Saturday, March 2, 2013

Star Trek-Voyager: Caretaker

                      Captain Kathryn Janeway,commander of the Starship Voyager journeys to a Federation Penal Colony in Australia to temporarily release imprisoned Marquis sympathizer Tom Paris to help her pilot Voyager through the Badlands,an area of intense fire storms,to locate a Marquis vessel containing her undercover chief of security Tuvok. Upon arriving at the Badlands,Voyager is thrown forward by a powerful energy field and half the crew either killed or knocked unconscious. When the captain awakens,her operations officer Harry Kim informs her they are now 70,000 light years from from where they started-in the distant delta quadrant. They find a mysterious alien array before them,firing energy pulses to a dead planet below. After they revive the EMH (emergency medical hologram) to treat the injured,they suddenly disappear. With the array as the only possible culprit the Captain,Harry and Tom transport on board to find what seems like an Earth style barn yard dance. In a barn on the premises,Harry detects indications of Sporosystian life. They suddenly find themselves dangling on platforms,in an enormous chamber,with the rest of their own and the Marquis crew. When they are returned to their own ship,Janeway finds Harry is missing. He is being held with Marquis engineer B'lanna Torres by a race calling themselves the Ocampa. 

                   The Ocampa claim the two have a disease they are asked to treat by an alien called the Caretaker,who overseas their world after their planet turned into a dessert and the Ocampa were forced to live underground. Voyager,for their part,soon encounter a Talaxian scavenger called Nelix who promises he can help them find their missing crew member. He takes them to the surface to a group of aliens called the Kazon Ogla who,in exchange for water,release Neelix's Ocampa lover from their custody. Despite Neelix's  odd methods,this allows the Voyager crew and the Marquis team,who've elected to join forces to get to their home quadrant,to rescue their crew mates and confront this caretaker. Turns out the caretaker blames himself for what happened to the surface of the Ocampa home world,and has been bringing aliens from other parts of the galaxy to try and procreate. Because the Kazon wish to commandeer the array,Janeway is forced to destroy it-along with the crews one chance of getting home,in order to maintain the balance of power in this region. While making an enemy of the Kazon,Janeway manages to unite Starfleet and Marquis personal in a mission of exploration of the Delta Quadrant,while searching for another way to get home.

               As with the Deep Space Nine pilot,this is a very busy story. Not only are we introduced to a one set of new characters but two,as the central theme of the show is two divergent crews coming together for a common goal. And a diverse group it is. We have Torres,an intelligent but aggressive Klingon/Human hybrid. There's the holographic doctor with no bedside manner. There's the new alien Neelix,a mildly mischievous rogue who is looking for little more than love and to reform his vagabond ways. And his girlfriend Kes,who offers their services to Janeway as guides to the quadrant. The title character is one we learn very little about. He comes off as compassionate but too powerful to fully comprehend human needs and therefore has a mildly sinister quality. One theme that carried on from this story through the rest of the series was Janeway's controversial choice to destroy the crews one way of getting home-to keep from violating the Federation's Prime Directive. While it shows her strong moral fortitude,which is at the heart of Star Trek itself,it is a source of contention between her and Voyager's crew on many occasions throughout the series.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Deep Space Nine-Emissary

                   Three years after his wife was killed when the Borg,led by Locutus,destroyed the ship he was first officer of,Commander Benjamin Sisko is assigned by Captain Jean-Luc Picard to the space station Deep Space Nine in orbit around Bajor following the Cardassians withdrawing their occupational forces from that world. The reluctant widowed officer,along with his son Jake,arrive on the station to be greeted by a wrecked station partially crewed-with most of it's original occupants preparing to leave. He meets up with the equally reluctant Bajoran nation Major Kira Nyrys,who is convinced the Federation has no place administrating on the station now that the Bajoran's are finally liberated and cynically believes he and the other Starfleet officers will be gone in a week. She convinces Sisko to visit the Bajoran's spiritual leader Kai Opaka. Upon arriving Sisko is introduced to an orb Opaka calls "the tear of the prophets",which reveals Sisko's first meeting with his deceased wife. When his new Trill science officer Jadzia Dax arrives,she studies the orb and suggests she and Sisko,with whom she had been friends in her past host body, take one of the Federation runabouts on the station to investigate a source signal from the orb in the nearby Denorious belt.

                             Upon arriving their they find themselves in an unusual wormhole that Dax discovers to be the only stable wormhole encountered by the Federation-with the end destination in the Gamma Quadrant 75,000 light years away. On the way back,the runabout mysteriously touches down inside the wormhole,Dax believes she is in a tranquil garden while Sisko on a rock face in the middle of an atmospheric storm. An orb appears and whisks Dax away,but envelopes Sisko. He finds himself speaking to aliens who appear as his comrades and loved ones,claiming to be aliens existing in this wormhole outside. As he uses metaphors to explain linear time to the aliens,Kira and Chief of Operations Miles O'Brien attempt to fend off invading Cardassians as they look to stake a claim to the newly discovered stable wormhole. O'Brien manages to re-engage the shields to provide enough power to move the station to the edge of the wormhole-just in time for Commander Sisko's return,after which he formerly accepts his new assignment to Captain Picard.

                            This is an extremely complex premiere that,in approximately 90 minutes,attempts to sum up a number of very complex plot points. There's the shape shifting security chief Odo,attempting to maintain order on Deep Space Nine following the Cardassian desertion and Quark,the conniving Ferengi bar owner who Sisko assigns as a community leader on the new liberated station. The main thrust for Sisko in this story is actually an extension on what was attempted in the original Star Trek pilot The Cage-a tortured man in a command position who is forced to confront his demons with the help of powerful aliens. Only this time while the wormhole aliens are able to express to Sisko he is living in the past,he manages to help them explain linear time effectively through examples like baseball.  Though Deep Space Nine would be a series that was very uneven in quality through it's seven year airing,this counts as one of the best Star Trek pilot episodes ever aired.