For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here
Overview – Seven of Nine programs her regeneration alcove to allow her to process sensory information while she is regenerating. This allows her to discover issues with the ship before the rest of the crew. When Voyager encounters an alien who has designed some technology to help him get back home, Janeway is encouraged at the prospect of shaving a few years off of their own long voyage. As they work with Tash to develop this space catapult, Seven becomes increasingly suspicious as to the true nature of Voyager’s mission. She slowly sinks into deeper conspiracy theories, to the point where she suspects the entire crew for being complicit in a huge covert undertaking.
Score: 7/10 – Here is an episode that is fuelled on whatever neurotic Kool Aid that conspiracy theorists love to drink. The idea that Seven of Nine starts to jump to more and more obscure theories as to Voyager’s mission because of her receiving too much information is interesting, but the conspiracy theories that she devises become more and more perplexing. There is an element of fun to this episode, but the constant descent into paranoia for our resident former Borg drone gets a little tedious by the end of the episode. The story ties in a lot of the Voyager’s past adventures, and the space catapult is an interesting piece of technology. It should be noted that this is one of the few instances where we see the effort that Captain Janeway and her crew put into a shortcut home actually pays off, and three years gets shaved off of their journey. For the conspiracy theories that Seven come up with, there is just enough that initially starts us to believe that maybe there has been more going on than we were led to believe over the last five years, and this could have given us something to chew on as we ourselves wonder if there was more to Voyager being in the Delta Quadrant than initially believed. Sadly, as the episode continued, we were left with little doubt that there is no hint of a conspiracy and that this is all just Seven’s overactive analysis of the data that she has been assimilating. There were even a few interesting mysteries that were brought to light here, yet they were just left unsolved at the end and nobody questioned it. It was a bit of a lost opportunity for the story, but overall the episode is not too bad.
Relevance - 3 points. It is easy to see how this episode makes us go back and re-examine things that have occurred so far. The pilot episode, “Caretaker”, is an obvious important story here. We also touch on some other significant developments and stories, such as Kes leaving the ship (which is now suspected as being Janeway’s doing to get rid of someone who may have gotten wise to their mission), to Chakotay’s relationship with Seska, to various alliances, to the EMH’s journey to the Alpha Quadrant using the Hirogen array. All of these, if it had been played right, can give the viewer a new experience in looking at the whole idea of the show, which helps if you are familiar with the episodes that are referenced here.
Continuity – 0 points. This episode has been a bit tricky for me to figure out if it matches up continuity-wise. First, character continuity seems a bit off for me. To see Chakotay and Janeway so easily swayed to become suspicious of each other after five years of supporting each other just seemed off to me, so I had to take a point off for that. Also, there is the fact that Seven brought up at least two ideas that did not get resolved. First, there was the ship with the tractor beam that was supposedly present when the Caretaker array was destroyed. While there was no proof as to the existence of the ship, what appeared to be a tractor beam remained unexplained. That one might have remained a mystery, but the second one could have easily been resolved with an explanation from the Captain. It is mentioned that the tricobalt devices that Voyager used to destroy the array were not standard issue on starships. This begs the question as to why Voyager was carrying those weapons in the first place. No explanation is given, so I have to deduct the point for story continuity. Finally, we have the universe continuity. Here I see an issue with Seven’s theories, specifically with the Federation and the Cardassians are in a power alliance. Chakotay starts to buy into that premise, which is a bit absurd for the character and the situation. Starfleet and Cardassia may have both wanted to stop the Maquis, but it was well documented that they were often at odds over how to do so, and it is a real stretch of the imagination to think that they would cooperate on such a grand scale as this. So, like all conspiracy theories, the logic used here just doesn’t add up, and I cannot score any points for continuity.
Character Development – 2 points. Definitely a Seven of Nine episode. While Chakotay and Janeway both undergo some development as they are forced to confront suspicions that they have towards each other, their development is relatively minor. Seven, on the other hand, has been given a real shake-up as she starts to doubt everything she had been led to believe in with the crew of Voyager. She faces the fact that her own analysis of situations may be flawed. Yes, she was right about a few things at the beginning, but as she assimilated more information, she became increasingly paranoid and unstable. She learns her lesson, as she so aptly counsels Naomi Wildman to learn at a slower pace in order to properly absorb the knowledge.
Social Commentary – 2 points. Seven’s behaviour reminds me of just about everybody that I know that believes in some of the most interesting conspiracy theories out there. From shooting victims being crisis actors to 9-11 be a government orchestrated event, these people will take coincidental occurrences and link them together to come up with explanations that may seem compelling on the surface, but in reality, they are grossly unlikely. Many of us also fall into this trap, albeit to a lesser degree. We make assumptions that various people, particularly in politics, that are not likely to be true. Even in Star Trek we sometimes fall into that practice. How many times have we heard, or even said o ourselves, things like “J.J. Abrams hates Star Trek”, or “the people behind Discovery are trying to destroy Star Trek!”. We exaggerate our thoughts and ideas to make it more compelling, and yet, as Tuvok says, speculation is not evidence. This episode should, hopefully, give us pause to think before we share that inflammatory opinion piece in the guise of “evidence” and perhaps help us to take time to properly digest and appreciate the perspectives and knowledge that we are presented with.
Cool Stuff – 1 point. The catapult is a cool piece of technology, and it actually helps the USS Voyager get a bit closer to home. That in itself is a cool part to this episode. Aside from that, there is little else that fits the cool category here.
Rank – Lieutenant (15 points). There were some missed opportunities here, but this episode does offer us a bit of fun and intrigue. Like most conspiracy theories, if you don’t take this episode too seriously, it is quite enjoyable.
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