Voyager rewatch 4.13 – “Waking Moments”

This episode really plays to Chakotay’s strengths, in that he’s asleep for most of it.

“Waking Moments” is a perfectly likeable episode with nothing to say.

Sure, it’s an ensemble piece, which is always fun, and gives Chakotay some time in the spotlight, which is badly needed. But we go right into our characters’ collective subconscious, and what do we learn?

Janeway fears that she’ll fail in her mission and her crew will die.

Tuvok fears that he’ll lose his dignity and become a figure of fun.

Tom fears that he’ll crash a shuttle.

Harry fears sex — or do the writers simply not know the difference between a sex dream and a nightmare? Now there’s a revelation!

This is all … fine. Tim Russ had a more interesting take on Tuvok’s dream, that it wasn’t nudity or indignity that made Tuvok anxious, but the breach of protocol and the probability that he had made his crewmates uncomfortable. So we can give him credit for giving this far more thought than the writers.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy “Waking Moments”. It was a nice way to spend 44 minutes on a Sunday afternoon. It’s just that it’s utterly forgettable. I know some people miss the days when Star Trek had long seasons with lots of room for filler and character development, but this was all filler.

I want to dunk on Chakotay some more, but he was actually pretty good here

Aside from the regrettable reminder that Voyager‘s writers should never, ever try to deal with Indigenous cultures. Not only do we have another pass at Chakotay’s here, but he also makes reference to “Australian Aborigines”1 and a rather simplistic reference to the Dreaming.

Other than these problems, as an episode where Chakotay gets to take action, make choices and get stuff done, this is good! And he achieves more in his sleep than he does in most episodes!

I am once again beating the “if only Seven of Nine really did take over the show” drum

This is not a great episode for Seven. Her main presence is as a figure in Harry’s sex dream, and later she “creates a diversion” by punching him.

The former is … fine. I guess. The whole Harry/Seven business is so one-sided and pointless, and only serves to make Harry look like a loser and a bit of a creep. It’s not clear whether he’s having a nightmare about being sexually assaulted, or an uncomfortable dream about a coworker which is going to be awkward later, but the whole thing is so hamfisted, I want to send Jeri Ryan a gift basket and an apology.

And the diversion is … again, fine. It doesn’t really line up with Seven’s characterisation, but maybe she really has been observing B’Elanna.

What I kept thinking was, “Seven doesn’t sleep. She regenerates in an alcove. Is this her first dream since childhood?” And, “What if she was immune, and this was an episode about Seven, Chakotay and the Doctor saving the ship? There’s a combination we don’t see every day!”

It frustrates me that, for all the complaints about Seven dominating the show after her introduction, she has spent so much of the season being treated as exposition, a plot device, or … well, a distraction. She’s the most interesting character the franchise has had in years, and she’s utterly wasted.

Other observations

  • B’Elanna’s engineering jacket makes its first appearance, but high definition TV makes it pretty easy to spot Roxann Dawson’s pregnant belly regardless.
  • That’s really just a nitpick; even Discovery couldn’t quite conceal Sonequa Martin-Green’s belly.
  • B’Elanna teasing Harry about his dream girl is very cute, and for all that everyone complains that the Harry-B’Elanna friendship is completely forgotten, it never really goes away.
  • Why do invading aliens always corral the crew into the cargo bay? Wouldn’t it be easier to split them up?
  • Or did the dream aliens pick this up from the crew’s memory of the Kazon?
  • Am I overthinking it?
  • Yes.

In conclusion

If you want to spend a chill afternoon watching your TV people hang out and do stuff, this is the episode for you. Three steaming cups of hot cooking oil out of five.

  1. A term which was already outdated by the mid’90s, much like “Indian” was being replaced by “Native American” well before “Caretaker” aired

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