So, two episodes down and we have yet to see a strange new world (no desert planets don’t count) or a new civilization (again, the Kazon camp or the Ocampan underground city don’t count either), but we did see the ship trapped in an anomaly so… what could be next? How about some Prime Directive bending Time Travel Shenanigans? Originally airing on January 30, 1995 this is Time and Again.
Captains Log Stardate undetermined…(even Janeway forgets sometimes…) Time and Again:
Voyager encounters a planet whose civilization has destroyed itself but soon Janeway and Paris find themselves in the past a day before the planet killing explosion. With only 24 hours to go they must find a way back or prevent the catastrophic event from happening to begin with.
Tom Paris desperately tries to convince Harry Kim to join him on a double date with the Delaney Sisters when the ship is rocked by an unknown force. It seems a debris cloud of deferentially charged ions in a nearby system are to blame and, of course, Janeway orders the ship alter course to investigate. As soon as they arrive, it is clear something terrible has recently occurred and Kes, who had an empathic feeling earlier, stumbles onto the bridge mumbling something about a great disturbance in the force.
Viewing the planet, the crew note that the planet has been wiped of it’s life even though there are signs of a previous civilization. Janeway, Paris, B’Elanna and Tuvok beam down only to find the ruins of a once developed civilization. Upon investigating, it seems that there was a polaric detonation that wiped out the entire civilization. Janeway finds that it was not likely a war that caused the civilizations downfall but in fact a detention of their very power source.
Story A: Lost in the Past
Paris finds a time piece that has stopped at the moment of the explosion and suddenly finds himself in a fully living breathing world with people and kids. Tossed back they discover that the surface of the planet is riddled with subspace fractures and they are in danger of slipping back in time. Just as Janeway is about to beam the team away, she and Paris slip into the past and are greeted with …a scream of a child?!
Encountering the local constabulary, they get directions to a local clothing shop and find the timepiece Paris had been looking at, it seems that they have 24 hours before the explosion goes off. Despite his push-back, Janeway orders Paris not to warn the people of the planet in order to avoid breaking the Prime Directive. Soon they discover the source of the polaric energy and it seems the locals are not happy with it’s use. Soon they find themselves swept up in the turmoil.
Rescued by some civilians Paris and Janeway find themselves in the company of protesters who discover that they have been near a power source that means they are either plant workers or have been in an explosion of polaric energy. Believing them to be spies for the power plant, their rescuers, environmental protesters, begin interrogating the two Starfleet officers. Soon the kid from earlier is caught and confirms that Janeway and Paris are not who they claim to be.
Janeway tries to reason with their captors and learns that the leader of the protesters, Makull, has plans to show the world how dangerous Polaric energy is. Just as he is about to leave, Janeway hears Kes’ voice. Knowing that something is happening, Janeway informs Makull about the Polaric Detonation in the future much to Paris’ surprise. Recieving a message from the future, Makull and his partner Turla remove Janeway and Paris’ comm badges and escort them to the location of the future explosion.
Janeway explains to Paris that they might be responsible for the the destruction of the planet and her revelation of who they are is now a moot point. Their very presence in the past has already violated the prime directive and now must do everything they can to prevent the event. Makull demands that Janeway and Paris use their connections to convince the Power Company to let them in. Janeway informs the guard that she is a hostage and soon Paris is shot trying to rescue the young boy who saw them when they arrived.
With Paris down, Janeway leaves the boy with him and rushes in to stop Makull and Turla from destroying the plant and in turn the planet itself. Janeway soon captures the protesters and, as soon as things look like she is getting past the moment of the detonation, a rift opens and Janeway realizes what caused the explosion to begin with, her very rescue attempt. Using her phaser, Janeway seals the breach in subspace preventing the destruction of the planet and returning everything to the start.
Back on Voyager, Kes struggles with the emotionally charged mental images she received the moment of the detonation. It seems she felt the deaths of everyone on the planet as they died but can not explain how. Maybe, she guesses, she is developing powers that her people were said to have once had. Reporting to sick bay, the Doctor is shocked to learn that there are many more crewmen on board than he had known, which disturbs him greatly. However, he can not tell her more about her emerging mental abilities.
With Paris and Janeway missing, the remaining crew begin devising a plan to get their crew-mates back but first they need to determine where and WHEN they went. Torres and Kim find a way to bring them back and, as they plan on their mission, Kes requests to accompany them indicating that she ‘has to go’.
