Star Trek: Voyager: Friendship One   Rewatch 
July 23, 2018 3:13 AM - Season 7, Episode 21 - Subscribe

Lt. Carey, personal log, stardate 54775.4. I'm about to beam down to an alien planet on a mission from Starfleet, looking for remnants of a famous 21st-century Earth probe. This is my first away mission in over six years, which is kind of weird, given Voyager's tiny crew. Ah well, it's probably not any kind of omen of misfortune. Starfleet history, here I come!

Friends forever, we'll be together / We're on top 'cause we're Memory Alpha ♫ …

- The Friendship 1 probe's warp nacelles are reminiscent of those of the Phoenix, and the head of the probe bears a resemblance to the top of the Nomad probe.

- The Friendship 1 emblem appeared to be the traditional Starfleet/Enterprise "arrowhead" insignia, with the United Nations banner inside it – marking the first chronologically known use of the famous ship's mission insignia, and one of the few times it was used, chronologically, prior to TOS's U.S.S. Enterprise.

- The probe's CGI model as eventually featured was a redesign by digital modeler Pierre Drolet and constructed by him at Foundation Imaging. Drolet recounted, "The first spaceship I built for the Star Trek world was actually not a spaceship but a probe name "Friendship 1." This would have been the only model I did for Star Trek if I f*#^ it up. Let me explain; The original design of "Friendship 1" that we received from the art department from Paramount was pretty much a box, with two small wings and a direct TV dish on the frame. Rob and I were not impressed with this so he gave me the green light to make a bold move, which was to redesign Friendship 1. When I look back, I could have followed instructions to strictly just built it from the original design, but luckily in this case diverging from the norm ended up paying off. Dan Curry was the visual effect producer for Star Trek at the time and, luckily for me, he liked the new design. That was the beginning of my full time job as lead modeler for Star Trek for five years."

- This episode marks the return, and the death, of Lieutenant Joe Carey. This is Carey's first "present" appearance on the series since "State of Flux" [FanFare link --ed.]. He also appeared in "Relativity" and "Fury"; however, his scenes in both of those episodes were based in 2371.

- In this episode, when the origin of the nanoprobes used to treat him is revealed as being in Seven's bloodstream, Otrin asks if there are others like her in the crew. Seven replies no and that she is unique; however, there is another former Borg drone, Icheb, in the crew.


"We, the people of Earth, greet you in a spirit of peace and humility. As we venture out of our solar system, we hope to earn the trust and friendship of other worlds."

- Friendship 1's recording


"An inoculation a day keeps the radiation away."

- Tom Paris


"I'm sorry, Mr. Carey."

- Verin, before murdering Joseph Carey


"From the first time you spoke up in my classroom, I knew you'd go far."
"A little farther than I expected, professor."

- Admiral Hendricks and Captain Janeway


"When I first met them, I thought they were arrogant and self-righteous."
"I suppose you're going to tell me you've changed your mind."
"Well, not completely."

- Neelix and Verin, discussing Humans


Personal Log:
Maybe it's just the considerable use of what we in the CoB Household call "the Deep Space Nine Caves," but this episode has a little bit of a too-familiar feel. Maybe it's also the fact that this premise is pretty much that of the Whale Probe from The Voyage Home. All the same, it's got some good use of that Trek spirit, with the nice VOY twist of this being their first mission from Starfleet since the Badlands.

Too bad Verin is such a one-note antagonist, making the conflict predictable and depriving it of very much depth. They did do a bit of moral ruminating w/r/t the probe and pre-Prime-Directive Earth space policy, but that also could have gone a little deeper. Too bad also that Joe Carey bites it so ingloriously. But at least Tom and Neelix got some solid moments. And, in a meta sort of way, this episode paves the way for the pioneering-and-sometimes-fucking-up trend of ENT's stories.

I was convinced that Brin, the mom alien, was Susanna Thompson under all that makeup—probably because of the voice. But I guess I'm getting rusty, because it was actually Bari Hochwald, whom we might remember as Elizabeth Lense from DS9: "Explorers."

Personal Log, Supplemental:
And now, the mirror universe version, Animosity 1: "We, the people of Earth, greet you in a spirit of hatred and hostility. As we venture out of our solar system, we hope to conquer the peoples and resources of other worlds, and to hear the lamentations of their women." The hilarous twist is that Otrin's species not only defuses the neutron bomb built-in to the probe, but reverse-engineers it to develop a utopian post-scarcity culture. At least until Dread Emperor Neelix comes along with his armada.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Particle of the Week: Generic antimatter, versus a particular flavor of it.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: A few things leapt out at me this time. The first is that isolytic plasma weapons are present in the game. They're not ecologically restorative at all, instead causing subspace ruptures for... some reason?

The second is that EV suit missions are terrible, in no small part because EV suits replace your armor slot, providing reduced defenses and breaking set bonuses. These missions usually also curtail movement badly. The Doctor's holographic immunity to atmospheric hazards does extend to the game though, and I recently fielded an entire holographic bridge officer team at great in-game expense just to avoid using the stupid suits. (Amusingly, this immunity does *not* extend to androids - on another mission, I was surprised to note the hologram was fine, while my android was coughing like an organic.)

Finally, the need for transport enhancers are a regular plot point in the game to avoid questions about 'why can't transporters just solve everything?' just like in the show.

Ongoing Counts:
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: -29. This was a tough call. The first phase had 2 torpedoes fired and Janeway ordered that twice, so the minimum possible shots fired should be 4. We heard more explosions than that on the ground, but it's unclear how the torpedoes correlated to the noise, and the second on-screen volley didn't get a numerical count.
* Crew: 136 since we lost Carey. Even worse, he was only three months away from retirement Earth, with a ship in a bottle that I assume was named 'Live 4 Ever.'
* Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: 16. The Friendship One probe most definitely counts.
* Janeway's Big Red Button: 2 aborted self-destructs, 1 successful, 3 games of chicken, 1 ramming speed. (I am counting this one as a game of chicken.)

Notes:
* This one hits a problem area for me with Trek in general.

So every work of art is inherently communicative, with the potential to teach us good and/or bad stuff. If I were citing formative childhood influences on my worldview, that list would include a fair bit of science fiction. Star Trek would be right beside the works of Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov and others. One of the reasons I love Trek in particular is that the franchise has typically been aware of this, and deliberately used its platform to tell stories that push values like reason, diplomacy, friendship, cooperation and so on. Basically, I give Star Trek some extra credit simply for trying to do the right thing instead of just being entertainment. Unfortunately, Trek does get it wrong sometimes, and Friendship One has an underlying message that I cannot support. This isn't a Voyager specific problem though - it dates all the way back to TOS and Voyager is just returning to the well.

So the sequence of events here is: Earth launches a warp probe out into space that does not abide by the Prime Directive, and an alien races has an ecological disaster while attempting to use the included schematics. This is the main basic argument that the Federation offers for not sharing their toys with less technologically advanced species, the idea being that if a race didn't develop an idea itself, they're not ready for it and will likely blow themselves up with it.

There are at least two problems with this worldview.

The first is that it demonstrates a poor understanding of how invention works in practice. Plenty of advances we have are accidental rather than the work of scientists slaving away with a specific successful intention. For every Manhattan Project, we have untold microwave ovens. More than that, even when scientists do specifically build a particular advancement successfully in the fashion of Sid Meier's Civilization, we're often wrong about what the implications will be due to any number of factors. They thought we'd be using nuclear power for everything in the 50s, and here we are still burning coal in many places, and it's... well, complicated.

So we have much of what we have due to accidental developments in the first place, and even when we do something intentionally, we can't know what will happen with that from the outset.

Indeed, most posters on Metafilter have been watching this play out in real time with mass communication: I can't speak for all Gen Xers (and older), but the Internet didn't turn out the way I expected at all. We weren't ready for it just because our civilization developed all the prerequisite technology. It's still crazy disruptive today, decades after the fact. It wouldn't have mattered if it came from friendly saucer people instead of DARPA - we'd still have these same growing pains.

So I find the whole notion of 'these primitives weren't ready' to be... well, pretty bad. Nobody's ever ready for the future.

The second problem I have with this is that it justifies denying people aid. 'We can't give you this thing that would help you because we deem you unready' is paternalistic. That is literally something an adult says to a child, and I'm deeply uncomfortable when one civilization says it to another, and this is a repeated theme in TNG-era Trek - see also stuff like Pen Pals or Homeward or especially that one with Archer on Enterprise.

On the surface of it, I can see where people don't want to become colonizers and want it to be as simple as 'we'll just keep our hands off of a situation entirely,' but that abdicates moral responsibility. It replaces the need to judge each situation separately and hold ourselves accountable with a blanket policy of hanging less lucky people out to dry to preserve our own feelings.

The Prime Directive is wrong, and probably my biggest qualm about the message of Star Trek even though I love the place generally, and I get that they're coming from a good place with it.

So yeah. Not too happy with this story. I also agree with the whole 'one note' assessment of this week's antagonist - him shooting Carey was pretty freaking over the top.
posted by mordax at 8:03 AM on July 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


If the Prime Directive was legislation introduced in the US Congress, it would be 3,000 pages long. I feel like Starfleet is OK with using it as a throttle on the behavior of starship captains, because it is violated all the time and no one ever faces career-ending consequences.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:50 AM on July 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


I feel like Starfleet is OK with using it as a throttle on the behavior of starship captains, because it is violated all the time and no one ever faces career-ending consequences.

That's actually worse, IMO. 'We can leave a shitty law in place and just enforce it selectively' is the source of a great deal of injustice in the world.
posted by mordax at 9:31 AM on July 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also, not trying to be fighty. It's just a case of: the moral of this story is literally 'we were wrong to share what we know.'

That's sufficiently uncool that it bears dissection and rebuttal is all.
posted by mordax at 10:03 AM on July 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


The horrible tragedy of Joe Carey is that the production stopped using him in Voyager's "present" because they mistakenly believed he'd been killed off in a previous episode which is why, for a while, he only appeared during flashback scenes or episodes that took place in previous time periods. When they finally remembered he'd been left alive and well, they used him here in this episode and killed him off. As Janeway said in "Timeless", "Not exactly how I wanted to cross the finish line."
posted by Servo5678 at 11:45 AM on July 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


they mistakenly believed he'd been killed off in a previous episode which is why, for a while, he only appeared during flashback scenes or episodes that took place in previous time periods. When they finally remembered he'd been left alive and well, they used him here in this episode and killed him off.

notsureifserious.jpg

'We can't give you this thing that would help you because we deem you unready' is paternalistic. That is literally something an adult says to a child, and I'm deeply uncomfortable when one civilization says it to another, and this is a repeated theme in TNG-era Trek [...] On the surface of it, I can see where people don't want to become colonizers and want it to be as simple as 'we'll just keep our hands off of a situation entirely,' but that abdicates moral responsibility. It replaces the need to judge each situation separately and hold ourselves accountable with a blanket policy of hanging less lucky people out to dry to preserve our own feelings.

It's funny, because the policy definitely carries a whiff of, let's call it, colonial-style thinking? that you'd hope we'd have transcended by the 24th century. Perhaps not by the late 1980s-1990s (and certainly not by the 1960s). VOY and ENT were both great opportunities to really dig into this and challenge it, and to bring some post-colonial criticism to bear. Too bad they seemed to never do so (if I'm remembering the entirety of ENT correctly, and I may not be).

The Prime Directive is wrong, and probably my biggest qualm about the message of Star Trek even though I love the place generally, and I get that they're coming from a good place with it.

I wasn't gonna bring this up until the "Endgame" thread, but this time and the last time that I finished a full rewatch of VOY, the very next day I found myself inexplicably yearning to start DMing a Trek RPG again. (Maybe to make up for opportunities the writers squandered?) I even went back and reread my notes from my last two campaigns. And if I do start one, it might go a little something... like this (stop reading now if you do not want to be bored by me thinking out loud):

It's the beginning of the twenty-fifth century, and after a few diplomatic disasters involving the recovery of the Cardassian Union and some formal first contacts in the Delta Quadrant, the Federation is finally revising the Prime Directive. A "Starfleet Interstellar Development Council" has been proposed to judge incoming proposals from non-member species and governments, but its operating principles and indeed its very existence are hotly debated in the conference halls of Earth, Vulcan, Tellar, Andoria, and beyond. Some 60% or more of Starfleet senior officers seem to favor the initiative, but one noted and influential name does not: Jean-Luc Picard.

(Ya know, before these FanFare threads, I think the sum total of fanfic I had ever written was "zero." Now it's several paragraphs!)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:12 PM on July 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


How is the Prime Directive associated with applications to the Federation? Don't they need to first be capable of interstellar travel? Getting invited to join the Federation is not a simple process. Look how hard it was for Bajor.
posted by Brocktoon at 1:54 AM on July 24, 2018


Are you talking about applications for membership in the Federation, CheesesofBrazil, or more general applications for technological aid for non-members (which are forbidden under the old Prime Directive)?
posted by Mogur at 5:59 AM on July 24, 2018


This episode and The Ship are the two that inevitably come to mind when I find myself comparing Voyager and DS9. The two very similar scenes of a captain and an officer discussing a mission and the loss of a crew member, executed very differently.

