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Star Trek: Voyager – Counterpoint (Review)

Counterpoint is a spectacular episode of Star Trek: Voyager, a highlight of the fifth season and of the seven season run in general.

Counterpoint is meticulously constructed, put together with a great deal of care and consideration. This is most obvious in the plotting and characterisation in the episode, in the way that the focus of the story remains constant while peeling back the layers on the characters involved. Too many Voyager episodes indulge in a contrived sequence of “… and then…” plotting, while Counterpoint is an episode that understands what it is about and is content to explore its ideas and its characters to their logical conclusions.

Playing it pitch perfect.

Counterpoint benefits from two superb central performances. Mark Harelik is one of the strongest one-shot guest stars to appear on Voyager, playing Kashyk as an endearingly ambiguous figure caught half way between a conventional romantic lead and a fascist thug. However, Counterpoint works best as a showcase for Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway. Mulgrew has always been one of the strongest members of Voyager‘s primary cast, but the production team always struggled to play to her strengths while building a consistent character.

Counterpoint is an episode that plays perfectly to the strengths of all involved, creating a symphony where all of the orchestra is playing both in key and in time with one another. At this point in the run, Voyager should be producing episodes like this with much greater consistency.

Near kiss.

One of the more interesting aspects of Counterpoint is that it is a story that feels very particular to Voyager in a number of small (and unobtrusive) ways. This goes back to the original pitch for the story, which was heard by Nick Sagan:

To jump ahead, one of the pitches I took for Voyager eventually became Counterpoint. The writers pitched it to me as this story about aliens hiding on Voyager. The big part I think is trying to find the hook of it, so I pitched it to Brannon [Braga] as “The Diary of Anne Frank on Voyager”. I could see at least six different ways of that playing out, and I think creating those tantalising possibilities is a huge part of pitching for Star Trek.

Of course, the story evolved a great deal from that original pitch into the finished product, but there are elements of that pitch that fit very comfortably within Voyager‘s framework. Voyager is particularly engaged with the cultural memory of the Second World War and the Holocaust.

Not ze Nazis.

Of course, Voyager is not the only show in the Star Trek canon with that interest. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine unfolded on a space station near Bajor in the wake of the Cardassian Occupation, an atrocity that was consciously designed to evoke the Holocaust in stories like Duet and Necessary Evil. However, Voyager has returned to the Second World War and Holocaust repeatedly, through various framing devices. Sometimes the show has addressed these elements through metaphor, but sometimes it has wrestled with them head-on.

Remember was a morality play about the danger of allowing the Holocaust to slip out of living memory, while Nothing Human played with the ethics of using research garnered by Nazi scientists. Jetrel debated the ethics of dropping the atomic bomb on Japan, while Distant Origin and Living Witness touched on the sensitivity around challenging accepted historical narratives. Fascist aliens in episodes like Resistance and Warlord seemed to designed to evoke the Nazi aesthetic, while holographic Nazis showed up in The Killing Game, Part I and The Killing Game, Part II.

Ain’t no party…

To be fair, some of these metaphors could feel a little strained at time. Indeed, The Killing Game, Part II was crammed full of awkward comparisons between the Nazis and various other Star Trek aliens. Tom Paris likened the Nazis to the Borg, which felt like a very crude comparison that glossed over the very different sorts of horrors represented by those two groups. However, the episode’s recurring suggestion of a thematic connection between the Nazi and the Hirogen felt even clumsier, full of trite observations and superficial similarities.

Still, it is no surprise that the writers would be drawn to a story like Counterpoint, attracted to that mythic tale the young Jewish girl whose diary has become a cultural touchstone for understanding the true horrors of the Holocaust. As it went through production, Counterpoint would drift away from The Diary of Anne Frank. However, those details would remain at the edge of the narrative. The Devore Imperium are hardly the franchise’s most memorable or iconic bad guys, but they are still very explicitly modelled on Nazi Germany.

“Do you… do you think we’re the bad guys?”

