Star Trek: Voyager
Originally Broadcast February 26th, 1997
Reviewed by Chakoteya
Voyager is assisting the Nezu to save one of their colony worlds from an asteroid bombardment, but things are not going to plan. The asteroids are not breaking up as they are meant to, and the observers on the bridge – Sklar and the Ambassador – are not pleased when two fragments hit the surface of the planet. This time the area of impact was uninhabited, but the next one is expected to hit a populated one. Doctor Vatm hails from the surface and announces that he has discovered that the asteroids are not what they seem. Sklar insists that they should give up and evacuate the colony, while the Ambassador asks for help finding the Doctor. Chakotay tells B’Elanna to get a sample of the last asteroid to find out why it wasn’t vaporised by their phasers, and Tuvok puts together three search teams.
Neelix comes dashing into sickbay demanding medicines. The EMH suggests a tranquillizer to calm him down after the Captain agreed to let him join Tuvok’s team, and advises him just to watch and learn. Vulcans are very hard to impress. Sklar goes with them in the shuttlecraft, and is very alarmed by the turbulence they encounter on the way down. Kim monitors their problems as they crash-land, and Chakotay orders the other teams to be informed of their status. Then he goes to engineering with the Ambassador to examine the fragment of asteroid Torres has beamed aboard.
Tuvok opens the shuttle door to discover Doctor Vatm and Hanjuan have come to investigate the crash. The Doctor refuses to tell of his discovery to anyone but the Ambassador, much to Sklar’s annoyance. The shuttle is damaged, and Tuvok sends Neelix outside to check on the antennae so that they can contact Voyager. Out there he notices an orbital tether in the distance which links the planet to an orbital station. Vatm tells him that the induction coils were damaged in the last impact, but Neelix has prior experience of mag-lev systems and is sure he can rig something up to get them above the ionosphere where they can contact Voyager with their comm. badges. Tuvok thinks through the pros and cons, then agrees.
The base of the tether is home to Lillias, and she holds a knife to Neelix’s throat until she is assured that they do not want her supplies, and that they can fix the carriage to get them all off the ground. She doubts if they will have enough air for 6, but Neelix persuades her that they do not need to go the whole 12 hours to the station, and she releases him, agreeing to help.
Close scans of the asteroid debris reveal traces of an alloy, and Chakotay breaks it open to reveal a guidance system control node. The bombardment is not a natural occurrence after all.
Repairs to the mag-lev carriage are proceeding well, given that Neelix is the only one who seems to know how things work. Tuvok however is not pleased with the amount of time he spends just talking to the others, and is scathing at his naming it Alixia, after his adventurous elder sister. Lillias confides that she hasn’t heard from her sister since the first impact three weeks ago, and shares some water with him. The group are still working when Doctor Vatm tries to launch the carriage without them. They manage to break in, and start heading skywards before the tether base collapses in rubble, but the ascent is not stable and they begin to lose mag-lev cohesion. In danger of falling back, Neelix decides that they need to speed up, and he gets it up to 47 kph which solves their immediate problem. The early lift off has damaged the oxygen converters and caused some microfractures but when Tuvok asks Neelix about some of the systems he discovers that the carriages that the Talaxian worked on were actually models. Then an argument flares between Lillias and Vatm, and when Tuvok steps in, Hanjuan demands to know who put him in charge. The Vulcan is forced to demonstrate his physical superiority in order to keep things under control.
Paris reports back to Voyager that there is no sign of either Vatm or the shuttle, while Kim announces that a huge asteroid is only two hours away from impact. In the carriage, the air is beginning to get thin, so Tuvok injects everyone with tri-ox compound to help their breathing. As a Vulcan, he is adapted to breathing thin air naturally, so Neelix decides that he had better show him how to fly the carriage. Doctor Vatm distracts them by attempting to open the door, saying that there is something on the roof that is important, then he collapses and dies. Tuvok’s tricorder reveals that he was poisoned by fluid from the tether couplings in his water supply. As that system is sealed, it must be murder. As Tuvok and Hanjuan argue, Neelix announces that they must go outside and find out what the Doctor was talking about. Tuvok is dismissive of his instincts, so Neelix stops the carriage anyway, and lashes out at the Vulcan. Lillias backs Neelix up, saying how dismissive Tuvok is of him. Tuvok denies having feelings for Neelix, which is precisely his point, he has no feelings for, but plenty of feelings against. The carriage will not move until they have searched the roof. Tuvok announces that he is the logical choice as he can breath out there, and goes to look for Neelix’s instinct. Perhaps it will be marked, he comments.
