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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So far, Voyager has been more of a horror movie than a sci-fi series,
and nowhere is that more evident than here in this episode, in which
the crew is tortured and tormented by an alien able to read their minds
and cause hallucinations personally tailored to each crew member's
darkest fear and deepest desire.
This is a nightmare in space, as an exhausted Janeway, ordered to the holodeck by a concerned Doctor, is repaid for her moment of relaxation with a cruel series of visions and vicious attacks on her psyche. For the first time in Star Trek history I get the feeling that the writers actually dislike their characters, and that stranding them in space for a lifetime was just the start of the real punishment.
We're only 24 episodes into the series and Kes has been forced to eat beetles, the Doctor has had his existence stolen by a malfunctioning holodeck, Tuvok has abused Maquis crew members under the guise of Starfleet training... Kim has been exiled to an alternate reality, Neelix has had his lungs stolen, and Chakotay has had his essence sucked out of him. These aren't characters... they're victims.
What's never solved in this episode- which even the Captain confesses "raises any number of unanswered questions"- is WHY this alien chooses to torture them, what he gets out of his pain and suffering and obvious sadistic tendencies. If he can cause hallucinations why not just appear disguised as a recognizable crew member and sabotage the ship? Maybe because this way we wouldn't get to see Janeway's long-lost husband appear and question her fidelity, or hear Tom's vindictive Father call him a failure... we certainly wouldn't get to see Bellana's nasty sexual affair with Chakotay or hear Kes screaming in madness as blisters on her skin erupt with puss and blood.
This is a far cry from Tribble County, in which swashbuckling sci-fi characters inhabited a world built expressly for them and their high-minded, mind-blowing adventures. These are REAL people trapped in the Star Trek universe, and the realities of such a fictitious mission are for the first time played for pain and misery instead of glory and enlightenment.
These are the voyages of the Starship Voyager... its continuing mission: to explore dark alleys of the mind, to seek out new pain and nightmarish realities, to darkly go where no "Trek"has gone before...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The captain is working a little too hard; missing meals and not taking
time off to relax. When the Doctor notices how snappy she is getting he
orders her to go the the Holodeck to relax. She doesn't get to spend
much time there because she is soon summoned to the bridge as they are
approaching potentially hostile space. After receiving a message from
the 'Botha' they arrange a meeting but before they can meet something
strange starts to happen; at first it is almost insignificant things
but soon the captain sees holodeck characters in the ship's corridors.
It is assumed at first that this is due to stress but as she is being
examined in sick bay Kes sees one of these characters. Soon other crew
members become effected they come to the conclusion that they are under
the influence of something the Botha are doing but before they can
block them almost everybody is totally under their effect. Only Kes and
the Doctor are able to resist and as Kes gets closer to blocking the
Botha's effects she starts to be effected too.
This was an interesting story that kept me thinking as to what the cause would be and even after it became obvious that it was an alien effect there was still a bit of a surprise at the end when the culprit was exposed. It was nice getting to see Kes take a leading part again as she is one of my favourite characters, Jennifer Lien is great in the role.
This episode does nothing to advance the story, or to further develop
or explore any of the characters. The ending leaves you with the
question of "Just what the heck happened here?", and suggest no
Something affects the crew with delusions of personal desires, and then just vanishes. And using Janeway's boring Romantic Fantasy holo-novel as a springboard to further the story was like rubbing salt into a wound.
Jeri Taylor (writer) must have been having an off-day, or someone found one of her discarded script drafts and used it.
A 45 min infomercial for some Ronco product, starring our hero's, would be just as entertaining.
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