Monday, October 8, 2012

Retaking Voyager Is The Focus Of “The Killing Game, Part 2”

The Good: Performances
The Bad: Light on character, Plot is very basic
The Basics: “The Killing Game, Part 2” finds the StarFleet officers and Hirogen doing battle to retake Voyager.

When Star Trek Voyager left off at the climax of “The Killing Game” (reviewed here!), most of the crew was still under the influence of the Hirogen and the ship was in enemy hands. I have defined “The Killing Game” as the second part of a three-parter that we never see the first part of. “The Killing Game, Part 2” is the final portion of that story. Truth be told, the producers of Star Trek: Voyager may have had the right idea by producing “The Killing Game, Part 2” without showing how Voyager was lost to the Hirogen. Viewers probably had an easier time accepting Voyager had been lost without seeing it than they would have had if they had seen Voyager lost without seeing how they retook the ship.

The problem with “The Killing Game, Part 2” is that it is a painfully straightforward, obvious, episode that is utterly lacking in real character development. Given that most of the characters are not actually who they think they are for the episode, “The Killing Game, Part 2” is a novelty episode that does not hold up as well under real scrutiny. The major character development comes from various Hirogen turning on their Alpha.

With a large portion of the Holodeck blown out across a few decks, the Voyager crewmembers still trapped by the Hirogen inside the Holodeck simulation of World War II see the inside of the starship and interpret it as a Nazi bunker. With Janeway mentally freed by Seven Of Nine, they team up to fight the Hirogen inside the holodeck simulation while Harry Kim struggles to stay alive outside Holodeck as the Hirogen begin hunting Seven Of Nine and Janeway. With the Doctor deactivated by the Hirogen medic, Janeway’s allies run thin.

As the holodeck simulation collapses, Janeway and her people (most of them unwittingly) fight to retake Voyager.

“The Killing Game, Part 2” continues to play off the novelty of most of the actors playing almost entirely new characters. Chakotay is an American captain, Neelix is trapped believing he is a Klingon, Torres is convinced she is a pregnant French peasant woman. None of these characters is truly well-rounded. Instead, they are novelties and essentially acting exercises for the main cast. There are not even moments of fun with the performances – though the acting is convincing enough – as the characters were all established in the prior episode. The “surprise” of the alterations of each actor’s character has worn off and here, the actors just push through as the thinly-created characters they presented in the prior episode.

So, for example, Ethan Philips playing Neelix as a Klingon is a cute idea and seeing more of him in that role in this episode is fine, but not terribly interesting.

Fraught with simplicity – this is a very obvious “retake the ship” episode - “The Killing Game, Part 2” is problematically inconsistent. The Hirogen are supposed to be the new badasses of the Delta Quadrant. And yet, the moment Harry Kim’s duplicity is exposed, the Hirogen . . . keep him alive. They aren’t exactly incredible as a new culture.

So, that leaves the stated views of the Alpha Hirogen. The Alpha Hirogen simply wants to preserve his culture and grow beyond the simple bloodsport. “The Killing Game, Part 2” tries to be menacing at points, but ultimately feels silly. When Seven Of Nine stands up to the Hirogen and refuses to sing, the viewer has to suspend their disbelief to an unrealistic extent to believe that she might actually be killed in this particular conflict.

So it is, the death knell of “The Killing Game, Part 2” is its simplicity. This is a basic episode without real larger themes, goals, or character elements.

[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 works with Danny Goldring, please visit my reviews of:
The Dark Knight
“. . . Nor Battle To The Strong” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“Civil Defense” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“Dr. Strangechild” - VR.5


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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