Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fighting the Good Fight

Star Trek: Voyager
The Fight

I've always hated episodes - like in Alias, for example, where they start in the middle of the story and call it a teaser. Then they back out and it's yesterday after the credits. Even worse is when - unlike in Alias - they start with the middle of the story in the teaser and no one is doing anything particularly unexpected.

I do, however, give them props for use of Chakotay the Underused.

Chakotay ends having to narrate the catch-up himself, from a biobed, while crazy and lying on his stomach (an interesting directoral choice).

It started while he was boxing, like at the Academy. And I did not know Boothby was a boxing trainer for cadets. But now I do. He philosophises about boxing, or at least his hologram does (I swear, Voyager uses Boothby more than any other series) and I'm reminded of the Rocky movies. All of a sudden, the air kind of... Fractures. And then Chakotay gets hit and Doc is asking how many fingers. Doc, by the way, does not like boxing. Shocker. Anyway, Chakotay has hyperactive ganglia, and that's precisely when the ship shakes.

Somehow, and I don't know how he does this, Chakotay changes into his uniform before reporting to the Bridge to learn that there's a weird phenomenon that's making them shake. Then, of course, they get pulled in and the stars are all wibbly. Seven calls Janeway to Astrometrics.

She calls it Chaotic space. The laws of physics are in a state of flux. "They stole the warp and put it in their show!" yells my fiancee. "Bastards!" If you're a Warhammer fan, that was funny.

Anyway, Seven calls it Chaotic Space, and it's all around them. It appears randomly, the Borg have tracked it, and no Federation ship has ever survived, but of course they didn't have Seven, the ultimate deus ex machina. Maybe that's what happened to the Hera? There has even only been one Borg ship to survive. Ouch. Not good odds.

Chakotay is up late, working, when something chimes in his quarters. It sounds a little like the door chimes in Star Trek VI. "Round One!" yells a disembodied voice. He hears cheering. Odds are this won't end well. Some boxing gloves appear. Then Tuvok calls him to the Bridge. Shear is increasing, and Chakotay is still hearing things. The camera angles go all diagonal every time it focuses on Chakotay, to increase the tension. He sees the boxing gloves again, he's still hearing voices, and then Tom calls Sickbay.

Apparently, Chakotay's grandfather had 24th century Alzheimer's. The gene was surpressed but it got switched on somehow, so Chakotay's going a little nuts.

The sensors get reconfigured, so they try to fly away, but of course they run into another ship with better sensors and everyone died. But their crew was hallucinating too - at least two of them. That is not a coincidence.

Doc found out that the aliens had a different genetic alteration that made them hallucinate. Chakotay wants to go on a vision quest, which Doc reluctantly agrees to if he wears a cortical monitor.

So he does, and we haven't seen that in ages. I miss Season 1! Waaah! Voyager was so much cooler back then. In the quest, Chakotay finds his Grandfather and follows him to a cave where there's a boxing match. Of course there's a boxing match. He whirls around -

And then wakes up in Sickbay, and that is the Great Problem with this episode. Because, guess what, it's not in the timeframe we were in when he went in there. It's later, after the teaser from the future, only there's nothing obvious to tell us that, so we just get to be confused. Chakotay won't let "them" speak to him - he's too scared he'll go crazy. He does go crazy, starts spewing words like "trimetric" and "rentrillic".

Janeway has to come calm him down and get him to try again because she's in loooove with him. It's an interesting side of him - he's normally just a prop on the Bridge that's all brave and stuff, and Naomi gets more lines than him. Doc reminds him of his vision quest, and that's when we go back to the other timeframe and my eyes completely roll back in my head, trying to wrap my head around the time stuff. Anyway, the vision quest is in a boxing match and Tom Paris is a bookie.

Neelix, Tom, and Tuvok try to stop him, but Boothby eggs him on. On the Bridge, Chakotay trains or whatever. Harry and Janeway try to talk him out of it too. B'Elanna calls him selfish, Doc tells him it's a delusion.

Neelix is giving him a massage while Doc describes boxing injuries and tells him he'll end up a crazy old man. Chakotay runs away, back to the cave, where his Grandfather refuses to come home with him but invites him to come along with himself and the invisible people. There is a chime. "Begin Round One," says the computer. Chakotay runs away, but he winds up in the ring. Kid Chaos, the champion is called, but Doc comes in and cancells the fight on medical grounds. Chakotay wakes up in his quarters, having gotten stuck in the vision quest.

Harry starts dropping beacons for navigation. That ends badly when they run into the beacon they launched three hours ago. Brilliant. I remember this TNG episode. Seven finds a pattern in chaotic space - a signal. It could be a transmission - right into Chakotay's brain, perchance?

It is, in fact, a signal to reconfigure DNA. They want to contact Chakotay, through hallucinations. The ship starts shaking again, and Chakotay asks when they've turned away from a fist contact. Doc is not happy when Janeway orders him back into the ring.

Boothby keeps encouraging him, and they begin the fight. Kid chaos turns around, and he's literally chaos. He communicates a lot like the Prophets in DS9, pieces of the crew's interactions with Chakotay, who is not particulary okay with being crazy, but he knows how to do it - so he goes to the Bridge and fiddles with things until they get out. Sigh of relief.

Chakotay decides to go boxing to relieve the stress and gets punched in the head.