Star Trek #1527: We'll Always Have Tom Paris

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Mariner and Tendi go on a girls' trip while Boimler seeks Tom Paris' autograph.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Finally, Orion stuff!

WHY WE DON'T: So much for Kayshon, huh.

REVIEW: Plots, in order of importance... The show makes an overt comment I've been making since Season 1, namely that Mariner and Tendi are never paired together. The show's done ensemble stories, sure, but most of the time, it's been about two pairs. But even if Boimler is back, this episode finally teams up the two female characters and gives them a "girls' trip" that actually does many things. With its numerous venues, it's a good motor for fun Star Trek references and Easter Eggs. Because Tendi is forced to ask help from an Orion cousin, it FINALLY addresses her heritage and puts meat on the bones of this elusive culture (perhaps it asks more questions than it answers, but that's not a bad thing). And it's also addresses the two characters' relationship, debating whether a co-worker is necessarily a friend, and still managing a bit of bonding between them.

The mission? Doctor T'Ana is going through the Caitian version of Pon Farr and needs Tendi to go get a family heirloom (a scratching post cat idol) from storage on nearby Qualor II. The extended gag is that Mariner breaks it and then in trying to get it fixed at various locations throughout the sector, it keeps getting more and more broken. The punchline is that T'Ana doesn't need the idol, just the box, a fair cat joke, but rather silly (you can't just use any old box?). Still, it's just an excuse for a quest that will bring us to an Orion Syndicate stronghold where we find out a number of things, including the fact that Tendi had a whole life (and high position) in the Syndicate before joining Starfleet, and on the matter of pheromones, she's "not that kind of Orion". I guess maybe they're not ALL born with the power to cloud men's minds - though the men are certainly hardwired to obey their women - or you could take it to mean she's renounced its use, chemically or morally. There's still more there, and I hope we eventually explore it. (Mariner's own revelation that she served on DS9 during that series makes me want to spot a Mariner lookalike in the background one day.)

Meanwhile, Boimler isn't in the system since his return so doors don't open for him, replicators won't give him food, etc. It'll almost get him killed while on his own quest - to get a Tom Paris commemorative plate signed by Voyager's helmsman himself who is (along with his voice actor Robert Duncan McNeill) visiting the Cerritos. It's an okay little adventure, and I think rightly points out that the Voyager crew would, in this time frame, be celebrities within the Federation. They just miraculously came back from a trip to parts unknown and could be on a speaking tour for years. We know Boimler to be a big Trek fan, so it tracks. Still, fannish behavior like calling the ship VOY (or the original Enterprise's crew TOS) is a bit too meta even for this show.

And finally, we have the return of Security Chief Shaxs, which undoes his death in the previous season's finale. Since I had thought that a brave, shocking moment, seeing it undone is disappointing. Similarly, it means Kayshon, introduced last episode, is relegated to a simple background presence here. Since the show is good about keeping characters around (Jennifer the Andorian has a line in this one, for example, and super-ensign Jet has a small scene), I'm sure Kayshon will pop up, but still, again, disappointing. I get the joke. Yes, bridge crew return from the dead on an occasional basis and the lower ranks probably don't get filled in on the deets (it's usually a very personal story with a side order of maverick breaking the rules), but while Rutherford's obsession with it leads us to a neat Alternate Universe sequence with many Shaxses, the Bajoran Security Chief's harrowing tale about afterlife in the Trek universe doesn't really satisfy nor amuse.

LESSON: Cats never want the expensive gift, but will prefer the box it came in.

REWATCHABILITY - A-plot High, B-plot Medium, C-plot Low:
A thing of parts, some of them great, some of them disappointing.


LiamKav said...

I really want to know if they started at the title and worked back from there, or if they had the plot first and then someone thought of the title. Because it's kinda amazing.

Siskoid said...

I'd like to think Robert Duncan McNeill had approached them early on, but it didn't work for season 1, and when they were short of a B-plot, someone said, "well, there's always Tom Paris", and it took off from there.


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