Friday, September 30, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Relativity"

Whenever VOY is struggling, it does one of two things. Either it features the doctor in a bittersweet episode wherein he has a human experience or there is a time travel story. The fifth season has now done both within the span of three episodes, so rest assured the series is having trouble. Fortunately, “Relativity” is a fun romp. It ignores any and all continuity and logic, but it is highly entertaining.

Seven--who else?--is recruited by the returning Braxton from the 29th century to locate a time bomb placed on Voyager at some point in the near past. The bomb is set to wipe Voyager completely from the timeline. Braxton removes her from the timeline a split second before the bomb explodes so she can go back in time to find the bomb.

Seven takes a total of four trips. We only witness her last three. The first two ended in her death. She poses as a crewmember while Voyager is still in dry dock, again two years later during a Kazon attack, and contemporarily just before the bomb blows. It is during the Kazon battle she learns the one who planted the bomb is a future version of Braxton who has gone insane because--you will never guess--repairing the timeline from Janeway’s frequent meddling has taken a toll on him. Seven puraues Braxton into contemporary times where she captures him. His first officer then brings janeway into the 29th century with orders to catch Braxton in the past before he can set the bomb in the first place so as to preserve the timeline.

Got all that? It really does not stand up to scrutiny. Future Braxton claims his mental troubles began when he was stranded on Earth from 1967-1996 in the “Future’s End” two part story, but at the end of it, he said he told Janeway he never experienced that timeline. So why does he have problems with it if it when he was never stranded in the past? Why set a bomb that is not going to go off until five years after Braxton planted it? The bomb is going to wipe Voyager and its crew out the timeline completely. We learned from Annerax such a move has vast repercussions, but here, it is just a matter of saving the crew from death. Janeway activates the EMH in dry dock to test him out even though it has been established he was never activated before the ship entered the Delta Quadrant. No one knew Braxton was the culprit, but after his first officer arrests him for future crimes and seven brings in his counterpart from the far future, it is said there are three of them in custody. Where did the other one come from? What did he do and when did they have a chance to capture him? Janeway catches one to make it four in custody. When Torres runs into the time traveling Janeway, she does not notice her hairstyle is completely different even though when Kate Mulgrew is reenacting those scenes in the past, she is wearing a very bad wig to mimic the past style, so an effort was made to get the hair right.

So there are some definite problems with continuity and logic. No matter, though. “Relativity” does not take itself seriously, so neither do I. some of the bits were hilarious. Braxton’s hatred of Janeway fort never minding her own business reminds me more of Yosemite Sam’s “Oooo…I hate that rabbit!’ towards Bugs Bunny than Ahab’s hatred for Moby Dick. It is probably her escapade in the series finale that sends him over the edge. It nearly did me. I also love how the whole time travel/bomb/restoring the timeline is about to be explained to her through techno babble, but Janeway dismisses it and just asks for instructions on what to do to get to Braxton in the past. Is this the first time there has been a refusal to listen to a made up pseudoscientific explanation on this show? It is about time. Jeri Ryan looks nice in a Starfleet uniform, two. Much better than in those exploitive catsuits you have a difficult time imagining anyone would make her wear while on duty.

Braxton has his own amusements. He has been replaced by Bruce McGill. McGill was revealed to be some sot of figure who may have been manipulating Sam Beckett’s time travel in the Quantum Leap finale. There were rumors, probably completely fan based, that Braxton might turn out to be Future Guy on ENT. If so, then McGill would be manipulating Scott Bakula’s time travel yet again. Now we know Brannon Braga and Rick Berman had no clue who Future Guy was, so throw that out the window. It would have been a cool cross science fiction reference if it had panned out.

“Relativity” is flawed, but there is too much to like here for complaints to matter. Do not think about the plot holes too hard, and it might wind up one of your favorites. It is at least a top ten entry for me. I think there is a vibe among the actors the material is poking fun at the show, so they are playing it that way. Think about it. Janeway’s disregard for the rules is the catalyst for the plot. The Doctor has an appearance when he is not supposed to just to spice up the episode. Seven is in the foreground even in the past while the rest of the crew is irrelevant. Chakotay is the only crewmember to disappear in the first act and never return. No one wants to hear the techno babble. ‘Relativity” is completely mocking VOY. The show deserves it.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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