Star Trek: Voyager – 2×26/3×01 – “Basics”

Star Trek: Voyager
“Basics”
Originally Broadcast May 20th, 1996 & September 4th, 1996
By Christina Luckings

The Story

Stardate: Unknown/50032.7

Voyager’s sole life-prisoner, Lon Suder, is being visited by his chief warder, Tuvok. He proudly shows him the results of his botanical experiments – a new species of orchid created from two otherwise incompatible plants. The Tuvok Orchid, he names it, in honour of the man without whom none of this could have been possible. The meld that took place when Tuvok was trying to learn the motive for Suder’s murder of Frank Darwin has introduced him to floriculture, and he has made it his main preoccupation whilst in solitary confinement. Now he wants to try and adapt the genetic engineering techniques that he has developed here to make the airponics garden more productive. Tuvok is impressed, and tells Suder that he will discuss it with the Captain. Then they settle down to a guided meditation session.

On the bridge, a Kazon signal is being beamed to the ship via an unmanned buoy. It is a badly scrambled image of a newborn baby, and Seska is pleading with Culluh not to take Chakotay’s son away from her. Then it cuts off with a scream. In the ready room, Chakotay is furious with Seska for using him like this and tells Janeway that he can’t just leave the ship and go running off after the child. Janeway wouldn’t let him go alone anyway, and they both know that Seska is capable of using her baby as bait in a trap for Voyager. If they go, they all go together, but it will have to be Chakotay’s choice.

The first officer goes to his quarters to try and get some advice from his father, via a vision quest. Kolopak is building a camp fire as Chakotay tries to explain why the birth of his son is not a cause for celebration, because he had nothing to do with it, his DNA was stolen and used against his will. Once this strange method of procreation has sunk in, Kolopak realises that he needs to decide whether to accept the child in his heart. Chakotay is angry. How can he accept a child that is forced on him by deception? The child is innocent, his father points out, then goes on to remind his son of their tribal history, of children conceived after the women were raped by white conquerors, how they were accepted and at least one went on to become a great leader – Ce Actyl – and one of his ancestors. Chakotay accepts the analogy.

The senior staff make their plans in the briefing room. Neelix has been in touch with the Talaxian colony on Prima 2 and they are willing to come to their aid if asked, for as long as they are within com range. Janeway wants tactical to come up with a few tricks as she is sure they are walking into a trap. Harry suggests using echo displacement to make it look like there are other ships in the area coming to their aid. The EMH adds that they could create holographic ships by using ‘mirrors’ as well. It will take a lot of power, and as Tuvok points out, a simple scan would reveal the deception very quickly. Nevertheless, Janeway is willing to take every suggestion as a means of giving themselves a little extra edge on this rescue mission. As the meeting is dismissed, Chakotay has one more thing to say. Thank you.

Voyager has found a Kazon ship, but it is not Culluh’s, it’s a damaged shuttle with one injured occupant. He is beamed to sickbay for treatment. The EMH reports that he has inhaled noxious gases and has many other injuries. Chakotay recognises him as Tierna, the Kazon who beat him up on Seska’s orders before she made herself pregnant. Tierna tells them that Seska is dead. They had just launched the message buoy when Culluh’s men came for her and cut her throat as a final punishment for manipulating the Maje once too often. Tierna bribed a guard to let him escape and stole a shuttle, but Culluh fired on it, destroyed his life support systems and left him to die slowly. The child has been taken to the Jima 4 colony to be raised as a servant. Chakotay informs the patient that he has no choice but to help them get to the colony, then asks the EMH to run an autonomic response analysis the next time he questions him. The EMH points out that he does not have any baseline references for the delta quadrant species, so he cannot tell when one is deliberately lying, but if it is any help, another hour in that shuttle and Tierna would have died.

Down in engineering, Torres and Kim have found no evidence to disprove Tierna’s story either, but Chakotay does not trust him. In the briefing room, the Kazon shows the route to the Jima colony on the monitor, and Neelix challenges him on going around the Tenarus cluster instead of through it. Tierna tells the truth, that they would encounter the Nistrim fleet within a day if they tried that and Neelix confirms it to Captain Janeway. Chakotay challenges their guest to provide the command codes for the Kazon defence net, and he does. The monitor lights up with the relevant locations and Paris leaves to adjust their heading to avoid it. Tierna gives one last warning. This area of space contains Kazon factions loyal to no one.

