Star Trek: Voyager – S01E03, Parallax

So here’s Voyager up and running! The first episode did a great job to set the story in motion, and so off to the first adventure, Parallax. Well, more than an actual adventure, this is an excuse to do some character development!

Voyager runs into a space-time anomaly and tries to save a starship that seems to be trapped there. But after a while it turns out that that ship is none other than Voyager itself, which therefore must free itself from the anomaly! Honestly it’s not the most compelling story to kick-off the post-pilot first season, in my opinion. There’s a lot of technobabble, the idea doesn’t feel original in the Star Trek universe (ok, this is probably always true after TOS, TNG and the first half of DS9, but in this case the story offers no new interesting insights), but fortunately there are good opportunities to develop the relationships between the characters.

In particular, we follow the misadventures of B’Elanna Torres in engineering where she clashes with the officer in command, Carey (Josh Clark), who knows much less than her but wants to assert his authority nevertheless. In parallel, Chakotay fights with Janeway on the opportunity to recognize B’Elanna as chief engineer, a fight which yields the best Chakotay line so far: “I won’t be your token Maqui officer on board“. In the end, of course, the half-Klingon gets the position she deserves, and Carey as a good Starfleet officer stands down. Nice, but also maybe too quick: all the potential for conflict between the two crews seems to have already been exhausted (although I could be wrong on this). If so, it would be a bit disappointing.

The rest of the episode is standard Star Trek (a similar episode that comes to mind is Booby Trap, third season of TNG): naturally some technobabble saves the day, and when B’Elanna and Janeway must guess which is the real Voyager to return to with their shuttle, the captain demonstrates all her experience.

I’d like to emphasize one thing: I’m slowly getting used to the various crew members and I already feel a certain affection for many of them, but so far I can’t stand Captain Janeway. She’s very cold, her lines seems to be said by a computer, even her movements look robotic… I hope this will change soon, and I’m almost sure it will, given the possible narrative arc of a character who’s emotionally distant from the crew but sooner or later she will have to become more attached to them. Ciao!

PS: Robert Duncan McNeill and Garrett Wong, recently reviewed the episode (check the The Delta Flyers podcast) and they laughed a lot about the excess shaking of the crew in the scenes where the Voyager is tossed around. Apparently, it was an over-correction of the near total lack of shaking in the pilot episode noticed by director Kim Friedman who sent all the main cast members a VHS explaining how to do it right using scenes from Deep Space Nine to teach the Voyager crew!


Previous episode: Caretaker

Next episode: Time and Again


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