A haunted starship and an addiction like no other. Originally broadcast on October 20, 1999 this is Alice.
Captain’s Log Stardate undetermined: Alice
Tom Paris finds an old ship that takes a liking to him and begins to change his life.
Voyager encounters what appears to be an invading force but turns out to be an interstellar car lot. Called Abaddon’s Repository of Lost Treasures, the crew is invited to look around and see if they can find anything then want or need, for a price of course.
As they begin exploring the wrecks, Paris notes an old shuttle that he finds interesting. Containing a neurogenic interface, he is fascinated by it’s ability to directly interface with it’s pilot. Despite some resistance, Paris assures Chakotay that he will work on it on his own time and they make the trade.
Getting the ship to a shuttle bay, Paris soon powers it up and connects to the interphase but the ship’s power fails causing Paris and Kim to call it a night. However, upon leaving, the ship reawakens and begins it’s scan of Paris’ brain. That night Paris is drawn to the voice of a woman. The woman, it turns out, is Alice herself.
Soon Paris becomes infatuated by the ship and begins spending all of his free time working on it. With most of the ship repairs complete, Tom and Torres share a drink in to christen the new shuttle. However, after finding Paris a little sensitive about Alice, it is soon clear that the ship doesn’t like Torres when it shocks her.
Things turn worse when Paris becomes even more obsessed with the ship and begins to see a human version of Alice encouraging him to leave with her. After Alice tries to kill Torres after she discovers that Paris has been stealing parts to repair his new love, B’Elanna threatens Paris that she may have to report him.
Concerned for Paris’ safety, Torres confides in Janeway and they theorize that Paris is being controlled by the ship through the neurogenic interface. Just as they are about to contact the Doctor for assistance, Paris and Alice begin an unauthorized launch from Voyager. Paris manages to escape and Voyager heads back to Abaddon for answers. Arriving, Abaddon is reluctant to help but after Neelix offers a beryllium crystal for answers, Abaddon beams aboard to discuss the matter. However, just as he is about to explain what Alice really is, she appears to him insisting that he remain quite. He soon collapses to the ground in pain.
In Sickbay, the Doctor is able to save Abaddon who informs Janeway that Alice is a sentient ship that needs a living host to operate. He feels bad for pawning her off on Voyager but he was under the influence of the ship who found him lacking.
Soon they are able to track Paris via astrometrics and Janeway is shocked when she finds his flight path leads to a dangerous particle fountain that can destroy entire vessels. At that same, Paris and Alice arrive at her ‘home’.
Voyager soon catches up with Paris and after it is clear that Paris is in no condition to give in, Torres is ‘sent’ to reason with him via the neural interface. There she convinces him to return to Voyager and, moments after he beams back to the ship, Alice is destroyed in the particle fountain. There Paris is cared for by the Doctor and Torres, promising that he will never ‘interface’ with a ship again.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
To start, I love the idea of a junk dealer in space. This concept seemed to have been floated when we first met Neelix in his ‘junk ship’ but his personal of an interstellar trader fell by the wayside for the joyful (and jealous) cook/moral officer. So it was really fun to see what Neelix could have been in the form of Abaddon played by Star Trek Alum John Fleck. In fact, Abaddon recognizes Neelix’s past as a merchant giving a nod to this lost past.
That aside, to boil this one down, this is basically Christine in Space even with murderous attempts by the vehicle in a fit of jealousy. While this works and the story is actually pretty fantastic, there are some rather problematic issues with this specific story line. To begin with, Janeway, through Chakotay, agrees to an exchange of Technology in order to get items from Abaddon’s junkyard. This in and of itself is a clear violation of the Prime Directive which has been brought up time and again. Negating pretty much everything Janeway has been preaching (and certainly not practicing) this entire time. Whether this ‘new’ attitude is a direct result of their experiences with the Equinox is never addressed but it is still rather problematic as it simply should never have been allowed to begin with.
The other problem is the fact that Paris interfaced with ‘Alice’ without any concern for his saftey or that of the crews. In fact, with Chakotay well aware that this alien ship had a neural interface, the Commander should have insisted that The Doctor perform some scans on the ship to determine if it was compatible to human brains. I mean, for Paris to just leap in and connect himself is not only dumb but horribly irresponsible. The ship could have just as easily melted his brains instead of taking them over. Not to mention, Harry and Torres just sit back and let him do it without so much as a warning that it wasn’t all that wise. This seems rather reckless on all of their parts. I get pushing things for the sake of story but these are established protocol and for the episode to ignore this, well, that is just lazy writing.
One other thing that makes no sense at all is that Chakotay informs Paris that they have a ‘full complement of shuttles’ in shuttle bay. However, this is impossible. By my count they have not only depleted their finite shuttle inventory but have done so by -4 shuttles. We know that they do not have the resources to build more shuttles as the ship is on strict replicator rationing (which is mentioned in this episode) and they are constantly running out of key supplies, so where did these shuttles come from? The sure didn’t take them from the Equinox and, if they did, they had to have done it moments before that ship was destroyed. So, how is it that Voyager has a full complement of shuttles? Well, that is the mystery and one that will never be explained.
Looking past these rather annoying issues, the episode itself is a rather solid Tom Paris story that dives into his skill set as well as furthering his relationship with Torres. Alice is an episode that blends both the horror elements of Christine while tapping into the fun ‘Outer Limits’ exploration of what happens when technology and humanity cross into one another. Through Tom we see an obsession that, while reinforced by Alice, has always actually been there. He is an adventurer first and foremost who continues to try to find his place both on Voyager and in a relationship but is constantly drawn away by the allure of the unknown. Alice is a great example of this obsession going to the extreme and forcing Tom to face this personal issue pushing him to recognize that his future with B’Elanna is more important than anything else. The Paris that emerges from this episode is better for it but the relationship woes of Tom and B’Elanna are far from over…
One last thing. There is also something else that goes unexplained. Who or what was Alice? Alice refers to the particle fountain as ‘home’ implying that she is an alien life form that has become trapped in this vessel and is simply trying to find a way to get back to her people. If this is the case why didn’t she just ask for help instead of taking over pilots who she has ultimately used for fuel? Furthermore, how did she become trapped in this ship in the first place? Has she been there so long she has gone mad looking for a compatible pilot so that she can finally return home. If Paris had gone into the fountain with her would they have both become one like that of V’Ger? I feel like there is much more to the story here that goes unexplored and that in and of itself is a real shame.
Overall, This is a really solid episode despite it’s shortcomings, unexplained and rather forced events. The idea of a sentient starship isn’t a new one, but Alice is a fun story well worth watching. I only wish it could have been explored further as there is so much here that is left unexplained.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, -14 remaining.
- 1 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -4 remaining despite Chakotay’s claims to the contrary.
- The mystery of Tuvok’s age begins. We know that he is over 100 but his exact age remains unknown.
- We never see nor hear from Abaddon again or his repository.
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: Riddles
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Late To The Game 1/11/2021
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