Star Trek: Voyager: The Omega Directive   Rewatch 
November 2, 2017 3:14 AM - Season 4, Episode 21 - Subscribe

What kind of threat can induce a Starfleet crew to ignore the Prime Directive? …Besides wanting to get back to the Alpha Quadrant, or encountering a society run by a computer, or becoming a Bajoran god, or a crew member's xenophilia, or civil war in the Klingon Empire, or the lure of a high-speed dune buggy ride on Kolarus III… BESIDES all those.

I am the Memory Alpha and Omega:

- The Omega Directive was intended to be a controversial, and consequently entertaining, concept. Co-executive producer Brannon Braga remarked, "The Directive is meant to be controversial. Janeway knows it and the crew knows it. That's what makes for an exciting hour of television." Nevertheless, the episode had a difficult birth and was initially considered as being too tedious, despite including some concepts that the writing staff found interesting. "'The Omega Directive' was a very troubled script," Brannon Braga admitted. "We knew we had something engaging with the idea that there was a Starfleet directive that superseded all other directives. There were some analogies about the Omega particle and the atom bomb. Where is the edge of the frontier in science? But it was dry and intellectual."

- It was thereafter decided that the episode would be centered on the theme of religion, which allowed for some much-desired character development. Brannon Braga explained, "We hit on the idea that the show should be about religion [....] Maybe the Borg look at the Omega particle as perfection, or, in essence, it is their Holy Grail, so that we could show another side to Seven of Nine. At the same time, we could show another side to Janeway, and again get them in a more minor philosophical clash."

- The reason why Torres is not at the Omega briefing here is due to the fact that actress Roxann Dawson went into labor straight after the filming of the only scene in this episode that her character of Torres does feature in; Dawson gave birth on 16 January 1998.

- The task of visualizing one of the Omega molecules was a daunting challenge. Visual effects producer Robert Bonchune recalled the request to create the effect: "At the time, it was like, [....] 'Come up with a design where Seven of Nine would look at and thinks she's looking at God. Good luck.' And that was it! I was like, 'Okay, I gotta come up with something where Seven of Nine thinks she is looking at her version of God!' I'm like, 'Alright(!)'" As he had a background in physics, Bonchune set to work by considering what might be appropriate from his personal knowledge of science, such as molecular structure. "So I just designed this buckyball," Bonchune recalled. "And I actually designed [...] fake electron clouds around it, like it had sort of a center. Everything was mildly translucent, flow of energy – it kinda had like electron flow moving over it, things like that.

- This is the only time Janeway, or any other captain, is established as officially rescinding the Prime Directive.

- In an example of Star Trek: Voyager's internal continuity, Harry Kim is seen playing kal-toh, after Tuvok offered to teach him the game during the third season outing "Alter Ego".

- This episode has been likened to TNG: "The Pegasus", a claim that Brannon Braga agreed with. He commented, "Someone pointed out the parallels to a TNG show called 'The Pegasus,' and they are right in doing so: Starfleet does not always make the right decisions for the right reasons. It's up to our heroes to ultimately make the right moral choice."

- One of few elements of this episode that Brannon Braga was ultimately happy with was its philosophical clash between Janeway and Seven. "I think that's what made the show," he commented. "A lot of the show was still kind of boring, but I think the scenes with Seven and Janeway salvaged it."

- Janeway actress Kate Mulgrew contemplated why she believed this episode was popular with viewers: "I can understand why the audience liked 'The Omega Directive'. First of all, it's, again, using that wonderful relationship between Seven of Nine and the captain. Science at its best, at its most animated, because [Seven] was a smart cookie, right? And I, being the mentor, thought myself smarter. And in this case, it was a real rush to the finish because this was a very dangerous idea we were playing with. So I think the fans are always excited when there is a relationship that's unpredictable, and there's a scientific element that's unpredictable. And it embraces both of those, so how can you possibly lose?"

- Omega particles, first introduced in this episode, were subsequently featured in the core storyline of the original Star Trek: Armada video game. They were also to have played a major role in a proposed, and ultimately undeveloped, animated Star Trek series.