Beaming down, Kes begins to ‘feel’ the people in the area. As the team searches for a rift, they soon find a signal from Janeway’s comm badge, it seems their people were indeed killed in the polaric disaster. Kes suddenly begins to feel the presence of Tom and Kathryn knowing that they had been in their location not long before. Setting up their equipment they begin their attempt to save their crew-mates, they attempt contact but are unable to connect.
Trying to determine Janeway’s next move in the past, the team head to the source of the explosion and begin to prepare an extraction for their Captain. Kes, using her new found empathic abilities informs them of where Janeway was when the Captain died. Setting up they begin to cut through subspace only to recieve interference preventing the rescue. Suddenly…
Tom Paris desperately tries to convince Harry Kim to join him on a double date with the Delaney Sisters when Janeway arrives on the bridge. It seems there is an M Class planet nearby that Neelix is not familiar with. Kes rushes to the bridge insisting to know if the planet is safe. Scanning the M Class planet, Tuvok and crew note that there is nothing wrong. Janeway explains to Kes and Neelix that they will not interfere with their affairs due to their Prime Directive. Voyager continues it’s voyage home…
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This episode didn’t happen. Seriously, I mean yes we watched it but thanks to their actions, none of the character development or interaction will have any baring on the future of the series as literally NONE OF IT OCCURRED. In a way, this kind of time travel episode is the scifi equivalent to ‘IT WAS ALL A DREAM’ and, while pretty well played out, makes this story completely and totally irrelevant to the larger narrative.
Okay, all that aside, we have two really big things going on in this episode, one that it was a pretty solid Time Travel ep that was done in a very smart way. Preventing an event from happening would, and should, prevent it from happening making it all a moot point. That in and of itself is pretty impressive when you think of it. Most scifi shows drop in a memory or an artifact of what has happened maybe leaving something in the past or the like, this one, well just had Kes having a memory of the planet being wiped out and then relieved that it wasn’t.
Okay, so the time travel works, but what about Janeway’s willingness to ignore the Prime Directive? Okay, she did and she didn’t in this one, trust me she is going to stomp all over the Prime Directive when it suits her all through this series so lets not start harping now. To be honest, this is a case I dont think she had a choice and her argument is compelling. That aside, the fact that they went off course to check out an explosion that had literally nothing to do with them before hand, kinda tells me that she isn’t entirely focused on getting them all home…
Okay, lets look at other character development that we got but have to ignore now…almost. Tom Paris showed that he is actually a bit of a good guy when he took a bullet(?) for that kid. I mean, really he didn’t have to do that but there he went diving in front of a gun. Wow Tom, for a criminal you really have it going on. We also get one of the first instances of Kes’ mental abilities. It’s a major plot point but, thanks to the TIMESHIFT no one on the crew knows about it…yet.
Then there is Neelix. Did you catch that moment where he literally didn’t know where they were even though they are not very far from where they found him. I seem to remember him saying something about knowing the system pretty well but instead we got this:
Neelix, are you trying to pull something here. I mean for someone who knows a lot you don’t seem to be much help….oh could he be lying to the crew?! I guess we will have to wait to find out huh?
The one big way this episode failed however is the message it was clearly trying to send. It failed so big, in fact that I almost forgot to mention this and had to actually come back and add this before posting. You did catch the ‘lesson’ in the story right? No, I am not talking about the prime directive or even the obvious ‘be honest’ lesson we get from Neelix’ deception. No, the whole ‘planet being wiped out by energy’ thing, the energy source being protested thing? Yeah, there was a subtext that barely made it concerning nuclear power and the dangers thereof. It was so subtle it was almost nearly didn’t exist, much like the events of this episode. For Trek, this was almost too subtle to be honest. If you are going to toss us a lesson, can you at least try?
All in all, good time travel story, lame that it never happened and we could have literally skipped this one and no one would have noticed. Really lame ‘lesson’ episode but not the worst this series has to offer, still highly watchable and honestly not terrible. … Let’s move on shall we?
As a kid, I loved Neelix. but as an adult I am beginning to realize that he might be the Jar Jar Binks of the series this first season. I mean, I remember him becoming a better character and I love Ethan Philips’ portrayal of him…only time will tell.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We do get the first mention of the Delaney Sisters. I wonder how they managed to get assigned to the same ship though…especially one that was going on a dangerous mission. huh…
- The Doctor learns that there are new crew members and is quite upset about not being told in the first place. Since this never happened I have to wonder if anyone ever bothers to tell him.
- Harry Kim is still an Ensign…yeah don’t expect that to change…ever.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Phage
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Late To The Game 4/8/2020
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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