Saturday, September 24, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Course: Oblivion"

There are not many episodes of VOY which merit a sequel. On that very short list, “Demons” is no where to be found. The very concept of an environmentally hostile planet creating duplicates of the ship and crew which can survive in that environment is one of those ideas so far out there, it is a bad on the surface. Yet said episode not only exists, but someone decided merit’s a second go around.

For the first act, we only have suspicions something is up. It features the wedding of tom and Torres--pant, pant, you shippers out there--and tom eventually wears lieutenant pips, not ensign, so he has not been demoted like the real Tom. The ship begins to literally deteriorate, which could arguably be the plot of a regular VOY episode. It is not until Torres grows ill and dies we learn something is up. Upon her death, the crew discovers they are the duplicates.

They are faced with a decision that does not seem so tough--go home, or proceed to Earth as planned. The former means salvation. The latter is certain death. Janeway, who suspects the crew will not survive the nine month journey back to the Demon Planet, presses on towards Earth. She faces a near mutiny as the crew begins to accept who they really are. They may have the memories of the real McCoys, but they belong on the Demon Planet. The crew begins dropping like flies, but Janeway does not yield until Chakotay keels over dead. Only then does she decide to turn around. Eventually, she succumbs herself, leaving Harry and a skeleton crew in charge. In a stroke of luck, they discover the real Voyager, but completely dissolve before help arrives. Okay, so it was a stroke of Harry’s hard luck, but luck nevertheless.

I have no idea what the point of “Course: Oblivion” is. From Janeway’s inexplicable obsession with continuing towards earth even though she and everyone else knows they will die if they do to the grossly cynical ending, I do not know what to make of it. It looks like it is nothing more than an excuse to show off the melting wax figure make up jobs on the actors as they slowly deteriorate. Those are impressive, mind you, but they qualify as window dressing. There needs to be something to say, or at the very least some action to satisfy viewers. All I got out of it is that janeway’s duplicate is even more homicidal crazy than she is. I hope that is not what I was supposed to get out of it.

There are other issues. It was a major plot point in “Demon” that duplicates could not leave the planet. So how are they traveling in space? If they are plotting the same course to earth as the real Voyager, how come they run into it while backtracking? Never mind that Voyager is twenty thousand light years ahead of where it should normally be thanks to the Borg warp coil boost. Perhaps ’course: Oblivion” was meant for earlier in the season, so the last issue might have been a moot point, but the fact is a problem is created by the episode order as aired. In better episodes, such can be overlooked. But not here.

I will grant that “Course: Oblivion” is marginally better than “Demons,” but that is not saying much. The make up work is impressive, but not enough to merit sitting through the episode. I was not even amused by Janeway’s even more than usual unhinged behavior. This is just a bad episode all around.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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