Star Trek: Voyager: Timeless   Rewatch 
December 11, 2017 6:24 AM - Season 5, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Things that I would tell the younger me: 1) Winning lottery numbers; 2) [redacted]; 3) If you never ask her out, you'll always wonder; 4) Don't crash the starship.

If you and Memory Alpha were meant to be together, it'll happen regardless:

- As was often the case during story development, executive producer Brannon Braga's first idea for this particular episode was visual, as the initial inspiration was the thought of Voyager buried under ice. In a retrospective interview, former staff writer Bryan Fuller recalled, "It was very exciting. You know, that episode really started with an image. We were all in the break room, we were talking with Joe Menosky and Brannon Braga, and the central image of that show was Voyager crashing in the ice and sinking and finding the crew frozen, decades later."

- The events of this episode represent the eighth time (aside from the series premiere) that the Voyager crew has a possibility of returning home and is the third time in the series Voyager is destroyed. "Timeless" also includes the sixth of many times Janeway "dies" in the series – on this occasion, when Voyager crash lands in the Beta Quadrant. Finally, it marks the third time Harry Kim "dies" in the series, in which case his future self dies in the explosion of the Delta Flyer.

- The events of this episode cut ten years off of Voyager's trip home.

- According to Janeway, this episode takes place four years, two months and eleven days since the events of the pilot episode "Caretaker".

"You're intoxicated."

"Impossible."

"Your blood synthehol level is .05%. How many glasses of champagne did you consume?"

"One."

"Obviously, the Borg can't hold their liquor. Come to sick bay. I'll give you some inaprovaline to counteract the effects."

"I was simply trying to improve my social skills as you instructed me to do."

"And you're doing a fine job."

"You have always been of enormous assistance to me, Doctor. You... you are my mentor."

"Yes."

"We are as one. We are as one!"

The Doctor and Seven

Poster's Log:

If the basic rewatch review grid is a 4X4 square, with good/not good on one axis and same as I remember/different on the other, then this episode would be in the upper left, as good as I remember. The episode's got two main virtues: a solid time-travel plot, subcategory fixing past mistakes that still haunt you (and one that cannily makes you glad that they used the reset button) and future-Harry taking a level or two in badass, albeit because guilt has made him bitter. Future-Harry is like the Ancient Mariner; he can't enjoy being one of the two survivors, and even though Chakotay is going along with his scheme, he at least has moved on somewhat. And Harry, as we saw in "Non Sequitur", is a creature of duty and can't shirk it if he sees a chance to fulfill it. (That episode has some uncanny parallels to this one, including his getting chased by a Federation starship and having someone else along for the ride, which gets terminated abruptly but ends up never really happening anyway. This episode also has a lot of parallels to "Endgame", but we'll get to that eventually; suffice it to say that I think that this is the far superior episode.) I'm glad that we got that final glimpse of future-Harry; I'll miss that guy.

Lots of other neat little touches in the episode, such as Seven's drunkalogue (I'm usually not much for drunk humor, but her enthusiastically announcing to the rest of the party, "We are as one!" always makes me giggle a bit), the cold-weather suits being the same as the one used by Odo and Quark in DS9's "The Ascent", Captain La Forge (with the future insignia from "All Good Things..." and "The Visitor"), the Doctor casually handling a big chunk of future-Seven's skull as he's tampering with the whatsit, and so on. Something that I'd forgotten about was how Seven and the others accepted the info that future-Harry was sending via her implant because they all thought that present-Harry was using it to get around the communication breakdown.

Poster's Log, supplemental: For my money, the shot in the teaser with the long pull-back to reveal Voyager buried in the ice beneath them is one of the best shots in all of Trek.
posted by Halloween Jack (21 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Some additional notes:

This was Voyager's 100th episode and it was promoted at the time by the UPN network as a major event for the series. (Which just happened to coincidentally fall during sweeps week.) It was also a first accomplishment in another way. Voyager became only the second science fiction show in history to reach 100 episodes on American network television, and the first Star Trek series to do so. The first was the The X-Files.

Previous American scifi shows to reach 100 episodes either had been syndicated and not on a network.

Network television shows in the United States used to (and possibly still do) work quite hard to reach 100 episodes as that was the magical threshold number by which they would be merited worthy of syndication. Theoretically, Voyager's production staff could now breathe a little easier, knowing that their show would be offered to television stations for years to come by its production company, Paramount. It also meant that everyone involved would make more money over time, when the show aired in re-runs.

For UPN, their flagship show had reached a major milestone.

