Thursday, January 28, 2016

Voyager, Season 4: Day Of Honor,  Season 4
"Day Of Honor"
Airdate: September 14, 1997
71 of 168 produced
70 of 168 aired


B'Elanna must work through some of her personal identity issues if she is going to maintain deep and meaningful friendships on Voyager, let alone romance. Meanwhile, Seven of Nine finds herself wishing to integrate into the crew to a greater degree.

Paris goes for the rarely attempted or accomplished Reverse Spacesuit Suplex.


Matthew: In many ways this episode is more about character development than it is about plot. We have a story about Seven of Nine trying to assimilate into her new culture, Torres grappling with both her Klingon heritage and her relationship with Tom Paris, Tom deciding how much of B'Elanna's high maintenance he will put up with... at the end of the day the Caatati story line takes a backseat, just sort of giving us a backdrop for the character dramas to play out. I was never terribly interested in them, and really found them annoying for the most part.  I guess it's a refugee story (which is of course current today), but the script never really dug into the ethics of it, and then it makes them out to be dicks, with their trying to steal the warp core. What was the point?

Kevin: The problem with the Caatati, aside from the vowels, is that they exist only to provide a problem about Seven and then a problem she can solve. They are almost the platonic form of pathetic to start and pivot to ruthless on a dime. I agree with your framing the episode as one of character development, and I enjoyed both stories, but (and I can't believe I'm saying this somewhere not a DS9 review) the A and B stories are pretty unconnected.

Matthew: The B'Elanna-Tom story feels so real. B'Elanna is having trouble at work, and she lets her stress flow out onto her friends. She is also having trouble with her biracial identity, and this colors her work and friendships, too. This is such a human emotional conflict, and it is realistically developed. I felt for her and wanted her to overcome it. The Neelix "blood pie" scene was sweet ... I wish she had taken him up on his suggestion to berate him regularly. B'Elanna's interactions with Tom pretty much made this the gold standard for Trek relationships with a single stroke. Tom cares about B'Elanna but she is pushing him away. A crisis situation precipitates her letting down her emotional barriers and letting him in. Both of them are three-dimensional, dynamic characters, instead of a male character simply treating a female character as a prize to be won or coerced (sorry, bad Kira/Odo taste still in mouth...), I think the real mark of success here is that their dialogue, which filled more than one scene, was never boring. I think viewers want to root for people who feel real. I was rooting for this couple.

Kevin: I have a few very small critiques of the dialogue in the execution in a few places. I thought Tom's speech to B'Elanna in her quarters was a little too "TV" if that makes any sense. His walkway line just felt a tad inorganic for a reason I can't quite articulate. I also thought they jumped too quickly to the "I love you." That's more a personal preference than a straight critique but there it is. My last tiny complaint is that B'Elanna seemed surprised by the substance of the Day of Honor ritual but apparently helped craft the program. I remember it nagging me when I first watched the epsiode. These are tiny complaints though, and I agree that this half of the episode is extremely successful and for the reasons you cite. There is something very "human" for lack of a better term, about B'Elanna's reactions and it makes their resolution more satisfying.

Matthew: The Seven of Nine story was sort of a C story. She helps the crew try a transwarp jump, and is under suspicion when this experiment fails. She is also confronted by a Bog refugee, and shows us that she doesn't really feel affected by this. I don't know if this was the most dramatically successful choice, though it certainly felt like it was in character. Tom offers his "help" (which seemed weird on the heels of the B'Elanna story) and avers that "we all have a past," which is totally in character for him. I think the most successful scene was her scene being questioned by Janeway - it showed us that Janeway is not doe-eyed and naive about Seven. On a separate note, I kind of wish losing the warp core was a long-term story line. This seems like a perfect way to turn the screws on the crew

Kevin: I agree with your thoughts, and would add, I liked the line about Seven's approach to a problem and how innovation or inspiration aren't the Borg strong suit. It raises an interesting question that gets to the heart of what the Borg are. Can the Borg form a new idea that they did not assimilate? Is imagination the cost of their unity? It would make it make sense how they would not come up with a solution based on their own nanoprobes to fight Species 8472 that Voyager did within days of encountering them. I liked that they didn't turn the dials up too high on Seven's humanity too fast. Her coolly detached response to the Caatati is right where the character needs to be.


