Star Trek 584: Alice

584. Alice

FORMULA: Vis à Vis + Extreme Measures + Extreme Risk + The Game

WHY WE LIKE IT: Some flair in both the writing and direction.

WHY WE DON'T: Alice is underwhelming.

REVIEW: Who better that a ship to have an affair with Tom Paris? Guys like Tom routinely fall in love with a new toy, whether it be a car, a computer, whathaveyou. Girlfriends and wives tolerate them because they aren't actual women, but jealousy sets in nonetheless. The conceit here is that "Alice", a quick shuttle found in a scrapyard, has an actual "womanly" presence. Though in Tom's head, she actually does seem to do things physically at times (maybe Tom has blackouts where he was totally mind-controlled, but the episode doesn't easily bear this out). What we have here is a spaceworthy version of Christine.

Alice's "physical presence" is kept hidden from view, only a seductive voice, for the first part of the episode. Sadly, once you see here, it's hard not to be disappointed. I'm not saying that Claire Rankin is unattractive, but she's nowhere as sultry or seductive as the story would need her to be. She gives off more of a next door psycho stalker vibe, and tends to play Alice very archly and over-the-top.

Her goals are likewise underwhelming. Just why did she want to fly into a particle fountain that would likely destroy her? And why did she consider it "home"? Was there originally a revelation that she was some kind of alien possessing the ship? Whatever the reason, it's not stated here, so it's just weird. Manufactured jeopardy. At least Tom is brought back from the brink by B'Elanna (twice over the course of the episode, in fact), using their romance to good effect.

It's too bad about the problems with the central villain, because there are otherwise a lot of nice little bits in Alice. Abaddon is a fun, manic con man (at least at first). Naomi's get well card is sweet. There's a rare montage sequence when Tom fixes up Alice. And I like the final exchange between B'E and Tom: "No more affairs with strange ships." "What about the Delta Flyer?" "We're just friends."

LESSON: If you don't drive your car, it will drive you.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: It's the fourth episode in a row where a crew member suffers hallucinations, and I'm afraid the plot device has petered out. Alice has some good elements, but they fail to gel into an interesting whole, and the guest star seems miscast.


mwb said...

This is the the thing, it is an intriguing idea at its core.

I also took this episode as being a bit of a riff on the whole Kirk's love for the Enterprise in TOS.

Sarah and Andrew said...

A note on Alice: I don't think the intent was to commit suicide. I think that Alice was an entity- possibly a sentient machine, or possibly non-sentient- from the other side of the particle fountain, and that she was indeed trying to return home. Presumably navigating the incredibly-hazardous particle fountain took a pilot with excellent reflexes (hence why she rejected the junk seller as insufficient), but with sufficient skill to dodge the deadliest parts, and the much-vaunted multiphasic shields that could protect even from a sun to shield them, they could have reached a threshold or aperture within the fountain that would have served as a gateway back to Alice's realm.

Remember, she was only destroyed by the fountain once her shields were lowered by Voyager, and she lost all helm control- which appeared to only be fatal when she brushed up against certain energy strands, implying there were parts of the fountain that were 'safe' and parts that needed to be avoided. With Tom piloting and the super-shields intact, I have no doubt the trip would have been non-fatal, and exactly what Alice believed it to be. (Which makes the ending a little more tragic- she dies right on the threshold of returning home, albeit she was not exactly a 'victim' in her own demise!)


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