Friday, August 26, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Waking Moments"

“Waking Moments,” like so many VOY episodes, is only good if you do not think about it and just go with the flow. Otherwise, blood will splurt out of your nose as you attempt reconcile all the implausible scenarios and downright silliness. ’Waking Moments” is all about aliens who control dreams. Star Trek has never done the concept well.

“Waking Moments” begins with us viewing what appears to be routine activities for the bridge crew, sans Chakotay. We learn quickly they are actually dreaming. What dreams, too. While Tuvok and tom have typical nightmares of naked in public and dying in a vehicle accident respectively, Janeway and Harry have far more amusing night terrors. Janeway enters the mess hall to find her crew has died of old age. It is supposed to represent her fear of never getting the crew home, but you just know she is actually afraid they will all make it to a ripe old age without her killing them herself. As for poor Harry, he dreams Seven is making out with him. Seriously, folks. Harry fears a beautiful woman. He is as gay as a French horn. In the morning, our dreamers discover that not only has everyone suffered a nightmare, but there is a common element--the same green alien appears in every dream.

(The alien watches Seven and Harry make out and Tuvok get dressed. He is a pervert, one assumes.)

Several crewmembers, including harry, cannot be awakened in the morning. His make out session must have turned into a crazed lovemaking session. For Harry, terrified of his own erection, it must be torturous. The rest of us can only…well, dream of a night with Jeri Ryan. Surmising the alien in everyone’s dream must be real and inflicting all this on them, Chakotay offers to use some Native American artifacts he happens to have even though he originally beamed over to Voyager with nothing but the clothes he was wearing, to lucid dream in order to communicate with the alien. The alien interrupts derr hunting with a spear to explain to Chakotay he is part of a species that sleeps all the time while living in a dream state. Many enemies have found their sleeping bodies, so they now take the initiative to subdue waking species.

Here is where we get into the try not to think about this stuff too hard bit. How does a constantly hibernating species evolve? Eat? Keep hydrated/ Procreate? Develop technology? Develop anything, for that matter? While we do not get any explanation for how these aliens have survived so long, much less invented the technology they use to maintain their dream world, they deliberately point out that the permanent hibernation will be a problem for the crew because they will dehydrate in a few days. But this is not the worst bit about the aliens. More in a moment.

“Waking Moments” quickly becomes inception twelve years too early as we learn Chakotay is having a dream within a dream. While he is trying to decide what is real, the rest of the crew are in the aliens’ dream world wherein the aliens have taken over the ship. We know they are all having the same dream because the doctor points out their brain patterns are all identical, which would not actually happen, but all right. The Doctor forces Chakotay to stay awake and search for the aliens’ physical bodies while Janeway figures out if the crew engages in lucid dreaming, than can resist the aliens. Meanwhile, Chakotay finds the aliens, wakes one of them up, and channels Janeway by threatening to torpedo the cave killing them all if the crew is not released. The alien complies. The episodes ends with everyone suffering from insomnia.

You know what the big problem is? The aliens have no motivation. Chakotay had to look for the aliens hibernation cave on a distant planet. There is no way Voyager would have stumbled across them, much less been a threat. What is the point of taking over the ship in a dream? They gain nothing. They do not even awaken their physical bodies to take over the real ship or murder the sleeping crew. So what is the point? Near as I can tell, it is alleviating boredom. Why else watch naked people dressing or couples making out or play pirate commando or whatever the heck it is they are when taking over Voyager. The aliens’ intentions are not that well thought out. Then again, they are never given a name, either, so they are not well thought out period.

I have criticized “Waking Moments” for being dumb, but as I said above, it is entertaining if you do not think about it too hard. It is very moody. The aliens are neat looking even if they are nameless and dumb. A few of the nightmares are very amusing. There is even one big slip up in which a very pregnant Roxanne Dawson’s belly is unintentionally prominent. This is one of those episode in which the flaws are so hilariously bad, their entertainment value outweighs the detriment. “waking Moments” is not competent, but it is fun to watch.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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