The Haunting of Deck TwelveBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:30 PM GMT
See Also: 'The Haunting of Deck Twelve' Episode Guide
Seven of Nine asks Neelix to babysit the young Borg while the ship's power is shut down completely for a mysterious mission to a nebula. Around a portable light, Neelix spins a story about why deck 12, section 42 has been off-limits to all but senior officers with security clearance. He explains that during a difficult mission to a nebula several months past - before the young Borg were on board - Voyager was collecting deuterium in a nebula when the gases began to destabilize, forcing the ship to flee, but unbeknownst to the crew, a stowaway arrived in the form of an EM discharge.
Though Icheb finds it doubtful that the events could have transpired as Neelix explains, they listen raptly as the morale officer continues the tale. Malfunctions plagued the ship - first minor matters like coffee coming out of the replicator before the cup, then serious navigational and life support problems. Chakotay was nearly killed in a turbolift, Seven was nearly killed when nebular gases flooded a cargo bay, Paris was nearly killed when his console exploded after Janeway restored helm control. The electromagnetic energy traveled through the ship's bioneural circuitry, leaving Voyager dead in space.
Neelix continues the story, explaining that while he and Tuvok attempted to make their way through the Jeffries tubes to engineering, the electromagnetic entity created a micronebula on the ship. Once it infiltrated the main computer, Janeway realized she might be able to talk to the intelligence responsible, and convinced it to let her access the bridge to try to take it home. But when Voyager arrived at the spot where the nebula was once located, the captain found no sign of the concentrated gases. Furious, the entity caused life support to fail on all decks and sent a warning to abandon ship over the comm.
Mezoti asks Neelix whether he was afraid of the entity and he admits that he was, but he overcame his fear to try to save Tuvok when the Vulcan was injured in the Jeffries tubes. Meanwhile, Janeway tried to reason with the invader, but the being was unconvinced by her explanation that the ship will stop working without its crew to take care of its systems. Once the crew escaped on life pods and shuttlecraft, the captain refused to work for her captor, insisting that she would die first. The creature finally returned life support and power, and the crew returned, creating an artificial environment for the being on deck 12 until a new nebula could be found for it.
The ship's lights come back on. Icheb says he has known the story was phony since Neelix slipped up on the scientific details, the younger Borg worry about what will happen if the creature wants revenge. "What if I made up the whole thing?" Neelix retorts. On the bridge, he assures the captain that he took care of his young charges by avoiding scary stories like Mother Goose. Onscreen, Kim reveals a nebula that looks just like the one from whence the entity came.
Kate Mulgrew and Robbie McNeill played this episode the way it should have been played by everyone: as a fable created by Neelix, totally unbelievable, over-the-top, with screaming during disasters and Shatnerian posturing. Mulgrew was in particularly fine form during Janeway's near-death scene ranting that she would never surrender - put this woman in Galaxy Quest! Everyone else seemed to be taking their roles seriously, which is too bad. Tuvok sounded silly taking his Jeffries tube meditation exercises seriously; in fact, the only giveaway that we were watching fake events during that scene came when Tuvok told Neelix to fill his lungs. We all know Neelix only has one lung - the one he got from Kes way back in first season's "Phage." I have a feeling that the use of the plural was a screw-up on the part of the new writers rather than a conscious decision to reveal the story as a story, since Neelix himself could have corrected it, but what the heck.
Since "The Haunting of Deck Twelve" is a story within a story, we don't have to worry about questions like how Neelix managed to function in the dark in "Night" if he couldn't handle the spooky nebula here, or why Harry was so obnoxiously condescending to terrified Ensign Celes (from "Good Shepherd") when her fears of assimilation and abduction made a lot of sense, given the events of episodes like "Faces" and "Displaced." I was quite amused by Neelix talking about Janeway facing one of her worst fears - losing her ship - considering that that already happened to her in "Basics," "Distant Origin," etc. so she should be getting used to it.
I did wonder how Neelix knows Celes is considered incompetent by Seven, thus blamed for things that turned out to be the entity's fault. And I really wondered how Neelix knows that Janeway talks to her ship like a lover, and that Chakotay says he used to do the same with his Maquis ship that still doesn't have a name. Five years with no mention of the Maquis, and suddenly it comes up twice in three weeks! That's progress of a sort, though it probably doesn't mean much at this point. "The Haunting of Deck Twelve" was cute as horror stories go but can't hold a candle to the coming attractions for the final installment of the sixth season, "Unimatrix Zero," in which the Borg queen returns and Janeway gets assimilated. There's something for the kids to have nightmares about.
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.