Star Trek 535: Scientific Method

535. Scientific Method

FORMULA: Schisms + Faces + Distant Origin + Phantasms

WHY WE LIKE IT: The creepy devices.

WHY WE DON'T: The Chakotay-Neelix double act.

REVIEW: Schisms without the kidnapping plot, Scientific Method doesn't manage to sustain its creepy atmosphere throughout, though it does feature some creepy, even disturbing, imagery. The weird Victorian contraptions placed on the crew by the invisible aliens are quite effective at suggesting horror, as are the pins set into Janeway's skull. Unfortunately, there are also attempts at out-of-character comedy amidst the body horror. Chakotay and Neelix competing to see who was disfigured the most doesn't work, for example, though Janeway's massage is a fun visual.

To detect the aliens, Seven's Borg eyepiece is used to turn her into a living I.P. scanner, and it's hard to go wrong with a plot that has the two coolest characters working together independently of the crew. Not that the rest of the crew doesn't have things to do. Paris and B'Elanna's relationship has gone into the passionate, adolescent stage. It suits them. Though they jokingly wonder if the aliens weren't responsible for their arousal, they don't back out (they keep teasing us with a reset button for this one).

A large part of the episode is given over to Janeway's headaches, of course, which serves to heighten her more unreasonable qualities (at least, in this phase of the show). For once, there's a scripted reason for her recklessness, though you might question Voyager's potential to survive the gravitational shear of flying between two pulsars and hoping its momentum can carry it through. Still, a good edgy solution Kirk would have been proud of (in many ways the model they're now going after).

I suppose the Srivani might recall animal testing, but thinking about it makes the episode a heck of a lot more schmaltzy. Not a bad villain at all, though perhaps one-trick Vidiians. Neat designer genes and leech-like ships. Once uncovered, they lose a lot of their magic though.

LESSON: Any character growth this season is due to alien experiments.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: An interesting and wonderfully creepy premise, but it doesn't sustain its atmosphere long enough to rank higher.


mwb said...

Didn't ST:TNG have pretty much the same plot with with alien's using some sort of wormhole teleportation and doing surgery on the crew?

Siskoid said...

Yes, Schisms.

mwb said...

You even mention the title in the review, but for some reason I didn't connect it with the episode.

Did they share the same writer or something?

Siskoid said...

No. Schisms was written by Voyager producer Brannon Braga though.


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