Counterpoint deserves a great deal of credit. Of course, with their jet black uniforms, their love of classical music, and their smug air of superiority, the Devore are hardly the most subtle of evil!alien!space!Nazis, but they are still unsettling. A lot of that is down to the way in which the script approaches the Devore attitude towards telepaths, treating it as something that is at once deeply unsettling and also just barely ambiguous. The Devore couch their language in vagaries. Those caught trespassing are “impounded, their crews detained and relocated.” Telepaths are sent to “relocation centres.”

There is a euphemistic quality to the speech employed by the Devore. Anybody with any understanding of history knows exactly what the Devore are doing, as Kashyk confesses to Janeway. Recalling one encounter with a young girl he found hiding on a passing ship, Kashyk explains, “I sent her to a relocation centre with the others, knowing full well what would happen to her.” The Devore are not “relocating” anybody. “Relocation centre” is a polite euphemism, a cloak of plausible deniability, like the words “concentration camp.”

The telepath of least resistance.

The Devore anxiety over telepaths is interesting, because it is a very clever use of a science-fiction concept to explore an analogue to real life events. It makes sense that certain science-fiction societies would have an aversion to telepaths. Who would be actively comfortable knowing that they were interacting with a person who could read their thoughts? Indeed, living with telepaths could easily be infuriating or upsetting, a reminder of just how hypocritical and deceitful people can be. That resentment and anger has a way of turning around.

Kashyk delivers a completely unconvincing, but undoubtedly sincere, justification of the Devore contempt for telepaths. “Trust has to be earned,” Kahsyk advises Janeway. “It’s gradual. And yet it’s the foundation of every relationship, professional and personal. It’s also a concept alien to the telepathic races. Why take someone at their word when you can simply read their mind?” It is the sort of justification for racial paranoia that can be so chilling, as if racism can be legitimised through the application of warped self-rationalisation. It recalls Landa’s attitude in Inglourious Basterds.

Imperium leather.

Counterpoint very effectively ties this fear of telepaths back into a more generic xenophobia. The Devore repeatedly use the “gaharay” to refer to visitors and aliens, meaning “strangers.” The Devore believe in their own purity apart from the rest of the universe. They are inherently suspicious of outsiders. When Janeway confesses that the Devore Imperium was too large for Voyager to bypass, Kashyk reflects, “Still, most people make the effort. We don’t exactly embrace outsiders.”

This is another example of how subtly (and how skilfully) Counterpoint is tailored to Voyager as a television show. This is not a story that could ever have worked on any other Star Trek series, because it requires Janeway to be stranded without tactical support and forced to travel through hostile terrain. Kirk or Picard would never have found themselves in a situation where they would have had to submit themselves to three inspections by a hostile enemy force, but it feels like a logical extension of Voyager‘s premise.

“You say you lost a bunch of expendable crew members in a series of unfortunate shuttle accidents? Yes, looking at your logs, that checks out.”

This is very much in keeping with the fifth season as a whole, which is at least willing to dip its toes into the water and explore the situational realities that make Voyager distinct from the other Star Trek shows. The execution is often clumsy, but there is a renewed commitment to exploring the show’s unique set-up. The season is bookended by episodes that find Janeway exploring the ethics of her decisions since Caretaker, with Night and Equinox, Part I inviting Janeway to determine if she did the right thing.

The fifth season introduces a more pragmatic version of Janeway. In Infinite Regress, Janeway returns a weapon of mass destruction to its creators without batting an eyelid. In Nothing Human has Janeway decide to violate Torres’ rights for the greater good. Even the plot of Counterpoint hinges on Janeway being a bit of a rogue, refusing to leave a bunch of telepaths to the sadistic devices of the Devore Imperium. Although Janeway would still have to hide characters like Tuvok and Vorik from the Devore, this decision greatly complicates her journey through Devore space.

Tele-ing stories.

One short exchange underscores this approach to Janeway’s character in the fifth season. “I’m still counting on getting this ship home,” she tells Kashyk. “Are you sure you’ll be welcome when you do?” Kashyk responds. “I came across something else in your database. The Prime Directive.” He continues, “It seems you violated it when you rescued these telepaths.” Janeway answers, “Well, let’s just say I usually go with my instincts and sort it out later at the Board of Inquiry.” It is a small detail, but a telling one.

