the story: The crew struggles with an entity it can't communicate with.
what it's all about: "Vox Sola" is a long-delayed (relatively speaking) straight-on spotlight for Hoshi's linguistic skills, as she hones not just her personal abilities but the budding Universal Translator as well.
That's all well and good, but it's actually kind of more relevant as the first of two appearances by the Kreetassans, both times featuring massive cultural misunderstandings that the crew never saw coming. In the later "A Night in Sickbay" from the second season, the whole episode is dedicated to the incident, but in this one, it's a little more tangential to the plot, even if it's a featured element. Different cultures have different customs, and interpret the customs of others in different ways. In Next Generation, this concept was handled clumsily, downright stupidly, in "Justice," one of the worst episodes of the franchise. A lot of fans considers "Night in Sickbay" a similarly poor episode, but I never have. "Vox Sola," meanwhile, seems like it can be lost in so much goo, stuff that dominates the visual aspect of the episode, the amorphous representation of the lifeform Hoshi must scramble to understand. But it's much better understood for what it does around the goo, which admittedly has sometimes been a problem in Star Trek. Once you establish a memorable element, for good or ill, the episode tends to be dominated by it. In this instance it would be a considerable mistake.
franchise- Seems like a fairly standard episode.
- series - But it's not. it's actually significant for a later episode.
- character - Hoshi gets a mild spotlight compared to her more sensational appearance earlier in "Fight or Flight."
essential- The Kreetassans are more relevant in their next appearance.