Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Anna's Reaction to the Star Trek: Voyager Pilot "Caretaker," Part 2

This is a continuation of my reaction to Star Trek: Voyager's Pilot, "Caretaker". If you haven't read the first part of my commentary yet, you can find it here.

Part 2:

Captain's Log, Supplemental: The Maquis ship and Voyager have encountered a debris field where sensors have detected a small vessel with one humanoid life form aboard. 

This humanoid life form, Neelix, is all too familiar with the story Janeway and her crew are telling. He's seen countless other crews (and really, he seems to have no concept of the number) have officers kidnapped and taken to the Ocampa people under the watch of  the Caretaker. Beyond that, he doesn't seem to know too much, other than scavenging of course. The all precious resource water is the key to gaining his loyalty (or at least buying his help). Janeway seems to see the good in this slightly dumpster-diver-looking-hipster-type fellow and welcomes him aboard. I really like the fact that so far Janeway seems to be willing to give most people she encounters a chance to prove themselves.

At this suggestion, Neelix stares confusedly at the ceiling. He's rather impressed with everything aboard Voyager and doesn't hesitate to embrace Tuvok. The Vulcan gently suggests a bath to Neelix's bewilderment. His space mullet does look a bit greasy after all.

Meanwhile, Ensign Kim and an enraged Torres have again woken up from sedation. We discover that (well duh) Torres is half Klingon. Their brief conversation is interrupted by the arrival of what seems to be a member of a cult that follows the aforementioned Caretaker. I can't help but wonder what type of caretaker he is if those are the outfits he makes them wear.

We soon learn that the Ocampa (as mentioned previously by Neelix) consider Torres and Kim to be honored guests as they were delivered by the Caretaker. The Ocampa have been a subterranean society for over 500 years ago when an environmental disaster known as "The Warming" made the surface of their planet uninhabitable. (Al Gore, is that you?) The Caretaker then built an entire city underground to house the Ocampa. He cares for all of their needs such as food and water but without ever making direct contact.

The Ocampa doctor tells Torres and Kim that they have likely been separated from their people to prevent a plague. The source and treatment of this illness remain undetermined, but from time to time, the Caretaker puts the afflicted in the care of the Ocampa. They must be talking about the weird implant things. Are they alien eggs?

Tuvok enters Neelix's quarters only to be totally baffled by the absolute wreck that Neelix has made of things in such a short time.

                                                               I think he figured out that whole bath thing though.
The crew have finally made it to the fifth planet only to find that things aren't exactly as Neelix had suggested. Instead of the Ocampa, they are now dealing with a hostile species called the Kazon-Ogla. He owes this particular group a huge debt of water. Jabin, the Kazon-Ogla leader, gives the crew a bit more insight into the planet's situation, which can be best compared to Mad Max's universe when it comes to basic life supplies. As her culture has the only access to water on the planet, an Ocampa girl who has escaped is being held prisoner by the Kazon-Ogla. Jabin insists that she's useless as he's tried everything to get her to reveal the location of her people. I get the impression that she hasn't been treated very kindly as do the Voyager's crew. Neelix offers to trade water for the girl. Presumably since she may know more than she lets on. The somewhat tense, but not exactly dangerous, exchange escalates as the Kazon-Ogla want more than just water.

At Neelix's urgent request, the crew is beamed back to the ship. As it turns out, this isn't just some random Ocampa girl; she's Neelix's girlfriend.

Meanwhile, Kim is convinced that Janeway is on the way to rescue them, but Torres is barely convinced that their are any survivors from either crew left. An Ocampa woman finds the pair in hiding and brings a gift of healing moss from the colony's fruit trees. She seems legitimately apologetic and expresses concern at the Caretaker's increasingly strange behaviors. The Ocampa woman is concerned for their well being but also seems willing to aid in their escape.

Back on Voyager, the crew discusses their plan of action. Naturally, a bit more warning about Neelix's plan would have been appreciated. But, Kes, the Ocampa woman, seems determined to help retrieve Torres and Kim to repay them for helping her gain freedom.

With the knowledge Kes provided about the decaying protective barrier, the crew is able to locate a weak spot that the ship can beam them through. Which happens rather quickly for the sake of storytelling. Toscat, an Ocampa elder, quickly ends the happy reunion between Kes and the others. He thinks that returning Torres and Kim to their own people would be directly breaching the Caretaker's wishes. Kes is quite angry as she feels that the Ocampa have become complacent and have lost their ability to think for themselves. Toscat clearly thinks that their diminished independence is a good thing.

Torres and Kim continue to look for a way out while pushing through their exhaustion. Torres reveals that she was a student at Starfleet Academy before joining the Maquis. (At this point, who wasn't?) The two reminisce and take a moment to rest.

