Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Voyager, Season 6: Alice, Season 6
Airdate: October 20, 1999
124 of 168 produced
123 of 168 aired


Tom Paris finds a diamond in the rough when he spots a sleek shuttle amid a junk yard of space ships. But the phrase "caveat emptor" takes on a new meaning when he begins to work with the ship's AI system.
The moment when Tom's "Berlin Fetish Club" program goes decisively awry.


  Kevin: I have started and failed to write this review like three times now and it's because I was so bored. I think the primary problem is the entire plot is telegraphed in the teaser. Hmmm..the abandoned shuttle you plug into your brain will turn out to be EEEEEEEEEVIL? You don't say! They try to build tension with Tom's increasingly erratic behavior, but since we know it's coming and we know how it will resolve (because we have watched any television before ever), it's just feels like marking time. Compare this with something like Tom's lead up to infiltrating the Kazon, and there his dissatisfaction had a real basis that made even the performance of it more interesting.

Matthew: I do think this episode starts out with a bit of promise. The smarmy junk dealer is a pretty decent character, and I liked seeing him wrangle with Neelix. I also like the idea of Tom having a hobby. I also would have preferred it if the transition in the character as he was being altered by Alice was a bit more subtle. Maybe if it could have been demonstrated by piloting choices on the bridge, or other subtle dialogue cues. It just seemed to progress a bit quickly to "shouting at people," which is generally unpleasant. I did, however, enjoy the Tom/B'Elanna scenes, because, well, I like their relationship enormously.

Kevin: The other problem is Alice herself. Who made this shuttle and why? Why does it want to go 'home' a particle fountain that will destroy it? Why not just ask for help? If she can know Tom's mind enough to summon a woman he'll find attractive, why not also know that a polite request for aid would be happily met by these people? Even in something like TNG's "The Loss" where it didn't make sense that the particles wanted to go to the cosmic string, they were at least presented as unknowably different beings. Alice isn't even a horror movie villain, but just a series of plot obstacles stitched together.

Matthew: You've used your pusillanimous plot perspicacity powers once again, Kevin. "Alice" has an Alice problem.  I do think she is a horror movie villain, but they failed to give her an understandable motive. Her journey isn't made sensible to us. I would have preferred it if Alice were some sort of sapient mind that had been trapped in the ship's computer banks. That would be horrifying in its own right, and then her desire to control Tom for companionship would make more sense.And why was it so hard to fly into the particle fountain, anyway?


Kevin: McNeill tried. I acknowledge that. But most of the time he was acting with no one and that's a hurdle few actors can clear. It may just be that I wasn't invested in the Alice character, so it may not be his fault that I didn't care about him this episode, but yeah, I just didn't care about him in this episode. And same for Claire Rankin as Alice. She ticked all the boxes for 'increasingly crazy female horror antagonist' but still, without literally any grounding in the story to make me care, it was all a bit of wasted effort for me.

Matthew: I am a well-known Robert Duncan McNeill liker. I think this performance did give us a grounded, realistic view of obsession, and any time he was interacting with Roxann Dawson, I was present. But a lot of it verged into shouting just to shout, and the material itself was nothing special. I will say that I really liked John Fleck as the junk dealer. His voice is excellent, and he provides a lot of emotional shading. I kind of wish the story had focused more on his being discarded by Alice.

Production Values

Kevin: This was largely a bottle show. Nothing was bad, except maybe those neon tubes hooked up to Paris in the shuttle which looked like the glowsticks they were. The camera work for talking to a person who isn't there was fine. Not bad certainly, but nothing revolutionary. Nothing here was poorly done, but it certainly didn't impress me out of my boredom with the story.

Matthew: The glowsticks were dumb, and the uniforms looked like cheap cosplay. So... meh?


Kevin: Like I said, I think this episode telegraphs everything a mile a way, and the villain has no understandable motivation either for what she wants or how she chooses to get it. Even the fights between Tom and B'Elanna feel pretty paint-by-numbers. This gets a 2 from me.

Matthew: I was more there for Tom/B'Elanna, but I must agree that this episode was several rewrites away from being pretty entertaining. I agree with the 2 for a total of 4.

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