The usual. It's Paramount's playground; I'm just borrowing the equipment. Any resemblance to products, productions, novels, television shows, films, characters, public figures, celebrities, bodily fluids, et al., is purely intended for entertainment purposes.
These reviews are long, highly opinionated, and prone to digressions. They retell each episode from beginning to end in excruciating but dubiously accurate detail. If you haven't seen the episode yet and want to be surprised, run away.
But some people seem to like them, and if you don't mind your Trek with some tongue-in-cheek running commentary, hop on the fun bus and join the crowd, because Fatherly Uncle Jim's in a storytellin' mood.
Janeway matches wits with the border patrol and plays conductor on the Underground Railroad.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Voyager is surrounded, and dwarfed, by two daunting alien vessels, which glow with a menacing blue.
"The Devore ships are assuming a tactical formation," Chakotay reports from Tactical. (Hmm. Where's Tuvok?)
A grim Captain Janeway hails the transporter room. "Status." Ensign Kim reports. "All set here, Captain. Pattern cohesion looks stable." A team of crewmen are behind the Ensign, working frantically.
"Cargo Bay One," Janeway says. "Report." Seven reports. "The bay is clear." All but for another batch of crewmen, also scurrying about purposefully.
"They're powering weapons," Chakotay says.
"Why do they bother?" Ensign Paris asks. "They know we won't resist."
"'Protocol,' Mr. Paris," the captain reminds him, her voice silky and deceptively calm. But her eyes are twin diamonds.
"They're hailing." Janeway nods, and Chakotay puts it on screen.
A beefy alien, mostly human, looking like Michael Garibaldi on a bad day, stares coldly on the screen. "Gaharay vessel, prepare to be inspected. Crew members are instructed to step away from their stations."
"We know the drill," Janeway says, eyes glacial, voice terse.
"Sidearms and scanning equipment are to be set aside. Deviation from this or any other inspection protocol will not be tolerated." The lines are given appropriate gravity, but it's clear he's giving his lines by rote. It's not unlike "Resistance is futile." Or "The White Zone is for loading and unloading of passengers only."
Janeway springs from her seat. "All hands, this is the Captain. Prepare to be boarded by Devore inspection teams. Give them your full cooperation-let's get this over with."
Chakotay announces the arrival of the Devore. "Their soldiers have materialized on decks 15, 11, 4...and One."
As soon as One is out of Chakotay's mouth, the bridge is filled with music. Classical. Dentist office variety.
A male voice, sonorous and smug, merges with the strains of violins. "Captain Janeway, report to your ready room."
Janeway puts on her game face.
Another Man in Black, dressed not unlike Michael Jackson in the "Bad" video, raven-haired, slight pompadour, looking like Bruce Campbell on a good day, with a smile that immediately makes even the most gullible reach protectively for their wallet, is sitting in Janeway's chair. "Good morning, Captain!" he says, with the honey-sweet indulgence of someone who holds all the cards.
Janeway looks about the room. The usual suspects are here. The guy who announced the inspection is rummaging through her computer files. An armed guard wields a rifle that he thinks is pretty cool, but which good ol' Betsy could shame into mewling dysfunction merely by appearing in the same room. All wear the same outfits.
"I took the liberty of playing this music throughout your ship; I thought it might help your crew relax. Sometimes these inspections can be...stressful." This guy seems to have a good deal of job satisfaction. He also appears to think that chicks dig him, and that Janeway is just waiting for the proper opportunity to swoon.
An opportunity he is all too happy to provide.
"How thoughtful," Janeway says enigmatically.
"I've replicated some coffee. Black, as usual?" Music and coffee? The fiend! He's got her number! If he's sporting a tattoo...
The guy who'd been at the computer turns around with two cups. He walks over to Janeway, towers over her. She looks up without flinching. "Black." Suddenly, Mr. Inspector Brute has been reduced to Mr. French, grabbing breakfast for Buffy and Jody and Mrs. Beasley.
Guy in chair accepts his coffee. "Prax here still refuses to try it; but then, he's a man of few pleasures." Prax doesn't argue. When the guy at the desk nods, Prax-and the guard-exit, leaving Janeway and guy-at-desk alone.
"Captain," guy-at-desk says, putting pedal to the metal on his gestapo charm. "Please, make yourself at home!"
Oh yeah. She wants me.
* * *
Voyager travels through space at a leisurely clip, escorted by the two imposing Devore vessels.
While Mahler's Symphony Number One plays, armed Devore patrol the corridors of Voyager. Federation personnel deck the halls, at parade rest, in orderly fashion.
The soldiers yank access plates off walls and inspect circuitry and components. They invade Jefferies tubes with weapons and scanners locked and loaded. They invade the transporter room, Sickbay, engineering.
Most of the inspections proceed swiftly, wordlessly. A few places, though, show signs of tension. The transporter room gets a particularly thorough inspection, for example.
In Sickbay, Doc asks a young Devore soldier to be careful with that yellowish tube filled with cell culture; the man drops it intentionally, and walks away before the glass even starts breaking.
In Engineering, Prax demands to know why they've rerouted power through their transporter systems. "It's a routine diagnostic. We've been having trouble with our imaging scanners," Torres says. Prax, displaying some of his species' superiority (not to mention arrogance), leaves with a parting shot at Torres. "The problem is in the primary energizing coils. Focus your efforts there."
Torres somehow manages to take the condescending suggestion in stride. "Thanks for the tip."
In the mess hall, people are scanned as well as equipment. One thug takes his sweet time while scanning the female crew.
Prax, who seems to get around, ends up in Cargo Bay One. He notes the presence of contaminated antimatter. "This material could interfere with our readings," he grouses, then moves on to the people, beginning with Seven of Nine.
"A bionetic implant?" Prax asks suspiciously.
"An interlink node. It permits communication with other Borg drones," Seven explains.
His hackles rise. "You are not a telepath."
"No," she says forcefully.
Telepaths? Are they looking for telepaths?
So where is Tuvok, anyway?
The inspection of the Captain's ready room is much more congenial. The chief inspector (until he's named, let's call him Cash) rummages through her shelf of mementos. He caresses an ancient-I think it's a microscope, practically drooling with appreciation. "Remarkable. How old is this?"
Janeway sits on her couch, legs crossed, hands resting on the cushions beside her, looking absolutely smashing, almost regal. "About 600 years. My grandfather gave it to me when I was a child."
"It seems you have a long-standing obsession with exploration, Captain. I, on the other hand, have much more in common with this ancient soldier." He picks up the bronze head of someone I should probably know. Darius of Persia, perhaps?
"He's from Earth's classical period. It produced some of our greatest artists as well."
"Your culture has many contradictions. Violence and beauty, science and faith...all somehow mingled harmoniously." Cash seems genuinely impressed by human culture.
"Like the counterpoint of this music. Mahler. Symphony Number One. Am I correct?" (Foreshadowing...)
"You're getting to know my database better than I do," Janeway says.
"I've had time to review it since our last encounter."
"Tell me, are all of your inspections this personal?" Janeway asks, batting her eyes sarcastically.
"I'm just trying to get to know you, Captain. There's no reason for us to be adversaries. I could be your friend! And right now, you could certainly use one." His voice takes on a subtly dangerous tone.
"Really? Why is that?"
"Your predicament? I don't expect it's be easy. Thousands of light-years from home; navigating by strange stars; trespassing in other people's space--ignoring their laws!" Yep, definite subtext of menace there.
"We're just trying to get back to Earth," Janeway says. "Through the Devore Imperium?" He counters. "It's tough to avoid," she counter-counters.
"Still, most people make the effort. We don't exactly embrace outsiders." That's putting it mildly.
Reminded of the standard greeting, and the one unfamiliar word, Janeway asks, "'gaharay'?"
"It means strangers. Which brings me to a matter that could threaten our friendship." (With friends like these...) "I've examined your crew manifest from our last inspection. Commander Tuvok, Ensign Vorik--Vulcans. Ensigns Suder and Jurot-Betazoids. All telepaths...and yet for some reason, you neglected to mention them." Don't like telepaths, do you?
Janeway gives Cash a cold look. "For a very simple reason. They're dead." Oh my gosh, they killed Tuvok!
"Tuvok, Vorik, and Jurot died in a shuttle crash about two months ago. Suder was killed in a conflict with a species called the Kazon." Speaking of telepaths..what about Kes, the perky Ocampa? Or Stadi, the short-lived Betazoid conn officer? Sure, both have been gone for a while, but they remembered Suder, who "left" a good year before Kes.
Cash gives Janeway a calculating look. "That's fortunate...for you, I mean. If I'd known you were harboring telepaths I would have had to arrest you for breaking our cardinal protocol."
Janeway's return look is cold. "They were valued members of my crew, Inspector, not criminals."
"Perhaps." The smile returns, but it's not a kind one. "Captain...do you trust me?"
Janeway gives the barest hint of a smirk. "Not for a second."
"Exactly. And why should you? Trust has to be earned. It's gradual, and yet it's the foundation of every relationship--professional and personal." Cash has a real flair for enunciation. "It's also a concept alien to the telepathic races! Why take someone at their word when you can simply read their mind?" Aside from bad manners and encroaching insanity, that is.
Well, at least now we know why the inspections are so thorough. They don't like telepaths. At all. They may like classical music and black leather, but these are not nice people.
Prax enters the ready room. "We've completed our inspection. There are no telepaths aboard. However, their sensor logs indicate they deviated from their assigned course on two occasions."
Janeway leaps to her feet. "In both cases, to avoid ion storms," she explains.
Prax barely acknowledges her. He addresses Cash. "Imperative 32, Codicil 626: 'All gaharay vehicles that deviate from prescribed flight vectors will be impounded, their crews detained and relocated.'" Prax probably keeps his underwear sorted alphabetically.
Cash gives Janeway an indulgent smile, and a harder-edged look at Prax. "It's clear the Captain didn't intend to break protocol. I expect we can overlook these infractions."
Prax can't believe his ears. "Sir?"
Cash gelds Prax with a glance. Prax slax, makes trax, bax down. "Yes, sir." He exits.
Janeway tries to leave her ready room, but Cash blocks her path, both aggressive and intimate.
"Captain," Cash says smoothly, "I'm a reasonable man, and you've been cooperative--but consider this a reminder. You have a long trip through Devore space...and good friends can be an asset."
Janeway's look is neutral. "I'll keep it in mind."
Cash exits. When we hear the doors whoosh closed, Janeway rolls her eyes and sighs with exasperation. In other circumstances, I'd expect her to open fire on the pompous weenie, even if it was the last thing she ever did.
Cash has the bearing, the voice, the pride of cultural bias that makes me think of Gul Dukat, and he has that predatory interest in Janeway that Dukat has so often shown to Colonel Kira. And as with Kira, Janeway's interest is less than reciprocal.
The two huge Devore vessels break away from Voyager.
"The Devore vessels are out of range," Ensign Paris reports.
"Bridge to transporter team: you're clear," Janeway says.
Things start to happen.
Seven of Nine and the folks in the cargo bay are moving familiar electric totem poles around, forming a large empty rectangle. "Cargo Bay One to Ensign Kim. Pattern enhancers are in place."
"Initiating rematerialization sequence," Harry reports.
From Engineering, we hear the voice of Lt. Torres. "Harry, I'm routing maximum power to the transporters."
"Got it. Align the confinement beam to ten angstroms. Energizing!"
The familiar transporter whine is slightly flat, indicating a transport in trouble. "Ensign Kim, the confinement beam is unstable," Seven says. "We're trying to correct it now," Harry says.
Janeway arrives in the cargo bay. "What's the problem?"
"We're unable to consolidate their patterns. They've been in suspension too long," Seven reports.
Janeway grabs a tricorder. "Harry, increase power to the imaging scanners." Harry gets on it, and soon the sweet music of matter materializing is heard again. With a few pops of brilliant light, the shapes resolve into people.
Tuvok. Vorik. And a whole bunch of people we've never seen before. All breathing a sigh of relief.
"Nice work, Harry. All our guests are present and accounted for," Janeway says, smiling.
"Captain..." an alien says questioningly.
Janeway pats his arm. "They're gone...for now."
* * *
Captain's Log, Supplemental: After weeks of playing hide-and-seek with the Devore inspectors our goal is near--a transport vessel that will take our passengers to a wormhole leading out of hostile territory.
Janeway arrives in Sickbay. She checks first with the leader of the refugees, a man named Kir. "Back to your old self again?"
"Each time we do this, I feel as thought I've left a few molecules behind in your cargo bay," Kir says.
"Well, I'll have someone scan the room if it'll make you feel better." She places a hand on Kir's shoulder, and they share a chuckle before her tone grows serious. "Kir, we received an encoded message from the transport vessel."
Kir sighs. "They've changed the rendezvous point again." I'm afraid so, Janeway says. "Did they send the new coordinates?" Janeway says they're still waiting for them.
Tuvok approaches, with Doc, looking concerned. "Captain, we may have another problem," Tuvok says.
"I just treated Tuvok and two of the refugees for acute cellular degradation. I've repaired most of the damage but unfortunately, the effect is cumulative," Doc says.
Kir and Janeway share a look. "Meaning?" Kir asks. Tuvok answers. "If we continue to go into transporter suspension some of us may not survive."
Chakotay hails the captain. "We're receiving another transmission." Janeway acknowledges.
Seven of Nine handles the computer controls. "The new coordinates are here, within a Mutara-class nebula 2.36 light-years from our current position." She indicates the system display. Chakotay notes that it's a couple days away, and Janeway knows that means they're very likely to get inspected again. Tuvok agrees.
Janeway grunts. "Just what the Doctor didn't order. Tuvok, Seven--I want you to lay in a course that'll attract as little attention as possible. We'll avoid their colonies, space stations tourist attractions-"
The captain makes a face. "If they have any," she adds, not wanting to think about how the Devore might amuse themselves.
In the mess hall, it's Telepathic Story Hour. Neelix is telling a group of refugee kids about the time Trevis and Flotter took on the Ogre of Fire. But one of the kids keeps reading his mind and interrupting the story.
Neelix is gentle, but firm. "You know, it's...it's not nice to read people's thoughts when they're telling a story."
The boy responsible looks suitably abashed. "I'm sorry." Neelix, the gentle soul, immediately tells him it's okay.
Janeway enters. Neelix notes her mood, and tells them that Story Hour will resume shortly. He separates himself to speak with Janeway.
"How are they doing?" Janeway asks, leaning in to speak with Neelix. (As though whispering's going to help in a room full of telepaths...)
"Oh, fine, more or less. They don't understand what all the fuss is about. But they're telepaths, Captain. If the parents are concerned or fearful the children feel it, too. You did the right thing. If we hadn't taken them off that freighter they'd be in a detention center by now."
Janeway gives Neelix an encouraging smile. "Well, we're going to make sure that doesn't happen." Then her smile changes as she notes a bowl of fruit. "Is the kitchen still open or are you just serving stories?"
Neelix grins broadly. "For you, it's always open."
On the bridge, Tuvok reports to Chakotay that a Devore vessel is fast approaching. Chakotay calls for red alert and hails the captain, who's enjoying a snack.
"More company, Commander?" Janeway asks. "Looks like it," he says. Janeway sets the wheels in motion - time to play Hide the Telepaths again. Neelix starts rounding up the kids for their next transport.
Janeway arrives on the bridge. "Report."
"It's a scout ship. One pilot; no other crew," Chakotay says. Paris adds that it's coming in without shields or weapons.
"If this is another inspection it's certainly a different approach," the captain notes.
The alien vessel hails. It's Cash. "Captain," he says as though they are old friends. Janeway's response is more formal.
"It's urgent that we speak," Cash says.
Janeway thinks about this. At last she responds. "You know the way to my ready room."
Janeway is back in her proper place, behind her desk in her ready room, when Cash, in civilian clothing and under a Starfleet guard, is escorted in.
Janeway dismisses the security guard, a female Ensign, leaving herself and Cash alone.
"I submitted to your previous inspections because you outgunned me, but I don't see warships nearby. I have no intention of cooperating," Janeway tells him coldly.
"I'm not here to search Voyager," Cash assures her.
"Then what do you want, Inspector?"
"Call me Kashyk, please," Cash pleads. "I never liked that title. In fact, I've left it behind."
Janeway regards him with incredulity. "Did somebody offer you a promotion, or are you just having a bad day?"
Cash doesn't mince words. "I'm defecting, and I need your help." Janeway's look is dubious, but Cash presses on. "I've come to ask asylum--safe passage out of Devore space, before I end up in a detention center myself."
Janeway rises. Her voice is excruciatingly soft. She leans toward him. "Now, why would I risk the safety of my crew by harboring a defector?"
Cash gets some of that confident look back. His tone becomes pedantic. "Because of what I'm about to tell you. If you continue on your present course you'll be intercepted by a squadron of my warships. Voyager will be seized, your crew imprisoned or worse. The nebula is a trap, Captain, to catch vessels smuggling telepaths."
"You've inspected my ship three times," Janeway says neutrally. "You know we aren't smuggling telepaths or anyone else."
Cash mocks her with his eyes. "What I know is that you have 12 refugees aboard right now. That you rescued them from a freighter three weeks ago. And that you've been concealing them in cargo bay one, using your transporters. I could have exposed them at any time but I wanted them to escape as much as you do. I can still protect them, but only if you take me with you. My people know about the wormhole. It's only a matter of time before they find it."
Cash leans in. His eyes are afire with resolve. "You have no choice, Captain. I'm your only hope."
* * *
In Astrometrics, Janeway and Chakotay, Tuvok and Seven, and Cash and a bunch of armed guards look at the targeted nebula. Janeway notes that the ship they were supposed to meet is no longer there. Cash, with a few taps on the controls, reveals a Devore ship within the nebula. Janeway explains to her officers that Cash has given them a gift: knowledge of how to detect Devore ships through their refractive shielding. The nebula has over a dozen stealth vessels just waiting for the Underground Railroads to stop by with refugee telepaths.
"We were the ones who changed the rendezvous coordinates," Cash explains. "Two vessels carrying refugees have already been seized. Voyager would have been next."
"All right, Inspector you helped us avoid this ambush. What now?" Janeway asks.
"We'll have to get your passengers to the wormhole on our own. These are the schedules and routes of our patrols, along with tactical data on our shield and weapons configurations--enough to ensure that you avoid another inspection." Cash says he's on a two-week vacation, so it will take some time before folks get suspicious of his absence. "Enough time, I hope, to find the wormhole and get the passengers safely through it--and myself, as well."
Tuvok sums up what we know so far. "Your data is useful but it doesn't guarantee our success." Cash says his guidance and some luck will make up the difference.
Janeway says she'll run this past the Brenari. "I'll let you know what they decide. I'll have to insist you remain under guard. No hard feelings," she adds.
"No hard feelings," Cash agrees.
Among the refugees, Janeway consults with Kir, who says it's unusual, but "not unheard of. There have been sympathizers before. Kashyk may be telling the truth." Chakotay suggests reading Cash's thoughts, but Kir says the Psi Cops (same basic idea, same outfits, but different meaning) are well prepared to defend their minds against mental intrusion.
"He might be telling the truth," Tuvok cautions, "but he also might be using us to find the wormhole."
Chakotay suggests the brig would make suitable quarters, but Janeway refuses. "We take him up on his offer to help, see how it plays out. But I want round-the-clock security. We need to watch his every movement."
Janeway moves on to the next question: how to find the wormhole. Kir mentions an alien scientist named Torat who's rumored to be a wormhole expert, and who can be bought. "Their species power their ships with a fluidic alloy that's difficult to find." Kir knows something about the alloy; Tuvok figures as long as it ain't latinum, they can whip up a batch. (How do you power your ships with an alloy, fluidic or not?) Janeway approves, and sets the wheels in motion.
Janeway enters the conference room. Cash stands by the window on the other side of the room. He's tall and slender, powerfully built, and in his civvies you can see his chest hair. He could be a Marlboro Man if the Devore are into smoking. He's pensive, and cannot be unaware of the gun-toting bouncers, guarding the door to the bridge, that have become his constant companions.
Janeway stays in the corridor's doorway the far side of the room. "Nervous?"
Cash sighs. "Let's just say...I'm not used to other people deciding my fate." Man, what a voice. If he stays long enough, maybe he can play Mark Antony in Julius Caesar.
Janeway enters the room, but stays as far apart from Cash as the room allows. Then she takes a few steps toward the head of the table. "Until today, you were part of a government responsible for persecuting thousands of innocent people. Why the sudden change of heart?"
From across the room, Cash says, "There's nothing sudden about it. I've been looking for a way to escape for years. Voyager was the perfect opportunity."
Cash scoffs a bit. "Well, what are you suggesting...I ask a Brenari vessel for assistance? They'd throw me out an airlock!"
