Star Trek: Voyager: Dragon's Teeth   Rewatch 
March 12, 2018 7:19 AM - Season 6, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Voyager has one of its strangest encounters yet when it comes across a human serviette wearing a tam o' shanter--wait [peers at index card] sorry, I thought that it said "Nardwuar"--why the heck am I still using index cards in the twenty-first century, anyway? We're getting warp drive in a few decades!

Memory Alpha wonders why a Starfleet ship needs reminding of the dangers of thawing out a bunch of people without trying to ascertain their intentions:

- This episode was initially planned as a two-hour telemovie, but Braga and Menosky decided while writing part one that it would work better as a single hour. By the time the compressed version of the script was finished, their opinions had turned around again – but it was too late to re-expand the story.

- Although the final scene heavily implies the Vaadwaur would become a recurring antagonist to the crew, they did not appear again after this episode, apart from a brief encounter with a Vaadwaur ship in "The Void".

"When it rains, do you run from doorway to doorway, trying to stay dry, getting wet all the while? Or do you just accept the fact that it's raining and walk with dignity?"
"Rain's one thing. Plasma bombs are something else."
"But the principle is the same."
"I'd bring an umbrella."

- Gedrin and Captain Janeway

"What's the first known usage?"
"First written example appears in Eldaxon's Collected Folklore, Second Edition. Year of publication, 5012, New Calendar."
"Computer, name the specific folktales that use the word 'Vaadwaur'."
"'The Demon with the Golden Voice', 'The Tale of the Deadly Stranger', 'The Tale of the Boy Who Lost His Head', 'The Tale of the Bloody Hand'."
"Not exactly Mother Goose."

- Neelix and the computer

Poster's Log:

Someone--CheesesOfBrazil, I think--noted that the Memory Alpha entries for VOY vary a lot in content and quality in the last couple of seasons, and I really wish that there was more information about the writing of this episode--maybe not the blow-by-blow accounts of the earlier episodes, but just a bit more--to explain why a) Janeway & Co. were so incautious in thawing out the Vaadwaur, and b) why they were never brought back as was heavily hinted in the last scene. I'll admit that I was a bit distracted during my rewatch, having interrupted my watching of Jessica Jones S2, but I did catch the bit where Gedrin is talking about how there was a grand alliance of interstellar nations who nuked their planet; maybe, just maybe, there was a reason why they did that? It's a little scary to think that, despite their open admiration of the Klingon warrior spirit and Naomi reporting that the Vaadwaur kids were bigoted assholes, it took Neelix looking up some old fairy tales (speaking of which, I really wanted to hear "The Tale of the Boy Who Lost His Head") to finally suss things out.

That having been said, there could have been some good follow-up episodes with Voyager trying to use the subspace corridors, the Vaadwaur (maybe with Gedrin, if he survived, or someone else leading the Maybe We Shouldn't Be Murderhoboes This Time, Guys dissident movement), and the Grand Coalition of Them Who Hate the Vaadwaur Because They Really Are Murderhoboes, Basically. I smell network interference.

Poster's Log, supplemental, Jack can't stop talking about Mass Effect edition: There's a plotline very similar to this episode in the third game. I don't want to spoil it (For The Love Of The Game), but it leads to some pretty funny dialogue with the thawed-out being.
posted by Halloween Jack (7 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Scattered thoughts—more to come later, hopefully, when I'm less busy:

You can rrrrreally tell that they considered making this a two-parter. In a typical Alien of the Week scenario, we get significant dialogue from, and are expected to remember the individuality of, roughly two members of the AotW species. Here, there just seem to be more numerous, more significant Vaadwaur, and there's a lot more going on than normal.

Vaadwaur makeup makes them look like a Cardassian subspecies. Sort of tips us off to their evilness.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:48 AM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Particle of the Week: Radiogenic particles. (I guess the Vaadwaur planet is really rainy.)
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: The Vaadwaur are shilled as a galaxy-spanning menace in Star Trek Online, with advanced weaponry on the ground and in space. They actually rendered my preferred space build obsolete for awhile when they were introduced, and their playable craft is absurdly expensive. There's one scene in particular where you actually fight them side-by-side with the Voth, which I find pretty ridiculous.

