Star Trek 546: The Killing Game, Part I

546. The Killing Game, Part I

FORMULA: Patterns of Force + Our Man Bashir + One Little Ship

WHY WE LIKE IT: Hirogen. Tuvok shooting the hell out of Nazis.

WHY WE DON'T: Watch how far you push suspension of disbelief, guys. Shrinkage.

REVIEW: The holodeck is used intriguingly in this episode that begins in medias res almost 20 days after a Hirogen hijacking. Their leader's visionary plan to bring together his people by simulating the Hunt is being tested in Voyager's holodecks, which have sprawled into the corridors thanks to Harry's efforts. Karr isn't really a sympathetic as such, but he's interesting. He questions ANY race's claim to superiority, which is off-model for Hirogen. I can't say the same for his men who are your basic space thugs. And because you need so many Hirogen, they've started to shrink appreciably to more human sizes. Probably why they work better as lone wolves.

Anyway, their plan, if you choose to believe it, involves brainwashing Voyager's crew into thinking they are characters that fit any given simulation. We get a hint of a Klingon scenario, but the body of the story uses a Nazis vs. the French Resistance plot on the eve of D-Day. Well realized (though apparently full of anachronisms and uniform mistakes), but there's always a danger when the characters aren't allowed to be themselves. Thankfully, this is mitigated by elements of their true personalities coming out. And with the relationships somehow kept intact (Seven as the insubordinate brat, Tuvok as the logical friend, Neelix as the provider, etc.), it feels more like an Elseworld than anything.

The latter is one of the episode's many conceits, along with Karr's ease with alien cultures (you might be able to read about WWII, but also know enough to kiss a woman's hand?), and that a holographic explosion could actually blow a whole through four decks. Four decks? That's how tall a holodeck is?!? It's that kind of "wouldn't it be cool?" scripting that gets Voyager into trouble.

But the story is fun enough. Harry and the Doctor do very well as their own little resistance cell aboard the real Voyager, and it's fun to see Seven "Quantum Leap" into occupied France in the middle of a song. The cliffhanger hints at a holographic "war across time" which could also be great fun. We'll see.

LESSON: Actors bring something of themselves into every role.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Plot holes abound, but the ideas are fun enough to gloss over them, as both the Hirogen and holodecks are used in an unusual way.

4 comments:

snell said...

The premise of this episode always bothered me. The Hirogen are supposed to be simulating hunts--fine. But everybody standing around in WWII France hardly qualifies as a hunt, does it?

I mean, since they've been hunting these same humans for a few weeks now, don't they recognize them amongst the holograms, and thus immediately know who their prey is? Or do all humans look alike to them (not a very realistic stance for a hunter)?

Possible chatter at the story pitch meeting:
A: Let's do a story with Voyager and Nazis!
B: How can we do that? Time travel again?
C: No, let's use the holodeck!!
D: Cool. And let's tie that in with our fancy new villains-of-the-year, the Hirogen.
A: SO they're going to hunt Nazis?
C: No, they'll be the Nazis!!
B: So who will these Hirogen-Nazis hunt? Jews?
D: Uh-oh, can't do that. How about, oh, I don't know, French resistance fighters?
B: So they'll be storm troopers, going in guns blazing aginst guerilla fighters?
C: No, no. they'll just stand around the town doing not much of anything while the resistance leaders sneak around and plot.
A: Uh, exactly how is that hunting?
D: You're fired.

Siskoid said...

That's a great take on the Voyager writer's room. Note the writing co-credit for Braga. I'm sure no one pushed things so far they got fired, but otherwise? Yeah, probably exactly how it went.

Yes, this is another problem with the script. If I were to try to win a no-prize, I'd say Karr was trying to experience different ways of doing things more than actually hunting (after all, they never killed the prey). And he talks a lot about studying prey, like maybe the WWII scenario will teach him something valuable about hunting humans.

It's thin, but it's there.

Robert said...

I figured the story started with someone saying, "Wouldn't it be cool if we could have Klingons fighting Nazis?"

And I don't know how Seven in a slinky dress and with her hair down doesn't count as a "Why We Like It".

snell said...

I'm sure no one pushed things so far they got fired...

Tell that to Ron Moore...

 

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