Episode the 142nd, in which we get to witness the tale of Voyager through the eyes of the bard. Set forth upon this world on the Twenty-sixth of April Two-thousand and nothing, this is entitled The Muse.
Captain’s Log Stardate 53918.0 The Muse
B’Elanna finds herself the inspiration for a play when she awakens on a pre-warp planet and has no way home.
After witnessing a greek style play depicting the adventures of Torres and B’Elanna, we find that B’Elanna has crash landed on a planet and is being kept captive by the playwright of the performance we just saw. Kelis has been using B’Elanna’s ship logs to write his plays while nursing B’Elanna back to health. Soon B’Elanna is able to free herself and strikes a deal with Kelis, the playwright. He provides items she needs and she will provide him with more stories to tell. As they work together the crew of Voyager begin searching for their missing crewmembers as it seems that both Harry and B’Elanna were on the Delta Flyer together when it vanished.
The story continues as Voyager searches for their crewmen and B’Elanna attempts to find a way to contact Voyager while also helping Kelis. Soon Kelis takes B’Elanna to his troop as a traveling Poet only to vex Layna who is in love with Kelis. Before long Layna, gets jealous of his infatuation with this new ‘poet’ and follows B’Elanna to the Delta Flyer where she learns her secret. Threatening to expose B’Elanna as an Eternal, Layna insists that B’Elanna leave her and Kelis immediately. Soon Harry Kim arrives and they are able to repair the Flyer’s communications in order to contact Voyager. Beaming to the Theater, she decides to help Kelis finish his play. Going on stage she is exposed by Layna but manages to acend to the heavens in front of the audience. With B’Elanna and Harry saved, Voyager ventures forth into the stars.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a very layered episode that not only gives B’Elanna a chance to shine in what is essentially a solo story but also gives us a perspective of the crew that we have never really seen so far. Through the eyes of both the playwright Kelis and B’Elanna, we are treated with stripped down and vulnerable versions of the characters we know and love. For example when describing Tuvok, Kelis says that he is a Vulcan who comes from a land with no laughter and no tears yet harbors a deep emotion he can not express. This description is such an apt and poignant one that really gives this character more depth than ever before. Not only that, the descriptions of the characters are coupled with scenes on Voyager showing moments that correspond to them. So when Kelis is describing Tuvok, we see an exhausted Tuvok on Voyager desperately searching for his lost crewmembers. There are several scenes like this and Director Mike Vehar really outdoes himself in showing the juxtaposition between the ‘tale being told’ and the events as they unfold.
During the course of the episode we get to see B’Elanna in a new light. For much of the series she has been a pretty harsh and, well, Klingon in nature, but more recently we get have seen a lighter side of B’Elanna, especially when it comes to one Tom Paris. It seems Tom’s influence is not just a proximal thing as we see B’Elanna actually wish to assist Kelis the Playwright in a critical moment, even though she doesn’t have to and honestly really shouldn’t considering that by doing so breaks the Prime directive (something we will discuss soon). This compassion isn’t something that the season one or two Torres would act on, let alone consider, so seeing her willingness to help him is a significant moment in her character growth, a growth that we have not seen the end of yet.
While Torres gets some significant character growth, this episode is a prime example of the classic Star Trek socio-political statement but done in a way that is both subtle and clever. You see, at one point Kelis is challenged to write a play that will stave off a war his patron is considering. Kelis firmly believes that it is possible to change minds using words and not weapons. This is enhanced by the story B’Elanna tells of Janeway following that very code as her mantra. What I love about this is that this is a subtle nod to our violent nature as humans showing that it is possible to change the world through ideas rather than violence. Interestingly, one of the events that take place in Kelis’ play involves a meeting between the Borg Queen and Janeway where Seven is revealed to be the queen herself. While this isn’t exactly as thing pan out…it is a bit of foreshadowing of things to come.
Now, I mentioned an issue where Torres breaks the Prime Directive, how she does this is simple, she literally beams out in front of a large group of people convincing them that they are, in fact, The Eternals of lore. So, by doing this she not only reveals future tech to a pre-industrial society but significantly alters their belief system. Think about it. B’Elanna beaming out in front of Kelis’ patron would be the start to not only a religious renaissance but could actually prompt the war they were trying to prevent…only this time it would be a holy war along the lines of the Inquisition. Empowered with the knowledge that the Eternals are real, the Patron has no reason to hold back now, heck, he might even be inspired. Plus, Kelis as been working with the Gods behind his Partron’s back. Do you really think this Patron will accept that Kelis can not contact the Eternals again? Heck no, so either Kelis is quickly put to death or Kelis is forced to put on an ongoing performance that evolves into a new religion of it’s own. The damage B’Elanna does here is incalculable and all because she wanted to help with the ending of a play.
Overall, despite the fact that B’Elanna may be the catalyst for a massive Holy War on this planet, this episode is a solid one and does a great job with the story and character development. I like it….now…I have to wonder what happened to the wreckage of the Delta flyer…
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, -16 remaining.
- 1 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -5 remaining
- You might recognize Tony Amendola in this episode as the 3rd Chorus actor. Tony has been in everything from Star Trek to Star Gate SG1 among many others. It was awesome seeing him pop up!
- I love the masks used in this episode, I always wanted one of those for myself but I image they would be quite expensive now!
- We never see nor hear from Kelis’ people again. I really hope he survived the Inquisitions….
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: Fury
For more reviews: check out the weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
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Late To The Game 2/19/2021
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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