Friday, September 2, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"The Omega Directive"

“The Omega Directive” is a curious animal. On the surface, it appears to be an action oriented men on a mission story that one should just sit back and enjoy. Yet there is a spiritual element added for Seven, of all people., which adds weight to the otherwise frivolous episode. I use the term frivolous to specifically address the plot, not the general suspense of the story. I will elaborate in a minute.

Voyager is stopped dead in its tracks when the Greek letter omega appears on all computer screens. No one knows what it means save for Janeway, who nearly nearly pees in her pants over it. She locks herself in her office for hours without informing the crew of anything other than vague preparations for some sort of mission. She requests seven to come to her office because she suspects, with the Borg having assimilated Picard, Seven knows what this is all about.

She does, and more. Someone, somewhere nearby is experimenting with omega molecules. At one point, some Federation scientists were working with them to develop an unlimited power source when they exploded. The explosion damaged subspace for an entire sector, which meant no warp drive can operate in the area. Starfleet classified the project, fabricated a story as to why warp drive no longer works there, and established the Omega Directive authorizing g captains and admirals to disregard the prime Directive and destroy any omage molecules they encounter. However, the Borg have known of the omega molecules for centuries. They have had no success harnessing them, either, but consider them perfection. The borg quest for them is a holy cause, so Seven speaks of them in reverent terms. She does not want to destroy them any more than a Christian would destroy a famous relic from the Bible. She goes along with janeway for now, however, just for a glimpse at omega molecules.

As it becomes obvious Janeway and seven are going on this mission alone, Chakotay protests. He thinks it is silly to maintain extreme Starfleet rules 65,000 light years from Starfleet. More specifically, he states his belief that Starfleet is run by a bunch of crazy bureaucrats who do not care about the lives of real people--he is Maquis, after all--but states his belief that Janeway is unnecessarily keeping the mission details to herself. In other words, only Janeway would be crazy enough to go on a dangerous mission solo when she has an entire crew willing to help. Oddly enough, his argument changes her mind, so she fills the crew in on the omega molecule and what they now have to do.

While seven builds a containment unit which will be used to house the omega molecule prior to its destruction--she secretly hopes to contain. She is capturing her god as far as she is concerned--Janeway leads an away team down to a remote facility where scientists have already screwed up and caused subspace damage. They are desperate to use the omega molecule as a power source because their civilization is dying. Well, screw that, says Janeway. Not that the Prime Directive ever got in her way before, but it is rescinded during the Omega directive. Though it does remove some of the fun of destroying an entire civilization when Starfleet approves. We not get two very tense, extremely well done acts of pure tension as the crew carefully arranges for the omega molecule to be transported to Seven’s special container and destroyed.

Naturally, Seven does not want that to happen, and figures out a way to safely store the omega molecule. Janeway refuses to allow her to utilize it because it is just too dangerous. Seven has a brief spiritual moment witnessing the omega molecule stabilize in a moment of perfection before the container is jettisoned and safely destroyed. The moment deeply affects her.

The alien race apparently dies off without the omega molecule as a power source. Oh, well. They probably have a few good decades left. I do not know id Janeway’s patience can hold out. She likes seeing corpses pile up while they are still warm.

I said above you should not think too much about the frivolous plot. What I meant by that is that we have never heard of the Omega directive before, nor will we ever again. Its very existence is kind of dumb. If an omega molecule is so dangerous to work with, it really ought not be kept a secret. In the past, it has been mentioned there are safety regulations so important even the Romulans and Cardassians honor them, so it is not a matter of keeping things hidden from the enemy. I also think it is dumb only captains and admirals are allowed to know about it. Perhaps they ought to let first years physics and chemistry students in on it, too, so they will know, experiment with them and risk Janeway will strangle them in their sleep. The scenario reminds me of the conspiracy theory that the Roswell aliens are real, but it is only when elected president, the new leader of the free world learns about them. You can chalk the absurdity up to Lisa Klink. She wrote the episode, so you have to expect some dud elements.

At least she did get Seven’s quest for her god right. Star Trek does not have a stellar history of exploring that topic. I would never have guessed Klink would be the one to do it well, much less competently. Seven’s story enhanced “The Omega directive” beyond typical filler into a character revealing story that goes well beyond the typical human lesson for Seven thrown into many episodes.

“The Omega Directive” is quite out of place as far as the Star Trek universe is concerned, but if you can skip the continuity issues, it is a lot of fun to watch. It tightens the screws effectively, as well as adds some heart with Seven’s spiritual side emerging. You will not see that often on a series with such a secular philosophy.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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