Star Trek: Voyager – 2×11 – “Maneuvers”

Star Trek: Voyager
“Maneuvers”
Originally Broadcast November 20th, 1995
Reviewed by Christina Luckings

The Story

Stardate: Unknown

Chakotay and Torres have been summoned to the bridge in the middle of a game of hover-ball. Torres was ahead 19-7 but Chakotay claims that he was lulling her into a false sense of security, before winning a few points and getting her to tense up. Captain Janeway is with Tuvok at his station, tracking down the source of a Federation signal. Torres wants to know who could possibly be using such a signal out there, and Paris optimistically suggests that Starfleet could be looking for them. The carrier wave matches Starfleet codes scheduled to be implemented on 48423, which as Kim points out is one month after they left Deep Space Nine. No one outside Starfleet or Voyager would know that code. They lay in a course for the beacon which is transmitting the signal.

The beacon is inside an ionised hydrogen cloud, which interferes with ship’s sensors. Despite it’s Federation signature, Chakotay advises against beaming it aboard until they’ve had a look at it, and the Captain agrees. Instead she orders Tuvok to tractor it out of the cloud first. Almost immediately weapons fire hits Voyager and then a Kazon raider comes out of the cloud, firing continuously. The warp engines go offline while Tuvok tries to return fire, and notes that an opening is forming in the starboard shields. Although they change the shield frequencies to try and close the gap, the Kazon keep matching their weapons to get through, and the hole widens. ‘It’s as if they know our access codes’, says Chakotay. Now Tuvok detects a small vessel heading straight for the new vulnerable spot. It slams straight through the hull, into cargo bay two on deck four. As they struggle to seal the breach and maintain structural integrity, the computer announces intruders on board. Janeway orders Tuvok to deal with it and he summons his team to meet him at the cargo bay. Meanwhile, three Kazon are getting out of the little ship. One is felled by phaser fire but the other two make it out of the door of the two deck tall bay.

On the bridge, Paris tells Captain Janeway that they cannot go to warp with the shuttle sticking out of their side, while Chakotay notices that power has been re-routed to transporter room two. Kim denies doing it so the Commander tells Tuvok that the intruders may be in the transporter room. The security chief runs there, leaving his team to guard the shuttle and the fallen Kazon but he gets there just as the intruders successfully beam off the ship. He sees an open panel and tells the Captain that the Kazon have taken one of their transporter modules. As soon as they left the ship all transporter power was lost so he cannot get the module back Chakotay manages to get a tractor beam on the Kazon ship, and their attackers decide that they want to talk. On the view screen is the unworried face of First Maje Culluh of the Kazon Nistrim, who doesn’t think he’ll have any problems integrating Federation technology with Kazon systems. He gestures, and the Cardassian face of Seska appears behind his shoulder. She greets Chakotay and chides him for being so predictable, like using a tractor beam to try and stop them. Pressing a few controls, she sends a feedback loop back down the tractor beam, neutralising the emitter and freeing the Kazon ship.

Most of the senior staff go down to cargo bay two to work out what to do about the shuttle, and the Kazon. As Tuvok points out, their enemy has never before had an advisor with Maquis, Cardassian and Federation tactical experience. The Kazon shuttle had been specially modified to puncture the hull and Torres decides that it will have to be towed out before they can repair the ship and get underway in pursuit of the Nistrim. Neelix isn’t sure that that is a good idea, until Janeway gets him to stop and think what the effect on the other sects will be when they find out that the Nistrim have transporter technology. He realises that the rest of the Kazon will want it too, and the resulting power struggle among the sects will upset the status quo. They have to get the module back at any price. Chakotay is concerned about the warp trail that Seska has left for them to follow after such a flawless performance to get the transporter module. She is obviously leading them into a trap, and they will need to come up with some unconventional tactics of their own to match her. Tuvok suggests that ‘Commander Chakotay use his intimate knowledge of Seska to manipulate her the way she has manipulated us.’ Captain Janeway looks aghast at Tuvok’s choice of words and the look Chakotay gives the Vulcan as he turns to face him should have left him as a grease spot on the cargo bay floor.

