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The Trek Nation - Repression

Repression

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 11:15 PM GMT

See Also: 'Repression' Episode Guide

In the Alpha Quadrant, a Bajoran vedek quotes the Prophets as he regards photos of Chakotay, Torres and Tuvok. In the Delta Quadrant, Paris takes Torres on a date to a holographic movie theater. Tom deletes the audience so they can make out, but one body remains in the front row. It's Tabor, a Bajoran crewmember -- and he's unconscious. Though Janeway puts Tuvok in charge of investigation, Kim and Paris try to use photonic imaging to see whether anyone else was on the holodeck when Tabor was rendered comatose.

When two more crewmembers are attacked, Janeway realizes the common link is their Maquis background. Tuvok says it's certain the assailant knows security protocols or he wouldn't have been able to cover his tracks so well. He realizes the attacks began shortly after the last data stream from Earth, and wonders whether anyone received a message that might have heightened anti-Maquis feeling. Chakotay suggests that all former Maquis work in pairs and carry hand weapons.

Tabor awakens, followed quickly by the others, who appear to have suffered no ill effects. But Chakotay finds Torres unconscious in cargo bay two, then is attacked by Tuvok, who uses a mindmeld to subdue the first officer. Later, as he meditates, Tuvok has visions of the attacks and the unconscious crewmembers. "Resist your doubts," intones the vedek behind him, but when Tuvok whirls, the Bajoran isn't there. Tuvok rushes to the holodeck where Kim and the captain have nearly resolved the image of Tabor's attacker. Overriding security lockouts, the Vulcan discovers that he was himself Tabor's attacker. The vedek appears once again, nearly causing Tuvok to attack Janeway, so he asks to be confined to the brig.

Since Tuvok failed to scan the letter he received from his son in the data stream, Janeway retrieves it and discovers that the vedek encoded a message within it, preaching about the holy time to come. Watching, Chakotay recognizes the vedek as Teero -- a religious fanatic who worked with the Maquis doing counterintelligence. The Maquis threw Teero out for experimenting with mind control. Tuvok recalls that he met the vedek while working undercover. With Janeway's help in guided meditation, the Vulcan also recalls being restrained and brainwashed by Teero, who knew Tuvok was a Starfleet officer and implanted suggestions for rebellion during the "holy time."

In the midst of these memories, Tuvok attacks Janeway, then summons Chakotay with a Bajoran chant. The first officer deactivates the Doctor, stuns Paris, and repeats the chant to Torres, who joins him in assembling the rest of the Maquis crewmembers. They take over the bridge. Then Chakotay hunts down Janeway, telling her he's taking control of her ship. Janeway reminds him that the Maquis rebellion ended three years ago in the Alpha Quadrant, but Chakotay throws her in the brig and searches for an M-class planet on which to maroon the Starfleet crew. To test Tuvok's loyalties, he gives the Vulcan a phaser, asking Tuvok to kill Janeway. The captain tells Tuvok that he is in control of his own actions -- not Chakotay, not Teero. Tuvok fires anyway, but the weapon isn't charged.

Still, Janeway's words have done their magic. As soon as they're alone, Tuvok gives Chakotay a nerve pinch, mind-melding with him once more. Recovering, Chakotay reverses the order to abandon the Starfleet crew and frees Janeway from the brig. To boost morale, the whole crew visits the movie theater holo-program. Janeway asks Tuvok how he knew the phaser wouldn't fire. He says that if Chakotay doubted Tuvok's loyalty, he wouldn't have given the Vulcan a loaded weapon. Then the two put on their 3-D goggles to watch the film.

Analysis:

Purely from an entertainment standpoint, I enjoyed this episode. It was nice to see Tim Russ getting to show some range, as Tuvok experienced rage, fear, confusion -- all those emotions usually denied Vulcans. We knew from the teaser that a Bajoran was the culprit, and it was pretty obvious from the first fuzzy photonic image that Tuvok had forced Tabor to meld with him -- for that matter, it was obvious from the way director Winrich Kolbe shot Tuvok in close-up that something was off-kilter. Yet the story played out with tension and dramatic flair, much better than the somewhat similar first-season episode "Cathexis," which also saw Tuvok hiding his own security breaches. As long as one doesn't think about it too closely, "Repression" makes a nice stand-alone episode in the brainwash-thriller tradition of The Manchurian Candidate.

But poke the story just a little, and the holes emerge. How did Teero manage to piggyback a message to Tuvok on a personal communique from his son? Even if for some reason the young Vulcan was complicit, how come no one broadcasting from Starfleet caught the illicit material, since we've been told repeatedly that the data stream can only contain limited amounts of information? Why did Tuvok need to put the Maquis crewmembers in lengthy comas in order to implant suggestions that could be activated with a single phrase? Why would a Bajoran who'd achieved the position of vedek risk exposure at this late date, testing a mind-control technique so controversial that even the outlaw Maquis rejected it -- what on earth could Teero have hoped to accomplish for himself, the Maquis, or the Prophets? (Bajor has got to do something about its religious fanatics -- between this guy, the suicidal vedek from the Dominion War, and Kai Winn, one could start to believe the Prophets are nuts.)

The rushed conclusion didn't answer any of these questions. Nor did it address the real issue of the Maquis, which is very frustrating. As in the third-season episode "Worst Case Scenario," we're led to believe that the Maquis don't have any lasting loyalty to one another or to their former cause -- they only band together against Starfleet when under mind control or in role-playing situations. Yet in "Repression" it takes mere seconds for Chakotay to start talking to Janeway about "her crew" instead of "their crew" when his former group gets mentioned. Do the Maquis still harbor residual anti-Starfleet sentiment or don't they? Now that such feelings have been reawakened, even if it was through the artificial stimulation of a mind-meld, will Maquis crewmembers explore their hidden resentments? Does anyone really trust Tuvok, given the loyalties he's betrayed toward both Starfleet and the Maquis?

Well, Janeway trusts him. She practically cuddled with her security officer in the movie theater, even though he'd fired a phaser at her -- a phaser that Chakotay, not Tuvok, had made certain wasn't charged. The captain and first officer were decidedly frosty to one another when he freed her from the brig and at the movies afterwards. He didn't apologize, she didn't ask whether he was feeling all right. Chakotay may have forgiven Tuvok for being in Starfleet six years ago, but has he forgotten that the Vulcan set him up as a stooge in a spy plot four years ago? Has he ever really forgotten it's Janeway's ship and crew, even if she calls them "ours"?

Ooh, that Tom Paris...a former Maquis no one resents anymore, because he's Wonder Boy. Now that he and B'Elanna are married, he shows his deep affection and attention to her needs by writing holographic scenarios that entertain himself, that he invites her to share whether or not she likes bubblegum on the floor. Interestingly, Torres argues most passionately about the Maquis being ancient history, while Chakotay and the others don't look half as convinced. I got a giggle out of the scene when Tuvok suggests Tabor's girlfriend Jor is a likely suspect in Tabor's incapacitation because people in romantic relationships often behave irrationally. No wonder Janeway and Chakotay have never given it a whirl, even forgetting that Starfleet-Maquis business that gets hauled out for entertainment value, yet has never been hashed out in a meaningful way.

So many questions, so few hints that the writers have answers, and they're running out of episodes. But I guess that doesn't matter, if entertainment consists of putting on 3-D goggles, grabbing some popcorn, and ignoring what's on the screen so you can smooch with your sweetie.

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.