Star Trek: Voyager: The Cloud   Rewatch 
January 19, 2017 3:37 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

The crew of Voyager—afflicted with isolation, professional tensions, and resource depletion—pins its hopes on a perfectly innocent-looking nebula and a reasonably competent-seeming Morale Officer.

We are far from the sacred places of Memory Alpha:

- The writing staff had varied opinions about the episode's genesis. Brannon Braga declared, "It was a good action story, an alien creature that we hadn't quite seen before." Conversely, Jeri Taylor characterized the premise as "just sort of a big glumpy story" and, according to fellow Executive Producer Michael Piller, the episode was always plagued with problems, being "a troubled script from day one."

- Neelix actor Ethan Phillips relished the chance to, in character, complain about the explorative spirit of Voyager's Starfleet contingent. He recalled, "I got to say, 'These people are idiots. Every time they see a damn anomaly they go inside and risk everybody's life. What are they doing?' That's [Neelix's] attitude and I love it. He has been through some horrendous things in the past and he doesn't want to jeopardize his own life and that of Kes or some of his new friends on the ship."

- Jeri Taylor felt that Janeway's interactions with her crew, in this episode, helped to set her apart from previous male Star Trek captains. "In that episode, we saw Janeway concerned about the morale of the crew and questioning her role as captain and how she would be able to hold things together in this environment," Taylor observed. "Then, when she comes in to play pool, we show that she's not necessarily going to be the captain of captains past. She is willing to have a different kind of relationship with the crew than Kirk or Picard."

- David Livingston found difficulty with filming Janeway's experience of the vision quest. "It was kind of a weird sequence. Piller wanted us to shoot it in Janeway's office, but I wanted to go to the beach. I didn't want to use a lizard, but it was from his own life, and he wanted a big, kind of cruel-looking animal," Livingston recalled. "We shot what felt like a thousand feet of film trying to get the lizard to move. He just sat there for ten minutes. We had a hair dryer on it, trying to get it to move around without hurting it. The thing was so lethargic it would just sit there. We shot it second unit because there was no time to do first-unit lizard work."

- This episode is the first to mention Lewis Zimmerman as the creator of the EMH program.

- The large cloud-like creature featured in this episode bears a striking resemblance to the planet-eating cloud from TAS: "One of Our Planets Is Missing".

- David Livingston's opinion of the episode was mixed. He noted, "I was disappointed when I read the script because I thought it was just another space-creature thing. We had visited that territory before and in fact we did it a couple times on Voyager. But this script was deceptive because the most interesting part of that show was all the B stories with the pool room and stuff. The B stories on board the ship made the A story OK for me."


"These people are natural born idiots if you ask me. They don't appreciate what they have here. This ship is the match of any vessel within a 100 light years and what do they do with it? Well, uh, lets see if we can't find some space anomaly today that might RIP IT APART!"

- Neelix


"I'm curious Captain, exactly what are you looking for?"
"I need to know if we did serious harm to this life-form."
"Let's see, you ran your ship through it, fired phasers at it, and blew a hole in it with a photon torpedo. I'd say it's a pretty good chance that you did some fairly significant...."
"Computer: mute audio."

- Captain Janeway and The Doctor


"Dismissed. ... That's a Starfleet expression for 'get out'."

- Captain Janeway, to Neelix


"Under the circumstances, don't you think you really ought to change your program?"
"Hmm... a hologram that programs himself. What would I do with that ability? Create a family? Raise an army?"

- B'Elanna Torres and The Doctor


Poster's Log: This felt so much like a random, grab-bag, day-in-the-life, 22-Short-Films-About-Voyager episode that I came to believe that was the intent. It seems I was only about half right, according to the MA page's (really excessively) exhaustive background on this episode's writing process. Timing-wise, we could have waited a little bit longer for a low-key episode centered on how these characters spend their time—but it is probably good that they did it in the first season. (Though if I'd been in the writing room, when it came to the question of "What will be Voyager's popular holodeck hangout?", I'd have gone to bat for Anyplace That's Not from Pre-21st-Century Earth.)

Poster's Log, Supplemental: It can't be a coincidence that Janeway's spirit guide is a salamander.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
- Not a salamander, but a lizard; still, though, I had the same thought as you.

- My favorite line of the episode (and maybe the series): "There's coffee in that nebula!"

- Yeah, the ep's MacGuffin is basically the same one as TOS' "The Immunity Syndrome" (albeit without the galaxy-infecting threat); if you back out to the more general class of episodes in which an assumed thing turns out to be alive and/or sentient, there are lots. Nonetheless, there are some good scenes of them working out exactly how to do the thing to the thing that's not just a thing, with false starts ("reversing polarity" is brought up early, and fails) and asides to each other (Harry and Tuvok using their combadges to whisper to each other on the bridge is pretty funny).

- Speaking of Harry, I thought that his telling Tom that he could remember being in the womb was funny, as well. If literally all he did was play the naif to Tom's prematurely-world-weary, lemme-show-you-the-ropes-kid shtick, it would get very tiresome. I don't think that he's necessarily even that naive so much as genuinely good-hearted and straight-arrowish generally, his attempted scamming by Quark notwithstanding.

- Speaking of Tom (and why isn't there someone named Dick on board?), I think that I may have assumed, when I first watched this, that Sandrine's was a place that he completely made up and carried around with him on a data chip; it's just a little too perfect of a third place, with its old-timey charm, collection of colorful characters (I thought that the alien walking out as they walked in might have been a Lurian, one of Morn's people, until I scanned back and checked) and two good-looking women fighting over Tom's affections. It's also kind of sad that one of them is the character that Tom puts in all his programs, basically his holo-girlfriend; I mean, there are certain character types that I like to re-create in various RPGs and MMORPGs, but Tom's particular choice is evocative of how lonely a guy who has burned all his bridges must be.

- Speaking of holocharacters, good bits from the Doctor. There are actually some good character development bits all around, more than I remembered, but you can see where the Doctor's are going from episode to episode. Take that line above: "Hmm... a hologram that programs himself. What would I do with that ability? Create a family? Raise an army?" Well, yes, he will do the first, and even though not exactly the second, will have the chance to do some command-type stuff, in time. I wonder if the writers actually used this line for inspiration for future Doctor-centric episodes. Also great was his losing his shit in the background after they shut his audio off.

- Other characters: Neelix is coming off a bit better this episode, and his scene with Janeway doing her best look-here-you-hyperactive-hedgehog bit is welcome; I'm sure we all know that person who wants to be helpful but can get a bit inappropriately bossy if they're not reined in. Kes was likewise good. I thought that B'Elanna seeming panicked at the idea of Janeway doing a surprise inspection was a bit off (I imagined her waiting until Janeway had left, then going into a side room and saying, "Never mind, Seska, you can start putting the still back together"), but she was better in the scene with the Doctor; it probably wouldn't have occurred to a Starfleet officer to suggest to him that he could alter his own programming. Chakotay was fine, but, given what we know about the "Native American" consultant used for the series, I wonder just how authentic some of this stuff is. Some of the general details--vision quests, spirit guides, medicine bags--sounds familiar, and there's the interesting detail of the akoonah supporting the idea of Native American culture evolving over the the centuries between now and then. But still, one wonders how the specific details of Chakotay's spiritual practices and character evolution might have changed with a genuine Native American--maybe even an NA science fiction writer!--working on the character.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:32 AM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Ut! Almost forgot: Chakotay spirit guide meme [mildly NSFW]
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:37 AM on January 19, 2017


My favorite line of the episode (and maybe the series): "There's coffee in that nebula!"

Huh, I friggin' hate that line. Is it a thing where you have to be a coffee drinker? (And no, I'm not a tea drinker either. I'm firmly in the cola ghetto.)

There are actually some good character development bits all around, more than I remembered

Yes, and the Doctor bit you mentioned is almost important enough that I might call this episode "essential" for the VOY first-timer. But not quite, IMO.

Speaking of Harry, I thought that his telling Tom that he could remember being in the womb was funny, as well.

Well… I do agree that the line is funny. And it's a nifty little characterization oddity for Kim, and it works with his overall vaguely-momma's-boy thing.

But to me, Wang does not sell the comedy of the line. He looks too somberly reverential, like he just passed through a temporal anomaly or whatever. A similar moment happened in "Time and Again," with his "I never broke any record!" line. He just didn't play these moments quite broad enough. I'm not saying they SHOULD be really broad, in a Neelix or (sometimes) Doctor sense, but, like…if we use O'Brien as a barometer, since someone (maybe you?) recently equated Kim to him, Meaney also got lots of comic-foil moments and consistently hit the sweet spot in terms of delivery. He never goes BROAD, exactly, but just far enough into what we could call Cinematically Wacky. See also DeForest Kelley.

Now that being said, he did, I think, do better with the pissy rejoinder to Tuvok on the bridge. His delivery felt a little like it could've come from The Office, which suits the situation nicely.

It's also kind of sad that one of them is the character that Tom puts in all his programs, basically his holo-girlfriend

So here's a puzzler: sadder than Minuet, or less sad?

But still, one wonders how the specific details of Chakotay's spiritual practices and character evolution might have changed with a genuine Native American--maybe even an NA science fiction writer!--working on the character.

I have to guess his character's overall development couldn't have wound up any weaker.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:08 PM on January 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


Is it a thing where you have to be a coffee drinker?

No, just the almost non-sequiturness of the line. As if there were little Starbucks cups floating around in it.

sadder than Minuet, or less sad?

Hmm. I'd say that Minuet is sadder, because she tapped into something so deep within Riker that he didn't even know that he wanted someone exactly like her until he saw her, and later, when the Bynars leave, Riker can't get her back. She's what made "11001001" a really exceptional episode IMO. Tom Paris not only could and did create and re-create Ricky, he could admit as much to Harry.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:51 PM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Hey, so, I've been watching the episodes but haven't been feeling I have much to say. (Especially compared with how prolific y'all have been in some of the previous episode threads)

I know I watched the pilot episode when it aired, and I must have kept watching for some extent - there is a vague familiarity about some of these episodes, or maybe just the characters. And I thought I wouldn't care about spoilers, but then I went and saw something in one of the Memory Alpha pages about Seska and I was like, welp, guess I do kinda care after all. (Though, I obviously knew from the Netflix cast art that Kes is a goner and that Seven of Nine is joining the cast eventually.)

given what we know about the "Native American" consultant used for the series,

Oof. Yeah, I have been doing so much cringing during Chakotay scenes.

At this point, I live for The Doctor scenes, and I like or am neutral on everyone else (except Neelix and Paris who get on my nerves). I don't know, there's just a basic unreality to the show that's keeping me at a distance in a way that no previous Trek has. Like, how can they have rationing for food-replicator usage, but a use of a holodeck with a bar is just dandy?
posted by oh yeah! at 7:57 PM on January 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


Particle of the Week: Omicron particles.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: Star Trek Online features a lot of voice work from Star Trek alumni. Most of their characters have made good: Worf has retired from Starfleet and moved on to a high rank in the Klingon Empire, Tuvok is an admiral, and so on. However, Harry Kim remains a 'junior officer' even 30 years in the future: he's only a captain when you meet him, meaning your character outranks him during his own featured mission. I laughed.

Notes, mostly taken during the episode:
* I'm in the 'liked the ridiculous coffee' line.

I'm not a coffee drinker, but it was just the right sort of ridiculous for me. Not sure why.

* Nonsensical Chakotay stuff is already going on.

You guys have talked about the racist garbage pretty well already. The only part that got any reaction besides 'kill me now' was Janeway's spirit guide. Inappropriate foreshadowing, show, inappropriate foreshadowing.

The other thing that really stuck out was right at the start: I don't understand why the writers think the crew would be closer to Chakotay than Janeway at this point, apart from 'maybe they forgot the premise of their own show.' Their mission on their maiden voyage was 'arrest Chakotay,' and now everyone on board reports to him. Open-minded as Federation citizens are, that should be generating tension until Chakotay does something to actually earn their trust. Which he hasn't, because they're only a few weeks in, and nobody has really had much of a chance to prove anything to anyone except arguably B'Ellana.

* The Holodeck stuff is annoying.

Like, how can they have rationing for food-replicator usage, but a use of a holodeck with a bar is just dandy?

