Star Trek: Voyager – 3×08/3×09 – “Future’s End”

Star Trek: Voyager
“Future’s End, Parts I & II”
Originally Broadcast November 6th and 13th, 1996
Reviewed by Chakoteya

The Story

Stardate: Unknown / 50312.5

In 1967, a hippie with a tattoo on his left forearm is listening to the radio at his campfire when he witnesses something come crashing to Earth in a ball of flame.

In the Delta Quadrant four hundred years hence, Captain Janeway has decided to take up tennis again after 19 years. Her competitive streak can’t bear the fact that she was beaten in straight sets in the holodeck novice tournament. Tuvok presents his monthly security evaluation report when Chakotay calls red alert and they go to the bridge. An artificial spatial rift has opened in front of Voyager, and a small ship emerges. It is giving off a Federation subspace signature so Janeway decides to hail it, but the only response is a weapons blast that wipes out their shields. Helm is down so they return fire with no effect. Voyager is about to come apart when Chakotay orders a high energy polaron pulse to be sent out through the deflector. The little ship’s weapon is disabled and they are hailed. Captain Braxton of the Timeship Aeon tells Janeway that he has to destroy Voyager because debris from their hull was discovered after a disaster in the twenty-ninth century annihilated Earth’s solar system. However, Chakotay’s countermeasures cause his timeship serious problems, destabilising the rift. The Aeon is dragged back into in, and Voyager cannot help but follow.

After a bumpy ride, the crew pick themselves up to see Earth on the viewscreen. There are no Starfleet communications, however, but a cacophony of EM transmissions. Kim’s astrometric readings say they’ve gone back to 1996. They take steps to avoid surveillance satellites and radar then hunt for the timeship. Tuvok tracks it to Los Angeles so Janeway assembles her away team and hands Voyager over to the care of Ensign Kim.

Suitable attired, Chakotay, Tuvok, Paris and Janeway gaze in awe at the bizarre sights of the people on what I am reliably informed is Venice Beach, Santa Monica. They are within 100 metres of the timeship according to the tricorder. They split into two parties to search more carefully. Although Chakotay has some idea of where his ancestors are in this time, Kathryn has no idea. However she does know that all this area fell into the sea after the Hermosa Earthquake of 2047. Down on the beach the tricorder readings are weaker, so Tuvok and Paris head back for the boardwalk. Meanwhile, Kathryn discovers that the signal they are following is actually coming from an old tramp.

Whilst the Captain and First Office track the down-and-out to his lair, up at Griffith Observatory, a SETI monitoring station picks up what it has been programmed to look for. The astronomer monitoring the equipment quickly picks up the phone to the lab’s sponsor. The CEO of a major computer company is chewing out his chip supplier for coming up with an Edsel for their new range when the call is put through. Rain Robinson introduces herself then breaks the big news of the gamma emission in the frequency profile he supplied to the lab. It has been in orbit right above them for about 90 minutes. He forbids her to tell anyone else or send a message up, just to keep monitoring. When he takes off his jacket to pour himself a glass of water, we see the tattoo on his left forearm. Henry Starling, CEO of Chronowerx, is the hippy from the Sierra mountains.

Rain cannot resist the opportunity of a lifetime and despite orders to the contrary, send up the standard SETI ‘Greetings from Earth’ to the visitors parked over North America. Torres is at the Ops station checking out Voyager’s systems. They have no weapons, and now only short range – ten kilometres maximum – transporters. Over at Tuvok’s tactical station, young Ensign Kaplan picks up Rain’s transmission and puts in on the viewscreen. Should she respond, she asks? Absolutely not! says Acting Captain Kim.

The now stranded away team are tracking the tramp to his lair when Kim reports in about the ship’s status and the message. Janeway orders Kim to give Paris and Tuvok the co-ordinates of the message’s point of origin and sends them on their way by whatever means they can manage. She and Chakotay trail the tramp back to his lair, a graffiti strewn alley with a wrecked car in it. After an initial waving of arms and protestations, the bearded old man suddenly stops and says Voyager! This is Captain Braxton, thirty years older and blaming Janeway for his current predicament. Their deflector pulse upset his navigation system as well as his weapon, and it was sheer chance that they arrived at different times. Over the years he has had plenty of time to work out the original sequence of events. From the original explosion in the twenty-ninth century, to his encounter with Voyager that sent him and his ship back to 1967, where it was stolen by Henry Starling, to eventually be launched with incorrect settings that will cause an explosion in the twenty-ninth century. He has recorded the chronometric data from his sensors on a piece of brown paper which he hands over to them. Braxton’s view of the disaster is that it is a done deal, an inevitable outcome of events already in motion. Chakotay disagrees. He feels that knowing what is to come means it can be changed. Their conversation is curtailed by the police stopping by to tell the ‘Captain’ off for putting up end of the world notices again. Janeway refuses to back up his story about being from the future, and Braxton runs off, chased by the officer.

