Friday, July 22, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Remember"

Voyager has thus far avoided a lot of social commentary, preferring instead to stick, for better or worse, with its stranded far from home theme. So when the show decides to tackle a less than subtle Holocaust allegory, I fret over the likely frivolous handling of the matter. Is the episode really a cashing in on the success of Schindler’s List written by the generally weak Lisa Klink? Thankfully, perhaps even surprisingly, it is not. “Remember” is one of the best episode VOY has had so far.

The ship is transporting a group of telepaths home in exchange for energy conservation technology. Relations are going splendidly until torres begins having incredibly vivid dreams in which she feels as though she is living the life of another. That is exactly what she is doing. An elderly telepath who is quietly dying is transferring her memories into Torres. At first, they are sensual. Torres is dreaming of a love affair with a young man. But they soon turn sinister as the similarities Holocaust as events play out.

The young man is part of a religious or philosophical sect--it is not made clear which--that eschews technology. He and “Torres’ live on a planet that has just developed warp technology and is rapidly headed for the stars. The general population thinks the regressive are holding them back, so they begin separating them for the rest of society. Eventually, a colony is established for them to live separately. Rumors begin circulating the Regressives are being mass exterminated instead of sent off to the colony. “Torres” does not believe it at first, but slowly begins to accept not only that the mass execuutions are true, but that they are a good idea in the name of progress.

The elderly telepath passed these memories onto Torres as an act of redemption for cooperating with both the genocide of the Regressives and subsequent denial. The other telepaths deny the genocide ever took place, claiming the dying telepath was an old, confused woman. Nothing can really be done other than Torres convincing another young telepath to take share the memories f so the truth will not be lost to history.

“Remember” certainly is not the first Star Trek episode relives the life of another, domed person, so originality is not its strong point. Even aside from the done many, many times Holocaust allegory. Nevertheless, the episode does not come across as clich├ęd or melodramatic. If nothing else, I am astonished a mediocre show like VOY can pull it off.

The use of Torres is inspired. The has not done much with her. She has been presented as an overly aggressive, conflicted person whose claim to fame as a crackerjack engineer does not hold up under the (unintentionally, due to poor writing) stupid things she keeps doing. On the plus side, her own genocidal tendencies towards the Cardassians have been tempered over several episodes in which Torres has been centric. “Remember” caps it off by granting her empathy, not just sympathy. It is a highly pleasing character arc on a series that never worried with many character arcs in the first place. “Remember” is definitely a series highlight and the best episode of the terribly uneven third season.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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