Star Trek: Voyager: Jetrel   Rewatch 
February 20, 2017 8:37 AM - Season 1, Episode 15 - Subscribe

Say what you will about Neelix--he's irritating, bossy, inappropriately possessive and jealous of Kes--but you have to admit this: he had a bad war. A really, really bad war.

Memory Alpha calls the seven in the corner pocket:

- The episode was a conscious attempt to recreate the chemistry and powerful dramatic effect of DS9: "Duet". (Both episodes were the penultimate in the first season of their respective shows.) Whereas "Duet" was an allegory for the Nazi German treatment of several communities, this episode was a metaphor for the aftermath of the United States' nuclear bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima during World War II. Ken Biller based several lines of dialogue on quotes by real-life theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who was instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb. Biller recalled, "I did a lot of research about Oppenheimer and became fascinated by what I learned. There were some lines Jetrel said that were actual things Oppenheimer said. For instance, Oppenheimer was once asked if he felt guilty about Hiroshima and he said, 'Yes I feel guilty, but I don't regret it.'" Another example is Jetrel's use of the words "brighter than a thousand suns" to describe the intensity of the cascade's explosion. Oppenheimer once famously quoted the Hindu scripture Bhagvad Gita, "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One... I am become Death, the Shatterer of Worlds." [Poster's note: Oppenheimer read Sanskrit, and his translation (and original quote) was "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."] In another scene, Jetrel also refers to his "country" and "the world" in ways more in keeping with 20th century Earth than with interstellar politics of the 24th century. This reinforces the story's link to the nuclear bomb.

- The writers of this episode focused it around a character, Jetrel, whom they based on J. Robert Oppenheimer, using him as a basis to shed light on the persona of Neelix. In fact, Ken Biller once described the installment as "Neelix meets Robert Oppenheimer." Of the episode's conception, Biller recalled, "It was a fascinating idea to say, 'What if Oppenheimer was confronted by a survivor?' and then make that person see how he would respond." Michael Piller commented, "Basically, we're using the Oppenheimer character as an inspiration to tell something about one of our guys." Jeri Taylor agreed that the story "gave us the opportunity to show a completely other side of Neelix." Brannon Braga concurred, "It removed Neelix from being just comic relief, which I think is important. You don't want him to become the joke of the ship."

- Actor James Sloyan says the same phrase “What I did had to be done” as both Jetrel in this episode and as Admiral Alidar Jarok in TNG: "The Defector".

"Don't either of you find it the slightest bit strange that a man who has made it his life's work to develop a weapon to destroy as many Talaxians as possible should suddenly be concerned with this Talaxian's health?"

- Neelix

"I'm simply a scientist. Yes, I developed the weapon. But it was the government, and the military leaders, who decided to use it, not I."
"That must be a very convenient distinction for you. Does it help you sleep at night?"

- Jetrel and Neelix

"It's good to know how the world works. It is not possible to be a scientist unless you believe that all the knowledge of the universe and all the power it bestows is of intrinsic value to everyone, and one must share that knowledge and allow it to be applied, and then be willing to live with the consequences."

- Jetrel

"Did you ever think, that maybe your wife was right? That you had become a monster?"
"Yes. The day we tested the cascade. When I saw that blinding light, brighter than a thousand suns, I knew at that moment exactly what I had become."

- Neelix and Jetrel

Poster's Log:

I think that my attitude toward this episode in general is exemplified by the pre-opening credits teaser: Neelix, Tuvok and Paris are in Sandrine's, playing pool, and Tuvok is trying to make a difficult but not impossible shot, but he blows it, scratching instead. Someone says that it's because Sandrine's table has a minor imperfection in the surface that threw off his shot, but that's not what we see on the screen; instead of the path of the cue ball deviating or wobbling, it looks like Tuvok sunk it directly into the pocket.

That's what "Jetrel" was like for me; it was clearly set up to give Neelix some gravitas by having him lose his family to Space Hiroshima, and further have his survivor's guilt exacerbated by his secretly having deserted the Talaxian army, but I'm not quite buying it. Part of it is Ethan Phillips' performance; he's obviously trying very hard, and the showrunners praise his performance (in the Memory Alpha article), but for much of the episode, he's facing off with a better actor, James Sloyan. (Sloyan is probably better known for playing Dr. Mora Pol, the Bajoran scientist who discovered Odo and kind of screwed up his "childhood"; he's also played the adult Alexander Rozhenko on TNG, as well as Jarok in "The Defector", a Romulan admiral who likewise regrets his past actions during a war.) There's the one scene where the two are talking, and right about the time we're noticing that Jetrel's eyes seem a bit watery, a single tear rolls down his cheek. Making that sort of Cerebus Syndrome shift is tricky, and--at least in my pre-rewatch recollection--Phillips does better in the future in episodes such as "Rise" and "Mortal Coil."

There's also the kind of odd framing of the Haakonian-Talaxian War and the destruction of Rinax. In a post on the blue about the Alien franchise, I said that Aliens was such an obvious Vietnam War allegory that they may as well have called LV-426 "Zietnam"; Rinax is basically Schmiroshima. The problem that we run into, though, is that the destruction of Rinax by the metreon cascade is both too much like the bombing of Hiroshima, and not enough. On the one hand, the damage done by this supposedly unprecedentedly-horrific weapon seems very limited by interstellar war standards. 300,000 deaths isn't trivial, we understand, but by contrast, when the Dominion decided to go scorched-earth on Cardassia Prime in the last episode of DS9, they murdered 800 million Cardassians in a matter of minutes. What were the Talaxians and Haakonians using as weapons before that? Water balloons? (Remember that photon torpedoes, which are an outgrowth of antimatter-fueled warp drive technology, are basically antimatter nukes, and quantum and tri-cobalt torpedoes are orders of magnitude more powerful.) The casualty figures aren't much off of the high estimates of those for the firebombing of Tokyo by prop-engine planes.

On the other hand, where it should have been more like Hiroshima/WWII is in the examination of Neelix's role in the conflict. If you're going to go with Space Hiroshima, why not make Neelix part of Space Pearl Harbor? The last-act revelation that he'd been a coward is kind of an odd note to strike, especially with the throwaway line that he'd told himself that he was really a de facto conscientious objector. What if his rage was really at his own people for starting or at least willingly participating in an unwinnable war? Or what if he'd actually been in the army and liked it, or was really good at it, the Space Audie Murphy? (I've speculated about the S2/S3 double episode "Basics" and what it would have been like if Neelix had been a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, to cite another trope.) And I'm not crazy about Jetrel's hidden plot to vindicate himself by resurrecting three hundred thousand dead people who have been turned into a glowing mist for fifteen years; I don't even know where to begin with that.

On a more positive note, there were some decent bits in there, such as Neelix's description of the devastation on Rinax, or Kes appearing as the burn victim in his nightmare. As I indicated earlier, I thought that James Sloyan's performance was fine.

Poster's Log, supplemental: So even though the Doctor is supposed to have control over his own activation/deactivation, some rando alien can turn him off? Problematic.
posted by Halloween Jack (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Particle of the Week: Metreons
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: Metreon weapons are inexplicably available to some player ships in Star Trek Online, even natively included in select Federation cruisers. Their horrific, flesh-melting nature is downplayed somewhat.
Equipment Tally: No change. Need to do a season tally next episode, it looks like.

Notes:
* Starting with the good, though there wasn't much:

As I indicated earlier, I thought that James Sloyan's performance was fine.

Likewise. I like James Sloyan generally. He always turns in good performances. Voyager's guest casting continues to be pretty good here.

I also appreciated that the 'rescue people with the transporter' plan fails horribly. It was clearly a longshot, and having it fail was a small silver lining on the end of the episode.

It was also fun to watch someone finally just knock Neelix out.

Unfortunately, that's about all I really liked here.

* In ongoing security fails, the Doctor is deactivated by Jetrel.

So even though the Doctor is supposed to have control over his own activation/deactivation, some rando alien can turn him off? Problematic.

Yeah, that was embarrassingly bad. I can't see any reason the Doctor should be able to be deactivated unwillingly by a passenger on the ship, here. Even by the horrifying security standards demonstrated on the show, that's just... argh. Like, something Janeway should have patched out as soon as the Doctor was the official Chief Medical Officer.

