Star Trek 559: Once Upon a Time

559. Once Upon a Time

FORMULA: Cost of Living + The Bonding

WHY WE LIKE IT: Do we like Naomi? I think we do.

WHY WE DON'T: Holodeck timeline snafus.

REVIEW: Once Upon a Time gives us the first appearance of the real Naomi Wildman, i.e. as played by Scarlett Pomers. Precocious in a way that only Star Trek children might be expected to behave, she's also tough and upbeat and really kind of infectiously watchable, to my surprise. She's an opportunity to look at Voyager from a different point of view. Just what DO you do with a lone child aboard a starship? (And that idea has been ignored for far too long.)

With her mom Samantha on an away mission, the episode has the chance to highlight Voyager's "it takes a village" strategy to her upbringing. She has lessons with the Doctor (and presumably other crew members), Neelix is her de facto father figure, and the Captain takes an interest (i.e. buts in, mostly to expose Neelix' pain), but usually, I guess they just plop her down inside the television. The Flotter stuff is amusing and colorful children's television, though don't listen to anyone over 15 who claims to have run these programs as a child. It just doesn't work in the chronology set up since Encounter at Farpoint.

But will it "take a village" forever? For most of the episode, the writing seems to be on the wall. Samantha's injured on the away mission and the wreck of the Delta Flyer can't be found. As air runs out, Tom, Sam and Tuvok record final messages. Tuvok becomes Sam's unlikely comforter, pointing out that the crew will raise Naomi right if they don't make it. It actually made me believe this was it for her, and despite relatively few appearances, how attached I was to the character. Still, I wonder why they didn't kill her off seeing as she only appears once after this and it's in a flashback to a past season. Plenty of Naomi to come, but her mom will remain nothing more than mentions. I suppose it prevents a positive, innocent character from becoming a tragic one. There is that.

LESSON: Holographic babysitters won't go into your fridge.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: A solid episode, though it seems to promise something that never happens. I'm not sure I wanted it to happen, but it still seems unsatisfying in a way that it doesn't. That said, mileage on both Naomi and Flotter may vary. How are they for you?


Jayunderscorezero said...

My mileage for Naomi, Flotter et al seems to be unusually high. Maybe I shouldn't like Voyager for the "cute" factor, but it turns out that I do. I even love it later on when the Borg kids turn up and seven has to become their de facto "nanny".

I also love the way that they introduce the idea of the Holodeck as a potential edutainment environment for children. Had this idea been put across before in Star Trek? I find it an unusually fascinating one (probably because I wish that I had been taught that way).

Jayunderscorezero said...

...And one more thing: I just have to say that I love episodes that are "holodeck episodes" but aren't "holodeck goes wrong" episodes, i.e. ones like this and "Hollow Pursuits", where the writers actually explore what the everyday uses for the holodeck would be and what the implications of that are for the characters involved. I mean, I love Data as a cowboy as much as the next guy, but I find this exploration of what the technology is actually meant to do really quite amusing and thought-provoking, in a "here's how people and their routines & habits will adapt to this new technology" way.

Austin Gorton said...

My buddy and I have a, I guess I'd say "fond annoyance" with Naomi Wildman. It's kind of hard to explain.

Whenever we watch an episode she pops up in, we smile and shake our heads, saying "Oh, Naomi Wildman..." as if we can't believe whatever shenanigans she's gotten into it. So I guess we fall somewhere between loathing and love.

But I do love episodes that show how Trek tech has changed daily habits and routines in this future; this is one of the reasons I like things like Captain Proton and even *shudder* Fair Haven.

In the future, you don't just watch TV (that's so 20th Century) you interact with it.


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