Random ThoughtsBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:17 PM GMT
See Also: 'Random Thoughts' Episode Guide
Warning: In the interests of keeping readers alert, I am going to forego accurate reporting and resort to sarcasm.
The Voyager crew have come to the end of three days visiting a matte painting, and are negotiating for some final supplies with the telepathic natives. A man crashes into Torres in the marketplace and ticks her off. When she thinks momentarily about whomping him, her thought is picked up by one of the locals, who then beats the heck out of an innocent man. Though Tuvok has been bonding with the chief investigator, only now does he learn that violent thought is a crime on this planet. Torres is sentenced to have her memory purged of her violent impulses.
Though Janeway objects strenuously for at least two seconds, she suddenly recalls that it's their obligation as Starfleet officers to obey local laws, and leaves Torres in custody. Tom's cranky about this, and wants to devise a jailbreak, but Teacher's Pet Chakotay advises him to obey the Captain's decisions. Tuvok does a little investigating of his own, however, and realizes that there's an underground market for forbidden violent thought when he learns that a nearby shopkeeper was probing Torres' thoughts at the moment she wanted to smack somebody. The Vulcan engages in some thought-swapping with one of the sleazy local violence-purveyors, zaps the guy with the Power of the Dark Side, and stops Torres' brain-wipe...before they can make her forget that she's now a fluff chick who giggles at insults about her Klingon side, unfortunately.
At the end of the episode, Seven protrudes into Janeway's ready room to tell the Captain that she finds Starfleet's mission of seeking out new life and new civilizations incompatible with getting home as fast as possible. But a terrible thing has happened! Captain Janeway has been replaced by a replicant, or those needles in her head from "Scientific Method" are still there, or else we're in an alternate timeline from "Year of Hell." Because Janeway says - I am not making this up - that meeting new friends is the most important part of a Starfleet officer's job. Hey, she sounds almost like First Season Janeway, one of my favorite action figures...but First Season Janeway has been dead for over two years! Who is that woman commanding Voyager? Tune in next week, when she goes back to dating holograms...
OK, I really have to get something off my chest before I have myself committed. My name is Michelle, and I have violent thoughts. Sometimes I have six or seven a day. When someone cuts me off on the highway, I fantasize about shooting her tires out. When someone drives a grocery cart over my foot, I think about knocking several cans of Spaghetti-Os directly in his path. When someone telephones during dinner to encourage me to switch long distance companies, I imagine that there must be some way to send a reverse electrical impulse through the connection and fry that person where she sits.
I am clearly unfit to be a Starfleet officer. I'm not even sure I'm fit to be human.
The Voyager crew, however, spent three days on a planet without having ONE violent thought. Even though they weren't aware that they had to be on the lookout to repress them. Nobody thought about beaning a local for taking too long to tell them where the bathroom was. Nobody wanted to punch a crewmate for telling the same joke for the third time in an hour. Nobody thought about smashing alien fruit just to hear what kind of sound it would make, or engaging in kinky sex with alien lovers just to find out what kinds of sounds they would make. Am I really a psychotic sicko who can't control my horrid, nasty, violent passing fancies, or is this so comically unrealistic as to make the whole crew seem like comic book pollyannas?
What's most hilarious is that some of the crewmembers seemed more ill-behaved than usual. I could handle Neelix dating a one-year-old because Kes always had a lot of smarts and strength, but I am starting to wonder if he's a pederast who always falls for very very young blonde girls. Ah, well, he must be safe, because if he'd thought about the girl stroking anything worse than his whiskers, the aliens would have picked it up. Paris got some of his old personality back - HURRAY! He tried to sneak behind the captain's back to devise a plan with Chakotay, and he complained about her decisions while she was in the midst of negotiating with an alien law enforcement officer. He didn't even run engineering in B'Elanna's absence. He was not a very good boy! I am terribly disappointed to learn that Torres has lost a couple of violence engrams, though - she's already lost most of her bite. At least she still has a sense of humor.
Janeway kept her butt-kicking side under firm control, which might explain why she was preaching her philosophy from first season's "The Cloud" rather than this season's "The Raven." I guess it's a good thing she didn't think about phasering the aliens to get Torres free, but one really has to wonder how she ever got to where she is without any violent impulses whatsoever - what happened to the woman who threatened the Vidiians, the Akritirians, the Swarm?
I agree with Seven: it's time for Janeway to figure out what her goals really are. And she might want to check with her crew every once in awhile. In "Scorpion," she seemed certain that getting home was as important to everyone else as it was to her; this week she seems sure that nobody really cares how long it takes, as long as they meet some cool aliens. I like this Janeway better than the one we've had for the past couple of years, but she sure sounds like someone gave her a memory purge. Maybe the writers could dig up "The 37s" Janeway, who let the crew make their own choices - I loved her.
Detective Tuvok reprises his role from first season's "Ex Post Facto," in which he had to save Tom not from a memory wipe but a memory implant...nearly identical probable consequences, and he used the same technique, a mind meld, to solve the case. How convenient that he's a telepath, and so were the aliens! How stupid that he didn't realize this ten minutes into their contact, and warn the captain to keep all violence-prone crewmembers on the ship! I guess Janeway must have lifted her "no unauthorized mind meld" rule from "Meld"...gee, I had better stop citing past episodes or even thinking about them, since it's obvious that Trek's writers don't. Voyager has been wandering on divergent timelines since long before last week's reset button.
Things I liked: the directing was OK, if workmanlike, despite the cheesy backdrops. The marketplace reminded me too much of "Prime Factors," and so did Janeway's speech about following local rules...oops, that's a past episode, and this is things I liked. Paris was fun to watch sitting in the captain's chair once I got done shrieking. The alien from "Nemesis" popping up in Tuvok's "Bad Thoughts" montage was nice, though to him the Craydin were the good guys, so to have him judge the alien only by appearance...never mind, see above, I will repeat that until I have convinced myself to take every episode as it comes and forget all previous history.
Duras sister Gwynyth Walsh was wasted here as the sniveling, incompetent alien cop. Wayne Pere fared better as the sociopath who gets off on violent images - the expressions on his face as he did the nasty with Tuvok were wonderful. The main cast was OK - Wang wasn't in this episode and wasn't missed, Beltran looked like he was going to fall asleep, Ryan was too emphatic, Mulgrew seemed to be playing two different characters. Oh wait, Mulgrew was playing two different characters: they just both happened to be named Kathryn Janeway. How the actors can stomach the lazy writing on this series is beyond me. I wish someone in the franchise would insist on quality material. But maybe, like the crew of Voyager, they all lack fighting spirit.
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.