502. Basics, Part I
FORMULA: Maneuvers + Meld + (Rascals - kids)
WHY WE LIKE IT: Suder's back. Seska's back.
WHY WE DON'T: Culluh's back. (Seriously? The Doctor's trip outside.)
REVIEW: The Kazon finally make some progress, running Voyager through the kind of gauntlet this part of space should always have been. Dangerous and nasty. Of course it helps that Seska is with them and running things from behind the scenes. (Indeed, Culluh is never more than just an impatient bully and far less interesting.) She's got Chakotay running after his baby, and the Kazon ships hitting non-vital systems, mystifying the crew. She's sent a pretty convincing Trojan horse to blow himself up at an opportune time. By the time the auto-destruct has failed because it was a non-vital system, you know Voyager has well and truly lost to a smarter opponent.
Leaving them all on a harsh, volcanically active planet, Culluh makes a good point. Can they survive without their toys? Voyager has been entirely too much about bling and bling words. It's a nice location too, what we see of it here, though not quite as harsh as it seems flying in. They're not all left behind of course. The episode makes sure to save a few "rebels" to resolve the situation in Part II (thankfully, it's not set up as a deus ex machina in the making). Tom Paris is off to get help, the Doctor deactivates himself for the time being, and then there's... Suder.
Yes, Brad Dourif is back, continuing his story on from Meld. Still an interesting character, here he hopes to help the ship somehow (as a gardener), though he must still keep his temper in check. More on him next time. Though heavy on plot, other characters do get sensible scenes, including Chakotay's well-handled vision quest to speak to his father's spirit.
Basics is a perfectly good season finale with a better cliffhanger than most. Really, if there's one scene that grated on my nerves, it's the one where the Doctor is projected into space and "comically" dodges a phaser beam. There's a continuity snafu with his idea to install exterior holographic projectors too. It was something mentioned by other characters about mid-season. And would that even work as a ploy? Just another example of Voyager being a miracle ship that can somehow adapt technology in ways no one back home ever thought of. And then the idea is used for a gag. Meh.
LESSON: Be careful about overrelying on... STUFF.
REWATCHABILITY - High: An ingenious plot hatched by a good recurring villain leads to one of Trek's better cliffhangers. Basics is as good as Voyager gets.