The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"The Void"

by David E. Sluss

17 February 2001

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: Overall, a decent outing, and in many ways a microcosm of what Voyager should have been all along but wasn't.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 8.5 (B)

MYSTERY OF THE WEEK: Scrounging for resources, forging temporary alliances with alien races, using music over "planning scenes" that otherwise would be laden with technobabble -- where have these things been for the last six-and-a-half seasons? The kinds of circumstances found in this episode (anomaly aside) should have been Voyager's bread and butter from the very beginning; it's a shame that only now, with ten episodes left, the show got around to exploiting its premise...

SCIENCE OF THE WEEK: No, not WEIRD science, but wonder of wonders, the writers finally cracked a junior high school science book and learned that space-farers shouldn't have to search nebulae or mine ore to find deuterium. You can find it anywhere! Sure it conflicts with a dozen shows over the past couple of years, but I'll take it.

GEOGRAPHY OF THE WEEK: No, not NEW geography, but amazingly correct geography, given Voyager's frequent penchant for showing alien races tens of thousands of light years away from where they should be. In this case, most of the alien races in the void, such as the Nygeans from "Repentance" and the Kraylor from "Nightingale," in the void were from fairly recent episodes. The Voir Dire, with their transwarp technology, had a good excuse for being here (though if _this_ is the long-awaited followup to the terrible threat they supposedly posed in last year's "Dragon's Teeth," it's pretty thin). The only arguable race that I noticed were the Surveillance Fatties who appeared in "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy," before Voyager's big jump of 5,000 light years in "The Voyager Conspiracy," but even in this case, the vessel was described as a "survey vessel," presumably a long-range one. All in all, the attention to detail (or dumb luck), however belated, is appreciated. But it wasn't all good, of course...

VOYAGER CLICHE OF THE WEEK: The space anomaly, of course. But perhaps there is some comfort in the fact that Voyager is apparently not the only vessel that gets followed by anomalies. How else can we explain the fact that an anomaly only 9 light years in circumference (giving it a diameter of only 3 light years or so) could suck in ships on such a regular basis. Can this region of space be that heavily traveled?

SANCTIMONY OF THE WEEK: I may be a little jaded, but I find it hard to buy the idea that Federation principles and Andromeda-like speeches from Janeway can convince very many people to share and share alike. Janeway, who has played it fast and loose with Federation ideals in the past on many occasions, followed a curiously hard line this week. It was also a bit amusing to think that she actually hoped to find a loophole in the Federation Charter covering "raids on alien vessels."

HEAVY LIFTING OF THE WEEK: While I did think this episode was pretty good, it also seemed more than a little cannibalistic, with Voyager not only stealing from its own catalog of episodes, such as "Night," which also featured an empty area of space called a "void," but even from (if you can believe it) an episode of the Animated Series, called "Time Trap," in which the Enterprise and a Klingon ship are trapped in an area of space and have to Work Together to get out. One other thing: it was pretty cheeky to cast Robin Sachs, who played Minbari characters in at least three Babylon 5 episodes, as a character named "Valen" -- come on...

REVIVED PLOT THREAD OF THE WEEK: Where'd they get that "Doctor hasn't given himself a name" reference from, a morgue? I wonder if this is actually going somewhere, or was this brought up after years of inattention just for the hell of it?
  

Previous: "Prophecy"
Next: "Workforce"
NEXT WEEK: I guess this will be the last of Voyager's Sweeps Stunt two-parters. I've got a salty tear in my eye already.

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This review is copyright 2001 David E. Sluss
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