For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here.
Overview – The crew throw Kes a surprise birthday party (she is turning two years old) on the holodeck. On the bridge, Tuvok and Ensign Kim discover an energy field that ultimately envelops Voyager. The field not only starts to disrupt ship systems such as communications, but it seems to be reorganizing the layout of the ship. Captain Janeway and her crew try to figure out the puzzle that has become Voyager, hoping to figure out what is happening and protect the ship from the unknown energy field.
Score: 6/10 – This is a twisted little episode that gives us a bit of a sampler of each character. This is good in that everybody has a little something to do, but bad in that nobody is really a focus. The pacing is a bit slow at times, as it seems that a significant portion shows various crew members wandering the hallways. Neelix disappears part way through, which at the time seemed odd that he would just nonchalantly wander away from Chakotay when there was something strange happening to the ship. Some of the humor works, and some of it doesn't. Some of the scenes are a bit clunky, but there are some fairly good momentsas well. To contrast this, there is one part where Janeway, after emerging from a sort of catatonic state, exclaims “It’s talking to me!”. It was done in a way that seemed off to me. In contrast, there is a touching scene where the senior officers are in the holodeck, awaiting the arrival of the mysterious and ominous field. Each crewmember (minus Neelix, who was missing) pairs up with someone. Tom and Harry, Torres and Chakotay, and the Doctor and Kes. The captain is unconscious during this, and Tuvok, in a very touching way, places his hand close to Janeway’s shoulder. While it is a simple gesture, it was a powerful one to me. The ending seems a little anti-climatic at first, but when we learn that the anomaly actually both added and copied information from the ship’s database, it added a little mystery to the story. Sadly, the mystery of where the anomaly came from and the information it gave them was never solved.
Relevance – 1 point. Neelix is still showing signs of jealously towards Tom’s interest in Kes. This started in the episode “Phage” and will finally be resolved in the next episode “Parturition”.
Continuity – 2 points. Character continuity is going to take a hit here. I found it odd that Torres, who was the only person Chakotay had met that had tried to kill their spirit guide, would seek this moment to try to contact her guide again. Story wise, everything adds up. Universe continuity is also good here.
Character Development – 1 point. As I mentioned previously, everybody gets some attention, but there is very little in the way of actual development. Neelix is becoming a bit of an annoyance with his jealousy. Kes has a birthday. The Doctor has some “fun” with the holographic Sandrine. Tuvok seems to lighten up a bit when he finds a way to allow Ensign Kim to go to the holodeck. We get a glimpse as to how each of the main characters faces the unknown. Yet with all of this happening, there is really nothing significant that happens to anyone, so we can’t really score higher than a “1” in this category.
Social Commentary – 0 points. I really tried to find something in this episode that was relevant to the being some sort of social commentary. Sadly, I got nothing.
Cool Stuff – 1 point. I did find the banter between the Doctor and Sandrine to be quite entertaining and fun. Robert Picardo has a great talent at making the Doctor funny without making him look like a total goof. Some of the dialogue between these two holograms, while brief, is just pure gold.
Rank – Lieutenant (11 points). Not a horrible episode, but not a very memorable one either. I just really think they could have done a better job with the pacing. Having said that, it can be fairly enjoyable to watch, so you should give it at least one viewing. After that, if it isn’t your preference, you can skip over it next time you binge-watch the series.
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