Thursday, February 18, 2016

Voyager, Season 4: The Raven, Season 4
Airdate: October 8, 1997
73 of 168 produced
73 of 168 aired


Seven begins manifesting strange, Borg-like behaviors, eventually fleeing the ship, apparently to return to the Collective. Meanwhile, Captain Janeway must bargain with a belligerent race for safe passage through their space.

Quoth the Raven: "Use a Dustbuster once in a while!"


Kevin: There are many things to like about this episode. I loved the teaser in the DaVinci program. It's a nice call back to the earlier use of it, and it felt like a fairly organic "lesson in humanity" for Seven. Somehow, I enjoy how seriously Captain Janeway takes relaxation. I also liked the scene of Neelix and Seven in the Mess Hall, since the comedy was allowed to flow, again, very organically. They never reached for a gag. All the humor was in very small doses, but thus, more effective. I also liked both Janeway and Tuvok working to give Seven the benefit of the doubt. It's a little questionable this early in the relationship, which I'll get to later, but I still liked watching the scenes themselves. Lastly, I think, by themselves, Seven's scenes of fear and regressing to a little girl were well done.

Matthew: Yeah, this episode has a sort of pleasant enjoyability, if you don't strain your brain too hard. I would say the best scene is the mess hall, because it shows Neelix at his best - being an amiable friend to all, the "morale officer" as it were. It also gives us Seven of Nine in an interesting, vulnerable state. With that said, 6 years of experience eating with one's mouth and swallowing things seems like a difficult thing to forget.  Are Borg drones somehow stopped from producing saliva and mucus?

Kevin: My problems around the story are twofold. First, I think they dig in too deeply to Seven's humanity and vulnerability a little too early. I think this episode should have been placed later in the season to give a sense that Seven was actually becoming more comfortable with her humanity, and thus struggling with whether to resist. It would also make the benefit of the doubt that Tuvok and Janeway show a little more plausible. I also found the idea that the Hansens had made it tens of thousands of light years to Bomar space nagging in how silly that is. A line of dialogue that the ship were towed and abandoned in the Delta Quadrant would have been imperfect, but it would have helped.

Matthew: My biggest problem was the preponderance of "oh, come ON" moments that were involved in Seven's escape from the ship. Her bodily force fields are back. OK. But they now adapt immediately to changes? Hmm. She evades three security personnel without even a finger laid upon her? Uh... She uses a door panel's buttons to initiate a site to site transport, complete with "borg encryption code" to prevent tampering? Come on. She blasts through the shuttle bay doors with a shuttle? Come on. She modulates the shields to obviate the tractor beam? Come ON. She "masks her ion trail" within seconds to completely forestall any tracking? COME ON. I mean, Jesus, just follow the damn shuttle and keep it in view. Voyager can go faster than it. As far as the Hansen storyline goes, I agree there were questions. Apparently, the Hansens were better at tracking rumors of the Borg's existence than all of the Federation was. Their trip certainly seems to have occurred before "Q Who" - Memory Alpha places it ten years prior to that contact. This doesn't bother me so much - the El-Aurians were refugees from the Borg as far back as the Enterprise B. I guess, for a race of listeners, they don't talk that much. I think what could have stood more exposition was how and why the Hansens were the only scientists interested at all in the question. I think this would provide far more interesting drama than their simply being assimilated. Speaking of which - who takes their 6 year-old on a trip to find space zombies? As far as the distance issue, I believe it's later established that they hopped into a transwarp conduit. But I agree it should have been addressed.

Kevin: The Bomar story felt like the tacked on obstacle it was. It would have benefited the episode to leave more room for the character work that was otherwise much more interesting. Don't get me wrong, I love watching smarmy diplomats face off against Janeway, but it wasn't necessary at all.

Matthew: Yeah. Although I enjoyed the thought of Federation ideals (cooperating with local authorities) running afoul of a greater goal (getting home), as a whole this B plot just fizzled. It might have been better if the Bomar had offered some strong arguments for being such jerks with respect to Voyager.


Kevin: Jeri Ryan is very good at her job, no two ways about it. The scene in the Mess Hall was great because both Ryan and Phillips kept all the physical stuff so restrained. Hearing Seven recite the snippets of life on the Raven was touching, if not slightly cliche. In the shuttle scene with Tuvok, I think she also did a good job walking the line between wanting to return to the collective and not wanting to hurt Tuvok. I also want to single out her physical acting for praise. The way she hid under the console and tucked her feet under her was just perfect. Despite almost literally being an Amazon, she really portrayed vulnerability well.

Matthew: When she said "Papa? Help me." it totally cut through any disbelief the viewer might have. Jeri Ryan can emote like nobody's business, and it was even more effective for its restraint. Speaking of Tuvok, I liked the way Tim Russ mixed concern with caution in his one-on-one scenes with her.

Kevin: Mulgrew always does a good job pitching her maternal role to Seven in just the right way. She has both genuine resolve and regret in her voice when she authorizes deadly force against her. I also liked her speech about the clay in the teaser a lot.

Matthew: While the Bomar were pointless in terms of story, I kind of enjoyed the ultra-condescending aide, played by Mickey Cottrell. Who, come to think of it, played a very similar character as Chancellor Alrik!

Production Values

Kevin: As with all dream sequences, I found the hallucinations a little on the nose. They were too detailed. Given how much made it in to Seven's log, I kind of think she should have made The Raven connection. The weird sloooow doooown movement and shrieking bird just left me a little annoyed rather than terrified. I get the inherent problem in trying to portray an ephemeral experience, but I think they missed the mark.

Matthew: I think what irritates me the most was the borg drone screeching like a bird. The CG Bomar ships were kind of original-Cylon-esque. Not in a bad way.  They were clearly not practical models, but they looked fine. The Bomar clothes? Not as good. Was there some sort of rhyme or reason to the colors? The transparent ear flaps? It did accomplish making them look fussy, though, so that works.

Kevin: I liked the interior of the Raven. The plaque that was similar but not quite a Starfleet plaque was a nice touch. I think the CGI of the ship itself and the ship collapsing was okay, but not stellar, though it's always hard to decide if that's me looking with modern eyes or not.

Matthew: I thought the meld of CGI and matte painting was pretty successful on the Raven wreck. I liked the interior as well, it seemed like a real place, especially in flashback. The bridge appears to be a mix of new elements and the TNG battle bridge (which is of course the TOS movie bridge). Seven's new brown outfit is much more sensible-looking and less distracting than her initial silver catsuit. Their escape from the Raven was a pretty obvious green screen with typically subpar lighting.


Kevin: Overall, this is a solid three. The B-story is a distraction, and I think they should have explored the emotional core of the story more, but overall, I found Ryan's performance in both the serious and comedic scenes to really work, enough to carry to a three almost alone.

Matthew: Yeah, this is entertaining but hampered by a superfluous B-story. My greatest irritation was an attack of the dum-dums in the middle third. But the A story felt vital and interesting, and the acting was quite nice. I agree with the 3 for a total of 6.

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