Star Trek: Voyager: The Killing Game   Rewatch 
October 26, 2017 2:56 AM - Season 4, Episode 18 - Subscribe

Holodeck Nazis. …I hate Holodeck Nazis.

This post includes both part 1 and part 2 of this two-parter because UPN aired them back-to-back.

- Writer/producer Joe Menosky had the original idea for this two-parter, having been affected by his experience of having repeatedly seen – while living and working in Europe – televised footage of the Second World War that was profuse there. The plot concept was one of the first ideas that Menosky revealed to his fellow writing staffers on Star Trek: Voyager, upon returning to work on Star Trek from abroad. He remembered, "When I got back from Europe, I wanted to do a World War II show [....] I thought it would be real cool to do a World War II episode with our characters, and have a little French town and tanks and our people in GI uniforms."

- It was while scripting Part I that the writers began to create the character of the Alpha Hirogen known as Karr, whose motives were used as thematic material for the two-parter. "A lot of times, strangely enough (and this happened in The Year of Hell [two-parter], as well), you don't get the bigger theme until you've actually progressed with the plot, despite the fact that the theme might hold everything together," Joe Menosky observed. "And in this case, through not only working out the story, but even the script of part one, Brannon and I arrived at the notion that one member of these Hunter aliens was starting to question the way his society behaved in terms of hunting and killing the species around them and what that would lead to. [It was] a metaphor for exhausting your resources." The writers recognized that such a notion had far-reaching consequences, such as imbuing Karr with a more life-like personality. Menosky offered, "Once we came up with that character thread, that this guy was using the holodeck to explore ways in which he might change this destructive hunting dynamic of his people, then suddenly that gives a bad guy some depth." Brannon Braga concurred, "The Hirogen were not just the 'Hunter' villains. With any luck we managed to dimensionalize them a little bit more and say something about culture. It was more than just aliens in Nazi uniforms, I hope."

- It was while considering how to come up with enough material for Part II that the writers hit upon the idea of making a societal commentary, by having a certain ideology be central to the leader of the Hirogen invading Voyager. "At some point we came up with this idea that this wasn't just playtime on the holodeck. This wasn't just bad guys mucking around," Menosky related. "It was [about] a guy who [...] as leader of this small group of Hirogen, actually has some Trekkian notions, things that finally would weave into more of a humanistic message about change. How cultures who may be doing certain things in a destructive fashion have to learn to change and to somehow use elements in their culture like hunting, for example, and turn [them] to a more positive direction that isn't going to destroy the culture [....] That character thread [...] gave us more story for the second part."

- The exploding building near the end of Part I was thought up by Brannon Braga. He noted, "I always wanted to explode a building on Star Trek, and [had] never quite figured out how to do it."

- In Part I's shooting script, Janeway's holographic persona goes by the name Genevieve. (Star Trek: Voyager Companion, p. 232) This is possibly an inside joke referring to Genevieve Bujold, the actress who was initially selected to portray the role of Voyager's captain. The name of Janeway's World War II character changed, thereafter, to Katrine.

- The fact that Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky were not, at this point in the series, particularly interested in the character of Harry Kim inspired their decision to make him the only main character who does not participate in the holographic wargames of this two-parter, a role that had to be accentuated in order to fill up the story. "We stuck his ass on the bridge," said Menosky, blatantly, "and we just didn't care [....] We ended up being short in that episode. Because the World War II sets had been struck, and it was elaborate amounts of costume to do anything in the period anyway, we were stuck with a few minutes of scenes we had to write, and no one but Ensign Kim." Menosky also commented that "no other character could have been used" in the same way as the brutalized Kim is, here.

- Much to their surprise, Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky became delighted by this two-parter's depiction of Harry Kim, a development that Menosky referred to as "a really interesting thing." He went on to say, "Because [Kim] was messed up, because these [Hirogen] guys had been smacking him around, and he was rebellious but he still had to knuckle under, we saw this other side of Kim. It was a tough side of him that we had never seen before, and we really liked. That takes everybody by surprise, no one more so than us. You see him in dailies, and you see him in the episode, and you go, 'That's cool.'"

