A curious case of Drayan culture and a first contact for the ages. Originally broadcast on April 8, 1996 this is Innocence.
Captain’s Log Stardate 49578.2 Innocence
Tuvok finds himself trying to protect a group of children while the crew of Voyager work to build relations with a new species.
Story A: First Contact
On Voyager, Janeway prepares for first contact with a new culture, one that Neelix indicates that no one has had contact with in some time. Beaming a delegation aboard, Janeway meets Alcia who is the head of the Drayan delegation. Janeway soon learns that the Drayans have become shy of technology due to a catastrophe in their past.
With this knowledge, Janeway continues the Drayan’s tour of the ship, including an awkward introduction to The Doctor in sickbay. Just as things begin looking up the head Drayan receives a call from her people only to abruptly end the tour with no explanation. The head delegate thanks Janeway for their time and casually asks that Voyager continues on its way.
Gathering their scouting parties, Voyager notices that the Drayans have started converging around a single moon that one of their scouting parties have not reported back from. Heading to the moon they are greeted by Alcia who accuses Voyager of invading sacred ground. Janeway explains the situation but Alcia orders Janeway and Voyager away from the moon although the Drayans have found their missing shuttle. Unable to get a lock on Tuvok due to atmospheric issues, Voyager has no choice but to wait. They soon discover that there are two crashed shuttles and B’Elanna begins working on a way to rescue their missing crewman.
Story B: The Age of Innocence
After an apparent shuttle crash, Tuvok begins attempting to save one of his wounded crewman. Despite his best efforts the crewman dies only for the Vulcan officer to come face to face with a group of children who appear to be as stranded as he is. Tovok soon learns that these children were accidentally stranded on this moon and agrees to rescue them as soon as his shuttle is repaired. He soon learns that the kids fear a thing called a Morrok that ‘takes them when they die’. The kids indicate that other children have been taken by this beast and they are scared it will return for them.
Tuvok finds himself trying to keep the children from being afraid of this imaginary beast. Using Vulcan techniques, Tuvok teaches the children how to manage their fears using logic. He requests that they remain still and not mess with any equipment but soon finds that the three kids are more than a handful. Soon a ship approaches but, when it is revealed that it is not a ship from Voyager, the kids panic indicating that they need to be hidden from these ships. Asking why, Tuvok is shocked to learn that they believe they have been sent to this moon to die at the hands of the Morrok in a ritualistic rite. Agreeing to help, Tuvok hides the kids in the underbrush from the Drayan search party.
That night, after the search party leaves, Tuvok agrees to entertain the frightened children with a Vulcan ‘bed time story’ in the form of a song. The kids seem placated and soon fall asleep. The next morning, however, one of the kids, Tressa, awakes to find the other two missing. Although Tressa is frightened, Tuvok leaves the young girl in the shuttle to explore a nearby cave in search of the other two children. In the cave, Tuvok comes across the clothing of the children but no indication of bodies. He soon finds more outfits that seem to belong to other kids… Returning to Tressa, he asks her help to repair the shuttle communication and soon contacts Voyager.
Tuvok informs Janeway of his situation and the possibility of something killing the kids. With this information, Janeway contacts Alcia and informs her that she plans to travel to the moon to rescue her missing crewman. Alcia is incensed but Janeway ignores her frustration and insistence that Janeway not travel to the moon. Taking Paris with her, Janeway heads to the moon only to find themselves pursued by a Drayan shuttle.
On the moon Tuvok soon finds a way to get off the surface but is forced back down when Alcia insists that he not leave with the young girl. Although Tressa wishes to have asylum on Voyager Alcia explains that the young girl is in fact 96 years old and near the end of her life. Unfortunately the people who were meant to walk these ‘children’ through the end of their lives were prematurely killed in a crash and the elderly children were left alone and confused. Back on the surface Tuvok agrees to remain with Tressa until her time is up fulfilling a sacred rite for the elder Drayan.
After Tressa’s passing, Janeway apologies to Alcia for their misunderstanding. Alcia indicates that Tuvok’s kindness has showed them that the crew of Voyager are indeed potential friends.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Although seemingly out of place in the season, especially with how damaged Voyager was at the end of the last episode, this entry is one of the most ‘classic’ feeling episode in the series thus far.
There are episodes in every season that just stand alone and this one certainly fits that definition. Focusing on Tuvok, we get a chance to see the Vulcan Security Officer as more than just a man of logic but also someone who genuinely cares for the life around him. Although reluctant to take care of the children at first, it is abundantly clear that Tuvok only wants to ensure their safety from the very beginning. Here we see the Tuvok that has has come to miss his family back on Vulcan and has been unable to do anything to get back to them quickly. Although he is determined to maintain his logical and stoic demeanor, his time with humans seems to have eroded this armor allowing his emotions to seep through time and again. To me, it is great to see this full blooded Vulcan show his empathy without completely breaking his cultural nature. This effort is certainly a testament to actor Tim Russ’ skills and it is a rare episode like this that really highlights just how good of an actor he really is.
Borrowing heavily from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (written by F Scott Fitzgerald and later adapted into a film) the revelation that the Dryan children were actually elderly was something surprising back in 1996. Well before the feature film that introduced this concept to the world, most non-scifi tempered viewers could not have expected such a revelation in a television series. Considering this and the incredible work from Tim Russ, this is by far one of the most heartfelt and emotionally impactful Voyager Episodes this season.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, 32 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, 5 remaining.
- We learn that Chakotay has a history of botched First Contact missions.
- This is the first and last time we see the Drayan people although they claim to be Voyager’s friends now.
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Late To The Game 6/26/2020
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