Voyager rewatch 6.05 – “Alice”

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Tom cheats on B’Elanna with a sexy spaceship.

It’s been a week, and I still don’t know what to say about “Alice”.

Because this is an episode which comes right out and addresses a problem I’ve had with the Paris/Torres relationship for a couple of seasons: the second Tom gets a new hobby, he loses interest in B’Elanna until the hyperfixation passes.

(Drive-by question: is anyone on this starship neurotypical aside from Tuvok and Naomi Wildman?)

But at the same time, it’s just a perfectly okay episode that doesn’t really tell us anything new, and doesn’t really change anything. Like, Tom promises at the end that there will be no more affairs with strange ships, but B’Elanna is going to have to keep competing with his hobbies when it comes to spending time with him. And there comes a point where I’m like, girl, you are an intelligent, sexy woman with lots to offer, why are you putting up with being an Xbox widow?

Christine is a Steven King novel (and movie) about a haunted car that kills people

I mention this in case, like me, there is a Steven King-shaped hole in your media literacy and you needed to look up the reference.

“What if Christine but a spaceship?” is actually a solid premise for a Star Trek episode, and it makes perfect sense that it would be a Tom Paris story. And it’s well-executed, with just the right amount of weird sex implications and character development. I think Claire Rankin is the wrong type of sexy for the role of Alice — I would have cast a Musetta Vander type, rather than a girl-next-door like Rankin, but she’s good in the role and I respect the decision to zig rather than zag.

I feel like the problem, for me, is that “Alice” feels like a story we’ve seen before. I often get it mixed up with season 4’s “Vis-a-Vis”, another story where Tom gets a little too into his pilotsona, someone literally gets into his head, and a female guest star wears an egregious jumpsuit. In terms of plot, these stories are completely different, but it feels like they’re following the same template:

  • Tom meets and is enamoured with an alien/alien ship
  • Reminiscences about his youthful piloting adventures
  • Someone reprimands him for neglecting his duties
  • Oh no! Tom’s in trouble!
  • The crew has to save him!

“Alice” does one thing right

There were two moments where “Alice” made choices that I loved, and this is the serious one: Tom assaults B’Elanna, and the script demonstrates that everyone knows this is bad.

I mean, Janeway takes a moment. She’s initially dismissive of B’Elanna’s accusation, which is not a great look. But this is better than “Vis-a-Vis”. Or, say, “Retrospect”.

Obviously the other highlight is Tuvok

The episode opens with Tom and Harry trying to guess Tuvok’s age, while Tuvok evades their interrogation but also seems to be enjoying himself. It has no bearing on anything else that happens. I simply enjoyed it. I’m a Tuvok Enjoyer and I’m not ashamed.

Anyway, “Alice” is an episode of Star Trek: Voyager which exists

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who isn’t enthusiastic about this ep, given that Memory Alpha has no details whatsoever on the writing process. Bryan Fuller did the script, which I suspect is why the Paris/Torres relationship is as likeable as it is — you wouldn’t get this level of warmth between them with a Kenneth Biller script — but it’s not his best work.

Except. There’s one interesting element which comes out of nowhere at the very end, and I wish it had been explored in greater depth: Alice’s entire goal is to get home. She is, in a sense, like the Voyager crew.

Other Observations

  • As with all Tom-focused episodes from Voyager‘s later years, I remember this had a lot of women in fandom whipped up into a frenzy of fatphobia because an actor in his 30s had a hint of a double chin from some angles
  • Frankly it’s enough to make a viewer wish Tom had been allowed to keep the beard he grows here
  • Meanwhile, the flight suit he replicates for Alice is just incredibly ugly — I got into an argument on Tumblr (no, I know) a few weeks back about Star Trek costumes in this era, and I stand by my position that a lot of Robert Blackman’s work was bad.

In conclusion

If you love Tom and/or B’Elanna, or have fond memories of Claire Rankin’s role as the psychologist on Stargate: Atlantis, you should give this a look. If not, you won’t miss much. Two evil sexy spaceships out of five.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *