Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Persistence of Vision"

“Persistence of Vision” is the first VOY script which Jeri Taylor writes without collaboration. Therefore, its theme is Janeway is Awesome. Get used to that. Taylor lives vicariously through Janeway on a regular basis from the now until the end of the fifth season. Her fascination with Janeway is not a detriment here, however. “Persistence of Vision” is one of the best episodes VOY has had in a while. The crew finally encounters an unusual alien menace who creates a surreal and frightening experience for them.

If I have any serious criticism for “Persistence of Vision,” it is that it shifts gears in the final two acts. While the first three acts are completely focused on Janeway, the fourth, the fourth spreads out to the rest of the main cast and the fifth has Kes, all alone, saving the day. I cannot criticize the gear shifting too harshly, however. It offers a better insight into the characters than we have seen before. We also get the first real hints Kes possesses far more powers than previously believed.

Voyager is about to enter Bothe space. The Bothe are a xenophobic race that do not care for strange ships passing through. Janeway is under a load of stress balancing diplomacy with defensive measures to ensure they make it by the Bothe. The doctor orders her to spend some time with her holonovel to relax. This is the governess one in which she falls in which a widower falls in love with her. There is a disturbing undertone the children she is taking care of do not believe their mother is dead. That does not stop Janeway from putting the moves on their daddy. If women’s sexual fantasies really are akin to romance novels, then Janeway is essentially engaged in an adult film. If Chakotay took part in a holodeck program more in line with male sexual fantasies, reaction would be far different. Just saying.

Janeway begins seeing characters from the holonovel outside the holodeck. Over three acts, it appears she is going insane. Well, more insane than usual. She is not really the picture of mental stability at any point. By the fourth act, the entire crew is being affected. They see family members, for better or for worse, beckoning them. All accept for Torres, who imagines a romp in bed with Chakotay. Keep this scenario in mind. Towards the end of the season, Janeway will flirt with it, too, in another episode written by Taylor. Something tells me she has had a kidnapped by Native American braves and never rescued by cowboys fantasy at some point in her life. Maybe several points.

Once the crew give in to the visions, they are stuck in a catatonic state. Kes is the only one who has the power to resist, and she is the one who exposes the Bothe alien intruder who has been causing the hallucinations by overpowering him with her mind. She has no clue how she was able to do so. While Kes is the hero, Janeway steals her thunder. She was the first one to be attacked by the alien, but was the last one to go all catatonic. That means she resisted for hours while everyone else succumbed within minutes. Janeway is Awesome!

She is also inconsistent or willing to learn from her mistakes, depending on how generous you want to be. She decides to throw the Bothe in the brig with the specific rationale she will not allow him to attack other travelers again. Back in “Phage,” she refused to hold the Vidiians who stole Neelix’s lungs in the brig because she did not want to haul them along on the 75 year journey even though she knows they will steal the organs of any other travelers they encounter. Maybe she learned from the second encounter with the Vidiians not to play around, or she is just angry the Bothe messed with her personally this time, but now she has no qualms about dragging prisoners along for three-quarters of a century. Take your pick which you believe. I am inclined towards the latter.

I like “Persistence of Vision.’ While it is hard to describe why, it feels like an episode that could only occur on VOY. Perhaps because the situations feels peculiar enough to only have happened in the new and strange Delta Quadrant. Or maybe it is the bothe’s attitude. When Janeway asks his motivation, he says he did it because he could. Not to study them or for some survival or political ends. He did it for the old school daffy Duck reason--he just wanted to screw with them. Some fans consider that a lame excuse, but I think it is a refreshing change from the norm. As is "Persistence of Vision.”

Rating: *** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment