Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another Alternate Reality Episode For Star Trek: Voyager: “Demon” Rises To Mediocre.

The Good: Strong opening, Adequate acting, Decent special effects
The Bad: No substantive character development, Reversal is unnecessary and ultimately pointless.
The Basics: “Demon” starts with a good, strong concept, but degenerates into a familiar concept episode that adds up to nothing.

Star Trek: Voyager occasionally had episodes that were simple concepts that were fleshed out into full-length programs that did not quite work out. “Demon” is one of those episodes. Because of Star Trek: Voyager’s adamant refusal to do serialized episodes, “Demon” is arrived at abruptly and resolved almost as abruptly. The lack of build-up to the crisis that initiates the episode implies to the viewer that the solution to the problem will be reached by the end of the episode, too.

“Demon” is a bottle episode that starts promising, if ridiculously executed, that quickly becomes something far less inspired. Why, for example, Neelix cannot bring his own blankets into his new quarters when the crisis is a power deficit makes no rational sense. “Demon” tries, but the execution is mediocre and seems designed to set-up the reversal at the end of the episode, which is a sad payout for the investment of time and effort.

Voyager is suffering from a severe power crisis and goes into “gray mode,” to preserve energy. With most of the decks shut down, Seven Of Nine discovers a nearby planet that is rich in deuterium that Voyager needs. Harry, uncharacteristically assertive, recommends taking a shuttle down to mine the deuterium with Tom Paris. When they go down, Harry is lost inside a pool of liquid that is rich in the element the crew needs. While Paris is able to rescue him, both soon fall unconscious, necessitating Voyager to land to recover them.

When Chakotay and Seven of Nine are dispatched to find them, they discover Tom Paris, able to breath and walk around on the Demon-class planet without his environmental suit. After discovering the fluid on the planet has mimetic properties, the planet itself is revealed to be adversarial. Repowered and repaired, Voyager takes off, with a twist.

Following on the heels of another episode that fundamentally messes with the reality of Star Trek: Voyager, “Living Witness” (reviewed here!), “Demon” works toward a resolution that largely negates most of the episode. That makes it very hard to evaluate, rewatch, or care about “Demon.”

Sadly, the end reversal necessitates a great deal of filler that could have been worthwhile were it not for the reversal negating it. Harry Kim does a whole retrospective on his character early in the episode that explains how far he has come. Kim’s recitation of his accomplishments are used to explain his rather abrupt character transformation in the episode. And, frankly, it is about time. While Neelix has been essentially worthless since “Fair Trade” (reviewed here!), Harry Kim entered the series with the least going for him and thus the most potential to do something with the character. The writers have not known how to utilize him outside being a very minor support character and his transformation in “Demon” makes him suddenly vital, interesting, and worthwhile.

Unfortunately, this is not really a Harry Kim episode; it is a scientific anomaly episode and a pretty weak one at that. Further diluting the episode is the subplot that has Neelix rather ridiculously camping out in Sickbay. This is another example of Chakotay making ridiculous decisions or choices (like telling Harry Kim to live with Seven Of Nine’s new command structure in “The Omega Directive,” reviewed here!). The silly, time-killing plotline is one that Star Trek: Voyager could have done without. While The Doctor is an excellent source of comic relief in the series, “Demon” makes a fool out of him.

The acting in “Demon” is adequate, but there is nothing at all superlative about it. There are no great performances in the episode.

In the end, “Demon” is all right, but in no way extraordinary and the “surprise” ending is hardly strong enough to justify the episode that precedes it.

[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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