Sunday, August 28, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Hunters"

“Hunters“ is another VOY episode that suffers greatly from the Star Trek motif of requiring an A and B story in every episode. The two are very uneven. I much enjoyed the letters from home aspect, though there were some overly dramatic moments. The other half involved the first physical encounter between the crew and the Hirogen. It feels like the Hirogen were thrown in there just to have a generic battle with a villain. Still, they have to be introduced somehow. I guess this is as good a place as any.

Voyager is still hanging around the communications relay when Seven detects a large incoming message from the Alpha Quadrant. Starfleet has contacted crewmembers’ families and given them the opportunity to write letters. They can only trickle in thanks to some techno babble issue, so it is a slow going process that adds drama as crewmembers wonder if they have been remembered by someone from home.

There is a running gag about Hard Luck Harry waiting on pins and needles to see if his parents care enough to write him. I have joked quite a bit about harry’s frequent misfortunes, but there is a big difference between constantly being kidnapped, beaten by aliens, or infected with various illnesses and creating an estranged family for him. It is not until the end of the episode we find out his parents did write him. So basically the writers are putting harry through the emotional ringer just to please the audience’s notion that nothing good ever happens to Harry. Garrett wang already knows he was on the verge of being fired a few months ago, so his character does not mean much to the series. This whole waiting for a letter that may not come bit is cruel both in the real world and the show.

The shortcoming is made up by other letters. Chakotay learns the Maquis have all been killed by the Dominion. He shares an unusually genuine emotional moment over their deaths with Torres. Of course, this means the Maquis/Starfleet conflict on board the ship will become even less relevant than it has been as of late. It seems to exist only in the differing command philosophies of Janeway and Chakotay. Nevertheless, at least it receives a good send off.

Janeway’s reaction to her letter is another fine moment. She receives a letter from her fiance, Mark. I should say former fiance. He informs her he got married to another woman some time ago, so good luck with that whole making it back to the alpha quadrant. Do not call me, and I will not call you. I actually felt a lot of sympathy for her, but Janeway so quickly shrugged it off, I had to go back to thinking what a mentally disturbed woman she must be. She eventually became an admiral, so she obviously did not kill mark and his new wife upon her return--or did she?

Took is a grandfather. He took the news the same way as if you told him he can have the last dinner mint.

The final moving moment is between Torres and Tom, though it is open to interpretation. The only person who might possibly write to Tom is his estranged father. Tom is not excited about the prospect. His father rips him for being a constant disappointment. Torres informs him that she is downloading a letter from his father. That is when he reveals he does not expect anything good out of it. In the end, torres personally delivers Harry’s letter and informs Tom the one from his father is lost, but he expressed his love and pride. Here is the question--did Torres lie? I think so. Either the letter was lost, and she made up its content or she read it, realized tom’s father is every bit the jerk tom says he is, and destroyed it to make up something else. It just feels more right that torres was lying to spare Tom’s feelings. Personal hunch, that.

The B story involves Tuvok and Seven on a shuttle mission to boost the communications relay’s power when they are captured by the Hirogen, who are not happy their gizmo is being utilized by someone else. The Hirogen are established as brutal hunters who want to carve up the two in order to keep their bones as trophies. Janeway takes out her frustration over Mark on them, destroying three ships and rendering the entire communications relay. She definitely knows how to make friends. It is amusing Seven taunts the Hirogen that their large size is the only thing which makes them formidable. As it turns out, this is true. They are forgettable villains, after all. Is it not interesting the Borg have never heard of them, too?

As I said above, the episode halves are uneven. I would have been satisfied with a bottle show dealing with the letters from home and their aftermath. Why the episode had to be bogged down unnecessarily with the Hirogen incident is beyond me. At the very least, the hirogen encounter should have been paired elsewhere with a more complementary main story. Still, “hunters” is one of the more interesting episodes. It is one of the few episodes to make a real effort at personalizing the main characters.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

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