Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Voyager Season 3: Worst Case Scenario

Voyager, Season 3
"Worst Case Scenario"
Airdate: May 14, 1997
66 of 168 produced
66 of 168 aired


Tom and B'Elanna play a mysterious holonovel depicting a mutinay against Captain Janeway. Things go from mysterious to dangerous when an old foe crops up near the end.

"Well, they say if you travel far enough you will eventually meet yourself. Having experienced that... it's not something I would care to repeat."


Matthew:  So I think this is a really fun concept, generally. First of all, the episode starts out not telling the viewer that this is a simulation. So we are teased by the possibilities, perhaps aware of a few incongruities, and then have the fun of sussing out what's real and what isn't. It ends up being a pretty effective "change of pace" story. Then, once we know what the score is, we get the enjoyable spectacle of different players tackling the program, and people on the crew discussing strategies with each other. It's a fun take on cultural memes and "viral" games/videos, before they hit the Internet. Really (and we'll get to this), this could have been the whole episode for me. I'd have preferred seeing B'Elanna, Paris, Harry, and Neelix playing the game differently each time. I'd also have preferred further exploring the social impact such an "inflammatory" scenario might have on the crew.

Kevin: This is definitely one of the funnest holodeck episodes, and given that the eventual meltdown was in fact sabotage, I'm not even overly annoyed at yet another holodeck misadventure. I do wonder how your write an interactive novel that does more than simply constrict the player until they perform the correct action to advance the story. At what point is there genuine authorship versus a sufficiently sophisticated computer just running a randomizing algorithm? That all said, it's just fun, isn't it?

Matthew: The Seska plot is dumb. That's the long and the short of it. The notion that Seska would 1. find this program; 2. spend countless hours reprogramming it to get revenge (?) on the crew; 3. is so adept at programming that she could make a non-sentient program capable of defeating live crew members and people outside the holodeck through improvisation; was just kind of eye-rolling for me. As stated above, I'd have had more fun just watching our present-day crew members dealing with crewmen who later proved traitors like Jonas and Seska.

Kevin: What always nagged me is why would Seska take offense and then go to so much trouble, given that she actually was a secret agent? It makes no sense. I think what you said about seeing the impact of the game on the crew would be a little more fun. Underlying Tuvok's tactical analysis is the idea that the Maquis were an "other" to be guarded against until they were deemed trustworthy. If I were a former Maquis, I would be a little offended that that doesn't quite acknowledge the reality of the situation. The Maquis aren't squatters. They sacrificed their ship to save Voyager and are all here against their will. I think it's a fair question to ask Tuvok if he ever thought the most effective preparation for this scenario was a genuine attempt to integrate the crews rather than cautiously wait for them to come around to the Starfleet way of doing things. This would have been a fun episode earlier in the series if they had decided to use it to really explore any remaining tensions in the crew.

Matthew: Overall, the plot had a nice crisp pace to it. The various iterations of the holodeck story were fun to watch. I especially liked watching Tom try to "break" the story by messing with the characters - it seems totally in character, and is something many of we nerds have experience with in our video gaming. The way the story turned into a comedy routine with Paris and Tuvok butting heads over creative direction was effective, too. Even the Seska stuff, silly though it may be, was brisk and fun to watch. There were a lot of nice continuity touches, too, with various characters' hair, and a nice matching of tone in dialogue (and acting, mentioned below).

Kevin: Yeah, they really took advantage of the fact that since only Tom and Tuvok were there, you could have some fun with the characters. As silly as the set up was, I can't deny that I was happy to see a sneering Seska again.


Matthew: As they did in "Future's End," Robert Duncan McNeill and Tim Russ have really nice comic chemistry here. Add that to the chemistry that McNeill has with Roxann Dawson, and you've got a pretty snappy show in terms of acting. I really liked McNeill the best, he had a sly look while he was "gaming" the scenario, and his comedic delivery (e.g. "the dictates of poetics by t'Hain") was right on target.

Kevin: I agree. This was a fun episode for him, and he really brought the right level of enthusiasm to his time in the novel. I really liked Dawson's performance in the teaser as well. The sparring over the rewrites was well done, too.

Matthew: This is a nice show for Robert Beltran, and really raises the question why he wasn't given more of this antagonistic sort of stuff earlier in the show. He has a great edge to his performance, a bit of snottiness in his line readings, and then the weariness of a battle-tested commander during the mutiny. Martha Hackett was good, even when her dialogue wasn't. They really should have kept her on the show.

Kevin: Again, I agree fully. Beltran had more life in his fake bad guy than he's had in a lot of the series put together. I liked the rapport that he and Janeway have, but I probably would have liked it more if it started with him butting heads with her with the energy he brought here. And I could watch Martha Hackett condescend to me all day. She's just delightful. They should have just put her in Souter's quarters for the trip home and brought her out a few times a season.

Production Values

Matthew: This is the definition of "bottle show," isn't it? What's on display here is more attention to detail. Getting Janeway and Kes' hair close to their season 1 levels of crapulence. Neelix's couch-fabric outfits. Using the big ridiculous phaser rifle. Basically, what they needed to do to sell the illusion, they did. The shuttle explosion was well done, too.

Kevin: Agreed overall. They never quite get Janeway's bun correct again. I think it's because her hair is longer in the first season, so they can just add the piece to make the bun, whereas later, they seem to be putting a whole wig over her hair, so the shape is never quite the same. Still, this is nowhere near as bad as, say, Relativity, where they were just wrong. I liked seeing a lot of the Maquis outfits again. It was a fun touch. The phaser exploding in Janeway's hands was not my favorite effect of all time, though.


Matthew: I want to give this a 4, because I enjoy it every time I watch it. But I think the "oh, come on" aspects of the later plot drag this back into the realm of the solidly average for a 3. It's a fun watch that I never skip, and a tantalizing glimpse at what could have been.

Kevin: In terms of pure entertainment value alone, I have to go with the four. It's just a damned entertaining hour of television, and after some of the stuff we've had to snooze through in the back half of season three, it's a welcome sight. That makes a total of 7.

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