RevulsionBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:11 PM GMT
See Also: 'Revulsion' Episode Guide
An alien isomorph - an artificial energy construct like the Doctor - sends out a distress call, telling Voyager that his crew died suddenly and he needs assistance with his ship. The announcement interrupts a party in honor of Tuvok's promotion to lieutenant commander, at which Paris and Torres smooch and Harry learns that he'll be working with Seven of Nine. Torres and the Doctor take a shuttle to the alien craft, where they quickly realize that the alien hologram in unstable in more ways than just his shaky matrix. Dejaren despises organic life forms, and would like to see Torres as dead as his own crewmembers, whom he murdered.
Back on the ship, Harry develops a crush on Seven, which he confesses to Tom. When she recognizes his attraction, Seven inquires about Harry's sexual intentions and embarrassment ensues. Meanwhile, the psychotic Dejaren, unsuccessful in his efforts to get the Doctor to join him in exploring the galaxy, attempts to murder Torres and steal the Doc's portable emitter. Torres gamely fights him off, the crewmembers are rescued, and bad jokes about Paris' efforts as a medic are recycled from the first season.
Whoops, there I go again, making wisecracks before I've even finished summarizing; I just can't help it. It's not that Voyager isn't trying. The writers are taking risks - starting more and more episodes off the ship, permitting character evolution, aiming for continuity and long-term arcs. They're even injecting humor. The only problem is that the stories are still plodding, predictable, and contrived.
Take the Paris/Torres love story. It's hard to say that the relationship's been rushed, since the seeds were sown back during the first season...but the leap during this one episode from confession to public kissing to acknowledged dating made it seem so. And what a waste of potential tension in upcoming weeks - there could have been a buildup to that first kiss, interruptions and duty calling, plus confusion over whether and when to tell their friends. Instead, the writers are going for blatant and obvious. Snore. These two had more sexual tension when they weren't interested in each other.
But who needs a mature sexual relationship when we've got Seven of Nine? Astoundingly enough, considering the fact that the camera picks up every angle of her stunning figure, I found Harry's attraction to her completely unconvincing. He looked moody and tense rather than aroused and embarrassed. It's kind of amusing that he can't manage to fake chemistry with his Dream Borg, who's a ridiculous male fantasy in ways other than her appearance - swaggering, inconsistent, sniveling when I'd expect her to be strong and aggressive when I'd expect her to be uncertain. She's afraid of an injured hand, but not of losing her virginity with a stranger? This creature was obviously invented by men...adolescent men. Sure didn't take long to turn her from a compelling character into a joke.
The main plot had potential, but once again the writers played their cards too soon. The setup was classic horror movie "woman trapped in house with psychotic man," with skeletons in the closets and all that. It's hard to be scared, though, when there are no red-shirted ensigns on the away team; we knew perfectly well that B'Elanna wasn't going to get killed, so there was no point in screaming. It was also entirely predictable that the one item identified as a threat to the isomorph would end up becoming the instrument of his destruction.
The bigger problem with knowing that the isomorph was a murderer from the teaser was that we had no reason to take him seriously as a foil for the Doctor. When an outsider is clinically crazy, we don't take seriously anything that character says about our society, even when it makes some sense. In this case it did not; since the amount of energy involved in maintaining matter-intensive holograms like the Doc and the isomorph must be tremendous, surely they waste far more resources than "organics" do eating and making love, even if the latter activities are messier than matter-antimatter reactions.
The Doc was way too quick to make jokes about the things the isomorph said about humans; it would have been much more interesting if he were disturbed, if he identified more, if he actually thought about the advantages of leaving the ship and its grungy organic crew. There's no depth to his psychology. If Kes were around, she probably would have pressed him to feel something about the experience, but she's gone, probably taking his personality with her - Seven now gets to be the alien among humans, while Doc's merely the comic relief.
For the second week in a row, the captain was present for less than five minutes, and all she did in that time was kill the laughter at a party by bringing up a yucky incident with Tuvok from her official biography (for those who haven't yet bought Mosaic). Chakotay's the one interacting with the crew these days, though he seems oddly paternal towards Harry for someone who acted like such a gullible kid himself last week. I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I missed Neelix. He's had fewer stupid lines than anyone else so far this season.
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.