MemorialBy Edward James Hines
Posted at February 2, 2000 - 6:00 AM GMT
** out of ****
Teleplay by Robin Burger
Story by Brannon Braga
Directed by Allan Kroeker
An Away Team consisting of Chakotay, Paris, Kim and Neelix returns from a straightforward, two-week survey mission in the Delta Flyer and begins exhibiting signs of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Each recalls being embroiled in a firefight while forcibly relocating an alien colony, during which 82 civilians were killed. As Voyager nears the planet in question, Janeway and other crew members feel that they, too, were somehow involved in the shoot-out. An Away Team to the surface discovers an obelisk with a synaptic transmitter, which has been broadcasting the history of the 300-year-old massacre and indelibly involving passersby in the experience. After some debate, Janeway orders the transmitter's power cells to be recharged so that the memory record may be preserved.
The ambiguous, ominous setup of the mystery was more compelling than its actual, passive revelation, which is so often the case on Voyager; still, there is no denying the effectiveness of the teaser and first act in prompting the viewer's imagination to run wild with possibilities. It's too bad, then, that the episode ends up as a retread of the "Inner Light" memory story meets the ground battle/relocation themes from either "Nemesis," DS9's "The Siege of AR-558" or TNG's "Journey's End." The producers could have taken a risk and developed a story in which the Away Team was somehow actually, willingly involved in the massacre but covering it up. Unfortunately, in terms of timing, this premise would have worked better several seasons ago with an all-Maquis Away Team.
The most interesting action in "Memorial" involves a return to the Paris/Torres romance, but even trying to figure out the dynamics of this inconsistent relationship is a psychological nightmare. Torres is a manic-depressive who, for weeks now, has neither participated in her boyfriend's Fair Haven holodeck scenario nor attended the Doctor's recital aboard ship. Lately, though, her rotten mood has lifted; she attended the Doctor's boring lecture on Delta Quadrant insects and suddenly developed an interest in constructing a television set for Paris. She even meets him outside the shuttlebay when he arrives home like a soldier from the war (a terrific touch).
What happens next? Paris quickly becomes engrossed in television and completely ignores her. Later, when deeply troubled, he yells at her and rebuffs her to the point where she storms out on the throwaway line, "You know where to find me." For the record, when the situations are reversed, she does the same thing to him ("Day of Honor," "Extreme Risk"). Typical relationship? Maybe, but these two just never seem to show simultaneous interest in one another anymore. Did they ever?
It is now undeniably clear that Voyager's opportunity to upend the status quo has long since passed. The series will doubtlessly coast into its final season with as little shakeup and implication and consequence as it has demonstrated so far.
Edward James Hines writes weekly reviews of Voyager episodes.