Star Trek: Voyager: Future's End, Part II   Rewatch 
June 26, 2017 7:23 AM - Season 3, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Maybe the Doctor should start calling himself Dr. Seuss, because he's on the loose!

Will you please pass Memory Alpha a burrito?:

- The "Future's End" story arc originally included not only a second part but also a third and, at one point, a fourth. Supervising producer Brannon Braga explained, "Actually it started out as a four-part arc on Earth in 1996. The studio had some problems with that. They felt that it was too dangerous to attempt. The studio is not a firm believer [even] in two-parters. So we ended up reducing it to three parts, then two. I think it was a good idea, because it really made it a very taut and packed story line." On the other hand, Braga also stated, "Part of me wishes we had still done the four-parter, because we had Tuvok and Paris get trapped in a convenience store while it was being ambushed by gang members."

- Moments after escaping from Starling and Dunbar in this episode, The Doctor approaches Rain Robinson and smells a tree behind her. This plot point was devised by actor Robert Picardo, taking inspiration from his own childhood. "I added that," he related. "Because I remember when I was a very young child, we took home movies of all the kids together feeding the ducks and all that. And all the other children were smelling the flowers and I'm just busy smelling a leaf. You know what I mean? I'm smelling something that's like a dead piece of branch, because I didn't distinguish between smelling a part of the plant and another part. I was imitating the behavior, but smelling the wrong thing. That kind of stuck in my head."

- The subplot involving the capture of Chakotay and Torres by an anti-government group originally featured much more in the episode's plot than it ultimately does. "They had to condense it," director Cliff Bole remarked. "Basically, those were the Freemen, the guys in Montana. That could be a whole script! We had to just nail it for a vignette."

- In this episode, Henry Starling fits The Doctor with a mobile autonomous holographic emitter, allowing The Doctor to freely move about, outside of Voyager's sickbay and holodecks, and even outside of the ship itself. Robert Picardo noted, "I'm mobile." Picardo had, during the second season of Star Trek: Voyager, suggested that his character of The Doctor go on a planetary mission. Shortly after completing work on that season, Picardo remarked, "I would be in some altered state, I would assume, because they would have to portabilize him." Furthermore, Picardo had also suggested – during that same season – that The Doctor should be modified for away mission usage in pieces, so that (for a while), his head alone would be sent on such missions. Despite these suggestions – and much in the same ways as Rene Auberjonois reacted to Odo finding his people (in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Picardo initially felt that giving The Doctor a mobile emitter would be a huge mistake and would ruin the character, before the actor eventually realized that it was the right decision. "I remember thinking it was a bad idea to give him mobility outside of sickbay," Picardo stated. "I thought that part of the audience's interest in the character was because of the limitations the character had and the challenges he had to face in trying to make the best of his limitations. But Brannon Braga was really right in that idea of giving me the mobile emitter. It opened up whole new storytelling vistas and I was the first to tell him that I was wrong – that the mobile emitter was a great idea." Picardo also recalled, "I was concerned about the Portable Holographic Emitter because I didn't want to mess with a winning combination. The audience seemed to embrace The Doctor's character during the show's first seasons, and so much of his character is based on the notion that he is severely limited and has to cope with limitations such as the fact that he can only exist in Sickbay or in the Holodeck, and that he's different to an organic being. So it seemed to me that if we took the risk of making him more like everyone else, we were damaging part of his uniqueness. Fortunately, that does not seem to have been the case [....] I am very happy that I was wrong about the Portable Emitter."

- Some consideration went into the possibility of having Rain Robinson aboard Voyager, but this idea was vetoed by executive producer Rick Berman. Joe Menosky remembered, "Rick hated the idea. He just said, 'Forget it.' So we didn't do it."

- These episodes present a different interpretation of temporal causality than "Time and Again". In both episodes, a terrible disaster occurs, someone returns to the past and ends up trying to prevent the same disaster. In the season one episode, when the disaster is averted, the characters lose their memories and everything is exactly as it was before the disaster. Here, the characters retain their memories and are still in the 20th century after Braxton's ship is destroyed.

- The Doctor mentions having recently undergone a severe programming loss, and that he is still in the process of recovering his memory files, referencing events that take place in "The Swarm".

"I've been equipped with an autonomous self-sustaining mobile holo-emitter. In short, I am footloose and fancy free."

- The Doctor

"And you, Mister Leisure-suit."
"There's a name I hadn't considered."

- Rain and The Doctor

"God in Heaven help us."
"Divine intervention is unlikely."

- Porter and The Doctor, before The Doctor stuns the two militiamen

"Doctor, how –"
"It's a long story, commander. Suffice it to say, I'm making a house call."

- Chakotay and The Doctor, as the latter rescues the former while nowhere near one of Voyager's holoemitters

Poster's Log:

The benefit of being the caboose on a recap of a two-parter is that most of the recapping has already been done, and most of the various dramatis personae have already been introduced, although the militiamen are new (and the reference was timely, given that the story was set about a year and a half after the Oklahoma City bombing, and not that long after Ruby Ridge), and of course the Doctor's holoemitter. Starling is more obviously not fully aware of the capabilities of the tech that he's had his hands on for decades, and his ostensible reason for wanting to travel to the future (to get more future tech to exploit) doesn't make a lot of sense, really; not only should he have centuries' worth of tech advances still left to exploit, but what would he do once he got to the 29th century and the far-future Federation realized that one of their ships had been stolen by the equivalent of a clever Plantagenet-dynasty-era mason? (In retrospect, if he knew what was going to happen in the relatively near future, he could have made literally more money than he knew what to do with just by knowing which way the stock market would go; in particular, given that this happens in 1996, he could have made out like a bandit simply by investing heavily in what would have been one of Chronowerx's competitors.) But he manages some mischief, with the aid of a mostly-silent henchman who seems not at all interested in making off with his boss' tech once Starling is in custody aboard Voyager.

Anyway. The Doctor's new toy will make a big impact in future episodes, and on at least one occasion, will come really close to screwing things up (in the fifth season's "Drone"). It seems to have some sort of built-in tricorder functionality, given that the Doctor can smell things. Speaking of tricorders, I'm a little disappointed that we never see the 29th-century tricorder again after the Voyager crew confiscates it. But the bigger disappointment is that there's no consistent theory of time travel in the show; I can understand their reluctance to say that time travel only works in X fashion, because then they could get a great script that has it working according to Y theory, and not be able to use it. But still. (Maybe it only seems inconsistent because we can't think four-dimensionally.)

Poster's Log, supplemental: Non-breakfast food for breakfast in LA? Why the hell not?
posted by Halloween Jack (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm just realizing that instead of "Flashback" with Captain Sulu, the producers could have combined that episode with this one to send the Voyager crew back in time to help Kirk and crew steal whales, although that steps on "Time And Tribble-ations" that DS9 was doing at the same time, and honestly that's the better idea.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:59 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


Particle of the Week: Chronitons are finally mentioned. I'm surprised it took that long.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: In Star Trek Online, holographic entitites are not impervious to physical weapons the way the Doctor is here. (I specifically have a shotgun, and have used it to dispatch them.) I assume this is a game balance thing rather than an attempt to circumvent canon.

Ongoing Counts:
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: 23. Janeway's manual firing of one was fun.
* Shuttles: Down 3.
* Crew: 143.
* Other: 47 bio-neural gelpacks remaining, maybe 25-50% of the escape pods should be gone at this point.
* Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: 8.
* Janeway's Big Red Button: 2 aborted self-destructs, 1 successful.

Notes:
* I'm going to complain because this is a spot that Trek does a lot of weird stuff with, but I want to start by praising a couple more creative decisions that occurred here.

