Star Trek: Voyager
Originally Broadcast January 22nd, 1996
Reviewed by Christina Luckings
Voyager is in trouble. For the fourth time in two weeks they are being attacked by the Kazon and barely escaping in one piece. With engines, shields and weapons all off-line, a hull breach on deck four, and casualties from all decks flooding into sickbay, Chakotay hopes that their assailants don’t return to finish them off. As a final touch to their catalogue of woes Tuvok announces that the navigational deflector will need repair before they can use more than thruster power. Down in engineering, Torres is setting up an emergency transport for her friend and fellow Maquis, Kurt Bendera, who has been badly burnt when his console exploded. He is just one of many who have been injured down there, and Tom Paris volunteers to go down and assist with getting the engines working again. Janeway agrees and tells Kim to prepare a full damage report before retreating into her ready room.
A little later, Chakotay brings his Captain the news that Bendera died of his injuries. This was the third death in the recent spate of attacks, along with a dozen serious injuries. Janeway offers her sympathy, and asks him to arrange the memorial service. However, her first officer has a lot more to say to her. Their situation out here is a lot like that of the Maquis back home – they are alone, having to create their own opportunities against insurmountable odds in order to survive. He doesn’t think they can carry on the Starfleet way anymore.
At Bendera’s memorial service in the mess hall, Chakotay tells how they first met, when Kurt came to his aid in a fight. As the gathering breaks up, crewman Hogan approaches the Captain to give her his opinion on their situation. With Jonas listening closely nearby, Hogan tell her that he feels that Voyager is not going to survive much longer unless they abandon the Prime Directive and give the Kazon the technology they want. Janeway tersely informs the listening crowd that she’ll blow up the ship before handing any part of it over to the Kazon, then storms out of the room. Chakotay hurries after her, to try and calm things down. She understands Hogan is upset over his friends death; but can see no evidence that Starfleet principles have failed them yet. He offers a middle way. Why not consider forming an alliance with one or two of the factions? Janeway is sceptical about the idea so he leaves her with the thought that maybe her imagination is too limited by protocols. After all, it is her responsibility to make decisions in the best interests of the crew.
In need of an ally for the Starfleet way, Captain Janeway makes one of her rare visits to Tuvok’s quarters. However, her trusted advisor thinks that Chakotay could be right and he reminds her of the alliance proposed by Spock between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. He himself had spoken out against it, but it had turned out to be highly beneficial for the quadrant in the end. The Captain is still not entirely convinced. They would be allying themselves with small factions, not the whole of the Kazon, and only for the time they would be passing through the region. Nevertheless, points out Tuvok, once the Kazon have had a taste of peace, they might decide that they like it.
Captain Janeway announces her decision to form an alliance at the daily briefing, and asks for ways to pursue it. Neelix tells her that he has a contact on the nearby Kazon-Pommar planet of Sobras who has the ear of his Maje. His reaction to the suggestion of an alliance would be useful. Kim suggests getting in touch with Seska, and Torres agrees. She has been trying to create alliances between the factions and might welcome their support. Chakotay thinks it is a bad idea but Janeway tells him that he can’t have it both ways. However, she then turns down his offer to make contact with his former lover, and does it herself.
‘Captain’s log, stardate 49337.4. After sending a subspace message to Seska and Nistrim Maje Culluh, we have received a quick response.’
It is a smiling Maje Culluh, with Seska by his side, who appears on the viewscreen to agree to a meeting at a location of their choosing. Meanwhile, Neelix has arrived at a seedy bar in Sobras and is directed to a table where his ‘good friend’ Jal Tersa is trying to convert a dodecahedron into an icosahedron. His reward will be to spend the night with the bar’s exotic dancer. Tersa knows about Neelix now being aboard Voyager, every one does, but just as the Talaxian begins to explain about the proposed alliance, guards arrive to arrest him. He is dragged away as Tersa denies knowing who he is.
Twenty hours later, Culluh and Seska are in the briefing room discussing the terms of the proposed alliance with Tuvok and Janeway. Voyager will be an ally to any Nistrim ship or outpost, and provide emergency food, medicine or clothing supplies when needed. But they will not provide weapons or technology. Accepting this, Culluh proposes some thing else-an exchange of crewmembers. Seska suggest that they discuss that later and he rounds on her, declaring that he will not be dictated to by a woman. This blatant chauvinism angers Janeway who promptly ends the meeting.
Neelix is detained in some caves with a group of men, women and children who were captured in space five days earlier. Ore of then introduces himself as Mabus, sole surviving member of the Trabe governing council. The Kazon are determined to exterminate their race, but they will not be prisoners much longer as another Trabe ship is on its way to rescue them.
‘Captain’s log, supplemental. We’re on our way to rendezvous with Mr. Neelix. I can only hope that he had more luck with the Kazon than we did.’
There is no sign of Neelix’s shuttle on the long range sensors so Captain Janeway decides to wait for two hours before heading to Sobras. Down in engineering, Hogan is trying to persuade Torres to get back in touch with Seska. B’Elanna no longer trusts the woman who was once her best friend, and angrily tells Hogan that if he doesn’t like Captain Janeway’s decisions, she doesn’t want to hear about it. Jonas listens to the argument with interest.
As the two hour deadline passes, Kim detects an armada of Kazon vessels heading towards them, weapons armed. To the entire bridge crew’s astonishment, they are hailed by Neelix, who introduces Mabus and explains that what they know as Kazon ships are actually stolen from the Trabe. At a special dinner in the mess hall, Mabus tells the senior officers how the Kazon lived in restricted areas, encouraged to fight amongst themselves, until one day when he was eight years old, when they finally turned against the Trabe, killing everyone they could. He was lucky to have escaped on a spaceship with a friend’s family. Since then they have been nomads, as the Kazon have refused to allow them to find a new homeworld. Although few of the generation that persecuted the Kazon still live, their descendents are still being hunted down over thirty years later in the desire for revenge. Captain Janeway sees some parallels between the Trabe and Voyager.