Cash smiles. "Besides...you're something of a humanitarian, Captain. I've read your database. I know all about Starfleet philosophy. Unless...you left those ideals behind in the Alpha Quadrant."
Janeway takes a few steps closer, circling the table, stopping about halfway between Cash and her prior position. "I certainly don't grant asylum to every person I meet. Especially ones who ransack my ship and terrorize my crew. You're asking me to believe you're someone else...and...that's a leap of faith I'm not ready to make." She stops at a chair a few feet away from the Devore.
"You're turning me away," Cash says, disappointment in his voice.
"No. No." Janeway moves to the other side of the chair, leans against it. "I'm going to give you safe passage to the wormhole...in return for your help in getting us there. But I'm also imposing some restrictions. You'll have your own quarters but limited access to Voyager's systems and your whereabouts will be monitored at all times."
Cash, one hand on his hip, preens a little. "I'm used to being surrounded by armed guards. Makes me feel secure."
Janeway closes the remaining distance between them. "Only this time, they answer to me. Consider them a reminder that Voyager is my ship." She's well within his personal space, hands on hips in a severe Tak Tak-offending gesture, as she flaunts her authority.
Cash gives her a sincere look. "I don't think anyone could doubt that."
Janeway's eyes veer left, then she takes a step back-hands still on hips-and then walks out the door.
Cash looks mighty proud of himself. She will be mine. Oh yes. She will be mine.
But for now, he stares at a closed door, and the two very capable guards who bar the way.
Captain's log, supplemental. It's taken us nearly two days but we've managed to locate Torat the man who's supposedly an expert on wormholes. Unfortunately, he seems reluctant to share his expertise.
Voyager chases a small, nimble shuttle-sized vessel. The ship is tough to catch, and whoever's flying it isn't taking calls.
"Mr. Torat doesn't seem too trusting," Chakotay says. "Maybe he's been through one inspection too many." Cash chooses to ignore the remark.
Tuvok says it looks like the alien has turned off his comm system. Harry Kim says he thinks he can fix that. A little hacking, a little tweaking, and soon Janeway finds herself spying on a reptile-like creature, wearing a rumpled but expensive looking outfit-silk shirt, shiny jacket. Not quite Neelix's level of fashion felony, but it does give the alien a certain first-glance reputation.
"Go away!" the alien, presumably Torat, says when he discovers he's being watched. Janeway introduces herself and the Federation, and assures him they have no hostile intent. Torat doesn't believe it. He scoffs. "Federations...Imperiums...why do you people feel such a need to align yourselves with monolithic organizations?"
Janeway tries not to take it personally. "I'd be glad to discuss that and any other philosophical issue you care to raise if you would just slow down and talk." Torat says he's late for "a very important conference".
Cash whispers harshly into Janeway's ear. "This is a waste of time! Disable his ship."
Janeway's voice is soft, but commanding. "That's what we call overkill, Inspector." She asks Harry if they can transport the guy, and Harry-grinning-says Absolutely. Two seconds later, the rumpled, antisocial science type is on the bridge of Voyager looking most unhappy. He looks at his captors.
"Welcome aboard," Janeway says, smiling. "Your reputation precedes you."
A vial of liquid is slapped onto the table in front of Torat, who jumps slightly.
"20 centiliters of mercurium isochromate--no impurities--and this is just a sample. We've synthesized enough to power your ship for a year." She smiles like the foul temptress she is. Torat, still spooked, says he can't be bribed and doesn't know anything about this wormhole she keeps going on about, or about any old refugees.
"Well, they've heard of you," Janeway says. Torat preens in spite of himself. "Well, no doubt. My research is famous."
Janeway plays on that. "Think of all the stars you could research once you've infused your propulsion system with this," she says, indicating the liquid alloy.
But Torat resists.
Cash, showing a bit of impatience, snorts derisively. "He's right. He couldn't help us if he wanted to," Cash tells Janeway.
Torat bristles. "What do you mean by that?"
"I doubt you'd know a wormhole from a dark matter inversion," Cash says contemptuously. He casts a conspiratorial look at the captain.
Janeway picks up on what Cash is trying to do, and joins the tango. She sits on the desk demurely, whispers confidentially to Torat. "Professor...Kashyk is another expert I've retained to help us with this matter. I'm afraid he's not as impressed with your work as I am. In fact, he discouraged me from seeking you out." She looks like she's flirting shamelessly with the reptilian wormhole boy.
Good scientist, bad scientist? Yipes.
Torat blusters, claims he never heard of a Professor Kashyk. Cash looks down his nose at Torat. "Not surprising, considering you toil in scientific obscurity." Janeway rolls her eyes.
Torat is outraged. His nostrils flare-and his entire nose grows to three times its size with each puff. Talk about a blowhard. "Obscurity?! I-I've discovered over 60 astronomical phenomena!"
Cash laughs off such a piddling accomplishment. "Not worth the sensors they were recorded on."
Torat begins to change color with frustration. Janeway jumps in. "There's no need to insult the man. Just because he doesn't know how to find an interspatial flexure...." She gives Torat a disappointed look, and pointedly walks away from Torat, and toward Cash.
Torat senses an out, and grabs onto it for dear life. "Interspatial flexure? Why didn't you say so in the first place? He said wormhole--a layman's term that...that covers any number of phenomena." It's almost laughable to watch poor Torat try to rise to his audience, injecting his words with as many two-dollar words as he can remember. Gotta sound scholarly, now, don't we? "I am familiar with a certain anomaly that could be categorized as an 'interspatial flexure.'" Cash and Janeway share a look: ka-chinngg!
Cash asks where the wormho-excuse me, interspatial flexure, is. "Actually, a better question would be, where is it now? It's really quite interesting. The aperture of the phenomenon--which I prefer to call an intermittent cyclical vortex--is unfixed. It manifests infrequently for only brief periods of time and in varying locations." He punctuates the air, making spitting noises as though poking holes in something goopy.
He doesn't go further. Janeway, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Cash, grabs the vial of liquid fuel and clutches it to her chest, twirling it meaningfully between her fingers.
Torat takes the hint. "I can give you the last four locations. Perhaps you can extrapolate the next one...if you're as accomplished a scientist as you claim to be."
Janeway and Kashyk, Tango and Cash, share a look of many-toothed triumph. She places the vial back on the table, which Torat picks up. His nose puffs out a few times.
Mission accomplished. What a team....
Mess hall. It's empty, but for Janeway and Cash. Her jacket is off. Her undershirt is long-sleeved for those cold winter nights. Year of casual wear continues unabated. He's at the computer; she's pacing furiously with a PADD in hand. The scene looks like two engineering students on Date Night. ("A mug of coffee, a symphonic refrain, and thou.")
"Think!" Janeway commands.
"I'm thinking!" Cash insists.
"Think harder." Janeway paces some more. "Four wormhole appearances less than 20 light-years apart--there's no pattern."
Cash offers several suggestions, Janeway says she's checked them all, and all were dead ends. "This wormhole defies analysis. Maybe Torat was right--we're just out of our league." She sighs dramatically.
"It's not like you to give up," Cash says (how the heck would he know?) "Think harder."
Janeway approaches Cash. Leans in close-looking at first at the computer screen, then at Cash. "How do you predict...a random occurrence?"
"You follow your instincts."
A silence ensues. A silence filled by Mahler.
Ding ding ding!!!
Janeway gets that look in her eyes. She stares deep into Cash's eyes. A hungry look.
"Captain?" Cash asks, gulping.
"Counterpoint. It's in all great music. Parallel melodies playing against one another!" Okay... "We've been looking at the obvious--frequency, location, timing--but each of those parameters could have a counterpoint in subspace."
Cash catches on. "If we could run an algorithm based on subspace harmonics it might reveal our pattern." Janeway's thoughts exactly. She feeds the parameters into the computer, which announces that the analysis is in progress. A gigantic hourglass appears and begins dropping grains of sand down, flipping over every few seconds. "This'll take a minute," Janeway says, heading for the coffeepot.
Cash takes another swig of coffee as conversation lulls, enjoying the music and a bit of cappuccino goodness. "I'm going to miss this...coffee of yours," he says, sucking up to her shamelessly. She says she'll give him the recipe.
"You don't sound too happy about leaving," Janeway notes offhand.
"The Brenari aren't about to embrace a former Inspector. I'll be feared, hated for what I represent."
Janeway takes a seat, gives Cash a scolding look. "Anxiety doesn't become you, Inspector. Try to relax a little." After all that coffee?
Cash preens slightly. "I suppose you liked me better in uniform."
"I haven't decided whether I like you at all," she says, giving him a teasing look.
Cash is distracted by the view out the window. Glowing, pulsing, twisting lights like neon clouds. He is drawn to the view.
Janeway follows him, leans against the bulkhead by the window.
"We call them the kolyan kolyar--infinite spirals....As a boy, I spent years gazing at these lights. This is the last time I'll ever see them." His voice has a sad, faraway quality to it. Janeway refers to a similar phenomenon-the aurora borealis on Earth. Cash gives her a sad look. "Which you, too, may never see again. I suppose we're both refugees, in a way."
"I'm still counting on getting this ship home," Janeway says with passionate defiance.
"Are you sure you'll be welcome when you do? I came across something else in your database--the 'prime directive.'"
Uh oh. The P word. Janeway bristles a bit. "The Federation's cardinal protocol," she acknowledges. "It seems you violated it when you rescued these telepaths," Cash points out, not bothering to catalogue all her other run-ins.
Janeway smirks a bit. "Well, let's just say I usually go with my instincts...and sort it out later at the board of inquiry. Those admirals and I were on a first-name basis, you know," she adds with a conspiratorial wink, wagging a finger at Cash, whose eyes twinkle with mirth.
Janeway regards her unlikely ally. "You're risking a lot, too. Why?"
Cash gets serious. "Three months ago my teams were inspecting a plasma-refining vessel. We found a family of telepaths hiding in one of the extraction tanks. There was a child...very young. She'd been inside it for days, barely able to breathe. When I lifted her out and set her down on the deck...she thanked me." He pauses as he lets that sink in. "I sent her to a relocation center with the others, knowing full well what would happen to her. After that, I could think of nothing else, and when I couldn't stand it any longer..."
The eyes of the former Devore inspector bore into the captain. "You're my deliverance, Captain."
That thought hangs in the air for a moment.
Then the computer announces the analysis is complete. Janeway leads the way to the computer terminal, and her smile is pure heaven. "It worked!. It looks like it'll appear in about three days...Less than eight light-years from here."
Cash frowns. "The Tehara system." Janeway notes his concern and asks if that's a problem. "There's an automated sensor array between here and Tehara," he explains. Janeway asks if they can go around it, but he says they wouldn't make it in time. "We'll have to find a way to avoid detection."
Janeway sighs, leans back in the chair, putting her arms behind her neck, stretching out. "Let's do it in the morning. We've done enough for tonight."
She notices Cash staring out the window again. "Are you saying good-bye? There'll be other spirals."
His voice is haunted. "They've just never looked quite so...beautiful before." He looks down at Janeway and smiles sadly. "Could be the company I'm keeping."
Janeway smirks. "Or the polarization axis of the windows."
Cash smiles. "That must be it."
Janeway's soft laughter only adds to the music.
Walking home from their Nerd Date, chaperoned by the ubiquitous guards, Janeway and Cash work on the problem of the detection array. In the short walk to Cash's quarters, they manage to come up with a workable solution: since it looks for warp fields and impulse signatures, they'll just coast their way through.
They're getting along famously, but when they arrive at the door, which is opened to his quarters, there's that awkward moment.
It should be noted for the record that I can't think of a single time in all the time Janeway has tangoed with Cash in this episode, that this touchiest of all captains has yet to lay even a finger on the man. And he's about the only person she hasn't; she was even ignoring the "please don't touch the telepaths" sign. But the ever-so-charming, clearly interested Kashyk hasn't gotten more than a few airspace violations and some come-hither body language.
"Well, good night," Janeway says awkwardly, batting her eyelashes.
Cash invites her in. "Captain...why don't you...join me? I've been looking forward to trying your replicator. Well, I'm sure that I can come up with something to toast the evening. We've accomplished quite a bit today."
Janeway looks apologetic. "I'm afraid that won't be possible. I had your replicator taken off-line."
D'Oh! "In case I decided to replicate a weapon," he says. Aw, would widdle owd me do that?
Janeway smiles in a you-got-me way. "A safety precaution, you understand."
"Better than anyone," he assures her.
"Sleep well," she says sincerely.
"And you." Their eyes linger before the door closes behind him.
Janeway takes a deep breath. She notices the guard at the door jumping to exaggerated attention, trying not to smirk.
"As you were," she says softly, but firmly. Though she can't hide all of her amusement at the young guard's reaction.
* * *
The Devore array unleashes a pulse which fans out in all directions on the plane.
From an undetermined distance away, Voyager prepares for the pulse. Tuvok calls out the count. 15 seconds, ten, etc. Cash says their power output is below the line. Just after Tuvok hits two, the bridge flashes.
Cash exhales sharply. "We weren't detected."
"Ten minutes and we'll be out of range," says Ensign Paris. (I love saying that...)
But the computer chirps. Warning: this is a plot complication. Warning. This is a plot complication... Torres hails the bridge with a problem report: something in the antimatter stream is acting uppity, and the next time a pulse hits they will be detected. Her only option is to shut down the core. Do it, Janeway orders.
Tuvok reports that the array's just unleashed another pulse, 28 seconds away.
A furious battle against time ensues. Tuvok counts down.
They don't make it. When the pulse hits, the ship rumbles.
"We've been detected," Cash shouts. "The array's transmitting an alert."
"Can we block it?" Janeway asks. Negative, Tuvok says.
Janeway shakes her head. "Stand down gray mode. B'Elanna, fire up the core. We're getting out of here."
"Warships will be on their way but we can still reach the wormhole," Cash urges.
"If we can find it. Tom, how long to the Tehara system?" Hey, she called him Tom! All's forgiven...
"11 hours at maximum warp," Tom says. "Engines are back on-line," Kim reports.
Janeway stares straight ahead. "Engage."
The seats are filled in the conference room. In addition to the usual senior officers and Seven of Nine, Kashyk and Kir of the telepathic refugees are present.
Seven is speaking. "Using the model you developed we were able to narrow down the location of the wormhole's next appearance to a radius of 200,000 kilometers."
Kir jumps in. "We can't determine its exact position until we reach the system but we know it will open in roughly six hours."
"It will remain open for two minutes at most," Seven concludes.
Tuvok addresses the tactical issues. "I've devised a new shield modulation which should protect us against their weapons."
Cash is bemused. "You're not planning to fight your way to the wormhole?"
"If I have to," Janeway says.
Paris reports from the bridge. (She still lets him run the bridge when she and Chakotay are gone-that's a good sign...) "Long-range sensors have picked up two Devore warships heading right for us." Six hours, he answers when Tuvok asks the time to intercept.
Janeway sends Chakotay to the bridge and takes Cash with her to Engineering.
As they walk through the corridors, Janeway tells Cash what they've got to do. "First we'll check those shield modifications. Then we'll see if we can adjust our phasers to penetrate the Devore shields. If torpedoes don't work, I want an alternative."
Cash stops her. "Captain, we have to talk. But not here." His tone is urgent.
In a secure room, Cash tells Janeway he's going to rejoin the warships. "It's the only way I can guarantee your safety."
Janeway is shocked. "Kashyk..."
"I'm still a ranking officer. I can take command of the inspection teams--make sure the refugees aren't discovered."
"You said yourself they're suspicious. You'll risk being caught."
Cash shakes his head. "I'll keep them off track long enough to get you through that wormhole."
"It's too dangerous!"
Janeway's voice is in clear Command mode. "You asked for safe passage and I agreed under the condition that you follow my orders."
But Cash is used to giving orders as well. "You may stand a chance against one of our warships, but not against two. If I stay your best chance of escape will be lost."
Janeway deliberately jumps a step too far. "I could confine you to quarters." Cash chuckles. Janeway grows serious. "I was planning on asking you to stay with us once we got through the wormhole. I wouldn't mind having someone around who appreciates a bit of Tchaikovsky now and then." (Gratuitous Nutcracker joke deleted.)
Cash gives the captain a look of pure affection. "Generous--but something tells me I wouldn't fit in any better on Voyager."
Janeway offers a sad smile. "Well...you wouldn't be the first wayward soul we've folded into our ranks." But she can tell his mind is set, and agrees. "Your shuttle will be ready for launch within the hour."
Tuvok, Janeway and Cash are in the corridors again. Cash looks packed up and ready to leave.
"Our course will put us just outside the Tehara system by the time the warships arrive," Tuvok says.
"Your inspection teams have to be off Voyager before that wormhole opens," Janeway explains.
"Believe me, it will be the quickest inspection on record," Cash says with conviction.
"I'll be on the bridge," Tuvok says. He regards Cash. "Your efforts have been greatly appreciated."
"My pleasure," Cash says to the telepath.
"Live long and prosper," Tuvok says with the hand salute. Cash thanks him, and Tuvok leaves.
Alone, Janeway and Cash enter the shuttle bay. With a verbal command, Kashyk gets the shuttle running through pre-ignition.
"I've made one adjustment to your plan," Janeway says. "After the inspection, we're going to wait at the wormhole for as long as we can...Until it begins to collapse."
Cash is touched, but troubled. "I may not be able to join you this time."
Another awkward moment. This time, there are no guards to get in the way. He leans down, grabs her shoulders, and kisses her. Janeway's eyes go wide in surprise.
When the kiss concludes, she gives Cash an odd look. Then, grabbing his skull like a bowling ball, she launches her lips at his for a much more impressive smooch. (After nearly five years going without, I'm not surprised...) It's a good one-fingers running through hair, elbow locked around his neck, clinging to his mouth like a pit bull devouring a Yorkie.
When they finally part lips, Cash grabs her hand, kisses her palm, her fingertips. Janeway's eyes smolder. Cash struggles to stay on his feet.
Finally, they break. Cash walks unsteadily to his shuttle. The doors open, the shuttle's landing gear is pulled up, and off it goes through the force field and into the void of space.
Janeway, face a stone mask, watches him go.
* * *
Two Devore warships intercept Voyager. Chakotay asks if they should raise shields. No, Janeway says, "We follow protocol. Bridge to transporter room. Status?"
"Ready, Captain. Pattern cohesion stable," Kim reports. Check.
"Cargo bay one?" she asks; "Clear," Seven reports. Check.
They're hailing, Chakotay says. On screen, Janeway orders.
Hey, look, it's Prax! "Gaharay vessel, prepare to be..."
"We've been through three inspections," Janeway complains. "Please explain why another is necessary."
"Crew members are instructed to step away from their stations. Side arms and scanning equipment are to be set aside. Deviation from this or any other inspection protocols will not be tolerated," says Prax, following the drill.
Janeway sighs and gives in to the inevitable. Her voice is almost bored. "All hands, this is the Captain. Prepare to be boarded by Devore inspections teams. Give them your usual warm welcome."
Chakotay reports the invasion. "Devore soldiers have materialized on decks 15, 12, eight, four..."
Janeway finishes. "And...One."
The music plays. This time, a Tchaikovsky symphony.
The comm system chirps. Inspector Kashyk's cheerfully pompous voice wafts overhead. "Captain Janeway, report to your ready room." Janeway casts a meaningful glance at Chakotay as she rises.
Janeway enters. The guards, Prax, and-seated in her chair-Inspector Cash. "Captain!" he says. "Good to see you again."
"Likewise," Janeway says, neutrally.
Troops inspect in a variety of locations. Equipment. Databases. Transporter logs. Cargo bays. Body cavities. Right down to the dental fillings. It's no less thorough than the last one we saw.
In the ready room, Janeway endures the wait. Inspector Cash is his usual smarmy self. "Tchaikovsky. Of all the selections in your database, this remains my favorite."
"Mine, too," Janeway says.
"I'm afraid Prax isn't impressed. He's solely concerned with his work, aren't you, Prax?" he says with a tsk-tsk in Prax' direction.
"As you say, sir," Prax says stiffly.
"Yes, he's curious why you entered this sector. You're aware it's restricted." Janeway says they were studying a supernova remnant. Cash expresses horror that she'd stray so far just for an astronomical phenomenon. "We're explorers," Janeway explains.
"Yes, I remember," says Cash genially. "I also remember warning you about going where you don't belong."
"Exploring can sometimes be hard to resist, Inspector," the captain says. Parry, thrust. Point, counterpoint.
"Well, it's a romantic notion, Captain, but one I can't allow you to indulge. I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave our space immediately." He turns to his subordinate. "Prax, why don't you check on our teams while I reiterate our protocols for Captain Janeway." Prax, the dutiful lieutenant, exits, along with the guards.