Over at Chronowerx, Starling is fending off enquiries from CalTech about Rain’s discovery, claiming they are not at the Little Green Men stage yet. He decides that she is a security risk, and sends Dunbar off to get the data and dispose of the astronomer, telling him to take the Weapon with him just in case Someone is already here.

Tuvok and Paris arrive at Griffith Observatory in a vehicle they are ‘taking for a test drive’. Rain is out of her laboratory for the moment as they conduct a very untidy search, with Paris handling her Godzilla paperweight and scattering papers. Tuvok tells him off for sloppy procedure then Rain returns with a pizza. The two pretend to be lost, so she gives them clear concise directions back to the lobby. Paris refuses to budge, calling the lab ‘groovy’ then commenting on her curves – the curves of her Fourier analysis to be precise. Then he begins waxing lyrical over the old B-movie horror posters on the wall. During the distraction, Tuvok has been working with his tricorder. Just as she was getting to like Tom, he leaves, so Rain returns to her computer to discover that her machine has been corrupted. She chases them outside to demand to know what is going on, when Dunbar turns up and takes pot-shots at them with his version of a phaser. Tom and Tuvok’s transportation is vaporised in front of her eyes so, after Tuvok has shot Dunbar’s weapon out of his hand, they take her VW Camper van and make their escape.

‘Operations Officer’s log, supplemental. We’ve been on full sensor alert looking for signs that anyone else has detected Voyager. As a precaution, I’ve also asked Neelix and Kes to monitor all media broadcasts.’

In the mess hall, a large monitor unit is showing clips from 6 shows at a time, according to a search parameter. Whilst doing this, Neelix and Kes have become hooked on a soap opera. Kim leaves them to get on with it.

That night, Chakotay and Janeway break into Starling’s office, and discover a forcefield with no obvious control panel. Kathryn begins tapping at his computer to see if she can find a way in. The tricorder gets her past the password lock and into an impressive database. Isograted computer technology began to appear in 1969 because of the presence of the timeship. She contacts Kim and gets him to lock into her tricorder. From there they can upload the entire contents for further study. Then they stumble on the timeship data, and unlock the forcefield to view the Aeon in it’s hanger right there next to the office. Meanwhile, Tuvok has discovered that the future phaser has wrecked their comm. badges, and they have no way of contacting their ‘friends’. Rain wants to go home, but Tom persuades her that it is too dangerous. He also tries to convince her that they are secret agents, but his references to the KGB and other out of date language fail to convince her of that story.

Kim works on making the link to begin grabbing data just as Starling comes in with Dunbar and catches Janeway and Chakotay. He knows that they are there to take the timeship, but doesn’t believe their story about the impending disaster. Then Janeway’s comm. badge chirps, she gives the order to begin uploading, and Starling realises what is happening. He grabs her badge and tells Kim to stop or he will kill her. The ensign complies, then decides that in order to rescue his Captain he will have to break one of her orders. They break orbit, swooping low over Los Angeles as Starling checks his computer to see what data has been taken. Then the two captives are beamed away. On the bridge Janeway orders them to try to get the timeship too. However, Starling uses the transporter to grab Voyager’s database instead. They have to give up when the engines begin to be affected. Starling hails them and begins gloating over the twenty percent of the information he has managed to get, including the fact that they are only from the twenty-fourth century, and something else that attracts his attention. Janeway cuts him off in mid flow. Damage reports are no too serious, until Kes calls from sickbay to inform the Captain that the EMH programme is gone. Then Neelix tells of a news broadcast currently on the air. Kim transfers it to the main screen where the crew watch in horror as Voyager is clearly seen in amateur footage as it flew over the city.