Once out in the cold thin wind, Tuvok discovers a data storage device and scans it to discover it contains tactical information on a alien starship. He informs Neelix of his find, and Sklar heads off to the roof, hitting Neelix and injuring him. On the roof, he struggles with Tuvok, and the Vulcan falls, fortunately grabbing a handhold on the way down. Safely back inside, Sklar orders them to get the carriage moving, waving Tuvok’s phaser and kicking Neelix to try and make him get up. He does not, so the rest have to try and work it out for themselves.
Voyager has the large asteroid in visual range, and discover that it is a ship of the Etanian Order disguising itself with its shields. Janeway refuses to back away, and orders battle stations.
While Lillias struggles with the controls and Sklar orders Hanjuan outside to check the couplings, Neelix opens his eyes to see Tuvok at the door. Slowly, painfully, he reaches for the controls and opens it. With air rushing out, Tuvok comes in and fights Sklar for the phaser. Finally, Sklar loses his footing and falls out of the carriage, back to the planet. With the door closed again, Tuvok sees to Neelix’s injury, and thanks him for his assistance, but confesses that he does not know enough about Talaxian physiognomy to treat his concussion. However, when he exhorts Neelix to try and pilot the ship, for Alixia, the little man struggles to the controls and gets the carriage moving once again.
Voyager and the Etanians are exchanging weapons fire when the carriage breaks through the ionosphere and Tuvok is able to contact the ship. As Voyager’s shields begin to fail, Tuvok uses the data in the storage device to remodulate the phasers and cut through the Etanian defences to destroy their weapons.
After the staff briefing, Neelix joins Lillias in the mess hall to explain about the Etanian’s unusual method of gaining possession of planets for their own colonies. If Voyager hadn’t been there and trying to help, the planet would have been evacuated by the time they had arrived. Tuvok comes in to tell her that the Ambassador has located her sister, and she leaves the two alone, as Neelix is informed that he has been given a special commendation for endurance and bravery in the mission report. The Vulcan insists however that logic is far more reliable than gut feelings, even though they were correct in this instance. Neelix playfully asserts that one day he will get Tuvok to trust his instincts, and notes that he always has to have the last word. Tuvok disagrees, and when Neelix suggests that he hates to lose an argument, comments that losing is irrelevant. ‘See what I mean?’ says Neelix. ‘No, I do not’.
Spot the cliché. Dumb alien, Vulcan in charge and alienating everyone, emotional outburst from unlikely hero, a murder mystery, hand to hand fighting in the most dangerous location possible, bad guy plummeting miles to a nasty thump, devious villains hiding behind a cunning disguise to try and bully the nice guys off their land. This episode has just about everything. Yet it works.
Once again we are reminded that the only people Vulcans are any good at being in charge of are robots and other Vulcans. Tuvok makes as good a job of leading his motley band as Spock did on the Galileo 7. Neelix, however, comes out as a far more rounded and capable individual. More insight into his past (just how old is this guy, he’s done a lot of living before joining Voyager), his character, and why he makes such a good Morale officer. He knows people.
Voyagers Odd Couple are a close match for McCoy and Spock in this episode, especially at the end. It’s the sort of sparring McCoy and Spock did, especially in Journey to Babel. The scenes where the dialogue is in the background as Neelix listens to his gut feelings, like before he stops the carriage, are unusual and well done. We really get to feel with the little man as he works through the situation and comes to his conclusions.
The Rise of the title isn’t just the carriage rising up to safety, it’s the rising of Neelix in Tuvok’s estimation. From the moment Neelix bursts out his anger that Tuvok has no feelings at all for him, yet he has great respect for the Vulcan, there is a step change in the relationship. Understanding begins to dawn. These two should have a great future working together.