The fourth and fifth seasons, as Brannon Braga becomes the dominant creative voice on Voyager, repeatedly suggest that Janeway is a more ambiguous leader than she had been in the earlier seasons. Starting with Scorpion, Part I and Scorpion, Part II, Janeway has made a number of moral compromises in order to get her crew home, and become less bound to the rule book than she had been in episodes like Prime Factors or State of Flux. That said, the fifth season is thematically building towards Janeway’s challenge to Ransom in Equinox, Part I.

“The amount of flux I don’t give.”

Even the construction of Counterpoint is striking. As with The Killing Game, Part I, the episode begins in media res, with the ship already subjugated by the oppressive fascist aliens of the week. This is hardly the innovative of narrative tricks, but Voyager is such a conventional and linear television show that there is something disorienting about throwing the audience in at the deep end. There is something unsettling about how readily Janeway submits to these searches, and about how easily the crew seem to have accepted these intrusions as a fact of life.

A clumsier script would have wasted time on set-up or exposition. Instead, Counterpoint begins with a powerful image and then retroactively fills in the gaps. A few lines between Kashyk and Janeway explain why these fascist thugs are rummaging around the ship, and the plot can get moving all the more effectively for not having to introduce all of these characters and then show the inspection process and then have Janeway rescue the telepaths. Having all of that set up before the episode even starts allows Counterpoint to get to the meat of the matter.


The sequences in which the Devore soldiers board Voyager are some of the most impressive sequences in the entire run of Voyager. In theory, there is nothing especially unique about these scenes, as Voyager has been invaded and hijacked countless times over the seven-year run; the Vidiians in Deadlock, the Kazon in Basics, Part I and Basics, Part II, the Nyrians in Displaced, the aliens in Waking Moments, the Hirogen in The Killing Game, Part I and The Killing Game, Part II. After all of those horrible attack, the Devore should feel like a soft touch.

However, Counterpoint very cleverly choices to play these scenes as montages covering the brutal and intrusive nature of these inspections. In terms of storytelling, Voyager tended to be quite conservative, so these montages are a very effective piece of storytelling, doing an excellent job conveying mood and tone in a short amount of time. Still, the real genius of these scenes lies in the decision to have Kashyk play classic music over the ship’s intercom system. “I took the liberty of playing this music throughout your ship. I thought it might help your crew relax.”

A small sample size.

According to composer Ron Jones, producer Rick Berman had “always considered music an intrusion, a necessary evil.” To be fair, this was beginning to change, particularly on Deep Space Nine. Composers David Bell and Paul Baillargeon were able to craft distinctive soundscapes to accompany episodes that pushed beyond the stand Star Trek template. At the same time, the use of musical montages in Counterpoint still feel relatively experimental for an episode of Berman era Star Trek, ignoring the fact that montages had been a feature of cinematic storytelling dating back to the thirties.

This use of classical music is more striking for the wry dissonance between the soothing sounds playing over the speaker system and the brutality of the Devore foot soldiers. Again, this contrast seems very obvious, but Voyager very rarely embraced in this sort of juxtaposition. It helps establish an unsettling tone for the episode, one enhanced by director Les Landau’s use of dutch angles and unconventional camera positions to render the familiar ship sets as something alien and potentially hostile.

“Let’s see how this plays out.”

It also reinforces the comparisons between the Devore and the Nazis, inviting a comparison between a society of brutal thugs and their own pretension of culture. The Nazi Party sought legitimacy through culture, consciously evoking the trappings of classic western civilisation. As David B. Dennis outlines in Inhumanities:

Scholarship on nineteenth- and twentieth-century “German identity” consistently testifies that the fine arts played a pivotal role in the developing symbolism of the modern nation. Activists seeking to strengthen German political unity emphasised shared conceptions of beauty. Competing political movements sought to increase their respectability by demonstrating that cultural heroes – Meister or masters – could be aligned with their respective ideologies. Consequently, as George L. Mosse observed, German politics and high culture penetrated each other: philosophy, literature, painting, sculpture, architecture, and music all came to be perceived as symbolic of political attitudes.

