the story: Seska defects from the crew, betraying Chakotay and joining the Kazon.
what it's all about: Inarguably, "State of Flux" is the most important early episode of Voyager after the pilot ("Caretaker") and once and for all settles whether the Maquis proved to be a wasted opportunity or in fact the most fruitful storytelling opportunity of the series.
You can probably guess that I throw my vote in with the latter (incredibly tiny) lot, because "Flux" begins a story that continues throughout the second season and isn't resolved until "Basics, Part 2" at the start of the third season (and then reprised at the end of that season in "Worst Case Scenario"). All that in finally deciding if the Maquis were a bunch of irredeemable bad apples (as fans inexplicably had determined them to be) or good people with at least one really bad apple (Seska) among them.
And what a bad apple! Not only was Seska willing to betray the crew, she betrayed Chakotay, with whom she had her closest relationship, the remaining Maquis allegiance that went beyond the new Starfleet code everyone else (including belligerent B'Elanna Torres) went along with (well, aside from the folks featured in "Learning Curve"). And she wasn't even Bajoran, as she'd appeared throughout the season to this point, but Cardassian! What a twist!
All of it plays like a knowing nod toward Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, in which Valeris is revealed to be a Klingon stooge, down to a trick played on Seska to get her to expose herself. (See "Flashback" in the third season for another Undiscovered Country callback, and also Enterprise's "Judgment.")
And again, it's a huge, huge moment, both for the season and continuity of the series itself, an unprecedented one that wouldn't be duplicated until Eddington is revealed to be a member of the Maquis in Deep Space Nine (he's the only character, actually, who plays the Maquis off as the bad guys, across three series).
Anyone still trying to figure out whether or not Chakotay was a wasted opportunity needs to watch "Flux" and the second season (particularly "Maneuvers") over again, because they spell out exactly what happened to him and feature his biggest moments, bigger than any first officer, arguably, aside from Spock, in franchise history. How do you follow something like that up? Especially when fans great the material with apathy? (It wasn't the series that rejected the character, but the fans.)
- franchise - If you're one of the fans who thinks Voyager wasted the potential of the Maquis, this episode is required viewing.
- series - As stated above, after "Caretaker" this is the most important episode of the first season.
- character - Begins the epic showdown between Chakotay and Seska.
- essential - Entirely must-see.
Martha Hackett (Seska)
Anthony De Longis (Culluh)
Josh Clark (Carey)