Thursday, 6 February 2014

Review: Voyager 2.7: Partuition
Neelix and Tom have to get a-pasta their conflict.
Star Trek Voyager - Season Two, Episode Seven - Partuition
Written 30/6/13

It is rare for an episode of a TV series to leave me with a beaming smile on my face throughout. Partuition is an episode whose writing, despite covering some plotlines which I have found to be extremely contentious, is just so good on every level that I really can't help but adore it. The episode, as well as being purely character focused in a really well-done way, also has this sense of comic timing which enhances mundane scenes into works of pure art. And I'm exaggerating a little bit, but there you go.
     Tom Paris is teaching friend Kes how to pilot a shuttlecraft, and when she ends up in his arms he realises that he has feelings for her. When he tries to avoid Kes to both help himself and stop the ridiculously jealous Neelix from ever getting wind of it, the two men argue and fight. At the same time, they're conveniently sent off on a mission together on a planet with a technobabble atmosphere, where they're brought together and bond over saving the life of an alien hatchling. As the two are rescued by Voyager, they discuss their issues rationally and Neelix accepts that for whatever god-forsaken reason Kes is in love with him and he should get over himself.
     The writing for everyone, but especially Tom Paris, felt very realistic this week. Usually in Trek there's an underlying sense of the strange as characters name-drop alien words in odd ways that are supposed to give the impression of 24th Century society. Here it felt like real people discussing real issues - be it Paris' attitude towards discovering he has feelings towards someone who is infatutated with someone else, his discussions with Neelix on the planet or simply the way that the crew went about their business. There was a strange exchange where Janeway and Chakotay predicted a plan that Tuvok was about to explain step-by-step, acting as if, you know, they'd all had similar Starfleet training.
Even Neelix ships Kes/Tom.
     Ultimately the episode's core idea (Paris and Neelix look after a baby and that makes them kiss and make up) is a flawed one. Early on in the episode where they're emphasising the rather desperately obsessive nature of Neelix' jealousy at this point, I found it really creepy to watch - more so than any of his more annoying transgressions in earlier episodes. While there was the feeling of the magic wand being waved to end the subplot (which is never spoken of again, luckily), the character dialogues did make up for that - it ticked all the right boxes, even if it looked a little odd doing it.
     Partuition is a testament to the importance of good base writing - your concept doesn't need to be fancy every single week, and you also don't need to try and tempt the audience into thinking that the series might have a big plot twist tand then let them down within 40 minutes. Partuition is about what good TV is usually about - a set of characters, characters you love and who you hate, characters who are identifiable. Despite the fact that at his core, Neelix is still one sick son-of-a-bitch, this episode managed to make him tolerable and that is the greatest accolade I can give it.


NEXT WEEK: People start seeing things. B'elanna has some sexy thoughts. Voyager tries to imitate Steven King. It's Persistance of Vision.

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