Star Trek: Voyager: Time and Again   Rewatch 
January 12, 2017 3:45 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

While investigating a destroyed civilization, Janeway and Paris get trapped in its recent past. Like, uncomfortably recent.

History is written by Memory Alpha:

- The initial idea for this episode involved speculation regarding the controversial Bombing of Dresden in World War II. Executive Producer Jeri Taylor recalled, "The original pitch was what if you were in Dresden twenty-four hours before the fire bombing and knew it was coming? What would you do?"

- Placing Janeway at the center of the story, by having her be one of the characters who is aware of the impending incident, was a concerted attempt to develop her character early in the series of Star Trek: Voyager. "We did it deliberately," Executive Producer Michael Piller admitted. "It's another experiment from Deep Space Nine I think we learned from. It was terribly important for us to establish this captain's anchor position, and we didn't do it that well in the first season of Deep Space Nine."

- Ken Biller was not a fan of the design of this episode's alien species. He commented, "They looked Human, except they have different hair and costumes. It's unfortunate that our first episode of a show [sic], where we're seventy thousand light years away, had aliens that looked completely Human."

- This is the first episode in which the Delaney sisters are mentioned. They are referenced in several subsequent episodes before appearing on screen in "Thirty Days".

- Following "Parallax", this is the second episode in a row that deals with temporal mechanics (e.g. in both episodes, effect precedes cause, in some manner). Jeri Taylor stated, "I [...] think this is the one where people have the response, 'Oh, another time-travel or screwing around with time story. Haven't we seen a lot of that?' We have gone to the well too many times with the time-travel thing, and I sort of wish that this episode would have been shown second season."

- Ultimately, Michael Piller was moderately proud of this installment. He commented, "I thought it was a pretty good show. It was part of our learning curve. It wasn't quite as good as I hoped it would be, but I thought there were many good things about it. For a traditional time anomaly story, it holds up pretty well."

- There was a general feeling of unhappiness concerning the episode's final form, mainly due to confusion over its plot. Jeri Taylor recalled, "We weren't necessarily thrilled with the way it came out for a variety of reasons [....] The major dissatisfaction was that I don't think anybody knew what happened. The end was so confusing that most people said, 'Huh?' I don't think we did our most effective job. I think that was the script and not the production in selling exactly what happened." In agreement, Ken Biller remarked, "I also think that to a lot of people the time anomaly was baffling."

"It seems I've found myself on a voyage of the damned."

- The Doctor

"Their lives are on your conscience, Janeway!"

- Makull

"You have a lovely brain. It will make a fine addition to our files."

- The Doctor, to Kes

"The officer told me you came on the continental transport."
"That's right. We're from Kalto Province."
"Yeah, well I just talked to the transport attendant. He told me four people came today from Kalto. Two of them were a lot older than you, and they had a child with them."
"Well, the attendant was wrong. That was us."
"So, where's the child?"
"We ate him. Because we are demons and we eat children and I haven't had my supper yet."

- Latika, Janeway and Paris

Poster's Log:
Good character stuff in the A and B stories. Janeway and Paris, to quote Bill and Ted, are dealing with the oddity of time travel with the greatest of ease. This speaks well to Starfleet Academy's curriculum. But yeah, for pete's sakes, skip the location shoot and use that cash for some friggin' forehead appliances or facepaint or SOMEthing for the "aliens."

I'm almost certain this is the episode that induced me to give up on Voyager during its initial run. My reasons at the time were (1) feeling that they'd demonstrated their intention to just rehash the types of stories (and as we'll soon see, sometimes the exact stories) TNG did, and (2) two kinda-flimsy time-travel stories in a row. At least the title was apt.

Now, I can look at these types of middling-but-diverting episodes with more equanimity. One could, after all, do worse than being The Next Next Generation. And I can remind myself that VOY has some real standout moments and lots of solid performances, even in this season.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (14 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm almost certain this is the episode that induced me to give up on Voyager during its initial run.

