Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Voyager, Season 6: Dragon's Teeth

http://www.treknobabble.net/p/rating-system.htmlVoyager, Season 6
"Dragon's Teeth"
Airdate: November 10, 1999
123 of 168 produced
125 of 168 aired

Introduction

An away team comes across hundreds of sleeping aliens on a devastated world. But when the crew wakes them up, they reignite centuries' old tensions.
 

Futuropolis is under attack! Seek shelter!

Writing

Kevin: There is a lot to like in this episode. I think the biggest part of that success is how thoroughly it sketched the Vaadwaur. By the end, I was wondering at least a little if they were being set up as a recurring villain, or at least that the tunnel network would be a recurring bait to get home faster. I think they succeeded because the people generally were thoroughly sketched, reminding me a lot of the Iconians, and that the handful we met were all sufficiently different. Having them all disagree about strategy helped give them needed depth. I largely enjoyed the sketching out of the reveal of them being EEEEVIL. It was weird that the dude was a dick about his dead wife being scared of orbital bombardment, but it was just shy of going too far. I liked Neelix sifting through his folklore to suss out a connection. My only critique is the kids being jerks about Neelix to Naomi is a little too on the nose. Were the kids explicitly instructed to be racist again as soon as possible?

Matthew: I totally agree on the three-dimensionality of the Vaadwaur. I was genuinely interested in them, especially Gedrin and his motivations. I thought the kids being racists was fine, and liked it as a catalyst for a scene between Neelix and Naomi.It's amazing to say this - I want more Neelix. He has really settled into a nice character for nurturing others, and Naomi continues to be written wonderfully.

Kevin: I liked the Voyager side of the action. Janeway responds well to the various sets of events.
She's optimistic but never too credulous and all the move/countermove stuff was fun. The stuff with Seven felt a little tacked on, and largely just to set the plot in motion, but it was fairly well told for that. My only real complaint is that this is like, what, the fifth time Chakotay's only contribution is supplying the myth that gives the episode its title. Eh.

Matthew: Teasing us about the Borg of 900 years ago was a little bit mean on the writers' part. But obviously, it would have been very difficult to not let it become a Borg episode. Oh, well. The Dragon's teeth scene was nice, but as you say was stereotypically Chakotay. Maybe it could have been spread out a bit more, with Gedrin commenting on the story, leading to his apparent shift in thinking. If anything, that's the part of the story I'd like to see more of. Gedrin seemed pretty dedicated to the survival of his species, but then turns on them. I think this needed some more development.

Kevin: My one other thought is that I kind of wish the Vaadwuar had turned out to be the Iconians. Given the physical distance and time involved, it could have made sense that Iconian was a later applied name. There were a lot of similarities between the two and it could have been fun to tie them together.

Matthew: I'm glad they weren't. The Iconians were mysterious, and they stayed that way. A few plot beefs I had, in addition to the lack of explanation for Gedrin's shift, were: How did Tuvok get back to the ship again? He was down on the planet with Gedrin (why?) and apparently beamed back through shields during a firefight. Two seasons of Discovery may have dulled my plot-hole sensors, but not by this much. Speaking of which, they failed to mention the underspace conduits after the firefight. Jumping (or failing to jump) 1,000 light years seems like a big deal, worthy of at least a sentence in a captain's log.

Acting

Kevin: Jeff Alin as Gedrin did a very good job portraying a layered character. It made his sacrifice at the end feel effective and an earned choice rather than ticking the box on the arc of the Vaadwaur we know the most. Robert Knepper, formerly Wyatt in Haven, gave a very different performance as the true villain of the episode, and did a good job.

Matthew: This was a great guest star episode. Jeff Alin was amazing. On the top shelf of Trek guest stars. He reminds me in a way of the aliens from TNG "First Contact," - in that he had a convincing inner life and emotional register. And yes, Robert Knepper has come a long way from Wyatt - a pretty crappy performance all told - and it makes me wonder if he just had really bad direction (not to mention wardrobe and styling) back in 1988. Because he is crackling with energy here. Additional kudos must be given to Ethan Phillips and Scarlett Pomers for yet another terrific duo.

Production Values

Kevin: The CGI of the bombardment looks like a period video, but a AAA video game of the period, so I'm not mad. The shot of Voyager on the surface were a little fuzzy as a result of the haziness. Beyond that, I liked the variety of set pieces on the planet. I also liked the makeup overall. They kind of remind me of some of the Cenobites from Hellraiser, and the effect was that they were slightly off-putting without being cliched evil-looking.

Matthew: Yeah, the makeup did it for me, too. This is one of the better Westmoreheads. They could have been low-rent Cardassians, but the look is different enough. The pointy chin makes them alien, but nothing really distracts from the facial expressions, which was a real boon for Alin and Knepper. The planet CGI matte was definitely very good for its time, and doesn't really look bad by any means. The space battles were also pretty good. Come to think of it, the planet locations were nicely done, with cryo pods and computers and the like.

Conclusion

Kevin: If I have to level a criticism, I think the episode tries to do a hair too much in the time allotted. We have a siege combat episode and a prime directive question and a scene or two of Seven Learning a Lesson About Humanity. I think trimmed just the tiniest bit to focus the episode more on the ethical implications of helping the Vaadwaur rather than escaping the Turei would have taken this up a notch, but as it stands, I think this on the very good side of three.

Matthew:  A strong concept, very good acting, and high level production values are enough to make this a 4, I think. It could have been better with a bit more character development and by sealing a few plot holes. That makes our total a 7.

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