Voyager, Season 3
Airdate: October 9, 1996
47 of 168 produced
47 of 168 aired
While being visited by a group of telepathic aliens, B'Elanna begins to experience a series of very realistic dreams in which she seems to remember an entire life of one of the aliens. As the dreams continue, they reveal a dark secret about their guests.
B'Elanna somehow fails to remember that Bruce Davison is always the bad guy.
Kevin: I go back and forth on this episode. It's not bad, certainly, it's just that the idea needed a little refining to give it the punch they were clearly hoping for. This is a Menosky/Braga project, and I think I could have told you that without looking it up first. It started life as a possible Troi episode in TNG. Menosky is on record saying he thinks this works better with B'Elanna, and there I agree. With Troi, it would feel too much like a standard possession episode, and it's more fun to watch B'Elanna who is decidedly not good at emotions have to process her experience. That being said, I think there remains some TNG fingerprints on this episode that the show doesn't shake. The visiting Memory Telepaths With A Dark Secret rings of "Violations," and the life seen through the eyes of another definitely has notes of "Tapestry." The disquiet felt more visceral in several places in "Violations," and the sense of experience and loss felt more profound in "Tapestry," so what happened here? I think it's a couple of factors. First, the politics of the Enarans are fairly broadly drawn. Beyond being opposed to technological advances, I don't see what actual threat the "Regressives" pose, so between that and the leadenly allegorical name, it already seems a little two dimensional. Second, the world felt very small. We see two executions and that's it. We don't even get a sense of the world, let alone the tragedy. Coupled with the fact that it's an alien of the week, it all serves to leave me not overly invested in the Enarans or their past sins.
Matthew: Yeah, when B'Elanna says "if we don't tell people it could happen again," the nose that this was a little too on got pushed all the way into its proverbial face. But there is a certain basic entertainment value despite the flaws you mention, and I agree with. Another issue that I would point out is the Korenna character - I never really bought her narcing on her boyfriend simply because dad intimated that he might be a dawg with the ladies. That's really all it took? I think we were supposed to feel that she was tormented the whole time, that family is super important to her or something, but it wasn't on the page. That said, this was sort of a recycled idea executed reasonably well. The way they ended the episode, with the same scene using the guest actress, was very clever. The murder mystery could have been amped up a tad, and I enjoyed seeing B'Elanna confront people who were not receptive. B'Elanna's debate with Captain Janeway was the best scene for me, and I would have liked it to be expanded upon.
Kevin: There are, however, several lovely moments throughout the episode. The banter in Engineering is good. The scene in the mess hall was great, even if it felt like a visual retread of the Ullians from "Violations" and the musical instrument from "When the Bough Breaks." The look on Janeway's face alone is enough to sell the scene. For all the other narrative shortcomings, I definitely felt B'Elanna's need to continue the story to the end and then share it. I also really liked the scene at the end with her and Janeway in the ready room. Janeway has made the practical decision and B'Elanna accepts it this time with more reserve than I think early B'Elanna would have done, and in exchange, Janeway gives her a tacitly sanctioned out for continuing to do what she knows is right. It's kind of fine line walking that the TNG cast often engaged in, and this time, the harkening back is definitely a positive.
Matthew: I think there should have been greater consequences to B'Elanna pushing against he Enaran cover-up besides just making some old guy uncomfortable. Maybe they could have lost some valuable trade item. Or Harry could have received a holocaust-denial-cock-block (one of the very worst kinds, you know).
Kevin: Overall, I think the Holocaust metaphor was too broad. The memories themselves are such a personal experience with a limited point of view of one person that I think the coverup should have been of something smaller. It could have helped keep me emotional engaged.
Matthew: I think they should have gone whole hog, further than just Korenna witnessing Dathan's execution. Show us one of these train cars! I think it would have made Korenna's tranformation all the better if she were not just a tacit but a completely invested co-conspirator. I would have liked to have seen a Regressive ghetto. Why not show how they live? The differences between them and the mainstream Enarans should have been portrayed on screen. For one group to be so violently racist against another needs a bit more context.
Kevin: Dawson is a good actress. Despite not having a lot for me to anchor the remembered story, I bought her experience of it. I also really like Mulgrew in the music scene in the mess hall. I can't imagine there's a class on how to visualize being swept away in someone else's telepathically transmitted memories, but darned if she didn't do that.
Matthew: I really liked the moments where Dawson, as B'Elanna, was confusing her memories with those of Korenna. In the Korenna role, she really sold the whole "being a different person" aspect, albeit quite subtly.
Kevin: I like Bruce Davison and he's a good actor, but whenever you see his slightly weak chin on screen, you just know he's a politician with a secret. I liked Eve Brenner as Mirrell. She brought some quiet intensity to a lot of her scenes. Though Memory Alpha tells me (and this is why she looks so familiar) that she played the female Ullian in Violations, so congratulations on the world's narrowest typecasting.
Matthew: Bruce Davison pulled me out of the story, plain and simple. It's through no fault of his - he delivered the lines he was given with aplomb. But the combination of a character wholly lacking in nuance and an actor plucked from half a dozen extremely similar roles (e.g. X-Men) was quite jarring for me.
Kevin: It felt like Enara was made up of a bedroom and a courtyard and since the story was about something on a grand scale, it really hurts the episode for me. Since it doesn't quite feel like a real place, neither do their problems. The executions are an interesting workaround. I get that they can't get graphic in a family show, but it looks like they were covered in goo rather than burned.
Matthew: Sigh. Yet another alien of the week undone by a paucity of extras, confined sets, and an overall lack of scale. I'm getting really sick of repeating this criticism. What the hell happened to all the matte painters who used to work on TNG?
Kevin: The costuming is okay,though those headpieces seem like clear reuses of the Benean's headgear from "Ex Post Facto."
Matthew: B'Elanna's dream outfit was... blue leather.
Kevin: I am going with a 3, largely on the strength of Dawson's acting. She sells it even when there isn't much to sell. The rest of the episode gets lost in a Holocaust parable that is never fully realized. The world is too small and the politics too ill-defined to give the story any real heft. Tack onto that the feeling that we have done a lot of this before, and it falls in the bin of episodes I normally have no problem skipping on a rewatch. Still, I can't say enough nice things about B'Elanna.
Matthew: I was flirting with a 2 for this one, but as you say, Roxann Dawson really nails it here. Her scene with Mulgrew near the end is probably what pushed me, ever so slightly, into 3 territory. That makes our total a 6.