Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Voyager, Season 7: Inside Man, Season 7
Airdate: November 8, 2000
150 of 168 produced
150 of 168 aired


When Voyager receives an unexpected holographic visitor from the Alpha Quadrant, they are presented with a novel but dangerous way of getting back home.

I chose blue zinc-oxide so that I would remain inconspicuous. Did it work?


Kevin: I criticized an earlier Barclay-focused outing, Pathfinder, for being a bit of a Barclay paint-by-numbers episode, and maybe I was being a little harsh, and I did genuinely like that episode. But I feel no such qualms here. My main problem is that this episode pretty much mirrors Pathfinder start to finish. Awkward Barclay is awkward. He (this time way more inappropriately) calls in Counselor Troi for help. He is ignored until the last second when he is proven right. Both episodes even end with a button of him meeting a new potential girlfriend whose existence is a call back to some element of the episode. The only real innovation is adding a plot line where the crew of Voyager are all idiots. I think the main problem is that the minute the hologram shows up and offers a way home, it just dictates the rest of the episode, and nothing that actually happens in the episode deviates from those expectations. They aren't going home, and none of the way we got to that point was particularly interesting.

Matthew: Hmm. I'm hearing your criticism and I am understanding it. But there's a certain pleasure to seeing this parallel story continued over time. Barclay actually appears (in various forms) 6 times in Voyager, compared to TNG's 5. So really, he is a Voyager character at this point. Was it inappropriate for Barclay to stalk Troi's vacation (with Riker.... EEEEEEEE!!!!)? Of course. But it's totally in character given his past behavior.

Kevin: None of the details of any of this make any sense. What is the utility of sending a hologram, even the real one? Given that it will preclude the normal communications, why not alert them to prevent exactly the kind of open questions that enabled what was going on? The Doctor may have been having a bit of a tantrum about losing his emitter, but he's also pretty clear that the crew will die when they go through the technobabble thingy, and that should be a red flag by itself. And then they repeat the scene with B'Elanna. None of the plan has even a patina of making sense and the crew has to ask no follow up questions for any of this be pulled off.

Matthew: I totally agree that the hologram aspect of the story was half-baked and lacked explanation. They even said that the data stream can't handle holograms. Umm, wasn't there an entire episode in which the Doctor was sent to the Alpha quadrant via the same means in order to treat Lewis Zimmerman? And I agree that the fatal aspects of the plan should have been more easily sussed out by this crew, which has demonstrated great competence and inter-departmental cooperation in the past. Seven of Nine in particular is typically way more suspicious, generally speaking.

Kevin: The humor in the episode also falls flat for me. They tried to milk Barclay doing impressions for some laughs, but it doesn't land. He's technically doing an impersonation of Barclay, too. It's not impressive that a hologram can mimic people. The end result of this episode is a warmed over Barlcay plot, a warmed over Troi intervention, a warmed over Ferengi greed story, and a warmed over Voyager almost getting home plot. And I could forgive that if there were anything in the episode to provide some novelty or interest. Even the button on the end of the episode of teasing Harry just came off as clueless and mean rather than funny.

Matthew: Of those warmed over plots, the one that works least well for me is the Ferengi. It seems like they have used an incredible amount of technical and scientific prowess to undertake this scheme of theirs - a level which would require far more cost than seems feasible. Opening a geodesic fold across 30,000 light years? Hijacking an intra-galactic transmission? Creating a sophisticated holographic being? Using a human spy to pump Barclay for information? And how many Ferengi are there on this ship, anyway - three? It all just strains my credulity, and it seems like they could have applied their prodigious technical abilities to some easier venture.


Kevin: Here, I have no complaints. Schultz knows the Barclay character obviously, and he inhabits him comfortably. Same for Sirtis. The problems with the episode are not due to a failure on their parts, and I won't deny that I enjoy watching them, even when the episode is not doing much with them. The main crew was fine, though not more than that, given that the characters all inexplicably have to forget how to ask follow up questions.

Matthew: Schultz certainly gave the Barclay hologram a different edge. Whether this made the story less believable is a separate matter, but it was certainly creepy when he smiled or when he berated the Doctor. I thought his portrayal of Real Barclay was more successful. Sirtis on the other hand was uniformly excellent, both in her empathetic mode and in her bad-ass mode. And she looked great in her swimsuit. 

Production Values

Kevin: This is largely a bottle show, except for some straight forward effects of the Ferengi ship near the red giant. The only effect that really made me roll my eyes was holo-Reg sticking his hand in Seven's head and knocking her unconscious.

Matthew: I think effects and sets were almost uniformly excellent. I like the Starfleet sets yet again, and they even seem a bit improved over "Pathfinder." The visual effect that worked least well was the Ferengi ship against the red sun backdrop. They also did a great location shoot at the beach, with some very visually interesting (if acoustically challenging) rocks and waves. 


Kevin: Hmm. I am stuck between a 2 and a 3. I think this episode is fairly unengaging. We know Voyager isn't going home and the crew has to be fairly stupid to let holo-Reg get as far as he does. I just never connect to anything in the story and I spent my time thinking of better versions of just about every element of the story. I think I will land at the three. I find the story pretty flat, but I think the familiar competence of Schultz and Sirits get this into average territory.

Matthew: Yeah, this is a mediocre 3 for me, for a total of 6. The plot was mildly interesting but was undercooked in several respects. When it comes down to it, if there were a Troi and Barclay show, I'd tune in every week, and that's that. This episode did nothing to put me off of those characters. 

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