Thursday, October 27, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"The Haunting of Deck Twelve"

It is amusing how close to Halloween “The Haunting of Deck Twelve” review comes in. I had no thought when I started back in june the episode would wind up being reviewed at the end of October. In spite of its title, there is only one element that is anything resembling a ghost story, and that is Neelix recounts how the crew got to the current point to the Borg children in a ’campfire” story during a power outage. Otherwise, the episode is rather bland and cliché.

The ship is forced to cut off power to all but life support. With the Borg children unable to regenerate in their alcoves, it is up to Neelix to entertain them until power returns. For whatever reason, he is not supposed to tell them the truth--the crew is returning an alien life form to a gaseous nwbula--so he decides to tell them a story about how Voyager accidentally brought an alien onboard while mining for deuterium in a gaseous nebula. Yes, I am not entirely clear on the difference, either.

How many times have we seen this sort of thing before/ Voyager is innocently gathering some supplies in an unusual environment. Unbeknownst to them, the environment is either the home of aliens or an alien itself. They have inadvertently injured an alien, captured one, or otherwise destroyed the environment, so the aliens threaten to destroy the ship before a way to communicate and straighten the situation out is found. I count six episodes with the exact plot and two more with a variation for a grand total of eight, not counting “The Haunting of Deck Twelve.’ it is not the most original of concepts for a VOY episode.

You can pretty well predict what happens. The alien begins transforming the ship’s environment to suit itself. The problems begin with minor malfunctions, but eventually escalate into the removal of life support and electric shocks to defend itself. The key to the resolution is the alien creating a bond with--holy crap--Janeway, because she engages in the old tradition of a captain talking to her ship in order to motivate it to function properly. Eventually, the entire crew is forced to evacuate save for Janeway. She discovers the nebula has been destroy, but vows to find another for the alien. She keeps her promise. The power outage the ship is currently enduring is the effort to send the alien into a new nebula.

“The Haunting of Deck Twelve” is a budget saving bottle show. Like many of the penultimate episodes of a season, it is filler. Filler episodes can be interesting if and when they offer small character insights. This is not one of those times. There is certainly nothing new or insightful to be found. But you know, I really cannot complain much about it, either. It is certainly nothing special, but aside from unoriginality, there are no big flaws in it. The crew is presented with a problem, they slowly pirce the puzzle together to figure it out, and come up with a solution. At least some effort is made to add the ghost story element so at least the way the story is told is different even if the story itself is the same old, same old. Call this one even more frivolously entertaining than usual.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

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