Their first enemy encounter is with a small raider. Tuvok says it is not a significant threat although it’s attack does cause damage to the secondary command processors on Deck 12. As soon as they return fire, it retreats. They go beyond the comm. range of the Talaxian colony, and with nothing on long range sensors, Janeway takes this time to go with Tuvok to hear Suder’s proposal. The prisoner is nervous at having a guest, and is a bit chatty to start with, but Tuvok makes him get to the point. Suder shows her his new gene splicing technique and Janeway the scientist is interested. When he mentions equipment and chemicals she becomes suspicious, but he gives her a list and assures her there is nothing dangerous there. She says that she will get back to him, and he becomes agitated, repeating that he only wants to do something for the ship. Janeway leaves.

‘Captain’s Log, supplemental. None of the four Kazon attacks have caused serious damage, but the starboard ventral has been hit each time, complicating repairs on the secondary command processors.’

The EMH is still bothered by Tierna’s abnormally high red blood cell count when Chakotay walks into sickbay. He tells Tierna that they have had no problem repelling the Kazon attacks so far, and Tierna sneers that they are not real attacks. When one does come, they will know it. Chakotay sees the same Kazon pride in his eyes that he saw when he was helpless and being beaten up by Tierna. Then he grabs him by the throat and slams him against the wall, wanting to know if the attacks on Voyager’s starboard ventral are a pattern. The EMH protests mildly about this display of violence in his sickbay then red alert sounds again, and Chakotay releases Tierna from his grasp. Their guest is escorted back to his quarters by a security guard.

Once again, the starboard ventral and its secondary command processors come under attack and once again it is easily driven off. Chakotay wonders why all these non-aligned factions have the same agenda and Janeway feels that they are being pecked to death by ducks. The processors will take two days to rebuild in the mean time, so Janeway decides to reverse course and try another strategy. Chakotay orders Tierna restricted to quarters on a secure deck, which in practice means he is moved next door to Suder. Neelix is delivering Lon’s dinner, a nice leola root soup, when red alert sounds again. This time Voyager is encountering eight large carrier vessels eight minutes away in a classic Cardassian attack pattern with one obvious avenue of escape for the little ship. Janeway refuses the invitation and heads straight for the lead ship instead.

The echo displacement ploy of 10 fake Talaxian ships makes four of the Kazon ships break off in pursuit, and B’Elanna is ready to create three holographic ones on her Captain’s orders. The EMH is a little more unsure, and wants to run one last systems check. Janeway holds her phaser fire until the nearest ship is only 2000 kilometres away. Shields begin to drop slightly and Torres initiates the holo-programmes, creating two small fake ships that divert the big Kazon vessels away. Number three is not a success, however, as the EMH finds himself floating in space dodging phaser fire. Torres retrieves him and he curtly tells her that they should have run that last systems check.

While Captain Janeway is expending three precious photon torpedoes on the fourth Kazon vessel, blowing it into atoms, Tierna is doing something very strange in his quarters. He removes his left big toe nail, pulls a needle from it and injects himself. Then he screams loud enough for Suder to hear him next door and an explosion rips through the bulkheads and along the corridor. Kim registers it on his console and Chakotay immediately locates it as Tierna’s quarters. As power fails all over Voyager, the holographic ships disappear and they lose warp. It is now three against one, so Paris volunteers to take a shuttle to fetch the Talaxians. Janeway agrees and orders Chakotay to take the helm.

As Paris makes his getaway, Voyager takes a pounding, and eventually it is boarded through the shuttle bays. Janeway plays her final card – she orders an evacuation and instructs the computer to set the self destruct sequence for a ten minute countdown. Then she discovers why the secondary command processors were such an important target in those early attacks. Without them, self destruct cannot be initiated and despite all Janeway’s proud boasts, Voyager and its technology will finally fall into the hands of the Kazon.

Culluh and Seska, carrying her child, come onto the bridge to gloat over their kneeling captives. Chakotay gives it a sort of blessing – may he grow up never knowing the contempt his father has for his mother – and Culluh tells him that he intends to adopts the boy, since Seska has told him that he is a product of a rape. Janeway stands up and demands to discuss what happens next, only to be slapped across the face. Culluh informs her that she will be treated just like a Kazon woman then rails about alpha quadrant women in general, and Seska in particular, how they even dare to contradict their Maje in front of the senior askara! Then he gives order to begin repairs and set course for the Hanon system, and the Voyager crew’s new home. As the crew are rounded up and herded into a cargo bay for the journey, Culluh and Seska settle into the command chairs, proud of their new flagship. The EMH deactivates himself with a 12 hour automatic recall to be on the safe side. Suder’s quarters are wrecked and empty of life.

