Thursday, January 16, 2020

Voyager, Season 6 : The Haunting of Deck Twelve, Season 6
"The Haunting of Deck Twelve"
Airdate: May 17, 2000
143 of 168 produced
143 of 168 aired


The Borg children are awoken by a strange power outage and press their caretaker Neelix for more details with regard to the mysterious events of the past few weeks.



Kevin: I get what they were going for with this one, but whoo boy did they miss the mark. The scary story told by a campfire is a setup as old as stories themselves, so I can see the appeal of using the Borg children to do a riff on it, but none of it actually works. I think the problem boils down to two key problems. The 'ghost' itself just isn't that interesting. It's a cookie cutter riff on the non-corporeal being. If anything, it reminds me of TNG's "Lonely Among Us," and that's not an episode you want to remind me of. The other problem is that the children never become involved with the story in any real way, so there are no stakes to the scare. On some basic level, it doesn't even make sense it could scare them. These children live on a starship and were assimilated by the Borg. They are absolutely aware of the existence of non-corporeal life, so it seems silly of Neelix to try this.

Matthew: Yeah, the "Lonely Among Us" comparison was foremost in my mind. This is... better? The structure of this episode is a bit strange, since it is told in flashback as a ghost story. This blunts tension. It would have been more difficult, but I thin the structure would be much stronger if the children were granted more agency in the plot, like they are trying to uncover the mystery on deck 12, and were drawn into the story or threatened in some way. As it is, there are comedy beats that work for me, with the children questioning Neelix's retelling, and their own sort of preternatural maturity and morbidity grossing Neelix out.

Kevin: All of these problems could be excused if the episode weren't so boring. For all the jump scares and dark corridors, the episode just never feels like it gets off the ground. It honestly took me more than three attempts to finish this one. The finished product is just so unfocused. It's part the framing device, part alien of the week, part attempt at horror, but none of the story gets the focus it should to be even basically engaging.

Matthew: Although I basically agree that no aspect of the story is well developed enough, in many ways this is sort of comforting, like a warm bath. The character interactions work, and the scenes overall function to advance the admittedly pedestrian plot.Individual scenes also work, such as Neelix and Tuvok crawling through the Jeffries tubes, Harry and Celes (unfortunately, her last appearance), and Janeway's fight with the entity. Was any of it novel or interesting? Nah. But it was all competent and I at least understood the story and the character motivations.


Kevin: Everyone is trying, and Ethan Phillips is really doing a yeoman's job trying to sell this one. As with Naomi, he really has a rapport with the child actors that plays well, and I just wish that it had been in service of a better, more cohesive story.

Matthew: I think it needs to be said how excellent Manu Intiraymi and Marley McClean are as Icheb and Mezoti. Not only do I care about them as characters, not only do I not find them irritating in the slightest, but I also laughed at their jokes and comic timing. They have great chemistry with Ethan Phillips and with each other. The other kids are... twins, I guess. Being twins will get you work in Hollywood. They're definitely twins.

Production Values

Kevin: Again, they are trying for something unusual here, and I do appreciate that, but without a story to give those artistic choices some stakes, it doesn't really matter. The jump cuts and dark corridors were competent enough, but it reminded me of how much more effective it was in something like TNG's Genesis. The episode traded in horror tropes, but has sketched a (while not perfect) complete and interesting story that made me feel the unease they wanted.

Matthew: I liked that this was a bottle show, and that they didn't try to communicate "scary" with a bunch of sparks and strobe lights. The nebula and the cloud effects were pretty mundane, however. I liked the makeup effects on the injured crew members, Paris in particular.


Kevin: It's rare that I struggle for something to say, and this review was weirdly hard to write, as I had to tease out "underbaked and uninteresting" for more than three words. This lacks something shockingly bad to land in 1 territory, but it remains fixed at a 2.

Matthew: I want to like this more than I do, but I agree that this didn't quite gel as a compelling story. I think the flashback structure should have been jettisoned, or incorporated into one or more of the children investigating the mystery. Having the mystery be a bit more personified would also have been good. But hey, at least it didn't feature the Anticans and the Selay, right? Unfortunately, I have to agree with the 2 for a total of 4. I don't think a 1 was every on the table though, because the actors were charming to a person.

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