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The Trek Nation - Prey

Prey

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:32 PM GMT

See Also: 'Prey' Episode Guide

A Hirogen hunter follows his prey into an asteroid field, where he expects a last stand. But the alien, which can scatter his sensors, turns out to be a member of species 8472. Meanwhile, on Voyager, the Doctor is teaching Seven about social niceties. Seven wisely leaves before he can start "Bridge Banter for Beginners" and heads for work, where there is no time for banter as they've picked up the Hirogen ship on sensors. When she realizes the pilot may be dying, Janeway decides to show compassion and rescue him, which Seven doesn't understand as it puts the ship at risk.

On the drifting Hirogen vessel, Chakotay finds boiling soup bones which appear to be from sentient beings, while Paris finds a helmet with a head still inside. Chakotay concludes that the entire culture is based on the hunt, and Janeway gloats to Seven that they found out more about the Hirogen than they would have by ignoring the pilot in distress. Once he recovers, the pilot announces that he has been hunting this prey for months, and wants to be released to finish the job. The bridge crew finds evidence that his prey has caused a hull breach and boarded the ship, confirmed when an 8472 attacks Torres in engineering.

Janeway takes a phaser and marches to engineering, demanding to know whether Seven learned anything valuable about Species 8472 when the Borg engaged them. Seven knows only that the creatures killed thousands of Borg, and cause her anxiety. She thinks rapid destruction of the creature is of utmost importance, and again questions Janeway when the captain wants to try to keep the creature alive. Chakotay asks the Hirogen in sickbay about where he found this 8472 and explains that Borg nanoprobes appear to be the only defense against it. The Hirogen reiterates his demand for his prey and tells the crew that other Hirogen ships will destroy Voyager if he doesn't let him hunt.

Seven, Tuvok, Chakotay, and Paris don environmental suits and take the Hirogen to find the 8472 on a deck which has lost gravity. The creature is injured, and damaged further when the Hirogen knocks Chakotay out so he can shoot at it. Tuvok blasts back at the Hirogen, who winds up back in sickbay, while the injured 8472 sends Tuvok a telepathic message that it wants only to return to its own dimension to die. Janeway asks Seven to open a rift, but Seven, who has heard the Hirogen threaten Voyager with destruction by six approaching ships if it lets his prey get away, refuses to do so. Janeway tells Seven that she must learn compassion, but Seven insists that compassion does little good if the crew dies as a result of Janeway's decision.

Janeway sends Seven to regenerate and tries to negotiate with the Hirogen, but they insist that the prey belongs to them and demand it. The prey in question has begun to regenerate, and the Doctor tells Janeway he needs more Borg nanoprobes to sedate it. Janeway orders Seven to give him some, but the Hirogen ships attack in the meantime and wipes out Voyager's energy reserves, bringing down the forcefields around both the alien and the Hirogen in sickbay. When the Hirogen attacks the 8472, Seven beams them both onto a Hirogen ship, which flees with the prey.

Janeway interrupts Seven's regeneration session to announce that Seven will no longer have access to the ship's primary systems and will be thrown in the brig if she disobeys orders again. Seven sneers that Janeway told her to become an individual, but has no respect for her individuality, and seems scared of her. Janeway tells Seven that she has to work in a command structure and stalks off.

Analysis:

Compassion, compassion, compassion. I lost track of how many times Janeway said that word this week; it was even worse than her repetition of "we're a family" in "Year of Hell." I take back everything I ever said about not wanting Janeway to act like a macho stereotype; the woman who flew down the Chute with a phaser rifle and who strode around blasting macroviruses was a vast improvement on this current caricature of maternal tough love.

Janeway had the misfortune to encounter Species 8472 once again...and risked her entire crew to make sure that one vicious alien got to die in peace? I'm sure the one that almost killed Harry back in "Scorpion" had the same hopes for his victim...NOT. This isn't a matter of Federation values, it's proof of Janeway's obsessive need to be thought of as a nice person. She's not precisely that, not when she uses "kill him" as a line to keep the Hirogen captain she saved on good behavior, but she's still a simpering fool. There's a time and place for compassion toward mysterious, powerful aliens. A crisis situation which threatens the entire crew isn't it. Neither the Hirogen captain nor the 8472 dude were the equivalent of a wounded Horta trying to protect its eggs. These are vicious predators - worse than the Borg. If Janeway's compassionate, she should show it more to her own lonely crewmembers and less to aliens trying to kill them.

I understand that Seven has "saved" the franchise and therefore apparently has to be treated as the heroine of every single episode, but Kathryn Janeway is turning into an embarrassment to the 'Fleet and to the franchise. This show is not going to survive the demolition of its captain no matter how many catsuited women come along. Janeway's gushy blabber was preposterous, and made her sound even more unprofessional than she already did by letting Seven question her every move. I couldn't even fault the mediocre new director, Allan Eastman, for the final shot of the episode, in which Janeway stomps off while Seven looks after her triumphantly.

I'd rather Trek never have given us a woman in command than have to watch this one's obvious incompetence, which frequently stems from precisely the sorts of nonsensical nurturing impulses that reactionaries have argued for centuries are why females can't be good leaders. Enfant terrible Seven questioned Janeway's tactics on the bridge in front of her crew, refused a direct order from the captain when summoned to the ready room, then took action which was in direct conflict with the captain's commands. Mommy Janeway tried giving her a nice lecture, then sending her to her room, but when she let Seven help with chores and Seven was naughty, Mommy had to tell her no more chores! Now Seven can't do her homework without Mommy's permission, and she has to STAY in her room or else Mommy will ground her. Ooh, I bet Seven's scared now. But then Mommy is so obsessed with winning Seven's affection that she will probably let her out before long.

Once again, sweeps month is turning into Make Janeway Look Bad month, which Voyager tries every year and then throws in some stupid heroics at the end to redeem her. Guys, it's too late to redeem her. Even Chakotay, who's usually even stupider than the captain, was right this episode: there was no negotiating with either the Hirogen or Species 8472. The only really smart decision I can remember all episode was Seven's rejecting the the Doctor's outrageously offensive lessons in social niceties, which could get him brought up on charges in this century, let alone the 24th.

I miss the omnipotence of Species 8472. Every time this series has a worthy villain, the writers immediately turn it into mush, instead of letting it wipe out Voyager, which would be far more realistic. The nasty, derivative Hirogen were never a worthy villain to begin with, but we're stuck with them for the rest of the month. Next week, in case this week wasn't nasty enough: Seven gets violated. Good thing the Doc explained to her this week that the proper way to respond to such harrassment is to smile and thank the aggressor for his interest in her.

I guess there's nothing poor Kathryn can hope to do about the ongoing rape of her character

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.