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The Trek Nation - Equinox, Part Two

Equinox, Part Two

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:15 PM GMT

See Also: 'Equinox II' Episode Guide

With the Equinox fleeing as the aliens its crew has been killing attack Voyager, Janeway reinforces the shields, but not before several crewmembers are badly injured. Neelix finds the Doctor's mobile emitter and returns it to Sickbay, not knowing that it contains the program not of the Doctor but of the duplicate who lacks ethical subroutines. Chakotay tells the captain that their first priority should be to communicate with the aliens, but she says no - they must find the Equinox and stop Captain Ransom.

Her counterpart speaks to Seven of Nine, who was trapped on his ship when it went to warp, but she refuses to give him the codes he needs to repair his antimatter emitter. First Officer Maxwell finds Voyager's Doctor downloaded into the Equinox database by their own now-missing Doctor, so Maxwell tells the Doctor to dissect Seven's brain to find the codes, deleting his ethical subroutines to ensure his cooperation.

Chakotay composes a message for the aliens which Kim translates into their frequency for communication, but when they threaten the ship again, Janeway declares the experiment a failure and orders her crew to pursue Ransom. When the first officer objects, she mimics the arguments she suspects he will make about the need to protect their own crew, reminding him that Seven is trapped on the Equinox and agreeing with him that she does have a grudge against Ransom - the other captain has violated everything Starfleet stands for, and she's going to fulfill her own obligation as a Starfleet officer to make him stop committing murder.

The Equinox finds a planetary atmosphere to hide in and sets out to make repairs. The cheerful Doctor informs Ransom that Seven will lose higher brain functions, but this does not distress him as he can still sing duets with her by stimulating her auditory nodes. Ransom, however, is not happy and retreats to use a synaptic stimulator which allows him to feel like he's on a rocky beach...where he is surprised to see Seven in a pink dress.

Meanwhile, Janeway shoots down Chakotay's suggestion that they track down the Ankari - the race which introduced Ransom to the aliens he has been using for fuel - and decides Ransom is hiding nearby, based on his past service record. Sure enough, her crew tracks down the Equinox in orbit around a nearby planet and ambushes its away team. The duplicate Doctor's warning to his captain comes too late. Equinox and Voyager exchange fire, then Janeway nearly destroys Voyager pursuing Ransom through the planet's troposphere.

When Ransom warps away, Janeway goes to Lessing, one of the crewmembers taken from the Equinox away team. He refuses to answer her questions about Ransom's strategy, so she decides it will be poetic justice to lock him in a cargo bay with no shields and let the aliens have at him. Chakotay objects strongly, then becomes furious, takes a phaser and goes in to rescue the crewman. As the captain stalks away, the first officer asks about the Ankari. Later in a staff meeting, Chakotay reveals that Lessing told him where they could find Ankari nearby, and Janeway grudgingly agrees to try contacting them. But when Chakotay tells her that her behavior was out of line and he won't let her cross that line again, she relieves him of duty.

Finding an Ankari ship, Janeway tractors the innocent aliens, refusing to release them until they help her contact the aliens who have been attacking Voyager. The Ankari do so, and the crews discover that the aliens require Ransom and his crew. Janeway agrees to this demand if the aliens will stop their attacks. When Tuvok objects and calls her irrational, she threatens to confine him to quarters just like Chakotay.

Learning that Voyager has tracked them down again, Ransom declares to his crew that they won't flee any more. "Have you lost your mind?" asks Maxwell, who turns a phaser on his captain, sends him to the brig with Ensign Gilmore, then fires on the other ship with the help of his EMH who is in Voyager's Sickbay relaying shield frequencies. Gilmore throws in her lot with Ransom, who tells Janeway he'd surrender but he's not in command anymore. Still, he offers to beam several of his crewmembers to Voyager, and Janeway agrees to drop shields because he's still a Starfleet captain even if he forgot that for awhile, and she trusts him.

In Sickbay, the Doctor finds his duplicate and deletes him (it's not clear how or when he got his ethical programming back). He later apologizes to Seven for his behavior on Equinox. Ransom drops shields and the aliens come onto Equinox, killing Maxwell and the rest of the remaining crew as they try to flee to shuttles instead of sending themselves to Voyager's brig. Janeway offers to beam Ransom onto her ship but he insists on going down with his own so he can make sure he's far enough away from Voyager for the other Starfleet vessel to be safe. She promises to get their joint crews home. Ransom dies with the synaptic stimulator on, on the beach alone.

The captain strips Ransom's remaining crewmembers of their ranks, telling them they will have to earn her trust. She asks Chakotay whether he's going to Neelix's pot luck, then wonders whether he considered leading a mutiny. He says he thought about it but it would have been crossing a line. Janeway sees that the command plaque listing Voyager's officers has fallen down, observing that that has never happened before during any of their crises. She watches as Chakotay puts it back up.

Analysis:

And to think I thought Janeway couldn't get any worse than last season.

OK, to be fair, I agreed with her wholeheartedly for a few minutes for the first time in ages. When Chakotay started whining that they had to look after their crew - shades of Ransom's excuses for his own behavior, which he claimed was all for the good of his officers - Janeway shot him down wonderfully, mimicking his arguments and pointing out that a Starfleet captain's first duty isn't to her crew - it's to the Prime Directive and the ethics of the Federation, for which cause a captain must be willing to give up her own life and the lives of everyone who serves under her. We have seen Janeway bend the Prime Directive right and left, despite her demurrals to Ransom, and I agreed with her logic: stopping him from committing murder in a Starfleet uniform took precedence over almost everything else.

But, but, but, but, but...Chakotay wasn't advocating fixing the deflectors and going about their merry way, he had a plan to contact a go-between, and it turned out to be the right plan - it saved them all. He also was the first to realize that Janeway was becoming what she said she deplored. Her behavior was parallelled with Ransom's - first when she planned to torture and possibly kill one of his crewmembers for information just as a more remorseful Ransom was doing with Seven of Nine, then when she tractored the Ankari to demand that they help her on her mission and promised dead Starfleet officers as part of her bargain. Every officer who had a chance to tell her she was whacked out did so, and she repaid them for doing their jobs by relieving them of duty. Since she can usually predict Chakotay's pathetic resistance and work around it, she needs a first officer more like Maxwell - someone who will pull a phaser when necessary, not just to rescue a crewmember from her clutches, but to get her out of the captain's chair. Lives are at stake.

I cannot stop gagging at the little speech Janeway made to the aliens about how humans have rules governing their behavior, so she can be trusted to punish Ransom and crew appropriately. What did she have in mind - evisceration or just evacuation into space? It's impossible to take her moral posturing seriously. At the end when she announces that she trusts Ransom because he's still a Starfleet captain, one waits and waits for her to apply that maxim to herself, and apologize to her crew...but she never does. She snivels in Chakotay's direction as if she wants him to make her feel better (and wuss that he is, he does), but she never admits that she was wrong and he was right. She also never apologizes to Lessing even as she's declaring that he needs to work to earn her trust. If I were her, I'd watch my back - these guys have reason to be more pissed than the Maquis ever were.

What else is there to say? That the Doctor is fun as an evil version of himself but they've done that gimmick half a dozen times too many, and it figures it was left to Seven of Nine to point out as thousands of fans have that he really should have some built-in security protocol? That B'Elanna Torres needs to stop interacting with boyfriends and ex-boyfriends and start being an engineer again? That the effects were fine, but who watches this series just for effects when we can get much better ones at the movies?

Janeway's not even a passable battle commander: we all learned from Kirk in The Wrath of Khan that when your enemy goes sneaking around in the clouds to escape you, you don't follow him and fry your own ship; you pass right over his head and clobber him on the far side. But then, Spock and McCoy had the brains to relieve Kirk of duty on the few occasions when he went psycho. Janeway goes psycho every other week, yet not one of her boys has the guts to do what has to be done and toss her in the brig on her butt until she gets the therapy she so desperately needs. Maybe this is a conspiracy to make us appreciate Seven, so that if they can Janeway and put Borgette in command, we'll all feel grateful.

Last season I ended by saying I thought it would be interesting if Janeway were a little more like Ransom. This season I have a better idea: I want Kira Nerys to command Voyager.

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.