This was also a tightly-told, well-written story -- from that first shocking shot of Voyager under the ice to Harry Kim's "YES!!!!!!" near the end. LeVar Burton's guest starring role was brief and realistic. It felt quintessentially Trek and a heck of a ride. And it was a Harry episode! Those haven't always worked out well. Garret Wang did a great job rebooting the idealistic Ensign Harry Kim as a bitter guy who has put on a few years and gray hairs, and is utterly guilt-ridden and angry that he'd killed all of his friends.

Janeway [to Harry]: "To me...all that matters is that somewhere, somehow...sometime, you come through for us."

Rick Berman was one of this episode's writers, which didn't happen often. He previously worked on Caretaker (the pilot episode) and "Hope and Fear." whose story also included the quantum slipstream drive. Kinda nice to see continuity there in terms of new propulsion technology. Berman also managed to write the ending in such away that the fans' biggest complaint about Year of Hell parts 1 and 2 was avoided: Harry and Janeway know at least something about what happened in the alternate timeline and it wasn't a complete reset back to Day One.
posted by zarq at 8:43 AM on December 11, 2017 [5 favorites]


One of my favorite things about this episode is it brings back Obsessive Harry in a really wonderful story. Obsessive Harry is the guy who does what's Right against all odds and his superiors. We saw him most distinctly in "Non Sequitor," in which he literally committed mutiny against Starfleet Command in an effort to get himself home, giving up "Vulcan Mocha, Extra Sweet" and the life he had dreamed of returning to in San Francisco while stuck on a ship lost in the Delta Quadrant. Here, he first makes a passionate case for using the slipstream drive to Janeway, and convinces her it's worth the risk. Then, after the crash, he sinks into obsessively trying to go back and put right what went wrong, so to speak.

Later, two people in Harry's orbit try to keep him focused on the bigger picture, rather than sinking into obsessive behavior. The first is Tom Paris, who goes to Harry with evidence that the slipstream drive is an "Edsel." (And how nice was it to see Tom Paris here? He's gentle, firm and serious with Harry. Not the usual jokester. He knows how much his friend wants this to work and is willing to make an effort to test the drive with him carefully, and then to suggest alternative solutions.)

The other is the Doctor:

The Doctor: Mister Kim! I didn't spend all those years in an ice bucket so I could listen to you berate yourself! If you want to wallow in self-pity, fine! Do it on your own time!

Obsessive Harry is the guy who freaks out, then buckles down and finds another solution when his first one doesn't work. That mobile emitter has a power source! Huge drama. Wonderfully satisfying ending. It was nice to see.

There was an awful lot to like about this episode, and I enjoyed it as much if not more the 10th? 15th? time around during this rewatch.
posted by zarq at 9:05 AM on December 11, 2017 [5 favorites]


BTW, Halloween Jack, I hope you don't mind my slightly different take on Harry from "Non Sequitur" although I agree with you that he's a creature of duty -- that's a take on Kim's motivations that hadn't quite occurred to me but it fits him very well.

I think the two episodes together (that one and this one) are probably some of the best we see of Kim in this entire series.
posted by zarq at 9:13 AM on December 11, 2017


Don't mind at all. I don't take part in these rewatch threads just to have my own opinions echoed.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:14 AM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]


I really enjoyed this episode as well. It was great to see Garrett Wang take Harry to a new place.. I found many of the interior shots to be so dark in illumination as to be difficult to make out. The security a new playlist of choice for the series, I think.

At this point in my Duffer's Guide rewatch I am only ahead of you guys by one double episode, Equinox. My rewatch is suspended for the moment as I was hit by a car last week and ended up with a broken arm. I normally watch the show while running on a treadmill, an activity that's off limits now for about six weeks - so you guys may lap me yet!

See you in the Delta Quadrant!
posted by mwhybark at 10:53 AM on December 11, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yeesh, sorry to hear about the arm. In lieu of sending the EMH over with his mobile emitter and a bone-knitting thingymabob, please accept my wishes for a speedy recovery.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:00 AM on December 11, 2017 [3 favorites]


Ouch! mwhybark, i hope your arm heals quickly.
posted by zarq at 11:26 AM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]


Particle of the Week: Benamite crystals. If they were not decaying, there'd be no rush here.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: At 15 years in the future, the dark future side of Timeless takes place about halfway to the era of Star Trek Online. In other news, Geordi LaForge is still around in that era, and you even team up with him a couple times. Additionally, as noted before, quantum slipstream is the generic 'fast travel' option on the galactic STO map. (The stable MMO version isn't nearly as fast as what's depicted here - instant travel is relegated to transwarp destinations, while slipstream is just a multiplier on conventional warp.)

Ongoing Counts:
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: 4.
* Crew: 135. They always reference '150' in this script, but Voyager hasn't had a full compliment since early into Caretaker.
* Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: 9. Nothing credulity-straining about this.
* Janeway's Big Red Button: 2 aborted self-destructs, 1 successful, 1 game of chicken, 1 ramming speed.

Notes:
* Sorry your arm is hurt, mwhybark!

Glad to have you around for these, but I hope you feel better soon.

* First nitpick: Tom's last minute quality control check.

Seems like they would've started with heavy holodeck simulations, and never stopped running them. Him finding the problem at the last minute - after the irreplaceable benamite crystals began to decay - is a bit convenient. I'm willing to accept it mostly because Voyager's chronically understaffed.

* Second nitpick: Chakotay's girlfriend.

She's surprisingly willing to commit treason for him. It's not a dealbreaker or anything, I just wish there'd been some nod to why she was willing to go that far. (Might've been interesting to have them be married.)

* Timeless is one of the finest episodes of Voyager ever aired.

This is one of a handful of episodes that I was genuinely looking forward to seeing again, with or without side discussion. It's a neat time travel story. Characterization is great - apart from all the meaty stuff Wang and Picardo get to do, I really love Chakotay's talk with LaForge. I appreciated them wishing each other luck, and Geordi expressing his understanding, before they got to shooting.

I also love the use of the slipstream drive, despite my nitpick. This should've been Job One ever since they met Arturis - get the slipstream working again, get home in a few months. Seeing them follow through with it in a believable way was an example of the kind of continuity and worldbuilding I've been clamoring for out of Voyager all this time. I believe their efforts, I believe why it failed, I believe Future Harry's solution. The nod to an interplexing beacon is even good. Basically, this is the sort of thing I want to see on a long running SF show: innovation over time, with plausible hurdles.

Also, Voyager's actual destruction was awesome. The scene where they crash was very well-realized, and it doesn't surprise me that it was how the script got rolling.

So... yeah. This is the Voyager I wanted - complicated, murky but not too murky, tightly written. Attempts to talk stuff out. No villains, just conflicting reasonable agendas.

Great stuff, here.
posted by mordax at 12:37 PM on December 11, 2017 [5 favorites]


I really love Chakotay's talk with LaForge. I appreciated them wishing each other luck, and Geordi expressing his understanding, before they got to shooting.

That was a fantastic little touch that fit both characters perfectly. They're good, honorable gentlemen who respect each other even though they're on opposite sides.

Even their last exchange had the same flavor:

"La Forge to Delta Flyer. Our sensors are reading an overload in your warp matrix. Lower your shields. We'll beam you out of there."
"I appreciate the offer, Captain, but the answer's no. I suggest you get to a safe distance."
posted by zarq at 12:47 PM on December 11, 2017 [4 favorites]


That was a fantastic little touch that fit both characters perfectly. They're good, honorable gentlemen who respect each other even though they're on opposite sides.

Yeah. Plus, you *know* Geordi could've iced them in about two seconds with the firepower available on a Galaxy class cruiser, (something something full torpedo spread, maximum yield), so he was trying desperately to take them alive and unharmed.

That whole bit was really nice.
posted by mordax at 1:46 PM on December 11, 2017 [4 favorites]


Kudos on the tags, Halloween Jack. :)

I especially liked
#heydoctorwhatchadoin
#nothingmuchjustchillin
posted by zarq at 2:29 PM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]


Voyager in the ice was definitely an attention grabber. Harry Kim's grim demeanor seemed a bit forced. But overall I liked it.

This kind of Trek episode kind of poisons my tribble. It's like giving the show two endings. This is my problem with the end of Voyager and TNG. We see the Voy characters after they've been home. They get some resolution but SURPRISE some Borg tech allows them to redo the thing that happened. So Chacotay and Kim get a semi-happy ending. Everyone else gets the bad end. It makes for fun shows, but overall I think it weakens the overall storytelling. I mean where's the emotional weight of them getting home when you can just hit UNDO?
posted by hot_monster at 3:50 PM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


"The security a new playlist of choice for the series, I think. "

I think this was intended to say "This represents a new aesthetic of choice..." but who knows. I'm alternating between voicerec and left-hand hunt-and-peck. by all means, send one of them temporally-dispersed Docs over stat!
posted by mwhybark at 5:18 PM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


This episode has my favorite Janeway line. When Voyager falls out of the slipstream and is hurtling out of control through space, Tom says that the ship is just a few parsecs away from the Alpha Quadrant. So close! And Janeway drolly says "Not exactly how I wanted to cross the finish line." I think it's Mulgrew's read on that line that gets me. Everything is going to hell around them and she's like "Eh, what ya gonna do?"
posted by Servo5678 at 5:21 PM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]


I mean where's the emotional weight of them getting home when you can just hit UNDO?

