Star Trek: Voyager – 1×04 – “Time and Again”

Star Trek: Voyager
“Time and Again”
Originally Broadcast January 30, 1995
Reviewed by Chakoteya

The Story

Stardate: Unknown

On the bridge, Tom Paris is reporting that Voyager will be coming up on a red dwarf system in 40 minutes but they don’t know yet if there are any M class planets there. Then he leaves his post to try and persuade Harry Kim to join him on a double date with the Delany sisters from Stellar Cartography. Harry is reluctant. He wants to run a transtator assembly diagnostic. Tom is persistant. People will be pairing off soon, and the Delaney sisters come as a pair. It’s a double date or no date. Harry protests that he has a girl back home whom he hopes will wait for him. Tom tries his final ploy – he’s told the girls that Harry broke the single pilot speed record at the academy. Kim protests – he never did! Suddenly the ship is shaken by shockwave.

Kes awakens from sleep in her quarters, visibly distressed.

Captain Janeway demands reports. A hull breach on deck 3 is being sealed, shields are holding. Harry tracks the source of the shockwave to the red dwarf system and Tuvok says that the sensors detect differentially charged polaric ions. She turns to Neelix for information on the inhabitants of the area, but he has none. They adjust course to investigate.
At the planet, Kes comes to the bridge, still upset and saying that she had to know. Sensors probe the planet surface. No vegetation, no satellites, no nearby spaceships. ‘Lifesigns?’ asks the Captain. ‘None’ murmers Kes. Chakotay reports water courses and artifical constructions in evidence on the surface. A civilisation was here recently. Tuvok says that the radiation levels are acceptable and Janeway assembles her away team.

Janeway, Paris, Torres and Tuvok materialise on a drear, overcast world. Colour is washed out by the debris hanging in the atmosphere. The whole place is grey and depressing. Tricorder scans tell them the whole planet was seared. The subspace detonation obliterated all life while leaving buildings damaged but largely unaffected. Tuvok recalls the events of Chaltok IV, a Romulan research colony nearly destroyed during the test of a polaric ion device, which led to the Polaric Test Ban Treaty of 2268. So we’re looking at the end of a war, muses B’Elanna? Janeway doesn’t think so. She’s discovered conduits that carried polaric energy all over the city. The people here were sitting on a time bomb.

Neelix talks with Kes in her quarters. She claims to have seen the people burn, their bodies, ashes where they stood. Neelix puts it down to imagination after she felt the shockwave, but she refutes the suggestion. It was an almost telepathic experience. Her ancestors are said to have had unusual mental abilities and she believes thos stories, even if Neelix does not.

On the surface, Paris finds a time-piece in a shattered shop window, showing the time of the explosion – 401 22 84. Suddenly it is bright, and there are noises of people behind him. Then it is grey again. He tells what he experienced, and the Captain says they could see him the whole time. Then it happens again, and Torres scans him to discover a temporal flux in his nervous system, which rapidly fades. Tuvok comments that the chain reaction shattered subspace. Janeway orders everyone to stand still then tells Voyager to beam them up immediately. It is daylight again, and a young boy is screaming at the sight of Janeway and Paris suddenly appearing in front of him. A man in a plain uniform approaches and the Captain explains things very quickly. They just came around the corner and startled him, she says. Their uniform is somewhat out of the ordinary here. The guard accepts her story and sends the child on his way, apologising for his behaviour and welcoming them as visitors from Caltow Province, just off the continental transport. He points out a clothing shop to them and leaves. Paris has spotted the same timepiece in the shop window and after asking the shop keeper what the digits mean, decides that 371 rotations implies that they have gone back a day in time. All life on the planet will destroyed sometime tomorrow.

In the briefing room, Torres and Kim are telling Tuvok and Chakotay what they have worked out so far. The subspace fractures dissipate backwards in time. They need the missing people to activate a subspace beacon for them to locate on the ground, and then try to widen a fracture at that point in order to get them back. But right now they are not sure how.

Down in sickbay, an irritated EMH is examining Kes. Her brain is not on file, he complains. Neelix tells him they came on board mid-expedition, along with the crew of a ship that was destroyed. The EMH tries to page Captain Janeway, but Neelix tells him that she is missing. ‘This is turning into a Voyage of the Damned’ the hologram mutters, then leaves a computer message for whoever is the most senior person on board to see him as soon as possible. Turning his attention back to Kes, he tells her she is the healthiest member of her species he has ever met. The only member of her species he has ever met. She has a lovely brain and it will make a fine addition to the files. He surmises that her experience was probably a flexing of mental muscles for the first time. Drink plenty of fluids, he advises her, don’t forget to turn off the programme and see him in the morning. She turns him off and leaves, bemused.

Meanwhile, the previous day on the planet, Janeway and Paris have swapped their StarFleet uniforms for some local clothing and she has rigged her combadge to emit a subspace beacon. As they walk, she tells Tom that they cannot tell these people of their impending doom, the Prime Directive explicitly forbids it. He reflects that he used to tune out his father’s lectures on the subject but Janeway admired Admiral Paris greatly and gives Tom a direct order not to warn them. The young boy from the plaza confronts them again. He’s spoken to the conductor of the transport, only four people from Caltow got off here, and they don’t match the descriptions at all. They must be demons, he asserts, because they popped out of thin air. Tom threatens to eat him and he runs away again. Janeway decides that they need to locate a polaric generator to help them find and open a subspace fracture to escape, so they follow the conduits to the generating plant just outside the town. There are a group of noisy protestors there, and as they mingle a fight breaks out. Janeway is hit is the face and they are carried off by the fleeing demonstrators to their headquarters.

Kim and Torres have built their own polaric generator in order to widen the subspace fractures and get their people back. However, it only runs for thirty seconds at a time, and can only be used once in any given location. Tricorders have been adjusted to locate subspace fractures and devices made to wear on their sleeves which repel floating fractures that get within three meters so they do not suffer the fate of their Captain and Pilot. Kes wants to join the team and dismisses Chakotay’s reluctance with the words ‘I’ve already seen it. I have to go.’

The anti-polaric demonstrators, Brell and Makull, are questioning Captain Janeway. Her story that they only arrived in town that day to tour the facility, to compare it with their local one, is dismissed out of hand. She has the wrong colour hair for a start, and they were found to have five times the normal radiation levels in their bodies. Those levels could only be explained by either being in the plant the day before, or at the site of a polaric disaster. Janeway maintains a dignified silence.

Kes senses people all around her, and Chakotay likens the sensation to walking through graveyard. The young Ocampan disagrees. She feels that she could touch them. Tuvok cannot locate a subspace fracture and Torres reports that the damage is dissipating. Harry picks up a combadge trace here and now and tracks it.

The leader of the protestors is concerned. He feels sure they are goverment spies and wonders if they can keep to their original schedule now. Then they young boy is brought in. He tells the men that Janeway and Paris lied about being on the transport. The child has found their base and cannot be allowed to leave. He is pushed into the corner to sit near Tom.

Harry finds two halfmelted comm badges in the wreckage of the room. All that proves, points out Tuvok, is that the comm badges were here at the time of the explosion. Nothing more. They carry on the search.

Now the leader wants to know about the devices Janeway and Paris were carrying. How do they work? They are for surveying property, Janeway replies and reaches for one. His hand closes on hers. He doesn’t want her to demonstrate the workings of a weapon, after all. Tom and the young boy are beginning to get aquainted. His name is Latika and he is a reporter on his school journal, just as his father is also a journalist. Makull is getting very concerned about his plans being wrecked. He decides that they cannot wait a week to carry out the scheme. They’ll begin instead at 0400 tomorrow.

Kes senses Captain Janeway and calls to her. Janeway hears her voice and replies. The away team hear her voice and Chakotay orders the equipment set up. Then, when Makull demands again to know who and what she is, she tells him that she is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the interstellar space ship Voyager. Tom’s jaw nearly cracks on the floor. ‘I thought we weren’t allowed to tell!’ he protests. She reveals the truth, that they are from a day in the future, when there will be an accident caused by a polaric detonation. Her story about fractures in time is not believed, and when Chakotay’s voice comes over her comm-badge Makull’s mind is made up. They are definately spies. The comm badges are taken off them and left on the desk, the polaric injector removed from it’s hiding place and everyone leaves the room just as a portal starts to open up.

Paris questions his Captain about her change of mind. Kathryn explains that when Makull said that they planned to do something in the plant in a weeks time, she realised that their presence had changed the course of events. Their arrival changed the schedule and they are responsible for the consequences. Who knows what might have happened next week if they hadn’t come here. This is their problem and they have to solve it.

