Star Trek 493: Dreadnought

493. Dreadnought

FORMULA: Final Mission + The Ultimate Computer

WHY WE LIKE IT: A taut thriller.

WHY WE DON'T: I'd slap Jonas. He's got that kind of a face.

REVIEW: I've missed Cardassian sets, you know that? The Dreadnought missile in this episode is a thing of beauty after a couple dozen gray steel shows. Seems like B'Elanna once hijacked it, changed its programming, essentially building a "better" weapon able to outthink any enemy, and now she has to take it down. But she made it too well.

What follows is a tight suspenseful techno-thriller that ups the stakes every commercial break. A chess game between B'Elanna and what is basically HAL 2000 with her voice. Every move has a countermove until the very end, and Dreadnought matches B'Elanna's determination even after it gets a split personality in a Cardassian back-up file. It's great fun to see B'Elanna try to use logic to outplay the computer, which gets even harder when it starts talking about the "Delta Quadrant deception" everyone seems to be participating in. An AI really could justify anything this way.

If the episode has a weakness, it's that B'Elanna and her missile are almost too good (why didn't the Cardassians win the war by hitting Earth with this?). But suspension of disbelief is kept for the duration by keeping things interesting, I think.

Meanwhile, we're kept up to date on ongoing story arcs, like Wildman's pregnancy, Paris' misbehavior and Jonas' feeding information to the Kazon (without much effect, I must say). Not as intrusive as in Meld, these help create the sense that the ship is a place, like Deep Space 9, with its own little stories. The cumulative effect of the series is that there isn't enough of this. But around this time, it's not so badly handled. Torpedo count: 43.

LESSON: Give a missile programming, and it can destroy a Maquis moon. Teach a missile how to program itself, and it can destroy... YOU!

REWATCHABILITY - High: While not an episode that delves into human nature or anything like that, Dreadnought remains one of the most thrilling episodes of Voyager. Completely rewatchable.

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