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The Trek Nation - Counterpoint

Counterpoint

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:58 PM GMT

See Also: 'Counterpoint' Episode Guide

As Devore ships approach Voyager, Janeway reminds the aliens hailing them that they already know the drill. Inspection teams appear on several decks as Janeway is summoned to her ready room, where classical music plays. The chief Devore officer mentions that he's having the music played throughout the ship to make the inspection less stressful, but Janeway is less than impressed with his sensitivity. Elsewhere on the ship, soldiers pull apart control panels, shatter vials in sickbay, and scan crewmembers. When Torres is asked about a power surge in the transporter system, one of the inspectors gives her advice about how to fix it. The Devore second-in-command, Prax, studies Seven of Nine's implants and demands to know whether she's telepathic.

Kashyk remains in the ready room with Janeway, admiring her art collection and suggesting that she could use a friend as Voyager passes through Devore space. He demands to know what happened to the telepathic crewmembers mentioned in her database - Tuvok and Vorik, both Vulcans, and Suder and Jetal, both Betazoid. Janeway says that they're dead: Suder in conflict with the Kazon, the others in a recent shuttle crash. Kashyk says he's relieved she is not harboring telepaths, since he'd have to arrest her for breaking their cardinal protocol if she did. She says the telepaths weren't criminals, but he points out that trust has to be earned, which telepaths can't understand because they can just read people's minds. The inspection completed, Kashyk lets Janeway's ship go without further ado.

Inside a cargo bay, Seven sets up portable pattern enhancers while in a transporter room, Kim works the controls. They materialize Tuvok, Vorik, and several other people - members of the Brenari race, families with children. Janeway tells their leader Kir that the Devore are gone. In sickbay, the Doctor informs the captain that the refugees and Tuvok are suffering from cellular degradation; they can't continue to go into transporter suspension. Janeway has worse news. The transport ship they were supposed to meet which would have taken the Brenari through a wormhole has changed the rendezvous point to an out-of-the-way nebula. Neelix tells the Brenari children Flotter stories to keep them calm, but they can read his nervousness.

Voyager is approached and hailed by a small Devore ship. It's Kashyk, in civilian clothes. He begs Janeway to see him; she notes that he knows the way to her ready room. Inside, Kashyk brushes aside her resentment and drops a bombshell: he wants to defect, and is asking for safe passage out of Devore space. When Janeway demands to know why she should risk her ship to harbor a refugee, he tells her that he knew all along about the people hidden via transporters in the cargo bay, and that she needs him to get her own crew past the squadron of Devore warships lying in wait. His people know about the nebula she's seeking, and he wants to help the Brenari escape.

Kashyk gives the crew information about Devore inspection points and agrees to remain under guard on Voyager while the Brenari decide whether or not he should be trusted. Chakotay wonders why they don't just read his thoughts, but Kir says Devore soldiers undergo years of training to make that impossible. Tuvok points out that if he is not telling the truth, Kashyk is probably using them to find the wormhole. Janeway agrees that they should take him up on his offer to help them, but she wants round the clock security on him.

Kir recommends that the crew contact an alien scientist named Torat to find the wormhole. When the ship tracks down the reluctant scientist, Janeway and Kashyk play off one another to get Torat to reveal information about the wormhole. They learn that the aperture appears in different locations, and will have to calculate its next appearance.

Janeway and Kashyk brainstorm together until they figure out the subspace pattern underlying the wormhole's behavior. Janeway has an intuition while listening to Tchaikovsky: there might be parallels in subspace like musical counterpoint. Kashyk explains that he decided to defect after he rescued a little girl, only to have to send her to an internment camp. The two watch a spectral display which Janeway likens to aurora borealis on Earth; Kashyk reflects that they are both exiles, and inquires about why Janeway broke her own Prime Directive to rescue alien refugees. Janeway tells him that she usually trusts her instincts and sorts out the rules at the board of inquiry afterwards. He tells her that she's his deliverance.

At the door to his quarters, Kashyk invites Janeway in for a drink, but she admits she's had his replicator disabled. He is approving rather than angry that she doesn't trust him yet. He suggests that she let her ship sail past Devore inspectors by keeping its energy output down, which they try, but a power surge in engineering alerts the Devore to their presence. Janeway has Voyager jump to warp and informs the senior staff that they'll fight their way past the Devore if they must, but Kashyk has another suggestion: he can go back, take command of the inspection team as if he had merely been on leave, and let Voyager pass undisturbed. Janeway reluctantly agrees, though she adds that she had hoped he would stay on Voyager once they got the Brenari to safety.

After Tuvok thanks Kashyk for his help, Janeway enters the shuttle bay alone with the alien. She says that Voyager will wait for him at the mouth of the wormhole and asks him again to join them. Kashyk impulsively kisses her, and after initial surprise, she grabs him and kisses him back. She looks regretful as he walks to his shuttle, but once he has departed, her expression returns to one of resolve.

When the Devore warships approach Voyager, Janeway repeats the drill from earlier. She enters her ready room to find Kashyk listening to Tchaikovsky and warning her that exploring, while romantic, can be dangerous. Kashyk dismisses Prax, asks about the Brenari and their plans, but when Janeway reveals that they have found the wormhole and know how to open it, he abruptly calls Prax back. Announcing that Voyager is harboring telepathic refugees in transporter suspension, Kashyk sneers at Janeway's selflessness and orders her onto the bridge with him. All of the Voyager officers have been removed. The Devore leader gestures Janeway into Chakotay's seat while he takes command.

