In almost an echo to the STNG story Night Terrors, the crew of Voyager faces terrors of their own.  Originally broadcast on October 30,1995, this is Persistence of Vision.

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate Undetermined: Persistence of Vision.

Travelling through Botha space, the crew of the Starship Voyager find themselves experiencing waking nightmares and must find a way to survive the trip through.

The Story:

Persistence 2

Janeway is having a bad day.  Walking through the ship she encounters problem after problem including Neelix’ warnings of the sector of space they are entering, Tuvok’s needs for a security review and a small issue with the new holo emitters being installed throughout the ship.  Recognizing Janeway’s stress, the rather frustrated and diminutive Holographic Doctor orders Janeway to take some much needed R&R on the holodeck.

Taking his orders as the Chief Medical Officer in good faith, the Captain relents and starts her Gothic Holonovel only to find surprise when the lead character declares his love for her with a passionate kiss. Soon the Housekeeper and the children arrive allowing Janeway to course correct and continue down the story line.  Just as things get intense, Janeway is called to the bridge to talk with some incoming Bothan representatives.

Arriving on the bridge she is briefed about the dangers of the Bothans from Neelix and opening communications with them she finds the Bothans to be quite aggressive in their stance.  Warning her that they will protect their territories from Voyager, the Bothans insist to a rendezvous before allowing them to proceed on their flight path.

Persistence 4

After dealing with the Bothans, Janeway visits the mess hall where she is shocked to not only see cucumber sandwiches that also appeared in her holonovel but also a tea cup that looks exactly like the ones from her novel as well.  Taken aback she leaves the mess hall only to encounter Beatrice Burleigh, the daughter of Lord Burleigh from her holonovel.  Convinced it has to be a malfunction of the new holo-emitters, Janeway heads to engineering only to find nothing is wrong with the system.  Returning to the mess hall Janeway is further concerned when she learns that Neelix never served Cucumber sandwiches and the cups he used were standard metal mugs that he found in storage.  Now convinced that she is hallucinating, she heads to sickbay.

Persistence 5

The Doctor informs Janeway that there is nothing wrong with her physically but Kes feels that something isn’t right.  Soon Beatrice appears to Janeway again but remains unseen by anyone else until Kes arrives and sees her. Beatrice vanishes into Janeway’s head as if reacting to Kes.   Ordering Janeway to her quarters for some rest as they research this issue further, Janeway finds no solace as she begins to hear the voice of her fiance, Mark, accusing her of no longer loving him.  Soon she finds herself under attack by the holonovel’s housekeeper, Mrs Templeton, only to awaken in sickbay and learn that she had never left to begin with.

Persistence 10

Relinquishing her command to Chakotay, Janeway submits to additional medical examinations to determine what is going on. As she undergoes further tests, the Bothans return and attack the ship.  After detecting no life-signs on the ships it seems that the Bothan people are testing Voyagers defenses. Janeway returns to the bridge to help and is surprised when they are hailed by the Bothan Captain who reveals himself to be Janeway’s fiance, Mark.  Soon the entire bridge crew begin hallucinating, each of them seeing a different person from their life on the view-screen.   Soon, one by one, the crew begin to succumb to hallucinations as they attempt to prevent the Bothan’s psyonic attack.  From Torres seeing an amorous Chakotay to Paris encountering his disapproving father, every crew-member falls prey with the exception of Kes and The Doctor.

Persistence 15

Determined to send out a ‘resonance burst’ that Torres was working on to combat the Bothan’s attack, Kes rushes to engineering encountering multiple hallucinations along her way.  As the psyonic attacks continue Kes nearly succumbs only to activate the burst at the last minute freeing the crew of their catatonic states and causing the Bothan alien to collapse from her resistance. Janeway leaps to action capturing the weakened alien  in Engineering.  She begins interrogating him insisting that Voyager will prevent the Bothan’s from attacking anyone ever again.  Soon the alien reveals that neither he nor their ships were ever there and they all vanish much to Janeway’s surprise. It seems that even they were hallucinations.

Afterward, Janeway and Torres share a moment with Janeway indicating that the Bothans may have done the crew a favor allowing everyone to face some of their inner demons and desires. They both retire for the night hoping for a peaceful night’s sleep.

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

Normally an episode like this focuses on a singular character giving us a deep exploration of their character but this is an episode that allows for some very deep exploration into several of the crew member’s fears and anxieties giving us a deeper understanding of several key members of the ship.  To be able to pull off such a deep character exploration in such a short time is nothing short of astonishing to be honest.

Let’s dive in to the implications each crew-member’s hallucinations indicate and what this means for each of the crewmen involved.

Persistence 7

Starting with Janeway.  While we know that the Captain misses her home we really haven’t had a chance to delve into her fear and loneliness she is undoubtedly feeling. If you remember the pilot, Katherine Janeway was engaged to a man named Mark and they had planned to meet up again soon after her mission to the badlands.  He was even taking care of her dog Mollie who was pregnant at the time. Through Janeway’s hallucinations we see that the six-eight months they have been away with no contact with home, she is starting to grow concerned if Mark and Mollie will even be there when she returns.

Now it is natural for people to worry over their loved one’s and even for lovers to be concerned about their relationships, this is part of the human condition.  This event, however, shows us that Janeway is not only concerned for her personal relationship with Mark but that she is also concerned about being loved to begin with. Here is a very strong and determined Captain who is responsible for getting her crew back home while never really acknowledging her own personal needs.  You can see this not only via the hallucinations but also through the holonovel she spends time with.  It seems that Janeway is lonely and, sadly as the Captain of the ship, it will be hard for her to ‘pair up’ should the need arise.  They say it is lonely at the top, for Janeway no truer words have been said.

