Star Trek 579: Equinox

579. Equinox

FORMULA: The Omega Glory + Year of Hell + Macrocosm + Valiant

WHY WE LIKE IT: What Voyager would be like if it were realistic.

WHY WE DON'T: The boring guest crew.

REVIEW: Introducing a second Starfleet crew lost in the Delta Quadrant is at once a good and a bad idea. Good because it gives us a chance (at least in this case) to see a more realistic version of this particular predicament. The Equinox has been compromised both physically and ethically by its exile. This makes sense in the same way that Year of Hell did. Voyager is ridiculously pristine by comparison. It's also a bad idea because it takes away from Voyager's uniqueness. All of a sudden, there was another crew out there, taking (if you want to believe it) an entirely different course to the Alpha Quadrant (making this the third, if you count the Demon crew) and somehow never meeting any of the same species Voyager did (including the pervasive Borg and Kazon). It's also a problem with continuity, since it's hard to understand why the Caretaker would test humans twice, or why this ship wouldn't be returned to its starting point (Voyager's predicament was only caused by the Caretaker's destruction). A simple line of dialogue about escaping the Caretaker before testing could have fixed everything here.

So Voyager meets another crew. Let's say we're fine with it, evaluating it as a "good" idea. Why did that crew have to be so dull? John Savage is just a tiny bit wasted as the tortured, but essentially unassuming Captain Ransom. B'Elanna's old boyfriend Max (quite a coincidence, that) has a sleep-inducing voice. And the other two, Lessing and Gilmore, give Chakotay a run for his boring money, basically representatives of their particular minorities. If you're going to create a "second Voyager crew", you really should make it look like an entire series could have been hung on them. Even Gilmore's one unique characteristic, her claustrophobia, is badly handled. I don't see how a Jeffries tube is any better a place than a turbolift.

At least they are as resourceful as any Starfleet crew, easily handling the break-out from Voyager's jail. After all, Voyager is causing THEIR version of Gilligan's Island Syndrome. Their dark secret is that they've been killing the very creatures now attacking them to use as super-fuel, so Janeway certainly has the right to intervene and stop them. However, it's once again hard to be on her side of the argument because she's so unreasonable with it. Ransom tries to shift all the blame on him, the others were only following orders, after all. "Their mistake," she retorts severely. Why you gotta be such a bitch, Kathy? You're just pushing the man into a corner.

At that point, they really need to demonize the Equinox crew to even get us on Janeway's side. So let's introduce an evil EMH stripped of its ethical subroutines. The episode ends with a cliffhanger as Equinox runs away with Seven and our Doctor aboard, and EMH Mark Bad as a mole on Voyager. The creatures attack the ship, and Janeway seems to get killed in the last second. Cue cop-out!

LESSON: There's the Starfleet way, and then there's the Maquis way. Oh, and there may be another way as well.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: The review was probably more negative than I intended it, but that's because I'm continually frustrated at this point by good ideas executed wrong. Watchable, but with my usual misgivings.