Thursday, 13 March 2014

Review: Voyager 2.12: Resistance
Caylem is a charming if crazy old man.
From Wikia
Star Trek Voyager - Season Two, Episode Twelve - Resistance
Written 30/7/13

You know, I think I've been getting some of my signals wrong. I distinctly remember Season Two of Voyager as being completely crap. Like, worst-of-the-worst kind of stuff. I know that there are some truly shocking episodes to come (in about three weeks, in fact), but at the same time there are episodes like these which provide engaging, moving science fiction with awesome characterisations. Its premise wasn't that inspired and I'm sure it's been done better elsewhere, but the arrant professionalism with which it seemed to take its own ideas is what pulled it through to becoming almost outstanding.
     An away team has popped down (in secret) to a planet whose authoritarian government is immediately suspicious of everyone and his cat, and just as the crew get their magic Unobtanium, the government soldiers arrive and stir things up, leaving Janeway seperated and on the run with a crazy old man called Caylem who thinks that she is his dead daughter. As negotations get exceedingly pear-shaped, Caylem helps Janeway to lead a mini-assault by the planet's local resistance movement into the Prison where B'elanna and Tuvok are being held, with Caylem's psychosis being revealed just as he is killed. The crew escape and carry on their way, but Janeway feels sad about the man's death.
     The episode dispenses with the usual "Voyager needs X, goes to find X," scenario within the first five minutes, and thanks to this one small degree of innovation we're left with a much more interesting pisode that pushes Broadway actor Joel Gray into developing the character of Caylem into the episode's centrepiece - a doddery figure whose madness Janeway leaves unchallenged throughout. It says a lot about her that she is happy to maintain his delusion as long as it brings him happiness, especially in his dying moments when she explicitly refers to herself as his daughter in order to comfort him.It shows a Captain whose compassion stretches beyond being nice to her crew and eating lunch with them, and is incredibly strong for her in that regard.
The villainous Mokra, not to be confused with a chocolatey
coffee drink.
     The plot of the episode, as Star Trek Wiki Memory Alpha tells me on the other tab, was inspired by the famous Spanish masterpiece Don Quixote, about an old man who decides to go out doing the daring do and names a random woman as his lady love. The episode doesn't rely too much on it, and on the contrary it embodies it with a uniquely human charm that focuses very much on the stress put upon Caylem - the stress that would lead a man to forget the death of his wife and daughter and to drive so forcefully to bring down those who killed them. Despite how slightly weird and creepy he often is, you can't help but feel for the guy, and he is the most memorable thing about the episode.
     Resistance is a gem in this series that I am somewhat confused about not remembering. I did miss a few episodes when I first watched the second season in syndication, but I don't remember this being one of them. I should have remembered it, as for this point in the series so marred even by my own memory as one of low quality and silliness, this episode is written so profoundly well that I don't have to make excuses for it as I often fo other episodes of this show. It is just a teriffic hour of science fiction and I bloody love it.


NEXT WEEK: B'elanna gets kidnapped by a robot who wants to start a world war, in Prototype.

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