- By the time she came to appear in Part I, Seven of Nine actress Jeri Ryan had become extremely stressed and exhausted. "I was sick with something almost every day of my first season – colds, sinus infections, bronchitis – and getting only four hours of sleep a night because of the schedule, so by the time we got to this really grueling, complicated two-parter set in World War II, I was totally wiped," Ryan explained.

- Although it rained on the second day of the location shoot for Part II, this was meager compared to a rainstorm that arrived on the next night, during which the nighttime battle sequence – at the conclusion of this installment – was being filmed. Mitch Suskin, this episode's visual effects supervisor, recalled, "The only unforeseen complication about that whole sequence is that, when we were shooting on the Universal back lot in the European village, we had one of those terrible El Niño rainstorms on the last night of shooting [....] It was all being shot in sequence [....] I remember as we stood under our umbrellas that night thinking, 'How is this going to work?'"

- The stormy weather was almost too much for Jeri Ryan to endure, she having become extremely stressed by a lack of sleep – due to Star Trek: Voyager's filming schedule – as well as a consecutive run of illnesses. "It all came to a head during an exterior night shoot when El Nino moved in, and it started to rain on us – pouring rain – and I completely broke down," Ryan stated. "I couldn't function. I just sat down for a long time crying and trying to figure out if being on the show was worth it, because at that point it didn't seem like it was [....] Anybody would buckle under those circumstances."

- The rainstorm was so extreme that, ultimately, it was included in the episode. Mitch Suskin remarked, "It really wasn't part of the script, but it ended up working out [....] It's a major part of the scene [....] It played well in the end."

- The module given to the Hirogen in Part II is the same pair of props used in TNG: "Ship in a Bottle" to contain the Moriarty program.

- This two-parter was J. Paul Boehmer's first television work. He would appear on VOY again in season 5's "Drone," as a Cardassian in the final season of DS9, and twice in ENT, including another role as a Nazi.

- "The Killing Game, Part I" aired back-to-back with "The Killing Game, Part II" on its first airing. Even though these two episodes were originally intended to initially air on two separate nights, the decision to first broadcast both parts on the same night as each other was made by UPN, surprising the producers. Brannon Braga commented, "It was actually their idea. We planned it as a two part episode, and it was their idea to air it on the same night as a Voyager movie of sorts."

- The success of how this installment depicts Harry Kim influenced the character to be featured in the anniversary episode "Timeless". "In a funny way, the future Kim in 'Timeless' was directly inspired by the belted-around Kim and edgy Kim from 'The Killing Game'," explained Joe Menosky.

- This is the fourth mention of Nazi Germany in Star Trek. The Nazis first appeared in TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever" and "Patterns of Force". Also, Captain Kirk references "Earth, Hitler, 1938" in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, in reply to General Chang's comment of "We need breathing room."

- The Hirogen return in the seventh season episode "Flesh and Blood", which reveals the results of their usage of the holographic technology provided to them at the end of this installment.

- Janeway's Klingon character is of the House of Mo'Kai, which plays a significant role in Star Trek: Discovery. (The MA page for the House of Mo'Kai contains DSC spoilers.)

"When the Americans arrive and the fighting begins, I don't intend to be standing next to a piano singing "Moonlight Becomes You.""

- Mademoiselle de Neuf (Seven of Nine) to Katrine (Captain Janeway)

"They're Nazis, totalitarian fanatics, bent on world conquest. The Borg of their day. No offense."

- Tom Paris to Seven of Nine

"Pardon me gentlemen, I wonder if I might have a word with you."
"They're Klingons, not kittens."

- Neelix and The Doctor, as Neelix is trying to get the attention of the Klingons in the simulation

(sarcastically) "Tally-ho."

- A Klingon, Neelix and The Doctor

"What do you think? Boy or a girl?"
"It's a holographic projection."
"Unfortunately, it's a very good projection. I feel 20 kilos heavier. It even kicks."

- Tom Paris, Seven of Nine and B'Elanna Torres on her holographic pregnancy.

