Scotch and Star Trek

Scotch… the final frontier.

Several years ago, I came to the realization that I have never actually seen much of the original Trek. This provided me with an excuse to go through from the beginning to see the process by which a cohesive, generation-spanning and inspirational setting is presented to viewers. In the end, though, it’s an excuse to get snarky and pick apart a show I’ve loved since childhood.

Why the drinking? Because every time I reflect on the scope of this project I realize there are over five hundred hours of Star Trek ahead of me.

Here’s to you, Scotty. 

Today’s feature:

VOY: S5E10: "Counterpoint"

In which Hans Landa talks about trust, a medical condition is brought up and never referenced again, and Janeway doesn’t speak to her exes anymore.

“This chair is really comfy. I can see why you like it. I’m gonna keep it.”

Voyager is being bracketed by some much larger ships belonging to the D’Vor. Things are so bad that Chakotay is at a console reading off tactical updates. Janeway is in the middle of some funky maneuver, but it turns out that this is a border checkpoint or something, and they’ve been through this before. In fact, the inspectors are even beaming into Janeway’s ready room, staying in her chair, and playing music over the PA. The chief is an archetypcally smarmy bully, and it’s pretty clear Janeway wants him spaced.

The inspectors are very armed and very thorough, opening and scanning pretty much every panel, and breaking all the Doctor’s cell cultures just because they can. Also telling Torres how to do her job. Imagine what the first one of these inspections looked like. Also, apparently they’ve found contaminated antimatter in the cargo bay, indicating that it’s a lot easier to store antimatter than I would have guessed given its total annihalation reaction with ordinary matter. Also, it appears notable that Seven is not a natural telepath. Inference suggests these guys are. Also notable is that human culture has art and war. Given the inspector’s affinity to the warrior bust on Janeway’s shelf, you can tell that the costume designer got their job done correctly here. He’s been reviewing Voyager‘s music, too. Since their last visit.

The D’Vor imperium is vast and Janeway had to cut through it on their way home. They are also not welcoming to outsiders, hence the inspections. And what they’ve bee inspecting for are telepaths, apparently. The inspector has found records of the Vulcan and Betazoid crew members, which Janeway had concealed. She tells the inspector that both Vulcans and both Betazoids are dead. Now we know why they were cycling up the transporter buffers just before the inspection.

The D’Vor are suspicious of telepaths because telepaths, so this black-uniformed Pre-Hans-Landa figure states, can’t actually trust. Trust is alien to them because they can always verify. This makes them dangerous to the Imperium, for some reason. Voyager also deviated from its assigned course to avoid some ion storms, and the chief inquisitor plays Good Cop to his sergeant’s insistence that the ship be impounded. He wants something from Janeway. Probably tech, but that’s not certain yet. Once the D’Vor ships leave, Seven’s team in the cargo bay set up pattern enhancers and she, Harry, and Torres coordinate to rematerialize the missing crew. Unfortunately, they’ve been in confinement too long to make this easy, and the rematerialization of her crew and like a dozen refugees is spotty. Oh, were you curious about the refugees? You didn’t think Space Hans Landa would only be hunting alien telepaths, did you?

Voyager is close to their handoff point, a cargo ship that will deliver the teeps to a wormhole out of D’Vor space. That transport ship changed the rendezvous point they were supposed to meet at, and also the people who’ve been going through prolonged bufferization (transporter suspension) are starting to degrade, cellularly speaking. The new coordinates are far enough away that they expect another inspection.

“I tried to pick something that says ‘this is totally not a ploy to uncover your secrets.’ Do you like it?”

Neelix is trying to keep the children occupied with Flotter stories, but one rude little devil-child keeps blurting out plot points in an emotionless The Shining-style voice. Janeway shows up for some food, and Neelix offers her some moral reassurance. The next important thing that happens is another D’Vor ship incoming. This one is just a scoutship, though. The inspector is on board, in civilian dress, introduces himself as Kashik, and explains that he’s defecting. If sincere, it explains why he kept coming back to Voyager – he may have been looking for someone he believed would be both willing and able to keep him hidden. If insincere… what better way to root out the underground railroad than by joining it?

Kashik brings news that the nebula rendezvous is a trap, and that Voyager will be intercepted there. If he knows about the nebula, it’s a good bet he’s sincere – he clearly had the clout to dispatch warships if he had that intel to begin with. Although, he also knows about the refugees, probably because he’s a secret telepath too. Coming to the same conclusion, Janeway trusts him enough to let him readjust their sensors to detect the warships and confirm his story. He also hands her their patrol routes and some tactical data on their ships that might help in a fight. After all that, Janeway checks er passengers to make sure they’re okay with the company.

Unfortunately,  they can’t just read his mind to cofirm, because D’Vor soldiers are conditioned to resist such things. The suspicion is that Kashik might be using Voyager to try to find the wormhole so that they can guard it. Speaking of that wormhole, the chief refugee has a lead on someone who can help them find it, and Voyager will have to try to replicate the price. Kashik, meanwhile, explains that he’s been trying to find his way out for years, but has had to play the waiting game until a third-party who wasn’t going to just shove him out an airlock came along. Janeway’s letting him stay, but putting restrictions on and not being remotely diplomatic about it.

The specialist they’re looking for does not want to be spoken to, and they have to hack into his ship to even make the offer. He’s also a bit of a tin-foil-hatter, but he’s a lot more snaguine about being snatched from his ship than I expected. I suppose it helps that they hand him a sample of his valuable liquid alloy right off the bat. He doesn’t want to help, but Kashik steps in to play Derisive Professional Rival to open him up. The wormhole they’re looking for opens periodically in various locations, and he gives them the last four locations. Janeway and Kashik spend the rest of the day and well into the night drinking coffee and trying to figure out the next location while yelling algorithms at each other until they listen to music and decide that what they really need to do is analyze the subspace locations that correspond to the realspace locations.

In a competently-written show, that would suggest that subspace is mapped to realspace nonlinearly, but honestly here I think it’s just a title drop and an explanation as to why nobody’s figured it out before. While the analysis runs, the two of them humanize at each other. Janeway, it seems, is counting on a personal relationship with the judges at the tribunal for when she gets home and tried for violating the Prime Directive. For Kashik, he’s haunted by a little telepath girl he pulled out of a closet and sent to a ‘relocation’ camp which is probably an extermination camp.

In case you needed a picture of mansplaining.

When the analysis finishes, the wormhole will open up nearby and soon, but there’s a listening post in the way. After Kashik hits on Janeway a bit, they walk Kashik back to his quarters. The listening post sends pulses out every 40 seconds across 10 light-years and tracks warp and impulse signatures. They decide to try running silent. He invites her in for coffee, but she had his replicator disabled.

They test out the run-silent theory, but apparently it’s not good news. It’s sparking off their antimatter and they have to shut down before the next pulse or it will reveal them. They don’t manage it, and they’re detected by the array which sends off an alert to the D’Vor patrols. It’s not a straight chase over open waters, except Voyager needs to find the wormhole before she’s caught. Also it’ll only stay open for two minutes. Now is the time to ask yourself if anybody even knew how to use it, or if the D’Vor were just spreading word of it as a convenient trap. Tuvok has also made the ship ready for battle, to Kashik’s horror. The warship’s ETA is going to bring this one down to the wire, and Kashik has a problem.

He wants to go back to the warships. He claims it’s to keep Voyager safe, but obviously there’s a worry that now he knows how to predict the wormhole, and has whatever other tactical information about Voyager he might have gleaned. Janeway refuses at first, because it’s too dangerous to him to go back, but he insists. In the end it seems like she trusts him, and she lets him go back. She offers to wait at the wormhole, in case he can make it back. Then they say goodbye the Kirk way.

The bull-necked ship captain is his usual surly self, but Inspector Kashik is here and that’s all that matters, right? The inspection progresses, this time to some Tchaikovsky. The problem, of course, is that they’re well off their course, and this time it’s not for a reason of navigation safety. The play continues until bull-neck is out of the room. Then Kashik gets the location of the wormhole and how to activate it out of Janeway, as well as confirmation of the refugees, at which point his betrayal is complete.

Kashik walks Janeway out to the bridge, where all of her crew have been replaced, and together they watch the show – Kashik orders the wormhole opened, then destroyed. Prax, the bull-neck, starts reintigrating the refugees, and it all comes to a head in an intercut. A counterpoint, you might say, if you needed to cram a title drop in. As it turns out, Janeway didn’t trust him either, which is good because the sudden shift over from disabling his replicator to letting him go without a fight was very awkward. The telepaths are, in fact, barrels of vegetables. The refugees might be on the two missing shuttles, which are headed at top speed for the actual wormhole, and they escape successfully through it.

Janeway and Voyager are, thereafter, free to go because it would be too embarrassing to put the charges on record.  Villains all throw temper tantrums when they don’t get their way. It feels like a sad moment, but honestly if you have a relationship that ends like that, you dodged a huge bullet.

Did we miss something awesome?