Neelix questions his usefulness, causing him to make some serious mistakes, in the episode that originally aired on January 8, 1997. This is Fair Trade.
Captain’s Log Stardate undetermined. Fair Trade.
Encountering a barrier known as the Nekrit Expanse, Neelix realizes his usefulness as a guide to Voyager is almost over. Hoping to remedy this issue, the Talaxian gets himself into legal issues when he trusts an old friend.
Hoping to find more of a use for himself on the ship, Neelix asks for an official position on Voyager. At Janeway’s encouragement, the Talaxian discusses his possible training with Tuvok and B’Elanna much to their dismay. His search for a job ends as soon as it began, however when the ship comes to a barrier in space known as, The Nekrit Expanse.
Admitting he doesn’t know much about the Expanse, Neelix advises that they seek out a nearby space station to gather intel. After bargaining with, Bahrat, the stations administrator, Neelix, Paris, Chakotay and Janeway head to the station to gather intel and supplies. While there Neelix runs into Wixiban, an old smuggler friend, who is very interested in Neelix’s time on Voyager. After Neelix admits that he is afraid Janeway will leave him behind due to his lack of knowledge of the Expanse, Wixiban begins to formulate a plan.
After Wix acquires some of the equipment Voyager needs, Neelix finds Wixiban has some problems of his own. It seems that, although Wix has access to a map and additional supplies, he has fallen on hard times and is unable to leave the station as his ship has been unjustly impounded. Wiz begs Neelix to obtain a shuttle for him to complete a secret mission to sell medical supplies in order to buy his ship back. Neelix reluctantly agrees but, after taking the shuttle, discovers that Wixiban has not been completely honest and the medical supplies are in fact illicit drugs. Things get worse when the deal goes south and Wix kills the buyer out of self defense. Returning to their shuttle,leaving the body on the station, Neelix is angry and worried about what Wix forced him to be an accomplice in. Soon however, Wix convinces Neelix that Neelix must help cover this up as Neelix once let Wix take the fall for a bad deal years before.
Janeway learns that a murder has occurred aboard the station involving a Starfleet Phaser. Launching an investigation, Tuvok begins questioning Neelix’s knowledge of his friend Wixiban. Not revealing everything, the two visit Wix on the station who lies about his whereabouts. Tuvok departs and Wix admits that he has been working with some Kolaati drug traffickers and, since he lost their drugs, they have asked for a sample of Voyager’s Warp Plasma. Although Neelix refuses at first, Wixiban plays his old friend again, convincing the Talaxian Trader to agree to this one final request.
Back on Voyager Neelix begins his attempt to find a way to collect the warp plasma. Running into both Paris and Ensign Vorik, Neelix soon realizes from his conversations with them that he can not bring himself to steal from the friends he has made. Returning to the station to inform Wixiban of his decision, he is shocked to find Bahrat arresting Chakotay and Paris on murder and drug charges. Knowing that they do not stand a chance, Neelix decides that he and Wix must admit their participation in the murder and drug trade much to Wixiban’s dismay.
After admitting their guilty, Neelix and Wix offer Bahrat with information on the drug smugglers in exchange for their lives. Bahrat agrees and they set up a plan to capture the smugglers. Using a canister of tainted warp plasma, Neelix and Wix make the trade resulting in another fire fight. Neelix is knocked unconscious.
Waking in Sickbay, Neelix learns that the smugglers have been captured and Wix has been given his ship back. Janeway is deeply dissapointed in Neelix’s actions and, as punishment she assigns him two weeks of cleaning the warp core manifolds. She assures him that, even though he can no longer act as a guide to Voyager, he will always have a place on the ship.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
As we have known for some time, Neelix hasn’t been completely honest about his knowledge of the quadrant and it was only a matter of time before it caught up with him. While the Talaxian crew member of Voyager has found a niche by setting himself up as both the ships Chef and Morale Officer in addition to ‘Guide’, it was abundantly clear that he didn’t know as much as he claimed about the area of space they found themselves in. Time and again his lack of knowledge threatened the crew, from the existence of the Vidiians to the danger of The Swarm itself, he has been all but negligent in his duties aboard Voyager.
All that aside, I honestly don’t believe he was purposely being dishonest to Janeway and the crew of Voyager, only that his white lies at the start of his journey had begun to snowball on him. In a way, I really think he believed he was useful in his knowledge of the area as, every so often, they would blunder into one of the few races or planets he actually knew about. With his self delusion firmly in place, it is the advent of the Nekrit Expanse that makes Neelix himself realize that he is not as useful as he believed and this sends our Talaxian Trader into a tail spin.
Enter Wixiban. Through Wix, we learn that Neelix has not always been the best of people, participating in smuggling operations and other nefarious deeds. Thanks to one of those events, Wixiban served time and, of course, chooses to use the guilt that Neelix has been harboring to his advantage. That being said, Wix isn’t a bad person either, he is just much more of an opportunist that Neelix and also doesn’t seem to have the charisma score Neelix rolled upon creating his character. While we never see Wix again on the journey, his interaction with Neelix actually strengthens Neelix’s relationship with Janeway and her crew. Thanks to Wix, All of Neelix’s cards are clearly on the table and we get a chance to see him start from square one.
Frankly, Neelix should be grateful to have Janeway as his friend and Captain, I would imagine that had it been Sisko or Picard, this Talaxian would have probably found himself adrift in space as Voyager, along with his Ex, Kes, headed into the Nekrit Expanse.
Overall, This is a solid episode that finally addresses the giant elephant in the room that became more and more apparent as the series progressed. With this resolved, Voyager truly heads into unknown territory and the dark things that await them there.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, 28 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, 5 remaining.
- We never see nor hear from Wixiban again. I had honestly hoped he would show back up at some point.
- We are introduced to Ensign Vorik in this episode, a reoccurring Vulcan on Voyager who will play a key part later down the road. Also, he might be the twin to a certain Vulcan who appeared on the TNG episode Lower Decks.
- Voyager’s pit stop at the Nekrit Expanse Station will come back into play further down the road.
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Late To The Game 8/5/2020
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