"Arithrazine? What for?"
"I'm going on an away mission."
"What are you planning to do? Stroll through a supernova?"
"Something like that."

- The Doctor and Captain Janeway


"I always thought that Starfleet was run by duty-crazed bureaucrats, but I find it hard to believe that even they would order a Captain to go on a suicide mission. This shuttle excursion is your idea, isn't it?"

- Commander Chakotay, to Captain Janeway


"I won't ask the crew to risk their lives because of my obligation."
"'My obligation.' That's where you're wrong. Voyager may be alone out here, but you're not. Let us help you."

- Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay


"Why is this so important to you?"
"... it is perfection. The molecules exist in a flawless state, infinite parts functioning as one.... commander, you are a spiritual man."
"That's right."
"If you had the chance to see your God, your Great Spirit – what would you do?"
"I'd pursue it. With all my heart."
"Then you understand."

- Chakotay and Seven


"The final frontier has some boundaries that shouldn't be crossed, and we're looking at one."

- Janeway to Tuvok


Poster's Log:
I'm of two minds about this one. I find it to be an effective hour, not just of television but of Trek; I've said before that VOY works best when Shit Hits the Fan, as it very much threatens to here. And Mulgrew really sells it, from the moment she strides onto the Omega-filled bridge; it's captain-acting on the level of Patrick Stewart, who I'm pretty sure is the finest actor to ever sit in the big Trek chair.

But I'm not so sure of the concept. Tying the Omega molecule to the Big Bang does seem to justify some of the rather out-there properties they posit for it… but somehow, introducing such a huge canonical-retcon doesn't sit 100% well with me. It's definitely ballsy, but— I dunno. Maybe I've been burned too often by the show to fully trust it with so (ahem) explosive a piece of new canon. Maybe it makes me uneasy because it just seems to be crying out for another team of writers to go, "Oh really? Well, here's the UPSILON MOLECULE, which is the only substance MORE powerful than an Omega Molecule!" etc. etc. Along those lines, it should surprise exactly no one that the Star Trek expanded universe has done quite a lot with Omega molecules.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
Related reading from a recent Ask Metafilter thread.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (24 comments total)
 
it's captain-acting on the level of Patrick Stewart, who I'm pretty sure is the finest actor to ever sit in the big Trek chair.

Whoa, I'm gonna stop you right there and just say Kate Mulgrew>Patrick Stewart. Nothing wrong with Sir Patrick, he's got the dignified voice thing going too, but I'm stickin' with Kate , onscreen at least, I set aside any judgement for the stage.

I'm strangely looking forward to rewatching this one. I wasn't sure what to think about it the first time around, though I remember it fairly well. Actually, I remembered it as being later in the series, but I'm clearly got a few episodes mixed up like that.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:36 AM on November 2


HOW CAN YOU BEAM IT??

HOW CAN YOU USE ENERGY TO RECONSTRUCT SOMETHING THAT IS MORE ENERGY IN ONE SPOT THAN ANYWHERE ELSE EVER?

DO YOU EVEN SCIENCE BRO?
posted by Jilder at 6:14 AM on November 2 [5 favorites]


Like seriously I know it's sci fi and we're here in service of interesting stories not hard science, but Jesus. How is the pattern buffer supposed to handle something like that? If you can beam it, you can replicate it, and if you can replicate it at a lesser cost than you can manufacture it...beh. BEH BEH BEH.

Cross. It made me cross. Couldn't love it for that.
posted by Jilder at 6:15 AM on November 2 [1 favorite]


I thought it was great, even with the problem that COB mentions above, which fits in with the similar problem with the "coaxial warp drive" that mordax pointed out in the previous episode summary: we could call it the Big Fucking Bomb (BFB) problem. Once you say that there's this thing that could be immensely destructive, you then have to come up with a reason why it hasn't already been weaponized. (Imagine the coaxial warp drive or the Omega particle in the hands of, say, the Dominion, which tried to blow up the Bajoran sun.)

