Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Revulsion" Is Not Revolting, But Better For The Background Aspects.

The Good: Decent concept, Good continuity, Decent character work, Enjoyable acting
The Bad: Make-up is clearly not designed for HD, Surprisingly simple and minimal a-plot
The Basics: The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Revulsion" has a ridiculously simple plot that is fleshed out nicely by secondary character threads.

I like Leland Orser. He's a character actor who has appeared in so many projects that it's amazing he's never had a break to headline his own work. His penultimate appearance in the Star Trek franchise is in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Revulsion." One of the fundamental problems with "Revulsion" is that Leland Orser is a great character actor, but he often gets cast for roles as twitches, addicts, or corrupt individuals. So, with his role in "Revulsion," it is hard not to see almost from his first frames on screen just how his character will be.

On the plus side, "Revulsion" continues its more serialized nature, despite being mostly a "bottle episode." Three days after "Day Of Honor" (reviewed here!), "Revulsion" finds Tom and Torres dealing with the consequences of their time together, in addition to putting Harry Kim and Seven Of Nine together. Oddly, for an episode that does reference "Day Of Honor," it does not follow that episode directly. I actually like the references to "Day Of Honor" and (in the Seven Of Nine/Kim subplot) "The Gift." "Revulsion" starts a plot that gets killed very quickly, which has Harry Kim getting a crush on Seven Of Nine.

The holographic entity Dejaren cleans up the dead bodies of organic life forms on his ship and sends out a distress call. After the promotion dinner for Tuvok, who rises to Lieutenant Commander, Voyager recieves his distress call and Torres and the Doctor take a shuttlecraft to meet him. Arriving aboard Dejaren's ship, the pair discovers that he is breaking down and he is fairly twitchy.

The Doctor seems willing to overlook the awkward nature of the "isomorphic" projection, but Torres quickly realizes that Dejaren is not quite right and that his excuse that the crew got ill rings false. When Dejaren begins hunting Torres, the Doctor must choose to stand with her as opposed to joining forces with his new "kinsman."

"Revulsion" works nicely as an episode that focuses on the Emergency Medical Hologram. When Dejaren describes his initial working conditions, it becomes very clear that the EMH empathizes with him. The contrast between the EMH and Dejaren illustrates well how far the Doctor has come in the years since his activation.

In fact, "Revulsion" frequently appears to be all about showing just how far characters have come. The Doctor has grown and Tuvok gets a promotion for his service and Paris takes on the role of medical assistant, replacing Kes. The episode belabors how characters have moved beyond their initial characterization. Even Kim in his brief subplot seems much more confident than he did in early episodes. Otherwise, the a-plot is, in some ways, a rewrite of "Darkling" (reviewed here!) where the Doctor is not the primary antagonist.

On the acting front, all of the cast brings their a-game. Robert Picardo is delightfully enthusiastic as the Doctor in this episode. While he was initially sarcastic in virtually all of his deliveries, in "Revulsion," he is excited and that difference is fun to watch. As he orders junior officers in front of Janeway, it is hard not to smile.

Roxann Dawson and Jeri Ryan give decent supporting performances. Even Garrett Wang is assertive as Harry Kim. Wang brings a forthright quality to his portrayal of Kim in "Revulsion" that he has not played before. Gone is any sense of naivite and Wang sells it as character growth without ever making the character seem foreign.

Leland Orser plays entirely to his skill set as Dejaren. Orser plays angry and unsettled exceptionally well, though it is not a stretch for him in any way.

On the negative side, director Kenneth Biller and writer Lisa Klink apparently did not have earlier episodes from the season as a reference. Paris was quite accepting of Seven Of Nine in earlier episodes, but in talking with Harry Kim, he sounds like other characters, being judgmental of her Borg side. The only other real strike against "Revulsion" is in the make-up. Dejaren's face paint is not evenly spread onto his shoulders, so in HD, he looks very sloppily put together.

Ultimately, "Revulsion" is a half-creepy, distrurbing episode that is blended with light character studies to make a surprisingly solid piece that seems more like an ensemble work than a "Doctor episode." And it works.

For other works with Leland Orser, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Alien Resurrection
Excess Baggage
Independence Day
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - "The Die Is Cast"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - "Sanctuary"

[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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