Kashyk is ultimately appropriating human culture rather than celebrating Devore culture, but it makes little difference. After all, the Nazis were fascinated by Ancient Greece and Rome. More than that, it fits with Voyager‘s recurring theme of Delta Quadrant aliens appropriating culture from the ship and crew; the mythology at the end of False Profits, the Hirogen holodeck fantasies in The Killing Game, Part I and The Killing Game, Part II, the stories in Muse.

Briefing flirtation.

Les Landau’s direction of Counterpoint is particularly effective. The production team on Voyager tended to play up the bright and shiny nature of the standing sets. The lighting on Voyager was often turned up very high to ensure that the audience could always see what was going on. Despite the fact that Voyager spent seven years stranded in the Delta Quadrant, the ship tended to look pristine and stylish. Even after episodes like Deadlock, the maintenance teams seemed capable of restoring that “new starship smell.”

Counterpoint cleverly turns down the lighting. During the Devore inspections, Janeway sets Voyager to “grey alert”, which effectively establishes mood light across the ship. While the sets are still very clean and very shiny, the atmospheric lighting in Counterpoint helps to cultivate a sense of ambiguity and mystery. Even after Kashyk defects to Voyager, Counterpoint maintains that relatively low-key visual aesthetic. During their scene together in the mess hall, Janeway and Kashyk keep the lights turned way down low.

The wormhole in things.

In terms of “small but effective” aspects of Counterpoint, even the one-shot minor guest aliens are somewhat fascinating. The Devore are standard “forehead of the week” aliens, clad in familiar black uniforms, but they are effective. The telepathic refugees barely register, but the script still finds something to do with them. There is a clever gag about Neelix trying to tell a bedtime story to a bunch of telepathic children, only to realise that they have read the next twist straight out of his mind.

However, Torat is particularly engaging. Torat is a wormhole specialist, a member of an unnamed Delta Quadrant species. The character himself is nothing but a vehicle for exposition, allowing Janeway and Kashyk to play “good cop, bad cop”, but his design is fascinating. Michael Westmore gives Torat an eerily smooth face that recalls the Moneans from Thirty Days, suggesting the uncanny valley. However, he also give the character an air bladder under his nose, which allows him to “puff up” his face. It is a nice visual that makes even this minor character seem unique.

“I’m late, I’m late for a very important date!”

However, while Counterpoint does a lot of small things efficiently, it is perhaps notable for how skillfully it executes its central premise. Counterpoint is notable as the first episode of Voyager to centre around a romance for Captain Kathryn Janeway, and it works spectacularly on those terms. Janeway has been a rather chaste character for the past four-and-a-half seasons. Episodes like Prime Factors, Persistence of Vision and Resolutions teased the idea of various romantic entanglements, but they were left either unfulfilled or ambiguous.

Caretaker had gone out of its way to establish that Janeway had a lover waiting on Earth for her return, a storytelling decision seemingly motivated by the desire to prevent Janeway from becoming entangled in any romantic subplots. Of course, that did not stop other characters. While Tuvok remained loyal to his wife, give or take a holographic flirtation with a replica in Body and Soul, Harry Kim rather quickly forgot about Libby. Kim crushed on a hologram in Alter Ego, promised to help further a species in Favourite Son, and caught an alien STD in The Disease.

Time to Kashyk it all in.

Voyager‘s decision to keep Janeway chaste plays like a double standard, an illustration of the differences between Janeway and her male counterparts in the Star Trek canon. The male leads in the other Star Trek shows tended to have romances-of-the-week quite early in their runs; Kirk hooked up with a subordinate in Dagger of the Mind, while Picard met an ex-girlfriend in We’ll Always Have Paris and Archer had his first romance of the week in Civilisation. Sisko had to wait until Second Sight to get his first romance, but he was introduced as a widower grieving his dead wife.

By these standards, it seems absurd that Janeway should have to wait four-and-a-half years to get a bona fides romance subplot, to be allowed a flirtation with another character that might actually go somewhere. It speaks to the awkwardness with which the Star Trek franchise managed its first female lead, as if afraid to sexualise a woman in her mid-forties. Voyager was worrying comfortable heavily sexualising its younger female characters. Kes was only a few years old, but was hypersexualised in Warlord or Darkling. Seven has the emotional age of child, but was put in that catsuit in The Gift.

