Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Review: Voyager 3.6: Remember

B'elanna tries to explain the events of the Regressive genocide
to a disbelieving Enaran crowd.
Star Trek Voyager - Season Three, Episode Six - Remember
Written 17/8/15

This year, the world marked the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and with it the effective end of the Holocaust. While not the only great massacre in history, it was the systematic nature of the killings, the scale and the way that propaganda played a role that makes it stand out as a devastating and important event. This story, while not an exact analogue for those events, attempts to place one of our characters in the position of someone affected by similar propaganda. And, for the most part, it succeeds, not pulling any punches with its message but still standing as a captivating experience.
     As Voyager escorts a group of telepathic aliens called the Enarans, B'Elanna starts getting weird dreams which place her in the position of an Enaran woman in love with a member of a group called Regressives, a group who once resisted technology. As her waking life surrounds finding the source of these dreams, the dream narrative explores how the Regressives were discriminated against, forced to relocate from their homes and eventually exterminated, with B'Elanna's dream character joining the mob rallying against them. She discovers that one of the members of the Enaran party has been projecting these memories too her, hoping to uncover the historic injustice through a third party. B'elanna tries to confront the rest of the Enarans over this issue, but due to non-interferance rules the only thing she can do is share her memories with a single Enaran engineer.
     Remember was written by Joe Menosky for TNG, and that really shows in the way that it avoids a lot of Voyager tropes. B'elanna's history with oppression as both a Maquis and as half-Klingon isn't directly mentioned, but it does seem to inform her anger and frustration at the injustice she experiences in her dreams - making her a much more appropriate choice for the lead than Troi would have in TNG. We also see yet another side of Janeway's character, acting with responsibility and resolve, not entirely blowing B'elanna's concerns off but reluctantly telling her that beyond trade sanctions with the Enarans, it's not really their place to go wading into an alien society and telling them what to do.
B'elanna, as Korenna in her dreams, finds herself cheering
on at the execution of her Regressive lover.
     Obviously the episode didn't have very long to get its entire message across, with time dedicated to the real-world story and to building up the relationship between B'elanna's dream persona, Korenna, and her Regressive lover Daathan. In true Trek fashion, the Regressives aren't modelled after one particular culture; while there are elements of the persecution of the First Nations cultures ("There are some who resist progress"), the main comparisons I find are with the Jews (as was intended), but most pertinently, the Romani. Persecution based on culture rather than race is something often overlooked in Americentric social ideas, and is a much more European phenomenon. I personally love that we're never shown what actually makes the "Regressives" different from the rest of the Enarans, if anything, as that highlights the absurdity inherant within the propaganda that Korenna's own father continues to spew.
     Unlike the previous message episodes along these lines, Jetrel and Resistance, Remember isn't an examination of a situation in hindsight, attempting to pre-empt the historical wrong as it happens rather than simply condemn it after the fact. It didn't have a lot of time to fully explore these issues, granted, but the few choice lines it did use and the considerable time spent examining the effect bringing these issues up years later makes a fitting and thorough tribute to the many persecuted people in reality, and may just act as a warning - don't believe everything people tell you just to gain someone's approval. And that kind of message actually working makes a fine change.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: An episode that thinks it's being daring and different by "questioning science", and in the process completely fails to understand what Science actually is. I'm going to be tearing it a new one. Be careful not to set foot on Sacred Ground.

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