Thursday, 7 November 2013

Review: Voyager 1.11: State of Flux

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Martha Hackett's starring role as Seska.
Star Trek Voyager - Season One, Episode Eleven - State of Flux
Written 1/6/13

Plot movement is rare on Voyager, at least this early in the game. The plotline for the first two seasons, with Kazon and all that bizniz, really gets going with this episode, which doesn't so much pose a mystery as it does develop one background character both directly and indirectly into the season's villainess. It was the first to try to really present the Kazon as something other than a joke, and in that it failed, but that's more of a fault of them than it is of this otherwise okay episode.
     When the Kazon (the asshole aliens who we first met in the pilot) ambush Voyager's crew on a planet, Seska is found near them in some caves. She organises a pantry raid for Chakotay, her old flame, but he is less than impressed. They find a Kazon ship which has been ravaged by an explosion - an explosion which has emanated from a Federation Replicator. Many people are under suspicion for having handed the tech over - Seska being a prime candidate. While she tries to blame it all on Carey, a blood test shows that she is biologically a Cardassian (the arsey Roman-esque villains of DS9 who would have reason to infiltrate Chakotay's ship.) A trap is set to find the traitor and Seska stumbles right into it, leaving her to cackle and teleport away.
     I might as well talk about the Kazon now in case I never get to review Season Two. They are the least intimidating villains that I have ever seen in Star Trek. Yep. They're terrible, on every level. Their design and conception seemed to try and combine the angry, honour-obsessed Klingons with the smarmy bastards the Cardassians, but the writing team completely shits the bed and the result is a species presented to us as one capable of warp technology who struggle to find water despite interstellar travel and who basically fuck up at every turn. When we meet Seven of Nine in Season Four, she tells us quite happily that the all-consuming Borg collective refused to assimilate the Kazon because they would present a step backwards.
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Poor Chakotay.
     This is really Chakotay's episode, and Robert Beltran gets a decent showing as he fights between his former loyalties to Seska and the evidence in front of him. Beltran had a more negative attitude to the show than some of the rest of the cast, noticing its faults in the writing department, but that's not really noticable here as the character isn't made to sprout Native American stereotypes and is instead a complex and somewhat likeable man of values. Plus, seeing him all confused and torn up as he realises that his tight-knit Maquis had not one but two spies on board, one from each of the major powers trying to wipe them out, is both funny and endearing at the same time.
     Plotwise this really is the only contribution to Voyager's overall arcs that the rest of Season One has to offer. I wish that it had a couple of decent concepts in there, but Martha Hackett's Seska is a charming enough villainess that it really doesn't matter. It was fun watching the lies and manipulation of character that's been doing this for years and has done so almost habitually, to the extent that she's still in character 70,000 light years from home. The last five episodes of the season are all pretty enjoyable, and this episode is pretty awesome too.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: It's an entire episode surrounding The Doctor, and he's awesome awesome awesome. Watch Robert Picardo take The Doctor to a land of Heroes and Demons.

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