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The Trek Nation - Parallax

Parallax

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 1:50 PM GMT

See Also: 'Parallax' Episode Guide

Maquis engineer B'Elanna Torres breaks the nose of acting chief engineer Carey when he refuses to listen to one of her suggestions. Chakotay chews her out and staves off threats of a Maquis mutiny in her name after telling Tuvok to let him handle Torres himself. On the bridge, the crew detects a quantum singularity with a ship that appears to be caught in its event horizon; they move closer to see whether they can help, and are themselves caught in the singularity's gravity.

At a staff meeting, Chakotay recommends a number of Maquis crewmembers for vacant posts, including Torres as chief engineer. When the anomaly traps the ship, he signals her to ask for suggestions, causing Janeway to call him into her ready room and insist that he follow her lead, which means accepting Carey as chief engineer. Chakotay strongly recommends that Janeway get to know Torres before choosing a chief engineer, and warns her that he won't be her token Maquis officer.

Janeway tries to talk to Torres, but the half-Klingon woman doesn't trust the captain and refuses to talk about why she left Starfleet Academy. But Torres realizes that the ship has been picking up its own transmissions because they're caught in a causality loop caused by proximity to the quantum singularity; she also realizes that the ship must have left a subspace rift when it approached. Janeway asks what would make it show up on the ship's sensors; she and Torres both exclaim, "Warp particles!"

When the rift is identified, Janeway and Torres realize that they must take a shuttle to try to widen the rift so that Voyager can pass through. They clear up some misunderstandings on the mission, then return to find two Voyagers, one a temporal echo of the other. Janeway correctly deduces which is the real ship just in time. She chooses Torres to become chief engineer. Chakotay asks her whether she would have served under him if their positions had been reversed, but she winks and refuses to answer.

Analysis:

I know I said this last week, but I really could fall in love with this woman.

OK, this was a mediocre episode. Anomaly of the Week, could have been a TNG episode or even a DS9 episode, bad use of physics and technobabble, with an extra foul for making Tom Paris play the idiot and ask the question everyone in the audience who has not memorized Hawking was asking, namely how they picked up a transmission which they hadn't yet sent out at the time they received it. And I don't know why a ship trying to get home is stopping to investigate every anomaly they encounter and every vessel in distress they come across. But so what.

These characters are wonderful. It took years for the TNG cast to grow on me and months for DS9; with this show it's been near-instantaneous with everyone but the ill-defined aliens, Neelix and Kes. It's very unusual to see crew conflict on a Trek show, and it works terrifically here. It wasn't simple Starfleet vs. Maquis struggle at all; I loved the way Chakotay told Torres off, both as a friend and as her senior officer. I liked the fact that Torres and Chakotay's arguments against Carey had nothing to do with his background, merely his relative lack of skills. I was impressed with the way Chakotay dealt with Tuvok - clearly he still considers the man a traitor and wanted to take his head off, but he decided to act like a Starfleet officer instead.

And I loved, loved, loved Janeway. I particularly enjoyed the way she dealt with Torres, trying to get to know her both personally and professionally and keeping a very open mind even after B'Elanna herself told her not to bother. Reminded me of some of my favorite teachers. But I think I liked watching her interact with Chakotay even more. These two argue the way one might wish all people would: they're both very bright and opinionated, strong-willed and independent. Yet Janeway never resorted to power plays, never felt it necessary to declare "Because I'm the captain." Even while she was laying down the law, she was listening to what he had to say, and he made his points with respect and concern even when he was angry. Plus, these two have terrific chemistry. I loved the way she winked and nodded when she realized she'd misjudged Torres...and him. And I was very tempted to take that line at the end about whether she'd have served under him as a double entendre.

Janeway reminds me of everything I liked about Kirk AND everything I liked about Picard: her command style leans toward taking suggestions from her whole crew and doing her own research when necessary (though she has GOT to delegate some of that science), but she's also willing to take big risks and admit when she's wrong. This is going to be a fun ride when the actual plots get better.

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.