Dragon´s TeethBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:19 PM GMT
See Also: 'Dragon's Teeth' Episode Guide
On the Vodwar homeworld, buildings explode and walls collapse as the planet is bombarded from above. A woman screams, "Gedrin!", then finds her husband and joins him near some biopods, where he assures her they will start anew in five years. They put themselves into stasis.
Voyager is trapped in a subspace corridor filled with 800-year-old debris. When Paris says the warp drive is off but he thinks he can find a way out, Janeway says, "Be a good rat and find us the cheese," but no solutions are forthcoming until an alien hails the ship. The Torei announce that the corridor belongs to them, then frees the ship from it with a resonance pulse. Once outside, the crew realizes that the ship traveled 200 light years in seconds. They want to get back in, but the Torei refuse the request and tell Voyager to prepare to be boarded so they can wipe all records of the corridor from the memory banks. Naturally Janeway refuses, so the aliens commence firing. When Chakotay asks for clever suggestions, Seven notes that there is an uninhabited world nearby with high levels of radiation; Voyager might be able to hide there.
Diving through the poisoned atmosphere, the crew sees burned-out cities and realizes that the planet wasn't always uninhabited. It appears to be in the midst of a nuclear winter. The Torei turn back as the radiation levels climb, so the ship sets down at the center of a highly concentrated area of gamma radiation. After detecting life signs in a chamber below the ruined city, Janeway takes Tuvok and Seven on an away mission while the others repair the ship.
In the deep fortress, Voyager's crew finds the stasis pods. Seven takes the liberty of activating one while Janeway is off studying the panels, explaining that the aliens may be able to help them. ind me to reacquaint you with away mission protocols," says the captain, who introduces herself to the 900-year-old man rising from the biopod. He is shocked to learn how much time has passed and begs them to help revive his wife, but she has died in her pod. The Vodwar alien, Gedrin, passes out and awakens in sickbay, where he learns of humans for the first time. To Seven's surprise, he identifies her as Borg; the collective have fragmented memory from 900 years earlier, so she knows no number by which to identify the Vodwar.
Gedrin insists that the Torei do not own the subspace corridors - the Vodwar do - and learns from Janeway that nearly a thousand biopods are still functioning, plus the power core, weapons, and some vehicles. Gedrin explains that they intended to flee their damaged world and seek a new one after five years, but they never came out of stasis when the controls were damaged. Neelix interrupts with some Delta Quadrant delicacies and is surprised that the alien recognizes Talaxian physiology, as is Janeway; it means the Vodwar covered vast distances through their subspace tunnels. Neelix recalls that "vodwar" means "foolish" in old Talaxian. A bomb interrupts further musings as Janeway learns that the frustrated Torei have begun firing plasma bombs in Voyager's general direction.
Gedrin suggests that a Vodwar satellite in orbit might help the ship guide its missiles, and uses Voyager's controls to activate it. Janeway disables the enemy but refuses to destroy the Torei, which concerns her new ally. "If you leave us, we will be slaughtered again." He offers a trade: if Voyager will help his people off their planet, they will show Voyager hidden subspace corridors that will get them thousands of light years closer to home. "Let's wake up your battalion," suggests the captain.
In the underground chamber, hundreds of Vodwar wake. "Dragon's teeth," says Chakotay, telling the captain an ancient Greek myth of a dragon killed in battle whose teeth fell to the ground only to spring up as full-grown warriors to continue fighting. The Vodwar claim they only want a new world and safety from the irresponsible Torei, who have allowed their corridors to fall into disrepair. But when Neelix visits Naomi, he discovers from her that the alien children are cruel, while Torres meets a curious Vodwar who discovered Klingon culture in Voyager's database and admires the fearless warrior race. Neelix checks into Vodwar references in Talaxian literature and is alarmed enough by his discoveries to summon Seven of Nine, who is giving a virtual tour of the Delta Quadrant to Vodwar seeking a suitable home.
Tuvok has a plan to help the Vodwar escape, using Voyager to protect them as they flee to the subspace corridors, but the Vodwar want Voyager to install photon torpedos on their ships so that they can fight the Torei themselves. Janeway refuses, and some increasingly unhappy aliens begin to plot to capture Voyager then retake their former colonies. Their plan is to let Voyager fight the Torei, then turn and attack the starship afterwards. But Neelix has already asked Seven to check into a variety of Talaxian myths about a mysterious race that could bring armies out of thin air, destroy civilizations, and vanish in the wink of an eye. Hearing the report, Janeway summons Gedrin for a history lesson.
