Today’s episode deals with the ramifications of breaking the prime directive by becoming an integral part of a society, without even known it. Originally Broadcast on January 19 ,2000 this is Blink of an Eye.
Captain’s Log Stardate Undetermined: Blink of an Eye.
Voyager encounters a planet where time moves faster than the rest of the universe, but the ship has become trapped in the planets gravitational pull.
Voyager discovers a planet that rotates fifty eight tomes per minute, and, when the ship is sucked into it’s gravimetric field, Voyager becomes one of it’s ‘stars’. On the planet below the locals see the appearance of this new star and the seismic activity it brings, believing that the Ground Shaker wants to be worshiped.
Back on Voyager the ship launces a probe only to learn that the planet moves in a different space-time than the rest of the galaxy, meaning that time moves significantly faster on the planet. They watch as the civilizations change from the iron age into the industrial age indicating that over 200 years have passed on their planet since Voyager has arrived. Chakotay notes that it is likely that the people below know that Voyager is there but they might not be aware of what Voyager is yet.
On the planet, the people begins to try to send messages to Voyager using hot air balloons. As time passes, scientists on the planet attempt to contact the ship using radio transmissions but are frustrated at the Ground Shaker’s lack of response. Little do they know, Voyager has received the messages and are shocked to discover that the ship has become part of this pre-warp society’s culture. Janeway, wanting to avoid additional exposure, sends the Doctor on an away mission to gather data. He beams down only to have his signal lost.
Retrieving the Doctor, Janeway learns that he was on the planet for over three years and has learned much about the people there. The inhabitants have chosen to start a space race in order to contact Voyager, and Voyager’s existence has had a significant cultural impact on the planet inspiring everything from religion to merchandise. As they discuss the events a capsule from the planet docks with Voyager only to discover the crew of Voyager in some sort of status field, moving almost imperceptibly. Soon the aliens begins to enter Voyager’s time frame only to collapse.
Saving one of the astronauts, the Doctor learns that Gotana-Retz and Terrina came aboard to find out who was on this mysterious ship. Gotana-Retz, the surviving member of the expedition, is shocked to learn that Janeway and her crew have only been there for a short while even though to his people Voyager has been part of their culture for centuries. Soon Retz realizes that the longer he remains aboard Voyager, the people he knows and loves are aging and dying on the planet below. Knowing this, Retz agrees to help Voyager break orbit but soon the planet below begins firing on Voyager. Retz agrees to go back to the planet to stop the attack so that Voyager can leave safely. Before Retz heads back, the Doctor asks if Retz could send a message to his son’s family as it seems his time on the planet had been quite eventful.
Retz leaves only to return with ships that help pull Voyager out of the gravitational pull of the planet. They wish each other well and soon we find Retz on the planet, an old man, watching as Voyager flies away.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
There is no doubt that Voyager has had a lasting effect on the Delta Quadrant. From disrupting trade routes to liberating cultures, Voyager’s journey through this area of space has been far from subtle. So, it comes as no surprise that Voyager would eventually become a major part of a cultures history influencing every aspect of that culture. While Janeway has been known to run fast and loose with the Prime Directive, one thing she would never do would be to interfere with a prewarp culture directly, even if it meant saving themselves so, when Voyager find’s itself in a unique situation her first instinct is to limit the damage they have done, not realizing that they are, in fact, very much a part of this civilization already.
This is not an episode that continues the overall narrative or even gives further character development, and even though I normally dislike episode lacking in these qualities, this one is different. To me, Blink Of An Eye is a standalone adventure worthy of the original series or even some of the better STNG entries. Sure this is what would normally be called a filler episode, but it gives us a moment to appreciate Star Trek for the space adventure that it is, rather than the continuing drama it has been trending to.
One aspect I love about this episode is how it portrays the passing of time. Through out the episode there are establishing shots on the planet giving us the same view but from various points in time, I pulled these together in gif format to show you how well thought out these shots are, each with a single anchoring point, a certain stone that has had many uses through the ages. While it is a simple effect it is super impactful.
One other aspect of this episode is Blink of an eye features one of Voyager’s best guest stars who has gone on to quite the career in Hollywood. Who am I talking about? Well, Gotana-Retz played by none other than Daniel Dae Kim. You might recognize Kim from other films and television series such as Lost, Hellboy, Hawaii Five-0, and many more. I love seeing actors appear in Star Trek earlier in their career only for them to become much more famous over time. Kim is certainly one of those and it was great for him to appear on the show.
Now, despite being such a good entry, there is a slight problem with this episode. There is a rather strange and unfulfilled subplot that acts more like an odd footnote than anything else. That subplot, the Doctor’s time on the planet. When the Doctor beams down he ends up spending more than three years on the planet. When he is pulled back he is pleased to see his friends and acts as if he has lived a fairly simple life with a ‘roommate’. He later mentions to Retz that he had a son on the planet who he knows has since died upon leaving. Now, the problem I have with this moment is that The Doctor does not seem saddened by leaving his family behind, in fact, he is overjoyed to have returned. However, the Doctor we know and love is not one to simply abandon a family, even one he may have adopted. From their perspective, he simply abandoned them one day with no word or indication. In fact, his disappearance could have had significant ramifications in someone’s life. What would have been better is if one of the astronauts were one of The Doctor’s descendants who, based on their short time with The Doctor on the planet, his stories made them want to find him and the ship all the more. It would have been complicated yet far more touching. Sadly, we never hear about this son ‘Jason’ again and the Doctor gives no indication of mourning his loss.
Overall, this is a solid episode that is well worth your time. If you want a good example of a single Voyager episode, this is certainly one you can pull out and show without having to know much about the overarching story. It is a simple yet satisfying sci fi tale.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, -15 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -4 remaining
- There is a planet in the Delta Quadrant with Voyager merchandise based on ‘The Sky Ship’. (or The Sky Friends) Imagine when the Federation finally makes it out to this planet again only to discover some curious evidence that a certain starship popped by once. Makes you wonder about that space craft toy one of our own ancient cultures made...
- We never see nor hear from this species again even though they are probably lightyears ahead of us technologically by now.
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: Virtuoso
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Late To The Game 1/27/2021
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.
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