Star Trek: Voyager: Innocence   Rewatch 
May 11, 2017 3:33 AM - Season 2, Episode 22 - Subscribe

We're the kids in the Delta Quadrant! (whoa-oh) / We're the kids in the Delta Quadrant! (whoa-oh) / Everybody watch us die in a cave!

Memory Alpha believes the children are our future…unless they're Drayans:

- This is the second of two episodes whose stories were written by Anthony Williams, an assistant manager in advertising at Paramount Pictures. He previously wrote the story for "Cold Fire".

- Although the premise for this episode was pitched by Anthony Williams (an assistant manager in advertising at Paramount Pictures who previously wrote the story for "Cold Fire"), it was slightly different from how the story turned out and Lisa Klink (the episode's teleplay writer) was not completely in favor of the initial idea. She recalled, "The freelancer Anthony Williams had pitched us an idea where these kids were in trouble and they were disappearing one by one into this cave [...] I was not all that excited with the premise. It sounded like a sitcom episode. But what ultimately caught my attention was the idea of Tuvok as a father. What are Vulcan fathers like? Are their kids born logical? Probably not." Lisa Klink also said, "The premise sounds hokey – Tuvok is trapped on a planet with a bunch of children – but it really isn't as hokey as it sounds. When they gave me that premise to work on, my reaction was, 'God this is going to be a sit-com.' It really did not turn out that way at all. I think it came together well, because Tuvok has children at home so it was a chance to explore him as a father."

- Regarding Tuvok's singing in this episode, Klink recalled, "I knew that Tim [Russ] could sing, so I wanted to include a Vulcan lullaby. Tim heard about this and called me, concerned that it would be too cutesy. We agreed that a Vulcan lullaby would be practical and include a lesson. So I wrote it that way, and the Trek composer came up with a suitably somber melody. It turned out really well. As an unexpected bonus, I got into ASCAP, the composers and performers union, and they sent me miniscule royalties when the episode aired in repeats."

- Lisa Klink was extremely pleased with the casting of the children that Tuvok encounters. Klink noted, "We got great kids."

- Klink also enjoyed Robert Picardo's performance. She recalled, "I loved the scene where they visit sickbay and The Doctor is clearly trying to be hospitable. He has a line: "We don't often get such distinguished visitors in sickbay. Unless there's been some sort of accident." And he smiles, proud of himself. Robert Picardo could make any line funny, and he delivered that one perfectly."

- Executive producer Jeri Taylor thought this episode did wonders for the character of Tuvok. Taylor explained, "Our challenge with Tuvok is to put this character in situations which will press him and give him some kind of emotional arc, although he can't express those emotions. There aren't many situations that allow that kind of thing to happen, but 'Innocence' was one that I thought worked like gangbusters."

- In an outtake from this episode, as seen in the TV special Ultimate Trek: Star Trek's Greatest Moments, Tim Russ can be seen approaching the cave for the final time with Tressa, then turning around, saying "Man, I ain't going in there!" and bolting for the forest.


"We often fear what we do not understand. Our best defense is knowledge."

- Tuvok


"My attachment to my children cannot be described as an emotion. They are a part of my identity, and I am... incomplete without them."

- Tuvok


"Close your eyes and imagine all the energy in your body is floating to the point where your fingertips meet. Nothing else you hear or feel is important. Let the outside world fade away. You exist only inside your mind."

- Tuvok, to Tressa


"'Peace in your heart, fortune in your steps'; that is from the spirits of my people."

- Chakotay


Poster's Log:
This one is fairly tedious on rewatch, both because it's one of those Alien of the Week installments (albeit a successful one) and because once you know the Big Reveal, much of the juice is gone. That said, it's almost an all-Tuvok episode, so it manages to retain my interest the third time through. Some of the dialogue has an affectingly sincere quality, too. It also has to be said that they avoided one of the classic traps of filmed storytelling: the bad kid actor. All three kids in this are, as noted above, a lot better than average.

And as far as Tuvok singing? Well… I mean, it definitely has some of that "bitter dregs" feel, so I choose to interpret it as a Nimoy homage on one level or another. (Now that I think about it, it's kind of surprising that we IIRC never saw Tuvok play an instrument, considering Spock did it like five or six times.)

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
If the First Prelate looks familiar, that's because the actress, Marnie McPhail, had a memorable moment in First Contact.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Tuvok: "My youngest son was particularly fond of it. He always used to ask me to play "Falor's Journey." It is a tale of enlightenment, consisting of three hundred forty eight verses."
*the kids stare at him*
Tuvok: "....it may not be necessary to include the complete narrative."

As Cheeses notes, this is an episode that could have gone very badly with lesser actors.

There's a nice bit of continuity here from earlier in the season, which highlights the crew's ongoing battle to gather resources that keep the ship in working order. The Drayan moons are rich in Polyferranide deposits, which were first brought up in S02E09: Tattoo. Polyferranide is a mineral used by Intrepid-class starships as a warp core seal. It prevents their warp cores from burning out. Here, Janeway attempts to negotiate mining rights with the Prelate, but is unsuccessful. At least, onscreen.

Polyferranide is never mentioned again in the series, so we have to assume that they eventually were able to find what they needed off camera.
posted by zarq at 6:34 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


This is one of those episodes where it's about 90% there, but that missing 10% (and that may be overstating it; it's something that probably could have been fixed with literally just a few lines of dialogue) made the difference between an unexpectedly great episode and a "meh, Tuvok has a few cute scenes with the kids" episode, which is what we got. The presumption seems to be that the Big Twist at the end--the kids are all basically Benjamin Button--is enough to carry the episode, but it doesn't have much of an impact, mainly because the episode is so damn stingy in providing any form of real foreshadowing. The kids don't give a single clue until the Final Girl offhandedly mentions her granddaughter in the last act, and the First Prelate comes off as kind of a jerk until about the same time. There's no real rationalization for the Drayans being jerks about it, although they kind of set up for it with their statements about turning inward, and it would have been pretty easy for the Prelate to have said something about how they spend all their lives trying to develop a sophisticated sense for philosophy and spirituality and then it ends with their losing it all and becoming big babies again, a la the Seven Ages of Man. Similarly, Tressa could have said something about how she'd been looking forward to being a kid again, only she'd forgotten that childhood can be really scary, too. And the other kids could have thrown in a few random lines that might have seemed puzzling the first time around, but made you go "Ohhhh" and maybe go back and rewatch the episode again, knowing what you know now. (Voyager was well within the era where most people had VCRs and, especially with Trek's devoted fans, probably taped episodes as a matter of routine.)

And the thing is, Trek generally does a pretty good job about dealing with aging and the indignities and disappointments--as well as the better aspects--of it, from TOS' "The Deadly Years" to the movies' recurring theme of the older crew, and particularly Kirk, coming to terms with their legacy, to Sarek in TNG (and eventually future-Picard in the last episode), to the Klingons from TOS, and especially Kor, in DS9. VOY will eventually end with an elderly Janeway similarly dealing with the consequences of her past decisions. This could have been one of those memorable episodes, instead of one that was so negligible that I had forgotten the Big Plot Twist until I rewatched it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:03 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Lisa Klink was extremely pleased with the casting of the children that Tuvok encounters. Klink noted, "We got great kids."

I can't tell you who the kids were, but I do know that they were everywhere in the early to mid 1990s. They are the "that guy" of kids because they were sitcom mainstays as the main kid characters' guest star friends on what seems like every show that was airing at the time.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:41 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


The Kids
Tahj D. Mowry (IMDb, still working -- currently on the ABC sitcom Baby Daddy)
Sarah Rayne (IMDb, now Sarah Freeman. Last worked in 2011.)
Tiffany Taubman (IMDb, retired from the business in 1999.)
posted by zarq at 4:15 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Particle of the Week: Polyferranide, already discussed here.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: Don't recall any dielectric warp fields, but there is a dielectric shield available from the Breen.

Ongoing Equipment Tally:
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: 27
* Shuttles: Down 3, as Tuvok was able to recover his. Better job than Chakotay!
* Crew: 146, down Bennet.
* Bio-neural Gelpacks: 47
Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: Holding at 7.

Notes:
* Good casting elevates this above the script.

The whole aging backward thing didn't work for me. However, the kids are great. Tim Russ is great. This is reasonably watchable, only really losing me in the resolution.

I can't tell you who the kids were

I was curious, and so I looked them up:

Tressa - the girl who survived until the end - hasn't been working in Hollywood in a long time, but apparently had a good run.

Elania, the other girl, worked longer but has also been outta the spotlight awhile.

Corin, the little boy, was Wade in Kim Possible, and is still getting roles. Seems to be doing pretty well for himself. :)

* Vulcans are totally full of crap sometimes, but that's okay.