1) While I loved Rain here, and appreciated them making her sharp enough to figure out what was going on, (or a reasonable approximation thereof), taking her wouldn't have made any sense at all. This wasn't like the situation with Gillian Taylor in The Voyage Home: Rain didn't have any specialized knowledge that the crew specifically needed, so there was no reason not to just plop her back down even if she tried to hop in while they were beaming out. (Rain probably would've been fine working a terminal on Voyager, but so what?) Also, they weren't in as big a hurry as Kirk was.

2) Future's End would've made more sense as a three- or four-parter, IMO. I would've liked to see them take a little more time with the militia guys the way that they wanted to, as it's sadly still topical today.

3) I liked Picardo's suggestion about smelling stuff, and am glad that made it. I also didn't like his idea of being a disembodied holo-head, and am glad they skipped it in favor of the mobile emitter. (Seems like a way to waste budget on a distracting effect, IMO.)

Also, just generally: I liked this episode. The gunfight with the bulletproof Doctor was pretty great. The car chase with phasers was great. Having a Federation shuttle blow up a semi was great.
I also liked Starling's iffy command of the tech: his idea to scramble their transporter signal that doesn't quite work, his gambit to make them think he was moving the timeship.

I enjoyed this episode, and taken as a standalone story, it's still loads of fun. I would've liked Voyager to skew this direction more often - I agree with the general notion that's cropped up in these threads that Voyager was at its best when it was cribbing from TOS, not TNG.

In fact, upon preview:

I'm just realizing that instead of "Flashback" with Captain Sulu, the producers could have combined that episode with this one to send the Voyager crew back in time to help Kirk and crew steal whales

That's brilliant. :)

All that said, there are problems.

* The technobabble around mental illness was bad again.

The Doctor's like about paranoia suggesting bipolar wasn't good. Not the show's first time with a weird/bad-wrong diagnosis of mental illness, but it stuck out a bit.

* Starling's motivation doesn't make sense.

Like Jack said:

Starling is more obviously not fully aware of the capabilities of the tech that he's had his hands on for decades, and his ostensible reason for wanting to travel to the future (to get more future tech to exploit) doesn't make a lot of sense, really; not only should he have centuries' worth of tech advances still left to exploit, but what would he do once he got to the 29th century and the far-future Federation realized that one of their ships had been stolen by the equivalent of a clever Plantagenet-dynasty-era mason?

This is a different take on the same basic idea from TNG's A Matter of Time, (except that Rasmussen made it to the future), but you're right: Starling was still ahead of Voyager's capabilities, and just the contents of the historical database would've been enough to keep him rich forever. (Also, him having those records proves the Eugenics Wars would not be a thing, because he would've either gone full prepper or tried to prevent them, but he doesn't mention either. In his shoes, I might have been mad at Voyager for not stopping them.)

My headcanon is that he wanted to do it for its own sake. Like, he just wanted to see the future instead of scavenging a piece or two from it - knowing he was from someone else's past really seems to have screwed him up. (Note that he keeps wanting praise from Janeway for 'doing pretty well given his circumstances.')

That still should've been addressed at some point though. Just having Janeway scoff at 'I'm out of stuff to steal' would've been good enough for me. Like, 'dude, you haven't even introduced transporters to the public yet.'

* Braxton doesn't clean this up very well at all.

Braxton's job doesn't make a lot of sense here: in the first part, I could see why Braxton-A wouldn't have Voyager's historical database because they never made it back home in his timeline, so he could make the leap that 'this is Voyager's fault.' However, they did make it back in the second half, so Braxton-B should've known they'd already met a version of him. His approach here suggests he bounced back to 20th century Earth without even doing his homework about the scenario. While we don't know if he left the tricorder on Voyager, (it may have had something RFID-like as a piece of gear from his actual timeship allowing him to sweep it up when he sent Voyager back), we do know for sure that he didn't bother to check for stuff like the mobile emitter.

This all means I'm not very confident in his ability to clean up after the mess Voyager left. On that note:

* Voyager left a huge mess. It wasn't their fault, but it happened.

