Saturday, November 9, 2019

Voyager, Season 6: Memorial

http://www.treknobabble.net/p/rating-system.htmlVoyager, Season 6
"Memorial"
Airdate: February 2, 2000
134 of 168 produced
132 of 168 aired

Introduction

The crew begins to suffer flashbacks of a battle when they approach a strange object.

"No TV and No Beer Make Tom Paris Something Something..."



Writing

Matthew: I really like the dynamic between Tom and B'Elanna in this episode. Her making him a television and stocking it with (out of copyright) video files is charming, and fits her character to a tee. She's not going to be mushy, but she loves making stuff. Scenes like these do so much to build character and to create a world. We get to see Tom's quarters, the little tchotchkes he has of 20th century Earth ephemera, the sorts of jokes they make with each other, it's all fabulous. And to use it as the way we first learn about Tom's PTSD flashbacks is novel.

Kevin: I agree that smaller character notes like the TV do work for themselves quite nicely, but i think this episode is ultimately a little less than the sum of its parts. The disconnect to the actual conflict keeps me at arm's length from this one. Also, I think the 'mystery' arcs a little too quickly. By the time any other member of the crew starts hallucinating, and the same incident at that, it's too obvious too soon these are implanted memories

Matthew: I liked how the different characters reacted differently to their experiences. Neelix became protective of Naomi, Chakotay tried to shepherd his people through the experience, Tom felt violated, Harry felt guilty. It was all in character, but I think that was preferable to playing one or more against type - the difference would have distracted from the ideas of the episode.

Kevin: I fully agree that each of the individual panic attacks work great on their own, but together, they aren't enough to really build a whole episode out of.

Matthew: I think the idea of making people experience the warm crimes of a long dead army is fascinating. I may have asked the obvious questions a little bit differently. Although I liked the debate at the end over whether to deactivate it, the ethics of the monument builders are murky. What if someone had killed or been killed during a flashback? Did they assume there were no alien species who might react differently? Either way, the analogues to our own history are provocative, whether it be Abu Ghraib, My Lai, the Rape of Nanking, or the Holocaust.

Kevin: I'm a little less sanguine about the ethics. Experiencing a trauma is...well...traumatizing. There's a reason it was baked into a punishment in DS9's Hard Time. The effects of this as depicted will be lifelong and debilitating. There's a difference between giving someone access to the difficult truths of war and forcing it on them, and I just don't find any dramatic interest in the idea of deciding whether or not it's okay to do that to someone.

Matthew: There is always a danger of spending so much time on an alien world, especially in night time scenes, of things being boring. This episode on balance was partly successful in ameliorating this danger. I think maybe we could have known a bit more about the two factions involved. Two other episodes have covered somewhat similar territory: Remember and Living Witness. The former was less successful than this one, the latter more so. But this one worked when it made the character's relived actions plausible. Did they make the right choices? No. But were they understandable? Yes.

Kevin: For me, this was Remember and Nemesis more than anything, given that episode also focused on falsely remembered atrocities. While we are here, we can also throw Inner Light in the stack of forerunners, and for me, this episode is an example of a phenomenon that crops up in Voyager occasionally, but more often in Enterprise, where you can clearly ID the TNG episodes that they are cribbing. Nemesis was not a favorite of ours because we couldn't connect to the alien of the week, and Inner Light is such a classic, even with the question about consent, because it so carefully built a life that Picard could credibly choose over his real one. Again, I agree with Matt that the individual moments with the characters in crisis work like gangbusters, but the overall story still leaves me a little cold.


Acting


Matthew: Robert Duncan McNeill and Roxann Dawson got a lot to do, and they did a great job with it. I totally believe them as a couple, and a lot of that comes down to acting. There was a moment when Tom said "Naughty or Nice?" and B'Elanna gave him a little slap on the leg. What a great choice. Her frustration but also empathy during his episodes was also well done. The other real standout for me was Ethan Phillips - his depiction of a stress response was really effective.

Kevin: Their relationship is well portrayed and it carries a lot of the episode, and I'm always a fan of the lived details of a relationship being portrayed. Agreed on Phillips as well. He had the intense reaction to loud noises of PTSD without turning into caricature down.

Matthew: There was a lot of shouting. Most of it was pretty well done, but perhaps not all of it. Actors who were less effective for me were Garrett Wang and Kate Mulgrew. But they were not episode ruining performances by any means. There were a lot of effectively used extras for the colonists and soldiers, which was a good boost to the planet scenes.

Kevin: I think when Kate Mulgrew is not giving A work, you have to look at your script. She, with Picardo and Ryan, have wrested affecting performances from less than stellar material. I can only imagine that it was a little hard to build connection to the intense emotions through so many layers of attenuation.

Production Values

Matthew: So, the planet scenes were mostly pretty generic. The "colony" just seemed like a dark soundstage jungle. Although it wasn't as bad as some darkly lit episodes of this vintage, it wasn't great. I get that they have to save money somewhere, but it detracted from the episode for me. Much better use was made of Tom's quarters, the Mess Hall, and Astrometrics. The characters were also well made-up to depict stress and insomnia.

Kevin: It was a pretty generic planet for sure. In terms of something praise, the TV was a good prop and I enjoyed the clips they found.

Conclusion

Matthew: I'm at a 3 on this one. It had a lot of interesting ideas, and some nice character vignettes. The overall concept wasn't explored as deeply as I might have liked, and the planet scenes were a bit hum drum. Overall, a pretty average watch.

Kevin: This is a 2 for me. I agree several performances are effective, but I just can't get into this episode. It doesn't build the tension well enough and is too similar to too many episodes to land for me. That makes a total of 5.

3 comments:

  1. I agree with your assessments. I guess I would have liked going deeper into the debate about keeping the thing running. Maybe they could have leaned a little harder on that the thing wasn't functioning properly, and maybe that was why it randomly implanted memories in passersby.

    You mentioned Enterprise! Does that mean you'll be powering through that as well? I hope so! I'm hoping to find out what you think of John Billingsley.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enterprise is definitely happening. As the last bit of Real Star Trek, it deserves a look.

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