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Star Trek: Voyager – Once Upon a Time (Review)

Once Upon a Time is another example of thwarted ambition on Star Trek: Voyager.

The original pitch for the episode was incredibly ambitious and narratively experimental, a Star Trek story told exclusively from the perspective of a child character trying to make sense of a world from which the adults are trying to protect her. In many ways, it recalls the original pitch for Macrocosm, an episode that Brannon Braga had originally hoped to write as a piece of silent television. However, like that earlier episode, the original plan for Once Upon a Time was vetoed in favour of something far more conventional.

Toyetic, isn’t he?

In many ways, this conservatism was a reminder of just how far Voyager was being left behind, of how the dominant production strand of the Star Trek franchise was failing to keep pace with the changing media landscape around it. Genre television had been a hotbed for experimentation in the nineties. Twin Peaks changed television, allowing the medium to embrace surrealism and weirdness in a way never seen before. Series like Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine returned serialisation to prime time, after it had fallen out of fashion.

Over the course of the decade, genre shows were willing to push the boundaries of what was possible in television, proving dynamic in a way that would be hugely influential for the more high-brow “prestige” series that followed. Even shows like The X-Files, Space: Above and Beyond and Buffy: The Vampire Slayer indulged in the occasional experimental episodes like The Post-Modern Prometheus, Triangle, Who Monitors the Birds?, Hush and Once More With Feeling. There was a revolution taking place in television during the nineties.

It’ll never catch on.

Of course, that particular television revolution was already in its final days as the decade drew to a close. The next big innovation in television storytelling was just around the corner, with The Sopranos only a few months away from broadcast. Once that happened, the television revolution would shift away from science-fiction and horror shows on free-to-access broadcasters and towards more critically-respected genres on more prestigious (and exclusive) networks. Voyager would have been late to the party anyway, but instead decided to skip it anyway.

Once Upon a Time is an ambitious premise watered down to mediocre execution. It is Voyager in a nutshell.

Why, I Flotter…

Once Upon a Time was Michael Taylor’s first script as a staff writer on Voyager, having been hired at the start of the fifth season as part of a push to recruit young and interesting voices to work on the series. Taylor certainly had a proven track record. Like Lisa Klink and Bryan Fuller before him, Taylor had been tested on Deep Space Nine. He was responsible for a number of well-received episodes, including The Visitor and In the Pale Moonlight. (Although less well-regarded, Taylor was also credited as writer on Resurrection.)

To be fair, Taylor did not write those episodes single-handed, receiving support from the rest of the production team. The Visitor was heavily rewritten by René Echivarria, Resurrection was retooled by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler, and In the Pale Moonlight was largely driven by Ronald D. Moore. Nevertheless, Taylor very clearly had a firm grasp of storytelling and a unique perspective. The Visitor, Resurrection and In the Pale Moonlight are all very unique episodes, quite far from any archetypal Star Trek template.

Quality mother-daughter time.

Appropriately enough, Taylor’s original pitch for Once Upon a Time was similarly ambitious. As Cinefantastique explained, that concept was watered down from the original idea to the finished product:

Noted scripter Michael Taylor, “The notion initially was much bolder. It was going to be real Alice in Wonderland, with Neelix and Naomi in this make-believe world for almost the entire show. It’s a quiet little story, about a guy who is trying to protect a kid from very harsh realities of life that he experienced as a child, when he was younger. He finds out you just can’t do that.”

Menosky explained, “Brannon wanted to do the entire thing in a holodeck fantasy. Voyager was going through a war outside that we only caught glimpses of. They were involved in the big wars in Deep Space Nine, and Rick Berman just didn’t want to see ‘wars’ on both Star Trek series. He rejected that idea. We ended up concocting this half-baked shuttle crash. What Taylor was stuck with was not as good as it would have been if somehow we had done Brannon ‘s original inspiration. We had very little time to do a second draft. Basically everybody jumped in with Mike. As a result of this gang writing fashion, Taylor’s original vision and execution of the fairy tale in itself was lost. I think the episode suffered as a result. I think what’s finally on the screen is not nearly as interesting as Mike’s first draft.”

This was not the first time that the production team on Voyager had to compromise a daring idea. Brannon Braga had wanted to stretch Future’s End, Part I and Future’s End, Part II into a longer arc, and play out Year of Hell, Part I and Year of Hell, Part II over a full season. He had been vetoed on both occasions.

Not making the splash it really should.

A more cynical observer might reflect that this compromise was effectively hardwired into Voyager‘s DNA. After all, very little of the show’s premise existed beyond Caretaker. From the outset, Voyager was meant to be a show about two diametrically-opposed crews trying to survive together in alien territory without any support structure. However, that was quickly thrown out the window in Parallax. The Maquis would integrate completely into Starfleet, and the crew would never have to worry about so much as the holodecks running out of juice.

With that in mind, it makes sense that Voyager would consistently back away from more adventurous storytelling opportunities across its seven-season run, sticking rigidly to a generic Star Trek format of self-contained episodic adventures. This undercut even more modest plotting ideas, such the decision to give Janeway depression in Night or to have Torres self-harm in Extreme Risk. Those were stories that required a long-form approach rather than a tidy done-in-one attitude. If Voyager could not do that right, what chance did Michael Taylor’s Once Upon a Time have?

Leaving a bitter aftertaste.

To be fair, there are elements of that which bleed through into the final episode, most notably the climax. That penultimate act is surprisingly effective, as Naomi eavesdrops on the adults around her and begins to realise that things have gone catastrophically wrong. Unfortunately, Once Upon a Time lacks the courage of its convictions. These scenes would be much more effective if the audience were discovering this information along with Naomi, if Once Upon a Time trusted the audience enough to let them be disoriented and confused in the same way as Naomi.

The problem is that Once Upon a Time is genuinely afraid of challenging its audience with something that is not recognisably a Star Trek story. Voyager could never have attempted anything as radical as The Visitor or In the Pale Moonlight, something that sits so firmly outside the expectations of Star Trek in terms of story and structure. This is most obvious in Once Upon a Time in the subplot set on the Delta Flyer, in which the episode keeps cutting to three characters on a standing set waiting to be rescued.

The audience would be better kept in the dark.

It is a poor choice on multiple levels. Most superficially, it recalls the recurring insistence that every episode of Voyager have a recognisable action or science-fiction beat. While The Swarm explored the trauma of watching a loved one suffering mental deterioration, there was still an action subplot focusing on a bunch of mysterious aliens that attack Paris and Torres in a shuttle. When Real Life focused on the EMH’s holographic family, the plot kept cutting back to a subplot involving Tom Paris lost in a shuttlecraft due to the anomaly of the week.

It often seems like “Paris in a shuttle” is Voyager shorthand for “we needed to add something suitably Star-Trek-y plot element to jam into this somewhat non-Star-Trek-y episode”, and so Once Upon a Time keeps cutting back to the marooned crew of the Delta Flyer as they… do absolutely nothing. The characters trapped under the rock do absolutely nothing. They provide no new information to the audience. Instead, they draw attention away from what should be the focus of the story: Naomi Wildman coping with the disappearance of her mother.

“Do we have any more pseudo-science that we can add?”

To be fair, there is one aspect of these scenes that works rather well, the moment in which Tuvok explains to Samantha Wildman how he can be so calm about leaving his children without a father. “My youngest child has been without a father for four years,” he explains, “yet I am certain of her well-being, that I conveyed my values to her before leaving. And I have confidence in the integrity of those around her. You have been an exemplary mother to Naomi, and she is in the hands of people you trust. She will survive and prosper, no matter what becomes of us.”

It is a very sweet moment. It is perhaps the most impressive character beat that Tuvok has had since the closing scene of The Gift, which speaks to how criminally underused the character is in the context of Voyager. However, it is only one tiny moment in extended sequences that fall back on familiar beats of technobabble and stock plotting. It could easily have been inserted into the episode at the very end, the only glimpse of the characters inside the shuttle, without losing anything.

It was Wild, man.

Aside from fulfilling the obligatory “space adventure!” demands that are made on every Voyager script, these scenes also serve to undercut the dramatic tension at the core of the episode. Once Upon a Time is supposed to be about a young girl realising that her mother might be gone forever. However, the structure of the episode prevents the audience from ever really engaging with that possibility. The audience never has to deal with Samantha Wildman’s absence, because she is always present.

Of course, the subplot itself is not the only issue here. The decision to team up Wildman with Paris and Tuvok, which is a practical way of keeping production costs down for the scenes on the Delta Flyer, underscores the complete lack of stakes. Voyager would always have been unlikely to kill Wildman, but putting her next to two series regulars makes it clear she will survive. No matter how hard Kate Mulgrew and Ethan Phillips might work to sell a sense of dread and anxiety, any television-literate audience knows that Samantha Wildman is still alive and will make it to the end of the episode.

