The Good: I want to say the acting, Harry Kim character development, Special effects, Concept
The Bad: Entirely derivative plot, Predictable resolution
The Basics: “Warhead” could have been audacious had the components of it not already been used in other episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.
Arguably the most serious issue with Star Trek: Voyager was that it was a series that was almost entirely derivative. The characters were basically the “best of” Star Trek: The Next Generation’s guest character aspects, but when the series began, the show refused to do heavily serialized episodes and the writers did not seem to know what they wanted to do with the eclectic and interesting characters they had created. As a result, far more frequently than not, Star Trek: Voyager simply recycled prior plots from the Star Trek franchise into new episodes. “Warhead” is one of the most unfortunately obvious episodes that utilizes entirely recycled plot components, though in this case, they are Star Trek: Voyager episodes that are gleaned from.
“Warhead” might have been an incredible episode, had the series not previously released “Dreadnought” (reviewed here!) and “Darkling” (reviewed here!). “Warhead” is, in many ways, simply a mash-up of those two episodes.
On the anniversary of Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres’s first date, Harry Kim is in command of the night shift when he receives an automated distress call and makes a course correction to find the source of the message. Beaming down to a deserted world with the EMH, they discover a mechanical device that communicates to the Doctor and has bioneural circuitry. At the Doctor’s urging, Kim agrees to beam the wounded artificial intelligence aboard. When they rescue the device and study the area that it claims its comrade was sent to, they realize that the artificial intelligence is actually a missile.
Taken to Sickbay, the artificial intelligence takes control of the Doctor and holds B’Elanna and Harry Kim hostage. The controlled Doctor becomes enraged, but refuses to try to change its nature from the weapon of mass destruction it is told it is. While Neelix helps the crew find an alien who might know how to deactivate the technology of the alien weapon, a fleet of similar missiles heads toward Voyager, looking for their comrade to lead them to the target they may no longer be responsible for attacking!
“Warhead” is just far too late for even the appearance of greatness. The plot is frustratingly familiar – Harry Kim may get the crap kicked out of him more often than not, but it seems B’Elanna Torres is the show’s resident hostage for almost any circumstance! – and there is no real character development. Harry Kim has been commanding the night shift for some time now and this is merely the first episode to concretely illustrate that. The Doctor has had a willingness to stand with alternative life forms before now and “Warhead” does nothing to fundamentally alter that. Instead, it very quickly turns into yet another “possession of the Doctor” episode.
In a similar fashion, “Warhead” is underwhelming on the acting front. Robert Picardo is not at all bad in the episode, but he is not showing any range or emotions that he has not illustrated before. The altered Doctor has Picardo playing a pretty basic variation on the character that he has played before. Even Garrett Wang is not adding anything extraordinary with his performance. He is long beyond playing Harry Kim as naïve or idealistic. Instead, he has played Kim as smart and professional for quite some time and “Warhead” does not add to that.
Ultimately, “Warhead” does not ask any interesting philosophical questions, nor does it recycle previously used plot or character elements in an even remotely interesting way. It can safely be skipped.
[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Voyager - The Complete Fifth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the season here!
For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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