In which Janeway and Chakotay play house, Tuvok plays captain, and The Doctor plays diplomat.
Open on a pair of stasis pods in a green field. Chakotay and Janeway wake up in their pods, which they appear to have stolen from the clown and repainted. Also, whoever decided that Janeway and Chakotay should be in pods next to each other never heard about the protocol of not letting both the President and Vice President ride on Air Force One at the same time. One well-placed meteor and bam. The Doctor gives them a call, because he brought them out of stasis due to their vitals finally being stable, but that’s only because some effect of the planet is saving them from the virus they both have. Which, again, they both somehow contracted despite the aforementioned ‘don’t put both your captaincy staff in danger at the same time’ rule. The Doctor’s only suggestion is asking the Vidiians for help.
I would point out, though, that Chakotay is letting some predjudices get the best of him. They did help that one time, when they gave Neelix one of Kes’ lungs. Still, it is a risky measure. Janeway orders Tuvok to ignore the Doctor’s suggestion to talk to the Vidiians, knowing full well that since she just performed a dark ritual to bring him back from the dead, even Tuvok will probably find a way to justify disobeying her orders ‘for the good of the crew.’
Janeway and Chakotay got this virus from an insect bite, which the Doctor has been trying to cure for a month. Tuvok is beaming them some shelter, a replicator, tricorders and weapons, but this isn’t enough for B’Elanna. Also a shuttlecraft, with a top speed of warp 4, in case they cure the virus. Tom and Torres are really mostly just angry that Tuvok is being pragmatic, because that’s always helpful. They’ll be in comms range of Janeway for another 36 hours, and Janeway will attempt to do do in a day and a half what The Doctor couldn’t do in a month, because in addition to being a warp field theoretician, she’s also apparently a molecular biochemist.
While Janeway tries to put a bright face on ‘roughing it’ for the rest of her life, a foul mood pervades Voyager, starting with Torres chewing out an ensign for fouling up a report. Harry’s been snooping around the Starfleet crew and wonders if the Maquis are also taking this hard, because Harry’s not allowed to have smart lines. Torres is still adept at squishing her feelings, and I hate to harm on it but I’d like to hear them give just one line of dialogue about why they can’t use the transporter to restore a healthy pattern or filter out the viral DNA. Just one.
Janeway has been working to trap insects that carry the pathogens, Chakotay’s been building probably-a-house, and they’re a picture of frontier fashion as Janeway gives her farewell address to the crew, and with some final words from Tuvok, Voyager moves out of range and leaves Janeway behind forever. I’m sure that in this good-bye episode we’ll learn that Janeway and Chakotay built a life for themselves and made it to a ripe old age before leaving the planet to their children, who got awkward and incesty in their parents’ hand-built bathtub basically immediately.
By the time they’ve been on-planet for 24 days, Janeway’s giving up on the direct approach and working on a more holistic solution, when she’s startled out of her bath by a lemur in a tree. Maybe it’s a macaque? Nope, it turns out it’s a Spider Monkey, and not even a spider monkey with a horn glued to its head. This could be a useful research animal, since humans and… uh… alien primates from the other side of the galaxy have similar physiologies? Chakotay is trying to convince her to give the research a rest, but it will not be this day. Thus, he must go back to his colored sand mandala.
Voyager has chanced upon a Vidiian convoy, and Tuvok, rather than take the opportunity, orders a course change at first. Harry can’t take it, and tries to instigate a mutiny. Fortunately, it’s so pathetic Tuvok doesn’t have him thrown out. But his efforts have gained some attention from some like-minded sympathizers. It’s no Sons of Liberty conspiracy, but it’ll do. In fact, Harry is actually pretty late to the party, and immediately brings Torres and Neelix into it.
Late that night, Harry intrudes on Tuvok’s private reading time to talk. Since Voyager helped out Dennara Pel, who might be able to swing some influence around, and that they can use Torres’ Klingon DNA as a bargaining chip. Of course, Voyager also recently blew up a Vidiian ship. Thus, Tuvok is not willing to take the chance, threatens Harry with permanent relief from duty, and tells him to GTFO.
Chakotay’s been doing all the housework, because he’s a live-in-the-now, accept what the universe gives you kind of guy. Janeway is still doing futile research, only today when she goes to check the traps she finds a possible lead and also the spider monkey again. Unfortunately, a storm’s rolling in. I’m trying hard not to get mad at Janeway for talking to it like she’s expecting answers – after all, the spider monkey is about as good a conversationalist as Chakotay.
The storm is literally ground-shaking, and Chakotay comes to help her retrieve the samples and get back to their Starfleet Megablox shelter. I’m referencing Megablox so that if they try to initiate legal action I can point out that literally nobody thinks of them otherwise so it’s publicity and they should be paying me.
Kes is now taking her turn to try convincing Tuvok to go back, first by building him up as her respected mentor, then by pointing out that he still has to look out for the emotional well-being of his crew, particularly since there’s no such thing as Shore Leave on this ship. She asks that Tuvok address some of the crew on the bridge. His address is… not particularly inspiring, but he has, at least, changed his mind.
Back on-planet, the plasma storm is really coming down. Janeway and Chakotay have to hide under a table in case the prefab falls apart on them. At the end of the storm, there’s holes in the panels and most of the science equipment is ruined. Even the insect traps are dead, but on the ‘bright’ side Janeway now has to give up on her research and accept being stuck, just as Tuvok starts moving the plot forward with the Vidiians. Set phasers for maximum pathos.
Dr. Denara Pel is apparently willing to help, and has even heard of the planet and the insect. They even have antivirals for that exact planet. It seems too good to be true, and thus Tuvok starts running battle-drills just in case. Janeway and Chakotay start cleaning up the cabin. I have to wonder if their replicator still works – most of the hand tools do, and if it were me I’d keep the replicator extremely protected, as it’s the only source of guaranteed-safe food you have. Assuming it still works, I would also guess that it’s programmed with a variety of hand tools for maintenance and bivouacking, because storage is cheap and dying on an alien planet because you never had to read Hatchet in school is a stupid risk to take. Thus, Chakotay is considering building a studier log cain. It’s something he’s done before as a child. Janeway also got dragged on backpacking trips, which she hated.
The primate is back, and Janeway wants to try domesticating him, possibly as a project to keep her busy now that most of her equipment is broken. After a hard day’s physical labor, she’s in rough shape, and it’s abundantly clear that Chakotay doesn’t know the first thing about massage, which is don’t let the hair down because it will get in the way and you’ll pull it and ruin everything you moron. Jeez. But it seems to have been good enough. Start the clock on Janeway’s second set of kids.
Voyager comes up on rendezvous, but it appears to be an ambush – the ship is surrounded by armed ships that don’t want to talk. But let’s not see what happens there, let’s find out what’s happening on Little Prefab on the Prarie. Only let’s not even talk about the tension there, let’s here Chakotay tell another parable. Just talk like grown-ups! Jeez. It’s not even a real legend, he just basically said “I’m glad we joined your crew, life has been more peaceful for me since I stopped having to be a terrorist due to no longer being able to pursue my agenda, and I’m here for you bae” using old-timey patterns.
Voyager is using up some torpedoes in the fight, and during this fight Dennara calls the Doctor directly. She was willing to help, but evidently their leadership decided this would be a good opportunity to organ-harvest. Dennara has the antivirals, so all they have to do is figure out a way to beam them over, in the middle of a pitched battle, with the shields up. I could’ve sworn they showed this as possible in a previous episode though. Must’ve been lazy writing. Tuvok is willing to try, though. He’s got a plan to eject an antimatter pod, detonate it, jump to full impulse, and disable or destroy their pursuit while simultaniously getting the antivirals. Seems dangerous, but with only five minutes left and some interpersonal drama to resolve on the planet, it’s clearly going to work like a charm. Indeed it does, and the didn’t even accidentally kill Dr. Pel.
Janeway is growing tomatoes, drinking coffee, and growing fully accustomed to frontier life. Chakotay’s got plans to build a boat, but it’s about now that Voyager comes into transporter range. The ship is 30 hours away, and not long after we find her mourning the life she almost got to build for herself, and saying goodbye to what is, again, very clearly just a terrestrial spider monkey. They beam back up, leaving the prefab, the broken equipment, the house, and all of that unresolved interpersonal tension back on the planet. Also, Janeway might be forgiven for the jab about contacting the Vidiians being an emotional decision on Tuvok’s part, but since he only did it grudgingly on the advice of someone who actually understands emotions, it just feels mean. I miss Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.