The WWE/Voyager crossover we never asked for. Originally broadcast on February 9, 2000, this is Tsunkatse.
Captain’s Log Stardate 53447.2 Tsunkatse
Seven of Nine is kidnapped and forced to participate in a blood-sport only to face none other than The Rock himself, okay, well, an alien played by The Rock.
The crew is on a much needed shore leave on Norcadia Prime. While there, they discover Tsunkatse matches and the crew begin to enjoy the martial arts performances. Deciding to take their shore leave as a chance to study a nearby Nebula, Seven of Nine and Tuvok are soon intercepted by a vessel which kidnaps them both. Seven awakens to find herself now an unwilling participant in Tsunkatse.
Greeted by Penk, an alien who seems to be the one in charge, Seven is informed that she will either participate or her friend, Tuvok, will be killed. She reluctantly agrees and, with the help of a Hirogen warrior, she begins her training to fight in the blood sport.
The rest of the episode involves Seven fighting while the crew on Voyager deal with some rather humorous issues with their shore leave. Neelix gets a sunburn and other complain about their duty shifts. They soon discover that Seven has been kidnapped when they see her in the arena, but are shocked to learn that the Tsunkatse event is not a live performance but broadcast via holographic interface. They are soon forced to track down their crewmates as Seven learns the subtle arts of Tsunkatse facing off against The Pendari who is their ultimate champion. In the end, Seven is forced to fight her Hirogen teacher to the death but is rescued just before she is about to take the killing blow. After freeing the Hirogen, Seven finds herself concerned that she has lost her humanity but Tuvok affirms that she has not as Seven’s concern proves that.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I went into this one dreading the episode as, in my memory, this was just an excuse to get ratings by using The Rock and Voyager’s broadcast adjacency to WWE Smackdown as a draw. You see, when UPN (the United Paramount Network) started, Voyager was followed by WWE Smackdown every evening it aired. So, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the idea to bring in one of the wrestlers from this other ‘fictional’ series to join in with the action and, of course, it was The Rock. At the time this first aired I was working at a UPN affiliate station and vividly remember the lead up to this particular episode. To say people were excited about one of The Rock’s first scripted television appearances would be an understatement. In fact, this episode ended up being one of the highest rated of the season, and, frankly, while I was not a fan of this particular mashup, it makes sense from a marketing standpoint. So, I can’t really fault them.
The episode itself is actually a pretty good story with Seven ‘training’ to fight in order to protect Tuvok, while also developing an almost familial relationship with her Hirogen teacher. It gives Seven some serious character growth showing that she has indeed become more human than she would have ever dreamed as, she actually feels regret for her aggressive feelings. In a nutshell, this is basically Gladiator in space with Seven of Nine in the Russel Crowe role. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it makes for a pretty good story but there are some serious issues with this episode that need to be addressed.
While I understand the love of pugilism in some of the crew, it seems rather hypocritical of the crew to, at one moment be enjoying the sight of two strangers beating each other up to being revolted when it involves one of their own. In fact, Chakotay makes it a point to rearrange the schedule in order to attend a fight. Sure, Seven and Tuvok made it clear that they were on a mission of their own so her presence there is unwarranted but still, it felt rather off.
Overall, this is a pretty solid episode despite being an obvious attempt to cash in at an broadcast adjacency. Thankfully that fact is pretty much lost on this episode now that it can be watched on it’s own. That fact alone shows that it’s actually pretty solid and one that aged far better than I had feared.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, -15 remaining.
- 1 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -5 remaining
- We learn that Leola root is not just edible but also makes a great sunburn ointment, unless you’re a Talaxian that is.
- We learn about B’Elanna’s plush toy, Toby the Targ! I wonder if it is similar to the one Molly O’Brien had on DS9…
- Harry Kim is a former Parrises Squares champion.
- Outside of The Rock, two tremendous guest stars appear in this episode under some heavy makeup. JG Hertzler and Jeffery Combs, both Star Trek alumni, make appearances as The Hirogen and Penk respectively. It was great to see them again on Star Trek and, sadly, this would be Combs only appearance on the series.
- One thing I really wish was explored further in this series was Tuvok and Seven’s newfound mutual respect. This is revisited briefly but never as fully explored as it could have been.
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: Collective
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Late To The Game 2/3/2021
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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