Star Trek 511: Future's End, Part II

511. Future's End, Part II

FORMULA: Assignment Earth + A Piece of the Action

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Doctor gets mobile.

WHY WE DON'T: More 90s clichés.

REVIEW: Part II is a lot like Part I - a big, dumb popcorn movie. More running around in tv's version of the 90s, nice action/effects sequences to spice things up, and plot hole you can drive an exploding truck through. Just like in Part I, the cliffhangers before each commercial are terrible, but I suppose fun has been given priority over tension.

Starling continues to be a dangerous villain mostly because the script says he is, so don't look too closely at his magic tricks. Here he steals the Doctor from Voyager's databanks (there is mention that he is still reintegrating his memories after the events of The Swarm) and slaps a mobile holo-emitter. This will take the Doctor out of sickbay so he can spice up any story with his dazzling personality. It's a good thing even if it does a lot of acrobatics to remove a limit they imposed on themselves in the story bible. Of course one wonders if he's going to be doing a lot of punching and shooting with this new lease on life. Here, it seems really out of place.

The episode does look good thanks to location shooting, a few stunts and effects (though a bit heavy on the particle graphics at times), and Sarah Silverman coming off as a fun character. Dunbar's truck being blown up by a shuttle is pretty eye-popping. I could however have done without the 90s survivalists who capture Chakotay and B'Elanna. I was reminded of Pulp Fiction for some reason. In any case, it's not like that bit helped the story along. At all. Other plot nonsense includes: Surprise that the Doctor doesn't seem the worse for wear after taking punches to the face, while the same can be said of Dunbar. Tom and Tuvok's plan being extremely lame as there's no way Starling would have followed Rain back to the van. And Starling interfering with his own transport... is that safe?

It's the ending I have the most misgivings about, however. The way it plays out, it looks like Voyager's torpedo is what creates the temporal explosion that destroys the 29th century. The "future's end" seems more and more inevitable and then, nope, it doesn't happen, everybody's safe. It's really not clear how the disaster doesn't happen after all. We just have to take their word for it. Maybe it's confusing so that you don't notice the timeship insists on returning Voyager to its proper time, yet completely ignores the future tech they now possess (the holo-emitter). Never mind the contamination here on Earth.

Missed opportunities: You know, there was one moment where I thought the episode would get clever and it's when Janeway proclaims that Starling stock was going to crash. If all he cares about is money, it would have been very cool if they used their own advanced computers to manipulate the stock market or something and destroy him financially. That would have been a threat that might have worked on him. Sadly, it was just an expression. Next time, Janeway, make an effort to be cool rather than just sound cool.

LESSON: 29th-century technology has put a premium on being "user-friendly".

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Memorable for the introduction of the Doctor's emitter, but pretty dumb and irrelevant otherwise. The Gilligan's Island ending was expected and none of the writers are really making an effort to work out their plots.


Matthew Turnage said...

One of the things that puzzles me is that when characters from the 23rd or 24th century travel back in time, they generally go to great lengths to avoid revealing they are time travellers in order to prevent possible contamination of the timeline. However, Braxton pops up in both timelines and announces he's from the 29th century right off the bat. You'd think the temporal prime directive would require him to try to come up with a more subtle solution.

Jeff R. said...

I think that the difference has to do with whether the society in question already knows that Time Travel is possible or not. By the NextGen era-in fact, even by the late TOS era, all of the major powers know it can be done, and in fact can make time trips with the Slingshot Effect if they really, really need to, so revealing that it's possible isn't as big of a thing.

(This is a distinction that will be strained a bit in Enterprise, but still...)


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