In contrast, this is where I learned that the first six or so episodes of a new Star Trek series will be generally weaker than the rest that follow because the writers and actors are still just beginning to understand the characters and their world.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:54 AM on January 12, 2017

The Doctor's early struggles with having to be a person and not just a medical program is still one of the best parts of all of Voyager, and one of the few reasons to pay attention to the early seasons. I know this isn't a doctor-centric episode but his scenes are still great.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:54 AM on January 12, 2017 [9 favorites]

Reimagined dialogue:

Kes: I felt a great disturbance in the if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.
Neelix: Aw, don't worry your purty lil' head, darlin'. It was probably my cooking.

Alien kid: I've got your number, mister! I've observed clues and interrogated some random transit official! You're busted!
Paris: Boo.
Kid: [runs]
Paris: Nice try, Encyclopedia Brown.

Crew: Hey, Chakotay, better go find the captain and Paris!
Chakotay: You mean, instead of me just taking the ship and going on and doing things my way, we risk our lives to save the Starfleet captain that I've already clashed with and the man that I consider a traitor? Sure, you betcha.

Kes: Space pixie sense... tingling!

Alien resistance guy: So, you see, we're really just protesting the use of this energy source which we find excessively dangerous and not worth the risk.
Janeway: Ah, not unlike the "No Nukes"movement on Earth a few centuries ago.
Paris: Yes, they were a nonviolent movement that sought to--
ARG: Do what we say or we shoot the kid right in front of you.
Janeway: WTF
Paris: What would Springsteen say?

Janeway: So, the resistance guys are ironically the ones who end up destroying their planet! No, it's ironically our attempts to stop them! No, it's ironically the attempts of our crew to rescue us! But what if my attempts to stop them would ironically be... Oh, fuck it. Ironically.

Kes: But don't you see? The reason why the apocalypse that I saw in my dream didn't happen is because of wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey and how we prevented it from ever happening! Why, it's as if there's some existential mechanism--a "reset button", if you will--that rebooted reality! Say, if we could somehow consciously invoke that phenomenon, I bet that Voyager could make it all the way back to the Alpha Quadrant in virtually the same condition as when we started!
Janeway: An amusing notion, but I'm sure that this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and could never possibly recur...
[she and the rest of the bridge crew slowly turn to look directly into the camera]
...or could it?
[everybody winks]
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:28 AM on January 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

This was an episode that disappointed me on first watch, largely due to the constant failing of the Trek shows to make alien civilizations feel either alien or much like a civilization. The reuse of the "marketplace" kind of set with a few obvious extra types wandering around as a mark of so many new worlds just feels a little like a cheap and lazy way to show the crew interacting with a new culture. That they so often seem to end up in a city center, as opposed to any of the numerous other possibilities for contact is too human centered and has a D&D role play feeling to it. Biller's concern over the aliens looking too much like humans also is a bit of a continuing disappointment in the various series, though to some extent that is obviously understandable needing them to be mostly played by humans after all.

That said, this time around having already gotten past those issues, the episode played much better. It's one of the few times that the fairly standard time travel plot twist over the protagonists themselves causing some calamity through the actions of trying to prevent it seemed relatively surprising, and the split story, with Janeway and Paris trying to figure out things from their end while the rest of the Voyager crew were trying to work out how to get them back had some good character development from both sides and maintained the story's intrigue pretty well. Not a big fan of the kid, but he managed to escape being completely annoying like most walk on brat roles, so that's something anyway.

The complete disaster potentially caused by Voyager is another example of the potential cost involved in the decisions being made and how narrowly the crew manages to get by with them. Outside, perhaps, of DS9 which I'm not all that familiar with, Voyager does seem to really look most closely at the downsides and destruction a starship and its crew could cause, even if they manage to actually avoid the worst case scenario themselves. It makes for something of a weird tone to the show at times, flirting with darker outcomes, but staying resolutely optimistic at the same time.

I actually like both the episodes where Voyager runs into temporal and other space anomalies more than many of their other plots and liked that it almost became a sort of theme to the show at times. If anything, I think I might prefer they even pushed a little more towards making it a consistent and purposeful theme than using it less or treating it as a random encounter of the week. Make that a feature of the Delta Quadrant and add some continuing lines of plot around it and the complications multiple temporal shifts might have on the crew, and it might have seemed less like it was trying to be too TNGish, (though that would have required a lot more attention to continuity and ongoing plot dynamics.)

I'll leave it at that for now and maybe add something about some more specific moments later.
posted by gusottertrout at 6:30 AM on January 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

I had a lot of fun imagining someone coming up to me and acting super weird, then excusing it with "I am from Manitoba province."