"Funny, doesn't seem like your type."

- Tom Paris, to B'Elanna Torres concerning the SS Officer

"Sing or you will die."
"Then I'll die....One day the Borg will assimilate your species, despite your arrogance. When that moment arrives, remember me."

- Turanj and Seven of Nine

Poster's Log:
Considering how fully they elected to commit to this frankly wacky and ambitious concept, it's a little surprising how implausible or confusing certain details are. Consider Janeway's ship-corridor-confrontation with one of the Hirogen: apparently his rifle was holographic, but hers wasn't, and she knew that somehow? That makes even less sense than a lot of other common holodeck inconsistencies, e.g.: when is the food holographic versus replicated?, can crew members really play a baseball game in a holodeck?, etc. etc. Shortcuts like that may be a consequence of the writing process used here, which for Part II resembled that of "Year of Hell Part II" insofar as they weren't completely sure how to end it when they started writing it. That, plus the obvious motive of a Big Action Setpiece episode, often means something has to give.

Ultimately, it's sort of a quibble, though, because "The Killing Game" is great fun, and effective spectacle. It's as close as VOY ever got to actually being cinematic, IIRC. And they get lots of points in my book for killing a bunch of Nazis. Good call, too, letting Klingons loose on them, though the execution wasn't as fun as it could have been. Perhaps El Nino is to blame for that.

As for giving the Hirogen depth, I'd say this was a step in the right direction. Too bad we only get one other episode with them, and it's a long wait for it. Moreover, I thought the part of Karr deserved a more memorable performance. The actor (who was also this dude in DS9) has gravitas, but I felt like he was too low-key, particularly for the circumstances. I found myself wishing for a more colorful Recurring Trek "Heavy" Guest Actor, a James Sloyan or a Ron Canada or a Richard Poe or (too much to ask, I'm sure) a David Warner.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
I believe that is the voice of Don LaFontaine in the promo for Part I. There's actually a separate promo for Part II, but I assume these were made for syndication.

At the risk of introducing a tangent, here's a sociological question relevant to the Hirogen's plan in the episode: do highly-realistic war simulations like Call of Duty encourage or discourage actual enlistment in the armed forces? *thinky emoticon*
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I thought it was pretty good as well (although, let’s be blunt, what wouldn’t seem good after the last one), not only for getting to see the cast in different roles/settings but also because it shows the Hirogen (or some of them at least) looking at de-hatting themselves to some degree, per our discussion re: “Hunters”/“Prey”. Although I don’t necessarily see that as being inevitably a good thing, though. One thing that puzzled me about the role that the Hirogen were taking in the WWII scenario was that, instead of their being Gestapo or some kind of SS commando unit or something—you know, hunters—they were high-ranking officers, and the one guy was pulled back from making a kill and told to get back to his role. Then it occurred to me: what if the alpha guy’s plan was ultimately to turn the Hirogen into Cardassians, basically? So maybe not just no longer murderhoboes, but maybe yet another hegemonic empire that might just break out the old face paint and wall of weapons for special occasions. (This also lines up with the beta getting sucked into the holo-Nazi’s monologue so easily. That was one of the most effective, and chilling, parts of this episode.) I don’t want to paint the entire race by the actions of its most aggressive members, but I wonder how much good the holo-module would have done, even regardless of what will happen in future seasons. (Maybe Janeway slipped some chill/non-aggro programs in there with the hope that the Hirogen might get into light opera or Spongebob or something.)

As far as war videogames influencing enlistment, I dunno. Might be a question for /r/army if you care to visit reddit. Also too, interesting turn-around for their opinion of Harry. Sadly, I don’t know that we’ll get much more out of that than “Timeless”, but at least there’s that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:05 AM on October 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Particle of the Week: Nothing got name checked, but photons deserve honorable mention.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: There are surprisingly few holodeck shenanigans in the MMO. I think the devs know we're all tired of them.

