Star Trek 432: Valiant

432. Valiant

FORMULA: Voyager + The First Duty + Nor the Battle to the Strong + Star Wars

WHY WE LIKE IT: The ship's destruction.

WHY WE DON'T: Bad acting.

REVIEW: Jake and Nog wind up on a Defiant-like training ship manned singly by cadets trapped behind the lines during the war. As such, not a bad premise, and since they're Red Squad, Nog falls under their charm, even when it turns out that they could have gone home already if not for the Captain's hubris. That's what happens when you allow cadets to think they can do anything.

Unfortunately, the majority of Red Squad shown here is less than engaging. The captain is taking pills to get himself through the day, which are no doubt boosting his confidence and may also explain his strange hand gestures. Just seems to have been chosen based on his rugged good looks. He's ok, but not excellent. His first officer is a mini-Shelby and just about as irritating. Her acting feels like a butch parody of what Star Trek is usually like. Like Watters' awkward gesturing, it may be an acting or directing choice (it would make sense for the cadets to essentially be play-acting their positions), but her performance is stilted even beyond that idea. The slimy Sheppard from Paradise Lost thankfully gets little dialogue.

The only character you care about is Dorian, the most human of them, who gets a wonderful speech about living on the Moon and does some very good concussion acting at the end. This character is the heart of the story, a real person who was in way over her head, but still got caught up in Watters' sports team pep talks. Because that's what they are. And whether it's the age group on screen or the ridiculous chanting, the whole episode feels like a high school drama.

Maybe a cool battle would fix all that, but there's a definite lack of momentum in the bridge scenes. The huge explosion on the Dominion battleship is purely manipulative, and I don't understand where all that plasma came from if the ship was unharmed a second later. The destruction of the Valiant is eye-popping however, especially given that it is a stand-in for our own Defiant. All pods destroyed except our heroes'? Convenient to the point of eye-rolling.

I'm not forgetting that this is a Jake and Nog story, and those parts of the episode do work well. The tables are turned on their friendship with Nog now accusing Jake of being selfish, and he learns some hard truths about blind loyalty and the demands of command. Jake is ever the reporter, asking hard questions and our audience identification character throughout. But that's just it. There's not enough ambiguity to see both sides as reasonable.

LESSON: An elite cadet group is A BAD IDEA! (Caps supplied because apparently, the lesson wasn't learned in either The First Duty or Paradise Lost.)

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: A fine premise with good special effects poorly served by immature actors. Dorian is a breath of realistic fresh air, but she's among hams.


Austin Gorton said...

"Caps supplied because apparently, the lesson wasn't learned in either The First Duty or Paradise Lost"

Apparently, the premise of an elite Cadet group that turns out to be, you know, not so elite after all, is just too hard for some writers to ignore :)

Siskoid said...

Note that Ron Moore wrote both Valiant and The First Duty.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I had forgotten about that one.

I'm not a fan of the Star Fleet: Babies episodes.


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