Star Trek 521: Rise

521. Rise

FORMULA: The Galileo Seven + Journey to Babel

WHY WE LIKE IT: Classic SF ideas.

WHY WE DON'T: The obvious thriller.

REVIEW: For once, Voyager (indeed, one might say Star Trek) uses some hard SF concepts to center an episode on. In fact, Rise very much reminded me of Larry Nivel novels, in particular Footfall, in which meteors are used to attack a planet, and The Barsoom Project, which features an orbital tether/elevator (though the idea is not unique or original to that novel). There's so much science fantasy in the series that it's very nice to see well thought-out concepts like this.

It's also an episode where Neelix proves himself to Tuvok, though I'm surprised he still must. I guess they DON'T remember being Tuvix. It's the classic rhetorical battle between logic and emotion, or instinct, one that harks back to the very beginning of Star Trek. Tuvok is more of a bully than usual, though his impatience with Neelix's emotionality is as usual. But Neelix does get a chance to shine, both using his particular gifts, but in learning a little something about Starfleet's work ethic as well. He only has one bad scene, in which his nervousness is overplayed (looks like he's on crank, really). The rest of the work is very effective.

The episode quickly (broadly?) builds a small cast to put in the mag-lev carriage, and where you have characters in an enclosed space, things beg to be turned into a thriller. That thriller element isn't much, and the traitor's identity is about as obvious as the way he must be dispatched at the end. Still, there's enough raw danger to keep a certain level of tension between the air running out and Tuvok practically taking a dive off the carriage. The use of computer effects shows in a Babylon 5 kind of way, but that's ok. A more important flaw is an omitted beam-out that is just confusing.

Note that while I applaud the framing context of the story, it does seem like a TNG sort of plot. It's all well and good for Voyager to play good Samaritan when it can, this really feels like they're breaking the Prime Directive, with the Nezu played as a UFP member.

LESSON: Feel free to steal from the best.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: The concepts are interesting and noteworthy, as is the Neelix-Tuvok story, but the political thriller is strictly paint-by-number.



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