Sunday, July 10, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Investigations"

“Investigations’ is a Neelix-centric episode written by Jeri Taylor, but fret not, for it is still a Janeway is Awesome episode. It is just a more subtle Janeway is Awesome episode because the incredibly implausible plot is a plan devised entirely by her. Somehow, fate steps in and makes even the turns for the worst come out in her favor. Janeway is so awesome, the universe bends to her will. Forget Chuck Norris Facts. It is all about Janeway, baby.

The two running subplots of Jonas from engineering feeding information to the Kazon and finally agreeing to sabotage the ship and Tom’s sudden antisocial behavior collide when it is revealed Tom’s part is a ruse developed by Janeway to expose Jonas. It should come as no surprise Neelix takes his new self-appointed duty as a journalist far too seriously and nearly screws everything up, but also winds up a hero in the end.

Before getting into anything else, I have to explain The Plan. Perhaps it is because they had a band of salamanders together, but Janeway decides to hatch a plan with tom after suspicions are raised someone might be tipping off the Kazon to the ship’s locations. Because she suspects it is likely a Maquis opts to not let Chakotay in on the plan. She also allows tom to yank Chakotay’s chain just to add insult to injury when all is finally revealed. Tom is going to ultimately leave the ship and join the crew of a Talaxian freighter. Here is here the plan gets loony. Janeway just happens to know the Kazon will want tom for his expertise. They will shanghai him, giving him the opportunity to discover the traitor while held captive, and then escape safely back to Voyager. not only does the plan work--Janeway is Awesome!--the biggest chance of its failure is when neelix jumps to the wrong conclusion about planted evidence that points to Tom as the traitor.

I am going to reluctantly give Janeway partial credit here. Jonas is bound to report Tom is off the ship with bad blood towards the crew, and that would make him a desirable kidnapping target. She does not seem to care some Talaxians might be killed in the kidnapping attempt, but that is Janeway. But the rest of the plan’s success depends on a combination of Kazon stupidity and tom’s genius, both of which come in abundance at just the right time. Tom is held in a room with a computer console he quickly learns to use even though he cannot read the Kazon language. He finds out Jonas is the traitor by intercepting his latest transmission. Then Tom escapes by fisticuffs and phaser fire until he makes it to a shuttle and leaves. Yes, he knows how to fly a Kazon shuttle. They are less complicated then the computers, one assumes. The hilarious part is all the action beyond tom’s escape from his cell is done with us viewing the outside of the ship and hearing only the sounds of battle until the shuttle launches. They should have used some sound effects from Tom & Jerry from when they used to beat each other with frying pans and broom and such. That is the only thing that could have made it better.

There is really no need to describe the Neelix as journalist bit. Think back to how many sitcoms you have seen where one of the kid characters gets a job with the school newspaper and while looking for a big scoop, causes real world problems, but gets to play hero in the end. I avoid sitcoms like the plague, but I can recall episodes of Happy Days, Silver Spoons, The Simpsons Home Improvement , and Family Guy right off the top of my head, so the drill must be obvious to you. What may not be so obvious is the climactic fistfight between Neelix and Jonas in which the latter is killed. Without Neelix’s help, the ship would have been dead in the water against the Kazon, so even his interference in the plan did not stop the exposure of Jonas.

None of this is interesting viewing. I am not a neelix fan, and the obvious effort here to make him a more action oriented character fell flat because of what a bumbling annoyance he was right up until discovering jonas is the traitor. The conclusion makes him equal heroes with tom, but big deal. Tom’s belligerent behavior over the last few episodes makes since now, but what was the value of the mystery of roooting out a traitor when we knew it was Jonas from the beginning? We knew who he was, what intelligence he was sending to Seska, and that he was planning to sabotage the ship for a Kazon ambush. The only thing we did not know was how. I do not know about you, but I was not on the edge of my seat waiting to see which warp photon quantum thingamabob he was going to break to get the job done.

Not that said thingamabob completely got the job down. Jonas also sabotaged the warp core first, yet that did not raise suspicions the traitor was in engineering. You think that would compel security to narrow their search a wee bit. Then again, no one on this show is particularly bright. For heaven’s sake, chakotay has had the wool pulled over his eyes by Tuvok, Seska, and now Janeway and Tom. Get fooled four times, you win the Golden Sombrero. I will bet he still cries when an older relative does the “I got your nose” trick on him.

“Investigations” is not a good episode, but it is still one you need to see in order to believe a script like it could ever be filmed. The stars have to align perfectly for everything to work, but, darn it, they do. Even when all looks lost, Neelix is miraculously there as the only salvation, so he gets his redemption for being such a pain in the butt every moment up until that point. But that is what happens when Janeway is in charge, because--say it with me, folks--Janeway is Awesome!

Rating; ** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment