Thursday, 7 January 2016

Review: Voyager 3.24: Displaced

Herp-a-derp, coming ta steal yo spaceship.
Star Trek Voyager - Season Three, Episode Twenty-Four - Displaced
Written 7/11/16

Back at the end of Season Two, Voyager was overwhelmed by their main enemies, the Kazon. This was used as a way of escalating the tension of the situation, as that trope often is, as it showed Voyager being brought to a point of desperation. As ridiculous as the Kazon were, they had the help of traitor Seska to work their way onto the ship, and you believed that they were capable of this one final triumph. In this week's episode, a random, badly-dressed race of aliens manages to overwhelm Voyager in the space of less than 20 minutes. Talk about lowering the stakes as you go along. The feeling you get after finishing Displaced is a feeling that none of this should have happened, and you're not quite sure how it did.
     Tom and B'Elanna are arguing (with much sexual tension) when a silly-hatted alien suddenly appears before them, claiming to not know where he is. The crew discover that Kes disappeared at the same time, and from then on there appears to be a teleport swap of Human and Nyrian every nine minutes. Although Janeway has a gut feeling about there being "something wrong here", everyone is taken aghast when, of course, the Nyrians take over Voyager. As B'Elanna is beamed over, we find that the crew of Voyager have been placed inside an artificial environment suited to their needs. Slowly, the crew begins to build weapons and find gaps between the environments that the Nyrians have created, and with The Doctor's help they take over the Nyrian's spacecraft, teleporting all of them into a cold environment and threatening them with hypothermia unless they send everyone home.
     One of my problems with this episode is that I don't believe the Nyrians as a species. This faction of Nyrians employs the swapping-out method because it's easier to deceive people than to outright attack them. In order to carry out this "humane" method, they built a giant space station capable of holding thousands of prisoners indefinitely, using tons of power to maintain different environments and atmospheres. We never meet the Nyrians again so I can't imagine that they're a huge empire with limitless power - so it seems so strange that they would burn up so many of their resources when they could just use their magical somehow-gets-past-Voyager's-shields transporters to beam people into space. Voyager starts its rebellion and overruns their space station in the course of an hour or two in-show, and the idea that our heroes managed what dozens of other species couldn't also rubs me the wrong way. It's not very believable, is my point. And it's also difficult to be caught up in the tension of an episode where Voyager is overrun when you don't find the villains intimidating, and it's inevitable that they'll lose at the end of the episode.
Technically speaking, this is a B'Elanna episode. Technically.
     The only really important character notes in this episode were between Tom and B'Elanna. It felt a little bit like a retread of the events of Blood Fever in that respect, as they didn't really go over anything more interesting than the fact that B'Elanna gets angry and Tom uses humour as a defence mechanism, both of which we already knew and didn't really need spelling out to us. It was nice to see them continuing to build up the relationship between those two, which would later go on to become "official" in Season Four, but it felt so irrelevant to the rest of the episode's plot that it might as well have been a bit of an afterthought. Elsewhere, we had a nice out-of-the-blue scene between Chakotay and Tuvok where they reminisced about their time at the academy.
      Promising so much in premise and delivering so little, Displaced is one of a long list of classic Voyager filler episodes; you could reasonably drop this episode from your marathon and not lose much beyond one slight gradiation towards the Tom and B'Elanna subplot for next season. Compared to the rest of the season it isn't a particularly bad show, and the action is well-executed, but compared to the last two episodes of this season, it really isn't anything special.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: Mutiny on Voyager? We revisit Season One plotlines for one last time in Worst Case Scenario.

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