Concerning FlightBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:27 PM GMT
See Also: 'Concerning Flight' Episode Guide
Janeway is on the holodeck running the Da Vinci program, wringing out her hair after an unsuccessful attempt to fly in a glider they constructed which sent them crashing into a river. The ship jolts. Janeway contacts the bridge, learns that they're being fired upon, and exits without terminating the program. The hostile aliens use transporters to steal technology from Voyager, including the main computer processor and the Doctor's portable holographic emitter.
The crew tracks the stolen parts to a planet where Janeway and Tuvok beam down incognito...only to be greeted by Da Vinci, wearing Doc's emitter and believing himself to be in America. He explains that his patron the Prince has given him a magnificent workshop. Janeway correctly deduces that this "prince" must be the leader who stole their technology, and arranges a meeting with him where she pretends to be an interested buyer so she can learn where he's hidden her goods.
Impressed with Da Vinci's maps and in possession of some of the stolen goods, Tuvok returns to Voyager to try to track the missing computer processor; Janeway elects to stay on the planet with Da Vinci to study. Though Tuvok objects, he discovers that in order to transport the processor, they need a power surge to lock onto its location. Janeway sets out to find the equipment and cause the overload, but before she can do so, she's discovered by the alien thief, who tracks her and Da Vinci.
Using Renaissance ingenuity and Starfleet devices, Janeway and Da Vinci find the computer processor and have it beamed to Voyager, but fail to escape when the pursuing aliens fire upon them. They flee into the hills, where Janeway finds that Da Vinci has built a new prototype flying machine. Desperate to escape the aliens while she waits for Voyager to rescue her, she and the hologram launch the glider. They soar until Voyager can get a lock and beam the entire contraption into a cargo bay. Back on the holodeck, Da Vinci announces that he wishes to leave Italy for France, now that she has reminded him that he always wanted to fly.
I really liked "Concerning Flight"; I'm clueless as to why UPN showed the dreadful "Random Thoughts" in the middle of sweeps month, and saved this gem for the night before Thanksgiving when no one was home to watch. I'm not sure if it's possible to attribute a direct relationship between byline and quality, since this show's written by committee, but Joe Menosky has his name on several terrific Janeway stories and this one was no exception (I don't think can just be coincidence that Ken Biller, who wrote "Random Thoughts," bears the writing credit on my three least favorite episodes, either).
"Concerning Flight" wasn't a flawless outing by any means, but it reminded me of both first-season Voyager and classic Star Trek - which "Concerning Flight" made fleeting reference to when Janeway noted to Tuvok that James T. Kirk professed to have met Da Vinci himself, though she doubted his claim. I love it when the writers do their homework. This was Janeway circa "Time and Again" or "Ex Post Facto," unafraid to lead away missions, intent on exploring even when there was work to be done on the ship - she was touchy-feely, she had a sense of humor and a sense of wonder, she glowed despite the dowdy clothes they stuck her in.
This Janeway came off as a much stronger captain than the brittle dictator of "Year of Hell" or the tough-as-nails leader from "The Swarm." I still wish she'd have relationships with live people rather than holograms, but there was nice subtlety to her interaction with Da Vinci. One could hear the scientist and the philosopher, the leader and the student, the person and the captain, without any incongruity among the roles. She was smart and dignified and lovely, much more so than Seven of Nine in the numerous gratuitous butt shots. Please, put this woman on the bridge.
I liked Tuvok somewhat less - he's always overly paternal towards Janeway, it seems almost smarmy - Chakotay sometimes objects to her risking her life, but rarely confronts her so condescendingly. Tuvok did get some funny moments, like when Da Vinci asked if he'd been to Vulcan - an island off Sicily - but he doesn't seem very smart for a security officer. I did like Chakotay fretting over Janeway in danger, though I raised my eyebrow when he called her Kathryn in absentia on the bridge! He had a fairly strong showing, dealt pretty firmly with the uncooperative alien they questioned about where to find their lost equipment. The rest of the cast was mostly perfunctory - Harry came across as a caricature of hormonal idiocy around Seven, Seven came across as a caricature of snippy efficiency around the Doc. Thank god she merely described her little catfight with Torres instead of acting it out.
John Rhys-Davies gave a wonderful performance as Da Vinci, though in a turnaround for Voyager, it wasn't as over the top as it could have been; I was hoping for a little more glimpse into the manic genius Janeway described, the historical figure who secretly dissected corpses against Church law, who questioned scientific limits, who loved to look at handsome young men...well, Janeway probably left that detail out of her holoprogramming to keep him kissing her hand. I expected him to get a lot more excited at being shot by a phaser, and at the sight of the transporter - if the New World of the planet thrilled him, think what Voyager's technology should have done. Hopefully he'll be back to continue philosophizing with Janeway...and hopefully, next time she sees him, she'll bring some human companionship along to appreciate with her.
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.