Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Four - Star Trek Voyager: Season 5, Episode 11, "Robert Picardo, you wonderful ham, you."

Voyager gets a lot of grief from geek folk across the spectrum, despite it returning to the roots of Star Trek and focusing more on human exploration of the galaxy and less on Alpha Quadrant politics.

A closer hybrid of TOS and TNG than should've been expected, but shipped off to the far reaches of the Milky Way on a near impossible journey home, Voyager played quite a bit of havoc with its crew, but unfortunately relied on cheesy gimmicks like the Borg and sexy add-on characters when ratings flagged (a trap that carried over into Enterprise).

I can't exactly say that I'm a fan of the series as a whole, but I certainly enjoy any episode which revolves around the "Outsider Exploring Humanity" character, The Doctor. Like Data before him, The Doctor (played by scifi character actor Robert Picardo), is an AI who dreams of being human and fully integrating into a crew which sometimes regards him more as a tool than an individual.

Having Seven of Nine join the crew was an annoyance to me, at first, in spite of her skintight catsuit's effect on my lizard brain, but I eventually grew to enjoy her presence strictly from the perspective of The Doctor mentoring her. In this particular episode, both play a major role as The Doctor discovers a conspiracy to violate the sanctity of his memory banks and erase moments of his past.

I like Latent Images (this episode's title) mostly due to the fact that the key dilemma, that The Doctor's decision to choose one life over another causes him an extreme ethical crisis is layered both as a programming paradox issue and an overall ethical quandary. Any rational being with empathy would have the same problem and perhaps react the same way and that's what makes the episode so special. With any other character, the writers could just handwave away the decision with a "and I'll have to live with it the rest of my life" line, but by forcing the dilemma to have more permanent consequences, it's easier to swallow as relevant and poignant.

I am more than a bit disappointed that the writers got lazy and didn't dream up a new argument for sentience (or lack thereof) for Janeway to counter Seven with, as we've pretty much already covered the same ground with Data in TNG long before Voyager was zapped to the Delta Quadrant, but she doesn't hold it for long, so it's a bit forgivable.

I also kind of wish that they had taken this opportunity to off a main cast member (or even a recurring guest crewer) instead of a generic extra. It would've made that much more of a punch, but oh well.

As I implied above, I pretty much just skip around the series for Doctor-centric episodes now, but... if you've never watched it (or, it's just been that long)... I could easily affirm that it's worth going through in its entirety at least once, the same I would say for any Trek series (even Enterprise).

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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