Sunday, June 12, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Ex Post Facto"

If being stranded 75,000 light years from home was supposed to offer fertile ground for new kinds of stories in VOY, ‘Ex Post Facto,” which translates to “a thing done afterwards,” is far from indicative. It is odd so early in the series to feature an episode which good fit within any trek series, but there you go. Casting aside the peculiarity of its existence within VOY, the episode does offer an interesting method of judicial punishment which is highly inventive and a chance for Tim Russ and Robert Duncan McNeil to showcase their acting skills. How often does that happen on VOY?

Tom and Harry are visiting a Bemean engineering professor regarding his work in propulsion with the possibility he may help improve VOY’s engines enough to shorten their trip home. The two are invited to the professor’s home. There tom meets and falls for the professor’s hot, young wife. There is an obvious joke there regarding Tom, Harry, and another friend in the middle, but I leave it to you to fill in the blank. Long story short: sometime during the evening, the professor allegedly catches tom making out with his wife, so Tom murders him.

Tom is tried, convicted, and punished before Voyager even arrives on the planet, something they were apprehensive to do since the Bemean are at war. Tom has been injected with a brain implant that forces him to relive the murder from the victim’s perspective every fourteen hours. One assumes the rationale for the punishment is to encourage empathy within violent offenders as a deterrent. It is an interesting idea, but considering how many violent offenders get off emotionally on their crime, is it not reminding them of emotional highs? I suppose one could consider it like drug use with the hopes the murderer will be satisfied enough to not commit another. It is equally likely one would go crazy reliving the event on a regular basis for the rest of their lives. It is not made clear exactly what the punishment is intended to do, but it does not seem well thought out to implant these memories then let offenders go one their merry way.

In Tom’s case, he starts losing his mind under the horrible images. He maintains his innocence. Tuvok begins his own investigation. He is as dispassionate as any Vulcan would be, but there s that underlying distaste for Tom the Starfleet crew had for him when he first came on board. The animosity has been largely forgotten in recent episodes, so it is good to see the VOY writers do not have complete short term memory loss.

Tuvok’s investigation determines false memories were implanted in tom’s mind, along with a sequence of numbers visible in his reliving of the murder, by the surgeon and the professor’s wife. They are both spies for the other side. Truth be told, the investigation, which had been interesting up until this point, is completely destroyed by how it unravels. Took uses two points--the sequence of numbers discovered in a mind meld and the professor’s dog recognizing the surgeon--as proof. The numbers are not part of the typical memory implant. What if tom had said something about them to any other Bemean authority? They would have known something was up. The dog is a worse pint. It is happy to see the surgeon, therefore he has frequently been to the professor’s house to visit with his wife? That is a lame resolution.

Nevertheless, the episode does offer Tuvok a chance to shine. He has thus far been the most underused character. Not to mention a bewildering one. Vulcans have traditionally been science officers and such because of their reputation for intellectualism. They also inclined towards passive resistance be threatened. To make one a tactical/security officer is odd. “Ex Post Facto” show how that makes sense by presenting Tuvok as a Sherlock Holmes solving an impossible crime. He used well in that capacity.

I also have to give some props to McNeil. He plays a man slowly losing his mind to the hilt. Tom is a cad who you believe certainly would hit on a man‘s wife, but you cannot help feeling sorry for him. The guy does not have it in him to murder..

“Ex Post Facto” is worth watching for Russ and McNeill, but not much else. While the build up of the investigation is promising, it all falls apart by the absurd resolution. Took’s most compelling proof of Tom’s innocence should not be the dog excitedly wanting the surgeon to pet him, but it is. The twist is too dumb to hang an entire story on.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment