Star Trek: Voyager: Dreadnought   Rewatch 
April 24, 2017 6:28 AM - Season 2, Episode 17 - Subscribe

The Guerrilla Starship Engineer's Handbook, Chapter XLVII: How To Deal With a Smart Bomb That's Outsmarted You, by B'Elanna Torres

Memory Alpha set us up the bomb:

- At the time of this episode's production, Gary Holland was amid an eight-year stint as Vice President and Executive Director of Paramount Domestic Television Advertising & Promotion. Although Holland is credited as having written this episode, the story proceeded from a script written by Star Trek: Voyager staff writer Lisa Klink and only was sold by Holland.

- Director LeVar Burton was impressed by Roxann Dawson's work here. "'Dreadnought' made me a big fan of Roxann Dawson," Burton said. "I find her level of preparation, her intensity and her focus to be quite extraordinary." Burton felt that the episode's success or failure depended on Dawson delivering an interesting performance. "It was one actor in one room for three acts," he noted. "You have to make it interesting [....] And I want to say, to her credit," Burton concluded, "Roxann absolutely held the screen every moment she was on."

- The musical theme from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is quoted at the end of the episode as the Executive Producers' credit appears. This episode also prominently features Cardassian set elements, graphics, and sound effects familiar to Deep Space Nine viewers.

- In this episode, after Tom Paris arrives late and looking disheveled for the daily brief, Chakotay gives him an informal reprimand of his recent indiscipline. This indiscipline continues in "Lifesigns" and later comes to a head in "Investigations".

- This episode marks the first instance when Janeway initiates Voyager's self-destruct sequence.
Unlike in other Star Trek incarnations, in this episode (as with the following activation in VOY: "Deadlock"), when Janeway initiates the self-destruct sequence for Voyager, the computer does not ask for concurrent authorization from any other member of the bridge crew.

- The story arc of Michael Jonas' conspiracy with the Kazon started in "Alliances" and comes to an end in "Investigations".

- This episode has some similarities with the earlier second season installment "Prototype". Both episodes involve Torres communicating with a piece of technology that was originally created for offensive purposes but has essentially gone rogue (in that case, Automated Unit 3947) as well as attempting to destroy technology that she herself created (in the earlier case, Prototype Unit 0001).

- Lisa Klink cited this episode, due to its inclusion of the Dreadnought missile, as one of numerous installments of Voyager's second season that each feature an element from the Alpha Quadrant; other such elements include a colony of Humans in "The 37's", Reginald Barclay in "Projections", flashbacks to a youthful Chakotay's hike through a Central American jungle in "Tattoo", many reminders of the pasts of Voyager's crew in "Persistence of Vision" and Q in "Death Wish". Klink remarked, "Individually those episodes worked well, but I think in general they had the effect of making this a familiar neighborhood."

"When a bomb starts talking about itself in the third person, I get worried."

- Tom Paris, in reference to a subspace communication from Dreadnought's computer

"Who'd have thought, two years ago, all those weeks we spent together, perfecting your program, that we'd end up out here, trying to kill each other!"

- Torres, close to passing out while attempting to breach Dreadnought's containment field

"Please turn to your Emergency Medical Holographic Channel."
"Doctor, I forgot about you."
"How flattering."

- The Doctor and Janeway

Poster's Log:

Another really good episode, albeit one in a pretty well-known plot, the Doomsday Device, sub-type I Should Know, I Built It (well, modified it, really). Let's not dwell on the coincidence of their running across it (The 37's raised that bar a few megaparsecs) and just dig how neatly the plot fits into the premise of the show: The Cardassians built a 24th-century MOAB into a heavily-armed drone starship (because of course they would), the Maquis reset it to strike a Cardassian military target (because of course they would), it got yanked to the DQ by the Caretaker (because of course it would), and, like any AI in TOS that was hellbent on fulfilling its original programming by any means necessary, it picked the next closest target to its original one and set out to complete its mission (say it with me, people). That it's not terribly dissimilar to an episode that came just four installments before this one (B'Elanna contending against a smart weapon that she had previously worked on) isn't terribly important, I think; it's more obviously a direct threat and needs to be taken care of immediately (as opposed to the Pralor/Cravic androids, who are presumably still out there going at it). Cue B'Elanna getting to break out the hardshell case with the cool gadgets embedded in foam and go play Speed/The Hurt Locker while bantering with the smart bomb with her voice. There are worse ruts to get into than Rebel Hacker Woman sciencing the shit out of various runaway trains.

I do have to say, though, that the Maquis are not looking really good here: we've got two former sleeper agents that were part of that crew, plus a serial killer, plus a new traitor, plus a few more surprises that will pop up in the future, and now that converted Cardassian weapon that still works perfectly except for the targeting system and off switch. And Eddington thought that they could successfully found their own nation.

Poster's Log, Supplemental: FFS, Doctor. On top of assuming that Samantha Wildman's baby would be male, and shooting down her baby names (I'm sure that every name in the galaxy sounds like something dirty in some other language, and if you can't let go of that, you can go Halloween Jack yourself--wait, that sounds kind of dirty in English, never mind), you're giving Kes crap? Dude, she gets enough of that jealous bullshit from her real boyfriend. Plus, Jonas still trying to tell Seska what the blue plate lunch special is this week, and Paris all like, you can't tell me what to do Chakotay, you're not my real dad!

On the positive side, nice interaction between Paris and Torres; maybe foreshadowing the relationship to come. Plus, First Minister Kellan, after admitting that their military is not that great, saying that he's got some pretty good pilots, and their doomed defense... dude, you are the bravest little toaster. If Rakosa V and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, people will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
posted by Halloween Jack (6 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Particle of the Week: Letting it slide, the technobabble is, again, pretty consistent this week.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: Plasma shockwaves are, for some reason, an inherent property of Romulan singularity drives. Cardassian ships would have to use Photonic ones instead. (I don't really know why that is.)

Ongoing Equipment Tally:
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: 27. We see 7 fired here, a record for a single episode.
* Shuttles: Still just down 3
* Crew: Still 147
* Bio-neural Gelpacks: 47
Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: This raises it to 6.

Notes:
* A-plot is great.
I'm pretty much just with Halloween Jack on this one: this is a well-trod SF plot, (I also immediately leapt to Prototype), but they do a good job with it here.

Roxann Dawson is the center of the whole thing, and she sells it. I really like her duel with the computer. I appreciate that the dreadnought itself has an internal logic going on, and that it always behaves within the confines of that. The technobabble is pretty good.

Janeway's actions are appropriate: being willing to trade her chance to get home to save 2 million people is the sort of Federation values that I want to see on display. Tuvok's 'logical' request to remain with his friend to the bitter end is well-handled. Chakotay comes across pretty well here, divulging information without throwing B'Ellana under a bus.

I also like the aliens of the week, although I'm not sure why the Kazon haven't murderhoboed them yet.

* Doc's thing is bad.

FFS, Doctor.

Yeah. The stuff with the Doctor at the start is inexplicably dickish. I think they were trying to be funny with it based on the ending bit with Kes chasing after him trying to get him to pick a different name, but that bit did fall flat.

* Dreadnought's tech is a bit overpowered for Cardassians.

The shield tech is, in particular, far too good for anything we've ever seen out of them, or ever will. It's more consistent with Borg technology. It doesn't hurt the episode, it just stuck out. (Star Trek is full of forgotten prototypes that would change everything - I guess it's only fair the Cardassians would get one too.) I laughed about the bit with the kinetic detonator - I guess we know exactly when the project ran over budget.

Anyway, fun outing. This is a good story that I would recommend to people checking out Voyager for the first time, and so on.
posted by mordax at 8:58 AM on April 24, 2017 [5 favorites]


Great B'Elanna episode. I love seeing a female character face a scientific/weaponry challenge.
posted by chaiminda at 6:41 AM on April 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


First off, this episode should prove conclusively that Janeway has the ship assignments wrong. Obviously Torres should be in charge of ship security since she clearly is better at it than Tuvok.

It's another quality episode, Voyager is on a roll. I might question the placement of this episode so close to the last B'Elanna talks to the machines one, and suggest it would have perhaps made more sense had it been in the first season where the chance encounter with Dreadnought would have at least had the advantage of proximity to their arrival in the Delta quadrant, but episode order and long term story structure hasn't been a big selling point for the show so it isn't a big surprise or disappointment it ended up where it did.

The doctor thing didn't really bother me too much, though Nancy Hower always playing Wildman as ill at ease or apologetic in every circumstance makes finding the discussion funny more difficult as she seems so concerned about the names. The doctor being hurt that Kes didn't mention her father's name to him seems about right for the character and goes along with his being forgotten at the end of the show pretty well. It didn't play for laughs, as they may have wanted, but it didn't strike me as being especially inappropriate, considering the characters, either.

The maquis have pretty much lost all suggestion of being a meaningful alternative to Starfleet at this point, which may align with the handling of the Bajoran question on DS9 for all I know, but it is a little bit of a let down since the suggestion of them providing a challenge to Starfleet perspectives had some implicit promise to it. But this episode by itself didn't really scupper that idea, it just continued the trend already established and at least made some use of the Maquis as different rather than just having them seem to be Starfleet in all but name. It's something they're keeping alive for the Investigations episode and Seska showdown I'm sure, but is still nice to see.