Dunbar was killed by phaser in the desert. They didn't take any steps to clean up the truck. This could be handwaved as it just looked exploded, but it does mean Dunbar died 'early.'

More importantly: Starling disappeared mysteriously, thanks to all this. He was on the cover of not-Time magazine. He was one of the richest, highest profile men in the world. Everybody knew his name... and after the events in this episode, he also died in space. No body. No story.

I know it's Braxton's job to handle all that, and that's what Voyager would've assumed too, but he didn't even read their logs - he had no idea what was going on here. As Jack points out, Voyager keeping the mobile emitter (in violation of the Temporal Prime Directive, which is in force now based on the tribble episode Servo mentions) is a matter of historical record by his time, with all the associated problems and possible reverse engineering it poses.

Also: the 29th century Federation should've cleaned up the whole microprocessor thing, and didn't. (The correct point to fix Braxton's error would've been right around when his ship crashed, not waiting this long to get him back.)

All in all, none of this makes any sense if I think about it for two seconds, and that's still a problem in the larger framework of Trek. Basically, what Jack said:

But the bigger disappointment is that there's no consistent theory of time travel in the show; I can understand their reluctance to say that time travel only works in X fashion, because then they could get a great script that has it working according to Y theory, and not be able to use it. But still. (Maybe it only seems inconsistent because we can't think four-dimensionally.)

Re: four-dimensional thinking - nah. Heh. We already think about these episodes more than the writers did.

I'm going to respond to stuff in the prior thread now, I guess? Be back here when more occurs to me to say. I'm sure it will - there was a lot to unpack here. :)
posted by mordax at 9:18 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Also, just generally: I liked this episode. The gunfight with the bulletproof Doctor was pretty great. The car chase with phasers was great. Having a Federation shuttle blow up a semi was great.
I also liked Starling's iffy command of the tech: his idea to scramble their transporter signal that doesn't quite work, his gambit to make them think he was moving the timeship.


Yeah, and the story moves so fast that the truck-switch gambit actually fools the viewer too. I didn't previously know that they thought about more than two parts for the story, and while three might have been better, four seems like it might've been self-indulgent. And even three might have been less breakneck in pace, and therefore less fun.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:42 PM on June 26 [2 favorites]


And even three might have been less breakneck in pace, and therefore less fun.

You're probably right, but this marks the first time I think I've ever said, 'You know what? Those Voyager writers need more leeway to do what they came up with in the writer's room.'

Surely a milestone in the show, at least for me. :)

Oh, another thought about the militia scene:

When Chakotay spoke about his changing views about the Maquis, I actually liked his attempt to connect with the militia guys, but I wish there'd been an arc to support it, instead of a switch just flipping for him in the pilot. It was another glimpse at a more ideal version of Voyager, IMO.
posted by mordax at 3:31 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


‘"Part of me wishes we had still done the four-parter, because we had Tuvok and Paris get trapped in a convenience store while it was being ambushed by gang members."’

Given what I've learned from these rewatch threads, I'm a bit thankful they didn't get to that subplot.
posted by traveler_ at 9:25 PM on June 26 [4 favorites]


Given what I've learned from these rewatch threads, I'm a bit thankful they didn't get to that subplot.

I was thinking the same thing, but then again I'd be really amused if they'd done it by casting the same actors who played the Kazon as the gang members. (By amused, I might well mean horrified, but either way it would have been something, that's for sure.)
posted by gusottertrout at 12:17 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


taking her [Rain] wouldn't have made any sense at all.

Not a romantic eh mordax? Taking Rain doesn't need make any more sense than those two crazy kids getting a chance to find a little happiness together. What kind of cold heart could argue against that? Voyager didn't really need Neelix and Kes, but, by gum, Janeway saw a spark of something special in those Talaxian eyes and Ocampan smile and said, sure climb aboard. It's that same spirit of enthusiasm for taking on new adventures that is a hallmark of Janeway's command. Granted the writers wouldn't likely know what to do with her either since they still haven't figured out a way to make Kes seem useful even with Lien being generally excellent whenever she gets the least chance to show it. So, yeah, short of dressing Silverman getting an early version of Seven's wardrobe, they probably wouldn't have found anything to do with Rain either.

The time stuff with Braxton talking to Voyager can be explained by Braxton simply not wishing to discuss the matter lest Janeway push him on what else he knows about their journey, so he keeps mum. In time speak, Braxton B hadn't met Janeway, so he wasn't lying as Braxton A was the one they met and B and A don't know each other, or at least after some obscure point where their histories diverged. As to the rest, well, there is first the possibility that Braxton has already been set upon with guilt ridden delusions about his own role in all of this and is not able to separate himself from the situation, thus leaving it a bit of a mess. One could speculate further that they allowed certain time violations if they were believed to have a net benefit for mankind or otherwise seemed more useful or important to retain than erase, so in that circumstance, Starling's inventions may have been deemed a better outcome than some alternative, or the temporal police may not have themselves existed without Starling's inventions coming from Braxton's crash, so his actions have to stand, leaving Braxton even more destructive emotions to deal with.

We might be able to look back to TOS violating what would be the temporal prime directives without being held to account as suggesting that there was a change in the future between TOS and Voyager, again perhaps accounting for the difference in the Eugenics Wars and the establishment of the temporal police force, so Braxton B's future may have originated with Braxton A leaving no way for that to be completely reversed without destroying the agency that does the reversing and thus ending enforcement of the Temporal Prime Directives or whatnot.

Oh, I know what you're thinking, if that's the case, where did Braxton A come from since the time cops obviously existed before Braxton B since Braxton A was a member and thus couldn't have helped bring about their creation. It's just the TNG Cause and Effect Temporal Causality Loop writ big, where there is an originating set of events that get replayed but subtly alter over each playthrough until an end/stable time is recognized and resumed. That's what the time cops were after, ending the causality loop, but Braxton couldn't explain that to Voyager without violating their own protocols and further implicating himself. Yup, that's what I"m gonna go with, and don't even try to poke any holes in that, obviously air tight, or rather time tight explanation.

Anyway, getting to the actual episode: It was enjoyable, but not as much fun as the first half as a whole, by which I mean the good bits were matched with some less successful elements that kept me from enjoying it quite as unreservedly as the first part. To get to the heart of the matter, the biggest annoyance was in, once again, Janeway getting outtalked and outwitted aboard her own ship. It really bugs me that they keep going back to that scenario since it just makes Janeway look needlessly foolish. There was little gain to be had in bringing Starling onboard Voyager just to lose him again, so it served only to weaken Janeway unrealistically in the context of Voyager character reality. In ditching the four part idea, they didn't smooth out some of the plotting very well at all. I would also have liked the Freemen types to have been jettisoned. It didn't fit the plotting or the tone of the rest of the show all that well and serves as yet another reminder Voyager writers might do well to ignore contemporary socio-political trends as their handling is crude and simplistic, and in this instance, rushed.

But even in those complaints there are bright spots as the cast does pretty well with it all and seemed to really be enjoying themselves in both parts. There are a lot of good character moments for most of the cast making the couple low points not too irksome or difficult to sit through. The events probably would have worked better in a three or four part story since they didn't find an ideal form and pace to the events, trying to squeeze in more than necessary, or feeling they didn't have quite enough to set aside some subplots, when they only needed to further explore the various crew members reactions to the time period and involve the different teams more directly in the finding of the timeship and ultimate fate of Starling. Making Voyager's crew the cleverer ones for figuring out what Starling was up to rather than relying on Starling to tell everyone and show them up as futurerubes.

As I mentioned though, almost all the characters got some really nice bits, the newly mobile doctor, Janeway and Kim, B'Elanna and Chakotay, Tuvok, Tom and Rain, each group worked well and I would have been happy to see a it more of them interacting in a useful manner, but even as is it was an enjoyable enough episode for me to see it as a solid plus for the series and perhaps a good step in a new direction for where they'll go with the show from here.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:44 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]


Not a romantic eh mordax? Taking Rain doesn't need make any more sense than those two crazy kids getting a chance to find a little happiness together. What kind of cold heart could argue against that? Voyager didn't really need Neelix and Kes, but, by gum, Janeway saw a spark of something special in those Talaxian eyes and Ocampan smile and said, sure climb aboard.

Heh. Disclaimer: I am responding in good fun, and am no more serious than you are. :)

That said, the two scenarios are completely different:

1) Neelix and Kes were being removed from danger. They lived in the Kazon Murderhobo Zone, where Kes was literally enslaved and Neelix was rummaging through space garbage for spare parts. Sad as it is, Voyager was a step up for those two.

Rain doesn't have it that bad. None of the crew would probably be all that happy on modern Earth, but she's clearly doing okay for herself: a degree, a job, a sweet van. Moreover, she's a lot safer on Earth: living in the 20th century puts her at a fleetingly low risk of split into duplicates, merged with Tuvok or sent to a morally reversed parallel universe, and that just covers *boarding Voyager*, never mind all the ways she's liable to die once aboard.

2) Neelix and Kes can leave. Neelix has a space ship that he used to live on. If they decide Voyager's not for them, they can just bounce and find their way to a friendly port, where Neelix can probably get a job as anything but a cook.

Rain has no option to go if things don't work out - if she doesn't like replicated food, if she breaks up with Tom, if she just gets homesick, there's no return ticket. She's just trapped if she decides it was a mistake later.

3) Neelix and Kes can give informed consent. They don't know all the wrinkles of Voyager's story before they sign on, but they get the broad strokes: they're familiar with interstellar civilization, FTL travel, alien races, etc. They've both lived in cramped quarters with lousy access to amenities before - Neelix on his crappy ship, and Kes in the crappy underground city run by the Caretaker. They have a reasonable idea of what being on Voyager would entail.

Rain just doesn't. This is another place where her situation is different than Gillian Taylor - Taylor is returning to future Earth, where Old San Francisco has been slavishly restored, while Rain would be signing on to be on a crappy science vessel with the same people for up to the rest of her life.

I'm pretty sure it's this last point that justifies Tom not even bringing it up, too. He clearly wants to pursue a relationship with her, but he doesn't want to be on Voyager himself. Why put someone he likes through that? It'd make him a total dick, and Tom is a surprisingly decent guy when push comes to shove.

The time stuff with Braxton talking to Voyager can be explained by Braxton simply not wishing to discuss the matter lest Janeway push him on what else he knows about their journey, so he keeps mum.

That doesn't really make much sense - Braxton was already telling Janeway that he couldn't leave her back home, and he knew 'Temporal Prime Directive' would be a good enough excuse to avoid her firing on him. There's no reason to obfuscate something small when he's willing to risk her just blowing him up and hiding out on 20th century Earth.

It's just the TNG Cause and Effect Temporal Causality Loop writ big, where there is an originating set of events that get replayed but subtly alter over each playthrough until an end/stable time is recognized and resumed.

That's clever. I could see that being one way of looking at what might be happening. Good notion. :)

To get to the heart of the matter, the biggest annoyance was in, once again, Janeway getting outtalked and outwitted aboard her own ship. It really bugs me that they keep going back to that scenario since it just makes Janeway look needlessly foolish.

Yeah, that's fair. I didn't really feel like it was a Janeway problem specifically so much as 'the crew of Voyager never thinks anything through,' (which is also fraught), but your framing is a fair complaint.
posted by mordax at 12:26 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


Hmm, I don't know mordax. I mean I grant Kes and Neelix weren't doing the best when they met crew Voyager, but that was their own choice and suggests a bit how unreliable and irksome Neelix can be. I mean Kes had it easy, living in spaceguy gives you everything you need underground paradise, but she had to go poking about and get herself into trouble over a neer-do-well boyfriend who was pretty much letting her be abused in hobotown while he played around with scrap metal. That he lied and put the crew in danger doesn't really add much of a note of promise to the early relationship.

