The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Blink of an Eye"

by David E. Sluss

23 January 2000

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: An interesting concept, executed fairly well. However, Voyager's Powers That Be really need to stop casting from the studio basement.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 8.0 (B-)

WELFARE RECIPIENT OF THE WEEK: I'm sure regular readers will have predicted this one, so we'll get it out of the way first; did Scarlet Pomers' walk-on as Naomi Wildman serve any purpose whatsoever, or was this another payout from Star Trek's Welfare Program? Oddly, I've been supportive of the Naomi character since Day One (i.e. last year's "Once Upon a Time,"), but her recent appearances (i.e. "Equinox," "Dragon's Teeth," to a lesser extent "The Voyager Conspiracy") have been largely filler. It's simple: if a character doesn't serve a legitimate storytelling purpose in a given episode, he or she shouldn't appear. Of course, by those standards the Three Stooges (Paris, Chakotay, and Kim) would rarely appear either...

CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME OF THE WEEK: Voyager did some other good humanitarian work this week as well, hiring nearly a dozen lousy actors as Forehead Alien Extras, thus keeping them off the street for a couple of weeks. The added benefit of course is that folks like The Guy Who Played the Astronomer, The Guy Who Played the Astronomer's Assistant, and The Lady Who Played the Commanding Astronaut make the main guest star, the less-than-stellar Daniel Dae Kim, fresh from the late, unlamented Crusade series, look like Laurence Olivier.

BAD F/X OF THE WEEK: The natives attempt to communicate with Voyager with a hot air balloon, and they even managed to attach a string to the top of the balloon to help pull it up into the sky. Okay, okay, the string was successfully F/Xed out, but the ascent of the balloon from the firepit still looked remarkably unnatural, so much so that it was easy to visualize the string.

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: The Forehead Alien astronauts arrive on the bridge and begin to understand the nature of the temporal shift after seeing Chakotay standing at his station stiff as a board; but why would that be considered unusual?

ATTEMPTED CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: Well, Chakotay is the all-purpose scientist, isn't he? This week he's an anthropologist. At least the term is used correctly this time, unlike in "One Small Step," in which Chakotay was a devoted paleontologist, intently studying objects that largely had nothing to do with paleontology. Chakotay has always taken the brunt of Voyager's retrocharacterization, in which characters acquire new traits and interests out of the blue. He is whatever a given script requires: historian one week, anthropologist the next, pharmacologist the next; Janeway apologist one week, Janeway opponent the next. It's part of the reason that the Chakotay character rarely works (the other part being that Robert Beltran can't, or won't, act worth a crap).

MYSTERY OF THE WEEK: The Doctor's son: "It's a long story?" What the hell is that? It's so typical of Voyager's writers to treat something this significant as a cheap laugh, just as they treat the trivial as if it were momentous (c.f. last week's "Fair Haven"). I think we can assume the son was adopted (though Trek "science" admits the possibility that The Doctor used any permutation of Treknobabble pranks like nanoprobes, DNA manipulation, and other hoohah to become a "biological" father in some bizarre sense, I suppose). Even so, it's a life-changing event, and probably a significant breach of Starfleet rules and protocols, one that we'll never hear of again, apparently.

TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: I think that this episode handled the different timeframes pretty well, but there were errors, of course. Others will presumably comment on the nitty-gritty physics of this situation, but a few problems that came to my mind include:

1. The Doctor's away mission. Assuming for the moment that his mission had worked "right," i.e. that he had been beamed back after two seconds/two days, wouldn't he have to stand in the same spot for two days, his time, in order for the transporter lock to work? The same goes for his rescue from the opera house; first, in the seconds it took Kim to tell Torres what the Doctor's coordinates were, the Doctor would have experienced days, and is likely to have moved.

2. Early on, Voyager attains geosynchronous orbit with the planet. If the planet experiences one day (one rotation) in one second of Voyager time, then Voyager has to be rotating about the planet approximately 85,000 times more often than it does around most planets. There's no indication in the exterior shots of Voyager, or the star fields viewed through Voyager's portholes, that this is the case.

3. Voyager comes under attack; the planet is launching antimatter bombs at the ship every three days their time, every three seconds Voyager time. Voyager's shields drop significantly with every hit, as Tuvok duly reports. Let us assume, generously, that it takes the Forehead Alien Astronaut only five minutes, Voyager time, to don his spacesuit, listen to The Doctor prattle about his mysterious son's fate, launch his ship, and enter the Forehead Alien timeframe. In that time, Voyager would have been subjected to 100 hits, which seems inconsistent with the level of damage Voyager seemed to be taking with each hit.
  

Previous: "Fair Haven"
Next: "Virtuoso"
NEXT WEEK: The Doctor becomes a rock star for a people starving for entertainment. Think I'm making it up?

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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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