Further, Jetrel just should've generally had a security escort at all times. I get why they'd bring him on board - Janeway's already endangered the entire ship to save Neelix - so it makes sense they'd hear him out and let him work. However, he's a self-confessed war criminal who designed a weapon of mass destruction, and expressed an interest in Voyager's related advanced technology. The only person aboard who recognizes him hates him. He should, at the very least, be supervised by flesh-and-blood security when moving around the ship.

* The Kes/Neelix stuff continues to be horrible.

'At least now I won't watch you die of old age' is a horrible thing to say to anyone, much less your partner. Neelix also snaps at her, shuts her out and is generally an ass. (I get what she sees in him - he rescued her - but that really just makes the whole scenario that much ickier as it goes on.)

* The Doctor should've been able to verify or debunk the claim that Neelix was sick.

While it's plausible for Jetrel to bluff his way into giving Neelix such a dire prognosis, it doesn't make much sense for the Doctor to *not* doublecheck the findings, or at least want to. Seems like 'your body is infused with deadly radiation and will come apart at an atomic level' is a thing they could check for, once Jetrel clued them in on it. (For that matter, Jetrel's condition should logically have been detectable during transport.)

* The story just isn't earned or executed competently.

I feel like the dream sequence really reflected the problem the show has with Neelix, wherein they have no idea who he's supposed to be: is he a shifty, savvy survivor? Is he a dumb comedy sidekick? Switching - without segue - from everyone awake, to Neelix have a dream with a goofy pool shooting bit, to Kes being horrifically mutilated demonstrated the sort of abrupt, chaotic tonal shifts the character himself suffers from.

Dropping a backstory like this on him without any sort of buildup or - to the best of my limited recollection - followup is pretty bad, especially since they're trying to sell this without showing us much. We don't get flashbacks, we get anecdotes, and I just haven't seen this side of Neelix well enough for those to mean much.

The story also lets Jetrel off far too easily: having him die in sickbay, forgiven by Neelix, is way too tidy. This is not the kind of tale that needed a bow on it at the end.

Also, as mentioned by Halloween Jack, the figures don't make much sense: 300,000 really is pretty light for Trek-era weaponry. (I mean, Voyager's not even a warship, and they could turn the entire surface of a planet to glass without tons of effort.)

All in all, this is just not the kind of story that Voyager is equipped to tell, and the idea that they could center Neelix in something like Duet in S1 shows off how poorly a lot of these writers understood what they were doing. Getting into heavier drama needs more serialization and more coherent characterization generally. DS9 could pull it off because it put in the work in the background, and even they didn't try Duet in an early season.

Voyager's just too light, and Neelix is the last character on the show who's right for this anyway, though Ethan Philips does the best he can with the material. IMO, an episode like this would've worked better with one of the Maquis inexplicably having to work with a Dominion scientist or something down the line.
posted by mordax at 9:10 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


And I'm not crazy about Jetrel's hidden plot to vindicate himself by resurrecting three hundred thousand dead people who have been turned into a glowing mist for fifteen years; I don't even know where to begin with that.

I figure they wanted to (A) stick in a sci-fi hook of some sort and (B) get arty and allegorical in an "if you could bring them back!!" sort of way. It's one move too many in a story that needed, structurally, to be more intimate IMO.

Dropping a backstory like this on him without any sort of buildup or - to the best of my limited recollection - followup is pretty bad

IIRC there was *some* followup on the war's impact on Talaxians. At least two episodes, one of which is the penultimate episode of the series, and would constitute a pretty major spoiler. (And of course, STO has a couple of talky-but-interesting missions following up on them.)

Voyager's just too light, and Neelix is the last character on the show who's right for this anyway, though Ethan Philips does the best he can with the material.

Yeah, given the tone of the show, this ends up feeling like more of a slog than any Sloyan episode should. Given the situation, the audience feels like they're supposed to care, so they pay attention.

But, in its defense, I think they made the right call giving Neelix a very serious side early in the show's run.

IMO, an episode like this would've worked better with one of the Maquis inexplicably having to work with a Dominion scientist or something down the line.

