Retro Review: Day of Honor

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Torres has a terrible morning on the date of a Klingon ritual, dealing with engineering disasters and demanding aliens plus new crewmember Seven of Nine.

Plot Summary: Torres tells Chakotay that she has had a terrible day – oversleeping, broken shower, engineering problems – which he compounds by ordering her to work with Seven of Nine on adapting Voyager for Borg transwarp technology. Paris tries to be friendly and reminds her that it’s the Day of Honor, a Klingon holiday that requires her to evaluate her deeds of the past year, but when Torres says she isn’t in a good frame of mind to go through with it, he complains that he spent time working on a simulation on the holodeck for her observance and accuses her of pushing him away. Meanwhile, aliens decimated by the Borg ask Janeway for help with food and energy, which Janeway is happy to offer even when the Caatati react badly to seeing ex-Borg Seven of Nine aboard the ship. Seven, who is uncomfortable with her isolation in her regeneration chamber, tries to assist Torres in opening a transwarp conduit, but a particle leak forces Torres to lock down engineering and dump the warp core. Janeway orders Torres to accompany Paris to retrieve the core so that it can be stabilized before being brought back aboard. While Paris tracks down the core and comes under attack by the duplicitous Caatati, who want the powerful engine for themselves, Janeway asks Seven whether she sabotaged the transwarp trial. Seven proves that she did not and Janeway realizes that transwarp technology is not compatible with Voyager’s current engines. Forced to evacuate their damaged shuttle, Torres and Paris float in space, where Torres confesses that she’s afraid of dying a coward and admits to Paris that she loves him. Voyager rescues them and gets back the warp core in exchange for energy technology assimilated by the Borg and still accessible to Seven of Nine, who says she must become accustomed to human kindness and compassion.

Analysis: I wish I could love “Day of Honor.” For fans of the Paris/Torres relationship or of Klingon culture, the pleasures may outweigh the annoying aspects, and it’s not a bad Seven of Nine installment, since we see substantial character growth with little gratuitous use of her sexualized appearance. I know that the “I love you” from Torres to Paris makes “Day of Honor” a favorite for P/T fans, even though Paris – in the aggressive macho style he demonstrates all episode, professing support while correcting, instructing, reshaping, and making passes at her – responds to her subsequent “Say something!” with a classic male evasion after spending all those previous weeks trying to get close to her. He’d rather mock her timing than allow what are presumably his last words to be “I love you too.” Yet if you’re a Paris/Torres cheerleader, you can be forgiven for not caring about exactly how they get together, in the same way I don’t care that Kira and Odo get together in the problematic “His Way” because their relationship is so wonderfully written for the remainder of Deep Space Nine. And people who love Klingons can be forgiven for appreciating the invention of a new Yom Kippur-esque holiday despite the fact that the Day of Honor was invented as the gimmick for a series of Pocket Books, spanning all four then-existing Star Trek series, released before this Voyager episode which seems to exist in part to promote the non-canonical paperback franchise. Personally, my favorite moments in “Day of Honor” all belong to Janeway. In an episode that seems determined to twist and tame a fierce half-Klingon woman into an appropriate girlfriend for the show’s bad boy turned hero, the scenes in which an ex-Borg reacts with distress to the discovery that a Starfleet captain doesn’t trust her, and the captain must remain tough yet sympathetic, become masterpieces of characterization.

Some of the problems with “Day of Honor” stem from plot inconsistencies and Star Trek cliches. We’ve seen other characters have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days before, but by the standards of things that have happened to Torres, a broken shower and some incompetence by Vorick seem pretty mild. Sure, she’s conflicted about her feelings for Paris, of which Vorick is probably a reminder, and Chakotay picks that day to pull rank on her, probably due to his own frustration at having to work with Seven. But compared to being mind-raped and going into pon farr on an away mission, compared to being stranded in the Delta Quadrant or abducted by Vidiians, these are petty annoyances, so Torres sounds like a drama queen when she starts sighing about her grievances. The duplicitous aliens – whose rapid shift from needy friends to conniving enemies can be predicted by anyone who’s watched The Next Generation – don’t offer any threat Voyager hasn’t overcome before. Of course the chief engineer should always have authorization to eject the warp core in case of emergency, but considering how it’s a big deal in the earlier “Cathexis” that only a command officer and not Torres could dump the core, it’s why Janeway realized that Chakotay took over Torres’s consciousness, it’s extremely jarring to watch Torres do it now – a direct contradiction of canon. Plus I’m sure everyone is sick of the endless shuttlecraft count as Voyager loses its second in as many weeks, but if we’re meant to believe that the shuttle supply is endless, we have to criticize Janeway for failing at the outset to test transwarp technology in a shuttle rather than putting the entire ship and crew at risk. The idea for how to signal Voyager comes from Paris, who’s already bragged once about how he outranks Torres, even though she’s the engineer. As for the big romantic gimmick, either an homage to or a swipe from an episode of Space 1999 in which an alien gives the captain and doctor a “love test” to see whether one will save the other with his or her oxygen, Paris and Torres both should know that they could conserve air if they’d just shut up.

Given the terrible dialogue for the worst day of her life, it’s a shame Torres doesn’t take this option. The fact that she’s using Neelix as a counselor should be a sign that she needs real help, not a boyfriend. One of my favorite things about Voyager is that, because it has no full Klingons on board, we don’t usually have to listen to aggressive, posturing, sexist tripe about Klingon honor that permeates other Star Trek series. Any time a bat’leth or pain-stick shows up, I wince. As an educated half-human, Torres could have a more enlightened perspective on the bombastic hierarchical rituals adored by her mother’s people, yet Paris expects her to appreciate all the traditional cliches she rejected years before. At least, since nobody knows much about the Day of Honor without buying all four Pocket Books, we can hope that Torres will become an Reform or Open Tent Klingon rather than following the Klingon extremism that we’ve seen celebrated on previous series as an example of IDIC. I usually root for relationships on Star Trek, but Paris’s constantly nudging Torres to be the Klingon he always wanted her to be gets really irritating. We never hear her talk about wanting to explore her Klingon side when he isn’t interfering, so it doesn’t feel like him being open and accepting so much as having a fetish. Since Voyager‘s contemporary shows include not just DS9 but Babylon 5, you’d think the writers could find some clue how to write a relationship of equals. Somehow they do a better job of that with Janeway and Seven, who toe a fine line of trust and uncertainty while also precariously skirting the non-interference directive by retrieving Voyager’s warp core in exchange for technology that the Caatati developed themselves before the Borg took it away from them. I wonder if it’s easier to share the collective memories of the Borg than to live with Klingon strictures where people are expected to choose group honor over free will.

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Michelle Erica Green

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Michelle Erica Green

Writer, mother, reader, traveler, teacher, partner, photographer, activist, friend, fangirl, student, critic, citizen, environmentalist, feminist, vegetarian, enthusiast. TrekToday staffer for many years, former news reporter, current retro reviewer.

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