With essential repairs complete, and the crew safely corralled, Culluh is told that there are two crew unaccounted for, and one shuttle missing, reported destroyed. Seska ‘suggests’ that they make sure of that, and check for a recent warp trail anyway. Voyager reaches Hanon and lands on the planet under Culluh’s competent Captaincy. He has selected a volcanically active area for their new home, and once out on the surface their com badges are finally taken away from them. ‘A fitting end for a people who would not share their technology. Let’s see if you manage to survive without it.’ Culluh gloats over Janeway’s plight before leaving them to their fate. The Captain orders her crew to divide up into teams to find water and shelter, to survive until help arrives. Chakotay thinks the planet is equivalent to Earth during the Pliocene. As they turn to watch Voyager lift off, one of the local lifeforms creeps out of its cave, then Torres spots something else – a native hunting party armed with spears.

On the ship, the EMH pops back into existence, and in a ventilation shaft, Lon Suder hides from the Kazon.

To be continued

Chakotay’s survey team includes Samantha Wildman and her baby. She is getting tired from carrying the infant so Chakotay takes her for a while, reminding the rest to take it easy, because perspiring wastes water. Janeway’s team find a good sheltered location in the cliffs where she decides they will make camp while Hogan on Neelix’s team finds humanoid remains laid out at a different cave entrance. Neelix thinks they might be a keep out sign, but they could also make useful tools, so despite Hogan’s reluctance he agrees to gather them all up. Neelix is called away to examine a potential food plant when a scream rings out. They rush to the cave mouth but Hogan is gone.

Tom Paris is trying to repair his shuttle when another Kazon patrol vessel approaches. He despatches it quickly, muttering all the while that he doesn’t have time for this.

In the shelter, Chakotay has to inform Captain Janeway that all they could find of Hogan is the tattered remains of his uniform. Angrily, she informs the crew that this is going to be the last death here then gets a status report from her senior officers. Tuvok has already begun designing basic weapons, Chakotay can make solar stills from Hogan’s uniform to get them water by the morning, but Neelix has to admit they have yet to find any food plants. Janeway turns over a couple of stones and gathers a handful of maggots to wave under everyone’s noses. These may be the difference between life and death for them all.

On Voyager, Seska walks into sickbay and orders the computer to activate the EMH. He walks out of his office with his usual line and proceeds to examine her baby. She tells him about the change of command and asks if he has a problem with it. Totally nonplussed, he replies that he is programmed to provide medical care to anyone who needs it. When she challenges him over his capacity to lie, he says that he doesn’t have much experience with it, but he is sure he could learn if she wanted him to. The baby is pronounced well, but when she says that Chakotay would be glad to know he is looking after his son, the EMH is surprised. The child has no human DNA, as he shows her on the monitor. As the first Cardassian – Kazon offspring, there is no precedent for how such a child will look and develop. The bottom has fallen out of Seska’s world but she puts a brave face on it. Maje Culluh will be so pleased with this news. She deactivates the EMH and storms out. However, the EMH has control of his deactivation sequence and immediately reappears again. He begins a medical log entry then paces up and down wondering what he can do about the situation. He’s a doctor, not a counter-insurgent. Thinking positively, he asks the computer for the crew complement and is startled to hear that along with 89 Kazon there is one Betazoid on board. Lon Suder is hiding between decks 8 and 9 when the EMH contacts him to come to sickbay. Then he orders the computer to delete Suder’s com badge signature so that the Kazon do not find out about him.

The night air is cold in the rock shelter, and the crew is ordered to huddle together for warmth when Kim and Torres return with a pair of very large eggs and some vine-grown fruit that they found two hours away. She sends them to Neelix with orders to hold off the beetle stew for the time being. Chakotay is reliving his childhood failures at starting fires by rubbing sticks together, until he realises that human hair would make good kindling. Janeway and another woman sacrifice locks for the cause of heat and a fire is finally born. Their success is observed by one of the natives. A little later, Neelix goes to find bigger rocks to reflect the heat better and Kes follows to warn him to stay close to camp, but once outside she is grabbed and taken away.

