Star Trek: Voyager: One   Rewatch 
November 16, 2017 2:28 AM - Season 4, Episode 25 - Subscribe

Personal log, Seven of Nine, stardate 51932.4. We are on a thirty-six year mission to the Crab Nebula. …You know, they say sometimes people go CRAZY on these long trips. They get the… SPACE… MADNESS! Heh. Space madness.

Memory Alpha has come here to play Jesus to the Trekkers in your head:

- The pitch that eventually became this episode had the working title "Perchance to Dream" and primarily featured The Doctor. It was jokingly compared, by staff writer Bryan Fuller, to the horror film The Shining. Fuller was actually the person who bought the pitch. He recalled, "Some responses [to the plot idea] were 'Uhhh... Okay', until I said 'But! You can do this....! We can have scenes with creepy corridors, spooky hallucinations!'" Co-executive producer Brannon Braga was another writing staffer who instantly recognized that the story had potential.

- The original pitch for this episode came from James Swallow, who was given the opportunity to pitch for Star Trek: Voyager after having submitted numerous unsuccessful story ideas to Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. At the end of January 1998, James Swallow received a telephone call from pre-production coordinator Lolita Fatjo, who notified him of the purchase of one of his pitches. "Just like that, the words I had been waiting to hear for years came beaming across the world to me from California," Swallow reminisced. "I, after almost a decade of dogged struggle, had finally achieved a personal goal – to help create a little piece of the Star Trek universe."

- Bryan Fuller was highly satisfied with Jeri Ryan's work here, referring to it as "amazing."

- A similar storyline to this occurs in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Doctor's Orders", when Doctor Phlox is forced to take control of the ship on his own – to pilot it through a nebula – but begins to hallucinate.

- It is mentioned here that the ship has traveled 15,000 light years toward home.

"Describe the nature of your sexual relationship with Lieutenant Paris!"

- Seven of Nine to the holographic simulation of B'Elanna Torres, trying to improve her social skills.

"Holodecks are a pointless endeavor, fulfilling some Human need to fantasize. I have no such need."
"What you need is some editorial skill in your self-expression. Between impulse and action there's a realm of good taste begging for your acquaintance."
"I find your self-expression ponderous."
"And I can't put up with this for another month!"

- Seven of Nine and The Doctor, bickering

Poster's Log:
This plot is a pretty well-worn trope, but I found myself only intermittently bored by the episode overall. I find it unsurprising that they mentioned The Shining, because One of the more successful elements of this episode—the fact that at times you're not sure what's real and what isn't, and for that reason cannot precisely predict the outcome—is reminiscent of The Shining. I also liked the attention paid to stasis chambers; it was an effective contribution to the episode's drama and (from a Trek-tech nerd perspective) a welcome contribution to canon.

On this rewatch, I'm also gaining more of an appreciation for Jeri Ryan's acting chops, and this is One of the episodes where it stuck out to me.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
I found the villain's voice familiar, and it turns out it's this guy, whose face under all that makeup is also familiar. I probably remember him from Buffy.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (12 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"Oh, my beloved ice cream bar!"

- Seven of Nine, chewing on a bar of soap.
posted by Servo5678 at 4:43 AM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

This was a good episode that I enjoyed. My only issue with it is that one month felt like far too little a time for the story to unfold. It would have been more effective if she were alone for a much longer period and the effects were due entirely to her isolation.
posted by 2ht at 4:53 AM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I liked this one a lot, as it does tend to get at the dilemma that Seven faces daily: she misses the Collective, still, but she also gets frustrated by the way that non-Borg people connect, and maybe even the general inadequacy compared to the Collective's connection. The initial nit-picking that I made during the episode can be no-prized away; I wondered how they could replicate all those cryo-pods so quickly after they'd had a severe energy shortage, but that could be explained if they got a lot of deuterium from the Demon planet in exchange for their DNA samples, and the shutdown of life support near the end could have been solved by Seven putting on a spacesuit, but maybe those were glitching, too.

I still think that one thing that could have been introduced late in the episode would have been the drone-hallucination telling Seven that, if she assimilated some of the crew, not only would they be resistant to the radiation as well, she wouldn't be alone any more. I don't know if that's actually an option for her--I can't remember if she can do that at will--but it just would have made for an extra bit of tension in the episode. I did note that Janeway still doesn't completely trust Seven with the ship by herself, which is sensible. Alien-hallucination was suitably creepy.

