Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Retrospect"

Hossanah! We have reached the halfway point of VOY reviews! The finish line is now on the horizon. We celebrate in typical VOY fashion--a misguided moralization written by Lisa Klink which involves a subject matter she has all good intentions over, but clearly does not know a thing about. At least it is unique in that Seven is the catalyst for the story, yet she is not the focal point. From here on out, those roles will more often than not be reversed.

Seven is still on restriction from last episode’s incident in which she saved everyone’s life against Janeway’s humanitarian objection on behalf of something that is not human. Janeway has been giving her temporary reprieve whenever her expertise has been needed, so she is feeling exploited. Those feelings become quaint when she is ordered to assist an arms dealer named Kovin install new weaponry on the ship. Seven is uneasy about working with him. She met him before while shopping for weapons and does not like him. He is a jerk, and a particularly rude act prompts her to break his nose.

In sick bay, the Doctor discovers Seven is suffering from heightened anxiety and believes some suppressed memories from her time as a Borg may be emerging. He has been playing with pop psychology lately and thinks he can bring those memories out through a techno-hypnosis thingamabob. That is not to be confused with a techno-hypnosis thingamajiggy. Those are two completely different items. I cannot stress that enough.

During the procedure, Seven recalls heading to kovin’s lab where she was alone with him for two hours. She suddenly remembers being shot, strapped down on an operating table, and Kovin extracting Borg nanotech from her in order to use in developing new weapons. She remembers another man strapped down on a table beside her being injected with the nanotech and becoming a Borg himself. The doctor is convinced the incident really happened to her. Kovin must have violated her, then erased her memories through device that is neither a thingamabob, nor a thingamajiggy. The Doctor’s examination of Seven’s arm reveals that is a distinct possibility.

What you have here is the allegory of an overzealous psychologist helping a patient “recover” suppressed memories of past abuse which are then thrown in the face unquestionably at the alleged abuser. Recovered memories are not well accepted within psychology circles, but I am not versed in psychology enough to write intelligently about it. It is generally not accepted evidence in legal cases and when it has lead to a conviction at the trial level, appeals courts have struck down those convictions. That is language I can understand, so I appreciate the skepticism involved in the validity of repressed memories. The thing is, I cannot tell if Klink is making a commentary on the absurdity of repressed memory use to convict a person of a crime or if she is carrying out the allegory of a false sexual assault accusation to it fullest extent. It is difficult to ignore the latter.

Kovin’s defense is that a weapon he was working on went off accidentally. It injured seven’s Borg tech, which he repaired under her instructions. He says nothing else happened. In fact, Seven was cooperative and unfazed by the incident. Kovin is upset because the mere accusation he has done such a thing will inhibit his ability to legitimately do business. The incident is clearly a he said/she said situation. The heat intensifies as evidence seems to support seven’s story. Kovin, fearing the worst, escapes to avoid prosecution.

Evidence emerges that Kovin’s repair work on Seven’s arm has the same reaction as would surgery to remove nanotech. With his story supported, Voyager seeks him out to inform him of the culpatory evidence. When they find him, he thinks it is trap and attacks the ship. The attack overloads his ship’s system, causing it to explode. Case closed.

Well, not quite. Take a journey down memory lane with me. We do not have to go far. Just to yesterday’s episode. Janeway is upset that Seven’s actions to preserve the lives of the crew killed off a mortal enemy. She punishes Seven by relieving her of duty. Janeway must have awakened on the other side of the bed this morning, because when the Doctor requests she remove the program elements that allowed him to expreiment with recovering suppressed memories because it lead to an innocent man’s death, she refuses. Her rationale is literally that mistakes happen, but the doctor is too valuable to the crew to have his program limited in any way. If you are keeping track, that means if you kill an enemy to save your crew, you get punished except for when Janeway absolutely must have your expertise, but kill an innocent man in your haste, and that is just a simple mistake. Could happen to anyone. Carry on, because you are just too darn valuable. Janeway is crazy.

There are fans who maintain Kovin was guilty. They believe the rationale that Seven was recalling past assimilation she has participated in is not any more plausible than Kovin’s story of repairing her arm after accidental gunfire. They have a point that both explanations are less than credible. That is what you get with a Klink script. But I fall on the side that Seven is remembering past assimilation. There is too much in the “repressed memory” sequence that feels like the assimilation process.

Not that I recommend you watch “Retrospect” to find out for yourself. It is a terribly heavy-handed attempt to make a moral point that never becomes clear. The sequence wherein Seven recalls the suppressed memories runs an entire act. The Doctor plays his part so over the top, you already know he is wrong. Kovin flies off the handle at the accusation far too plausibly, too. Trying to destroy Voyager instead of examining evidence that says you are probably innocent is really dumb. Accidentally killing yourself in the process calls for a Darwin Award nomination. If you are a big Seven fan, by all means, watch. If you are a womyn who thinks Kovin was guilty and got what he deserved, this is all for you, too. Otherwise, skip it.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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