Saturday, September 3, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Unforgettable"

Out of all the adjectives I could use to describe this episode, “Unforgettable” is not one of them. It is a snoozer of a Chakotay episode wherein he--surprise, surprise--gets the short end of the stick. "Unforgettable” has Star Trek doing two things it does very poorly-- romance and moralizing. Just to throw us a curve, neither is done with the usual incompetence. Romance is not synonymous with sex. We are not beaten over the head with a philosophical point, either. The writers found all new ways to screw the two concepts up.

Voyager comes across two ships fighting. One is destroyed, while the other is heavily damaged. A woman named Kellin is alive on the damaged ship. She requests Chakotay by name to help her. When she is brought on board for medical treatment, she explains she is a tracer, someone sent from her home planet to retrieve anyone who leaves her isolationist world. She claims she was on Voyager a month prior to hunt down a stowaway fugitive. Chakotay in particular helped her catch him, and she fell in love with him. Although she fell in love, she did not realize it until later after she had wiped everyone’s memory of her presence. She escaped the planet herself to be with Chakotay.

He does not remember her, of course, but slowly begins to come around. It is at the time he is fully ready to accept she is really is his sweet pea, a Tracer comes on board, wipes her memory, and plans take her back home. Now that chakotay is hooked on her, the shoe is on the other foot. She does not remember him, nor does she care. In fact, she cannot believe she would ever violate her planet’s rules by leaving. The new Tracer wipes everyone’s memory, and he leaves with Kellin.

I hope you already have the big problem with “Unforgettable” jumped right out at you. It is hypocrisy on everyone’s part. A month ago, an alien seeking to escape his home planet was recaptured with the help of Chakotay with no questions asked. He was happy to do it, even though the fugitive was due an asylum hearing at least. Surely high minded Federation principles would demand some questions answered about the guy’s crime. Kellin returned home, presumably turning in the fugitive, then kept thinking about Chakotay to the point she fled herself. When she makes it to Voyager and requested asylum, it is granted because a society should never, ever prevent its people from leaving. Especially when it is a hot blonde, because that is the only reason I can think anyone would care about Kellun’s freedom of choice, but not the guy’s they originally helped capture without question. The problem here is not the usual preachy moralizing, but there is no moral to anything, anywhere, or by anyone in the episode.

The romance is terribly dull. There is no chemistry between Robert Beltran and Virginia Madsen. They are two actors paid to go through the cliché motions. They can barely pull it off. Maybe I am in the mindset since Beltran’s dissatisfaction with VOY has been a tpoic of discussion here as of late, but he comes across as bored with his role. I cannot blame him, either. The material is very bad. When Kellin explains nonchalantly to Chakotay after her memory has been wiped she does not remember anything about their time together, I said out lous, ’Well, why would you?” I have had deeper relationships chatting with people in line at Burger King. Count it as further evidence of why I sympathize with Beltran over his complaints about being stuck on this show for seven years.

I would advise you to skip this one. It is another case of needing to throw in a Chakotay-centric episode for the season. But this time, instead of not only lacking a good idea as in many episodes of this type, the bad idea the writers ran with was done poorly. With everyone’s memory wiped, including the computers, there is absolutely no lasting consequences for the episode. If everyone would avoid watching it, we could mercifully keep things that way.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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