Monday, December 9, 2019

Voyager, Season 6: Child's Play

http://www.treknobabble.net/p/rating-system.htmlVoyager, Season 6
"Child's Play"
Airdate: March 8, 2000
137 of 168 produced
137 of 168 aired

Introduction

Seven of Nine must come to terms with her protective feelings towards Icheb when Voyager locates his parents.




 The Borg exhibit their superior potato science.
 

 


Writing

Kevin: As an emotional story, I think the major points all work very well. Seven and Icheb have clearly identified and understandable reactions to finding his parents. The arc of Seven's suspicions from baseless to justified is well sketched. And Icheb's parents' motivations, even if morally complex, are understandable. They clearly didn't arrive at the decision lightly, and they are in a desperate situation. I also liked the interplay between his parents. The fact that they debated between themselves helped keep them realistic and not merely evil.

Matthew: I like the way you put it - things are clear, here. The characters have defined traits, and the situation presented here plays off those traits very well. I like Seven of Nine's conflicts with her past, and her argument with Janeway. I loved it when Janeway said "who are you to decide that" when Seven claimed that the people should leave the planet - not only does it nicely put a point on many bad arguments made in politics today, but it fits her character. 

Kevin: I've criticized the show for relying too heavily on Seven and Borg stories, but I actually like how this one is built. Seven's reactions are understandable, and having her forge a relationship with Icheb is a nice change of pace from relying on clashing with Janeway in command. And much like last week's episode, the smaller details with Mezoti and the twins also worked and were credible without being cloying.

Matthew: This episode really let Icheb be a character with depth. He doesn't warm to his parents right away, but when things go south, he doesn't turn on them immediately, either. He ends up having a somewhat glacial temperament, one that changes slowly but flows deeply. This is a nice contrast to some other characters. His feelings for his fellow Borg kids were also really micely done.  

Kevin: I think I will ding this episode for further muddying the Borg waters. We are supposedly far, far past Borg space, and this also seems a soft reset of Borg priorities and capabilities. Far from being an epic, literally existential threat, they appear to be a chronic threat that pops up when the society reestablishes a certain level of tech. But how does that work? Is the cobbled together, ad hoc agricultural equipment really enough to attract attention? Wouldn't they just finish the job in one go? It's not fatal to this episode, but it is a ding to the larger treatment of the Borg on this series.

Matthew: Yeah, this is one of those stories that works really well individually, but it's questionable how it fits with the larger narrative. Icheb being genetically engineered to deliver a pathogen is interesting, and the way they explore his emotions (or studied lack thereof) over it is interesting. The choices that his parents make, and their differences with each other over whether to take him back, really worked. It was chilling when they sedated him, but it wasn't farcical. How does this fit with established Borg behavior? It pretty much doesn't, at least if you poke it too much.

Acting

Kevin: The stars of the episode are Ryan and Intiraymi. They are good actors and have good chemistry with each other. Intiraymi really shades his performance with a kind of frustration that reads really well as older teenager. I really bought that both as a result of his age and his assimilation he is the final throes of trying to figure himself out. And Jeri Ryan is very good and concealing more intense emotions just beneath the surface. All around, I liked their scenes together.

Matthew: Manu Intiraymi was excellent, like you said, reading very teenager. He shifted between mature and immature emotional responses really well.How much of this is a credit to the actor's choices and how much to his age (he was 22 during filming) is an open question. But whatever it was, it worked. Jeri Ryan did her trademark "subsurface emotions" magic here. She would have played an amazing Vulcan - but it would have been a waste of her emotive ability when it does come out.

Kevin: Tracey Ellis and Mark Sheppard do a really good job as Icheb's parents. They definitely felt like they inhabited the world Sheppard in particular will go one to RDM's Battlestar Galactica and he nailed it there too. They really felt part of their own story that intersects with Voyager but doesn't exist only for that reason.

Matthew: Totally agreed. I believed that they loved their kids, but I also believed that they could make this choice. I will say, I found the siblings to be underwhelming as actors. Their "shouting" conversation about playing ball was really stilted and dragged me out of the proceedings a bit.

Production Values

Kevin: The outdoor sets for the Brunali homeworld were nice and dressed well. The small amount of tech on display was well deployed. Beyond that, it's largely a bottle show. Not much to highlight, but what was there was fine.

Matthew: I loved the settlement. It looks like they used the quarry location that featured in DS9, but they added a nice matte that gave it the same look as the destroyed colonies from "Best of Both Worlds. It was really effective. The location shoot had nicely varied lighting compared to the ship.

Conclusion

Kevin: This is a solid three. A good character story well acted by both main and guest cast. I have kind of tired of going back to the Borg well so often, but I can't deny that both as piece of entertainment and as character study of Icheb, everything works.

Matthew: I think this reaches a 4 on the strength of some really nice performances and an emotionally involving story. It could have been even better had they gone to greater lengths to square this with prior Borg shows.

1 comment:

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