Star Trek: Voyager: Rise   Rewatch 
July 31, 2017 7:40 AM - Season 3, Episode 19 - Subscribe

Asteroids are out of control/ Rise above! We're gonna rise above!/ Out of contact with the ship/ Rise above! We're gonna rise above!/ Secret traitor aboard the lift/ Rise above! We're gonna rise above!/ Intuition vs. logic fight/ Rise above! We're gonna rise above!/ Neelix is tired of Tuvok's abuse/ Try to stop it; it's no use!/

Memory Alpha may have padded its resume just a teensy bit:

- Story writer Jimmy Diggs, stuck for an idea to pitch to Star Trek: Voyager, took inspiration from the 1965 movie The Flight of the Phoenix. This episode reuses, from that film, the idea of stranded innocents with no escape, a so-called expert coming to the rescue but being revealed to be a phony, and the hero nevertheless succeeding in ultimately making it all work out.

- This installment is the second in what is known to some fans as the "trilogy of terror" – three consecutive episodes that are often considered to be remarkably bad (the other two episodes being "Darkling" and "Favorite Son").

- In common with this episode, 2009's Star Trek includes a fight scene in a planet's upper atmosphere, on a platform whose level can be remotely adjusted.

- Several years later, Neelix wins the debate that ends the episode: Tuvok finds himself relying on a "hunch" to the point of staking Captain Janeway's life on it.

"It is illogical to dwell on situations beyond your control. It will only serve to heighten your anxiety, which, if I may say so, is heightened enough."
"Oh. Well, thank you for the reassurance."
- Tuvok and Sklar

"Where are you going? You don't even know what you're looking for."
"I am looking for Mr. Neelix's instinct. Perhaps it will be marked."
- Sklar and Tuvok, as Tuvok exits the elevator

"Mr. Sklar ... returned to the surface."
- Neelix, while being debriefed after his return to Voyager, sarcastically rephrasing a previous statement of Sklar.

Poster's Log:

As with the previous episode (which I haven't commented on yet, although I will--got back late yesterday and had a small crisis to deal with at home), I think that it's undeserving of the whole "trilogy of terror" thing. (I haven't yet rewatched "Favorite Son", which may deserve its bad reputation, although I think that that suffers from a completely ridiculous premise... but I'm getting ahead of myself.) "Rise"'s main problem IMO is that it's got a very Murder on the Orient Express-y plot--they're on the carriage and are in a desperate race against time, but one of them is a killer--who, whooooo? Is it the simple working man, the scrappy survivor, or the unlikeable bureaucrat who has been insisting from the very beginning that they get off the planet without even trying to solve the puzzle of why they can't just zap the incoming asteroids? Whooooo?

But I think that it still works, for a couple of reasons. One is that actual science fiction was committed in the course of this episode, WRT orbital tethers and the strategic use of asteroids. I think that VOY generally deals with hard SF ideas better than the other shows, and more frequently, although it also of course relies on Treknobabble and magic space particles.The other is that actual consistent characterization was also committed; although neither Tuvok nor Neelix see fit to refer to their "Tuvix time" in terms of having any particular insight into each other, Neelix rightfully calls Tuvok on his bullshit. It's implicit in his rant that they wouldn't have even tried if Neelix hadn't, ah, exaggerated his experience in order to overcome Tuvok's resistance. Of course, Tuvok has been told or instructed by experience to lighten up before--with the Maquis training crew of "Learning Curve" and more recently in "Alter Ego"--but he's nearly a century old and people generally don't change overnight. There was also a good reference to "Jetrel" with Neelix's naming the carriage after his sister (and a nifty bit where Lillias tells him to do it for Alixia). It's not one of the best episodes of the show, probably not even one of the best this season, but it's decent enough and has some nice work for Phillips and Russ.

Poster's Log, supplemental: the linked Wikipedia section about asteroids as weapons not only neglects to mention this episode, but also Walter Jon Williams' Hardwired, a novel that was in turn inspired by Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley (which was very different from the movie adaptation). Probably the example that most people are familiar with is the movie version of Starship Troopers, which didn't explain how the Klendathu bugs could not only work out exactly when and where to launch asteroids that would not only hit Earth, but hit it in a major population center like Buenos Aires, but also propel it across light years in time to make a difference in the war. Even for space opera, that's really spitballing it. I liked the guided-missile approach of the Etanian Order more, especially since it gave the neat visual of Chakotay and B'Elanna cracking the "asteroid" open like a geode.
posted by Halloween Jack (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This episode's title has bugged me for years because I've seen it listed in various reference materials and TV listings as "Rise!" (note the exclamation mark). So which is it? "Rise" or "Rise!"?
posted by Servo5678 at 8:25 AM on July 31, 2017

"Rise", no exclamation point. One of the nice things about the Memory Alpha entries is that they show screenshots of the title cards, so that you know, for example, that "Operation -- Annihilate!" has an exclamation point and double dash.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:52 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

And I was going to guess "Rise?" given they are relying on Neelix and all for it to work.

So this is episode 194 of Vulcans....nah, not this time. I think this episode actually makes some reasonable use of the ongoing Tuvok/Neelix clash, with Tuvok's logic, for the most part, actually being sensibly worked around and called out by Neelix given the effect of its use has emotional repercussions.

It's a good revision of Neelix's character for the show and for his relationship with Tuvok, giving it more depth without critically unbalancing that relationship either way. Neelix's complaints, and complements about Tuvok are reasonable from his perspective, while Tuvok's rejoinders and logic are also more or less reasonable for his character as well and each has some bite to it both in the situation and historically for them.

The Flight of the Phoenix steal is a good one. I've always liked that movie, the original one anyway. They did a nice job too in sort of combining the some of the characteristics of the different characters in the movie into Neelix and Tuvok while keeping the essential dynamic. In the movie, a group of survivors of a plane crash must decide whether or not to trust a rather unlikeable little German fellow who says he can make build another plane out of parts remaining from the first as he has expertise in the matter (expertise that turns out to be in building models). Jimmy Stewart plays the pilot who doubts Kruger, who plays the German, and arrogantly argues with him over the feasibility of the plan. Stewart turns out to be wrong, Kruger right, in fact, but not as much in presentation. They succeed in large part due to the intercession of Richard Attenborough's character who smooths the way between them by shifting focus towards a more personable restatement of the issues and maintaining some small sense of humanity among the group overall. (That's sort of a condensed version anyway.)

Tuvok and Neelix aren't ideal matches for the any of characters specifically, but each is given some useful connection to the three main characters in the film, with Tuvok having some of the arrogance, command, and logic of Stewart and Kruger, and Neelix the personable interest of Attenborough and some of the unlikeability and dubious expertise of Kruger. It makes the story fit well enough as an overlay to allow for the secondary Agatha Christie plot to add some more characters and side interest to extend the main storyline and give Tuvok and Neelix mroe to work with. It's not brilliant or anything, but nice and effective enough to be compelling over all.

I agree too with the bonus of it having some aura of hard sci-fi around the edges here, which adds some further interest to the episode overall and gives the aliens some history for the story, which takes Voyager from the center of another alien encounter to being a secondary participant, which is something I tend to like since it adds the feel of their passing through someone else's turf rather than being the only thing of importance in the Quandrant.

So, while I liked this one a fair bit more than the last episode, and wouldn't count either among Voyager's best, I still got more than enough out of each to not think of them as deserving special notice as "terrors". There's some good stuff in each, some not so great things, but overall I think they're both adding more to the series than they take away.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:36 AM on July 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

Particle of the Week: Triadium. ("Triadium? Isn't that an alloy?")
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: There's at least one mission with a piece of space debris that refuses to go down to a single torpedo: Driffen's Comet features in a whole episode arc, and requires the application of decent firepower to properly disintegrate.

Ongoing Counts:
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: 22. They shoot 1 here, although I suspect more should have been used in the battle at the climax.
* Shuttles: Down 4. I'm going to assume they were able to recover Tuvok's shuttle since they drove off the attackers. At the same time, the episode implies they started with a complement of at least 7 shuttles, since 3 are used in rescue operations in this episode. That seems high to me. (I was unable to get a full count at memory alpha, but Voyager is physically a little small to carry a ton of those.)
* Crew: 142.
* Other: 46 bio-neural gelpacks remaining, maybe 25-50% of the escape pods should be gone at this point.
* Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: 8.
* Janeway's Big Red Button: 2 aborted self-destructs, 1 successful.

* This one is also better than advertised, mostly suffering from a weak resolution.

Like Jack (and upon preview: gus), I feel like the whole 'trilogy of terror' thing is overblown here. For the most part, the episode is actually pretty cool. I liked the space elevator and the use of asteroids as weapons, (a point that also came up in Stargate SG-1 when some bad guys needed plausible deniability on the galactic political stage). Watching them struggle with perfectly reasonable concerns like 'not enough air' and 'the tether will snap if misused' and so on worked for me.

The place where this episode screws up, and may be remembered less fondly than it deserves, is the ending: not only was Sklar blatantly the one behind everything, but the datapad containing the enemy shield frequency is ridiculous. The scientist collected information that detailed how exactly? That whole section of the episode needed some script doctoring because it was dumb. Worse, Janeway walks into the fight with the superior enemy vessel like she knows something will pull them out of it later - they should not have been confident in their ability to take down the enemy vessel without assistance.

But it's a shame because I laughed out loud at Neelix's bit about 'they were MODELS!' That managed to both be completely Neelix, and also just the thing everybody needed to survive.

Other stuff:
* More 'Vulcans are full of crap' stuff.

The debate actually reminded me not of the story they cite as inspiration, but The Galileo Seven from TOS for having an emotional character and a strawman logician arguing about priorities. I'm not sure why it was that one that came to mind, but it's what I was thinking the whole time.

It's tradition that Trek side with emotions by misunderstanding how a 'logical' person arrives at conclusions, but it's rankled me since I was a little boy. It's also a little problematic in that we get more inconsistent characterization about Tuvok's emotional competence: does he or does he not know how people work? This episode leans more toward 'he doesn't' again.

Still, this is probably one of the better ones since they make each character right some of the time, and because Phillips and Russ have good chemistry. Plus, they do share a mutual respect by the episode's end. So... while I dislike the overall premise of their argument, (at least the Trekkian version here), this one still mostly works.

* Someone remembered Tuvok has super strength.

I wish that came up in hand-to-hand a little more, but it amused me to see it here. It did seem inconsistent here too, though: Sklar probably shouldn't have been able to get the drop on Tuvok except atop the compartment.

* This is a pretty good Neelix episode.

There's no hint of tension with Kes. His complaints toward Tuvok do indeed, (as gus mentioned), make perfect sense to him even though we know he's been a boundary pushing jerk toward Tuvok many times. He acquits himself very well here: he's resourceful, good with people and thinks well on his feet, all the attributes he was supposed to have when he was pitching himself to Janeway in the pilot.

So yeah. This is solid B territory for me for Voyager: watchable but forgettable, nothing to really go on and on about except for the larger thread about 'what's the deal with Vulcans?' that we've been talking about here. The mystery was weak but the science fiction was harder than usual, and credit where credit is due.

Also: it's weird to be defending Voyager, even a little, for a second episode in a row. I do remember the next one being a real turkey though, so I guess we'll see if the streak holds.
posted by mordax at 9:48 AM on July 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

we get more inconsistent characterization about Tuvok's emotional competence: does he or does he not know how people work? This episode leans more toward 'he doesn't' again.

One of the things that I found worked about this one was that it was the extent of Neelix's anger that seemed to surprise Tuvok, and understandably so given Neelix's usual subservient attitude, but also that it seemed to suggest as much that simply being Vulcan would cause difficulty in some emotional situations due to their method of communication, even if they did understand "human" emotional needs. There's simply a gulf that can't be completely crossed between understanding and expression in that sense. (I take it that way given what I saw as Tuvok's understandable reluctance to agree to some of Neelix's "gut" takes. Or maybe it just fit my own feelings/logic on/of each character better this time than in some past episodes.) But, yeah, it isn't consistent as such either.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:20 AM on July 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

I thought I might end up being the Lonely Defender of this episode, heh. I consider it the best of the alleged "Trilogy of Terror," and maybe a juuuust-above-average one for the season. So, pretty much on the same page as everybody else so far. It's fun, it's good character stuff for Tuvok and Neelix, and it's great to have an effective Adventure-type story (which VOY loves to do, and is often good at, though perhaps not as consistently as it thinks it is) that uses real future-science.

I think that VOY generally deals with hard SF ideas better than the other shows, and more frequently, although it also of course relies on Treknobabble and magic space particles.

I'd agree with that, but with the added proviso that it often deals with hard SF ideas *worse* than the other shows too. I don't recall anything as antiscientific as "Threshold" in the franchise, outside of J.J. anyway. So, swingier.

it seemed to suggest as much that simply being Vulcan would cause difficulty in some emotional situations due to their method of communication, even if they did understand "human" emotional needs.

This is a good point, and a relevant one for this episode. And it shows some consistency in Tuvok's character; since we know he left Starfleet for a while basically because he couldn't handle Humans, it stands to reason that even at his age, he's not capable of fully smooth interaction with emotional species. And really, it's fortunate VOY kept that up in his character. Given the situation, and the amount of Vulcan-stuff we've seen throughout the franchise up until this point, I could well imagine a scenario where they kind of just forgot, and made Tuvok way too easy w/r/t his interactions with non-Vulcans. As it is, he may be the smoothest major Vulcan character in that regard; I suppose it's arguable whether Spock is better at it, or whether the fact that he's half-human gives him a +2 modifier to Charisma or something.

So what I'm curious about is, why do we suppose this episode is considered an especially bad one? Is it just because it's a Neelix episode?
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:55 AM on July 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

But, yeah, it isn't consistent as such either.

Yeah. I think you're right in that it is somewhat obscured by Vulcan culture, but this is still a pretty stark contrast with the complicated, (and surprisingly accurate), insight that he offers in Alter Ego.


I suppose it's probably fair to chalk Alter Ego up as the anomaly though: I guess in retrospect, everything else is reasonably consistent about this stuff. It's a shame, because I really like the discussion of emotional control in that episode. (It's maybe the only time Vulcan discipline doesn't sound like gibberish to me.)

I suppose it's arguable whether Spock is better at it, or whether the fact that he's half-human gives him a +2 modifier to Charisma or something.

Speaking from personal experience as someone biracial, I feel like it's the Charisma thing: people who don't properly 'belong' in one culture are often better at flipping between them as a survival thing.

So what I'm curious about is, why do we suppose this episode is considered an especially bad one? Is it just because it's a Neelix episode?

I feel like it being a Neelix episode is definitely a strike against it in popular memory: by this point in the original airing, I was pretty much rooting for that scene where Tuvok strangles Holo-Neelix in Meld. (It's much easier to give him a fair hearing in retrospect for a variety of reasons.)

Add the weak ending to that, and I think there's a recipe for bad press - people tend to remember the end of a story the most, and that was the only part of this episode they didn't really figure out.
posted by mordax at 11:30 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

So what I'm curious about is, why do we suppose this episode is considered an especially bad one? Is it just because it's a Neelix episode?

Neelix was the best part of this episode, imo.

The plot was so convoluted as to be unbelievable and the guest actors (with the exception of Alan Oppenheimer) were kinda terrible.

Tension between Neelix and Tuvok. They're trapped on the planet. They find a space elevator. Neelix is held hostage. Space elevator needs to be repaired. Scientists launches too early. More tension between Neelix and Tuvok. Scientist gets poisoned. Much more tension between Neelix and Tuvok. Trapped with a poisoner. Intrigue! A whodunit! The asteroids aren't real! Battle in the elevator. Battle on top of the space elevator. A padd affixed to the top of the elevator conveniently contains plans for the attacking ships. Sklar gets his. SPACE BATTLE that turns out to be boring.

They had to have Neelix explain the plot to Lillias (and therefore to the audience) in the penultimate scene in the mess hall. Does the writer's room not realize that's a sign the plot is way too complicated?

So we've been watching Neelix' arc throughout season 3. We've seen that he's had a crisis of confidence. He's screwed up in a huge way, lost his girlfriend and nearly lost his adopted family. He's flying blind and worried about his place with the crew, now that he's less valuable to them as a guide through unknown space. Meanwhile, since day 1, Tuvok has always been condescending towards Neelix. But then, Tuvok's always been condescending to everyone. It's something of a Vulcan trait. Neelix doesn't have a lot of experience working with Vulcans, and takes Tuvok's attitude personally.

This extended confrontation was a long time coming. It was nice to see Neelix shine a bit without being awful and annoying -- even if he returns to form a bit at the end of the episode ("Mister Vulcan.") His admission that his experience was working with 1/10th size models was pretty hilarious. It was good to see Tuvok get a dig or ten in ("I'm looking for Mister Neelix's instinct. Perhaps it will be marked.") and then come to the realization that Neelix was right -- even if he does lecture him about it afterward.

This exchange was a positive development, too:
Tuvok: "Mister Neelix, I thought you should know that I have submitted my mission report to the Captain. I've given you a special commendation for your endurance and bravery."
Neelix: "I'm honored."

From a plot and story perspective I was kinda meh on this episode. From a science perspective, I really liked it. Maglevs! Space elevators! Very cool.

But the character development for Neelix along this season's arc was pretty great to see. To me, that alone saved this one from being tossed in the "terrible" pile.
posted by zarq at 12:38 PM on July 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

« Older Room 104: Ralphie...   |  Last Chance U: Season 1 (Full ... Newer »

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