That's a reasonable prospective, but this is a rare time I'm feeling charitable toward Voyager. Defending them a minute? I think the weight comes from knowing that they actually *did* die attempting this. That's both:

1) Super freaky for everybody, but especially Harry. Of all the 'weird shit happens to Harry' episodes, this might be the most difficult for a person to process - he now knows that this is who he could be, and I think most people would find that deeply unsettling. Sure, history can be rewritten, but he still knows he's capable of what amounts to treason.

2) It provides a tidy excuse for why Voyager didn't just keep trying to perfect quantum slipstream tech. At a meta-level, they were obviously never going home until the series finale, but this provides a good in-universe explanation for why they don't do this again: just about everybody died on the first try. (This also makes Dark Horizon a lot more plausible - Janeway has gotten the better of the Borg before, but slipstream not so much.)

Basically, I think it works because the crew knows enough about what happened to be messed up by it. If Future Harry had done this and they never got his message, it'd be a much weaker story to me.

However, as I type this? I suddenly think your issue here may be part of why we keep getting prequels - canonically, somewhere after the TNG era, Starfleet's all about time travel instead of space travel, and that's an entirely different kind of show. As long as they're moving through space, they're about exploring strange new worlds - even DS9 - while a time travel show would've been about protecting a fictional history we don't even know. (Captain Braxton's mandate definitely falls into this, as does Daniels' from Enterprise.)

Everything is going to hell around them and she's like "Eh, what ya gonna do?"

See my usual heavy praise of Voyager's casting. Kate Mulgrew really does her best to make Captain Janeway likeable. (This episode was a particularly good effort - I liked her dinner with Chakotay.)
posted by mordax at 8:06 PM on December 11, 2017 [3 favorites]


Late to the discussion, but:
I concur with the general consensus that this is one of the show's high points. I'd add that their use of LaForge here is exactly the right way to bring in guests from a sibling series: respectful of the character's nature and plausible within the reality of the plot (see also DS9's use of Tuvok) without hammering the audience over the head with HEY LOOK WHO IT IS, which IIRC they came too close to with the Reg/Deanna episodes later (though of course not nearly as deleteriously as ENT did with its series finale).

I also agree with hotmonster that Wang's performance as GrimKim had some forced moments, but OTOH he had some really good quiet and subtle moments too.

canonically, somewhere after the TNG era, Starfleet's all about time travel instead of space travel, and that's an entirely different kind of show.

That "somewhere" is, like, centuries after, but you bring up a good point. It's like there's a sweet spot for potential post-DS9 productions, where if you're too close to DS9, you have to deal with too much Dominion/Romulan/Cardassian stuff for the sub-Trekker audience to keep up with, but if you're too far from DS9, things become unrecognizable. That sweet spot is probably about the length of a generation, two at most—which is in keeping with the TOS/TNG gap.

The quantum slipstream experiment portrayed here was a linchpin of a parallel Trek-universe timeline that arose in one of the RPG campaigns that I gamemastered several years ago. Due to the PCs' actions, Harry Kim caught the "Pakled plague" prior to shipping out from DS9, and the ailment somehow prevented him from participating in the test flight (I don't remember the details, but it may have involved vertigo caused by irreversible damage to his brain or something). As a result, it was Chakotay and Paris on the Flyer, and when they got to the Alpha Quadrant and discovered Voyager was lost, Paris's grief propelled him back into his old habits; he disappeared for years and eventually wound up in a Klingon prison. Chakotay, though, worked to get his commission back.

This all arose because I was so embittered by "Endgame" that I wanted Voyager to remain destroyed :)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:48 AM on December 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


That "somewhere" is, like, centuries after, but you bring up a good point.

... maybe? We know for sure it's the case by the 29th century, but we don't actually know when the shift began. Time travel is accessible to dedicated individuals by the TNG era - the flip may not be as far off as we think, simply out of necessity.

It's like there's a sweet spot for potential post-DS9 productions, where if you're too close to DS9, you have to deal with too much Dominion/Romulan/Cardassian stuff for the sub-Trekker audience to keep up with, but if you're too far from DS9, things become unrecognizable. That sweet spot is probably about the length of a generation, two at most—which is in keeping with the TOS/TNG gap.

Right. :)

Spitballing some more, my picture of that timeframe is that past a certain point, (probably before the time travel thing, but maybe not), the galaxy will actually be mapped. Maybe not every nook and cranny, but in the TOS-TNG timeframe, a lot of players are expanding their reach and coming into contact, either military or friendly, with relative technological parity.

