In which Starling is a tool, Tuvok is a freakasaurus, and Chakotay is a puppet of destiny.
When last we left, Janeway was in the middle of fulfilling her role in a stable time loop that creates the computer age on Earth in the 1980s and blows up the solar system in the 2880s. Sarah Silverman – Excuse me, Rain Robinson, was tagging along with Paris and Neelix as their Native Guide Gillian, and Henry Starling was going to Rasmussen his way into a couple gazillion dollars. Voyager was spotted on national television, and Starling downloaded the Doctor.
Paris is trying to make something out of a car stereo while dodging Rain’s questions and her astute observation that he’s not quite right with all his lingo. He begs off as classified, and deflects the conversation back to her, and Tuvok shows up with the worst possible breakfast while Paris burns out the stereo set. Instead, they’re going to go back to the radio dish… after breakfast.
Janeway’s changed back out of her pure white power suit, and the ship has confirmed that Braxton is correct about the closed timelike curve they’re all stuck in, and that Starling using the ship will finish the loop and cause the explosion. Neelix warns against trying again with close-range transporters, lest the USAF get involved, and it’s about then that Tuvok’s call comes through. They’re able to compare notes, and to Tuvok’s dismay they officially recruit Rain.
Starling is having fun conversing with the Doctor, who can manifest in his office somehow. He’s got a holographic simulator capable of incredibly high resolution, so I’m a little miffed that in 2016 we’re stuck with prototype holography that just barely does vertex display. Starling is working to interrogate the Doctor, and the Doctor medically advises him on his paranoia and megalomania. However, Starling has a means to upload pain to the Doctor’s program, and starts torturing him for information about Janeway.
Rain calls Starling up and baits him into coming to Metro Plaza… probably. He tries to get the Doctor to join him, but since that would require leaving the safety of a holographic projection room, he gives the Doctor a badge that goes on his arm that allows him to walk around freely. Paris and Tuvok are shocked.
Torres and Chakotay are flying down to close proximity in a shuttle with deflectors faking out the radar and shields reconfigured to make them look like a civilian aircraft. During the trip, they discuss pilot training in Starfleet, which includes atmospheric storm training on Venus and evasive manuevers in an asteroid field. They discuss the possibility of going native, if they’re stuck in the past. They might have to get jobs.
The Doctor and Starling are waiting for Rain to show up, and it seems he’s taken the Doctor as hostage. He forces the plans to change a bit, but Torres grabs him in transport just long enough for Rain to escape, the Doctor to punch out Starling’s goon. Starling disrupted the transport. He vanishes from the car, and is stuck in the transporter buffer, which is deteriorating. This gets relayed up to Voyager and Torres and Chakotay are free to crash-land, while Janeway captures Starling, and the Doctor has escaped with the mobile emitter.
Torres and Chakotay wake up trussed in a barn like they’re about to be pulp-fictionned. This appears to be the Bundy ranch, early days. They have backup. While this is going on, Rain is putting together more of the weirdness around her situation. Tuvok gets a call from Janeway with coordinates to Chakotay and Torres’ location. He and the Doctor are going to team up to check it out, while Paris and Rain work on Chronowerx.
Starling booby-trapped the timeship, and it’s set to blow a crater in the city if it’s interfered with. He claims his goal is to go to the future to grab things to ‘invent’ back in the past for the good of humanity, but the fact that he’s insisting on blowing up billions of people for the profit of it kind of suggests he’s full of it. So they lock him in sick bay while they work on fixing the mess.
Militia Cliven, whose name winds up being Porter, gets his chat with Chakotay about the relative merits of being a Freedom Fighter interrupted when the feds come to investigate the crashed UFO. Rain is scrolling through B-movies to try to figure out where Paris is from, piecing things together slowly, and pointing out that Paris’ dedication to something bigger than himself is unusual in her era.
Starling’s goon is using the timeship to rescue Starling just as Tuvok and the Doctor approach Arizona for the assault, and Rain rolls up to the building with Paris and tries to hook up with the Man From Another Dimension. Paris gives it away when he realizes that Starling is moving the timeship, and the guys at the Bundy ranch prove their substance while commenting on Tuvok. They open fire on the Doctor, who doesn’t care and stuns them all. Problem solved, so long as no pellets hit the emitter and nobody thinks to take a hostage.
That emitter, by the way. It’s stuck to the Doctor, who has no substance except as his program dictates. Just imagine how it actually moves around – it would have to have its own propulsion, which emulates the gait of a human. I digress. Rain and Paris are trailing the timeship to its launch site on a completely empty road. They dodge a dissolver-ray or two, and I have to say I’m really disappointed that they didn’t try to pull a rolling hijack of the container truck. They barely avoid getting flattened, thanks to Chakotay and Torres, but it turns out there was no timeship in the truck they blew to smithereends. It was all a distraction. Womp womp, they killed a man for nothing.
Starling launches right from Chronowerx, and since the photon torpedo launchers are down, Janeway’s going to fire the torpedo off from inside the tube, because drama demands it. There’s just time for Paris to properly say goodbye to Rain, and the shuttle gets back to the ship just in time to start chasing down the timeship as they go to spatial warp. All of this is occurring according to Braxton’s outline, and Chakotay refuses to accept predestination. He prepares to ram the timeship, which would explain how debris from Voyager winds up in the explosion. But Janeway manages to fire the torpedo in time, and just barely takes out Starling.
Moments later, a healthy, composed Braxton from a much less destroyed timeline who detected Voyager out of place. He’s here to return Voyager to the Delta quadrant, as per the Temporal Prime Directive. Well, at least they got to visit. And the Doctor has the mobile emitter fully at his disposal, so that’s nifty.