To Be Continued

Next morning, Rain’s camper is parked up by the fountains in Metro Plaza while Tom tries to turn her car radio into a starfleet specification transceiver. He fails with a phut and a wisp of smoke while she puts two and two together and comes up with the right answers. Tuvok returns with chilli burrito, hotdogs, and other stuff suitable for an afternoon at Dodger Station. They realise that the radio telescope at the Observatory would make a good communications device, and head back there after breakfast.

The remains of the senior staff are discussing their status. Torres can replace most of the missing programmes, but not the EMH. Kim has been examining Braxton’s brown paper and agrees with his hypothesis about the disaster. Neelix has continued monitoring broadcasts and has determined that despite denials, the US military is indeed taking the UFO sighting very seriously. Tuvok calls from the Observatory to report on their situation and tell his Captain about Rain. As she and Tom appear to be bonding on a cross-cultural level, he believes that she would be willing to help them in their mission.

Henry Starling has holo-emitters in his office. He uses them for virtual testing of new designs, usually, but now he is using them to talk to the EMH and try to find out Voyager’s plans for getting the timeship, and Captain Janeway’s psychological profile. ‘I’m a Doctor, not a database’, responds the EMH, claiming that he cannot be coerced. Then he falls to the floor, experiencing pain for the first time. A simple reconfiguring of the tactile response sensors was all it took to get the holograms undivided attention. Starling is interrupted in this interrogation by a telephone call from Rain. She claims that she wants him, personally, to come and protect her from the people who are looking for her. He agrees, although she notes that he sounded a little suspicious. Then he tells the EMH that he is going on a journey with him. The Doctor disagrees, pointing out that he can only go where there is a holographic emitter. Later, the EMH steps out of Starling’s limousine at Metro Plaza, sporting a new gadget on his left sleeve.

Part two of Janeway’s plan is also underway. Torres and Chakotay are flying a shuttle which has had it’s shields reconfigured to look like a small plane. He uses the journey to reminisce about his Academy days, learning to fly in various environments, and what he might do if they had to stay here for the rest of their lives. He considers becoming an archaeologist, making a big discovery in Central America and winning a Nobel prize. Then they begin their final descent. Tom calls them to inform them that Starling has arrived with the EMH. Tuvok send the co-ordinates of Rain’s van. They will be able to beam their target onto the shuttle once he is inside it. Rain goes to meet Starling and he informs her that they will take his car instead. There is a hurried recalculation of co-ordinates as they all get in, and Torres begins the transport in front of Rain’s horrified eyes. She runs, while the EMH punches Dunbar and makes his own getaway, meeting up with Paris and Tuvok by the camper van. Starling, however, has activated some sort of device and is wreaking havoc with the shuttle’s systems. Janeway orders Starling to be taken directly from the pattern buffers onto Voyager, and deactivates his blocking signal. Henry collapses after such a long time in mid-transport.

The shuttle crashes somewhere in Arizona, and it’s occupants are found by ‘survivalists’ who tie them up and put them in a cellar. The uniforms and the USS on their prototype ship convince them that Chakotay and Torres must be from the Federal Government, and one sits guard while the other rounds up the rest of the gang. Janeway calls Tuvok to tell them to go and find their missing crew. He and the EMH will undertake that mission while Rain and Tom drive back to Chronowerx to get the timeship.

Janeway talks to Starling in sickbay, and learns a few harsh truths about twentieth century attitudes towards business. He doesn’t care about the future, all he cares about is getting more future technology to keep his business moving forward. Starling is the father of the computer revolution and he intends to keep that position. If she tries to teleport the ship again, it will explode, taking the city with it. Naturally, Janeway cannot agree with his point of view.

As Chakotay tries to persuade his captors that violence is not the answer, the Feds are sighted approaching the building. They take up their positions for a fight. Meanwhile, Dunbar is using the timeship computer to activate SATCOM47 and search for his employer. It finds him and returns him to his office, just as Tuvok informs the Captain that he has arrived in Arizona. He stuns the Feds and the survivalists then the EMH enters the cellar. Shotgun blasts pass through him before he stuns the remaining man and frees Chakotay and Torres.

Rain and Tom get to Chronowerx as a truck comes out, leaving a trail of tachyon emissions. They follow it out of the city onto a desert road, heading towards a small airfield. Rain points out to Janeway that it is going to be very obvious to the truck driver that he is being followed. Sure enough, they are shot at, so Tom tells her to drive up close then shoots out a rear tyre. The truck goes careering out of sight, and the van slides to a halt and the engine stalls. Then the truck reappears over the brow of the hill. Tom and Rain leap for their lives just as the shuttle swoops down and blasts it into a ball of flame. Then Torres makes the discovery that it was just a ruse. Chakotay calls Voyager to warn them that Starling is going to launch from a different site.

