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Star Trek: Voyager – Resistance (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a look at the 1995 to 1996 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily Tuesday through Friday for the latest review.

Resistance is a very episodic instalment of Star Trek: Voyager.

It begins with the ship facing a convenient plot-generating fuel-shortage, the type of problem that the ship had encountered near the start of Phage or The Cloud or Tattoo. It is the kind of problem that was not mentioned in previous episodes, and which will never be presented as a potentially recurring problem. In fact, Resistance is the only episode of Voyager (or Star Trek) where the word “Tellerium” is mentioned. Many of the stock criticisms of Voyager apply here.

Fifty shades of Joel Grey...

Fifty shades of Joel Grey…

At the same time, Resistance is proof that the episodic model is not entirely without merit. For all that modern television has tended towards serialisation and arcs and long-form storytelling, there is nothing inherently wrong with a good old-fashioned done-in-one adventure. On a purely cosmetic level, Resistance is the typical Voyager episode; it relies on contrivance, it features a host of guest characters who will never appear (or be mentioned) again, it has no lasting impact. And yet it works better than any episode to this point in the second season.

As easy as it is to get distracted by arguments about serialised and episodic storytelling, or about arcs and standalones, the truth is that Voyager‘s problems are at once more simple and more complex than that. The grand irony of the second season is that it is the only season of Voyager to attempt a storytelling arc, but that storytelling arc is pretty universally derided as one of the worst things that the show ever did. (It isn’t really, but it’s still pretty bad.) The truth is that it doesn’t matter how Voyager chose to tell its stories, as long as it told them well.

Mellon head...

Mellon head…

Resistance is a fairly standard episode of Voyager, but it is elevated in the telling. The story seems unlikely to rank among anybody’s favourite Voyager episodes, but it is an efficient and effective character study with a solid script and a great central performance. The production team were able to recruit Oscar-winning actor Joel Grey as the primary guest star, lending the story an incredible level of pathos. Lisa Klink also makes quite an impression with her debut teleplay, providing a story that is careful to give most of the cast something to do.

The result is proof that there’s nothing inherently wrong with a largely episodic approach to Star Trek storytelling, as long as the material is up to scratch.

"This is knife reunion, no?"

“This is knife reunion, no?”

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