In the room, the away team ponder their next move. Seventy percent of the subspace fractures have already gone. Kes suggests going to the flashpoint of the explosion. Tuvok dismisses the idea, as that would be against the Prime Directive and the Captain would not do such a thing. Chakotay follows his own feelings and tells Torres to locate the site of the explosion. She already has, comes the reply and they pack up their equipment and set off.

Janeway is being coerced into helping the protesters gain entrance to the power plant. When they threaten Latika’s life, she walks up the guard on duty and tells him that she is a hostage. The guard is promptly shot and a gun fight ensues in which Tom is shot in leg while protecting the boy. As the protesters gain access to the plant, they call back to Janeway telling her that the deaths of the guards are on her conscience. She asks Latika to look after Tom until help arrives, then goes into the plant herself, promising to return.

Torres, Kim, Tuvok, Kes and Chakotay beam into the devastated power plant. Tuvok reports that the subspace fractures are quite numerous here and they set up the equipment for one last try.

Janeway is watching the group set up their sabotage attempt. When they reach to get the injector out of the bag, she shows herself, phaser drawn, and demands that they hand it over to her.

The away team cannot find a subspace beacon to lock onto. Kes tells them that Janeway was definately here. This is where she died. They decide to try and widen a fracture just before the explosion occurs, it’s widest point. Tuvok is still sceptical. There is no logical reason to believe Kes, but everyone else does. Chakotay gives the order to proceed.

Time is ticking away for Janeway and the protestors. There are less than three minutes until they all die. Makull and Brell deny that their sabotage could blow them up, but point out that her firing her weapon near a conduit could make it all go wrong. The time is 401 21. Janeway suggests they wait until 23 and Makull understands why – the alleged time of their self-annihilation. Then the subspace portal begins to open behind the Captain, and he sees the danger immediately. If it gets any wider it will intersect with a conduit and cause an explosion. Now Janeway realises the truth. It was their own rescue attempt that caused the disaster. Turning, she fires her phaser at the portal to try and disrupt it.

Her phaser causes a build up of radiation in the generator and the team try to boost the power to overcome it, but it overloads and shuts down. A white light blows them backwards off their feet…

On the bridge, Tom Paris leaves his post to try and persuade Harry Kim to join him on a double date with the Delany sisters from Stellar Cartography. Harry is reluctant. He wants to run a transtator assembly diagnostic. Tom is persistant. People will be pairing off soon, and the Delaney sisters come as a pair. It’s a double date or no date. Harry protests that he has a girl back home whom he hopes will wait for him. Tom tries his final ploy – he’s told the girls that Harry broke the single pilot speed record at the academy. Kim protests – he never did! Captain Janeway and Neelix walk onto the bridge to hear that there is an M class planet in the nearby red dwarf system. Does he know anything about any intelligent life forms hereabouts, asks the Captain. No, replies Neelix. Kes joins the group. ‘I had to know,’ and she tells them that everyone there was killed. It was more than a dream, she insists. Sensors show no trouble there, no satellites or spacecraft nearby. They are a pre-warp civilisation. Janeway tells them that StarFleet doesn’t involve itself with pre-space flight cultures. ‘Most enlightened’, comments Neelix. Kes asks if she can see the planet, and they put it up on the viewscreen for her. After gazing at it for a few moments, she and Neelix leave. Tom drags Harry off to their double date with the Delany sisters. Janeway orders the co-ordinates of the planet to be entered into the log, and maintain their present heading at warp 6.

Analysis

The story itself tripped along quite nicely, with tension and drama at the right moments. The contrast between the lighting on the devastated planet and the inhabited one was very well done and wonderfully atmospheric. There was also a lot of pairing in this story – Harry and B’Elanna doing the practical technical stuff, Janeway and Paris trapped in time, Neelix and Kes on board Voyager, Chakotay and Kes on the planet to a certain extent in that he is being protective of her there. And Tuvok versus Chakotay most of the way through. Tuvok also gives us a nice display of Vulcan optimism in his assertion that the comm-badges did not have to have been attached to anyone when they got mangled. He was missing his Captain and friend, I’m sure. The twist at the end to resolve the story worked well too.

But, it never happened. And so early in the series run too. This makes two paradox stories in a row, which I hope is not a sign for the whole season. No one on board remembers any of these events, so the EMH is apparently still unaware of Neelix and Kes and the Maquis crew being on board, which I find a little hard to believe. I have mixed feelings about this one. Just watching it, I was neutral. Having to describe it in words I quite liked it. As this is a tv show, I’ll have to go with my viewing feelings.

Grade: 5/10

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