Ongoing Counts: Rolled forward again.
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: 17.
* Shuttles: Down 8.
* Crew: We lost 2 for sure, (one confirmed, one the Doctor said must have treatment before the Hirogen medic summarily dismissed him), but had no other confirmed deaths despite the talk of huge casualties all around. I'm counting this as 139 in the spirit of TNG-era medicine being pretty good.
* Other: 46 bio-neural gelpacks remaining, maybe 25-50% of the escape pods should be gone at this point.
* Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: 9.
* Janeway's Big Red Button: 2 aborted self-destructs, 1 successful, 1 game of chicken, 1 ramming speed.

I'm a bit late replying because I forgot this'd cover both halves - I only watched the first part last night. (And you guys went over it ahead and everything.)

* Holodeck stuff again.

Cheeses has already talked about this, and we've been over it in prior threads in some detail. I guess the new wrinkle that I found baffling was the idea of Seven augmenting holographic recreations of vintage firearms with Borg technology. The devices aren't even matter in the first place, and we've never seen Borg use weapons like that, and the only Borg tech she's packing are the nanoprobes in her body, and so I'm left with the question 'enhance them how, exactly?'

* The Hirogen don't make much sense either.

It's nice to see them address this a bit with Karr, but the Hirogen still don't make any sense: there's no clue who maintains or adapts their advanced tech. Like... where are those neural interface devices from? They've never seen humans or Klingons before, so someone had to adjust them for use in this scenario, and there's no indication the tech would've been useful for conventional Hirogen activities.

* The episode still works.
This is partly due to pacing. IMO, the trick to keeping an audience from bailing is simply to keep stuff moving. This is a dumb story on a lot of levels, but there's something going on basically all the time - they don't pause for a ton of exposition or debate.

And of course, this is true:
Ultimately, it's sort of a quibble, though, because "The Killing Game" is great fun, and effective spectacle.

Agreed. The image of the section of ship exposed to the holodeck is particularly striking, and I loved Klingons vs. Nazis even if it was way too short. Also, Klingon Neelix was hilarious.

* The ending is pure Trek.

With all the talk about 'Will Disco Trek live up to its roots?' I feel like pointing out how well Janeway's peace with the Hirogen reflects Trek values. I liked it, particularly her giving them the tech even though Karr didn't survive.

Other stuff:
Then it occurred to me: what if the alpha guy’s plan was ultimately to turn the Hirogen into Cardassians, basically?

I hadn't thought of it exactly that way, but that's a pretty great summation of Karr's plan, I think.

Anyway... yeah. Fun outing. Good message. I'll take it?

Abusing edit because my fingers are going faster than my brain: still mulling over the bigger question. I'll be back later with thoughts about that.
posted by mordax at 7:59 PM on October 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Haven't rewatched the episodes yet, will get to that tomorrow, but I was thinking about the Discovery vs "old" Trek values and I think mordax's point here goes to why that actually could cut both ways. One in showing how Discovery as "grim" in comparison to old Treks is somehow a loss of values, on the other hand that the old Trek values often were tied to an episodic resolution rather than needing or trying to address the larger consequences, effects, and shallowness of consideration in some of the dilemmas.

Here, for example, Voyager is dealing with a group that engages in massive slaughter as a way of life, not for territorial gain or ambitions of conquest and rule as the Nazis did, but simply as a "cultural" preference or way of life. How does one deal with such a group? (Even one as spottily thought though as the writers have done with the Hirogen.) Does giving the Nazis holographic death camps for their pleasure solve things? Is that how one addresses a culture like that of the Nazis or Hirogen? Voyager sort of punts their answer down field and picks it up later in adding a twist to it, which is somewhat to their credit, in theory, as opposed to ignoring the ramifications completely.

Discovery, being more of a serial ongoing story can't as simply resolve issues at the end of an episode and move on, allowing for that optimism that comes from seemingly solving a problem through good old Federation know how. They are invested in showing longer term relationships as they shift and develop, which almost automatically precludes the sort of "solved it and move on" kind of story telling that people associate with TOS, TNG, and Voyager. DS9, I gather, also has more invested in longer term causal relationships and it too, I understand, often shades more towards ambiguity or complexity in their attempts at resolving issues. I think the form here is shaping the content and that may be a major aspect of how people are reacting to Discovery compared to the older shows.

As to the Hirogen/Nazis and Voyager's dealing with them I'll come back to that after watching the episode.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:20 PM on October 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

One in showing how Discovery as "grim" in comparison to old Treks is somehow a loss of values, on the other hand that the old Trek values often were tied to an episodic resolution rather than needing or trying to address the larger consequences, effects, and shallowness of consideration in some of the dilemmas.

This is all quite true. I actually didn't expect more out of TOS - compared to contemporary stories, it already went out on quite a limb. (I find most military SF of the time pretty abhorrent. Like, I could complain about the moral lessons underpinning Star Wars for hours if anybody would let me.)

TNG/VOY always felt shallow to me, while DS9 made a sincere effort. DISCO looks a lot like DS9 to me so far, which has me pretty excited about it.

Does giving the Nazis holographic death camps for their pleasure solve things? Is that how one addresses a culture like that of the Nazis or Hirogen?

I've been thinking about this stuff since last night, and to be fair to VOY: when this aired, I would've said 'it's worth a try.' With the information/experience at Janeway's disposal, I still think both she and Karr would've seen it that way, so the resolution still checks as internally consistent and Trek-ish to me. Janeway's actively horrible at counseling/psych stuff and while Karr was progressive for a Hirogen, he was still steeped in his own culture. They'd both absolutely make this mistake.

Looking at this with modern eyes, I'd have to say this is an ineffective idea, maybe even a way to make the Hirogen worse in a generation or two. Post-GG, I think misuse of videogames to direct negative emotions just teaches people to be bigger assholes. (There's clinical support for this idea - venting/primal therapy is pretty controversial as a means of anger management, leaving aside the specific events of recent history.)

Getting back to the question at the end of the post:
do highly-realistic war simulations like Call of Duty encourage or discourage actual enlistment in the armed forces?

I don't have any hard data about this, but anecdotally, I think kids these days understand the experiences are different enough to not really conflate them. If I had to bet a shiny nickel, I'd guess there's no real correlation in either direction, or at least that it wasn't causal.

I'm not sure that maps onto holodecks though, since those require the same physical fitness/skill set to perform well in - the closest thing we have to them now is LARPing, and I've absolutely met LARPers who thought being good at the one would make them good at the other.
posted by mordax at 11:00 AM on October 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Also: I forgot to correct the reference in ongoing counts - I didn't roll them forward. This is what I get for cutting and pasting in a hurry.
posted by mordax at 11:06 AM on October 27, 2017

This episode is pure fan-fiction. It was amusing to watch, tho'.
Does giving the hirogen the holo-matrix technology violate the prime directive?

Ryan stated. "I couldn't function. I just sat down for a long time crying and trying to figure out if being on the show was worth it, because at that point it didn't seem like it was [....] Anybody would buckle under those circumstances."

The more I read about Trek behind-the-scenes...It just sounds dreadful. I think it was in the documentary 'The Captains' where Kate Mulgrew describes the difficulty of shooting Trek. She said her children hate Trek to this day because their mother was at work like 14+ hours a day. She says it was really tough on her family.
posted by hot_monster at 11:23 AM on October 27, 2017

Well, Mulgrew was one of the reasons, if not the primary reason, that Ryan had a tough time on VOY. Mulgrew even admits to it in The Fifty-Year Mission. She was not happy about Ryan being promoted as fanservice, and took it out on her on the set. (They've since buried the hatchet.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:42 PM on October 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ugh, the Voyager writers can be so damned annoying sometimes. This episode is a nice solid little piece of work, but if they'd ever plan ahead even a little bit it could have tied into the earlier Hirogen story so much better. In those episodes the problem was, in part, that they didn't properly establish the culture of the Hirogen, show how it worked for a nomadic serial killing hunting society to exist as a space faring group. They didn't do that now that they finally start thinking about it, they have to try and build in what should have already been developed as a necessary situation for the Hirogen. They get around it to some degree, but its just so frustrating to witness the constant shortsightedness behind the scenes. They keep rushing in these ideas at the last minute, hint at some interesting possibilities, then tear everything back down and move on to the next empty page.

