Monday, June 20, 2016

Voyager, Season 4: Retrospect, Season 4
Airdate: February 25, 1998
84 of 168 produced
84 of 168 aired


When Seven of Nine has a violent altercation with an arms dealer, questions begin to surface whether he previously assaulted her and erased her memory of it.

I mean, just look this guy, amirite?


Matthew: OK, so, I should state first that I found myself involved and interested in this story. Some of this owes to the acting, of course, but the concept is solid and pushes on interesting questions. This could have gone in a trite direction, with Seven of Nine being the victim and Janeway championing the rights of a beleaguered woman. Instead, this goes into more interesting territory - can recovered memories be trusted? On whom should the presumption or guilt or innocence rest? The writers make Kovin irritating and slick, which has us believing his guilt, initially. Seven of Nine is written in a very sympathetic way, too, giving us an almost child-like emotional trauma. To turn that on its head keeps us on our toes, and defies expectations. If anything, I would have liked the uncertainty to be carried through to the end, giving us no definitive answer.

Kevin: Apparently writers Bryan Fuller and Lisa Klink worked consciously to have the abuse feel either implicitly or explicitly like a sexual assault. I appreciate the effort since I think that issue is both too important as a social issue and too fraught emotionally to engage accidentally or haphazardly. That being said, the parallels are hard to miss. To the episode's credit, the alleged attack on Seven never feels cheap or merely exploitative. I agree that resolving the question firmly undercuts some of the story, though. If the whole point is the quagmire caused where proof isn't possible, then let's go there.

Matthew: In some ways this story feels a little overstuffed. The Doctor's journey of self-doubt would be better explored later in next season's "Latent Image." Here, it comes off as a bit of an afterthought. I think to make it feel organic we would have needed more push back against his techniques from the crew (or others) earlier in the show. Because any doubt on our part of his development is not dramatized until the very end, there was never any question in my mind that the captain would deny his reset request.

Kevin: I think they should have doubled down on the uncertainty and everyone's rush to judgment, maybe even had a few people outright hostile to Seven's claims. It was useful to see the Doctor confronted with his own fallibility; it could have been interesting to see other people confronted with their prejudices as well.

Matthew: The other theme is Seven of Nine's emotional journey, as well as her intransigence and butting heads with Janeway. I'm a little bit leery of having a "Go-To Mental Trauma" character. It reminds me of Data and his various take-over/malfunction stories. As depicted here, the mechanism of her manufacturing of the memory was pretty murky. She... was assimilated, so... she is bugged by stuff? I do like that she shared the Doctor's feelings of guilt by the end. I wish she had gotten a chance to interact with a few more characters, to see their takes on her apparent trauma. Who would be supportive, who would be less so?

Kevin: The attention to her emotional arc was solid, and it keeps the episode from veering into absurd or even offensive territory. I agree that the mechanism of her flashback is faaaar too neat, and sadly they will use the ill-defined scope of the harm caused by her assimilation a few more times. Still, as useful as it is for the Doctor to learn remorse, it might be more so for Seven, so that was certainly interesting to watch.


Matthew: Jeri Ryan has already shown a consistent level of excellence in portraying Seven of Nine's stress and emotional trauma. Here, she adds another interesting layer - assault victim. Her performance plays a big role in drawing me in, and keeping me there even when other story elements might underwhelm. She yet again finds good on-screen dynamics with Robert Picardo and Kate Mulgrew, as well. I really liked Picardo's gung-ho counselor routine, as well.

Kevin: As much as I will eventually find the late seasons turn into "The Doctor and Seven Show," it's hard to fault them. Ryan has achieved more with character in a half season that a fair share of the main cast. Her interactions with Picardo and Mulgrew really give you a sense of actors' actors all doing their best work.

Matthew: Michael Horton was really quite good as Kovin. He almost seems like a perfect "that guy" actor for "80s-90s jerkwad" except for the fact that he's not. He definitely delivered on Kovin's jerk-waddiness, but also gave it enough complexity to support the twists and turns that the plots would give the character. I believed that he had more going on than was given to us in the script, that he had reasons for running beyond his actual guilt or innocence with relation to Seven of Nine. I wish the script had given him more to do.

Production Values

Matthew: Kovin's ship was pretty ho-hum, and the chase scenes were merely competent. The target buoy was a decent effect. I found the weaponry to be a bit unimpressive, it just looked like a mish-mash of extra stuff they had lying around, arranged in vaguely gun-like shapes. Kovin's lab had some interesting architectural elements, but they were outshone by, well, the shiny blip-blop things that littered the set. The Entharans were a pretty standard "we're not going to try too hard this week, guys" Westmorehead.

Kevin: Yeah, nothing here really jumped out at me either. I've been sitting here for ten minutes trying to think of something cogent to add, and I got nothing.


Matthew: All in all, I think this is solidly average. It threatened to get really interesting in spots, but the narrative was a bit overstuffed. Spending more time on the "did he or didn't he" story would have suited my tastes more. But I think it's a 3, nonetheless.

Kevin: There are worse things to coast on than the acting strengths of Mulgrew, Picardo, and Ryan. The idea is interesting, and I think it was given a good faith try that neither glossed over the impact of assault or at any point felt cheap. I think either Seven's emotional arc or the investigation/crew reaction story should have gotten more of the focus, but I agree that in the balance, this lands in average territory. I am going with a 3, for a total of 6.

1 comment:

  1. This was an interesting casting choice. The guy playing the accused has on two occasions now played pedophiles/sleazy sex offenders of some kind: 1) In the 21 Jump Street episode "Higher Education" where, as a teacher, he has sex with his students and got one of them pregnant and 2) In the Mr. Belvedere "The Counselor" where he plays a camp counselor who inappropriately touches Wesley and is caught right before he can molest another kid.

    You know how IMDB profiles often have this section where it says "often cast as a villain" or whatever. I imagine for him it should say "frequently cast as a sex offender" or something. There is something about him that just screams sleaze and rapist. I dont know.

    And I hate saying this becasue obviously most men who rape don't actually look and behave like rapists (which is why often victims aren't believed).

    But anyway, I have always found the casting choice with respect to this guy and what he was accused of interesting. I think the first time watching this i subconsciously thought he was guilty just based on knowing what he's been cast for in the past. LOL.