Thursday, September 13, 2012

Losing The Innuendo For The Direct Approach, "Day Of Honor" Kicks Off The Paris/Torres Relationship For Real!

The Good: Decent character work, Generally good acting, Decent enough plot
The Bad: Not the most plot-intensive episode, Continuity issues
The Basics: Paris and Torres begin their relationship in earnest when the two are trapped in space.

While much of Star Trek: Voyager is episodic, the introduction of Seven Of Nine to the series did force some serialized elements (which, as far as I am concerned, is a positive change). Following "The Gift" (reviewed here!) and the departure of Kes, Voyager is outside of Borg space, which makes some sense. And that also means that B'Elanna Torres is no longer the resident sex symbol for Star Trek: Voyager; that duty now falls to Seven Of Nine. But, unburdened by trying to simply be overtly sexy, B'Elanna Torres's character now has the potential to grow and develop a relationship with Tom Paris, which has been brewing since the middle of the third season of Star Trek: Voyager.

The episode that truly makes the change for Torres is "Day Of Honor" and it is mostly focused on Torres and Paris. Left in a life or death situation, Torres finally admits she has feelings for Paris, though it takes pretty much the entire episode for her to do so.

After finding herself lonely, Seven Of Nine asks Chakotay to assign her a duty. Despite Torres having a righteously bad day - most of which is, arguably, her attempt to avoid a Klingon traditional day - Chakotay assigns Seven Of Nine to Engineering. When Voyager encounters an alien race who are survivors of the Borg assimilation of their homeworld, Torres finds it more difficult to deal with Seven Of Nine. After a talk with Neelix, she decides to go through with the introspective Day Of Honor.

After an attempt to open a Borg transwarp conduit, Voyager is damaged. After Torres is forced to eject the warp core, she and Paris head after it. Tethered together after the refugee aliens steal the warp core, Paris and Torres await rescue while floating in space, in the process confronting their feelings for one another.

"Day of Honor" is an intensely character-centered episode of Star Trek: Voyager, which is a reassuring change for the plot-centered series. While most of the episode focuses on B'Elanna Torres, the episode spends a decent amount of time on Seven Of Nine as well. Ironically, Seven Of Nine is more emotionally stunted, like one might expect a Borg to be, than she was in prior episodes. Also ironic is the fact that Torres seems to have difficulty dealing with her in that context. Most notably, when Torres asks Seven Of Nine if she feels guilt for assimilating people and races and receives a "No," Torres wants more. Given every other Klingon in the Star Trek franchise, that reaction is pretty uncharacteristic.

Paris is given a decent amount of character in "Day Of Honor." This is the episode that truly cements the idea that Paris and Torres will have a romantic relationship and that makes it part of the essential Star Trek: Voyager.

Unfortunately, outside the character and acting elements, "Day Of Honor" is a surprising dud of an episode. Fans of the Star Trek franchise are more likely than ever to catch serious technical problems with the episode. For example, Borg transwarp conduits were first introduced in "Descent, Part I" (reviewed here!) on Star Trek: The Next Generation. They were, however, introduced as a tool of the ships used by Lore's freed Borg, a ship that logic dictates was stolen by the villainous android. By the same logic, the transwarp conduits used in that episode should be some other alien race's, not Borg. After all, if the Borg had transwarp conduits, they could easily send their entire fleet, surround a planet instantaneously, assimilate everyone there in the matter of minutes (if not seconds by the sheer overwhelming numbers), then repeat the process. In other words, the entire galaxy would fall in a matter of days. Clearly the writers did not consider this when they "created" the transwarp conduits.

Equally important and problematical (and surprisingly not nitpicky) are the inconsistencies with the transwarp conduits. Torres tells Seven Of Nine and Paris that they know nothing of transwarp. Paris, of course, knows more than anyone about transwarp as he broke the transwarp barrier in the second season episode "Threshold" (reviewed here!)! And, as for the transwarp conduits, they should know quite a bit about the conduits given that the Enterprise used them in "Descent" as well!

Outside the niggling plot and technical issues, "Day Of Honor" only suffers (if it does) because of some seriously campy dialogue. As Paris hits on Torres, some of his lines are super cheesetastic. While I initially consider this a problem, it actually works for Paris's character. And Robert Duncan McNeill delivers those lines very well. McNeill actually has great facial acting in the latter half of the episode and his deliveries as Paris goes through oxygen deprivation are excellent. In fact, he is so good that he accents how stiff Alan Altshuld's performance is as the alien Lumas.

Roxann Dawson gives a fearless performance as Torres. At this point, Dawson was pregnant and while some of her stunts were clearly done by a stuntwoman, some were as clearly performed by Dawson herself. That's pretty ballsy for a pregnant woman. But she truly earns her pay as Torres emotes in the scenes with Paris where the two are simply talking. Dawson and McNeill have great on-screen chemistry and "Day Of Honor" plays that up very well.

While "Day Of Honor" may be far from flawless, the main purpose of the episode is to push forward the Torres and Paris relationship and it does that in a remarkably satisfying way that will please fans. Even with the Seven Of Nine subplot, the a-plot is so riveting that it makes the episode feel much better than it, objectively, is.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Voyager - The Complete Fourth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the gamechanging middle 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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