It’s episode four, and we’re up to our second temporal anomaly! It sure would suck if you were a viewer who hated time travel!
Fortunately, I am not that viewer.
On the other hand, this is not a great time travel story.
My feeling, when you’re dealing with time loops, resets and general wibby wobbly stuff, is that if you end with the status quo being restored and no one remembering, you need to make up for it by showing the audience something new and important about the characters. Letting us see them in remarkably different or extreme circumstances.
“Time and Again” … doesn’t even come close to doing that.
What did we learn about our characters?
- That Janeway is a tiny ball of determination who firmly believes in the rules, but who sees and takes opportunities to break them. Nothing new or unexpected there.
- Tom Paris is a charming rogue with daddy issues, who doesn’t believe in the rules, but obeys Janeway just because. (And who can blame him?) This is literally everything we learned about him in his very first scene.
- Kes is a bit psychic, which we already knew because the Ocampa in “Caretaker” were communicating telepathically.
- Neelix is a complete mansplainer, which we didn’t precisely know, but I don’t think anyone’s surprised.
“Time and Again” feels like a TNG episode. A solid TNG episode, but not one of its more remarkable moments.
And this is … fine. But is that really what you want the fourth episode of your brand new series to be going for?
On the other hand, if you’re a Janeway/Paris shipper — I, for one, dabbled — this is a much better showcase for their relationship, professional and otherwise, than “Caretaker”.
Tom is less smarmy, and we see that having a common mentor in Admiral Paris enables them to work extremely well together. They’re already trusting each other to make decisions without discussing them first.
And Janeway’s “Uhhh, did you just threaten a tiny child?” face is priceless.
Child actor syndrome
I took a look at a bunch of reviews and behind the scenes material for this episode, and even the people who made it seem split between whether the Obnoxious Child is terrible because of the actor or the dialogue.
My take: why not both? Voyager had consistently bad child actors in its first few seasons, but the kid is also very much a Precocious ’90s Child Character.
But let’s not pile onto the poor child. (Note: the poor child is a year younger than me.) All the guest stars in this episode gave mediocre performances, spouting mediocre dialogue.
Meanwhile, Kes (and Neelix)
This episode sees the beginning of the Kes Has Weird Psychic Abilities thread which culminates in season 4’s “The Gift”. (Not “Fury” in season 6. That didn’t happen. Okay?) It’s a bit generic here: she senses the destruction of the planet in the beginning (“as if a thousand voices cried out”, etc, thanks, Obi-Wan), and is written more or less as if she’s Deanna Troi.
But unlike Deanna, in addition to being empathetic and sad, she also has to persuade people (Neelix) that her experiences are real. There’s a scene where he, a non-telepath, explains to her, a telepath, what telepathy feels like.
I mean. Really.
I’m a Neelix apologist in a lot of regards, but everything about his relationship with Kes was bad at the time, and isn’t improving with age.
(Back in the late ’90s and into the early ’00s, there was a fansite by that name dedicated to fashion and costumes in Voyager. It was amazing, and I’m a bit sad I can’t remember enough of the URL to dig it up on the Wayback Machine.)
This week’s biggest fashion victims: the aliens of the week, who look exactly like humans only their cops wear drab brown jumpsuits, and everyone else wears garish red-yellow-and-orange-striped tops with black bottoms and odd unisex corsets. The main point of distinction appears to be that some of the women wear skirts.
Okay, but what’s Kes wearing?
A neat little dark-blue-and-indigo ensemble, with an interestingly pleated over-shirt. I love the colours, but the over-shirt looks uncomfortable to wear, and is slightly … ugly. But kudos to the team for trying something a bit different.
Her wig remains terrible. Soon, my love. Soon.
Speaking of wigs
Janeway lets her hair half-down. It’s amazing.
- Chakotay is, like, really chill about letting the captain head out on dangerous away missions. Riker would not have stood for this! And it’s not as if Chakotay’s hanging out for Janeway to get killed! He just … doesn’t want to have that argument.
- (Because he knows he’d lose, probably.)
- Admiral Paris used to give his family an annual lecture on the importance of the Prime Directive. But Tom’s an only child, sooooo … who else was his dad lecturing? His no-doubt long-suffering mother?
- Also the Doctor was in this episode.
- While it turns out that the planet’s destruction was caused by the Voyager crew’s attempts to rescue Janeway and Tom, the newly-restored population are still using Extremely Explosive Energy to power their planet. So they’re probably all gonna die within a few weeks of being saved anyway.
- We all definitely believe in Harry’s girlfriend who lives in
Canadathe Alpha Quadrant, right?
- (I know, we’re going to see her in a few episodes’ time, and she’s a very nice girl named Libby, but still.)
- Okay, but why do the Delaney sisters insist on double dates? Is it a twin thing? A safety in numbers thing? Or are they trying to give Tom a soft no?
Would I recommend this to a new fan?
Nah. I mean, unless they’ve fallen madly in love with Tom Paris. It’s so inessential, even the main characters have forgotten about it by the end.
Two and a half unisex corsets out of five.