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The Trek Nation - Timeless

Timeless

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:55 PM GMT

See Also: 'Timeless' Episode Guide

Two people beam down to a frozen planet and find Voyager trapped under layers of ice. It's Chakotay and Harry Kim, fifteen years in the future. They find the power supply nearly dead and the gelpacks all frozen...and dead crewmembers all around them. When Chakotay spots Seven, he sends a comm signal to a ship announcing that he found her and has her beamed away. Meanwhile, Kim activates the Doctor's program and tells him to get his mobile emitter. When the Doctor demands to know why, Chakotay announces that they're going to change history.

Fifteen years earlier - exactly four years, two months, eleven days into Voyager's sojourn in the Delta Quadrant - there's a huge celebration in engineering with the entire crew in attendance, champagne (which gets Seven drunk) and confetti. The crew has just activated a quantum slipstream drive, cobbled together from Borg nanoprobes and other alien innovations; in the morning they intend to use it to get home. Janeway warns Torres not to drink too much and invites Chakotay to dinner, joking that she'll thank the Borg Collective when they win the Cochrane Medal. But Paris is running simulations which disturb him; he thinks the phase variance will destroy the slipstream. Kim, who did much of the research on the drive, demands more simulations, all of which fail. Finally, they tell the captain, but Kim tells her that he has a plan to send a shuttle ahead of the ship into the slipstream to calculate and send telemetry for the phase variance so the ship can compensate.

Janeway calls Chakotay to her quarters and keeps their dinner date to celebrate their last night in the quadrant, despite the disappointing news. She tells him she thinks they should try to use the quantum drive before its crystals decay despite the risk, and asks him whether he's with her; he says, "Always." She puts her hand on the side of his face before serving him her grandmother's recipe. Segue from the padd he leaves on her table to the same padd, in the same spot, frozen in place fifteen years later.

The Doctor is in shock to find himself on the Delta Flyer, which made it to earth in the slipstream. But Starfleet gave up searching for Voyager nine years earlier, and it took Chakotay and Paris this long to figure out where the ship crashed. Kim has a plan which requires that he access Seven of Nine's cranial implant, which he asks the Doctor to remove from her corpse. He also needs to know the exact moment she died. With a Borg temporal transmitter that they stole from Starfleet - just as they stole the Delta Flyer - they intend to send a message back in time to prevent the crash. A woman interrupts to tell them that Starfleet vessels are pursuing them. She introduces herself as Tessa Omond; when the Doctor asks what she's doing there, Harry announces that she and Chakotay are having sex. She says she's been hearing about the Doc and Voyager for a long time.

On the bridge, Chakotay hears Janeway's last log entry and gets shaky. He tells Omond that they don't have to do this, but she says she won't back out and wonders why he has cold feet. He reminds her that if this works, the past fifteen years will be eradicated and he won't ever have met her, but she says his heart has always been on Voyager. Meanwhile, Kim records a message and tells the Doctor of his homecoming and Starfleet's indifference to Voyager's plight. He insists that altering the timeline is his way of setting things right, not of violating history. The Doctor agrees to join them rather than risk life in oblivion. In flashback, Janeway records the log Chakotay heard in the future, then gives the order to enter the slipstream with the Delta Flyer...which in the present is being pursued by the Challenger, commanded by Captain Geordi LaForge. The captain orders Chakotay to turn over the Borg transmitter and all charges will be dropped, but Chakotay refuses.

In the past, Seven reports on the slipstream, while in the present, the Doctor has her artificial eye in his hands as he scans for information from her cranial implant. The Doctor gets her time of death as Kim remembers trying to compensate for the phase variance unsuccessfully in the past. He sends a message into the past four minutes from Voyager's apparent time of destruction, which Seven receives, but his corrections are not enough to prevent Voyager from emerging from the slipstream and crashing onto the icy planet at the outskirts of the Alpha Quadrant. Kim sobs that he doesn't understand why it didn't work and starts to panic, but the Doctor insists that he must find another way to get a message to Voyager. Kim realizes that he can still send a warning, even if he can't get the ship home.

Meanwhile, LaForge's ship has begun to fire on the Delta Flyer. Chakotay tells Omond that she should leave, but she refuses, choosing to help him buy more time. Once again, fifteen years in the past, Seven gets a message and enters corrections which this time take the slipstream offline. In the present, Harry cries that it worked just as the Delta Flyer blows up. In the timeline remaining, Janeway tells Ensign Kim that he miscalculated, but he says he sent Seven no message. Janeway reports that even with the slipstream failure, they have taken ten years off their journey. Kim tells her that his phase variance corrections were in error, but she says that they have a guardian angel: Harry Kim. Seven deduced that he sent the corrections from some time in the future, and discovered that he attached a message as well. It's the one the future Ensign Kim was recording earlier, telling him what he was trying to do. Janeway says that what matters is that somewhere, sometime, he came through for them.

Analysis:

Well, this is the best episode Voyager has done in ages, and a fitting way for the series to celebrate its 100th episode. Garrett Wang hasn't given a performance this good since third season's "The Chute," and Robert Beltran actually looked alive for a change - he had no chemistry with his latest love interest, but that's getting to be typical, and I was perversely pleased by the suggestion that he left his heart in Janeway's quarters the night before she died. What was that all about, anyway - flowers, candlelight, music, her cooking for him and stroking his cheek? If I didn't know any better, I'd think her rush to get home had something to do with wanting to be alone at last with her first officer. Not that that would bother me. She's taken enough reckless risks for aliens - whether she took this one because she thought it was best for the crew or just because she's had it with being in the Delta Quadrant, it was a good risk, the kind Kirk would have taken. Of course for Kirk it probably would have paid off, but that's the difference between Classic Trek and this lost in space successor. If Harry had studied how Data sent himself a message to stop the Enterprise-D from blowing up in the future once, he might have saved himself some time, too - why rip off a plot device when they could have made it precedent, especially with the TNG tie-in already?

This episode had a wonderful, morbid feel which almost but not quite made up for the flagrant temporal violation committed by Kim and Chakotay - I got very creeped out at the sight of Seven's eyeball in the Doctor's hands. Still, I could not help screaming at their actions; as LaForge pointed out, he might be tempted to do something similar to eradicate a timeline in which people he loved had died, but that doesn't justify altering the rest of the universe. We really needed to know that something AWFUL happened because Voyager never made it home, yet what we found out was that Starfleet seemed to be just fine; we didn't hear about any wars or any scary consequences of the stolen Borg temporal transmitter, which I'd think LaForge would have told Chakotay about right away. I don't like the depths of the denial of death on Trek series - bringing Spock back, keeping Tasha around, having Janeway un-die repeatedly just makes each death have less and less impact. And I really don't like the selfishness with which people decide to rewrite history for thousands. What if Voyager brought a deadly Ramoran disease back to Earth with them? Maybe everyone was better off dead.

That's the philosophical quarrel. Really, I have no other criticisms - the directing was superb, with fantastic visuals of the ice planet and Voyager's crash, and the back-and-forth between the timelines was extremely well-paced. Chakotay's love interest was gratuitous, but otherwise this was a tight show with some twisted humor from the Doctor and rather nice crew bonding scenes which did not fall victim to the reset button. Let us hope the good parts start a trend, while the existential mucking doesn't.

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.