It's funny watching Tuvok weasel out of admitting that he loves his children. And it's funny - and very Spock-like - watching him be irritated with the kids when they're messing with all the dangerous stuff on board a shuttle.

Today was long, so I suppose I will come back in a bit with any further thoughts about this. Overall, I found this to be a pretty forgettable episode: the aliens are pointlessly stubborn, the casting is great, Tim Russ is great, the final premise is dumb. I don't really feel like it was bad, just not... hm. Just not really much substance here. I think Jack probably sums up my feelings best with how it was just missing something to make it really pop, but wasn't actually objectionable.
posted by mordax at 4:28 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Oh, should've previewed, sorry zarq!
posted by mordax at 4:34 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Oh, no worries! I liked your summary better than mine!
posted by zarq at 5:35 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


I think Jack probably sums up my feelings best with how it was just missing something to make it really pop, but wasn't actually objectionable.

Maybe part of what was missing was a genuine sense of risk? I mean, within fifteen minutes or so, we can guess, even on first watch, the following:

- Tuvok will be rescued (because it's a shuttlecrash episode)
- whether or not Janeway gets the $SPACE_RESOURCE will not ultimately matter (because it's the B-story, and this is obviously not a planet that the show is willing to grind to a halt on)
- there probably isn't an actual monster in the cave (because it's not TOS)
- the children will not be brutally murdered (because it's network TV)
...and since we don't much care about these new kid characters' fate beyond the remote possibility of brutal murder, well, then it basically becomes a hangout episode. (Definitely one that I like, but yeah.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:53 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Maybe part of what was missing was a genuine sense of risk?

Yeah. I think you got it.

I do feel like they tried as hard as they could by introducing the idea of the monster, and then having the two kids go missing, their clothes left behind. That was creepy, but as a viewer, I do know it can't actually get that bad given the external constraints.

...and since we don't much care about these new kid characters' fate beyond the remote possibility of brutal murder, well, then it basically becomes a hangout episode. (Definitely one that I like, but yeah.)

Yeah.

Oh! The one characterization issue I was thinking about here is: sometimes, Tuvok displays an alarming lack of emotional intelligence, (see Meld). Something on the order of 'this your first day with humans?'

Here, Tuvok displays plenty of emotional savvy - he understands the nuances of what's going on around him both to pick up on someone harboring feelings for Bennet, and to appreciate why it's important to comfort Bennet on his deathbed instead of going off on some 'do not be afraid of death because it is illogical' kick. Tuvok in this story comes across like a disciplined person with an austere philosophy instead of someone who literally doesn't feel.

Flipping back and forth on 'how do Vulcans work' is a fairly minor issue on Voyager because Tuvok is heavily sidelined, but it is a minor problem I've got. I like the depiction here in Innocence much better than the alternative, because it allows for more depth and seems a lot truer to how I remember Spock, Sarek and other OG Vulcans. (I mean, we know T'Pring had feelings - she said as much.)
posted by mordax at 7:02 AM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Meh. It's never a good sign when a show relies heavily on pointless failure to communicate to attempt to build tension. The Drayan's visiting Voyager comes across as silly given their reticence to communicate, claiming curiosity doesn't really fix that and the sudden change to hostility doesn't improve things, leaving the entirety of the interactions between the Prelate and Janeway tedious and without much sense as diplomacy.

Also a bit tired is the all too familiar shuttle crash, transporters don't work, communication spotty bit. It's a crutch they rely on as an excuse too often. Less of the standard caves and greenery would also be nice. Kinda sad TOS has far more interesting planets even though they are obviously sets. Better that than the few generic looks they trot out all the time.

Better would have been to just focus on Tuvok and the children for the majority of the episode, with Janeway and the Prelate joining them at the end after finishing some offscreen diplomacy and only then becoming aware of the shuttle accidents. As it is, we get a little too much dealing with Neelix Tuvok, brusque and so overtly not annoyed because Vulcans don't get annoyed. (Even the children see through that act as they do with his spiel over his children being a part of him isn't an emotion nonsense.) Some added opening up to the children and looking a bit more at that relationship could have made that all seem a lot more interesting, even though it too doesn't make much sense as the "children" are much too ill-defined. Do they remember things as Tressa implies at the end when speaking of missing her grandchildren? Then their actions around Tuvok become more a writer's ploy to fool the audience than an examination of an alien process. It's an attempt to build suspense, but doing that through trickery is much less satisfying than making it clearer these are not ordinary children from the beginning.

