Delta Redux: A Voyager Rewatch: Maneuvers

By Last Updated: December 7, 2016Views: 1662

So I imagine the pitch meeting for this episode went something like this:

In the writers room, around a long table, sat several glum and despondent writers desperate for ideas to enliven a plodding series. Suddenly one enterprising (see what I did there?) writer perked and said, “Hey guys, you know how this is supposed to be an action-adventure program? Well how about – and hear me out on this – we add some ACTION to it?”  A low murmur of confusion slowly sped around the table til someone finally stood up and announced, “My God! That might just work!”

And so…Maneuvers was born.

All snark aside, Maneuvers is quite good. And the first 15 minutes is very good. The Maquis-style raid on Voyager is excellent. And the whole episode overall is exciting, well-paced and basically everything you want from your weekly space opera series. It’s not perfect, mind you, but its a fair bit better than the slog this season has been so far.

“Your optimism may be premature, Mister Kim…but it’s also infectious!” – Captain Janeway

The episode revolves around the return of Seska now in her full Cardassian appearance. Seska isn’t a great villain but she’s the closest thing to a threat the show has yet produced. She is a Cardassian spy with Maquis training and knowledge of Federation systems; so she does pose a real danger and this is something the show has lacked so far. That’s why it is unfortunate that she is teamed up with the Kazon.

The series has tried (and tried, and tried, and tried) to make the Kazon menacing. But they just don’t rise above the level of school-yard bully. They don’t have the brutality of the Klingons, or the subtlety of the Romulans, or the cunning of the Cardassians and they sure as hell don’t instill fear like the Dominion. They are just a bunch of silly-haired thugs.

So no matter how manipulative and conniving Seska is we know she is doomed to fail because she has aligned herself with a group idiots. Case in point is the hammering home that the Kazon don’t like women. Their blatant sexism is shorthand to prove they are an unlighted people and it is an easy way to show why Seska hasn’t just taken over and is running the place. But this easy plot devise just seems lazy and all it really does is make them look even more like buffoons.

What the episode does do well is actually showcasing Maquis training and tactics. As I mentioned earlier Seska’s attack on Voyager was brilliant and entertaining and probably the best action scene on the show to date. We’ve been told over and over about the tactical innovations the Maquis were capable of but rarely ever seen any evidence of it. So this was a welcome change.

But not only is it Seska flexing her Maquis chops – Chakotay  gets into the act but deploying some stealth maneuvers to sneak off Voyager and approach the Kazon ship unseen. And B’elanna gets to show her technical skills by devising a beam-up plan at warp.

(As an aside I thought it was interesting the fair bit of technobabble explanation and back and forth discussion on whether the warp beaming could even be accomplished before B’elanna tells everyone that it can be done because she’s done it before. Hey B’elanna, lead with that next time.)

And of course we get to see angry Janeway again. Janeway is a much more appealing character when she is miffed. I’d much rather see her stomping around sternly giving commands and handing out I’m-going-to-kill-you looks to people than being sweet and nice and staring at the Universe with awe. Janeway is a badass and she should embrace her badassedness. And she had good reason to be angry this time around. A former crew member helped steal Federation tech and her first officer disobeyed orders and went gallivanting off on his personal crusade. She says at one point that Chakotay was just being self-indulgent and she’s right. Sorry your feelings were hurt, put your big-boy pants on. To be fair Chakotay does seem sufficiently contrite and sorry when he gets back, but still.

Overall this episode did what the series does best while actually adding a few thrills and excitement. A much needed addition to a season that has been a bit lackluster.

So now we get to the bit that I found most intriguing.

The episode ends with a bit of a cliffhanger and a seemingly crushing blow for Chakotay. As she escapes Seska informs the bridge crew that she has stolen some DNA from Chakotay and has impregnated herself with it, then congratulates him on becoming a father. This is meant to be a tense and dramatic reveal with massive repercussions for later episodes. I however found it a little…confusing.

How much responsibility does Chakotay have toward that child? And I’m not trying to be obtuse here; I’m generally intrigued by the question. I’m a father myself so I know the implications of having a child and the desire to want to be a part of the child’s life. And Chakotay’s defining traits are honor and loyalty so I get the fact that he would feel drawn to do something to protect the baby and remove it from what is certainly a – let’s say dangerous situation.

All that being said…someone stole his DNA. He is an unwilling participant in this situation. It’s almost like donating sperm to a reproductive center. You would not expect the donor to be responsible for the offspring his donation spawned; even if he somehow found out the identity of that offspring. Or would you? This is a real gray area here and I’m having trouble deciding what the best position to take is.

And what about the crew? Should they put themselves in danger and postpone the journey home so that Chakotay can go on a quest to save his honor?

I don’t have an answer for this. So, if nothing else this episode got me thinking. And it did so by providing some pretty decent thrills.

And that is what good Star Trek is supposed to do.

Next Time On Star Trek Voyager

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