“I agree. We shouldn’t worry the audience unnecessarily.”

As a result, the audience always knows that Neelix’s fear and Naomi’s anxiety are both completely irrelevant. Once Upon a Time tries to be both a story about what is like to be an adult trying to protect a child from the possibility of loss and a story about a child trying to process loss while surrounded by adults who will not acknowledge that loss. These are both interesting stories, but they are both fundamentally undercut by the fact that Once Upon a Time repeatedly cuts away from this story to assure viewers that nobody will experience any loss.

This narrative conservatism is exhausting, an approach that patronises the audience and condescends to them. It is a storytelling style rooted in the assumption that viewers are incapable of enjoying Star Trek unless it is explicitly packaged as such, and that viewers are incapable of dealing with a story about loss that does not explicitly hold their hands by constantly cutting to the source of this loss. It is an episode that is frustrating because it has the potential to be so much more than it allows itself to be.

“Well, this is me done for the next few episodes.”

Rick Berman’s veto of the original pitch for Once Upon a Time was indicative of the larger power dynamic behind the scenes on Voyager. In The Fifty-Year Mission, Bryan Fuller suggested that Berman was seeking to exercise control over Braga on Voyager that he did not have over Behr on Deep Space Nine:

I was coming into Voyager in Jeri Taylor’s last year, and so she was handing the baton over to Brannon, and Brannon was very much a new showrunner. There were things that he really wanted to do and should have been able to do, and which would have made the show even better and bolder and bright, but he was not allowed to. Rick Berman more or less told him, “No, you can’t do that, because I can’t control Ira Behr on Deep Space Nine and I have to control you.”

The influences of Rick on Brannon’s instincts sort of dampened what the show could have been. Brannon was a great showrunner and had great, bold ideas, but he was working for Rick Berman, who was a daughter of the syndication era. And the show had to be very specifically traditional in a certain sense, and he really squashed some of Brannon’s better ideas. I would love to go back in time and see Brannon do the Voyager that was his instinct to do.

The dynamic between Rick Berman and Brannon Braga would be similarly tense across the fifth season and into the sixth, reaching a crescendo during Ronald D. Moore’s brief stint on the series. It did not seem like a healthy working environment, and certainly not one conducive to ambitious storytelling.

Outwitted again.

The behind-the-scenes atmosphere on Voyager was generally quite toxic, flaring up at several points over the run of the series: the fights between Taylor and Piller over the direction of the show in the second season; the bitterness between Mulgrew and Ryan on the set of the fourth season; the arrival and departure of Ronald Moore as a new writer in the sixth season. This is to say nothing of the ambient unpleasantness, like the way that junior writers were treated or reports of how Braga would run pitching sessions.

With that in mind, it is no surprise that Michael Taylor’s original (and ambitious) pitch for Once Upon a Time should have the rough edges sanded off to make it feel like a much more conventional episode of Star Trek. It is disheartening, but not unexpected. Some of the more endearing and engaging aspects of Once Upon a Time carry over to the finished episode, even if the instalment feels very much like a shell of the story that it could have been. There is something very interesting in looking at Voyager from the perspective of their “littlest crew member.”

No more kidding around.

One of the appeals of Voyager was in watching the crew adapt to life without the support structures that Picard or Sisko might take for granted. What would the crew look like after seventy years of journeying through space? Would Janeway maintain the conventional command hierarchy? Would the crew start pairing off and forming families? Would Voyager have to be modified to support children? Would the ship have to make preparations for an aging crew passing the baton to the next generation?

Voyager would offer very pedestrian answers to many of those questions, perhaps offering the most tantalising possible answer as a hypothetical future among the multiple “timezones” in Shattered. However, there is something undeniably fascinating about Naomi Wildman as a character. She is the first child to be born of Voyager, having been conceived before the journey to the Delta Quadrant. Samantha Wildman discovers that she is pregnant in Elogium, and Naomi Wildman is delivered in Deadlock.

“They should call it the Delta Crasher.”

Barring a few minor appearances in Basics, Part II and Mortal Coil, Naomi Wildman was largely absent from the third and fourth seasons of the show. Much like Alexander Rozhenko, she was kept off-screen long enough for some sufficiently alien aging to allow the producers to cast a more mature actor. It is a pragmatic choice, but a justifiable one. Child actors are a risky proposition at the best of times. In Once Upon a Time, nine-year-old Scarlett Pomers steps into the role of two-and-a-half-year-old Naomi Wildman. Ktarians, they grow up so fast.

Pomers does legitimately great work as Wildman, and it is worth noting that she would go on to enjoy one of the more successful careers of a child actor featured on Star Trek. Pomers would transition directly from a recurring role on Voyager to a regular role on Reba as the title character’s teenage daughter. She makes quite an impression in Once Upon at Time. Although the episode is arguably centred on Neelix as much as Naomi, the script still asks a lot of Pomers in terms of range and in terms of dialogue.

“If working with child performers has taught us anything, it’s that acting lessons are the most important lessons.”

In fact, Pomers was so effective in the role that the producers decided to bring the character back. According to Pomers, she was not cast as a recurring player:

A California native, Pomers names Voyager as her favorite role thus far and said she was initially sad after filming Once Upon a Time because she didn’t think she would be appearing on the series again. “It originally wasn’t going to be a recurring role, but then they turned it into one,” she reported. “I said, ‘Mom, I miss Voyager!’ And then I came back on Infinite Regress.”

Pomers would appear in a total of seventeen episodes of Voyager, establishing her as the most frequently recurring guest star beyond the extras.

Take that, Joe Carey!

Once Upon a Time uses the character and the actor very well. It pays particular attention to what it must be like to grow up on a ship like Voyager, without the support framework of an education system, of other children, or of an extended family. Once Upon a Time does an excellent job capturing a sense of what it must like to be a precocious child in the Delta Quadrant, and how the ship deals with her presence. The EMH provides important lessons on basic biology, Neelix steps into the role of “godfather”, Seven of Nine is a source of awed curiousity.

More than that, Once Upon a Time focuses on the idea that Voyager is not just a ship, it is a community. Janeway takes time out from a crisis to wonder how Neelix and Naomi are doing. While Kim is looking for the missing shuttle, he also finds the time to replicate a teddy bear to keep Naomi company while her mother is a way. There is a sense that everybody on the ship is aware of their responsibilities to Naomi even beyond their official duties and the chain of command. It is very affecting, and something true to the basic premise of Voyager.

Burnt out.

There is something very emotionally affecting in all this, something genuine beneath the rigidly applied formula. Once Upon a Time is occasionally a very emotionally effective episode, particularly when it focuses on the dynamic between Naomi and Neelix. It is no wonder that Pomers points to the episode as containing one of her favourite scenes:

It’s a scene from Once Upon a Time. Naomi thinks her mom might be dead and she thinks her life is in danger after they’ve crashed their ship. They’re on an away mission, crash the ship and they’re losing life support. Naomi finds out that this has happened and she’s mad at Neelix for not telling her this is going on. And there’s a scene after that where I’m in the holodeck and Neelix comes to find me and talk to me, and in the scene Neelix is talking about how he lost his family. Ethan Phillips is one of the the funniest dudes on the planet, but he’s such a great actor, too, and he didn’t get too many chances to show just how good a dramatic actor he was on that show because he was kind of the quirky, funny Neelix. But he was really, really good in that scene, and I remember that it was hard not to cry while we were doing that scene because he was so emotional and it was so real.

Ethan Phillips is a genuinely talented actor, even if Voyager often struggled with what to do about Neelix as a character. When Phillips is given good material, he can make it work. While Fair Trade and Mortal Coil have their issues, they work best at putting Neelix through the emotional wringer and letting Phillips demonstrate his range. Once Upon a Time has a similar appeal, particularly in the scenes that Phillips shares with Pomers.

Putting the matter to bed.

Once Upon a Time is also an episode quite pointedly focused on (and to a certain extent told from) the perspective of a child. It focuses on the lessons that the crew impart to Naomi, and how she sees herself functioning on the ship. A lot of this involves teaching and learning, and not just the lectures provided by the EMH on cellular structure. As Tuvok makes clear to Samantha, raising a child means imparting a set of values and beliefs to that child, and Once Upon a Time offers a genuinely heartwarming portrayal of how the crew of Voyager translate their values.

When Naomi is afraid of Seven, Neelix reassures her, “Seven is a nice person, and she’s a valuable member of this crew.” When Naomi complains that the EMH talks too much, Neelix teaches tolerance, “Well, that’s his way.” The crew encourage Naomi to think critically and to engage. When the “Forest of Forever” confronts the player with a puzzle, Neelix asks, “What’s your theory, Naomi?” When the lovable “Flotter T. Water” is evaporated by “the Ogre of Fire”, Naomi responds by reading up on evaporation, and cleverly solves the problem off-screen.

Heated debate.

