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Star Trek: Voyager – Fair Trade (Review)

In theory, Fair Trade is precisely the episode that Star Trek: Voyager needs right now.

From the outset, the show has struggled with several major problems. Superficially, Voyager has struggled to distinguish the Delta Quadrant from the Alpha Quadrant, to the point that the Kazon felt like low-rent Klingons and the various aliens-of-the-week seemed largely indistinguishable from the aliens-of-the-week featured on the sibling shows. More fundamentally, the show failed to conjure an air of mystery and intrigue about the region. Everything about the show felt too safe, right down to the characters. This was a show where terrorists became model officers.

Venting plasma...

Venting plasma…

Fair Trade feels like it should offer the perfect remedy to all of this. The opening scenes find Voyager brushing up against “the Nekrit Expanse.” It is a region of space that is pointedly different and alien. Neelix has no idea what lies beyond. The sensors cannot penetrate it. Voyager is forced to dock at a local space station to take supplies, one crowded with aliens of multiple species engaged in shady dealings. More than that, the episode hinges on the neglected character of Neelix. It returns to early undeveloped suggestions the Neelix is not all he claims to be.

However, in practice, Fair Trade is disappointing. The episode lacks the courage of its convictions, both as a script of itself and as clear demarcation within the third season. It is a show rich with promise that offers up any number of intriguing ideas, but lacks the courage necessary to follow through on them.

In a bit of a Wix.

In a bit of a Wix.

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