Thursday, 3 October 2013

Review: Voyager 1.6: The Cloud

I know, a gif on Nostalgia Filter! Totes amazeballs.
Star Trek Voyager - Season One, Episode Six - The Cloud
Written 31/5/13

The Cloud is most definitely a breather episode, although seeing as Voyager is arguably a breather series this poses something of a dilemma - how, exactly, can one become even more thin and jovial than Voyager usually is? The Cloud manages this with what I suppose might be called success, and is probably the closest that any of the Treks have come to being a space sitcom. Not to say that this is bad, of course, as Voyager trying to be funny is at least better than when it does so unintentionally.
     Due to a power shortage that's stopping Janeway from getting her damn coffee, she orders the ship into a suspicious-looking nebula that might have some technobabbly particles. The nebula fights back, and after Voyager fights her way out it's shown that the nebula is a life-form. Distressed that they may have hurt it, they go back in and seal the wound, feeling chuffed with themselves at the end. Along the way, The Doctor is snarky to hilarious levels, Neelix is a whiny prick (just the norm, really), Janeway tries to socialise with the crew and goes on a Native American "vision quest", and we're introduced to Season 1+2 haunt Sandrine's, one of Paris' favourite holoprograms.
     The series prided itself on its inclusivity - female captain, African American Security officer, Native American First Officer, Latin American Chief Engineer, Asian-American Ensign. However, the way that Voyager treated Chakotay and his Native American roots did sometimes feel a little suspect. Take this, for instance. Chakotay was born on Earth in the 24th Century, and yet because he's Native American in ethnicity (or we're told he is; the actor is Mexican-American) he has all this wonderful mystical Spirit Guide stuff. Why can't he be like Tuvok and B'elanna and simply exist and be represented instead of being forced to display all of these stereotypes about a culture whose treatment in the USA has been and often continues to be horrendous.
File:The Doctor tries to get attention.jpg
Doctor-based comedy hijinks.
     But, perhaps I'm getting a little too serious for what was supposed to be a light outing. So onto Janeway's character in this episode, which introduces a great number of recurring traits that will define her for at least 33% of the series run. (The other thirds are "psychotic madwoman" and "staunch starfleet officer") This episode I don't think introduces but certainly codifies her obsession with coffee, and the line before the title sequence, "Commander, set a new course - there's coffee in that nebula!" is just delivered so perfectly. Her quaint attempts to socialise with the crew, especially the gormless Harry (who reveals this week that he can... remember what if feels like to be in the womb...) who wants to invite her to eat with the gentiles.
     The Cloud is a relief episode with little to be relieved from besides any actual tension. The explorations into some of our characterisations and the insinuation that the Voyager crew have quirky day-to-day lives help to develop Voyager into the comfort TV that it would later become, and I can't really complain about that. Mindless mush it may be, but it's vaguely enjoyable mindless mush and if you don't like it when Janeway totally puts down Neelix's whining then there's nothing really I can do for you.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: Voyager nearly has a chance to get home! I wonder how that one will turn out! We see if the suspension of disbelief required for next week's episode could fit through the Eye of the Needle.

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