Thursday, October 18, 2012

Seven Of Nine Is Tormented By Her Human Mind In “One.”

The Good: Decent acting, Good character development
The Bad: Very light on plot, Terrible bluescreen effects.
The Basics: When Voyager is forced to traverse a dangerous nebula, the Doctor and Seven Of Nine must struggle to keep them safe and alive.

As Star Trek: Voyager degenerated into “The Seven Of Nine Show,” there were a few episodes that strove to actually present a decent character study that was more than simply a science fiction work. “One” was one such episode and while it is far from flawless, it succeeds in exploring one woman’s descent into near-madness from being alone. The episode, which focuses intimately on Seven Of Nine, is one of the better Seven Of Nine episodes and one of the few real problems with it is that it fails to have the lasting character effects one might hope.

More than that, while it features reasonable character growth and a very dark sense of psychological disturbance for Seven Of Nine, it lacks an overall reasonable quality for some of the important minutae. Following on the heels of a power supply crisis in “Demon” (reviewed here!), the lack of a basic understanding of the starship Voyager and its systems seems oddly ridiculous. The most prominent example of this comes at the episode’s climax when Seven Of Nine turns off the life support systems on the ship and she falls unconscious. That Voyager in “One” cannot sustain the life of a single individual for eleven minutes is utterly ridiculous. That said, “One” is actually pretty good and holds up better than many episode of Star Trek: Voyager as it works to explore the deeper human condition, even if it forces that at some points.

After Seven Of Nine fails out of one of the Doctor’s classes on human interactions, Voyager heads for a Mutara class nebula. There, they encounter radiation so lethal that they must back away from it rapidly, lest all organic tissue burn right off the crew. Faced with a year’s journey around the nebula or a month’s journey straight through it, the Doctor proposes putting the crew in suspended animation for the trip through the nebula while he and Seven Of Nine remain conscious to monitor the ship and suspended crew.

The Doctor and Seven Of Nine begin their mission just fine, but eventually get on one another’s nerves. As the month goes on, the pair begins to get on one another’s nerves and their mission is soon complicated by the Doctor’s systems rapidly failing and Voyager’s bio-neural gel packs succumbing to the radiation as well. This leaves Seven Of Nine on her own and she begins to hallucinate and suffer nightmares. Near the end of the mission, Seven Of Nine believes she encounters a dangerous trader and a Borg Drone who torment her as she succumbs to the effects of isolation.

“One” features notably bad special effects. Dream sequences and hallucinations Seven Of Nine suffers are rendered as pretty terrible green screen shots that are cringeworthy.

Other than that, “One” is fine. The episode features some decent character aspects, like introducing Tom Paris’s sense of claustrophobia. And Seven Of Nine does grow and develop in the course of the episode, which makes sense. Sadly, she is back to being asocial and off-putting by the next episode, but for the purposes of “One,” Seven Of Nine makes interesting leaps and strides in her quest to become more human.

As well, the acting in “One” is decent. Both Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo, who are tasked with convincing the viewer of the reality of the situation pull off their performances well. Ryan starts the episode as characteristically stiff and presents an affect that is very alien. She softens and when she plays Seven Of Nine scared, she makes her performance feel fresh and different, despite Seven Of Nine seeming afraid or confused in past episodes. Picardo does his dry and often humorous sarcastic deliveries as The Doctor and he helps keep the pace in what could be a ponderous episode flowing forward well.

“One” works a bit less well in the context of the larger mythos of Star Trek: Voyager. The stasis chambers that the Doctor has in “One” seem almost like standard issue, but if Voyager had such equipment before now, it does not make much sense that the bulk of the crew would not have gone into suspended animation in the most protected area of the ship, helping to insure that the greatest number of the crew survive the trip home.

Moreover, that the radiation does not instantly cripple Voyager is not satisfactorily explained. After all, one of the big advances in Voyager was the organic gel packs. The organic components of the bio-neural gel packs should succumb to the radiation, just like the crew’s flesh does and be instantly irradiated. And yet . . .

Outside the nitpicking, “One” offers Jeri Ryan a chance to have Seven Of Nine completely dominate an episode and the character grows and develops sufficiently as a result. As her fear becomes an overwhelming factor for the character, the viewer is likely to feel sufficient pathos for a character who is largely unsympathetic throughout the series. That alone makes the episode easily worth recommending.

[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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