Friday, June 10, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"The Cloud"

Five episodes in and VOY is already demonstrating its ability to ruin interesting concepts with its complete in ability to maintain any level of competence with storytelling. Said in competence evident in ’the cloud” involves poor characterization, lack of continuity, and illogic. At least we made it five episodes in before something really awful made it to the screen. That is something.

Voyager is suffering from a lack of omicron particles, which are an energy source different than dilthium crystals in a way not explained. What is know is the crew has to ration their replicator use. Janeway, an ornery old bitty under the best of circumstances, is without coffee, so she orders an expedition inside a nearby nebula to gather omicron particles. Un fortunately, the nebula winds up being a life form which is wounded by the ship’s entrance. The crew than has to figure out a way to speed up the creature’s healing in order to make amends. They wind up expending a dangerous amount of the energy they were hoping to conserve, but chalk it up as penance for their careless actions.

Oddly enough, cleaning up the mess from injuring the creature is not the main emphasis of the episode. It is a backdrop for showing the bonding crewmembers are forced to do since they are out of contact with friends and family in the Alpha Quadrant. The bonding centers on three characters; Janeway, Neelix, and Tom. It is with this trio things go wrong.

Janway’s opening log entry details how she feels it would be inappropriate to maintain the standard emotion distance from her crew a captain normally enjoys because they only have each other. Therefore, she makes herself more available to socialize. Her first indulgence is to Chacotay. He requests to use some items of spiritual significance in order to learn her spirit animal. Ther spirit animal is revealed as a salamander. Remember that when I review the worst episode of Star Trek ever later this month.

There are a couple problems. One, where did Chakotay get these sacred artifacts? He was beamed over from the Maquis ship with nothing but the clothes he was wearing. He ought not have any personal items, yet these artifacts will be the first of many such things he magically owns. You could arue he replicates them, but the spiritual significance would presumably be diminished if so. Still, that is the only explanation I can come up with other than writer incompetence. Since Kenneth Biller is the story editor, that is highly plausible. The second problem is Chakotay says he has never showed anyone these artifacts before. Then when Torres walks in on them two minutes later., he informs Janeway Torres tried to kill her spirit animal. So he used the artifacts to with Torres, but never let her see them? How?

Next, we have Neelix. He is rapidly turning into a jackass instead of the breakout character as intended. He is the one who informs janeway she should not replicate coffee, an act which prompts her to enter the nebula that is not a nebula. Privately, he tells kes he thinks everyone on Voyager is an idiot for belligerently entering a nebula to take things for their own benefit. He later whines to Janeway about their re-entering the creature in order to heal it. Finally, he appoints himself morale officer in order to not only boost everyone’s spirits, but have a readymade excuse to put himself in the middle of the action so he can properly advise. Someone needs to throw him out an airlock. Pronto.

Finally, Tom. In spite of there being an issue with energy use to the point the crew is rationing food, he creates a holodeck French pool hall for Harry and him to hang out--and the rest of the crew, including Janeway, join in. This after a captain’s log explaining how desperate they are to conserve energy! Look, I am not a huge stickler for episode to episode continuity with minor details. If the ship is said to have 40 photon torpedoes in one episode and 43 the next, I do not fret over it. But not being consistent for a few minutes in the same episode is just ridiculous. These are contradictions that jump out at a viewer immediately. How did the creative team miss them?

I will concede the idea of a nebula being alive is a nifty one, as is the crew attempting to clean up their mess after inadvertently injuring it. For that, ’The cloud” earns more than one star. But more than one is all it earns. The person side of the episode, wherein we are supposed to learn to like these characters, is a dud. It is done too sloppily for me to care. The careless manner in which those story aspects are put together does not address how awful a character Neelix is becoming, either. That is just a bonus. "The Cloud” is the first of many VOY duds.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment