AliceBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:18 PM GMT
See Also: 'Alice' Episode Guide
While Paris tries to guess Tuvok's age as the Vulcan sits in the captain's chair, Voyager encounters a flotilla of debris. A hail greets the ship, offering to engage in trade. When Chakotay and Kim beam the alien aboard, he introduces himself as Avedon and offers a list of his inventory, prompting Kim to comment that the garbage collector has amassed more technology than the Borg. "And most of it is useless," comments Seven. But Paris, who has grown tired of refurbishing old cars and working on the Delta Flyer, sees a derelict ship on the scanners and falls in love.
Though he suspects Paris is looking for a new toy, Chakotay agrees that the ship's neurogenic interface looks intriguing, and agrees to trade for the relic if Paris will rehabilitate the ship. "Don't make me regret this," the commander warns. Avedon compares the vessel to a daughter he had trouble marrying off but praises its power, warning Voyager that all trades are final. Announcing to Kim that he intends to call the ship Alice after a crush of his from the academy, Paris demonstrates the neurogenic interface, blowing out several power cells in the process. Shutting down for the night, he calls, "Goodnight, Alice. See you in the morning." Once he exits the shuttle bay, the ship turns itself back on. After a quick inspection of Paris' brain and some voice modification, Alice repeats, "See you in the morning."
Late at night, Paris hears a woman calling his name. Assuming it's Torres, he wanders into the corridor and follows a female figure to the shuttle bay. "It's me, Alice," admits the voice when they arrive. She persuades him to put on a flight suit whose specs are in her database. Later, Kim wants to play Captain Proton on the holodeck but Paris is too engrossed in repairs to his latest obsession. "Alice needs me," he explains. "So does Arachnia!" his friend protests.
Meanwhile, Seven complains to Neelix that many of Avedon's promises about his equipment have proven untrue. In one case, however, they got an extraordinary bargain - a beryllian crystal embedded in what Neelix had supposed to be a useless trinket. Paris interrupts their conversation to ask for a bottle of champagne with which to christen Alice. He has invited Torres to the event, but they decide to drink the champagne instead of breaking the bottle. "I finally get to meet the other woman," B'Elanna smiles, but she's not so amused when an alarm goes off as Tom is about to kiss her, nor when he ignores her to coddle his ship. The chief engineer has some ideas for improvement, but Paris warns her not to touch anything - "It's my ship!" - and Torres leaves in a huff after the ship gives her an electrical shock.
Paris asks Chakotay to let him use some spare parts on the ship, but the first officer insists that the parts aren't "spare" - they're part of Voyager's emergency backup systems. Chakotay adds that Voyager's pilot has been too distracted, and needs to shave and put his regular uniform back on. Paris apologizes to Alice, but she's having none of it. An attractive young woman walks around the ship, replying for it, insisting that Paris keep on the uniform he's wearing. "Forget protocol! We can go anywhere you want," she promises, telling him that Torres doesn't understand him the way she does. Stroking his face, Alice echoes Chakotay's comment that Tom looks tired, and invites him aboard. There she asks him to activate the interface so they can continue with repairs.
Paris continues to take parts from Voyager to modify the little ship. He feels guilty about it because the Voyager crew is like his family. "Sometimes you have to leave your family behind," Alice tells him. "You don't belong here. You belong with me." Because of the interface, she can nearly read his mind now, finishing his sentences as he describes his first spaceflight.
Seven catches Paris charting a course in astrometrics and is not amused at his jokes about a merger of man and machine, like the Borg. Alice - whom Tom can see, but Seven cannot - advises him to make his apologies and get out of there quickly. Meanwhile in engineering, Torres tells Kim about her problems with his best friend. Harry compares Tom's obsessive hobbies to Ferengi stages of obsession, but when the engineer realizes that someone has taken four power cells from the secondary warp system, she knows at once who to blame. Marching to the shuttle bay, she calls for Paris, finding one of the cells sticking out of Alice. But Paris isn't there, and Alice locks her in, venting atmosphere from inside the cockpit. Tom enters the room to find his girlfriend suffocating inside the ship, and frees her.
"Don't you try to tell me this was an accident!" shouts Torres when she can breathe again, informing him that she's going to tell the captain that the ensign has been stealing components for his apparently sentient ship. When she leaves, Alice appears to warn Paris that if he's examined in sickbay, they will know about his neural link to the ship's systems. "You shouldn't have tried to kill B'Elanna. It's over," insists Tom, but the ship is having none of that. She gives him neural shocks until he agrees to leave Voyager with her immediately.
Torres tells Janeway about what happened, which Janeway at first interprets as a lover's quarrel. A warning from Tuvok about an unauthorized launch brings them to the bridge. Now fully interfaced with Alice, Paris evades Voyager's tractor and charges weapons, masking his trail when he goes to warp. "She'll do anything to get you back," Alice warns of the captain, re-telling the Icarus myth for Tom's benefit as his arms grow numb. "You're a part of me," she soothes.
