The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Tsunkatse"

by David E. Sluss

13 February 2000

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: Another triumph for UPN's promotional department as their efforts at lowering expectations made this dreaded episode seem relatively palatable.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 7.0 (C-)

CLICHE OF THE WEEK: The loss of another shuttle is just too obvious. Instead, how about Seven of Nine, placed in a "Must she kill in order to survive?" situation, only to have her humanity re-affirmed by being beamed out at the last possible instant. Then, in typical Star Trek fashion, a speech about the human experience ensues, ignoring the fact that Star Trek has once again short-circuited a difficult human experience through technological slight-of-hand.

FILLER OF THE WEEK: Neelix's sunburn, and the rather revolting makeup effects that went with it, were supposed to be amusing, I guess, but I wasn't amused. Oddly, the very Star Trek device that should have cured this problem instantly, quietly, and totally offscreen, the dermal regenerator, was used in this very episode.

FILLER OF THE WEEK RUNNERUP: If there was a point to the scene in the cargo bay in which Paris makes fun of Seven for overpacking, other than to show what a boorish cretin Paris is, I'm afraid it escaped me.

WELFARE RECIPIENTS OF THE WEEK: Star Trek's Welfare Program went that extra mile this week, keeping Jeffrey Combs and J. G. Hertzler gainfully employed after their semi-regular gigs on Deep Space Nine went down the same flaming pit as Gul Dukat and the series itself. And they didn't even have to stretch themselves, as they were simply able to play Weyoun and Martok with different foreheads, but with exactly the same voices and mannerisms.

CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: I suppose I shouldn't complain when characterization is consistent and mindful of past episodes, but I have to say that I didn't want or need the repeated reminders of Chakotay's break-out episode "The Fight." Oh, and chalk up the reference to paunchy Chakotay as a "light" heavyweight as the laugh line of the week runner-up, second to...

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: Weyoun's understated claim that "There's hostility toward the Borg in this sector." No kidding...

SEE NO EVIL OF THE WEEK: The crew is shocked, shocked to learn that Tsunkatse fighters are participating against their will. Despite attending a lot of matches, knowing the details of the rules of the sport, researching the fighters, etc., no one seemed to notice that some of the scheduled matches were "red matches," and that that meant those matches were to the death (and, on a related note, they seemed surprised to find that they were watching holograms, which you'd think would be pretty well known at the arena). But regardless of the recruitment methods and the fights to the death, the Doctor was correct: it does seem a little odd that Enlightened Federation Types would enjoy blood sports to this degree in the first place, especially after experiencing brutal violence first-hand just last week in "Memorial."

NEW GEOGRPAHY OF THE WEEK: Despite the fact that the Hirogen, a mainstay of Voyager's mid-fourth season, are more than 25,000 light years away from Voyager's present position, Voyager is still finding them? There are various tortured rationalizations that can be used to patch this up, I suppose, but there was really no need for Martok to be a Hirogen, other than the fact that the Hirogen rubber forehead could be pulled out of storage, and that Hertzler could lazily portray a poor man's Klingon (which was all the Hirogen ever were), spouting that hoary old hunter/prey/die-with-honor rubbish.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT OF THE WEEK: It certainly wasn't a thinking person's episode by any means, but the following did occur to me. No one on Voyager seemed interested in freeing any of the other Tsunkatse prisoners or stopping Weyoun from recruiting more. But let's run this bit of logic and see where it goes: Innocent people, totally unrelated to Federation interests, are at risk from a technologically superior foe; members of Voyager's crew are abducted and become involved in the situation against their will. Should Voyager resolve the situation and protect the innocent now that they've become involved? The answer in "Caretaker," when it came to protecting the Ocampa from the Kazon, was yes. The answer here, when it comes to protecting citizens of this sector from Weyoun, is apparently no. Something to think about, amazingly enough...

ROCKET SCIENTISTS OF THE WEEK: Kim and Torres, with their brilliant deduction that if you connect the stars on a starmap, you get a flight path. It's hard to think of a Voyager scene that's makes a character look any dumber, and that's saying something.

ODD TACTIC OF THE WEEK: Weyoun wants to recruit able-bodied aliens to fight in the Tsunkatse; so he beams a bomb into a potential recruit's vessel and detonates it???
  

Previous: "Memorial"
Next: "Collective"
NEXT WEEK: Borg punks steal Naomi's lunch money, and an F/X-laden chase ensues.

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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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