Delta Redux: A Voyager Rewatch: Non Sequitur

By Last Updated: March 8, 2016Views: 2683

Okay, I’ll come right out and say it, this is not a good episode. It’s not bad, it’s just not good. And this has been the season so far, except for a couple of stand-out moments, the stories have been the definition of bland. Its not as if they are unwatchable or painful, it is just that they are aggressively mediocre.

I can give credit to the premise of the story, it seems like the writers are trying to come up with good ideas, but the execution is just so by-the-numbers boring. And it doesn’t help matters that Harry Kim is about as interesting as a damp towel.

So yes this is a dull episode without much going on other than some questionable acting and a lot of running around Paramount’s lot, I mean, er, San Francisco. And this little essay could end right there but I want to at least attempt a redemptive reading, so here it goes.

The premise is an interesting take on time travel. Time travel is a common trope in Star Trek as a whole and that in and of itself is not interesting. But Non Sequitur does something somewhat unique – it downs the stakes. Yes, downs them.

You see more often than not time travel is used to fix a universal threat. See “The City On the Edge of Tomorrow” or Time’s Arrow” or “The Voyage Home” or a number of others. Something changed in the past that has altered the future and the crew must go back and “set thing right” otherwise reality as we know it is destroyed and all kinds of calamity befalls us. Oh the humanity!

But in Non Sequitur no real threat to global/galactic/universal security happens. In fact for Harry everything is just dandy. He does not get on Voyager and so does not get flung into the far reaches of the Delta Quadrant, he has a promising career, is well respected and gets to be with the girl of his dreams (regardless of the fact the girl of his dreams is a whiny, obnoxious brat with whom he has no chemistry. Harry must have bad dreams). In fact the only downside the episode shows us is Harry’s “best friend” goes on Voyager in his place and Tom Paris becomes a drunk. Its kind of a reverse It’s a Wonderful Life.

“Why does everyone say “relax” when they’re about to do something terrible?” – Ensign Harry Kim

And this is exactly what is charming about it, there is no inherent danger but Harry feels that if two other lives have been damaged then he must sacrifice his own happiness in order to “save” them. It is kinda sweet, in a damp dish towel sort of way. There are no high stakes, just an individual character moment that plays with the expectation of a well worn sci-fi trope.

That, by the way, was a Herculean effort on my part to find something good to say about this episode. I may need to take a nap.

There is also a rather troubling bit of existential weirdness that happens at the end. Tom Paris sacrifices himself so that Harry can beem away saying that if all goes well he will be on Voyager and everything will be as it should. That’s a nice thought, happy ending and all, but it clouds that fact that that Paris is now dead. He does not suddenly wake up in the Delta Quadrant and think, wow that adventure on Earth was weird! No, he is wiped out of existence. He ceases to be, he is an ex-Paris. So Harry effectively killed Tom Paris in order to save Tom Paris. Think about that for a little while as you contemplate your own mortality and the fragile nature of reality. Sleep tight everybody.

It should also be noted the Harry and Tom have been slashed (that is when fan fiction puts two male characters together, if you know what I’m sayin’) throughout the history of Voyager. There are many examples on the show that could be seen in this light. I largely ignore this sort of thing as trivial silliness but there is a moment at the end where Harry tells Tom he “owes him one” and I swear for a moment it looks as if they will kiss. And I couldn’t help thinking this would be a much better episode if that actually happened.

Next Time On Star Trek Voyager

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