Voyager rewatch 1.07 – “Eye of the Needle”

Voyager comes across a wormhole to the alpha quadrant, everything proceeds as planned and nothing bad ha–

Oh.

Like a lot of Voyager episodes, especially in the early seasons, here we have a solid character piece marred by way too much technobabble.

The script mostly focuses on Janeway and Harry, and their eagerness to get home, but they never interact one-on-one. This is an interesting choice, and makes sense — she’s the captain, he’s the greenest of ensigns, even after the events of “The Cloud”, they’re not going to confide in each other.

And what is there to say? “I’m so keen to get home.”/”Hey, me too!”

The lack of personal interaction between them, combined with the bittersweet, ambiguous ending, creates a really interesting tension, a sense of a story half-told. I think that’s a feature, not a bug, because … that’s what this is.

The tension in “Eye of the Needle” comes from the audience’s knowledge that Voyager’s not going to get home in its seventh episode. That’s mirrored by Janeway and Tuvok’s awareness that Harry is way too excited about the possibility, and he’s going to find out sooner or later that Santa’s not real.

And Harry’s excitement is infectious. He and B’Elanna get to interact one on one for the first time since “Caretaker”, and even though she has nothing waiting for her in the alpha quadrant — she doesn’t even know for sure where in the galaxy her mother is living these days — she’s still tripping over herself to tell Janeway when she realises the crew could beam themselves through the wormhole and onto the Romulan ship at the other end.

Naturally, it’s too good to last, but I’m impressed by how well the episode builds up hope, only for Tuvok to dash it at the very end.

The B-plot

Kes continues to be the most valuable supporting character, as she progresses in her medical education and also becomes an advocate for the Doctor’s personhood.

It’s honestly a mystery to me how anyone could decide she was the character they could best afford to lose — and I know that was a fairly last-minute change, and it was originally Garrett Wang who was going to be fired, but I wouldn’t have ditched him, either.

Kes’s work on the Doctor’s behalf leads Janeway to begin to regard him as an individual in his own right, as opposed to a badly-programmed app, which sets her down the path that will end in deciding to rehabilitate a Borg drone. This is a nice convergence of three character arcs.

Among the Doctor’s pet peeves: being left online with no way to switch himself off. He’s concerned that, if the crew does beam through the wormhole to Romulan space, he might accidentally be left online, alone, for all eternity.

It’s okay, dude, Kes doesn’t say, Janeway will definitely hit the self-destruct before she abandons ship.

Important sleepwear business

I cannot let this episode pass without a few words on Janeway’s terrible pyjamas.

Apparently, she sleeps in a pink satin nightgown (because the costume department of this era just loved putting redheads in pink satin), but with matching … leggings? Harem pants? underneath.

Because a woman’s sleepwear, according to ’90s Trek, must be extremely feminine, but also unreasonably complicated.

I’ve said before that Discovery‘s athleisurewear inspirations are going to look super dated in a couple of decades — but there’s a lot to be said for its unisex Starfleet jim jams. Not to mention standard issue trackie daks and hoodies.

Wig Watch 2k18

Though she has yet to adopt her classic pixie cut, Kes’s hair is improving with every episode. I mean, it actually looks like hair these days!

Janeway, meanwhile, apparently keeps her extremely ’90s bouffant in place even when sleeping.

Other things

  • This is Voyager’s third temporal anomaly, if you’re counting.
  • When the Romulan captain offers to warn Starfleet not to send Voyager to the Badlands, Chakotay objects on the grounds that they’ve already had a big impact on events in the delta quadrant. Which is true, but surely he’s also aware that not sending Voyager just means he and his crew would be stranded alone.
  • (For the four and a half minutes it will take Seska to lead a mutiny and become a pirate queen, anyway.)
  • Jeri Taylor is co-credited as the writer for this script, but there are some off-moments which seem like the work of a less experienced writer — for example, Janeway addresses B’Elanna as “Torres”, and the Romulan is addressed as “Captain” not “Commander”.
  • Saying that Kate Mulgrew gives a great performance is like remarking on the unusual wetness of water, but she’s especially good in Janeway’s late-night Skype session with the Romulan captain.

Do I recommend it?

Yes. Solid characterisation, and a rare episode where the show’s reluctance to change the status quo actually heightens the tension.

Author: Liz Barr

Words written. Opinions expressed.

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