Star Trek: Voyager: Cathexis   Rewatch 
February 13, 2017 7:16 AM - Season 1, Episode 13 - Subscribe

The Monsters Are Due on Maple StreetUSS Voyager

Under no circumstances is Memory Alpha to go onto the fourth floor:

- Janeway's holonovel was originally scripted by Executive Producer Jeri Taylor, for the earlier first season episode "Eye of the Needle", and was planned to feature in multiple episodes after its initial appearance. In the first draft of "Eye of the Needle"'s teaser, the simulation was planned to be set in the Wild West, rather than a Gothic setting. Janeway was written as playing the part of a pioneer woman who was heading West in a covered wagon and had a husband and children. Her character would lead a rustic lifestyle that included such tasks as building a campfire. Taylor reckoned that the character's situation – finding herself far from home, often having to do things she was unprepared and untrained for, but traveling in a family setting – would provide a good metaphor for Janeway's predicament in the Delta Quadrant and an unusual way of both enhancing and developing the persona of the captain. Kate Mulgrew was dead set against the prospect of working with horses, however, and it was calculated that visualizing this Western scenario would be prohibitively costly. Jeri Taylor offered, "We realized that if we locked ourselves into this Western program for the holonovel, we probably would be saying over and over again, 'We can't afford that this week, we're going to have to do something else.' Because it means going on location, it means horses, it means wranglers, it means a lot of things that are complicated." It also meant that, due to the time of year, the production crew would likely have only short periods of light to film in. Concluded Taylor, "All in all it seemed not a prudent decision." The holonovel's final permutation in this episode seems to borrow elements from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, and Henry James' The Turn of the Screw.

- This episode's narrative originally involved a plot point in which Tuvok was blinded by the phaser flash, disregarding the concept of the Vulcan inner eyelid, which had been established in TOS: "Operation -- Annihilate!" and was referenced years later in ENT: "The Forge". Tuvok actor Tim Russ and director Kim Friedman were both concerned about this inconsistent plot point being included in the episode. Russ later reflected, "The whole bridge scene with the phaser battle and stuff was different originally. It didn't make any sense. It wasn't consistent with Vulcan attributes, and we had to change it. I said to Jeri [Taylor], 'You cannot execute this kind of thing in the story because it makes no sense. It's not consistent. It's a physical fact.' In the script, they had Tuvok blinded by the flash, but Vulcans have a secondary eyelid to protect them, and that's been established. Amazingly, the director brought those points up in a story meeting [....] We both were sort of in league for different reasons, but she brought it up in a story meeting, and they just basically dismissed her."

- During this episode, Tuvok's rank switches from lieutenant commander to lieutenant and back again a number of times. By the end of the episode, he is wearing the rank of lieutenant. His rank remains that of lieutenant until the fourth season episode "Revulsion", in which he is officially promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander. There is no scripted reason why Tuvok's rank changes during this episode, and it may be that it was simply an error in costuming for him to have been wearing a lieutenant commander rank for the first half of the first season; he is referred to as "lieutenant" several times in earlier episodes, despite wearing lieutenant commander rank insignia. While no explanation is given, Lieutenant Paris' rank is also dropped from full lieutenant to lieutenant junior grade in this episode; He went on to carry the latter rank continuously until "Thirty Days", wherein he is demoted to ensign and spends time in the brig.
Also, the rank of Lieutenant Torres is reduced from two silver bars on her Maquis pin to one silver and one black, although this is evident from the beginning of the episode.

- This episode is similar to TOS: "Spock's Brain" in that, in both episodes, a crew member's consciousness is displaced from his body.

"If you feel at any time, that any of us are under the influence of the alien, you can countermand our orders and take control of the ship. Do you feel up to it?"
"Well of course, I make life and death decisions every day."
"I feel better already."

- Captain Janeway, informing The Doctor about transferring command codes to him, with a comment from Tom Paris

"Mr. Neelix, just because a man changes his drink order, doesn't mean he's possessed by an alien."

- The Doctor

"Nevertheless, don't you think you should scan him or dissect him or something? Just to make sure."
"I could examine every crewmember you've mentioned so far, every person on board for that matter and it wouldn't do any good. From what we can tell the alien can jump from person to person at will."
"Sounds to me that you're defending Ensign Parsons."
"I'm not defending him, I'm just pointing out that you're acting a little paranoid. In fact, one could say that you're acting a little too paranoid."

- a paranoid Neelix encouraging The Doctor to investigate the crew

Poster's Log:

This is basically the second time in the first season when episodes with roughly similar or complimentary premises have appeared back-to-back; first there was the renegade crew members dealing in tech behind Janeway's back ("Prime Factors" and "State of Flux") and then there were noncorporeal energy beings wreaking havoc, with Chakotay (seemingly) out of action as a result ("Heroes and Demons" and this). Plus, there's the aspect of this being a very generic space-opera premise for an episode, the VOY-specific aspects (like Chakotay's "medicine wheel" and the Doctor's humblebragging near the end) notwithstanding; with relatively minor modifications, this could have been done in any of the Trek series, and probably in most other space operas.

That having been said, I thought that this was a pretty solid episode, with the paranoia being spun up quite well via the Komar's brain-hopping, although (at least on rewatch) it seemed painfully obvious who the Komar's primary vector was. Also, the A-koo-chee-moya/plastic shamanism was thankfully kept to a minimum. Nice head fake by the Doctor, BTW, at first seeming skeptical of the medicine wheel, but revealing that knowledge and acceptance of "psycho-spiritual" therapies was part of his programming. (The best Doctor bit, though, was Janeway's casual suggestion that the Doctor get the command codes, and the Doctor's hiding-his-dumbfoundedness-in-front-of-the-captain reaction to the suggestion. Sadly, we won't see the Emergency Command Hologram until S6.)

Poster's Log, supplemental: I'm finding the regency romance holodeck thing to be sublimely hilarious, not only for Janeway not taking any shit off of the Mrs. Danvers wannabe, but for all the fuss made about it behind the scenes--they apparently spent a lot of money on the set, even though I'd think that the whole point of their setting holodeck adventures in mostly historic Earth settings is that they'd be able to reuse props, costumes, and possibly entire sets from other productions. It's funny to imagine Janeway deciding to go off-script and take the holonovel in a different direction:

Lord Burleigh: I say, you haven't been on the fourth floor, have you? Remember, I told you at the very beginning never, never to go on the fourth floor! Never!

Janeway: Nope, haven't even set foot on the stairs to it. I've spent most of my time on the third floor.

LB: But why? There's not that much up there besides storage space and Mrs. Templeton's quarters.

J: Mrs. Templeton? Oh, you mean Clarise. Yes, I've been, uh, we've been "polishing the silver." Yup, lots of silver-polishing to be done up there.

LB: Right, then, carry on.

Also, how 'bout that Durst? Kind of an interesting choice for a security guy, his being noticeably smaller than the other crewmembers. (If the actor looks familiar, he played Dr. Giger in DS9's "In the Cards.") Maybe we'll see more of him in episodes to... [checks next episode] Oh. Oh, well.
posted by Halloween Jack (22 comments total)
 
Particle of the Week: Magnetons.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: The wide beam phaser setting employed by Tuvok is an extremely unusual tactic in the show, but a staple of ground combat in STO. In retrospect, I believe the game's convention may date specifically date back to this episode, though it also reminds me of a scene in The Kobayashi Maru.
Equipment Tally: No change.

Notes:
* You could fly Voyager through the most important plot hole in here.

Chakotay was able to control people to perform complex tasks, but he never once left a message about what was going on with him - even the ending thing was a navigational chart, not an SOS. Above and beyond anything else in the episode, that was basically impossible to look past for me.

* The fake Native American stuff was really annoying, but was used to good effect in a couple of spots.

It's always hard to sit through that crap.

That said, there were two good ideas in the subplot that I'll give them credit for. The first was the idea that B'Ellana was close enough to Chakotay to try and reach him via his religion. The two of them haven't interacted directly a ton, but there are lots of background details that the two of them are close friends, like how Chakotay pushed hard for B'Ellana's inclusion in the senior staff, and the fact that she'd seen his medicine bag (that nobody was supposed to have seen besides Janeway). It's honestly touching that she'd be the one to be by Chakotay's bedside. (Makes me wish they would talk about Seska for a few minutes.)

The other thing I'll give them credit for is the notion that the Doctor was versed in religious beliefs in addition to evidence-based medicine. To me, that felt like Zimmerman was taking a stab at bedside manner: the Doctor isn't *just* a multidisciplinary medical professional, he possesses at least some capability to engage with people on their own level. That feels like a thoughtful idea when making a medical AI.

Plus, like Halloween Jack said above, it was pretty funny when he fakes B'Ellana out about it.

* Thus begins the search for a holodeck program for Janeway.

