Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Episode Review - Retrospect (Voyager, Season 4)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – While negotiating the purchase of an isokinetic canon, Seven of Nine discovers she has strong feelings of anxiety towards the arms dealer, Kovin. As the Doctor attempts to help Seven discover the cause of this, hidden memories of her being assaulted by Kovin surface. As the crew attempts to investigate the truthfulness of these accusations, more questions than answers are discovered.

Score: 6/10 – This is an OK episode that does a lot to develop Seven’s character from the perspective of how the rest of the crew feel about her. There is a little action, but the majority of the episode is character driven. The pace can be a little slow at times, and there is one plot point that sticks in my craw a bit. The isokinetic canon that Kovin is trying to sell them seems like it would be good for the Voyager crew, and despite what happens to Kovin there is no reason that I can see as to why Voyager didn’t get or keep the canon. It would have been a great addition to Voyager’s arsenal, but nothing becomes of it. The weapon was even in the process of being installed at the beginning, but that was the last we heard of it. Everything took a backseat to Seven’s issue. The canon only served to be a plot device to give them a reason to be dealing with Kovin. One of the more interesting aspects about this story is the fact that the truth is never fully revealed. We do not know for certainty whether or not Seven had truly been assaulted by Kovin or if Kovin was innocent. This makes the story less about the assault and more about the importance of finding the truth.

Relevance - 1 point. One point for the Doctor’s reference of the social lessons he has been given Seven.

Continuity - 2 points. The story and universe continuity score points here, but the character continuity takes a hit. I already mentioned the isokinetic canon plot problem, and I just don’t see how Janeway would have let the canon go.

Character Development – 3 points. Big development for both Seven and the Doctor, with some minor development for Janeway. Janeway admits that it is time to give Seven some more leeway, and that she rallied around Seven blindly. The Doctor comes to realize a fault in his programming where he immediately became the convinced that Seven was the victim and lost his objectivity. He even wanted to have the sub-routines associated with his psyche counselling deleted, which Janeway denied. Seven meanwhile is conflicted as she mistakes the trauma she may have experienced at the hands of Kovin, but more by the results of her accusations. Kovin dies in an accident as he tries to flee what he perceives as a personal attack on his reputation, and Seven feels more remorse for him, the individual, than she had for the countless species she had assimilated as a Borg.

Social Commentary – 2 points. On one level one can see this as a commentary on the seriousness of assault. As is typical for Trek, the writers chose to shy away from an actual sexual assault in favour of allegory. The harvesting of Seven’s nano-probes against her will or knowledge can be seen as a suitable violation. While few of us may be able to identify with Seven being a victim of such an assault (at least, I hope more of us have never been assaulted in a similar manner), many more of us are likely able to identify with the Doctor. We hear of something that is concerning or troubling, and we immediately leap to the defense. If it involves someone important to us, all the more reason to make our conclusion quickly so we can support them. Lost in this is often the truth. We live in a world where we worry about the implications first and the truth of the matter becomes a secondary matter. Seven and the Doctor (and the rest of the crew, to a lesser extent) face themselves that their over-zealousness has led to the death of a likely innocent man. While the consequences of our own little crusades may not be life or death, how many people have had their reputation tarnished simply because a lot of people feel that they know the whole story with only a small portion of the details made known to them.

Cool Stuff – 1 point. Kovin was played by Michael Horton, better known as Lt. Daniels in Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection. Cool to give him more screen time.

Rank – Lieutenant (15 points). If you are in a hurry and want to watch only key important episodes, then this may be one that you could skip. Otherwise, I would recommend this as a solid outing that touches on some important issues.  

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