Matthew: Roxann Dawson gives B'Elanna such an inner life. The way she mopes is excellent, and her outbursts never read as phony "actor shouting." And of course, she has really wonderful chemistry with Robert Duncan McNeill - fights like theirs really make them feel real, easily the best couple in Trek (with all apologies to Frakes and Sirtis, they were undone by some odd writing). Their EVA survival scenes were believable and very sweet.

Kevin: They even sold that creaky "first contact procedures" line, didn't they. I also liked that their relationship always felt real, and that neither character lost core traits to the portrayal of the relationship. And Dawson is the best. In my first rewatch of the show some years ago, Dawson was really the standout as the actress I gave insufficient credit to the first time around.

Matthew: I would say the other standout performance here is Mulgrew. The guarded way she shepherds Jeri Ryan's Seven of Nine really works. This wasn't as much of a Jeri Ryan showcase as the last episode, but she still perfectly hits her "real" notes - seeming like a real person in this universe who "gets it" (Star Trek, that is).  Ethan Phillips has a nice bit part, showing that he still makes sense as a character even without Kes. 

Kevin: Mulgrew and Ryan definitely have a presence and the master/student vibe they get going really does work, though of course it gets visited too often. But here, in its early stages, you can see why they would latch onto it. The scenes really, really work. And I agree on Phillips. When they aren't making him a  terrible cook or a lech, his humor can really work.

Production Values

Matthew: So, blood pie looks like squash with a blue corn tortilla chip garnish. I thought the holodeck cave for the ceremony was pretty mundane. I did really like B'Elanna's quarters, though. She has a neat couch that seems perfect for brooding.

Kevin: Klingon food is always hit or miss. Pipius claw is totally some kind of octopus, but looks great on TV. The pie...not so much.

Matthew: We got a really nice CG animation of the warp core ejection, and it was really cool that it was off the Engineering set afterward. I found the shuttle explosion to be just so-so, but the floating EV suit scenes were pretty good. I love the suits generally speaking, but the uneven hole punch on the front grille irritates me, as well as the lack of labels on the arm buttons. Are they just supposed to memorize sequences of very similar colors?

Kevin: I liked the suits too. They seem like a good compromise between being an improvement on modern EVA suits, but not just wetsuits with helmets like a lot of sci-fi can default to out of convenience. The fact that the core was missing from the Engineering set made me happier than the really neat animation that preceded it. That must have been a pain in the ass, and I am thrilled they did it. They could have gotten away not even going back in Engineering, so it ends up being one of those small touches that really sings.


Matthew: 1/3 of this episode is surpassingly excellent (the relationship story), 1/3 is competent (Seven of Nine) and 1/3 of it is pretty forgettable (the Caatati). I guess that works out to a 3 overall. Had they jettisoned one tale and really focused on the romance, this would probably be a 4. But it's still an enjoyable watch, overall.

Kevin: I almost want to give this 4 as well on the strength of the Paris/Torres relationship. Maybe absent the Seven story, the extra fifteen minutes could have fleshed out their story even more. Still, it's a good episode, certainly. That makes a total of 6 from us.

1 comment:

  1. One would imagine the single greatest advantage of having a multitude of minds working in concert would be an increase in imagination. How in the world did the Borg manage to beat and assimilate species that have transwarp and time travel level abilities without having the ability to invent technology to counter such advantages?

    Even if there were too many minds to think creatively in a billion voice choir, they could just isolate a few dozen from the collective and pose a question to the little think tank, do this a dozen times and workshop the ideas those mini-groups came up with. Basic project RnD.