This is a hard review to write! Investigations seems to start off in the worst possible way that is, with the equivalent of Fun with Flags with Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory: Neelix (let me repeat for the n-th time that Ethan Phillips is great, by the way) begins a daily TV program to boost crew morale. Ouch. Yet, although it sounds like a horrible thing, this trick works well and advances the plot while offering even some fun dialogues between Neelix and the Doctor who has wonderful ideas for the program!
Unfortunately, this episode has a lot of problems! I could sum them all up with: “What a pity!” Why? I’m disappointed that such a promising story, whose premises were developed over various episodes (as I recalled in my review for Lifesigns), ends hastily with the clunky plot of Investigations. Both the stormy relationship between Chakotay and Paris, and the betrayal of Jonas (Raphael Sbarge) with his continuous contacts with Seska (Martha Hackett), come to an end in an episode full of daring action with so many plot holes that it’s hard to get invested in its story.
Here’s the plot. Tom Paris decides to leave the USS Voyager to try his luck on a Talaxian ship. Seska and her Kazons soon capture him and, from the Kazon ship, he manages to find out who’s the traitor on Voyager (the whole thing was a plan of Tuvok and Janeway from the beginning). In the meanwhile, the traitor himself takes command of the Starfleet ship and if it weren’t for that nosy Neelix, the series would have continued with the Kazons on board of the USS Voyager. Well, at the end, Jonas dies, Seska is defeated, and Paris is back on board and can finally behave like a normal member of the crew. All this gets done in 40 minutes! This is what I call a rushed conclusion of the a narrative arc which lasted several episodes, and above all there are too many plot holes to make the episode enjoyable. Let me write some of them below, but it’s far from being a non-exhaustive list.
- Were the Talaxians who took Tom Paris aboard aware of the risk they were running? What if the Kazons didn’t just kidnap the young pilot, but also slaughtered the Talaxians in the process? Were they acceptable collateral victims?
- Why was Seska so interested in Paris? And why not keep him in a cell, but rather in a room with convenient access to the on-board computer? And while we’re at it, what does Paris use to enter it? Wasn’t Kazon technology incompatible with that of the Federation (see State of Flux, Season 1)? And… Did Paris learn to read the Kazon language somewhere?
- Even Paris’s escape from the Kazon ship is anything but epic. Not only he manages to find a Kazon shuttle, but he also knows how to fly it and, above all, resists continuous attacks from the mother ship for who knows how long! And, as usual, everything ends with a teleport through shields. Why?
- Meanwhile, on the USS Voyager can Neelix really be more efficient than Tuvok and his security staff in finding the traitor and neutralizing him? And since we’re talking about it… why did Jonas, a maquis, decide to help a CARDASSIAN like Seska? The maquis are supposed to hate the Cardassians!!! Unfortunately, Jonas will never be able to answer this question since he dissolved in Engineering.
In short, there are numerous problems and there’s no underlying theme to talk about to salvage the episode. Investigations is all about action and mystery, and unfortunately none of them really works. And now I’m curious about the season finale… I’ll find out soon, ciao!
PS: The Delta Flyers podcast shout out: Garrett Wang recalled that the current King of Jordan Abdullah II appeared in a cameo in Investigations. Apparently, an uncle of Garrett Wang who’s a general in the Taiwanese army also met Abdullah II in a military ceremony a few years before. It’s a small world!
Previous episode: Lifesigns
Next episode: Deadlock