Also, too: "One." Not to mention "One."
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:37 AM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, I'd say Seven totally retains the ability to assimilate the crew if she really wanted to. After all, the soon-to-come episode "Drone" has Seven's nanoprobes infest the Doctor's mobile emitter and proceed to GENERATE AN ENTIRE PERSON FROM SCRATCH. If they can do that I'd say assimilating a single person or a few people or the entire ship would be a simple matter.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:44 AM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I wish they wouldn't have told us that she was hallucinating. I think it would have been better if we were left wondering what was real and what wasn't.

I wonder why they don't put some of the crew in stasis more often. It seems like it would at least cut down on the demand for food, energy, the holodeck, etc. I'm sure some of the crew would like to sleep for a couple of months as a break from the despair of being so far from home. It must take too much energy to keep the stasis pods running or something. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Overall this is a good episode.
posted by hot_monster at 10:06 AM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Doc is kind of a jerk in this one. Seven accuses him of being cranky. He fires back with "Because I have to deal with you Miss cranky-borg-pants." Normally he's teaching her to get in touch with her humanity. He could have been a bit more patient. He missed a real teaching moment. Jeez, Doc!
posted by hot_monster at 10:08 AM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I wonder why they don't put some of the crew in stasis more often.

Per mordax's body count, I don't think that Voyager really has the crew to spare. That's basically the reason why the Maquis got recruited. You also want to have all hands on deck for the next time some gang of looters or murderhoboes shows up, or even if it's like Creepy Alien Guy who is invited on board, but doesn't want to leave. (He was sadly plausible, maybe the most so of all the hallucinations.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:15 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Particle of the Week: Subnucleonic radiation, previously weaponized by Hirogen in Hunters. This instance isn't directly connected, but doesn't seem to contradict any previously established properties of it.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: Also subnucleonic radiation, as discussed in the comparison for Hunters.

Ongoing Counts:
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: 17.
* Shuttles: Down 8.
* Crew: 135. We lost one here in the initial brush with the nebula.
* Other: the bio-neural gelpack count is definitely a lost cause after this episode. It's unclear if any or all of the 46 packs we had remaining were needed to replace faulty packs in the nebula. 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 wasn't very interested in the plot.

For me, the basic plot lacked tension. It can pretty much only end one way: Seven learns a valuable lesson about being less of a jerk in social settings. Ryan's performance is good, and I like the detail of the neural gelpacks failing because they're organic too, but I mostly felt like this was low stakes because nothing else about it was a surprise.

I still think that one thing that could have been introduced late in the episode would have been the drone-hallucination telling Seven that, if she assimilated some of the crew, not only would they be resistant to the radiation as well, she wouldn't be alone any more.

This would've definitely made things more interesting. Hallucination-Drone telling Seven she's weak? Boring. Hallucination-Drone telling her she'd get more done with some more drones, even temporary ones? That could've been chilling.

Oh, I'd say Seven totally retains the ability to assimilate the crew if she really wanted to.

Agreed. She probably can't do it as easily as a full drone anymore, but she's still got nanoprobes and plenty of Borg tech in her cargo bay.

* This does bring up some interesting thoughts regarding stasis.

I wonder why they don't put some of the crew in stasis more often.

I agree with Halloween Jack's assessment of that particular notion. Per Memory Alpha, Voyager's expected crew compliment should be 141. The current tally of 135 seems close, but it's worth noting that I'm counting a baby, a ship's cook (certainly not on the original roster), and an unspecified number of Maquis who may or may not be good fits for the roles they're stuck in.

To use the one area we can be sure of, the ship is so short on medical personnel that Tom Paris is literally next in line for ship's chief medical officer despite being grossly unqualified for that and their best pilot. That suggests any number of key areas may be critically understaffed over and above the raw crew compliment figure - even on a good day, Voyager is probably operating in a suboptimal fashion.

The place my head went with this is: 'One' demonstrates why the crew doesn't just sleep off the whole trip. I mean it seems like a decent plan in theory: put everybody in hypersleep, plot a course for home that avoids star systems entirely and just coast back in a low power setting, letting the Doctor just wake people up if there's an emergency. It seems like the Trek universe is a little busy for that, but ships do manage it - Khan started off on Earth and only left via sublight drive and still managed to avoid any contact for literally centuries in a part of space we know is heavily traveled.

Now we know why they can't do that: while Starfleet vessels maintain a high level of automation, and can be operated by a single person for a limited period of time, they require a lot of maintenance. Starfleet has the tech to automate that, but they're squeamish about AI and won't deploy it.

So that's why they don't sleep, over and above their insistence on poking every problem or mystery they come across.

Anyway... yeah. I guess that's most of what I had: not much to say about this one.
posted by mordax at 11:34 PM on November 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

Well, it's about time they had an episode focusing on the new addition to the crew. Seven's role on the ship has been woefully underexplored up until now...

I think Seven might have had more shows about her in one season than Kes did her entire three year run at this point, nonetheless, this one works pretty well for the character, though maybe not so great for Janeway given the decisions made were a bit questionable even if they sorta worked out in the end with *only* one death, quickly forgotten.

The analogy of Seven's struggles in adapting to life on Voyager worked well enough, and as much as I like Jack's idea from a dramatic standpoint, which would have indeed brought more tension to the episode, I think the decision to make it about her struggles with self probably made more sense for the feelings she'd be going through in regards to "assimilating" into the crew.

On a meta-level, I like to think of the episode as containing the secondary analogy of Taylor's time on Voyager, helping guiding it through four seasons, two while in charge, with Braga and his new staff taking the role of Lo-Tarik, except Taylor, on sacrificing life support, doesn't awaken at the end.

It's not a favorite episode since the stakes are fairly narrow and some of the writing a touch less fulfilling than would best serve for the drama, with the doctor's role seeming particularly off, but the Jerri's did good work with Seven and since that was the bulk of the episode, it was a reasonable success. The added bits with Paris too felt solid and fed into his additional concerns over feeling "confined" in other aspects of his life.

The Lo-Tarik "visit" was an odd touch given its hint of sexual menace, something of unclear significance to Seven. That she would be concerned about dangers being alone and let those feed her imaginings is obviously sensible, but the form it takes as a lone traveler determined to be the first to conquer the nebula and explore the other side is interesting. On the one hand it suggests some echo of Seven's own predicament, having joined explorers and being almost alone crossing the nebula and that makes the threat posed to her something of an echo of the Borg threat to others, but that's a weak connection and doesn't really account for the gendered nature of the threat.

That Seven may be having doubts about her own stated feelings towards relationships, both socially and sexually, is another possible angle for it, but that too isn't made entirely clear and it sits a bit oddly with what we've seen so far from Seven. There was the "repressed memory" encounter to provide some of the substance perhaps, but that is matched by Seven's stated attitude towards relationships, and sex, as purely functional and general feelings of superiority. It is, of course, most likely just a dramatic touch to lend a feeling of authenticity to the moment based on how they see Seven and the audiences relationship to the character, but used as such in this specific situation lends it some added weight as a "read" into how they see the character.

In that last sense, it seems clear they see Seven more sexually potent than the other characters, so threats to her are informed by that perspective, which seems somewhat unfortunate. While there is certainly no question that kind of threat would be of real concern to many women alone in more normal circumstance it undercuts some of Seven's own strengths as a character for a more universalized concern. I'm somewhat ambivalent as to the trade off, but lean towards thinking favoring the universal over the specific, as they'll continue to do with the character, wasn't the best choice as it carries the suggestion social roles are more defining than they really are, or need be in any case.

There is, at least in memory from my first watch, a concerted effort made to move Seven into a more "feminine" role as the series develops, where "feminine" means being made more vulnerable and weaker as a necessary action for "fitting in" with the culture on Voyager, and by extension, humanity. The doctor's effort to Pygmalionize her in this regard, as we see in the beginning of the episode, while sometimes may be reasonable in specific are more questionable taken as a whole, but we'll deal more with that later.

Setting aside the sexual aspect of the situation, the stress Seven faces in being alone is a good take on the character having been a part of the collective, even as it too suggests a inlaid contradiction in Seven's aloofness which causes her to be a part from the crew and her desire to be apart of a group. This, however, seems a reasonable internal struggle someone might face, which Seven is a fine representative of. Those contradictory feelings in people who find themselves outside the norm in their thinking are difficult to navigate as one wants to be accepted and find some sense of community, but may also not want to sacrifice their own perspective to do so since they value it and may see some areas of "giving in" as a failure of self since they can't align perspectives over values and meaning with actions and feelings. It's a worthwhile area of investigation for the character, even as I'm not sure I entirely agree with where they take it ultimately.

So, Voyager has some area with room for around 200 stasis chambers they almost never would see reason to use? Interesting. Doesn't seem like the most sensible design plan, unless maybe they'd incorporate those into the escape pods or something.

Not convinced by the decisions made by Janeway and the crew this episode. Given everything they've encountered and the dangers, known and unknown, the nebula poses, it seems unlikely that they could possibly decide that taking a month long nap through uncharted territory could be a good idea since waking up early means death, machine failure means death, and the extent of damage the radiation will pose to the ship which could cause either possibility is unknown. Even entering the nebula as they did in the first place, after Harry mentions unknown elements seems a little reckless.

I mean I don't question them trying it, but some added caution or even concern before the attempt would have gone over better for me. Again, of course, dramatic necessity wins out for the show, which is fine, but I do wish they'd at least give better lip service to making it seem like every precaution had been considered first rather than making it seem like impulsive decision making at every turn. Janeway is impulsive, so some of that is fine for her personal decisions, but with the crew and ship involved and not under immediate duress they need to dial that back and show more of the scientist's methods of ascertainment of new phenomena.

All in all this isn't a bad episode. It's part of a string of conceptually interesting, but not entirely satisfying shows now, where if they'd better worked out the details they'd be on a strong run, but they slacked off and we ended up with clever but lacking mid-level shows. That's better in some ways than the more socially driven plotting of the earliest episodes or the more conventionally character driven work in some of more recent seasons, as it brings a needed feeling of inventiveness and surprise to the series, but it did that while sacrificing some of the strengths developed in those previous seasons, which was the downside of the trade-off and makes this feel almost like yet another restart for the series than a continuation and growth.

That's a relative thing though, not wholly true, just a lingering note that carries over everything due to there being a feeling that they could have done things better more than it seeming like they've done everything wrong. If they had managed to keep the good elements they'd developed and add the new, then there'd be a greater sense of growth to the series than we have. Instead we ended up with them going through four seasons without really defining the show and its interests clearly enough to give it a strong identity overall. There's a lot I like about Voyager compared to the other Trek shows, but its lack of definite identity does it no favors overall.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:56 AM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Lo-Tarik "visit" was an odd touch given its hint of sexual menace, something of unclear significance to Seven.

Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to discuss that in so much depth.

So, Voyager has some area with room for around 200 stasis chambers they almost never would see reason to use? Interesting. Doesn't seem like the most sensible design plan, unless maybe they'd incorporate those into the escape pods or something.


You're right, of course. I was figuring they repurposed the escape pods, but the form factor and location are all wrong. I definitely should've noticed and complained.
posted by mordax at 8:35 AM on November 18, 2017

Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to discuss that in so much depth.

Thanks mordax. It's something I'm trying to pay attention to given the importance of Seven to the series and how her character has been remembered by fans. I'm trying to get a good handle on how the show did developed her character, and how they showed her as best I can from my limited perspective.

So far, I've been more or less pleased by how they've usually filmed her and how most of the main characters have dealt with her so far, save for Harry but at least with some purpose in Klink's episode. There's been a few times where the camera really leers at her, but those episodes have been few, so they've managed to minimize some of the worst potential fan service effects to an extent. The conception of her character is still strongly sexualized, but the visual depiction isn't overtly forcing the issue most of the time. To be sure, there's no getting around her costume or anything and that carries over into how the show and its fans think about her, but, as we've discussed before, that isn't necessarily a killer for the character in itself from my perspective.

I think, without detailed checking, that they have more often gone with medium close ups when framing Seven than the tighter close ups they used more frequently for the rest of the crew, so there has perhaps been some change to maintain notice of her figure, but the focus of the shot isn't directed towards her body even as it captures it incidentally in the wider shot format. This is, to my recollection, different from how they generally framed the other characters to some degree, though not without precedent just as they did manage to sexualize Kes, B'Elanna, and Janeway at times and even, in a more minimal way, some of the men as well. With Seven its just more the standard than the exception, so it becomes normalized to an extent.

There are some potentially beneficial effects of this though, where it also goes to emphasize her stature, making her seem different, taller, and more imposing than the rest of the crew, working with Ryan's acting in this measure, so I wouldn't write it off entirely to the worst examples of male gaze. The directors have been relatively solid in not going that route most of the time, again, I mean compared to the worst possibilities.

Ryan herself has done a lot to build and maintain the character as something more than fan service too. Which is another reason why I think its useful to push back against the most uncharitable readings at times while sort of charting what the show is doing with her character and keeping tabs on the possible thinking behind it. There obviously isn't going to be a clear answer as to how we should or the show does think of the character, and I'm sure others will see things differently than I do, but since she's such an iconic figure for Trek I figure it's worth discussing those different perspectives. Besides, for some episodes there isn't a lot to say about the rest of the things going on so it provides something to talk about.
posted by gusottertrout at 6:20 PM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is another one that I like a lot almost purely on the basis of Jeri Ryan putting in a really compelling performance in it. I was definitely thinking of The Shining throughout it, and yeah, it would have been stronger if they'd hidden the ball more about her hallucinations at the very least, but I love the inversion of the ending, where Seven is led to freezing (almost) to death because she chose to sacrifice herself for the rest of the crew. Also, it makes so much sense that, as lacking as her social skills are, she has a more keenly-felt need for others than even the rest of the crew does, which is a really cool thing to highlight in the character.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:55 AM on December 4, 2023

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