Thursday, July 7, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Dreadnought"

“Dreadnought” features an interesting premise and the opportunity for some good character moments, particularly for Torres, but winds up very pedestrian. The reason for that is most certainly the script’s origin. Gary Holland is credited with writing it. Holland was a marketing vice-president with paramount at the time and a Trekkie. He sold the idea. Whether he actually penned a first draft is anyone’s guess, but it was heavily rewritten by an unaccredited Lisa Klink. Klink is one of the worst writers in the history of Star Trek. Kenneth Biller told Star Trek Magazine he sweat bullets over the execution of “Dreadnought,” probably because he needed to keep Holland happy.

Should he have worried? Well, maybe. There are a couple of plot retreads and some missed character moments. Voyager discovers a Cardassian doomsday missile that was also transported to the delta Quadrant. The missile was originally intended to attack a Maquis base, but when it did not explode, Torres reprogrammed it to attack a Cardassian outpost instead. Now it is headed for a planet upon which it will kill two million people. So what we have is yet another aspect from the Alpha Quadrant appearing in the Delta. The second season is riddled with such things. Torres is again responsible for altering a machine that will cause mass destruction just like Automated Unit 3947. That accounts for the no new ground bit. As for characterizations, the climax involves Janeway beginning the auto destruct in order to destroy the missile. She orders the crew to evacuate, but took refuses. Naturally, Torres saves the day at the last minute while on the missile itself, but the inevitably of the ship being destroyed does not resonate when considering the crew’s goodbyes to one another.

I will concede there are some compelling Torres moments, but they are handled too shallowly to really be engaging. She initially feels guilty over the missile’s discovery because it brings back memories of Chakotay’s disappointment she reprogrammed it to attack an outpost. Later, she is concerned about defending its new target to the point the former is unfairly glossed over. Torres not only reprogrammed the missile’s flight path, but changed the computer voice to her own. She hates Cardassians so much, she made herself a part of a weapon of mass destruction, and no it is going to wipe out a population of stereotypical artsy fartsy pacifists.

Could we not have examined her psyche more/ The bulk of the story is centered on her holding a conversion with the missile while trying everything to deactivate it. She is essentially attempted to reason with her old, Maquis self . Her old self full of so much anger, she wanted the last thing thousands of Cardassians heard before their deaths was her voice. She has different priorities now, but there is no argument made to convince the missile to stand down. It is instead patented VOY techno babble.

The Torres/missile conversation comes across as a low rent version of the following scene from Darkstar accept Torres’ argument does not work: if you are going to steal from a movie, choose a better one than Darkstar.

There are a couple minor bits to mention. The doctor still has not chosen a name. wildmon is still pregnant after ten months. Jonas is still attempting to contact Seska. Tom is still pushing Chakotay’s buttons in an effort to root out the traitor even though the audience already knows its Jonas. None of this adds to the episode, but nothing really detracts, either. “Dreadnought” is a run of the mill technology problem that could have been much more issues introduced had been expounded upon.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

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