Voyager gets a mission and it’s a blast from the past. Originally Broadcast on April 25, 2001 this is Friendship One.
Captain’s Log Stardate 54775.4 Friendship One
When Voyager is sent on a mission by Starfleet to retrieve a lost probe from the 21st century, what they discover is worse than what they could have imagined.
After receiving orders to locate a probe called Friendship One, Voyager licates what they believe to be it’s resting place, on an planet that is going through a Nuclear Winter. The Delta Flyer is dispatched with a small crew, including Chakotay, Paris, Kim, Neelix and Carey, only for Paris, Neelix and Carey to be captured by locals who seem unamused that the fact that they are there for the probe.
Chakotay and Paris return to Voyager with one of the attackers by the name of Otrin. There Janeway learns that these aliens believe that the probe, Friendship One, was sent so that his people would destroy themselves using the antimatter tech the probe was based on. Janeway is shocked that it was Earth tech that led to the destruction of this planet’s surface and vows to help make it right. Janeway begins looking for ways to save the people of the planet including relocation, but when Carey is killed by one of the hostage takers, Verin, she realizes that beaming people from the planet may not be enough.
After the Doctor heals Otrin of his radiation sickness, Otrin begins to work with the crew to find a way to eliminate the radiation from the atmosphere.
However, Verin, begins to worry when Voyager ‘attacks’ the atmosphere with photon torpedoes. He panics and panics and brings the remaining antimatter warheads online. Otrin tries to get him to stop but Verin is ultimately stopped by his people who believe that Voyager is there to save them. In the end, Voyager is successful in purifying the atmosphere which begins the healing for the planet and allows them to finally retrieve the probe they came for.
Back on Voyager, Janeway and crew morn the loss of their crewmate Lt Carey.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I really dig the concept of this episode. Not unlike the plot of Star Trek the Motion Picture where the original Voyager Probe comes back, this episode explores the ramifications and responsibilities of blindly launching probes into the universe. While the Voyager Probe had been upgraded by aliens to return home, the Friendship One was ultimate responsible for the destruction of an entire civilization through their use, or abuse, of the technology the probe was made from.
Now, while Janeway feels that they have to retroactively make up for the violation of the Prime Directive in this situation, the question that is proposed here is, Is Humanity in any way form or fusion responsible for this civilization’s downfall? According to the Prime Directive, in a round about way, humanity is. This probe introduced technology to a civilization that was no where ready for it causing them to have access to antimatter weapons which ultimately brought their downfall. It is certainly a grey area and one that certainly provides some food for thought.
What I love about this episode is the moral questions it asks. Like any good classic Star Trek, this episode forces both the character and the viewers to question the moral and ethical implications that the story proposes. What I find rather disturbing is that Janeway actually considered abandoning the planet and it’s people after Carey’s murder. Not once does she consider that this planet’s condition was indirectly caused by Humanity and it is only morally right to do what they can to help. It is Paris and Neelix who finally convince her of her obligation to the Prime Directive even though the probe predates that tenant.
Speaking of which, this marks the final appearance of Lt Carey who appeared on the series as a supporting character periodically since the first season. Carey was a shoe in for the Chief Engineer only to lose the position to B’Elanna. While he was not a fan of the Half-Klingon Engineer at first, over time, Carey became one of her greatest allies. It’s sad to see him go and only adds to the weight of the story.
Overall, this is a tremendous episode that forces questions and also sets up the precedence of more stories in the same vein. Earth has launched a number of probes and ships into space. Who is to say another isn’t discovered some day to have been the cause of another species, maybe the Borg, maybe something worse. Who is to say that Earth did not destroy another planet and that planet has sent an armada that one day arrives…. the possibilities are endless and I do hope we get another in this vein someday.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 4 (possibly more) photon torpedoes fired, -33 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -6 remaining
- it is established that Janeway has had more first contacts than James Kirk himself.
- I do find it interesting that this episode does fall down the same path that so many others do. An entire planet and Voyager contacts one small group who ultimately speaks for the entire planet. You have to wonder how many other basis and groups are scattered across the globe who may have been more willing to work with Voyager to save their planet.
- Paris and Neelix save an alien baby. These two are really good at that.
- The Doctor gets to participate in an away mission infiltrating the aliens only to help save the hostages.
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: Natural Law
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Late To The Game 4/14/2021
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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