It amuses me to know that she was supposed to be in a Western. I honestly think the Gothic horror thing works better psychologically - a Western journey mimicking her Delta Quadrant trip is really, really on the nose, while her doing something scary to blow off steam feels more like she's dealing with her feelings here. It also worked better for me that they didn't really stick with one story for her in the end. (Also, that her taste in holodeck programs wasn't any better than that of her crew.)

* Durst is here!

I wish they'd put him in a little sooner, but props for minor continuity. The actor's great - Giger remains one of the best bit characters to ever appear in Trek, IMO.

* Neelix is super annoying again.

It's understandable and completely believable, and the 'dissect him' line got a laugh, but it still shows off why he shouldn't have any sort of authority on the ship.

* This episode is a further demonstration of the limits of Starfleet security procedures.

Starfleet ships mostly operate on the honor system - time and time again, we see that there are few real checks on bad behavior aboard a ship. One determined individual with a phaser or decent computer skills can blow up an entire starship pretty trivially.

Given that they live in a universe where mind control, possession and nearly undetectable doppelgangers are all not only known, but old hat, that seems really, really dumb. I mean, these are all problems Captain Kirk had to deal with and document at length. They should have procedures in place to handle this stuff. (It's similar to the problem I have with the entire premise of Voyager: given how frequently ships get flung across the galaxy, they should have some kind of protocol for that scenario.)

This general lack of genre savvy bothers me more each time I come back to Star Trek, even though I still love it. Like, the seams show more each time.

* We see another unexpected sapient thing, in the nebula lifeforms.

Just an observation, going back to the last thread: in the Delta Quadrant, nebulae are generally alive, I guess.

In closing, this episode mostly annoyed me, though I can see where people would think it was funny instead. :)
posted by mordax at 9:01 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


I remember when I first watched this episode my initial thought was dread at yet another holodeck "adventure" especially so soon after the last one, but I was pleasantly surprised to see them go in a different direction from that opening. As mentioned above, the episode had its flaws with some of the Chakotay spiritual stuff being chief among them, but the doctor being programmed with knowledge of a wide variety of more culturally driven medicines made up for some of that.

Neelix and Kes remain a disaster. No matter how believable such attitudes might be in the abstract in some cases, they don't work for Trek, when so much of the show is based around having overcome many of those same sorts of attitudes. There's just nothing for Neelix's possessiveness to work against or with to make it remotely palatable. At best, it might have made some sense as something slowly developed that grew into more of a mania with Kes becoming friends with Paris, but, instead, it started at a fever pitch and can't really develop much of anything interesting from there. Even more so since we already know, this being Trek, that really devious behavior from the crew won't happen. They'll all do their best to get along and everyone will be friends, so why even bother with this sort of character detail? I'd hope it isn't because they thought Neelix would be too likable without giving him some "quirks" to balance the ledger.

Friedman seems to be a pretty solid director for the series. This episode has a nice paranoid tone to it that gets away from their all too conventional feel. As a thriller episode, if one can ignore the floating Chakotay plot hole, it works well, with solid pacing to keep the revelations and adjustments exciting. Creepy nebula and non-corporeal creatures aren't a great choice in themselves given the frequency of their use, but given that's what they had to work with they did well in making a show of it. It does remind me though of how much they could use a bigger cast of at least semi-regulars. The whole Tuvok under suspicion thing will come back, since there really aren't that many other options to go with that are any better given the general tone of the show.

I mean they could have made Kes the possessed one and sparked some paranoia about her alien mental powers or something along those lines, but that would, again, require some ongoing plot lines that they seemed eager not to pursue. They needed more characters like Durst basically, so they could spread out some of these problems beyond the main cast and just let them try to deal with the issues instead of being infected by them. I have to wonder what the rest of the crew thinks about the bridge, always seeming to cause as much trouble as they solve. I'd have to imagine the Seska option is looking better and better to a lot of them. Or maybe they just never really find out about the details of bridge crew fuck ups. I mean I can't imagine Janeway making weekly announcements detailing all the crap that goes on, so perhaps most of the crew is kept in the dark, only hearing vague, ridiculous seeming rumors over all the problems they have. Or maybe they too have read the Kirk logs and just expect this sort of thing so it's all life as usual aboard a Federation Starship.

