Star Trek: Voyager – 1×08 – “Ex Post Facto”

Star Trek: Voyager
“Ex Post Facto”
Originally Broadcast February 27th, 1995
Reviewed by Chakoteya

The Story

Stardate: 48610.1

A man is asking Tom Paris what he can see. He replies, muddy shoes, then a dog. He is watching himself with a woman, Kissing her, through another man’s eyes. There is a confrontation about him stealing his wife and the person who is viewing the scene is attacked by Tom with a knife, and dies. All the time, Tom protests that he didn’t do it. ‘Let the record show that the sentence of the court has been carried out. For the rest of his natural life, once every 14 hours, Thomas Eugene Paris will relive the last moments of his victim’s life. May the fates have mercy on you, sir.’

In sickbay, Kes and the EMH are going through a series of tests to see how much she has learnt, and discussing the possibility of his choosing a name for himself.He tells her that holograms don’t choose anything, they are programmed. But he chooses what treatment to give a patient, and she doesn’t see any difference between how he reaches a conclusion and how she does. So he runs through a small selection of names, Galen, Salk, Spock, but doesn’t feel comfortabe with any of them. Captain Janeway calls over the comm-system from the bridge. There is an injured crewman on an incoming shuttle. It will be either Ensign Kim or Lieutenant Paris but they cannot tell who yet. Tuvok confirms there is only one person aboard the shuttle, and transports him to Sickbay.

It is a dehydrated, exhausted Harry Kim, who tells the Captain that Tom was accused of killing Tolen Ren, an engineering physicist the pair were working with to build a new collimator for Voyager. When they first met him, he invited them to dinner at his house. If they had refused, none of what followed would have happened. But they did go, and met his wife Lidell, and the pet dog Neeka who keeps yapping at them. After dinner, Tolen and Harry went into another room to work on the navigational beam specifications. Tom got bored and returned to spend time with Mrs Ren, and also visited her again the next day. And that night Professor Ren was murdered, Tom arrested and Harry didn’t see him again. The authorities interrogated Harry for almost two days, thinking they were Numiri agents. After all, Professor Ren was an expert in weapons technology. Captain Janeway contacts Chakotay on the bridge and orders him to set a course for the Banean homeworld.

Neelix is summoned to see the Captain in her ready room. She tells him they are going into orbit about Banea. He advises her to be ready to deal with the Numiri patrols that try to intimidate travellers to Banea. His sources tell him that their energy weapons are on a par with Voyager’s, and their regenerative shields may even be better. Despite once living on the same planet, the Numiri and the Banea are now very different people.

One Numiri patrol vessel approaches them and warns them that they are entering a war zone at their own risk and that their activities will be monitored. Neelix is suspicious. That was almost friendly, by Numeri terms.

Janeway and Tuvok meet with Minister Kray on the planet, who tells them that Tom is not just accused of murder, but been found guilty and punished by having the final moments of his victim’s memory transplanted into his brain for him to relive at regular intervals. They see Tom, who denies the crime despite the evidence of the memories. He admits to getting close to Mrs Ren, but says that their marriage was over anyway, then recounts a meeting he had with her. She was in the atrium, smoking something. He commented about humans giving it up when they realised it was killing them. Lidell said that maybe she was killing herself slowly because she didn’t have the courage to do it quickly. She had married an older man and now she was bored with her life. Suddenly Tom becomes agitated and passes out. The Banean doctor says that there were problems integrating the Banean engrams into his brain, but he hadn’t passed out before. Janeway asks to take Tom back to Voyager for treatment. At first the Minister is against it, but the Doctor persuades him, so long as they don’t leave orbit with Tom on board. Janeway assures him, they don’t intend to leave orbit until they’ve proved Paris’ innocence.

The EMH has no record of such procedures in his databanks, and he is concerned about the progressive mental damage it is causing Paris. Janeway thinks this might be grounds for an appeal agains the sentance, but Tuvok, who has done his research, tells her that before this method was developed, the punishment for murder was death by lethal injection. The Banaeans might wish to revert to that alternative. While they are waiting for Tom to regain consciousness so that Tuvok can question him while the EMH conducts an ARA, the Vulcan asks permission to go to the planet to examine the murder scene and speak with Mrs Ren.

