Saturday, June 25, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Non Sequitur"

“Non Sequitur,” Latin for “it does not follow,” is the second in a long line of hard Luck Harry episodes. You would think it would be difficult to find so many ways to put the poor guy through the ringer considering he “died” in the first one, but the powers that be manage to to perfect their sadism in some astoundingly creative ways. Not necessarily good ways, but creative.

Harry awakens one morning to find himself back on Earth. He soon discovers that he is not in the past, but that someone else took his place on Voyager before it got lost in the Badlands. Now he is a promising engineer who is responsible for designing a new shuttlecraft. He is also engaging to Libby, the chick he was pining for about three minutes there in the first episode. He has everything he could possibly want out of life, including the knowledge of what would have happened to him had his request to be assigned to Voyager been granted. Yet, he panics and wants nothing more than to get back to his reality.

The interesting part about ’Non Sequitur” is that nothing is explained until the last act. We are not given any clues that there is anything sinister afoot. Harry has an idyllic life, which includes the astrong hin the got laid. How often does that happen for him? But seriously, he has a top notch job and can marry his true love, yet he is not happy. He is convinced he is either stuck in a simulation or has somehow altered the time stream. Whichever the case, he is not going to stand for it.

Quite by accident, he discovers tom missed the trip to the Badlands, too, because he was arrested by Odo after punching out Quark during the DS9 layover. Conveniently, tom not being on Voyager is the only other change to the timeline. Tom is a pool hall hustler who, in spite of having his parole revoked for his DS9, was not sent back to prison in New Zealand. Figure that one out. Harry asks for his help, but since they did not become friends until after Voyager was lost, tom does not budge.

Harry, however, comes under suspicion of being a spy with the combination of his use of Voyager access codes, crazy talk of altering reality, and communicating with maquis Tom. Harry is given an ankle monitor to track his whereabouts until the mess can be sorted out.

It is only at this point is the situation clarified. The café owner across the street from Harry reveals he is an alien. His species lives within cracks in the time stream. Harry fell through one and wound up here. The odd part is that, according to the alien, they cannot send him back because one can wind up anytime, anywhere, by traveling through a rift. He explicitly tells Harry another trip could send him to the primordial ooze of any planet, or a billion years into the future of any planet. So how the heck was Harry lucky enough to land in his own life and better off for it? Better yet, how does it send him back to Voyager when he recreates the circumstances of falling through the crack? Jusu lucky, I guess. Twice.

The kicker is Harry’s insists he has to go back becauseTom has a bad life in this new reality and it is not fair for the guy who replaced him on Voyager to be stranded in the Delta Quadrant in his place. Reasonable arguments, I suppose, but really flimsy. Most anyone would choose to live on with the good life rather than give it up for two people who are strangers. It would be more believable if the stakes were higher. As it is, Harry just comes across as a masochist who cannot stand to be happy.

Starfleet Security catches up to arrest him, but he is saved by Tom, who has decided that he would rather have the life Harry says he does in reality than being the worthless hood he is now. They steal the prototype shuttle to recreate the accident. Extraordinarily enough, in a universe of infinite possibilities, Harry lands right where he wants to be--stranded in the Delta Quadrant no where near Libby. Congratulations, buddy.

It may just be me, but Starfleet struck me as being particularly fascist here. San Francisco of the future is so clean and sterile. That in and of itself is not so bad, but no one thinks twice about Harry walking around with an ankle monitor conspicuously on, nor do they seem flustered when he is chased through the streets by security forces with drawn phasers. It is like they see that sort of thing all the time. I get the impression, existential I am sure, that Starfleet regularly enforces rigid order in such an extreme way.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with “Non Sequitur,” but it is not very memorable, either. It should have had moe of an emotional impact. Had Harry been happy with his new life, but felt overwhelming circumstances forced him to giveit all up, that might have made for a much better episode. As it is, he never even entertains the idea of staying, so we do not feel any sympathy her him. In fact, he comes across as crazy for wanting to go back to Voyager and its circumstances. As I said above, it is understandable he wants to be fair to others whose lives have been altered, but his decision is not reached with the emotional impact with which one would hope.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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