But that's not the real impetus of the episode, which balances dread of the consequences of screwing up the operation (and a nice subtle reminder that, as much as Chakotay is accepted as a peer of sorts to Janeway, she initially treats him exactly the way you'd expect a Starfleet captain to treat someone who got drafted out of a terrorist organization, before she unilaterally decides to throw caution to the winds and violate the top secret classification; put it on the ever-growing list of Things to Explain to Starfleet Command When You Get Back, Kathryn) with Seven's awe of the particle--not just the physical thing itself, but what it represents--and how that ties into the whole Borg paradigm of seeking perfection. It's kind of sad, that whole idea that if the Borg assimilate enough civilizations and throw enough brains and tech at the problem, they'll achieve this perfect state that will somehow retroactively justify all the genocide and enslavement. Seven's actually come a long way in a relatively short time, despite such things as giving people on her team Borgesque designations (which led to the funny scene where she "demotes" Harry and his bemused reaction; hey, Harry, at least she's paying attention to your rank, unlike everyone else, amirite?), and she decides not to defy Janeway this time, but she also clearly regrets it. Janeway also seems pretty tempted; she mentions Einstein and Carol Marcus. (Einstein didn't actually work on the Manhattan Project; given the religious bent of Seven's fascination with the particle, a more appropriate citation would have been J. Robert Oppenheimer's quoting of the Bhagavad-Gita: "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." In the movie Fat Man and Little Boy, Oppenheimer is played by Dwight "Barclay" Schultz.) Also a nice turn by the actor who plays the scientist who, even though he nearly dies, still wants to save Omega.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:49 AM on November 2 [3 favorites]


Several episodes ago I started getting the feeling some of Voyager was getting fanfiction-y. Where some kid likes dreaming up the Tactical Awesome Sabre Class starship with double the subquantum torpedos and MACOs who drop down from hidden compartments in the corridors wearing Borg-resistant armor.

The Omega Directive, both the episode and the directive, and the particle, are all going to be example #1 for my longform essay rant on the subject.
posted by traveler_ at 7:20 AM on November 2 [4 favorites]


Whoa, I'm gonna stop you right there and just say Kate Mulgrew>Patrick Stewart.

*strokes beard* This is, I think, a discussion for us to have sometime. Maybe circa "Equinox"? Or perhaps "Endgame."

In the movie Fat Man and Little Boy, Oppenheimer is played by Dwight "Barclay" Schultz.

Great movie. Saw it in high school and again about 20 years later, and it really holds up. Schultz's performance in it is impressively multilayered, befitting (my understanding of) Oppenheimer the man.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:39 AM on November 2 [2 favorites]


Several episodes ago I started getting the feeling some of Voyager was getting fanfiction-y. Where some kid likes dreaming up the Tactical Awesome Sabre Class starship with double the subquantum torpedos and MACOs who drop down from hidden compartments in the corridors wearing Borg-resistant armor.

This is also every mil-SF fan who shows up in Star Trek related forums and wants to know why Trek ships don't have More Dakka. You could read "Living Witness" (which is coming up next week in this rewatch) as being in part a lampshading/pisstake on this trope.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:49 AM on November 2 [1 favorite]


In the movie Fat Man and Little Boy, Oppenheimer is played by Dwight "Barclay" Schultz.

Holy crap, that was "Barclay" wasn't it?? I never connected the two before, but now I can see it clearly. How weird. Appropriately enough I guess since the movie, as enjoyable as it was, is a little odd too. It's like a TV movie that outgrew its budget and became a film, but a surprisingly good one even for that. Now I want to watch it again since it's been decades since I saw it last.

*strokes beard* This is, I think, a discussion for us to have sometime. Maybe circa "Equinox"? Or perhaps "Endgame."

