467. [VOY] Eye of the Needle

SCORE: image (4/5 stars)

While searching for spacial anomalies that could help quicken their journey home, Harry Kim discovers what he believes to be a wormhole. Changing course to approach it, they’re a little disappointed to discover it’s less than a foot across. Still, if it leads anywhere near the Alpha Quadrant, they would have a chance to contact the Federation and let them know what’s happened, so they send a microprobe to collect telemetry. It gets caught before it can return, but fortunately, they’re able to use it as a beacon through which to communicate to the other side.

There just so happens to be a ship on the other side of the wormhole, which Tuvok determines does in fact lead to the Alpha Quadrant. The ship’s captain responds to their signal, but terminates communication after hearing that they’re a Federation starship in the Delta Quadrant. It must clearly be trickery. Tuvok determines that the wormhole exits in Romulan space, and the captain (likely on an science vessel) probably suspects them of being Federation spies for that reason.

While this is going on, Kes has been training under the Doctor, learning first aid and anatomy. She’s a very quick learner and has an eidetic memory (not surprising, considering Ocampa live only 9 years yet manage to have a sapient civilization, they’d have to be quick learners). As she assists him in sickbay, she finds that the crew treat him with severe disrespect, talking about him as though he’s not in the room, treating him like he’s nothing more than a tool.

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466. [DS9] Prophet Motive

SCORE: image (3/5 stars)

The Grand Nagus has returned to Deep Space 9, but something’s off about him. And by something, I mean everything. After kicking Quark out of his own quarters for an evening, he reveals to Quark and Rom that he’s rewritten the Rules of Acquisition. Ecstatic about the possibility of being the first to read the new Rules, Quark and Rom go through them… only to find it’s essentially a philanthropist guidebook now. Worse (for the Ferengi, that is), Zek is making DS9 his base of operations for the Ferengi Benevolent Association.

He’s creating a giant charity operating out of Quark’s quarters, and appoints Rom the senior administrator. Not only that, but he starts undermining Quark’s business opportunities by informing people of better deals and fairer trades. All in all, he’s being… nice. Generous. Charitable. Zek was never any of these things before. Quark tries to convince himself that Zek has some master plan, that there’s some brilliant play he’s got and he’s pulling all this to obfuscate his end game.

When Zek reveals he’s got a lost Bajoran orb, Quark thinks he’s found the answer, that Zek is setting himself up as this really nice guy so it won’t look so bad when he sells the orb back to Bajor. But Zek’s not selling it… he’s giving it to them as a gift. Quark now knows there’s something seriously wrong. Those orbs are worth a fortune. They’re straight from the Prophets and there are only 9 in existence. Confronting Maihar’du doesn’t get him anywhere, because he’s taken a vow only to speak to Zek, so instead he consults the orb itself.

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465. [VOY] The Cloud

SCORE: image (4/5 stars)

Cloud to Butt users: you might want to disable your addon for this review. Or don’t, it’ll be funnier!

Janeway just wants a cup of coffee. But they don’t have coffee grounds. Neelix offers to give her a “better than coffee” substitute, but she’d rather use her replicator rations to get some… which Neelix chides her for, saying she ought to set an example for the rest of the crew. He’s just about to pour her some goopy (very clearly chocolate syrup) substitute, when she’s thankfully been given an out when Chakotay calls her to the bridge. They’ve found a space cloud full of gas that they could harvest as fuel! “Set a new course,” she says. “There’s coffee in that cloud!”

Unfortunately they find the cloud is more than they bargained for, and penetrating the cloud is met with some resistance. Fortunately, Paris is an expert at this kind of thing, and he’s able to ram it through an opening. Once inside, they find floating things that start sticking to the hull and draining ship power, quite the opposite of what they were going for. They’re forced to retreat through the opening they made, but it’s closed. Janeway is hesitant to use a torpedo as they’ve only got 38 with no way to replace them (that is, until the writers don’t give a shit about that rule anymore) but the barrier at the edge of the nebula doesn’t give them much choice, so they ram a torpedo through the cloud.

So much for powering their ship with cloud particles. Everyone goes back to coping with their fates in various offensive ways. Paris brings Kim to a holodeck recreation of Sandrine’s, a bar he frequented in Marseilles. Sandrine’s makes several appearances, one presumes in an attempt to give Voyager a Ten Forward-type lounge that is separate from its galley. Paris designed the program, so naturally it’s full of pool sharks, gigolos, and women who all want Tom to stick it in their cloud.

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464. [DS9] Destiny

SCORE: image (5/5 stars)

As the Bajoran/Cardassian peace treaty has gone through, the first joint scientific mission between the Bajorans, Cardassians and Federation is underway to establish a permanent communications relay into the wormhole. But Bajoran Vedek Erick Avari shows up proclaiming a rather vague prophecy is about to be fulfilled by the arrival of the Cardassian scientists, one which the Vedek believes foretells of the destruction of the Celestial Temple. It reads as follows:

When the river wakes, stirred once more to Janir’s side, three vipers will return to their nest in the sky. When the vipers try to peer through the temple gates, a sword of stars will appear in the heavens. The temple will burn, and its gates shall be cast open.

The Vedek believes the Cardassians to be the three vipers, but there’s only two of them coming to the station. The river waking and stirring to Janir’s side refers to a dam project that will redirect water to the Bajoran city of Janir. The sword of stars has yet to reveal itself, but the temple is fairly obvious. Still, Sisko dismisses it; after all, he’s never been comfortable being a religious figurehead, especially when he doesn’t believe in the aforementioned religion. Kira is skeptical too, until the very pleasant Cardassian scientists inform Sisko that there will be a third scientist joining them shortly. Three vipers. Kira then finds herself for the first time in conflict between her two relationships to Sisko: his first officer, and her religious icon.

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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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