Starling is starting his launch sequence inside the Chronowerx building and blasts out in a shower of glass and steel. Voyager tracks him into the upper atmosphere while Janeway tries to work out how to stop the ship. She decides that it will have to be a manual torpedo launch, and leaves the bridge in the competent hands of Ensign Kim yet again. Paris and Rain make a tender farewell before he is beamed onto the shuttle, and the away teams rendezvous with Voyager. Once safely back, Kim hands command over to Chakotay and they chase Aeon at warp while Kaplan escorts the EMH to torpedo tube one, where his services may shortly be needed by the Captain. A temporal rift starts to open, so Chakotay hails Starling to try and reason with him once again. He does not believe in fate, or that events are inevitable, unlike Tuvok. Starling however believes that Voyager does not have any weapons. Chakotay gives the order to fire, and a photon heads towards the Aeon, destroying it.

Singed but otherwise well, Janeway returns to the bridge to see the rift reopen and a young Captain Braxton hailing them. The timeline has been changed with the destruction of Starling’s ship, he has no knowledge of an explosion in the twenty-ninth century, and he has come to take them back to where they were. Faced with the choice of being stranded in their past or in their present, Janeway chooses the twenty-fourth century, and follows him ‘home’.

Captain’s log, stardate 50312.5. We are again in the Delta Quadrant, at the exact time and place we first encountered the timeship. I’ve resumed a course for Earth and I’ve ordered the crew to the Mess Hall for a toast.

The toast is ‘to the future’, then the group breaks up for smaller conversations. The EMH plans to spend more time out of sickbay, and Kes is confident that she can cope with the extra responsibility. Janeway isn’t too sure about his request for quarters of his own, and Torres points out that she doesn’t completely understand the technology of the autonomous emitter. However, moving his programme back and forth between it and Voyager’s main computer doesn’t seem to be a problem. Tom regales Chakotay and Neelix with the tale of Tuvok trying to use logic to dissuade a parking attendant from giving Rain’s van a ticket. Of course it failed. Tuvok reposts with a comment about Tom’s alleged knowledge of the twentieth century, and the party continues with laughter.

Review

When Trek decides to play in the twentieth century, you can be pretty sure you are in for a fun ride. Future’s End is no exception. There are visual and audio gags for the well informed as well as a well put together script with enough twists and turns to stop it dragging. Rain’s toys in her lab, Tuvok’s bandana, Janeway’s comments about stone knives and bearskins are all there for the aficionado to raise a smile in memory of Original missions, particularly City on the Edge of Forever.

Of course, this ‘history’ is not our real one. Once the Aeon exploded, it had never been on Earth to start the computer revolution early, with different technology (I wonder what isograted circuits are, and if they are much better than integrated ones), so Chronowerx never existed.

Purists might wonder whatever happened to the Eugenics Wars which should also have been about this time, with 1996 being the launch date of the Botany Bay with Khan Noonien Singh on board. Who cares? What was a great premise for Space Seed (and Wrath of Khan) back in the 60’s was always going to be bizarre by the time the actual year arrived. Does anyone complain about the world of 1984 not matching the book?

No. We’re just very grateful that the prophecy of doom didn’t happen, and accept it as the work of great fiction that it really is. Despite the ‘reset button’ nature of the tale, this is not a story without consequences. The EMH is now in possession of twenty-ninth century technology which gives him scope for more away missions and opportunities to be sarcastic to people in locations without holo-emitters. Of course, we could also get more ‘malfunction’ stories too.

I wonder what the Temporal Integrity Commission will make of this violation of the Temporal Prime Directive? Will they try to get the emitter back? Somehow I doubt it. So sit back and enjoy Tom Paris making silly mistakes about his famed knowledge of the twentieth century, Tuvok behaving like a real ‘freakasaurus’, the EMH being acerbic in the fresh air for a change, Torres trying to bite a man’s finger off, and Chakotay giving the order to fire that could have resulted in him being Captain of Voyager and Janeway burnt toast on the torpedo bay floor.

Grade: 9/10

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