Star Trek 608: Drive

608. Drive

FORMULA: Day of Honor + Alice + Take Me Out to the Holosuite + Journey to Babel + The Phantom Menace

WHY WE LIKE IT: The race. The wedding.

WHY WE DON'T: A badly written Tuvok.

REVIEW: Whatever you think of its miraculous recovery, given the reappearance of the Delta Flyer, it was only a matter of time before Tom Paris got into a drag race with it. The Antarian Trans-stellar Rally may be an indulgence for the crew, but it's an interesting take on the shore leave story. The crew stays aboard ship, but still has a recreational activity to follow, and this is generally well done in every case except Tuvok, who goes from total disinterest to ridiculous eagerness. I think they may be trying to make him funnier, like Worf was, but it just seems like bad characterization.

Drive offers a little bit of everything. The plot is fun fluff with nice effects thrown in. There's a diplomatic component for Janeway to deal with. Harry even gets a little action, though not the kind he would have wanted. The creators have fun with idea of the spaceship race, throwing in space versions of the starter's pistol, scraping, calling the race, and various obstacles. Once the deadly Assan is proven to be honorable in his own way, it's obvious who the true culprit has to be, but there's just no room to build a true whodunit here.

Because essentially, Drive is a relationship story about Tom and B'Elanna. When he enters the race, brushing off a weekend with her, her reaction speaks volumes about the level of maturity the engineer has gained over the last few years. Used to be this would have resulted in a fight, but she lets him go, and in a very real sense, it's like she's leaving him, right then and there, and he doesn't know it. He's flighty and she's intense. It could never work. Neelix puts on his wise man's cap and says the right things to her, of course, but you still see her working it out in her head. It's not at all presented like a sudden change of mind.

Her solution: Joining his racing team. This invites comparisons between the race and their relationship, but ultimately provides a context in which Tom can prove himself to her. In fact, he stops the ship dead in space even though they were winning, to work things out with her. It's a very sweet piece, remarkably quiet, and yet it keeps the race's momentum thanks to intercutting between them and another couple, Harry and Irinia, in much more antagonistic circumstances. A last bit of peril, and we're all home free. the final twist is that Tom and B'Elanna get married at the end of the show, with a funky redress of the Delta Flyer with Just Married scrawled on its sides and cans tied to its tail. If you want to know what the wedding itself might have been like, you'll just have to check out Course: Oblivion.

LESSON: Sometimes what you think is chemistry might just be xenophobic hatred.

REWATCHABILITY - High: An episode that knows how to be fun, but also when to keep quiet. Tom and B'Elanna's performances are pitched perfectly. And there's an actual change to the status quo.


De said...

So what did you think about those crazy racing uniforms?

Austin Gorton said...

Wait, so they don't just ignore the marriage in subsequent episodes? Color me shocked :)


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