UnforgettableBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:36 PM GMT
See Also: 'Unforgettable' Episode Guide
Chakotay is in the midst of suggesting to Ensign Kim that he work more closely with the lovely Seven of Nine when the ship gets barraged by energy discharges from two cloaked ships engaged in battle. One of the ships decloaks and explodes, releasing a small escape pod which hails Voyager, asking Chakotay by name for help. After asking Janeway's permission, Chakotay beams over with Tuvok and Paris to track down the mystery woman, who turns out to be injured Virginia Madsen of Highlander 2, a.k.a. Kellin. She tells him she knew he'd come, and passes out.
Chakotay hovers over Kellin in sickbay as Janeway enters. The Doctor informs her that every time he scans the alien woman, her readings disappear from the database, but he thinks he can treat her injuries. When Kellin awakens, she recognizes Janeway and begs for asylum on Voyager. Of course, Janeway has some questions first about her, and asks Chakotay to stay with Kellin since she seems to like him. Kellin tells Chakotay that they've met before, at which Chakotay says adoringly that he's sure he'd remember if they did. She adds that her people have a unique biological ability to wipe themselves out of the memories of alien races, both the technological records and the individuals' minds - so he doesn't remember that he met her a few weeks ago when she spent some time on Voyager, where she and Chakotay worked closely together. She announces that she came back because she's in love with him.
Chakotay briefs Janeway, Tuvok, Paris, and Kim on the non-personal facts: Kellin comes from an isolationist society, the Ramora, which tracks down defectors. In fact, her job as a tracer, tracking down would-be escapees, was what brought her to Voyager the first time around. Chakotay wants them to investigate - checking the logs for tampering and looking for evidence of a previous encounter. Seven, Tuvok, and Kellin compare Voyager's navigation logs with Kellin's and corroborate her story that Voyager traveled with her ship for two weeks. Chakotay comes in to ask for a status report and to invite Kellin to lunch, at which he blushes. In the mess hall, she knows his taste in food. He wants to talk business, but she wants to talk about how they fell in love - he was the first crewmember to discover her on Voyager, and she was attracted to him right away. Chakotay keeps insisting that as far as he's concerned the relationship never existed, but Kellin's feelings get hurt and he has to make nicey-nice so she doesn't cry in her pudding. The ship jolts and she falls into his arms.
Kellin predicts that the Ramorans will keep firing until she turns herself over or they retake her by force. Janeway tells Chakotay they have to decide whether to give Kellin up or engage her people in battle, and wants to know if he believes her story. He asks Janeway to fight for her. They defeat the Ramorans and Janeway tells Kellin to decide whether or not she wants to stay on Voyager; she does, but warns the crew that the Ramorans will try again. Chakotay offers to help her modify the sensors so they'll be able to detect another attack, but does not want to hear about their last night together.
During a late-night angst-fest in the mess hall, Neelix suggests to Chakotay that it's not Kellin but his own feelings that he doesn't trust. Still later, Kellin drops by Chakotay's quarters and forces the issue by announcing that if he won't fall in love with her on the spot, she wants to leave the ship, because she is far too wonderful a person to put Chakotay and his crew at risk just for her own feelings. Chakotay woodenly tells her not to go. Then they giggle over ice cream and flash back to their last night together, capturing the runaway she was pursuing. She mimics their celebration, kissing him - then, she knew he would forget all about it, but this time he won't, so he suggests they go for it.
The next day, Chakotay tells Tuvok that Janeway expects Kellin to contribute to the crew if she's going to stay on board, and suggests that Tuvok could train her at tactical. Kellin helps Seven and Kim improve the shields, and Seven notes that Kellin blushes around Chakotay; she doesn't understand why humans go through silly courtship rituals as a prelude to procreation, and of course Harry's no help in explaining. Kellin feels like she's being watched, and one of Chakotay's glasses is broken when she returns to his quarters. She is convinced that a Ramoran tracer is on board. Chakotay's promises to protect her fade to naught when Kellin's former colleague shows up holding an alien device and shoots her with it. Chakotay whips out his phaser but the Ramoran tells him it's too late, and sure enough, when Kellin comes to in sickbay, her memories are fading. She begs Chakotay to help her remember, but the Ramoran tracer insists that he was acting within his culture's laws. Chakotay's insistence that Kellin has asylum on Voyager ends up being irrelevant because Kellin doesn't remember him; she politely rejects his boring story about how they fell in love.