SISKO: Starfleet Command is waiting for my official report, but every time I try to get it started, I find myself staring at the casualty list and reading the same five names over and over again. T'Lor, Rooney, Bertram, Hoya, Muniz.
DAX: It may sound cruel, but we both know that ship out there was worth it. Those five deaths may save five thousand lives, or maybe even five million.
SISKO: And if I had to make the same trade all over again, I would. But five people are dead. Fine men and women who deserved a lot more than to die on some lonely planet fifty thousand light years away from home. When you were at the Academy, was Professor Somak teaching?
DAX: Moral and ethical issues of command.
SISKO: I remember her favourite speech. Always maintain emotional distance between yourself and those under your command.
DAX: It's good advice.
SISKO: And I try to follow it. But it's a lot more complicated outside of the classroom. Did you know that Jake and Muniz have the same birthday? That I performed the ceremony at Hoya's wedding? And Rooney, he could play the trumpet. I heard him at Quark's once and he had the people dancing in the aisles.
DAX: I remember. And you know something else I remember about him? How proud he was to wear his uniform. And how proud he was to serve under you. The same as Hoya, T'Lor, Bertram and Muniz. They chose a life in Starfleet. They knew the risks and they died fighting for something that they believed in.
SISKO: That doesn't make it any easier.
DAX: Maybe nothing should.


(Janeway sits at Carey's desk, looking at an almost complete model of Voyager in a bottle.)
CHAKOTAY: Impressive, isn't it?
JANEWAY: The detail's amazing.
CHAKOTAY: Carey spent months working on it. He used to joke that he wouldn't be finished by the time we got back to Earth.
JANEWAY: He only had one nacelle to go.
CHAKOTAY: We were able to download the probe's memory core. We'll transmit the telemetry in the next data stream.
JANEWAY: I think about our ancestors. Thousands of years wondering if they were alone in the universe, and finally discovering they weren't. You can't blame them for wanting to reach out, see how many other species were out there asking the same questions.
CHAKOTAY: The urge to explore is pretty powerful.
JANEWAY: But it can't justify the loss of lives, whether it's millions or just one.
posted by myotahapea at 9:09 AM on July 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


'We can't give you this thing that would help you because we deem you unready' is paternalistic. That is literally something an adult says to a child, and I'm deeply uncomfortable when one civilization says it to another, and this is a repeated theme in TNG-era Trek

Seems like that comes up often in TOS, too, although the Federation seems to be on the receiving end at least as often. It also shows up, in a way, in Plan 9 from Outer Space, in which the aliens want to destroy the earth because they’re about to get hold of technology that makes nukes look like birthday candles.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:31 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


VOY and ENT were both great opportunities to really dig into this and challenge it, and to bring some post-colonial criticism to bear.

Yeah. I still hope some future iteration plays with it, but it feels like they're moving in the other direction.

This episode and The Ship are the two that inevitably come to mind when I find myself comparing Voyager and DS9. The two very similar scenes of a captain and an officer discussing a mission and the loss of a crew member, executed very differently.

Thanks, that sums it up perfectly for me too.

Seems like that comes up often in TOS, too, although the Federation seems to be on the receiving end at least as often.

Yeah. This is another place where the Stargate shows really grabbed me, since races that did this were almost always portrayed negatively for doing so. Heh.
posted by mordax at 11:30 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Hi there!

I don't usually post much, but I just wanted to say that I agree with both mordax's take, and myotahapea's comparison, especially. Cheeses, if you ever do tell that story, and you do it in an online fashion, count me in if you need people.
posted by Charybdis at 12:29 PM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Are you talking about applications for membership in the Federation, CheesesofBrazil, or more general applications for technological aid for non-members (which are forbidden under the old Prime Directive)?

The latter. The "proposals" I mentioned would have been along the lines of "help, our planet's atmosphere is dissipating" or "help, the world is hollow and I have touched the sky".

Seems like that comes up often in TOS, too, although the Federation seems to be on the receiving end at least as often. It also shows up, in a way, in Plan 9 from Outer Space, in which the aliens want to destroy the earth because they’re about to get hold of technology that makes nukes look like birthday candles.

Well, in the aliens' defense, I think the intervening decades have certainly proven that we do indeed have "stupid minds. Stupid, stupid!"

Cheeses, if you ever do tell that story, and you do it in an online fashion, count me in if you need people.

Heh! It's been ages since I DMed anything online, but you never know!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:09 PM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


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