Janeway takes Voyager back to Avedon, asking for information about Alice. The alien reiterates his sales-are-final policy, but when Neelix reveals that Avedon inadvertently sold them a beryllian crystal for almost nothing, the stranger changes his mind. On board, he says that the little ship was sold to him by Halkonians who claimed it was haunted. Before he can explain further, Alice appears to Avedon - looking like a member of his own species - and demands his silence. Voyager's crew stares as Avedon screams at someone they can't see, then collapses with a cerebral hemorrhage. The Doctor saves him, but tells the captain that the injury had a neurogenic signature.
"She needed a pilot," Avedon admits when he awakens. "I couldn't resist her." But Avedon's reflexes weren't fast enough. Seven summons Janeway to tell her that she has reconstructed Paris' trajectory, tracing him to a particle fountain in an otherwise empty area of space. Aboard Alice, the alluring female says the particle fountain is her home and she needs Tom to take her there. Janeway catches up and has Voyager fire at Alice, but because he is linked to the ship's systems, Paris feels excruciating pain. The Doctor advises that a ceasefire, so Janeway orders them to come up with a distration that will allow Tuvok to try to lower Alice's shields.
"You'll be home with me," Alice promises, but Torres appears beside Paris on the ship. "Don't believe her! Alice is an illusion!" The two virtual woman argue over Paris while Tuvok manipulates the shields, enabling Paris to be beamed to sickbay. Without a pilot, Alice flies into the particle fountain and explodes. Safely on Voyager, Paris is warned to take a few days off duty to recover, with Torres threatening to break his legs if he doesn't comply.
Tom apologizes to B'Elanna, saying he remembers everything as if he had been sleepwalking and thanking her for being his alarm clock. "I promise no more affairs with strange ships," he jokes, adding that the Delta Flyer is just a friend. They kiss and make up.
Once I got over the extreme bad-ness of this episode, I had to admit that it was howlingly funny. Probably not intentionally, but I laughed aloud more times during "Alice" than I did during the purposefully comedic "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy." Indeed, the very appearance of Alice was good for a few snorts: Stephen King's Christine in the body of the ship from Battle Beyond the Stars, except that in this case, instead of just looking like it had big hooters, the ship appeared to Tom as an actual female with big hooters! I couldn't even get properly offended at sexism inherent in the idea of a ship which goes looking for boy toys to fly her because, although she can blow their minds, she can't get herself off the ground without them. When it's done well, it's disturbing. When it's done like "Alice," what can you do but laugh?
Although I giggled a lot at the suggestions that the captain has it bad for Captain Proton - first when Harry suggested that Arachnia needed the pilot more than Alice, and later when Alice warned that Janeway would never let Tom go - I got an even bigger kick out of the forced chemistry between Paris and his official girlfriend. They both looked so relieved when Alice interrupted their first kiss that I had to snicker. And when they later locked lips in sickbay with their teeth so tightly clenched shut that you could see their jawlines, it was so romantic that I had to, uhh, wonder why Torres isn't dating virtually any other character on the show.
How many times is a woman supposed to forgive a man for getting possessed by an evil alien and treating her like crap before she starts to wonder if he likes it? Tom Paris is way past my personal limit. I understand that he finds these mechanical babes irresistible, sort of the way Thomas Hobbes finds playing Harsh Realm irresistible, since we know that VR Is Bad, unless you're the captain looking for a little nookie on the holodeck. But when your artificial dates start shorting circuits out at your touch, things are a little too hot to handle. All I could think during that scene when Paris first interfaced and got that blissful look just before the ship burned its cells out was, "Talk about a blow job." Even without Avedon's warning, his crack about the daughter he couldn't marry off should have keyed Tom into reasons to be grateful Alice doesn't live here anymore.
The most hysterical line of the episode - perhaps the most hysterical line of the series - was Chakotay's announcement that Voyager has a full complement of shuttles, thus proving the theory that Voyager keeps replacements like those little toy dinosaurs and bugs that come in capsules and inflate in water. It was nice that he got some substantive command work this week, but I have found that ever since Kate Mulgrew revealed the terms of her new contract - namely, that she gets more days off per episode - whenever Robert Beltran has a big scene, I immediately think, "Must have been one of Kate's free days."
Yes, it's uncharitable of me, but I have found nothing to make me believe this series is constructed with anything but pragmatism. Like, Alice itself (the ship, not the woman) was clearly a recycled runabout with a grill on the front and a shorter back. Maybe Voyager got all those spare shuttles by rebuilding things with spare parts. In which case that garbage dump should have looked like a gold mine to them. Anyone else ever get the impression that they put their scripts together the same way?
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.