Contact with the Alpha Quadrant…or is it?  Originally airing on February 20, 1995 this is Eye of the Needle.

The Episode:

Captains Log Stardate 48579.4 Eye of the Needle

Harry Kim finds a wormhole that connects them to the Alpha Quadrant but not only is the wormhole too small for Voyager, it leads to the Romulan Star Empire.

The Story:

Story A: Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey…Stuff

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Harry Kim informs Captain Janeway that he has discovered what appears to be a wormhole but to get to it will result in a significant course change for Voyager.  Interested in any way home, Janeway orders the ship to alter course in order to explore this potential way back to the Alpha Quadrant. They arrive only to find that the wormhole is in fact only a few centimeters in diameter but believe they can still get use out of it by sending in a probe.

Launching a micro-probe into the wormhole everything looks promising until the probe gets stuck in a gravitational eddy.  Worried that they will never get to see the full wormhole the crew are shocked when their probe is scanned by someone on the other side of the wormhole.

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Determined to get into contact with the people scanning the probe, Harry and B’Elanna begin working on it together.  There B’Elanna makes it clear that she has no one in the Alpha Quadrant she cares to contact, even mentioning that she has no idea where her mother is. It is clear that Harry is homesick but he gets no solace from the half-Klingon.  Finishing the project, they send a signal out to the other side and begin waiting for a response.  Soon something comes across originating from the Alpha Quadrant…but where in the Alpha Quadrant? Harry soon begins working on a potential two way communication with their new friends.

Soon they are surprised to make contact with a Romulan ‘Cargo Vessel’ who believes that they are lying about being in the Delta quadrant and cuts communication before Janeway convinces him of their veritas.   Tuvok indicates that the Romulan vessel was likely not a cargo vessel but a science vessel who may be on a secret mission.  Janeway orders them to continue to attempt communications.

Awaken in the middle of the night, Janeway talks a call from the Romulan officer in her quarters.  She learns that he is unwilling to provide details of his name and position but indicates he believes that her ship is pretending to be in the Delta Quadrant and is in fact in the Alpha Quadrant.  Janeway informs the Romulan of their situation despite his insistence that they are in fact spies. Attempting to convince him that they are not spies, she asks that he relay some messages to Star Fleet from her crew.  He asks to be allowed to send a signal to establish a visual link between the ships.  Janeway agrees with the hopes of finding a common ground and mutual trust.

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Soon they are able to connect to the Romulan vessel via a visual message where she learns he is a low ranking scientist who has been on a mission for nearly a year. Due to the wormhole nearing collapse, he soon indicates that he is willing to prod the Romulan senate to allow them to send transmissions home.  After the communication ends, B’Elanna informs Janeway that she may be able to transport matter to and from the Romulan vessel effectively giving the crew a way back home. Janeway gives the Chief Engineer permission to use every resource to make it happen.

Before long they launch the first test of the wormhole transport and, when the test cylinder materializes on the Romulan ship intact they realize that they may have found a way home. When Janeway suggests that they transport a member of the Voyager crew aboard his ship he is reluctant agreeing transport himself to Voyager instead.  Should it prove successful, he agrees to arrange for a troop transport to accommodate the Federation crew.

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Once it is working, they transport the Romulan Captain to Voyager and introduce him to the crew. Tuvok, however, realizes that there is a significant problem, the Romulan Captain is from twenty years in the past.  There is no way to transport the crew to the Alpha Quadrant without disrupting the timeline. The Romulan Captain agrees to inform Starfleet of Voyagers position in twenty years time by relaying their personal messages to their people.   Returning The Captain, now known as Telek R’Mor, Tuvok sadly informs Janeway that the scientist died four years prior to Voyager’s departure into the Delta Quadrant.  Their messages were never delivered. Janeway, devastated at the news informs the crew that they have work to do if they plan to ever get home.

Story B: The Doctor I presume.

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Kes and The Doctor examine Lt Baxter who seems to ignore the EMH at all turns.  Even when the Doctor fixes his injury, the young Lieutenant thanks only Kes before leaving.  Kes is clearly upset and learns that The Doctor has become accustomed to the crew treating him as little more than a tool on the ship. It is clear that Kes is becoming quite adept at assisting the Doctor, even asking to learn more, but is also starting to realize there is more to her teacher than just photons.

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Talking the matter to the Captain, Kes implores Janeway to encourage the crew to treat the holographic Doctor as more than just a tool. Janeway mentioned that the holographic Doctor has been seen as rude and may in fact be reprogrammed.  Kes argues that he is self aware and has the ability to learn thus has earned the right to be treated with respect.  Janeway agrees to look into it realizing that Kes may in fact be right.

Visiting the Doctor, Janeway finds that the Doctor was upset at being deactivated while in the middle of a project.  Janeway discusses the EMH’s place on the ship indicating that he has become a full fledged member of the crew.  She offers to help the Doctor and he is pleased to be offered control over his own deactivation sequence.  Janeway promises to have someone look into it giving the Doctor a moment of pause.

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Kes arrives with a surprise for the Doctor showing that she has learned much of the data he provided.  He is shocked to learn that the crew may be able to leave the Delta Quadrant meaning he will be left behind.  She is saddened by the revelation but agrees to the Doctors request to be deactivated if they do leave.

Lt Baxter finds himself in the sickbay where the Doctor insists the young officer speak directly to him.   The Lieutenant agrees and the Doctor acknowledges that he needs to begin acting as a member of the crew.  Giving Kes a list he asks Kes to help him find a name for himself.

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

To me, this is where the series really started coming into it’s own.  We get a chance to not only have a solid A-B story line that really manages to give us some heavy ideas but also a solid sense of just how alone this crew is.

Let’s start with the wormhole story which I called Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Stuff.  One of the first things fans said when they learned that Voyager was lost in another area of the Galaxy was ‘well can’t they just find a wormhole like on Deep Space Nine’, so almost like a pre-internet forum response to fan speculation the writers of Voyager casually acknowledged that, while yes wormholes could be used in this manner, not all wormholes are alike.  This simple statement from this episode firmly established that this will not be a simple jump home and back to normal.  No, this will be an adventure where the Federation is the minority in an area of space that is strange and unusual in every way.

One thing I loved about this part of the episode was the hope and ultimate crushing of that hope that we got when they prematurely announced that the crew would be able to get messages home.  We even saw that pain on Janeway’s face upon learning that the message to Star Fleet was never delivered before she pulls herself up and moves ahead.  This single scene shows the incredible range Kate Mulgrew put into her role as Captain Janeway and was really a moment for me that made me really respect her as the Captain of this crew.  She is determined to get them all home but at the same time she is just as vulnerable as anyone else.  It is a simple thing but really establishes the need for this crew to become something more than they had originally planned for.

I mean, check this out.

Now, lets talk about the Doctor and his rather interesting story that echoes that of other ‘non-human’ crew members of past ships.   I find it interesting that nearly every time something begins to show sentiance that the Captain or those involved seem truly shocked.  I mean, look, I get that its a surprise but shouldn’t Star Fleet officers be trained by now to recognize and actively look for signs of sentiance in everyday items.  I mean, for all we know the replicators have been sentient this whole time and that is why they won’t make a decent gazpacho soup.   Oh, I think my scifi is getting crossed here…Voyager doesn’t have a talking toaster right?

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Anyhow,  I love that this is the first real indication that the Doctor is becoming more than he was programmed to be.  Here is a tool that was clearly meant to be a simple ‘assistant’ program that, as is the way, get’s used too much and learns too much only for him to become a real boy.  Seeing The Doctor’s and Kes’ interaction is heartwarming and really shows that Kes is really making it a point to get to know the crew.  Neelix, well, he’s trying too I guess.

For Janeway to take the time to talk with The Doctor about this situation is really telling about how open minded she is. This is a really great character moment for the three of them and one that is sure to develop as the series progresses.

Overall, I love this episode and think it really gives the series a voice of it’s own, something that has really been lacking in the past few episodes.  This one gives us a definite sense of loneliness that the crew faces while also showing that there is something to discover within themselves and with their very own crew members.  Good stuff all around.

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

  • 0 photon torpedoes fired, 37 remaining.
  • When Janeway and Kes discuss the Doctor Janeway casually orders food from the replicator.  What happened to their power issues.  Surely they would still have caution even if they found a planet with power reserves.  hmmmm.
  • We learn that Harry Kim is only 22 years old.
  • We learn that B’Elanna’s mother was Klingon and it appears that they had a falling out at some point. More on that later…

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: Ex Post Facto

If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

Late To The Game 4/15/2020

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sings: Somewhere Out there…beneath the pale blue sky!

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.

Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use.  No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”

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