Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Innocence"


There are two things about VOY that can fill me with dread. One is Lisa Klink’s name as the scripter. The other is children as the focus of the story. Said combination exists with ’Innocence,’ but if that is not bad enough, the added element of Tuvok forced to care for rowdy children is added for potential comedy gold. Take a wild guess how well it works.

Tuvok and an ensign crash land a shuttle on a moon with atmospheric whatsis that make it difficult to fly. Tuvok drags the ensign out of the shuttle, then informs him he has several broken vertebrae. You would think a logical vulcan would not move someone with a spinal column injury, particularly when there is no obvious danger in leaving the ensign in his original spot, but there is your first indication “Innocence” is incredibly dumb.

The ensign dies upon being moved--good job, Tuvok--and the commotion attracts the attention of three children. They claim they have been stranded here when their shuttle crashed because of atmospheric whatsis, too. Tuvok vows to watch over the children until he can either repair his shuttle or Voyager comes to the rescue. Easier said than done, because the kids are misbehaving brats Tuvok can barely handle. Things get worse when the kids change their story and claim they have been stranded on the moon so a monster can kill them. Tuvok does not believe, but then two disappear only to have their clothing discovered in a nearby cave.

I am condensing Tuvok’s interaction with the kids, but it is three acts of pure sitcom fodder. The kids alternately cling to took in fear and roughhouse with each other in lighter moments, all to his chagrin. The fish out of water bit is supposed to be funny, but it comes across as forced in consideration of what we know about Vulcans in general and Tuvok in specific. Vulcans possess strong emotions that even the most mature adults find difficult to control. The children must be far less capable of keeping a handle on their passions. Since took has four children, he ought to have quadruple the experience in dealing with obnoxious kids, yet he is not that good at it. All for the sake of humor, of course. I do not buy it, however.

Meanwhile, Janeway is attempting diplomatic relations with the leadership of the kids’ home planet. Things are not going well. They were once a highly technological race, but faced a religious reform some time ago. The people are in the midst of a Dark Ages-like period. This being a Klink script, however, means they still have warp drive, and advanced weapons. But they turn their noses up at Voyager’s similar technology The contradiction is never explained. Either it is a commentary on the hypocrisy of fundamentalist religion, or Klink is not all that bright. Whichever you choose to believe is arguably the correct choice.

While touring Voyager, the grand poobah discovers Tuvok has crashed on the moon and discovered the kids. She is incensed he is interfering with some sacred ritual, but never explains exactly what he is interfering with until the end of the fifth act when the audience is finally allowed in on everything. These people age in reverse. When the time comes to die of old age, the kids are sent to the moon to pass on. Instead of anyone just letting the Voyager crew no about this, there are shuttle chases and phaser fire before everyone meets face to face to resolve the matter. All it takes is for the people to explain the ritual for Janeway, took, et al to back off and let nature take its course. If the poobahs are willing to explain what is going on at the very end, why did they not just explain it all to begin with and avoid physical conflict? We would not have had a show then, I guess.

If the “bad guys” have to act stupidly in order to have a conflict, it is a clear indication the story idea is not a good one. I am not amused by any of Tuvok’s struggles with the unrule children in the first place. When the resolution involves opposing characters being contrary for the sake of false drama, I cannot even take the serious part of the story seriously. ’Innocence” is a complete dud. It is illogical, the comedy falls flat, and the drama is has no reason to exist beyond characters acting dumbly. Skip this one at all costs.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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