Heh. Anytime, as long as we keep in mind Mulgrew didn't write the stuff, she just gets the "fun" of playing out what's written. (Really, out of all of the actors, Shatner probably does the "Ahab" moments best since he's always dialed up to eleven, so the added histrionics just seem part of his flow.)
posted by gusottertrout at 8:46 AM on November 2 [3 favorites]


Particle of the Week: Omega.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: In Distant Origin, I said the Voth were a season-long antagonist in Star Trek Online. Well, they were after Omega particles, and the players are obliged to stop them. Omega particles are also one of the best sources of equipment upgrades in the game.

Ongoing Counts:
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: 17.
* Shuttles: Down 8.
* Crew: 139.
* 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.

Notes:
* I have a bunch of complaints about the Omega particle.

You guys have touched on a couple of them already:

If you can beam it, you can replicate it, and if you can replicate it at a lesser cost than you can manufacture it...beh. BEH BEH BEH.

Right? What the shit, Voyager.

I thought it was great, even with the problem that COB mentions above, which fits in with the similar problem with the "coaxial warp drive" that mordax pointed out in the previous episode summary: we could call it the Big Fucking Bomb (BFB) problem. Once you say that there's this thing that could be immensely destructive, you then have to come up with a reason why it hasn't already been weaponized.

And again, this. The race that was busy making Omega here wasn't even cutting edge - this tech is clearly within the reach of even minor powers in the Alpha Quadrant, and it's destructive on such a wide scale that a single laboratory can permanently cripple warp travel across an entire quadrant. This could've easily happened beyond Voyager's scanning/travel range - they could've simply no longer been able to go to warp ever again without even knowing why.

Trek isn't hard science fiction, obviously. I'm fine with handwaving FTL and transporters and a bunch of other stuff, but this just doesn't scan to me at all.

Past that, we have the protocol itself, which is patently ridiculous. I mean, upon encountering Omega, the first thing that happens to a Starfleet vessel is that it's crippled - they lost control of all systems the second they were in danger. It's a terrible plan in the face of actual Omega particles, and it introduces a critical vulnerability into all Starfleet vessels that chief engineers are literally not permitted to even know about. As a fanwank, maybe this is why Starfleet ships are so easy to take over - maybe boarders like the Nyrians are selectively activating Omega-related security holes.

Plus, the whole thing is security by obscurity - just because Starfleet handles it this way doesn't mean that, like, Cardassians wouldn't pass the knowledge around or something. There'd be rumors about this even if people weren't supposed to talk about it.

Personally, the entire conceit of the episode irritated me enough that it was hard to look past. It implies that the fabric of reality itself is just too flimsy to persist in the Trek universe.

* Seven's fun here.

I did laugh at Seven's little mini-Collective, complete with Borg designations. Her dressing down of Harry was pretty funny, as discussed above. Her interplay with Janeway is also pretty good. I come down on Janeway's side of this, but I thought the debate itself was fine, down to the notion that the Borg would have a holy grail. I also thought Seven's anger and feelings of betrayal here were handled better than in the last Janeway/Seven parent/teenager clash - this hit the right note for me.

Also, I loved the bit with her at the start where she interferes with the Kalto game and talks to Harry in the hall. The bit about 'What do you need the rest of us for?' and she just gives him a Look was perfect.

So I guess overall: this episode is completely watchable and had some parts I really liked, but the concepts behind it annoyed me greatly and hold it back from getting a really good grade, if I were handing those out.

Re: best actor - I'm team Patrick Stewart, but Kate Mulgrew is my second choice.
posted by mordax at 12:11 PM on November 2 [2 favorites]


Yeah, after rewatching the episode, I still have mixed feelings about it. The fan wanking with Seven is completely obnoxious. The smartest human alive, knowledge equivalent to several Starfleet Captains, Kal-toh expert at a glance, subduing the Omega particle, blah-blah-blah. It's freaking annoying and does nothing for the show as a whole since it detracts from all the other characters and makes the solution to almost every problem either "nanoprobes" or "magic Borg knowledge". For being "the smartest human alive" Seven is surprisingly dense on how to interact with Janeway, confrontations every episode even when sharing knowledge ends up getting more of what she wants in the end.