As to Janeway's choice of holonovels; I liked it in theory. Good to have her going with a "woman's genre" as opposed to Picard's allegedly hardboiled detective stuff or a western(?). It's a nice touch, but still makes me wonder a little who'd want to play out a role like Jane Eyre or any of those other modest homely women who suffer unjustly before winning the heart of the lord of the manor. Turn of the Screw would be a little better for the horror elements in one way, but since it turns on the heroine believing the unbelievable and her emotional response, that'd be tough to just step into and make sense of in the lead role as Janeway certainly wouldn't respond in a similar fashion unless she did so purposefully to fulfill the plot, which would rob it of its essence and make it more of a carnival ride than literature. It's the difference being Beowulf acting and Jane Eyre largely being acted upon by larger forces, one seems reasonable to want to "play" and still retain the gist of the work where the other doesn't make much sense in either fashion.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:42 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Neelix and Kes remain a disaster.

Absolutely. Whenever they're together, I cringe. I wish they hadn't been a couple - I think a lot of my issues with Neelix would've been milder.

I'd hope it isn't because they thought Neelix would be too likable without giving him some "quirks" to balance the ledger.

I think they were going for a rubber forehead alien version of George Costanza or Josh Kornbluth or something, but you're right about why it doesn't work *here*: it just doesn't fit with the whole Trek feel.
posted by mordax at 10:02 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Thanks for reminding me of the Neelix-Kes scene; I added a "spacepixiesensetingling" tag (for Kes' earlier vague awareness of something being amiss). I did get the feeling when they were talking that Kes was trying to work out what exactly she was sensing, but Neelix was just mad that some ghost might be watching his girlfriend take a sonic shower or something.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:18 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I have to put some of the blame on Phillips I think since he tends to hit every character note pretty damn hard in hopes of eliciting a response. That first moment with Kes and her "pixie-sense" could have been a lot lighter and maybe eked out a laugh if Phillips had just hinted of worry over ogling space ghosts, but instead he goes straight to Defcon 2, ready to pounce on Kes for allowing a visitor at such an unseemly hour.

Neelix does improve a good bit over the seasons, gains a little gravitas and loses some of the worst parts of his shtick, and Phillips doesn't push quite so intently to draw out every emotion, allowing for some more effective underplaying later. Which is nice since they push the doctor a little too far in the other direction at times as things go on.

What makes the Neelix and Kes thing even worse in hindsight is that they then try to make Tom and B' Elanna more "interesting" by going a somewhat similar route, less with jealousy over other people and more over time and shared interests, but still the relationship they show leans pretty heavily towards the relationships are a pain and men are asses side of things to be comfortable. A nice less complicated romantic relationship would have been welcome on the show, something Chakotay's character would have been well suited for and Beltran would have done well with I'd think, though not shoehorned in like it would be with that numbered character who I won't bring up at this early point of the series.

Beltran makes good use of the few moments he does have with such things and would be a much more welcome male romantic model than Paris or Neelix, and more on top of things, so to speak, than poor Harry and his fumblings. (Russ does a fine job with Tuvok and his one romantic episode, but he mostly is used as a romantic counterpoint, being married and all "unemotional" and Vulcany, so doesn't figure in getting the same romance chances as the other crew.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:51 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


I mean they could have made Kes the possessed one and sparked some paranoia about her alien mental powers or something along those lines, but that would, again, require some ongoing plot lines that they seemed eager not to pursue. They needed more characters like Durst basically, so they could spread out some of these problems beyond the main cast and just let them try to deal with the issues instead of being infected by them.

Well observed. And the "they" who were "eager not to pursue" ongoing plot lines was, according to general scuttlebutt, the network executives: they worried that too much serialization would hurt VOY's ratings in syndication, when episodes would be shown in random order. (And that tells you all you need to know about the depth of thinking required to be a network executive, because, um, think of the show's concept for one second and you realize the need for a fair amount serialization.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:26 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


Agreed on the Neelix and Kes being horrible together - I had sort of hoped they just dropped that angle because it hasn't shown up very much. It really doesn't help that their way of showing that they are in a relationship involves very little caring about each other and more Neelix being controlling around Kes and Kes not really reacting to that.

Is the Jane Eyre holonovel a recurring thing? It seemed like an odd beginning of the episode, but I guess it would make sense to introduce it here if it pops up a few times a season or something - sort of like Sisko's random love of baseball.

And yes, the alien possessing Tuvok was very obviously telegraphed.

One thing they have been doing a decent job of on Voyager is giving us aliens and threats that don't seem like the aliens we've seen in the Alpha quadrant, even if it's more difficult to bring about conceptually than a guy in a rubber forehead.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:27 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


It looks like the holonovel (titled "Janeway Lambda One"; I'm adding a tag) only shows up three times. There's a Memory Alpha entry and a Wikipedia one, , which gives some critical reaction to the scenario and the showrunners' reasons for discontinuing its use.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:54 PM on February 14


Starfleet ships mostly operate on the honor system - time and time again, we see that there are few real checks on bad behavior aboard a ship. One determined individual with a phaser or decent computer skills can blow up an entire starship pretty trivially.

FWIW, my experience aboard submarines mirrors this. There is a "Rig for Dive" checklist that is basically a list of all the specific valves and actuators that could royally fuck things over if tampered with. Flood compartments, cause control surfaces to lock in dangerous positions, that sort of thing. They're generally "locked" with an easily-removed cable lanyard. Relatedly, the drydock fire that completely destroyed the USS Miami was caused by a particularly unintelligent shipyard worker that just wanted to go home early that day.

Because it's important that anyone be able to respond to an emergency situation on a warship there's a large amount of trust that needs to be built in. Critical systems can't be placed behind lock and key because they may need to be accessed at a moment's notice. Even in maintenance situations in-port the Navy doesn't follow the civilian standard of physically locking out a system being worked on, critical isolation valves are controlled with red tags and nothing else.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:30 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]


FWIW, my experience aboard submarines mirrors this. There is a "Rig for Dive" checklist that is basically a list of all the specific valves and actuators that could royally fuck things over if tampered with.

That's a good point, but I think it doesn't map 100%*: Federation starships have a lot more visitors. Janeway allows Neelix and Kes to just come and live on the ship and, in Neelix's case, basically invite himself onto the senior staff (and reroute conduits in her private dining area, even though he's never even seen Federation tech before).

The Enterprise-D even had children aboard. Wesley Crusher nearly destroys the ship on at least two occasions I can think of.

A military submarine isn't really intended for any of that. Plus, it doesn't exist in a universe where doppelgangers, mind control and possession are routine hazards - it feels like they're just making it up as they go along whenever they encounter that stuff, instead of having procedures.

For an example of what I would've liked, see the Stargate franchise, which got some external help.

(* I'd buy this argument completely in the case of the Defiant, which was a dedicated warship.)
posted by mordax at 10:59 PM on February 14


A military submarine isn't really intended for any of that. Plus, it doesn't exist in a universe where doppelgangers, mind control and possession are routine hazards - it feels like they're just making it up as they go along whenever they encounter that stuff, instead of having procedures.

Not to mention the fact that half of the crew is still, in theory, dedicated to fighting the Federation. That's something else that got me in retrospect - even in an episode about being paranoid and distrustful, there was no paranoia about this being a Maquis plot, or a Federation plot to take out the Maquis, or anything. They didn't even bother to bring it up to discount it. At this point I'm actually okay with them dropping half of the premise of the show, but if they ever try to bring back the idea of a a divided ship, I'm going to be waving my arms at the entirety of season one in frustration.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:33 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


I think that there are some safeguards that are aboard ships to discourage tampering and mutiny, some of which are in canon (the command codes mentioned in this episode, which play a big part in the plot of The Wrath of Khan) and some of which are in non-canon but officially authorized sources such as the tech manuals. The TNG tech manual says that the LCARS touchscreens that make up the majority of controls on the ship double as biometric sensors, i.e. fingerprint readers, to discourage unauthorized access to certain systems or commands. (They can obviously be adapted to different species that may not have fingerprints; I think that Data might not.)

But, just as obviously, there are apparently many ways of defeating or bypassing these security measures, as witness the number of times that Voyager is boarded and/or taken over. It's plausible to the extent that they're encountering species with their own types of technology that, even though they may not be up to the Federation's standards overall, may simply have some aspect to them that defeats Starfleet security measures easily. Thus, the Kazon can easily board the ship, especially with Seska's help. The Vidiians likewise have little problem; they arguably may even have the technological edge on the Federation, given that their standard weapon is in effect a miniaturized transporter that can isolate and beam out individual organs and hold them in the pattern buffer for some time. (It's also probably the same sort of thing that the Eymorg intruder used to remove Spock's brain in the episode of the same name, which is kind of an interesting connection.) It's like the different extraterrestrial diseases that have come along to sort of replace the ones that have been effectively been cured, such as cancer. There's also the aspect that there are some security vulnerabilities, such as the Jeffries tubes, that are more or less necessary to keep the ship running and allow the crew access during emergencies. Having to authorize every single little thing during an emergency or battle would be not only extremely aggravating but probably also fatal.

