Star Trek 580: Equinox, Part II

580. Equinox, Part II

FORMULA: The Omega Glory + Macrocosm + Valiant + Descent

WHY WE LIKE IT: The dedication plaque metaphor.

WHY WE DON'T: Janeway. Janeway. Janeway.

REVIEW: Now, there's no clear source on this, so it may not go beyond rumor, but there was talk at the time that Kate Mulgrew would not be returning to Voyager. Hence, the cliffhanger where Janeway apparently gets zapped by the space piranha. Whether it's true or not (probably not), Mulgrew DID return, and by the Great Bird of the Galaxy, maybe it would have been best if she hadn't. I have never disliked Mulgrew herself, but if Season 5's Janeway was getting unreasonable, Season 6's looks to be unredeemable.

So yeah, first that cliffhanger. Both Janeway AND Chakotay get zapped and they don't die. Nothing clever, they just don't react to the creatures in the same way as every one else seen hit. And then begins what even Janeway calls a vendetta against Captain Ransom. With Kirk and that vampire cloud, or Picard and the Borg in First Contact, you understood why the captain was being obsessive, and they always stopped themselves before they crossed the line. It's what made such stories great character builders. Not so here. First off, there's really no call for Janeway choosing to put her crew in danger (the critters are still attacking the ship's ailing shields) for Ransom. Sure, Seven's over there, but that's really not what Janeway fixates on. She brooks no argument from other officers, relieving Chakotay of duty and threatening Tuvok of the same. She commits an act of piracy when she takes hold of an alien ship and shakes them down for information. Worst of all, she tortures an Equinox crewman by turning off the shields in his room and allowing the creatures to enter. Only Chakotay's swift action saves him and Chakotay's plan to contact the aliens for whom these things are spirits actually works. And we never really understand why Janeway overreacts this way. And as worse turns to worst, she never really gets that moment of redemption when she realizes she's gone too far because Ransom takes it away from her. He's the one who makes the realization, he turns against the less ethical in his crew and dies a hero's death. Sorry Janeway, you had your chance to do the right thing, now we'll never know if you would have seen that line you should not cross. (Actually, if you can stomach Janeway after the torture scene, I'd be surprised. Compare with Ransom's torture of Seven. Her actions do not make sense if her beef with Ransom is about his ethics.)

With Ransom's seeing the light, they don't even make the Equinox crew into villains enough for us to ever side with her methods. Ransom is obviously tortured, and they play him like an addict of sorts, spending his time on a VR beach (which does provide him with a nice death). Max goes from jerk to evil and mutinies against Ransom with the help of characters we weren't even told to care about. The others (Lessing, Gilmore and extras) are so harmless, they eventually get absorbed into Voyager's crew, though Janeway strips them of rank, privileges and autonomy. I thought this was a potentially interesting idea, later having them redeem themselves, but they were never seen again.

There's one interesting bit at the end when Janeway finds Voyager's dedication plaque, which has never fallen off in 5 years. I don't know if it registered at the time with people who's seen Part I months previously, but she also finds Equinox's plaque on the ground. Chakotay, trying to get over the awkwardness now between them, meaningfully says it should be put back up where it belongs. The plaque is a metaphor for the captain's ideals. Janeway has fallen, just as Ransom had. But what does it say about Chakotay that he is this willing to re-elevate her to that exalted position? Does Janeway deserve forgiveness at this point?

LESSON: The ends do not justify the means, especially if the ends do not justify the ends.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-Low: If you're a fan of Janeway, you may not want to watch this one. Come to think of it, maybe you don't want to watch it if you're a Janeway hater either.


De said...

The Janeway character was written so inconsistently that it's difficult for me to work up too much emotion about her. However, the torture scene just made me ill.

We were shown Picard being tortured by Cardassian in TNG's "Chain of Command" and it was an awful thing. But somehow it's okay if the Good Guys do it? No way no how, especially in the more-evolved era of the 24th century which Star Trek: Voyager preached and preached and preached despite the series premise really calling for something much more dire.

During Voyager Season 6, Lolita Fatjo (script coordinator) was asked at a local convention if the Equinox prisoners would be seen again. Deer in the headlights.

Siskoid said...

There's one person who has a lot to answer for!

Under her "supervision", scripts became increasingly inconsistent about continuity, characterization and common sense. Maybe Marvel or DC could give her a job as a line editor. [/snark]

Jayunderscorezero said...

Voyager (and Star Trek, really) is about to begin a great downhill trend and "Equinox" is the starter's pistol.

To be fair, I find it hard to notice the problems with Janeway when the problems with the show generally during seasons six and seven are so overwhelming.

Also, maybe "torturer" Janeway was just somebody attempting to appeal to the "Janeway as Dominatrix" subset of fanfiction (as seen in Trekkies 2, I believe).


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