At the house, Tuvok is met by Lidell and the dog, who keeps yapping at him. She shows him the scene and comments about having the bloodstain removed. He calls her ‘dispassionate’ because she is still living in the house where her husband died, and then asks her why she chose to end her marriage on that particular day. She tells him that it was because she was attracted to another man. Although Lt. Paris would be leaving in a few days, meeting him was the push she needed to make the new start. After she had told her husband of her decision, she went to meet Tom at the engineering institute. He walked her home again and they were caught in a rainstorm. In the atrium they embraced but Tom was reluctant. After all, she was still married. Her husband came home a little later and Tom killed him. Chakotay calls Tuvok to tell him Paris has regained consciousness. Lidell asks Tuvok to tell Tom that she forgives him.

In sickbay, the EMH is running the autonomic response analysis at Tuvok’s request while he questions Tom. But all he remembers is sitting with her, drinking tea and talking. Then he woke up in a cell. The EMH says he is telling the truth. The Banean doctors say there were no drugs in his system, but they would have long gone by the time he returned to Voyager anyway. Then two Numiri patrol ships decide to attack. In Paris’s absence, Chakotay is at the helm.

Neelix smugly says that he did warn them, and that this was a standard Numiri tactic to try and board the vessel. Chakotay and Torres do an old Maquis trick of venting exhaust then cutting the engines and just as the Numiri try to lock tractor beams again they fire the phasers to ignite the exhaust and go to impulse. Janeway is not very impressed and tells him it wouldn’t have worked against her, but the Numiri vessels are disabled by the blast. Then she turns to Tuvok and asks how the investigation is going. He tells her that he wishes to witness the crime himself, through a mind-meld with Lt Paris.

The EMH does not approve. Witnessing the cycle is damaging to a human brain, and there is no telling what it might do to a Vulcan one. Tuvok links with Tom anyway and shares the experience with him, then announces that he must talk to Ensign Kim about Professor Ren’s research, which he believes holds the key not only to the murder, but also the Numiri attack.

From her ready room, Captain Janeway is talking with the Banean Doctor and Minister Kray about Lt Paris’ impending brain damage. The Minister agrees to arrange for the implants to be removed, but warns her that the alternative sentance will not be to her liking. She tells him that they are still committed to proving his innocence, and that he will be travelling back by shuttle in one hour. She nods to Tuvok who goes to make his arrangements.

In the shuttle, Tom is telling Harry off for failing to keep him on the straight and narrow, when the Numiri attack, lock a tractor beam on and board them. But just as they identify Tom as the person they want, Paris and Kim are beamed away. Captain Janeway contacts the Numiri Captain to protest over the seizure and to tell them that the shuttle has enough explosive on board to destroy his ship if he does not release it in thirty seconds. The shuttle is released. There are seven hours until Paris has to go through the cycle again, so Tuvok asks permission to assemble all interested parties at the murder scene in two hours.

In Lidell Ren’s house, Tuvok goes through his evidence, telling them about the mind meld. He suggests that the engrams were altered to frame Lt Paris. The man with her in the memory was the same height as her, whilst Paris is taller. The murderer also knew Banean anatomy in order to stab Professor Ren exactly in the heart, which Lt Paris does not. There were symbols running along the bottom of the images, which are not mentioned in any other reference to the procedure. It turns out they are equations from Professor Ren’s weapons research, intended for the Numiri and which they tried to obtain twice so far, once by attacking after he returned to Voyager, and again when he was on the shuttle. The only person with means to do all this was the Banean Doctor, who is also the same height as Lidell Ren. When he denies ever being in the house before, Tuvok asks the Doctor to bring in his final witness. He goes to the door and admits the dog, who does not yap at him, because he is not a stranger.

Tuvok is eating a solitary meal and reading a padd in the Mess Hall when Tom Paris comes to thank him for his efforts. Tuvok tells him that he would have pursued the truth whether he was innocent or guilty. Nevertheless, Tom tells him he has made a friend today.

Analysis

An interesting murder mystery in the sci-fi genre, with Tuvok Poirot cast as the detective. Well, that assembling of the suspects at the scene is very Agatha Christie, in my opinion. We get to see the continuing friendship between the outgoing carefree ladies man Tom Paris and the more contained Kim, and we learn more about Tuvok too. He’s been married 67 years which probably makes him somewhere near ninety to one hundred years old, about middle aged for a Vulcan. The use of black and white for the punishment cycle scenes gave them a low grade horror movie feel.

If the Numeri and the Baneans are at war, it must be pretty much a cold war at the time of this episode as the sides seem to have acknowledged that they are evenly matched, and are resorting to subterfuge to try and get an advantage instead of just killing each other. The ‘name the EMH’ thread continues to be stretched out with young Kes still behaving as if a hologram is also a person.

Not an outstanding episode, but a fair one.

Grade: 5/10

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