Paris is in communications range of the Talaxian colony and getting an update on Voyager’s situation. Paxim is reluctant to take on the Kazon with their small ships, but Tom assures him that he has a plan. Well, he hopes he will come up with a plan.

Tuvok has been busy with his weapons, and has made himself a bow and spears for the others. At daylight a party goes out to search for Neelix and Kes. The pair are unharmed, and surrounded by curious natives. Chakotay goes down unarmed to assess the situation. Neelix tells him that the older man with the bone necklace is the leader, and the other two are trying to work out what to make of them. They are very interested in Kes. Calmly, Chakotay speaks to the natives and gestures toward Kes and Neelix. The natives become agitated but the chief silences them, then offers Chakotay one of their women in exchange. Politely, he gives her back to him, so the chief tries again with Neelix who also refuses, but more vigorously. Chakotay tells Kes to stand up and walk away slowly. They get partway up the slope when the natives give chase, then the rest of the search team appear on the ridge and one of the locals is felled by an arrow. Fleeing from their pursuers, the team go into one of the caves in the belief that the native’s fear of whatever killed Hogan will stop them from following. They are absolutely right.

On Voyager, Culluh and Seska are giving their chief engineer a hard time over the sudden and unexpected freezing of the anti-matter injectors. She has an idea and orders the computer to run a scan for intruders, but it replies that the internal scanners are damaged. The harassed engineer thought all repairs were complete. Suder and the EMH are watching Seska giving her orders on a desk monitor, as she instructs the Kazon to do a deck by deck search with Federation tricorders. The former Maquis asks for a portable thoron generator, so that he can blind those tricorders as he moves through the ship.

Samantha’s baby is starting to run a fever, and Janeway is bothered by Chakotay’s non-return. She organises a search party. At the cave entrance, the natives have started brush fires to smoke their enemies out, so the team retreat further in, searching for another exit. The seismic tremors are becoming more frequent and parts of the roof begins to crumble as they follow the faint trace of a breeze blowing through the tunnels. Their path leads them to a ledge around a cavern where a giant worm-like creature is sleeping off it’s last meal. Janeway’s group find the natives and their fires, and correctly assume that Chakotay is inside the cave. Torres, Ayala and another crew woman throw rocks at the natives from a ridge then run back to the camp when they are chased, while Janeway and the rest sneak in to pull the burning bush from the cave entrance and give the others an escape route. Tuvok, Chakotay and co are trying to sneak past the monster when the ledge crumbles and an anonymous blue-uniformed crewman slips, waking it up. It grabs this sudden snack meal and the rest retreat away from it’s jaws. They dash back down the tunnel and hear Janeway’s voice calling them, so Tuvok and Chakotay use the spears to bring down the rest of the loosened roof to block the creature in before emerging finally back into the daylight.

While the thoron ‘leak’ is ruining the Kazon search for the saboteur, Tom Paris is sneaking a message in to the EMH on his emergency channel. He tells him that he is bringing help, and tells him to get the computer to block the discharge from the back-up phaser coupling once the attack begins, and no sooner. Tom will take out the primaries himself. Suder returns to sickbay with a weapon and the body of one of the searchers then collapses to the floor. The trauma of having killed again is affecting him greatly, but he rejects the EMH’s offer of a sedative in favour of one of Tuvok’s meditative techniques. Meanwhile, Culluh tells Seska that their patrol ship has destroyed the missing shuttle, and mentions the thoron leak. She knows now that there is a Maquis saboteur on board.

On the planet, Tuvok is advocating war with the natives, while Janeway and Chakotay are in favour of finding a way to co-exist. Then the nearby volcano erupts, and their next priority is dictated – they have to find a new camp.

Seska storms into sickbay with two guards, demanding to know why the EMH is online when she shut him down earlier. Then she asks after the thoron generator and he says it was left behind on an away mission. Finally she wants to know who of the original crew is still on board. The EMH starts out by saying several dozen, then one Maquis, then claims that he did it all by himself with help from the computer. He even shows her the body of the man Suder killed, claiming it as his own work. The thoron leak was to make her believe he was hiding someone. His talent for deception was inspired by the presence of a master, he tells Seska to her face. Angered, she orders the computer to disregard all Federation crew voice commands then destroys the console that controls his holographic emitters. The Talaxian attack starts at that moment.