Tom's bit with the Delaney sisters was a huge ugh moment for me. (So of course they had to do it twice!) It's a feminism fail, because he treats the Delaneys as interchangeable widgets whose only attractive qualities are as available women and as status objects. But it's a conventional masculinity fail, too! Tom is set up as the lone wolf archetype who bucks authority and relies only on himself. But the first thing we see of his personal life aboard ship is his awkward desperation to enter into a long-term monogamous relationship ASAP with the first available woman he can meet.
posted by Banknote of the year at 8:11 AM on January 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

The reuse of the "marketplace" kind of set with a few obvious extra types wandering around as a mark of so many new worlds just feels a little like a cheap and lazy way to show the crew interacting with a new culture.

I watched the first two episodes of Dark Matter recently and they make the Planet of the Autumns look like Pandora by comparison.

It makes for something of a weird tone to the show at times, flirting with darker outcomes, but staying resolutely optimistic at the same time.

Wholeheartedly agreed. This is one of the things I'm hoping to sort of track on this rewatch, to determine whether VOY's tone is more "mixed-consistent," evolving through the seasons, or just straight-up muddled.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:13 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Particle of the Week: Differentially charged polaric ions.
Pointless STO comparison of the Week: If Janeway had to take on the ground mission short-handed, she definitely should've rolled with a ground specialized bridge officer, not the crew's dedicated Pilot.

Real observations:
* This definitely would've worked better later in the run.

Putting two time travel episodes back-to-back was pretty silly for a brand new Trek series not explicitly about time cops.

Further - and worse for my suspension of disbelief - the planet doesn't fit into what we know about the Delta Quadrant so far. This place is soft and well stocked: hot and cold running water, confection-bars, cheesy fantasy novels (Darkstorm books!), terrible outfits... and no planetary defense grid or warships. They're like cattle to the slaughter if confronted with Kazon murderhoboes, and yet here they are, completely untouched. It hurts the 'Delta Quadrant is a scary lawless place' vibe the pilot managed to convey. I'm pretty sure the Kazon wouldn't leave a planet alone just because it was pre-warp.

If they'd put it later in the run, it'd make more sense as Voyager should eventually be leaving the proverbial Murderhobo Sector.

* The problem did indeed have a frustrating solution.

I sort of liked the problem of the week - the iceberg metaphor wasn't too stretched, the stakes were all right. The interleaving of the past and present attempts to solve the problem were decent.

That made them hitting the reset button at the end doubly frustrating: this whole thing had a legitimately interesting setup and execution, then nada. Nobody learned anything, and it's arguable whether anything even happened at all. (I feel like that could be a tagline for some portion of Voyager's run.)

* The Doctor is the best.

I really liked him lampshading that, as magic as Trek tech is, he had no baseline to compare Kes' readings to. I liked the bit about 'everybody should drink plenty of fluids,' and him being aghast to find out the Captain was missing from Neelix. In passing.

A-grade stuff, as usual.

* Tom Paris is terrible.

Having him talk about 'tuning out' Prime Directive lectures was pretty silly. He should've had a firm objection to it, rather than just 'you guys can't really think that.' Dude was in Starfleet Academy, his dad's an admiral, he has to know the drill, but it's totally believable that he'd think it was total BS.

Also, the Delaney Sisters thing really was awful and sad - I agree completely with Banknote of the year above, who put it better than I was liable to.

* Neelix is worse.

Every time Neelix talks to Kes, I am reminded that we lose Kes, and keep him, and it is even sadder. Paris has his moments, (him trying to relate to the kid was okay here), but Neelix is pretty much nonstop Neelix.

All that said, still looking forward to these. I saw Phage up next, and I could've sworn that was later in the show's run.
posted by mordax at 6:48 PM on January 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

That's a good point about Tom and his attitude towards the Prime Directive. And I think that ties in to the reset button ending being frustrating. There isn't much character growth in this one, but we had the opportunity for Tom to grow a bit: He could have had an arc where he starts out skeptical about the PD, only to learn about the unintended consequences of interference. Except he didn't get to learn anything because of the reset button.
posted by Banknote of the year at 2:40 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

• I found the alien cop uniform and billyclub to be hilarious for some reason. I also laughed at the child-eating demon bits, but in a good way.
• Janeway proves herself to be a terrible liar:
SpaceCop: "Come in on the continental transport?"
Janeway: "This morning."
How in the world is she supposed to know that a continental transport came in that morning? For all she knows it only comes once a month. This bothers me so much every time I watch this ep. Don't embellish when you don't know what you're talking about!
• Delaney sisters: yeah, just don't. (I also note on annotated rewatch that this is another pretty Paris-centric episode, and agree that both the captain and the pilot going on an away mission seems ill-considered.)
• I'm not the biggest fan of Kes, but it is sad that one of the other consequences of using the reset button is her just seeming like a crazy person rather than an extra-intuitive one at the end.
posted by obloquy at 3:36 PM on January 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

There isn't much character growth in this one, but we had the opportunity for Tom to grow a bit: He could have had an arc where he starts out skeptical about the PD, only to learn about the unintended consequences of interference.

This is very true, yeah.

I also felt like this was another story where we saw the folly of press-ganging the crew: Paris isn't a believer in the Prime Directive. Probably, most of the Maquis aren't either - it's typically portrayed as a difficult ideal for trained Starfleet personnel to follow 100%, and now we have a bunch of people on board with no real reason to buy into it.

Bringing Paris on *this* mission is forgivable because everybody was already supposed to be dead, but it should've been a wake up call to Janeway about including Paris or any Maquis in missions that are sensitive from a Prime Directive standpoint.

Instead... nada. Reset button.

I'm not the biggest fan of Kes, but it is sad that one of the other consequences of using the reset button is her just seeming like a crazy person rather than an extra-intuitive one at the end.

Yeah. Although I guess it leads to a fun reading of Voyager events: whenever Kes has a bad feeling, the whole crew probably died in an adjacent timeline. (I assume Kes has a bad feeling every 15 minutes or so, based on this notion.)
posted by mordax at 9:11 PM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

Irreplaceable stuff count:

Current Photon Torpedo Count: 37
Shuttlecraft Lost or Destroyed: 0
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:33 AM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Delaney sisters thing makes the most sense if Tom Paris is really just trying to figure out if he has a chance with Harry, so that's how I'm interpreting it.

Tom Paris continues to be the worst, though. And yeah, it is interesting that the captain of the ship suddenly is missing and the Maquis make no move whatsoever. Or even, that the remaining federation officers aren't worried that they will make a move.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:09 AM on January 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

The feelings of the Maquis towards Starfleet and the Federation are a little hard to parse. I mean their interest is in attacking the Cardassians primarily and they only run afoul of Starfleet due to the Federation signing a treaty with the Cardassians. Janeway suggested that many or most of the Maquis had come from Starfleet or had some training there anyway, so they may not be so much against Starfleet other than as they are tasked with carrying out the Federation's orders in support of the treaty.

The way TNG treated the Cardassians makes any analogy even more difficult since at times they seemed clearly an Israeli stand in, with the Bajorans Palestinians, while other times they edged closer to space nazis. (That TNG first tested out the Ferengi as possible big villains, who had more than a fleeting resemblance to some ugly Jewish slanders and then used the Cardassians/Bajorans to reference Israel/Palestine does the shows little favor since there is so little balance to the representations or at least suggestions. That makes it more difficult to get a good read on what the values of the Maquis are in some ways since there is so much mud mixed in from the beginning and Voyager goes more fully into Cardassians as Nazis analogy at times, making a continuity of analogy between shows tough.)

Thinking about the ways Trek has treated the Cardassians causes some rather big unanswered questions about the Federation and Starfleet. I mean if they are something akin to Nazis, as is sometimes suggested, then the Maquis seem to have the higher moral ground, whereas if they were more like, perhaps, North Koreans, then the treaty and demilitarized zone make more sense from a Federation perspective. I gather there was a good deal more on these relationships shown in DS9, but since I haven't seen that, for me it all remains a little vague and somewhat unsatisfying because of the ambiguity involved in how we might see the Cardassians, and through them the Maquis and Starfleet.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:04 AM on January 24, 2017

One thing worth noting is that, due to the reset, the Doctor still doesn't know that there are new species on board at the end of the episode.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:45 PM on September 25, 2023 [1 favorite]

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