The crew continues to search the hospital for Torres and Kim. But something is wrong. All parties had noted an increased energy flux coming from the Arra--enough to power the city for over five years. It has stopped sending energy completely and has changed positions, firing at the energy conduits to seal them off.

Tuvok notes that the information he's gleaned leads to a reasonable conclusion: that the caretaker is dying and will no longer be able to provide for the Ocampa. While Tuvok, Janeway, and Chokotay search for answers, Paris, Neelix, and Kes have located the missing crewmembers.

It's clear that time is of the essence in escaping the planet and locating the Caretaker. Paris has managed to get to the surface with his group, but one of the energy blasts has delayed the rest of the party. Paris returns with Neelix to rescue Janeway, an injured Tuvok, and Chokotay (who is resistant to Paris's help strictly because it's Paris).

Back on the ship, Janeway comes up against resistance from the Kazon as Jabin doesn't trust anyone with their level of technology to enter the Array. Janeway and Tuvok manage to beam aboard while the rest of the crew deals with the Kazon attack.

They find the Caretaker sitting alone in the barn that they'd previously discovered. He shares with them that he doesn't have the power to send them home; he has just enough to provide for the Ocampa and protect their resources from the Kazon. His people accidentally destroyed the planet's atmosphere, and the Caretaker was one of two selected to care for the Ocampa. (The other left a long time ago.) He has been searching for a replacement, hence all the people that have been kidnapped. The fatal "illness" is really just that the people he kidnapped were incompatible with the genetic code he'd implanted them with. No one had a compatible bio-molecular pattern.

Janeway asks him why he hasn't considered teaching the Ocampa to care for themselves. The Caretaker has always considered them too weak and immature to be self sufficient. Janeway tries to convince him otherwise.

The Kazon haven't stopped attacking, and the Maquis ship doesn't have enough firepower to fight it. Chokotay chooses to sacrifice his ship to give both the Voyager and his own crew a chance to survive the skirmish. He sends the rest of his crew to the Voyager and is beamed over at the last minute.

Janeway and Tuvok are suddenly able to see the Array as it really is and find the Caretaker's true form. He's some sort of blob creature. The Kazon ship has crashed into the Array and damaged the self-destruct program. The Caretaker's dying wish is that Janeway turn it back on to give the Ocampa a fighting chance.

She and Tuvok debate whether the Prime Directive applies. Janeway makes the decision that they must help the Ocampa, even at the cost of losing their way home. The Array's destruction is enough to get the Kazon to back down.

Now that the immediate threat has been dealt with, the crew of the Voyager has some adjustments to make to accommodate all of it's new members. Chokotay is now Janeway's second in command and in charge of Paris's safety (to his amusement). Janeway has promoted Paris to Lieutenant much to his surprise.

I'm only sorry your father won't know" -J
Oh, he'll know...when we get back."-P
Speaking of unexpected positions, Neelix and Kes have decided that they'd like to join the Voyager's crew as well. To Janeway's bemused confusion, Neelix has already invented a position for himself. Basically, a jack of all trades. The pair are more than willing to to whatever is needed to become a part of the crew.

"We're alone in an uncharted part of the galaxy. We've already made friends and some enemies.We have no idea of the dangers we're going to face. But one thing is clear, both crews are going to have to work together if we're to survive.That's why Commander Chokotay and I have agreed that this should be one crew--a Starfleet crew. As the only Starfleet vessel assigned to the Delta Quadrant, we'll continue to follow our directive: to seek out new worlds and explore space. But our primary goal is clear. Even at maximum speeds it would take 75 years to reach The Federation. But I'm not willing to settle for that. There's another entity like The Caretaker out there somewhere who has the ability to get us there a lot faster. We'll be looking for her, and we'll be looking for wormholes, spatial rifts,or new technologies to help us. Somewhere along this journey we'll find a way back. Mr. Paris, set a course...for home."
In conclusion
Well, I'm fairly sure that I'm finally going to finish watching Voyager now. "Caretaker" definitely felt fast paced and tight, but that's typical of this type of program. So far I like the characters; I know just enough about them to be interested in learning more. The cast is well-balanced diversity wise and has a number of strong female characters already. I'd definitely join Starfleet to work under a captain like Janeway. Overall, this pilot was satisfying. Although I'm not overly familiar with Star Trek's cultures, I felt that the contact I've had with plot devices from Star Trek in day-to-day life left me more than prepared. The story laid out in the pilot was balanced between the familiar and strange in a way that welcomes new viewers. I'd say "Caretaker" is a good introduction to the series and definitely worth a watch.

What's your favorite Star Trek pilot, how does "Caretaker" compare?


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