Star Trek 527: Worst Case Scenario

527. Worst Case Scenario

FORMULA: Basics + Ship in a Bottle + A Matter of Perspective + Civil Defense

WHY WE LIKE IT: We love those What Ifs.

WHY WE DON'T: Believable?

REVIEW: Worst Case Scenario offers an interesting way to do a What If story (and bring back Seska at the same time) in the form of a holodeck simulation, specifically, what if the Maquis had staged a mutiny early on? Though the actual reveal occurs maybe 10 minutes into the show, there are plenty of cues letting you on to the truth. B'Elanna is not only a Starfleet ensign, but she's sitting on the bridge with her back to herself. Once everyone joins in on the fun, the episode turns into something like those role-playing books where you control your fate. B'Elanna and Tom's two different tacks have fun with the idea without the repetition getting tedious.

Part of the mystery is who wrote the (now) illicit program. And while the answer is perfectly logical, it's a little dull. Don't fret though, because there's an other author in there, and that's Seska. She turns the program into something of a torture chamber/death trap for Tuvok, striking at him from beyond the grave. It's a rather convoluted plan that hinges on too many things. It's a long shot to trust that Tuvok would ever reopen a program file he thinks he's deleted, but perhaps more difficult to understand is that if she were aboard the ship, this would give her away as a traitor. Had she lived and never been discovered, I think she might have found a way to manipulate Tuvok into getting trapped in the holodeck and possibly believed he wouldn't live to tell the tale. Just another holodeck malfunction and sweet, sweet revenge. Still, her holo-self is slow to kill Tuvok even when given the chance and just a little too big on self-preservation.

Don't look too closely at the details. A story like this is meant to be enjoyed more on a "that's cool" or "that would've been cool if it really happened that way" kind of way. Showing an interest in writing holoprograms, Tom gets caught up in the trap as well, which is probably why Seska's plan falls apart. And the crew's pretty good at sending little bits of code, à la Matrix, to the holodeck as well. In the end, Janeway's death doesn't just make her anti-fans chuckle, but sets up Tuvok's well-played solution to the scenario.

Because the episode is in part about writing, the writer, Kenneth Biller, has a little fun with allowing the characters to reveal themselves by talking about plotting. Tuvok is strict about character consistency, for example, while Janeway defends the concept of Deux ex machina. How very Voyager of them. Self-serving implants, or writing staff parody?

LESSON: Tuvok has no idea what Chakotay is about.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Once again, it's more interesting to watch the show as it might have been than as it really is. A holodeck adventure that has a little fun, though the plot may not bear close examination.


Stephen said...

this is a great voyager episode. their's intrigue a lok at continuity a lot of voyager's plots take a suspension of disbelief and logic that i think kirk and mccoy would be proud of. i mean what more do you need out of a what if story that doesn't involve time travel.

Anonymous said...

This is, essentially, the point at which we say goodbye forever to the idea tensions between the Starfleet and Maquis elements of the crew, and while it's not good to see a big part of the show's premise jettisoned to make room for Teaching The Wacky Ex-Borg About Humanity, it does at least get a decent sendoff. Also, the first instance of the 'fictional' part of the alternate/parallel/fictional versions of the crew triad, although certainly not the last...

Siskoid said...

Yes, another Voyager premise out the window, just like:
-Kes, the amazingly short-lived psychic
-No contact with the Federation
-No contact with Alpha Quadrant races
-A woman captain (don't tell me she doesn't act like an Alpha male from Season 4 onwards)
-Native American mysticism
-A hologram that can never leave Sickbay
-"Stuff we've never seen before"


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