Maje Jal Culluh is describing Voyager’s technology to the Maje of the Kazon Relora and his aide in an attempt to get their sect to join him in it’s capture for a share of the spoils. However, as the leader of one of the strongest sects, Jal Haron not very convinced by Cullluh’s plans. Meanwhile, Torres is telling Chakotay about a way of finding the missing module, by modifying a coil scanner to detect an oscillator in the unit. Chakotay thinks they should assume that the module is shielded from their transporters, and be prepared to use a Seska trick of an anti-proton beam to destroy it instead. But that would require being in very close range, Torres points out, to which he mutters ‘One thing at a time.’ Chakotay is taking the whole situation personally. He let Seska join the Maquis, he took her into his confidence, and his bed. B’Elanna tries to reassure him that it really isn’t his fault, that Seska fooled them all. She was her best friend or so she thought. B’Elanna tells Chakotay not to tense up, and he has to smile at the idea of the fiery half-Klingon giving him advice on controlling his emotions.

On the Kazon ship, Jal Haron is giving Culluh a history lesson, that Nistrim have become weak since his grandfather’s day. Culluh becomes annoyed, and points out that the federation technology gives him the advantage over Haron’s ships and men. Haron accepts this, but suggests that Culluh hand the technology over to the Relora to use in capturing Voyager, then the Nistrim will be rewarded for their assistance afterwards. This suggestion is turned down and guns are drawn. Seska steps in and recommends that the Maje returns to his ship while they think about his offer. Sarcastically, the Relora say that he should listen to his woman, implying weakness on Culluh’s part given the low status of women in Kazon society.

Voyager is back underway and following Seska’s trail when they come across two bodies drifting in space. The EMH pronounces that they were alive when they were beamed into space. Now they have evidence that the transporter module is already part of Kazon technology, although it doesn’t seem to be very reliable yet. Neelix isn’t so sure that this is an accident. He recognises the green band of the Relora’s First Maje, enemy sect of the Nistrum, and suggests that this was a deliberate execution. Haron and his aide didn’t get back to their ship after all.

‘Captain’s Log, Stardate 49208.5. I have convened a meeting of the senior staff to determine how we can get close enough to the Nistrim ship to deploy the antiproton beam.’

Captain Janeway steps down into the briefing room and immediately notices that Chakotay is not there. Torres last saw him in engineering, and Janeway tries to contact him. There is no reply, and the computer announces that he is not on board the ship. The big question on Captain Janeway’s mind is how Chakotay managed to get a shuttlecraft off Voyager without either herself or Tuvok, her Chief of Security, knowing about it. Tuvok assures her that it will not happen again, and says that he has been through the Commander’s personal logs but that he recorded no reference to his plans. The pair arrive in Engineering to meet Torres and learn that the coil scanner is missing too. It is clear to them all that he has gone after Seska. Torres tells them of the conversation in which he admitted to feeling responsible for the situation, but says that she never thought he would try to do it on his own. The shuttlecraft is currently three hours ahead of them, and Janeway orders Paris to pursue at maximum impulse. Then she tells Tuvok to review all security protocols by 2200 hours before storming out of engineering again.

On the Kazon ship, Seska is having to eat humble pie. She was wrong about the Relora joining the Nistrim to take Voyager, Sects do not co-operate, Culluh tells her. Seska suggests that now that they have demonstrated their superior technology with the death of the Relora’s Maje, the other sects will see them as a power to be reckoned with. Culluh thinks that the Relorah were the wrong sect to approach. They should talk to the smaller ones, the Hobii, Mostral and Oglamar instead. Seska agrees, and tells him that she has already contacted them along with the Ogla-Mar. This is step too far for a mere woman among the Kazon, and when she calls him by name instead of title, he makes her lowly position very clear. She backs down quickly, massaging his ego as he dreams of becoming a great a leader as Jal Sankur, who first united the Kazon against the Trabe.

