Star Trek 625: Friendship One

625. Friendship One

FORMULA: One Small Step + Dragon's Teeth + Jetrel

WHY WE LIKE IT: Joe Carey's back.

WHY WE DON'T: For THAT?! And the coda.

REVIEW: We've sent a lot of probes out there, and we're always trying to catch alien signals from Out There(TM), but nothing yet. In the Star Trek universe however, it's hard to believe you could throw a rock at the galaxy and not hit a civilization. So it comes as no surprise that Friendship One, a post-First Contact descendant of the original Voyager probe, would actually be found by one. How it got as far as the Delta Quadrant is something I don't know if I should be worrying about when just how its technology devastated a planet is entirely too glossed over. But whatever use the probe's technology was put to there, it caused a nuclear winter and the population's been whittled down to some 5000 people by the radiation.

Enter our happy-go-lucky crew just trying to bring another piece of history back to the Alpha Quadrant. And this time, they've got Joe Carey with them. He hasn't been seen except in flashbacks since the first season, which is really strange given his role in those episodes. I guess he's always on the flip-shift from B'Elanna's in Engineering, and nothing ever happens then. Anyway, they bring him back only to have him redshirted unceremoniously. His random and senseless death reminded me of Tasha Yar's. In other words, shocking, but totally unsatisfying.

Voyager can hardly be held responsible for the way people used pre-Starfleet technology, but it's the old "irrational and unreasonable leader driven by hate" set-up. No matter what you say, he'll be opposed to it until all his followers abandon him. Not that we can't empathize, as these people sometimes feel like Vidiians Lite. The woman's stillborn baby is a grisly image for syndicated tea time, but Tom saves it. So once the "blind fool" archetype tries to launch anti-matter missiles at Voyager, it's the last straw. Voyager then starts to undo the damage caused by the probe and we learn a valuable lesson about listening to Vulcans in the next series (but I don't want to get ahead of myself).

Aside from Carey's unworthy death, the episode's pretty decent. Tom and Neelix shine as ambassadors, there's a bold rescue plan, nice effects etc. But then there's Janeway's speech at the end about how exploration cannot justify the loss of life, even one (Carey's) life. WHAT??? What happened to "Risk is our business?" You'd think a show that drops Kirk's name more often than it gives Chakotay something to do would be aware that this sentiment goes against everything Star Trek has ever been about. Ever. Story by Brannon Braga. Teleplay by Phyllis Strong and Mike Sussman. Will the culprit raise his or her hand?

LESSON: Shut down SETI before anyone gets killed.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: While it was nice to see Joe Carey again, I don't think I want to see Samantha Wildman or Vorik before the end of the series now.

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