I do agree with dinty_moore that it's weird that Janeway didn't once lean over to Tuvok and wonder if it was some sort of Maquis mutiny attempt, especially as it was Paris who was initially suspected.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:47 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Something else that I forgot to put in the above is the sheer conceptual difficulty of trying to devise a mind-control-proof security measure, since you'd have a real problem with defining and detecting "mind control." If you had someone simply swapping minds, or dropping in and controlling a person's movements, then you could require the re-entry of some sort of password for access--but what if the possessor entity had access to that person's memories? And there are more subtle forms of mind control. The Mule from Isaac Asimov's original Foundation Trilogy is a projective empath, able to permanently affect another person's feelings, so that his worst enemies become his most fanatical minions, willing to kill and die on his command. There's also the DS9 episode "Dramatis Personae" in which the crew slowly takes on the roles of an ancient alien power struggle while still maintaining their own identities.

The only real solution would be to have an AI monitoring the crew for aberrant behavior; not only would you have to have the AI secure from tampering (which the Doctor obviously wasn't in this episode) and not prone to rampant behavior (see TOS' "The Ultimate Computer"), but then you'd run into the question of why you'd need a crew at all; see also Iain M. Banks' The Culture.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:27 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Something else that I forgot to put in the above is the sheer conceptual difficulty of trying to devise a mind-control-proof security measure, since you'd have a real problem with defining and detecting "mind control."

That's a good point, and also: that would make a great plot hook for a spin-off series episodes -- an hour of engineers back at Starfleet HQ doing the yearly update of Mind Control Avoidance Best Practices manual. What if some of the people in charge of devising your anti-mind-control security system are themselves mind-controlled? What if you think they are?

Starfleet obviously has a real and consistent problem with infiltration -- see: the entirety of DS9, and, even earlier Conspiracy back in TNG Season One. I'd like to think they keep pushing out security protocols designed to stop the last security breach; was someone checking every admiral for worms at the back of their neck during the changeling infiltration?
posted by cjelli at 7:54 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


I'd like to think they keep pushing out security protocols designed to stop the last security breach; was someone checking every admiral for worms at the back of their neck during the changeling infiltration?

Yeah, this would've been enough for me. In point of fact, it *was* enough for me on DS9: when the Founders were everywhere, people started doing blood tests and ship-wide phaser sweeps on the buddy system. It was imperfect, but it showed that the characters on the show were paying the slightest bit of attention to their own circumstances.

That's all I really wanted out of Voyager: 'we know we run into [x] class of problem periodically, what can we change to handle that better?' I'm not inclined to give the writers any benefit of the doubt there, either - the thing where they ignored the Maquis entirely basically lost them the benefit of the doubt from me.
posted by mordax at 9:43 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Well that's a nifty bunch of posts on the ever present security nightmare on these shows.

A few things stand out for me about the issue, but first, one minor suggestion about the Maquis. I think it's going a touch to far to say they are dedicated to fighting the Federation. From what I've seen anyway, they're based around fighting the Cardassians, and only fight the Federation when their treaty obligations get in the way. If there wasn't a treaty and the Federation had instead imposed no contact/neutral zone sort of situation, then the Maquis may not bother directly opposing Federation ships at all. (At least that's my impression from Voyager and TNG, maybe DS9 offers a more complex take.) If that is the case, then co-existence with the Maquis on Voyager isn't quite as fraught with potential mutiny issues as the Cardassians aren't involved and the Maquis don't have as much issue with Starfleet outside of their actions in that area.

Mind/body control is an interesting worry since that's really the only possible reason for some of the laxness with certain security measures. I mean what possible sense would there be in allowing the computer to be set to override Captain command control? I would imagine there would need to be measures in place to ensure multiple officers could lock out the captain in cases of concern over their behavior that necessitates removing them from command. So, in that instance, Chakotay and Tuvok, at minimum, would need to give orders to override. But other than that, shouldn't the captain always have override command for any other order? Making it possible to get around that, and Tuvok's security measures seems a bit much.

It's one thing to suggest in normal circumstances a crew member could sabotage the ship, that's pretty reasonable given the need for crew access everywhere, but another to say even in a heightened security situation Tuvok and Janeway could somehow still lose control over ship functions. In Seska's case, she was the prime suspect in betraying Voyager to the Kazon, but somehow she was still able to override Janeway and Tuvok and initiate an emergency transport off the ship. That's a serious failure of protocol. One would potentially assume then that she could have done even worse than just transport if she had chosen.