To be fair, Seven is arguably just as chaste as Janeway.
Voyager seeks to sexualise her without affording her any sexual agency.

Even beyond Voyager‘s own struggles with sex and sexuality, television tends to downplay the sexuality of middle-aged women. On her fiftieth birthday, actor Emily Watson reflected on how rare it was for a woman over thirty-five to be presented as sexually active on film or in television:

“I guess when I first read it I thought ‘really?’” Watson says, laughing. “I mean I’ve been described in the press before as a character actor who gets laid, which I think is a great description, but as the years go by you get laid less and less on screen and then you sort of stop, so I definitely felt that, like that Amy Schumer sketch, I’d had my last f%$kable day – and then suddenly here I am. It was pretty cool although I did have to kind of swallow a few times when I read the script.”

The role of Yvonne Carmichael, a highly successful scientist and apparently happily married mother of two whose one reckless decision sends her life spiralling out of control, came as a pleasant surprise. “It was kind of great because these days when I go and do a movie the team is being run by a 22-year-old and I’m playing the mum,” she says. “And then you go and do TV and you’re running the show and the 22-year-old is in for a couple of days, which I won’t lie was a nice thing.”

Of course, Star Trek was never particular confident in its sexuality, always adopting a PG-13 attitude towards sex. However, Patrick Stewart was presented as a viral romantic lead well past his fifties, while the early seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise tried to present an almost-fifty-year-old Scott Bakula as a virile sex symbol.

“I told you that bass speaker was a good idea, Chakotay.”

Counterpoint is refreshing because it allows Janeway to have that sort of romance, without diminishing or belittling her. After all, one suspects that part of the reason that the production team kept Janeway chaste was because of the double standard that exists when it comes to sex and sexuality. Hypersexual men are described as “players” or “ladykillers”, while sexually aggressive women are branded “sluts.” Given the conservative vibes of Voyager, it makes sense that the production team would have allowed this sexist double standard to influence their writing.

Indeed, the original plan for Counterpoint was much safer and more generic than the version that made it to screen. In early drafts of the story, the writers had planned for Janeway to fall in love with one of the refugees. This seems like a much tamer story than the finished episode, one anchored in a raw sentimentality rather than in an aggressive sexual power dynamic. Having Janeway fall in love with a space!Holocaust survivor would have been far too earnest, particularly given the necessity of writing that character out at the end of the episode.

The window is closing.

Cleverly, the writers decided to reverse the dynamic, and have Janeway fall for one of the evil!alien!space!Nazis. It is a potentially ridiculous twist, given that Kashyk should represent the very antithesis of everything that Janeway holds dear. However, that gives the script a lot of verve, as Joe Menosky explained to Cinefantastique:

The original ‘love interest’ was one of the people who were being victimized. We just turned it on its head. How much more interesting, if the ‘romantic sparks’ are between two enemies. It was one of those shows where you finish with the break and you just think, this is going to be great. This is where we found out what a good writer Taylor was.

Janeway and Kashyk bounce well off one another. Star Trek has often struggled with writing believable and workable one-and-done romances; The City on the Edge of Forever is a striking exception, but most the franchise’s episodic romances fall flat. Playing the romance in Counterpoint as a cat-and-mouse game is inspired.

Another fine mess hall you’ve gotten us into.

Counterpoint consciously plays up the tension between Janeway and Kashyk. Over the course of the episode, the two characters seem to circle one another like predator and prey. The script invites the audience to wonder precisely how much romance exists between the pair; how much of their dynamic is cynical manipulation, how much is raw sexual attraction, how much is genuine affection? The script to Counterpoint never spells any of this out, instead inviting the audience to reach their own conclusions.

Janeway and Kashyk have an interesting dynamic. Mark Harelik plays Kashyk as a male lead from a forties film noir. He is tall, dark, and handsome. He exudes an air of confidence and gravitas, even when he presents himself as a potential defector early in the episode. However, Counterpoint is very specifically tailored towards Kate Mulgrew’s strengths. As with The Killing Game, Part I and The Killing Game, Part II, Counterpoint understands that Mulgrew is one of the best performers in the cast, and works very well with material that has a vintage flavour.

Feel the (Hep)burn.

At various points over the run of Voyager, Mulgrew channels Katharine Hepburn. A lot of this is down to her appearance, particularly her hairstyle in the first few seasons. However, Mulgrew’s distinctive voice plays a part; her transatlantic drawl echoes that of Hepburn, with David Greven describing her voice as “precise, controlled, yet sensual.” Although Mulgrew would become a fan in later life,  claiming to have seen all of Hepburn’s films and read at least a dozen books on the actor, she admits to have been skeptical of Hepburn when she was younger.

Mulgrew is aware of these comparisons, acknowledging, “I’ve often been likened to her.” Indeed, Counterpoint plays into this aspect of Mulgrew’s performance style. Kashyk and Janeway banter like characters in some forgotten fifty romantic adventure, two unlikely (and occasionally adversarial) characters thrown into a life-and-death situation at short notice. It evokes the dynamic that Steven Spielberg tried to emulate with Raiders of the Lost Ark, two characters who seem attracted to one another even if they do not like each other.

“Love, what a nebulous concept.”

Mulgrew and Harelik do an exceptional job with that material. Counterpoint has some wonderful exchanges. “I suppose you liked me better in uniform,” Kashyk jokes during one late-night study session in the mess hall. Janeway is not about to let him get away with that. She responds, “I haven’t decided whether I like you at all.” It is playful and flirtatious, but it also very clearly demonstrates that Janeway is in control of the situation. Janeway can give as good as she gets, and Kashyk would do well to remember that.

Indeed, the episode’s twist works remarkably well. To be fair, the climax is relatively predictable. Counterpoint is too smart an episode to play the plot entirely straight. Kashyk could never just be a defector from the Devore Imperium. Watching the story play out, the only real question is whether Kashyk is a double or a triple agent, whether he will have a last-minute change of heart and betray the Devore to Voyager after he betrays Voyager to the Devore. Counterpoint opts for the most straightforward resolution, Kashyk betraying Janeway, who is one step ahead.

Kashyk me if you can.

While this is perhaps the most likely way to end an episode like Counterpoint, the climax works like gangbusters. Once again, Kate Mulgrew demonstrates her range and ability. Janeway absolutely brutally owns Kashyk, in what might be her finest single scene of the entire seven-season run of Voyager. Despite being overwhelmed and outgunned, Mulgrew makes it perfectly clear that the situation is never beyond Janeway’s control. The climax of Counterpoint is one of the few times that Janeway feels completely and fully formed as a character.

Mulgrew’s Janeway is relatively stationary during the scene, in contrast to Harelik’s Kashyk. Indeed, the episode’s closing act features some of the best use of techno-babble across the seven-year run of Voyager. Kashyk checks the sensors. “Those aren’t neutrino emissions, they’re antimatter residue signatures,” he protests. “There’s no wormhole here. You created false readings.” Janeway doesn’t miss a beat, responding mockingly, “That is the theme for this evening, isn’t it?”

Light relief.

When Kashyk realises that there are shuttles missing, he protests, “Why didn’t they appear on our long range scans?” Then it dawns on him. “Of course! Adjust their scanners to compensate for refractive shielding.” As the Devore officers panic, Janeway remains in completely control of the situation. “Well, you gave us the specifications,” she admits. “Seemed a shame to waste them.” Mulgrew sinks her teeth into these sarcastic one-liners, creating the sense that Janeway knew exactly what she was doing all along.

However, there is more nuance than that. The script, and the performance, suggest that the situation is rather more complicated than that. Janeway’s flirtation with Kashyk was more than just a shell game. In order for the episode to really work, there needs to be some emotional risk for the character. Although Janeway maintains a fantastic poker face during that final scene, Mulgrew very cleverly and very subtly suggests that some part of Janeway wanted to believe Kashyk, that some side of her needed to believe that he was genuine and could be redeemed.

