Star Trek 589: Pathfinder

589. Pathfinder

FORMULA: Hollow Pursuits + Message in a Bottle

WHY WE LIKE IT: Barclay and Troi.

WHY WE DON'T: The sappy ending.

REVIEW: It's a look at what's happening in the Alpha Quadrant as a team of specialists attempts to find ways to contact Voyager again after the Doctor's debriefing 2 seasons before, and an old friend is part of the project. It's actually nice to see Barclay again, and in a position that, while coincidental, isn't as far fetched as his appearance as one of the Doctor's designers in Projections. No, his emotional connection to Voyager is a very real thing, and well motivated. He's projected his own loneliness onto the lost ship and has even had a relapse of holo-addiction as a result, spending all his free time with holographic versions of the crew.

Those elements are quite strong. Barclay's new work dynamic is believable, a co-worker even taking pity on the man. The simulated crew with which he would rather live includes some cosmetic errors like Maquis uniforms and Janeway's hair, but in keeping with his holo-addiction, they're also fawning and fighting over him. He always plays the hero in these scenarios. He'll get to be one AND an honorary member of Voyager's crew by episode's end. He even gets action scenes that use his knowledge of the holodeck, using it to escape security in the climax. Overall, a very effective, moving performance from Dwight Schultz.

But he's not the only guest star here! The movie version of Deanna Troi also stops by (she's always been more interesting and funny than the TV version, though they're still harping on that chocolate fetish) to help Reg think things through. Not only are their scenes together charming, but they mark a deeper friendship than we might have suspected. Totally believable, mind you, in large part because the TNG "family" has been living in our hearts and minds for so long, even a non-cast member like Barclay.

It's not all positive. Though Barclay's plan to open a micro-wormhole has merit, there's of course no way he's actually pointing the array in the right direction. Voyager has made huge jumps in the last 2 years, after all. In a real world scenario, they probably would have pointed the array at hundreds of sectors before getting a hit. We get a new Admiral Paris in Richard Herd, who's fine, but lacks anything that might hint at how much of a hardass he's supposed to be. His fortuitous appearance at Pathfinder in the middle of the night is the first moment of an altogether too sappy ending that ends with Barclay getting a cat-loving girlfriend. A little too Hollywood for me, thanks.

LESSON: Cats can take care of themselves.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: It's sad that after more than 5 seasons of Voyager, we'd still rather be watching TNG's characters instead, but we do, and this is a good TNG episode.


snell said…
Re: the pictur:

Barclay is Blofeld?!?! Hmmm, his nickname was Broccoli...
LiamKav said…
"It's sad that after more than 5 seasons of Voyager, we'd still rather be watching TNG's characters instead"

Well, y'know, TNG did have that crazy idea that consistent characterisation that made stories that reflected and informed us as to the personalities of the regulars was a good thing, compared to the Many Moods of Janeway (is she motherly? A bastard? Stern? Soft? Everything) and complete non-entities like Harry. I mean, when Geordi out-personalities most of your crew, you've got a problem.