The mood lightens instantly once the door closes. "Do they suspect anything?" the captain asks.
"Not yet--but our warships have been monitoring Voyager's movements for the past few days, and mine as well. I don't think we have much time. The Brenari?"
"They're in transporter suspension."
"And the wormhole?" Cash asks, the Big Question.
"We found it," Janeway says, smiling proudly. "It's 20,000 kilometers off our port bow. We've determined that a photon torpedo properly calibrated will force open the threshold long enough for Voyager to get through."
Cash beams. "Congratulations, Captain! For awhile, I wasn't sure if even you could find it."
Then his eyes go cold. "Prax." The door opens, and Prax and two burly Devore guards enter. "Go to Cargo Bay One. You'll find the transporter patterns for more than a dozen telepaths. Rematerialize them." His voice is icy.
Prax likes the sound of that. "Yes, sir," he says without argument, and exits.
Janeway's face is a dark cloud. Lightning shoots from her nostrils. "Impressive. You gave a masterful performance."
Cash basks in his success. "I'm the one who's impressed--with your selflessness, your humanity. It made all this so much easier." Ah, those pesky human ethics...
"But what about your selflessness?" Janeway asks. "That touching story about the little girl--was that a fabrication, too?"
Cash smiles. Not at all kindly. "Oh, that incident was real. What I didn't tell you was that after wrestling with my ethics I realized that I'd done the right thing in order to protect my people from a very real threat!"
The inspector rises. He gestures to the door. "Please."
Janeway doesn't move.
He nods to the guards, who raise their weapons. But his friendly tone doesn't change. "I insist."
Janeway smolders, but heads for the door.
Janeway notices that the darkened bridge is now completely staffed by Devore soldiers, turtlenecked with telepathophobic evil. Her people are nowhere in sight.
Cash takes the big chair, giving Janeway the Chakotay seat. He wants her to see her best-laid plans unravel.
When they're seated, Cash begins barking orders. "Access their forward sensor array. You should find neutrino emissions at roughly 20,000 kilometers off the port bow. On screen." The screen lights up with a space view. In the distance is a shimmering circle.
"Target two photon torpedoes. When the first one detonates the wormhole will open. Use the second one to destabilize its subspace matrix. That will destroy it." Cash is really enjoying this.
"Prax, report!" In the cargo bay, Prax and his team of soldiers have the Starfleet folks well in hand. Prax reports that they've got the bio-patterns isolated.
Pleased, Cash commences his plans. "Fire." A lone torpedo launches from Voyager.
Nothing happens. Cash frowns. "It should have detonated." He checks the data on the console between the chairs, and his eyes widen in shock. "Those aren't neutrino emissions. They're antimatter residue signatures! There's no wormhole here!"
Understanding dawns. He looks at Janeway with new respect. "You created false readings."
"That is the theme for this evening, isn't it?" Janeway asks, batting her eyes. False readings. Counterpoint.
Cash realizes that when it rains, it pours. "Prax, do you have the telepaths?"
Prax reports back. "I have cargo containers...filled with vegetables."
Cash's frustration grows. "Return to the bridge!"
Janeway allows herself a smile. "Computer, change music selection. Mahler's Symphony Number One, Second Movement." She gives Cash a sympathetic look. "Maybe this will help you relax." Touche.
A soldier calls in with a report. "Inspector, we've completed our inventory of the vessel. Two of their shuttlecraft are missing."
Cash shakes is head. "They couldn't have gone far. Why didn't they appear on our long-range scans?" Janeway tries not to smile too broadly. "Of course! Adjust our scanners to compensate for refractive shielding."
"Well, you gave us the specifications. Seemed a shame to waste them," Janeway says, rubbing it in.
The soldier reports and update. "We've located the two shuttlecraft. Range 20 million kilometers."
"Order our ships to pursue. Maximum speed!"
we see the two shuttlecraft. Then we go inside one, piloted by Kir, surrounded by refugees. "We're approaching the coordinates. I'm firing the torpedo," he says. The torpedo launches, and a few seconds later a starburst wormhole opens.
In they go.
The wormhole disappears.
Chalk up two more shuttles....I hope those telepaths left a deposit.
Prax reports. "The shuttles have disappeared from sensors. We've scanned for a wormhole. If there was one, it's gone."
Prax looks forward to his next duty. "I'll order Janeway and her crew removed. We'll confiscate the vessel, deliver them to the nearest detention center."
But Cash has other ideas. "You're dismissed."
Prax balks. He begins quoting chapter and verse. "Imperative 12, codicil six requires..."
"To hell with protocol, Prax!" Cash thunders. "Do you think either of us will benefit from having this failure on our records? As far as you're concerned this incident never occurred. Make sure your teams share that understanding." Prax doesn't argue further. The rest of the soldiers file out. Soon, again, the Inspector and the Captain are alone.
Cash has reined in his temper. He even manages a game smile. "Well played, Captain. It seems I never did earn your trust."
Janeway's face is neutral. "I had to take a few precautions. You understand."
"Better than anyone," he says, almost affectionately.
"I never lied to you," Janeway says. "My offer to take you with us was genuine, and it would still stand if you'd kept your part of the bargain."
Cash smiles sadly. "For what it's worth...you made a tempting offer."
He rises. "The bridge is yours." Their eyes lock, and remain that way as he exits, right up until the turbolift doors close.
All alone on her bridge, reclaimed by stratagem rather than firepower, Janeway's look is...
To be honest, I have no idea what that look means.
Hmm. An episode in which nothing explodes and nobody dies. A chess match, a battle of wits, a dangerous dance between well-matched adversaries.
Not too shabby.
I must admit, my first time through I was a little bored. But on second viewing I enjoyed it quite a bit more.
Kashyk (Cash) grew on me with his sonorous voice and his expressive manner that is at turns irritating, daunting, and intimate. He was fun to watch, not easy to read, and a joy to listen to. If Mark Harelik does any books on tape, I want them. I've been told that he's done a good deal of musical theater, and I can believe it-what a voice.
Like Janeway, I never entirely trusted Kashyk. What was fun was watching the dance of giving and taking, revealing and holding back. Strategic revelations, strategic withholdings.
Kashyk appeared to have the advantage. He had inspected Voyager from stem to stern. Scanned each individual member of the crew. By the third inspection Prax knew the engine room better than Torres did. Kashyk had dived into Voyager's database, from the relevant (the prime directive and Janeway's occasional violation of same, and the possible consequences) to the tangential (music, coffee). He studied the captain to the point that he knew her preferences in music, in beverages; knew her scientific acumen. Knew her soft spot for hard cases, had an idea which confessions might break through her defenses.
In contrast, Voyager and her crew knew very little about the Devore. Mostly silent, imposing, bristling with firepower. Devore space is vast, and ruled with a fairly iron, leather-enclosed fist. Fighting their way out is unlikely. Janeway's main contact is the only really talkative one in the room, the chief Inspector. Leader to leader. By revealing his interest, he gave something away compared to all the more officious, drone-like Devore.
