Star Trek 541: Waking Moments

541. Waking Moments

FORMULA: Ship in a Bottle + Phantasms + Persistence of Vision

WHY WE LIKE IT: Good role for Chakotay.

WHY WE DON'T: Boring dreams.

REVIEW: Voyager does Nightmare on Elm Street. Aliens start visiting the Voyager crew's dreams, but you'd think they'd be a little more surreal. Sadly, they're little more than horror shows or wish fulfillment, or in the case of Tuvok, the classic naked dream that's only used for friendly ribbing and not as any kind of psychological revelation. It's all very ordinary stuff. Too bad, because there was a real opportunity for characterization here.

Not that there isn't any. We have the crew teasing Tuvok about Vulcan nightmares being filled with laughter. We have Tom and B'Elanna suffering through opposite shifts (note her new uniform designed to hide Dawson's pregnancy - can't say I care much for the pocket protector). And we have Chakotay using his experience with vision quests and lucid dreaming to get the crew out of this dilemma. There's actually hope Chakotay will get stuff to do this season!

He's perhaps uniquely suited to outwit aliens that live in what Australia's natives called the Dreamtime. An interesting notion and not at all improbable for a telepathic race (perhaps telepathic only during REM sleep). I do think their sleeping arrangements are on the rough side, with no indication of how they feed themselves, etc. Striking image though.

As the crew fall under the aliens' spell, they are plunged into a shared dream that acts as the alternate reality of the week. What's real? What isn't? A well-played fake-out at the episode's mid-point is followed by the usual Voyager runaround. It couldn't be THAT easy, after all. Chakotay falling in and out of REM sleep is generally well done, but Janeway proving she's in a dream is a problematic scene. I just can't account for Tuvok's outrage that she would take the brunt of warp core breach just to be sure instead of taking refuge in the corridor outside engineering. My question: Since when does a warp core breach not destroy the entire ship? Thoroughly illogical, Tuvok. And get dressed please.

LESSON: Pinching may not be enough.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: This kind of Dickian reality questioning has been done a lot in Trek, but these aliens do have an interesting shtick, and Chakotay gets a good role. Sadly, the dreams come off as missed opportunities (I mean, Tom dreams he's piloting a shuttle?!).


Anonymous said...

An episode that changed my life...

Siskoid said...

I know you're studying lucid dreaming, but was this episode REALLY the basis for that interest? (I thought it was Waking Life.)


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