463. [VOY] Phage

SCORE: image (4/5 stars)

Neelix is showing off his multiple talents and uses to the crew of Voyager, even when they’re not exactly solicited. He’s led them to a rogue planet that he’d passed by a few years ago with a strong dilithium signature, and in the meantime he’s converted Janeway’s captain’s mess into a galley—with the replicators down, he saw a perfect location to set up a kitchen and start cooking for the crew. Unfortunately he didn’t get approval, so Janeway is a little miffed at having lost her dining room.

But when he insists on beaming down with the away team to investigate the source of the dilithium signal on the planet, he falls prey to the Vidiians—organ harvesters, a species afflicted by the Phage which eats their bodies slowly. They must harvest tissue from other species in order to stay alive, and unfortunately for Neelix, his lungs are a prime specimen. By the time Chakotay and the others find him, they’ve been extracted.

He’s beamed directly to sickbay, where the Doctor gets to work trying to save his life. The Talaxian lung is too complicated for him to replicate an artificial replacement, but in a stroke of genius he realizes he can make use of sickbay’s holo-emitters to create holographic lungs to do the trick. But it’s not a permanent solution, not unless they want Neelix to spend the rest of his days immobilized on a biobed. So Voyager must pursue the Vidiian ship that’s gone to warp.

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462. [DS9] Heart of Stone

SCORE: image (2/5 stars)

Odo and Kira are returning to DS9 from the Cardassian border when they spot a Maquis ship and give chase. They follow it into the Badlands, where it lands on an M-class moon. The moon’s atmosphere interferes with sensors, so they have to land on it to track the Maquis agent further. Wandering through a cave system, Kira soon gets her foot stuck in a purple piece of plastic in a complete failure of the set design department.

It’s supposed to be a crystal that started forming around her foot, and it’s slowly growing to encompass her. The Maquis could be anywhere in the caves, and they can’t beam out, so Odo must find a way to free her from the crystal before it engulfs her. However, everything he tries is rebuffed and the crystal just keeps growing larger and uglier and faker.

Nog has officially become an adult among the Ferengi and must purchase an apprenticeship. He’s decided he wants an apprenticeship from Sisko so he can become the first Ferengi in Starfleet. Sisko thinks it’s a joke at first, but Nog is dead serious. Sisko doesn’t understand and doesn’t think Nog is exactly Starfleet material considering his scholastic record in Keiko’s class, but decides to put him to the test anyway and has him inventory a cargo room without supervision, a room full of valuables that he could easily steal.

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461. [DS9] Life Support

SCORE: image (2/5 stars)

Seems like every 2 years in Star Trek, we get an episode about an ambassador who is the “only hope for peace” but they suffer some catastrophe and everyone has to bend over backwards to make sure that the ambassador is able to finish their peace negotiations. Can this be retired now?

A shuttle accident en route to DS9 leaves Kai Winn with minor injuries and Bareil on the brink of death. (IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU, ADAMI!) Bashir does everything he can for the Vedek, with Winn insisting he’s their last best hope for a successful peace treaty with the Cardassians, but he tragically passes from his injuries.

But wait, there’s a flicker of hope! His body is still sending signals to his brain! And even though he’s been dead for hours and his brain should have received damage from lack of oxygeon, he was in stasis for most of it, so all Bashir has to do is complicated brain surgery and presto! Bareil is back from the dead.

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460. [VOY] Time and Again

SCORE: image (3/5 stars)

As Tom attempts to convince Harry to come along for a double-date with the Delany sisters (everyone’s pairing off, they’d better act fast), a shockwave from a nearby planet shakes the ship and prompts an investigation. Kes is wakened from her sleep by visions of people burning to death, and runs to the bridge to see what’s happened. They find a planet with all the signs of an industrial civilization… except the civilization itself.

The planet was wiped out by a surge of polaric energy. Tuvok serves as Mr. Exposition to explain that the Romulans once experimented with polaric energy as a weapon, but their research station on Chaltok IV was obliterated by it and it was henceforth banned by all reasonable and even unreasonable factions in the Alpha Quadrant. Unfortunately, this planet didn’t get the memo and had been using it as a power source for the planet. Oops.

