In which I don’t forget to put up a synopsis this time, Harry’s the second dumbest person in the universe, and whoever developed Starfleet Security procedures is the first dumbest.
Harry is having a terrible dream that Janeway is trying to beam him off the shuttlecraft Drake, but then his hot girlfriend wakes him up. He’s back on Earth and it’s all been a horrible nightmare. It’s a real tragedy when a show comes so close to being self-aware.
Libby makes sure Harry is up and ready for a very important meeting, and Harry shows a little genre-savvy when he asks what the date is, to make sure he’s not about to go to the meeting that gets him assigned to Voyager. But this is the present, not the past. And despite how dumb he is at times (like asking if a thing with wheels was a hovercar) I give him props for being Starfleet enough to not just blindly go along with the weird crap the universe is throwing at him, and start listing known possibilities for why his internal realty isn’t measuring up with the observed. That said, there’s probably a better time. When he identifies himself as being of the Voyager, she gets pissed at him because Voyager is lost and there was a memorial service two months ago.
Harry’s now out on the street, with a to-do list he presumably knows nothing about. I hope he checked his alternate-self’s calendar. We get to see a view of the normal streets of San Francisco – busy but not crowded, plenty of nonhumans wandering around with nobody particularly caring. He’s a regular at the coffee shop across the street -so much so that he gets his usual before even being on the same block, complete with travel mug. In a future with replicators, it’s probably a pretty cheap value-add to give your customers really solid insulated to-go mugs on a loan system.
In this timeline, Harry Kim is a starship designer eight months out of the academy, and gets hustled off to the planning meeting. Now, either Starfleet has a hardened network or there’s some taboo against networking in general (I wonder why) because when it turns out Kim didn’t bring some critical schematics, his co-presenter Laska doesn’t bother running to a terminal to download them off of Harry’s GDocs. The two of them are designing a new runabout, the Yellowstone-class, and this one will be designed so as not to damage subspace.
Unfortunately, Harry is the linchpin of this presentation and his brain has been replaced by a different version, so he’s gonna call in sick and screw it up for everyone. Then it’s back to his office to take stock of his life. He requested the Voyager assignment but was rejected, and instead got a medal for warp theory advances. This is starting to smell like Q, but nothing is obvious yet.
Voyager is behind a classification wall, but Harry remembers his old credentials and is able to get some information, and then heads home to digest. Where Libby is once again wearing less than the average amount of clothes. Whatever’s going on, I feel like Harry will be a lot more willing to roll with it than the Doctor was, once he gets past the inertia.
I want to call out, while Harry is busy reading the names of those lost on Voyager, that apartment living in the 24th century is pretty much unchanged. Starfleet has some nice shiny post-nuveau-neo-contemporary-revivalist headquarters, but he’s living in a building with painted bricks.Libby wakes up to catch him, and Harry is cornered into explaining. Kind of. Then it’s off to France to see Paris in Marsailles. There’s this little one-table pool hall…
This Tom Paris never took Janeway’s offer. He tried, but during the DS9 bar fight, his parole was revoked. Now he’s reformed and hustling pool, and Harry wants to take him back to Starfleet HQ to run simulations, and it looks like he didn’t manage to shame Paris into joining him quite yet, but he did get the attention of whoever’s behind this whole thing. Either that, or the director let some extra get in the way of a dramatic pan in on Paris’ existential despair. And hey, that guy looks familiar.
When Harry gets back, Libby, Laska, and Starfleet Security are there to investigate why he has high-level security access codes. Harry’s way more indignant about that than he ought to be, considering. I mean, on the one hand, Starfleet has a long history of dealing with alternate realities and temporal anomalies, but they also have their share of history of aliens masquerading as humans and also of mental illness.
Because he went to visit a Maquis criminal, now he’s got to wear a security anklet. That said, they’re at least paying lip service to the idea that he might be telling the truth. Moreso that he might think he’s telling the truth. Harry’s not even bothering to try to put his pant leg over the anklet, and the coffee guy admits to being an extradimensional alien sent to watch over him after his shuttle exploded time around him. That’s all you get, apparently – even the alien ‘running’ the whole thing has no idea how to fix it, and is mostly here to tell Harry that there’s nothing sinister and he needs to adjust.
Given the apparent variability of the results of this accident, it’s kind of surprising he wound up in such a close relative of his own timeline, and Alien Cosimo points out that this is objectively a better reality for Harry to be in than the one he came from. Harry counters with the poor sap who took his place, and Tom Paris, and gets the quest item.
Against the rules, Harry is now tampering with his anklet and pissing off Libby, all so that he can go get lost on the other side of the galaxy. But he’s Harry, and he’s gotta obey his nature. The tampering alarm goes off and security beams in, which is definitely in contention for the stupidest thing in the show so far. I mean, okay, have security beam in, but don’t have a chase sequence. You have a locator beacon attached to your perp. Beam security in to make a visual ID in case the person you’ve already transported to a holding cell isn’t your guy. Starfleet Security is still terrible at their job. Even if Harry’s tampering disabled the transporter enhancer, the locator beacon is obviously functioning and they’re on Earth. Right in the middle of the best transporter signal coverage in the galaxy. There’s no way Harry should be at large.
Paris rescues him from the Chase that Should Not Be. And instead of burning the anklet off immediately, they chat for a bit and transport into Harry’s office and I dare you to try to figure out how that pocket transporter remote’s UI works. And given that the building can’t reject unauthorized transporters, I am forced to go back and wonder why Laska couldn’t just pull the schematics up from Harry’s office from the conference room. There are destitute schools in Arkansas with better IT Infrastructure than Starfleet. Tom and Harry complete their heist by beaming onto the runabout Yellowstone and flying out of spacedock with a ship on their tails. Fortunately, it sounds like a damaged shuttlecraft venting subspace-destabilizing plasma at the threshold of a timestream is just about the conditions of the original accident. There was also a polaron scan, and an emergency transport, which sends Harry careening back through subspace into the correct timeline and utterly negating the whole episode except a little bit of character development where Harry now feels like he belongs in a place.