Star Trek 571: Course: Oblivion

571. Course: Oblivion

FORMULA: Demon + Twisted + Whispers

WHY WE LIKE IT: The tragic alternate crew.

WHY WE DON'T: The horror show make-up effects.

REVIEW: [Spoiler!] This episode isn't about Voyager at all, it's about the "silver blood" duplicates spawned in Demon. Somehow (and this is a big somehow), they also duplicated the ship - a WORKING ship with anti-matter and computers with the same information as Voyager's, including the Doctor's matrix - forgot they were duplicates, got over that "can't breathe oxygen" problem and took to the stars. Destination: Earth.

Crazy premise aside, we have a very interesting experiment going on here. Essentially, the story's starting point is a sort of "what if". What if the last 19 episodes never occurred because Voyager took a different route? The way it's crafted, any onscreen differences can be attributed to some length of time having gone by (which would be perfectly valid on such a long trip), and the new ETA corresponds neatly with the end of the series. They actually do a good job of keeping the illusion going until 18 minutes in when B'Elanna dies. That's when you know something is either out of joint or else there's a reset button coming.

Let's examine the differences, shall we? Tom and B'Elanna are getting married. Have they perhaps gotten more time together, enough to get their relationship farther? Take out the months lost in One and Thirty Days, and you might achieve that (though she must still have isolated herself as in Extreme Risk, since her trauma occurred prior to Demon). They have a new enhanced warp drive, which makes them seem more clever than the real crew (perhaps the mimetic ship can do tricks a real one can't), but no Delta Flyer. Likewise, Tom hasn't been bumped down to ensign. It is odd, no matter how enhanced the new drive is, that this ship would be ahead of Voyager though, since it couldn't have experienced the long jumps in Hope and Fear, Night, Timeless and Dark Frontier.

Of course, once we know they're the Demon crew, their lives take on a tragic bent. These are likeable characters, actually a little happier than the real one, and not only are they not allowed to live, but they aren't even allowed to be remembered. The ending is as dark as they come for Voyager. Sadly, the drama is undercut by the truly ugly body horror make-up of the dying crew. It's ugly and actually muffles the actors' performances. Every character has a different reaction to finding out the truth, though we only explore a few. Tom's existentialism, partly stems from having lost B'Elanna, while Harry is simpler and remains loyal to who he "is". Janeway is - surprise! - unreasonable and seems not to have thought any of this through. I know she isn't the real deal, but as with Year of Hell, she's an alternate Janeway that still corresponds to what the real Janeway would do. Can't get away from it.

LESSON: I think therefore I am, even if I'm really not.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Though the premise asks questions that it doesn't really answer, this is nonetheless a strong "alternate universe"-type episode that doesn't go for the cheap "evil mirror/dark future" trope. It'll also be interesting to compare this wedding with Tom and B'Elanna's real one.


Jayunderscorezero said...

You know what? That really is one pretty freakin' dark ending.

Siskoid said...

And it's not like we're not used to seeing Voyager destroyed. This is the fourth time!

And the 7th time some version of Janeway has died! (Sometimes they know how to keep the fans happy.)

Jayunderscorezero said...

True, but unlike say, when the alter-Voyager is destroyed in "Deadlock", here, the characters die for no ultimate purpose. No grand sacrifice, no higher reason, no-one remembering or valorising their deaths, they're just plain gone. That's pretty affecting.

word verification: bloefuse (seriously?)

Anonymous said...

Can't really compare this to the real wedding when we never actually see the real wedding. All we see in "Drive" is the proposal and a shot of the Delta Flyer with the sign "Just Married" attached.

Jeff R. said...

Obviously they forgot to copy the Reset Button. If they'd thought of that, the probably could have made it home, possibly before the real crew did...

Siskoid said...

Anonymous: True. But that's a comparison right there. Maybe they thought they'd already filmed it, in a sense.

Jeff: I think they were fine as long as they thought they were Voyager's crew. The worst thing that happened to them is finding out the truth.


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