Scorpion, Part OneBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 2:37 PM GMT
See Also: 'Scorpion, Part One' Episode Guide
Janeway is interrupted from an art lesson with the holographic Leonardo Da Vinci by a call from Engineering: one of Voyager's probes has apparently been intercepted and destroyed by the Borg collective. Trying to plot a course through Borg space, the crew finds a narrow corridor where there doesn't appear to be any Borg activity whatsoever.
This looks promising, until the crew discovers that an even more vicious foe has been entering that corridor from another dimension and destroying everything in its path, including the formerly invincible Borg. After Harry Kim is injured by one of the new aliens on a mission to determine why the Borg were decimated by them, the Doc comes up with a way to use Borg nanotechnology against the new killers, who biologically alter beings they come into contact with.
Over Chakotay's objections, Janeway decides to make a deal with the devil, and offer the Borg this breakthrough in exchange for safe passage through their space. But the Borg seize her, put a tractor beam on Voyager, and...
If Voyager were always this well-written, nobody would remember TNG except when Janeway started doing Picard impressions. This episode makes me think of the best of both worlds - not just the Borg episode of that title, I mean it reminds me of everything I liked both from Classic Trek and The Next Generation.
"Scorpion Part I" has action, drama, tension, a meaningful relationship between captain and first officer, and an ending which left me genuinely clueless about how they're going to get out of this one. It even had a tolerable holodeck program, though I am still rather distressed to see Janeway having her most serious discussions with a projection of her own psyche rather than with another human being - it's an interesting gimmick, but one I hope we won't see much more of.
The real character interaction was superlative. Finally the XO was the Chakotay I always wanted him to be, the one with convictions, who knows his role and his place, who's utterly devoted to Janeway, yet not so blind that he's going to give her a feel-good speech when he's convinced she's not seeing the big picture. I'm not even sure he was wrong, though I suspect Janeway's decision will be vindicated in Part II.
It was interesting that Janeway addressed his objections as a private conflict rather than a power struggle. She acknowledged that his approval is very important to her, yet made clear that he can never be her equal in making command decisions. The ship can't have two captains. The scenes between them worked superlatively because the personal subtext was so strong - it was easy to suspect that Chakotay had private reasons for wanting Kathryn to settle down on some nice planet.
Janeway's "Three years ago, I didn't know your name - now I can't imagine a day without you" sounds a lot like an answer to Chakotay's Angry Warrior speech from last season's "Resolutions." If Kate Mulgrew and Robert Beltran always got to use their chemistry like this, with all the passion in subtext and nuance, Janeway and Chakotay would be the most interesting couple in the history of Trek. Given a choice between this interaction and the goofy Paris/Torres dating of the past few weeks, I'll take this kind of intimacy every time.
It is precisely because they have strong feelings for each other that conflict between Janeway and Chakotay works, as it was with Kirk and Spock - he would sound insubordinate, she would sound whiny, if we didn't know that the subtext is entirely personal. I like professional conflict among the crew. There should have been more of that all along, because there are so many Maquis aboard Voyager and because Janeway and Chakotay are supposed to be people of strong opinions which don't always converge.
Early on, they were both great about admitting when they were wrong, though that's changed - Chakotay's right when he says that Janeway's gotten rigid, and I don't much like her going to a holoprojection for inspiration rather than to a peer, which is what Chakotay is in spirit if not in command hierarchy. As Chakotay said, he was just doing his job pointing out that just because Captain Ahab wants to keep following the whale, that's not necessarily in the best interests of the crew. It was cute in a sad way when Janeway refused to consider Da Vinci's suggestion - prayer.
I liked the new aliens, but their strong resemblance to Babylon 5's Shadows was distracting, and I don't like the fact that, suddenly, the Borg don't seem scary at all. I don't like it when Trek eviscerates its villains. I don't want to see the Borg diminished, I don't want to see Janeway diminished, and I don't want to see Chakotay diminished. If the writers manage to keep them all strong in the season opener next week, I will be endlessly impressed.
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.