Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Maneuvers"

Since there are many nitpicking Trekkies out there, a technical note is in order regarding episode sequence from here on out. There are two different episode lists floating about the internet. One is the original broadcast order. The other is the revised order for syndication and DVD. The latter is considered an improvement because it allegedly clarifies some continuity issues and puts more distance between episodes in which special effects shots were reused for budgetary reasons. Some episode titles have been changed for aesthetics or to better reflect content. I am going by the DVD order rather than original broadcast, so if things do not jibe with what you remember, nothing is wrong. I am going by the revised material.

“Maneuvers” features the return of the Kazon. Before you groan at the prospect, bear in mind they are now being manipulated by Seska through the leaderr of a relatively weak sect, Culloq, whom she has by the penis. Seska is plotting to unite the Kazon sects herself by stealing Federation technology and using it to create alliance. Culloq is being duped into helping her by thinking it is all his idea. He falls for this hook, line, and sinker because of that whole being dragged around by the penis thing.

There is much more slam bang action in “Maneuvers” than VOY has had thus far. It is the beginning of a noticeable trend to make the show less talky, which I welcome, but it will still be loaded down with preachy progressive ideology and inane techno babble, which I do not. One takes his blessings where he gets him, folks, lest they stop coming altogether.

Seska arranges for Voyager to follow a beacon signal using a code Harry identifies as one used from a star date after they were stranded in the Delta Quadrant. How he could know this is never clarified. This is a Kenneth Biller script, so just accept it. He is doing the best he can. You do not have to be Adm. Ackbar to know this is a trap. The Kazon make a daring raid on the ship and steal transporter technology before making a clean getaway.

It should not surprise you no one suspects Seska’s involvement until she contacts Voyager in order to taunt Chakotay. For the remainder of the episode, “Maneuvers” is largely a personal drama between the two. Chakotay secretly flees the ship in order to follow a warp drive trail Seska deliberately left behind. Her plan, as far as Culloq is concerned, is to capture him in order to get the command codes for Voyager. But she has a more personal vendetta running.

Credit where credit is due, “Maneuvers” covertly addresses the tensions between the Maquis and Starfleet crewmembers, something that has been ignored for quite a while. I say covertly because no one ever says that is the motivation for anyone’s actions. Chakotay goes AWOL because it does not think Seska is a Starfleet problem. She is a traitor to him personally. Janeway does not want to risk the ship in a rescue attempt, but is convinced to do so when Torres says his loss will destroy morale. What she actually means is the Maquis will rebel if she abandons their leader. Even the rescue operation is said to be a violation of Starfleet safety protocols. Yet there is very little overt acknowledgement the Starfleet way is being completely abandoned in favor of the Maquis way. Perhaps that is because the Maquis way works where Starfleet methods have failed. Did the ghost of Gene Roddenberry rattle his chains while biller was typing away?

In the end, Chakotay destroys the stolen transporter technology and gets rescued. Culloq’s attempt to create and alliance with other Kazon sects fails when Seska turns her attention from his penis to Chakotay’s. she extracts some of his DNA during interrogation and impregnates herself with it. Only in VOY science does that sort of thing work. She then taunts Chakotay with the news in front of the Voyager bridge crew. That is one cold woman.

“Maneuvers” has some serious plot holes. Chakotay ought to know Seska wants to captire him for the command codes. Either he is dumb for falling for it, or Janeway is dumb for not changing the command codes to make them useless after Chakotay went AWOL, or Seska is dumb for not anticipating the command codes would be changed. Take your pick. The final rescue attempt involves taken the heads of the Kazon sects hostage, but the terms of their release do not involve handing over Seska. That seems like an obvious demand to make, but future storylines require her to be free, so there you go. The whole DNA impregnation thing does not sound terribly plausible, either. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining effort that is indicative of a less talky future for the series. Kudos for that.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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