PrototypeBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 2:06 PM GMT
See Also: 'Prototype' Episode Guide
Voyager beams aboard an artificial lifeform which had been floating in space, which resembles a silver android. Torres repairs and revives it. It identifies itself as Automated Unit #3947, and tells Voyager how to return it to its ship. While Voyager is traveling, #3947 tells Torres that its makers have become extinct, and without a prototype to make more, soon all of its kind will fail and cease to exist. Torres pleads passionately with Janeway to let her create a prototype, but Janeway, citing the Prime Directive, objects forcefully.
When #3947 is preparing to leave, it stuns Torres and takes her onto its ship where it forces her to construct a prototype, threatening to destroy both herself and Voyager if she does not obey. Torres begins construction on the prototype; meanwhile, a ship of similar automated units approaches and opens fire on the one Torres is working aboard. Janeway learns that the two groups of automated units have been at war for decades, even though their builders are long dead.
Meanwhile, Torres learns from #3947 that the automated units destroyed the builders when they tried to end the war which was the purpose for the units. Though she has successfully completed a prototype, Torres destroys her creation, just before being rescued by Paris aboard a shuttle from Voyager. When Torres recovers and Janeway tells her that she knows destroying her prototype must have been difficult, Torres says, "It was necessary."
Finally, a substantive story about B'Elanna Torres. She was passionate about her work, committed to science and exploration but able to understand the ideological implications - obviously she's grown up a bit since "Prime Factors." Her loyalty to the Captain was impressive; I liked that she wasn't afraid to argue Prime Directive with Janeway (who's been a little up-and-down on Starfleet's highest law herself), and that she didn't hesitate to violate it when the ship was in danger...nor to reverse her behavior once she understood the stakes.
There was a little too much girly-girl stuff in here for me - racing into sickbay in her jammies, though at least they were more discreet than Janeway's and showed her impulsive nature, and the way she panicked about having been abducted rather than fighting like I'd expect of a Maquis Klingon. Too much "Persistence of Vision"; make it go away!
The scene at the end between Torres and Janeway was a stunner, with nuanced performances by both Mulgrew and Dawson to bring this relationship to life. These are both women who have a hard time admitting that they might be wrong, yet they both did, without ever saying so in so many words. This was a strong Janeway episode in general, though not entirely consistent with her actions in previous episodes: I loved watching her working closely with Harry and B'Elanna at the beginning as they tried to reboot the unit, getting her hands dirty as a scientist. And I liked the crack Chakotay made to Tom about not wanting to lose any more shuttles - I'm surprised they have any left to lose!
Considering Starfleet's luck with Nomad and V'Ger, I'm surprised they don't automatically run away from artificial lifeforms when they find them. While it was entirely predictable that these Cylons killed their makers, #3947 was a surprisingly well-rounded character...more so than some of the humans on this series. This one didn't even have facial expressions, yet had more emotion than Chakotay displays in a lot of episodes.
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.