Star Trek 554: Hope and Fear

554. Hope and Fear

FORMULA: Scorpion + Conundrum + (Silicon Avatar x The Wrath of Khan)

WHY WE LIKE IT: Uhm... the Dauntless?

WHY WE DON'T: Plot holes. The Janeway-Seven relationship. The truth of the message.

REVIEW: The fourth season's finale isn't a cliffhanger, surprisingly. Less surprisingly perhaps, the story doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Sure, Arturis is a genius, but Hope and Fear doesn't really answer the basic question about how he knew so much about Voyager. To make his elaborate revenge plan, he had to know about the encoded Starfleet message, about how Starfleet ship consoles look and operate (with enough details to know the prefix NX is used on experimental ships), and more basically, that Voyager had an alliance with the Borg (cuz they sent a press release or what?). Or maybe he didn't know a damn thing (except about Voyager's role), and is improvising it all. I suppose it's possible. But as Tuvok right notes: "It does seem convenient."

And that's what this script does throughout. Things happen because the script says they do, which to me is the laziest form of script writing. Take the quantum slipstream drive, for example. It's a potential way home, and Voyager does use it not only to backtrack to Borg space, but shave 300 light-years off their journey. And then we're told that it just can't be used again. Well, why not? Why can't you use it, effect repairs, use it, effect repairs, etc. until you're home? They're not even trying to make sense out of the Gilligan's Island formula anymore.

Another cause for frustration, at least for me, is the Seven-Janeway relationship, and I think I've figured out why. They're really playing it as if Seven was Janeway's teenage daughter. Once again, Seven tries to assert her individuality and make an actual life decision, and Janeway shuts her down. It's a scene that wouldn't look out of place in some tv movie starring Susan Sarandon or something. It doesn't work because 1) Seven has proven to be a competent and engaging member of the crew not deserving of this disrespect, and 2) Janeway is not at all made sympathetic as the overbearing mother. As in the past when I've been down on Janeway, she's really the one who sounds like she's throwing a tantrum because she's not getting her way. Why can't she have the very same conversations, but be persuasive in them instead of domineering? In any case, every time Seven even thinks about going back to the Collective, the Borg have to put in an appearance to remind her she doesn't really want that. (Drink.)

The Seven-Janeway stuff does come with an interesting directorial touch at one point (no, not the frisbees) as we weave in and out of both women's logs. I'd have liked to see this interweaving using the entire crew to really bring home the hope theme, but what's there isn't bad. Likewise, it's good to see the crew more cautious about potential ways home than before, and the crew seems quite competent throughout the episode. Sadly, the encoded Starfleet message turns out to be a red herring. After making us wait a dozen episodes, it's revealed to be nothing at all (so TWO Gilligans in one show). Why even encode it? Hayes' sorries could have just been in one of the letters.

Death toll for the season: 5 (more if the Hirogen made a dent). Crew complement: As many as 143.

LESSON: There's nothing Voyager can't do and then pretend it can't do.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: There's money on the screen, and it certainly isn't boring. What it IS though is nonsense. So check your brain at the door and don't think about things too much.


Anonymous said...

Man this episode requires more than leave your brain at the door. More like, remove brain, dice, marinate, barbecue till blackened, put in freezer, thaw in boiling water, mince, add salt, place in takeout container, put in plain brown paper bag and check at the door.

Sheesh! As if Starfleet would send a brand new NX ship across space, unmanned and ungarded, park it in the middle of nowhere and trust this information in highly encrypted message without sending the key! And the Voyager crew are gullible enough to believe this???

The most be believable aspect is the fact that someone can hold a grudge (enough to cause genocide) based on false/loose information. It is sad that this is true in non-humans too.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

To be fair, it wasn't so super-encrypted that it needed a key; it was damaged by being incomplete. 'Unexpected end of file'- we've all been there. ;-) And it was encrypted because Starfleet was still sending them basically all the data they have on the Delta Quadrant; there's gotta be some top secret stuff in there.

So, to paraphrase an old saying... this episode's got 99 plot holes, but that ain't one of 'em.

That's where the 'being fair' ends, asmittedly, because, yeah... there are a LOT of logical leaps.


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