Archive for the ‘Voyager’ Category

Enterprise(d) Surprised

I’m watching it, and…I like it.  A few weeks ago I was catching up on Battlestar Galactica episodes on my DVR when the commercials started to roll.  Before I could hit fast forward I saw a Star Trek ship.  Having just finished Star Trek: Voyager, I really missed my Federation friends.  It was a moment of blissful nostalgia.  I then saw that it was an ad for Enterprise.  The Sci-Fi Channel would be airing three episodes every Tuesday.  Funny, I thought, today is Tuesday.  So I hopped on over to my local listings and saw that the Enterprise episode starting that evening was “Broken Bow.”  Hmm.  That really didn’t tell me much, so I did another jump.  This time over the StarTrek.com to the episode guide.  As fate would have it, (and she is a saucy minx) “Broken Bow” was Season 1, Episode 1.  What was I to do?  I had earlier mocked that Scott Bakula would force me to watch Enterprise last…fate proved me wrong.  I am watching Enterprise now.  Nine episodes later I can comfortably say that I enjoy it so far.  It’s not Voyager, but it’s pretty good.

This time we are in the Alpha Quadrant.  Vulcan’s are our annoying friends who won’t let us doing anything fun.  Klingon’s are the enemy.  And we can only travel warp 5.

Farewell to Voyager

Well folks, I finished it.  All seven seasons in about four months.  Not too bad I reckon.  I have to lend a great deal of thanks to the Spike network for playing the series in sequential order, as well as my DVR for dutifuly recording the episodes each and every day.  I thought I would write a quick post detailing my initial reactions to the series.  You know, before I start thinking about it a little too much.

First and foremost I thought Star Trek Voyager was a great show.  I think they really hit their stride in the third season and things just kept getting better from then on out.  At the same time, I loved the first few seasons (save a few of those Kazon episodes) where Voyager was trying to stand up on its wee little legs.  People who know me will frequently hear me go on a tangent about how TV today is too well written.  Producers and writers know exactly where they want their shows to go and how long it will take to get them there.  TV is too well polished.  First seasons of TV series are no longer delightful disasters to suffer through.  Funny episodes you can watch years later and cringe at – I like that sort of a thing.  It just shows that someone, somewhere had a really good idea, pitched it, got a gig, and ran with it.  They didn’t really know what they were doing, but that was the best part.  Characters and story arcs weren’t set in stone.

Sorry, sorry.  End tangent.  Basically I loved Voyager because it too seemed to have a bit of an identity crisis in the beginning.  For me, this is a good thing.  I love to watch a show grow and develop.  If I wanted to see polished I’ll buy a movie ticket.

Other great things…  Seven of Nine was awesome.  I wasn’t even sad to see Kes go really.  Seven was a much better addition to the show.  Janeway is also an amazing character.  I think she’ll be one of my all time favorites.  Also, the Doctor, Torres, and even Lt. Kim grew on me after some time.  Voyager certainly had a great cast.

This leads me to one of the more difficult issues I had with Voyager.  I have to say at the outset that I struggle with this issue on other TV series as well, it’s not limited to Star Trek.  I am finally confident in saying that I hate ensemble casts.  I just do.  They are TOO BIG!  I don’t like any one character enough to want to suffer through entire episodes either without them, or with limited interaction with them.  I totally get why they are better to work with logistially on TV.  More people means more story lines, less taxing work on the actors, all sorts of other good things as well.  But at the end of the day I want dynamic duos.  Mulder and Scully.  Xena and Gabrielle.  I’ll even take SG-1 (Daniel, O’Neill, Carter, and Tiel’c).  More than four and you lose me.  I guess I like really indepth character development.  I never cared for one moment about Chakotay, Tuvok, Neelix, etc.  If an episode centered around them I really had to grit my teeth and bear it sometimes.  It was too big.  I didn’t like everyone, and even if I did like them I didn’t want a whole episode about them.

I digress again.

In summation, I really did like Voyager.  Was it my favorite sci-fi of all time?  No.  Voyager was something I could pick up and love, but easily put away and not think about for weeks at a time.  Other shows have been much more of a craving for me.  I had to see the next episode.  If it could have been downloaded directly into my brain that would have been better.  Others were SO great.  Voyager wasn’t quite like that for me.  Yet still I loved it.

It is my guess that Voyager will end up being my favorite Star Trek series.  It’s just a guess, but I know myself pretty well.  What can I say?  I ❤ Janeway!  (I think I even said that in my first post on this blog.  Good to see somethings never change!)  If she were my captain, I’d follow her anywhere.

AdmJaneway

The God Complex

I am currently writing a paper for my Law and Technology class on the legal personality of artificial intelligence.  Though certainly not a new area in science ficition, it is relatively new in terms of the law.  The section I am including below (blissfully not full of legal mumbo-jumbo for you non-lawyer types) is in regards to an issue I’ve been thinking a great deal about.  I’m not sure whether this section will make it into the final draft of my paper.  To be honest, it’s sort of a philosophical debate that may or may not lend insight to the rest of my paper (once I get around to finishing it).  For that reason I thought I would post it here.  Offer it up to you for comments and discussion.

The God Complex

Proponents against human cloning, genetic engineering, and A.I. often describe scientists and theorists who work in these various fields as “playing God.”  This negative description seems to capture a fundamental belief by some members of society that creation and alteration of intelligent beings should be off limits, or limited to God.  Is this true?  What does it mean to be God, or a god?  In the Christian faith, God created man in his image.  Similarly, the character of the Doctor on Star Trek Voyager was a holographic computer program that looked exactly like a human.  Were the Doctors creators, albeit fictional, playing god?  Is it indicative of a god complex to create something in your image, in this case the image being a replica of our species, human?  Japan, currently engaged in the most aggressive robot program today, already includes humanoid robots in various aspects of their society.  For whatever reason, there does seem to be a clear goal of creating robots capable of mimicking humans.  This humanity can be in appearance (two arms, two legs, eyes, a mouth, etc.) or in personality (such as giving a computer program a voice and emotion).

Though not important directly to the legal personality or robots and A.I. it is interesting to consider the motivations for creating technology in the image of humanity and what this might say about us.  What does it mean to be a god?  The Goa’ould, a technologically advanced race depicted on Stargate SG-1, repeatedly stated that they were deserving of the status of god because for all intents and purposes they were.  Their technological superiority often made them impervious to weapons, they lived for thousands of years (again thanks to technology), and were followed and worshiped by millions of people.  They were, in many ways exactly what they said, gods.

Is this ability to play god a problem?  Does the court have a right to step in and declare that there are some things that ought not be created?  Can the courts or legislature limit some forms of technological advancement because it crosses some moral line in the sand reserved only for god– if not god, then simply a crude game of chance?  Cells coming together and choosing each other, for reasons unknown, which produce a result we as humans can wash our hands of.  Do we have the right to go beyond our role of dealing with the consequences of creations in which we had no part, or should we have the right to not only deal with the outcome, but also serve as creational architects?

Contemplation on this issue is crucial to the topic of robot rights because this is an area of the law that is currently being formed.  As we consider and construct the system from which we analyze the legal rights of robots we should also consider whether our role, as humans and creators has changed.  At the same time robots are being granted rights (if only to exist), will our rights be limited in regards to what we can create?  Should they be limited?  What is the difference between a god and a creator?  What does it mean when the created can mimic the creator?  Outdo him?  Most importantly, how will this issue resolve itself in the marble floors, wooden benches, and black robes of our justice system?

Great Quote on Death

As I was watching the episodes, “Emanations” this evening I found one of the quotes to be particularly nice.  The episode dealt with death and the afterlife.  Enjoy.

 “What we don’t know about death is far, far greater than what we do know.” Captain Janeway

She’s right.  And, I think that simple truth is okay.  Most people are not fine with such notions.

I <3 the Borg

borg1

I have heard of the Borg. I had not, until this week, seen them in my Star Trek Voyager. Yes, it is mine.

Initial reaction: they are cool. Scary. Ominous. Imposing. Powerful. I like them as an enemy. Much, much better than the Videan’s or the Kazon’s, which is what the Delta Quadrant has thrown at us so far. Also, I have to say that for a race of robotic beings on sci-fi television, I prefer the Borg to Stargate’s Replicators. There was something not threatening about the Replicators. They were more like bugs than a scary race. Perhaps the Borg are more frightening because they assimilate humans. The Replicators just make more, and more, and more, and more of themselves…until Sam Carter finds a way to disrupt their communication field.

Note: The introduction of the Borg means that we get to meet Seven of Nine very soon. 🙂

Tampering with Sexuality in 1996

I can only give props to Voyager for the themes it took on in the episode “Warlord.”  The basic plot synopsis is that Kes is taken over by the mind of an individual who has just died.  This individual was a man and a military leader of his people.   Most of the episode was unremarkable except for the 45 second(ish) bit where they tackled sexuality.  Kes was now inhabited by the mind of a man who was in a relationship with a woman.   In an attempt to assure the woman that the man (but now Kes) still loved her, Kes went in for a kiss.  *Gasp!

Of course, some random alien had to walk in and interrupt the kiss before it began, but this was at the height of the TV Subtext Era (as I lovingly refer to it)…it was to be expected.  For an air date of 1996, I would say this is darn progressive.   To put it in perspective, around the same time we have Xena and Gabrielle exploring similar issues in “A Day in the Life.”  Buffy and the Willow/Tara relationship is still a gleam in Joss Whedon’s eye, Will and Grace doesn’t start for another 2 years, and Queer as Folk doesn’t hit until 2000.  There were very few TV shows dealing with these topics in 1996.  Again, I say “props to Voyager.”

warlord

If you think about it though, it only makes sense.  In fact, I think if a new series were to spin off today that there would be even more gender/sexuality boundary pushing.  Why?  These are aliens people!  If a Klingon and a human can get married why not two people of the same species.  I can just hear the Star Trek mothers of the future chatting about this over coffee, “Why can’t my son just date a nice human?  I mean Vulcan’s are logical and all, but I always thought we would have the wedding here on Earth.”

Voyager/Frasier Humor

This is amazing!  Enjoy…

“Tuvix” Season 2, Episode 24

 tuvix

This episode is an exploration of the old adage “when life gives you lemons” what do you do?  Tuvok and Neelix were combined into one being during a transporter accident.  Arguably this caused the death of our two crew-mates.  The new being created, who called himself Tuvix, contained whispers of Tuvok and Neelix, but was really his own person.

For several weeks the doctor tried to find a way to reverse the accident.  By the time a reversal procedure was found, Tuvix has found a place among the crew.  He has accepted Tuvok’s security responsibilities and he cooked better than Neelix.  Tuvix is his own person with friends and an identity different and distinct from those who are apart of him.

All of a sudden, what was a light hearted episode where we got to watch bits of our favorite characters shine through in Mr. Tuvix, suddenly takes a sharp turn towards the somber.  When Captain Janeway informs Tuvix that the doctor has found a way to reverse the process he immediately responds, “I don’t want to die.”  Powerful.

Janeway is now burdened with the decision of whether to kill one man to save two.  Tuvok, her normal advisor in difficult matters such as this, is unavailable.  The only person we see who attempts to advocate to the captain on behalf of either side is Kes: she wants Neelix back.

The conclusion of this episode is gut wrenching.  In her ready room Janeway suddenly stands, takes a deep breath, and walks towards the bridge.  We know she has made a decision.  We even know what decision she makes as Tuvok and Neelix are in future episodes.  I did not, however, begrudge her the next conversation she was going to have informing Tuvix that he was about to die.

In a desperate plea for his life Tuvix begins running about the bridge appealing to anyone who will listen that this is wrong.  He is going to die to bring back two people of whom nature has all ready claimed the lives.  He recognizes his attempts are futile.  Security is summoned and Janeway escorts Tuvix to sickbay.

The music playing in the background is close to a funeral dirge.  Not typically what you would think of when we are about to see the return of two of our heros.  Upon entering sickbay the doctor says that he will not perform the procedure as he will not take the life of a person against his will.  The task, once again, falls to Janeway.  Watching her complete the separation is painful.  When Tuvok and Neelix appear before us the only person who cheers is Kes.  Janeway looks over to the two men says, “Mr. Tuvok.  Mr. Neelix.” and then she walks out of the room on shaky legs.  When the door closes behind her she looks like she is going to be sick.  I think I would too.

Kate Mulgrew’s acting in this episode was incredible.  I really felt the severity and painful nature of her decision.  She did not falter, though.  Janeway is every bit a captain.  Did she have the right to decide who lives and who dies?  I think the decision she made was the right one.  I do not, however, envy her the execution of that choice.

Seeing Double

“Deadlock”
Star Trek Voyager

Season 2, Episode 21

Instead of going on and on about how this was, yet another, incredible episode of Voyager I would just like to point out one funny similarity I noticed between Voyager and Stargate SG-1.  It is not, of course, the first time I have noticed a correlation, but I thought this one was worthy of a mention.

Due to a sub-space disruption two Voyager’s were caught in the same space: both in dire straights.  To communicate with one another in a more efficient fashion Captain Janeway from one reality crosses the rip in space-time to speak to herself in the other reality.  If it sounds confusing just imagine meeting yourself and run with that.  The two Janeway’s had great interactions.  Both of them were leaders and had the best interests of their crews at heart.  In spite of their similarities they did bicker a bit, but it was all resolved with the steely Janeway “mama knows best” look.

deadlock

I was reminded of Stargate SG-1 during this episode because there were a few times throughout the series when we got to see two Carter’s working together.  The two Janeway’s discussing the best course of action to merge the two realities back together was strikingly similar to the two Carter’s getting their geek on in Stargate.

carters

Which came first?  Voyager’s two Janeway’s?  Stargate’s Carter’s?  Eh, it’s the whole chicken and egg debate.   If I had more time to research I am sure I could come up with an answer.  Regardless, it is a great plot and a fun story path to walk down.  It really doesn’t matter who did it first.  Seeing the challenges of having to work with yourself played out in front of you is funny, and oh so interesting to consider.

“Meld” – Season 2, Episode 16

What a great episode!  Murder on Voyager.  Wow.  I am only 16 episodes in and I can tell that this is not a show to shy away from challenging or potentially divisive issues.  The bulk of “Meld” focuses on Tuvok’s reactions to the murder and it’s perpetrator.  Motive eludes the Vulcan for most of the episode.  It was not until he became who he was trying to understand that he discovered that sometimes human violence is not founded upon a clear motive.  Sometimes a look is all it takes.

tuvokMy favorite theme in “Meld” is the discussion surrounding violence.  Tuvok, as a Vulcan, does not understand violence because he is able to suppress the emotion/action.  After the murder upon Voyager it is Tuvok’s responsibility to find the criminal.  When it becomes clear who the murderer was Tuvok want’s to understand his motive.  He goes so far as to employ the Vulcan mind meld.   After using this technique he not only comes to understand the murderer’s motive, he also inherits the violent tendencies of the murderer.  While Tuvok is no longer able to suppress his emotions or actions concerning violence the murderer now has the cool control of a Vulcan.

Tuvok soon discovers what is happening to him (there was a funny, yet troubling scene where he simulates killing Neelix in the holodeck).  To try and make sense of the situation he appeals to the murderer.  With steady Vulcan control the murderer says that violence cannot be controlled and that Tuvok even engaged in a violent act when he employed the mind meld.  It was “your will dissolving mine.”   What a fantastic turn of the tide.  As a law student we frequently have discussions in class that explore possible new crimes.  Maybe the murderer is right.  Using telepathic ability to merge your mind with that of another (even with consent) could be deemed as a violent invasion of property.   At the end of the episode we see Tuvok restored to his calm self.   This is, of course, after extreme bouts of rage, verbally abusing the captain and the doctor, and physical assaults.

Since “Meld” was so rich in complex themes I will list my other favorite topics.

1. Gambling.  Lt. Paris began a gambling outfit on Voyager.  Like most casino owners, Paris was reaping the benefits of being the handler.  Chakotay put an end to the operation very quickly.  It was a waste of the ships hard won resources, he said.  Though this may be true, I find it hard to believe that a ship so bent on personal freedom would not allow its crew to spend their “hard won rations” as they saw fit.  There was no similar problem on Battlestar Galactica as we saw the viper pilots gambling weekly for the first few seasons.  Interesting that Voyager does not allow this form of recreation.

2.  Tuvok suggest the captain consider the death penalty as an appropriate punishment for the murderer.  Janeway flat refuses.  What a powerful stance, and I think spot on for where the world is (or ought to be) heading.  The United States is currently the only “developed nation” that still uses the death penalty.  It isn’t too far a stretch to believe that the Federation would have a similar policy in the future.

3.  Tuvok used the holodeck to simulate killing Neelix.   I guess you have to assume that if you have a holodeck crew will use it in various ways.  A few episodes ago we saw Janeway participating in a holo-novel where she seemed to have a romantic relationship with one of the characters.  I plan on investigating this topic further, but it is an incredibly interesting concept.  If you have the technology to simulate anything how do you regulate it?  Do you regulate it at all?

4. I struggled a little bit with the writers intentions when the murderer said that he felt nothing after killling the victim.  No remorse.  Nothing at all.  I began to wonder how this was so very different from Tuvok suppressing all of his emotions.  Tuvok has said many times that he does not feel.  I think they were trying to make the viewer discern the clear difference between Tuvok and the murderer.  As far as I can tell the answer all boils down to control.  Tuvok does not feel emotions but he does not act.  The murderer does feel extreme emotion occasionally that causes him to act out violently.  It’s an interesting dichotomy.

5.  How are Vulcan’s different from robots or holograms?  I plan on exploring this topic further as my viewing progresses, but initially it is hard to tell.  Tuvok acts completely based on logic, so do computers.  Interesting.