The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Equinox"

by David E. Sluss

27 May 1999

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: A reasonable premise, but the execution is strangely soulless and a lot less interesting than it should have been.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 6.5 (D)

WORST TECHNOBABBLE OF THE WEEK: With so many instances to choose from, it isn't easy. But during the flashback to Rudy Ransom's first encounter with the Alien Piranha Things in the cave, he notes that the creatures were "emitting antimatter." While it's somewhat amusing to envision a ship powered by antimatter-farting piranhas, the science is dreadful, even by Voyager standards. Just for starters, that first fart should have destroyed Ransom, and the backwater bumpkins who called the creature into existence, and the cave.

QUESTIONABLE TACTICS OF THE WEEK: I have to wonder about the wisdom of Rudy Ransom sending out a distress call, considering 1) They had no idea a Federation ship was in the area; 2) Most Delta Quadrant species have apparently hated them; and 3) They are engaging in immoral, illegal, and inhumane experiments on a Delta Quadrant species.

UNNECESSARY SUBPLOT OF THE WEEK: It's an extraordinary coincidence that First Officer Max is Torres' old flame, and it's extraordinarily pointless, as well. I don't see what purpose this was intended to serve other than making Paris look like a fool, not that he needs any help. Exacerbating matters is Titus Welliver, the actor portraying Max, who was, no two ways about it, awful.

NEW GEOGRAPHY OF THE WEEK: Apparently the Equinox was spared two years worth of Kazon-hair days; the question is how? If Rudy Ransom was telling the truth about being brought to the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker, and there's no reason to think that he was lying about that, how could the Equinox's first alien encounter have been with the "Krowtonan Guard," in their first week in the Delta Quadrant? How could the Equinox have run across an entirely different set of species than Voyager did, when they started at the same point and are heading toward the same point, particularly in the first two or three years when neither ship was making large jumps? Particularly strange is the explicit mention of the Equinox never encountering the Borg, as not even a half-assed explanation for the discrepancy is attempted.

NEW ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE WEEK: What's this about the Yridians being a species that was thought extinct and only recently rediscovered? All the evidence in the past, for instance Next Generation's "Birthright" and various name-drops in DS9, suggests they are a species fully integrated into the Alpha Quadrant scene. And if Rudy Ransom's first contact with them is so well-known, the Borg should have learned of their existence as well, via assimilation of Starfleet officers. Sure, it's kind of trivial, but it could have been avoided by picking a species name never mentioned before.

NEW LINGUISTICS OF THE WEEK: Voyager's gross misuse of the prefix "iso-" continues. In the real world, "iso-" means "equal." In the Star Trek world, in which science and language education stop at the fourth grade level, "iso-" is used as a prefix for units of measure, and always seems to imply a large amount (e.g. "4 iso-tons of Robert Beltran"). But this week, Equinox's engineer frets about having only a few iso-grams of dilithium crystals. I conclude that "iso-," like so many other words and syllables in the Star Trek world, doesn't really mean anything, but is used as an interjection, perhaps as a substitute for some crude 20th-Century-style invective. For instance, today, I might say, "There's only one f^#$ing beer left in the fridge!" In the more genteel and civilized world of the 24th Century, I would say instead: "There's only one iso-beer left in the fridge!"

WELFARE RECIPIENT OF THE WEEK: Scarlett Pomers as Naomi, in a cutesy and totally unnecessary scene, the apparent purpose of which was to distract Kim and Chakotay at a crucial moment, when the Equinox engineer was bumbling through an explanation of why their experimental technobabble gizmos weren't worth salvaging. But there are any number of other ways to do that, including just letting the engineer stumble through her cover story, and having the inept Kim and the perpetually stoned Chakotay not notice anything suspicious. Works for me.

DEJA VU OF THE WEEK: Didn't we have an eeeeeevil Doctor just last week?
 

Previous: "Warhead"
NEXT FALL: Will Janeway live or die? Only Mulgrew's agent knows for sure.

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This review is copyright 1999 David E. Sluss
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