Control of the shuttle bay and transporters in crisis situations are some of my biggest gripes about their security, with the force field tech they have it seems a little too hijack a shuttle or leave the ship in heightened security situations. Escape pods seem a more likely avenue that would remain somewhat control free given their need of use in emergencies, but that shouldn't prove as much an issue since they should, in theory, be easy to recapture in most instances, allowing some greater laxness in security, akin to a lifeboat on a sea going ship.

Actually, it's a little surprising how little the various Trek's have delved into the workings of the main computer, given how powerful it is and how necessary for their survival. With it able to "run' a host of sentient life forms as well as provide instant information about virtually anything and still control all the normal ship functions and replicators etc, its limitations and general lack of episode focus seems strange.

Also, for goodness sake, do better at securing the doctor. If he is 'alive" then it shouldn't be so easy to manipulate his program. His function is such that there should be little reason short of serious malfunction ever to be able to turn off the EMH, and once Janeway accepts his status as an actual crewman, then his physical integrity is a life or death issue, or at least one that risks being akin to brainwashing or a lobotomizing him. Allowing just anyone to access his files is a serious problem.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:46 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this would've been enough for me. In point of fact, it *was* enough for me on DS9

Of course, DS9 (Bar Association S4/E15) directly addressed the frequent terrible ship security when Odo and Worf had this exchange:

Worf: What I want to know is how such a security breach was allowed to occur in the first place?

Odo: Unfortunately these things happen.

Worf: They did not happen on the Enterprise!

Odo: (Smiles) Really?
Oh, let me see.
Stardate 4625.7. Ferengi privateers lead by DaiMon Lurin boarded and seized control of the Enterprise using two salvaged Klingon Birds of Prey.
Stardate 45349.1! Berlinghoff Rasmussen, a petty criminal impersonating a scientist, commited numerous acts of theft against the crew of the Enterprise.
Shall I continue?

Worf: That will not be necessary.
posted by juiceCake at 10:52 AM on February 15 [7 favorites]


A few things stand out for me about the issue, but first, one minor suggestion about the Maquis. I think it's going a touch to far to say they are dedicated to fighting the Federation. From what I've seen anyway, they're based around fighting the Cardassians, and only fight the Federation when their treaty obligations get in the way. If there wasn't a treaty and the Federation had instead imposed no contact/neutral zone sort of situation, then the Maquis may not bother directly opposing Federation ships at all. (At least that's my impression from Voyager and TNG, maybe DS9 offers a more complex take.) If that is the case, then co-existence with the Maquis on Voyager isn't quite as fraught with potential mutiny issues as the Cardassians aren't involved and the Maquis don't have as much issue with Starfleet outside of their actions in that area.

Yes and no? This is mostly through DS9, but I always got the impression that the Maquis were fighting both the Federation and Cardassia, though Cardassians tried to claim that Starfleet command was secretly aiding the Maquis. There were direct attacks on Starfleet ships, and they did kill Starfleet personnel and officers, even if the end goal was more trying to secure resources for their resistance than anything else.

It was also pretty clear that aiding the Maquis was considered criminal, much less even being part of the Maquis.

So, while the Federation had other things it was paying attention to besides the Maquis, and the Maquis' goal was not necessarily to take down the Federation (I assume they were going more for being independent from both Cardassia and the Federation), they were attacking Starfleet crews and stealing Starfleet ships - Janeway even mentioned that a few episodes ago.

They wouldn't really have any problems if it weren't for Cardassians, but as far as they know, there are still Cardassians menacing colonists, and the Federation is still responsible for letting that happen - I don't think it's safe to say that any of their problems are solved by their change of location.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:31 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


The Maquis are/were a land of contrasts, which is one of the things that I found most interesting about them. On DS9, you had a guy who seems to have joined mostly for ethical reasons (Cal Hudson), a guy who joined because he was a transporter duplicate whose personality developed differently from his "prime" counterpart (Tom Riker), and a guy who was LARPing Les Misérables in his head (Eddington). On this show, there's a guy who joined mostly for ethical reasons (Chakotay), a misfit who was more temperamentally suited for the Maquis than Starfleet (B'Elanna), another misfit with daddy issues (Tom Paris), a Cardassian agent (Seska), and a serial killer (Lon Suder); there will also be various other Maquis whom we meet, although I don't think that we get much information on most of them except for Dalby in the last episode in this season, "Learning Curve." Some of them have much more of a grudge against the Federation than others--Eddington may be bitter about not getting promoted, and B'Elanna uses "Starfleet" as an epithet in the earlier episodes--but pretty much all of them hate or at least dislike Cardassians, with the obvious exception of Seska.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:20 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