Unlike the show, the STO metaplot gives them a mysterious backer to justify their advanced and deadly tech, but their population on the show is still so low that it always struck me as ridiculous.

Ongoing Counts:
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: -8. This is a tough call - shots are fired offscreen, clearly plural, but no indicator of just how many. I'm only giving them credit for 2 at the moment. Ought to go back and see if I missed anything. (Like Jack, I was more about JJ S2 this weekend.)
* Crew: 137.
* Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: 12.
* Janeway's Big Red Button: 2 aborted self-destructs, 1 successful, 2 games of chicken, 1 ramming speed.

* Unlike a lot of these stories, I remembered this one pretty well...

If only because it's such a big deal in the MMO.

* I don't buy them as a menace.

It's the population, mostly. Voyager often indulges in really low populations: a mining colony where the whole planet has like 5000 people in Rise, 300000 Talaxians killed by Jetrel's metreon wave, etc. It really sticks out here though: there just aren't enough Vaadwaur for them to be doing much of anything right now. Maybe they breed fast and deadly like the Jem'Hadar or something, but even then, they're a ways out from having the numbers to attack anybody. I'm glad they weren't brought back as a recurring menace.

Their plan to backstab Voyager is pretty dumb too - doing it as they were escaping the Turei left them way too vulnerable, as opposed to waiting until Voyager had taken them to a safer planet.

* I don't like the message either.

The politics of this are skeevy, even though it's more subtle than most of the times I complain about this and Voyager. I didn't like one of the first warning signs about the Vaadwaur being an interest in Klingon culture.

I also didn't like the underlying message of 'be careful who you help.' I'm never a fan of that notion, least of all in my utopian competence porn. At the end of the day, the premise of The Dragon's Teeth is 'we should not have helped these strangers,' and.... ugh. It's a wearying message.

During the airing, I remember being disappointed that the Vaadwaur were relegated to baddies of the week because I really liked the scene about striding through the rain like a boss vs. using an umbrella, and I thought Underspace was a neat idea, and I would've liked to see... dunno. Just something more with those basic ideas.
posted by mordax at 10:51 AM on March 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

I also didn't like the underlying message of 'be careful who you help.' I'm never a fan of that notion, least of all in my utopian competence porn.

That's a really good point.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:33 PM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah, at least "Space Seed" didn't end the conversation there. Instead, it ended on a note of hope. (Now, one could then argue that Wrath of Khan undermines that whole theme in the same way that Terminator 3 undermines Terminator 2's, but TWOK is such an effective film that IIRC not too many people have this complaint.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:20 AM on March 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yeah, at least "Space Seed" didn't end the conversation there. Instead, it ended on a note of hope.

Agreed. I liked their take a lot better than the one here.

Now, one could then argue that Wrath of Khan undermines that whole theme in the same way that Terminator 3 undermines Terminator 2's

I feel TWOK is more of an indictment of the Planet of the Week format: Kirk could've avoided a lot of headaches if he - or anyone from Starfleet - had simply checked up on Khan and the gang routinely. It didn't even seem to be in the records, as even Chekhov was caught flat-footed when the Reliant stumbled on them.

(At the very least, the whole thing was more complicated than just 'we should never have helped Unfrozen Caveman Dictator.')
posted by mordax at 9:47 AM on March 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

The whole thing with Neelix highlights the fact that it would be very sensible to have a standard practice of checking all new species against the ship's database and Seven. I know I'm asking far too much of a work of fiction, but once I think about it it's hard to ignore.
posted by bunderful at 5:41 PM on February 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

What a messed-up script. About 4/5 of the way through, the battle just loses cohesion. We never even see Tuvok get back aboard Voyager. I had to go back and watch the last 10 minutes or so to be sure I hadn't spaced out. One of the worst Voyager episodes and that's saying something.
posted by zadcat at 4:24 PM on December 25, 2019

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