Memorials are placed for people to never be allowed to forget specific events that have taken place. Sometimes those memorials can be painful reminders of tragedies as we see in the episode that originally aired on February 2, 2000. This is Memorial.
Captain’s Log Stardate Undetermined: Memorial
Several members of an away team return to Voyager and begin to have flashbacks of a war that they might have been a part of.
Chakotay, Paris, Kim and Neelix return from an away mission only to begin having hallucinations of a war that they might have participated in. After Neelix has a rather violent episode in which he believes he is under attack, the Doctor determines that what they are all experiencing are not dreams or hallucinations, but memories. Determined to get to the bottom of this, Janeway orders the ship to retrace the flight path of the Delta Flyer and see what they can discover.
As they begin their search, Chakotay and the team recount what they remember for Janeway and it soon becomes clear that they were part of a massacre on some unknown alien planet. The Captain is dismayed when they realize that some of her crew were responsible for the deaths of 82 civilians.
As the ship nears an unknown planet, Janeway suddenly recognizes the planet as Tarakis. In moments she begins to have memories of being involved in the massacre and, despite her pleas, she is unable to prevent the murders. She awakes from her nightmare only to discover that nearly 40 other crewmembers were similarly affected.
Janeway and her team visit the planet and soon discover that the war in question had taken place some 300 years prior, so, much to their relief, their ‘memories’ are not their own, but something placed them there. Detecting a power source, the team soon finds a monolith that has been transmitting these memories out. Soon Janeway realizes that this is not a weapon but a memorial to this atrocity. Returning to the ship, Janeway opens the fate of the monolith up for debate with some wishing it torn down and others insisting it remain. In the end, she insists that the memorial should remain as it was placed in memory of the 82 Nakans who were murdered. Voyager repairs the Memorial and places a warning beacon in orbit of the planet to warn people of it’s effects.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
At first this episode seems like a rehash of the episode Nemesis where Chakotay is brainwashed to fight in a war that he had no part in. In fact the narrative heavily implied that the members of this away team were conscripted against their will and then released after the events of the war. It’s a plausible theory and one the show runs with until the discovery of 300 year old bones of the civilians Harry believed he had killed. The the episode takes a turn making this a truly memorable episode.
It is said that to forget one’s past is to be doomed to repeat it. This is why humans memorialize terrible events so that we don’t forget the atrocities that have taken place. From the Valor in the Pacific Monument memorializing the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the multitude of Holocaust memorials around the world. Each of these places is a stark reminder of loss, of war, of humanity at it’s worst but also of the reminder that even at it’s darkest, things can get better if we want it to be so. Imagine how effective these memorials would be if they forced you to relive the events of those days, to actually feel the guilt, the pain, the anguish caused by those in the past?
This is where this episode comes it. The Memorial in question is a monument to an atrocity committed many years prior, placed by a people who were determined to never let anyone forget the horrible things that occurred on the planet Tarakis. Some would say that a device that makes people actually remember horrific events is an overkill, but, to me, it is sometimes the only way for people to realize how terrible things can get. While the crew debate the merits of leaving the Memorial intact, I have to side with Janeway on this and I am glad she left it standing. In this case, it was a stark reminder of a terrible event that should never have been forgotten.
There is one massive problem with this episode however, and that has to do with a certain Commander’s insistence that the Memorial be deactivated. Chakotay has been a proponent of ‘remembering the past’ and honoring pretty much every single species cultures. However, it seems this only applies when he is not directly affected by said culture. While I understand that he, himself has had people mess with his own mind, this determination to protect other culture’s heritage has been a key part of his character. So, for him to be so adamant to have the memorial disabled is rather contradictory of who we have come to know Chakotay as. I can understand Kim or Tom being for deactivating the memorial as they have never had a deep connection to cultural importance as Chakotay has, but for Chakotay to demand it be deactivated seemed very out of character to me.
I have say though, the performances in this episode are nothing short of stellar. From Tom and Harry’s moments of anguish to Neelix’s significant PTSD, each of the actors really owns their roles to the fullest. I have to think that Neelix was most affected by the monolith due to his own experiences with the Metrion Cascade on Rynax. For him to go through this and still demand that it remain up is a testament to this character through and through. Ethan Philips really shows what he is made of in this episode, providing some of his very best moments in the season, if not the series, thus far.
Overall, Memorial is a powerful episode about remembering the past and using those memories to not allow terrible things to happen again. Sometimes our only tool against the atrocities that can happen is to simply Remember.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, -15 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -4 remaining
- B’Elanna build a television for Tom Paris. This is not the last we will see of this tv.
- We really get a chance to see B’Elanna and Paris as they grow in their relationship too. It’s pretty great to see how much this former Maquis member cares for her former jailbird boyfriend.
- We never hear about this planet again, nor the memories the crew were forced to relive but I have to think that it would give them a significant character development in the coming seasons…okay, it really doesn’t and sadly is never really mentioned again.
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: Tsunkatse
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Late To The Game 2/1/2021
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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