It was another good episode for B'Elanna of course, she does well in shows written for the character even as she often seems less effective in those where she isn't at the center of events. Mulgrew does a good job at keeping Janeway seeming like she's doing more than is actually written for her in dialogue by making the most of her reactions to events. It's something that helps build a sense of larger suggestive meaning to events, even if some things aren't explicitly stated.

I enjoyed the sot of nod to Kirk out-smarting computers by posing unsolvable conundrums in B'Elanna's discussion with Dreadnought and the way Dreadnought via B'Elanna was having none of that. It was a good twist on the formula given further boost by B'Elanna eventually just out enduring the computer and destroying it by determination, and a phaser of course.

One other interesting aspect to the episode was how it didn't really try to do too much. They show Janeway contacting Aschelan V, oops, I mean Rakosa V, and her willingness to destroy Voyager to attempt to stop Dreadnought, but they don't push any of that too far into some greater moral or attempt to make that more central to the episode, going so far as to simply end the show after B'Elanna's beam out to sickbay, (Good thinking doc!) rather than provide any sort of more ambitious wrap up. It showed a good focus on the interesting elements of the story without getting unnecessarily sidetracked in talk. The moral implications remain, but are left more open for the audience than is often the case with Trek where some sort of grand summary is provided by whatever Captain might be involved.

I remember in my first watch of the series this run helped build more interest in the show and where it would go from here, which is good because there are more than a few slow spots yet to come where that interest was tested. We'll see how that goes this time around when we get to some of those episodes.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:19 AM on April 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


"This mission is too important for me to allow myself to jeopardize it."

By the way, did anybody else hope that the male and female computer voices would start directly bickering like the loading zone voices from Airplane! did?

Anyway, not much to add; I concur with the consensus. Dawson is joining Jennifer Lien on the list of performances I'm really appreciating more on this rewatch. I'm not sure I like this episode more than "Prototype," but it may be an objectively better episode.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:57 AM on April 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure I like this episode more than "Prototype," but it may be an objectively better episode.

That's fair. Prototype's pretty good.

I mostly like this one better because it's free of uncomfortable moral quandaries for me. In Prototype, 3947 makes a request for aid that gets turned down, (this is a connection I'll probably harp about after Death Wish too). Here? It's a smart bomb. It's a very smart bomb, but there's never a sense that beneath the kinetic detonator and improbably good shielding, there's a real person here. It's just a weapon, it's aimed directly at innocent people, and it must be stopped. It's all pretty tidy without feeling contrived, letting me enjoy the action without second-guessing our protagonists.

In both cases, Roxann Dawson is great though.
posted by mordax at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


The maquis have pretty much lost all suggestion of being a meaningful alternative to Starfleet at this point, which may align with the handling of the Bajoran question on DS9 for all I know, but it is a little bit of a let down since the suggestion of them providing a challenge to Starfleet perspectives had some implicit promise to it.

Oh, I meant to address this and got totally sidetracked the other day: this really disappointed me too. I feel like the Maquis are basically in the *right* with regard to the Federation's actions. It's even sort of painted that way when the idea comes up: relocation of Federation colonists first comes up in an episode that has the Enterprise-D almost forcibly relocating (a horribly racist caricature of Magical) Native Americans.

Like, that's how this all gets started: with Captain Picard almost on the wrong side of history.

Then we see Ro Laren defect, and she'd been around for ages, and it really felt like the whole thing had steam.

And then it just... mostly didn't? Voyager basically paints the Maquis as thugs, even though it doesn't pull any punches about how bad the Cardassians were. DS9... well, it was more complicated, but I was ultimately disappointed with where it went.

If I trusted the writers more, I'd want to think it was deliberate. (See: Liber8 on Continuum, where this is all deliberately complex.) Here, I feel like there was some ball-dropping going on.

I enjoyed the sot of nod to Kirk out-smarting computers by posing unsolvable conundrums in B'Elanna's discussion with Dreadnought and the way Dreadnought via B'Elanna was having none of that. It was a good twist on the formula given further boost by B'Elanna eventually just out enduring the computer and destroying it by determination, and a phaser of course.

This is also a good point. Reminds me of Robot Santa in Futurama, who had 'crumple zones' to handle logical paradoxes.

Also:
First off, this episode should prove conclusively that Janeway has the ship assignments wrong. Obviously Torres should be in charge of ship security since she clearly is better at it than Tuvok.

This actually makes a perverse amount of sense, given what we've seen in-universe. Most security problems are technical ones on a Starfleet ship - I could totally see putting a tech expert in charge, and giving the tactical officer weapons and Away teams rather than internal issues.
posted by mordax at 9:46 PM on April 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


« Older Veep: Library...   |  The Leftovers: Don't Be Ridicu... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments