RepressionBy Edward James Hines
Posted at November 2, 2000 - 10:19 PM GMT
Teleplay by Mark Haskell Smith
Story by Kenneth Biller
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
While attending a 3-D movie in the holodeck, newlyweds Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres find Ensign Tabor (Jad Mager) slumped in his chair, apparently comatose. The Doctor's diagnosis suggests that Tabor was attacked. Janeway assigns Tuvok to begin an investigation.
Tuvok soon believes that someone on Voyager is to blame, and Crewman Jor (Carol Krnic) emerges as his prime suspect. He finds her rummaging through Tabor's quarters; later, Jor is the first to find another crewman, Yosa (Mark Rafael Truitt), after he was attacked. While tracking down Jor, however, Chakotay and Tuvok discover that she, too, has become a victim.
More attacks lead Chakotay to conclude that former members of the Maquis are being targeted. He orders those remaining to work in pairs and carry phasers. Later, when Crewman Chell (Derek McGrath) is discovered without Torres, his partner, Chakotay follows Torres to Cargo Bay Two, where he finds her comatose. Tuvok suddenly appears and attacks Chakotay, who manages to call security before succumbing to Tuvok's mind-meld.
Tuvok, however, is unaware that he is the perpetrator and, thus, continues to be baffled by his fruitless investigations. When he appears to be taking it too seriously, Janeway orders him to rest. While meditating, however, Tuvok is assailed by images of the Maquis victims, particularly of Chakotay striking the assailant. Tuvok looks under his tunic and finds a large bruise on his side. Then he hallucinates the face of a Bajoran man ordering him to complete his mission. Galvanized, he rushes to the holodeck movie theater, where Janeway and Harry Kim are working to reveal the assailant's negative image, which was left behind by displaced photons. After a few pointed questions to the computer, Tuvok concludes that he is the attacker and must be confined to the brig.
Meanwhile, the comatose Maquis begin awakening with no memory of what happened to them. Tuvok believes that the Bajoran voice first began directing him after the arrival of Starfleet's latest data stream, which included a letter from Tuvok's son, Sek (Ronald Robinson). There is another signal embedded in Sek's message, calibrated to correspond with Vulcan synaptic frequencies. Tuvok was never consciously aware of receiving instructions from a Bajoran vedek named Teero (Keith Szarabaika), a fanatic who was thrown out of the Maquis for experimenting with mind control. Via meditation, Tuvok remembers meeting Teero and later being subjected to his experiments. Even now, Teero presses Tuvok to carry out his instructions, which Tuvok does by calling Chakotay and uttering a Bajoran incantation. Chakotay, mesmerized, passes the message to Torres, who passes the message to others. Several Maquis soon take control of Voyager's vital sections and lock the Starfleet crew in their quarters.
Chakotay explains that Teero has reminded the Maquis of who they were, and that their cause can remain alive on Voyager even if it no longer exists in the Alpha Quadrant. He demands that Tuvok renew his loyalty to the Maquis by shooting Janeway. Tuvok, who has secretly shaken his conditioning, passes the test by firing, but the phaser does not work. Having earned Chakotay's trust, however, he sneaks up behind the Maquis captain and initiates another mind-meld to dissolve Teero's instructions. Together, they retake the ship for Janeway.
"Repression" suffers from the standard Star Trek stumbling block of a poor payoff to a heavily stacked story. The Maquis insurrection was barely fomented on-screen before it was put down again, to say nothing of Tuvok's unbelievably rapid (and inexplicable) transformation from Teero's simmering subject back into his usually sober self. In the interests of shoring up such a weak ending, it might have been advisable for the producers to jettison the Paris/Torres "afternoon at the movies" teaser (as enjoyable as it was), leaving a few extra minutes for the Maquis to "raise hell" in the denouement.
Aside from these obvious flaws, "Repression" accomplishes two things. First, it is the almost-annual opportunity for actor Tim Russ to "act," i.e., shuck the stoic Vulcan veneer and emote — most recently observed in last season's "Riddles." Second, and more important, "Repression" reminds us that almost a quarter of Voyager's crew is comprised of former Maquis. This ongoing subplot, which has mostly disappeared since VGR's early years, may have bearing in the upcoming series finale if Voyager returns to the Alpha Quadrant and Starfleet decides to take action against Chakotay and his onetime cohorts. Such grumbling was initiated in last season's "Life Line."
Of particular interest in "Repression" is how quickly the Maquis band together and revert to paranoia and accusation when they are threatened. This is to be expected, of course, given the circumstances, but it also seems to be an indication that, as far as patriotism goes, nothing much has changed since the pilot episode, "Caretaker." Nowhere else is this more evident than in Chakotay's accusation that "… someone on your [Janeway's] crew couldn't put the past behind them." This is not a slip-of-the-tongue on Chakotay's part. In the instant he says it, he is a Maquis again. In that instant, he, too, is one of those crewmembers who hadn't put the past behind him. Only when Janeway calls him out on the accusation does he relent, rethink and rephrase, "Our crew."
Most of the Maquis, however, do not relent, choosing to wear their prejudice against Starfleet boldly on their sleeves. For instance, the Bolian Chell and Crewman Doyle (Scott Alan Smith, who is the splitting image of Robert Picardo) prefer to report to Chakotay rather than Tuvok, whom the Maquis still revile for having betrayed them in "Caretaker." Later, Chell believes that the attacks against the Maquis could be the result of Starfleet orders instructing Janeway to "neutralize" them as a potential threat. Chakotay and Torres — once Maquis leaders, now Starfleet first officer and wife of a Starfleet officer, respectively — are in the unenviable position of towing the establishment's line and arguing for the other Maquis to stay calm.
Left to Your Imagination
Put on your Eymorg thinking caps! "Repression" provides another of those not-so-rare VGR opportunities to "fill in the blanks" necessitated by the mostly threadbare plot.
The Doctor finds several minor microfractures in Tabor's cranium as well as subdermal contusions along his shoulder. Granted, this kind of technobabble tends to fly right past your face, but given consideration, it unmistakably refers to a Vulcan mind-meld and a nerve pinch, respectively. The Doctor, however, is curiously unable to diagnose these symptoms, even though he has likely seen them before. Has no Vulcan nerve pinch ever left similar subdermal contusions along a victim's shoulder? Wouldn't the cranial microfractures show a pattern that might indicate the spread of an attacker's finger imprints along the victim's skull? As we have seen before in Star Trek, the level of medical knowledge and capability is only as advanced as the plot allows it to be.
Tabor's room has books stacked on a shelf. Ordinarily, this would be a nice touch as far as set decorations go. However, Tabor was a Maquis, transplanted to Voyager in "Caretaker." Where did the books come from? Were they miraculously rescued from Chakotay's raider before it was destroyed? Beamed over to Voyager at the last instant? Not likely. Tabor could have replicated them over the past seven years, but why would he need to? They are frivolous and inconsistent with Voyager's history of energy conservation and replicator rationing. But what else is new?
When Chakotay and Tuvok enter the Mess Hall in search of Jor, they find the room dark. This adds the element of eeriness. It works … for the first few seconds. Then it becomes hackneyed when the men continue to fumble around in the darkness until they happen to bump into Jor's prone body. Why didn't they just turn up the lights?
Later, when Tuvok is attacking Chakotay, the first officer manages to call for security but never identifies Tuvok as the assailant. Why not? He certainly had time to blurt, "It's Tuvok!" The staging of the altercation could have been improved to preclude Chakotay's ability to do anything more than call for help.
It is never explained how Teero was able to subdue Tuvok and bring him to the underground laboratory seven years ago. Not only is Tuvok a Vulcan with superior strength and a Starfleet security officer with advanced defensive training ("Meld"), but also, at the time, he was an undercover agent, which should have made him especially guarded against attack or betrayal. Teero may have simply phaser-stunned Tuvok, but this would have had lingering effects on Tuvok's nervous system that may have delayed Teero's experiments. Surely, Tuvok could not have gone missing from the Maquis for long without arousing suspicion, and Teero did want Tuvok to return to the Maquis. So how did he do it?
Given the likely exchange of cultural databases between Bajor and the Federation, shouldn't there be a quick translation matrix for the symbols in Teero's message as well as the incantations he uses? We know from DS9's "Rapture" that certain ancient Bajoran symbols are not easily translated, and if this is the case in "Repression," then it should have been made clear. The Bajoran civilization flourished a half-million years ago. It is possible that they flirted with the mind-control techniques that Teero is now employing, which would explain the ancient text and the likely inability of Voyager's lay Bajorans (Tabor, Gerron, Tal Celes) to help with the translation.
One critical, unanswered question is why a post-mind-meld Chakotay is not triggered by Teero's "pagh'tem'far" incantation in Sek's message. Presumably, only Tuvok could give the instruction to "begin," since he mind-melded with the Maquis, but again, this is not made clear.
When Tuvok, via the intercom, finally does give the "magic words" to Chakotay, who abruptly leaves Seven in Astrometrics, why doesn't she call and report this to Janeway? The captain, who overhears the cryptic message, clearly wants to know what it means, but she, too, never follows up on it. Moments later, when she is unable to reach Chakotay via the intercom, she doesn't even think to have security find and detain him.
Janeway may or may not have been thinking more clearly later, depending on how you view the situation. When Chakotay captures her but does not remove her commbadge, she misses an opportunity to lock out all command controls to the ship. All nonessential personnel were already in their quarters, thanks to the level-10 security alert imposed earlier, so Janeway should have felt relieved for their relative safety and tried to use her trump card to delay a full Maquis takeover, but this never happens. Perhaps she thought it would only incite a violent response from the Maquis, who were already edgy because of Tuvok's attacks. Anyway, her attempt may well have proved fruitless, since Chakotay had already captured the Bridge and probably locked out the controls for his own use. The situation is, at best, conveniently confusing. As with the fluctuating level of Starfleet's medical knowledge and capability, "capturing the ship" has become as easy or as difficult as the plot demands. There is no longer any rhyme or reason, so it deserves no consideration other than as a point of contention.
