Monday, September 5, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Demons"

Kenneth Biller resumes his competition with Lisa Klink for the title of Worst Voyager Writer Evah with ’Demons,’ an episode he hopes is so bizarrely different you will not notice how mind-numbingly stupid many of its elements are. I will grant “Demons” is bizarrely different, but I cannot overlook it obnoxious flaws.

Voyager is running out of deuterium, the desperately need energy source of the week the ship cannot possibly function without. Not only are they running out, but desperately so. They have cut off all non-essential ship functions, including life support in most decks. They have decided to congregate the crew to “campsites” in the cargo bays in order to sleep. This leads to a supposed humorous scene in which Tuvok, who is coordinating the effort, snatches away Neelix’s bedtime reading and blanket. Why does he do this? Just to be a dick, apparently. What difference does it make if Neelix takes a blanket and book to bad with him? Presumably, we are supposed to ponder that question instead of why Voyager has not attempted to conserve its energy supply while looking for a new source before it got so desperately low, the ship is almost dead in the water.

Seven inadvertently discovers a nearby planet with a large supply of deuterium, but it is a demon class planet--500 degree Kelvin temperatures and a poisonous atmosphere. There is no safe way to automatically mine for the stuff, so they are about to give up when harry, who has suddenly developed an assertiveness that will fade as quickly as it showed up, volunteers to go down in a spacesuit to mine personally--if tom goes with him, of course. Janeway agrees, but an accident occurs. Harry gets submerged in T-1000 liquid metal stuff. Tom pulls him out, but their suits are ruptured in the process, so they apparently suffocate.

Even though the ship is running out of energy, Janeway decides to land it on the planet to search for Tom and Harry. This in spite of the energy it must take to keep the environment at a comfortable level under the conditions. An away team finds tom and Harry. They are perfectly fine and sans spacesuits. Well, they are fine because they can breathe the poisonous air. No one wonders why they have not burnt to a crisp in the heat. When they are taken onboard the ship, we learn they can now only live within the planet’s atmosphere, not in their regular environments. Then the away team discovers the real tom and Harry still alive because of backup oxygen we did not know they had because both were acting panicked as though it did not exist.

Long story told mercifully short, the metal liquid stuff the two came into contact with created duplicates of them that can only survive on the planet. The liquid metal forms under the ship so it can duplicate everything and everyone. Janeway orders took to shoot at it until it lets the ship go. Duplicate Harry begs her to stop since she is killing him and Duplicate Tom. He forgot who he was talking to, because Janeway tells him that is the general idea. The two eventually come to an agreement--all the deuterium the crew needs in exchange for letting the liquid metal to make copies of them. Considering janeway desperately needed the deuterium and had no other way of obtaining it other than from this planet, was she just threatening to kill the liquid metal and its duplicates to strengthen her bargaining position/ I honestly do not know, but the whole idea of the liquid metal being satisfied with creating duplicates of the ship and everyone on board is strangely creepy.

The worst part? Four words: There. Is. A. Sequel.

“Demons” is illogical and pointless. There is no reason Voyager should have ever gotten as desperate for fuel as it supposedly was other than through the incompetence of Janeway, et al. There are all sorts of things to nitpick here, such as why did Tom and harry leave the shuttle door open in 500 Kelvin heat? The comic relief bits feel forced and most, like the Tuvok/Neelix exchange above, are more mean spirited than funny. The ending is odd and unsatisfying. The only virtuous part is the planet’s visuals. The place looks like anyone’s vision of hell. Under most circumstances, that would merit an additional star for an otherwise bad episode, but I just cannot be that generous here. I cite episodes like “Demons’ as the reason VOY is such a terrible show.

Rating; * (out of 5)

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