This does really render Janeway into second banana status, where being Captain is of lesser consideration than how Seven is going to react to any given nonsense they come up with. I can see why Mulgrew was pissed as her character teeters on incoherency in how they set out the relationship between those two, where Janeway constantly bends to fit Seven now as she is the new center of gravity for the show. How Mulgrew reconciled that crap with how she saw Janeway previously is just another example of how tough they made it for her and the show to develop a consistent pattern.

That said, Ryan is quite good as Seven and the idea of the Omega directive is kinda fun, even if they don't make the most of the idea and the sciency bits are kinda lame. Not fond of the aliens being involved in this episode either. They needlessly and foolishly complicate the issue, where sending brainy science guy back to his people pretty much guarantees they'd try this again to any sensible observer given what alien dude was saying about the project. The chase was pointless as well with what they did with it. If they wanted to get hardcore about the concept the directive should have demanded dealing with the scientists and their data in equally destructive ways and/or have the aliens shrug off the worries about subspace and warp travel as being not a concern given they have no desire to go beyond their solar system or some such. Making the seriousness of the particle based on warp travel is a bit narrow a concern in that way, since it's more a convenience than need in a sense. It's something that could have stood some further discussion instead of the "Isn't Seven amazing" stuff.

The Omega particle as Borg god though was a nice idea, so it isn't that Seven had no place in the episode, just that the way they framed everything wasn't very satisfactory. Seven, B'Elanna and Harry, and undoubtedly Neelix and the doctor, are not people to involve in a secret mission. Janeway's got her hands full with that crew in any covert or even overt, though chatterbox Harry would be okay in the latter, military actions. Yikes!

All in all, it's an episode more fun in concept than execution. I don't mind the addition to Trek canon, but they should have been a little more thoughtful about how they explained the particle and they definitely should have handled interpersonal stuff better.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:43 AM on November 3 [3 favorites]


For being "the smartest human alive" Seven is surprisingly dense on how to interact with Janeway

Seven gets some of the role of crypto-neuro-atypical crew member that Data used to have as the designated nonhuman aspirant to/commentor on humanity, albeit both less agreeably in manner and also as someone who used to be human, but still identifies strongly with the Collective.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:12 AM on November 3 [1 favorite]


They needlessly and foolishly complicate the issue, where sending brainy science guy back to his people pretty much guarantees they'd try this again to any sensible observer given what alien dude was saying about the project. The chase was pointless as well with what they did with it. If they wanted to get hardcore about the concept the directive should have demanded dealing with the scientists and their data in equally destructive ways and/or have the aliens shrug off the worries about subspace and warp travel as being not a concern given they have no desire to go beyond their solar system or some such.

This is also a good point. The planet probably needed to be scoured of all life given the potential threat it posed, which is about as non-Trek as you can get. It's one thing for Janeway to destroy their research, but another for her to be like, 'Okay Harry, gonna need you to phaser these wounded scientists. Don't leave any bodies!'

Further objection to the Starfleet Omega Protocol after sleeping on it: Starfleet is full of telepaths. I dunno how you keep Betazoids from finding out about this, for instance. (Really, they're a security nightmare generally.)

Making the seriousness of the particle based on warp travel is a bit narrow a concern in that way, since it's more a convenience than need in a sense.

That's definitely not how anybody in their world would see it. I mean, the immediate effect includes 'almost anybody currently in a starship is condemned to a slow death in space.' Voyager could maybe make the swap to generation ship because it's big and would temporarily be able to use replicators to cover some of the gear they'd need to survive, but anybody in a vessel like Neelix's original junk trader is just going to starve or asphyxiate.

Beyond that, most TNG-era powers are multi-system. The Federation would collapse without warp travel - worlds would go back to being independent sooner or later.

I guess a good modern analogy might be: everybody's vehicles stop working forever, (probably along with radio and other mass communication - if Omega blocks travel, it probably stops FTL comms). No travel between cities except by foot or horse. Plenty of people would live through that, but anybody stranded in sufficiently hostile terrain or weather during the event itself would probably just die, and it would change the shape of civilization in a big way. Governments would collapse and restructure around city-states, people who needed specialized medical care would probably be goners, and so on.