Oh, they handwaved that in the pilot: 'the Holodeck is on separate power and can't be interfaced with the ship's other systems,' which was about as close as the writers could come to just actually saying 'we're not giving up stupid Holodeck shenanigans no matter how little sense it makes in context, nor are we going to offer a sensible reason, so shut up in advance.'

I was pretty annoyed by the whole thing in this episode in particular. It's a sign of how weak the script is overall that they have so much time to burn on Tom Paris' sad wank material. Also, the 'holographic wine' bit is just... WTF?

Grr. If they were going to go to so much trouble, they should've made better use of it.

* The Doctor continues to rule.

I also jotted down the 'raise an army' exchange, because that always cracks me up.

* The Neelix stuff is mostly workable, but felt early.

Neelix complaining about the crew exploring instead of keeping their heads down and staying on mission actually makes some sense to me, but it feels really early in the show's run for him to be talking like that. To date, the biggest crazy risk Janeway has taken was last episode, to save *him*. So... I sort of like this explored, and I even like the fight Neelix and Janeway have about him bailing on them mid-mission, but this feels like it's coming maybe a few episodes too soon. (I can see why Ethan Phillips was excited by the whole thing, nevertheless. I would pay good money to be filmed giving a monologue like that, even if I had to wear goofy makeup and/or alien prosthetics.)

The 'morale officer' thing gets back to last week's discussion about how the show can't decide what to do with him, I think.

* I am ambivalent about the problem of the week.

On the one hand, I felt like they did a good job with the technobabble vs. everyday idiomatic explanations. The basic notion of 'the nebula is alive' is interesting, and they handle it well enough. On the other hand, it highlights that they keep doing stuff impulsively: they never do a proper survey, never really take precautions before they go poking stuff with sharp objects. Like, it's sort of problematic that Neelix is correct here: this entire problem stems from them approaching stuff in a really dumb way, even though their hearts were in the right place.

Also, since we're counting: we're officially down to 37 photon torpedoes here.

* This is fun.

I'm now taking notes as I watch.

Other stuff:
Hmm. I'd say that Minuet is sadder, because she tapped into something so deep within Riker that he didn't even know that he wanted someone exactly like her until he saw her

Agreed. Ricky is definitely a statement about how sad and lonely Paris is, but I feel like it's worse in Riker's case. There's the fact that he didn't even know this was missing, and there's also... Paris is *depicted* as a loser. It should surprise exactly no one that his most meaningful relationship is with Holodeck porn.

Riker's got it all: beautiful on-again-off-again love interest, good career. That beard. Musical chops. He *should* be above something like this, but he's not. Definitely sadder.
posted by mordax at 11:38 PM on January 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


(Also, I've been binge watching Archer in a desperate bid to avoid despair at current events, and the thing with Ricky reminded me of Archer asking Cyril 'does Internet porn know you're cheating on it?')
posted by mordax at 11:53 PM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Holodeck stuff, so stupid. Can't wait until Paris's character ages out of this stupid oversexed "get Harry to lose his virginity" dynamic. Also totally undermines the (good, realistic) premise that they need to conserve their energy and the fact that the writers can't let the holodeck go as a vehicle for hijinx is majorly disappointing.

The spirit animal thing is of course questionable but I always liked Janeway's zeal for trying it and Chakotay's willingness to share it. When else on Trek have we seen the open exchange of spiritual traditions among humans?
posted by annekate at 3:50 PM on January 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


When else on Trek have we seen the open exchange of spiritual traditions among humans?

Good point. My first impulse was to say, "DS9, of course", but that was really mostly Kira, even though another (human) crew member was a major figure in that religion.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:01 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


Holodeck stuff, so stupid.

Yeah. Now that I've thought about it longer, this kills me:
David Livingston's opinion of the episode was mixed. He noted, "I was disappointed when I read the script because I thought it was just another space-creature thing. We had visited that territory before and in fact we did it a couple times on Voyager. But this script was deceptive because the most interesting part of that show was all the B stories with the pool room and stuff. The B stories on board the ship made the A story OK for me."
Like, knowing at least one writer took a look at this story and went, 'Yep, the gigolo saves it' makes me die a little inside, and also explains a lot of how Voyager went wrong.

The spirit animal thing is of course questionable but I always liked Janeway's zeal for trying it and Chakotay's willingness to share it.

You have a good point about Janeway: she actually does come across pretty well for just going, 'sure, show me everything' with an open mind and no judgment.

Chakotay sounds kinda creepy at the end of the scene though: he comes in all 'I have never shown anyone my medicine bundle before,' only to have B'Ellana recognize it and have a funny story about spirit guides at the end of the scene. So he sounds like he was dishonest from the outset, possibly even hitting on Janeway, which just added to the whole air of skin crawling nope that whole business had.

My first impulse was to say, "DS9, of course", but that was really mostly Kira, even though another (human) crew member was a major figure in that religion.

I feel like a lot of time on DS9 was spent on the question of 'what would you do if you found out you were Space Jesus?' - Sisko's journey from irritated nonbeliever to embracing his role was a huge deal in both his character arc and the story of the show at large. However, it's a fair point that it's not the same thing: an awful lot of the religious talk on DS9 hinges on his specific role rather than a free exchange of ideas between two casually interested parties.

So yeah, this is qualitatively different. Really, really doesn't give them a pass though, IMO.
posted by mordax at 6:51 PM on January 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


Like, knowing at least one writer took a look at this story and went, 'Yep, the gigolo saves it' makes me die a little inside, and also explains a lot of how Voyager went wrong.

Yup. Although now I'm thinking about how the Voyager holodeck almost always has a sex positive subtext, and not in the salacious way Quark's holosuite does. Pretty much everyone on Voyager openly uses the holodeck for sex and romance, and while that is sort of dumb in a resource-constrained environment it's also kind of refreshing. And probably realistic given the premise of the show.
posted by annekate at 8:57 PM on January 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


Since I still can't find my disc for these episodes I'll just offer some general memories and thoughts.

The Chakotay stuff is really sad, I mean it's great they tried to do something with a Native American character, but constantly reducing him to even positive cliches is still pretty dehumanizing in its way. What also hurts the show in doing that is that it helps rob them a bit of better flow in the writing.

I rewatched some TNG since I couldn't watch these episodes and one of the most notable things about the difference between the two shows, is that where Voyager seems to be clearly trying to model its crew interactions on TNG, it doesn't work nearly as well in past due to them robbing Chakotay of a wider range of responses, preventing him from better acting as a conduit from Janeway to other crew members like Riker did, and in part due to having more characters like Neelix, Kes, the doctor, B'Elanna and eventually others, not being bridge crew. Where TNG dialogue and interactions flowed better between characters due to them sharing the same space and having more reason to speak in any given seem, even if only a line or two when confronting an anomaly or ship, in Voyager, the cast is more spread out to different parts of the ship where the cast members don't interact as regularly and don't show the same sorts of interconnections because of that.

On TNG Picard will give major commands or ask pertinent questions, Data relays information as he gets it, Riker makes in ship decisions based on Picard's wishes, Worf offers tactical advice and Troe senses shit. Sometimes the Crushers were there too, or Geordie, but in most scenes there is at least a sort of around the room exchange of opinion and information where the actors get to show something of their characters.

On Voyager its more captain centered, with Janeway taking more of the dialogue around any encounter, and asking the other crew for input since Harry doesn't volunteer as much as Data, Tuvok is more reserved than Worf, and Paris makes snide comments. Chakotay gets some of the Riker function, but not to the same level as the ship operations are more disjointed and he doesn't really need to interact with some of the more focused on characters, Neelix and the doctor particularly, and Kes and later additions secondarily. He gets some time with B'Elanna in the early seasons, but most of his best and biggest scenes tend just to be with Janeway, often in private. Beltran worked well with Mulgrew, so that's a plus and makes me wish there was a lot more of that, but he didn't get nearly as many good scenes with the other crew members.

Voyager definitely had more of a feeling of episodes being written around individuals more than the whole crew. TNG had some of that too of course, where there'd be a Geordie centered episode one week, a Data one the next and so on, but Voyager felt like it pushed that even further and played favorites much more strongly, with certain characters getting a lot more limelight than others. At least that's how I think of it now, we'll see if I still feel that way as it progresses.