As an away team studies the surface, Paris and Janeway find themselves falling through cracks in subspace and ending up in the past. The planet is bustling and alive and nobody’s been scorched. A clock that Paris had found stopped before he made the shift shows they have moved back in time by one day. That means within a matter of hours, the disaster will befall the planet and they’ll all be wiped out. Ruh roh.

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459. [DS9] Past Tense, Part II

SCORE: image (4/5 stars)

Five Sanctuary district employees are being held hostage in the processing center by BC, a ghost who looks like Kid Rock, Webb, a decent human being, and Bashir and Sisko (posing as Gabriel Bell in hopes of preserving the timeline). BC wants to negotiate for a plane that will take him wherever he wants to go. He’s thinking Tasmania. Bashir’s thinking there will be police to capture him as soon as he lands, Sisko insists that their demands have to be for real social change, and they cannot kill hostages in order to get it.

As they talk with each of the hostages, they find that they’ve all got their sympathies. They came here to help, but instead they’ve just helped perpetuate a broken system. It’s a pretty swift Stockholm syndrome effect, and I’d like to think that people who would choose to work in a Sanctuary district at least had good intentions of helping the unfortunate. (Well, aside from the security guards, but I don’t really trust anyone who seeks out a job where they get to point guns at people.)

When Jadzia hears the news about the hostage situation, she convinces Chris Brynner to use his contacts to help her sneak into the Sanctuary district so she can get them out of there. But as she gets in, the residents spot her and realize she’s not a resident of the district. They bring her to the hostage-takers, where they bring her up to speed on Sisko’s fake identity. They’ve been trying to access the internet but they’ve been locked out of the consoles (the writers apparently didn’t anticipate smart phones or cellular data), so Jadzia calls in another favor from Brynner and gets them internet access so they can tell their stories to the world. People need to know the deplorable conditions in here.

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458. [DS9] Past Tense, Part I

SCORE: image (4/5 stars)

The DS9 crew have taken the Defiant to Earth to brief Starfleet on the Gamma Quadrant situation. As they enter orbit, Quark calls in to say “Listen, guys, I have to have a line this episode!” But as Sisko, Bashir and Dax beam down to the surface, a freak mixup with a singularity passing through the solar system mixing with the go-invisible particles trapped in the Defiant’s armor plating that caused the transporter to go all time-travelly.

Sisko and Bashir wake up on the streets of San Francisco in 2024, the transporter beam conveniently knocking them unconscious for the trip. They’re picked up by the bum patrol and because they have no identification, are taken to the Sanctuary district. In 2024, homelessness and unemployment has become such a problem that they are all shuttled off into ghettos. Sisko notes the date and worries; they cannot interfere with the past, but the coming week is going to be a hellish and pivotal point in history: the Bell Riots.

Gabriel Bell was a man living in the San Francisco Sanctuary district when a hostage crisis erupted and he was able to keep the hostages alive, even by sacrificing his own life. This martyrdom sparks a national conversation that ends the Sanctuary districts and sees real social change in how the impoverished and homeless and mentally ill are treated. Basically, humanity overcoming its problems and founding the idealized Federation hinges on this social event, and they’re smack in the middle of it.

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457. [DS9] Fascination

SCORE: image (2/5 stars)

It’s the Bajoran Gratitude Festival and there’s love in the air… at least, there will be. Kira is the Presider at the festival this year (and it’s implied she’s done it in years past), and Odo has decided that for once he’ll go ahead and show up at the festival instead of working security. Sure shows how much he’s got an unrequited crush on Kira; he’s actually willing to hand over the security office to Starfleet. Unfortunately for him, Bareil is coming to the station, and Kira was kind enough to remind us last episode that she was in a relationship with him (because I’d honestly forgotten).

Bareil’s not the only one returning to the station. O’Brien hasn’t seen his wife and daughter for two months since she went on the mountain survey on Bajor, but they’re going to be back in town for the festival before she returns to complete the expedition. So Kira and O’Brien wait nervously at the docking bay to greet their loved ones. As Kira leaves with Bareil, Keiko comes in and immediately starts complaining about the trip, as Molly pukes in O’Brien’s lap. It’s soon obvious why Keiko had such a bad trip, as Lwaxana Troi comes through the door. A shuttlecraft ride with Keiko O’Brien AND Lwaxana Troi? That’s one Wesley Crusher away from annoying a hole in the universe.

