Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Voyager, Season 5: Juggernaut

http://www.treknobabble.net/p/rating-system.htmlVoyager, Season 5
Airdate: April 26, 1999
113 of 168 produced
113 of 168 aired


When Voyager runs into a Malon freighter that could contaminate the entire sector in a runaway explosion, she must put her anger in check for the sake of the mission.
Hey, look! Enterprise didn't do the "gratuitous shower scene" first after all!


Kevin: I suppose there is no way to get around it, but this episode is pretty boring. There aren't any real stakes and I don't really care about what is going on. I think the episode has two main problems. The first is the Malon. They just aren't a good or interesting villain. We've discussed this before, and while I applaud an environmental message, it's just so sloppy here. In any real sense, dumping more radiation in space is literally a drop of water in the ocean. And why not just send the waste flying into a star anyway? Ultimately, the Malon are just too one-dimensional. We only see the toxic waste smugglers, and no other Malon. It would help if we got to see and maybe care about the society these morally questionable actions are protecting.

Matthew: The episode tried to give the Malon some dimension. Malon prime is apparently a gorgeous place, and the Malon waste controllers are actually poets and martyrs, or something. But yes, just having characters talk about these things doesn't really sell us on these ideas, and doesn't make us feel them. Of course, a major question here is why the Malon are showing up at all. They didn't even try to hang a lampshade on the problem, and say there was a wormhole or something. Nope. It's like they dusted off a second season script and said "eh, no one will notice."

Kevin: The other problem is B'Elanna's anger comes a little out of left field. It's like they found a teaser from season one B'Elanna and just taped it on. A friend recently said to me that while Dawson is a good actress, the writers tended to only give her 'uncontrollable anger' or 'ennui about her Klingon uncontrollable anger' as character points. I think there are places where that's not necessarily true, but like all criticisms, I can't not see it when it's there, and this is definitely in that category. We're still a few episodes away from Barge of the Dead, which will do a much better job and giving her emotional life all three dimensions.

Matthew: Yeah. In season two or three, the scenes with Tuvok would be wonderful. Here' although cute, they seem out of place. More work needed to be done to situate her anger in some other place than "because the script said so."

Kevin: Lastly, the 'monster' plot. Just..eh. Either it was going to be what we got, disgruntled Malon, or since this is Star Trek, it could have just been a literal monster. Just pick a physics word, make it an adjective and boom...instant real life monster. Overall, I just didn't really care about what was going on.

Matthew: Although I was uninterested in the Malon, I think there was an interesting story to tell, here. My mind is drawn to the liquidators at Chernobyl. They sacrificed themselves in order to save thousands, even millions more of their countrymen. Presumably they each had a story, a personal history that led them to that choice. What about these Malon? We're given suggestions, but only in third-hand dialogue and very briefly. Perhaps they could have tied a given Malon's decision to pursue this life to B'Elanna's decision to join the Maquis.


Kevin: Never let it be said that Dawson can't bring it. She worked the material she was given. I think consciously, there were notes of Sigourney Weaver's Ripley and she delivered them all. Much like Dreadnought, an episode with an at least shaky plot, still largely salvageable on the strength of Dawson's acting chops.

Matthew: I agree, which is what makes it an even bigger shame that she wasn't given the scenes to indicate what was behind her anger, or how she was really dealing with it. Meditation and yelling are  a bit of a cop-out, narratively.  There are better B'Elanna shows that give Roxann Dawson the material to really show us her understanding of her character's interior.

Kevin: Ron Canada gets to be not an officious jerk this time, so good for him! He did a solid job with a solid part. It's a bit of a shame since he's a better actor than the material, and it would have been fun for him and Dawson to have something with a little more heft to act over.

Matthew: Yep. His best scenes were in describing his poetry career and the beauty of his world. There should have been a lot more of that. Even a flashback! Also, his name is Ron Canada, which sounds like Tiger Woods' pseudonym at a hotel when he rents some sex workers for the night.

Production Values

Kevin: Much like the Borg ships of late, the cramped, foggy, green design does not look great on TV. It's just muddy and dark. I will praise the costume work for B'Elanna by the end there. She really looked like she had spent the day working in a sewer plant in the ninth circle of Hell.

Matthew: Yeah, props to the makeup department on grime and sweat. They must have gotten a lot of mileage out of their spray bottles in this episode. But the Malon aren't very interesting to look at (a flashback could have shown us some Malon fashion outside of "toxic waste space suit") and their ship was also boring, cheap CGI. So this was a pretty weak show, visually.


Kevin: This is a 2. Dawson and Canada are trying, but the story just isn't there. Normally, Star Trek can adapt genre stories and make them at least fun, if not actually an interesting addition.

Matthew: This feels like an old script that they touched up to fill out the season. It had one or two nice scenes, but overall was bland and uninspiring. I agree with the 2 for a total of 4.

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