None of the actions speak well for the crew in regards to non-interference and all that rigmarole. They've already encountered off limit and funeral planets, so maybe ask before scouting this time? And maybe dial back the challenging social customs bit until you actually understand them would be a good look too. Though, oddly enough, challenging their customs somehow won their respect, while trying to speak with them diplomatically failed miserably. So who knows? Aliens are so damned single minded, focused on that one thing that defines the culture for the show, that you can never make good headway in talking with 'em anyway, so you may as well do what you will and figure your good intentions will show through in the end. That too is pretty much a standard Trek trope, now that I think about it.

It's not a terrible episode really, but not one I cared to revisit particularly either. Good to see Russ get center spotlight for a change. Too bad the writing wasn't a match for him.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:00 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Also a bit tired is the all too familiar shuttle crash, transporters don't work, communication spotty bit. It's a crutch they rely on as an excuse too often.

It is. Especially since this becomes clear in retrospect - Voyager is easily able to detect that the planet's atmosphere is full dangerous whatever fields. Tuvok should've known better than to take the shuttle down into it without hailing the ship and letting them know he was doing a risky maneuver, since they weren't even that far away.

None of the actions speak well for the crew in regards to non-interference and all that rigmarole. They've already encountered off limit and funeral planets, so maybe ask before scouting this time?

Yeah, I meant to mention about that as well, good catch. Chakotay's story about flubbing a first contact didn't help either. I figure that's why it was there: to lampshade, ahead of time, that they'd never be able to figure out *all* the right questions. But determining which moons they're allowed to scout is a big detail to miss, way more important than greetings.

I was also annoyed by the fake Native American stuff, meant to mention. (This has been a much busier week than I'm used to.)

That too is pretty much a standard Trek trope, now that I think about it.

It is. I will admit that trope used to bother me more before the Internet. Now I assume those space cultures are just ruled by that one guy on a posting board who just can't let something drop. 'No, our customs are TOO IMPORTANT!'

(Kidding / not kidding?)

Good to see Russ get center spotlight for a change. Too bad the writing wasn't a match for him.

Yeah. I stand by my theory that Russ is sidelined because Picardo worked better for them, and they weren't gonna have two Smart Guys. I maintain it's a shame, because while Picardo was awesome, Russ was too.
posted by mordax at 5:59 PM on May 12


Yeah, you're probably right about Picardo and Russ. It's notable how few scenes they get with each other as if the writers just couldn't figure out how to make both interesting at once other than some the doctor snarking about mind melds or Vulcan mentality in general. Too bad too, there could have been some fun scenes with those two being the only ones to understand something and bonding a bit over it, though not admitting they were doing so. I'd have really liked to see an amusing somewhat snooty duo like that than what where they took the doctor and often ignored Tuvok.
posted by gusottertrout at 6:57 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I recently acquired a PDF copy of the "Voyager Bible," the 18-page founding document used to pitch the show back before it had been cast (e.g. Janeway's first name is still Elizabeth in it). Here is an interesting portion of the Tuvok character profile:
"His Vulcan equanimity and patience serve him well as the ship's peace-keeper, but it is his unofficial role which most binds him to other crew members. His grandfatherly presence is comforting to many -- particularly the young and head-strong B'Elanna"

… and there's another paragraph suggesting that the spiritual-counselor role Tuvok develops with Kes was initially meant to be with B'Elanna. It's not the only such example of a forgotten character arc in the Voyager Bible, but it's a striking one. I don't think it would have occurred to me to describe the Tuvok we get as a "grandfatherly presence."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:26 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I recently acquired a PDF copy of the "Voyager Bible," the 18-page founding document used to pitch the show back before it had been cast (e.g. Janeway's first name is still Elizabeth in it).

Thank you so much for talking about this! I'm going to read that ASAP. (Just the very idea that Voyager even had a series Bible is hilarious to me.)
posted by mordax at 12:52 PM on May 13


None of the actions speak well for the crew in regards to non-interference and all that rigmarole. They've already encountered off limit and funeral planets, so maybe ask before scouting this time?

That would be a great example of Continuity Lite, where they wouldn't have to make a big deal of it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:33 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


So the Voyager Bible is *hilarious* and probably needs its own thread.
posted by mordax at 12:08 PM on May 14


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