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The Trek Nation - Vis a Vis

Vis a Vis

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:35 PM GMT

See Also: 'Vis a Vis' Episode Guide

Doc goes to find Paris on the holodeck, complaining that Tom has been shirking his duties in Sickbay. Paris is working on a 1969 Chevy Camaro in the program and attempts to evade duty, but then Janeway summons him to the bridge. He goes in greasy coveralls just as the ship detects an unusual distortion. Paris identifies it as a coaxial warp signature, which has only been theorized in Starfleet, and insists on rescuing the pilot and ship using an experimental symmetric warp field. Once the ship is stable, Janeway offers the pilot help repairing his ship.

The pilot, Steth, comes aboard Voyager and intrigues Paris with his ship's fast propulsion, which is admittedly dangerous. Chakotay summons Paris after reading the Doc's report on his dereliction of duty, asking Paris whether he's all right; Paris says he needs a change of pace, so Chakotay tells him to go help Steth repair his coaxial warp drive. Steth invites Paris to leave his boring duty-bound life and travel with him, but Paris says Torres will kill him...then realizes he missed a date with her, and rushes to the mess, where they have an argument about his reclusiveness. Meanwhile, alone on his ship, Steth begins to shapeshift and asks the computer how long he can maintain his present DNA.

Paris tells Steth he needs the equivalent of a carburetor to repair his engines, something to regulate the mix of fuel, and shows the alien his holosimulation, then suggests a polaric modulator from Voyager's warp drive. Steth asks again if Tom is really happy, and Tom says he has a great ship and a beautiful girlfriend--he just wishes he could do what he wanted and make his own rules. Steth downloads information about Paris from the computer and then steals his body by switching places. He then shoots Paris in his own body and programs his ship to return from whence it came.

Chakotay and Kim notice little oddities about Paris' behavior, but Paris covers with the Doc by saying his behavior was caused by feeling inferior to the medical hologram and with Torres by seducing her. But when he asks her to sneak off the ship with him, she refuses, and he insults her. Then Seven catches him reading Janeway's personal logs while intoxicated, and he threatens her when confronted. Meanwhile, the real Paris--in Steth's body--is taken into custody, but the woman from whom Steth stole his present body decides to work with Paris to get back to Voyager and the thief.

Janeway summons "Paris" to her ready room to demand explanations and order him to have a medical exam, then is heard on the comm asking for security backup. While Paris' unconscious body is taken to Sickbay, Janeway learns that a coaxial warp vessel has appeared and goes to the bridge to demand that it be held in a tractor beam. She clearly doesn't believe "Steth"'s claim that he is really Paris. Then she steals a shuttle, shooting Seven during her escape, but Paris--in Steth's body--convinces Chakotay to release the tractor beam so he can pursue the shuttle. He disables the "carburetor" and prevents Steth from stealing Janeway's body.

Everyone is returned to their rightful body, where Paris and "Steth" (who had been a woman previously) express great relief to be themselves again. Paris invites Torres to see his holoprogram, but they decide to make out in the car instead of fixing it.

Analysis:

I thought "Turnabout Intruder" was bad enough on TOS! And I thought Voyager's "Threshold" was a bad Paris and a worse Janeway episode. I keep underestimating these writers! It's interesting that whenever Tom gets possessed, he abuses women. Janeway was a lot more fun with Steth in charge of her. She certainly seemed happier with a male brain in her body, same as Kes did in "Warlord," though the boys sure seemed glad to be boys again in the end. Can't say I blame them: if I lived in Trek's universe, I'd probably rather be a slug than a woman.

Just look at B'Elanna Torres. Once upon a time, she was chief engineer. Now they don't need her in that role, since Tom is the only genius on board who could both recognize and repair a coaxial warp drive: not even Janeway could do that, and she used to be a science officer.

Not only didn't anyone ask for her help rebuilding the alien ship, Paris even refused to let her see his holoprogram, because, of course, she's not giving him enough space. That's the problem with women, dammit, they're always too damn clingy and demanding, moving in on boys who just want to have fun, whether they're your girlfriend or your captain or a meddlesome Borg. Kind of makes you want to get away, quit your exciting job as a starship pilot where you get perks like replicators and golf on the holodeck and a gorgeous Klingon bimbo who's all yours, so you can go test exciting new carburetors...doesn't it?

But even if I were a member of the mindless young male demographic at which this show was clearly aimed, I would not scream, "Polaric modulator? But wasn't it polaric energy which almost got that entire planet blown up in 'Time and Again,' and Janeway and Paris agreed that no intelligent civilization would use it?" because I wouldn't remember something from three seasons ago, having burned out those brain cells getting drunk too many times like Tom's evil twin. If I were a member of the demographic, I also would not ask how in heck the alien could have started shapeshifting into his previous incarnations when he actually physically switched bodies; nothing about the body-snatching was ever explained, so I guess that's supposed to be accepted as One Of Those Things Clever Aliens Can Do. Ditto the space-folding, which is what Torres called the technology the Sikarians used in "Prime Factors" which could supposedly get the ship 35,000 light years closer to home if they could make it work with their technology...looks like they're a damn sight closer, but I bet we don't hear the words "coaxial warp" any sooner than we hear "Warp 10," the subject of Paris's last disastrous scientific experiment, the one which got himself and Janeway turned into salamanders.

Have I mentioned recently that I like Possessed Janeway better than Real Janeway this season, and that if Voyager never did another Paris episode, they'd still have done one too many? Hmm, maybe I should stop complaining about Seven getting too much air time; she was the least embarrassing member of the crew this outing. Well, other than Tuvok, who barely said anything at all...but wait, he's the security chief, SHOULDN'T he have said something? Ah, forget it, he's an old fogey Vulcan and Janeway's an old fogey captain and Tom is at least a young virile male wonder boy. If we're not going to get a scrap of originality in plotting or characterization and we're not even going to get internal consistency, let's have some fun. Drive that Chevy.

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.