Thursday, 12 September 2013

Review: Voyager 1.3: Parallax
The other ship was us all along! "surprised face"
Star Trek Voyager - Season One, Episode Three - Parallax
Written 19/5/13

It's interesting how Voyager's first normal-length episode features a whopping great scientific blunder the size of Little Whinging - not exactly the best message to send out, is it? Despite the fact that the episode spends the majority of its time using recognisable technobabble that makes no real sense, it did throw in a few ounces of character development for what may amount to the episode's centric character, B'elanna.
     B'elanna gets angry and breaks the nose of Federation equivalent Carey, leading to an argument between Janeway and Chakotay when the latter is insistent upon her becoming the new chief engineer. The ship sees a ship trapped in the event horizon of a black hole, and is unable to tractor them out. Attempting to leave the area, they find themselves pulled in, and a message they sent earlier reveals that they were seeing an image of themselves in the future. Using B'elanna's knowledge, she and Janeway "cut" their way out of the event horizon, and the half-Klingon is given the position of Chief Engineer. In a sub-plot, the quantum singularity affects The Doctor's emitters and makes him get shorter and shorter.
     The episode treats an Event Horizon as a pocket of energy that's a bit tricky to get past. In actual fact, the Event Horizon of a singularity is not a tangible thing that can be broken or moved through. I'll try to explain... All objects have an escape velocity, the speed required to bypass that object's gravity and escape from the major effects of its gravitational field. The stronger the gravity, the greater the escape velocity. The Event Horizon is the point at which the escape velocity exceeds the maximum speed of the vessel (In our Universe we say that it's the point where the e.v. is greater than the speed of light, which is our speed limit. Obviously that's gonna be bigger in Star Trek.) So it's impossible to escape from not because it's an energy field, but because it's physically impossible to get out.,_Parallax.jpg
Janeway is staring at his nose for some reason. I don't get it.
     Luckily, despite the fact that the entire episode's pot was based on that silliness, the character developments were well balanced with them. There were a few decent arguments between Chakotay and Janeway, which are always nice to see, but I didn't like the way that after being cautious over whether B'elanna was suitable to even be part of Starfleet any more, her proficiency in a single crisis was enough to make Janeway think, "Sure, she punches people who disagree with her, but she's pretty cool." It felt forced, is what I'm saying. They went from cautious apathy to being bosom buddies in the space of a few scenes.
     And so Voyager is off to a spectacularly crappy start. Parallax is as lacklustre as we can come to expect from Voyager's first couple of seasons, combining a mix of glaringly inaccurate real-world technobabble and somewhat patronisingly simplified character dynamics. Voyager could be a series with some real teeth, but apparently their idea of showing the animosity between Maquis and Starfleet is to have off-screen fights, behind-the-scenes gossipping and extended discussions of "Maquis principles" that don't actually say anything about them.


NEXT WEEK: Voyager sacrifices its first episode to the Goddess of Shitty Time Travel in Time and Again.

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