DreadnoughtBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 2:08 PM GMT
See Also: 'Dreadnought' Episode Guide
Voyager picks up readings of an object bearing a Federation signature and Torres realizes that it is Dreadnought, a Cardassian missile she intercepted and reprogrammed for the Maquis, much to Chakotay's chagrin. The missile's original destination was a Cardassian munitions station, but its programming has failed and it is headed for a highly populated, peaceful planet in the Delta Quadrant.
When Torres beams aboard, the missile recognizes her voice commands and appears to shut down when she explains that it has been pulled into the Delta Quadrant. But when she returns to Voyager, the weapon resumes course for the planet, telling Torres that she has clearly either switched sides or been coerced by Cardassians into telling blatant lies, since it's ludicrous that they could be in the Delta Quadrant. Torres beams back and attempts to dig out the original Cardassian programming while the missile terminates life support and tries to kill Torres before she can succeed.
Meanwhile, Janeway has contacted the planet for which the missile is headed, which does not have ships capable of disabling it. When she realizes that the missile may not be stoppable, she prepares to fly the ship into its path and detonate it, ordering the crew to life pods and shuttles. Moments before Voyager will be destroyed, Torres, successfully neutralizes Dreadnought despite its attempts to suffocate her, and the crew returns to Voyager to meet their new friends on the planet.
This was a gripping episode despite having a plot which reminded me of "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky," minus the love story. This has been an excellent season for Torres' character development. The scene where the missile told Torres that she programmed it to lie, which she vehemently denied and then was faced with the evidence of her own paranoia and ruthlessness - she planned for every contingency, including her own change of heart - was superb, with Torres standing between a frustrated Janeway and Chakotay looking as though her life was falling apart around her.
While I was not happy with the simpering, oedipal way her crush on Chakotay was revealed to us in "Persistence of Vision," B'Elanna's relationship with him certainly has taken on new dimensions. The scene in "Dreadnought" where she revealed to Tom that she thought he would be proud of her reprogramming of Dreadnought, never suspecting that he'd be appalled at her ruthlessness, was very moving. Torres and Paris make a wonderful couple, much better than she and Chakotay do - a couple of screw-ups who can never quite prove themselves to their superiors, or themselves.
And I can't see Torres and Chakotay together because this episode gave us the most lovely, subtle proof yet that he's in love with the captain...and that this relationship could work, against all notions of protocol and even common sense, because of the maturity and dignity of the people involved. When Janeway orders Chakotay to evacuate, and he realizes that she's planning to go down with Voyager, he says, "I'm not leaving you on the ship!" She explains, he grabs her wrist, she looks him in the eye and says, "We don't have time to discuss this, Chakotay," and he lets her go. Just like that. Neither one of them is going to let personal feelings get in the way of duty, yet they both make their feelings clear, without uttering one syllable that's inappropriate in a command situation. Magnificent stuff.
The tension was well-played at the end; Janeway threatens that damn self-destruct too often, and we always know it won't happen, but I loved listening to Torres struggle against the missile...and against her younger self, as it was her own voice used by Dreadnought. Nice, nice character work, which more than made up for any plot weaknesses.
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.