Once Upon a Time repeatedly evokes the concept of children’s television. Flotter T. Water and Trevis feel like characters who could have been lifted from any random television show aimed at joke children, simple (and brightly coloured) anthropomorphised concepts that allow for the discussion of big ideas about the wider world and how it works. Characters like Kim and Janeway fondly remember their time in “the Forest of Forever”, while Kim fashions a branded doll. The design and set-up evoke countless fads, from The Teletubbies to Barney to Bear in the Big Blue House.

However, Once Upon a Time goes a little further than that. The obvious implication is that Neelix is just as much an anthropomorphised construct to Naomi as Flotter and Trevis. It is easy enough to imagine a Star Trek version of The Wizard of Oz, starring Neelix a role equivalent to the Cowardly Lion. (Although, to be fair, Justin Louis does a pretty great Cowardly Lion impression when Trevis confronted with fire for the first time.) In its own way, Voyager seems like a gigantic children’s television show constructed for Naomi’s benefit, with quirky characters and important lessons.

“This walkthrough is the best.”

This is far from the first time that Star Trek has played with the idea of children’s television. Kirk and Spock were arguably asked to play out some broad moral education for the Excalbians in The Savage Curtain, while the entire concept of Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation was to create a teenage protagonist with which young viewers could identify. Josh Marsfelder argues that The Next Generation was “children’s television for adults”:

Star Trek: The Next Generation is children’s television for adults. Star Trek: The Next Generation is Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood In Space. That’s why it’s so different from every other television show ever made and why you can’t simply apply the same rules to it you can to every other scripted drama on the planet. And that’s why Geordi La Forge is now the chief engineer of the Enterprise, because LeVar Burton is Star Trek: The Next Generation’s heart and soul. Nobody understands this better than he does.

It’s an interesting read of the franchise, and one with a certain amount of truth to it. After all, Voyager has often tried to position itself as the most generic version of Star Trek imaginable, and that archetypal interpretation of the franchise is built around morality plays and social allegories. One need only consider the show’s recurring handling of the theme of institutional memory: Remember, Distant Origin, Living Witness.

Going against the grain.

Once Upon a Time is also memorable for its two primary guest stars. Wallace Langham is perhaps the most notable of the two holographic characters who befriend Naomi, the playful water spirit known as “Flotter T. Watter.” Indeed, Langham was in the middle of an extended run as a regular on the comedy Veronica’s Closet, in which he played the title character’s decidedly camp assistant. A few years later, Langham would become a recurring (then regular) performer on CSI, working with Star Trek franchise veteran Naren Shankar.

Flotter is a fascinating creation, in large part because he is so self-consciously absurd. Flotter is paint bright blue in a way that recalls the production design of the original Star Trek series, with its emphasis on bright and bold colours. Although this was also reflected in set design, lighting and costume, the classic make-up department was fond of painting aliens in bold colours; Bela and Lokai in Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, the Andorians from Journey to Babel, the Orions from The Cage, even the Klingons from Errand of Mercy.

Tree’s company.

The Berman era had originally been quite wary of that sort of bold production design, favouring more grounded and mundane make-up choices. Often, alien species were denoted by funny forehead prosthetics or pointed ears. Some times, as in episodes like Time and Again or Random Thoughts, there was little to distinguish these supposed aliens from regular humans. In fact, The Next Generation went so far as to write an episode explicitly explaining the phenomenon in The Chase.

Still, in the later years of the Berman era, the production team grew more adventurous. Star Trek: Enterprise would notably see the return of the primary-colour aliens like the Andorians or the Orions, despite the fact that they had been ruled out of bounds to the writers working on The Next Generation. Voyager felt a bit more playful with alien designs when they were not anchored in reality. The neural projections in The Thaw were presented as some sort of grotesque cirque de soliel, with the lighting and set design taking a turn towards the abstract.

Rolling around like that, he better watch his lumber vertebrae.

As a holographic character, Flotter arguably enjoys the same liberties. Langham recalls the transformation that he underwent:

The whole process was wild. I started with costume, where they had this amazing fabric that looked like fish scales. Then it was off to special effects. It was the first time I got “plastered.” They covered my whole head in plaster to make the mold. The finished appliance, full-eye contacts, and makeup took about an hour. The costume was most interesting because it had a hidden zipper, which was hard unzip. Somehow I made it through the entire day without having to go pee.

To be fair, Langham was not the only actor who complained about the difficulty unzipping. Jeri Ryan and Alice Krige also acknowledged the difficulty.

Bolt from the blue.