At some point before everything's time travel, the game changes from 'strange new worlds' to 'we need permission to cross the boundaries of 17 separate governments to go watch that supernova explode.' Both Voyager and DS9 hinge on vast swaths of space turning out to be claimed and developed, which is also a very different kind of show.
posted by mordax at 7:19 AM on December 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


I think that that point is probably analogous to the point in time where terra incognita effectively ceased to exist, thanks to airplanes and eventually satellites being able to finish mapping those remaining areas of the earth that hadn't been explored on the ground or by water. In this case, Voyager is probably reducing if not almost eliminating the galactica incognita in the Milky Way by going through and mapping much of the galactic core observation shadow, although some of that may have been mapped during the brief period of time between the opening of the Bajoran wormhole and the Dominion wiping out all of the Federation's outposts in the Gamma Quadrant. Not all of that will have the relevant information about political boundaries, of course, especially with those entities who choose to remain closed off to outsiders; one of the drawbacks of getting skipped over 10K light-years or so (which IIRC is about the second time that they've been "pushed" that far in the series to date, the other time being Kes giving them a parting boost at the end of "The Gift") is that they miss getting that sort of information about the skipped space.

Filling in some of those blanks could be a lot easier if they get the other possible benefit from the trip: a reliable transwarp method of propulsion, whether it's quantum slipstream, Borg transwarp, the pah-LEZH-oor people's ultra-long-range transporter, or whatever. We've gotten some teases before and will get some more before the series is done, although I think that this is the longest jump that we'll get until the end, and then it'll be something that they can't keep or replicate. I always wondered about that, what made Berman and Braga hold back from saying, yes, now the Federation has transwarp capability and that literally opens up the whole galaxy and a shitload of possibilities with it. (AFAIK, the only races with honest-to-gosh ship-capable transwarp drive are the Voth, the Borg, and whatever is left of Arturis' people. That would put the Federation, if they could work out the kinks in quantum slipstream tech or whatever, vastly ahead of competitors such as the Dominion, and if their exploration of the rest of the galaxy left them realizing that there were no large unsettled areas, it would also mean that they could expand the Federation greatly. Some of the novels and STO deal with this, I think, with things such as the Typhon Pact forming specifically to oppose the Federation's soft hegemony. But, of course, there would also be the possibilities both of intergalactic travel and travel to other dimensions.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:21 AM on December 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


but this is a rare time I'm feeling charitable toward Voyager.

Lol!!

the weight comes from knowing that they actually *did* die attempting this.

I agree with this. In fact I think this would have made a better final episode than what we've got. Janeway's hairbrained plan to get home kills the entire crew. Except her. She goes back in time(Or sends a message) to fix it. Though, I think they outline the losses they suffered on the rest of the trip home. It's been a while since I've seen the last episode.

may be part of why we keep getting prequels - canonically, somewhere after the TNG era, Starfleet's all about time travel instead of space travel, and that's an entirely different kind of show.

[Mind blown gif]
Yeah, it seems the time travel painted the Trek universe into a corner.


This episode gets a bit uh ... blue. Kim deadpans the "S" word when talking about Chakotay and his GF.
Most Trek dialog sounds like office chatter with technobabble. It's rare when they speak so casually.

The "S" word is 'sex'. Not the other "S" word.
posted by hot_monster at 4:24 PM on December 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


In fact I think this would have made a better final episode than what we've got.

Me too. I absolutely *loathe* Endgame. Looking forward to complaining about it, though not so much to watching it.

[Mind blown gif]

If it makes you feel any better, I literally did not think of this notion until this thread. Discussing Voyager with you all has really improved my understanding of Trek overall. (It's weird, but I'm actually looking forward to dissecting Enterprise.)

It's rare when they speak so casually.

This is also true - they usually use really cringeworthy space metaphors for that stuff.
posted by mordax at 7:13 PM on December 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


20 posts? Wow. Well, you've already covered most of my thoughts on the episode, so no need to expand on them too much I guess.

This is one of the better Voyager episodes, but it did lose a tiny bit on rewatch compared to first viewing for me. In part due to it losing the sense of unexpectedness, but that's a small thing and it still comes off quite well. As mentioned, it ties in with both Non Sequitor and Endgame, with the latter also having some diminishing effect on this episode, or vice versa depending on how you look at it, since they are somewhat similar. I happen to have also liked Endgame on first viewing, though not as much as this episode, so I'll be interested to see if that changes this time around.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:28 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


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