Officially she’s here as the Betazoid representative for the Bajoran Gratitude Festival, but unofficially she’s here to attempt to seduce Odo again. (She’s heard all about his family issues and his newfound skill at shapeshifting and just can’t wait to convince him to try out some of those moves in a horizontal position if you know what I mean.) However, unbeknownst to her, she’s suffering from a Betazoid menopausal fever that causes her to start projecting her emotions onto others, which instantly causes them to redirect their romantic feelings onto new people.

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456. [DS9] Defiant

SCORE: image (5/5 stars)

In order to justify his paycheck on the show that week, Bashir orders a stressed-out and temperamental Kira relieved of duty and sends her to Quark’s, who also gets in his contractually mandated one line. She’s given a bunch of things to keep her entertained and ordered by Bashir to use at least two of them. She sits down to gnaw at a jumja stick, and I do mean gnaw. Those things are basically gigantic gelatinous blobs of maple syrup. Why’s it so biiiiiiiiiig? And why are Bajoran dentists so riiiiiiiich? As I ponder these questions, a certain William T. Riker notices that there is a person in his peripheral vision who might have compatible genitals for him to smash against.

He’s in DS9 on a layover to Risa (per Dr. Crusher’s insisting; Kira’s not the only one whose doctor ordered leave time) and figured he’d try his luck at Quark’s and at any attractive woman who passes by. Kira tells Dax he’s very charming but nothing’s going to happen because she’s “in a relationship.” Seriously, Kira? Bareil’s been to the station like, twice since you started “dating.” It’s a booty call. She accidentally bumps into him on the Promenade (because he jumped out of a doorway at just the right moment to bump into him) and offers him a tour of the station. He’d love one, especially if it means he can take a look at the Defiant.

When he sees O’Brien on the bridge of the Defiant, he starts acting like there’s some conflict between the two of them and he doesn’t want to talk to him. The whole situation is very awkward and O’Brien opts to leave, not sure what that was all about. Of course, it becomes clear momentarily because as soon as Riker gets Kira to unlock the bridge commands, he shoots her with a phaser, beams aboard some Maquis, and takes off his fake beard to reveal… A REAL BEARD. Wait a second… this isn’t William T. Riker. This is W. Thomas Riker!

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455. [VOY] Parallax

SCORE: image (5/5 stars)

Another episode laden with treknobabble, but this time I don’t actually mind it, because it’s clearly not the focal point of the episode and serves merely as a backdrop for the human element of the story. B’Elanna Torres is having a hard time integrating into the crew. She put Lieutenant Carey in sickbay with a fractured nose because he “got in her way,” and already battle lines are being drawn. Tuvok wants her court-martialed, and the Maquis crew are ready to support a mutiny lead by Chakotay (who knocks them down a peg for even considering such a concept). That being said, Chakotay has other plans in store for B’Elanna: he thinks she ought to fill the Chief Engineer vacancy.

Janeway is taken aback by this suggestion, and she and her first officer have a very candid discussion in her ready room about integration and fairness. This is a Starfleet crew staffed with officers who worked their whole lives to get here, and she’s not about to pass them up for positions they deserve just because circumstances forced Maquis into the fold. Chakotay is a staunch defender of his people, and he refuses to be the token officer. If she wants the crew to actually integrate, she’s going to have to place higher trust in the Maquis crew. That means putting some of them in high-ranking positions. She agrees to consider her, reluctantly.

Voyager finds itself caught in a quantum singularity. (It’s like a black hole with time travel! Or, depending on what physicist you talk to, just a black hole!) They wander into it when responding to a distress call, but nearly tear the ship apart when they try tractoring it in. Eventually they take Neelix’s advice to seek out a nearby race to assist in the rescue operations, but no matter which way they turn, they find themselves right back at the singularity. They’re stuck.

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454. [DS9] Meridian

SCORE: image (2/5 stars)

While exploring a Gamma Quadrant system with the Defiant (the Dominion threat handwaved away by a single line in his commander’s log), they come across a planet that wasn’t there five minutes ago. They’re immediately hailed by the inhabitants of the planet (a population of only 30) who invite them to beam down to Meridian and share a meal, promising the planet’s not going to vanish under their feet.

Basically, the planet is Brigadoon in space. Every 60 years, the planet shifts from another dimension of pure energy, pure consciousness, back to a corporeal form. It used to be more balanced, 30 years in a physical state and 30 years in an energy state, but the corporeal sessions have been shortening every cycle and are now only at 12 days. Because of the shortened corporeal sessions, they’ve dwindled as a species as they can no longer procreate. Deral, one of the lead scientists of the village estimates that in just a few more cycles, they’ll only be physical for a matter of minutes, and by that point, it’ll have destabilized to the point that they’ll simply cease to exist.

Jadzia thinks they can come up with a way to stabilize the planet’s cycles and return them to a 30-on, 30-off balance. But she also thinks she can come up with a way to get into Deral’s pants, and it’s not long before they’re taking walks in the meadow, climbing trees, and counting each other’s spots. (Jadzia’s go down “all the way” if you know what I mean.) After a week of science and sex, Jadzia has decided she’s in love and wants to spend her life with this guy she’s just met and he agrees, to the dismay of the village leader who had hoped he would marry one of the village women and make babies.

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453. [VOY] Caretaker

SCORE: image (3/5 stars)

Unhappy with a new treaty, Federation Colonists along the Cardassian border have banded together. Calling themselves “The Maquis,” they continue to fight the Cardassians. Some consider them heroes, but to the governments of the Federation and Cardassia, they are outlaws.

I’ve always hated treknobabble. I’ve made no attempt to hide that on this blog. And Voyager is notorious for it. But I had forgotten that the bad treknobabble starts in the VERY FIRST SCENE. And worse, they play the “numbers as tension” game. As a Maquis raider flies through a plasma storm in the Badlands while being pursued by Gul Evek, a Vulcan keeps shouting ever-decreasing numbers while a half-Klingon attempts to reconfigure a thing to another thing because the ship’s human captain keeps yelling for “more power!” But the Cardassians aren’t the only thing chasing them through the storm. A treknobabble thingy is coming at them super-duper fast, and they do the thing to go-fast but they can’t go-fast enough and vanish in a white flash.

Captain Kathryn Janeway has been given the USS Voyager, a top-of-the-line Intrepid-class starship, and her first mission is to channel her inner Katharine Hepburn.. Kate Mulgrew fought very hard to make sure that the first woman captain in Star Trek was not to be sexualized, and the writers did a very good job of making her a fully realized character—a rarity for women in science fiction, especially as the successor to TNG, whose female characters could feel a bit two-dimensional at times. Unlike most other captains who went through the command track and earned their pips by flying starships (and sometimes being the highest-ranked person left alive), Janeway is first and foremost a scientist, and while Picard might solicit scientific solutions from Mr. Data, she’ll suggest her own. (They may be treknobabble bullshit, but at least she knows how to wade in it.) She’s even got a fiance named Mark and a pregnant dog at home, people she will assuredly ever see again.

Her crew has been assembled, but she’s got one last recruit for her mission to track down the missing Maquis ship, since her Chief of Security was secretly aboard the ship. Tom Paris (known to us as Nick Locarno, Wesley’s flight team captain at the Academy). After getting kicked out of Starfleet for being Nick Locarno (I insist that they’re the same character despite tiny changes in the accident story), he joined up with the Maquis, but got caught on his first mission and has been serving time at a New Zealand penal colony. Janeway is offering him a good word at his next review in exchange for helping to track down the Maquis vessel, but only as an observer. He’s a very good pilot, but she’s not about to let him behind the wheel.

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452. [DS9] Civil Defense

SCORE: image (4/5 stars)

While deleting old files from an ore processing computer, O’Brien and Jake accidentally trip an old Cardassian security program, and without the access codes to disable it, they find themselves at the mercy of pre-programmed Occupation-era Gul Dukat. At first it seems confined to the ore processing room, but as soon as they use empty molten tubes to escape the room, the entire station is put on lock-down. Jake, Sisko and O’Brien have to crawl their way through the underbelly of the station, all the while contending with toxic gas and blocked passages.

