The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Inside Man"

by David E. Sluss

9 November 2000

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: Standard fare, chock full of the usual suspects: idiot plot elements, Sweeps stunts, and Star Trek Welfare recipients.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 7.0 (C-)

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: Admiral Paris: "Captain Janeway knows better than to take her ship into such a dangerous anomaly!" I don't want to call the race prematurely, but I think you're looking at the laugh line of the year right there...

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: "Voyager: the miracle ship"; yeah: if it's a good episode, it's a miracle...

TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: In all honesty, I don't keep close track of stardates and so forth, but if these data streams from Starfleet come monthly, and if last month's didn't arrive, that would suggest that "Repression" took place nearly two months before, which doesn't seem to square with the "one year per 10,000 stardates" rule. But a more significant problem, of course, is that after that recent instance in which the data stream was tampered with, and after numerous occasions in which the Voyager crew was tricked into thinking they were getting home, a couple of which were recounted in Curly's "name-dropping masquerading as continuity" line, you would think that Janeway and company would regard the Barclay hologram with a bit more skepticism. But in fact, while the closing scene makes a gratuitous point of portraying only Larry to be a sucker, the truth is they all are. Except for the Doctor, the crew doesn't really seem to test Barclay's theories and modifications very rigorously. After all, this is a crew that apparently runs simulations before going to the john...

TECHNOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Pete, Barclay's boss, scoffs incessantly about how a hologram just can't be successfully sent in the data stream. Both he and Reg seem to forget that the Doctor was successfully sent via the data stream in last year's "Life Line" -- twice! That should have been a clear indication to Pete and to Admiral Paris that something else was going on.

TECHNOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: This is not really an anomaly, I suppose, but an oddity produced by Writer Fiat, who goes uncredited, but who contributes to many of Voyager's episodes. It seems to me to be unlikely that the transporter could have retrieved Seven and the Barclay hologram from the escape pod, considering that there was "too much interference" for the tractor beam to work and that the transporters regularly fail to function when there's a high wind or when someone's using a cellphone nearby.

MISCELLANEOUS ANOMALIES OF THE WEEK: There were a couple of bits of dialog that struck me as being a bit suspect. First, we had the Barclay hologram claiming that Seven is a celebrity back in the Alpha Quadrant, providing hope for people who had lost loved ones to the Borg. If that's true, one has to wonder exactly how much information the public is being revealed about Voyager, and why Seven's presence on the ship would be so well-known. If it's a lie, why would the Ferengi have reprogrammed Barclay with that particular line of bull? The other problem is the red herring of sorts in which the Barclay hologram seems to get pissed off at the Doctor. It turns out the program is not malfunctioning, and so the question is who, the Ferengi or Barclay himself, installed the pissed-off subroutine, and why?

NEW GEOGRAPHY OF THE WEEK: They're getting better about this, but not quite good enough: The distance from Voyager to home is given as 30,000 light years. Two weeks ago, in "Repression," it was 35,000 light years. 5,000 light years is a lot of progress, even if it was two months...

STARFLEET UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: Voyager's running a top-notch security operation if this portrayal of Starfleet Headquarters is to be believed. One would think that the Pathfinder project would be a highly classified project, dealing as it does with extreme distance communication that could have plenty of military applications, but instead the place leaks like a sieve, and they're conducting public tours of the laboratory. In addition, they have a key team member who has compromised the entire project by blabbing about it to a prostitute, in such detail that she was able to tell the Ferengi about fairly trivial items such as the existence of the Doctor's mobile emitter. But instead of a court-martial, Barclay gets a handshake. Of course, Voyager's security had at least one of the usual holes, namely the unauthorized transport; this week, they didn't even bother saying they were trying to stop it, since that never works.

FERENGI UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: But this is an equal opportunity idiot plot, as the villains aren't really bright, even by Ferengi standards. The fact that they fell for Barclay's ruse is pretty hard to swallow, given the relatively clever nature of their plan. On the other hand, the reason it fell apart is because they sent in a common hooker as their spy, one who used her real name, and apparently stayed on Earth after her assignment was complete. But the real unintelligence here is that since this episode doesn't appear to have been a comedy, since the villains' plan involved a level of technical sophistication the Ferengi aren't really known for, since it's Sweeps, and since the Ferengi are so unpopular, there's not really a good reason for the Ferengi to be the villains here. I guess Paramount wanted to amortize those Ferengi prosthetics...

SWEEPS STUNTS OF THE WEEK: Earth, Starfleet Headquarters, name-dropping of nearly every Next Generation character, Sirtis in a bathing suit -- what's not to like? Well, aside from everything I've written here...
  

Previous: "Critical Care"
Next: "Body and Soul"
NEXT WEEK: Sweeps continues as the Doctor gets inside Seven of Nine...

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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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