Gedrin admits that the Vodwar were once an aggressive race in addition to being the merchants and scientists he originally claimed, but there are few left and their technology is hundreds of years out of date. Still, Janeway insists she won't be "vodwar" - a foolish person blind to her enemy - and orders all but ten of the Vodwar ships to disarm. The ships refuse - "We did not spend 900 years in stasis to take orders from you" - and a convoy takes off to attack Voyager. The starship leaves the surface of the planet, but cannot clear the thermosphere, so Gedrin and Tuvok return to the caverns to use the orbital satellite while Janeway hails the Torei, who agree that neutralizing the awakened Vodwar should be their first priority.
Gedrin sends Tuvok back to Voyager when the underground chamber begins to collapse, but the ship still hasn't gotten past the Vodwar to go to warp. The captain realizes that they may be able to restart the impulse engines using the radiation in the atmosphere, and the ship is able to clear the thermosphere and go to warp. But the Torei cannot destroy all the Vodwar ships, and Voyager learns that 53 vessels entered the subspace corridors. Seven apologizes for reviving the aliens, saying that after having assimilated so many species, she wanted to help this one reconstruct. "I was wrong." The captain allows that her own compassion could have led her to make the same mistake, but a mistake it is: she doubts this will be the last time they see the Vodwar, and a 900-year-old menace has returned.
I will pay "Dragon's Teeth" the highest Voyager compliment I know: it ripped off a concept from Classic Trek very well. It was impossible not to think of "Space Seed" from the moment Janeway and crew found the aliens in stasis, and it was certainly no surprise when the aliens decided to take over the ship - given their vaguely reptilian, Cardassian-like neck ridges, not to mention their admiration for Klingons, it was almost a given that they'd turn out to be bad guys.
Predictable, yes, but I didn't care. The aliens' ruthlessness was foreshadowed early, and again when Chakotay produced an ancient legend - a nice character touch, though he was given little else to do this episode and sure sounded petty suggeting that Seven produce some clever suggestions. Having lived through a similar twist about which aliens to trust in "Nemesis," one could rationalize that he had trouble facing the situation...if one accepted that previous episodes of Voyager were canon, which seems difficult for me because of things like Janeway wishing she had a Betazoid on board when in fact we witnessed a Betazoid on board as recently as last season's "Counterpoint."
But no matter. The special effects were terrific, especially the sequence where Voyager landed on the ruined planet with the Classic-Trek style yellow sky. It reminded me vaguely of "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," as did the plot. I have no idea whether it was plausible for the crew to beam into the middle of a nuclear winter without radiation suits, so I'm not worrying about it. This episode featured good, solid conflict and even gave us a captain leading an away team.
Rick Kolbe films Kathryn Janeway better than any other Voyager director. He has directed many of my favorite episodes - "Caretaker," "Elogium," "Resistance" - and it's no coincidence that those have tended to be terrific Janeway segments. I think it's partly that he tends to light and shoot Kate Mulgrew from below, which makes her cheekbones and chin more prominent and gives her an air of authority. But he also chooses camera angles and shots which center the scenes around her, reminding the viewer that she is the center of this ship. In "Dragon's Teeth," although Seven of Nine and Neelix made the clever discovery that the Vodwar couldn't be trusted, Janeway confronted them very forcefully from the top step in her ready room. Then she figured out how to save her ship all by herself for a change, using her own scientific background to adapt the deadly radiation outside.
I wouldn't say this was a fantastic Janeway episode. She didn't fret nearly enough about Seven disregarding the chain of command, nor about the trashing (yet again) of the Prime Directive - her primary concern at the end seemed to be that Voyager might have to deal with the alien menace, not that her crew had singlehandedly re-ignited a millennium-old war. But she looked and sounded like a captain, and her actions weren't really any worse than Kirk's when he stranded Khan and company on Ceti Alpha V, which decision later came back to haunt the galaxy. Derivative though it may be, "Dragon's Teeth" is easily my favorite episode of the sixth season.
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.