Thursday, March 13, 2014

Voyager, Season 2: Maneuvers
Voyager, Season 2
Airdate: November 20, 1995
26 of 168 produced
26 of 168 aired


Chakotay must face his personal grudge against Seska when she reappears at the side of Maje Culluh and a new Kazon attack against Voyager.

 So I was like "Oh, no you DIDn't wear your pajamas to the hoverball match..."


Matthew: Our return to the Kazon as villains adds Seska as a co-conspirator. It is of course fun to see her square off against the crew, as it lends itself to fun dramatic situations. On the other hand, it leaves unanswered the question of how and why the Kazon Nistrim would follow Voyager on what ought to be a straight-line course out of the system at high warp for the better part of a year. In fact, lots of questions are left unanswered. Is Seska conflicted? It seems that way in some dialogue and acting, but is never explicitly stated, as perhaps it should have been. Chakotay seems to use none of his firsthand knowledge of the Kazon in this episode.

Kevin: The idea they were still in Kazon controlled space annoyed me too. The questions that really got to me were about Seska's motivation. What is her endgame, honestly? There have to be other warp capable ships far easier to commandeer, and frankly with the fabled Cardassian photographic memory, shouldn't she be able to produce most of this stuff, or at least provide the basis for the Kazon doing so? And given how silly and incompetent they are, it makes her teaming up with them bizarre. The Vidiians would have been a more fun and plausible ally. They are more advanced and Seska would totally trade redshirts' body parts for a leg up on getting home.

Matthew: As an action plot this is reasonably entertaining. Things crash into other things, weapons are fired, it all moves at a brisk pace. I think that Chakotay's capture and rescue are dragged out a tad, with his interrogation scene, and Janeway's back and forth over rescuing him being among the worst offenders as far as pacing. The dramatic stakes were pretty low in both - we never worried that he might die, and we never worried that she might abandon him.

Kevin: I liked the scenes between Janeway and Torres, but I agree overall, we spent too much time debating the decision. The hook of beaming the Kazon into space was fun and slightly chilling. Though if I have to hear Janeway say "Kazon ____?" in that tone of voice one more time, I will scream. Hand Neelix a piece of paper and make him write down a brief description of every sect. It will save us all time. Also, the command code thing drove me crazy. They would obviously change his codes the minute he left to prevent...well...EXACTLY THIS SITUATION. Sheesh.

Matthew: The Chakotay-Seska interplay was pretty good, with some nice backstory being filled in for the characters. Seeing Seska carefully manipulate an unpredictable Culluh was interesting, too. I think I would have liked Seska to show more ambition to rule. I didn't quite get why Culluh was so permissive regarding Seska's obvious thing for Chakotay. I also didn't really get Seska's final twist, taking Chakotay's DNA to impregnate herself. Does she have the ability to perform somatic transfer cloning using Kazon medical technology?

Kevin: I did like the interplay of the three a lot. The attempts at seduction, the attempts at baiting an argument, they all had some real energy. Other than explaining Martha Hackett's actual pregnancy, there was really no reason to introduce the storyline. Seska, at least in what we've seen, is ruthlessly practical. It's what makes her an interesting villain. Attempting to have Chakotay's baby seems pointless beyond screwing with him. As for Culluh, I think the writing leaned too hard on him trying to dismiss Seska for being a woman. It make him look like an idiot on top of being a misogynist. He has to realize she is the smartest person in the room and that he doesn't accept her help, someone else will. I get still not treating her with a great deal of respect, but he goes out of his way to not follow her advice sometimes, and it makes his role as a leader somewhat less than credible.

Matthew: The mechanics of the climactic battle mystify me. B'Elanna suggests they warp right by the Kazon and beam Chakotay off the ship. Do they not have shields? For some reason, they have to stop and engage the Kazon, which indicates that they do indeed have shields, since they aren't destroyed immediately. Nonetheless, Voyager beams the Kazon commanders off their ship. And then... lets them go. Huh? It was weird and somewhat illogical within Trek continuity, and then just a bit lame. Speaking of lame, putting Chakotay on report was just silly. A report to whom? About a field commission? I'd have rather seen her play the classic mommy gambit - I'm not going to punish you, but you've let me down.

Kevin: Apparently, Kenneth Biller wanted there to be a more explicit punishment, but was overruled. I agree that it would have been more interesting. The emotional core of the scene is there, but in terms of creating real consequences, it falls fall short.


Matthew: Again, I believed Beltran's basic emotional story, though I think he underplayed it (his anger at Seska and himself) a little. He performed his torture scenes quite well, and I liked his baiting of Culluh with personal details about Seska. Martha Hackett displayed good chemistry with Beltran, and her emotional conflict regarding him, which wasn't very well drawn in the script, was well played. She elevated so-so material.

Kevin: I agree about Beltran. I think the personal drama provided enough of a hook for him to really sink his teeth into. His performance had a real energy that I think it has lacked in other outings. Hackett really did a great job with some less than stellar material. Her ability to go from purring to plotting in an instant is great and it would have been even better in the service of a better story.

Matthew: Anthony De Longis has a certain charisma as Culluh. Calling him the most interesting of the Kazon is something like calling him the tallest midget, but there it is. He does the best with what he's given. I would have preferred a greater variety of shadings with the Kazon in general. I think showing some of them as unctuous, charming, taciturn, whatever, would have added some spice to them. I get that they are a gang that has to "front," but even a gang has a variety of personalities.

Kevin: It's really not enough to decide they are an avatar for street gangs and leave it at that. People individually and in groups still have motivations and conflicting desires and choices and things, and the Kazon never really display that. De Longis certainly threw himself into the part, and seeing him get caught with his pants down in the command code scene was fun, but yeah, overall, nothing to write home about.

Production Values

Matthew: Again we whiff on a Kazon bridge. Call it a Trek nerd criticism, but our idea of a race comes from its ship design in many ways, especially comparing their bridge to a Starfleet one. So leaving it out leaves the Kazon kind of ill-defined in terms of personal space.  The battles themselves looked fine, if unspectacular.

Kevin: There just wasn't enough there there for me. We didn't see enough of the battle to really give it a sense of movement and progression.

Matthew: Hackett's transitional Cardassian look was fine, as was Chakotay's torture makeup. I think they could have gone further with it, building some bruises. I wish we could have seen hoverball outside of some southwestern-style Maquis jammies.

Kevin: I liked Seska's makeup, but though her clothes blended in a little too much with the background. And I don't care what Neelix says, the Kazon outfits look pretty indistinguishable from each other.


Matthew: This just squeaks into 3 territory on the strength of Martha Hackett and some brisk pacing. The story angle of a personal betrayal was good. Nothing was developed effectively enough to raise it out of mediocrity, however.

Kevin: Martha Hackett is one of those actresses that I just love watching, almost regardless. The personal story has just enough energy to squeak into a 3 for me as a well. It's an apathetic 6 from the two of us.

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