It goes back to the discussion above over the difference in Discovery and the previous Treks, in a sense, but here the comparison would be better made between TNG and Voyager in how they "see' their respective shows. In TNG many of the best episodes and most successful aspects of the series were based around character. It wasn't that the characters changed all that much over the run of the series, like Voyager and many shows from the era, the characters had sort of sporadic memories and growth, where much of what happened in any given episode would be more or less forgotten or not be further referenced unless it had some sort of interpersonal meaning between crew members or was needed to explain a plot point or something of the sort. So the characters didn't grow in the sense of dramatically change as much as they were refined by their encounters, adding variations and showing new perspectives on who we already saw them as. The best episodes seemed to spring forth from this, where the resolution enhanced the how we saw the characters, making the decisions made seen to fit from who they were necessarily.

In Voyager, the characters are fit more to the story. Where the plot idea takes precedence and they work the characters in as best they can to further the drama of the story. This isn't necessarily bad, as Voyager has a good number of episodes that are quite good, but it makes character refinement or growth more difficult and prevents the development of a unified purpose for the cast as a crew and from that to a clearer narrative path for the show. It isn't just in the main cast, but the aliens they encounter, like the Hirogen, where they come up with a rough sketch, fail to work it out, come back with a redraft that improves upon the original idea, but then drop it before providing sufficient connection to the larger narrative of the series and its characters.

The first part of The Killing Game starts out amusingly enough with the use of WWII as a sort of analogy for Voyager's journey itself, making parallels between the 4 years of the war and Voyager's four seasons of shows, connecting the actions of their WWII characters to their crew interactions, with Janeway relying on Tuvok while not trusting Seven and so on. It's cute and sort of on point for the last few episodes, but its also shallow and "new" placing Seven at the center again while minimizing the relationships between the rest of the crew, denying the kind of character refinement that made TNG eventually seem so much more true to itself in how it constructed its "world". Voyager instead seems to be setting off in yet another new direction and retrofitting the crew into the newly desired order.

Some of this is for the good, like accidentally making good use of Harry Kim in a manner that will provide further benefit later, but barely realizing the problem at the time. Chakotay as US officer and Janeway as resistance leader is a "make it fit" revision that reverses their actual character roles, without really informing the characters in a meaningful way. The Hirogen as Nazis too is a shallow link based more on the desire to "do Nazis" than the shoddily developed culture of the Hirogen aside from both groups propensity for slaughter. The idea of holodeck hunting too seems promising at first but that promise starts to fade the more you think about a scripted hunt and Hirogen claims of prowess and their emphasis on meaningful kills. That they then change that around for the ending, and future use of the Hirogen and holodecks in the show doesn't fix the inconsistency up front as much as provide yet another shift in back to fit the plot.

As something of an aside let me add how much I absolutely hate the use of Nazis in popular culture. It's been a terrible thing for the culture and even were that not so, its so lazy and drenched in problematic ideas of "cool" that it should be banned from further use until at least some small portion of the rest of world history and conquest has been adequately explored and until they find something remotely new and meaningful to say. Nazis aren't friggin' comic book characters and they shouldn't be treated as such just to provide an easy clue for "villainy" of the coldly sexy "intellectual" sort.

Anyway, all that said, this episode isn't bad, all things considered, since Braga's storytelling skills are still sharp and he is good at working character moments into the action to both inform who they are now and push the action forward. It isn't that Braga doesn't think about the characters, he just doesn't feel the need to maintain a sense of ongoing consistency with them fit against the longer view of the series. Seven is the big deal now, so he writes nice bits for Seven and so on. His character observations within the shows are often sharp and well handled, which is why the seeming ignoration of overall shape of the series is even more irksome at times. Karr is given some nice depth in his characterization, I mean relatively speaking contrasted against the more usual Trek foes, and the interpersonal squabbles between the Hirogen and even the holographic Nazis are given weight enough to feel meaningful. Braga can do a fine job writing for varieties of voices coming from different points of view and make each seem internally consistent and reasonable for that character's perspective. It's just too bad he didn't show the same breadth of ability as producer as he did writer, but then again his method of packing episodes so full of information does hint at his love of compression which evidently informs his timelines as well.

I think I'll have a little more to add on part 2 of the episode regarding the resolution and maybe some other thing or two knowing my own habits of endless expansion.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:43 PM on October 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Something I haven't generally noted is the secondary crew work which is really quite good in these episodes. I like the look of the Hirogen, sufficiently alien and still works to allow good expression from the actors. The holodeck breach was fun, not state of the art CGI craft maybe, but good enough and a neat idea. The show got nominated for an Emmy for their hairstyling for these episodes which was obviously deserved as I'm sure Picardo would attest to.

The writers obviously had some fun mixing WWII cliches with the Klingon and Hirogen nonsense, which is mostly successful enough in getting the point across and teasing some of the relationships like Tom and B'Elanna's, when Tom encounters Harry, and Neelix in Klingon and as French bike boy. But they still are largely trafficking in cliches, so it's to the credit of the actors that they can sell much of it as well as they do. Boehmer is really good in his hologram Nazi role, fit for any Hollywood movie version of a similar role. The actors playing the Hirogen, as already mentioned, are also quite convincing in their purpose. The exchanges between Boehmer's character and the Hirogen leading to the mutiny was clever and it shows the holodeck, and ideology, in an interesting fashion. What, by analogy, that says about making shows about Nazis of course would also then be open to question.

The way they showed the crew under the influence of their holocharacters too is interesting for what it shows about how they envision holographic characters "thought process", translating what they see into a suitable likeness befitting their scenario. We saw some of this earlier with the DaVinci program, but it gets some more workout here in added detail. Some of it doesn't make a lot of sense, as in Tom's encounter with Harry, seeing him both as Harry is and as a character in the scenario in some odd mix.

The decision by Janeway to share the holodeck technology makes sense for solving their dilemma in the immediate term and certainly isn't escalating the problem of the Hirogen. It's still not clear, however, that it nonetheless isn't abetting them as they did the Borg to some ultimately unclear degree.

Not a bad two parter, more fun than deep, but that's okay. It went a long way towards washing out the memory of the previous outing, so that's something anyway.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:58 AM on October 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

It isn't that Braga doesn't think about the characters, he just doesn't feel the need to maintain a sense of ongoing consistency with them fit against the longer view of the series.

Braga will drive a 4X4 through the china shop of continuity when he's chasing a story idea. First Contact was a good movie, but it also just threw in some significant retcons (Zefram Cochrane, the Borg Queen) and left behind some serious questions (why the Borg didn't try using time travel again when the only reason that they failed the first time was the E-D crew) that he didn't seem to care much about answering. Of course, Ron Moore co-wrote that movie, but Moore at least seems to care more about continuity, going by that interview that I've already linked a couple of times on here.

Also agreed generally about the Nazis being a lazy choice for villains. Even the whole aspect of aliens adopting the Nazi creed as their own, while effective in the speech that I cite above, isn't terribly original for the franchise; it's basically the plot of TOS' "Patterns of Force." (I was kind of flabbergasted that Berman and Braga would return to it again in "Storm Front", ENT's two-part opening for their fourth, last and best season.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:16 AM on October 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

At the risk of introducing a tangent, here's a sociological question relevant to the Hirogen's plan in the episode: do highly-realistic war simulations like Call of Duty encourage or discourage actual enlistment in the armed forces? *thinky emoticon*

My take on this is that media of all sorts, not just the most realistic, has variable effects in terms of direct individual response. So a realistic war simulation, to follow the example, would not have a concrete predictability in how any given individual might think or feel about it and in how they would come to place those abstract notions into action.

At the same time, I also believe media inculcates certain values into the culture as being more defining or important than others and acts to shifts paradigms of thought to which the individuals will then respond. That's part of my issue with the constant use of Nazis as entertainment. It establishes their values as continuing, significant, and of great importance while at the same time rendering them as "enjoyable", fictive in the same manner as the heroes they face, and helps realign conceptual understanding of certain values and ideas into narrower categories of opposition.