It wouldn't be an extinction-level event, but it would certainly end modern civilization for the foreseeable future.

How Mulgrew reconciled that crap with how she saw Janeway previously is just another example of how tough they made it for her and the show to develop a consistent pattern.

I guess the reason I'm cutting them slack about this is that Seven was written consistently. I would've been happy with anybody receiving consistent focus and characterization just so that Voyager didn't seem like a series of random events. Frustration that they didn't just do a better job with the characters they started with is absolutely fair though.
posted by mordax at 9:31 AM on November 3 [2 favorites]


That's definitely not how anybody in their world would see it.

It's a good point about those currently in starships, I was more thinking about it from whatever culture was trying to develop the Omega particles. Galactic travel and all is great fun, but if a culture is more interested in supplying themselves with unlimited power and believes they can, like the Borg did, control the particle, then — *shrug* — what would they care about Starfleet's strife loving galaxy soaring ways? The whole post-scarcity thing makes the need for galactic travel something of a complication needing better explanation anyway, though the handwavy nature of it and the Omega particle could allow for any claim to be pressed on those matters I suppose.

I guess the reason I'm cutting them slack about this is that Seven was written consistently.

Easy enough to do when you make her so omnicompetent that almost any task, save for those pesky human emotions, is doable for her. Eidetic memory, magic Borg knowledge, complete Starfleet knowledge when needed, a bloodstream teeming with almighty nanoprobes, a starship more or less at her command, enhanced senses, enhanced immunity to sensory attacks, greater strength, fighting ability, logic, and looks than almost all she encounters and they surely gave her perfect pitch and the ability to curl her tongue and wiggle her ears too and just didn't get around to showing it. Not too difficult to maintain consistency with that slate of abilities since pretty much anything you want her to do she can and you barely have to deign to explain why.

I mean, yeah, Seven, in a general way, was a good addition to Voyager. Ryan is really good with the character and some of the stories involving her were top notch. The writers obviously felt more inspired to write stories for her, more than anyone else it seems, so that something too if you count the writers as a given. It isn't that I dislike Seven on the show, I just dislike how much adding her distorted everything else about the series in ways that don't make much sense. They could have added Seven without shifting the focus so entirely towards her character, but they didn't go that route and in a lot of episodes that really shows through. Not all though, there are still plenty of solid shows to come as well so it isn't a total loss and may even be a comparative gain from the preSeven struggles the writers had at times. We'll see on that last point though as we go through more of the rewatch. My gripe is more about the failures of the writers/UPN than the character herself.

The planet probably needed to be scoured of all life given the potential threat it posed, which is about as non-Trek as you can get.

Heh. Yeah, that kind of dilemma is understandably not pursued by the show, but that sort of highlight how readily the franchise has let some complex problems get waved away or given too optimistically inclined solutions at times. It isn't that Starfleet should demand they wipe out a planet as being more "real", but that the questions they raise often don't get answers that really satisfy the issues being raised. I'm fine with optimistic since pessimism can be just as lazy or unrealistic, but some more attention to the details at times would be nice.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:35 AM on November 3 [2 favorites]


Like in this episode, Prime Directive suspended!, how about making the resolution based on providing the alien race high tech stuff they hadn't developed yet, even as there may be some potential threat involved somehow, thereby showing both the kind of uncomfortable trade offs that sometimes need happen and the importance of the Prime Directive more generally. One of those opportunities for a big inspiring speech on the nature of responsibility and the glory of enlightenment or some such they so love doing. Maybe leave the situation resolved in the moment but uncertain in the longer term instead of tying a bow around it as they also love to do.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:43 AM on November 3 [3 favorites]


Easy enough to do when you make her so omnicompetent that almost any task, save for those pesky human emotions, is doable for her.

While this is true, every show has someone like this, dating back to Spock on TOS. I still remember being frustrated as a child when I saw them resolve a plot by giving him nictitating membranes that everyone had simply forgotten about. Really, the Janeway/Seven stuff hearkens back to Kirk/Spock/Bones, but they went with less satisfying dynamics for the relationship. (Janeway would be a good friend, but is a terrible mother figure.)

For my money, the only show that handled the whole issue of 'this crewman makes everybody else literally obsolete' was DS9, in no small part because the trope got divided between multiple characters instead of just one person who sucked all the air outta the room - for most of the series run, it gets split between Dax and Odo, and they were careful to make sure the whole thing had interesting complications. (Such as the answer to 'why aren't shape shifters running everything?' was 'they absolutely are, and are worshiped as literal gods for good measure,' or the time someone stole the Dax symbiont from Jadzia because they wanted her abilities.)

I do agree they should've balanced this out better though. Like, Data's every bit as obnoxiously overpowered as Seven is, (honestly, I think he'd win in a 'let's stat out how ridiculous they are' contest), but they didn't make every other episode all about him.

Now that we're talking about this in detail, one thing I wish was that they'd made being ex-Borg more of a drawback. She should've needed more medical care, maybe had a bad reaction to tech here and there or something. Like, 'oh, Seven can't hear a thing if she stands too close to the replicators or transporters because her Borg implants render the matter stream literally audible to her.' Just small stuff to remind everybody 'hey we don't actually want to temporarily assimilate the whole crew to give them superpowers too.'

how about making the resolution based on providing the alien race high tech stuff they hadn't developed yet

Heh. That would've been a more interesting way to go than 'let's blow it all up,' yeah.
posted by mordax at 12:06 PM on November 3


Beyond that, most TNG-era powers are multi-system. The Federation would collapse without warp travel - worlds would go back to being independent sooner or later.

One of the endings that you can choose in the game Mass Effect 3 involves damaging or outright destroying the mass relays that help speed travel around the galaxy; without them, there's still FTL travel between individual star systems, but at much lower speeds. There's some talk about whether a couple of the major races--the turians and quarians--would even survive in some systems unless they had a local planet or station with facilities for producing dextro-amino protein food, since their biochemistry was based on dextro-amino acids.

The whole post-scarcity thing makes the need for galactic travel something of a complication needing better explanation anyway

For about the same reason that most people would like a life beyond forty acres and a mule.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:08 PM on November 3 [1 favorite]


Oh, and meant to say:

My gripe is more about the failures of the writers/UPN than the character herself.

I really can't argue with that.
posted by mordax at 12:08 PM on November 3


Should've previewed:

One of the endings that you can choose in the game Mass Effect 3 involves damaging or outright destroying the mass relays that help speed travel around the galaxy; without them, there's still FTL travel between individual star systems, but at much lower speeds.

This reminds me of a plot on Stargate Atlantis, too - the ' Attero Device' made certain kinds of FTL systems just explode when engaged, (thus trapping one faction at sublight speeds throughout the galaxy), and was considered a doomsday weapon by everyone involved.

For about the same reason that most people would like a life beyond forty acres and a mule.

Yeah, this. Trade opens up all kinds of possibilities: exchange of ideas, rare goods, travel. Technological innovation is impacted by it. In the Trek universe, Earth would probably still be in a dark age if not for the Vulcans stumbling across them, and this wouldn't be lost on anybody.
posted by mordax at 12:14 PM on November 3 [1 favorite]


Trade opens up all kinds of possibilities: exchange of ideas, rare goods, travel. Technological innovation is impacted by it. In the Trek universe, Earth would probably still be in a dark age if not for the Vulcans stumbling across them, and this wouldn't be lost on anybody.

Sure, in theory, but as I've bitched about in these threads and in the last Discovery one, the shows rarely give much indication Earthers give a damn about other cultures. I won't belabor the point as I've beat that horse to bone powder already.

It's true though that in the vague outlines of Federation civilization, travel is somehow more important than unlimited energy because we never get any indication of there being any limits on energy as it is, so the Omega whatsit won't change a thing for anyone as they got unlimited free energy covered, evidently.

