This is not a bad episode. The distinction between a good and bad episode of Voyager goes thusly: A good episode makes me cheer in the middle of the story, and a bad episode makes me cheer at the end. Rise did not make me cheer, or feel much else for that matter - an episode squarely in the middle. It had some okay character work, but the dynamic isn't anything we haven't seen before. The plot was kind of interesting, but the twist was predictable. This is as close that I've seen Voyager come to Doctor Who's Base-Under-Siege format - although I may just be thinking that because I'm going through Cybermen Month and my brain is somewhat saturated.
Voyager is helping an alien species to destroy asteroids that have been impacting their planet, killing thousands. A respected astrophysicist Dr. Vatm goes missing on the surface, and so Voyager sends shuttles down to the planet to go look for him, as he has information about the asteroids. Tuvok ends up being assigned Neelix, who wants to learn more about away missions, and they crash-land on the planet, conveniently not far away from where Vatm happened to be. Together they discover a Tether lift, a shuttle designed to lift people to a low-orbit space-station along a giant space-rope, which Neelix claims to have expertise in piloting. Despite revealing later that he's only seen models, he proves to be the only one capable of using it. Vatm is murdered, and it's soon revealed that the alien ambassador sent with the party, Sklar, was a traitor for another species who wished to conquer that planet for their own.
The episode was another outing for Voyager's go-to Odd Couple dynamic, Tuvok and Neelix, although for some reason their interactions felt incredibly muted. In the past, Neelix was an unending source of constant irritation, and Tuvok's bouncing off of him was actually quite amusing as well as cathartic, especially in Meld. Here, though, Neelix has calmed down a little and speaks to Tuvok as a respected superior, merely suggesting he find better ways of motivating and understanding people rather than trying to bludgeon him with overbearing silliness. I'm not sure whether this worked in the episode's favour or not - I was surprised to find that I actually really liked Neelix in this episode, and got a little pissed off at Tuvok for a few of his more condescending put-downs. I'd think this was decent character development if I hadn't watched the rest of the series.
|Neelix bullshits his way into a position of power again, but|
at least this time he's actually quite competant.
As I say in my introduction, I can't bring myself to call this a bad Voyager episode - there's nothing particularly wrong with the execution, and it does one or two things which are fairly interesting. There are the sci-fi ideas there that I'm always craving, and there was character development. But it felt so self-contained and irrelevant, the story so predictable in its twists and turns, that at the end of the episode you're left wondering how the previous 42 minutes passed you by. Despite it's title, this episode really failed to rise to expectations.
I'll get my coat.
NEXT WEEK: Harry Kim is secretly a member of an alien species, who wish nothing but to whisk him away and mate with him, forever. Jammy git. He's the Favorite Son.