This can make the "real" less so while allowing the concepts to flourish, which is the worst of both worlds. For war simulations then the actions could both be made less real or serious by dint of it being a fiction one can enter without real harm and still allow whatever values one sees in the scenarios, for good or ill, become more rooted as meaningful and defining into how one views larger conceptual frameworks.

In a small sense it isn't unlike the arguments over Trek and whether some new entry into that lore is worthy. We grasp onto sets of beliefs and values derived from our knowledge or history with the franchise and argue for their defining values. The concepts are coming from this fictional universe, being attached to how we understand and speak of real values, and are then combined and applied into judgement based on that mix.

We don't have to agree on the values or the perceptions, but we come to the arguments shaped by the experience and leave them with an understanding of importance mediated by the things we've come to believe through the shows. The mix differs individually, but the information effects everyone. Some only minimally, fleetingly if they don't engage with the works and others in greater measure as the more one invests in the works the more the works act as lenses through which we conceptualize our encounters with media and reality.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:02 PM on October 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fun episodes, but yeah, tons of logical issues.

Was there a weird editing error in part 2 with the Doctor & KlingoNeelix? In one scene, one of the Holo-Klingons tells Neelix to lead them into battle, and they all march off ("Qapla! Qapla. Tally-ho."). Then in the next scene... they are still in the same place, and the Holo-Klingons are eating and drinking again?

Speaking of KlingoNeelix, are the Hirogen taking the time to surgically alter the crew to look Klingon when they put them in holodeck 2? Or I guess telling the Doctor to do it. That seems ... ridiculous.

(The ease with which nearly any humanoid species in Trek can be surgically altered back and forth to look identical to another is one story element that reaaaally bothers me in Trek. One of my few complaints about DS9 is how much they overuse it. And given that at least one character has sex while disguised as a member of a different species, they must be extremely thorough surgeons.)

How the hell did the holodeck simulate A FETUS INSIDE B'ELANNA THAT SHE CAN FEEL?! That's so freaking weird that it's upsetting. And also raises the question: why do they bother to replicate period costumes, why not just have the holodeck project holo-clothes over their uniforms?

The gun thing at the end when Janeway confronts the mutineer Hirogen did sort of make sense, but it was done very sloppy. She discovers a small area where the holo-emitters are out, and gets the Hirogen to step into it so his holo-gun disappears -- although why it takes time to do so instead of just immediately vanishing when he crosses the threshold isn't explained. Then she grabs a different (?) gun, presumably on the other side of the emitter-gap from where the Hirogen entered, runs through it after him (but why doesn't it disappear?) and then shoots him with it in an area where the holo-emitters work. Oh, and when the holo-emitters overloaded, why didn't the holographic setting disappear along with the holographic soldiers? (Answer: they filmed on set and it would have been too complicated an effect.)

I'm always amused by the extreme precision of countdown sequences. Like, an overload is when the limits of tolerance on something are exceeded to such a degree that it collapses. It's beyond any possible leeway/flexibility that something may have even above its officially rated limits (how many times do they manage to get some device to emit 180% of its output or whatever, just long enough to get them out of trouble but before it is destroyed beyond repair?). Shouldn't an overload, by definition, be impossible to predict exactly? Another funny example is whenever there are dangerous levels of radiation or some other toxin, and someone says, "You can survive for 27 minutes before the exposure becomes irreversibly fatal." So just as long as you beam away at 26:59, the doc can fix you up with no long-lasting ill effects. But at 27:00? YOU ARE DEAD PAL!!
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:46 PM on October 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

One thing I liked about the use of Nazis (which, I agree, is usually pretty lazy, but hey, I'll never turn down a chance to watch a Nazi get punched) was that the Hirogen 2nd in command was persuaded to mutiny by a Nazi Hologram. A neat, but almost certainly unintentional, meta-commentary about the seductiveness of fascist ideology, even if its just "an image."
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:23 PM on October 8, 2021

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