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The Trek Nation - Night

Night

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:51 PM GMT

See Also: 'Night' Episode Guide

Tom Paris is running a black-and-white Captain Proton holonovel when the Doctor comes in, demanding his turn on the holodeck. He doesn't buy Paris' argument that studying 20th century visions of the 24th century has much merit, and their fight over the controls comes to the attention of the bridge, where Chakotay is in charge. Seven informs him that they are about to enter a large region of space with no stars and large theta radiation emissions, but it's the fastest route home. Many days later, Chakotay is doing the official logs and running the staff meetings; nothing of interest is happening in the dark region other than Neelix's nightmares and Tom and B'Elanna's argumentss. When the crew asks where the Captain is, Chakotay says she can command the ship from her quarters, and defends her from charges that her absence is bad for morale. Later he goes to Janeway and says just the opposite, but she's depressed at having stranded the crew in the Delta Quadrant and refuses to go to the holodeck with him.

On the bridge, Harry composes a clarinet piece in Janeway's chair while Paris shows Seven his holonovel. Suddenly, all the power on the ship goes out. While the crew works with flashlights to repair the engines, aliens pop up all over the ship. While Paris wounds one on the holodeck (still in black and white and containing all the elements of the holonovel despite the power outage which has completely shut down the warp core and all emergency lights), Janeway shows up with a phaser rifle and shoots another alien which is menacing Chakotay and Neelix. The ship comes under attack but is rescued by a different alien, who hails the crew and is invited on board, leaking theta radiation. He tells Janeway that he knows of a spatial vortex which will get them out of "The Void" and shave two years off their journey, but in return, he wants the wounded alien that Paris shot on the holodeck. Janeway goes to sickbay to question the alien, learns that the Malons have been poisoning the void with their theta radiation deposits, and refuses to deal with her new potential allies.

Chakotay asks Tuvok for advice about the Captain's fitful behavior; Tuvok relates an anecdote from years earlier, when Janeway was a commander on board the U.S.S. Billings, when she endangered a number of crewmembers and then risked her own life to complete the mission and show them that their sacrifice was not in vain. Tuvok and Chakotay agree that they cannot let her take a similar risk again no matter how guilty she may be feeling about the current crew's dilemma. Janeway discovers that the Malon aliens have been using the void as a dumping ground for their environmental waste and offers to teach them how to safely dispose of antimatter, but when the Malon captain comes on board, he announces that the void gives him an advantage over others in his profession, and refuses their offer. Chakotay suggests heading through the vortex to warn the other Malons, but Janeway has a different idea: she thinks the vortex can be collapsed, thus permanently protecting the aliens in the void from the Malons.

Chakotay tells Janeway that he and the crew can handle staying in the void to protect the aliens, but Janeway has another plan: she wants to send Voyager through the vortex while staying behind herself in a shuttle, so that she can collapse the vortex and protect the aliens. She asks Chakotay whether he's ready to be captain. But when she arrives on the bridge, the crew refuses to accept her orders. She accepts their refusal to sacrifice hers and asks for alternate suggestions; they already have a plan of action to collapse the vortex while heading through at high warp, destroying the Malon ship in the process. The Malons pursue and fire at Voyager as it heads into the vortex, but the aliens from the void attack and distract the Malons, thus permitting Voyager to blow up their polluted cargo hold and ride the shock wave through the vortex as it collapses. Voyager is thrown free, and once it clears the void, the crew can finally see stars again.

Analysis:

Well, compared to last season's premiere:

Janeway sank from merely reckless to utterly incompetent. Can anyone imagine Picard's crew or Kirk's crew pulling a stunt like that to prevent the captain from in essence committing suicide? No, of course not, because Kirk and Picard would not have been written with a case of year-long PMS for a year, topped with Seasonal Affective Disorder, and no counselor/advisor on board. (Sisko might have isolated himself like this but it would have been at the will of the Prophets for the good of the entire quadrant, not because he felt like sulking.) I am not entirely sure why either Chakotay or Tuvok thought it would be good for crew morale to keep Janeway in command. Kate Mulgrew saved the mutiny scene by playing it as if she were amused and unsurprised, which at least gave the appearance that Janeway had control and a greater vision. And she did look really good - I love the new hairdo and the way she slunk around her quarters in a t-shirt. It's pretty disgusting that I am reduced to talking about a starship captain on these terms. I am also mystified. A woman in love would be a weak captain, but a chronically depressed woman with a martyr complex who refuses to seek help is not? Ugh.

Chakotay's moved up in the world, no longer mooning over Janeway but finding ways to manipulate her. I guess we should all be relieved for the sake of the crew, but the idea of him as captain is even more laughable than the job Janeway's doing at present, and the contrived "Tuvok, I've never liked you" speech seemed two seasons out of date. I disliked the fact that he walked out of Janeway's quarters while she was sulking, as it not only bode ill for their relationship but didn't give me much hope that he's developed enough spine to stand up to the captain. However, Chakotay, too, looks good in a t-shirt...better than Seven, in my book.

Paris went from looking quite frivolous to looking somewhat useful in a pinch, but I am really getting tired of his proclivity for holonovels which reduce women to secretaries, doormats, and other boring ephemera. I am also tired of his main response to his girlfriend being to feel crowded. Let him get it on with Seven and/or Harry already if he'll stop stomping around. Torres, at least, is back in engineering and spouting technobabble. I liked the way she jumped down the alien's throat, but as Tom pointed out, they tend to have her either completely passive or so Klingon that one forgets she's a mature adult capable of rational thought. Let's hope we get some balance for her this season.

Seven still looks like a Barbie doll and says "I am Borg" whenever a laugh is needed. The Doctor had by far the best lines, or maybe it's just that Bob Picardo has the best delivery. Neelix, Kim, and Tuvok didn't get to do much other than look concerned for their captain, and who can blame them? The aliens were a cross between those light-fearing creatures LaForge turned into on TNG and the selfish warp space-rending aliens (also from TNG, where most of Voyager's good ideas have already been used). I am trying to think positively but I can't think at all why they started the season with this episode, unless they want to warn us that they're planning to shunt Janeway to the sidelines even more this season. In general, "Night" had more one-liners than we've heard on Voyager in awhile, but one-liners can't make an episode about boredom interesting.

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.