Janeway would rather grudgingly forgive him than let Harry anywhere near another stripe. (Well, pip on those uniforms, anyhow.)

Siskoid said...

Teebore: No, but that should be the function of any character spotlight episode.

Jeff: Janeway doesn't believe in the importance of promotions. Not when a slap on the back and a compliment will do.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

I don't think it's fair to call this- or many of the others you so label- a 'reset button'. This would appear to be a fantasy world created by the aliens within their time stream as much as it is an alt3ernate reality- a visit to a parallel universe. It isn't reset at the end, Kim still remembers it- he just doesn't stay there. That's not a reset button any more than Kirk and Co. beaming back from the mirror universe at the end of Mirror, Mirror is.

Brian said...

Actually we did know about his fiance, he mentioned he had a girlfriend back on Earth in of the Season 1 episodes (I think it was Time and Again)

Siskoid said...

"Nothing" was perhaps over-stating it, but we knew nothing about a person we knew existed.


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