Star Trek: Voyager: Remember   Rewatch 
June 15, 2017 4:52 AM - Season 3, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Lt. Torres and Cpt. Janeway gradually grow suspicious of friendly-seeming telepathic aliens who wear grody old dishrags on their foreheads. It's almost as if they have something to hide…

Because Memory Alpha remembers!:

- This episode was meant as a parable to the Holocaust and was conceived of as a Deanna Troi episode for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Joe Menosky, co-writer of the episode's story, recalled, "That episode was actually a Next Generation story that Brannon [Braga] and I came up with a long, long time ago, and it was going to be a Troi story. Lisa [Klink] took it over and reworked it and made it a Voyager episode."

- Actress Roxann Dawson was thrilled with the teleplay of this episode. She remarked, "It was a brilliant script [....] I felt the show had something to say."

- Towards the end of Voyager's seventh and final season, Dawson cited this episode as being "the episode I'm probably most proud of," and further said, "It was a great opportunity to play two characters, really."

- Ultimately, Brannon Braga was disappointed by this episode; he would have preferred that the episode had been done as an installment of TNG and felt that Schindler's List as well as subsequent awareness of the Holocaust had taken the edge off this episode's genocide-related story.

- On the other hand, Joe Menosky favored the episode's final form over its TNG origins. "I think, ironically enough, that it was better as a Voyager than it would have been as a TNG," he enthused, "and I think better as a Torres story than it would have been as a Troi story. Because in some ways, not having a 'sensitive' character and to be thrown into this situation is a little more effective."

- In this episode, Janeway quips to Tuvok, "I wonder how long it's been since I did anything that surprised you." Two episodes prior, in "The Swarm"; in that episode, Tuvok claims to be surprised by her decision to pass through the swarm's space. It should be noted, however, that "The Swarm" actually follows this episode in production order and has a later stardate (50252.3).

"Why don't you go on without me."
(Harry Kim and Jessen leave)
"No, really. I insist."

- B'Elanna Torres

"I don't think satisfying your curiosity is worth risking brain damage, lieutenant."

- The Doctor, to Torres

"I wish... I had your abilities. I could just show you."
"You would do that? Share your experiences openly?"
"Of course."

- B'Elanna Torres and Jessen

"So that's it? We just go on our merry way and nobody ever has to take any kind of responsibility?"

- B'Elanna Torres to Captain Janeway

Poster's Log:
Well, good for Dawson to get a meaty episode containing every TV franchise regular's favorite acting treat, the Completely Different Character. But from the audience's perspective? Yeah, the news that this was originally a Troi episode should surprise no one, especially since the whole concept is way too similar to TNG: "Violations" (or was it "Man of the People"…).

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
We all know guest baddie Bruce Davison as the Moist Senator from the first X-Men movie, the head of Susan's estate in Seinfeld, and looooots of other stuff. He's so reliable. If he hadn't been cast in this episode, I might have tuned it out entirely. The likely reason I found it dull (and I have found it dull every time I've seen it) was my meta-expectation that the Enaran story wasn't gonna impact Torres, or anybody else, all that much. The worst example in the Trek franchise of this phenomenon might be the utterly pointless TNG episode "Masks," wherein the conflict is completely peripheral to the main cast; it feels like you're watching Picard and Data watching some other story. At least "Remember" did make an effort at this, and Torres got a nice lashing-out moment at the end. Plus, it's not like it's a bad story, and they do deserve credit for giving us the rare slower, more thoughtful VOY episode. Maybe this is just a case where I agree with Braga w/r/t being tired of the whole concept of the Holocaust allegory in a sci-fi/fantasy setting.

The grody forehead dishrags will return later this season on the Invisible Stone Aliens in "Blood Fever."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (4 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I liked it, but not because it was a good allegory for the Holocaust; I think that it was a good allegory for the Trail of Tears.

See, we've had space Nazis on the show before, both in the literal sense and in the case of the Cardassians, which got worked on in DS9 quite a bit. The thing is, the Cardassians tend to be very "othered" both in their physical appearance and in the description of their society and culture, which tends toward the totalitarian. (Their civilian government, the Detapa Council, lasted less long than the Weimar Republic, and the best-known Cardassian civilian would be Garak, a more-or-less-former spy who knows over a dozen ways of killing you with anything within arm's reach at any given time.) We get to meet other civilians and people raging against the machine and #NotAllCardassians and all that, but they're still very much Those People, not like Our People, or even the Bajorans (although they flirt with that at the beginning of the second season). It's akin to the anti-German sentiment that took hold in America during World War I. We didn't have to worry about sliding into totalitarianism because we weren't like that.

Except that the ease with which the German-American population was othered in that war, ditto the Japanese-American population in WWII, plus slavery and Jim Crow, plus the aforementioned Trail of Tears and Wounded Knee and... well, you get my point. It doesn't take a totalitarian government to do very bad things to people, just a handy excuse and some clever propaganda. And one of the easiest and most durable excuses for doing so is Progress, a god toward which even the progressive (ahem) TOS genuflected, with its periodic disruption of some stable alien society with Kirk asserting that they were better off without Vaal or Landru or that anti-aggro space pollen, because they weren't making Progress. It's even pretty easy for the formerly oppressed to reach for that rationalization, as Kira found out in an early DS9 episode titled--dig it!--"Progress", when she has to tell the old Bajoran farmer that he has to leave his farm to make way for a power plant, and he's all like, wow, why did we even get the Cardassians to leave?

And thus with the Enarans, who are pretty American-coded despite their funky head-wraps and their Trill-lite markings, and are so nice--they helped us out with power conservation tech, and their music is so nice, and Neelix makes over the mess hall for Enaran Heritage Day, etc. Even B'Elanna's dreams are initially pretty fun, as far as vanilla porn goes. But then, of course, we find out about that Regrettable Incident. And the thing that makes it for me is that it's the nice old lady, that gifted musician, who couldn't let it die with her, because not only did she cheer while her lover was executed, but she lied to the children about it. She loved her father, but her father helped rationalize the slaughter. (Bruce Davison is really excellent in the role; it bears some similarity to his role as Senator Kelly in the X-Men movies, as someone else who proposed that we take Certain Steps. On the other end of the spectrum, here's Davison in Longtime Companion, in a role for which he won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar; have kleenex handy.) It's a lot easier to forget if it's actively being denied at the time that it's happening, and Jora Mirell just barely gets it out before she dies. And Jessen, the Enaran who copies the memories from B'Elanna, does so reluctantly. It doesn't take much for this sort of thing to die out, just a certain sort of "benign" neglect.

It is too bad that this wasn't followed up on in future episodes, especially because B'Elanna is/was a Maquis, a group that, at least for a short while, did organize effective resistance against the Federation and the Cardassians, the former being exceedingly nice, of course. Unless you didn't get with the program. It also might have had more resonance if Chakotay had been the one to receive the memories, although the showrunners don't seem to have been conscious of the better historical analogy, and Chakotay would eventually get his own experience with telepathic passing-on of information and feeling in "Nemesis", and much of the rest of the crew in "Memorial."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:55 AM on June 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

Particle of the Week: Not applicable this time.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: The setup here, where Voyager is integrating alien tech into their ship, is absolutely critical in endgame Star Trek Online. (Don't remember the last time I flew a ship where I hadn't voided the warranty in this fashion.)

Ongoing Counts: Rolled forward again.
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: 24.
* Shuttles: Down 3.
* Crew: 143.
* Other: 47 bio-neural gelpacks remaining, maybe 25-50% of the escape pods should be gone at this point.
* Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: Standing at 8.
* Janeway's Big Red Button: 2 aborted self-destructs, 1 successful.

* I like this one.

A lot of it comes down to this:
On the other hand, Joe Menosky favored the episode's final form over its TNG origins. "I think, ironically enough, that it was better as a Voyager than it would have been as a TNG," he enthused, "and I think better as a Torres story than it would have been as a Troi story. Because in some ways, not having a 'sensitive' character and to be thrown into this situation is a little more effective."
Tossing Troi in this situation? Boring, because it's in her comfort zone. (I preferred her being pushed out of her zone too - Face of the Enemy or Disaster or the like.) Giving it to B'Ellana was a good narrative move for the same reason: her curiosity and her outburst at the end were both very sympathetic.

I also sympathized with Janeway here, even though it is Yet Another Flipflop Versus Last Week - last time, they were willing to lose their shot at going home to stop Ferengi without jurisdiction. This time, Janeway's engaging in the only response they really can pursue: cut ties, move on.

Finally, I found the responses of the aliens themselves perfectly believable. The last time we had something like this on Voyager was probably Alliances, and the Trabe weren't nearly subtle enough. This all read as 'yeah this is exactly how I would expect a situation like this to go.'

I liked it, but not because it was a good allegory for the Holocaust; I think that it was a good allegory for the Trail of Tears.

That's a very good point. That isn't where my head went - I went for the obvious Nazi thing - but I really think you're onto something here. This wasn't about fascism or totalitarianism, it was about a people deciding to just expunge another and keep on like nothing had happened. (If anything, this is scarier because it's been so much more insidious, historically.)

And one of the easiest and most durable excuses for doing so is Progress, a god toward which even the progressive (ahem) TOS genuflected, with its periodic disruption of some stable alien society with Kirk asserting that they were better off without Vaal or Landru or that anti-aggro space pollen, because they weren't making Progress.

Also a very good point.

It also might have had more resonance if Chakotay had been the one to receive the memories

I sort of liked that it was B'Ellana from a technobabble and narrative standpoint: giving a female crew member a meaty, dramatic episode is good, and having it be the only half-Klingon on the ship handwaves 'why didn't the lady pick anybody else?'

So... hm. Yeah. Just giving this one high marks, really. Neelix was even fine: his prep for the delegation was downright thoughtful. It also strikes me that B'Ellana-centric episodes have a good track record for me on the rewatch, which is a pleasant surprise. Hadn't noticed the pattern when the show was airing.
posted by mordax at 3:53 PM on June 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

This is one of the better episodes of the season, for many reasons. Not the least of which are Dawson and Davison's superb performances. Dawson in particular was riveting. The scene where she begins cheering as Korenna as part of that mob sent chills down my spine.

It's an allegory better related to the Trail of Tears than the Holocaust, I agree. But there's an historical pattern to attempted genocides and ethnic cleansings, in that afterwards they tend to get buried. The Armenians. The Hazaras. The Romani. The Native Americans. The Dzungars. The Australian Aborigines. Etc., etc. History is written by the victors. So there are still strong connections to the Holocaust and the way many modern-day Poles treat the subject. As well as how Germany has gone in the opposite direction -- full transparency and strong crackdowns on any possibility that it might happen again in their country, on their watch. But the aftermath is at least as important as the act, I think. It's not just the oppression or ethnic cleansing that matters, but also how the society moved forward afterwards. They covered up what they had done, and basked in the peaceful, technologically adept culture that developed.

I believe Torres was a better choice than Chakotay here.

Torres: "It's not just a matter of history. This could happen again, if no one knows it happened before!"

Torres is in a unique position as an outsider to the Enaran culture -- she can expose what happened without risk or harm. Something Jora Mirel couldn't do.

This is exactly the sort of underdog story that Torres' character was written for. She has a strong sense of justice, a stubborn streak a mile wide, thoughtful compassion and an intensity that truly shines. There's no way that the our chief engineer, who joined and fought for the Maquis in a battle against Cardassian oppressors, would ever let genocide be swept under the proverbial rug. I'm not sure Chakotay would have done as well in her place, and am so glad Dawson had the opportunity to show us her acting chops here.
posted by zarq at 7:48 AM on June 16, 2017 [6 favorites]

I was surprised by how deftly they managed to handle their rather touchy and at the same time overused subject in this episode. In general, it's not a storyline I'm really fond of, first off in how completely mundane and common the use of past tragedy in often frivolous and unsuitable fictions is, and secondly in how they tend to use those tragedies to identify some other as the bad group that audiences can oppose all too easily as the heroes are so readily aligned on the side of good. It's easy to defeat papernazis, not so easy to recognize them in your own home, basically.

Here though they managed to find a reasonable tone, decent approach, and in using Dawson in two roles, at least offer some suggestion of a main character, and through her the audience, being somewhat implicated in the events more effectively than is the norm. I think Alliances handled that part a little better, more directly raising questions of Voyager's too ready friendship with the Trabe, but there was so much other unpleasant "noise" in their handling of the Kazon, it wasn't as successful an accomplishment overall as this episode.

