Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Voyager, Season 6: Live Fast and Prosper

http://www.treknobabble.net/p/rating-system.htmlVoyager, Season 6
"Live Fast and Prosper"
Airdate: April 19, 2000
140 of 168 produced
139 of 168 aired

Introduction

The Voyager crew finds that its reputation has preceded it - into territory where dozens of races have been swindled by a Captain Janeway look-alike.




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Writing

Kevin: This episode doesn't quite gel for me, and it's taken a couple of rewatches to figure out why. A good caper or heist story has to have two basic things. A plot that moves a breakneck pace and a crew that is likable in spite of (or sometimes because of) what they are doing. Think Ocean's Eleven, or in the case of Star Trek homage to it, Badda Bing Badda Bang. They crackle with a dark fun and you enjoy letting yourself go along for the ride. Badda Bing Badda Bang isn't exactly Ibsen, but in the moment, it's just a fun episode and the fun the cast is having carries the show. That kind of taut fun is lacking here. None of the scams are particularly complicated, they are just lies, and given that we've never met any of these people, none of the stakes really feel real. Either making Dala and her crew more likable to the point you were reluctantly rooting for them, or even making Janeway and crew have to impersonate the impersonators to set up a fun heist episode. The Doctor pretending to be Dala got close, but a six year old could have seen that one coming. As it is, it just felt like nothing ever really...happens.

Matthew: I agree that this episode was a good teaser pitch that was an edit or three away from being really good. Most of the elements are present to make it really interesting, but they're not developed well enough. I think the idea of Tom and Neelix losing their edge is a really good character note to hang some drama and some interesting choices on. And while they do figure into the solution, it doesn't really show them regaining their edge, and the stakes are too low. I think this episode might have had more bite if the ship had lost something meaningful, like its warp core or something, as collateral. And then Tom and Neelix have to live by their wits on the Delta Flyer tracking down the criminals while the crew on Voyager tries to survive. The flashback scene showing Tom and Neelix being hoodwinked probably should have been placed in the narrative proper at the beginning of the episode. Having it occur as a flashback makes the pacing feel loagy.

Kevin: Not to overly armchair quarterback, but I think the real problem is that Dala and her crew don't really have a motivation. It's not even great wealth they seem to be after, just a living. Even in something like "Gambit," there were enough twists and turns and grand plans to keep things moving. Here, I just couldn't connect to any of the people and I never felt like they really presented a threat to Voyager.

Matthew: The better episode featuring con artistry that comes to my mind is "Devil's Due." That episode more effectively built stakes, and played on the characters' traits a bit better. But I very much agree with your diagnosis of a lack of motivation for the cons. Again, it almost materialized during the brig scene with Neelix - but then it was just "my father taught me." How? What? In which situation? A more compelling contrast between Nala and Neelix could have been drawn. I also liked the idea of the Tuvok imposter actually coming to admire the Federation - that could have been further developed, with him becoming a turncoat, perhaps. All three of the con artists seemed to be the same species - maybe their world could have been developed as some sort of failed planet that put people in this position.

Kevin: Even the stakes for the Voyager crew themselves felt pretty flat. It's not like they PO'ed the Krenim or something. I think there was a reasonable case to build for putting the truth in a message buoy and still high tailing it out of town. Is the reputation of one ship in one small sliver of space really that worth it?


Acting

Kevin: The guest cast is good, for whatever my complaints about the plot are. Kaitlin Hopkins was clearly doing her best and trying to give Dala some bite. She previously played Kilana in DS9's "The Ship" and was sharper there, but that was due to a better script. I know I sound like a broken record, but making her the ethically gray but fundamentally decent leader of a ragtag gang of... you get what I'm saying. Elevating her to Janeway's true equal but raised in different circumstances would have really crackled.

Matthew: I agree on Kaitlin Hopkins, but the real standout for me was Gregg Daniels. His Tuvok impression was really terrific, and he provided a really nice emotional shade to his character's admiration of the Federation.

Kevin: The main crew was fine. Nothing to write home about, but certainly nothing that failed.

Matthew: Tom and Neelix got the bulk of the good scenes, but the script didn't give them enough to chew into. The aliens were pretty bland aliens of the week.

Production Values

Kevin: The fake Delta Flyer was...fine, maybe a hair too generic mining vessel to credibly pull off the scam I liked the idea of a uniform that was generally correct but wrong in the details, but the oversized combadges veered into joke a touch too far for me. It's actually kind of my point about the story boiled down to its essentials. The idea is certainly fun, but the execution just falls short of being genuinely entertaining for me.

Matthew: I really liked the fan-made-level uniforms.  The space shots and the mining digital matter were all pretty mediocre. I found the con-artists' ship to be very bland, like it could have been in any generic space franchise. All told, this episode wasn't much to write home about production-wise.

Conclusion

Kevin: I think this is a 2, but I acknowledge that I feel a touch like a curmudgeon for saying so. It's not that anything is bad certainly, but honestly, I've watched it twice and I just never found the episode entertaining, which any way you slice it is technically the goal of the whole operation. The finished product is a tad meandering and I just couldn't muster caring about the episode, so I think that means it falls below a three.

Matthew: I agree with all of your criticisms, but I think overall this is a fairly mediocre 3. The story lacked bite, but several of the vignettes worked, especially the Tom/Neelix ones. The overall premise is entertaining, but the pacing lags at times. I guess I'm not offended enough by anything to go for a two. It was a coherent story, which puts it above a lot of the twos we've recently given out. So that makes our total a 5.

3 comments:

  1. yeah so much potential for a good episode wasted. Also could have been really funny.

    Also I know this minor but the delta flyer always confuses me. It looks smaller than a runabout and yet inside it seems the same size.

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