Suder returns to an empty sickbay, and his instruction to activate the EMH triggers a pre-recorded message. This piece of forethought includes words of encouragement and a reminder of Tom Paris’s instructions on what to do when the attack starts. With the fate of Voyager now solely in his hands, he steels himself for what he must do. The Talaxian attack provokes the Kazon into chasing them to where Paris is waiting in a nearby nebula to do his stuff. Just as he planned.

Down on the planet, two tribes are trying to get away from flowing rivers of lava, heading in the same direction. One of the native women begins to scream – another young native is trapped on a rock now surrounded with molten rock. Unhesitatingly, Chakotay sets off down the slope, picking up the stranded female in an easy fireman’s lift and returning her to her people. The native chief points to a way up the slope, and allows the Voyager tribe to come along as fellow travellers.

Inside the nebula, Paris attacks Voyager’s phaser couplings while the Kazon try to work out where the weapons fire is coming from. Suder has made it to engineering and charges in, firing his weapon at anyone and everyone, then goes to the panel to create the blockage in the back up couplings. As he works, a dying Kazon reaches a weapon and shoots him in the back. Suder’s dying act is to press button 34, and finish the job. Up on the bridge, they finally get a fix on Paris’s shuttle and Culluh orders phasers to be locked on the target. The primaries fail, they switch to the backups and then get the overload warning. Energy ripples all over Voyager’s hull, and Paris tells Paxim that he is ready to start transporting his people onto the ship. Seska is badly injured, but manages to drag herself into the ready room to check on her son before dying. Culluh follows his beloved in, sees that she is dead and, as his chief engineer reports that they are being boarded, picks up their child whilst ordering his crew to abandon the ship. There is nothing left for him here. Paris goes to his customary helm position to try and get Voyager back under his command. He lets Culluh’s shuttle and the escape pods go without molestation because he is in a hurry to get to his Captain.

The native chief gets some herbs out of his medicine pouch and places them on baby Wildman’s chest. They must release some aromatic vapours because the infant stops crying and breaths more easily. Then another native calls out and points at a wonderful sight – Voyager is swooping in for another landing.

Once back on board her ship, Janeway rushes to the bridge to hear Tom give credit to the Talaxians, the EMH and Suder for their rescue. Tuvok is in sickbay to hear the EMH praise Suder, and to offer the Betazoid a Vulcan prayer – May your death bring you the peace you never found in life. On another biobed, Chakotay smoothes a strand of Seska’s hair, then silently covers her face and walks away. Voyager is judged to be capable of sustained flight and Captain Janeway gives the order to set a course for their old home, warp 8.

Review:

This is a rip-roaring action-packed adventure which was spread over the end of season two and the start of season three, just to make sure the viewers came back to see how it was resolved. We have the wonderfully spooky Brad Dourif reprising his role as sociopath Lon Suder, Martha Hackett manoeuvring everyone as Seska, while Anthony deLongis does a good job under that Kazon makeup as Maje Culluh. Add a bunch of Talaxians who all look the same to me, some good primitives, minimal use of some excellent special effects, the return of Kolopak and two crew deaths and it all mounts up to a great Voyager story.

Lots of threads are tied up with this one. Seska’s baby turns out to be Culluh’s after all, despite her plans. The issue of having a murderer living off Voyager’s resources for the rest of the trip is dealt with terminally and heroically. We finally wave goodbye to the Kazon, who were a good idea that never really worked on the screen. Janeway’s favourite ploy of threatening to blow up the ship is thwarted in a way she didn’t expect, and I loved the look on her face when she realised it. Chakotay gets to draw a line under his long running love-hate relationship with Seska and move on. It was a shame to lose Hogan, and Mr Anonymous, but deaths have been so rare in this show that it made them all the more shocking when they happened. We also get to see a fairly unpleasant and cynical side of Tuvok, the Vulcan who is ready and willing to wage war on anyone and everyone who might get in his way. A far cry from the teachings of Surak, if I recall my original Trek correctly.

Small grips department – Samantha still hasn’t named her daughter, even though it is at least two months since she was born!

Michael Piller proves with this story that he is a worthy creator of Voyager, probably more so than Jeri Taylor with Resolutions, and Winrich Kolbe that he is the director of choice for the big shows. A must-see.

Grade: 9/10

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