Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Voyager, Season 6: Ashes to Ashes

http://www.treknobabble.net/p/rating-system.htmlVoyager, Season 6
"Ashes to Ashes"
Airdate: March 1, 2000
136 of 168 produced
136 of 168 aired


A Voyager crew mate thought long dead returns, which provides a shock to Harry's system.

Jhet'leya rocks the alien-bun.


Matthew: I think this is a fertile setup for a sci-fi story, though of course it is replete with unanswered questions. Who can the Kobali reanimate? Can they reanimate themselves? Do they reproduce any other way? How would such a biological system evolve naturally? Some more context for these types of issues (such as Earth animals that infiltrate other species, like the cuckoo) and exploration of the questions would have been appreciated. Nonetheless, it provided an interesting emotional backdrop for the character story as well as for the crew to work against. 

Kevin: This is one of those very science fiction ideas that doesn't quite stand up to too much scrutiny. There are real world analogues of parasitic creatures that basically turn the host into a zombie, but those are largely bacterial or insect life. As you point out, there are just follow up questions that quite bear out for more sophisticated beings. How would this have even come into existence? Did they have a species that reproduced normally and this was a response to a crisis? There are some fun ideas in here but it doesn't really get explored in this episode.

Matthew: On the one hand, the episode hangs a lampshade on the question of Harry's love life when Tom busts his balls over it (which I quite enjoyed, we haven't gotten a lot of prime Tom/Harry bro-mance lately). But seriously, how many chicks has Harry been pining over in the past 6 years, anyway? How does this square with the whole Libby relationship? I thought they lived together, had not broken up when he deployed on Voyager, etc. So he was super into Lyndsay Ballard the whole time? And they were posted on the same ship? And we never heard about it for all that time? It just starts to push the bounds of retcon credulity for me.

Kevin: I think this highlights the other problem is that everyone tells us this was a very important character but we've never seen her before. Maybe if she were a Delaney sister or some previously named character would have landed with more impact. Setting aside the love angle, maybe the Kobali could have found the duplicate Harry that died in Deadlock. That would have been some fun metaphysical crisis. Setting that aside, the core problem remains this character has been important but undiscussed for years. Once you add that you know she isn't staying because of course she's not, it kind of seals the character off from the rest of the story.

Matthew: How can a replicator liquefy a pot roast? This was a cheap, dumb joke. With that said, I did like Ballard questioning Janeway about having been assigned to the mission that killed her, and I thought the overall sense of her being torn between two worlds was effective.

Kevin: It's a recurring gag that has literally never been funny once. The woman is an accomplished scientist. I believe she could learn to cook if she set her mind to it, so it just feels like a badly warmed over joke from I Love Lucy to portray her as such an incompetent cook that she can't use the replicator. What? Beyond that, the discussion of how a captain decides who to send on the dangerous mission is a good one, and I like that Janeway doesn't shy away from it.

Matthew: The B story about Seven's struggles with the Borg children was pretty good. It makes total sense that she would not really appreciate children's needs, and would take parenting advice too literally. Stuff like "Fun will now commence," and "implement punishment protocol 9-alpha" was amusing. Mezoti was a little snot, which read totally naturally. The ultimate resolution was also believable, with Seven relaxing discipline to some degree.

Kevin: I agree it worked, and all the children felt like actual children and Seven's stiffness plays well against it.


Matthew: Kim Rhodes has a big row to hoe here, trying to make us care about a character who is being retconned into existence. She ably accomplishes her task. She not only acted well through the makeup, but she convincingly delivered alien dialogue, and she imbued her character with a real personality that wasn't perfect, which felt very real. Of the women Harry has been infatuated with, she definitely seems the least like a placeholder posterboard (with Libby coming in second).

Kevin: Setting aside my issues with the script, the acting largely carries it. There was a warmth and depth to the character and even if we haven't seen her before, I was left wishing we would see her again. I bought the internal arc of her desire to return but her inability to stay. It is a tall order and she delivered.

Garrett Wang turns in one of his better performances here. Emoting is not achieved via shouting, but by more restrained line readings and expressions. Kevin Lowe was also effective as Jhet'leya's father (this is the only time I will type this name because I am DONE with alien names that use apostrophes in the place of creativity).

Kevin: I softly disagree on Wang. Maybe I'm just not a fan and that colors my perception and maybe it's that 'pining' seems to be his one setting, but this left me flat. I bought that he was pining for her, but I didn't buy that he was attracted to her, if that makes sense. There was none of the smaller, organic vitality that really makes chemistry between characters sing.

Production Values

Matthew: I liked the makeup on the alien form of Lyndsay Ballard. It read as alien but still left her an attractive woman, which is important for us buying the attraction between her and Harry. Her ship and the exterior space effects revolving around her race were fine.

Kevin: The transitions between the two faces felt a little forced, and her natural hair was a little off for me. I'm assuming that was a wig, but it just didn't do it for me.


Matthew: Overall I'm at a 3 on this. It entertained me, and I was emotionally involved. I was, however, pretty completely dissatisfied with the follow through on sci-fi questions. The B-story was effective and lasted precisely as long as it needed to, and I'm glad it didn't get a whole episode.

Kevin: The broadstrokes are there, and buoyed by a very good guest star, this largely gets the job done. I wish the story had been fleshed out a little more to make the character moments land, but the end result is still a solid, interesting hour. That makes a total of 6.

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