That sounds true enough to make sense to me. Like any group of quasi-mercenaries/freedom fighters there are going to be people joining for various reasons, united by both the desire to fight group X and to rebel against their own government that isn't waging battle. At best I guess Starfleet would represent something like the idea of the friend of my enemy is my enemy. (Is that a saying? It should be.) And at worst I guess they might see it more like Vichyism, with Starfleet actively betraying their people. The latter definitely could lead to violence against Starfleet as an institution, whereas the former would be more context dependent, and allow for being allies when the situation was suitable as it is a more practical opposition than ideological one.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:37 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


So Janeway's holo-novel is the hook that Janet H. Murray uses to start talking about interactive storytelling in her 1997 book Hamlet on the Holodeck: The future of narrative in cyberspace. It's a seminal text in the field of new media studies.

One of her points in the book is that video games (especially at the time) were focused on telling stories about discovering new places, and overcoming external obstacles — usually through combat. Murray put out a call to use games to tell more internal stories, of interpersonal relationships and character growth. She first makes that distinction while talking about the holo-novel (p. 16):
But Janeway's holo-novel marks a milestone in the virtual literature of the twenty-fourth century as the first holodeck story to look more like a nineteenth-century novel than an arcade shoot-'em-up. Unlike virtually all the holodeck stories run by male crew members, Lucy Davenport [Murray's name for the holo-novel] is not focused on a violent central conflict that is resolved within a single Star Trek episode. Instead, Janeway is involved in a more leisurely and open-ended exploration of the Burleigh household, a continuing avocation that she takes up regularly on her days off and is presented over several episodes. . . . Like Jane Eyre, Lucy Davenport takes place in a mysteriously haunted household and emphasizes the perils of the governess's intense social relationships rather than the physical terrors of the situation. When Janeway is shown relishing a verbal contest with the sinister housekeeper, promising the reluctant Henry that she will be a challenging math teacher, or trying to assuage the grief of the clearly anguished young Beatrice, we can understand what engages the resourceful starship captain in this particular virtual world. As her name implies, Janeway has much in common with her fictional predecessor Jane Eyre, including a strong resistance to being bullied, a willingness to stand on principle, and the courage to face fear and isolation head-on. The Lucy Davenport story therefore suits her well. . .
I'll buy Murray's point that Janeway still has interesting decisions to make for her character, even if her agency is limited and she's more acted upon than free to act herself. But I still think it's interesting/revealing that a Victorian novel would be go-to entertainment for a 24th-century woman. Here in the 21st century, the women I know who are into Victorian novels say those works resonate because, unfortunately, women having agency is still a controversial topic. They cope with modern sexism by seeing how Victorian women coped. So what's the appeal for Janeway, who allegedly lives in a society where her agency is a non-issue?

But we're shown a 20th-century media product, where being a man is still the default and there are far fewer women in leadership roles. (And in the pilot, Paris is confused about how to address a female superior officer, which reinforces the rarity of women in command.) So maybe Janeway is still getting some insight into how to deal with the challenges she faces as a woman.
posted by Banknote of the year at 9:50 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Oh, hey, I missed your post on this Banknote. I read that book, but forgot all about it by the time I got around to watching Voyager. I actually think going to a Victorian novel was a good idea in concept, being a big fan of them myself didn't hurt in that regard, and if the "gameplay" or interaction could be handled reasonably, which is what I sorta doubt, then I could see it being an excellent choice for Janeway.

I guess my shortform answer as to why would be that the heroines of those kinds of novels are acting under great restraints on their actions due to what is deemed acceptable in the times, but they manage to escape those constraints to some degree by a variety of skills. Sometimes undermining or flat out challenging the worst of them and accepting the burden of their independence, sometimes by skillfully working around impediments to get what they are seeking through guile and cleverness that those around them may not wholly detect, and sometimes by building relationships, both romantic, on their own terms, or of friendship, often with others who will not wholly bend to the rules they are expected to act under.

As a Starship Captain in an era where force isn't the expected response to contact and where a strong set of guiding rules are in place to anchor the captain's expected behavior, and, yes, in a time where it seems women still are treated differently than men and many expectations, social, romantic, and professional require craft and awareness to navigate makes that sort of novel a far more compelling choice then say some hard boiled detective fiction might be. Though both those types of stories do also tend to carry an additional element of exploration of places and investigation of people as a part of their packages as well, something also potentially beneficial to a starship captain, or at least fitting enough for the events they encounter.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:23 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


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