Delta Redux: A Voyager Rewatch: Resistance

By Last Updated: February 11, 2017Views: 1916

The interesting thing about Resistance is that it could be a completely different show.  This in and of itself is not uncommon for Star Trek – or sci-fi in general for that matter. The melding of genres and the use of allegory is typical for science fiction and the Star Trek franchise as a whole utilities it frequently. But Resistance takes this a step further

The landing crew is presented out of uniform for the entirety of the show and very little time is actually spent on the ship. In fact the landing crew (Janeway, Tuvok, B’Elanna) are not seen on the ship at all. The rare times we do see the ship it is only to set up a time-limit so the stakes are a bit higher and to add a bit of urgency to the proceedings. But honestly, if those Bridge scenes were removed it would not significantly damage the story in any way. This allows the main characters to immerse themselves fully in the secondary genre construct. In this case its a World War II underground resistance story…hence the name of the episode.

The comparisons to WWII are numerous from the concentration camp-like prisons and right down to the jack-booted thugs. Star Trek in all of its variations has never been subtle in its allegory. And this particular trope could, and quite often does when used in other stories, fall into a parody of itself and can often undermine the impact of the metaphor when handled in a clumsy manner. Resistance resits this.

And let’s face it there are two reasons why this is: Joel Gray and Kate Mulgrew. Without the subtle and intelligent performances of these two actors I don’t think this could have worked. But it does.

“Wonderful! Captain – Kathryn, of a glorious starship! Then what happens? Go-go on, I’m listening. I love your stories.” – Caylem

The performance of Joel Gray is truly stunning. He plays Caylen, a disturbed and delusional man who believes Janeway to be his daughter and his wife to be imprisoned. We are not told what exactly Caylen is suffering from – whether it be dementia or PTSD or some other unknown ailment – but it truly does not matter. Gray conveys all we need to know about this person in the way he speaks, his gestures and movements and the way his eyes seem to plead with Janeway to provide something, anything  – even if he himself has no idea what that something is. He is damaged, he is broken. But he still has enough intelligence and glimmers of reality to understand this. When he allows himself to be humiliated by guards in order for a prisoner to escape it is heartbreaking while at the same time heroic. Joel Gray takes a character that could have been a caricature and turns him into a realistic portrayal of a man who is hurting. Like I said, stunning.

And playing off this is Kate Mulgrew’s nuanced performance as Janeway. She plays Janeway as commanding and just a bit irritated – this is understandable given the circumstances. Voyager has no real stake in the politics of this planet and the old, reliable Prime Directive prohibits her from becoming involved even if she did. No, her only responsibility is the get her people safely back to the ship and she acts accordingly. But given Caylen’s sympathetic and broken nature this could have come off as abrupt and cold, even cruel. But Mulgrew avoids this by  allowing Janeway to remain commanding while at the same time being tender. As such her actions toward Caylen do not seem manipulative even when she is using his generosity to her own benefit. It is a truly subtle and deft performance that, combined with Gray’s, turns what could have been a rather average episode into what is arguably the best Voyager has produced so far.

Similarly the pairing of Tuvok and B’Elanna is surprising. Well, surprising in the fact that it hasn’t been used so far in the series. The Vulcan calm combined with the Klingon rage should have been obvious. And they work nicely off each other. This allows the interrogation/torture scenes  – again something that could have been played poorly – to walk a fine balance between disturbing and poignant. Tim Russ’ performance is one of the finest I’ve seen from him so far in the series. In fact everyone is on point here to be honest.

But it is the ending that sets this episode apart from others. Janeway comforts Caylen as he dies. She allows him in his final moments to believe that she is indeed his daughter and that they succeeded in rescuing his wife from prison. She gives him, finally, what he always needed – contentment. After so much had been taken from him Caylen is allowed to die with dignity. It is an incredibly moving scene.

This is by far the best I’ve seen of Voyager. I found this episode to be extraordinary and should be regarded as a classic, not just of Voyager – but of Star Trek in general.

The journey continues.

Next Time On Star Trek Voyager

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