Well, we do get the Cardassian Mengele in a few seasons. But IMO they botched that one even worse than this one.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:20 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


The story just isn't earned or executed competently...Dropping a backstory like this on him without any sort of buildup...is pretty bad, especially since they're trying to sell this without showing us much. We don't get flashbacks, we get anecdotes, and I just haven't seen this side of Neelix well enough for those to mean much.

I'm surprised they intended for this to be similar to Duet, because this was not at all similar to Duet in any way that mattered. Where Duet built off an established and important part of DS9's setting (the Cardassian occupation) and an established history and character for Kira, expanding and deepening both, Jetrel simply spins a backstory up for Neelix out of nowhere -- a backstory that, rather than deepening our understanding of the character, confuses it, because it's such a severe departure from how he's been written and acted. That makes it harder for the rest of the episode to carry the narrative and it, well, doesn't.

That's what "Jetrel" was like for me; it was clearly set up to give Neelix some gravitas by having him lose his family to Space Hiroshima, and further have his survivor's guilt exacerbated by his secretly having deserted the Talaxian army, but I'm not quite buying it.

Which is another problem I have: wheres Duet felt like it wanted to say something about a situation -- both in-universe, with the occupation of Bajor, and allegorically to the Nuremberg trials and post-war reconciliation generally -- Jetrel, for all that the writers intended it to be about the Jetrel/Oppenheimer, it felt like it was more about Neelix -- which doesn't work, on the one hand (as noted above), because it comes out of nowhere. But on the other hand, it's an oddly scoped story to be about Neelix in the first place. He deserts the army; he has survivor's guilt. Fair enough: that could be a story in itself. But on top of that, we also have the deployment of weapons of mass destruction. Was that necessary for the Neelix plot? No; if we've made it fifteen episodes in without this having any major buildup, I think we could have eschewed it entirely. Was the Neelix story necessary for the Jetrel plot? I'd argue: also no. What if Jetrel was simply out to atone for his actions -- to some non-Talaxian planet -- and the crew all have different reactions to that? That would be a workable plot.

This is neither the first nor the last Voyager episode where it feels like the writers have just thrown in slightly more everything than needed (just last episode: why did Torres need to be split in two?), and it's neither the first nor last episode where there's something I really wish they'd taken another pass or two at polishing up because the core concept (s) are good or, at least, serviceable. Neelix is definitely overdue for some character development; having a Neelix-centric episode was, broadly, a good idea, especially at this point in the season. It's unfortunate that this one wasn't, broadly, good.
posted by cjelli at 8:30 AM on February 21 [3 favorites]


Yes to all the problems that have been raised so far. But what really ticked me off about this one is how the episode frames Neelix's survivor guilt as a legitimate response to his dereliction of duty. The war went on for the better part of a decade and ended with a WMD attack. One conscripted soldier was not going to make a difference. But the way it plays out is You should deal with the consequences of your shitty actions, and not That was understandable, and you should forgive yourself. And then at the end when Neelix says something like "we both made mistakes." No! One of you is a war criminal, and one of you didn't want to die needlessly. The false equivalence there is staggering.
posted by Banknote of the year at 9:19 AM on February 21 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised they intended for this to be similar to Duet, because this was not at all similar to Duet in any way that mattered.

Yeah, I wouldn't have guessed that either. Gul Dukat is Sisko's nemesis. His enemy for years, over which they've fought and cooperated and have this gigantic interpersonal history. Duet wouldn't have worked in the first few seasons, much less during S1 DS9, much less as Dukat's first appearance, which is what they're trying to pull off in Jetrel.

The thing I keep coming back to with the Memory Alpha behind the scenes stuff here - which is probably my favorite part of these posts, by the by - is that Voyager's writers didn't really understand what made great Star Trek tick at all.

Was that necessary for the Neelix plot? No; if we've made it fifteen episodes in without this having any major buildup, I think we could have eschewed it entirely. Was the Neelix story necessary for the Jetrel plot? I'd argue: also no.

And there's that, yeah. Part of why this comes across as such a muddled outing is that they're dealing with those two disparate character issues in the same episode.

No! One of you is a war criminal, and one of you didn't want to die needlessly. The false equivalence there is staggering.

Yeah, that was also jarring and wrong.
posted by mordax at 9:41 AM on February 21


Gul Dukat is Sisko's nemesis. His enemy for years, over which they've fought and cooperated and have this gigantic interpersonal history. Duet wouldn't have worked in the first few seasons

Wrong episode; Duet is the Marritza one. You're thinking of the similarly-titled "Waltz." I should've hyperlinked it in the post, sorry.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:15 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


Another correction: this was not my post, so I couldn't have hyperlinked it! I'm like three days behind everything, in reality and in FanFare, so just ignore me.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:43 PM on February 21


Easy mistake, as they both fall well within the "bottle shows with Cardassians" subgenre. (See also "The Wire".)
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:00 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


First off, what's up with Janeway and Kes this episode? They seem awfully eager to push Neelix into giving this Jetrel guy a chance, I mean he seems so sincere! So not helpful for someone suffering from PTSD.

That opening with the repeated mentions of playing a safety is way too much too. It only vaguely fits and even in the limited manner it does, works against Kes' argument about Neelix's actions later. Sure, it works with Neelix's own internal view of his actions in some very literal way, but it doesn't fit the emotional tenor of his self-condemnation, so I don't think it would have the resonance they are aiming for with him, as he doesn't see himself as playing a safety so much as abandoning the table. There was, in his self-loathing, no strategy involved to better an opponent, just fear.

That dream scene where that memory intrudes is also a little creepy for containing a vague suggestion that Neelix sees Kes as something of the equivalent of Palaxia, and, by extension then their relationship hits a new level of creepy. Granted, the writers are also attempting to use Neelix's trauma to explain why he acts as he does towards Kes, but that doesn't sell very well in part due to it not quite fitting and in part due to Kes really not getting any sort of chance to establish any base of reaction or personality of her own to give the relationship any meaning much at all other than as writer's fancy. (Her reaction to his "I'll be dead soon and not see you die first, isn't that cheery speech" being one such moment in this episode that leaves her character a blank.)

Jetrel is nicely played by Sloyan, giving the character much more nuance than Phillips is able to find for Neelix, a continuing problem with the character/actor. There are moments where Neelix could be given more breadth, but, as I've mentioned, Phillips is an doggedly earnest "one emotion at a time" actor, which works against that kind of expansion. Phillips has a few nice moments when the emotion he sets on is sufficiently forceful and aptly singular in the reading, such as in first seeing Jetrel and in some moments of description over the outcome of the war, but those good moments are matched with equally off ones, like his first big scene with Janeway where he lurches in almost threateningly close to her for little good effect, his moments with Kes, and some of his arguments with Jetrel.

As a rule, I'd think it's bad form for an American show to adopt an analogy that ends with the equivalent of a Hiroshima survivor forgiving the Americans for the A-Bomb. Regardless of Japan's own history and belief on the subject, taking that then as a given or, worse, imposing that idea is, let's just say, more than a little gauche. There can certainly be a complex set of arguments to be made here, but it's just another example of how the episodic structure of the show, with each show largely being self-contained, makes every moral dilemma or complex event subject to that cosmic reset button as Voyager needs to bring things back to "normal" by the end of every episode so they can start fresh, without much consequence in the next one, like they're trying to erase their footprints as they walk.

I think calling Jetrel a war criminal is perhaps a bit much, at least by current standards, just as Oppenheimer, for any faults he had, wasn't considered one either. More would need be known about the situation and events of the war to know how reasonable such a claim might be even in a Nurenberg sort of way had the Talaxians won. That doesn't justify Jetrel or his actions, just makes his freedom seem reasonably appropriate.

This was a tough episode to sit through a second time due to it having little of interest aside from the Neelix stuff, so knowing that was going to bug me again didn't spark much enthusiasm, but, with a few pauses after some particularly irksome moments, it was, I suppose, a touch less painful than I was remembering due primarily to Sloyan and some of Neelix's better moments. For really having nothing much to do other than trying to convince us why Voyager couldn't "cure" Neelix on its own, or recognize he needed no curing, Picardo did well in giving the doctor's lines a little added oomph to keep them from being wholly unnecessary and forgettable.

With so little budget set aside for showing the working crew of the ship, did they really need to give lines to "Gaunt Gary" a holodeck character? Nothing against Larry Hankin, who's been guest appearing in tv shows and movies since the 60s and has one of those faces people remember, but how about expanding the actual crew before the holodeck cast?
posted by gusottertrout at 1:40 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter Voyager FanFare: It was, I suppose, a touch less painful than I was remembering
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:22 PM on February 21 [2 favorites]


Wrong episode; Duet is the Marritza one. You're thinking of the similarly-titled "Waltz." I should've hyperlinked it in the post, sorry.

My bad, good catch!

That dream scene where that memory intrudes is also a little creepy for containing a vague suggestion that Neelix sees Kes as something of the equivalent of Palaxia, and, by extension then their relationship hits a new level of creepy.

There is literally no part of the Neelix/Kes relationship that doesn't squick me out, and that's still extra bad.
posted by mordax at 2:30 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]


I think I'm pretty much out of these threads. The atmosphere isn't nearly as toxic as I'd feared, given all the endless Voyager hate in fandom, but my opinions of this show are so different from most of yours that I don't see how it'd be useful for me to participate. I wouldn't change any minds and it'd just be waste of our precious hours upon this planet.

With DS9 we were all pretty much in agreement that the show was great, and we could argue about which episodes were better or worse. With Voyager I just like and respect the show a lot more than most of you do. I know it had flaws, but I'm willing to overlook most of them and we probably wouldn't even agree on what parts were flaws and what parts were awesome. So from now on, whenever one of you writes something about how this aspect of the show sucks or this character was awful, just assume that I would have been there saying, "Oh, come on! You're being too hard on this show, you guys!" (Especially Threshold. It's become this weird fan shibboleth that that was the worst anything ever, and I will never, ever understand that. Please just lay off fucking Threshold, already!)

I can't say I'll never dip in again, but I don't plan to do it. DS9 was lots of fun, and I hope you folks enjoy discussing this show too. Live long and prosper!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:17 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]


Awww Ursula, nooo! It's only the first season! I'm sure the mood of the room will improve soon. :)
(And FWIW I am also in the "Threshold wasn't THAAAT bad" boat.)

Seriously though, I was just thinking yesterday, "Gosh, we need some contrarians in here." But I certainly understand if, especially these days, Voyager is a hill you don't feel the motivation to die on. In any case, I hope we hear from you when Discovery gets going!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:29 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Yeah, let me echo and supplement what COB said: I'm not doing this just to have people echo back my own opinions. I do overanalyze things, because I'm that kind of fan and I yell because I care, and I can understand that that might be offputting. But I see the poles as not being love/hate but obsession/indifference. And the thing that gets me a lot about a number of VOY episodes is how close they came to being something really great, but there was a really questionable creative decision somewhere along the line; "Jetrel" was a good example of this IMO. ("Threshold" is another example; it seemed like the showrunners started out wanting to do The Right Stuff, but somewhere along the way thought that they really wanted to do The Fly. And it really is really weird that two of the human crew have had children, but not human children, and they are never mentioned again. But anyway.)

So, I hope that you change your mind. I've changed my mind about some things after the discussion here, "Faces" being a great example.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:05 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Huh. I didn't really see the conversation so far being all that negative as a good number of the episodes have been talked about as generally interesting, but with flaws. The same, I think, would be said about the first season of TNG, which took some time to find its footing. It's true, there are parts of the show which do seem to annoy a number of us, like the failure to really embrace its animating concept, so there's been a lot of talk about that and things like the Neelix and Kes relationship, but those sorts of detailed takes on smaller aspects of the show aren't so much about liking or disliking it overall as I see it, and more about looking at what could have made it work even better or at least the elements that most catch our attention, both good and bad, looked at more closely. I don't think there are many shows that would pass without critique if examined in this kind of detail. So I don't take it as being negative so much as just being critical of what one enjoys, something I find beneficial, but which I understand may not be for everyone. I like disagreements and criticism as long as it remains in the realm of pleasant discussion and people don't get aggro about it. That, for me, is the best way to learn things.

Anyway, long story short, I hope you keep participating Ursula since I'd love to hear more perspectives on the show especially when they differ, and for what it's worth, I like Threshold and the other episodes that push more "out there" concepts, it's more the domestic ones that squick me out.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:44 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


I think I'm pretty much out of these threads. The atmosphere isn't nearly as toxic as I'd feared, given all the endless Voyager hate in fandom, but my opinions of this show are so different from most of yours that I don't see how it'd be useful for me to participate. I wouldn't change any minds and it'd just be waste of our precious hours upon this planet.

I'd echo everyone else here that I'd appreciate your comments on Voyager (as I appreciated them on DS9); it's great to read different perspectives on the show, and some of the discussions here have already changed my mind on a few things. But it can be exhausting to disagree about things, so I completely hear where you're coming from.

I've been pretty critical of a few episodes this season, and I want to make clear that that's coming from a place of appreciation; I would not be re-watching the show if I hated it. I was mildly indifferent to it when it originally aired, and re-watching it has actually made it enjoy it a lot more -- some of the issues I had with it then have fallen away, and some of the good things about it are more evident, and I've been striving to call those out as they come up (and I've been silently nodding along in agreement to a lot of the good stuff in these early episodes that other people haven noted, but I don't really want to clutter up the discussion with an itemized list of 'yes, that too was good's). The show is good, but it has flaws, and I find it interesting to discuss those flaws -- I can't overlook them, but I can enjoy it while acknowledging them. Oftentimes, for me at least, discussing and thinking through the things that don't work for me in the show helps crystalize my understanding of what I do like about it -- to read about the show's production and the writing constraints they operated under, for example (which I had not done until this re-watch, and: thanks to everyone who's been highlighting that information), makes clear how much this first season, in particular, was impacted by production restrictions, and how those restrictions inform the rest of show. The first six episodes: written before casting was finished, so characterization is all over the place; serialization and continuity, decided by the studio as much as the writers; and, just, Chakotay and the show's consultant and how did I not know about that before. Or: four Season Two episodes were produced during Season One but not aired until the next year? And then, again, four Season Two episodes were produced and held over until Season Three? There is so much (to me, unexpected) background/production weirdness to the show that I was not aware of when I watched it originally. And that stuff is fascinating!

A huge part of this is also that we're in the first season, still, and if memory serves it takes Voyager a while to find its footing -- as did TNG, as did DS9, as do most shows. And we're nearly on the threshold of starting Season Two!
posted by cjelli at 8:17 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


I wasn't trying to be a big drama queen. (But sometimes I don't have to try.) It really was a matter of looking at these threads and realizing that participating would mean lots and lots of disagreeing, probably about the same stuff over and over. Not ugly knock-down drag-out fights, but just endless little scraps about all sorts of things. I was such a regular and annoyingly enthusiastic participant in the DS9 threads that I thought it might seem a little weird if I just vanished from these threads without explanation. (Although in hindsight that kind of presumes that anybody would have even noticed I was gone, which is rather big-headed of me!)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:18 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


I'm still catching up on this rewatch, and I definitely noticed that there were more critical and negative (but smart and thoughtful) comments than praise. But I'm OK with that, because sometimes after watching an episode, I need to see other people complaining about something that pissed me off. And I think people are more motivated to discuss something they didn't like or had a problem with. That's how a lot of these show threads go. If people are still watching and care enough to comment, they must be enjoying at least some aspect of the show.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I hope that you keep posting, Ursula Hitler. I like seeing both sides of the coin (as long as the coin doesn't have Neelix's face on it).
posted by MsVader at 9:01 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Well, thank you! I do still keep up and I'm sometimes tempted to wade in, but there's all this stuff in the threads about how Neelix is the worst and Paris is the worst and Chakotay is the worst and the writers don't know what they're doing, and I'm just not ready to spend all that time swimming upstream. It's not like I think the show was flawless or that the threads are just full of endless, irrational hate, but I'm a fan of Voyager and it doesn't sound fun to have to defend it over and over again.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:00 PM on March 29


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