The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Memorial"

by David E. Sluss

6 February 2000

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: There's an outstanding episode trying desperately to get out, but it's beaten back by predictability, less-than-compelling acting by the Three Stooges, and a questionable resolution.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 7.0 (C-)

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: Janeway: "I certainly won't forget what happened here." Not until next week anyway...

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK RUNNERUP: Torres: "Maybe this was a bad idea." I agree: the whole television gag in the teaser was a lousy idea. The embarrassingly bad sitcom schtick ("He's watching TeeVee and not paying attention to her. Ha! Ha!") makes for a bizarre segue into what turns out to be a deadly serious episode.

TELEGRAPH OF THE WEEK: It seems that when UPN's promo department doesn't spoil the episode, the episode's title does. The title "Memorial" (along with a steady stream of Braga mindf^$# episodes over the years) made it pretty easy to predict early on in the show exactly what was going on. This, combined with some incredibly slow pacing in places, had me practically screaming for them to "Get on with it!"

MINERAL DEPOSIT OF THE WEEK: On the bright side, it was nice to hear about Voyager searching for the time-honored dilithium, rather than the revisionist deuterium, a real substance whose real physical properties were contradicted by just about every Voyager episode that mentioned it. It's a step in the right direction, sciencewise, for Voyager, though there's still a long way to go (40,000 light years or so).

MINERAL DEPOSIT OF THE WEEK RUNNERUP: Robert Beltran as Chakotay. Moe just can't be bothered to put in a good performance even when the material is good. In a crucial scene in which he, Larry (Kim), Curly (Paris) and Shemp (Neelix), are trying to piece together their fragmented memories, none of the performances are standout, but Beltran's is clearly the worst. It's too bad, because this is the scene that either sells this show or doesn't, and unfortunately I wasn't sold. To be fair, everyone did much better in the later discussion about what to about the failing transmitter. Speaking of which...

COURT-MARTIAL OFFENSE OF THE WEEK: Multiple-personality Janeway was in "off her rocker" mode this week, electing to repair the memorial so that it can continue educating space-farers for generations to come. By doing so she has become an accomplice to a scheme that will tamper with the minds of any number of people, warning buoy or no. I don't think Starfleet would approve; I certainly don't. First, I find the notion of altering anyone's memory without their consent to be morally repugnant, regardless of the good intentions that might be behind it. Second, there's scant proof that the memories being transmitted by the memorial are historically accurate. History and presumably the memorial's memory programs are written by the victors. Who's to say that the Nikon really were innocent civilians? Or that the creators of the memorial didn't have a political axe to grind with those who took over the Nikon colony? Or that good old-fashioned hyperbole didn't find its way into the memorial? Three hundred years after the fact, there's little physical evidence, and no one in the solar system to discuss it with, apparently. The monument itself has a moving inscription, but no documentation. In short, Janeway and company are proactively and intrusively promoting a history that they have no way of knowing is true. Suppose the Kazon had broadcast memories of their mistreatment by the Trabe into the minds of passersby in the Season One and Two Boondocks of the Delta Quadrant; Janeway would have called it propaganda, and she'd have been right. So what is it that Janeway is doing here?

BUGGY TECHNOLOGY OF THE WEEK: With respect to the initial discovery of the memorial, there are any number of contrivances in the way that Voyager's tech worked (or didn't work). For instance, why is it that the Delta Fryer scanned the planet on the original mission and didn't detect the monument's power signature? Were The Boys loafing on their mission or what? Why can Voyager's own scanners detect the power signature of the monument, but not its synaptic signal that is capable of altering memories throughout the solar system? Like most of Voyager's other systems (transporters, warp drive, holodecks), the sensors seem to be using the Writer Fiat 2000 operating system.
  

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NEXT WEEK: The Cynic puts the smackdown on another Voyager sweeps stunt.

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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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