Rain, on the other hand, put her own life in danger to help Paris-ager and as reward lost her car stereo, computer, job, and was left on the side of a deserted desert highway at the scene of a murder by space weapons, and her an astronomer type with the government on the lookout for whatever they think was flying through the evening skies of LA, with a VW van that wouldn't start and a boss, a major celebrity and crazy rich who just disappeared never to be seen again. If that isn't life threatening, it's still pretty bleak territory.

Now maybe Paris just couldn't bring himself to ask his newtbabymama if Rain could come along due to lingering salamandery feelings for the captain, but they could have at least given Rain a tour of the rings of Saturn and showed her around the solar system as a thank you or something. I mean it isn't as if they thought they were actually going back to the 24th century at that point, they were pretty much stranded, so taking Rain would just be adding another person to their would-be inconspicuous 20th century Earth hide-a-way they were talking about. Nothing wrong with that and Rain, in that instance, would have proved far more valuable than the can't cook cook Neelix.

I don't think Braxton was really worried about Voyager firing on him, probably more interested in firing on them given his attitude. I just figured, in a customer service sense, there's no point sharing any excess info with a customer since it only causes extra headaches. Better to say the least possible and hope they don't hassle you too much. Besides, Braxton's got that overbearing authority figure thing going on where he just doesn't seem to like anyone questioning him about anything, they need to just follow orders. (Especially given that they've already seen "him" fuck up pretty badly, so that's likely cause for doubling down on the tough guy routine.)

The temporal prime directive thing is also problematic as its based on unbridled "nowism", where its the perspective of what is understood as having happened in the past to those judging is deemed the "right" and "natural" flow of events, when that may not be the case at all. It could be their memories are already from an "altered timeline" so their judgement of what does or does not constitute unacceptable change is open to bias. If time is "open" to being changed from any point past or future at any given moment, then there is no "right" timeline, there are only preferred timelines.

If the solar system blows up in the 29th century due to Starling and, somehow in ways unknown, Voyager, that could just as reasonably be claimed as the "right" course of events, but it obviously wouldn't be the desired course. Were the events from Starling's visit to prove hugely beneficial, say causing the solar system not to blow up when it otherwise would have, then I'd be hard pressed to believe they'd still deem that the "wrong" timeline and send Braxton back to fix things. Heck, for all we know, someone should have gone back in time and killed Hitler, but everyone who has access to time machines has been so freaked out by Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder that they mistakenly refuse to do it for fear of contamination that was actually originally meant to happen, (if one could judge what "originally" might mean in that context.)

But that's just arguing for the fun of it, I actually kind of like that Trek doesn't take a hardline stance of temporal anomalies, and allows time to work differently in different circumstances, which, for all we know, might be as true as any other speculation on these things. It makes each episode with time travel, alternative universes, duplicates, and all that fun stuff more interesting, or at least entertaining, rather than less so, even if it doesn't always hold together.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:34 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I mean Kes had it easy, living in spaceguy gives you everything you need underground paradise, but she had to go poking about and get herself into trouble over a neer-do-well boyfriend who was pretty much letting her be abused in hobotown while he played around with scrap metal.

I'm not a huge Neelix fan, but there's really no way he could have rescued Kes from the Kazon without getting at least a few mercs to go with him. The onus for Kes' bad situation is really on the Caretaker, who set up the Ocampans in their underground mall without any sort of real plan for sustaining it for very long after he died. Fucking hell, Nacene, you couldn't at least give the space pixies a few rifles?

As for Rain, I don't remember there being any real indication that she lost her job, and Starling wasn't her direct boss; Griffith Observatory is its own thing, with some programs being funded by private donations, including one dude that you may have heard of. Probably all that happened after Starling's disappearance is that the observatory board of directors shrugged and repurposed the equipment to be in search of other things. As for the desert debacle, well... "Holy shit, sheriff, am I glad to see you! My van broke down and then this dude comes barreling straight at me with his truck and then it blows the fuck up and sheesh, wotta day!" She gets back home to find a nice stack of gold bars and a note: "Sorry, had to scoot. Please take some of the proceeds from this and use it to buy a '69 Dodge Charger and bury it in the desert at the following coordinates. Live long and prosper, Tom."
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:15 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Going off-topic again, check out this A.V. Club piece on recent Discovery revelations, some of which I for one find reassuring.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 8:43 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


I had a comment in response to someone who disparaged DS9. You may not be surprised that I begged to differ.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:21 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


Oh, and also, gusottertrout: they could have at least given Rain a tour of the rings of Saturn and showed her around the solar system as a thank you or something.

I am now headcanoning that this is exactly what is happening in the show's title sequence.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:53 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


But that's just arguing for the fun of it,

The official pastime of Star Trek fans, haha. :)

I actually kind of like that Trek doesn't take a hardline stance of temporal anomalies, and allows time to work differently in different circumstances, which, for all we know, might be as true as any other speculation on these things. It makes each episode with time travel, alternative universes, duplicates, and all that fun stuff more interesting, or at least entertaining, rather than less so, even if it doesn't always hold together.

I could see that. I don't like it because I feel that good boundaries make good stories: if the audience doesn't have some idea of what can or cannot happen, there aren't any stakes, and therefore there's no dramatic tension, at least for me.

(Not every show needs that - I'm okay with Doctor Who passing on coherence because it's more 'science fairy tale' than 'science fiction,' but I want Star Trek to be coherent because of what it's trying to do.)
posted by mordax at 12:17 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


I think where we disagree is on whether show continuity makes for better sci-fi or if maintaining more open boundaries can make individual episodes more involving. When Trek shows play with time/alternative universe ideas, they can often be interesting sci-fi ideas looked at in a fortysome minute story. By not holding too tightly to continuity concerns they can approach the concepts from a variety of angles and write off the in-show science by claims of temporal eddies, causality loops, or whatever and bring something different or fresh to the idea of time disruption each attempt they make. With a more static perspective on how such nonsense has to work to maintain continuity they are more limited in what they can explore and the quandaries may become more predictable since fans would know the rules they had to follow.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:42 AM on June 29


enh, glad I watched it if only to see Sarah Silverman in Trek. I think Starling could have been better written - imagine him as actually being Steve Jobs, a man whose associates know to be a sociopath but who himself does not fully recognize this fact and who in point of fact appears to have done a great deal for the overall wellbeing of our culture, if you accept that widespread consumer computing technology is in fact a good thing. Instead, we get a hint of that where Starling claims that the greater good is his motivation but then he reveals that as a sham by stating his willingness to wipe out 1990s LA in some sort of explosion that he himself does not understand.

I was aggravated, as well, by the loose ends:

1) Capain Braxton Primes's cylindrical tricorder is apparently unrecovered and unrequested by Captain Braxton Secondus

2) The doctor's holoemitter clearly represents 29th century technology transfer - or does it? I suppose a temporal lawyer could make the case that it actually represents 20th century technology transfer. In which case what in god's name is Starling doing concentrating on selling subpar microprocessors for?

3) Captain Braxton Secundus tells us he never experienced Captain "Hobo" Braxton's timeline, which implies separate timelines. If that's his temporal physics, why bother with the cleanup on Aisle Three? Furthermore, if he's actually supposed to prevent, minimize and/or repair temporal cross-contamination, doesn't he have some duty toward Hobo Braxton? I guess from what you guys are saying that will possibly get a look in an upcoming episode.

Anyway, it was fun, but I'm not sure I'd really say this is a best-of; I think maybe it was on those lists because it has Ed Begley and Sara Silverman in it and introduces (or does it?) us to the 29th century Federation and their temporal cops.
posted by mwhybark at 1:32 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


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