Certainly, the level-10 security alert helps to facilitate the Maquis' rapid takeover, since about two-thirds of the crew are already out of the way. All Chakotay has to do is lock them in their quarters. What isn't as easy to figure out is how Chakotay and Tuvok manage to outgun the four Maquis on the Bridge and retake control for Janeway. For one thing, Chakotay is bluffing with his nonfunctioning phaser. Tuvok probably needed to stun all four (off-screen) to prevent them from warning the rest of the Maquis via intercom about Chakotay and Tuvok's counterinsurgency.
Finally, the biggest stretch of all is how Tuvok snaps back into full control of himself, dismissing Teero's instructions once and for all. Chakotay chalks this up to Janeway's "pep talk," but this seems too pat. For all the effort it took Teero to "program" Tuvok — who, despite having melded with several of the Maquis, started to resist the programming — the situation called for a bigger kind of "outside influence" to fully disrupt the brainwashing.
Date With the Creature
Again, in the interests of time, it might have been better to save Paris and Torres' movie date for another show. However, included at the beginning of "Repression," it provides a nice sense of continuity to the end of "Drive," when the newlyweds began their honeymoon.
Paris seems to have an affinity for old Chicago. In "Repression," his movie house is a replica of the old Palace Theater, built in Chicago in 1932. In "Course: Oblivion," the Paris/Torres duplicates were planning on a holodeck honeymoon in 1920s Chicago.
On a starship with almost 150 people and only two holodecks, one of VGR's greatest questions is how the regular characters always manage to get holodeck time whenever they want it. "Drive" attempted to rectify the situation by showing Torres scrounging to borrow a full weekend of holodeck time from various crewmembers. Since this vacation was cancelled, however, Paris and Torres probably used their originally allotted time here, in "Repression," to spend the afternoon at the movies — a nice bit of continuity.
The date itself is particularly funny because Torres thinks the situation is absurd. Paris has gone to great lengths to replicate the finest details of the Palace Theater, right down to the chewing gum on the carpet; but Torres is astounded that the 3-D holodeck environment projects a 2-D movie image for which she has to wear glasses to see it in 3-D. It is a baffling yet comical situation from her viewpoint.
Love Those Lines
Kim's wonderful sense of sarcasm is not diminished by Tuvok's suspicion that he may be the Maquis attacker: "I was so distraught … that I fired my 'Captain Proton comatizer' at every Maquis I could find!"
In a rare bit of levity between Janeway and Tuvok, the captain at one point believes the assailant must be a ghost, since it is impossible to track. Tuvok quips, "Perhaps we should conduct a séance."
Finally, Tuvok's confusing line, "I reviewed every letter except my own," seems to indicate that he has no memory of seeing Sek's communiqué, but he would have had to for Teero's conditioning to take effect.
Ensign Tabor is the fourth-known Maquis after Chakotay, Torres and Ensign Seska to have been given Starfleet officer's rank aboard Voyager. The other Maquis are accorded "crewman" status, which begs the question of why Seska and Tabor deserved better.
DS9's "Rapture" introduced the phrase "pagh'tem'far," which is the Bajoran concept of a sacred vision. How this relates to Teero's insurgency instructions is unclear. Perhaps he used the term merely as a kind of password or catchphrase.
Another nice bit of continuity refers to the state of Tuvok's Vulcan mind, which Teero calls orderly and disciplined on the surface but with boiling emotions and repressed violence underneath. This seems consistent with "Gravity," when it was revealed that, as a boy, Tuvok needed special guidance and instruction to repress his emotions.
A broken bit of continuity in "Repression" occurs after Tuvok enters his quarters and removes his uniform jacket. When he hallucinates Teero's face in the mirror, he rushes from his room bereft of commbadge and phaser. Cut to the next shot of Tuvok in the corridor, only now he has a commbadge and a phaser. Guess he must have gone back for them.
Also, during Teero's experiments, Tuvok says he has been trained to resist mind control. The training must not have been terribly good. Also see "Cathexis" and "Meld."
Finally, somebody had better check Voyager's odometer. In last season's "Live Fast and Prosper," Voyager was only 30,000 light years away from home. Now, in "Repression," the distance is 35,000 light years. Maybe Paris accidentally doubled back on Voyager's course for a few thousand.
Behind the Scenes
Derek McGrath also appeared as "Chell" way back in S1's "Learning Curve," and he didn't like Tuvok then, either. McGrath as "Chell" is also in the CD-ROM game "Star Trek: Voyager — Elite Force."
Jad Mager also appeared as "Ensign Tabor" in S5's "Nothing Human."
Copyright Edward James Hines
1 November 2000
Edward James Hines writes weekly reviews of Voyager episodes.