Worst Case ScenarioBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 2:36 PM GMT
See Also: 'Worst Case Scenario' Episode Guide
Torres stumbles onto a holodeck simulation in which she plays an anonymous ensign, invited by Chakotay to join in a mutiny against Janeway and Starfleet protocol. The program becomes all the rage with the crew, but it doesn't have an ending. When Tuvok admits that he wrote the program as a training exercise for security officers in the event of a Maquis mutiny early on in the voyage, he gets demands for its completion and many offers of help.
Tuvok and Paris open the narrative parameters file to add to the story, but when they do so, they learn that Seska found the program before she left Voyager. She hot-wired it to kill the players, sabotaging key ship's systems which control the holodeck. Janeway and Torres hack their way in, and rewrite the program while Tuvok uses his own ingenuity to take advantage of the holo-weapons at his disposal. He "kills" the holographic Seska, and the crew has a good laugh about the story.
Tuvok and Seska write fan fiction about the Voyager crew - how can that possibly be anything but fun? The ship has been deadly serious of late. When there is humor, it's often with a nasty edge...Q making jokes about women, humans making jokes about Vulcans. Considering that "Worst Case Scenario" was written by a writer who's often unkind to female characters - Ken Biller's versions of Janeway and Torres are considerably weaker than anyone else on the staff's, and his Seska from "Maneuvers" is comical in her woman-scorned behavior - this episode was surprisingly lighthearted, generally delightful.
I have to admit that the two-dimensional characters in the holoprogram were rather compelling. Janeway came off as remarkably competent considering that this was a mutiny scenario. The holographic Tuvok was priceless - Tuvok scripted himself as a foolish prig! And I really enjoyed watching Tom switch off between playing hero and playing sellout. Reminded me a lot of the original Tom Paris from "Caretaker," whose integrity was questionable and who was thus a lot more interesting.
If I have a complaint about this episode, it's that it was too good. "Worst Case Scenario" pointed out all sorts of plot threads which Voyager let drop instead of pursuing, like potential crew discontent, and like Seska as real competition for Janeway. I'm not one of those who wanted Maquis insurrection from the start - it would have made Janeway's authority highly questionable, which is not something the captain needed any more of than they saddled her with in the first place - but I always thought there should have been more tension, more dissent from Starfleet and Maquis alike at rigid adherence to trivial matters like the dress code.
There's something perverse about the fact that Tuvok's uncompromising Chakotay was rewritten by two strong women - first Seska, then Janeway, though I suppose the latter was trying to restore the Chakotay she knows. Still, glad as I am that we haven't had Angry Warrior Chakotay on the show every week, I loved him. Robert Beltran is hot when he's bad. Every word he says with that grin on his face takes on a double meaning. Chakotay's always had great chemistry with Janeway, but in this episode he's got more chemistry with Torres than Paris ever will...and he's even got chemistry with Paris, in that delicious, innuendo-filled scene where the holographic commander asks the young lieutenant what he'd do to prove his loyalty. Yow! That grin is lethal. Janeway should have had Chakotay smile at Seska: the whole crisis would have been averted.
Though she was wonderful in the early insurrection program, I didn't like B'Elanna pleading for more romance and then pretty much disappearing from the episode after it started from her point of view. Boy, are the writers pushing the wrong couple on this show. It would have been a lot of fun if Tom and Tuvok had gotten really creative, and let Janeway stop the mutiny by seducing Chakotay. But I guess Biller doesn't think that much like a fan writer.
Like Tom says in "Worst Case Scenario" when he wants to have Janeway execute half the crew as a plot device, sometimes it's easier to get a good story out of bad characterization than out of characters acting the way we know and love. I'd be happier if holonovels weren't used so often as an excuse to do just that, but this one was a lot of fun while it lasted.
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.