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The Trek Nation - Waking Moments

Waking Moments

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:30 PM GMT

See Also: 'Waking Moments' Episode Guide

Members of the crew awaken from nightmares. Janeway dreamed that her crew died because she took too long to get them home, Harry dreamed of Seven molesting him, Chakotay dreamed of hunting deer with his father, Tuvok dreamed of going to the bridge naked. The one common element is that they all saw an alien just before the dream ended...except for Harry, who never woke up.

Once Janeway realizes that they all dreamed about the same alien and that several of her crew are still in dreamland, she accepts Chakotay's proposal that he try to contact the alien via a lucid dream. Chakotay enters a trance in sickbay and begins to dream, seeing himself hunting a deer in the mess hall by the light of Earth's moon. The deer turns into an alien, and demands that the ship leave the space past a nearby system.

Chakotay wakes himself and passes the message along to the captain, but when they set the course, several alien ships intercept them and take over Voyager. Janeway orders Chakotay and Torres to devise an escape, but Chakotay sees the reflection of the moon in a panel, and realizes that he's still dreaming. This time when he wakes up in sickbay, he learns that he and the doctor are the only members of the crew not asleep. The rest share the same brainwave patters, which Chakotay assumes means that they are sharing the same dream. He searches for a similar neurogenic field, and finds one on a nearby planet. Though he's having trouble staying awake, he beams down and finds hundreds of sleeping aliens.

Meanwhile, on the dream ship, Janeway, Torres, and Tuvok conclude as Chakotay did that they are still dreaming. Janeway tests this theory by walking into engineering in the midst of a warp core breech and coming out alive. She and her crew confront the aliens, saying that now that they know it's all a dream, they're not afraid of being harmed. On the planet, Chakotay orders the Doctor to destroy the entire chamber if he doesn't hear from him in five minutes, and falls asleep. He appears beside Janeway on the dream ship and tells the aliens that if they don't let him wake up, everyone in that chamber will die. The aliens leave, and everyone has insomnia.

Analysis:

"Waking Moments," or the persistence of "Persistence of Vision." Every week, I try to find things to like about this show. I don't demand that it be as good as TOS or TNG in their heyday; I don't even care if it's not as good as this season's DS9, or B5, and I don't expect it to get close to X Files. I don't need Voyager to be witty or even clever; at this point, I'd settle for anything other than boring and predictable.

Unfortunately, "Waking Moments" did worse than put me to sleep; it reminded me of three of the worst Trek episodes ever - TOS's "Spectre of the Gun," TNG's "Night Terrors," and Voyager's own "Persistence of Vision" - with a little bit of DS9's "The Search" thrown in for good measure. Not only is Voyager utterly unoriginal, it's predictable on a plot level, a character level, even the jokes. It's beyond boring, it's humiliating. I'd rather be Tuvok naked on the bridge than be a member of Voyager's writing staff. And this one was written by the new guy, who doesn't even have burnout as an excuse.

"Night Terrors" was "Waking Moments"'s inverse; Deanna Troi was the only member of the crew who COULD dream, and used that power to communicate with aliens. "Spectre of the Gun" contained a scene in which Spock convinced Kirk and Co. that phantom bullets could not harm them. "Persistence of Vision" gave us insight into the crew's fantasies and fears, namely desire for sex and fear of never getting home...I see that not much has changed, except that this time it's the boys who were frisky. In "The Search," DS9's command crew shared the same dream courtesy evil aliens. Sound familiar?

I suppose that the Chakoholics (as a group of rabid internet Chakotay fans call themselves) will be pleased with this episode, given that we got to see the big man carrying a spear and wearing pyjamas - well, maybe they'd have preferred him to skip those, like Tuvok. Chakotay once again gave Janeway terrible advice because he's too trusting and nearly got the ship captured, but at least it was only a dream this time. He was marginally better actually solving the problem with the aliens, but we never even got to see them capitulate; that scene was cut in favor of a stupid male bonding moment in the mess hall.

Janeway's own vision was hysterically predictable; though I never thought I'd hear myself say this, I almost wish the brats from her holonovel had terrorized her instead. Gosh, she's afraid of never getting her crew home? Does Kathryn think about ANYTHING else these days? She's given up silk nighties for granny gowns, and she seemed like Tuvok's mother tittering at his embarrassment at being naked. Once again we got to witness her reckless disregard for her own life - at least this time the big risk paid off, though there were lots of other, safer ways she could have proved they were still dreaming. She had nothing to do with solving the problem, but hey, nice try.

And we got to see her march around with the big gun...woo woo! Now THERE'S depth. Priceless line: "I don't understand why B'Elanna couldn't eject the warp core." Uhhh, could it be because in "Cathexis," she announced that B'Elanna COULDN'T eject the warp core, since only a command-level officer had that authorization, a point on which the entire plot of that episode hinged? Gotta love this sort of consistency.

There were things in here I would have liked, once - the surprising intimacy between Janeway and Chakotay when she wished him pleasant dreams, the bonding between Paris and Torres when they don't get to see enough of one another. Except that Paris and Torres have supposedly been in love for months now yet they're still talking like it's the first date, and Janeway only acts like she cares about Chakotay when she's dependent on him to get her ship out of a pinch.

There's not much good I can say about the science fiction, since it's such derivative drivel. The sleeplessness reminded me of this season's "Scientific Method," the recurring awakening theme reminded me of last season's "Coda." There's not one iota of originality to Voyager, and the characters display less and less dimension as the series continues. I remember once thinking this show could be the pinnacle of Trek; now that feeling is like a fading dream. Right now, it's putting me to sleep.

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.