Meanwhile, somewhere else on Voyager, Jonas is trying to persuade a Kazon to pass a message to Seska.
Captain Janeway goes to sickbay where the EMH is giving the Trabe children medical checks. The most common problem is malnutrition, which is easily treated with supplements. Mabus thanks her for the use of the facilities and she asks him to walk with her. On the way down the corridor she suggests that they could form an alliance. He is very interested, but would like to find a way to benefit all the other scattered Trabe as well, and suggests that they take advantage of their combined strength to bring the Kazon to the bargaining table and try to find a way to end the violence.
Culluh reads the message inviting all the Majes to a conference on Sobras and wonders how this state of affairs could have arisen. Seska points out that if he hadn’t tried to insist on that exchange of crewmen it would be the Nistrim allied with Voyager, not their mortal enemy the Trabe. Her assertiveness angers him, but she calls his bluff by reminding him that she is carrying his child and he would not endanger him. She talks him into going to the conference to assess the mood of the other Majes and the strength of the Trabe. Then he could use that knowledge to unite the factions and defeat the Trabe one and for all while taking Voyager as a trophy. Ego suitably massaged, Culluh agrees.
‘Captain’s log, stardate 49342.5. Neelix has returned from Sobras where he learned a disturbing piece of information that may require us to rethink our plans.’
The Kazon-Pommar have captured a mercenary making a sketch of the conference room. The assumption is that one of the Majes wants to sabotage the meeting. Tuvok suggests that the guilty party will be the one who tries to leave the gathering before their forces arrive to massacre their rivals. Janeway insists on continuing as planned, with careful monitoring of all vessels for suspicious activity and a continuous transporter lock on her, Tuvok and Neelix while they are on Sobras.
Planet-side, Neelix is trying to get more information out of Tersa, who is assuming that the conference room is somehow monitored and insisting on discussing the shape of the table instead. It is triangular. Then the Majes are announced: Minnis of the Pommar. Surat of the Mostral, Loran of the Hobii. Valek of the Oglamar and Culluh of the Nistrim. Janeway introduces Mabus and they all sit down to talk, while Tersa hovers around offering food and drink. The Kazon leaders are highly sceptical of the motives behind the meeting, and suggest it is a prelude to the Trabe trying to regain their dominance in the area. Captain Janeway tries to assure them that this is a genuine offer to try and negotiate peace between the three sides, but Culluh calls her a hypocrite for siding with the greatest villains in the quadrant. Mabus gets up and asks Janeway to join him outside to confer for a few minutes. This is the moment Tuvok has been waiting for. The furniture in the room begins to rattle and then a small raider ship appears outside the window. Janeway tells the Kazon to take cover, that it is a trap, then orders Voyager to beam their party out. Chakotay fires three torpedoes into the atmosphere immediately above the attacking vessel and it retreats, leaving the Majes to pick themselves up from the wreckage of the conference room.
In the transporter room, Captain Janeway listens in horror as Mabus justifies his actions. By killing the Kazon leadership he would have given them all a chance for peace. He suggests that she is naïve and lacking in understanding of the harsh realities of life in this region of space. Enraged, she orders him beamed back to his own ship then contacts Paris over the conn. system, telling him to get them out of there fast.
The next senior officers briefing is a post-mortem on the recent events and an assessment of their situation. They have to assume they will be attacked at any moment from now on, so continual diagnostics will be run on all systems and additional battle drills will be scheduled. They have several weeks supply of food and their anti-matter fuel reserves are good. Then, ostensibly speaking to all the staff, but directing her words at Chakotay, she tells them that ‘In a part of space where there are few rules, it’s more important than ever that we hold fast to our own. In a region where shifting allegiances are commonplace we have to have something stable to rely on. And we do. The principles and ideals of the Federation. As far as I’m concerned, those are the best allies we could have.’
For a large part of this show it looked like some positive things were finally going to emerge after the attack in the opening teaser. The Trabe looked like a good ally, the Maquis suggestion of getting involved in the local politics for their benefit and the good of all concerned seemed to be working. But it was not to be. I suppose there really was no way the much vaunted Federation principle of non-interference was going to be allowed to work. So the Trabe turn out to be the Kazon’s original slave-masters and teachers in the way of violence and deception, and the Maquis end up getting a lecture on how doing it the Starfleet way is the best.
It’s a well written story, and the character of the Captain is given some interesting moments when she is forced to try and think outside of the Starfleet box for a change. This episode gives us an in-depth feel for just how dangerous it is to be alone in alien space, and how vulnerable one tin-can surrounded by vacuum really is when it is far from home and the rest of the fleet. Seska is continuing her game of flatter and conquer with Culluh, but the Kazon’s racial chauvinism will take her a long time to overcome. Note that Culluh believes her child to be his, while she has told Chakotay he is the father. A good way to make sure she has protectors on both sides of this conflict should things start to go wrong for her.
I notice in the ‘Voyager Companion’ Kes is alleged to have no lines at all. Not so, she actually has one, exchanged with the EMH while they fail to save Kurt’s life. There are other little details in this story, such as Tuvok’s hobby of cross-breeding orchids with other species, and the mind-numbingly boring duties of an ordinary crewman in engineering. All Hogan has to do all day is make sure the dilithium chamber is filled. Surely, in the twenty-fourth century, they have competent computer systems for that?