Just as Kashyk saw Janeway as the key to his plans, Janeway saw him as the key to hers. Both, not coincidentally, involved a ragged group of telepaths whose nature is in some ways irrelevant.
Did the Brenari have to be telepaths? Aside from ruining Story Hour, nothing we saw suggested they were telepaths, and telepathy was not needed for anything we saw them do. It was a convenient excuse to give Chakotay a few more lines and give Vorik some screen time (if no lines), but otherwise you could have picked any group of refugees with any features (distinguishing or otherwise). I guess telepaths are as good as anything, but I did expect telepathy to play into it somehow.
But instead, we just had non-telepaths doing their best to read each other. Janeway and Kashyk. Reading people-an important leadership skill.
I know I'm going to offend the J/C crowd out there, but I saw real chemistry between Kate Mulgrew and Mark Harelik. The shared passions-real or faked. Kashyk matched her cup for cup at the cappuccino machine and expressed fondness for the same music. (But tell me-how many of you really pictured Janeway as the Mahler/Tchaikovsky type? For some reason, I always pictured her having a real fondness for Sousa, Gilbert and Sullivan, etc.) They solved scientific and logistic and even tactical problems together, stimulating Janeway's mind. His "defection" and his confessions of conscience appealed to the justice-minded Janeway's sensibilities, and as she said at the end, had he been sincere, he would have been welcome aboard her ship. They shared a fascination for visual beauty in the form of the "infinite spirals" and the aurora borealis. They even seemed to revel in the little flirtations, his more aggressive and verbal, hers more visual and subtle.
"Counterpoint." In addition to the musical meanings is the literary "complement" or "contrast" or "interplay of elements." And so we have that here. Janeway and Kashyk at times nicely complement each other, at times sharply contrast, but at all times they interplay. The Latin root suggests "to prick;" they're constantly needling each other, affectionately and otherwise.
By the end, we sense Janeway's advantage. Kashyk's pride, his cultural loathing of telepaths, his casual cruelty to subordinates like Prax. He has the advantage of firepower, manpower, and home field advantage. He gave some of that up in the hope of gaining greater advantage. He gave up a sure win-Voyager was flying into a well-laid trap and would have been caught dead to rights--in order to gain an even greater advantage, the destruction of the elusive telepath-rescuing wormhole.
He gambled...and he lost. The gamble is what saves Janeway; his pride precludes him from revealing his failure to his superiors. Failure could mean demotion--could mean that Kashyk becomes like Prax, Prax becomes just another border patrolman. So he lets her go, and they join in one last conspiracy-the escaped telepaths will simply disappear, and Voyager gets to keep their own resident telepaths without further incident. Kashyk will ensure it, because if Janeway is caught, she can still ruin him. It's in everyone's best interests for the incident to be forgotten.
Delta Quadrant standoff.
I enjoyed the interplay. I enjoyed the flirtations that were packed with subtext-by the time we reach end game, we realize that each was playing the other, and everything that has gone on before is subject to reinterpretation. When Janeway didn't follow Kashyk into his quarters, was there regret in her eyes? Or simply resolve? When she kissed him, was there passion there? Or were the long stares at parting and soulful looks and moist embraces before parting simply measuring up and manipulating the adversary?
In short: did Janeway have a Chakotay-cheatin' heart?
Some have complained about that final look, the one that made Janeway appear week in her moment of triumph. That Kashyk had gotten to her.
I dunno. I think it may boil down to her basic "sucker for hard cases" character. If she can rehabilitate Maquis, Tom Paris, even a Borg; if she can outmaneuver a master of deception; she thinks she can do anything. She risked big, and it paid off. She does admit she'd hoped Kashyk had been sincere, and I don't doubt that. I think, though, that Kashyk was more interesting as the deceiver than as the refugee. His secrets, his layers of deception, gave him character. As he said at the end, "well played." As long as there was a game to play, he sustained our interest. Take that away, and he would have less going for him, at least on Janeway's ship. They are equals of a sort, adversaries after a fashion. We caught them in a vignette, and a vignette was enough. Further "games" would have paled; once they knew without doubt they couldn't trust each other, their relationship changed as surely as it would have if we discovered that they could. The discovery was the interesting part.
But Kashyk, a boyfriend for Captain Kate? Not hardly. Even the passion, in the end, was part of the game. Chakotay never looked all that worried. I don't think he needed to be until and unless Kashyk actually had become part of the crew.
Someone wrote to suggest that this story is another rendition of "Scorpion." It's close. Janeway and Kashyk rely on the "true nature" of the other to suit their own ends. Kashyk expects Janeway's innate humanity and compassion to work to his advantage, getting her to trust him. Janeway relies on Kashyk's manipulative nature and pride to let him think that he had succeeded. She uses his knowledge of her humanity as her trap. By playing the duped, she gives the telepaths time to escape.
I liked how we started the episode well into Devore space, after several checkpoints, after they'd picked up the refugees and found a way to shield them from inspections, and were nearing the drop-off point. By showing up near the end of the story, we were able to spend more time on "end game" which is where the real action was. The Brenari are important but in drama terms are simply the MacGuffin; they could have been a robot or a crystal or a basketball or anything else that has to make it into that wormhole.
We are able to skip a lot of prelude. We can pick up a lot as the story unfolds, things we care about but don't need lengthy exposition about. They're going through Devore space because it's the fastest way home, and taking the long way around is unacceptable to the captain. They pick up the race of telepaths because it's the right thing to do, even if it violates the prime directive (though why that would be the case, I'm not sure) and causes them some inconvenience (two more lost shuttles, the very real risk that the rule-spouting Devore could put her and her people in relocation camps and end their trip pronto.
As mentioned last week, if anyone's going to take a risk that severe, it's going to be the captain. Only she has the rank; only she "knows the admirals on a first-name basis" for when she gets home and has to explain herself. She takes a major risk here, and the crew follows her. The telepaths do provide one assistance: they divert attention from her own telepaths, Tuvok and Vorik and a Betazoid named Jurot. By saving the telepaths and bloodying Kashyk's nose, she assures herself a problem-free trip through the rest of this dangerous space.
Performances were quite enjoyable. It was great fun to watch Mulgrew and Harelik were great fun to watch play off each other. The other characters weren't heavily used, but they did play key scenes by showing how well the ensemble crew is working together these days. We also saw lots of extras.
I liked the plot. Twists and turns and surprises. I expected Janeway to come out on top, but I didn't anticipate the ending we got. Sacrificing two shuttles was a complete surprise to me.
All in all, not a bad outing. Decent story, strong performances, good chemistry. At times Janeway looked positively radiant; I wouldn't at all mind seeing her like that more often. The captaincy is a lonely job, and she needs her moments of renewal, simple moments of happiness, however fleeting.
Call it * * *.
Next week: Rerun of "Vis a Vis". Whatever your reason for commemorating the season (Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanza, Solstice, semester break, whatever) I wish you a good one. Drive safe, be excellent to each other, and see you next year.