Torres gets to be strong and smart and prove that she’s in command of engineering while at the same time being somewhat vulnerable.
The Doctor again gets to shine in the brief moments onscreen. He gets to out gruff Torres and has a wonderful comedic bit when he realizes Janeway has cut off his audio.
Not so great was Neelix being angry guy again. Not that he didn’t have a point mind you, in fact he was perfectly right. Janeway was putting the crew and the ship in danger for no real reason other than curiosity and a desire for coffee. Its just the way it was portrayed (and written). Neelix, as with his tirade about Paris last episode, just comes off as being an ass. This is unfortunate as he does have the moral high road here and this could have been a great dynamic to explore between he and Janeway. As it is Janeway just insults him and kicks him unceremoniously out of her office.
And we see the first instance of Sandrines, Paris’ holodeck French bistro (his name is Paris and he hangs out in France get it?) which will become the crew’s de facto rec room for a long while. It’s a Star Trek trope to have a holodeck recurring program (Bashir’s pseudo James Bond or Picard’s noir novels, etc, etc, etc) as a way to ground the series with an “alternative” location and explore the characters in a situation outside their normal comfort level. Problem is it always comes off as contrived and not a little bit cliched. Sandrines is no exception and everything from the hokey mobsters and the over-the-top fake accents just come off as trying just a bit too hard. And I admit Harry inviting Janeway to join them at the end was a nice character beat, very sweet. But when she then hustles them at pool…yeah, the least said about that the better.
And what’s with the thing with Janeway and Chakotay finding a spirit animal? Was it me or was that just bizarre? First off where did Chakotay get his medicine bundle? Did someone grab it for him before the ship blew up in Caretaker? Or does he carry it with him all the time? Or did he make a new one? Wait – what’s that? No one cares about that nitpicky detail but me? Fine. Because that is the least strange thing about that whole scene.
Now I have resigned myself to the fact that we are going to get white people sanitized Native Americanness for the duration of the series but wow, this was over the top. The fact that we are supposed to believe that “tribal scientists” have replaced peyote with artificial psychotropic experiences is strange enough; but that Native Americans have their own scientists coming up with technological alternatives to tripping is weird. I mean, it could happen I suppose…but weird right?
Not to mention Janeway acting like a teenage girl as he explained the pseudo-dreamquest to her all wide eyed and breathless. I mean I kept expecting her to break out a bong and get all space hippie on us; maybe paint Voyager paisley and tie-dye and start following the Delta equivalent of Phish.
Actually, that would kinda awesome. They should do that.
All in all The Cloud is not a bad episode. Its not great but it is not terrible by a long shot. In fact it was an enjoyable way to spend 45 minutes and there were a few laughs combined with a few WTF moments. Would I watch it again? No. But it was a fine middle-of-the-road Star Trek episode.
And for me I’ll take middle-of-the-road Star Trek over a whole lot.