The tracer tells Chakotay that he's implanted a computer virus on Voyager to wipe away all traces of the Ramorans; the crew will forget them in a matter of hours. Later, in the mess hall, Neelix finds Chakotay writing down his memories of Kellin with pen and paper; that won't be affected by the memory wipe. Chakotay laments that he fell in love with Kellin twice, and doesn't understand why she couldn't do the same for him. Neelix offers a cliche to end an episode full of them about how love works in mysterious ways, and leaves Chakotay alone to finish his Penthouse Letter to himself.
Robert Beltran is the closest thing Trek has to a male heartthrob at present. As far as I'm concerned, he can't hold a candle to Jonathan Frakes, but I saw him at a convention last month surrounded by innuendo-spouting hormonal women who were wildly in love with him. Almost all the questions he was asked were suggestive. In fact, the primary interest in Beltran seems to be sexual...which makes sense since his performance has been so wooden all season, it's hard to remember that he can act.
Chakotay's character development over the past three years has mostly consisted of slimming his waistline, dyeing his hair jet black, and flashing his dimples more often at women. His two major episodes in the past two seasons have involved alien lovers of the week. Chakotay is the male equivalent of Seven of Nine - shot from all the right angles to look attractive, though he doesn't even get the snappy dialogue which she does. No longer do the writers bother with Chakotay's spirituality, his Native American background, his role as a rebel. He's Voyager's pretty boy, a bridge ornament. Nothing more.
The biggest waste about all this is not just that he's boring and annoying, but that Chakotay was once such a unique guy. An angry warrior who lacked violent baggage, a Maquis leader who could take orders from a Starfleet woman without angst about his macho ego. He could take on her mission as his own and even fall in love with her without turning into her lap dog. An adult, a real man - not the type who'd find a fling with an alien more emotionally satisfying than lasting love with his best friend, faithful compatriot, and respected leader. He was a storyteller - it was the story about himself which he told Janeway in "Resolutions" which cemented their relationship, and it was the stories about love he told Neelix in episodes like "Twisted" which made me think that he actually knew something about love which only maturity and sensitivity could provide.
In this episode, Kellin (looking like an older, dowdier version of Kes, the former Voyager babe) recites three times that Chakotay is a very kind man. But he's also the kind of macho dope who'd grab an alien in the brig by the collar. Chakotay says at the end that he fell in love with Kellin twice - he calls that love? A few conversations about how she wants him and a tussle on the couch, behind the back of the woman he once described as his savior? And taking romantic advice from Neelix - now there's a role reversal. Completely passive, a man who takes orders from women - any women. What a cliche, and what a joke. Chakotay's nothing but a typical Star Trek guy, except he doesn't have the values, intelligence, or strength of a Kirk or Riker. He contributes nothing to this franchise beyond his good looks. Even Seven does more than that. (Janeway, thankfully, was not in this episode much, being off repressing her humanity on the holodeck or something.)
"Unforgettable" was stupid from a story standpoint, like the ridiculous gimmick which made people and machines forget all contact with the Ramora via some unexplained magic. Plus the directing was dreadful - close-ups of Beltran and Madsen which made them look bloated, closeups of Mulgrew which made her look ten years older than she is (well, that might have been intentional), bad mood music, gratuitous physical contact. Madsen's performance was flat, though it's not her fault that the script called for her to fall into a swoon in Beltran's arms on three separate occasions. Nor is it her fault that Robinson, director of the sexploitation episode "Blood Fever," made sure Chakotay's first view of Kellin was of her shapely stockinged legs sticking out beneath a console. It's obvious, cliched, and boring. My father (a member of Voyager's target audience by definition, being male), called me when the episode was over to announce that it was the most boring episode ever. I agree, but I thought the guys were supposed to like it!
Since I'm a woman and it's my duty, I turned on UPN's new Love Boat series this week. On that show, the former navy captain (who DOES get to get laid) has an obnoxious pot-smoking fifteen-year-old son who wears a Voyager t-shirt. In case we somehow missed it, this fact was pointed out by both the cruise director and the teen's pert little girlfriend, who said, "So, you like Star Trek?" like that was sooooo coooooool! I'm sure all the teenage boys who watch Love Boat and don't watch Voyager will be sure to tune in now. It's The Love Boat where you never have to grow up or stop meeting new babes.
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.