Extensive 'Friendship One' Plot SummaryBy Christian
March 24, 2001 - 2:01 AM
In just a few weeks' time, Star Trek fans will be able to see a space mission from a time when starship travel was a relatively new endeavour, and the universe really was still filled with strange new worlds, new life and new civilisations. No, this isn't referring to the rumoured Series V premise, but rather to the upcoming Voyager episode 'Friendship One', which will show us one of Earth's first 'First Contact' missions.
According to sources, the episode's teaser will show us the late-21st Century probe 'Friendship One' flying through space, broadcasting a greeting to alien cultures: "My name is Zefram Cochrane. I send greetings on behalf of the inhabitants of Earth."
Centuries later, Voyager is able to send messages back to Earth, thanks to modifications made to the deflector dish in the previous episode, 'Author, Author'. These allow instantaneous communication with Earth, and we see Janeway speaking with Admiral Hendricks, who taught Janeway back at the Academy. Hendricks sends Voyager on a mission to retrieve Friendship One, which is believed to be somewhere near the ship's position.
Voyager discovers that the probe landed on an inhabited Class-M planet. Unfortunately, rather than bring friendship to the planet, the probe brought war, as the aliens eventually used the technologies in the probe to come up with new weapons. In a massive war, the weapons were used, and this led to a global catastrophe that wiped out most of civilisation and polluted the atmosphere with radiation.
Janeway sends down an away team, who find an almost completely destroyed world. However, it turns out that a small group of survivors is alive on the planet, living in caves that managed to shield them from the radiation. They blame Starfleet for the destruction of their world, as they think that without the technologies in the probe, there would never have been such monstrous weapons.
The aliens capture away team members Tom Paris, Neelix and Joe Carey, and demand that Voyager take them to a new planet where they can rebuild their society. While being held hostage, the Voyager crew members are able to observe the meagre way in which the aliens were able to continue living in the decades after the disaster - though Neelix grimly observes he's not sure he'd call it "living".
Voyager sends a rescue mission, but Joe Carey is killed in the attempt. Janeway is now faced with a moral dillema: should she help these people, even after they killed a member of their crew, or should she just leave them to live in their caves? It becomes a Prime Directive issue, with Janeway wondering whether Starfleet is responsible for the catastrophe that destroyed the alien world, or whether these aliens would have developed the weapons even without Friendship One.
The crew comes up with a solution to the aliens' problems, but Janeway is still uncertain what to do, particularly because she will have to place the Voyager crew at risk to reach that solution. She asks Admiral Hendrick for advice, but he says that she's been on her own for seven years, and he doesn't have the answers for her. "You're a damned good Captain," he assures her, "And you don't need me or anyone else to tell you what to do."
Janeway decides to help the aliens, though they themselves seem not to be certain whether they want to be helped by Voyager, with the alien leader ordering to arm the warheads they still have left and target them. As he is about to launch them, his wife stops him, holding a weapon in one hand and their child in the other.
The alien leader asks, "What are you doing?"
"I won't let you destroy our only chance at survival."
"You'd kill me?"
"To save our child, yes."
After this dramatic confrontation, Voyager's plan to help the aliens works, and the aliens emerge from the caves to see the the dark clouds disappear that so long blocked their sun. As the first rays of sunshine in decades shine on them, we cut to Voyager. In a log entry, Janeway notes that they've retrieved the probe and established a relationship with the aliens that may finally justify the probe's name, though the success of the mission did have a price.
Please note that the above was apparently based on an early version of the 'Friendship One' script, and so some details may be different in the final episode. It is also not known if the voice of Zefram Cochrane will be provided by James Cromwell, who is now a major movie star, or if another actor has been cast - or even if the final episode features a different historical figure.
'Friendship One' is scheduled to air on Wednesday the 25th of April. The episode was written by Michael Taylor and Bryan Fuller, and directed by Mike Vejar.