Onscreen, a distortion indicates the presence of a spatial phenomenon. Kashyk orders torpedos to open the wormhole while Prax attempts to materialize the Brenari in the cargo bay, but the "wormhole" turns out to be antimatter residue and the transporter materializes containers of vegetables. Kashyk realizes that Janeway created false readings. She smiles, "That is the theme for this evening, isn't it?" and changes the music playing to Mahler. A Devore inspector tells Kashyk that two of Voyager's shuttlecraft are missing, but he realizes that he gave Janeway the means to get them away when he told her that refractive shielding for Voyager would escape Devore scans. The shuttles get through the wormhole, which closes before the other ships arrive.

Prax says that Voyager should be impounded and the crew sent to a detention center. But Kashyk - not wanting a failure on his record - orders the entire encounter forgotten and erased from the records. He lets Janeway go, telling her that her offer to let him stay was tempting. She sits, listening to the music.

Analysis:

The last shot of this episode ruined it for me entirely: Janeway sitting in the chair of the second in command, looking depressed. Once again we have the either-or in full color onscreen; she can be a captain, or she can be a woman, but she can't be both at the same time. The image of her reduced in stature was so blatant as to be repugnant, but really the hazard of romance in command was the theme of "Counterpoint" - a cautionary tale like virtually every other Voyager love story, just nastier because this time it was the captain who was the victim.

Does it matter that she went in with her eyes wide open? I don't think so. In fact, I think this is the best argument we've seen yet for Janeway to get it on with Chakotay or just about anyone else on the crew. Bad as that might be for protocol, the risks are considerably worse if she gets too close to an evil alien, or even a good alien who wants her to stay with him in the Delta Quadrant. This episode featured a smirking officer who mocked a salute after catching Janeway's expression when she left Kashyk's quarters. That, too, was a cautionary message.

How many times can we see characters fall in love with aliens who turn out to be using them for their own selfish ends? It's bad enough that one of the guys does it every few episodes, but there's no excuse when it's the captain. The previews for this installment said "sleeping with the enemy," which is NOT an image I would have wanted for Janeway, though at least (as per usual with the previews) it turned out to be false. Not just the sexual suggestion bothered me - the idea that she was actually attracted to an evil man knowing that he was an evil man wasn't too pleasant.

But I liked most of "Counterpoint" because I didn't believe that Janeway had any real feelings for Kashyk, not until that last shot. She knew what was coming, same as we did, given the cliched nature of this script. Oh, she kissed him well, but after all she's kissed no one who wasn't a hologram or a phantom in nearly five years--why waste the opportunity? On the other hand, I find myself wishing we never had to see that she felt anything at all. I don't think this miniscule inkling of smoldering sexuality was worth the conclusion.

It was nice to see Kate Mulgrew getting to show some range. I loved seeing Janeway relaxing, flirting, laughing, pacing in her turtleneck, grabbing Kashyk around the neck for a far more serious smooch than the one he gave her. And Kashyk was good-looking, plus they looked good together and had good chemistry and he seemed genuinely attracted to her...and his body looked good in military leather, and he sported a nice hairy chest peeking out from under those civvies. A fine bit of casting and writing for Janeway's strengths and weaknesses. His over-the-top explanation of why he wanted to defect made Janeway's later emotionalism seem appropriate instead of excessive. I liked the development of their rapport, especially her distancing humor, because I assumed she was as certain as I was that he was lying to her.

And she did. She was brilliant in hiding her refugees, though I laughed and laughed about her giving away two shuttles - hey, what's two more when you've already lost a few dozen? Janeway was tough and smart and used her brain, unlike Torres who has generally deferred to Paris even in matters of engineering since they started dating. The way the captain dealt with Prime Directive questions was quite interesting too; I'm never sure if it's even relevant with warp cultures like these clearly were, but there's no getting around the fact that she interfered and risked her crew. Then again, Tuvok and the others might have been more at risk without the Brenari to warn them about the Devore.

If she'd just gotten back up and sat down in her damn chair with a satisfied smile on her face in the end, I would have said this was a near-perfect Janeway outing, even though I still think she deserves some entirely enjoyable sexual relations with someone who's not using her. My other complaint with the ending - that Kashyk let them go, though they couldn't enter the wormhole and had a lot more Devore space to cover based on what he'd said at the start of the episode - was fairly minor against the sexual politics. I found it a little silly that the aliens could scan for Vulcans and Betazoids anyway; wouldn't it have been easier for Janeway to have altered the computer database than to put them in suspended animation? And I want to know when the Betazoid pilot Stadi from "Caretaker" got wiped out of the Voyager writers' crew manifest, and how come Kes wasn't mentioned in the crew manifest of telepaths. Plus I want to know where the Betazoid, Tuvok, and Vorik hid during the last inspection--in with the veggies?

Those are nits, though. I guess when it comes to evaluating this episode, I'm of two minds: watch it for the acting, the way I watch second season's "Persistence of Vision" (terrible Janeway episode, fine Mulgrew performance). Enjoy the cat and mouse but don't expect any great revelations of plot or character. And turn it off the minute Kashyk leaves the bridge, while Janeway's still ahead.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


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.