The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Equinox, Part II"

by David E. Sluss

25 September 1999

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: A rarity in Star Trek: a second part that is better than the first. Still, the usual Voyager inanities manage to rear their ugly heads.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 7.0 (C-)

GOOD CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: In the first part of "Equinox," Marla the engineer mentioned in passing the synaptic stimulator, but we didn't see one. In Part II, of course, it played a central role in Ransom's "conversion by masturbation." It would almost make you think that the conclusion had been planned in advance, if it weren't for all the other gaffes and inconsistencies.

NEW GEOGRAPHY OF THE WEEK: Granted, the writers have more serious problems, such as mental retardation, but I do wish they would keep better track of distances traveled. Over the last two seasons, Voyager has made a number of long-distance jumps, and just as often those jumps have been forgotten, as when, to pick a recently-rerun example, Voyager ran into the Mylar in "Juggernaut" even though they had jumped ten thousand light years since the prior Mylar encounters. Here we see the same thing happening again. In the first part of "Equinox," we were told that the Equinox crew encountered the Ankari bumpkins, obtained that crack-pipe communicator gizmo, deep-fried one of the CGI aliens, and as a result jumped ten thousand light-years. This week, we find an Ankari bumpkin and his ship just fifty light-years away from the Equinox's present position. I find it hard to believe that the spirit-worshiping, cave-dwelling Ankari have an empire that spans ten thousand light years and/or Super-Duper Warp Drive. Trekkie Rationalizers, start your keyboards ("Maybe it..." "Perhaps the...").

VOYAGER CLICHE OF THE WEEK: More fun with deuterium, a real substance that Voyager writers have been demonstrating their ignorance about for two years. This time we're going to dig up deuterium from the ground? That's a good one...

TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: The subplot with the Doctor(s) is executed ineptly in so many different ways that it's hard to single one out as the worst. One of them is the fact that between the time the ethically-deleted Voyager Doctor announced that he was about to remove some gizmo from Seven's head and cause permanent brain damage, and the time he is returned to Voyager, several days seem to pass, during which the "procedure" doesn't progress at all. It's as if the Equinox sickbay scenes were taking place in a different timeline than the rest of the show. Given Voyager's repeated time pranks, I guess you can't rule it out entirely, but still...

ETHICS CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: A more fundamental problem with the Doctor story is the notion, which the Doctor himself reacts to with surprise in the closer, that when you switch off his ethics program he turns into Dr. Mengele. First, we've been told for years that the Doctor is a sentient being who has grown beyond his original program. If that's the case, why does the removal of his ethics program make him automatically Eeevil? Since he has a woody for Seven, as seen in last year's "Someone To Watch Over Me," it seems to me that an "unethical" Doctor would still not want Seven damaged, and might have a different idea of what to do with the tied-down Seven than brain surgery. And think of the irony that would have resulted; the Doctor's lust for Seven made him evil, while Ransom's lust for Seven made him good. Besides, it doesn't really wash that the "unethical" Doctor would automatically and instantaneously become Ransom's stooge. Frankly, I figured that the "unethical" Doctor was actually faking (and that the "temporal anomaly" cited above was really him stalling), and would turn on Ransom, revealing that "I have my own ethics now, I don't need a program" or other claptrap of that sort. Instead, he really was Eeevil, until his ethics were magically restored in some unseen manner. Speaking of which...

OFFSCREEN RESET BUTTON OF THE WEEK: How the Doctor's ethics were restored remains a mystery. Once Ransom decided to abandon the dark side, he holed up in Engineering, and transported nearly everyone to Voyager. When, and how, did he restore the Doctor's ethics program, which the Doctor obviously had as soon as he returned to sickbay, since he wiped out the Equinox's EMH? Also, a trivial nit: since no one on Voyager, including the computer, presumably, knew that their EMH had been replaced by the Equinox's, why would the command "Computer, delete the Equinox EMH" work?

STARFLEET UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: Tuvok and the Keystone Kops of Voyager's security squad did their usual quality work this week. The Equinox Doctor's cover story about being taken prisoner by Ransom during the great escape in Part I is laughable on its face, given the way the breakout occurred. Let's remember that the Doctor used a false story about the Equinox crew being ill to smuggle weapons to them. The Equinox crew grabbed the weapons, and shot two security oafs, apparently not killing them. It shouldn't have been too hard to determine that the Doctor enabled Ransom's escape, and therefore wasn't the "real" Doctor.

ONSCREEN RESET BUTTON OF THE WEEK: There was an awful lot of ammunition for the "court-martial Janeway" crowd this week, but unfortunately Janeway's attempted murder and abuse of authority was erased by the restoration of Voyager's dedication plaque to its rightful place. All is forgiven and forgotten, as usual, and Janeway even got five new crew members to abuse and jeopardize. I confess that the "interrogation" scene made for one of the better Voyager moments, featuring actual drama (by Star Trek standards, anyway) and decent acting, even from Beltran(!), but it stinks to know that such a pivotal moment, in which Janeway incontrovertibly crossed the line, will be totally whitewashed. Oh, and memo to Braga: Yeah, we get the symbolism about the fallen plaque and the fallen Captain, since you used the same exact schtick in Part I...
 

Next: "Survival Instinct" NEXT WEEK: This week, the Captain exhibits psychological problems; next week, the Borg. Be there as Season Five continues...

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This review is copyright 1999 David E. Sluss
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