That's the heart of the problem for me, the competing interests here can't compete because they've never made much of a show over what life is actually like in the 24th century so its all just guesswork based on sometimes sloppily written "clues". Without some better background on the society there is very little conflicting issues to deal with. Optimism as miracle cure, or perhaps the Federation of Oz where you hear about the great wonders but never get to actually peek behind the the curtain and see them for yourself.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:40 PM on November 3 [2 favorites]


It's true though that in the vague outlines of Federation civilization, travel is somehow more important than unlimited energy because we never get any indication of there being any limits on energy as it is, so the Omega whatsit won't change a thing for anyone as they got unlimited free energy covered, evidently.

Energy's the one spot we know would be problematic without warp travel, actually: the resources used to build and maintain matter/antimatter power sources are rare. We know they have to venture pretty far afield to mine dilithium specifically, (this dates back to TOS), and Voyager's always out of some rare element or other. Without warp, it seems pretty evident - based solely on what we've seen on screen - that developed worlds like Earth would experience an energy crunch after an unspecified period of time as their reactors wore out.

The rest of it... eh, I'd be willing to concede your point about humans and foreign cultures out of sheer annoyance with how that's handled on Voyager, really. :)
posted by mordax at 7:35 PM on November 3 [1 favorite]


Wow, I never even thought of the dilithium-mining implications of a Lantaru-style incident. Shit.

Gonna make a mental note of this as an RPG plot hook (or even a concept for a whole campaign): a spatial warp of some kind strands the crew in the heart of the Lantaru sector, where not only do they face a VOY-like duration for their trip out of it, but where they learn what happens when spacefaring societies have to reengineer themselves around purely local resources.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:13 AM on November 4 [1 favorite]


Without warp, it seems pretty evident - based solely on what we've seen on screen - that developed worlds like Earth would experience an energy crunch after an unspecified period of time as their reactors wore out.

Well, the Omega particle solves the energy problem so the dilithium would no longer be needed. Is there any indication that the dilithium is used in Earth power stations, or other colonies or is it just for the warp engines?
posted by gusottertrout at 4:30 AM on November 4


Well, the Omega particle solves the energy problem so the dilithium would no longer be needed.

That's a big maybe - it's been well established that lots of high end systems need rare components that may require interstellar travel to replenish due to the difficulty of replicating them. (I just rewatched DS9's 'Empok Nor,' which hinges entirely on their inability to replicate certain key Cardassian systems.) There's no guarantee that they have an indefinite supply of what they need to regulate Omega reactions on any given Federation planet. Like, Earth may be fine but Andoria might not be, or vice versa.

As for dilithium itself: it's needed to regulate matter/antimatter reactions, so should be an issue anywhere they rely on high energy systems like transporters or replicators, in addition to warp drives.

Further problem: catastrophes like asteroid collisions or nasty solar phenomena could be more severe without the ability to move at warp (either to evacuate or deal with problems before they're too close to civilization).

Gonna make a mental note of this as an RPG plot hook

Man. Sometimes I miss tabletop. :)
posted by mordax at 11:45 PM on November 4


The real limits on replicating things tends to deal either with nonreplicable elements (usually the ones made up for the show, including dilithium, latinum, etc.) or with things that are bigger than the replicators can create. The DS9 tech manual (brief note: the TNG and DS9 tech manuals can be considered semi-canon, since they include things that were not actually shown or mentioned on the shows, but are based on canon, and were originally written by show crew as a guide to writers as to what they could and couldn't do WRT tech) gives the size of an industrial replicator as 2.3 by 4.7 by 6.1 meters--looks like that's exterior dimensions, so the actual size of what could be replicated would be somewhat smaller--and says that Starfleet is testing a unit that has an emitter delivery pad that's 50.3 meters by 72.6 meters (no indication of the size of the Z-axis) for starship section replication. (That would be big enough to replicate a runabout, not big enough for the Defiant.) Anything bigger than roughly the size of a walk-in closet would have to be replicated in sections and assembled.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:37 AM on November 5 [1 favorite]


« Older Mystery Science Theater 3000: ...   |  Berlin Station: Station to Sta... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments