Saturday, September 17, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Counterpoint"

Has everyone been clamoring for a janeway romance episode? Me, neither, but here we go. “Counterpoint” shifts away from the usual Star trek motif of romance equals sex, but still does not go much deeper. Janeway falls for an exciting, dangerous man like a teenage girl might in what amounts to a thin, not very believable relationship. But Trekkies are cheap dates, so that is good enough. Unfortunately, the rest of the story is quite predictable.

Voyager is traveling through Devore territory. The Devore are a xenophobic race who do not like visitors. They especially do not like telepaths. They have devised strict rules and inspections for ships traveling through Devore space to ensure there is no telepath smuggling going on. Of course, Voyager is smuggling telepaths in order to find a rumored wormhole to safety. Otherwise, the telepaths will be sent off to a Devore concentration camp.

A Devore named Kashyk has been in charge of three ship wide inspections. He is a smug jerk who creates a strained, but cooperative relationship with Janeway. I think this dynamic is supposed to qualify as sexual tension, but neither actor can really pull that off plausibly. Perhaps it is this implausible relationship that causes me to never by into the idea the two are falling for each other when Kashyk returns to Voyager alone and requests asylum.

Kashyk returns to Voyager with a sob story about how he had discover a group of half starved telepaths, including a small child, hiding on a freighter. He sent them all to a concentration camp, but the little girl has allegedly weighed on his conscience since. Janeway came along to be his salvation. As a sign of good faith, he reveals he knew about the transporter trick that has been hiding the telepaths, but refused to reveal that to the rest of his inspection team. As a further act of good faith, he offers to help find the wormhole in exchange for safe passage through it.

I never bought into his conversion, probably because no one else really does, either, but also because the romance that blossoms between Kashyk and Janeway feels so superficial. Seriously, he is doing a con job on her and she does not fully trust him. So what is there to build on? The relationship gets even worse when Kashyk offers to go back to some pursuing Devore ships, take command of them, and take charge of the latest inspection so he can still keep the telepaths hidden. It is all a trick, of course. He wanted Janeway to find the wormhole so the telepaths only escape route can be destroyed and the telepaths arrested. But Janeway has tricked him, too. The ’wormhole” they are approaching is a red herring while the telepaths are reaching the real one via shuttlecraft. In the end, Janeway fights back tears over what might have been.

Remember yesterday when I remarked that no one can violate the Prime Directive with impunity except Janeway? Here is further proof. Smuggling telepaths is a blatant violation which Janeway commits without blinking because she thinks she has the moral high ground. Yet tom was demoted and locked away in the previous episode for beliving the same. Captain’s privilege, of course. She cannot have loose cannons serving under her. But the powers that be should have spread these two episodes apart so the contradiction would not come so readily to mind. Preserving the ocean at all costs might just be as moral a cause as rescuing refugees from certain death in many people’s minds.

I am also amused that when spelled Kashyyyk, the bad guy’s name is the home planet of the Wookies. How sad is it that I know that?

“Counterpoint” is a fan favorite, particularly for the janeway shippers who are getting frustrated with Chakotay’s inability to seal the deal romantically. I figure the lesbian janewat/Seven and Janewat/Torres shippers are on my side in agreeing “Counterpoint” is too shallow to be convincing. Even the con job done on Kashyk would wind up on the Mission: Impossible cutting room floor. “Counterpoint” is average. No fatal flaws, but nothing to elevate it, either.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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