I'll skip much mention of Dawson and Davidson since that's been covered and I pretty much agree, instead I'll mention how much I liked the way they handled Jora, the old woman imposing her memories on B'Elanna, and Jor, the man who shared his music history with Janeway.

With Jor, I was pleased they didn't make him a secret monster who shows his true colors at the Enaran history being found out. He is reasonable and sincere seeming, which makes the Enaran actions and denial all the more believable and effective as a more meaningful connection to the audience. His imposition on Janeway of his musical history was a nice touch, thoughtful and thoughtless in equal measure, and both Mulgrew and Roche (Talk about an actor who's easily recognizable. Roche is one of those guys who seems like he's been around forever in dozens and dozens of things I've seen) play the situation really well, Jor seeming genuinely distressed, but still having made the imposition without thought, and Janeway, both shook up and overwhelmed by the event, caught between the generosity of the intent and the indelicacy of the action.

What impressed me most about Jora was how she was shown to be exactly the sort of woman who would impose her memories on someone else without much regard for their well being, and yet also genuinely believes in the beliefs she espouses. When we first meet her she's comes across as one of those people who are never content to allow you to speak of an experience without feeling the need to correct or better it. You don't know beauty like I know beauty. There is something immediately tiresome about her in that way, where it isn't that you don't think she means well or isn't nice, but where you nonetheless aren't really eager to spend much time around her as everything will revolve around her perceptions and history. It's an excellent choice as it both gets around the question of the violation, since Jora won't see it as that, and makes her story all the more understandable and tragic in a sense, given the nature of her involvement.

It's worth noting too that making the Enarans telepaths is an added nice touch as it is something we don't see them use in the flashbacks, and it even more strongly points out the abuse of logic and lack of empathy employed in such situations. If telepaths aren't interested in bridging connections due to aesthetic difference, then it isn't a question of lack of knowledge, but willful ignorance in the cause of hate.

The B plot, such as it was, also worked well, with Harry and Jessen showing some interest in each other, allowing Jessen to end up as the deciding figure, in a way, where she is poised between continuing denial through loyalty to her people, yet potentially open to challenging that through her interactions with Harry and B'Elanna. It does run close to the problem of gravitating towards the heroes "proves" moral value problem, but in this case I think it worked well given her initially strong stance against the story and by ending only with suggestion of potential change rather than any too easy switch of allegiance on her part.

I had no problem with how they handled Janeway's response in this episode, though in combination with the last few less successful ones, the show isn't doing her character any favors overall with all these reversals and limitations of or on judgment. It's a bit annoying how those previous episodes still sort of taint this one in that way, robbing some of the strength of meaning of Janeway's decision given who she is hasn't been held steady or made entirely clear in a lot of ways.

As to the Chakotay thing, I think B'Elanna was the better choice here (though Chakotay rushing from bed to embrace Dathan would have been fanfic heaven), but I would have perhaps liked to have seen Chakotay make a more personal comment on the situation once he was informed about the history of the Enarans. I think that could have adequately sold the connection to Native American history and still kept the better character situation that came from using B'Elanna as the main conduit.

My only complaint, I mean I have to have one, is I wasn't thrilled over the crowd scene at the burning, it felt off and a bit too automatic, particularly in Korenna/Jora/B'Elanna's response being a little too flat, and the crowd a little too generic. Not a deal breaker, but it was an unfortunate slight misstep at a central moment and it could have worked better had it gone somewhat differently.

Overall it was a good episode, with everyone involved doing good work, the direction was solid, a nice consistent and appropriate tone that didn't push too hard nor sit back too much, and good writing and acting from all. It isn't an episode I'd look to first as one to rewatch, or call a favorite exactly, it's a little too much a one off, closed book, story for that, but a fine example of that form which serves as a big part of Voyager's style. If all episodes were this good, there'd be little to complain about with the show. Thank goodness, I guess, that isn't the case since it'd make these discussions a lot less interesting. Heh.
posted by gusottertrout at 3:21 AM on June 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

« Older Mystery Science Theater 3000: ...   |  Podcast: The Adventure Zone: E... Newer »

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