Monday, February 26, 2018

Voyager 7x21 "Friendship One"

rating: **

the story: The crew receives its first official mission in seven years.

what it's all about: What on the surface looks like a generic episode actually has a good amount going for it.  The first is right there in that brief summary above: the crew has a Starfleet mission!  This is a pretty big deal.  Context is everything.  These episodes, previously, were things the crew chose to do, or stumbled into.  Normal Starfleet operations are, of course, a matter of assignment, which this crew couldn't do, being cut off from Starfleet entirely and then Starfleet's ability to provide any useful intel.  The mission turns out to be fairly routine, until the crew discovers there are complications.  Enterprise, later, would have a similar episode, "Terra Nova," and this actually works in favor of both.  Both are series with crews in relative isolation, facing situations where they're following up on prior events with unexpected results.

Anyway, fans didn't much appreciate any of that, some quite obviously, as Enterprise didn't exist at the time.  They were pretty miffed that Lieutenant Carey, a somewhat defining supporting character of the early episodes, reappeared only to be unceremoniously killed off.  I never really got that.  That he appeared again at all was surely a nice little gift.  This wouldn't even have been the first time the series got rid of a supporting character like that, Hogan at the start of the third season.  Both of them fairly generic Starfleet officers who put in a few appearances but otherwise didn't hugely distinguish themselves except by circumstances.  It'd be like fans getting upset at a similar recurring character from Deep Space Nine's first season, a Starfleet officer who appeared a few times but unless you do the research you wouldn't be able to identity them, even though they were a recurring character in a series known for its recurring characters.  Carey's legacy, in about the same amount of episodes, was still familiar enough with fans for them to react this way.  Sometimes initial reactions ought to be reconsidered.  The facts will speak for themselves. 

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - An interesting way to recalibrate a typical episodic adventure.
  • series - And an interesting way to recalibrate a typical Voyager episodic adventure.
  • character - Not designed as a spotlight for any particular character.
  • essential - To the fans' point, if someone had decided to shape the whole story around Carey, it would certainly have improved the episode.
notable guest-stars:
Josh Clark (Carey)

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