This episode is still more of an establishing one for the Voyager crew, so it's more caught up in setting up who Paris is so we'll have a base for how he'll change over time, than the Riker episode was for him, where it was less about setting up who he is, than acting as a twist in his story, if memory serves. So the Minuet episode carried more weight than this could for Tom since its less about Paris confronting something about himself through a holodeck character, like Riker did with minuet leading to the feeling of loss, and more about establishing a kind of loneliness about Paris that the show will touch on again regarding some of Paris' other encounters and relaitonships with Kes and B'Elanna. That doesn't make it good really, but at least potentially gives it more sense.


And as a spoiler for a future episode: There is the later episode with that absurd Irish village, where Janeway buffs up he program for a bartender she wants to fancy, where the subtext hinges on the idea of the holodeck as a possible area for sexual release, with the doctor telling Janeway that such a use can be a positive. That episode's main story is kinda dopey, but the subtext is a lot more interesting and ties in as well with some of the doctor's own issues coming from the holographic side

OF course the Reg episodes in TNG focusing on his holodeck addiction, hinted at some of the same things from the creepier side. Which points to some of the issues such technology would pose, which is something the show perhaps doesn't dwell on enough given some of the other complicating ideas they bring up around holographic characters, privacy, having access to the physical and emotional parameters of other crew people and so on. The holodeck is really a nightmare, not to mention often exhibiting impossible physics, and I'm usually not keen on the episodes primarily set in its environment, but they do occasionally touch on some interesting ideas around use of such a thing sometimes.

It's also pretty amusing that the ship's computer can manifest many different fully conscious beings, but is not conscious itself, at least that we know of, maybe it is and just creates other beings for kicks to mess with the crew. A godship needs entertainment too after all.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:25 PM on January 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


Voyager still has no idea what the crew roles are (both, their roles as crew members on the ship, and their role as a character in the show). I'd like to say that's intentional, since they were thrown into disarray and lost some of their crew, but that's giving a lot of credit where it probably isn't due.

Here we see Tuvok telling Kim, an Ensign, the most junior officer role and the most junior role we typically see in Trek, that he needs to set a good example for the junior officers. Let's not even get into the whole rank snafu with Tuvok that went on for years before anyone noticed. Janeway is always asking Tuvok questions that would make no sense to ask her security chief. Thankfully the "let's have our chief pilot understudy in sickbay, instead of one of the dozens of less important crew members" thing was scrapped quickly. The role of the Maquis has been thoroughly discussed already.

Neelix... well, not much needs to be said here.

I'm enjoying the heck out of the show so far, but it's a mess in so many ways.
posted by 2ht at 2:54 PM on January 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


Is anybody else having a hard time looking at the word Neelix and not reading it as Netflix?
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:12 PM on January 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


Is anybody else having a hard time looking at the word Neelix and not reading it as Netflix?

If they had had Netflix, they probably wouldn't have wasted so much time in mediocre holodeck scenarios. Captain Proton was utter garbage - they obviously had nothing better to do.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:23 PM on January 22, 2017


Before we moved on to next week's episode, I did want to agree with posters who talk about how it's nice that Voyager portrays sexual use of the Holodeck as a good, therapeutic thing rather than shameful, weird or seedy.

That's really reasonable in theory.

The main reason it's offputting for me in this case is the specific way Paris is here. He's set up an idealized version of a place from his past, down to the owner being based on a real woman... but he's bent it at all to be complete wish fulfillment. The women fight over him, (including the one based on someone he knew for real), he has a pathetic rival to defeat, he's created historical figures to compete with at pool... he's created the Tom Paris as Gary Stu universe.

That's... actually totally normal. Probably most people would do that at least sometimes, myself included. The part where it skeeved me out was that Paris wasn't aware that this was not something that made him cool - he actually dragged Harry out of bed because he was so excited about it, then did the whole 'I'm awesome, let me show you how to be awesome too' routine about it.

As a grown man, he *should* have been embarrassed to let someone see this side of him. This is like if someone found your pile of dirty magazines, or found a drawing you had made of yourself as Superman. It should be cause for alarm, not pride.

I mostly associate the lack thereof with youth or sketchiness. I base that on many years of experience with tabletop roleplaying games, where this sort of fantasy is easy to accomplish in narrative. People who are proud of being a Gary Stu are usually... not the guy I'd put in charge of flying a giant starship.

I think this vibe was also not helped by Kim's weird 'I remember the womb' thing either.

tl;dr: It's not the porn aspect, (I don't really do moral qualms), it's just this situation. Having Torres lampshade it at the end didn't make it any less uncomfortable - sort of the opposite, like there's a meta- moment where they realize maybe they shouldn't have done any of this in the first place, but it's too late because the script's finished and filmed.

Anyway. I watched tomorrow's ep just now because I might be on the busy side, and there are some parts of this discussion I may want to continue then, but I don't want to get too far ahead here.
posted by mordax at 8:49 PM on January 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't disagree with the idea Paris perhaps shouldn't be as excited about his "conquests" as he is, but then again, I can't even begin to calculate all the times I've heard people talk about their accomplishments playing video games or fantasy sports, so, without getting too much into details over whether the holodeck settings Paris created would be more or less difficult to beat than a video game, the basics of it remain similar enough for me to accept it as roughly believable(ish).

The way the show uses the holodeck, in more adventure type scenarios when the safeties are on, might in general be thought of as being roughly equivalent to a video game on a somewhat easy setting, judging from the events we see anyway. It's particularly notable that so many seem to use it for "replaying" stories from other media where the outcome is known, so its use is less about testing limits or discovery of something novel as it is in casting oneself in the role of another. If we assume the holodeck in this can still 'win" these scenarios, there is still the notion that the people know the story events before hand, so aren't relying on ability as much as memory and some inprov to get to the expected end.

We find out in later episodes that things can go differently than the expected plotted storyline, but for the most part those using the holodeck tend to seem like they want to, roughly, adhere to a script in many instances. This was perhaps even more true in TNG since Voyager does start to look more into authorship of holodeck stories as the show goes on, which seems a more likely use. Paris becomes noted as a holodeck story designer too, which builds off this early example of him using the equipment.

Still there is more than a little hint of a Westworldness to it all, something even more true given the eventual status of the doctor and how Tom's little Irish village scenario plays out. That's just another aspect of the system that is troubling and not dealt with in depth, but to the show's credit is hinted at, just as they will suggest it's potential use for more violent purposes as well. A lot of subtext, basically, that the crew seems aware of, but doesn't want to get too involved with the larger implications of beyond a certain point of utility.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:18 AM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Again, Tom's actions make a lot more sense if he's sublimating his attraction to Harry. He's upset that Harry suggests that they should let Janeway interrupt their one-on-one mealtimes, and then wakes Harry up in the middle of the night so they can explore Tom's sexual fantasies. I mean. I don't actually think that's what the writers meant, but things seem to fall into place that way.

Also again, Paris continues to be The Worst. Does Paris ever stop being The Worst? Harry, you can do better. We, the viewers, could also do better.

Janeway, when talking about how Starfleet captains learn to keep their distance - none of the other captains we've seen in starfleet have ever seemed to keep their distance, except maybe Picard, and that seemed more like a personality thing*. Sisko was definitely the boss, but also had friends and put a priority on having personal relationships. Kirk seemed like he was up in everyone's business. That was weird.

I had no issues with the coffee line. Giving up a beloved foodstuff usually leads to obsessions, and I have no issues with Janeway sometimes being kind of goofy.

The other thing that really stuck out was right at the start: I don't understand why the writers think the crew would be closer to Chakotay than Janeway at this point, apart from 'maybe they forgot the premise of their own show.' Their mission on their maiden voyage was 'arrest Chakotay,' and now everyone on board reports to him. Open-minded as Federation citizens are, that should be generating tension until Chakotay does something to actually earn their trust. Which he hasn't, because they're only a few weeks in, and nobody has really had much of a chance to prove anything to anyone except arguably B'Ellana.

Yeah, this should have been very worrying to them if it were true. It's really odd how easily the Maquis have been defanged - there might not be a chance for outright violence in enclosed quarters, but there should still be some hostility present from time to time, or at least some distrust.

*Note: I have not watched much TNG, may be wrong.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:10 AM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


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