Once Upon a Time is notable for its impressive guest cast. Langham was reasonably well-known when he appeared, while Pomers would go on to a higher profile. The episode also features a nigh-unrecognisable turn from Louis Ferriera as Trevis, while working under the name Justin Lewis. Ferriera is one of the most ubiquitous actors in popular culture, and Once Upon a Time arrived at the point when he was appearing as a guest star all across prime time; Millennium, Judging Amy, Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, E.R.

Ferriera would come to prominence for his genre work in the twenty-first century. He would play a prominent role in Saw IV and place a regular character on the spin-off Stargate Universe. He would also be on the receiving end of Walter White’s iconic “Classic Coke” monologue during the final season of Breaking Bad. Given Ferriera’s tendency to play gruff no-nonsense types, there is something surreal watching him do his best impression of the cowardly lion as a sentient pun-loving anthropomorphic tree.

Say it, don’t spray it.

As with Langham, Ferriera remembers the job primarily because of the restrictions involved:

I wasn’t an alien, I was a holographic tree in one of the kids video games. I was definitely – I was beyond rubber faced alien as far as the work that went into it. I was a latex tree from top to bottom and I had a slit where my pupils were. That is the only thing that I could see out of. And the reason that was such a bad experience for me is that I was unable to use the bathroom for 15 hours because I was a tree. And so you could imagine what the thoughts that went through my mind were. You know what I mean?

In terms of “where are they now?”, there is something strange in how many recognisable faces are under the make-up in Once Upon a Time.

Odds and Ents.

Once Upon a Time isn’t necessarily a bad episode. It is just a very generic and safe episode that squanders the potential to be something truly special, settling for something safe and mediocre rather than adventurous and ambitious. It is more disappointing than it is terrible. Watching Once Upon a Time, the audience yearns for a version of Voyager that believed in itself enough to follow that idea through to its logical conclusion. That feels like a lesson that Flotter and Trevius would do well to impart to the production team.

11 Responses

  1. Stick her in the “Botanty Bay” and launch her into space.

    (Along with Adric, Shane Botwin, Carl Grimes, and Dawn Summers.)

    • Ah now.

      I much prefer Naomi to the Borg children. She at least makes sense within the concept of Voyager. Of course, she also shouldn’t be the only child on the ship after five seasons.

  2. ” _____ is another example of thwarted ambition on Star Trek: Voyager.”

    Why do I get a sinking feeling that a lot of your future reviews of Voyager are going to begin this way?

  3. ‘Criminally underused’ about Tuvok is very accurate. Tim Russ obviously did his best with what he got (by all accounts he took the role very seriously) but he rarely got much to do. There’s the germ of a character, with his acerbic attitude, but mostly he’s just the generic Vulcan.

    That’s kind-of how it always is with Voyager, isn’t it? A whole bunch of interesting concepts, but the execution’s just generic.

    • The series missed a trick there by not exploring the tension between Vulcan moralism and pacifism, and Tuvok’s role as the tactical/security officer…. an instrument of death.

      (Not to mention all of his previous spy work.)

      • Yep. There’s an interesting debate to be had about (a.) Vulcans joining the Maquis in the first place, (b.) Tuvok being a spy, (c.) Tuvok working next to the people on which he was spying. That is a tremendous amount of character-driven drama there, and all of it is squandered.

    • Yep. I rewatched Gravity a little while back, and was struck by how well it used Tuvok. Imagine if the show tried to use these characters in this way more often?

  4. I believe this is the last time we see Samantha Wildman alive in the present timeline. This begs the question of why couldn’t the writers just kill her off in this episode. It certainly would have the episode more poignant. As it is in later episodes, the audience is left wondering why it seems as if Seven of Nine has adopted Naomi.

    • Yeah, Voyager really bungled its supporting cast. Which is ironic, given you’d expect it to have the most developed supporting cast of the franchise, given the premise.

  5. I agree with your review. This episode is quite boring, and not because of the lack of ‘action’. It’s hard to really care about characters we know will survive, and also a mother/daughter pair that are almost unseen until now. They’re brought out for the plot, like everything else.

    It’s a bit sad that Naomi is basically given to Seven as a surrogate mother, and then they also give Seven an instant family of Borg kids. Seven, their most precious and beloved protagonist, has more of a family and is more reproductive than any of the regular crewmen on Voyager. Apparently not one person on board thought to have a kid, or forgot birth control, except maybe Paris and Torres.

    Even if Naomi’s mom had died, most of the audience would probably have just shrugged.

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