Ops is not faring much better. They quickly get locked out of systems themselves since they don’t have Dukat’s access codes, and even though Garak’s codes are enough to allow him passage through the station’s force fields, they don’t have a chance of letting him bypass Dukat’s codes. Jadzia gets second-degree burns on her hands from setting off a force field, and eventually escalation of the lockout causes a 30-minute self destruct timer, as well as the replicator creating a phaser turret that vaporizes a redshirt and leaves the rest of Ops hiding behind consoles.

Quark is locked in Odo’s security office when shit starts going south because he reasons it’s the safest place on the station, and the writers reason any time we can lock Quark and Odo in a room together it’s comic gold. Odo tells Quark that he’s the most devious Ferengi he’s ever met, though by the end of the episode he admits he only said it to make Quark feel better because it looked like they were about to die.

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451. [DS9] The Abandoned

SCORE: image (4/5 stars)

Quark buys some Gamma Quadrant wreckage sight-unseen because the captain who sells it to him distracts him with her woman parts. Unfortunately for him (and soon the station), he discovers that there is an infant among the wreckage, and is forced to defend himself against Sisko. “You bought a child?

But this is no ordinary child. He grows at an extremely rapid rate, and appears to be genetically engineered. He’s able to pick up English extremely quickly, and Bashir notes that he hasn’t even heard enough of the language to possibly have picked up the vocabulary he’s using, so his deduction skills must be off the charts. (Because in Star Trek, linguists like Hoshi Sato can predict words from alien languages they’ve just encountered.)

Unfortunately, they soon find out the species of the child as he grows into a young adult and attacks his way out of the infirmary onto the promenade. He jumps at Odo, who turns liquid and watches the child pass right through him. The child kneels down in deference to the Changeling before him, and his facial protrusions are now clearly visible. He is a Jem’Hadar.

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450. [DS9] Second Skin

SCORE: image (5/5 stars)

Kira is contacted by a Bajoran historian who’s looking to interview survivors of a Cardassian detention center called Elemspur. Records show that Kira was held there for seven days, but Kira has no recollection of ever being held there, and can even account for where she was during the time the records say she was being held there. But when she contacts another Elemspur inmate and he recognizes her on sight, she knows there’s something more going on and takes a runabout to Bajor to find out what’s the deal.

But Kira never makes it to Bajor. She wakes up surrounded by Cardassians, looks in a mirror—and sees that she’s been made to look like a Cardassian, too. They tell her that she has always been a Cardassian, and for the past ten years was serving as a sleeper agent in the Bajoran Resistance, surgically altered and memory reprogrammed so she truly would believe she WAS Kira Nerys. Her “real name” is Iliana Ghemor, and she should soon start regaining her memories with the drugs they’re giving her.

In the meantime, she’s staying at what they claim is her father’s home. She’s told she’s not a prisoner, that she is a hero of Cardassia, and she just needs to wait for the memories to return. Obviously, Kira being the even-tempered person that she is readily accepts this story she’s being told, I don’t think. She runs the gamut of emotions, attempting to escape at every opportunity (though the Obsidian Order has put force fields on the windows and have a perimeter set up), refusing to consider anything they’re telling her, and lying about questions regarding Deep Space 9.

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449. [DS9] Equilibrium

SCORE: image (3/5 stars)

Jadzia is having problems. First, immediately after commenting that none of the Dax hosts had any musical ability, she starts playing a rather pretty tune on Jake’s old keyboard. She begins acting accusatory and hostile toward Sisko and Kira. And she starts hallucinating a figure in a layered mask, which causes her to bump into Quark so that he can have a line this episode.

Bashir examines her symptoms, and finds that the neurotransmitter that links the host mind with the symbiont mind is down to 73%, which could be an early sign of symbiont rejection. Bashir doesn’t want to go so far as to call it that yet, but recommends they take Jadzia to Trill where doctors more experienced in joined Trill can take a look and see what’s causing her hallucinations and odd memories.

While receiving treatment from Trill doctors, they decide to pay a visit to the Guardians, unjoined Trill who watch over the symbionts in their subterranean pools. He’s immediately able to tell that Jadzia is Dax, and can tell that there is an imbalance between symbiont and host, and it’s the host’s fault. Not Jadzia’s, necessarily, but one of Dax’s past hosts may be the key to her medical problems.

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