Star Trek: Voyager: Live Fast and Prosper   Rewatch 
April 30, 2018 6:45 AM - Season 6, Episode 21 - Subscribe

A trio of con artists impersonate Captain Janeway, Tuvok, and Chakotay to try to scam money and resources out of unsuspecting victims. But the crew has a sting of their own, if only they can keep their eye on the tera nut...

Memory Alpha insists that you can't cheat an honest sentient being:

- Kaitlin Hopkins previously played Kilana in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Ship".

- The bridge of the fake Delta Flyer is a redress of the USS Defiant bridge.

- Quark's cloaking device from DS9: "Profit and Loss" is seen in this episode, slightly modified as Neelix's malfunctioning heating coil. It will be used again as a piece of Xindi technology in ENT: "Exile".

- Zar's outfit is a reuse of the costume for Fallit Kot from DS9: "Melora". As well, Orek's costume is a reuse of Hagath's from DS9: "Business as Usual".

"Neelix, what has happened to us?"
"I know exactly what you mean! I've been over it a thousand times!"
"Why didn't we see this coming?"
"Orphans! It's the oldest gambit in the book."
"I mean, if it'd been Harry, I could understand it. He trusts everybody. But you and me?"

- Tom Paris and Neelix

"Nice hair."
"It's not really my taste."

- Kathryn Janeway and Dala

"Tell her about your research, Mr. Tuvok."
"I beg your pardon, captain."
"On Telsian law. I think it's only fair that we let our guest know what to expect."
"The Telsian criminal justice system is rather barbaric."
"Tell her about the prisons."
"Barely habitable. Inmates often die of malnutrition before they are brought to trial. Torture is commonplace, as is disease, including several incurable forms of psoriasis."
"I think she gets the general idea."

- Kathryn Janeway and Tuvok, to Dala

Poster's Log:

Not much to say about this one; it's a good (or good enough) episode, pretty tightly constructed without any really glaring flaws. It has some humor (especially with "Tuvok" getting into his role a bit too much), some canny use of continuity (the mobile emitter trick, Tom and Neelix being the ones who get conned), and a revival of an idea that was used in the first couple of seasons, that Voyager relies as much on the good will and reputation that they establish while they're traveling through the DQ as much as their tech. Good turns by the fake Starfleet officers; I thought that there was a bit of metacommentary there in terms of their having uniforms that weren't quite right, not unlike beginner cosplayers.

Poster's Log, supplemental: For my money, the best Trek episode centered around a con job is "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang", although a good case could be made for "A Piece of the Action".
posted by Halloween Jack (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
especially with "Tuvok" getting into his role a bit too much

This entire episode is worth it just for the scene near the end where the fake Tuvok meets the real Tuvok and exclaims "Commander Tuvok!" in such a way that you'd think God himself came down to meet him.
posted by Servo5678 at 7:23 AM on April 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


This was a decent, entertaining episode without much depth to it. I groaned to myself when Dala stole the Delta flyer, but was pleasantly surprised when that turned out to be an audience misdirect.

Sadly, Neelix stupidly sitting down in her brig cell while armed with a phaser, and then leaving the force field off was believable. So was security on the ship being so lax that someone could steal the Flyer. (I should probably applaud the writers for their devotion to continuity here.) But it was nice to see that turned on its head.

Unfortunately, Brother Mobar's ipod being able to download the entire Flyer database in "no more than a minute or two" was not a clever subversion. It didn't even occur to anyone on the ship to secure it? That database includes Voyager blueprints and other information about the ship, the crew and the home planets of a bunch of species. Isn't it important? Maybe set an alarm go off if someone tries to download it? How is that not Federation SOP? It took 18 days for them to notice. I really hate it when our characters are made to look deliberately dumb or clueless for the sake of the Plot.

The conversation between Neelix and Nala is a pretty good summation of his personal journey on the ship, which we've been privy to. It's not a revelation to the audience, but it is good to see him acknowledge the changes that he's made over the last 6 years. The scene also bookends quite nicely with the "have we lost our edge?" discussion he had with Tom earlier. Perhaps he has lost his edge, and gained something more valuable in a Voyager family, self-respect and the ability to work as part of a team for something greater than himself and short-term gains. On the other hand, maybe he hasn't lost his edge -- he's honest with Dala, yet still deliberately gives her the opening to steal the Flyer.

This is part of the paradox that drives me bonkers about the show. We see the crew do clever, intelligent things. We also see the crew to mind-numbingly stupid things. It's frustrating to watch. They're not stupid, but are sometimes written that way.

--
From the transcript:
Neelix: "The Captain said bread and water, but I didn't see any harm."
Dala: "I'm not hungry."
Neelix: "I'll just leave it here in case you change your mind. May I ask you something?"
Dala: "You want to know if you really resemble the Redeemer of Light?"
Neelix: "I'm not that gullible."
Dala: "Then what?"
Neelix: "Do you ever feel guilty? Taking advantage of people who actually think that you care about them?"
Dala: "You seem like a good person. I'm sorry I lied to you."
Neelix: "Actually, I think you're just sorry you got caught."
Dala: "Probably."
Neelix: "There. Now you're being honest. I knew it was possible. If you don't mind my asking, why do you do what you do?"
Dala: "My father taught me most people will exploit you if they can. So, it's best to exploit them first."
Neelix: "You know, I used to be a lot like you. Living by my wits. Never trusting anyone. Always trying to end up on the more profitable side of a transaction."
Dala: "And now you don't hesitate to help starving orphans."
Neelix: "I changed. When Captain Janeway made me part of the crew."
Dala: "I suppose you suddenly reformed."
Neelix: "No, no. Not right away. At first I was just exploiting an opportunity to get a warm bed, food, protection. I kept waiting to find out what the captain wanted in return."
Dala: "But she never asked for a thing."
Neelix: "On the contrary. She expected a great deal from me. Honesty, loyalty, hard work."
Dala: "I should've guessed."
Neelix: "But I discovered that those were commodities I had in abundance. And it was much more profitable to share them than it was to be self-serving and cynical all the time. I'm happier than I've ever been."
Dala: "I suppose that you think I could change too."
Neelix: "Stranger things have happened."
Dala: "Do you really think that she'll give me safe passage if I make restitution?"
Neelix: "If that's what she promised you."
Dala: "Then what? I have never done anything else."
Neelix: "Captain Janeway let Seven of Nine remain on board, and she was Borg."
Dala: "Are you saying she'd do the same thing for me?"
Neelix: "I'd be willing to talk to her."
Dala: "I cheated you. Why are you being so kind to me?"
Neelix: "Like my great grandmother used to say, it's nice to be nice."
--

The guy who played Brother Mobar is Gregg Daniel. He's a wonderful character actor who recently played Reverend Daniels on True Blood.
posted by zarq at 8:30 AM on April 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Particle of the Week: The unknown contaminant in the replicator system that tipped Voyager off to the con artists.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: If I had a nickel for every time I saw someone in a variation of The Enterprise or another canon-named ship/captain, I could definitely afford a lifetime sub to the MMO.

Ongoing Counts:
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: -8.
* Crew: 140.
* Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: 14.
* Janeway's Big Red Button: 2 aborted self-destructs, 1 successful, 2 games of chicken, 1 ramming speed.

Notes:
* This is mostly fine.

My major complaints about the plot have already been covered by zarq: the con artists are using 'antiquated technology,' but are able to download the entire Delta Flyer database in a couple of minutes, undetected. Neelix shouldn't have worn a weapon into a holding cell.

Apart from that... yeah, this mostly checks and was reasonably entertaining. I also agree about Fake Tuvok, who was hilarious through the whole thing. (I remember him from True Blood, too.)

* They're officially about 30,000 LY from home now.

That caught my eye. I haven't had the energy to go back and take a good look at their big jumps, but that means they're going almost ten times faster than their initial estimates.

So yeah, generally acceptable, apart from demonstrating once again that Starfleet has terrible security.
posted by mordax at 8:47 AM on April 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Further thought:

Poster's Log, supplemental: For my money, the best Trek episode centered around a con job is "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang", although a good case could be made for "A Piece of the Action".

I'd say the very best cons in Trek pretty much all centered on Garak, with the winner occurring in Improbable Cause, but I could see someone arguing that those are just in a whole different category of story.
posted by mordax at 8:50 AM on April 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


That caught my eye. I haven't had the energy to go back and take a good look at their big jumps, but that means they're going almost ten times faster than their initial estimates.

The numbers are off by at least 10,000 light years. I did a back-of-a-napkin calculation based on just their major jumps recently. Between Season 4, episode 2, The Gift and this season's Ashes to Ashes, Voyager has traveled at least 43,100 light years. That's only the big jumps, not the day-to-day traveling. Even if we take into consideration that characters might be fudging the numbers a little, that's a huge, collective difference, which would put them around 27,000 light years from Federation space, with a starting point of 70,000 light years away, six years ago.

For perspective, the Milky Way galaxy has a diameter of approximately 100,000 light years. That's 30 kiloparsecs (kpc) or about 2.5 Kessel Runs.

A shame we didn't think to mark 'Voyager's distance traveled' in your fantastic ongoing counts since the beginning of the series. That would have been interesting!
posted by zarq at 10:31 AM on April 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've also seen the 75,000 light year figure for the journey as well; some fudge factor could be factored in if you accept that they may have had to recalculate how much of a dogleg they had to make around the galactic core, which is very dense with stars and black holes and probably has no habitable planets in it, and would be very tough sledding for the ship. (Yes, Star Trek V ended up there, but I vote to ignore it.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:46 AM on April 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


A shame we didn't think to mark 'Voyager's distance traveled' in your fantastic ongoing counts since the beginning of the series. That would have been interesting!

Yeah, I regret that. I really wanted to go back too, but... man. Just adding transcripts to 100+ episodes - without glancing at them - took ages when we realized we should've been.

Also, thank you about the headers! I'm really enjoying keeping score on some of this stuff. I'll have to think up a similar gimmick when we do Enterprise. :)
posted by mordax at 12:16 PM on April 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I regret that. I really wanted to go back too, but... man. Just adding transcripts to 100+ episodes - without glancing at them - took ages when we realized we should've been.

Oh, don't! It's a lot of work, I know. :)

Also, thank you about the headers! I'm really enjoying keeping score on some of this stuff. I'll have to think up a similar gimmick when we do Enterprise. :)

I Have Ideas. :D
posted by zarq at 1:24 PM on April 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


I Have Ideas. :D

Awesome. :)

Also, it's a testament to how great this crowd is that I'm actually looking forward both to the rest of Voyager, and to seeing Enterprise again.
posted by mordax at 1:32 PM on April 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


You could say that it's been a long road getting from there to here.
posted by Servo5678 at 3:29 PM on April 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


You could say that it's been a long road getting from there to here.

Motherfucker, you just stole my above-the-fold for "Endgame."

Just kidding, Jack's doing "Endgame." But you WOULD have. :p
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:17 AM on May 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've also seen the 75,000 light year figure for the journey as well; some fudge factor could be factored in if you accept that they may have had to recalculate how much of a dogleg they had to make around the galactic core, which is very dense with stars and black holes and probably has no habitable planets in it, and would be very tough sledding for the ship. (Yes, Star Trek V ended up there, but I vote to ignore it.)

That makes sense. I wish they had put in lines of dialogue to support the idea, though. The writers continue to take weird shortcuts and assume that the most nitpicky audience in the history of television (star trek fans) won't notice.

For example, there's a scene in this episode where Voyager is fighting with Dala's ship. A line of dialogue notes that the shields are at 60%. Janeway orders Seven to beam the other ship's crew to the brig. And she manages to grab one of them, since the transporters are damaged. If you follow the dialogue, there's no indication that the shields are being dropped while she's futzing about with the transporter, trying to establish a lock. We aren't told if Dala's ship has shields.

Now this isn't that big a deal. Everything does not have to be explicitly stated. But in a universe where so much hay has been made over an inability to beam people out through shields, it's a little annoying to have it ignored. Is this an error? A shortcut in dialogue? Hard to say.

We can chalk some things up to storytelling necessities: too many shuttlecraft across the life of the show. Too many photon torpedoes used. Not bothering to mention that Seven's taking the shields down during a battle, in order to initiate transport. The Plot drives the show, which can be good and bad.

But some other examples of it are less easy to handwave.
posted by zarq at 8:53 AM on May 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


I guess I'm a little more fond of this one than others seem to be. Why?…not sure.

I mean, it's a very good story concept for this show. (It's hard to see it fitting an Enterprise-focused show!) This crew being impersonated both amuses the audience and inspires a bit of righteous indignation. And I think it was a good call making the imposters be not completely vile. That said, I can envision a scenario where the episode had more weight, and it depends on VOY having had more of an eye on continuity. Like, one thing VOY almost never did was really explore the dynamics of a particular region of the DQ over the course of several episodes. Really the Kazon-Trabe stuff was as far as they went with that. And this story hook might've made more sense under circumstances like that, and might've had a little more urgency too. OTOH, it also required occurring late in the show's lifespan.

The plot holes and continuity flubs are indeed vexing, but I guess for me, we're late enough into the show now that they impact my feelings about each individual episode progressively less, especially when something about an episode is refreshing. Call it an artistic-appreciation version of the sunk-cost fallacy?
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:05 AM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm a little more fond of this one than others seem to be. Why?…not sure.

This part of the discussion fascinates me the most. Why *do* audiences like what they like? I've expounded on why I think people willingly suspend disbelief at tedious length before, but this isn't just about that.

The plot holes and continuity flubs are indeed vexing, but I guess for me, we're late enough into the show now that they impact my feelings about each individual episode progressively less, especially when something about an episode is refreshing. Call it an artistic-appreciation version of the sunk-cost fallacy?

That makes sense.

For me, it's because - due to Voyager's premise and its existence side by side with both DS9 and B5 - I've always viewed Voyager as a single piece of art, with each story acting as a chapter in a larger narrative rather than a thing unto itself. It doesn't really matter how good any one hour is because it should've been so much more. (Some stuff is gonzo enough to escape that because being part of a bigger story wouldn't impact it so much, such as Distant Origin, but most stories are hit by this.)

This story could've been more fun, but the details are nonsensical and the bigger arc doesn't really support it.

This is another discussion that's relevant in the context of Enterprise too, because it flips what it gets right: my recollection is that it actually does work well enough as a larger narrative, but doesn't make me interested in the characters the way Voyager managed to. (I care enough about Voyager to be sore about it, which is affection of a sort.)
posted by mordax at 7:19 AM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


This is another discussion that's relevant in the context of Enterprise too, because it flips what it gets right: my recollection is that it actually does work well enough as a larger narrative, but doesn't make me interested in the characters the way Voyager managed to. (I care enough about Voyager to be sore about it, which is affection of a sort.)

I feel the same way. If only the two shows had been Tuvixed.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:38 AM on May 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


I guess I'm a little more fond of this one than others seem to be. Why?…not sure.

I liked this episode! The things I'm harping on aren't that big a deal.
Sorry if it sounds that way. I know that sometimes I'm the Debbie Downer of these threads.

Voyager to me has always been a mixed bag. The show that had a selection of truly excellent, stand-out episodes. Timeless and the Year of Hells are probably my favorites, but there are a number of others. Then there are a larger number of episodes like this one, which are entertaining.

And then there are the clunkers. Voyager's clunkers were often terrible. We've already been through many of them. But even the clunkers usually had redeeming qualities.

It's also often hard to tell when we start an episode which category it's going to fall into or how it will affect other episodes. Consider Demon. The episode starts out with a fantastic concept. Voyager's flying in gray mode. We've never seen this before and it totally fits the show's premise. They desperately need deuterium to power the ship. Deuterium is one of the isotopes of hydrogen. It's only found in extremely small amounts in nature, so it's superficially logical that they might be running out of it.

We can pick this apart if we want to, but it's totally believable. There are several modern-day chemical processes that can extract deuterium from seawater. Some are energy-intensive. Some not. The conceit in the sci-fi concept is that the ship requires a lot of it to run and you don't get a lot of deuterium from those processes, so the ship looks for concentrated sources to work with. This is a good concept! It's part of what we were promised would happen in the show, but hardly ever did. The ship is running out of supplies and power and the crew are desperate and tightening their collective belts. The idea of a "demon class" planet is good as well! Having to land the ship somewhere inhospitable to human life (and incidentally to the ship itself) is a great idea and a nice visual.

So great, we have a decent, entertaining ep with good concepts. But it spawned one of the worst clunkers ever, Course: Oblivion. (I know you disagree with me on this Halloween Jack.) In my mind, the problem with the clunkers usually isn't that they're bad. It's that they should have been better. The writers had such a rich universe to work with. Dumb mistakes. Horrific "science." Dumb writing. Inconsistent characterizations. A lack of attention to continuity. Hindsight is 20/20, of course. And sometimes the criticisms can be too harsh or unfair. But these were things that were noted by critics and fans while the show was airing.
posted by zarq at 9:42 AM on May 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


This is another discussion that's relevant in the context of Enterprise too, because it flips what it gets right: my recollection is that it actually does work well enough as a larger narrative, but doesn't make me interested in the characters the way Voyager managed to. (I care enough about Voyager to be sore about it, which is affection of a sort.)

This is an Enterprise spoiler:
.
.
.
.
Season 3 shows the ship far from home in the Delphic Expanse, and we can see what happens to it from week to week as it engages in battles without a supply chain. The 18th episode of the season, Azati Prime, has a battle in which the ship is severely damaged. At 2:37 in that clip, a phaser hits the ship's saucer and destroys a section of hull. You can see crewmembers fly out into space. The ship is left with extensive hull breaches and outages. This doesn't get handwaved away. It has consequences on the next episode and the ones that follow.

The characters were less interesting in Enterprise, but the show was better about creating narrative arcs, and the sort of lasting continuity they require.
posted by zarq at 9:53 AM on May 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


If only the two shows had been Tuvixed.

Heh.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:56 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Improvisation is not foremost among my talents" says the person who spent — what, weeks, maybe months? — undercover on a Maquis ship.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:59 AM on August 5


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