Voyager rewatch 5.24 – “Relativity”

Voyager is in her self-referential era. Again.

“Relativity” is a fun romp without much to say.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, until the time comes that you have to open WordPress and try to blog about it. I set myself a target of minimum 1,000 words for these posts, and usually I only miss it if I dislike an episode.

I like “Relativity” a lot! But I have so little to say about it that, well, I just wrote a whole paragraph of meta-blog.

Writer soup

Maybe the hollowness at the centre of “Relativity” is a case of too many cooks. We have three credited writers here — Nick Sagan, Bryan Fuller and Michael Taylor — and by all accounts, Brannon Braga did extensive uncredited rewrites. All four of these men bring interesting perspectives to their scripts, and absolutely have something to say in their work, but one gets the sense it’s all been diluted here. This feels like an episode whose ingredients have sat in the slow cooker for too long: it’s satisfying, but you can’t really distinguish any individual flavours.

But soup is good!

Sure, I love soup. Now I’m filling up my word count with metaphors that don’t hold up.

Nothing matches the promise of the teaser

We open in the alpha quadrant! At the Utopia Planitia shipyards! Janeway and her season 1 hair are here! And … so is Seven of Nine? In uniform?

This is a chance to see a side of Janeway we’ve barely glimpsed before: the subordinate, dealing with an admiral who clearly regards himself as a paternal figure. She’s out here with a support network, a chain of command above her, and a brand new ship to command.

It would have been cool to see Seven interact with that Janeway, and it feels like a missed opportunity that we see so little of it. (Voyager will revisit this opportunity — sort of, and with Chakotay instead of Seven — in season 7.) After that, it all feels a bit rote. Revisiting the Kazon attacks from “Basics”? Is that … something anyone wanted? More to the point, is it something we needed?

Nothing changes and no one learns anything

That’s not quite true. Captain Braxton learns that, at some point in the future, he is going to become a criminal. For which he is going to be punished now.

We don’t know much about the Federation in its time travel era, but I think it’s safe to say there’s a reason that time travel is taboo by the 32nd century, and also that the decline seen in Discovery probably happened for a good reason.

Otherwise … what? Seven and Janeway have a little bit of an adventure, but neither has been challenged on any fundamental level. It is, as I said, a fun romp. And that’s completely fine, but doesn’t leave me much to talk about. There’s never any sense that the stakes are all that high.

Other observations

  • Seven should wear a Starfleet uniform all the time, she looks amazing
  • I just … of all the times Voyager was invaded in season 2, why “Basics”? Yet there’s no sense of urgency in those scenes? WHICH OF YOU FOUR WRITERS WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?
  • I feel like this might have been more effective if Captain Braxton had not been recast from his first appearance in “Future’s End”
  • Are there no women in the 29th century?

In conclusion

Just because I have nothing much to say about this episode doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. Three ping pong balls out of five.

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