Persistence 8

Another interesting revelation is that of Tuvok and his homesickness.  When the Bothan makes himself appear as a loved one on the view-screen, one person we see is Tuvok’s wife, T’Pel.  While Tuvok has mentioned his wife and children before, as with most Vulcan’s, it was never apparent that he was longing for his family.  His hallucination of being back home with his family not only betrays this secret but gives us a deeper appreciation for the normally stoic Vulcan security officer. Deep down it seems that Tuvok is simply homesick and, while he is managing this with grace as any Vulcan should be able to, there is a deep longing for those he left behind.  It’s sad if you think about it and really explains his apparent irritability toward so many of the crew, especially that of Neelix.  The dude just wants to be home and, thanks to his Vulcan conditioning, doesn’t know how to cope.

Persistence 9

One major revelation comes from Torres’ hallucination.  While Torres only really comes across as a rather angry and grumpy half-Klingon engineer, we see that she has been harboring some feelings for someone on the ship.  That person, not surprising really, is that of her 1st officer, Chakotay.  Knowing that the two had served together in the Maquis, we can assume that they have been through a considerable amount of stress and action together.  Here are two people who have literally put their lives on the line for one another time and again. It is not much of a surprise that one of them would have feelings for the other at some point seeing that extreme situations tend to bring that out in people.  The fact that B’Elanna has feelings for Chakotay and that she seemingly longs for him to ‘make a move’ is a pretty big revelation in and of itself.  Here is an engineer who is all business, never allowing for anyone or anything to prevent her from her goal.  Sadly, she only seems to take that stance in her professional life, keeping her personal life at arms length. You see, as a child B’Elanna knew nothing but heartache from the departure of her father to her mother’s insistence that B’Elanna be more ‘Klingon’. She has never fit anywhere and it has taken it’s toll on her emotional health. This could easily be a huge part of her rather abrupt personality as she does not want to let anyone in as, the last time she did, it brought nothing but heartache. 

Persistence 11

Now we come to Tom Paris.  Paris’ is one that we have pretty much known from the start if you have been listening to his dialogue but for the first time we have finally seen it in person.  Paris does not feel that his father respects him and, due to this, Paris himself feels like a failure.  This feeling of inadequacy manifests itself in the rather brash and somewhat disrespectful nature that Paris exhibits.  In order to compensate for his self-doubt, Tom Paris makes himself larger than life and exhibits an uncanny outward false self confidence that is really not much more than a mask.  In a way, his continued attachment to Harry Kim is his way to get the ‘green’ ensign as a follower of Tom Paris, solidifying his ego driven need to ‘be someone’. Deep inside, however, Tom feels like a failure and it will be quite a journey for him to break out of this shell. Knowing this, you can appreciate Tom Paris’ character a little more even though sometimes he can come across a might brash.

Finally, and quite interestingly, we see Kes’ concerns and they are two fold.  Kes has two specific hallucinations that can be interpreted in several ways.  However, upon watching it this time, I have to wonder about a deeper meaning behind her visions of both Tom Paris and Neelix.

Persistence 12

Kes’ first hallucination is that of Tom Paris needing her help.  Tom is wounded and begging for her to stop and assist him.  While we know that this was the alien trying to prevent her form fulfilling her task, it is interesting that Tom was the first person on her mind and that he needed help.  This makes me wonder if she does not indeed have an attraction toward the wounded Paris as she senses his feelings of inadequacy and need for legitimacy. Kes is a nurturer by heart and clearly wants to help her new friend but could it be something more? Is she starting to have feelings for him?

Persistence 13

This is further compounded when she hallucinates Neelix trying to take her away and then getting rather violent when she refuses.  For the alien to use Neelix in this manner indicates that Kes may see her current lover as someone who is trying to control her.  In fact, she may be realizing that she is in fact in a very manipulative relationship as Neelix does tend to get very jealous and petty when it comes to Kes’ relationships with others on the ship.  Once again, we know that it was the Bothan who was causing these hallucinations but I find it interesting that her mind manifested these major people in her life in such a way.

Overall, this is a solid entry that I felt uses an alien influence on the ship in a novel and clever way.  While we never see the Bothan’s again, I have to wonder if they ever really went away or were they ever there to begin with. Could this have been yet another ‘nebula’ situation?  Regardless, I have to call out that Kate Mulgrew killed it in this episode with an incredibly impressive performance as she navigated her characters potential growing insanity.  If there is any reason to watch this series it is Mulgrew herself.

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

Persistence 6

  • 0 photon torpedoes fired, 37 remaining.
  • 0 shuttles destroyed, 5 remaining.
  • This marks the first appearance of the Vulcan Lute on Voyager and it will not be the last.
  • We get a hint of Kes and Tuvok practicing the mental exercises first mentioned in the episode Cathexis.
  • While Harry Kim see’s Libby on the view-screen, we never find out what it is that Chakotay or Neelix hallucinates.  Did Chakotay have a romantic entanglement with Janeway or does he share in B’Elanna’s fantasy?  Was Neelix’ one in which he was actually useful?
  • That aside, Neelix actually warns Janeway of the Botha people and, even though he is really useful for once, she all but ignores home.  Dammit Janeway, this guy is rarely useful, listen to the man!
  • We here the ‘Botha’ refered to as Botha and Bothans.  Did many of them die to bring us this information?  we will never know.
  • This episode marks the final time we see Janeway’s holonovel never giving us any closure to what was going on in that Gothic household.

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: Tattoo

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 5/25/2020

Persistence 3
Mysterious Alien is Mysterious!!!

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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