Voyager rewatch 3.09 – “Future’s End” (part 2)

Tuvok is not paid enough to put up with this nonsense. Wait, that’s every episode.

Should “Future’s End” have been a three-parter?

Because here’s the thing: while it’s not uncommon for the second half of a two-parter in Trek to be weaker than the first, it’s not usually because there’s too much plot. More the opposite, in fact.

But here, we have the original Starling business, plus the Doctor experiencing life outside sickbay for the first time, and Chakotay and B’Elanna being captured by right-wing militia. And that last plotline feels like it could have sustained a whole episode by itself — and maybe should have, given that it’s resolved with an off-screen firefight between the militia, the US military (or local police?) and Tuvok and the Doctor.

The militia plotline was timely then — just a few years after the Waco seige — and feels timely now, especially given that Chakotay and B’Elanna are both of Latinx heritage. There was an element of truth in the militia leader’s argument that Team Voyager represent collectivism, and their history as former Maquis added an extra layer of complication. These are all great concepts, but there’s not enough room for any of it to breathe.

(Maybe if the earlier casual chat in the shuttle had been shorter? But that scene was delightful! I know it sapped the tension out of the narrative and didn’t add anything to the plot, but sometimes it’s nice to let characters just … hang out.)

Speaking of letting characters hang out…

Google Maps tells me it’s about an eight-hour drive from LA to Arizona — depending, of course, where in Arizona you want to end up. And I’m genuinely sad we didn’t have time to see The Doctor And Tuvok Go On A Roadtrip.

And speaking of travel…

(Yes, I’m stretching your patience; no, I’m not sorry.)

A three-parter would have let us extend Starling’s stay on Voyager, let him see more than sickbay — a conference room, at least! — and made his brief imprisonment on the ship seem less like a pointless diversion. Maybe Dunbar could have had a moment of thinking, well, why not leave the boss where he is, and take over myself?

But let’s talk about the episode we actually got

As much as I think the new elements were crammed in, the existing storylines — particularly the Tom and Rain show — were good.

I generally hate scenes where a man is keeping secrets from a woman for important plot reasons, and doesn’t give her anything beyond platitudes and half-truths. But Tom is so fundamentally decent that I was only mildly irritated instead of deeply frustrated.

(I do owe Rain an apology, though — last week I said that her nom de internet would be AstronomyGirl1013, but obviously it would be AstronomyChick1013. I forgot it was 1996.)

They really were setting up a Harry Gets Promoted arc, weren’t they?

Janeway is clearly pleased with his performance in command, and it’s heavily hinted that he’ll have future opportunities to prove himself. When was that dropped?

(We know why it was dropped — Rick Berman vetoed it, claiming that “the show needs an ensign”. Which is, of course, bullshit, all the other shows to date went for long stretches without a character of that rank. But there are all sorts of stories and rumours which suggest Berman was prejudiced against Asians in general, and Garrett Wang in particular.)

Other observations

  • Look, if the show wanted to find Important Plot Reasons for Chakotay and B’Elanna to be dishevelled all the time, I’d certainly manage to cope somehow.
  • Tuvok’s reaction when the Doctor announces that he is “footloose and fancy free” is perfect.
  • But how did Tuvok and the Doctor get a vehicle for their road trip? What snacks did they bring? Who picked the music? I REQUIRE ANSWERS TO ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS.

In conclusion

This post is only short because (a) most of what I said last week covers this episode too; and (b) have you seen the real world right now? My bandwidth is limited. But this was a very nice way to spend some time. Three and a half mobile holo-emitters out of five.

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