The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"The Gift"

by David E. Sluss

14 September 1997

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: Janeway loses one adoptive daughter, but gains another, in an amalgam of high-tech cosmetic surgery and questionable evolutionary theory. The departure of Kes seems important enough to merit its own episode, but since the "human evolving to a higher plane of existence" story has already been mined to death by Star Trek (Gary Mitchell, Wesley Crusher, John Doe, etc.), the choice to de-emphasize it somewhat in favor of Seven of Nine's transformation to a lower (in her eyes, um, eye) plane of existence seems to have been a good one. The two stories contrasted one another rather well, unlike many of Star Trek's "A-B story" episodes. I do find myself very disturbed by Janeway's cavalier and paternalistic treatment of Seven of Nine, and there are some of the usual idiocies present in the episode, but I liked the episode much more than I expected. Note, that this may be partially due to not seeing the episode until Saturday, after a lot of negative Usenet traffic showed up. Nothing like lowered expectations to improve one's outlook.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 7.5 (C)

BORG OF THE WEEK: You're expecting Seven of Nine? No, the title this week belongs to Captain Kathryn Janeway. A lot of people are arguing about whether forcing the deborgification surgery on Seven was morally justified, and that is a good argument to have, but I found myself more appalled by Janeway's cynical manipulation of Seven in getting Seven to help her. Janeway's rationale for forcing Seven's deborgification is that Seven is not capable of making her own decisions, and that may seem like a noble reason. What is not noble is Janeway taking advantage of Seven's vulnerability and confusion at the loss of the Borg collective. Janeway tells Seven to assist with the repairs of the ship by saying, "You must comply." Where have we heard that before? Watch closely and you'll find that Seven is persuaded to help only after hearing that Borg-like command. Later, Janeway tells Seven not to "resist" becoming human. It's eerie, but Janeway acted more like a Borg than Seven of Nine.

EUNUCH OF THE WEEK: The Doctor, who was the only soul on the ship to oppose the dissolution of Tuvix on the basis of his medical oath. Since then, he has apparently been "snipped," since he goes along with Janeway's rationale for ignoring Seven's wishes with nary a protest. He also appears to have abandoned his "Do no harm" oath by designing for his patient a uniform which causes her to pass out from lack of blood flow.

MEMORY LANE OF THE WEEK: Spock vs. Doc style sparring between Tuvok and The Doctor. But, gentlemen, I knew Spock and McCoy, Spock and McCoy were friends of mine, and you are no Spock and McCoy.

MAMMARY LANE OF THE WEEK: Seven of .... No, no, this topic has been milked enough already...

CRASH AND BURN OF THE WEEK: Poor Harry Kim's inept attempt at picking up Seven of Nine. Stick to the holodeck, Harry (though not literally, I hope).

CRASH AND BURN OF THE WEEK RUNNERUP: Neelix's witless attempt to find out the reason Kes dumped him. Don't worry, pal, we the viewers haven't had any luck either.

DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB OF THE WEEK: The Doctor as fashion designer. Skin-tight silver catsuit and stiletto heels? What a sicko. It's obvious he misses Kes already.

SUBTLE CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: Kes's "Don't Worry, Tuvok," and Tuvok's "non-expression" of losing his water; being turned into a microwaved hot dog ("Cold Fire") will do that to you, even if you're a Vulcan.

SPATIAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Alright, Star Trek viewers have always had to put up with the unimaginative verbal construct: [<Alien planet name> <Earth item>] ever since the original Star Trek (things like Denebian ostrich, Romulan ale), and a lot of this, I suppose can be written off as a side effect of the psychic Universal Translator, but I simply refuse to accept that Neelix's planet just happens to have a region called "Champagne," just like Earth does, and that a sparkling celebratory beverage just happens to be made there, too. "Talaxian champagne" indeed.

TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: The anomaly from Next Generation's "All Good Things..." makes a surprising reappearance -- in the mess hall table that Kes manipulates (Trekkies, start your tapes!).

BAD OMEN OF THE WEEK: Ayala speaks! Yes, that stalwart crew member who's been around since "Caretaker" speaks an entire sentence, hot on the heels of his one word of dialogue ("Yeah!") in "Basics 2." Hope your life insurance is paid up, buddy.

RESET BUTTON OF THE WEEK: Want to bet that all those hull breaches and "molecularly destabilized" bulkheads will be magically repaired by next week? I didn't think so...
 

Previous: "Scorpion, Part II"
Next: "Day of Honor"
NEXT WEEK: "Ultimate Love Story?" Ack. Still, after the infamous "Masterpiece" preview for "Scorpion, Part II," almost any preview seems understated and restrained.

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This review is copyright 1997 David E. Sluss
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