Torres goes to see Captain Janeway in her ready room and tries to explain Chakotay’s motivations. The Captain regards his actions as self-indulgent and the fact that Seska has publicly humiliated him does not give him the right to ignore the chain of command. However, she does assure the young woman that they will concentrate on getting him back first, and worry about discipline afterwards.

Chakotay is alongside the Kazon ship, using thrusters to make his shuttle nearly invisible, while the computer searches for the transporter module. Seska recognises the sensor traces and sends out beams to try and locate him, giving orders which Culluh grudgingly backs up to his subordinates. She broadcasts a message telling Chakotay that she knows where he is and what he is doing. Just as he locates the module, the shuttle is hit by photonic charges, taking the anti-proton beam off line. He turns to plan B and launches a message beacon, while making it look like he has lost control of the shuttle. Culluh gives the order to tow the shuttle into the main hangar. But when they go to examine their spoils, Chakotay is not on board. Instead he is in the doorway behind Seska, and he fires his phaser at the transporter module, destroying it, before ordering the shuttle computer to activate the message beacon. Then, pointing his weapon straight at her face, he walks up to the frightened Cardasssian woman, and gives her the phaser.

On Voyager, Tuvok detects another Federation beacon, and this one is definitely theirs, adds Kim. It is broadcasting an automated message from Chakotay to say that the module has been destroyed and he is probably dead, so don’t bother coming after him. As the bridge crew watch to the message in dismay, Chakotay is being beaten by the Kazon before having his hands manacled behind him. Seska orders the guards out, and tries to persuade Chakotay that talking to her is his best option, as Culluh wants him dead. She offers him a drink, tells him that she has missed him, and makes a toast to old times. He curtly informs her that the shuttle is useless to her as he wiped the computer core then suggests that she just kill him and get it over with. Seska wants him alive for the information he has, just as she did when they were lovers in the Maquis, and as a verbal slap in the face implies that she didn’t rate him in bed. Chakotay is adamant that he will never give up Voyager’s command codes, and that the ship will not follow him into her trap. Seska knows Janeway better, and, telling him that she still cares about Torres, promises that when Culluh is through with him he’ll wish he had told her the codes.

There is an argument raging on Voyager, between Tuvok who is willing to take Chakotay’s claim that he is already dead at face value, and Torres, who refuses to abandon her former Captain and friend. When Kim calls through to tell them of more Kazon vessels joining the Nistrim, Janeway is ready to go with her better judgement and Tuvok. Torres plays her final card, asking the Captain how she thinks Chakotay’s loss would affect the crew and their morale. Janeway goes finally with her gut instinct and Torres.

Chakotay is getting another beating, as Seska’s wiles did not get Culluh Voyager’s command codes. Eventually he offers to give the Maje some important information, and tells him the news that he and Seska were once lovers, proving it by describing some of her little ways, and the mole on her stomach. This is too much for Culluh, and he orders his minion to inject Chakotay with a truth serum, Instead of the command codes however, Chakotay gives him other important information. That when she has finished with Culluh, Seska will kill him. Culluh hits Chakotay one last time and Seska persuades her Maje to leave for a while. He gives her one hour to make Chakotay co-operate. Alone again, she drives a hollow needle into Chakotay’s neck, extracting something. He passes out with the pain and she leaves the room.

Tuvok’s sensors pick up 7 Kazon vessels in the area. Neelix gives his opinion that alliances are unknown but with so many ships there, they need a plan to get Chakotay out. Torres suggests a warp speed beam out, overriding Kim and Tuvok’s objections by assuring Janeway that she can do it because she has done it before. The Maquis did not have the luxury of following protocols. Meanwhile, on Culluh’s ship, the Nistrim Maje is greeting the other sect leaders and giving a little speech telling them that once they have taken Voyager, the Relora and Ogla will no longer be the most powerful Kazon groupings. They will. Jal Surat of the Mostral is not swayed by words, and wants proof that Culluh has Voyager’s command codes so Chakotay is dragged into the meeting and dumped onto the floor.