Their relationship is ship shape.

The script suggests as much in the closing exchange between the two characters. “It seems I never did earn your trust,” Kashyk reflects. Janeway suggests the reality was more complicated than that. “I had to take a few precautions.” As Kashyk prepares to leave, Janeway assures him, “I never lied to you. My offer to take you with us was genuine, and it would still stand if you’d kept your part of the bargain.” Mulgrew plays the moment with no small sense of regret.

Mulgrew positions Janeway as a character who wanted to believe in the best in people, but understood the necessity of planning for the worst. In some ways, this serves to distinguish Janeway from Kirk or Picard. Kirk is the master of improvisation and gut feeling. Picard is the skilled diplomat who tends to negotiate compromise. Counterpoint suggests that Janeway is a humanist who has found herself in an impossible situation, whose pragmatic understanding that the universe can be a cruel place is not enough to completely extinguish her faith in people.

“What do you mean Maj Cullah has more appearances than I do?”

Counterpoint demonstrates that Mulgrew was as capable a lead performer as Shatner, Stewart or Brooks. It is just a shame she rarely got the right material, or a consistent characterisation. Writer Michael Taylor told Cinefantastique that he intended the episode to serve as such a showcase:

“It’s about time our Captain had a romance, and a romantic partner worthy of her. She can never really let her guard down. She’s always got to be the captain. The show is sort of a romance within an elaborate game. She never loses site of the goal, which is to protect her crew and the people she has taken aboard. I think it was a great chance for Kate to show what she can do. She had been asking for some sort of romance, and when it came along, she saw that it was right for her character, and she played the role to the hilt.”

Mulgrew has repeatedly cited the episode as her favourite, even including it as her entry in the Captain’s Logs collection. She argued, “This episode revealed Janeway/Mulgrew at her creative best and gave me great satisfaction.” Mulgrew still speaks fondly of Counterpoint as a story “where [she] could have a little love.”

Ready to trust.

Counterpoint is one of Voyager‘s best episodes, a moment when it seems like absolutely every part of the production is singing in key.

10 Responses

  1. “Computer, change music selection!”

    For a brief moment she was a truly great Starfleet captain.

    “the Devore attitude towards telepaths”

    They bummed that from Babylon Five, of that I’m certain.

    You also see a few winks at SG-1 (their direct competitor) after the third season.

  2. i agree counterpoint is one of the best episodes i saw of voyager. the villain is awesome. the classical music is great, and the directing sweeps around with pans and presents the show in a very cinematic manner. so good.

  3. Glad you share my love for this episode, Darren. Despite the small plot hole about the Vulcans on board who were unaffected in the end, this episode is just amazing. The final minutes are painful in any way. Janeway does indeed own the situation and she relishes in her fair and more than earned share of “Schadenfreude”, but at the same time one can feel her pain that she barely manages to hide under her controlled facade. Masterful. I remember that as a younger person I was really shocked about this outcome, though it was kind of destined to end this way. PS: I am grateful that this show introduced me to Mahler way back then. Great “score”.

    • It’s amazing. I think it was the VOyager episode that I chose to watch as part of my “fiftieth anniversary evening marathon”, along with The Trouble With Tribbles, The Measure of a Man, Trials and Tribble-ations and Judgment.

      • It used to be my favorite one, though it is closely followed by some other season 4 and 5 episodes. Interesting to see your fascination with Tribbles 🙂

      • I think it was just a nice way to tie two hours of my five-hour marathon together. I could probably have gone with “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “The Visitor.” Which, oddly, would have made a lot of my marathon about love stories, after a fashion.

      • I find it amazing that you were able to come up with a top 5 and that it did include the Tribbles twice rather than some of the other DS9 “legends”. 😉

  4. This one is certainly in the top 10% of Voyager episodes. I enjoyed it all (even if Janeway’s casual dismissal of the Prime Directive comes one episode after jailing Paris in solitary confinement for the same behaviour).

    I kept waiting for Kashyk to exclaim, “Another game for MILOS!”
    Mark Harelik’s voice is unmistakable.

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