B’Elanna’s attempts to find Chakotay and beam him off the Kazon ship are not meeting with success. There is no sign of him, but there is a localised dampening field just big enough to conceal a man. Adjusting her instruments, she determines that it is Chakotay, but she cannot lock onto him. Janeway has an alternative plan.

As Culluh fails to get Voyager to drop her shields, the other Maje’s turn on him. They realise that Chakotay did not give him the command codes after all, and tell him that their combined fleet can take Voyager without the Nistrim. Just as they draw guns on Culluh, they are all transported over to Voyager to be greeted by Tuvok and a security guard and informed that their weapons have been made useless. Then the ultimatum is given. They will go free only when Voyager gets it’s first officer and his shuttlecraft back in one piece. The Maje’s all agree to the terms.

‘Captain’s Log, Stardate 49211.5. Now that Commander Chakotay has made a full recovery, I’m faced with the difficult task of responding to his failure to follow procedure.’

Captain Janeway is trying to deal with her first officer’s lack of discipline in a Starfleet manner despite being so far from Starfleet Command. Now fully healed and released from sickbay, he is standing in front of her desk in her ready room, explaining his reasons for his actions. Chakotay tells her that he wanted to keep their technology out of Kazon hands and he thought that going alone would keep the rest of the crew safe. Seska was his problem and he believed he was doing the right thing by taking it on himself to solve that problem. Janeway has a problem too. She thought they had an understanding that this was now a Starfleet ship, and that such matters were not for him to take decisions on alone. He has set a bad example for the rest of the crew by acting unilaterally, and made her job more difficult. She does the only thing she can to reprimand him and puts it him on report, if that means anything out there. Chakotay accepts it as it is meant, and apologises for letting her down. They go out to the bridge, where Tuvok announces that they are receiving a message from Seska for Chakotay. On the view screen, they watch and listen as Seska tells her former lover that she has taken DNA from him and used it to impregnate herself. He is going to be a father.

Review

There is an awful lot of manoeuvring going on in this episode, and not just between Seska and Voyager. Right from the opening teaser when Chakotay explains his hoverball strategy to Torres, little mind games are being played between various parties. Tuvok first antagonises Chakotay with his comment about his previous relationship with Seska to goad him into doing something reckless, and then tries to persuade Captain Janeway not to rescue her errant officer. Torres on the other hand is being best friend to Chakotay, possibly with ambitions of being something more to him. We know from Persistence of Vision that she has a big crush on him, after all.

And what of the main mover in all of this? Seska has so many schemes going on that it is inevitable that one or two of them will fail. She is trying to be an equal to Maje Culluh in a society where the women are invisible; she is trying to arrange alliances between sects that do not understand the concept of co-operation; she is trying to take revenge on her enemy the Federation in the form of Janeway and her crew while keeping the technology intact, and finally, she is trying to have Chakotay’s child as a reminder of their past relationship, despite all her protestations of only getting close to spy on him.

It’s a very busy episode, and I apologise for the length of this article, but there was just so much to fit in. More information about the Kazon, their hierarchy, history and society. More personal relationships and attitudes between Tuvok, Janeway and Torres. The help provided by Voyager’s resident expert on the Kazon, Neelix, and just one line of dialogue from Kes and two from the EMH over the body in Sickbay. The immediate dilemma has been solved, but there is plenty of scope for more trouble ahead with Voyager’s answer to DS9’s Garak out there, spinning her web of self-interest and deceit. Can we believe her final message to Chakotay? She’s told the truth to him before so there is no real reason to think she is lying now. We’ll just have to keep watching and waiting.

This is Trek story-telling at it’s finest. A maximum of character interaction and a minimum of technobabble.

Grade: 9/10

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